India is one of the most fascinating countries in the world. Rich with history, heritage, culture, religion, food, music, and, of course, Bollywood. But the landscape itself is also a major draw for travellers from across the world. Whether the deserts of Rajasthan, the tea plantations of Darjeeling or the pristine white beaches of Goa, there is something to amaze everyone.
After over a decade exploring the country, here’s a solid top six offbeat destination well worth a visit.
Rameswaram is a small town on the south-eastern coast of India. It’s not really on the tourist map but if you venture that way you’ll find some of the best beaches in India, perfect for a spot of Kite Surfing. Alongside these stunning beaches, Rameswaram is famous for its temples and many people pilgrimage here every year creating a culturally rich and fascinating town. The best way to get here is a train from Chennai or you could drive from Madurai/Kanyakumari.
Darap Village in Sikkim is perfect to escape the crowds of tourists that go to Gangtok and Darjeeling. This small village is just 8km from Pelling and has some delightful homestays and guesthouses to help you kick back, relax, and enjoy the majesty of the most famous mountain range in the world, the Himalayas. There are few places you can live the perfect village life, but Darap is one. Milk cows, process butter and cheese, or even do some gardening – you won’t find a village like anywhere in the world. If cows and gardens aren’t your thing, then it’s just as good to relax and do nothing, or sit back with read a book and see how life slows down.
Nestled up on a mountain spur in Mandi district, Rewalsar is a small but fascinating town rich with religion and culture, held as sacred by the three Dharma religions of Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs. The town is wrapped around a bright green lake teeming with fish, prayer flags flutter in the mountain breeze and giant religious statues look down from the mist. The largest statue is a 123ft high golden image of Padmasambhava that can be seen from almost every point in the town.
The Lahual Spiti Valley
The Lahual Spiti Valley is not the most frequented in India but is absolutely beautiful. It has similar terrain to that of Ladakh but with far fewer tourists. It starts from Sangla Valley, known for being an apple heaven and the perfect place to grab a bottle of delicious apple wine, before moving into the snow desert and barren Kaza and Tabo. This place is great for trekking but do bear in mind that there is poor road connectivity and poor cell phone network. The best way to visit this region is the head up via Shimla or Manali – taking the Kalka-Shimla toy train if you can. Sunnymead boutique hotel is gem if you need somewhere to stay.
Tarkarli and Vengurla
These two coastal towns are just round the corner from bustling Goa. Located in Maharashtra, the beaches here are really stunning with bright white sand and blue seas. If you are lucky, you’ll spot turtles, dolphins and sometimes whales, making it the perfect spot to enjoy some scuba diving. Though there are not many hotels and resorts there are plenty of homestays and guesthouses for a more local and laid back feel. The best way to get in is to take a train from Mumbai and then a short one-hour drive to the coast.
Chittorgarh is in the touristy state of Rajasthan but often skipped by travellers. Situated on the Berach river, the imposing Chittorgarh Fort is one of the largest and most impressive in all of India. The best time to visit is between September and March, but it’s an amazing place all year round. The city is also famous for its association with the festival of Jauhar, which celebrates the bravery of its Rajput ancestors. There are a handful of unique heritage hotels or you can visit on a day trip from the lake city of Udaipur.