November is one of the ideal months to go on a trip. The Diwali rush has eased. The monsoons have left. The nip in the air is just right for a few walks and boat rides. But the weather is not too cold for you to sit shivering by the room heater. Whether you are on your honeymoon or your first hike, here are ten destinations in India that may be the perfect destination this November.
1. Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
November is just the time when the extreme heat of Rajasthan starts easing to allow you a perfect trip to the “Golden City” of Jaisalmer. Made famous by Satyajit Ray’s Sonar Kella (The Golden Fort), Jaisalmer is in north-western Rajasthan, in the middle of the Thar desert, bordering Pakistan.
The entire city is still built with golden-yellow sandstone—the same material used to build its magnificent fort in 1156 by King Rawal Jaisal. That gives Jaisalmer a unique look, as it seems to melt away into the golden desert sand. Apart from the fort, which is still inhabited, you can visit its ornate Jain temples, lavish havelis, Gadisar Lake, the ancient Kuldhara village, and much more.
But most importantly, you can take camel rides to Sam Sand Dunes and beyond, camp in the desert, and take part in exciting adventure activities. Do not miss the desert safari experience because it’s one of a kind, with traditional music, dance, and food. If you want to avoid a camel ride, you can take a jeep ride instead.
While in Jaisalmer, definitely look for local Rajasthani dishes, such as daal-bati-churma, laal maas, and ker sangri. You have time till February to experience this magnificent town—and state.
2. Sunderbans, West Bengal
Another excellent destination to experience in November is the Sunderbans in West Bengal. The mangroves are not ideal for a summer or monsoon visit. But once the rains ease and you can feel that nip in the air, there are few destinations as intriguing as this Unesco World Heritage Centre.
One of the best ways to enjoy the Sunderbans is by booking a government tour. The West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation Ltd (WBTDCL) conducts two tours from November to January. One is a one-night-two-days tour, and the other is a two-nights-three-days tour.
You will put up on a small ship that will take you to the different spots of interest, such as watchtowers for spotting wildlife, including the famous Bengal tiger. What’s more, you can dig into some lavish Bengali cuisine while on board.
Many private operators also organise tours to the Sunderbans, and you can also stay in some of the properties within the forest for an unforgettable experience. Trust us, there are few things as exciting as sighting a Bengal tiger in the Sunderbans.
3. Wayanad, Kerala
Honestly, you can enjoy Wayanad at any time of the year. But if the sight of cloudy skies puts you off, you can consider an autumn or winter trip to this hill station in the Western Ghats. The climate is usually pleasant and clear at this time, though you can never rule out showers thanks to the North-East Monsoon.
Often called the spice garden of India, Wayanad is famous for its spice plantations, forests, and wildlife. If you are a bird-watcher, it could be the perfect destination for you. If not, walks through its cardamom, black pepper, star anise, fenugreek, or black cumin plantations can be totally worth the effort. Watch a glorious sunset from Chembra Peak or feel at peace at the Thirunelli, Karinthandan, or the ancient Jain temples. Wayanad has something for everyone.
If you are the adventurous type, you can plan a hike to the pre-historic caves in Edakkal. Dense forests and gushing rivers also make Wayanad a hub for rock climbing, rappelling, camping, and much more. Besides the wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, do pay a visit to Banasura Sagar Dam. It is India’s largest earth dam and Asia’s second-largest.
If you want luxury, you can simply experience a resort holiday. Trust us, Wayanad won’t disappoint.
4. Kutch, Gujarat
The Rann Utsav is about to begin on November 1. So, where else should you be but the stunning desert-scape of Kutch! This year, the festival will continue till February 20. So, book your tickets right now if you haven’t already.
This glorious festival allows you to soak in the “Khushbu Gujarat ki” (aroma of Gujarat) like none other. From enjoying the white desert under the full moon to photographing the wild ass and flamingos to indulging in adventure activities to shopping for handicrafts, the Rann Utsav is an incredible experience.
Kutch is basically an island shaped like the back of a tortoise. This erstwhile princely state is located near the Pakistan border and the massive salt deposits give some areas a surreal look. The Kutch Wildlife Sanctuary is home to several species of birds, including the famous flamingos, wild ass, wild boars, and porcupines. Jeep safaris are available for tourists.
5. Shillong, Meghalaya
One of the best times to visit the Scotland of the East is in November, when the weather is not too chill but the rains have stopped to give you the chance to breathe easy.
This is the time when you can easily hike to the root bridges and enjoy visits to remote sites on foot. From March to September, the tracks are too slippery, making life difficult for tourists and trekkers alike. At the same time, the waterfalls still have plenty of water for a gorgeous look even though some of them somewhat dry up in peak winter.
There are plenty of sites to explore in and around Shillong, including Umiam Lake, Laitlum Canyons, Mawphlang Sacred Forest, Shillong Peak, Elephant Falls, Nawkhalikai Falls, Mawjymbuin Cave, and Mawlynnong. You can plan a trip to Cherrapunji as well.
6. Varanasi, UP
Nothing perhaps works its spiritual charm the way Varanasi does. Maybe Haridwar comes close, but the effect of Varanasi or Banaras is quite magical. But why November? Because, first, the weather is perfect for those boat rides on the Ganga, without which your Varanasi trip will be incomplete.
Second, and most importantly, Varanasi celebrates festivals such as Dev Deepawali and the five-day Ganga Mahotsav in November every year. Ganga Mahotsav is a grand celebration of culture, rituals, music, and dance. This year, it is likely to be around November 18.
Dev Deepawali is a festival where the stairs of the ghats are lit with countless diyas and the grand river glitters in the reflection of the lit-up city. Dev Deepawali this year is on November 7. So now that you know the dates, plan your visit accordingly.
Another thing you can never afford to miss in Varanasi is the Ganga Aarti, especially at Dasaswamedh Ghat. If it does not give you goosebumps, trust us, nothing will.
Besides, these, the oldest and holiest of cities in India—and the world—has a massive number of holy sites, including the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Manikarnika Ghat, Assi Ghat, Dhamek Stupa, and Sarnath Museum. Just walking through the lanes of Kashi is the experience in itself.
And don’t forget to much on the delicious Banarasi paan and dig into the delectable rabri! Look for the winter speciality malaiyyo, another iconic sweet of Varanasi.
7. Coorg, Karnataka
Like Wayanad, Coorg is a round-the-year destination. Also, like Wayanad, November could be an excellent time to visit Coorg because the weather is likely to be clear and pleasant.
Besides Shillong, Coorg also claims the title of Scotland of India and, sometimes, the Kashmir of the South. However, we believe this beautiful little hill station doesn’t need any comparison for people to appreciate its misty hills and coffee plantations. Besides, the local tribes and communities are great for those who take an interest in exploring diverse cultures. For instance, the Kodavas specialise in martial arts.
Adventure buffs can go on a challenging hike or get an adrenaline rush out of white-water rafting. Don’t miss Madikeri Fort, Abbey falls, or the spicy curries of the region. Coorg can be a delight in winter.
8. Leh, Ladakh
Surprised to see this one on the list? Don’t be. November is one of the best times to visit Ladakh because it is not yet time for too much snow to shut off the roads. At the same time, the tourist rush eases to help you enjoy the ethereal beauty of the cold desert in peace.
Ladakh sometimes gets heavy rainfall around July-August even though those are suggested as the best months to visit the region. But around November, chances of rainfall are nearly zero while you can catch a spell of snowfall in the upper altitudes, such as the passes of Khardung La and Chang La.
Usually, the BRO does a great job of keeping the passes open even during the winter months of heavy snowfall. So, you are unlikely to get stuck anywhere. However, do keep a couple of extra days in hand in case of an emergency.
Some of the must-visit places in and around Leh are Hemis, Alchi, and Thiksey monasteries, Leh Palace, Shey Palace, Shanti Stupa, Gurudwara Patthar Sahib, etc. If you are game for a few risks, and if the roads are open, leave Leh to visit Pangong Lake, Tso Moriri, Nubra Valley, Turtuk, and Zanskar Valley. You won’t regret the experience.
9. Bodh Gaya, Bihar
This Unesco World Heritage Site is an important Buddhist pilgrimage spot. Bodh Gaya is said to be the place where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. If you are in search of inner peace, there could be no better place for you this November than Bodh Gaya.
The weather is balmy and Tibetan pilgrims from Dharamshala visit the town around this time. The holiest location in the town is the Mahabodhi Temple Complex. You may find monks from different parts of the world humming holy scriptures.
The original Bodhi Tree is no longer alive but new ones grew in its place and the Mahabodhi Tree is still something to see in Bodh Gaya. Other places of interest are the Royal Bhutan Monastery, Chinese Temple, Vishnupad Temple, Thai Monastery, and Root Institute for Wisdom Culture.
10. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
November heralds the season to visit this tropical paradise. The aquamarine waters of the Andaman seas can give Mauritius a run for its money any day! Equally, Andaman is a treasure trove of experiences, including SCUBA diving, snorkelling, glass-boat rides to coral reefs, parasailing, speed boat rides, and even forest and coastal treks.
Plus, Andaman has its tribes, the most well-known of them being the Jarawas. Only a few islands of the Andamans have been developed as tourism hubs. Many are uninhabited, and some house protected tribes and are barred to tourists. Some of the popular destinations are Neil Island, Havelock Island, Chiriya Tapu, Ross Island, Baratang, and, of course, the Cellular Jail.