Top 8 India Travel & Experiences Bucket-list 2021
Isn't this a perfect time to sit back and revisit the travel bucket-list or make a completely awesome, new one? With all the lovely places making the rounds on the gram, here is a little something to help you decide what could go onto your coveted list. Also, we are all for experiences over mere destination-counting, so we have enlisted one star-experience to indulge in at each of the listed destinations. Hear from some lovely travel influencers and get your essential dose of #travelinspo. So without further ado, take out your diaries/planners and take notes. If you want a dedicated bucket list printable, we have a free pdf you could download, print, and use. Find it here. Now, let's dive right in.
1. Suyash Mohan suggests Rann Of Kutch, GJ
Suyash is a professional photographer-videoghrapher and loves to hit the roads for those long bike rides across the nation as frequently as he can.
Rann Of Kutch, Gujarat, India
About the region: Located in Gujarat the vast expanse of land that extends across the borders of India and its nosey neighbor, this is actually a very popular destination and a traveler’s paradise.
What's so special?: Every year Gujarat Tourism organizes the Rann Utsav - a 4-month festival from October to February to experience the beauty of the places nearby, the culture, and to experience the authentic Gujarati and Kutchi hospitality at the Tent City in Dhordo.
Recommendations: The White Rann is probably the most amazing landscape that you’ll ever see in India. A flat, never-ending sea of white salt, that is best experienced in the morning or in the evening (the afternoon sun will kill you). The tourism package also includes trips to nearby locations like Kalo Dungar and the beach town of Mandvi.
Getting there: The easiest way to approach - Book your accommodations online. Take a Flight/train to Bhuj, Gujarat and the festival provides transit to and from the airport or station to the Tent City. Once you reach the tent city and check-in, you are well taken care of. The tents are spacious and have attached bathrooms. All meals are served in the Food halls and the food is simple yet amazing. Option no. 2 is to follow my way of a road trip. On New Year’s Day in 2018, I took the long way from Mumbai by riding on a motorcycle to the Festival with a buddy. There were two reasons for it: 1) New Year’s parties are overrated as hell and 2) 2nd Jan was a Full moon night and It’s a perfect time to be on the Rann. It took us two days to get there, but every second of the ride was worth it. I strongly suggest that you take the road as, except for a small patch, the roads are a dream to ride on.
Star Experience to not miss: The display of folk and culture that helps one experience the essence of the state first hand and up-close.
Follow Suyash's incredible journeys on Instagram
2. Our Travel Palette | Namita & Vaibhav suggest Mandu / Mandavgadh, MP
Namita & Vaibhav are slow-travel experts and paint a lovely picture of their journeys through their brilliant photography and vivid stories.
Mandu / Mandavgadh, Madhya Pradesh, India
About the region: We keep scouting for places which are rich in history and culture and this was a must-visit. Vaibhav's home being in Bhopal, we planned a 3-day visit here during our stay in Bhopal. Mandu or Mandavgadh is an ancient city located in Madhya Pradesh, India.
What's so special?: This city was a flourishing one in the 10th and 11th century however it lost its glory to time. The city has witnessed a change of hands starting from Jayavarman II and followed by Hoshang Shah, Bahadur Shah, Humayun, Akbar, and finally the mighty Peshwa Bajirao I. Due to the change of rulers, the mix of Hindu and Islamic style architecture is worth noting. The Jahaz Mahal (Ship Palace), Hindola Mahal, Baz Bahadur Palace, Roopmati Pavillion, and Jami Masjid are some of the key spots to explore. We explored the place for a good 3 days however, if you intend to cover only the key spots you can even do a weekend trip.
Recommendations: At historical places always opt for a guide as they literally walk you through the pages of history, narrating some beautiful stories and myths associated with the place.
Getting there: Mandu is around 275 km away from MP's capital city Bhopal, and the drive from Bhopal to Mandu is around 5 hours.
Star Experience to not miss: The spectacular mix of Hindu and Islamic style architecture and the structures of various mahals that would take you back in time.
Follow Namita and Vaibhav as they take you along on picturesque destinations and gripping stories on their Instagram
3. Shreakosphere | Shreya & Akshay suggest Spiti Valley, HP
#ShreAk, as they call themselves, are a travel-couple who share their experiences through Instagram and also other blogging platforms. They are currently based in Canada and keep sharing gems from their travels from everywhere.
Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India
About the region: Spiti Valley is a cold desert mountain valley located high in the Himalayas in the north-eastern part of the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The name “Spiti” means “The Middle Land”, i.e. the land between Tibet and India. The best time to visit Spiti is in August and September. Please plan your trip in advance so that you get some good discounts on travel!
What's so special?: The experience is nothing less than surreal and at the same time harrowing. Our trip was nothing less than an adventure! Every landscape differs from each other. You can see a mix of greenery, barren land as well as rivers and waterfalls. We even saw one patch which was so much similar to the Grand Canyon or I would say even better than Grand Canyon! Spiti is a photographer’s dream come true. We found a Photographer hidden in all of us wanting to capture all the beauty in our lenses. We just couldn’t stop clicking as every turn had a different landscape to offer. The hues, the patterns on every mountain were so distinct and different from each other. It's also a geographer’s paradise!
Places to visit:
Kaza Monastery and Kaza Market
Golden Buddha at Langza
World Highest post-office at Hikkim
Kungri and Lalung Monasteries
Pin Valley National Park
Getting there: We did an 8 Nights half circuit Spiti Valley trip. Many people prefer to do the 10-12 days Full circuit tour which starts from Delhi then you go via Shimla, visit Narkanda, Kalpa, Reckong Peo and then proceed towards Kaza and while coming back go via Manali. We didn't want to take such a long leave hence opted for the 8 days tour.
Star Experience to not miss: Send a postcard to yourself from the world's highest post office in Hikkim.
Follow Shreya and Akshay as they show you some of their amazing Canadian escapes on Instagram
4. Miles Bites and Soul | Mridula & Rahul suggest Dhanushkodi, TN
MilesBitesandSoul is the passion project of Mridula and Rahul, who love to capture the stories collected on their travels across India and the world. Their second passion for recreating flavors from their travels keeps them busy in their kitchen when they’re not traveling. Milesbitesandsoul.com is where they share their journey and recipes.
Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu, India
About the region: A horrid cyclone hit the town in 1964 with waves scaling 7 meters, washing away everything that existed and rendering the town unfit for inhabitation. Ruins of a Church, a Temple, a School, a Railway Station, now stand as proof of this tragedy. Flanked on one side by the Bay of Bengal and by the Indian Ocean on the other, with sunsets of gold and waters so blue, it makes you forget the tragedy and draws you into a sullen calmness. Welcome to Dhanushkodi (literally translating to “End of the Bow”), a gem in the crown of Tamil Nadu.
What's so special?: The road to Dhanushkodi from Rameshwaram is first flanked by flat white sands reminiscent of the Bolivian Salt Flatlands and then turns into magical shades of blue on either side. Pull out your GPS and spot where Sri Lanka lies! The island neighbor nation stands about 27 km away from this point and is also from where the legendary Rama Sethu (Adam’s Bridge) starts, connecting the two countries. Although one cannot see it with their naked eye, pictures of this mythical bridge (Palk Strait) were released by NASA a few years ago.
Recommendations: You can explore the most artistic ruins which are now taken over by Peacocks and find hidden railway tracks, abandoned houses, and the iconic façade of the cathedral. This place makes for a great spot to bring out your inner photographer.
Getting there: The nearest airport is Madurai (167 km). A taxi ride can take you to Dhanushkodi. By railways, Rameshwaram (18 km) away is the nearest station and a scenic route too.
Star Experience to not miss: Witness the Sangam - the meeting point of the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. Also, this is the closest you can get to Sri Lanka, try spotting it on your map.
Follow Mridula and Rahul as they explore the unexplored regions and then recreate so many dishes from global cuisines on their Instagram and Blog
5. Travelkumari | Winnie Karnik suggests Chhattisgarh
Winnie is a daring solo backpacker, and she has traveled to the lengths and breadths of our country exploring many offbeat and unexplored regions of India.
About the region: Chhattisgarh is unexplored and people don't know what to expect. Usually, you wouldn't choose #Chhattisgarh as your first choice, but Winnie is here to change that.
What's so special?: Here's why it should be on your A-list of destinations to travel in India-
1. Beautiful, unexplored hikes
2. The Niagara Falls of India: #ChitrakoteWaterfalls
3. The unadulterated rural life
4. Unique cultural experiences
Recommendations: I would highly recommend connecting with @jeetsingharya who helped me solo-backpack fearlessly across Chhattisgarh. His involvement in #ecotourism and the work by his organization with the tribal people out there to employ them and host guests while preserving their culture is highly commendable.
Star Experience to not miss: The amazingly humbling Chitrakote Waterfalls for sure.
Follow Winnie as she backpacks her way around the world while also encouraging everyone to be fit on her Instagram
6. Naughty & Curly | Diana & Donald suggest Meghalaya
Diana (Naughty) & Donald (Curly) are fun-loving & easy-going couple travel bloggers who are always high on energy and experts when it comes to the best tips and hacks for a truly amazing journey.
About the Region: Meghalaya, referred to as the Scotland of the East, is one out of the seven north-eastern states in India, and has something to offer for everyone. From its dancing clouds to its gushing waterfalls, from its adventurous caves to its bamboo trails, from its captivating living root bridges to its grand canyons, pristine lakes, crystal clear river beds, innumerous ancient trails, and mysterious folk tales you'll be left asking for more.
What's so special?: There is so much more to this magical land. The winding roads, pleasant weather all day long, bustling bazaars, upbeat fashion culture, yummy local cuisines, friendly doggies and cats, tribal communities of Khasi, Garo, and Jaintia, and last but not the least the warmest, humble, loving, and friendly locals. We visited this abode in clouds in October 2019 for a 13-day road trip and it was our debut trip to the first North Eastern state and after which we have decided to visit at least one northeastern state every year.
Recommendations: Few of the things we highly recommend doing when in Meghalaya :
1. Trek the Double Decker Living Root Bridge at Nongriat, Cherrapunjee
2. Visit Krangsuri waterfalls in Jaintia Hills
3. Nohkalikai and Wei Saw dong and Seven sisters waterfalls in Cherrapunjee
4. Boating experience in Unmgot River, Dawki
5. Camping adventure at Darrang
6. Cafe hopping in Shillong
7. Shopping at Police Bazaar, Shillong
8. Visit the cleanest village, Mawlynnong in Asia
9. Catch the sunset at Umiam Lake, Shillong
10. Experience homestay with the locals
Star Experience to not miss: If you can, we highly recommend exploring this state by means of a self-drive road trip. Our experience has been so amazing and liberating.
Follow Diana and Donald to witness their amazing adventures on Instagram and YouTube
7. Quirky Wanderer | Divyakshi Gupta suggests Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary Trek, Sikkim
Divsi requires no introduction. Through her genuinely good content and her amazing #IndiaTravels she keeps everyone hooked on to her series of aesthetically shot pictures, videos, blogs, and reels.
Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, Sikkim, India
About the region: Can you imagine trekking in a forest full of Rhododendrons? #Barsey or Varsey is a truly offbeat trek that lasts for 5 days, and every day you trek through a different landscape.
What's so special?: Located In west Sikkim, this sanctuary is where you can trek through bamboo, hemlock, and conifer forests amidst different varieties (almost 13) of #Rhododendron. If you’re not a trekker, you can still visit a part of it from Okhrey and walk through the sanctuary for half a day and return. If you are lucky, you can see many rare birds like the Himalayan Monal and Rusty-bellied Shortwing, and many other birds.
Recommendations: I would highly recommend visiting between March- May when the rhododendrons are flowering.
Getting there: Okhrey is the start point which is accessible from Kalimpong and Darjeeling.
Star Experience to not miss: Pitching your own tent in the forest. The most memorable views are the magnificent views of the #Khangchendzonga range that you get when you pitch your tent over the gorge.
Follow Divyakshi to never miss the in-depth experiences of culture, cuisine, and everything a place has to offer, on her Instagram and Blog
8. Bzee Travel Lovers | Zenia & Bhal suggest Jodhpur, RJ
Being avid India travelers, we would like to leave you guys with one of our recommendations too, and here it goes.
Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India
About the region: Jodhpur is the blue city in Rajasthan which not only has an array of gorgeous forts and palaces but also an offbeat, unexplored rural region that is home to the Bishnoi community and local artisans.
What's so special?: Firstly, the royal yet humble culture and the hospitality of the locals here is unmatched! You have to experience it to believe it. The forts and monuments are in impeccable conditions, so well preserved. History literally comes alive here. The food at even the smallest stall or the biggest restaurant will leave you smiling, nothing short of awesome 😋 People usually do a #RajasthanCircuit and spend just 1-2 days in Jodhpur in transit, but we were happy that we spent 4 wonderful days here, exploring the blue city as well as its remote villages where we saw the local artisans at work, which was such a delight! We highly recommend you do this too. Give this destination time and it will reward you with memories that will be etched in your heart forever!
Recommendations: Our top 5 Must-see/do in Jodhpur:
Star Experience to not miss: The tour to the remote #BishnoiVillage is not to be missed. We were totally in awe of the locals there and their way of living is far superlative and exemplifies true humanity.
Follow us, Bhal and Zenia (BZee) as we take you around offbeat and unexplored regions in India on our Instagram and Blog
Thanks to all the inputs from these expert travelers, you now have some brilliant suggestions to add to your travel and experiences bucket list 2021. Let us know which of these have you already experienced and which are the ones you are looking forward to, in the comments below.
Also, don't forget to download and use the Bucketlist printable to list down and plan your activities.