While some of us love to book into hotels on the the touristy Mall Roads across different hill stations, others love to just get away from it. The large crowds, the chatter of happy joint families, the overcrowded lanes and hiking routes are not something that all of us can get with. This long weekend in August, head to one of the quieter regions where we promise you’ll find less crowd. By Devyani Nigoshkar
Drive to Spiti and Lahaul
This ‘middle land’ between India and Tibet is a different kind of beautiful. It is not lush green or snowy white. Dipped in shades of grey and brown, Spiti is a rocky paradise. May we add that the drive here, supposedly the world’s ‘most treacherous’ will rattle you to the bones (thus making it slightly unpopular among families and children), but the ethereal spectacles of the Trans Himalayas, gushing waterfalls, snow-capped peaks and a starry night will make every minute of the journey, absolutely worth it. Visit a few of the oldest monasteries of the Himalayas such as Key and Tabo, meet local artisans in Demul, trek up to some high altitude lakes and send a postcard to your loved ones from the World’s highest post office in Hikkim.
Be an Eco-Tourist in the Silent Valley National Park, Kerala
This valley is as intriguing as its name. Nestled amidst the Nilgiris in the Western Ghats; Silent Valley National Park is one of the few remaining rainforests in India. A lush expanse of green preserving a rich variety of Flora and Fauna, the eco tourism packages here take you to some wild treks and safaris to understand the varied forest types; from moist deciduous to evergreen deep in the silent valley. Glamp, camp, and choose from a myriad of interesting itineraries to plan your trip.
See ‘How Green is Your Valley’ in Khajjiar, Himachal Pradesh
A sleepy little hamlet near Dalhousie, tucked away in deep foliage of Cedar trees, Khajjiar is a dreamy, austere village for those looking to escape the city, relax and unwind in nature’s bounty. There’s a shrinking stream fed lake right in the middle with some enticing view of the Himalayan peaks and bubbling brooks. Here you can choose to laze away or take a nature walk through lush meadows, visit the Tibetan handicrafts market or get your adrenaline pumping with some adventure sports.
Take a Captivating Train Ride to Araku Valley, Andhra Pradesh
The six-hour train from Vishakhapatnam to Araku Valley takes you through 84 bridges and 58 tunnels as it traverses deep into the Eastern Ghats giving some fabulous views of waterfalls, steep gorges and verdant valleys. Once in Araku, immerse yourself in some interesting activities. Love Coffee? Head to the Coffee House to witness a one of its kind light and sound show on coffee plantations here. There’s also an elaborate tribal museum showcasing tribal art, handicrafts, ornaments, and textiles. Other places of interest are historical caves and some very beautiful gardens on the hills. The most popular one is the Padampuram garden with its own toy train and hanging cottages that sway with the wind (yes you can book them!)
Go Back in Time in Orccha, Madhya Pradesh
Away from the cacophony of tourists, the former capital of Bundela Rajput Kings, Orccha, nestled on the banks of river Betwa is a perfect place for those who like to experience history in absolute serenity. Stay like a royal in heritage hotels, take a walk through the 14 complex cenotaphs or chhatris that serve as memorials to Orccha rulers; gaze at the architectural splendor of the Orccha and the Jhansi Fort, visit the old and the beautifully constructed temples, and spare a day to visit the Orccha Wildlife Sanctuary.
Cool Off By a Lake in Bhandardara, Maharashtra
A lone boat bobbing on the banks of the vast aqua marine Arthur Lake, a rickety wooden pier, seemingly small under the towering, rain fed Sahayadris in the backdrop and white waterfalls gushing into the valleys. Bhandardara, around 120 kms from Pune, translates to the ‘valley of treasures,’ but these treasures are still vastly unexplored. Enjoy serene boat rides in the lake, trek to hill forts of Shivaji, or marvel at the cascading waterfalls in the gorgeous, rustic setting.
Stay on a River Island in Assam
Situated between the Brahmaputra river’s every shifting sandbanks, Majuli is India’s first riverine island. Matted with flourishing rice fields, ponds with blooming hyacinths, narrow roads lined with quaint little cottages on stilts, and bamboo trees, Majuli is an idyllic destination. Take a bird tour to watch migratory birds frolicking in the river, explore the monasteries and culture of the neo Vaishnavite cult,interact with bamboo artisans and potters or soak in the silence of the river on a make shift boat on Brahmaputra.