In recent times, multiple reports have stated that Indians are giving the obvious holiday destinations a miss, and opting for lesser-explored places instead. With holiday season upon us, experts list spots across the country that you could vacation at, this summer.
Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh
Popular among music aficionados for its outdoor festival by the same name, the UNESCO world heritage site, Ziro, is a low-profile destination. “We are witnessing an uptake of 8-10% in queries for this offbeat spot. It is a backpacker’s paradise. Ziro offers a plethora of experiences — from authentic engagement with the culture of the Apatani tribe to shopping for handicraft items made from bamboo etc.,” says Rajeev D Kale, president and country head — leisure travel, MICE, Thomas Cook (India).
Nangal wetlands, Punjab
It is spread over 700 acres around Sutlej River, and was formed due to the construction of the Nangal Dam. “Trans-Himalayan migratory birds flock here every year, making it the winter home of upto 40,000 birds. The noise of their constant chirping and flutter of wings is what you’re in for during a visit here,” says Himanshu Periwal, VP, growth, ixigo. The surrounding villages of Hambewal, Talwara, Bhabahor Sahib and Khera Bagh are a must visit. Walk around and gorge on some lip-smacking Makke Ki Roti and Sarson Sa Saag with a full glass of lassi.
Situated at an elevation of 9,600ft and about 125km from Gangtok, Lachung literally means a “small pass”. “It is a picturesque town surrounded by snow-capped mountains, spectacular waterfalls and apple orchards, making it the perfect holiday destination for travellers this May. Lachung also offers skiing and trekking paths for adventure junkies,” says Nitesh Kumar, destination strategist, TravelTriangle, adding that an Inner Line Permit must be obtained in advance to visit Lachung. Also, the Yumthang Valley, which is located in North Sikkim, should not be missed.
Kotagiri, Tamil Nadu
It is the traditional home of the Kota tribe. “This less-popular hill station is known for its good weather and breathtaking views of tea estates. It is a paradise for travellers seeking tranquility, and offers plenty of opportunities for trekkers looking to carry out expeditions that pass through tea plantations, meadows and waterfalls. It can be visited in the summer, as it is known for its cool climate throughout the year,” says Neelu Singh, CEO and director, Ezeego1. A must-visit spot is Longwood Shola, a patch of primeval dense forests that is home to a large number of fauna, including gaur, leopard, porcupine and the Malabar giant squirrel.
The quaint village of Hankon lies by the River Kali in Karnataka, and is spread over five acres. “It lies about 12km from Karwar. There are a few eco-adventure camps here that you can try out in the summer months. In Hankon, you can try kayaking and canoeing while attempting other adventure activities at Pata, which lies 4km away,” says Santosh Panda, founder and CEO, Explara.
This beautiful getaway is easily accessible from Delhi. “If you are a nature lover and want a break from your hectic schedule, visit this place for rejuvenation. It is blessed with scenic natural beauty. Bhimtal is also a spot where you can sit for hours around the lake without doing anything, and enjoy the calm atmosphere. The aquarium in the middle of the lake is beautiful too. Also visit the famous Bhimeshwar Mahadev Temple that is located on the shores of Bhimtal Lake,” says Nikita John, HolidayIQ traveller.
Lonar Crater, Maharashtra A world-famous natural wonder, this crater was formed about 55,000 years ago when a meteor crashed into Earth. “One can visit the ancient Gomukh and Vishnu temples that are located around the circumference of the lake, or trek in the greenery surrounding the crater. Nature lovers can see birds like the Red-wattled Lapwing, Rufouse-backed Shrike, or Golden Oriole, while barking deer, foxes and monitor lizards are a common sight too,” says Paraag Jaiin Nainuttia, IAS, managing director, MTDC. A trip to the Daitya Sudan Temple in the town is an essential part of the trip.
Drass, Jammu and Kashmir
It is located about 142km from Srinagar. “The town has a pleasant climate in the summer. The valley becomes picturesque with its lush-green pastures and vibrant wild flowers. The unique Drass mosque can be spotted from anywhere in town, and stands tall in turquoise and Persian blue,” says Daniel D’souza, head sales, India and NRI Markets, SOTC Travel. Tiger Hill is among the highest peaks in the area, and the Drass War Memorial is worth a visit.
If a quiet but intriguing destination is on the agenda, head to this architectural wonder nestled in the state’s Raghunandan hills. “Unakoti derives its name from the term, ‘one less than a crore’. It signifies the number of bas-relief sculptures that are carved out of sheer rock faces at the site. The carvings of the gods and goddesses, including a 10m Shiva carving, mix the tribal architectural style of the region with Buddhist influences. It will keep history lovers spellbound,” says Rakshit Desai, managing director — India, FCM Travel Solutions and Flight Shop.
Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh
Surrounded by glacial lakes and lofty mountains, Tawang attracts tourists looking to escape the summer heat and experience the freshness of nature. “March to October is the ideal season to visit this place, which attracts tourists towards its pristine beauty. While visiting Tawang, one can enjoy the natural allure of Nuranang Waterfalls aka Jang falls, which plunges into the Tawang River,” says Manmeet Ahluwalia, marketing head, Expedia India.
Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnataka
This spot has extraordinarily remained untouched. “Thick forests, the Kabini River, valleys and wildlife, which includes herds of elephants, make the Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary distinctive. Night trails and jungle safaris are the other highlights of this tour. Travellers can also visit the Balle Elephant Camp, which is located on the river’s backwaters, or the Tibetan monasteries that lie west of Mysore,” says Karan Anand, head, relationships, Cox & Kings.
Orchha, Madhya Pradesh
A quaint city, Orchha is hidden on the banks of the Betwa River. “Home to magnificent forts, palaces and temples, this is a relatively unexplored destination. An approachable location, it is only 120km away from Gwalior and about 20km away from Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh. While Orchha has great history, the small city also showcases a modern outlook with its contemporary farming practices. The Jahangir Mahal in a must-visit attraction here,” says Sharat Dhall, president, yatra.com.