India is a land where verbatim, thousands of different cultures thrive. This has been a symbol of traditional and natural beauties since times unknown. Mother Nature has blessed us with every sort of natural beauty there exists. From the skyrocketing Himalayas and monasteries in the north to the mesmerizing sand beaches and temples in the south; from the scorching deserts and traditional dances of the west to the home of clouds and native tribes in the east, India presents an ambience with a spectrum wider than any other country. Each state houses immensely beautiful landscapes and historical monuments. This causes an immense number of tourists from all over the world to flock towards India every year. Tourism is an essential part of our economy because it spines millions of otherwise unemployed people.
Here is a list of top 10 most visited states of India by foreign tourists in 2020 –
1) Tamil Nadu
Foreign Tourist Arrival – 6,074,345
This state is blessed exceptionally with a high number of temples along with a vast coastline and very beautiful hill-stations. It presents architectures which date back to the 2nd and the 3rd centuries but are still well-maintained. There are many popular tourist attractions in Tamil Nadu. Ooty referred to as the “Queen of Hill Stations”, does justice to its title. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway here is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Chennai is one of the best places to visit in Tamil Nadu. It bounds in temples, churches and breathtaking beaches. Marina Beach here is the longest beach in India. Pondicherry is a blessing when it comes to beaches like the Promenade beach, the Rock beach and the Paradise beach. The French colony here, with beautiful monochrome bright walls and alleys, are a must-visit for any tourist. Kodaikanal is another breathtaking hill station in Tamil Nadu and the lush green and world-famous Western ghats can be seen from here.
Other beautiful cities to visit in Tamil Nadu are Madurai which is famous for the Madurai Temple, Coonoor- famous for trekking in the Nilgiris, Yercaud – famous for the Eastern ghats, Rameshwaram – the beautiful island city, Kanyakumari at the tip of the Indian subcontinent and Group of Monuments at Mamallapuram / Mahabalipuram is a collection of 7th- and 8th-century CE religious monuments and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The site has 40 ancient monuments and Hindu temples, including one of the largest open-air rock reliefs in the world: the Descent of the Ganges or Arjuna’s Penance. The best things one can do in Tamil Nadu is to enjoy the sandy beaches, wander about in the temples, explore the Vellore Fort and enjoy the local seafood. The best activities in Tamil Nadu are surfing at Serenity Beach, Scuba Diving at Pondicherry along with Kayaking and Canoeing.
Foreign Tourist Arrival – 5,078,514
The literal translation of this state’s name is “The Great state”. This is the land of the Marathas and the epic warrior Shivaji. Sitting beside the Arabian Sea and having the Western Ghats laying across it, Maharashtra is one of the most beautiful states of India. It is also the richest state in India, contributing 13.3% of the total GDP of our country. Mumbai is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Maharashtra. The ‘Dream City’ stands true to its name. It has the world-renowned Gateway of India, the Siddhivinayak temple and the historical Elephanta caves. Mahabaleshwar is a hill station that sits on the Western Ghats. It is one of the major trekking and camping hotspots for tourists in Maharashtra. Aurangabad here prides over the famous mausoleum Bibi ka Maqbara which is also known as Tomb of the Lady and Ajanta – Ellora caves having spectacular rock structures.
Solapur is a city here that lies over the Deccan plateau and has the well-known Siddeshwar Temple. The best activities in Maharashtra are the native dances and folk music and trekking across the Western Ghats. The Solapur fort is another treat to the eye. Other important and beautiful places to visit in Maharashtra are Pune – the land of the Peshwas, Matheran and its striking natural views, Alibagh and its coastal forts along the white beaches, Ratnagiri and its lighthouse and so on. As a matter of fact, one of the best things to do in Maharashtra is trekking and camping to the forts sitting atop a high hill. You can’t just get enough of this state.
3) Uttar Pradesh
Foreign Tourist Arrival – 3,780,752
Uttar Pradesh has very beautiful natural scenic landscapes because it is situated in the Ganga basin, India’s mightiest river. Nevertheless, it is the man-made monumental beauty present in this state which does the real talking. It has numerous ghats, tombs, temples and forts to say the least. Some of the most popular tourist attractions in Uttar Pradesh include Agra which houses one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal which carries the brilliance and marvelousness of the classic Mughal architecture.
Some of the best places to visit in Uttar Pradesh include Lucknow, the ‘City of Nawabs’ still maintains its ancient glory and gives a peek in the classic music, dance and art of India and Allahabad. Among the best things, one can do in Uttar Pradesh are exploring the ghats of Varanasi, finding peace in the temples of Mathura and reliving the past in Ayodhya. The best activities a person can do in Uttar Pradesh include boating in the mighty Ganges in Varanasi and Allahabad and enjoy the extravagant atmosphere of Vrindavan.
Foreign Tourist Arrival – 2,740,502
One of the three cities from the ‘Golden Triangle for tourists in India’, the capital of India has dozens of monumental beauties to offer. It is full of historical and modern buildings in surplus amounts. The most popular tourist attraction in Delhi is The India Gate which serves as a symbol for Delhi at times. Among the other best places to visit in Delhi include the striking Qutab Minar, the tallest tower in India and Humayun’s tomb which is a masterpiece and an example of Persian architecture. One can never forget to pay a visit to the Red Fort too, an entire fort made up of Redstone. Other tourist attractions include the world-famous Lotus temple, a magnanimous piece of modern architecture.
Delhi has both, the first mosque of India, Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque and India’s largest mosque, the Jama Masjid. The best things to do in Delhi include strolling through the markets of the famous Chandni Chowk and exploring the Connaught place. Delhi also has the world’s largest Hindu temple, The Akshardham temple which is an important tourist attraction of the city. The best activities to do in Delhi include attending the exhibition at Akshardham temple, relaxing and having a picnic at the Lodi Gardens, skipping about the steps of Agrasen ki Baoli and having the privilege of observing the charming Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official home of the Indian President.
Foreign Tourist Arrival – 1,754,348
The land of Kings or Rajasthan is evidently the most colourful state of India. Its rich and exquisite culture is still untouched and thrives at its best. The most popular tourist attractions in Rajasthan include Jaipur, the pink city which flourishes in what remains of an ended era. From the Hawa Mahal to the strong forts, it has preserved everything; and Udaipur, the city of lakes which has so many royal families still living in the city that it’s almost like a trip to a royal Rajasthan kingdom. Other best and major places to visit in Rajasthan include Jodhpur and its exquisite Mehrangarh Fort which is one of the largest forts in India, Jaisalmer and its sandstone buildings, Pushkar and its camel fair and the famous Thar desert.
There are many things to do in Rajasthan like having the royal multi-cuisine dinners that kings used to have, learning the native fables of each city and dipping in a lake in the scorching heat of the desert. The best activities to do in Rajasthan include Camel Safari in Bikaner, experiencing a Hot-air balloon ride over the pink city and having dinner while looking up to the majestic Mehrangarh fort at Jodhpur, which was stated as the ‘Work of Giants’ by Rudyard Kipling. While we are at this, do not even forget to visit the largest fort in India, the Chittorgarh fort which shows a prime example of Rajput architecture.
6) West Bengal
Foreign Tourist Arrival – 1,617,105
West Bengal is like the definition of hardwired culture for Indians. It’s not just a state but an amalgamation of deep-rooted culture and urbanization. The most popular tourist attractions in West Bengal include ‘The City of Joy’- Kolkata, Hooghly and Darjeeling. It has a huge number of exemplary buildings of the British as well as Indian architecture. The Victoria Memorial is a must-visit here. The Indian Museum presents the perfect specimens of Mughal paintings to the viewers. Shantiniketan, the city with the ashram of Rabindranath Tagore is a very famous knowledge point of India and presents one of the most colourful shops or bazaars in the country.
The most spectacular tourist attraction of West Bengal is the Sunderbans, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the largest tiger reserve and the largest mangrove forest in the world. It houses the Royal Bengal Tigers, native to this region and attracts tourists from all across the globe. Darjeeling, the most famous hill station of India is located here and boasts of its toy trains, tea gardens and cultural heritage. Other best places to visit in West Bengal are Siliguri and its view of the majestic Kanchenjunga peaks, Digha and its serene beaches, Hooghly and its consolidated buildings heavily influenced by the Dutch, Portuguese and French architecture. One can also visit Kalimpong, a hill station roofed by the Himalayas themselves.
The best activities one can do in West Bengal include exploring the dense Sundarbans, boating in the serene waters of Teesta and Hooghly, watching the sunrise from Siliguri as the Kanchenjunga tips take a golden glow and enjoy at the virgin beaches. The best things to do in West Bengal are to enjoy the mouth-watering delicacies of this state, ranging from seafood and freshwater fish to limitless types of sweets. After all, there is a reason it is sometimes called the sweetest state of India.
Foreign Tourist Arrival – 1,200,969
Punjab, also known as the “Land of the Five rivers”, it is quite evident that this state lacks no natural beauty and is one of the most fertile regions of India. Punjab has vast stretches of crop fields and is also very important for the religion of Sikhism. The most popular tourist attraction in Punjab is the ever-scintillating Golden Temple with actual gold covering the building. This temple located in Amritsar is the primary religion hub for Sikhs and is famous all across the globe. Some of the other most visited places in Punjab include the Attari Wagah Border, also known as the Berlin Wall of Asia, is the only road border crossing between India and Pakistan & the Jallianwala Bagh which has a homage monument erected for the innocent people who were killed in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
Things to do in Punjab include visiting the numerous Sikh shrines and the Sheesh Mahal in Patiala to observe the historical monuments of Northern India and one can also visit the Ranjit Sagar dam near Pathankot which spans over the river Ravi. The various activities in Punjab include observing how crops are harvested and the famous retreat ceremony called the ‘lowering of the flags’ at Wagah Border.
Foreign Tourist Arrival – 1,096,407
Plausibly called as “God’s own Country”, this state does absolute justice to its moniker. It is a state that almost feels as if it was crafted by the forces of nature with the Gods commanding them. The clean sandy beaches and the shallow backwaters, everything here is mesmerizing enough to make us even slightly doubt it. The most popular tourist attractions in Kerala include Alleppey’s / Alappuzha backwaters and houseboat cruise, Thiruvananthapuram’s temples, lakes and beaches and Munnar’s all year cool soothing climate along with swift hill-streams.
Munnar is even listed as one of the most romantic places in the entire world. The beauty of silent backwaters in Alleppey / Alappuzha, backed by tall palm trees is singular and splendid. Other best places to visit in Kerala include Kovalam and its magnificent beaches, Cochin-the queen of the Arabian Sea, Kozhikode and Varkala. The best things to do in Kerala include spending healthy rejuvenation time in houseboats floating on the backwaters and exploring the delicious Malabar food. The best activities one can do in Kerala include surfing at the Kovalam beach, sunbathing at Cochin and paragliding over the Varkala beach and the ocean.
Foreign Tourist Arrival – 1,087,971
This is a state which developed numerous dynasties and was the birthplace for Buddhism and Jainism. Its historical importance dates back to thousands of years back in the past. As a result of numerous dynasties evolving from its womb, Bihar boasts of an exemplary architecture of various dynasties all over the state. The most popular tourist attractions in Bihar include Bodh Gaya, the land where the seeds of Buddhism sprouted and The Nalanda University, one of the oldest Universities in the world. The Bodhi tree, under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment now attracts lakhs of devotees from all across the globe and the Mahabodhi temple built around the same tree acts as a catalyst in drawing a heavy number of tourists towards it with its religious charm.
Other major places to visit in Bihar include Patna, the city which has stood the test of time and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world; Vaishali, the world’s first republic abounds with beautiful shrines all across the city. The city of Bhagalpur or the Silk city boasts of natural scenic landscapes and the Ganges. There are many other famous tourist sites such as the Navlakha palace, tomb of Sher Shah Suri, Valmiki National Park and so on. The best things to do in Bihar include exploring the ancient ruins of Nalanda, the holy city of Pawapuri where Lord Mahavira was buried and enjoying the famous dish called Litti-Chokha. The best activities in Bihar include cruising across the Ganges and learning about the serene and pacifist religions of Buddhism and Jainism through scriptures in the museums.
Foreign Tourist Arrival – 933,841
The “Sunshine State” of India has a stunning number of beaches but that’s not all it has to offer. It presents the tourists with classic examples of post-colonization effects on Indian architecture. It has astounding waterfalls, colonies and forts too! The most popular tourist attractions in Goa are the quiet Morjim beach, the ever-vibrant Baga beach and the Candolim & Calangute beach. Other best places to visit in Goa include the massive Aguada fort, the breathtakingly captivating Dudhsagar waterfalls and the ‘Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church’ to name a few.
In addition to these, the Chapora fort, oozing with history, gives a spectacular view of the virgin natural beauty of Goa. Some of the best things to do in Goa are visiting the various temples and churches studded all over the state and enjoying the uniquely prepared seafood including crabs and pomfrets. The best activities in Goa include almost everything one needs for adventure, they are- Scuba diving, Snorkeling, Windsurfing, Water Scootering, White Water River Rafting and Boat Cruise at Mandovi River. You also have the options for Kayaking, Wakeboarding, Kneeboarding and Water Skiing.
Source – tourism.gov.in / FTA figures are of year 2018