6 Best Places to Visit in North India (DO NOT Skip These!)

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North India can be a vague concept for travelers, as the huge expanse of land in the northern reaches of the country encompasses an endless diversity of landscapes, people, cities and culture.

From the nation’s capital Delhi, far towards the borders with Pakistan in the west and the mountains of the Himalayas in the north, this is one of the most captivating parts of India to explore.

There are many incredible places to visit in North India, from the cool colonial city of Shimla to the golden Sikh temples of Amritsar.

The places to visit in North India can be chaotic, busy, loud and at first overwhelming, but it’s an endlessly fascinating region to travel. To help you to plan your trip, here are our favorite places to visit in North India.

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet India (Travel Guide)

6 Best Places to Visit in North India

Dharmsala - Best Places to Visit in North India

1. Dharamsala

Dharamsala is one of the most famous places to visit in North India. It’s also one of the most spiritual because this city in the state of Himachal Pradesh has long been the home of the exiled Dalai Lama.

With the Tibetan Government in Exile based here, and the kindliness of the Dalai Lama known around the world, Dharamsala has grown into a popular tourist destination, especially amongst those looking to learn more of Buddhism or searching for a vestige of Tibetan culture.

For culture lovers, there is a lot to experience in Dharamsala, including the Tsuglagkhang Temple, which is the largest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside of Tibet itself.

Visit the Tibetan Museum and learn more about this community in exile. Dharamsala also has some excellent hiking, but be careful of the high altitudes. There are crashing waterfalls to discover and winding mountain passes to hike.

Our top recommended tours of Dharamsala:

Shimla skyline- North India

2. Shimla

Shimla is the capital of Himachal Pradesh and is one of the largest, busiest places to visit in North India. Until the British Indian government in the 19th century moved their capital here in the summer to escape the oppressive heat to the south, this was just a ramshackle and rural locale.

Despite its rapid development, Shimla has retained much of its natural beauty and for many, this is an incredible destination for hiking and trekking, as the forest-covered mountain peaks offer wonderful views for travelers.

Even the railway track from Delhi into the mountains here is spectacular and historic enough to have been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Hundreds of tunnels were engineered by the British through the mountains, but even they could only reach as far as Kalka, where the line ends. From here, travelers have to change to vehicles, to make the two-hour drive to Shimla.

Our top recommended tours of Shimla:

Rishikesh North India

3. Rishikesh

Found in the state of Uttarakhand, Rishikesh is a small city with a huge reputation amongst travelers. Rishikesh is a sacred city and for Hindus, this is one of the holiest pilgrimage destinations in the world due to its pride of place amongst the Hindu epics and deities.

In more recent years, Rishikesh has also become a pilgrimage site as the city is known as the Yoga Capital of the World.

There’s plenty more to do in Rishikesh than Yoga and meditation. The city’s surrounding mountains and canyons provide the perfect conditions for white water rafting, hiking, and adventurous outdoor pursuits.

You can find an intriguing mix of relaxation and adrenaline. There are regular flights, buses, and trains into Rishikesh from across India, but just remember that the city is completely alcohol and meat-free, due to its incredible importance in the Hindu religion.

Our top recommended tours of Rishikesh:

Amritsar Golden Temple in North India

4. Amritsar

Amritsar is easily one of the best places to visit in North India. Found in Punjab, this huge city is home to over a million residents and is just a short journey from the border with Pakistan.

 This unique city is home to some of the most interesting Sikh culture and monuments in the country. Amritsar was founded as a Sikh place of worship and today is the site of the religion’s holiest temples.

The most important of these to see is the impressive Golden Temple which glitters day or night over the lakeside.

As well as being the heartland of Sikhism, Amritsar has long played an important role in regional politics and many visitors make the journey to the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial, which is found close to the Golden Temple.

This was the scene of a notorious massacre during British rule when unarmed protesters were shot in the streets.

The city also hosts the interesting Partition Museum, where you can learn more about the divide that separates Pakistan and India.

With the border being so close, you can even make the journey to see the infamous Wagah border ceremony, where both sides attempt to outdo each other daily during outlandish military ceremonies that attract enormous crowds of onlookers from both countries.

Our top recommended tours of Amritsar:

City of Leh in North India

5. Leh

There are some truly spectacular places to visit in North India, but those travelers looking to journey off the beaten track may want to head to the far, far north, to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Here you can find Leh, the capital of the outrageously beautiful region of Ladakh, known for its remoteness, its isolation, and its natural scenery.

It’s a long journey to Leh from the south, but it’s worth it even to experience the winding mountain roads and endless vistas of the ride itself.

Leh is a great base to hike into the Himalayas, being located at an altitude of over 3500 meters. It may take some acclimatization before you are ready to trek out into the surroundings.

The city itself has a long history and is home to some of the most impressive Buddhist monasteries in the country. Many were built in a style very much similar to the Tibetan Kingdoms, with the Palace of the King of Ladakh, built on a mountainside, is the most dramatic of them all.

Our top recommended tours of Leh:

Delhi - Best Places to Visit in North India

6. Delhi

Delhi is the sprawling, chaotic but ever interesting capital of India. It’s also the real gateway to the best places to visit in North India and marks the start of the northern region of the country.

Delhi is home to millions of people and at first, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. This is the capital of modern India though and it’s worth hanging around before heading further north to discover the real mix of old and new that gives Delhi its unique character.

New Delhi was purpose-built by the British to serve as the capital and today you can find the most modern aspects of the government and the city in this area, including many more affluent districts.

Old Delhi and South Delhi are for the history lovers. Here you can explore the ancient ruins and forts, some of which date back over a thousand years.

Visit the Qutab Minar, an impressive minaret that towers to 70 meters in height and that dates back to the 12th century, as well as the Red Fort, the iconic defensive position that has long guarded the city.

Our top recommended tours of Delhi:

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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA

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