Updated: Jul 18
What are the key points you focus on when you travel? Good accommodation? Pleasurable journey? Mesmerizing views from your destination? Well, if you ask me, it's just the last point that draws my attention. My way of travelling can be very different from your way of travelling. I love exploring new and offbeat places, where the noise of the crowd is almost zero, where nature interaction is more than human interaction and where I can take a break from the digital world. If you fall in this category, you have come to the right place, if not, you will definitely change your mind by reading this post. I am listing down my top favorite offbeat destinations to visit in India where you will find nature at its best.
Note: You might have to travel a bit (combination of local transport + foot) to reach these destinations.
Gurez Valley, Jammu & Kashmir
"Gar firdaus bar-rue zamin ast, hami asto, hamin asto, hamin ast." Yes! The heaven that Kashmir is, has many unexplored places that even locals do not venture to. Gurez Valley falls in one such category. Rich meadows, partly covered with lindens, walnut and willow trees sheltered amidst mighty snow capped Himalayan mountains, the beauty of the valley cannot be described in mere words. Located around 123 kilometers away from Srinagar, bordering Gilgit-Baltistan, Gurez valley can be compared to the beautiful Hunza Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan. The best time to visit Gurez is from May to September. It remains cold throughout the year because of its location in the high altitude of the Himalayas.
Hemis has been on my list for a very long time now, but somehow I haven’t got a chance to pay a visit to this breathtakingly beautiful place. People have started flocking in Ladakh as everyone wants to take a road trip to the highest motorable road in the world. But, only a few are aware of the beautiful village Hemis situated around 40 kms from Leh. It is famous for its Gompa and National Park. If you want to want to spot a snow leopard, Hemis National Park is the place for you. Remember to plan your visit during Jan-Feb when the famous Hemis Festival is organised.
Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh
Now, this one is my personal favorite. Though a lot of people know about this place, only a few have visited. Reason - arduous travel. I cannot begin to describe the beauty of this place. Snow capped mountains, numerous streams, roaring rivers, apple orchards, deep gorges & dangerous roads define this place. If I close my eyes and think about a place I want to be in, it is Kinnaur. You can visit the place throughout the year. The tourist season is from May to September, but if you can withstand super chilly winds and do not mind getting stranded in the area for a couple of weeks due to heavy snowfall, you can visit Kinnaur in winter as well.
When someone mentions Rajasthan, cities like Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur etc. come to our mind. Nobody ever mentions the villages of the Shekhawati region. The region holds numerous havelis, beautiful ancient architectures and rich culture. The region comprises Sikar, Jhunjhunu & Churu villages. A heaven for a true connoisseur of art and architecture, Shekhawati region is a paradise in northeastern Rajasthan.
Abbott Mount, Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand still remains unexplored by the travellers and there are so many hamlets in this state that will catch your attention. One such place is Abbott Mount. Located around 80 kilometres from Tanakpur, it is located in Pitthoragarh district. This place is a photographer's paradise. Lush green meadows, laidback and sleepy aura and the fact that it is nestled between snow clad mountains will urge you to book a trip to this surreal place. The best part about Abbott Mount is that it is navigable throughout the year.
How about taking a trip to the cleanest village in India? No kidding! Mawlynnong in Meghalaya is the cleanest place to visit not just in India but the entire continent. The people here are very hospitable and are happy to host you at any time of the year. Addition to that, the place is a nature's paradise. From astoundingly beautiful caves to mighty waterfalls to quaint and scenic roads, you will find a lot of natural wonders in this village. Although the village is accessible in all seasons, I would highly recommend you to avoid monsoons as Meghalaya is famous for receiving maximum rainfall in the country and you would not want to spend your holiday indoors.
History buffs, you need not worry as we have got you covered. Patan is a hidden and least talked about historical spot in Gujarat. Famous for “Rani ki Vav”, the deepest step well in the country, the history of this place dates back to 745 AD. You will be mesmerised by the architectural wows across the city. Additionally it is the best place to buy Patola Saree. Intriguing, isn’t it? (Sorry Guys!) The best time to visit Patan is in winters. You can make a stop at Ahmedabad and take a day tour of the place. Patan is around 125 kilometres away from the capital city of Gujarat.
I came across this hidden gem during my trip to Mysore and I am so thankful for my navigation skills (not exactly!) for taking this detour instead of visiting Hampi (which I eventually visited). I couldn’t have asked for a better historic vacation. The combination of Halebidu, Belur and Shravanabelagola satiated my thirst for a pilgrimage visit in Karnataka. The city is full of archaeologically rich temples, Jain monuments and innumerable ruins of monolithic structures. The aura of the place is very welcoming and will leave you awestruck with its beauty.
Chembra Peak, Kerala
Wayanad is quite a famous destination in God’s own country but there are innumerable places in this city that you might have not heard about. If you are planning a trip to Kerala, spare a minimum of 2 days to explore these offbeat beauties in Wayanad. One such destination is Chembra Peak, the highest peak in south India. Known for its impeccable beauty and a heart shaped lake that never runs dry has a sight to behold. You can do camping at the top of the peak and enjoy beautiful sunset and sunrise on the plush green hills. Remember to take prior permission from Meppady forest before embarking on this small trail.
Sandhan Valley, Maharashtra
Welcome to India’s very own “Grand Canyon” that goes by the name of Sandhan Valley located on the western side of the beautiful Bhandardara region, near Samrad village. The valley is also known as valley of shadows or valley of suspense. The sides of the canyon are so narrow that even sunlight can hardly breach. . The water carved valley is 200 ft deep and about 1.5 km long. The place is located around 200 kilometres from Mumbai and Pune. If you are planning to take a trip to Sandhan Valley, make sure you have some really good shoes and are equipped with raincoats if getting wet is a problem for you.
One of my favorites in South India, Araku Valley in Andhra Pradesh is popularly known as “Switzerland of the South”. A green oasis with gorgeous locales all around makes Araku Valley a must visit place. Located around 85 kilometres away from Vizag, the valley is dotted with lush green forests and hills. The valley comes to its full strength in monsoons when the greenery is at its peak. Do not forget to take the rail route to Araku valley as it provides you a once in a lifetime experience. Passing through 46 tunnels winding through the ghats and also touching Asia's highest railhead at Shimliguda on the way, this rail route is not to be missed.
This is one of the most colorful destinations I have ever been to. Home to former head-hunters of the Konyak tribe, Longwa straddles both India & Myanmar. Nagaland is home to one of the largest indegenous settlements in India, thus it is a no brainer that residents of Longwa fall into the same category. The villagers take pride in their Christianity, as well as their headhunting legacy, and they enjoy openly smoking opium. The village has some spectacular views of mountains and forests. As appealing as it may sound, the route to this stunning destination is not for the faint-hearted. The roads are pretty dreadful and thus it is recommended to take crowded roads and go ahead with determination if one wishes to reach Longwa.
So how many destinations have you covered so far? Let us know in the comment section below.