When most travelers think about planning a trip to India, certain activities immediately come to mind. You may want to sample the city’s famous street food, practice yoga with a guru, or see a Bollywood movie (if you’re lucky, you may even find yourself cast in one: read a first-person account, here ). If you’re visiting Chennai , you’ll want to bring back hoards of spices, and see as many temples as possible. But many in-the-know travelers will tell you that the beach culture in India is very much alive—and thriving—thanks to its vibrant temperate, tropical beaches, ancient Hindu temples, and the fantastic, spicy cuisine (more on that here ). Read on to find out which beaches you should head to absolutely change your perception of the country, and don’t forget to check out these six books to inspire some serious Indian wanderlust.

1) Puri Beach: Puri, Odisha

Located on the Bay of Bengal, Puri Beach is one of India’s best kept secrets. It hosts the Puri Beach Festival, in November, where tourists and locals come together to witness over-the-top sand art. Odisha (formerly Orissa)—is one of India’s 29 states—and is famous in itself for its abundance of historical temples and ancient relics. On the beach, you can ride camels and horses, and eat a wide variety of international cuisines—but skip the pizza and opt for traditional Indian instead. Women and men peddle locally crafted products and foods of all types throughout the shore, but take a walk in either direction down the long stretch of sand and you’re likely to stumble upon a less inhabited—and much cleaner—area.

2) Chowpatty Beach: Mumbai, Maharashtra

Chowpatty Beach is a must-visit for tourists visiting Mumbai, especially during Ganesh Chaturthi, a Hindu festival celebrated in honor of the deity Ganesha. The festival, which usually occurs in August or September and lasts ten days, draws thousands to the beach, where beautifully crafted statues of the god are submerged throughout the water.

3) Om Beach: Gokarna, Karnataka

Getty Images The tiny temple town of Gokarna boasts a handful of beaches worth visiting, but Om Beach—named due to its natural resemblance of the Om symbol—makes our list thanks to its remote location and relative lack of tourists. A variety beach huts offer quaint lodging, and you can find plenty of eateries along the shore. Other highlights include dolphin sighting, water sports, and scenic boat rides that will take you around Gokarna [Read Full Article]

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