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4 Alternative Indian Destinations

If you’re interested in India you’ve probably been there. Looking through the list of flights to Delhi and Mumbai, maybe the odd Goa or Cochin in there for you lovers of lazy backwater days, and up pop some unfamiliar names.

These flights are often cheaper than those to the bigger hubs and we all love a good deal – we’re travelling to India after all. So are they worth a visit? We decided to investigate and found more diversity, history and natural wonders than we’d bargained for….

 The beach at Chennai

Alternative Indian Destinations

Madras (Chennai)

So where is it?
Known by most nowadays as Chennai (it still appears on most flight search results as Madras, it’s an airport code thing), the city sits on the south east coast of India, just north of Pondicherry. Yes we said coast so that means….

What should I see?
…beaches! Marina is one of the longest urban beaches in the world and with 13km of sand you’re bound to be able to find a spot to yourself. The current here is too strong for swimming but it’s great for catching some rays during the day, watching amazing sunsets and after dark for entertainment and great street food.

If beaches ain’t your thing there are some great temples to visit – particularly the Kapaleeshwarar Temple which is almost 1500 years old and a riot of colour. If you’re a fan of history then be sure to pay a visit to Fort St George which was the first British fortress in India.

Kapaleeshwarar Temple

Anything good nearby?
Yelagiri is a small hill station about 4 hours from the city which has beautiful views and a number of trekking trails. Tirupati is another great shout in this region. About 3 hours by road from Chennai and a major pilgrimage point it’s famous for the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple – a massive and beautiful complex visited by 75,000 people A DAY!

Ahmedabad

So where is it?
North West in the state of Gujarat south of Rajasthan.

What should I see?
There’s so much history here it’s hard to know where to start! For amazing buildings you’ve got the beautiful Sidi Saiyyed Mosque, the tranquil Adalaj Step Well and the genuinely striking Hutheesing Jain Temple among many others. For a sense of India’s more modern history you can visit the Sabarmati Ashram where Mahatma Gandhi lived for 12 years of his life.

Hutheesing Jain Temple

If you need a bit of down time from the city, Kankaria Lake in the south is surrounded by parks and even has a water and light show in the evening.

Anything good nearby?
The Wild Ass Sanctuary. Because how could we not.

Bangalore (Bengaluru)

So Where is it?
In the south of the peninsular – inland between Goa and Kerala.

What should I see?
Although it doesn’t meet the architectural might of Ahmedabad, there are still some sites worth seeing here including Bangalore Palace (actually a collage opened in 1944 bit still), the massive and modern ISKCON temple and Ragigudda Anjaneya Temple. Be sure to also to take a wander around the colourful neighbourhood of Malleswaram for a taste of daily life in the city.

Food-wise you can’t beet a stop at the Mavalli Tiffin Rooms (MTR to the initiated) for an amazing spread of South Indian dishes. Bangalore also has its own brew pup named Toit where you can escape the heat of the city with a nice cold pint.

Anything good nearby?
The countryside around Bengaluru is great for trekking and lots of local companies offer hiking and caving expeditions for the active. A bike tour is a great way to discover hidden gems and burn off all that amazing Dosa.

Hyderabad

So Where is it?
In the centre of the southern section of the peninsular and almost as far away from the sea as you can get in this part of India.

The Charminar

What should I see?
Hyderabad has historically been a cultural hub where the mix of populations from both the north and south have produced an eclectic mix of food, fashion and art. The massive Charminar is a symbol of the city and acts as both a monument and mosque. For another side to the history of the region be sure to travel the 11km to the ruined fort city of Golconda which looks over Hyderabad from the surrounding hills.

If you’re a but historied out (we’ve all been there) then head to the Laad Bazaar for a fantastic shopping experience. Though probably give is a miss if you’re not that in to beads…

Anything good nearby?
It’s actually a suburb of the city but Moula Ali Dargah is great to escape the heat of downtown and also boasts great views.

So there you have it! Whether you’re passing through these major transport hubs on your way to somewhere a little more well known on the traveller trail, or you’re looking for something a little different from your Indian adventure, never pass up the chance to explore. With 30,000 years of history (give or take) and a population over 1.2 billion people, there’s no such thing as “just” a dot on the map.

You can fly to all of these destinations (and a lot of slightly better known ones) with Qatar Airways and get some pretty amazing student fares to boot. Aren’t we nice.
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