An amazing mix of sight, sound and smells, India is possibly the most romantic place on earth – once you leave the madding crowds of the cities. There’s romance to be found in the backwaters of Kerala and on the white sands of the lovely Havelock Island; on the bustling streets and gorgeous beaches of Goa and in the foothills of the Himalayas.
It’s to be found in the Palace hotels on Lake Pichola and in the spectacular landscapes of the hill stations that dot the foothills. Whatever your idea of romantic travel is, you will find it somewhere in India. It would be easier to choose 105 don’t-miss destinations in this remarkable country but here’s just five to get you started.
1. Udaipur Rajasthan
Called the city of lakes, Udaipur is justly considered one of India’s most beautiful and romantic cities. Known as the "Venice of the East" and home to a dazzling array of forts and palaces, this Indian jewel is a must for every couple – an unforgettable experience. Pichola Lake located in the centre of the city is one of the most picturesque lakes here as well as one of the largest. It's the one where you see all the gorgeous images of fabulous palace buildings lining the waterway – divine! There are countless things to do and discover in and around the area and amazing hotels to stay in – romance personified.
Getting here: Well connected to all major cities in India by rail, air and road.
If you like the romance of the desert and your scenery dropdead gorgeous, then Jaisalmer, also in Rajasthan, is your dream destination. The fort, rising like a mirage from the desert terrain, was built centuries ago from the surrounding honey-coloured sandstone. At certain times of the day, depending on the light, it can look like a fairytale sandcastle or a modern day Lego project put together by a giant. Thousands of people still live and work in the Fort's winding, twisting lanes that conjure images of a golden era when this was a prime trading centre on the camel caravan route. Indulge your romantic fantasies with an overnight stay, cuddled down into a bedouin tent under a moonlit desert sky. There's a camel safari just right for every couple!
Getting here: You can catch the direct train from Delhi (through Jodhpur). Jaisalmer is connected to the rest of state by well-maintained roads, so coach or car travel is easy.
Devotees of yoga and meditation will find their dream destination in Rishikesh, located on the banks of the holy Ganges River in the lush, forested foothills of the Himalayas. Known as the birthplace of yoga and home to the annual International Yoga Festival, Rishikesh was 'discovered' by the fab four Beatles, in the late 60s when they travelled to India looking for a spiritual awakening. A holy place with numerous ashrams, Rishikesh is still a magnet for those seeking a spiritual journey of discovery. For adventurers, there's also white water rafting and mountain trekking.
Getting here: Located in the state of Uttaranchal, you could fly into Delhi Airport and then hire a car/driver. Or fly from Delhi to Dehradun and then take a taxi for the two-hour journey. You can also take the fast train from Delhi to Haridwar and then a taxi.
4. Fort Cochin and the Backwaters of Kerala
Combine your trip to Kerala with the cultural landscape of Fort Kochi and the wonders of cruising the network of interconnected canals, rivers and lakes known as the backwaters. Magical scenes of traditional life are laid before you while drifting along the tranquil waters in your houseboat – perfect for overnight romance. Unique in character and design, the colonial port city of Fort Kochi is a step back in time to when the British, Dutch and Portuguese each ruled here for a time. What they left behind in architectural splendour has helped shape this old fishing port into one of Kerala's loveliest cities with its numerous forts and churches.
Getting here: Cochin International Airport connects with cities all over India and the world. From here it's under two hours to reach the Backwaters of Alleppey.
India is famous for its hill stations and none more so than Shimla, situated on a steep mountainside in the Himalayan foothills of Himachal Pradesh. Once a holiday mecca for the British Raj, Shimla clings to the forested hillside, a romantic vision of oldworld charm from the time when the British played and stayed in their villas and cottages so long ago. Enjoy one of the most scenic train journeys in India on the Unesco World Heritage Kalka-Shimla toy train that winds its way for 96 kilometres through lush forest and up rugged mountains. And for the most romantic stay in the lap of luxury, Wildflower Hall, with its uninterrupted views of the Himalayas won't disappoint.
Getting here: By rail from Delhi to Kalka and then the scenic train route or fly from Delhi to Jubberhatti and then by road or by deluxe bus Delhi to Shimla.
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