Tired of the known tourist trails? Seeking to get away to a new place? The offbeat destinations in India offer an awesome experience. Escape the hustle-bustle of cities and indulge in incredible experiences.
India is a land of many mysteries and charms, even for those who think they’ve been everywhere and done everything. If you’re an intrepid traveller looking for offbeat destinations that are far removed from the tourist trail, read on. Some of these Indian travelling destinations may be hard to reach but they are well worth the effort as we found out.
A hill station like no other, Khajjiar is tucked away from the busy tourist traps of Himachal Pradesh. we found my inner self amidst the Deodar forests dotted with many hills, lakes and meadows. Go there and see for yourself why it’s been dubbed as India’s ‘Mini Switzerland’.
Isolated and home to just about 100 cosy houses, Malana is a quaint but stunning village in Himachal Pradesh. There is a lot more to it than the charas (Malana Cream) that it has developed a reputation for. An interesting anecdote we found out was that its occupants consider themselves to be descendants of Alexander the Great and therefore superior to others.
Translated to mean ‘Height of the Poison Plant’, Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal, stands at about 3636m and nurtures poisonous aconite plants at its peak. When you make it to the top, you will be rewarded with stunning views of four of the highest peaks in the world – the Everest, Kanchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu.
Blessed with panoramic views of various peaks of the Himalayan range, the hill station of Kausani in Uttarakhand is set amidst dense pine forests and overlooks valleys on either side. Mahatma Gandhi often found peace and calmness in this remote corner of the world.
With its exotic temples and architecture, Madhya Pradesh’s Khajuraho has been designated as one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India but not very many domestic tourists make their way here. The town boasts of Nagara style of architecture – one known for its symbolism and erotic sculptural descriptions. If you are an architecture buff like me, you will fall in love with this place.
Just 80-odd km from Dehradun, Kanatal is a romantic and pretty hamlet. Enjoy the excellent weather and here and take in spectacular views of snow-covered peaks and impenetrable forests. This town specialises in “terrace stays” — a concept that will surely capture your imagination.
7. Nubra Valley
Magic has found form on land and is known to the world by the name of Nubra Valley. At the confluence of the Shyok and Siachen rivers, it is surrounded by the protective embrace of mountains and extensive expanses of beauty.
8. Karni Mata Temple
Situated in Deshnok, a small town in Rajasthan, you will find thousands of rats in this temple. These rats are considered to be the children of the Goddess Karni Mata; sightings of white rats are considered to be especially auspicious.
9. Gurez Valley
Carved into the Himalayas and set along the banks of the stunning Kishenganga River, Gurez is one of the most beautifully serene valleys in India. Located right below the high-altitude Line of Control, it is a fiercely protected land in the Indian territory.
Popular as the birthplace of the Dalai Lama, Tawang is a picturesque hill district located in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. I was overcome by the lush green scenery and stunning panoramic landscapes. It is also home to several revered monasteries.
11. Shani Shingnapur
A destination different from every other, Shani Shingnapur, a quaint village in Maharashtra is known for a very unusual characteristic. The houses of the village don’t have doors as they are said to be protected by divine powers. There seems to be something to this as the region has a very low crime rate.
12. Loktak Lake
One of the largest freshwater lakes in India, Loktak is also known as the floating lake. Located in Manipur, the lake is covered with phumdis (floating islands) and will leave you mesmerised with its unusual beauty.
Deep within the Ratnagiri District of Maharashtra, Velas is a village with the most enterprising population. The citizens of Velas have taken upon themselves the task of nurturing and protecting turtles and they even host an annual turtle festival.
A pretty hill station in Idukki district of Kerala, Devikulam is associated with the Ramayana. The town is home to the pristine Devikulam Lake where Goddess Sita is believed to have bathed. The waters are also known for their mineral composition and healing powers.
Drass is a largely unexplored destination where the extreme weather and fascinating landscapes will literally take your breath away. The valley houses exotic vegetation that grows in full splendour along calm riverbanks. Drass is notorious for its intense winters, so visit only in summer.
16. Magnetic Hill
Imagine switching off your vehicle on a steep hill and the vehicle starts moving up the slope. Well, that is what you get when you visit Magnetic Hill in Ladakh. This mystery has been explained to be due to an optical illusion but nonetheless it’s worth a look-see.
Mother Nature has been kind to Ponmudi, a destination that is nestled in the Western Ghats of Kerala. If you love chai, Ponmudi with its beautiful tea plantations is the place for you.
An unassuming town in the interiors of Maharashtra, Vihigaon is becoming a hub for several adventure sports like canyoneering, water rappelling, down climbing and river tracing.
Famous for the fort on the banks of the Betwa river, this town in Madhya Pradesh has a number of unusual tombs and temples. Walking through the ruins of the fort can be an unnerving experience given the eerie silence that has settled over the place.
20. Pangong Lake
Another place that left me completely spellbound, Pangong Lake is a magnificent sight to behold. The waters make for a clear, stunning surface during the summers. The lake has also been made famous by the film 3 Idiots.
21. Kila Raipur
Located in Ludhiana district of Punjab, Kila Raipur is home to the local Kila Raipur Sports Festival, also known as the Rural Olympics. If not the games itself, you’ll fall in love with the festivities which include spectacular local dances and traditional music.
22. Butterfly Beach
One of the most secluded beaches in Goa, the golden sands of Butterfly Beach cover the virgin coastline dotted with palm trees. The crystal clear waters are a treat for your soul.
Karnataka’s Halebidu, a former regal capital, is dotted with several shrines and temples. The region was ransacked on two occasions by Malik Kafur on account of its richness and wealth. The Hoysaleswara Temple is the most noted and celebrated structure here.
24. Araku Valley
Celebrated for its pleasant weather, extensive coffee plantations, quaint valleys and gentle hillocks, Araku Valley, which is nestled in the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh, has all the ingredients of the perfect holiday destination.
Kuldhara is known for having been abandoned by its locals. Legend has it that a powerful minister desired to marry a village girl against her will. In order to save her from this plight, the villagers left behind their home and village and disappeared overnight. They are also said to have put a curse on the village that the land would be barren for all time to come. It’s believed to be haunted too, so visit at your own peril!
The wettest place in India, Mawsynram in Meghalaya boasts lush vegetation, softly sloping hills and a hospitable population.
27. Roopkund ‘Skeleton’ Lake
Located along a popular route for trekkers in the Himalayas, Roopkund Lake is also often referred to as the ‘Skeleton Lake’. Its base is covered with hundreds of skeletons of both humans and horses. This eerie sight is definitely not for the faint hearted.
Blessed with a pleasant climate all year round, Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh is decorated with hills, green rice fields and a horizon of dancing clouds. It is also home to the Apatani, one of the oldest tribes in the country.
Blessed with clean beaches, hills, shrines and lighthouses, Varkala (near Trivandrum, Kerala) is a place you cannot miss. Also on offer are adventure sports like paragliding and parasailing.
30. Bhangarh Fort
Located in Rajasthan, Bhangarh Fort is not meant for the faint of heart as I found out on my visit. It is completely deserted with no inhabitants barring a few guides. You should note that the Archaeological Survey of India has put up a sign that strictly prohibits entry after sunset and before sunrise. Now that is food for thought.