Off-the-beaten-track in India – My Fabulous Five Picks
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.
I am so much in love with off-the-beaten track that I’ve written an entire book on it. Yes, it’s called Postcards from India and it is available in both Kindle and Paperback version on Amazon. In this post I will share with you my favorite five places that I have visited which are off the beaten track.
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.
Check out our amazing Sikkim Travel Guide.
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.
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.
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. Infact, 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.
Kavaledurga also called Bhuvanagiri is one of the oldest forts in Shimoga built in 9th Century Fort by the Nayakas of Keladi when they were under the great Vijayanagara empire. The hike uphill is of moderate difficulty for non-trekkers – it took us almost an hour with multiple stops for photographs.
The 360-degree panoramic view of the valley below, with lakes and green fields, is a sight to behold and makes it totally worth the effort.
Though the fort is now just a shadow of its former glory, it’s easy to appreciate the architectural marvel with 5 layers of defense. There are three beautiful temples inside. Recent excavations by the archeological survey of India have unearthed the ruins of a palace, courtyard even swimming pools in the area.
Kolukkumalai is a small village in the Theni district of Tamil Nadu at the border of Idukki district of Kerala. It is the highest organic tea estate in the world and also the home of Neelakurinji. 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.
Around Kolukkumalai you can also explore the gorgeous Chinnakanal and Kodaikanal.
Kasargod, 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 Alleppey 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.
You can reach Kasargod by train or bus from Kochi. A roadtrip from Bangalore to Bekal is also a great idea.
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This is the 15th post in the series “My Fabulous Five” for Blogchatter A2Z 2022. I hope you liked it. If you did, please share the post. See you tomorrow with another fabulous list.