Offbeat Things to do in Religious Cities of India

While the world might know of India as primarily a spiritual and religious center of Hinduism, there is definitely more to this colorful nation that makes it unique and beautiful. Varanasi or Rishikesh would have always captured the imagination of travelers as the pivotal religious cities of India, but then do you know that there are many other things that enrich the landscape of their culture? The land of religion is also the land of offbeat. So here are some of the offbeat things to see and do in some of the most revered cities of India:

1. Explore the narrow alleys of Varanasi to witness the true local culture


Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The oldest city of the world is also the land of sacred, soulful and spectacular. Apart from the Ganga Aarti for which people come to Varanasi, there is something astonishing about its unrelenting chaotic and colorful streets. Take a tour around the narrow alleys of Varanasi and see the local art in the form of graffiti, local wares and bookstores. We all love Berlin and California for its street art, but then there is something conspicuous about our own street art that coalesces religion and craft both.

Also Check Out: Things To do in Varanasi

2. Come face to face with the history of Amritsar


Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Amritsar- a city whose name itself brims with the nectar of religion! This popular holy shrine of Sikhs attracts a zillions of pilgrims every year. However, very few people know that the city also houses some of the most important quarters of history. Visit Khalsa college Amritsar, a historic educational institution, founded in 1892. The campus of this college is located 8 km away from the Amritsar city centre on the Amritsar - Lahore highway and was designed by Bhai Ram Singh, the principal of the Mayo School of Arts, Lahore, with the assistance of Engineer Dharam Singh Gharjakhia. Built in Indo-Saracenic style and Mughal architecture, this college has given birth to so many revolutionaries in India. You can also take a guided tour of Amritsar Heritage Walk to know the annals of the city better.

Also Read: You Have To Have A Meal At These 9 Dhabas In Amritsar!

3. Take a Heritage Tour of Puri


Image Source: La Priz/Flickr

Known for its religious sanctuaries, Puri is also home to some quirky activities that render a nuanced tone to this city. Take a heritage tour of the rural and ethnic quarters of Puri and witness the tribal life from a close. Take cycle rickshaw and roam around the backstreets of old Puri and learn Odissan cuisine with various cookery classes available here. Apart from that, you can also try out the delicious Puri Cheesecake in the narrow lanes of Puri’s holy corner. For those who don’t know, this cheesecake is prepared of cottage cheese, sugar and cardamom cooked in an iron pan over an open flame. Heavenly! I have got more reasons to visit Puri than just the Jaggannath Temple.

4. Go River Rafting in Rishikesh


Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Known for its emerald Ganga, innumerable Hindu temples and the heavy settlement of yoga centres, Rishikesh personifies religion and spirituality in India. However, the city is also home to best river rafting opportunities in India where you can cuddle with the milky waters.

Also Read: 14 Picturesque River Side Destinations in India

5. Light and Sound Show in Madurai


Image Source: Ashwin Kumar/Flickr

The world knows Madurai for its awe inspiring Meenakshi Temple. For the first timers, the city might just come across as a patchwork of pilgrims, rickshaws and textiles. However, the city bustles with a certain energy and zeal, hard to find anywhere else. The offbeat thing to do here would be to make a trip to the nightly sound-and-light show at the Tirumalai Nayak Palace. This light and sound show will be unravelling the story of Silappathikaram both in Tamil and English languages.

Also Read: 11 Best Waterfalls in Tamil Nadu

6. Watch those Deers in Tirupati


Image Source:

How many of us know that there is a deer park in Tirupati? Most of us know Tirupati as the abode of Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, which is amongst the most visited Hindu temples in India. However, Tirupati is also home to a beautiful deer park that offers an abundant variety of wildlife and scenic views. Housing an exquisite wildlife, this park can be a great haven for photographers. 

Tirupati is a great place to explore! Plan a trip to Tirupati with Triphobo's Trip Planner !

7. Hippies in Hampi

 While the world knows Hampi as a land of history and religion, it also receives a good number of hippie people who immerse well in its landscape. There is something uncanny and vibrant about the streets of Hampi when they bustle with hippies dancing. Visit Hampi to experience its special Hippie character.

Also Read: Hampi- Unreal and Bewitching Hippie Destination of India

8. And then there is another Hippie Destination Dharamshala


Image Source: Sivesh Kumar/Flickr

Dharamshala might not be a religious destination for Hindus but for Buddhists, it is one of the spiritual centers for being a home of His Holiness the Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso. Thousands of Tibetan exiles call this place their home and numerous monasteries and temples dot the scenic landscape. However, Dharamshala is also known for attracting a lot of hippies, hippie wannabes or people in search of spiritual enlightenment. This destination is also a rage amongst people interested in trekking. Dharamshala is also home to one of the most picturesquely set cricket stadiums in India, Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium.

Also Read: Hippie destinations around the world

9. The Adventurous Leh


Image Source:

This might not be offbeat any more but still deserves to be here in the list. A decade ago, Leh and Ladakh were seen only as the remote corners in India where spirituality and Buddhism was practiced in its some of the most amazing buddhist monasteries such as the Phutgal and Thiksey monasteries. However, in the past 10 years, these destinations have become symbolic of adventure, biking and adventure activities. The offbeat things to engage you here would be: staying in an old town next to shanti Stupa, visiting the historical town of Basgo, biking around the Nubra Valley and much more. For hotels here, book with us!

Also Read: Leh on Wheels- Plan the Perfect Road Trip to Leh

Do you know of any other religious place in India that offers offbeat activities to do? Let us know.

You may also like to read:

Quirky Things to do in India

13 New Things You Can Learn on Your Trip to India

Secret Destinations In India You Didn't Know About

Discover the Hidden Gems of India


A lover of literature, Neha wants to understand world through the prism of books. Nuances of words, spoken or written, entice her to delve into the human psyche ...