The vast country of India is so culturally and religiously diverse that if you’re planning to visit, you will be spoilt for choice for places to discover.

With direct flights to 11 cities within the subcontinent, AirAsia gives you the chance to start your exploration right where you land. These destination cities are so vibrant, with pulsing sights and sounds themselves, that your journey to get to know them will be truly unique.

Bhubaneswar

This ancient city is the largest in Odisha state of eastern India. Referred to as a temple city, it is fast developing today thanks to its booming IT and education industries, and modern town planning.

One of its most enduring legacy is its rich and layered history, and its ties to the different religions from Hinduism and Buddhism to Jainism. Each bestowed its heritage onto the city.

It was at Dhauli Giri hills where King Ashoka abandoned his belligerent campaign in the 3rd century BC Kalinga War and embraced Buddhism. Upon the rock edicts there, he declared his change of heart and religion.

The 10th (or 11th) century, 55m-high Lingaraja temple is a good example of a purely Hindu temple in India. It is covered with detailed carvings, making it stand out in beauty and antiquity.

The Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves offer visitors an interesting insight into Jainism practices. Carved as shelters for Jaina ascetics, these caves date back as old as 2nd century BC.

There are still more sights to see in Bhubaneswar. Due to the increasingly cosmopolitan city, visiting there offers a comfortable mix of mod-cons and old world charm.

Visakhapatnam

Perched upon the Bay of Bengal in the state of Andhra Pradesh, Visakhapatnam is a port city and an industrial hub. Known simply as “Vizag”, the city is largely industrial but it is popular with tourists, thanks to its pristine beaches, attractive parks, historic Buddhist sites and outlying scenic spots.

One of the sites is the pre-9th century BC Varaha Lakshmi Narashima, a Hindu temple atop Simhachalam Hill, north of the city.

Matsyadarshini Aquarium is one of the many attractions around Vizag. It houses a number of marine species and holds rare aquatic species, both marine and freshwater.

The TU 142 Aircraft Museum showcases the Tupolev Tu-142 Soviet maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft. Situated upon RK Beach, it’s a crowd-puller with locals and foreigners.

RK Beach also features a submarine museum. This Kalvari-class diesel-electric submarine was opened to the public in 2002 and draws about 600 visitors daily.

After all the sightseeing, wrap up your trip with a bit of retail therapy at Jagadamba Centre. It hosts various department stores, offering a range of garments and jewellery to mobile phones.

Tiruchirappalli

Just south of Chennai and north of Kanyakumari is Tiruchirappalli, one of the major cities in Tamil Nadu state of south India.

One of the oldest cities in the state, it dates back as old as 2nd century BC and came under the Clolas, one of the longest-ruling dynasties in history. It used to be called Trichinopoly, or “Trichy” which it is still popularly called. The city limits is well-known for its ancient temples and religious institutions.

One of these is the the Basilica of the Holy Redeemer, one of five Roman Catholic minor basilicas in the state. Its origin is as early as the 17th century, when Jesuit missionaries started spreading Christianity through the Madurai Mission.

Sri Ranganathaswamy temple is considered the foremost temple for Lord Vishnu and shows the deity in his reclining form. It has the tallest temple tower and is important for its history, architectural beauty and religious significance.

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Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Tiruchirappalli houses Lord Vishnu in reclining form.

Kochi

This city is a popular tourist destination for domestic and international visitors to the state of Kerala, and among the most visited places in India. Also named the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Kochi has one of the finest natural harbours in the world.

One can’t go to Kochi without visiting the backwaters, a chain of brackish lagoons and lakes that run parallel to the Arabian Sea coast. Here you can sail through on house barges or kettuvallams, which are outfitted with a dining area, sleeping quarters and toilets for the comfort of visitors.

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Take a cruise in house barges on the backwaters of Kochi, a chain of brackish lagoons and lakes along the Arabian Sea coast.

Fort Kochi is the historical part of the city and has many attractions like Mattancherry Palace and Santa Cruz Basilica. Mattancherry Palace was built and gifted by the Portuguese as a present to the King of Cochin around 1555. It holds Kerala murals with portraits and exhibits of the Rajas of Kochi.

Kochi also offers other attractive venues that continually draw visitors, such as Marine Drive, the Jewish Synagogue and Bolgatty Palace, the oldest existing Dutch palace outside Holland.

AirAsia offers flights to these amazing cities in India, as well as to Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and more, with direct flights to 11 cities. Thinking of how to get about or what to do in India? Check out AirAsia Travel360.com and get 15% off travel activities on your next holiday. Use the promo code: TRAVEL360.