Here’s how India would truly BECKON in 2020! You could start making your bucket list but before you do that, we would like to share with you our pick of five offbeat spots in the country every adventurer and traveller must explore.
The great French author and Nobel Prize laureate Andre Gide had rightly said, “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Indeed, travelling to new places, near or far, helps you discover not just the place you are visiting, but yourself as well.
Off-beat travel is mostly travelling off the beaten path, coming across new cultural experiences, new sights, new tastes, new people that you would not find in areas where the tourist density is maximum. While it is a great experience to visit famous sights, off-beat travel can be the cherry on the cake. Not to mention, the hidden gems would also be quieter allowing you to explore them to your heart’s content. Here is your bucket list of five offbeat travel spots in India for 2020 – India is BECKONING the untrodden way!
Tirthan Valley in Himachal Pradesh – a hidden gem
Nestled by the side of the mighty Tirthan river, Tirthan valley is a hidden Himalayan gem in itself. Located in the Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh, the valley is a paradise waiting for the traveller in you. The Great Himalayan National Park is a must – it was awarded the UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2014. Apart from this main attraction, there are plenty of lesser-known areas to visit in this remote mountain spot.
You can go on a village-hopping journey through Sainj, Larji, Ropa and Neuli to reach the mesmerising meadows of Shangarh. It’s a journey that will help you experience the warmth of the locals and a chance to acquaint yourself with their cultural nuances. Set up camp in the wilderness near the Jalori Pass to spend a night under the star-soaked sky. You could go trekking into the jungle to look for some of the most mesmerising waterfalls like the Chhoie Waterfall near Gai Dhar Village. Speaking of waterfalls, Tirthan valley is dotted with a number of them, most of which are hidden amongst forests – all you have to do is pick up a trail and start walking!
The best time to visit Tirthan Valley is between March and June or between September and early November when the weather is pleasant, mild and refreshing but not biting cold.
Accommodation is available for all kinds of travellers – there are guest houses, hotels, resorts and even homestays! Some of the resorts and hotels dot the riverbed so you could wake up to gushing sounds of water nearby and take a stroll along the Tirthan river to add to the quintessential mountain experience.
Champaner in Gujarat – a delight for architecture and heritage buffs
With a plethora of ancient fortresses, villages, temples and shrines, Champaner might as well be known as the city with great historical and architectural prowess. But don’t think of striking it off your list just because you are not enthusiastic about architecture – there is more to this quaint city than meets the eye. It promises to BECKON the traveller in you.
Begin your journey by stepping into the Pavagadh Archaeological Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site; it will make you feel like you have entered a time machine that has taken you back to the 8th Century Kingdom of King Vanraj Chavda. From there, take a ropeway ride to pay your respects at the Maha Kalika Temple, or you could burn some calories while climbing some 2,000 steps to the shrine. Take a hike through the nearby forest area to find yourself at the entrance of a lesser-known Nagina Masjid. Another hidden gem is the Helical Stepwell, which is a little tough to locate, but if you hire a local guide there, he will take you to it.
The winter months between October and March are the best to pay a visit to Champaner, as the weather is pleasant, which makes your trip more fruitful and engaging. There are decent hotels to stay at, which could be booked through any of the hotel booking websites in advance. Accommodation ranges from are high-end hotel properties to the more economical budget hotels – to suit individual needs and budgets.
Theog near Shimla – quietly magical
Just an hour’s drive from Shimla is the quiet but enormously beautiful town of Theog, known for being the peaceful and quiet alternative to most other hill stations. Since it is sparsely populated, and not a tourist-heavy place, it is in tune with nature – that is Theog for you, offering a yet-untouched wilderness and tranquillity.
While Theog in itself comprises peaceful yet engaging hikes into the surrounding forests and meadows, you can pay a visit to Tattapani where you can take a dip in hot springs and enjoy water-related sports and activities sans the crowd. If you are looking to go someplace more scenic and capture the panoramic views of the mountains, head to Fagu.
For nature lovers and those who enjoy hiking, hikes to the hilltops of Shali Tibba and Kanag give beautiful panoramic views of the hills of Shimla and the cedar trees in all their glory. Shali Tibba is the highest peak of the Shimla hills and the trek to the top is mesmerising. Hikers could go to the nearest village to the peak called Khatnol and hike from there to the top to take in the breathtaking views of the valley.
If you are visiting around the festive season of Holi or Diwali, though, make sure to venture into the local communities and villages to experience cultural immersion like never before, and don’t forget to pay your respects at the Banthia Devta Temple, which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. For a truly breathtaking experience, trek to the top of Churdhar and let nature weave its magic around you.
Theog has an endearing culture and heritage, which reflects in the simplicity of the local folk living there. The main occupation of the local people is farming, and women participate in this economic activity along with their menfolk. The locals speak Pahadi and Hindi languages and play Pahadi folk music – for those who want a flavour and taste of the local pahadi folk music and dance, the ideal time is during the Summer Festival every year – when folk music and dance become a part of the revelry and celebrations.
The best months for visitng Theog are October to early December or February to April. There is accommodation available to suit all budgets – from the luxury of the Taj Theog Resort and Spa (of the Taj Hotels group) to the more economical 4-star and 3-star budget hotels. A search om makemytrip.com would throw up plenty of options for all budgets.
Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh
Most famously known as the birthplace of the Dalai Lama, Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh is a lot more than a spiritual getaway. With snow-capped mountain peaks and lakes with crystal clear water, Tawang will fill your heart with immense respect for nature in all its might.
Every year in February and March, the Tawang Monastery hosts the festival of Losar, which is a perfect way to kickstart your tour of the region. Chagzam Bridge is an interesting piece of architecture and huge tourist attractor. It was built by a disciple of the first Dalai Lama, who was an architect and an iron bridge builder who had built more than 100 bridges in the Himalayan region.
If major fanfare and crowds are not your cup of tea, make your way to the Tenga riverside where you can set up camp for the night and let the sounds of nature be the music that stays with you long after. Next stop is the majestic Nuranang Waterfall, which you can reach after a strenuous trek and the sight will make every drop of sweat worth your while. And to cheer up the hydrophile in you, Tawang has the Sangetsar Lake with its crystal-clear waters that create a visual illusion wherein the lakebed seems several meters closer than it really is.
Once again, summers BECKON! The best time to visit Tawang is June through November before the snow starts to settle in and a majority of roadways are closed to the public.
Athirappilly in Kerala is absolutely idyllic
The waterfall haven of India, Athirappilly, is the embodiment of the raw beauty of nature with thick vegetation, many rivers and countless waterfalls. It is the kind of destination every city dweller dreams of escaping to.
Any visit to Athirappilly is incomplete without a trek to the waterfall that it’s named after, the Athirappilly Falls and the nearby Vazhachal waterfalls, both of which are equally breathtaking in every sense of the word. These sights are also ideal for birdwatching and safaris. A little away from these falls is the Vachumaram Lake where you can treat yourself to a tranquil boat ride and enjoy the panoramic views.
The ideal time to visit Athirappally is during the monsoon months between June and October when the weather is pleasant and the waterfalls in all their glory BECKON the traveller.