Does the lure of the road call out to your traveller soul? You can start off your backpacker diaries within India itself, by starting with these¬†must-visit backpacker destinations in India and striking them off of your list.
1. Dharamsala – McLeod Ganj
Start off with Dharmashala and the nearby town of McLeod Ganj. These green Himalayan foothills are home to the Dalai Lama. Trek through the dense forests around here to¬†the cascading waters of a number of waterfalls around here as well as the adjacent Dhauladhar mountain range.
When to visit:¬†September – June
Where to stay:¬†Seven Hill’s Guest House, Shree Guest House, Pink House
2. Leh Ladakh
The Leh Ladakh backpacker trail is one of the highest in the world, and holds attractions for tourists like¬†the highest motorable road in the world or the highest ATM or even the Highest Food cafe in the world. The best way is to go by road from Delhi and come back via Kargil and Srinagar.
When to visit:¬†June to September are the only months when Leh is best visited as the temperature is bearable and the passes are open.
Where to stay:¬†Hotel Yak Trail, Royal Palace Hotel
3. Parvati Valley
Spanning over scenic destinations like Manali, Kasol, Tosh and Kheerganga, young and old backpackers around the globe are all flocking to the Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh. You can hike to the nearby¬†Jogini waterfall in Vashisht or visit the KheerGanga natural hot water spring.
When to visit:¬†March to July
Where to stay:¬†Drifter’s Inn And Cafe, The Himalayan Village, Parvati Kutir.
Despite being barren, undulating with its famous sand dunes, this is a city which is on the “Must – Do” lists of every Indian backpacker. It’s surrounded with Forts & Havelis and¬†the terrain within a radius of about 60 kms is stony and rocky.
When to visit:¬†The best season to visit the place is between October to March during the winter months.
Where to stay: Hotel Akashdeep, Hotel Tokyo Palace, Hotel Mirage
An ideal destination for solo backpackers, the tough terrain of the valley makes it an ultimate choice for serious trekkers and bikers.
When¬†to visit:¬†Summers¬†(Mid May to Mid October)
Where to stay:¬†Taste of Spiti, Sakya Abode, Snow Lion Guest House. Go for the homestays¬†when visiting the villages of¬†Langza, Komic, and Demul
For a Goan-esque feel, minus the commercial noise surrounding it, head out to Gokarna. Located close to Goa on the Western Coast of Karnataka, the¬†Paradise, Om and Half Moon beaches of this backpacker destination of India is the perfect place¬†to relax on a hammock.
When¬†to visit:¬†¬†Between¬†October to March
Where to stay:¬†Hotel Harpriya, Hotel Ram, and Namaste Cafe.
The ultimate backpacker destination of the country, Goa is often referred to as the Vegas of India. Despite having a party-animal image about it, Goa is also the best place to head to for an extended, relaxing vacation. Head to South Goan beaches like Palolem, Colba, Agonda, Bogmalo, and Varca to soak in the old Goa feel.
When¬†to visit: Between October to June
Where to stay:¬†There are plenty of affordable living options around the beaches of Baga, Calangute in North Goa. The Afonso Guest House in Panjim, William’s Beach Resort in Colva and Astoria in Bardez are other affordable options.
This¬†place is not only popular with backpackers, but also a lot of Indian tourists as it is the religious gateway to the popular Char Dham Yatra (Pilgrimage) – Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. The ashrams and meditation and Yoga centres like OSHO and Vivekenanda are a favourite amongst backpackers and other travellers, who can learn Sitar or Tabla in the evening and practice Yoga in the morning next to the banks of the River Ganges.
When to visit:¬†Rishikesh usually has good weather all year round, but the best time to go is between end of September to May.¬†The period from Janurary to end of February is considered to be off season and is the best time to get the best deals.
Where to stay:¬†Hotel Green View, Hotel The Hermitage, Hotel Ganesha Inn, and Rishikesh Sadan.
Among all the North-Eastern states, Meghalaya is probably the most scenic. With green mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls, tall pine trees, calm and peaceful climate, the capital of this state – Shillong has rightfully been given the title of Scotland of the East. One interesting fact about Meghalaya, it’s one of the few places in the world which has a matrilineal¬†society.
When to visit:¬†Between September to May.¬†The weather is generally cold with November to February being the coldest.
Where to stay:¬†Ashutosh Inn, Broadway Hotel
This pride of the Vijaynagar Empire is a dream destination, carved out of stone, for the history buff backpackers. Backpackers from all across the globe can be seen here. Chill by the banks of the Tungabhadra river on a full moon night with a beer in hand.
When to visit:¬†November to February are the best time to visit Hampi as the temperature is moderate and pleasant.
Where to stay:¬†Gowri Resort, Hema Guest House, Sri Rama Guest House, Kiran Guest House
With hills in three directions and a golden desert on one side, the place experiences extreme climate. Other than being¬†a holy place for Hindus, it’s also a site for spiritual journey for all the hippie backpackers out there. The Pushkar Camel Fair, happening every year in October-November is one of the highlight events of this place.
When to visit:¬†Best season to visit Pushkar is between October to March as the weather is pleasant and cool. Summers between April to June are very hot.
Where to stay: Milkman, Hotel Shree Palace, Navratan Palace
High tea estates and exotic flowers are what makes Munnar such a magnet for backpackers. This place has South India’s highest peak –¬†Anamudi, and the rare blue flower called “neelakurinji” which blooms only once in every 12 years.
When to visit:¬†Best season to visit Munnar is between August to May. Munnar has a pleasant climate all throughout the year and can be visited anytime.
Where to stay:¬†Rheinberg Homestay, Munnar Inn
Varkala lies on the outskirts of Trivandrum and is¬†an ideal holiday destination for backpackers looking for the perfect combination of peace, natural beauty and calm. This seaside destination offers backpackers with activity options like sun bathing, swimming, water sports, seaside walks or just an evening spent admiring the serene sunset.
When to visit:¬†The weather is hot and humid during most time of the year but the winter months of December to February are a good time to visit the place as the weather is pleasant and moderate.
Where to stay: Clafouti Beach Resort, Green Palace
If you know of any other backpacking destinations in the country, please share with us in the comment section.
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