“Veni. Vedi. Amavi. – We came. We saw. We loved.”
The world is vast and no person can cover every nook and corner in this lifetime. I guess it would be great if we could just spend a major part of our lives traveling and exploring. The importance of traveling (especially a road trip) has been understated in countries like India for decades. Only now has a common person started exploring and understanding the benefits of exploring a place via road.
For a second, let’s leave the world alone. Our very own country, India is brimming with places worthy of a visit. Now let’s leave alone even the whole of India; there are over 50 gorgeous locations in North India itself. An adult who takes one or two road trips, every year would just be able to cover pretty much just this. (See, I told you, a lifetime is too short to cover it all!).
To help you plan, here is a list of seven best places to visit in North India (famous and offbeat both) which we have curated specially for you:
1. Lovely Ladakh
Ladakh also is known as the “land of high passes” is a region in North India in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The place is renowned for its virgin mountains and pristine beauty. The beauty is unparalleled and extends from the Siachen Glacier in the Karakoram ranges to the main Great Himalayas in the south. It is one of the most sparsely populated regions in Jammu and Kashmir with Leh being the largest town in the region.
Ladhak is a land like no other with a plethora of natural beauty and surreal landscapes. Amazing people and culture add to the virgin beauty. From stupas to monasteries to cozy little cafes to virgin valleys to crystal clear lakes; it is a perfect destination for a trip by road. Some of the major attractions in Ladakh include Zanskar Valley, Pangong Tso, Kargil, Khardung La, Nubra Valley, Hemis National Park, Hemis Monastery, Shanti Stupa, Tso Moriri, and the Royal Leh Palace. The best time to visit Ladakh via road is between the months of June to mid-September. The temperature is moderate around this time making it the most suitable time to bask yourself in some heavenly sunshine.
2. Scintillating Spiti
Serpentine roads leading to snow-capped mountains, that is when you know that you have stepped foot in the Spiti valley. Guarded by the Himalayas on all sides, Spiti valley sits at a nauseating altitude of 12,500 feet above sea level. It is one of the coldest places in the country and is accessible for a complete circuitry road trip for select months in a year, although Kaza can be reached throughout the year from Shimla side.
Spiti Valley separates India from Tibet and hence is rightly called “Spiti” meaning “The Middle Land”. With such extreme weather conditions, the valley is skimpily populated. It is for sure a paradise for an adventure junkie with a variety of trekking trails to choose from. Other attractions and adventures include river rafting, camping at Chandratal, trek to Dhankar Lake, visit the mummy in the village of Gue, shopping at Kaza market and star gazing. The best time to visit Spiti Valley is between June to September; no frozen roads and plenty of sunshine.
3. Gorgeous Gulmarg
Third, on our list of seven places to see in North India is Gulmarg. Gulmarg literally translates to mean “meadow of flowers”. In earlier times, it was known as Gaurimarg (after Goddess Parvati, the wife of Lord Shiva). King Yosuf Shah Chak renamed it Gulmarg and it is a hill station nestled in the Baramulla district.
Gulmarg has attracted tourists from all over the world since the early times. It has the picture-perfect lush green backdrop, naturally manicured landscapes, stunning blossoms and serene lakes making it a perfect destination for a trip by road. It has been reputed as being the shoot location for many popular Bollywood movies. Currently, it has added feathers to this reputation and even grown as an adventure hub. IISM offers various courses on skiing, mountaineering, and trekking. Of course, these come at steep prices and it is advisable to book the courses well in advance. The destination has always been a go-to for honeymooners in North India and is still widely popular. The best time to visit Gulmarg is around the months of March to June. A trip by road is advisable during July and August too if you do not mind mild rains.
4. Amicable Amritsar
Housing the glorious Golden Temple is the amicable city of Amritsar. Every day in this peaceful city of North India begins with the echoes of the spiritual prayers from the Gurudwaras. The heart and soul feel an instant surge of peace and tranquility while the prayers are being chanted. Amritsar is in-fact the transcendent and social center for Sikhism. It is a booming city with active trade and tourism industries. In spite of all the glory today, Amritsar has faced a dark past. The city has risen from its own ashes like a Phoenix.
The main festival, Baisakhi brings out Amritsar in all its glory with food, music and good vibes. Amritsar is also notorious for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Another must-see spectacle is the Atari-Wagah border closing ceremony between India and Pakistan. It is a daily military practice and the ceremony starts with a blustering parade by the soldiers from both sides. It ends up in the perfectly coordinated lowering of the two nations’ flags. Be sure to reach a little ahead of the scheduled time to avoid the crowds and grab a seat in the front rows. The best time for a trip by road to Amritsar is between the months of November to March. The temperatures are moderate and are well suited for road trip conditions.
5. Laudable Lansdowne
Lansdowne is one of the few hill stations in North India that is grossly under lauded. Lansdowne is still one of the quietest and un-spoilt hill stations and is still unknown to many. This was attributed to the place that is wild and unruly in the true sense of natural beauty. Thick fog spreading for miles and meandering roads has been a striking feature of this quiet sleepy town.
In stark contrast to present times, Lansdowne has been a popular destination since the colonial rule in India. The Britishers had established the place as a military garrison. The Garhwal Rifles Regiment holds the cantonment and still trains in the town. Other attractions include Tarkeshwar Mahadev Temple, Tip-in-top point, Bhulla Tal Lake, Darwan Singh Museum, Garhwali Mess and St. Mary’s Church. No time is a bad time for a trip by road as the temperatures are brilliant almost the whole year round. However, if you are looking to beat the depressing city summers, then the best time is during the months of April to June.
6. Mystical Manali
Snuggled between the snow-topped slopes of the Pir Panjal and the Dhauladhar ranges, Manali is one of the most popular hill stations in North India. The place is complete with striking views, lush green forests, sprawling meadows, and gushing blue streams. A day spent in the town is like a page straight out of a fairy-tale.
Broad roads with swaying eucalyptus trees keeping you company all the way make it a comfortable trip by road. Local eateries and local markets that dot the place make it both taste and budget friendly. Other attractions include Hadimba Temple, Rohtang pass, Manikaran Gurudwara, Kasol and Solang valley. The best time to visit and enjoy heaps of snow is between November to April. Be aware of the crowds that throng the place during this time and book well in advance to avoid any last minute hassles.
7. Holy Haridwar
Haridwar, one of the seven holy cities in India, is an ancient city located on the banks of River Ganga in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. Dotted with temples, ashrams and narrow lanes, Haridwar is a famous Hindu temple town in North India. Millions of devotees come to take a dip in the holy Ganges. According to Hindu mythology, a dip in the holy water can relieve the person of his worldly sins.
The famous Ganga Aarti lights up the city every evening. Haridwar is the base destination for other tourist destinations like Rishikesh and Devprayag and is just a couple of hours by a trip by road. Apart from being one of the holiest cities in India, Haridwar is also famous for the kachoris at Kashyap Kachoriwala and the aloo puri at Mohanji Puriwale. Be sure to treat your taste buds while in town. The best season to visit Haridwar is during the summer and winter months.
Well, now we know what a tiny place we occupy in this world and there is so much to see and explore. So let’s get our travel shoes on and get going. If you need help with planning a trip to any of these places, feel free to reach out to us on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram.