India is a stargazing paradise. Lie under star-sprinkled ink-black skies, trace constellations and witness magical meteor showers from quaint hill stations, secluded beaches and ancient fort towns.
The sight of an endless velvety star-sewn sky is enough to transport most anyone into a celestial stupor. Speckled with nascent blue stars, cascading meteor showers, gleaming planets and twinkling galaxies — the night sky’s effortless artistry competes with even the best impressionist painters. Across the length and breadth of India’s varied terrains, stargazing makes for an eye-opening experience as one comes to marvel at the grand design of the universe.
From lofty and arid terrains in northern Himachal Pradesh to sea-lapped shores of Neil Island in the Bay of Bengal, we’ve handpicked the best spots to go stargaze in India.
Nubra Valley, Ladakh
From sweeping cold desert dunes, gentle double-humped Bactrian camels, glistening blue Shyok and Nubra rivers and barren expanses guarded by lofty mountains — Nubra Valley is quick to bewitch. Sandwiched between Tibet and Kashmir, Nubra Valley’s unique topography is elevated by a carpet of stars that roll out each evening. Sans smoggy air and light pollution, Nubra Valley’s high-altitude terrains offer front-row seats to alluring celestial shows. Stitched intricately across the canvas of a black sky, trace glittery constellations like the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, Orion, Gemini and Leo on just about any cloudless night.
With unobstructed views of the Milky Way, Nubra Valley is a dreamy reality for photography enthusiasts — perch your tripods, set the camera and be gifted with epic time-lapses. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a lucky shooting star skittling through. For those who take their stargazing seriously, head to Hanle village, recognised as India’s first Dark Sky Reserve to enjoy a surreal skywatching experience.
Best time to visit: Head to Nubra Valley during the summer months of June to September.
Ready to escape? Pack your bags for a royal stay at Stok Palace Leh and discover stargazing vantage points galore
Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh
Nestled in the Trans-Himalayan belt of Himachal Pradesh, the rugged terrains of Spiti Valley is a picturesque cradle for observing sequinned night skies. Perched at a chilly altitude above 14,000 ft, Spiti Valley is home to mammoth mountains teeming with quaint hamlets — Komic, Kibber, Tabo and Losar — that perpetually bask underneath starry skies.
Cajoled by biting winds and a lunar landscape, with the meandering ribbon-like Spiti River splicing through the valley, galaxy-watching is a cosmic delight here. On new moon nights, notice the glistening stars, both shooting and still, as the Milky Way, the Orion Nebula and the Andromeda Galaxy smear a stellar picture. Arm yourself with binoculars and a telescope, pitch your tent and camp under the stars to watch bejewelled gems sparkle across a midnight-black sky.
Best time to visit: Summer months from May to August are ideal.
Experience a surreal stay at the unique Tree of Life Eila Art Hotel Naggar and stargaze from the skylight of the Skyscape Art Deco room.
The sandy expanses of the Great Indian Desert skirt the periphery of Jaisalmer, an ancient fortress town famed for its charming yellow sandstone buildings. Come night, a canopy of stars scatter black-dyed skies, with the Milky Way blotted like a picture postcard.
Watch the stars line up above the ancient Golden Fort, once the seat of power of the fierce Rajput clan or drive a little and find yourself in the Sam Sand Dunes. With the desert winds howling in the distance, spend a night looking up at a stellar nursery of planets and meteor showers.
Best time to visit: Head to Jaisalmer during the autumn and winter months of October to February.
Neil Island, Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Lulled by roaring waves gently crashing on white sandy shores, Neil Island, tucked away in South Andaman and Nicobar Islands, stirs up tantalising night skyscapes, ideal for stargazing.
Just as the rippling waters of an azure coral-clustered sea stretches out to meet the horizon, the night sky, sewed with gazillion twinkling stars, casts its drape over this forested archipelago in the Bay of Bengal. Point those binoculars, take a laser pointer and, like an artist with a delicate brush, make the night sky your own as you sketch out the stars, distant planets and gleaming galaxies.
Best time to visit: Make your way to Neil Island during the winter and early summer months of January to April to enjoy cloudless skies.
Soaked in misty charms, Coorg, also known as the ‘Scotland of India’ for its verdant vales, lies peppered with gushing waterfalls and aromatic coffee and spice plantations. The district is cocooned by the eastern slopes of the rugged Western Ghats and offers several vantage points for stargazing, with abundant green cover giving way to cloudless skies. Trekking routes up Tadiandamol — the third-highest mountain in Karnataka — take visitors even closer to a sky full of stars. Make sure to carry binoculars and keep a stargazing app ready to discover the twinkling gems in the night sky.
Best time to visit: Coorg makes for a serene escape during winter months, between November to March.
Soak in the misty magic of Coorg and stargaze in serenity with a private waterfall escape at WelcomeHeritage Ayatana Coorg.
For more experiential adventures, read Get Your Thrills: The Best River Rafting Destinations in India.