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30 Offbeat Places to visit in India that will take your breath away

India is a land of exceptional diversity – be it in the natural landscapes, or the architectural marvels or culture. From the chilling Himalayas of the north, to the verdant hill-forests of the south ; from the parched lands of the West to the fertile plains of the east, India is like a mini-world. In this post I will share with you my ultimate bucket-list of the 30 offbeat places to visit in India. For it’s amusing how so many people in the world, India is all about Taj Mahal or the hippie beaches of North Goa. You will not find these usual tourist destinations in this post. Nor will you find Aleppey or Jaipur or Mumbai. This list is for those who love to explore off-the-beaten path. 

India is so much beyond the Taj Mahal and Goa. It's like a mini-world. Know about the best offbeat destinations in India - North, South, East and West. Even the islands speckled in the sea and the untouched wonders of the Himalayas in the North-East.#India #Offbeat #Rajasthan #DesertNationalPark

Why I love the offbeat places in India

I love exploring offbeat destinations in India. While I believe the offbeat travel to be an enriching experience, there is a social aspect too. Over-tourism in famous places disturbs the harmony of people living there, and often disrupts the eco-balance in beautiful regions. On the other hand, many hidden gems remain unexplored, where the locals could get some earning opportunity through tourism.

The same thought has also inspired me to write the book “Postcards from India”. Please check it out on Amazon – it’s free on Kindle Unlimited

Best offbeat places to visit in North India

1.Nubra Valley – Ladakh

Nubra Valley is one of the best Offbeat places to visit in India

Source: Pixabay

Located in the union territory of Ladakh, Nubra Valley is a cold desert in the Western Himalayas. This tri-forked valley perched 3048 meters above the ground. Nubra, in Tibetan language means “the valley of flowers”. Imagine riding atop the rare Bactrian Camels through the dreamy white sand-dunes against the snow-capped mountains speckled by colorful Buddhist monasteries. But what will keep calling you back to this rather difficult terrain is a unique culture and the smiling faces of the friendly locals.

Nubra Valley is 150 km away from Leh. You can reach there thorugh the famous Khardungla Pass, arguably the highest motorable pass in the world. There are several picturesque villages and sparkling azure lakes that you will find here. The immaculate beauty of nature will stay with you forever. Diskit Gompa – the largest Buddhist monastery in Ladakh, ruins of the ancient palace Zamskhang, and Yarab Tso Lake are the highlights you cannot miss.

2. Pulga – Himachal Pradesh

Pulga in Parvati Valley is one of the best offbeat holiday destinations in IndiaPerched 2895 meters above sea-level is a quaint town of Pulga in the enchanting Parvati Valley. While the valley itself is quite popular among domestic tourists, Pulga is secluded. It can be because there is no motorable road directly leading to Pulga. The best way to reach is to take the HRTC bus to Barchaini and then trek for around 1 hour. The wooden houses capsuled in the lush green forests and loft mountains is straight out of the fairy-tale books. During your trek you will cross a creek, marvel at the snow-capped Himalayas, and watch the river flowing along the pine forests. All the supplies come to the homes here on mules and horse-carriages.

The locals have opened their beautiful wooden houses as homestays. You can walk around in the fairy forests, trek to KheerGanga, and on your way discover new creeks, hot springs and hidden waterfalls.Over time many Israelis have come and settled here. They have opened quirky cafes for young travelers. There are a few Indians from other states who did the same. They came, they fell in love and they lived here happily ever after. Pulga is one of the best offbeat holiday destinations in India.

3. Munsiyari– Uttarakhand

Sunrise at Munsiyari

Pixabay

Munsiyari is an offbeat hill station in Uttarakhand, preferred by adventurers. It serves as a base camp for various Himalayan treks inluding Khalika Pass and Namik trek. With opulent forests surrounded by snow-capped mountains, Munsiyari will leave you mesmerized. Recently they have inaugerated India’s first lychen garden here. Spread over 2 acres of land, the garden has more than 80 species of lichen, locally known as “Patthar ke phool”. Some of the prime attractions here are the Tribal Heritage Museum, Maheshwari Kund,  Thamari Kund  and Birthi. If you are not a trekker, you can still enjoy bird watching and leisurely nature walks in the villages.

You can drive to Munsiyari from the nearest airport in Pantnagar or from the nearest railway station Kathgodam. Both are around 250 km away from the destination.

4.Orchha- Madhya Pradesh

Chaturbhuj Temple | Source: © Yann Forget / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA

Orchha, an ancient town on the banks of the Betwa River in Madhya Pradesh. Approximately 400 km from Delhi, Orchha was the capital of Bundelkhand during the period of the 16th to 18th centuries. In Orchha it may feel as if time has frozen in the 18th century. People here have adapted to the changing times effectively but in their own way. Without losing the laid-back charm, the close-knit society, or sometimes even the names of long-gone residents on their homes.

The biggest attraction in Orchha is the majestic Orchha fort. After exploring the well-preserved fort complex you can go on a heritage walk. After this visit the Ram Raja temple and the Chaturbhuj temple located adjacent to each other. Many folklores abound these temples. Finally relax at the banks of Betwa river watching the magical sunset. The multi-level cenotaphs on the banks of the river that impart a surreal look to the landscape.

You can reach Orchha directly from Delhi via Bhopal Shatabdi (fastest), or you can reach Jhansi railway station and avail a cab from there. In fact Jhansi is also a historic city that you can include in your trip. The city is famous for warrior queen Rani Laxmibai who fought valiantly against the British. If you love history and architecture, Orchha is one of the best offbeat places to visit in India.

5.Chanderi– Madhya Oradesh

Chanderi is another historical town in Madhya Pradesh. Chanderi Silk is a special variety of sari popular all over India. This is the origin of the beautiful textile. They mastered this weaving technique over centuries and the art of weaving Chanderi silk was patronized by the royals.  The large number of historoic monuments in Chanderi will pleasantly surprise you. The top attraction is ofcourse the Chanderi fort built by the Kirti Pal in the 11th century. The other historic sites here are the  Koshak Mahal, Badal Mahal Gate, and Parameshwar Tal.

When in Chanderi visit the Bunkaar quarters which is the seat of Chanderi textiles, and explore the nostagic roads where you can spot filming locations of popular Hindi movies like Stree. You can drive to Chanderi from the Bhopal airport, or from the Lalitpur railway station which is only 40 km from the main town

6. Bodh Gaya and Nalanda , Bihar

Nalanda in Bodh Gaya

Ruins of Nalanda University. Source: Wikimedia Commons CC By SA 2.0

Bihar is not a popular tourist destination. However, it has a rich history and is home to many heritage places like Nalanda and Vikramshila. Bodh Gaya is one of the best places to visit in Bihar if you want to know about the rise of Buddhism and Jainism in India. It also gives you a knowledge of the rich education-based culture that India has nourished over thousands of years. Near Nalanda, was a world famous Buddhist university in the 5th century AD. Rajgir is where Mahavira, the founder of another religion, Jainism, was born and attained nirvana.

The off-beat trail of Bodh Gaya is Rajgir, Sasaram and Nalanda will give you an insight to the great culture of India. Nalanda and Vikramshila were two of the greatest universities in the world in ancient times. The study of science, mathematics, philosophy and religion flourished during the period of Gupta empire. It’s believed that when the Turkish emperor Bhaktiyar Khilji ordered to burn down the library at Nalanda it burnt for three months. Such was the volume of collection in the university.

Best offbeat destinations in West India

7.Desert National Park – Rajasthan

Thar Desert of Rajasthan

Source : Pixabay

You must have heard of the Great Indian Thar Desert – the vast arid region of Rajasthan. Most people will not think of a national park located here. But the Desert National Park is a one of its kind thorn forest amidst the sand dunes of Jaisalmer and Barmer district of Rajasthan. Its unique ecosystem where thrives many exotic species of flora and fauna, brought it to the UNESCO’s tentative list of natural heritage sites. You can explore the area in a jeep safari. This is the only place in the world where you will find Rajasthan’s state flower- Rohinda, state animal – Chinkara, and state bird – the Great Indian Bustard naturally. There are many such endangered species which thrive here.

There are 73 villages here, with communities who have been living here for centuries shaping the rich cultural heritage of the land. You can visit the villages and know more about sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle. The Desert National Park is also a geological wonder. The Wood Fossil Park at Akal which houses the remains of these 180 million year old forests.

You can reach this place by taking a cab from the nearest city Jaisalmer.

8.Patan – Gujarat

Patan is one of the best offbeat places to visit in West India

Rani ka Vav, Photo by Salil on Unsplash

Gujarat is a state that has the largest number of UNESCO world heritage sites. It’s full of wonders – both natural and man-made. One such place in Gujarat is Patan – filled with lovely historic structures. This  served as the capital of the Chandva Rulers in the 8th century. Rani Ka Vav, an UNESCO world heritage site is a historic step-well which leads to a rectangular tank at a depth of 23 meters. The intricate designs in the stepwell captivates the senses.  It is also recognized as the cleanest heritage site in India. This structure represents the Maru-Gurjara  architectural style, designed as an inverted temple in gratitude to water. It was constructed by the Solankis of Patan during the 11th century.

Besides this, Patan is the origin of Patan Patola sarees. It is one of the best handwoven textiles of India even today. This ancient art form is the pride of Patan. Other attractions here include remains of the old fort of Patan, Sahastralinga tank and Khan Sarovar lake. The best way to reach Patan is by taking a cab from Ahmedabad or Gandhunagar.

9.Igatpuri – Maharashtra

If you ever traveled by train in Maharashtra you might have noticed the Igatpuri railway station at Nasik. Passengers get down in hoards to eat my famed vada pav and idlis in the station. But what you may not have realized is that it is Bollywood’s best kept secret. Many movie-makers come here to shoot those dreamy sequences. It is a part of the ancient trade route passing through the Thal ghat. Many kings chose to construct citadels at the top of the surrounding Sahyadri hills.

When in Igatpuri, enjoy the serenity of the lush green Bhatsa river. Visit the Ghatandevi temple which is dedicated to the Goddess of the Ghats. Trek to the Camel Valley which is adorned by several waterfalls during the monsoon. Explore the dilapidated castles of medieval India like the Tringalwadi Fort and the Avandha Fort and marvel at the sparkling lakes. Nowadays boating and kayaking activities are available here to promote tourism. You can drive a little further and see golden and white Pagodas peeking out in the hills against the clouds. This place is called Dhammagiri, the world’s largest site of Vipassana, a Buddhist mediation method.

10. South Goa

In complete contrast to the popular North Goa, south Goa is a peaceful natural abode. Most of south Goa is offbeat and a paradise for those who look for unexplored regions. At the center of South Goa, lies Margao – the cultural capital of Goa. This is the city where you can base yourself to explore the awesome places in South Goa. 5km to the south is the seafood paradise called Benaulim. This place is known for delicious sea food and a picturesque beach.

Another breathtaking beach near Margao is the Colva beach where you can take a boat for dolphin sighting. A little far is the Bogmalo beach where you can take diving lessons. When in South Goa, visit Xeldem, a tribal village by the sea which organises a vibrant Xeldem festival in January every year.  It is located at the western tip of the Mormugao Peninsula, at the mouth of Zuari River. The notable architectural sites in South Goa are the  Damodar Temple and Our Lady of Grace Church.

Travel Resources I recommend

Best offbeat places to visit in South India

11. Pattadakal, Badami , Aihole – Karnataka

Pattadakal is one of the best offbeat destinations in South India

Pattadakal Temple- complex, photo by Pixabay

While Hampi, the capital of the great old Vijayanagara empire has shot to fame, there are many other gems in Karantaka that are still off-the-radar for tourists. One such place, rather cluster of places is the Chalukya trio – Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal. The Chalukyas of 7th century predates the Vijayanagara empire by 5 centuries. Badami was the administrative capital of the Chalukyas, Aihole was the seat of learning and Pattadakal the cultural capital. In fact the name Pattadakal means “place of coronation”. This region in Karnataka has red soil, which is why Pattadakal was once called “Raktapura”.

The Chalukyas were great connoisseurs of art and architecture. Here in Aihole and Pattdakal you will find the amalgamation of several forms of art from North and South. According to history, Aihole was where the students learnt the art and Pattadakal is where they graduated. You will find some incredible architecture in both the places. In fact the Durga temple of Aihole is said to have inspired the design of the Indian Parliament. Badami is famous for the cave temples. The stairs leading to the caves are steep but what awaits you inside are pure masterpieces. You can find temples dedicated to Hindu dieties and Jain Tirthankaras. The sculptures will make you wonder how they managed carve out these intricate designs without the modern machines.

12. Agumbe – Karnataka

Agumbe is one of the best places to visit in South IndiaIf you are a 90s kid, you can’t not know about the Malgudi Days series that aired on TV. The fictional village Malgudi was shot in the Agumbe village. Nestled in the resplendent Western Ghats, Agumbe is a place of raw natural beauty. It is also a hotspot of biodiversity. The Agumbe rainforests are home to diverse species of flora and fauna. The most famous and intriguing of these are the Cobras. The Agumbe Rainforest Research center is dedicated to the study of these and other reptiles. Agumbe is also called the Cherrapunji of the South because of the heavy annual rainfall it receives.

The roads to Agumbe are often closed in the monsoon for the exact same reason. Besides the rainforest research center, the prime attractions of Agumbe include the Agumbe Lake, the Jogi Gundi falls, the Kundadri hill top  and the Gopalakrishna temple. Agumbe is located in the Shivamogga district which is famous for Jog Falls and the Sharavati wildlife zone.

 

13. Kasargod– Kerala

Long Weekend trip to Bekal, KasargodKasargod, the northernmost district of Kerala is one of the least explored regions in Kerala. In this small region you will be able to satiate your quest for mountains, and seas, scenic backwaters and historic forts. Bekal Fort which is the largest and the most well preserved fort of Kerala is the highlight of Kasargod. Shivappa Nayaka of Bednore constructed this 300 years ago. Spend a day in the tranquil backwaters of Nileshwaram . It’s not famous like Allepey or Kumarakom, but you will enjoy staying in the houseboat here. Near Nishwaram there is a beach called Thaikadappuram which is famous for olive riddley turtles. Kappil beach, Ananthpura Lake temple Chandragiri fort and the man-made forest called Kareem are some of the other charming destinations in Kasargod.

14. Dhanushkodi – Tamil Nadu

Dhanushkodi is one of the most beautiful beach destinations in India. Located at the tip of Rameshwaram Island the place of great historic and religious significant. It is believed that Lord Rama shot an arrow (called “Dhanush” in Sanskrit) from Rameshwaram that came and hit this land. That’s where they decided to start laying the bridge connecting to Sri Lanka. This is how Dhanushkodi got its name. The beauty of Dhanushkodi lies in its clean beaches, and the crystal clear water of the sea that changes colors throughout the day reflecting the mood of the sky.

Dhanushkodi was a vibrant town with flourish trade and tourism from both India and Sri Lanka. However, the horrific cyclone of 1964 changed the fate of Dhanushkodi. The cyclone destroyed the town, broke the railway stations, buildings and took hundreds of lives.The town was declared uninhabitable by the Indian government. But it started opening up again as an offbeat tourist destination of India. When in Dhanushkodi visit Arichal Munai to enjoy the breathtaking views of the sea. Here you can see the remains of the old town.  A few meters away you can wonder in the coastal forests near the beach. The seafood in the shacks near the beach are amazing. The best part of course is driving through the road connecting Ramshewaram to Dhanushkodi with the sea on both sides.

15. Kolukkumalai– Tamil Nadu

Kolukkumalai is one of the most offbeat locations in south india

Walking in the tea gardens of Kolukkumalai (C) Backpack&eXplore

Kolukkumalai is a small village in the Theni district of Tamil Nadu at the border of Idukki district of Kerala. It is the higest organic tea estate in the world and also the home of Neelakurinji. Every 12 years, the valley at Kolukkumalai turns purple as the Neelakurinji flowers are in full bloom. We missed the chance to witness this rare phenomenon in 2019 due to the tragic Kerala floods. Kolukkumalai tea estate was started in 1920 and the first planting of tea was done seven years later. At an altitude of almost 8000ft, the tea gardens provide breathtaking views of the vistas of Munnar and Kodaikanal hills stations.

To reach Kolukkumalai you need to visit Munnar in Kerala and drive to Kolukkumalai. However no private car is allowed in the premises of the Suryanelli tea estate or to the Neelakurinji forest of Kolukkumalai. You can either trek 9 km to the spots and camp there, or hire a jeep safari. You can take a tour of the old tea factory, where you will learn the multi-stage method of tea processing. On your way to this tea factory you will come across sprawling tea gardens, numerous creeks and waterfalls. Some areas inside look like a village from the fairytales. Around Kolukkumalai you can also explore the gorgeous Chinnakanal and Kodaikanal.

16. Gandikota– Andhra Pradesh

Gandikota is one of the most offbeat places to visit in India

The captivating scene at Gandikota in monsoon (C) Backpack&eXplore

Gandikota , the grand canyon of India has shot to fame among the bikers of Bangalore now. We can’t call it offbeat for the people in Bangalore or Hyderabad now. But for rest of India this place is still unheard of. Gandikota literally means “Gorge Fort”. It’s a 14th century fort that was established during the powerful Pemmasani Dyanasty. The fort got it’s name from the peculiar landscape formed by the Pennar river cutting through the Erramala Hills forming a giant gorge. It’s as significant for its history as it is for its natural beauty. Especially in the monsoon when the river is full this arid region comes to life. You can camp here and wake up to an unforgettable sunrise. The place is also popular for kayaking and rock climbing.

Around Gandikota one can travel to Belum Caves and Kurnool Fort in the Kurnool district, as well as the marvelous temple of Lepakshi.

17. Warangal – Telengana

Warangal travel blogAbout 150km from Hyderabad, lies the historic city of Warangal. It was the capital of the bustling Kakatiya kingdom back in the 12th century. During this time there were many beautiful temples and monuments raised in the kingdom. In fact, the ornamental gate of the dilapidated Warangal Fort is the emblem of Telengana. Warangal, along with Hanamkonda and Kazipet are the historic tri-city of the Kakatiya kingdom.

Besides the iconic Warangal fort, you can visit the 1000-pillar temple, Rayaparthy Shiva temple and Ramappa temple. These temples dedicated to Shiva are the finest examples of religious architecture of the Kakatiyas. You will also enjoy sunset at the Ramappa lake adjacent to the temple. When in Warangal you can also take day trips to exotic natural spots like the Pakhal Lake, Eturnagaram Wildlife Sanctuary, and Bheemuni Padam.

To reach Warangal you can take a bus or drive from Hyderabad.

Best offbeat places to visit in East India

18. Konark, Orissa

Konark Sun temple is one of the offbeat destinations of India

Intricately sculpted wheel of Konark Temple – Source: Pixabay

Konark is a medieval town in the Puri district of Orissa. The prime attraction of this town is the Sun Temple, often called the black pagoda. In fact the name Konark comes from “corners of the Sun”. It is a part of the Golden triangle of Orissa , along with the Jagannath temple of Puri and the Lingaraj temple of Bhubaneshwar. But Konark Sun Temple is the most beautiful of all three according to me. In fact, this 13th century temple is one of the greatest religious architecture of the world. There are many legends associated with this temple that stands on the shore of Bay of Bengal. Near this iconic temple is an offbeat beach named is Chandrabagha. It is one of the most beautiful beaches of India. The notable thing about this beach is the Chandrabagha Mela, a seven-day fair in the honor of Sun-God.

Don’t forget to visit the nearby artist’s villages of Raghurajpur and Pipili. Located in Puri district itself, these showcase the rich cultural heritage of Orissa.

 

19. Kiriburu and Meghatburu, Jharkhand

The chotanagpur plateau is an unique geography in India that is rich in iron ore. Jharkhand claims a major part of this plateau. Kiriburu and Meghatburu are two mining towns owned by the Steel Authority of India Limited. Kiriburu means “Hill of Elephants” and Meghatburu means “Hill of Clouds”. Located in the forests of the West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand, this is a beauteous offbeat hill station in India.

The Saranda forest is a dreamy destination filled with tall trees like Sal, Teak, Mahul, morida etc. Located near Chaibasa, these hills offer a spectacular view of the forests. This place is quite different from the forests of Himalayas or the western ghats. You will realize only when you visit this unexplored gem of India. The waterfalls and lakes add to the surreal beauty of the hills.

20. Bakkhali  and the deltaic island of West Bengal

Henry's island bakkhali

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Did you know there are many beautiful islands spread across the Deltaic region of southern Bengal. Bakkhali is the most famous of all. It has hard beach suitable for cycling and even driving. From Bakkhali, you can take trips to many offbeat islands which offer breathtaking views of the sea and mangrove forests. Henry’s Island, named after its European surveyor,  is one of the most beautiful islands here. The tree tunnels formed by the dense mangrove forests on the beach make it special.

Read about the best places to visit in West Bengal.

Another interesting place to visit here is Jambudweep. This isolated island in the Bay of Bengal is uninhabited most of the year. Another uninhabited island is the Sagar island. However, every year in January, it hosts the Gangasagar Mela, one of the biggest Hindu pilgrimage festivals of India. This is infact the second biggest Hindu conglomeration next only to Kumbh Mela. Just 2km away from Bakkhali is the twin town Frasergunj. The town is named after Andrew Fraser, who wanted to develop this place into a resort. The windmill farm is a special attraction in Frasergunj.

21. Icche gaon– West Bengal

Ecche Gaon West Bengal

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Also spelled “Ecchey gaon”, this is a picturesque village located in Kalimpong district of West Bengal. There are only about 30 families that live in this quaint, non-touristy village. They lead a simple life, practice organic farming and run guesthouses for travelers. Imagine staying in one of those wooden cottages you see in the postcard, enveloped by immaculate natural beauty.

There is nothing much to do in Icche Gaon rather than immerse yourself in the natural beauty and enjoy the hospitality of the locals. Trek to the Ramitey viewpoint to watch the sunrise. On a clear day you can see the Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world that looks drenched in gold. The perfect scenery is complete with the sulfurous Teesta flowing beneath. The entire Himalayan landscape with 14 bends of the Teesta can be captured in one frame while air is filled with the music of unknown chirping birds. You can also trek to Sillery Gaon and the Damsang fort. Take long leisurely walks in the forests, spot Himalayan birds, and eat local delicacies.

You can reach Ichhegaon by car from the nearest airport at Bagdogra or from Jalpaiguri railway station. Kalimpong is also the gateway to the North- east. This region has some of the best offbeat places to visit in India. Let’s take a look at my favorites here.

 

Best offbeat destinations in the North-East

22. Lachung, Sikkim

Lachung is one of my favorite offbeat locations in India

Beautiful Lachung in winter (C) Backpack&eXplore

Surrounded by snow-capped mountains of Eastern Himalayas, dotted with waterfalls and rivulets, cuddled by a magical mist sleeps a small hamlet called Lachung. Lachung and Lachen are the gateway to north Sikkim. So if you want to visit the natural gems like Yumthang Valley, Zero points, or Gurdongmar lake, you will have to book a hotel here. The perennial falls, forests of pine, rock garden along the river, and enormous mountains make up the landscape of Lachung. The village has an unique form of self-governance called Zumsa. All local disputes are settled by a representative body of the village, with an elected head called Pipon.

See the confluence of Lachung and Lachen river , visit the Lachung Gompa – a 19th century monastery and enjoy walking in the orchards of Lachung. Drive to the Yumthang valley to see the rhododendron blossoms in spring and snow-clad beauty in the winter. While Yumthang valley , zero point and Gurdongmar lake are famous, Katao is an offbeat gem in North Sikkim. At an elevation 15000 feet, Katao is an only 40-minute drive from Lachung. The Khanda Waterfall jutting out through the snow-covered mountains under the bridge is a sight to behold in winter.

23. Majuli Island, Assam

Majuli Island is one of the best places to visit in North East India

Magical Sunset at Majuli Island – Sourced from Pixabay

Majuli is the largest riverine island in India, surrounded by the mighty Bramhaputra river. Unfortunately due to global warming, the island has become smaller. Worse, it is shrinking at an alarming rate due to climate change. The island is avibrant mosaic of enthralling natural views and rich tribal culture. It’s home to the ancient tribes like Deoris and Misings. It is also the seat of the Assamese Vaishanvite movement. Devotees throng to the Satras every year to witness the Rasleela festival.

The Dakshinapat Satra, Mokha Satra and Sri Sri Aniati Satra are some of the most visited ones. Another highlight of the culture of Majuli are the vivid Majuli masks. Don’t forget to visit the Molai forest, created by environment activist  Jadav Molai Payeng. Payeng was just a teenager when he was heartbroken to see corpses of snakes which died due to extreme heat on the banks of Brahmaputra and resolved to something about it. The Molai forest is a result of his resolve.

24. Manas National Park, Assam

Manas National Park is a wildlife zone located in the Bodoland administrative zone of Assam. This UNESCO natural heritage site has the largest population of the Bengal florican. This is also the only place on earth where you can see the Terai and Bhabar grasslands merge into the moist deciduous forests in the back-drop of Bhutan-Himalayas. On top of all this you get to experience the rich cultural heritage of the Bodo tribe who reside here. Isn’t it surprising that despite all this, most people don’t know about it. It’s no less stunning than the famous Kaziranga National Park, but unexplored. Bodoland is promoting tourism in these hidden places through the Dwiing Festival which is covered by many independent travel bloggers. Every year they celebrate a cultural extravaganza by the side of the Aie river. “Aie” is my word for mother. This is a celebration of art, music, and the local Bodo culture.

25. Ziro, Nagaland

Ziro shot into fame in the recent years by virtue of the Ziro Music festival. But it still remains one of the best offbeat destinations in India. Ziro has a modern and liberal culture but it’s also deeply rooted thanks to the Apatani tribe. The Apatani tribe who built a settlement here long ago are integral to the identity of Ziro. Here in the cradle of Eastern Himalayas, they chose a lone plateau hidden among the lofty mountains and called her home.  This brought it to UNESCO’s tentative list of world heritage sites. The green paddy fields with the Himalayas at the backdrop provide an idyllic view.

The Apatanis practice paddy-pisciculture. Basically they fish and farm in the same field. I am the only place in India where you will see this practice dominant. Besides this, the Apatanis are appreciated for their unique handlooms, and skill in crafting out of bamboo and canes. UNESCO also recognizes its unique self-governance system through “bulyan”. Visit Ziro during the festive season of Morung in January, or Myoko in late March or Dree in July to see the hamlets turn into living Apatani museums. If you are a music enthusiast, I’m sure the Ziro Music festival is on your bucket-list already.

26. Kongthong Village, Meghalaya

Kongthong Village

Kongthong Village in Meghalaya, Photo Credits: Telegraph India

Meghalaya, the abode of clouds is an incredibly beautiful place in India. You may have heard of Cherapunjee or Mawsynram – the places with highest rainfall in the world. You may have also heard about the Umgot river at the border of Bangladesh, which is so clear that it gives an optical illusion of boats floating in air. Or the Mawlikong , touted as the cleanest village in Asia. But have you heard of the whistling village?

56 km away from the capital Shillong, is an unique village where every person has a tune as his/ her name. This tradition is called jingrwai ïawbei in the local language. The villagers are proud of this intangible heritage and persevere to preserve it. Kongthong is as beautiful as many other famous tourist destinations of Meghalaya, but its unique tradition remains its highlight. The attractions in and around Kongthong village are the Nohkhalai Falls, Mawsmai Cave, Mawkdak Dympep valley and Laitlum  Canyons. Also visit a bee farm here as Kongthong produces some of the best honey in the world.

27. Basar, Arunachal Pradesh

Basar is a picturesque place hidden away from the tourist sites of Arunachal Pradesh. It is the land of the Galo tribe. The ancient tribe mostly speak in their native tongue that is Galo, but the young generation is conversant in English. They practice community living, which means, a cluster of families share the domestic space. When in Basar you must live in a homestay and experience the excellent hospitality of the Galo tribe. The Galo food is also awesome. The breathtaking landscape rejuvenates the soul. Basar is not a place to hop from one important site to another. Instead it calls for slow , immersive travel experience.

But here are some of the most attractive places that you would love. The Bumchi waterfall, a trek through the forests to the Hiidi waterfall, and the Bat cave. There are numerous waterfalls and rivulets in this small place. The Basar Confluence is a vibrant festival that celebrates the cultural fabric of the Galo tribe. When you go to these villages of the North-east India, you realise how little you know about India’s diversity.

The unexplored islands of India

28. Diglipur Island, Andamans

Andaman photo

The Andaman island is one of the most outstanding yet unexplored places in India. With its crystal clear waters, un-spoilt corals and charming forests, it could give any of the top beach destinations in the world, a run for their money. For long it remained unknown to the rest of the world, despite being home to some of the oldest tribes in history. While Havelock island, Port blair, Ross and Neil islands are on the itinerary for an average tourist to Andamans, there are many untouched gems here people tend to overlook. Diglipur is one such island in the northern part of the archipelago.

It is where the only river of the Andamans flow through – the Kaplong river. Besides the usual enchanting colors of the sea, Diglipur is notable for the Kalipur Beach. It is a turtle nesting ground. The highest peak of Andamans, the Saddle Peak is also present in Diglipur. When in Diglipur you can also visit the Ross & Smith island. Other attractions here are Shyamnagar’s Mud Volcano and Alfred caves. Port Blair is the only airport in Andamans which is connected by daily direct flights from Kolkata, Bangalore and Chennai. From Port Blair you can travel to all the islands including Diglipur by the sea-route.

29. Kadmat Island Lakshwadweep

Photo from Pixabay

Lakshwadweep is one of the least visited part of India. This is mainly because of the expensive flight tickets and paperwork required. This also makes it less crowded and a picture-perfect place to relax and rewind. Among the others Kadmat island is one of the most popular in Lakshwadweep. Besides the coral reef, white sand beaches and natural beauty, you’ll get the best seafood here. Scoobadiving and snorekelling are the top activities to indulge in when you are here. Some of the other islands of significance you can visit on your holiday in Lashwadweep easily is the Mincoy Island, Kavaratti Island and Pitti bird sanctuary.

30. Diu

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Diu is an island off the coast of Gujarat, which along with Daman, Dadra and Nagar Haveli form an Union Territory. Like Goa, it is a perfect amalgamation of Portuguese architecture and Indian lifestyle. It is one of the most obscure places in India. It has some of the cleanest beaches on the Arabian sea with breathtaking views.

Most notable of them are the Ghoghla Beach and Gomtimat beach. The hillock at Chakratirtha beach offers a spectacular sunset viewpoint. The Diu fort is a beautiful architectural landmark which doubled up as a castle during the Portuguese rule. Another striking island fort which you can visit from Diu on a boat is the Panikota Fort.  Naida caves, St Paul’s church, Gangeshwar Mahadev temple and Zampa Gateway are some other attractions here.

So here’s the long bucket-list for India that we can travel when the lockdown ends. Till then travel virtually with me on Instagram and Facebook. Subscribe to our newsletters to get new post updates and lots of freebies. Pin the post to save for later. And tell me in the comments which of these are your favorite. 

India is a country with a 500--year old history and an insane diversity. Click to read about the lesser-known offbeat places to visit in India. This will help you plan your trips better and discover the real authentic taste of India.

India is so much beyond the Taj Mahal and Goa. It's like a mini-world. Know about the best offbeat places to visit in India - North, South, East and West. Even the islands speckled in the sea and the untouched wonders of the Himalayas in the North-East. #IncredibleIndia #OffbeatPlaces #Architecture

 

8 Comments

  1. Jennifer Mostert July 17, 2020

    I have always wanted to visit the Andaman Islands, but now your list has me wanting to plan a more extended trip. So many places to visit in India I might need to stay for a year when it’s safe to travel again. P.S. I loved your Postcards from India – thank you!

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh July 17, 2020

      Thank you so much!

  2. Sue Davies July 20, 2020

    This is an amazing list of places in India. Lachung, Ziro, Icche gaon…actually every place on this list looks interesting. Now I really need to get there when things open up.

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh July 20, 2020

      Thanks Sue. Hope the world goes back to normal soon

  3. Swiddle D'Cunha October 8, 2020

    Wow. This is a nice list of offbeat places.I will definitely refer when planning travel.

    Reply
  4. Shinjini October 8, 2020

    What an awesome list of places you’ve compiled here! Some I had heard of before, and many are new to me. Bookmarking this for future travel plans!

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh October 8, 2020

      Thanks a lot!

  5. PraGun October 8, 2020

    Such a great post
    I was ticking the places from my list and those which are pending.
    You have really collected some worth visiting places in this list.
    From all these places, Ladakh, Andamans, and Dhanushkodi always top my list to visit again.

    Reply

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