Best Places to Visit in India: A Guide to Exploring India for the Returning NRI

Ah, dear returning NRIs, we know that your heart yearns for the sights, sounds, and smells of your motherland. But let’s face it, you’ve been away for quite some time, and you’re probably wondering what to expect when you dive headfirst into the ocean of sensory overload that is India.

Fear not, for we have created the ultimate guide to the best places to visit in India, tailored especially for the NRI who’s ready to reconnect with their roots (and possibly experience a bit of culture shock along the way).

So, strap on your seatbelt, and join us on this roller coaster ride through the diverse, vibrant, and utterly chaotic landscape that is India.

Varanasi: A Dip into the Spiritual Abyss

Welcome to Varanasi, the beating heart of India’s spiritual life. As an NRI, you might be accustomed to morning jogs and soy lattes, but here, you’ll find yourself amidst morning rituals, chanting, and the wafting aroma of incense.

Don’t forget to take a boat ride on the Ganges at sunrise – it’s a surreal experience, even if the water quality remains questionable.

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Pro tip: While exploring the narrow lanes, keep an eye out for sacred cows – they’re the true rulers of Varanasi, and they know it.

Rajasthan: The Land of Kings and Traffic Jams

For a taste of royal India, head to Rajasthan, where you’ll find yourself awestruck by the grandeur of palaces, forts, and the occasional camel.

Marvel at the architectural wonders of Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Udaipur, but don’t forget to brush up on your bargaining skills – the markets are a treasure trove of colorful handicrafts, textiles, and trinkets.

Pro tip: Traffic rules are more like suggestions here, so buckle up and embrace the chaos.

Kerala: Gods, Greenery, and Gold

If you’re yearning for a slice of tropical paradise, look no further than Kerala, aptly named “God’s Own Country.” Here, you can cruise along the serene backwaters, indulge in Ayurvedic treatments, and explore lush tea gardens.

Oh, and did we mention gold? Be prepared to witness a dazzling display of gold jewelry wherever you go – Keralites love their bling!

Pro tip: If you’re attending a wedding, be prepared for a fierce competition of who can wear the most gold.

Mumbai: A Love Affair with Bollywood and Local Trains

Are you ready for the city that never sleeps? Mumbai is a heady mix of glitz, glamour, and gridlock. Visit the iconic Gateway of India, savor delicious street food, and, if you’re lucky, catch a glimpse of your favorite Bollywood star.

Pro tip: Mastering the art of boarding a local train during rush hour is a rite of passage – it’s like an extreme sport, but without any safety gear.

Delhi: The Unapologetic Capital of Chaos

Ah, Delhi, the city that greets you with its smoggy embrace and takes you on a whirlwind tour of history, culture, and spicy street food. From the majestic Red Fort to the bustling lanes of Old Delhi, there’s no shortage of sights to explore.

Just remember to carry a bottle of antacid – the street food is to die for, but it might not always agree with your NRI stomach.

Pro tip: The infamous Delhi belly is not a myth, so tread cautiously when it comes to street food. You’ve been warned.

Goa: A Cocktail of Beaches, Booze, and Befuddling Traffic

If you’re craving sun, sand, and a drink in your hand, Goa is your go-to destination. From idyllic beaches and historic churches to vibrant markets and lively nightlife, there’s something for everyone here. Just remember, driving in Goa is like playing a game of Mario Kart – there are no rules, only chaos.

Pro tip: Renting a scooter is the best way to explore Goa, but make sure to practice your dodging skills – cows, dogs, and pedestrians are all part of the fun.

Rishikesh: Where Yoga Meets Adventure

Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, Rishikesh is the perfect destination for those seeking a blend of spirituality and adventure.

Channel your inner yogi at one of the many yoga retreats, or get your adrenaline pumping with white-water rafting and bungee jumping. Just be prepared for the occasional power outage – it’s all part of the charm.

Pro tip: The local monkeys are notorious for their thievery, so guard your belongings like a hawk. They have their eyes on your snacks (and possibly your phone).

Kolkata: The City of Joy, Sweets, and Honking

Welcome to Kolkata, a city where the honking never stops, and the sweets are sinfully delicious. Explore the architectural gems of the British Raj, and don’t forget to pay a visit to the iconic Howrah Bridge.

Just remember, crossing the street here is an art form – one that requires nerves of steel and impeccable timing.

Pro tip: The city comes alive during Durga Puja, but be prepared for an onslaught of pandal-hopping crowds and traffic snarls.

Hampi: A Time Machine to the Vijayanagara Empire

Hampi is like stepping into a time machine that transports you back to the glory days of the Vijayanagara Empire. Wander through the maze of ancient temples, palaces, and boulders that are scattered across this UNESCO World Heritage site. Just remember to slather on the sunscreen – Hampi’s landscape is breathtaking, but it can get scorching hot.

Pro tip: Hire a bicycle or an auto-rickshaw to explore the vast expanse of ruins. Your legs will thank you later.

Ladakh: The Land of High Passes and Higher Spirits

If you’re seeking a dose of adventure and jaw-dropping landscapes, head to Ladakh, nestled in the rugged beauty of the Himalayas. Traverse high mountain passes, visit ancient monasteries, and marvel at the otherworldly beauty of Pangong Tso Lake. Just be prepared for the altitude – it can leave you breathless, literally.

Pro tip: Acclimatize for a couple of days before venturing into higher altitudes, and don’t forget to carry warm clothes – it can get chilly even in the summer.

Amritsar: A Holy Tryst with Golden Glory

Amritsar is the spiritual center of Sikhism and home to the breathtaking Golden Temple. As you explore this holy city, indulge in mouthwatering Punjabi cuisine, and soak in the vibrant culture. Just remember to cover your head and remove your shoes before entering the temple – it’s a sign of respect and a great way to blend in with the locals.

Pro tip: Don’t miss the Beating Retreat ceremony at the Wagah Border – it’s a theatrical spectacle of patriotism and pride.

Pondicherry: A French Kiss on the Indian Coast

If you’re craving a European vibe without leaving the Indian subcontinent, Pondicherry is your answer. Wander through the charming French Quarter, savor delicious Franco-Indian cuisine, and relax on the sandy beaches. Just be prepared for the occasional language barrier – not everyone speaks fluent “Franglais.”

Pro tip: Rent a bicycle to explore the quaint streets of Pondicherry, and make sure to try some delicious gelato while you’re at it.

Meghalaya: A Walk in the Clouds

For a slice of unspoiled natural beauty, venture to Meghalaya, the “abode of clouds.” Explore the living root bridges of Cherrapunji, marvel at the crystal-clear waters of Dawki, and soak in the breathtaking vistas of the Khasi Hills. Just be prepared for the rain – Meghalaya is one of the wettest places on earth.

Pro tip: Carry an umbrella and waterproof gear – you never know when the skies might open up and drench you in their watery embrace.


As you embark on your journey to rediscover India, prepare yourself for an onslaught of experiences that are bound to leave you breathless, bewildered, and craving more. There’s no place quite like India, with its diverse landscapes, rich history, and a penchant for chaos.

So go forth, explore, and embrace the adventure with a healthy dose of humor – and remember to hold on to your roots, no matter how far you’ve traveled.

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