1. Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir
One of the most photographed, filmed and famous lakes in India is in beautiful Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir. The Dal Lake has starred in quite a few Bollywood movies, old and new. 18 square kilometers of clear blue water sits pretty in the shadow of the Pir Panjal mountain range. Must do’s include waking up with the sun to witness one of the most beautiful sunrises ever – add to this magnificence a floating market, exquisitely carved shikaras and Mughal Gardens lining the shore.
While in Srinagar check out the neighbouring Nagin Lake and Wular Lake – visit Wular with a local, there are lots of legends associated with this fresh water body, and the story teller will make your trip memorable. You can also hop across to the Shankaracharya Hill, Hazratbal Mosque and the Jama Masjid.
Best time to visit – Between April and October, when the city is not snowed in and the lake is not frozen!
2. Udaipur, Rajasthan
Think Udaipur and visualise sparkling serene waters, a palace that sits regally in the centre of a lake and a medieval fortress that rises along the shore. Udaipur, or the City of Sunrise, has been built around four man-made lakes, and is definitely one of the most romantic cities in India. Spend your time in Udaipur cruising the picturesque Pichola Lake, admiring ancient temples, gardens and the old havelis that surround it. Other lakes in Udaipur are the Fateh Sagar, Udai Sagar, Jaisamand and the Dudh Talai Lake. Lake lovers can also take short day trips out of Udaipur to check out lakes beyond city limits.
While in Udaipur, shop till you drop – stuff your bags with silver jewellery, handcrafted jutties (footwear), tie and dye fabric and folk puppets.
Best time to visit – Between October and April, when the scorching Indian summer is taking a break.
- Read more: Best Places to Visit in India
3. Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
Bhopal, known as the City of Lakes, has natural as well as man-made lakes. The two main lakes, known as the Upper and the Lower Lake, were constructed in the 11th century and the city has since grown around them. Take a tour of the old part of the city, feast your eyes on its past aristocratic splendour – visit the palaces and the bustling marketplace known locally as the Chowk, where you will find the grand old mosques of Bhopal – the Jama Masjid, Moti Masjid and the Taj-ul-Masjid.
While in Bhopal you must visit the Rock Shelters of nearby Bhimbetka and the Stupa at Sanchi.
Best time to visit – Between November and February, the winters are not so harsh and sight seeing will be a pleasure.
4. Nainital, Uttarakhand
The City of Lakes, Nainital has the distinction of being both a Lake District as well as Lake City. Naini Tal, the most famous of the lot, is located in the town of the same name while the other lakes, because of which this area has become a tourist magnet, are scattered outside of town – Khurpa Tal, Sat Tal, Naukuchia Tal and Bhim Tal. Each of these lakes has an ancient myth attached to it – take time out for the visits because you will enjoy your steaming cup of tea along with a little story.
While in Nainital, swing by the Naina Devi Temple and spend some time at the Jim Corbett National Park.
You can fly in to nearby Pantnagar airport and hire a cab that will drive you to Nainital. The city is also well connected by road from all major cities, so hop on to a bus to Nainital for your lakeside retreat.
Best time to visit – Between March and June, then again in September and October thus avoiding the summer tourist influx as well as the monsoon.
- Read more: Explore India by Bus
5. Bishnupur, Manipur
Loktak Lake in Bishnupur is an ancient lake and the only floating lake in the world. Spread over 286 square kilometers, the lake is an eco system in itself – with chunks of vegetation plus soil floating about in it.
While in Bishnupur, take some time out to bird watch at the Keibul Lamjao National Park. Stay on and check out the War Cemetery and Museum in Imphal. Go to the tribal market for those colourful shawls and textile.
Best time to visit – Between November and March, since the winters are a pleasant time to travel to Imphal.
- Read more: Best Monsoon Getaways in India