Domestic booking data released by global digital travel platform Agoda, shows that four states (in order of ranking) – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan – accounted for 50% of the top 100 Indian destinations (year to date). New Delhi, Goa, and Mumbai retained their spots in the top three, with Mumbai surpassing Goa as the second most popular travel destination, while the national capital, Delhi, retained its pole position.
Biggest movers in midst of pandemic travel
Amidst the uncertainty over the last year, travel took a backseat briefly. However, as things began to ease up, Indians looked for newer experiences and ways to escape their daily routine. The restrictions gave Indians an opportunity to rediscover the many hidden gems, with trips closer to home and off-the-beaten-track destinations jumping up the rankings. Places like Kanyakumari, Puri Shirdi, Alleppey and Rameswaram jumped over 20 spots. Conversely, Lucknow and Shimla dropped in popularity by more 15 and 13 spots respectively.
Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra and Rajasthan dominate top 100
Sixteen cities from Tamil Nadu made it to the top destination list featuring usual suspects like Kanyakumari, Chennai, Ooty, Kodaikanal, and Madurai as well as less known less-known destinations like Tiruvanamalai, Tirunelveli, Kumbakonam, and Thanjavur. Kerala and Maharashtra have 12 and 9 destinations respectively. These encompass all the scenic hotspots like Kochi, Munnar, Alleppey, Kovalam in Kerala. Maharashtra contributed 10 cities to the top 100 list, with Mumbai and Pune ranking in the top ten list and popular hill station spots Mahableshwar and Lonavala rising the ranks, compared to 2020.
Rajasthan’s destinations encompass all the scenic hotspots like Jaipur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Udaipur.
Near-complete representation from union territories
Leh witnessed the biggest jump in popularity last year, moving into the top 100 from 169 the previous year. Seven out of the eight union territories in India feature in the top 100 destinations again this year, three within the top 15. Delhi leads this pack, with Puducherry not far behind, both featuring in the top 10. Andaman and Nicobar Islands comes in at number 11 (compared to 17 in 2020). Chandigarh, Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, and Daman & Diu round up the rest of the union territories in the top 100. Only Lakshadweep didn’t make the top 100 cut.
Mountains and coastal spots top destinations
Eighteen of the top 100 destinations in India are mountain regions. Ooty beat Lonavala in 2021 as the top hilly getaway, with Munnar coming in a close third. Goa retained its position as the #1 beach destination in the country, with Puducherry in second place. Kanyakumari moves up incredibly securing a spot in the top 50, as opposed to rank 91 the year before.
Cities with religious experiences saw upswing
While Tirupati stayed at the same spot for Indians in both years, other religious destinations like Puri, Shirdi, Amritsar, Pushkar, and Varanasi came up in rankings this year compared to 2020. Additionally, almost 25% of the top 100 cities travelled to have a strong religious significance, with Varanasi and Tirupati the top spiritual destinations. In fact, Shirdi witnessed a rise in popularity, making its entry into the top 25, from rank 62 the previous year. Puri and Rameswaram, known for their exquisite temples, also entered the top 50.
“Our booking data shows that Indians across the country still desire to travel and prioritise safety, which has led to innovative holidays – opting for nature, less touristy destinations often not far from home. They have enjoyed new experiences, and in doing so uncovered hidden gems within their own country.
With the government’s immense efforts towards the on-going vaccination drive, Indian travellers are once again packing their suitcases and heading off for weekend breaks and longer road trips. With so much diversity to explore within our own borders, there is always somewhere yet to visit or to explore again,” said Krishna Rathi, country director in India, Sri Lanka and Nepal at Agoda.