The language of romance is the same across the world. It kindles between people without any algorithms; but we know that a setting is very important for this feeling. If you are a traveler who is looking for a romantic experience in India, we suggest these 10 places in India, in no special order.
You may find many ‘obvious’ places missing in the list. It’s not because we want to be different, but we believe that safety, security, privacy and carefree are obvious checks for a place to be romantic first (try doing it yourself) – getting arrested, getting clicked, getting mobbed and getting an ECR isn’t really romantic. So read on –
Udaipur – the city of lakes, with a lot many palaces, hawelis, and gardens has been a romantic destination for centuries. With a constant cool breeze, warm and friendly people, especially sensitive to tourists and great eats, Udaipur has been well chosen by celebrities and commoners to fuel their passion. We also got married there, on the banks of one of those lakes.
Go for walks, enjoy the beautiful views from the palaces, and then of the palaces from one of the many lakeshore restaurants. Put on your best and dine in at Devigarh or the restaurants within the city palace. For day trips, you could drive to the magnificent temples of Dilwara or even to Mount Abu and Kumbhalgarh.
Manali – As you drive into Manali from Kullu with Beas River on your right, you will get the urge to stop, get down and sit on those stones along the river and just watch the sun go down. When you drive from Manali to Nagar (the river again to your right) and smell the apple orchards to your left and the awesome snow peaks to your right, you will feel what romance is. When you sit down at the courtyard of Nicolas Roerich’s house at Nagar and look beyond, you will feel like camping there for eternity. Manali is the ultimate romantic destination.
For others, you can try your hand at snow sports, trek to Bhrigu Lake and many others, and better still go upto Rohtang Pass. There is a Manali for everyone; but the romantic Manali is the one.
Kutchch – is a fairy tale on miles and miles of beds of salt. With hardly anyone around you (except fellow campers) on a full moon night when the ground turns white and the sky turns blue, you will feel like you are not on earth. 6 hours of non-stop magic melts even the diehard skeptic. The days are equally beautiful; the ruins of Roha fort or the quiet at Mandvi beach are equally enticing for one to stop, admire and think about how beauty manifests itself in so many forms.
Visits to Kutchch can be teamed up with a side visit to Gir – the only Indian sanctuary that has Asiatic lions on the prowl.
Ooty – before you make faces at this name, let me ask if you have walked hand in hand with your special one around Wellington; or driven down beyond the Lawrence’s Church at Lovedale; or have you driven down to Emerald or Avalanchi (more popular as Red Hills) or Upper Bhavani Lake and reservoirs. There is so much of pristine Ooty that many travelers seem to miss.
Slip quietly down any of the tea estates Enroute to Lamb’s rock and sit down amongst acres of tea and no one but you. Sit down in the courtyard of St. Stephen’s church after a round of shopping at the Mohun’s. Drive along the toy train. Deck up in your best and attend the annual derby. Romance is in the air.
For others, you always have the toy train and you always can drive to Coonoor and can also go to Black Thunder for your obligatory rush with water sports.
Vagator & Palolem (Goa) – while I will not argue against the fact that whole of Goa is a romantic paradise, these 2 beaches are special. Depending on where you are staying, you can pick Vagator (North Goa) or Palolem (South Goa). My advice – be a romantic, and visit both.
Both are flat and quiet sandy beaches for miles. Sunsets at both are to die for. At Vagator you have the advantage of watching it from the Chapora Fort (built on the cliff behind the beach); At Palolem you have the advantage of watching it from your own log hut. Palolem is a silver crescent dotted with palm trees all along; Vagator has its own little quiet corners amongst a few rocks. Both look so awesome in monsoon rains. Civic amenities are better at Palolem.
If you are driving into Palolem, do not take the highway. Instead take the internal route through Varca. The views you will get, descending into Palolem from the hills, is the one you will thank me forever.
Darjeeling – The 3 hour drive from the nearest airport to Darjeeling is straight out of the movie Barfi. The Aaradhana toy train is still functional but Darjeeling’s romance has grown beyond these wheels. The quaint Mall Road, old colonial buildings and schools, the so many winding roads which culminate near the book shop on the top of the Mall, still make Darjeeling smell of what it may have been during the Raj. Darjeeling provides some of the best views of the majestic Kanchenjunga – India’s highest. The quest for a sunrise from Tiger Hill is another experience – when Mother Nature suddenly removes her dark blanket and reveals the jewels in her bosom, all within 3 minutes.
Then there is the all-encompassing Darjeeling tea and its various shades to choose from; there is the zoo which is one of its kind with so many Pandas which no other zoo has. Right next to the zoo is the mountaineering institute which was once runs by Tenzing Norgay. There is a story in Darjeeling at every corner, and not so many people to tell.
Kumarakom – the backwaters spell magic as you get down at Kollam. It’s all green, even the water reflects greenery. As you make your way towards your dream houseboat on the Vembanad Lake, you can feel that you are floating. The surroundings are fresh, cool, lively and gentle. As you get into your houseboat and settle down into its living room (with the pilot seated ahead of you on the wheels), you feel as if you are driving, while sipping coconut water (or rum, whatever you prefer). As you put your feet up on the sofa, the boat comes out into broader waters where you can see villagers on both sides of the backwater, going about their chores, happy to see you amidst themselves. As you dip into your freshly fried pakodas, the boat gets into the huge Vembanad Lake; a strong cool breeze greets you and welcomes you to God’s own country. Retire for the night, sleep like a baby as the boat gently rocks and rolls you; repeat it for another day, and more. This love story has no end.
Nainital – evokes the usual snobbery like we reserve for Simla and others. Yet, this place is magical. The lake is spotlessly clean; there is enough space so that even if crowded, you don’t feel it. The wind is mystical and there is life amongst these. There are kids playing cricket, folks going into a matinee movie, people walking around the long and winding Mall Road. You can choose to be in there, by the book shop, or you can choose to go up the mountain by 2 loops and watch the lake from above, marveling at its blue waters. You can choose to visit the other 6 lakes and find the same experience. For newlyweds, there is the Naina Devi temple to take blessings from. For old timers, you can sit and gaze at the Nanda Devi from a distance and wonder at the beauty of that mountain. You can be so many things at once at Nainital.
Andamans – is synonymous with pristine white sand beaches; sparsely populated islands and an India we would not know. Its setting, its seclusion, and its novelty make it a romantic adventure. Radhanagar beach is a huge swathe of gentle waves on white sands; Havelock Island is a favorite amongst the tourists; island hopping – Ross Island, Neil Island – is another.
Unlike Lakshwadeep, it is not so ecologically fragile, is better accessible and is big enough for a tourist’s needs and safety. The whole set of islands is a journey of exploration. Done with your better half, it will leave you more appreciative of the other, more closer to each other.
Dalhousie – is still a relatively unknown destination for Indians, mostly a stopover for folks who are in transit. The charm of Dalhousie is in its isolation, is in its relatively smaller size. You can literally walk around the town from your hotel. The Mall Road has a few places where the tourists gather to talk and share. The cold mist envelopes the small Tibetan market nearby and a bluish layer of condensed vapor becomes visible as sunset leads to night. The day opens with a view of the valleys below; as you drive towards the lush green meadows of Khajiar, you will find the jungles so thick that Sun has difficulty permeating through to the soil. You can run from one end of Khajiar to the other, but you will never get enough. And all through, the smells of Indian Chai, Tibetan momos, Maggi noodles, and butter dosas will keep you walking from one place to the other. Dalhousie is a place to sit quietly, take long pauses, communicate non-verbally and power off your devices. It’s a place that powers you on.