Sometimes you don’t need to look too far to find your next travel destination. You can discover some magical places in the neighborhood; India has a host of well-known holiday spots but here is a list of the less travelled destinations that are equally fascinating.
- Kabini, Karnataka
Kabini in Karnataka is famous for the Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary where tourists enjoy wildlife safari, elephant rides and boating, savoring the wonders of nature. A hike in the Nagarhole National Park is yet another way to see wildlife. Summer months are the ideal time to visit; the weather doesn’t get too warm because of the Kabini River flowing through the national park and the Kabini Dam keeps temperatures enjoyable. There are accommodations to suit big spenders as well as the budget tourist; luxury hotels for those who want to splurge and small homestays for the thrifty. But whatever your budget, you will enjoy your time in Kabini.
- Alappuzha and Varkala, Kerala
These two places are both in the beautiful state of Kerala and within a 4 hour ride by bus from one another. Alappuzha is known as the Venice of the East where you can spend the night in a peaceful houseboat besides enjoying some fun time on the beach and sightseeing. Varkala is a beach town with a difference; unlike anything you’ve seen anywhere else, it is perched on a 15m high cliff. It is a small quiet spot dotted with little shacks, restaurants and cafes; a great place to relax, read a book and enjoy the breeze blowing up from the beach. Varkala is a budget-friendly place as it is yet to be discovered by tourists. As for Alappuzha, the houseboats are where you could be spending the bulk of your money but the rest of the town will not burn a hole in your pocket.
- Majuli, Assam
Majuli in the beautiful state of Assam, is the world’s largest river island according to the Guinness Book of World Records, and lies in the mighty Bramhaputra River. The landscape and beauty of this place remains etched in your mind for a long, long time. The best time to visit is in the summer months as the monsoon season later on brings the wet weather that can dampen your holiday spirit. Majuli is mostly inhabited by tribal folk so one can enjoy some good local cuisine and learn about their culture. Getting there is not easy but the going rate is cheap and the most you will spend will be on good accommodation which at the end of the day boosts the income of the tribal people. The journey to Majuli involves several bus and ferry rides.
- Kasol and Tosh, Himachal Pradesh
What makes trips to these hilly destinations worthwhile are the views of the towering snow capped mountains of the Himalayan chain, the Parvati River, the back packing tourists and some good warm Maggi noodles. These places are popular for short treks, which lead to places with breathtaking views. October to May is the best time to visit. High up, close to the mountains you can enjoy yourself best at some cozy homestay and visit cafes that are found all around the place. These destinations are popular among the youngsters and tourists for a good “high” time that it has to offer. Tosh village is 2,400m above sea level in the Parvati valley near Kasol which is a hill station at an elevation of 1,580m by the Parvati River.
- Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh
Bhimbetka is famous for the rock shelters where the first signs of human habitation in the Indian subcontinent were discovered. There are rock paintings said to be 30,000 years old and the 243 rock shelters are from the Indian Stone Age. The place which is surrounded by dense forest was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003 and is an archeological site dating back to the Paleolithic age. October to April is the best time to visit as the caves are closed during the monsoon season. There are no hotels in Bhimbetka and the closest city Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh is 45 km away.
- Lonar, Maharashtra
Lonar is a small town that is located around Lonar lake that was formed after a meteorite landed on the spot about 52,000 years ago. It is the only salt water lake anywhere in the world that was formed in basaltic rocks. There are a number of temples in Lonar which add to the beauty of this little town. The best time to visit is around October to March. To get there you will first have to travel to Mumbai (formerly Bombay) and then catch a bus, train or private car. Lonar has some beautiful and expensive hotels as well cozy and budget friendly places to stay. Take your pick and enjoy some Maharastran hospitality.
- Bundi, Rajasthan
Rajasthan is one of the most popular tourist destinations and the commonly visited places are Jaipur, Udaipur and Jaisalmer. However there are some offbeat places worth visiting like Bundi which is known for ornate forts, palaces and reservoirs. It is less crowded and may not have the grandeur of Jaipur, yet it has plenty to offer. It is a place of historical importance having seen a great many battles accompanied by legendary tales of valor. Some of the places to see are the Taragarh Fort, Bundi Palace, Nawal Sagar and Sukh Mahal, a palace where Rudyard Kipling is said to have stayed. You could add this little town to your list of places you would want to visit when in Rajasthan.
- Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand
At 3,600m, The Valley of Flowers is a scenic place ideally suited for treks through valleys abounding in beautiful wild flowers and astounding views of snow capped mountains of the Garhwal Himalayas. Home to rare and endangered animals, it is a World Heritage Site full of wild flowers blooming unrestrained, surrounded by white snowy peaks. July to September is the only time when trekking is allowed in this Valley of Flowers National Park. Difficult to get to but worth the trouble, you spend most of your cash on travel expenses as the rest is budget friendly.
- Shantiniketan, West Bengal
212 km north of Kolkata, Shatiniketan is famous for housing Rabindranath Tagore’s home and his vision in the shape of a university, the Visva- Bharati University. This offbeat town is where you go to if you want to unwind and to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Go there to unplug, mediate and come back home a happier person. Late August to March is recommended as the perfect time to visit but the town is the happiest when it comes alive with colors and kite-flying during the festival of Holi. The easiest way to get there is to drive down from Kolkata. Shantiniketan is budget friendly but caters to all types of tourists as it also has great luxury hotels besides ashrams and home-stays.