A GUIDE TO TOP TEN DESTINATIONS FOR BACKPACKING IN INDIA

top 10 destinations for backpacking in india

 

For the seekers of adventure, backpacking in India has undoubtedly been a diverse travel experience. Especially for solo backpackers who want to indulge in some unique experiences without exceeding the limits of budget, India is one ideal destination.

To set you off on the right foot, here is our guide to the best backpacking destinations in India for travelers:

Goa

palolem beach in goa

When it comes to backpacking in India, Goa is a perfect adventure destination to start off your excursion. Known for its magnificent beaches, adventurous sports activities, and vibrant nightlife, Goa stands out amongst all the notable backpacking trips in India. 

As a backpacker, you can start off by soaking up in the splendid sunny vibes of various tropical beaches of Goa stretched along the 130 km of its coastline. From the ones swarming with tourists like Anjuna beach, to the ones throbbing with the vibrant nightlife beats like Calangute beach, no matter what your travel preferences are, Goa has something for every travel taste.  

The culture of Goa in itself is very welcoming for backpackers with multiple options of budget staying like hostels and beachside shacks serving traveler-oriented, multi-cuisine menus along with some local authentic delicacies. Those who want to explore the long stretches of the Arabian coastline and other local sights can also rent a bike very easily in Goa.

On the most popular India backpacking route, Goa brings alive the dreams of living as a perfect backpacker with a wide array of choices like camping, trekking, and adventure sports such as Parasailing and water sports which attracts backpackers from the around the world.

Being one of the best backpacking destinations in India, the opportunities for shopping for souvenirs while backpacking in Goa is endless. From Anjuna beach, the famous Wednesday flea market to the Saturday night market in Arpora along with live music and food stalls are a must to be explored for getting a more authentic experience of the place.

What to See

Chapora Fort, Basilica Church, Wax Museum, Dudh Sagar Waterfalls, Anjuna Beach, Calangute Beach, Baga Beach, Palolem Beach, and Butterfly Beach

Where to Stay

Hostels, Beach Shacks, Homestays, Villas, Boutique Hotels

Manali

Trekking at Manali

Bustling with a huge crowd of tourists, Manali is one of the best backpacking destinations in India. Being a mountain destination, Manali offers various adventurous activities like trekking, camping, mountain biking, river rafting paragliding, and much more.

With the onset of the winter months (Oct-Jan) the beautiful snow-clad mountains peaks of Manali becomes a major attraction among backpackers. Boasting a scintillating picturesque landscape, the beautiful hill station of Manali offers a wide range of adventurous activities like skiing, snowboarding, skating, sledding, ice climbing, and many other winter games.

The bucket list of backpacking in India is never complete without biking on the Manali-Leh India backpacking route, which also acts as a gateway to Leh. Being one of the most popular biking routes it provides backpackers with the most scintillating views of the mighty Himalayas. One can also rent a bike from Manali starting INR 500 per day onwards.

Manali acts as a base for various popular treks in the region like Bhrigu and Pin valley trek. One can also visit the famous Rohtang Pass near Manali which is one of the high-altitude mountain passes in the country, connecting Kullu with Lahaul and Spiti.  

What to See

Skiing, Trekking to Lake Bhrigu and Pin Valley, Camping, River Rafting in Manali, Rohtang Pass, Snow Adventure Sports in Solang Valley, Kullu, Mall Road, Biking on Manali Leh Route

Where to Stay

Cottages, Homestays, Mountain Lodges, Resorts, Hostel

Leh

thiksey monastery at leh

The bucket list of backpacking in India is never complete without exploring Leh. Featured with the most dramatic landscapes, the region of Leh is also known as the cold desert of India and is considered one of the best backpacking destinations in India, bolstered with pristine and breathtaking views of the Himalayan mountain ranges.

Located on the banks of the Indus River, the city of Leh is the center of Tibetan-Buddhist culture, and one of the biggest spiritual cities for Buddhism in the country. The spiritual and cultural vibe of the place is evident through the ancient monasteries and gompas which are a major attraction among backpackers. In order to get the best of Leh backpacking trips in India, one can visit Hemis Gompa; Alchi Gompa; Thiksey Monastery; Matho Monastery, Spituk Gompa, and many more.

For wildlife explorers, Hemis National Park in Leh is one of the best places for backpackers in India, which is also home to the Himalayan snow leopard, ibex, and Tibetan gazelle.

For adventure seekers, Leh offers bountiful mountain biking expeditions on the most popular Leh-Ladakh India backpacking route. A bike rental facility is also available at good prices for the most intrepid experiences. The adventure platter of Leh also offers some of the most dauntless river rafting experiences on the Zanskar River with Grade 4 -5 rapids.

Individuals who are seeking tranquility from the backpacking trip India, can take the off-beaten trails of Leh’s remotest villages and get an experience that is worth a lifetime.

What to See

Hemis Monastery, Alchi Gompa, Thiksey Monastery, Matho Monastery, Spituk Gompa, Hemis National Park

Where to Stay

Homestays, Hostels, Camps, and Hotels

Varanasi

evening ganga aarti at varanasi ghat

As old as human civilization, the city of Varanasi is a dream destination for backpacking in India. Also regarded as the spiritual capital of India this is the only place where the essence of life truly unfolds itself.

If your backpacking trips in India are fueled with the fire of seeking then, Baba Kashi Vishwanath Temple is the place to start with. The place is imbibed with so much energy that it’s almost impossible to remain untouched by this aura.

The Ghats of Varanasi and Maa Ganga are the soul of Banaras. Strolling around these ghats at sunrise or sunset may fill you with unrivaled experiences in the India backpacking route.

The ghats of Banaras unlike other backpacking destinations in India have a lot to offer. The evening Maa Ganga Aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat is one such magnificent procession that leaves you spellbound. You can also take a boat ride to get a wholesome experience of the place and various rituals.

The narrow and bustling alleys of Varanasi hold many colorful charms of the city. From generations-old shops to sumptuous authentic local delicacies, these narrow lanes have their roots soaked up in the soil of time more deeply than they actually seem. A walk through these lanes is a must to get a lifelong experience from your best backpacking destinations in India.

Varanasi is also an important center for the ancient art of weaving which is carried and transferred from generation to generation. You can also witness this art while visiting the weaver’s village.

What to See

Ganga Aarti at Dashashwamev  Ghat, Boat ride on River Ganga, Weavers Village, Sarnath Ruins, Sarnath Museum, Kashi Vishwanath, and Bharat Mata Temple

Where to Stay

Homestays, Hostels, Hotels

Khajuraho

kandariya mahadev temple at Khajuraho

A combination of architectural brilliance and magnificent landscapes, Khajuraho is undoubtedly a dream destination for photographers and backpacking in India. It is also one of the most important UNESCO heritage sites in India with an iconic western group of temples built by the Chandel dynasty in the 12th century.

For travelers who are on a budget backpack trip to India, ticking the checkbox of Khajuraho for their dream backpacking trips in India will be an unforgettable experience worth a lifetime. You can start the journey with Kandariya Mahadev temple which is one of the major attractions of the place known for its stunning architecture and sculptures carved out of the rocks onto the temple giving the finest examples of ancient art and culture. The sound and light show at the temple complex is also a must-watch that explains the history and idea behind building this stunning architectural marvel.

For wildlife enthusiasts, Panna National Park and Ken Ghariyal sanctuary are a must to explore while you are on the India backpacking route.  Located at a distance of around 40 km from the city of Khajuraho, a safari to these National Parks are open all year round except during the monsoon season (July-September).

Khajuraho is also famous for its unique dance festival which is held every year from 20 to 26 Feb showcasing cultural and traditional dance forms, from all across India on a single platform.

What to See

Western Group of Temples, Eastern Group of Temples, Panna National Park, Sound and Light Show, Ken Ghariyal Sanctuary, Khajuraho Dance Festival

Where to Stay

Homestays, Hostels, Hotels

Pushkar

Cattle Fair at Pushkar

Located in Rajasthan’s Ajmer district in midst of the Aravali ranges, Pushkar is recognized as one of the best backpacking destinations in India. Unlike any other place, this enchanting small town is a perfect mix of culture, and mysticism offering the best of backpacking in India to all its visitors.

Pushkar is also referred to as the temple city of Rajasthan; however, the most famous temple is the Bhagwan Brahma Ji temple, which is the only temple dedicated to Lord Brahma in the whole world. For backpackers who are out there to seek this is a place not to miss amongst the best places for backpackers in India.

The holy city of Pushkar is also famous for the Pushkar Lake, and its 52 ghats. You can take a stroll to these ghats and spend some quality time vibing in the aura of this beautiful city.

The narrow alley of the traditional colorful market of Pushkar has a charm of its own. You can take a stroll around these lanes and savor some local authentic delicacies like Malpuaas with rabri to get a more authentic experience of your backpacking trips in India.

One of the major attractions of Pushkar which makes it one of the best backpacking destinations in India and internationally is the “Pushkar Cattle Fair”, held between Oct to Nov every year. The fair is known to be a recognized event among photography enthusiasts and several tourists all around the world.

What to See

Pushkar Lake, Dune Safari, Pushkar Cattle Festival

Where to Stay

Homestays, Hostels, Havelis, Hotels

Udaipur

city palace and lake pichhola view of Udaipur

Also known as the city of lakes, Udaipur is one of the most spectacular destinations for backpacking in India. Along with its regal past, grand edifices, vibrant bazaars, and absolute serenity of lakes, the city of Udaipur clearly tops the list of best-backpacking destinations in India.

Travelers who are on their backpacking trips in India can start with a visit to City Palace which will give them a glimpse into Rajasthan’s princely grandeur. Located beside the grand city palace, the lake of Pichola is not something to be missed. Tourists can also take boat rides at Lake Pichola to get a more serene view of the lake and the stunning architecture of Jag Mandir Palace located in the middle of the lake during sunset.

Udaipur being a royal city features a bountiful of stunning architecture and local sightseeing options like Bagore ki Haveli, Jagmandir Palace, Ahar Cenotaphs, Saheliyon ki Bari, Fateh Sagar Lake, and many more.

The royal city of Udaipur is also known for its sumptuous cuisines and its traditional art of miniature paintings which is admired all across the world. One can also explore the local market of Udaipur which is quite popular for Shopping among tourists. Markets like Bapu Bazaar, Bada Bazaar, Chetak Circle, and City Palace Street can be explored for the best souvenirs for the lifelong memories of this beautiful city.

What to See

City Palace, Sahelion Ki Baari, Crystal Gallery, Dance Show at Baagore Ki Haveli, Jag Mandir Palace, Boat Ride at Lake Pichola, Eklinji Temple, Miniature Painting of Udaipur.

Where to Stay

Homestays, Hostels, Havelis, Hotels, and Palaces

Mahabalipuram

shore temples of mahabalipuram

An ideal escapade for backpacking in India, the ancient city of Mahabalipuram is famous for its UNESCO world heritage sites. With a history dating back to the 4-9th century, this small bustling city of Tamilnadu is an absolute delight for explorers with plenty of architectural marvels to explore.

As a backpacker, you can start your journey with the Shore temple which is one of the oldest temples constructed in the Dravidian style depicting the royal taste and architectural skills of the Pallava dynasty. Other places to visit during your Mahabalipuram backpacking trips in India include Arjuna’s Penance, Krishna Butter Ball, Varaha Cave temple, and the Mahisasuramardini Mandapam. Unique in their own way both the structures are worth admiring.

Another majestically splendid sight to behold is Panch Ratha which means five chariots. These are monolithic rock-cut temples carved out of a single huge rock standing majestically in the monument’s complex, depicting the glorious era of rich art and culture.

Apart from the historical sites and rich architecture, Mahabalipuram boasts a myriad of other places to explore like beaches, museums, and lighthouses. Some of the beaches which are a major attraction among tourists are wide beach, Mahabalipuram beach, and Covelong beach.

What to See

Arjuna’s Penance, Panch Rathas, The Shore Temple, Varaha Cave Temple, Krishna’s Butterball, Panch Pandava Cave, Ganesh Rath Temple, Mahisasure Mardini Cave Temple

Where to Stay

Homestays, Hostels, and Hotels

Rishikesh

Ghats of Rishikesh

Also known as the yoga capital of India, the holy city of Rishikesh has been one of the most revered destinations for backpacking in India.  The place is known for its bountiful Ashrams and various holy temples that can be visited around for a blissful experience.

Maa Ganga which is the essence of Rishikesh is also one of the major attractions among both seekers and tourists. If you are also visiting this beautiful city during your backpacking trips in India, then do spend some time on the ghats of Maa Ganga. You can also attend Maa Ganga Evening Aarti at the ghats of Rishikesh to immerse into the aura of this ecstatic journey.

The other aspect of Rishikesh which makes it one of the best backpacking destinations in India is river rafting. The place offers some of the best river rafting and camping experiences which attract tourists and adventure seekers from all around India. Also, the prices of these river rafting packages are within budget, which makes it even easier to explore.

There are also various local sightseeing options in Rishikesh like Laxman Jhula, Beatles Ashram, Ram Jhula, and many more which can be visited for taking back memories of a lifetime.

What to See

Beatles Ashram, Parmarth Niketan, Laxman Jhula, Triveni Ghat, River Rafting, Har ki Pairi, Evening Ganga Aarti, Swami Sivanand Ashram

Where to Stay

Ashrams, Dharamshala, Hostels, Budget Hotels, Resorts, Rafting Camps

Pondicherry

rock beach at Pondicherry

A perfect blend of history, modernity and natural beauty, the city of Pondicherry is a lively destination that offers everything for an unforgettable experience of backpacking in India.

Popularly known as Puducherry, this scenic and quaint town of Tamilnadu is aligned with pristine beaches. Some of the beaches which are a major attraction among tourists are paradise beach, promenade beach, Auroville beach, and Veerampattinam beach. Being a coastal town, one can also experience delightful cycling rides along beaches.

With remnants of the French colonial past spread across the town’s architecture, the beautiful streets of French Quarters of Pondicherry are dotted with charming mustard-yellow colonial structures providing some of the best experiences of backpacking trips in India.

For seekers of tranquility and absolute stillness, Aurobindo Ashram is the best place to visit. You can also experience backwater boat riding at Chunnambar which is blessed with natural grandeur and is popular among tourists.

What to See

French Quarters, Paradise Beach Pondy, Aurobindo Ashram, Auroville, Arikamedu, Cycling in Pondicherry

Where to Stay

Ashrams, Hostels, Budget Hotels, Resorts