Whether for a weekend or week, backpacking is for those who seek unadulterated adventure. With basic necessities in a bag, you really don’t need more than that to explore. Whether it’s mountains, beaches or deserts that fascinate you, your heart and soul can roam free without burden. If you’re tempted to charter your own care-free exploits, here are the top 5 backpacking destinations in India.
Ladakh needs no introduction. It’s stunning landscape with lakes, mountains, deserts and passes speaks for itself. The lure of Ladakh is magnetic. With terrain that is harsh yet humble, backpacking in Leh remains one of the most sought after thing to do on an adventure enthusiast’s agenda. Make your way through the enchanting Nubra Valley with its varied topography or spot your reflection in the crystalline Pangong Tso amidst the Himalayas; put gravity to the test at Magnetic Hill or drive through the highest motorable mountain pass in the world at Khardung La. For an outer worldly experience, Ladakh is where you should be heading!
Best time to visit- April to October
A favorite with backpackers, Goa remains the most popular beach destination in the country. It’s where you can be in the heart of the hustle and bustle in the North and retreat to solitude in the South within hours. Though known for its buzzing beaches and notorious nightlife, Goa is also where you can go scuba diving, trekking and river rafting. It’s where you can take heritage walks, spice plantation tours and make religious pilgrimages. Backpackers especially have it good in Goa with accommodation and dining options being extremely affordable.
Best time to visit- October to January
With a little effort, once you get to the hill station Shillong in Meghalaya, you’ll realize that it was well worth it. The perfect place to disconnect, the ‘Scotland of the East’ has much to see and do with spectacular views being a constant companion. Waterfalls, lakes and vantage points are nature’s gems here. Hitch a ride to the nearby village of Mawlynnong, voted the cleanest in Asia or to Cherrapunjee, which is the wettest place on earth. To truly absorb the culture and customs of the region, stay with a local family on your backpacking adventure to Shillong.
Best time to visit- Summer (March-June), Winter (October- March)
Rajasthan’s temple town, Pushkar, is known to attract crowds from near and far especially during its famed annual Pushkar Fair when the atmosphere is electric. With the Brahma temple and Pushkar Lake being the focal points, the town has a mystical charm that makes you want to unravel and experience. The narrow lanes of Pushkar are a delight to discover with religious shops alongside hippie cafés and luxury hotels neighboring grungy hostels. It’s where the devout and devilish co-exist peacefully! The paradoxes are many and that’s what attracts curious backpackers to Pushkar.
Best time to visit- November to March
Himachal Pradesh has long been associated with being a backpacker’s playground with Dharamshala being a favored destination. Spirituality and scenery dominate this Buddhist town that is home to the Dalai Lama. Bhagsunag Falls, Kangra Fort and Namgyal Monastery are some of the attractions here while the surrounding mountains are ideal for hiking and camping. Whether you want to pray or play, a backpacking trip to Dharamshala leaves you to make your own agenda in the lap of nature.
Best time to visit- March to June
Author: Devika Khosla
With the inability to sit still, she’s always going ‘somewhere’. Foodie, spa junkie, animal lover and traveler. That’s Devika’s story.