Guide to Northeast India: Manipur, Tripura, and Mizoram

22 reasons to visit Manipur, Tripura, and Mizoram | Northeast India guide Part 4

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A trip to Northeast India is incomplete without visiting the states of Manipur, Tripura, and Mizoram. Each state has its own set of tourist attractions which makes them worth the visit. This is part 4 of the Talk Travel Northeast India guide.

Permits to visit Northeast India

First of all, ensure you have the permit to visit these states in Northeast India. Visiting any of the northeastern states requires some sort of permit issued by the Government of India. Get a permit beforehand so you don’t waste time procuring the permission to enter when you are on your way. Both domestic and foreign visitors need a permit to visit. Also, read this blog to get all your information regarding permits to visit these states.

Manipur

Manipur is considered as the bridge between India and Asia where a lot of ethnicities coexist peacefully. The capital of Manipur is Imphal. Manipur shares its border with Myanmar. Also, Manipur is famous for its arts and culture.

Manipur in Northeast India
Manipur in Northeast India

Best time to visit Manipur

The best time to visit Manipur is from October to March.

How to reach Manipur?

By flight

The Tulihal Airport outside Imphal has flights coming in from major cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Guwahati, and more. Certainly reaching Manipur by flight is the right decision.

By train

The nearest and the largest railway station is the one in Guwahati (Assam). You can take a bus from Guwahati to Imphal.

By bus

There are a lot of private buses which ply between Guwahati, Silchar (Assam), Dimapur (Nagaland) and Imphal.

Places to visit in Manipur

Ima Keithel Women Market

The handloom section - 3

Pic courtesy: zehawk

This is a bustling bazaar like any other market in the world. It has traders selling spices, textiles, handmade jewelry, fresh fruits, and vegetables. What makes this place special is that all the traders are only women. Located in Imphal, Ima Keithel translates to mother’s market.

Imphal Valley

There are a lot of rivers that flow in the hills that surround Imphal which culminate to create a valley. As a result, there are numerous lakes, swampy areas and marshes in the Valley. The most famous of the lakes in the area is the Loktak Lake.

Loktak Lake

This is the largest freshwater lake in Northeast India. Above all, what makes this place unique are the circular floating swamps called phumdis (tiny islands). You can travel to Bishnupur district is a cab which is 53 km from Imphal.

Loktak Lake - 1

Pic courtesy: zehawk

The most important fact is that this lake is a source of livelihood for the local people. Locals depend on the lake for fishing, irrigation, drinking water supply, and hydropower generation. Also, there is the Keibul Lamjao National Park located at the southwestern part of the lake. It is home to the endangered Manipuri brow-antlered deer, Sangai.

Kangla Fort

It is a very important historical and archeological site of Manipur. It was the ancient capital of the Manipur Kingdom. Go back in time and learn about the valorous days of the Manipur kingdom. Visit the fort, citadel, temple, and museum all built within the walls of this fort. Read more about this fort here.

Andro Shanthei Natural Park

Andro village is 30 km from Imphal on the foothills of Nongmaiching hill. Most noteworthy fact about this place is that it is famous for the traditional pottery skills of its people. The Santhei Natural Park is a popular picnic spot for locals and tourists alike. This park has been developed around a water reservoir. Another major attraction here is the Mutua Cultural Heritage Complex that showcases major tribal tradition and their artifacts.

The Chakpa Panam Ningthou Meithoupirol Shanglen is another interesting destination that attracts a large number of visitors. It is an old Hindu temple where a sacred fire was lit 1,000 years ago. Interestingly, the fire has been preserved and maintained until now by the local community.

Moreh

It is a town located on the India-Myanmar border in the Tengnoupal district in Manipur. Indians are allowed to enter Myanmar without a visa. But all Indian tourists need to return back to India before sunset. 

Red Hills Lokpaching

This place is famous because the British and the Japanese forces fought a fierce battle against each other here during the Second World War. Lt. General Iwaichi Fujiwara, a Japanese veteran constructed ‘The India Peace Memorial’ to commemorate the death of Japanese soldiers who lost their lives in this battle. This place was inaugurated in 1994.

Khongjom War Memorial

It is located on Kheba hill 35 km from Imphal on the Indo-Myanmar road. This is a memorial built to reminiscence the past heroic deeds of Manipuri warriors. It is dedicated to one of the warriors of the state, Paona Brajabasi and other warriors who fought against the British Army at the Khongjom battlefield of 1891. A grand 30-feet tall gate will welcome you to this place.

Sangai Festival

cover

Pic courtesy: Manipur Sangai Festival

The State Tourism Department organizes a tourism festival between 21st and 30th of November every year. This festival is a big platform for Manipur to showcase its rich tradition and culture. Also, it promotes Manipur as a world-class tourist destination. Consequently, this is the best place to know about Manipur’s cuisine, dance forms, indigenous sports, adventure activities and more.

Mizoram

It is one of the smallest states located in the southernmost point of Northeast India. Christianity is the predominant religion here. Interestingly, the Tropic of Cancer passes through Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram.

Aizawl City.A great vibrant city with moderate and salubrious climate

Capital of Mizoram – Aizawl. Pic courtesy: Luaia Nampui

Mizoram is a destination with a wide array of festivals, dances, handicrafts, flora and fauna, breathtaking natural beauty, and temperate climate. Mizoram has a lot of natural touristic attractions. This place makes for a perfect and a pleasant holiday away from the humdrum of city life.

How to reach Mizoram?

Lengpui Airport in Aizawl has connectivity with Kolkata and Guwahati only. You can take a cab for 600 INR (9USD) from the airport to the city center. Furthermore, you can take a shared cab for half the price.

Taking a train to reach all the way to Mizoram is not recommended. The best way to travel is by road from popular cities nearby like Guwahati or Silchar in Assam.

Places to visit in Mizoram

Tam Dil

Perfect for a picnic, Tam Dil is a reservoir located 64 km from Aizawl. It is considered the largest lake in Mizoram. Tucked between evergreen forests and hills, you can visit this place to witness pristine blue waters and lush greenery. Besides being a tourist destination, Tamdil Lake is also very crucial for the fisherman in the locality.

Vantawng Falls

Vantawng Fall

Pic courtesy: Rinchamliana Chhakchhuak

This pristine waterfall looks like a stream of gushing milk falling from a cliff surrounded by emerald green trees. It is located 137 km away from Aizawl. Also, it’s a two-tiered waterfall with a total height of 750 ft. It is difficult to get close to it because of the sheer forested hillside. However, a comfortable viewing tower has been constructed.

Champai

This town is on the Indo-Myanmar border located 200 km from Aizawl. Head to this place to enjoy the stunning vista of emerald rice fields bordered by the smoky hills of Myanmar. Besides that, Champai has the biggest stretch of plains in Mizoram which is used for rice cultivation.

Thasiama Seno Neihna

It is a beautiful plateau on a craggy hill at Vaphai village, which is about 86 km from Champhai. Therefore, a visit to this plateau is indeed an exciting and thrilling experience.

Lushai Hills

This is a mountain range in Mizoram and Tripura, a neighboring state in Northeast India. Phawngpui, also known as the Blue Mountain is the highest peak in this range.

There are many species of butterflies here, including some rare species found in this region. These hills are inhabited by the Lushais and other Mizo tribes. Also, Lushai Hills is great for hiking at all times of the year. We would recommend not to go during monsoon because the path can be very slippery and hence risky.

Rih Dil

It is a natural heart-shaped lake located in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar. You can reach this place from Champhai. Catch an auto from Govt lodge to reach Champhai bazaar and you need to reserve a seat in a shared SUV which leaves for Zokhawthar which is in Myanmar.

Start on this adventure early in the morning as you have to rely on this SUV to travel. Likewise, you can hire a cab from Champai and travel at your comfort instead of relying on the shared cab. Apparently, a lot of newlyweds from Mizoram cross the border and take pictures at Rih Dil. 

Reiek

Reiek is a mountain and tourist spot 29 km from Aizawl. It rests at an elevation of 1,548 m overlooking Aizawl and offers a view of the surrounding valleys and hills. There is four well-furnished government cottage there to rest for the night. Above all, it costs just 400 INR (7 USD) per day. Our recommendation is to book it in advance. There is a small trek up the mountain from the model Mozo village, which one must do. It takes you to the top of the mountain. The views you get from the cliff of the valley below you is unmatchable.

Tripura

This is a hilly state in Northeast India surrounded by Bangladesh on three sides. It is one of the regions least explored by tourists. Most importantly, Tripura offers immense natural beauty and an intriguing cultural heritage.

How to reach Tripura?

By flight

Maharaja Bir Bikram Airport in Agartala, the capital of Tripura has flight connections from New Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, and Silchar. Flying is the most convenient way of travel. The fastest way to travel internally in Tripura is by a helicopter that connects Agartala with the northern parts of the state.

By train

It’s easy to use train services to get here. Also, an Express train runs daily between Agartala and Lumding. The landscape that you see during the journey enhances your experience of Tripura. You have to book the tickets in advance since it’s a popular way to get there.

Places to visit in Tripura

Ujjayanta Palace

Ujjayanta Palace

Pic courtesy: Atanu Roy Choudhury

The Ujjayanta Palace is a museum and the former palace of the Kingdom of Tripura constructed between 1899 and 1901. The palace stands on the banks of two lakes surrounded by Mughal style gardens. Above all, this Palace is one of the largest museums in Northeast India, covering an area of 800 acres.

Neermahal

Literally meaning the Water Palace, it is a former royal palace. King Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur of the erstwhile Kingdom of Tripura built it.

Neermahal in the state of Tripura in Northeast India
Neermahal in the state of Tripura in Northeast India.
Pic courtesy: Wikipedia

It is built in the middle of the Rudrasagar Lake. Every year in the month of August, the government organizes the Neermahal Water Festival that lasts for 3 days. There are many cultural programmes and events that you can go to. Furthermore, the biggest attraction of this festival is certainly the boat race at Rudrasagar Lake. 

Unakoti

In the thick forested Jampui hills of north Tripura, bound by the meandering Manu River there are giant bas-relief sculptures which make Unakoti a must-visit landmark. Located around 178 km from Agartala, Unakoti’s ‘Lost Hill of Faces’ is a centuries-old Shaivite pilgrimage spot. Unakoti literally meaning one less than a koti (crore) in Bengali.

TRI_2510

Pic courtesy: Mahesh V

The most famous one of them is the Unakotishwara Kal Bhairav, a 30-foot high carving of Shiva’s head. Similarly, the most eye-catching feature is its 10-foot high intricate headdress. A warrior-like Goddess Durga and Goddess Ganga flank it. Read more about this great place here.

Sipahijola Wildlife Sanctuary

This wildlife sanctuary is located 25 km from Agartala. It is a woodland with an artificial lake and gardens. What is noteworthy about this place is that you can find orchids, elephant joy rides, boating facilities, rubber, and coffee plantations attracting tourists all through the year. The Clouded Leopard National Park is also located inside the Sipahijola Wildlife Sanctuary.

There are other wildlife sanctuaries that you can visit like Trishna, Gumti, and Rowa which are thriving with the local flora and fauna.

Kumarghat

If you love pineapples, then this is the place for you. Kumarghat is in North Tripura District of Tripura. It is famous for its extensive pineapple cultivation. Kumarghat in Tripura is the highest producer of the fruit in the state. Kumarghat supplies large quantity of pineapples to Assam and other neighboring states in Northeast India.

Dumboor Lake

Situated in Amarpur subdivision, about 120 km away from the capital city of Agartala, this lake is a confluence of the Rivers Raima and Sarma.

Dumboor Lake in Tripura
Dumboor Lake in Tripura

Beautiful hills and lush greenery surround the lake. You can also find villagers fishing here.

Guided tours in Northeast India

There is an ecotourism company called The Greener Pastures completely dedicated to promoting sustainable travel in Northeast India. They promote tours and adventures to exotic locations in the northeast with an objective to benefit local communities and safeguard the environment with responsible travel. Furthermore, they conduct guided tours in this region which will give you a great insight into the lives of the people, culture, heritage, and landscape of this region.

We hope this guide helped you in getting a fair picture of what places to visit in Manipur, Tripura, and Mizoram. Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 to explore other fantastic locations in the northeast of India. 

Do write to us, in case you have any questions and we at Talk Travel are happy to help. If you need any help in building a travel itinerary or you have any other query, download our free TalkTravel App. It is available for download on your Android or iOS device. You can download the TalkTravel App for free and reach out to the local expert without any additional cost. You are free to ask any doubt before or during your travel and our local expert will be ready to assist you.

We wish you a safe and happy travel!

Guide to Northeast India: Meghalaya & Nagaland

19 reasons to visit Meghalaya & Nagaland | Northeast of India guide Part 3

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The northeast of India evokes images of rain-soaked valleys and mountains, stretches of tea plantations as far as the eye can see, thriving tribal culture in the 21st century, and pristine landscapes. Visiting the northeast of India is a great travel option and there is so much to do in this part of India.

In continuation of the Talk Travel Northeast India travel guide series, in part 3 we will tell you what to do in Meghalaya and Nagaland. Read about Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, and Assam in Part 1 and Part 2 series. Know more about Manipur, Tripura, and Mizoram in part 4 of the Northeast of India series.

Laitlum grand canyon panorama

Laitlum grand canyon. Pic courtesy: Apurba Rabha

Permits to visit the Northeast of India

Visiting any of the northeastern states requires some sort of permit issued by the Government of India. Get a permit beforehand as you do not want to waste time procuring the permission to enter when you are on your way. Both domestic and foreign visitors need a permit to visit. Read this blog to get all your information regarding permits to visit these states.

Meghalaya

This state in the northeast of India is famous for being the wettest place on the entire planet. Go visit Meghalaya to enjoy the incessant rainfall during monsoon, walk over the living root bridge and take a dip in the crystal clear waters of the Umngot river in Dawki.

Best time to visit Meghalaya

You can visit Meghalaya any time of the year. Especially if you want to visit the village of Mawsynram which receives the maximum rainfall in this world.

For a more comfortable experience, you can visit Meghalaya anytime between September to May when it isn’t raining.

Travel tips for Meghalaya

The weather can be humid here and can also rain anytime, so carry light cotton clothes to help absorb the sweat.

Also carry a raincoat preferably when you visit Meghalaya. An umbrella is good too but there is hiking involved at a few places. The terrain is such that, you cannot walk holding an umbrella in one hand over such long distances.

Good hiking shoes or sports shoes. As mentioned before, a lot of walking is involved, so a good pair of shoes is important, preferably water-proof. You are on an adventure in Meghalaya where you will hop over rivulets, cross live root bridges and trudge through ankle-deep water sometimes.

How to reach Meghalaya

By flight

There is a tiny airport 30 km outside the capital called Shillong. This airport receives flights only from Kolkata.

Another more convenient and better option is to fly to Guwahati in Assam and then take a taxi to come to Shillong. There are a lot more flights which reach Guwahati from New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and more. Guwahati is just 100 km from Shillong and a taxi ride is comfortable and very scenic.

By train

The nearest railway station is again in Guwahati. Reach Guwahati by train and then take a taxi to Shillong.

By road

Reaching this deep in the northeast of India by road is not easy. There a lot of highways indeed but the time and distance needed to cover from the nearest metro are large. While nothing is impossible, you can be adventurous and drive until here and appreciate the journey. If you have lesser number of days, then it’s best to fly to Guwahati and then enjoy Meghalaya

Places to visit in Meghalaya

1. Shillong

There are a lot of things to do in the capital of Shillong itself. Exploring Shillong deserves 3 days in itself, such is the charm of this city.

2. Don Bosco Museum

Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures (DBCIC) is spread over 7 floors showcasing the diversity in culture in the northeast of India. The exhibits on display are curated and each depicts the history, culture, tradition and more of the people in this region. A must-visit if anthropology is your thing.

3. Elephant falls

Elephant Falls Shillong

Pic courtesy: Soumav- India in Pictures

Just 12 km outside Shillong is a beautiful cascade of white water. The water cascades over three levels and you have to climb down the stairs from the top to see each level.

4. Umiam Lake
Umiam Lake in Meghalaya
Umiam Lake in Meghalaya
Pic courtesy: Vikramjit Kakati

Appreciate mother nature at its best 15 km outside Shillong at Umiam Lake. This lake is basically a reservoir upstream of the Umiam river. It is the perfect place to go for a picnic, boating or kayaking.

5. David Scott Trail

This is a simple 17 km hike for 6 hours which takes you through some spectacular scenery. This hike is simple but suggested for able adults. This is because sometime you will have to cross a stream in waist-deep water. Read more about this hike here.

6. Laitlum Canyon

22 km from Shillong is this scenic place called the Laitlum Canyon. The trek to the top of the hill is between moderate to difficult but well worth the effort as you will be rewarded with views of the valley beneath you. You can also go on a bike or a taxi to the top of the hill.

There is a 3000 stepped stairway which leads to a hamlet called Raslong beneath. In your path, you will find bamboo plantations and colorful orchids.

7. Mawphlang

This is a tiny village 25 km outside Shillong. This is village is the hub of Khasi culture, an indigenous ethnic group in Meghalaya. While you are here, you must go for a hike in the Sacred Forest here. The local Khasi tribes have been protecting this jungle from centuries and they consider it as sacred.

Pic courtesy: Masrur Ashraf

There is also a very interesting and quirky rule while you are here, which is – ‘You are not allowed to take anything out of the forest.’ Not even a pebble, a twig or a leaf as it is considered to anger the Gods. There is a belief that if a person does take something out secretly, they tend to fall ill. Whether you are a rationalist or not, get into the groove of the local culture and enjoy this hike by taking only memories back with you.

8. Mawsynram

It is a world-renowned village because it receives the highest rainfall on Earth. When you are here, you can also visit the naturally formed Mawjymbuin Cave.

9. Mawlynnong

It is a village 100 km from Shillong in the south of Meghalaya, close to the Bangladesh border. This village is famous for being the cleanest village in Asia. It is a picturesque village with spotless roads. The houses are made of natural materials like bamboo and surrounded by flower-bearing plants. There are bamboo baskets placed everywhere which serve as dustbins.

10. Cherrapunjee‎

This is a high altitude town in Meghalaya. This place receives heavy rainfall second to Mawsynram. Cherrapunjee‎ is famous for its mountains, waterfalls, caves and the famous living root bridge.

11. Nohkalikai falls

The south of Meghalaya has a lot of gems to visit like the Nohkalikai falls. Around 55 km from Shillong, this waterfall is one of the highest in India with water plunging from a height of 1100 ft. It is a spectacular sight to see a white stream of water plunging from a rocky plain full of trees.

12. Nongriat

The living root bridges of Meghalaya which are famous world over are from the village of Nongriat. These roots are built by the Khasi tribes who guide the aerial roots of trees to grow in a certain direction which transforms into a sturdy bridge when they grow. It is such rare landmarks that make travel in the northeast of India such a delight.

Trek to Nongriat

Pic courtesy: Prakash

You need to trek down a total of thousands of steps down the mountain to witness the double-decker root bridge. The trek will take approximately 5 hours to complete one way. It is best suggested to stay overnight at the base of the mountain where there are accommodations. It may be physically exhausting to hike down thousands of steps but the scenery that you get to witness is priceless. You will see lush greenery, gushing rivers, fluttering butterflies, and more.

If you plan to stay,  walk around on other trails to nearby villages and take a dip in many waterfalls along the way. Also, trek up for an hour to Rainbow Falls, which is supposedly very scenic and highly recommended by all trekkers and locals alike.

Carry your best shoes as you will be on your feet for the most part of the day. Also, carry swimming wear if you would like to take a dip in the stream here.

Read this blog by Lost with purpose where he put into words his experience at Nongriat.

13. Other places to visit in Cherrapunjee‎

There is the Kynrem Falls, Seven Sisters Falls, Mawsmai Cave, Daiñthlen Falls, Arwah cave, Wei Sawdong waterfall and more. Meghalaya can easily take a week’s time to explore during your trip to the northeast of India.

14. Dawki

While we spoke of waterfalls, bridges and villages, a trip to Meghalaya is incomplete if you do not go to Dawki. 95 km from Shillong and just 2 km away from Bangladesh, the biggest attraction is the Umngot river.

The emerald green water of this river is so crystal clear that you can see the riverbed 12 ft below. You can take a take a boat ride, swim in the water, go fishing, have a meal of freshly cooked fish or just appreciate the beauty of this border town.

15. Ranikor

Close to the border of Bangladesh flows the river Jadukata which has an abundant population of Mahseers. If you love fishing then this is the best place to be. Anglers can row up the river where the Kynshi and Rilang rivers converge to enjoy angling.  You can find golden mahseers, golden carp, silver carp and the common carp.

Nagaland

Hidden among the mountains, Nagaland in the northeast of India shares its border with Myanmar on one side. Nagaland is famous for its diverse indigenous tribes in exotic attire, vibrant festivals, and beautiful valleys.

Dzukou Valley Rest House

Pic courtesy: Josh Niederauer

Best time to visit Nagaland

Nagaland is a year-round destination. Summer between May to July can be hot and humid. Winter between December to February is cool during the day and cold during the night.

Monsoon is a good time to travel too but it can rain very heavily so please carry your raincoat when you are in the northeast of India.

How to reach Nagaland?

The capital of Nagaland is Kohima but the city with has all the connectivity is Dimapur which is 67 km away.

Dimapur has an airport which receives frequent flights from New Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati and other major Indian cities.

The nearest railway station in Dimapur is well connected to Guwahati and other cities within India. There are good roads but the distance to cover is large and the terrain is mountainous. So stick to flying or taking the train for your own safety.

16. Kohima

The Kohima War Cemetery is a must-visit. It is a memorial dedicated to soldiers in the British unit as part of the Allied forces during the Second World War. It is at this spot that the Allied Forces won a battle against the Japanese forcing the latter to retreat.

If you want to get into the details of the tribal culture of the Naga people, then the Naga Heritage Village is the place to be in Kohima.

17. Pulie Badze

It is a popular weekend getaway for people living in n Kohima. Perfect for a hiking trip up the hill to enjoy breathtaking views and pleasant weather. Visitors trek all the way to the hilltop, to get a scenic view of the surrounding areas – including parts of Mt. Japfu (second highest peak in Nagaland) and a panoramic view of Kohima town.

18. Hornbill festival

This annual 10-day event is a much-awaited festival in the northeast of India. It takes place in the month of December where 16 native tribes of Nagaland come together and showcase their rich culture and tradition. Tribes from other states in the northeast of India participate in this event. You can read more about this festival and its features on the official Nagaland tourism website.

19. Dzukou Valley

This is a very charming valley which will provide you generous views of the emerald green hills, lush forests, meandering streams, and a riot of colors with flowers blooming along the trekking path. Such a fantastic experience is what awaits you in the northeast of India.

Dzukou Valley,Nagaland

Pic courtesy: Souvik Chakraborty

The trek is moderately difficult since there are steep ascents to climb in the forest. You can go for a hike organized by Thrillophilia. It makes for a better experience as your guide will explain the local culture, the lifestyle of villagers and more.

There is an ecotourism company called The Greener Pastures completely dedicated to promoting sustainable travel in Northeast India. They promote tours and adventures to exotic locations in the northeast with an objective to benefit local communities and safeguard the environment with responsible travel. They conduct guided tours in this region which will give you a great insight into the lives of the people, culture, heritage, and landscape of this region.

We hope this guide helped you get a fair picture of what places to visit in Meghalaya and Nagaland. Read Part 1 of the Northeast of India travel series to know all about traveling in Sikkim. Part 2 is about Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. Last but not the least, part 4 is about travel in Manipur, Tripura, and Mizoram. 

Do write to us, in case you have any questions and we at Talk Travel are happy to help. If you need any help in building a travel itinerary or you have any other query, download our free TalkTravel App. It is available for download on your Android or iOS device. You can download the TalkTravel App for free and reach out to the local expert without any additional cost. You are free to ask any doubt before or during your travel and our local expert will be ready to assist you.

We wish you a safe and happy travel!

Guide to Northeast India: Arunachal Pradesh & Assam

15 reasons to visit Arunachal Pradesh & Assam | Northeast of India guide Part 2

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The northeast of India is unique in its own way from the rest of the country. The geographical distance from the mainland gives this region a seclusion which contributes to their unique identity. A lot of these states have thriving tribal cultures which are centuries old. It is a good sign that the isolation helps them nurture their heritage with a greater passion unlike the modern way of life which pervades cities and towns of mainland India.

In continuation with Part 1 of the Talk Travel App Northeast India guide, we will talk about destinations in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam in part 2 of the northeast of India travel series.

Permits to visit the Northeast of India

Visiting any of the northeastern states requires some sort of permit issued by the Government of India. Get a permit beforehand as you do not want to waste time procuring the permission to enter when you are on your way. Both domestic and foreign visitors need a permit to visit. Read this blog to get all your information regarding permits to visit these states.

Arunachal Pradesh

Arunachal Pradesh is another beautiful state in the northeast of India. It is called the Land of Dawnlit mountains as it in the easternmost part of India.

Arunachal Pradesh : Apatani, Subu Taniin #18

Pic courtesy: ۞ Frans Devriese

Places are remote here and its people are very protective of their heritage. Places are not easily accessible here as the terrain is hilly and full of forests. This seclusion gives it a touch of exoticism.

How to travel to Arunachal Pradesh?

By flight

Itanagar is the capital of Arunachal Pradesh and it does not have an airport of its own.

The nearest is the Guwahati International Airport in Guwahati and Lilabari Airport in Ujjalpur in Assam. A few airlines fly daily to this airport from major Indian cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata.

They are around 70 km away from Arunachal Pradesh and you can take a bus or a taxi to reach Arunachal Pradesh. There is also a helicopter service to drop you in Itanagar from Guwahati for people with permits to travel for a price of around 4000 INR (60 USD). 

By train

There are is a direct train from New Delhi to Naharlagun, which is 15 km outside the capital of Assam. There is another direct train from Guwahati which plies every day to Naharlagun.

By road

There are national highways that connect Arunachal Pradesh from major metros like New Delhi and Kolkata. The distance is too long and you can easily get exhausted. Instead, take the train or the flight.

Best time to visit Arunachal Pradesh

October to April is considered the best time to visit this state. 

Here are some of the places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh:

1. Tawang

It is a mountain town at an altitude of 2,669 m. It is famous for the Tawang Monastery which is considered as one of the largest monasteries in India.

2. Sela Pass

This is a high altitude mountain pass at an elevation of 4170 m. The Sela Pass is considered the gateway to Arunachal Pradesh as this is the only road that leads to the state from mainland India. There is also the Sela Lake which adds to the breathtaking view of this place.

3. Roing

Roing is a picturesque town in the Dibang river valley which is in the easternmost part of Arunachal Pradesh. Watch out for Mehao Lake, Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary, a town called Hunli, Sally Lake, and Iphi-Pani Ghat.

4. Bomdila

Bomdila is perfect to relax with fantastic views of the Himalayan Mountain Range. This is the Sessa Orchid Sanctuary and Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary. There are apple orchards everywhere and the Bomdila Monastery to visit.

5. Parshuram Kund

This is a religious site for scores of Hindus who take a holy dip in the Lohit River. There is an annual fair that is held here every year in the month of January on the occasion of a festival called Makara Sankranthi. People from the local tribes come down to this spot with their cattle and sell handicrafts like fur rugs. You can also go river rafting in the river or go on a hike around this place.

6. Namdapha National Park

This is the third largest national park in India and has one of the richest biodiversity. Between November to March, you can go a rainforest trek through this national park organized by Greener Pastures.

Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis)

Pic courtesy: Meenakshi Mallik

7. Ziro Valley

115 km from the capital, Itanagar, the little town of Ziro is famous for its cultural heritage. It is amazing to witness how their culture and traditions are still so strong even in the 21st century. Read this Northeast India travel blog to know what all you can do in Ziro Valley.

Ziro valley festival

Pic courtesy: Sandro Lacarbona

There is an outdoor music festival held here every year called Ziro Music Festival. You can get all the information about the line up of artists and the upcoming festival dates in 2019 here.

8. Pansau Pass

Since the states in the northeast of India are surreounded by countries like China, Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Bhutan, an opportunity arises sometimes when you can step your foot on the final frontier.

Pansau Pass is on the border between India and Myanmar at an altitude of 3,727 ft. There is the famous Pangsau Pass Winter Festival held every year in the month of January in a village called Nampong in India, close to the border. You can witness the extravagance and the rich culture of the local tribes. There will be folk songs, art, ethnic wear, traditional sports, and more.

Assam

Assam is a state where you can enjoy nature at its best. There is greenery everywhere and two aspects of tourism which make Assam outstanding are the tea plantations and the numerous wildlife sanctuaries. Thanks to the Brahmaputra river and the many tributaries that flow right through this state that makes this land so fertile.

9. Tea tourism

This state is considered as the Tea Garden of India. This kind of tourism is an interesting twist while you travel in the northeast of India.

Picking twigs for your cup of tea

Pic courtesy: Manojit Dey

Feel like a tea connoisseur at the end of your trip. You can indulge in an end-to-end tea manufacturing activity starting from the nursery where the plants are grown until the tea leaves are sorted and packed. Romance with tea at this award-winning responsible tourism estate called Wild Mahseer. This place is not just about tea, but you can also learn about the local biodiversity in nature walks, understand the local tribal community, safari, and bird watching.

Another awesome organizers of tea tourism in Assam is Greener Pastures. In this tour, you can stay in bungalows amidst tea plantation, go on village walks, pluck tea leaves and visit the nearby tea factory.

10. Wildlife tourism

If wildlife tourism and photography is your thing, then one of the best places is the northeast of India.

Peaceful Co-existence

Pic courtesy: urmimala singh

Assam is synonymous with the one-horned Asiatic rhino. This state has successfully conserved the one-horned Indian rhinoceros from near extinction. It is world famous for the Kaziranga National Park &Tiger Reserve. This is a very famous place in the northeast of India.

Go on a jeep safari or an elephant ride for an unforgettable wildlife encounter from close quarters. You can choose the kind of tour package you want and make your online booking on the official website itself. The cost of the safari ranges anywhere between  1,000 – 3,000 INR (15 – 40 USD) depending on the kind of safari you opt for. The park remains closed from 01 May till 31 Oct every year for all visitors. Therefore November to April is the best time to visit.

11. National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries

There are a plethora of other wildlife parks to visit spread throughout the state of Assam like Manas National Park, Orang National Park, and Dibru Saikhowa National Park. There is also the Pobitora, Dehing Patkai, Bura Chapori, Chakrashila, Bornadi, Laokhowa, and Amchang Wildlife Sanctuaries.

12. Molai forest

This forest is like a slice of heaven placed in the heart of Assam. It is a forest on Majuli Island in the Brahmaputra river. The most unique aspect about this forest is that it is completely man-made, thanks to the effort of one man by the name Jadav Molai Payeng.

The-Forestman-of-India

Pic courtesy: Donate Your Sweat

About four decades ago, this stretch of land was dry and barren due to excessive deforestation. Payend came across a bed of dead snakes on the shores of the river due to immense heat in the region. Payeng was so heartbroken at this sight that he took it upon himself to plant a tree in this barren land and today it is a tropical forest reserve. Molai Forest is an area of 1,360 acres or 550 hectares. Wildlife flourishes in this forest with elephants, deer, rabbits, apes, and even tigers.

13. Temples in Assam

If you would like to indulge in some spirituality in your holiday there is the popular Umananda temple and Kamakhya temple in Guwahati. Both attracts thousands of Hindu pilgrims who throng this place to offer prayers.

14. Historical places in Assam

The Talatal Garh is located in Rangpur in the upper regions of Assam. This palace has an architecture very different from what we observe in the rest of India. This palace belonged to the Ahom kingdom of the Brahmaputra valley which ruled this land between the 13th – early 19th century. Other places of interest are the ancient ruins of Rang Garh and Kareng Garh.

15. River cruise

To appreciate the mighty Brahmaputra which flows here in abundance, head on an adventurous river cruise for a week. On this trip, you will explore the Kaziranga National Park, learn about Assamese culture and its people.

We hope this guide helped you in getting a fair picture of what places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. Read our Part 3 and Part 4 of the Talk Travel Northeast of India guide to know about Meghalaya and Nagaland in Part 3. Read about Manipur, Tripura, and Mizoram in Part 4 of why you should visit the northeast of India. 

Do write to us, in case you have any questions and we at Talk Travel are happy to help. If you need any help in building a travel itinerary or you have any other query, download our free TalkTravel App. It is available for download on your Android or iOS device. You can download the TalkTravel App for free and reach out to the local expert without any additional cost. You are free to ask any doubt before or during your travel and our local expert will be ready to assist you.

We wish you a safe and happy travel!

A guide to Sikkim in Northeast India

10 reasons to visit Sikkim | Northeast India guide Part 1

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Northeast India is an upcoming destination for domestic and foreign travelers. With improved infrastructure and better connectivity, this is a popular destination in India right now. Each of the 8 states in this region has its own charm and beauty attached to it. There is wildlife, adventure, eco-tourism, ethnic tourism, and cuisine to explore here.

There are 8 states in northeast India namely Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura, and Mizoram. We shall cover Sikkim in Part 1 of Talk Travel App’s northeast of India travel guides.

Permits to visit northeast India

Visiting any of the northeastern states requires some sort of permit issued by the Government of India. Get a permit beforehand as you do not want to waste time procuring the permission to enter. Both domestic and foreign visitors need different kinds of a permit to visit northeast India. Read this blog to get all the information regarding permits to visit these states.

While all the states in northeast India are nestled together in the far east, Sikkim is closer to mainland India. 

Travel to Sikkim

It is not possible to reach Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim directly by flight. The nearest airport is the Bagdogra Airport in West Bengal. This airport is 126 km away and takes 4 hours by bus or jeep to reach Gangtok. There are direct flights from New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and other major cities to Bagdogra Airport.

How to reach Gangtok from Bagdogra Airport?

Mode of transportPick up point (Siliguri)Drop point (Gangtok)PriceDuration of journey
BusNew Jalpaiguri StationDeorali150 INR (2 -3 USD)4 – 5 hours
Private taxiBagdogra AirportDeoraliSmall taxi – 2800 INR (40 USD)
Large taxi – 3300 INR (50 USD)
4 – 5 hours
Shared taxiBagdogra AirportDeorali200 INR per person (2 -3 USD)4 – 5 hours
HelicopterBagdogra AirportGangtok3500 INR per person (50 USD)35 minutes

* The prices mentioned are valid as of August 2018.

New Jalpaiguri Station is just 2 km from Bagdogra Airport in Siliguri. Deorali is a taxi stand 2 km outside Gangtok. Taking a taxi/ an auto from Deorali to Gangtok will cost you 150 INR (2 -3 USD).

Read this travel guide for more information about the helicopter service.

Northeast India

Sikkim

The snow-capped Himalayas, green-carpeted hillocks, pristine lakes, numerous waterfalls, river valleys and monasteries chanting Buddhist hymns is what awaits you when you visit Sikkim.

Best time to visit Sikkim

PerfectSummer (March to June)
GoodWinter (October to February)
BadRainy Season (July to September) This hilly region is prone to landslides and most tourist activities cease during this season

Always carry warm clothing even during summer as the temperatures drop in the night.

Places to visit in Sikkim

1. Gangtok

The first thing that you will notice here are the buildings precariously perched on the edge of the hills. If you find a good hotel with a view, you can see the mightly Kanchenjunga peak in all its glory. The peak of this mountain has an orange glow as the first rays of the sun grace this mountain every morning.

Explore the streets of Gangtok on foot or a rickshaw. Indulge in Tibetan, Sikkimese and Nepalese cuisine when you are here. Try the noodle soups like Thupka and Thenthuk. Do not miss out hot steaming momos which are easily available here. Catch up on a book with some fresh and hot tea at Cafe Fiction or look at the bustling streets in the comfortable Baker’s cafe.

Gangtok, Sikkim
Gangtok, Sikkim

There are a lot of monasteries around Gangtok like the famous Rumtek Monastery, Enchey Monastery, Lingdum Monastery, and Gonjang Monastery. These Buddhist temples are colorful, you can hear the monks chanting prayers and you can see how life goes by for these monks as they live, study and continue to work in this monastery.

Ride in the cable car which costs 110 INR (2 USD) for gorgeous views of Gangtok at the top of the hill. Go river rafting in the Teesta river, paraglide at Baliman Dara or Reshithang village or mountain biking in the rugged region that surrounds Gangtok.

Scenic locations to explore are distributed all through the state. Here is a list of places to visit from the northernmost part of the state to the south.

2. Gurudongmar Lake

At an altitude of 17,800 ft, this is a must visit in Sikkim. This is at the northernmost point of Sikkim and it is very close to the Chinese border. My Sikkimese friends just cannot stop telling me how amazing this place is. Nestled among the mountains, this lake is as isolated and pristine as it can get. The crystal blue waters surrounded by barren land reflect the snow-capped mountains. You can see colorful prayer flags strung to the rocks. This is a place where you can pause and appreciate nature at its best.

3. Lachung Valley

This valley has breathtaking views of the Himalayas, tiny hamlets, sparkling streams and fruit orchards. If you come here in June, you will be lucky to witness the Saga Dawa Festival, the most sacred festival for Buddhists.

During spring, this entire place has Primulae, Rhododendrons and many other Alpine flowers in full bloom. During winter, this place wears a more somber and a rugged look. 30 km away from Lachung is Yumthang Valley famous for the Zero Point. This point is 15,300 ft in altitude and the stretch of road that brings you all the way here abruptly stops. That is why this place is called Zero Point. You will find a few army personnel here as the Chinese border is a just a few kilometers away from here.

4. Tso Lhamo Lake and Zemu Glacier

This is one among the high altitude lakes in Sikkim fed by the nearby Zemu Glacier. This glacier is 26 km long located at the base of Kangchenjunga.

There are many adventurous treks you can embark on around this glacier. This is the best way to enjoy the terrain at its fullest in the laps of the Himalayas. You can have 12 days to afford then the Green Lake trek will make for a perfect Sikkim holiday.

5. Khangchendzonga National Park

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a unique diversity of plains, valleys, lakes, glaciers and spectacular, snow-capped mountains covered with ancient forests. This great site has the world’s third highest peak, Mount Khangchendzonga.

Sunrise in Sikkim

Pic courtesy: Waldemar Halka

The best way to experience the spectacular sights of this mountain is by going on a trek on the Goecha La pass. This would be a moderate to difficult trek with rewarding views of many summits in the Himalayas like Mt. Pandim. You will need 11 days to finish the Goecha La trek organized by Ultimate Frontier Outlands.

6. Lake Tsomgo

Ice Freezes Over Tsongmo Lake

Pic courtesy: Pranav Bhasin

This lake is just 40 km outside Gangtok. It stays frozen all throughout winter. During the rest of the year, the water in the lake reflects different colors. This lake is considered very auspicious by the locals here. See if you can take a yak safari around this place. It is as exciting as a camel ride on the sand dunes of a desert.

7. Nathu La

This mountain pass in Eastern Sikkim close to the Indo-China border. On the way, you will come across Dzuluk, which is a hamlet at a height of 10,000 ft. Dzuluk is an offbeat but upcoming destination. You can see winding roads beneath the village on the edge of the mountains that take you to Nathu La.

The best part about travel in northeast India is the flora and fauna that you get to see while you trek. You can go for a one day tour with guides in this part of Sikkim with Yak & Yeti Travels & Expeditions.

8. Tashiding Monastery

India - Sikkim - Tashiding - Tashiding Monastery - Prayer Hall - 50

Inside the Tashiding Monastery. Pic courtesy: Manfred Sommer

One of the most sacred and holiest of all monasteries in Sikkim. Situated 100 km from Gangtok, this monastery is famous for the Bhumchu festival. 

9. Samdruptse

There is a large statue of the local deity called Guru Padmasambhava on top of the Samdruptse hill in the beautiful Namchi valley. You can also visit the Samdruptse Monastery at a walking distance from the shrine.

India - Sikkim - Namchi - Samdruptse Hill - Guru Padmasambhava - 26

Pic courtesy: Manfred Sommer

10. Festivals to watch out for in Sikkim

Sikkim_May_2013_314

Pic courtesy: Satyaki Basu

People in northeast India love their ancient culture and tradition. This is evident in the traditional dance, music, and food which flourishes here during the festivals they celebrate. Check out detailed guide shared by Sikkim Tourism about all the festivals and plan your visit accordingly.

Connectivity in Sikkim

There is no much cellphone coverage in Sikkim. Gangtok being the capital has good connectivity. But the rest of the state is mostly mountainous and hence having a continuous network coverage is not possible. Keep your family and friends informed well in advance since keeping in touch throughout your holiday might not be easy.

We hope this guide helped you in getting a fair picture of what places to visit in Sikkim Read our Part 2 and Part 3 of why you should visit the northeast of India. 

Do write to us, in case you have any questions and we at Talk Travel are happy to help. If you need any help in building a travel itinerary or you have any other query, download our free TalkTravel App. It is available for download on your Android or iOS device. You can download the TalkTravel App for free and reach out to the local expert without any additional cost. You are free to ask any doubt before or during your travel and our local expert will be ready to assist you.

We wish you a safe and happy travel!

6 steps to get the Indian visa

6 steps to follow to get an Indian tourist visa

Home » India

Visiting India on a vacation will surely give you a one-of-a-kind experience. The culture, cuisine, architecture, and history varies from one state to another. All these together will give you a myriad of experiences to remember. The Indian tourist visa is provided solely for the purpose of recreation, sightseeing, casual visit to meet friends or relatives only.

Mehrangarh Fort in Rajasthan, India
Mehrangarh Fort in Rajasthan, India

Read this Talk Travel App guide to read the steps involved in getting the Indian tourist visa.

Step 1 to obtain Indian tourist visa:

Choose the best place to travel from a list of destinations in India. Check out our Talk Travel App travel guides for inspiration.

Step 2 to obtain Indian tourist visa:

Let us look at the type of entries allowed based on the nationality of the tourists visiting India

Visa typeValidityEligible countries
Complete freedom of movement to IndiaNo time limitNepal and Bhutan
Visa-free entry for visitors having Persons of Indian Origin cardNo time limitAfghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
Visa-free entry90 days onlyMaldives
Visa on arrival30 days onlyJapan
e-Visa60 days onlyNorth America, South America, Australia, Europe except Belarus, few countries in Southern Africa, most countries in Asia

Check out the list of countries mentioned on the official Indian Government website

Visa required (obtained from the Embassy or the Consulate of India in their respective countries)DependsBangladesh, Middle East, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Belarus, North Korea, North and Central African nations
Government clearance required for any type of visitDependsPakistan

*The details mentioned in this table is valid as of August 2018.

Tourist visa policy of India
Tourist visa policy of India

Step 3 to obtain Indian tourist visa:

Keep all your documents ready

  • Your passport should have at least six months validity from the date of arrival in India
  • The passport should have at least two blank pages for stamping by the Immigration Officer.
  • International travelers should have a return ticket or onward journey ticket.
  • All tourists should have sufficient money to spend during his/her stay in India.
  • Nationals of Yellow Fever affected countries or travelers arriving from these countries must carry ‘Yellow Fever Vaccination Card’ at the time of arrival in India, otherwise they may be quarantined for 6 days upon arrival in India. Check out page 23 of the WHO International Travel and Health Guideline June 2018 to see if you need a yellow fever vaccination before arriving in India.

Step 4 to obtain Indian tourist visa:

To apply for the Indian tourist e-visa, visit the Government of India website with address indianvisaonline.gov.in

Applying for an e-tourist visa doesn’t require the help of any agency. A tourist can apply for an e-visa on his/her own with the help of the internet. The process is very simple and straight-forward.

Fill the e-visa application online. A pop-up will appear requesting you to keep a recent colored photograph (dimensions 2in X 2in) size less than 1MB ready for upload. It will also request for a scanned copy of your Passport page containing personal particulars. Check out the specifications in detail here.

How much does it cost to get an Indian tourist visa?

Fill all the necessary details and pay the visa processing fee online. Visa fee ranging between USD 0 – 100 will have to be paid depending on your nationality.

After paying the visa processing fee, you will receive an acknowledgment email. Record and keep the application ID handy to check the status of your visa.

Step 5 to obtain Indian tourist visa:

Check your visa status here. Once you get your visa, you will receive an email. Take a print out of the acknowledgment and carry it with you at all times during your travel in India.

Applicant should carry a copy of Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) along with him/her at the time of travel. Please confirm that your ETA status is shown as ‘GRANTED’ on this website prior to the commencement of your journey.

Biometric details of the applicant will be mandatorily captured at Immigration on arrival in India. The validity of e-Visa will be 60 days from the date of arrival in India. Double entry is permitted on e-Tourist Visa and e-Business Visa.

If you are a citizen of the USA, check out this detailed guide to apply for a tourist visa.

An e-visa guarantees only 60 days of travel. If you do need to extend your visa due to any exigency, you should contact the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office in Delhi. Exingencies include medical emergencies or theft of passport just before the tourist planned to leave the country (at the end of their visa).

How long does it take to get an Indian tourist visa?

It totally depends on the type of tourist visa you will be arriving on.

The 60-day e-Tourist visa applicants can apply a minimum of four and a maximum of 30 days before they are due to travel.

Other tourist visa types need to apply at least a month or two ahead of the date of their travel, to be on the safer side.

Step 6 to obtain Indian tourist visa by approaching the Embassy:

If you are not eligible for an e-visa, then you must apply for an Indian tourist visa at the nearest Indian Embassy or Consulate General.

What documents are needed to apply for an Indian tourist visa?

You will require all the documents as mentioned above like a valid passport, photographs, address proof, and more. The Embassy will give you the list of documents that you will need to furnish to obtain a visa.

There are many private visa processing companies in many countries these days who can help you obtain an Indian tourist visa. They will charge an additional fee along with the visa processing fee. This is a more comfortable approach but please be careful about all your original documents.

We hope the steps mentioned in this list will help you apply for an Indian tourist visa.

Do write to us, in case you have any questions and we at Talk Travel App are happy to help. If you need any help in building a travel itinerary or you have any other query, download our free TalkTravel App. It is available for download on your Android or iOS device. You can download the Talk Travel App for free and reach out to the local expert without any additional cost. You are free to ask any doubt before or during your travel and our local expert will be ready to assist you.

We wish you a safe and happy travel!

5 reasons to visit the Taj Mahal in India

5 reasons why you should visit the Taj Mahal once in your lifetime

Home » India

The Taj Mahal is a delicate work of art which attracts thousands of visitors every day from around the world. Visiting the Taj Mahal is a must in everybody’s lifetime. The Mughal Emperor went to great lengths to ensure his love for his wife: it was immortalized with the construction of this mausoleum. 

Talk Travel App has compiled a list of reasons why the Taj Mahal should be a part of everybody’s travel bucket list.

1. The reason behind the construction of the Taj Mahal

It was the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan who commissioned the construction of this exquisite monument as an expression of his love to his dear wife Mumtaz Mahal. 

Shah Jahan called her Mumtaz Mahal, meaning the ‘Beloved Ornament of the Palace’ or ‘Chosen One of the Palace’. Her actual name was Arjumand Banu Begum.

In the year 1631, Mumtaz Mahal, unfortunately, breathed her last while giving birth to their 14th child. Shah Jahan was so devastated with his loss, that he was inconsolable and was in deep grief at her demise. Shah Jahan decided to move the remains of his dead wife in 1631.

2. Construction of the Taj Mahal

Masons, stonecutters, inlayers, carvers, painters, calligraphers, dome-builders and other artisans came from the whole of the empire and also from Central Asia. The Taj Mahal was built in 22 years approximately. It used the work of around 22,000 laborers and 1,000 elephants. The construction finished in the year 1653 after an expenditure of approximately 32 million rupees.

Architectural style

The mausoleum of the Taj Mahal and the whole complex around it is a classic example of the Mughal style of architecture with the Islamic tomb as a prominent feature. There is a combination of Persian, Islamic and Indian architectural style in the construction.

What was the Taj Mahal made of?

The Taj Mahal mausoleum is made of bricks and white Makrana marbles from Rajasthan cover it.

The other important elements of the Taj monument are the Mosque and the Guest House. Both these complexes use bricks covered with red sandstone for its construction. The most noteworthy fact is that they are a replica of each other and hence symmetrical in design and in architecture. Consequently adding an aesthetic color contrast. The red sandstone was from Fatehpur Sikri. 

This scale of construction also signifies the power and strength the Mughal Empire enjoyed those days. Shah Jahan under his rule was able to build a monument of this scale without any disturbances in the power circle or face any financial hurdles during its construction.

Mosiac work

The most astonishing fact of these is its intricate design. To achieve it, they used rare and semi-precious stones from far-flung areas. Apparently, Shah Jahan was very knowledgeable about those precious stones.

Floral motifs on marble in the Taj Mahal
Floral motifs on marble in the Taj Mahal

The floral motifs that adorn the walls of the Taj Mahal use a lot of rare and semi-precious stones. These were carefully embedded into the marble using the traditional Pietra Dura style of mosaic work. Parchin Kari is the name of this decorative art form using semi-precious stones.

This traditional art form is passed down through generations. There are artisans in Agra who continue to make this rock art at a smaller scale for souvenirs. A travel blogger took this special trip and has beautifully explained this delicate technique here accompanied by brilliant pictures on Core 77.

3. The architecture of the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal covers an area of 42 acres in total. Everything about the Taj Mahal, the two complexes flanking its sides, the garden, and the gateway are symmetrical. There was absolutely no room for error and the attention for detail in this aspect is worth an applause. The detailed history of the architecture can be read here.

3a. The Southern Gate or the main gateway

First of all, it is the main gateway that catches your glimpse when you finish the security check at the entrance. People call it Darwaza-i-Rauza or ‘gate of the mausoleum’ and it’s one of the main elements of this monument. It is also the South Gate which is, in fact, the main entrance to the Taj Mahal.

Southern Gate at the Taj Mahal
Southern Gate at the Taj Mahal

The gateway is made of bricks covered with red sandstone. There is Arabic calligraphy bordering the doorway which is nothing but quotes from the Quran calling the visitor to enter the Paradise Gardens. Black stone into white marble etches the quotes.

You can notice eleven little domes just above the entrance on the gateway. There is another set of eleven little domes on the other side of the gateway, totaling 22 little white domes. Therefore this signifies the precise number of years it took to construct the Taj Mahal.

As you walk past the Darwaza, you see the view you have been preparing for all this while. The white mausoleum perched on a plinth sparkling white at the end of the long watercourse and interspersed garden.

3b. Char Bagh or the Garden

The Char Bagh is a perfect 300 square meters in dimension. When you view the garden from above you can see its divided into 4 pieces by 4 calm water bodies. These 4 waterways represent the sea of water, wine, milk and honey which signify paradise as mentioned in the Quran. Each of the 4 sectors has 4 quadrants, making it a total of 16 pieces of the garden with lawn.

Recorded documents have mentioned that the Char Bagh garden was full of fruit-bearing trees, fragrant flowering plants thriving with life. 

After many years, the surroundings were deteriorating and the then British Viceroy to India, Lord Curzon began restoring this monument. The trees were removed which made way for flat gardens and lawns for the first time. The grass accentuated the vista of the Taj Mahal and the waterways easily.

3c. Mosque on the Western Side

The mosque is on the left or the western side of the complex. Used for prayer purpose, the mosque faces the direction of the holy city of Mecca.

Mosque on the western side of the Taj Mahal
Mosque on the western side of the Taj Mahal

3d. The Guest House on the Eastern Side

People also call the guest house Naqqar Khana, Mihman Khana, or the Assembly Hall. It is located on the eastern side of the Taj. It seems like it was built to provide a ‘jawab’, which translates to ‘answer’, as it balances the architectural symmetry and harmony of the whole structure. The exact purpose of the guest house is still not clear though it could have been used to house pilgrims.

3e. The main mausoleum

The Taj Mahal means the ‘Crown of all Palaces’ in Persian. It stands 73 m tall, raising 7 m from the gardens on a plinth. Each minaret is 43 m high to emphasize the beauty of the spherical dome. The dome is the most spectacular feature of the monument, being 17.7 m in diameter for a height of the arc of 24.4 m. The shape of the dome is emphasized by four smaller domed chattris (umbrellas) placed at its corners.

Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal

The four minarets at each corner of the Taj Mahal are not built at an exact 90° to the level of the ground, rather built a few degrees slightly outwards from the main dome. This is to avoid any structural damage to the main mausoleum if the minarets crashed in case of an earthquake or any such disaster.

The dome is topped by a brass finial, which mixes traditional Persian and Hindu decorative elements. The finial is topped by a moon, a typical Islamic motif, whose horns point towards heaven. Because of its placement on the main spire, the horns of the moon and the finial point combine to create the shape of a trident —reminiscent of the traditional Hindu symbols of Shiva. The exact design of the finial is drawn on the ground between the Taj Mahal and the Guest House.

3f. The interiors of the mausoleum

The interiors of the Taj Mahal have the cenotaphs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. The actual burial chambers of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal are under the ground just below the cenotaphs which are not in view. Visitors can’t access this place.

The cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal is exactly in the center of the hall abiding by the rules of symmetry this monument strictly follows. When Shah Jahan died in 1666, his body was placed in a tomb next to that of Mumtaz Mahal on the western side. This clearly threw the symmetry of the entire monument off balance. Clearly, the grave and cenotaph were never meant to be there at all. It seems like his son Aurangazeb placed the cenotaph there upon his father’s death.

The most exquisite of any wall art that you can ever find is on display in the interiors and exteriors of the Taj Mahal. There is the very delicate marble screen or jali inlay which surrounds both the cenotaphs. This intricate design on the rock is equivalent to a fine piece of jewelry. It looks so fine that when you touch it, it feels like a painting. It’s difficult to believe they’re exotic stones!

3g. The lamp inside the mausoleum

There is a beautiful bronze lamp hanging from the roof on the inside of the dome above the cenotaphs. This bronze lamp inlaid with gold and silver was a special gift from Lord Curzon to the monument. It has Persian words engraved on it, which reads as ‘Presented to the Tomb of Mumtaz Mahal by Lord Curzon, Viceroy 1906’.

History has it that when Lord Curzon used to visit the Taj Mahal he was shocked and appalled to see dim and poorly lit lamps used inside the mausoleum. So he took it upon himself to find the best lamp to match this lavish beauty. In one of his journeys from India to London through Cairo, he met scholars and artisans to have a replica of the lamp that once hung from the mosque of Sultan Baibars I in Egypt.

Todros Badir, an experienced artisan, finished this masterpiece and it took almost two years to do it. This bronze lamp now hangs inside the mausoleum.

3h. The exteriors of the mausoleum

The mausoleum has four sides with chamfered corners. Each of these corners has pilasters with designs which make for good optical illusion. These pilasters have 4 sides, with the forth side attached to the wall. The remaining 3 sides are equal in length. They have V-shaped motifs stacked on the entire pilaster.

Try this trick when you are there – stand at least 3 meters away from the wall, fix your eyes at the V-shaped motif and walk closer. As you walk closer, look up slowly and you will seem to see six sides of the pilaster instead of three.

There are Quranic verses on the mausoleum, with Jasper inlaid into marble and has thuluth script. The texts refer to themes of judgment: of doom for nonbelievers, and the promise of Paradise for the faithful. Since there is a prohibition in Islam to depict any human or animal forms in religious art and architecture, you will find a lot of floral motifs in the design of this monument. You can see flowers, leaves, and wines carved out of plain marble in the interiors.

The Taj Mahal was built in stages. The plinth and the tomb took 15 years and the minarets, mosque, the guesthouse, and the gateway took an additional 5 years.

4. Photographing tips

The Taj Mahal is a photographer’s dream. Here are a few tips to bear in mind to get great shots of the Taj.
  • You can’t make professional videos inside the complex. You need to take prior permission from the office of Archaeological Survey of India located at 22, Mall Road, Agra. If you are capturing a video for a blog, it should be fine.
  • The first glimpse of the Taj Mahal is from the gateway: the Darwaza-i-Rauza. This is a great spot to click some fantastic pictures.
  • As you walk past the main gateway, you will witness the Taj Mahal in its entirety.
  • There is an elevation in front of the Taj Mahal, which people call the ‘Diana Bench’. The name has caught on since Princess Diana’s visit to the Taj Mahal.
  • Walk to the right towards the Guest House. This structure is on the eastern side and hence with the sunrise behind you, the Taj Mahal from this viewpoint looks golden in color.
  • Another interesting viewpoint of the main mausoleum is from the mosque on the western side. The silhouette of the dome and the final on top of the dome looks very prominent when you watch from the inside of the mosque.
View of the Taj Mahal from the inside of the mosque
View of the Taj Mahal from the inside of the mosque
  • With the river Yamuna flowing beside the Taj Mahal, go to the other side of the Taj Mahal which has the Mehtab Bagh garden: a great place to observe the symmetry and the whole complex. You can hire a rickshaw to go to Mehtab Bagh for a price of around 100 INR.
View of the Taj Mahal from Mehtab Bagh
View of the Taj Mahal from Mehtab Bagh
  • The beauty of the Taj Mahal is exceptional during and around the full moon night.
  • When you visit the Agra Fort, you can see the Taj Mahal at a distance.
View of the Taj Mahal from Agra Fort
View of the Taj Mahal from Agra Fort

5. Myths of the Taj Mahal

As if the story behind the construction of this monument wasn’t fascinating enough, there are a lot of unverified stories and myths about the Taj Mahal. If you want to read the origin of the myth and how they were debunked, read them in detail here.

Threats to the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal was built in the 17th century when the threat of pollution was unheard of. In the 21st century, the Taj is under serious threat from air and water pollution. With a lot of factories and vehicular pollution ruining the quality of the air, there is evidence that the soot from emissions is discoloring the flawless white shade of the marble on the Taj.

The foundation of the Taj Mahal kept in mind the water levels of the river Yamuna during the 17th century. In recent times, it has changed due to industrial waste and the mindlessly dumping of sewage into the river.

Certainly, this calls for special attention immediately and for the years to come. We only hope that the monument is safeguarded through sincere efforts from law enforcement agencies.

Do write to us, in case you have any questions and we at Talk Travel App are happy to help. If you need any help in building a travel itinerary or you have any other query, download our free Talk Travel App. It is available for download on your Android or iOS device. You can download the Talk Travel App for free and reach out to the local expert without any additional cost. You are free to ask any doubt before or during your travel to our local expert.

We wish you a safe and happy travel!

Are you traveling around India? You might want to look at the other guides and posts we have written for India, to make your travel more easy and enjoyable.

10 tips to visit the Taj Mahal without hassle

10 tips to follow for a hassle-free visit to the Taj Mahal

Home » India

The Taj Mahal is situated in Agra on the banks of the river Yamuna. It is in the state of Uttar Pradesh in the northern part of India, very close to New Delhi. The Taj Mahal is the epitome of beauty and an architectural feat. It stands smugly in all its glory even after many centuries since its construction.

Shah Jahan commissioned the construction of the Taj Mahal as a symbolic expression of love to his dear wife Mumtaz Mahal upon her death in the year 1631. Taj Mahal not only evokes a sense of amazement at the extent an Emperor could go to build a monument of this sheer size for his love but also marvel at the precision and symmetry achieved in building this.

Such is the beauty of this monument that it is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World and rightly a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The below guide will give you all the details that you need before packing your bags to visit this enchanting place. All the information provided in the guide is valid as of June 2018.

Taj Mahal is approximately 222 km away from New Delhi, so you will need around 3 – 4 hours by road or by train. Though the Taj Mahal makes for a good one-day trip, it is good to stay overnight as viewing the Taj during sunrise is an experience in itself.

The Taj Mahal in India
The Taj Mahal in India

1. Best time of the year to visit the Taj Mahal

Here is a chart showing the average temperature for each month of the year at Agra:

MonthHigh / Low (°C)High / Low (°F)
January21° / 7°69.8° / 44.6°
February25° / 10°77° / 50°
March32° / 15°89.6° / 59°
April38° / 21°100.4° / 69.8°
May41° / 25°105.8° / 77°
June40° / 28°104° / 82.4°
July34° / 26°93.2° / 78.8°
August34° / 26°93.2° / 78.8°
September34° / 24°93.2° / 75.2°
October34° / 19°93.2° / 66.2°
November29° / 12°84.22° / 53.6°
December24° / 8°75.2° / 46.4°

The Taj Mahal is open on all days except Fridays so plan your travel dates accordingly. The best time to visit Agra is during the winter between October to March. Though the air is bitter cold in the night, the warmth of the sun during the day makes for a perfect visit in these months.

You can visit the Taj Mahal during the summer too from April to June. Beware that the temperatures during the day are very high and if you are sensitive to heat, you can visit the Taj during sunrise or sunset when the temperature is bearable.

2. Best time of the day to visit the Taj Mahal

The best time of the day to visit the Taj Mahal is at sunrise when the gates open at 6 am every day. This is the perfect time for two reasons: lesser crowds and the elegant golden shine of the Taj against the first rays of the sun. There is no time limit on your ticket and you can stay as long as you want.

The afternoon heat can be unbearable, so try to avoid going at this time. As a tip, you can enter at 6 am and leave at around 10 or 11 am. Or enter the complex at 3 pm and witness the sunset and head back. You must note that there is absolutely no access to food, so be prepared in advance.

If you are flexible with dates, plan your visit around the full moon night when the Taj is open to visitors in the night between 8.30 pm to 12.30 am. Night viewing of Taj Mahal is available on five days in a month i.e. on full moon night and two nights before and two after the full moon.

Each visitor is given just 30 minutes to behold the glory of the Taj as it glistens under the moonlight. However, the Taj is closed on all Fridays during the month of Ramzan.

Few things to bear in mind before you plan the night visit are:

– You need to buy the ticket in person at Archaeological Survey of India (A.S.I) 22, Mall Road, Agra 24-hours before the planned entry
– If you want to cancel the ticket, then you will be refunded 75% of the amount
– Visitors are allowed in 8 batches of maximum 50 people each and are allowed strictly for 30 minutes only
– For a quick glance as to when is the upcoming full moon days this year and the coming years, have a look at this list here.

3. Ticket prices to visit the Taj Mahal

Tickets to enter the Taj Mahal are sold at two entry points – the Western and Eastern Gates. There are different ticket price slabs based on the nationality of the traveler.

Visitor TypePrice in INR (approx. $ value)
Adult (Indian)40 INR (< $ 1)
Adult (Foreigner)1000 INR ($ 15)
Adult (Citizens of SAARC and BIMSTEC Countries)530 INR ($ 8)
Children below the age of 15 (domestic and foreign)Free

Note: SAARC countries are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. BIMSTEC member nations are Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan, and Nepal

Ticket prices for night viewing of the Taj Mahal

Visitor TypePrice in INR (approx. $ value)
Adult (Indian)510 INR ($ 8)
Adult (Foreigner)750 INR ($ 12)
Children between 3 – 15 years (all nationalities)500 INR ($ 8)

It is recommended to buy the tickets online here before reaching the venue to avoid waiting in queues. The length of the queue for the security check early mornings at 6 am are shorter and the process is swifter. As the day proceeds, the length of the queue gets longer. Be patient and keep your tickets handy to show it to the police to gain entry.

Do not forget to carry necessary government approved ID cards with you when you visit the Taj Mahal. If you are a foreigner, do carry your passport with you at all times.

There are a lot of places to exchange currency in Agra since it is a top tourist destination in India. You can find a lot of them on the popular Fatehabad Road in Agra. You can exchange currency at reliable places listed here.

4. How to reach Agra

Agra is well connected by air, rail, and road.

Mode of Transport (to & fro from New Delhi)Price in INR (approx. $ value)Approximate Duration
Air4000 – 7000 INR ($ 60 – 100)1 hour one way
Bus(Public Transport)1000 – 3000 INR ($ 15 – 45)4 hours one way
Rail1500 INR ($ 20)1.5 hours one way
Car5000 INR ($ 75)4 hours one way
Rickshaw (within the city)Max 50 INR per person per ride

By Air

Taking a flight to Agra is the easiest from New Delhi as this is the only city that has direct flights to Agra. Rest of the cities in India including the metros like Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Bangalore do not have direct flights to Agra.

By public transport

There are state-run and private-run buses plying between New Delhi and Agra on a daily basis. This is comfortable and cheaper to ride as the fare costs a maximum of 1000 INR to and fro. You can book your bus ticket on the popular Red Bus website.

By rail

There is the 12050 Gatimaan Express (non-stop), 12002 New Delhi Bhopal Shatabdi Express and the 12280 Taj Express Superfast departing from New Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station every day between 6.00 am to 8.30 am.

The journey is just two hours long with catering services on board. The main railway station in Agra is Agra Cantonment (AGC). You can book your tickets on the Indian Railways website.

Try taking the train journey during daylight. Avoid traveling by train in the night to and fro from New Delhi for security reasons, especially if you are a solo female traveler.

By hired car

If you want to hire a car to travel to Agra, then there are many available vendors in New Delhi. The cost of to and fro journey would cost up to of 5000 INR. You can book a cab here on Savaari Car Rentals or take Ola outstation trips or even an Uber.

Upon reaching Agra through air, bus or train, use the 24-hour official prepaid auto rickshaw and taxi booths just outside the airport, bus stand, and railway station to reach your hotel.

Reaching the Taj Mahal

All petrol and diesel vehicles are prohibited near the monument to curb pollution and further damage from the soot from these vehicles to the sparkling white marble of the Taj.

There is a designated spot where you will be dropped from where you can walk 600 meters to the entrance or there are frequently plying electric vehicles. You can hitch a ride with them for INR 20 per head. Or you can take a cycle rickshaw for INR 50.

The Taj Mahal during sunrise
The Taj Mahal during sunrise

5. Where to stay near the Taj Mahal?

There are multiple hotels in Agra and near the Taj Mahal where you can stay overnight. Here are a few suggestions for accommodations for a range of budgets.

For luxury travelers, there is the Oberoi Amarvilas, a 5-star hotel. It is just 600 meters away from the monument of love and every room has fantastic views of the Taj Mahal. You can relax, dine and rejuvenate in the spa with luxury meant for the Royals at prices starting from 32,000 INR (approx. $470) per night.

Other semi-luxury hotels are Jaypee Palace Hotel, Courtyard by Marriott Agra, Trident Agra, and ITC Mughal, Radisson, Hotel Ramada to name a few. The price per night ranging from 6,000 – 10,000 INR ($ 90 – $ 150).

If you are a backpacker with a minimal budget, you can stay in hostels like Rhine Hostel, Spiritual Yoga and The Coral Court Homestay for as little as 1000 INR ($ 15) or less than that.

These accommodations have great customer reviews and hence reliable. Book your stay in advance for a hassle-free travel experience. (We do not promote hotels or accommodations for any kind of business gains)

6. Considerations for women and kids

Like any other monument across the world, eating and smoking are strictly prohibited in the premises of the Taj Mahal.

If you are traveling with kids, have them fed well in advance as the trip inside the Taj Mahal will surely take a good 3-4 hours of your time. As suggested above, if you are staying longer, from sunrise to the middle of the day or from mid-day until sunset then eat well in advance.

There are free water dispensing units inside the Taj Mahal, but carrying your own bottle is better to avoid the long queue waiting to drink water.

Though there are no restrictions on the clothes that you can wear, it is wise to be dressed moderately. If you want to enter the mosque inside the monument, being well dressed helps in entering without any hassle. Read our travel tips for female travelers in India.

If you are visiting in summer, do not forget to carry a hat and cover your arms will full sleeves clothing as the sun gets very harsh. Carry a sunscreen at any cost.

The Taj Mahal in all its glory
The Taj Mahal in all its glory

7. Is the Taj Mahal disable friendly?

Yes, the Taj Mahal is disabled-friendly with wooden ramps provided near the entrance, the security checkpoint and when you pass through the Southern Gate.

Since the whole monument is vast, it is better to have an electric wheelchair to steer within the complex. There is an electric vehicle which ferries visitors from the parking lot to the Taj Mahal as all private vehicles are banned near the Taj Mahal. This electric vehicle does not have a built-in ramp for visitors on a wheelchair to board. You might need help in boarding the electric vehicle and carry your wheelchair separately with you.

If you are in an electric wheelchair, you can go the entire distance on your own since the Taj Mahal is just 600m away from the parking lot. This 600m distance is flat and paved well, so reaching the monument should not be a problem.

The only regrettable side to visiting the Taj Mahal is that there is no ramp built to access the main mausoleum for wheelchair-bound visitors. You can read more about a fellow traveler’s experience on the wheelchair when she visited the Taj Mahal here. You can also read reviews and suggestions from locals on TripAdvisor if you need help with the wheelchair when you visit the Taj Mahal.

8. Tourist scams to avoid when visiting Taj Mahal

Ignore all beggars and touts at the railway station, airport or at the Taj Mahal. Arrange for a guide beforehand from a registered tour agency or request a guide to be arranged by your hotel.

You will find guides waiting to assist you outside the Taj Mahal too but always ensure they are recognized and approved by the Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India. A half day tour costs around 1000 INR and it is really worth every rupee as the monument is of historical importance. Also, you can book a guide online at Tours by Locals or Get your guide websites in advance so that it’s easy and hassle-free on the day of your travel.

9. Additional things to do alongside the Taj Mahal visit

9a. Taj Mahal museum

The Taj Mahal Museum is known as the Jal Mahal, it is on the west side of the complex. 

The origin of the Taj Museum dates back to 1906, it was created under the orders of Lord Curzon, the British Viceroy to India.

It houses interesting artifacts from the Mughal era like calligraphy specimens, utensils used in everyday life, plans and drawings of the Taj Mahal. The main hall has paintings made by Shah Jahan and his wife, Mumtaz Mahal on ivory framed in ornamental wooden frames.

The entry to the museum is free and is open from 9 am to 5 pm on all days except Fridays. There is no queue to enter, you can just walk in. There is no necessity for a ticket as it is inside the monument.

9b. Agra Fort

Agra Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, also called as the Red Fort of Agra. It is situated around 3 km away from the Taj Mahal.

After Shah Jahan’s son Aurangzeb deposed his father and restrained him in the Agra Fort. It is believed that Shah Jahan died in Muasamman Burj, which had a view of the Taj Mahal. The Agra Fort is a palatial red-sandstone and marble fortress, which was built between 1565 and 1573 on the banks of the river Yamuna by Akbar, the Mughal emperor, and grandfather of Shah Jahan.

Do not miss visiting the Shish Mahal which was a Summer Palace built by Shah Jahan. The roof in the interiors of the Shish Mahal is embedded with thousands of well-cut mirror pieces sourced from Haleb, which is present-day Aleppo in Syria.

Check out this video to see how the glass pieces shimmer in candlelight like a star-studded night sky.

9c. Akbar’s Tomb

Akbar’s tomb is around 16 km away from the Taj Mahal and has a Mughal style of architecture with red sandstone as its theme. Akbar’s tomb is not as glorious in its grandeur compared to the tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. This tomb for Akbar was built by his son Jehangir between 1605–1613.

10. Souvenir shopping

When you are at the most beautiful monument ever on this planet, there is obviously an urge to take a sweet souvenir home. Especially a piece of marble with motifs on it, why not?

To buy quality products and value for your money, shop at The Warehouse of Gifts & Souvenirs. Though not really anywhere close to the Taj Mahal, it is around one kilometer from the Southern Gate.

Hire a rickshaw or take the help of your guide to reach this shop. It is on the Agra – Bah road. The exact location is – 18/151 Purani Mandi Crossing, Opp. Shah Jahan Garden, Near Agra Golf Course, Bansal Nagar, Tajganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282001. You can find great reviews about them on their Facebook page.

Talk Travel suggests the best places for the benefit of travelers and we do not promote any brand or souvenir shops for business gains.

As suggested, book your entry tickets online, book the hotel and the tour guide all in advance to enjoy a hassle-free experience. A visit to the Taj Mahal is worth the miles traveled as its unique history, unmatched beauty and the theme of eternal love will leave long-lasting memories in your heart.

Do write to us, in case you have any questions and we at Talk Travel App are happy to help. If you need any help in building a travel itinerary or you have any other query, download our free TalkTravel App. It is available for download on your Android or iOS device. You can download the Talk Travel App for free and reach out to the local expert without any additional cost. You are free to ask any doubt before or during your travel and our local expert will be ready to assist you.

We wish you a safe and happy travel!

Are you traveling around India? You might want to look at the other guides and posts we have written for India, to make your travel more easy and enjoyable.

Things to do in Bangalore

13 things to do in Bengaluru | A TalkTravel App guide

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Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka is a trendy metropolis in South India. It is currently known as Bengaluru or Bangalore. Bangalore is famous for housing thousands of tech companies, pleasant weather, pub culture, local food and, more. This guide from TalkTravel App will share a list of things to do in Bengaluru. Follow this guide to indulge in activities and feel like a local.

The first thing that reminds people who have lived and visited Bengaluru is its weather. The weather is so pleasant that the temperature is always around 25° C. The summers are not too hot and the winters are not too cold. It is the best place to be when you are traveling to India for leisure or for work.

Known as the Silicon Valley of India, there are many tech companies, local and foreign who have established an office here. There is no dearth of talent in this city. Consequently, the availability of quality jobs invited young blood from around the country to live here. Bengaluru is the second home to a lot of people. The locals and the newcomers, together have shaped the identity of Bengaluru, what it is today.

Here is a list of things to do in Bengaluru:

Try the local cuisine

First of all, you need to immerse yourself in the local food scene. It is one of the best things to do in Bengaluru. Here is a list of restaurants that the locals visit.

Mavalli Tiffin Room

Begin your day with typical South Indian breakfast at MTR on Lal Bagh Main Road. The hotel which was started in 1924 runs even to this day. The restaurant is so much in demand that you need to wait for at least 20 minutes for a table. People of all age groups and class frequent this restaurant regularly for great food.

Try the rava (semolina) idli here which was invented by MTR when there was a shortage of rice during World War II. So you know what you must order when you are here. You must try the masala dosa, upma, and kesari bath.

Also, MTR holds a record for serving 21,000 customers in seven hours. This clearly indicates the popularity of the place.

Vidyarthi Bhavan

Started in 1943, this is another favorite place for Bengalureans. Try the masala dosa with a cup of hot coffee like a local here.

Koshy’s

Koshy’s is a restaurant on St. Mark’s road near the famous M.G. Road. They serve tasty continental and Kerala influenced dishes. Try the french onion soup, have a snack or drink a beer, Koshy’s has a very relaxed atmosphere. It attracts a lot of Bengalureans having conversations at length here.

Koshy's Bar and Restaurant in Bangalore
Koshy’s Bar and Restaurant in Bengaluru
Pic courtesy: Polka Cafe
Street food in Bengaluru

V V Puram food street is a lane full of roadside vendors selling sizzling hot masala dosa, freshly steamed idlis, rice dishes, and sweets. This place is full of people throughout the week and is open till 12 am.

Check out this list of best places to eat for all budgets in Bengaluru.

Try the craft beer

Bengaluru is famous for having many microbreweries. Some of the most popular places to drink craft beer are Toit, Arbor Brewing Company, Windmills Craftwork, The Biere Club, and more.

Toit is an all-time favorite for beer lovers in Bengaluru. When you are in Indiranagar, go to Toit, order a mug of beer and some great appetizers.

M.G. Road

This is the heart of Bengaluru. M.G. Road has a lot of watering holes. Some of the pubs in and around M.G. Road are decades old. This is still a hip and happening stretch in the city during weekends. There are so many eateries, pubs, shopping centers and a live music bar called Blue Frog. Explore surrounding areas like Brigade Road, Church Street, and Residency Road.

Indiranagar

This old-fashioned neighborhood which has upscale residences is now a thriving area. Indiranagar 80 ft road has one of the largest concentration of restaurants, cafes, and pubs in Bengaluru. You name a cuisine, Indiranagar will surely have a restaurant serving it for you.

The crowds are good as they are young and well-educated. There are a lot of places in Indiranagar to hang out like The Humming Tree. It is a live music venue which has hosted artists like Skrillex and local bands of course.

Shopping in Bangalore

If you wanna hang out at places where the young crowd shops, then Bangalore has a few brilliant streets for some cheap deals. Commercial Street, Indiranagar, Brigade Road, and Malleswaram 8th cross are a few places to try. You can buy a lot of Indian wear, very pretty footwear at cheap prices, junk jewelry, handbags and handicraft items here.

Commercial Street in Bangalore
Commercial Street in Bangalore
Pic courtesy: LBB

UB City on Vittal Mallya road is a commercial complex with showrooms of luxury brands. There are fine dining restaurants like Farzi cafe, Shiro, Caperberry, and Sriracha to name a few. Vittal Mallya road too has a lot of pubs, a famous microbrewery called The Biere Club and a lot of luxury restaurants.

Performance Arts

Bangalore has a thriving art scene. There are many venues hosting theatre events, live music, dance, workshops, and comedy. Jagriti Theatre in Whitefield, Ranga Shankara in Jayanagar, Ravindra Kalakshetra in Sampangi Rama Nagar are some of the places where you will find passionate art lovers of Bengaluru.

Ranga Shankara in Bangalore
Ranga Shankara in Bangalore
Pic courtesy: LBB

Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath is a college of fine arts and an organization which regularly conducts exhibitions of paintings, sculptures, folk arts, photography, and more.

These places regularly conduct events, so your weekend is full. All the events in Bangalore are advertised on the Book My Show website.

Parks in Bangalore

Bangalore is fondly called the Garden City of India. Once upon a time, Bangalore had so many parks and gardens spread all over the city. As development slowly crept, a lot of these gardens are history now. There are two big parks which are famous and considered the lungs of Bangalore are Cubbon Park and Lal Bagh. These parks are full of fitness enthusiasts in the morning.

Visit Lal Bagh, go for a stroll, check the Glass House and spend some time in the lush green park. Later, you can walk to MTR for a snack. Otherwise, you can go to Cubbon Park. Spend some time there and head to Koshy’s or Airlines Hotel near M.G. Road.

ISKCON

ISKCON is the acronym for International Society for Krishna Consciousness which is a worldwide religious organization. It is a huge temple where Lord Krishna is worshipped. It is a deeply spiritual place. A lot of domestic and foreign visitors visit the place. Evenings are a good time to spend here on weekdays. The crowds are thinner and it is a pleasant experience.

ISKCON temple in Bangalore
ISKCON temple in Bangalore

After visiting ISKCON, you can walk to Orion Mall which is a stone’s throw away. It is a large commercial complex. You can shop, watch a movie, have a drink, eat or go bowling!

Art of Living

This is a spiritual center located 21 km outside Bangalore. This is a place where you can unwind in lush greenery for a few days where you will be taught yoga, meditation and indulge in voluntary work. Art of Living attracts a lot of domestic and foreign visitors where they unwind and return feeling positive and energetic.

Art of Living in Bangalore
Art of Living in Bangalore

Vidhana Soudha and the Karnataka High Court

These two iconic buildings are the pillars of this state. Vidhana Soudha is where the legislative assembly is and the High Court is the highest court in the state. More than a decade ago, these places were open to the public where one could enter the gates and relax during evenings in the open air.

Karnataka High Court and the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore
Karnataka High Court and the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore
Pic courtesy: Hiveminer

Cubbon Park is right behind the High Court. It was a common sight to see families biting into corn cobs on the weekends. Due to security threats, this place is cordoned off and you can see them standing outside the gate.

Bangalore Palace

It is a brick red structure set on green grass. It was built by Kempe Gowda I in 1537, the founder of Bengaluru. The palace has motifs and carved decoration on its walls. This fort was captured by the British in the 18th century and a few parts of the fort were vandalized. Visiting Bangalore Fort gives a good idea of the history of this place.

Visit Nandi Hills

Nandi Hills is a hill fortress around 60 km from Bangalore. It is a weekend getaway for many exhausted Bengalureans to spend a few hours there and feel relaxed. Consequently, it is like a ritual to visit this place at least once when you are in Bengaluru.

Nandi Hills in Bangalore
Nandi Hills in Bangalore

There are many public buses which ply here every day. Or you can take an Ola or Uber at nominal prices for a one day picnic. There are a lot of cafes up there and the drive is very pleasant on this stretch. As a result, makes for a break away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Wonder La

To the south of Bangalore is one of India’s largest amusement parks called Wonder La. Head for some thrilling rides and a big swimming pool. You will definitely have a great time here and it is a one-day activity.

In this context, the outskirts of Bengaluru are more relaxed. There a lot of trekking options outside this city to get away from the noise and crowds. Here is a list of things to do in Bengaluru for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts.

We hope you have a great time in Bengaluru and be a part of the local culture.

Do write to us, in case you have any questions and we at TalkTravel are happy to help. If you need any help building a travel itinerary or if you have any other query, do not hesitate to contact us. 

Download our free TalkTravel App on our Android or iOS device to talk to our local expert for free. You are free to ask any doubt before or during your travel and our local expert will be ready to assist you.

We wish you a safe and happy travel!

*Any restaurant of business mentioned in this post is for the benefit of travelers. We do not promote any brand or business on our platform. We only suggest experiences which are popular keeping in mind the best intentions of our travelers. At Talk Travel we’re not responsible for any untoward incident during your travel with any of the services recommended in this article.

Offbeat destinations to visit in Rajasthan

Offbeat destinations in Rajasthan to visit

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Rajasthan is the land of plenty. It is a state which boasts of elegant forts, pristine lakes and vast expanses of the Thar Desert. While all these elements make for a great holiday, there are offbeat destinations in Rajasthan which deserve equal attention. Read this guide from TalkTravel App to check out the list of offbeat destinations in Rajasthan which you can visit when you are here.

Offbeat destinations to watch out for in Rajasthan are:

Ranakpur

Sneak out of Udaipur in a private or hired taxi to visit Ranakpur which is 75km northwest of Udaipur. This charming little village will take you away from the din of Udaipur to witness some rustic village life of Rajasthan.

All the pillars in the Ranakpur Jain Temple are unique.
All the pillars in the Ranakpur Jain Temple are unique.

Most importantly, Ranakpur Jain temple is worth the visit as you will be in awe of the magnificent architecture and delicate carvings on marble. The most intriguing aspect of this temple is the 1,444 pillars and apparently, no two pillars have the same design!

The Ranakpur Jain Temple is open from 12 pm to 5 pm every day. There is no entry fee but a small fee of 100 INR is charged for cameras. The taxi or rented car will charge a maximum of 4000 INR (60 USD).

Kumbhalgarh

When you have driven this far to visit Ranakpur, take a slight detour on your way back to Udaipur to visit Kumbhalgarh. It is 34 km away from Ranakpur. You can visit the massive Kumbhalgarh Fort. Besides that, you can visit the Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary. Drive through villages, enjoy the quiet countryside and appreciate beautiful landscapes on your way.

Kumbhalgarh Fort

Kumbhalgarh Fort is a Mewar fortress in the Aravalli mountain range. It was built by Rana Kumbha through the 15th century and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kumbhalgarh Fort was a military stronghold and has a wall that 38 km long which makes it the second longest wall in the world. The entry fee for domestic visitors is 15 INR while the entry fee for foreigners is 200 INR.

Watch this brilliantly captured video of the Kumbhalgarh Fort.

Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary

You can either go on a hiking trail or a jungle jeep safari in this sanctuary. If you are lucky, you might encounter the elusive Indian leopard. Other wildlife creatures that you might get to witness are wolves, fowls, jackals, peacocks and more. Read this very informative travel guide from Outlook Traveller to arrange a safari at this sanctuary.

Chittor Fort

Offbeat destinations in Rajasthan are slightly away from central attractions. Like the Chittor Fort which is 120 km away from Udaipur. Chittor Fort has many thick gates which are carved, many temples, palaces and an emerald green lake all within the walls of the fort.

Chittor Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Chittor Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The fort is open all days except Mondays from 10 am to 5 pm. Watch the sound and light show every day from 7 pm to 8 pm. The entry fee is 10 INR for Indians and 100 INR for foreigners. You can visit this place in a cab for a one-day trip. If you take the train then you can stay back one night here and return to Udaipur the next day. The tickets cost a maximum of 1000 INR to and fro.

Mount Abu

Mount Abu is a hill station in the Aravalli hills. It is 215 km away from Udaipur and worth paying a visit. It is considered as one of the offbeat destinations in Rajasthan for the presence of rivers, lakes and a forest in a terrain full of the desert which is common in Rajasthan. There is no train connectivity to Mount Abu so book a cab or take a bus ride to visit this place from Udaipur. The cost of the journey is around INR 1000 to and fro.

Mount Abu is a famous hill station near Udaipur.
Mount Abu is a famous hill station near Udaipur.
Pic courtesy: Native Planet

There are many temples here and hence a famous pilgrimage spot. Visit the Dilwara Jain Temple built in marble for its intricate architecture. Guru Shikar is the highest point in Mount Abu and a great place for panoramic views of the place.

Visit the ancient and sacred Nakki Lake. This lake is also famous because there is the Gandhi Ghat where Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes were immersed. You can enjoy a pleasant boat ride in the lake for less than 300 INR. Check out this detailed guide to explore Mount Abu.

Nakki Lake in Mount Abu.
Pic courtesy: Outlook Traveler

Karni Mata Temple

If you have the fear of rats then this is not the place for you. The Karni Mata Temple, famously known as the Rat Temple houses thousands of rats within its walls. It is a Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Karni Mata. The temple is in Deshnoke, 30 km from Bikaner and 200 km from Jodhpur. Catch a bus from Bikaner to visit this temple or hire a cab if you are visiting from Jodhpur. You can also visit the Junagarh Fort in Bikaner.

Watch this video to see how hundreds of rats scamper around the temple and people continue to worship without batting an eye!

This temple is one of the most offbeat destinations in Rajasthan as well as India. People who come to offer prayers in the temple generously feed these rats. The strangest part is that the food that is eaten by the rats is considered holy and is later served as ‘prasad’! Visiting this place is nothing less than a hair-raising experience.

Bundi

Bundi is around 218 km from Jaipur. Taking the train is the most convenient option. The train ride can take anywhere between 3 hr to 8 hr to reach depending on which train you book.

Bundi is famous for the Taragarh Fort, a step well called Raniji ki Baori and the Garh Palace. The town is sparsely populated and not many tourists visit. Hence it is a delight to visit this place. The houses in Bundi are painted in blue just like in Jodhpur. 

The most prominent architectural landmark in Bundi is the Raniji ko Baori. This stepwell is a classic example of rainwater harvesting in a dry region like Rajasthan. The pillars made of marble have exquisite carvings and the steps are neatly laid out around the well.

Raniji ko Baori is a stepwell in Bundi, famous for its architecture.
Raniji ko Baori is a stepwell in Bundi, famous for its architecture. Pic courtesy: Living Nomads

Ranthambore National Park

Ranthambore National Park is 155 km from Jaipur and it is convenient to take the train to Sawai Madhopur Railway from Jaipur. Visit this website for a more detailed information about the national park. The national park is closed from July to September so plan your visit accordingly.

Ranthambore National Park is a great place to encounter the Royal Bengal Tiger.
Ranthambore National Park is a great place to encounter the Royal Bengal Tiger. Pic courtesy: Indian Holiday

This national park is the best place to observe wild tigers in their natural habitat. Other wildlife you might get to encounter is the leopard, crocodile, wild boar, sambar, sloth bear, hyena, langur and more.

Sariska National Park

Just 100 km from Jaipur, Sariska National Park houses a number of tigers in its vast forests. There are two lakes called Siliserh Lake and the Jai Samand Lake. These lakes are home to many crocodiles and snakes. Read this detailed guide to plan your trip to Sariska National Park.

These national parks are considered as offbeat destinations in Rajasthan as a lot of tourists just visit the popular cities of Rajasthan skipping these parks. It adds great value to your trip if you include a visit to the forests in your travel itinerary to Rajasthan.

We hope this compilation of offbeat destinations in Rajasthan will help you plan your trip. You can dedicate more days to explore Rajasthan as there is so much to do which is worth the effort and time. Do let us know of any other offbeat destination which you uncover that deserves to be on this list. We hope it is equally enthralling as the ones mentioned above. 

Do write to us, in case you have any questions and we at TalkTravel App are happy to help. If you need any help in building a travel itinerary or you have any other query, download our free TalkTravel App. It is available for download on your Android or iOS device. You can download the TalkTravel App for free and reach out to the local expert without any additional cost. You are free to ask any doubt before or during your travel and our local expert will be ready to assist you.

We wish you a safe and happy travel!

Popular Indian movies shot in India that inspired travel

List of popular movies shot in India that inspired travel

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Movies introduce us to a world of fantasies and exotic locales. A lot of destinations see an increase in footfall, thanks to the movies shot in India by the film industry.

Certainly, Bollywood has taken full advantage of the fact that India has a variety of landscape to offer. Thanks to Bollywood for artistically capturing many movies within India and abroad that many Indians were exposed to these locales. Even Hollywood has tactfully included India in their movie script as an integral part of the storyline.

We, at TalkTravel App, have compiled a list of popular movies shot in India. We hope that these movies will inspire you to travel to these amazing places. A lot of destinations registered a spike in tourist numbers when these movies released.

A list of popular movies shot in India:

Dear Zindagi

The story revolves around the life of a perky young girl who slips into depression. As a result, she decides to go on a break to Goa where she meets a psychologist. Professional help combined with the beauty of Goa helps her overcome her issues and she returns to be her happy self.

Places like Benaulim Beach, Morjim Beach, Cortalim, Baga, and Parra Road in Goa appear in Dear Zindagi.

This movie rekindled the desire among the audience to visit Goa. Though beaches like Baga are famous and receive thousands of visitors during peak season, places like Parra Road and Cortalim village are the new favorites now.

Dil Chahta Hai

This movie introduced the concept of road trips to the Indian audience. Dil Chahta was such a huge hit that it attains now a cult status. Likewise, the movie resonated a lot with the youth population from Indian cities.

Chapora Fort from Dil Chahta Hai
Chapora Fort from Dil Chahta Hai. Pic courtesy: India Untravelled

The movie showed how three childhood friends come together to go on a road trip to Goa from Mumbai. Finally, they overcome challenges in their personal relationships after their epic trip.

Places like Panaji, Chapora Fort, and other locations within Goa appear in this movie. Check out this blog from India Untravelled to find out how you can visit the Chapora Fort in Goa.

Highway

Highway showcased the rugged landscape of the Himalayas in this movie.

The movie has an interesting storyline. A girl from an influential background is inadvertently kidnapped in New Delhi. Instead of displaying any emotion of fear or sadness, rather begins to enjoy this adventure as her kidnapper watches in disbelief at the turn of events. In contrast, the protagonists eventually fall in love with each other and try to start a life together in the beautiful Kashmir valley.

Aru Valley in Kashmir
Aru Valley in Kashmir
Pic courtesy: Endless Tours and Travels

The movie is predominantly shot in Aru Valley in Kashmir, Spiti in Himachal Pradesh, Ajmer in Rajasthan and rural areas of Punjab. Highway captured the Himalayan landscape in such a manner, that it reminded Indians of the unexplored gems that lurk in India.

Jab We Met

This family entertainer showed Punjab, Manali, Shimla, and Rohtang Pass in the Himalayas from North India. It also showed how convenient train travel can be while traveling a long distance within India.

Naggar Castle in Manali, India
Naggar Castle in Manali, India.
Pic courtesy: Dailymotion

In this movie, a girl tries to rekindle her relationship with her long-lost boyfriend. In her train journey, she meets another fellow passenger who is on a journey to nowhere. After a lot of twists and turns in the tale, they fall in love with each other.

Read this post to see how the quaint old Naggar Castle in Manali was transformed into a movie set for a famous song in this movie.

Barfi

Barfi brought Darjeeling, a town in the foothills of the Himalayas and Kolkata, a metropolitan city in West Bengal to the audience. This movie is about a love triangle that brews in Darjeeling. Among the three, a couple manages to live happily ever after in Kolkata. 

Barfi movie poster
Barfi movie poster.
Pic courtesy: Resfeber18

A train journey to Darjeeling is one of the best ways to appreciate the scenery in this region. As a result, Darjeeling was a favorite travel destination when the movie came out. Read this blog as a native of Darjeeling beautifully details all the locations captured in this movie.

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is a typical love drama where the protagonists go back and forth about their feelings for each other, only to fall in love and drive into the sunset later.

They show Gulmarg and Pahalgam regions of the Kashmir Valley and Udaipur from Rajasthan. This movie motivated many youngsters to book a ticket to Kashmir and it was a popular destination to visit for a long time.

3 Idiots

3 idiots was a hit in the box office! This movie revolves around three engineering graduates finding their passion in life during their university days. This is one of the most popular movies shot in India.

A famous University in Bangalore was the set for this film but it is the last scene in this movie that is widely remembered! All the characters in the movie gather at the famous Pangong Lake in the Himalayas (this lake extends between China and India).

Pangong Lake from 3 Idiots
Pangong Lake from 3 Idiots
Pic courtesy: Ten Thousand Strangers

The turquoise blue water at such high altitude with the rugged mountains of the Himalayas in the backdrop became a much sought-after spot to visit. The downside of this was that a lot of people polluted the place as a result of excessive tourism. Therefore, there have been awareness drives to retain the charm of this isolated lake and keep the place pollution free.

The Darjeeling Limited

This Hollywood movie is about three siblings who are on a trip through the Indian state of Rajasthan to rediscover their lost bond. Jodhpur and Udaipur in Rajasthan, are the sets for this film. The three brothers are always on a train while they travel across Rajasthan in this movie.

The name of the movie is ironic as the movie was never shot in Darjeeling and has nothing to do with Darjeeling either. Consequently, Indian audience wondered why the movie has that name since it had nothing to do with Darjeeling in the first place.

We hope you like this compilation of movies and if you haven’t visited any of these places, we strongly recommend that you visit them now.

Do write to us, in case you have any questions and we at TalkTravel are happy to help. If you need any help building a travel itinerary or if you have any other query, do not hesitate to contact us. 

Download our free TalkTravel App on our Android or iOS device to talk to our local expert for free. You are free to ask any doubt before or during your travel and our local expert will be ready to assist you.

We wish you a safe and happy travel!