The year 2021 went well, at least better than 2020. As of December, the pandemic situation was pretty much under control in India, but with the arrival of a new year, another variant (Omicron) landed here. As a result, many state governments added new COVID-19 restrictions, not allowing people to stretch their travel legs. However, the new variant turned out to be a faded rendition, and according to experts at WHO, it shall pass within a few weeks, and with that, we can hit the outdoors again. Going for a trip to popular places would be a bad move in current times, and it’s a pretty outdated move. That’s why we’ve come up with 16 off-beat travel getaways to take up 2022 in style.
Historical Places & Ruins:
- Champaner & Laxmi Vilas Palace, Gujarat
The ancient city is considered one of Gujarat’s most fascinating historical attractions. The off-beat destination is as old as the 8th century, and it will hook you instantly with its heritage places, including a number of forts, mosques, monuments, tombs, arches, temples, and step-wells. The Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park located in Champaner is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers an authentic flavour of architecture. The famous Laxmi Vilas Palace – the Vadodara’s royal family residence is a must-visit place if you’re planning to explore around Champaner. The palace is built over 500 acres (four times the size of Buckingham Palace), and it is about 50 Km from Champaner.
- Basgo, Ladakh
Basgo is a historic castle town located on the mighty Indus River in Ladakh and is famous for its Basgo Monastery and Gompas. The ancient temples and structures around Basgo are part of the UNESCO world heritage site. The monastery is a perfect example of Tibetan architecture, and the Basgo Palace is among the 100 most endangered heritage sites in the world. The once proliferated town is now wrapped in ruins, with almost zero infrastructure. The Basgo town has been featured in many Bollywood movie songs, including Satrangi Re from Dil Se and Dil Dance Maare from Tashan.
- Orchha, Madhya Pradesh
The name Orchha means ‘Hidden Place’, which is enough to pay a visit to this historic town. The beautiful city of Orchha is nestled royally near the banks of the Betwa River. The historical place is built with a vision that one can find historical landmarks every time a river makes a turn. The site is far away from the reach of regular tourists, making it a more peaceful destination. The place’s main attraction is the Orchha Fort, an architectural marvel of the town built on an island on the Betwa river and Chattris, memorials to the rulers of Orchha. If you decide to visit Orchha, don’t forget to attend the light and sound show at Orchha Fort, which starts at 6:30 PM in English and at 7:45 PM in Hindi.
- Shettihalli Rosary Church, Karnataka
Ruins and forgotten structures are always fascinating, especially when connected with folklore and Shettihalli Rosary Church is one of such gems. The French missionary church located in the Hassan district of Karnataka is popularly known as India’s only floating church. Interestingly, this dilapidated church remains submerged in water during monsoons, and when the water level decreases, it slowly starts appearing as a full, allowing the tourists to witness its glory. The hauntingly beautiful church was built in the 1860s in the French Gothic style of architecture, but later on, in 1960, the government deserted the area to construct the dam, and the church lost the centre of attention.
Beaches & Islands:
- Maravanthe Beach, Karnataka
Maravanthe is a uniquely positioned beach offering an incredible view with the mesmerizing Arabian Sea on one side and the Souparnika river on the other side. The beach is an ideal choice to hang out with friends and family. The place is about 105 km from Mangalore, and one must catch a lovely boat ride across the Souparnika River during golden hour and watch the sunset. You can visit the nearest Padukone village, birthplace of famous badminton star Prakash Padukone and Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone during your trip to Maravanthe.
- Bhogwe Beach, Maharashtra
Goa and Gokarna are the places that made the Konkan coast popular, but the coast has much more to offer than these usual places, only if you’re willing to go off-road. The secluded, loneliest and pristine Bhogwe beach is one of India’s few cleanest beaches selected for blue flag certification. The picturesque beach is situated on the shores of Sindhudurg District and is famous for being the merging point of the Karli River and the Arabian Sea. The beach is located at the base of Nivati Fort, which offers majestic views of the Bhogwe beach along with the Golden rocks and a glimpse of Tsunami island.
- Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu
Dhanushkodi – often referred to as India’s Ghost Town, is situated on the southeastern tip of Tamil Nadu’s Pamban Island (Rameshwaram). In 1964, a monstrous cyclone turned this once-bustling trade hub into an eerie ghost town. Except for a few fishermen folks, nobody lives in Dhanushkodi, and no tourists are allowed to enter the town after 6 PM. Dhanushkodi has extreme natural conditions, and it is a bit risky to get into the water due to high waves, but the experience you’ll have while driving towards the tip, walking on the beach and exploring the ruins is out of this world.
- Majuli Island, Assam
Majuli, nestled amidst the mighty Brahmaputra River, is the world’s largest freshwater island. It’s a must-visit place for every traveling enthusiast because due to climate change, in the next 20-25 years, the lush green and pollution-free island may completely disappear from the earth’s map. The isolated island is over 420 square kilometres in size and home to several tribes, mainly the Mishings. The green fields and the water bodies of Majuli island will stay in your heart for a long time, and you’ll feel blessed for the rest of your life.
The Hidden Paradise of North-East:
- Bhalukpong, Arunachal Pradesh
The Seven Sisters of India offers everything you’re looking for in a serene trip, but the beautiful town of Bhalukpong has its magic. The unexplored town is located along the southern reaches of the Himalayas in the West Kameng district, and it is surrounded by the evergreen forests of the Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary. Due to limited connectivity options, Bhalukpong hasn’t been nourished as a proper tourist destination, but if you’re looking for a calm and cozy holiday destination, then the breathtaking town of Bhalukpong is the place for you.
- Ziro Valley, Arunachal Pradesh
If you’re a fan of independent music in India, you probably have heard the name Ziro Valley before. The underrated town is surrounded by untouched forests, offering unmatched scenic and wildlife grandeur. Zero Valley is located 15 kilometers from Itanagar and is one of the best places to visit in North East India. The photogenic valley is famous for hosting the Ziro Music Festival, rice fields, lush bamboo forests, scenic trails lined with pine and bamboo trees. The hill hamlet provides a sound and peaceful camping experience as it is home to 300 birds and 170 butterfly species.
Sandakphu is the highest peak in the queen of hills – Darjeeling, which offers an incredible panorama of the world’s highest snowline. The town is named after a poisonous wolf’s bane plant that grows naturally around the peak. Sandakphu is famous for its treks and is popularly known as Trekkers Wonderland. The place offers excellent mountaineering and adventure sports possibilities due to its location. If you’re a mountain lover, you should consider visiting this place and going on a Sandakphu Phalut trek, as it is one of the best winter treks in the Himalayas.
Situated in the West Siang District of Arunachal Pradesh, Mechuka, Mechukha, or Menchukha valley is a must-visit tourist destination in North-East India. The Buddhist hamlet houses several tribes, including Libo, Bokar, Ramo, and Memba Tribes. The Valley is located 29 km away from the famous McMahon Line that separates India and China. The rhythmic sound of the river Siyom, snow-capped mountains, wooden bridges with colorful Buddhist prayer flags, vast grassland with grazing horses, and dotted houses can make Mechuka a perfect off-beat destination.
The Territory of Big Cats:
- Jawai, Rajasthan
Jawai Bandh (Dam) is one of the few places where you can spot a leopard in the daytime, and that’s why the place has become one of the hot favourite tourist destinations in Rajasthan. The site has plenty of natural caves for leopards, and they live peacefully here without causing any conflict with humans. The big cats have been winning hearts here with their human-friendly nature, and tribes who live here consider these big cats the guardians of their local deity. Along with leopards, you can easily spot crocodiles basking in the sun at river banks and migratory birds, making Jawai a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts.
- Hemis, Ladakh
Hemis is the ideal place for people who wish to spend some time in the lap of nature and to see the globally famous, rare and endangered snow leopard. The scenic hamlet is located between the snow capped mountain ranges of Ladakh and is bounded by the ever-gorgeous Indus river and the majestic Zanskar range. The Hemis Monastery is ranked as one of the wealthiest monasteries in India, and it houses an iconic copper gilded statue of Lord Buddha along with stupas made of gold, silver, and other precious metals. The Hemis National Park boasts about 200 leopards, along with other endangered species such as Asiatic ibex, Tibetan wolf, the Eurasian brown bear and the red fox.
- Sundarban, West Bengal
Inscribed as a world heritage site by UNESCO, Sundarban is the kind of place where you’ll witness the true side of nature, a tale of survival. The place lies on the delta of three rivers, Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna. The mangrove forest is home to Royal Bengal Tigers. Once you’re on the boat to spot the Bengal Tiger, you’ll not feel less than you’re a guy from an episode of the national geographic channel. Besides Bengal Tiger, it is home to various wildlife species, including red-faced rhesus monkey, saltwater crocodile, spotted deer, crested serpent eagle, oriental honey buzzard, and Goshawk.
- Nagarhole National Park, Karnataka
The rare species always attract the crowd, and if you’re a staunch wildlife enthusiast, especially the one who’s into felines, then you must have heard the name “Saaya.” The word Saya means Shadow, and it is the name of the elusive male black panther that wildlife enthusiasts and tourists often spot in the southern part of the Nagarhole National Park. The majestic park is quite picturesque with hills, valleys, streams and Kabini, a part of the park, has become famous in recent years for the sighting of a real-life Bagheera. The black panther is exceptionally confident, and it will hypnotise you with his appearance.