Rural India travel guide

One thing you will notice on our rural India vacations and their reviews is the abundance of names. Husna the female driver, Rawla Singh at the castle, Narendras family, Saurabh the guide, our dearest friend Sunny, and even Lily the goat! This familiarity sums up what is so special about rural vacations in India: they break down a population of over a billion people and put you on first name terms with Indians from all walks of life: from potters and chefs, to tribespeople and naturalists.
If you think India is Delhi and the Golden Triangle, think again. A fifth of the worlds population lives in India and two thirds of these live in villages you have to go rural to discover Indias beating heart.
Names arent the only words youll learn; these trips require a whole new vocabulary. As you travel through backwaters and valleys, you might be stopping at dhaba (roadside cafes), keeping an eye out for nilgai and gaur (deer and Indian bison), attending a puja (feast of bells) or traveling by kettuvallam (houseboat). Wander through our rural India travel guide to find out how you can put names to faces on your India vacation.

Rural India map & highlights

India is vast, of course so even with internal flights or overnight train journeys, youre still going to have to narrow down your itinerary. In the steamy south, soak up traditional life in Karnataka and Kerala before finishing up on a Goan beach. Central India promises remote village stays and tiger reserves, easily combining Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. In the north, choose between Rajasthans deserts and royal palaces, or the Himalayan setting of Ladakh. Or for something truly different, head to the salt-encrusted swamplands of Gujarat, or to Nagalands annual Hornbill Festival, in the far northeast. Remember, Indias climate varies hugely depending on season and location so take this into account when planning where to go on vacation in rural India.

Our top Rural India Vacation

Ladakh cultural and rural tour, India

Ladakh cultural and rural tour, India

Stay with local families in beautiful Ladakh

From US $850 to US $1150 9 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Helpdesk
Hello. If you'd like to chat about Rural India or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.
1. Chhattisgarh
2. Goa
3. Gujarat
4. Karnataka
5. Ladakh
6. Madhya Pradesh
7. Rajasthan
Chhattisgarh

1. Chhattisgarh

Despite being central and close to attractions such as Kanha Tiger Reserve, Chhattisgarh remains well off the mainstream tourist trail. That means that life in its rural villages remains wonderfully traditional, temples such as 12th century Bhoramdeo remain free of tourists and haat (weekly markets) are still authentic, tribal affairs. Treks into the Maikal Hills with cattle herder-cum-guide are highly recommended.
Goa

2. Goa

Goa might not be the first place to spring to mind when you think of rural vacations in India, but inland, you wont find a more rural idyll. Canoe along rivers and through mangroves, explore the Portuguese style architecture of the country houses, look out for swallows and the odd otter, or spend a few days on some of the quieter strips of coastline, relaxing and reflecting at the end of your trip.
Gujarat

3. Gujarat

Perched between Pakistan and the Arabian Sea, Gujarat is hard to define even by Indian standards. It has an epic coastline, striking Jain architecture, tribal villages, flock of flamingoes, skilled weavers and the Rann of Kutch wetlands that dry into salt flats each summer. Gujarat is already off the beaten track, but rural tours here take you further into temples, villages, ancient towns and heritage hotels.
Karnataka

4. Karnataka

The Western Ghats and Nilgiri Hills are at the heart of rural vacations in Karnataka, a wild province offering multi day hill treks, tiger and elephant safaris, and a ride on the UNESCO-listed train as it traverses gorges and waterfalls are all must-dos. Visit temples dotted across the state, dating back to the 12th century, then cool off in the colonial hill station of Ooty (2,240m), just over the border in Tamil Nadu.
Ladakh

5. Ladakh

Ladakh, the land of high passes, is dominated by the Himalayas, and rural vacations here take you beyond the gateway town of Leh at 3,500m, and out towards snowy peaks and remote valleys, following ancient caravan routes. Explore lunar landscapes, tiny bazaars, Buddhist and Muslim heritage and ride camels across dunes, preparing yourself for some of the most brilliant sunsets youll ever see.
Madhya Pradesh

6. Madhya Pradesh

Sprawled across the centre of the country, this state is the heart of India. Here, youll find attractions such as the ruins at Mandu believed to be the largest complex of forts, palaces and temples in Asia. Explore Bhopals Muslim heritage, the Hindu pilgrimage town on Ujjain, and the Buddhist stupa at Sanchi. Get your wildlife fix in Satpura, Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Parks, including tigers.
Rajasthan

7. Rajasthan

While many travelers may flock here for the fine cities, rural Rajasthan is just as enticing. Explore highlands and plains on a weeklong horseback tour, or base yourself in a castle, now a luxury heritage hotel, in the Aravelli Hills, and take daytrips out to traditional villages, lakes and jacaran

Next: Best time to go

The best time to go on vacation in rural India varies greatly from the mountainous north, through the deserts, to the hot, humid south. Our comprehensive guide looks at the temperature and rainfall in each region, suggests what to do and what not to on these trips, and shares valuable advice from our rural India experts.
Written by Vicki Brown
Photo credits: [Page banner: ] [Map topbox: ] [Chhattisgarh: ] [Goa: ] [Madhya Pradesh: ] [Madhya Pradesh: ] [Rajasthan: ] [Karnataka: ] [Gujarat: ] [Ladakh: ]