How Crowded is India?

If you’ve heard that India has a lot of people, then you’ve heard right. It’s the second most populated country in the world, but you may not know: how crowded is India?

The population density of India is 382 people per sq km, according to the 2011 Census. Six Indian cities are among the top 50 most crowded cities in the world. There are currently 1.39 billion people in India and the UN predicts that it will be the most populated country by 2027.

As you can tell there are a LOT of people in India, however, the population density is just an average, so in some places, it will be far higher than 382… and in other places, it will be much lower.

If you’re planning your trip to India and want to understand how many people you’ll be dealing with in your destinations, then this article will help you out.

I’ll show you the most and least crowded places in India, so you can plan your trip accordingly.

Planning a trip to India at some point? Check out my free ebook to help you save time and money, and avoid headaches. After +4 years in India, I’ve made plenty of mistakes, and this guide shares what I’ve learned so you can have a smoother trip.

What is the Population Density of India?

At this local festival where I live, thousands of people come to walk the streets

India has 382 people per sq km on average across the country, which is growing. In 2001, there were 325 people per sq km and only 267 people per sq km in 1991.

Here is the population density of India through the decades:

Census YearPopulation Density (per sq km)Absolute IncreasePercentage Change
Source: India’s Census 2011

If you’re new to India and from the West, then most places are going to seem overwhelmingly crowded.

I live in a small city in South India and have been mostly here since 2018, yet I still get overwhelmed at times when I’m running errands downtown or stuck in traffic.

However, if you’ve been to New York City or Paris, then you’ll have an idea of how many people you’re dealing with.

Although I’ve been to NYC often and even the small city I live in, feels more crowded than Manhattan on a busy day.

According to one set of data, NYC has more people per square mile than most Indian cities, except Mumbai. Paris has more people per square mile than New Delhi.

Here are some of the most densely populated cities in the world:

DestinationPopulationPopulation Density (sq km)Population Density (sq mile)
Manila, Philippines1,780,14846,178119,600
Mumbai, India19,478,44732,30383,660
NYC, NY1,628,70127,54471,340
Kolkata, India4,496,69424,30662,950
Kathmandu, Nepal1,183,00023,92361,960
Paris, France2,265,88621,49855,680
Colombo, Sri Lanka752,99320,35152,710
New Delhi, India2,658,52519,94451,650
Seoul, Korea9,962,39315,76340,830
Cairo, Egypt9,539,67315,74240,770
Source: List of cities proper by population density

However, the above data conflicted with a study done by, which found that 6 Indian cities were the most crowded in the world.

  1. Mumbai
  2. Kolkata
  3. Chennai
  4. New Delhi
  5. Bangalore
  6. Hyderabad

New York City and Paris didn’t even make in on the list of the top 50 most crowded places.

Estimating a city’s population is difficult, which is why there are discrepancies, but I’m presenting both sets of data, so you have a balanced perspective.

Basically, India is pretty crowded!

This will be something you’ll have to adjust to it. There is less of a concept of personal space, and you may find yourself being bumped into, cut in front of in line, or pressed up against in a public place.

In India, these behaviors are normal and not considered rude. However, if you were to ask someone to step back, they would often be happy to do so.

Now let’s take a look at some of the most crowded places in India, then we’ll look at the least crowded places.

Read more: Does This Mean You Shouldn’t Visit India? Here Are The Reasons To Not Visit India

What Are the Most Crowded Places in India?

Source: India’s Census 2011

Some of the most sought-after tourist destinations in India are in the most crowded states and cities.

We looked at the most crowded cities above, but another metric that can be helpful is looking at the population density across the state.

Check the map above and take a look at where you’re looking at going to see how dense the population is.

Below you’ll find the population density of each state and union territory in India:

States2001 Census (per sq km)2011 Census (per sq km)
Andhra Pradesh277308
Arunachal Pradesh1317
Himachal Pradesh109123
Jammu & Kashmir100124
Madhya Pradesh196236
Tamil Nadu480555
Uttar Pradesh690828
West Bengal9031,029
Union Territories
Andaman & Nicobar Islands4346
Dadra & Nagar Haveli449698
Daman & Diu1,4132,169
Source: India’s Census 2011

From this data, we can see that the most crowded states in India are:

  1. Bihar – 1,102 people per sq km.
  2. West Bengal – 1,029 people per sq km. Kolkata is here.
  3. Kerala – 859 people per sq km. Cochin is here.
  4. Uttar Pradesh – 828 people per sq km. Agra, Lucknow, Varanasi are here.
  5. Haryana – 573 people per sq km. Just to the west of Delhi.

Bihar doesn’t have many tourist destinations. However, Kolkata is in West Bengal and is a highly recommended place to visit. The street food is amazing there!

Kerala is also beautiful with big cities like Cochin. I loved Cochin and didn’t feel as crowded there as I felt in Agra. The Backwaters are also in Kerala, which have very few people.

Uttar Pradesh is home to some of India’s most popular tourist destination, so is worth it to brave the crowds. Agra is home to the Taj Mahal, as well as the historic Agra Fort and the deserted palace Fatehpur Sikri. Varanasi is said to be the oldest living city in the world and the cultural heart of India.

Harayana is just west of New Delhi and may be worth a visit if you’re shopping. If you want to avoid big crowds, then head on through to Rajasthan or north to the Himalayas.

The most crowded union territories in India are:

  1. Delhi – 11,297 people
  2. Chandigarh – 9,252 people
  3. Puducherry – 2,598 people
  4. Daman & Diu – 2,169 people
  5. Lakshadweep – 2,013 people

Union territories are smaller and mostly urban, which is why the population density is so high compared to states which have large rural areas.

New Delhi is chock full of people, however, it also has some amazing places you might want to check out:

  • The markets of Chandni Chowk
  • The Red Fort
  • Humayan’s Tomb
  • Qutub Minar

On the other hand, Puducherry is a small city and some neighborhoods even feel quaint. It is on the beach and was once colonized by France. To this day, there is still a French Quarter with cafes, shopping, and creperies.

What Are the Least Crowded Places in India?

I went for a drive in the country with friends here, and lo and behold… no people!

If you’re looking to enjoy beautiful and less crowded places, you can find them in India.

Here are the top 5 states with the fewest people per sq km (2011):

  1. Arunachal Pradesh – 17 people
  2. Mizoram – 52 people
  3. Sikkim – 86 people
  4. Nagaland – 119 people
  5. Manipur – 122 people

Most of these states are in Northeast India, which is often overlooked by foreign and domestic tourists alike. If you want to get off-the-beaten-path, then you can find some breathtaking destinations here:

  • Tsongmo Lake in Sikkim – A glacial lake in the mountains whose colors change with the seasons.
  • Reiek in Mizoram – A mountain with beautiful views of hills and forests. You can even see Bangladesh from here.
  • Dzükou Valley – On the border of Nagaland and Manipur, you’ll find rolling mountains, a range of colorful flowers, and a lily that only grows here.

The Andaman & Nicobar Islands is a union territory with only 46 people per sq km. If you are looking for a vacation on a quiet beach, then this is the place for you.

Radhanagar Beach on Havelock Island has been called the most beautiful beach in Asia. With crystal clear blue waters, you can forget all about crowds and people on these sandy stretches.

Is India the Most Populated Country In the World?

China is the most populated country in the world with 1.44 billion people which is 19% of the world’s population. India has the second-most people in the world with 1.39 billion people. That’s 18% of the world’s population.

However, the United Nations predicts that India will have more people as early as 2027.

Final Words

India has some of the most crowded cities in the world, yet it also has some quiet states and territories with very few people.

Mumbai, New Delhi, and Kolkata are the most crowded cities in India. While the state of Arunachal Pradesh only has 17 people per sq km and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands only have 46 people per sq km.

What I love about India is that it is so big and diverse, so whatever you are looking for, you can find it here.

If you are looking for how much it costs to travel in India, then check out my article: Is India Still Cheap To Travel?

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Benjamin Jenks

Traveler, Filmmaker, and Lover of India. I've been living, writing and sharing what I've learned about traveling in India since 2018. Learn more about me here or Youtube.

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