Enough has been said about travelling to Manali, Shimla, Jaisalmer or Munnar. You’ve been there, done that, and are now looking for travel experiences way beyond the ordinary. India is blessed with such geographical and cultural diversity that it is impossible to travel its length and breadth in a lifetime. So we’ve compiled a list of ten places that are not usually spoken about too much, but where you will have memorable experiences.
- Osian, Rajasthan. We don’t usually like comparisons, but sometimes they are inevitable. And this tiny town in Jodhpur district fully justifies the tag “Khajuraho of Rajasthan.” An oasis in the Thar Desert, Osian is home to temples that date back to the 8th to 11th The most famous of these is the Sachiya Mata temple, also known as the Sun Temple. Osian is about 65 km north of Jodhpur, and can also be easily accessed from Jaisalmer.
Visual Courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/andreakirkby/
- Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh. Even if this quaint town didn’t host the Ziro Festival of Music, it would still make this list. Located in the Lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh, Ziro is home to lush, green rice fields, the Apatani tribes and alpine forests that will transport you to a state of bliss. Fly into either Tezpur or Guwahati (better option, as there are more flights), and then do the road trip to Ziro. Permits are required to visit this region for both Indian and foreign nationals, so make sure you’ve made all arrangements.
Visual courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ahinsajain/
- Gavi, Kerala. Kerala’s backwaters and Ayurvedic massages are famous all over the world. However, God’s Own Country’s hidden gem – Gavi – which is part of the Periyar Tiger Reserve, is a wildlife haven that you just cannot miss. Gavi is located about 28 km from Vandiperiyar on the Kollam – Madurai highway. The only two gopher trees in India can be found at Gavi. The nearest airport is at Ernakulam, 160 km away.
Visual courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/keralatourism/
- Manapad, Tamil Nadu. This tiny fishing village, 18 km south of Tiruchendur, has only recently been developed as a water sports destination. Manapad is home to the beautiful Holy Cross Church with an imposing lighthouse in the background. The St. James Church and St. Francis Church are two other gothic style churches that you must visit. The nearest airport is at Tuticorin, around 60 km away.
Visual courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jram23/
- Majuli, Assam. The contrast between this large river island’s laid-back, serene vibe and the mighty force of the Brahmaputra River will hit you as soon as you set foot into Majuli. The island is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with the island being home to a hundred species of birds. Rent a bicycle and wander through the lush paddy fields, watch the beautiful sunset, and simply enjoy the experience that is Majuli. Ferries for Majuli Island leave Nimatighat in Jorhat a few times in a day.
- Sandakphu, West Bengal. The highest peak in West Bengal, Sandakphu is located at the edge of the Singalila National Park in Darjeeling district. There are several trekking routes in the region, and the views of the Kanchenjunga are spectacular from the summit. If trekking is not your thing, jeep rides are possible as well.
Visual courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/35207890@N06/
- Orchha, Madhya Pradesh. The medieval town on the banks of the Betwa River has a charm that will transport you back to the days of the Bundela Rajputs. With architecture just as spectacular as its more popular sibling Khajuraho, Orchha is more laid-back and less crowded. The best way to explore the beautiful temples is to walk, or on a bicycle. Orchha has some nice homestay options as well. The town is about 15 km away from Jhansi.
Visual courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/arawatclicks
- Lepakshi, Andhra Pradesh. If you’ve heard of Lepakshi in conjunction with handicrafts in Andhra Pradesh, you must visit this town to take in its architectural brilliance. Located just 120 km from Bangalore, and 15 km from Hindupur, Lepakshi is known for its shrines dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Veerabhadra, built during the rule of the Vijayanagara kings. One of the main attractions is the monolithic sculpture of ‘Nandi’, the second largest monolith in India after the famous Gomateshwara.
Visual courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/premnath/
- Mawlynnong, Meghalaya. Located around 100 km from the state capital Shillong, in the East Khasi Hills, the village of Mawlynnong sits cozily very close to the India-Bangladesh border. Mawlynnong has won the status of being Asia’s cleanest village, and when you visit you will see why. It isn’t just spotless, but also a gorgeous village with some of the most hospitable people in the country. Visit the famous Living Root Bridges, which form paths across streams making it easy for the villagers to cross. These are unique to Meghalaya, and are found in the areas around Cherrapunjee.Mawlynnong is 190km from the Guwahati airport, and you can stop at Shillong and explore the capital for a day or two.
Visual courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/53888266@N02/
- Mathur, Karnataka. This is the only village where the ancient, classical language of Sanskrit is still used for everyday communication. Mathur (or Mattur) is a beautiful, little village on the banks of the Tunga River, near the city of Shimoga in Karnataka. The storytelling art of Gamaka, which is unique to Karnataka, is practised and supported in Mathur. You can reach this picturesque hamlet from Shimoga, just 4 km away.
Visual courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/karthikdwarakanath/The next time you plan a break, even if for a few days, head to one of these lovely destinations that will make for a memorable experience.
Top visual courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/premnath/