Being one of the largest film producing industry in the country, the Hindi Film Industry (popular known as Bollywood) often depend on real locations for filming, rather than using a set. Many of those exotic real locations have become iconic solely because of those movies, or, in some cases, just because those particular scenes of a movie that were shot there. Such is the essence of those locations that cinegoers talk about those locations at great lengths.

With its audience base all over the world, using real Indian locations adds to the plot and works as a crowd puller. The fact that India is a country graced with numerous beautiful places only helps. Forget Switzerland, there are much better filming locations in our very own country that every crazy Bollywood fan should visit. Following is a list of 12 such real locations in India where some of the most iconic scenes were shot at.

Lights! Camera! Read on!

Most Iconic Bollywood Filming Locations in India
The iconic Nahargarh Fort in the capital of Rajasthan
The iconic Nahargarh Fort in the capital of Rajasthan

1. Nahargarh Fort:

One of the greatest Bollywood movies, Rang De Basanti, had a number of iconic scenes. One of them was the free falling scene from the top of a fort into the water body, when the (male) lead characters of the movie were introduced. That was not all, the picturization of the rock song, Khalbali, from the same movie, was also set at Nahargarh Fort. Located in Jaipur, Nahargarh Fort is a must-visit place for everyone who visits Rajasthan. Go there late in the afternoon to experience the surreal beauty of the city as the sun sets.

Most Iconic Bollywood Filming Locations in India
A holy site en route to Pangong Tso
A holy site en route to Pangong Tso

2. Pangong Tso:

Located in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, Pangong Tso can be seen in quite a few Bollywood movies. The most Iconic scene, by far, is the one shown in the movie - 3 Idiots. The scene in which Aamir Khan's Phunsuk Wangdu was seen flying a remote control aeroplane along with some kids, only to be joined by four other characters in the movie, was shot at Pangong Tso. Anushka Sharma's character was introduced in the movie Jab Tak Hai Jaan as swimming in the freezing cold Pangong Tso (using body double, of course).

Most Iconic Bollywood Filming Locations in India
Shikaras parked at Dal Lake in Srinagar
Shikaras parked at Dal Lake in Srinagar

3. Kashmir:

From Highway to Rockstar, and from Mission Kashmir to Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Kashmir is, quite possibly, the most beautiful location which has featured in a lot of Bollywood flicks. But the most beautiful use of the paradise can be seen in the movie, Bajrangi Bhaijaan. More than half of the movie was shot in Kashmir. Be it the opening credit scene which captured some of the snowcapped mountains of Kashmir, the scenes featuring the meadows of Sonamarg, Pahalgam, and Aru Valley, or the climax scene which was shot at Thajiwas Glacier.

The best time to visit Kashmir is from April to November.

Most Iconic Bollywood Filming Locations in India

4. Marine Drive:

In the heart of Bollywood, there are so many locations that have featured in Hindi films multiple times. From Dharavi to Dhobi Ghat, from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to Juhu Beach, Bollywood has shown us pretty much the entire City of Dreams. But is there a location which is more iconic than Marine Drive? It was at the Marine Drive where an important scene in Munnabhai M.B.B.S was shot at, and where the love between Ranbir Kapoor's and Konkana Sen Sharma's characters in Wake Up Sid blossomed.

Visit Marine Drive during the monsoon season to experience its real beauty.

Most Iconic Bollywood Filming Locations in India
The ever-shining Sri Harmindar sahib Temple more famously known as the Golden Temple in Amritsar
The ever-shining Sri Harmindar sahib Temple more famously known as the Golden Temple in Amritsar

5. Amritsar:

Located in northwestern Kashmir, Amritsar is another Indian city where the shooting of many Bollywood movies have taken place. The infamous Jallianwala Bagh and the famous Golden Temple of Amritsar were shown in Rang De Basanti, and the gorgeous mustard fields in the outskirts of the city have been shown in countless number of movies. But no other movie made the mustard fields of Amritsar as iconic as Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and Veer Zaara. If that is not all, a scene in Aishwarya Rai's Pride and Prejudice was also shot in the streets of Amritsar.

November to March is the best time to visit Amritsar.

Most Iconic Bollywood Filming Locations in India
The iconic Howrah Bridge connecting Calcutta and Howrah
The iconic Howrah Bridge connecting Calcutta and Howrah

6. Howrah Bridge:

Filming in the City of Joy, with Howrah Bridge as a backdrop is not uncommon in Bollywood movies. The bridge that connects Calcutta and Howrah is something that we have been watching since decades in Hindi movies. Two recent movies which showcased the historical structure appropriately are Piku and Barfi. While it was a blink and a miss scene in Piku, the makers of Barfi used it to a greater impact.

Most Iconic Bollywood Filming Locations in India
Wild Yaks in Ladakh
Wild Yaks in Ladakh

7. Passes of Ladakh:

My all-time favourite movie, Lakshya, has some of the most legendary scenes that I, as a movie buff, have watched. The scene in which a platoon of the Indian Army, led by Hrithik Roshan's character, go on a mission is located in Ladakh's Tanglang La. Another iconic movie scene, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag's gruelling practice for the Olympics, was shot in Ladakh's Nubra Valley.

The best time to visit Ladakh is from June to October.

Most Iconic Bollywood Filming Locations in India
A church in Goa
A church in Goa
Most Iconic Bollywood Filming Locations in India
Train over dudhsagar waterfall Railway Bridge
Train over dudhsagar waterfall Railway Bridge

8. Goa:

Goa became the dream location of every Indian college goer (well, almost) after watching Dil Chahta Hai. Revolving around the travel journey of three best friends portrayed by Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan, and Akshaye Khanna, Goa became even more popular post the release of the movie. The iconic Chapora Fort, located in North Goa, is now referred as the Dil Chahta Hai Fort by young Indians visiting Goa. Several popular movies had set Goa as their backdrops, including Singham, Finding Fanny, and Josh.

The best time to visit Goa is between November and March.

Most Iconic Bollywood Filming Locations in India
Lush green coffee plantation in Ooty
Lush green coffee plantation in Ooty

9. Ooty:

One of the most famous hill stations in the country, Ooty has been a part of many Bollywood movies, especially in the 90s. The three biggest superstars of Bollywood - Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, and Shah Rukh Khan - had acted in the mesmerizing hill station in Tamil Nadu during the starting phase of their respective careers. For Aamir Khan, it was Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar; for Shah Rukh Khan, it was Deewana; and for Salman Khan, they were Maine Pyar Kiya and Saajan. All these movies, incidentally, were Hits at the box office.

The best time to visit Ooty is between October and June.

Most Iconic Bollywood Filming Locations in India
A front view of the India Gate in New Delhi
A front view of the India Gate in New Delhi

10. India Gate:

This list would remain incomplete without the mention of arguably the most amazing scene shown in a Bollywood movie. Remember the lead characters in Rang De Basanti doing a victory lap and saluting a historical monument? That was the India Gate in New Delhi. Another brilliant scene picturized with India Gate in the backdrop was the candle march scene from the same movie, whilst the heart wrenching Khoon Chala song was being played in the background. No other movie comes to my mind when I think of India Gate.

Most Iconic Bollywood Filming Locations in India
A scintillating view of a palace in Udaipur
A scintillating view of a palace in Udaipur

11. Udaipur:

The former princely state of Udaipur has fulfilled the rich location demands of a few Bollywood movies. The most recent was in the movie, Ram Leela. But it was nothing grandeur in it. However, it was grandeur in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. While the wedding (and pre-wedding) scenes were shot inside The Oberoi Udaivilas (a former palace), the market and sunset scenes featuring Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor were shot at Bagore Ki Haveli.

The best time to visit Udaipur is between September and March.

Most Iconic Bollywood Filming Locations in India
One of the many boulders in Ramanagara Karnataka
One of the many boulders in Ramanagara Karnataka

12. Ramanagara:

No other Bollywood filming location (situated outside a city) has attracted as many visitors as Ramanagara - a town near Bangalore - has. A major part of one of the greatest Hindi movie, ever, was shot at Ramanagara. For the uninitiated, the movie was Sholay. Such was the use of this location for the filming process that people started referring the rocky terrain as Sippy Nagar, paying a tribute the movie's director, Ramesh Sippy. Even today, visitors flock the town to visit what is known today as Sholay Rocks, where the iconic character, Gabbar Singh, lived with his Sambas and Kalias.

November to February is the best time to visit this place.

Photo: Flickr Dev K, Ashwin, Laura McMahon, HEMANT GUSAIN, Manuel Menal