Traveling in itself is therapeutic. And when you leave the common touristy approach of a fixed itinerary to a more open, soul searching experience then it becomes a unique journey! Travelling solo is such an experience. The very unconventional things which make a solo trip thrilling are sometimes the very reasons for travellers to take a back step. Fear not! Here is a specially curated list of 10 Best Destinations for Solo Travellers! These are the places where the concept of solo travelling is not new and thus all required support is already available. So come out and explore!
1. Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh
Spiti is one of a unique place in India. The topography resembles that of Tibetan plateau. With its vast, arid and barren landscape with beautiful snow clad mountains standing in between like meditating sages will make anyone hold short of breath. With the beautiful high altitude villages, century old monasteries and a clear blue sky, Spiti truly epitomizes a soul searching trip to the Mountains! You can stay with the locals in their homes and eat with them as most of the places lack any public eateries. This also makes daily expenses go down to a barely couple of hundred rupees. One can also experience a unique way of staying within century old monastery in Key or Dhankar.
Best time to visit: May to October is ideal time with sunny and clear blue sky. Winter in Spiti is unique, offering an experience unparalleled to any snow escapade in India.
Things to see: Kunjum La, Key monastery, Kibber, highest post office at Hikkim, Dhankar, monastery and meditation caves at Tabo
Things to do: Trek to Dhankar lake, stay overnight at key monastery, do star gazing at night
2. Pushkar, Rajasthan
Pushkar is almost equivalent to a backpacker’s den and it’s a must visit destination for solo travellers. Set amidst Aravalli hills centring around its namesake lake, Pushkar is a place to offer absolute peace and tranquillity amidst a variety of other things. Be it Rajasthani traditional music to delectable Indian Thali to Israeli food, you will see a mini world as you walk along the market road. From hostels to old local havelis, there are plenty of budget places to stay. While soaking in the hues of setting sun one can also experience a soul seeking evening Aarti of the Lake.
Best time to visit: Throughout the year
Things to see: Brahma temple, Barah Temple, cable car ride to Gayatri Devi temple on top of a beautiful hillock. Enthusiastic ones can also do a day trip to the famous city of Ajmer.
Things to do: A short trek to sunset point; Camel safari; Shopping of Rajasthani hand-printed cloth, bed cover, embroidered table covers, stone carved show pieces etc.
3. Varanasi, Uttar pradesh
Anyone wants to witness India in its full gamut, must visit Varanasi. One of the most ancient cities of the country, it still carries the centuries old essence of India- its religions, cultures, food, practices and malpractices! Yes, Varanasi is an experience which for sure is going to fulfil a vast array of mental pallets for every human being, Indian or non-Indian alike! Situated along the banks of the Ganges river, Varanasi with its 108 bathing ghats and numerous temples centring around the Kashi-Vishwanath Temple has been a traveller’s delight for centuries. It is a confluence of pilgrims as well as solo travellers from across the globe giving adding a positive vibe to your experience.
Best time to visit: Through out the year except for the summer months of April to August
Things to see: Ghats, Jantar Mantar, Ramnagar Fort, Temples
Things to do: Take a boat ride during the sunset, to witness the famous evening Ganga Aarti from the water, Walk along the narrowest of the lanes and bylanes to explore the city on your own
4. Shillong, Meghalaya
Long in city-pent? Want to submit to nature? Then search no more and land at Shillong, the capital city of Meghalaya and the queen of north east India. Rolling mountains, lush green pastures, beautiful waterfalls and a giant cave network are what that makes Meghalaya mesmerizing. This is also the rock capital of the country. Friendly Khasi people and unbounded natural beauty are the sole reasons why one will feel absolutely at home here in Shillong.
Best time to visit: famous for the monsoon, the best time to visit is from May to September, however, winter months are also beautiful
Things to see: Mawlynnong, Mawsynram, waterfalls along the Cherrapunji road, golf course etc
Things to do: Enjoy nature, go for a caving trip in the winters. A must do is trying the local pork dishes, especially the ones from the street side small stalls.
5. Hampi, Karnataka
This quaint settlement in North Karnataka was once the capital of the great Vijayanagara Empire. This is the place for both the history buffs and nature lovers. Situated on the southern bank of the beautiful Tungabhadra river, Hampi is dotted with temples, architectures, ruins from Vijayanagara empire. There are plenty of homestays and budget hotels available around Hampi Bazaar. The Northern bank of the river is more famous among backpackers and it has numerous good cafes to chill out.
Best time to visit: October to March
Things to see: Virupaksha temple, Lotus temple, Vittala temple, Daroji bear sanctuary, Bird’s eye view from top of the Anjaneyadri hills
Things to do: Watch sunset from Matanga Hills, take a coracle ride to the other side of Tungabhadra river, try the local cuisine
Nestled amidst Dhauladhar mountain range of the Himalayas, Mc Leod Ganj, is the gem of Kangra valley. McLeod Ganj or McLo (as commonly referred by the locals) is home to the His Highness the 14th Dalai Lama. McLo is a mini Tibet with Tibetan food, culture and people everywhere around as it is also the Tibetan government in exile. It is a hot favourite among solo travellers or backpackers due to friendly locals, less expensive lifestyle and some good opportunity to do volunteer work with the Tibetan Refugee groups.
Best time to visit: Throughout the year except for the monsoon months of June to September
Things to see: unbounded natural beauty, Dalai Lama temple, Bhagsunag waterfalls, St John in Wilderness church, a visit to Dharamshala
Things to do: Trek to Triund, Vipassana in Dharamkot, walk along the circular road to enjoy nature at its best, a visit to Naddi village
Displaying the quaint flavour of a French colony, Pondicherry is one of the best holiday retreats for solo travellers. With a distinctive culture, ambience and vibe around the place, Pondicherry carries a unique personality attracting many travellers. Especially the foreign travellers make it a second home. The tranquil beaches, ancient churches and temples, the brightly coloured facades of colonial houses are a treat for eyes. Pondicherry is an experience in itself.
Best time to visit: Through out the year
Things to see: Enjoy the beaches, spend time appreciating the colonial architecture, day tour to Auroville
Things to do: laze around the numerous cool cafes, meditate at the Aravinda Ashram, walk around the French, Tamil and Christian colonies.
8. rishikesh, uttarakhand
Rishikesh, famous among the Hindu devotees the holy river Ganga and numerous ashrams, has long become popular among solo travellers. It has risen to unparalleled fame as a renowned Yoga and Meditation centre and adventure sports hub. And thus, Rishikesh is one of the easiest places to start your solo travel experience. With numerous budget hostels, hotels and cool cafes, river side of Laxman jhoola is commonly known as the backpackers’ den. Rishikesh has become more of a youth centre due to numerous adventure sports which are conducted here apart from the Yoga and meditation centres.
Best time to visit: Throughout the year
Things to see: The Ganges, The Beatle’s Ashram, Geeta Bhawan, Evening Ganga Aarti
Things to do: White river rafting on the Ganges, Bungy jumping, Take a Yoga class, Walk along the Ganges
9. Udaipur, Rajasthan
If you want a chilled out solo trip adding a little bit of luxury to it then go for Udaipur. This former capital of Mewar has a bit of both the world. Famous for its luxury hotels and destination-wedding venues, it is also famous among backpackers across the globe. Amidst the beautiful lakes Pichola and Fateh Sagar, the artistic Palaces and temples in Udaipur are a cultural melting point. Anyone is bound to fall for this city for the sheer man made and natural beauty alike. Numerous budget hostels and hotels cater to all kinds of travellers and thus making a solo trip is the easiest thing to do here.
Best time to visit: Throughout the year
Things to see: Pichola lake, City Palace, Jagdish Mandir, Monsoon Palace, Sahelion ke bag
Things to do: watch sunset at Fateh Sagar lake, take a day tour to nearby Chittorgarh fort
Goa truly is a backpackers paradise for more than one reason. Shacks on the uncountable beaches along a whopping 130km coast line and adventure sports make every traveller go crazy. Excellent colonial architecture, attractive night clubs, mouth-watering food or the low budget booze, Goa has everything on offer.
Best time to visit: While October to February is the peak season, monsoon in Goa is a unique experience sans the water sports experiences.
Things to see: beautiful beaches of northern and southern Goa, old Portuguese architecture, churches, beautiful houses in the same style, local market, fishing village
Things to do: hop around the beaches, indulge in aquatic adventure sports, eat, sleep and party!
From the beginning of 21st century, Indians have slowly become more inclined to this form of travelling. From someone young students to middle-aged professionals, the solo-travel bug seems to have bitten across the Indian adventurous mass. And personally, I feel everyone must travel alone at some point in his or her lives to “know thyself” although cliché, it actually happens. So wait no more, surge ahead to any of the 10 Best Destinations for Solo Travellers in India and enjoy!
Contributor: Debjani Paul