Here is a list of 10 places which we at The Land Of Wanderlust feel are a must for anyone who plans to backpack across India. Since we have only listed 10 backpacker destinations; if you feel a place of your choice is missing do drop in a comment with the name of the place and the reason why it should have been there on this list.
1. Parvati Valley
This beautiful valley consists of villages such as Kasol, Tosh, Malana and Pulga and also long yet easy hikes to Magic Rasol and Kheergang. Pleasant weather all year around, cheap accommodation and food, breathtaking view of the snow capped Himalayas, hikes through the woods, unique guest houses and abundance of Hasish makes Parvati Valley an automatic number one on our list.
2. Spiti Valley:
Home to some of the oldest Buddhist monasteries in the world, Spiti Valley is a world within a world from every aspect of it. High altitude villages and lakes make for one hell of a backpacking experience where backpackers can stay in the 1000-year-old monastery guest house at Tabo to a day trip to Key and a night halt at Kaza, Kibber, Dhankar and Komic (the highest motorable village in the world). Camping at Chandartal and Dhankar Lake with countless number of stars in the sky is surely a bucket list must do.
3. Zanskar Valley
A backpacking trip not for the meek. After a back breaking and road less journey from Kargil, backpackers are greeted by A terrain which will simply leave you speechless. This valley which also has a river by the same name has high altitude Buddhist monasteries, villages and some of the best treks in the Trans-Himalayas. A night halt at the village of Rangdum and town of Padum are a must along with a day trip to Zangla Palace. A hike to the Stongdey monastery is a must do for all those who visit this beautiful valley but can’t do a more serious hike.
Wi-Fi, free Tibet campaign and banners, good food and street performances are something that makes McLeodganj or upper Dharamshala one of the most happening towns in the Himalayas. Backpackers are spoilt for choice when it comes to food with the eating options being virtually unlimited from street food to roof top fine dining, a stroll through the lanes of McLeodganj feels less like India and more like Tibet. A visit to St. John’s Church in the Wilderness, waterfall and temple at Bhagsunag and a night stay at Naddi and Dharamkot, along with a four hour hike to Turudi is a must do while in this valley.
Monasteries, rugged barren mountains, two humped camels, high altitude villages and lakes that behold heaven on earth in Ladakh. A dream destination for all kinds of travellers but a challenge like none other for a backpacker who has to make a dream come through on a shoe string budget. A night stay at Turtuk and Alchi are a must do along with having some yak cheese and rafting in the Indus and Zanskar rivers. If you manage to backpack Ladakh you can very well add it to your CV.
The unique terrain at Hampi sets it apart from the rest of the world heritage sites in India. The ruins and boulders at Hampi along with the junkie backpacker crowd here makes it a destination worth visiting. The town is relaxed and unexplored even to this day with new ruins being found. The best way to explore Hampi is by cycling around the place. Bouldering in Hampi is unmatched in the entire country. If climbing, cycling and history is your forte then Hampi is the place to backpack to.
Situated at the banks of the Ganges, Rishikesh is full of culture, Shivaism and stories related to the Hindu mythology. The hidden Beatles ashram and the sadhus make the place interesting to backpack. Rafting in the Ganges is known to be the best in the country. Rishikesh is also the hub for other adventure sports like bunjee jumping and paragliding. Famous for astrology, Rishikesh is a pilgrim center for the Hindus. Rishikesh is a paradise for backpackers who want to explore nature along with a blend of spirituality.
A state of culture, camels, puppets, cheap shopping and the Thar desert. The city of Jodhpur has the mighty Mehrangarh fort towering over the blue old city, making it a delight to backpack to. Open air desert camping is a must for anyone who backpack to Jaisalmer. The town of Pushkar is the most happening place in Rajasthan with trance parties and a vibrant night life that’s kept in close secret. Backpacking through Rajasthan is a must for anyone who wants to see the cultural side of India.
This former French colony is today a heritage town which has beautiful beaches, mouth watering sea food, cheap alcohol and a vibrant night life. This small town has plenty to offer backpackers from culture shows to a no vehicle beach road and most of all the township of Auroville which offers a spiritual experience in the ashram like none other. Pondicherry is the perfect place to come to and do nothing but just sit and chill.
If hiking and chilling is what you backpack for then few other places will rival the town of Gokarna. Four beaches along a short 20 minute hike from each other and you can reach from Kudlee to Paradise beach in no time. A night at Kudlee beach is a must for all with random brilliant street performances by travellers from all over the world. Half moon and Paradise used to be hippie strong holds until a few years back but are still the best places to score some good weed. So if you really want an experience of how Goa used to be during its hey days then backpack down the coast to Gokarna.