Unexplored or lesser-known? These two words have not always been synonymous with places or destinations in a positive way. The first reaction that pops up is “Oh, let us not go here because this place does not have the same charm as a destination with 5-star hotels”.
When it comes to offbeat tourism culture, India is a treasure chest with a never-ending list for tourists. Not many people know that these virgin beauties are equally beautiful as mainstream destinations and act as a great escape from the cacophony of tourist crowds.
What’s not to love about these places? Tucked away in different parts of India, they might not be luxurious, but provide the right environment to let you have a great time. From unexplored islands to offbeat national parks, here are some great destinations in India that will paint a picture of a wonderland in your mind once you shed your inhibitions and visit these places.
We all keep on hearing stories about wonders in North East India and one such example is the Majuli Island in Assam. This marvel is the largest river island in the world. It is located on the waters of Brahmaputra River.
Once you reach this island, it will become evident why is Majuli considered as the cultural capital of Assam. It is home to neo-Vaishnavite culture, which was initiated somewhere around the 15th century by Assamese saint Srimanta Sankardeva and his disciple Madhadeva.
There are many Satras constructed by the revered saint that have survived the ravages of time. The most notable holy sites are Kamalabari, Dakshinapat and Bihimpur Satra.
Bihimpur Satra- It is treasure house of Borgeet Matiakhara and Satriya dances (Chali, Apsara, Dasavater dance etc) Kamalabari Satra- It is a center of art, cultural, classical and religious studies. Dakshinapat Satra- It is famous for its celebrations of Vaishnavite festivals such as Rasotsava.
You should visit during mid- February to experience the Ali Ate Ligang festival. Travellers will get to feast on local food and beverages such as Purang apin (rice wrapped in special leaves), Apong (rice beer).
Bird lovers will find many rare and endangered species such as Pelican, Greater adjutant stork, Siberian crane and the whistling teal.
Kolukkumalai is a quaint hill top village tucked away in the Theni district of Tamil Nadu. Tea lovers can rejoice at the Kolukkumalai tea estate which is the highest tea plantations in the world. As a tourist, you can also enjoy panoramic views at this plantation set up by the British in the early 1900’s.
People flock to this plantation because tea is made in a old-fashioned way over here. The tea leaves are hand picked and then it is subject to a drying process of withering and fermenting.
The ‘Make your tea’ initiative at this plantation gives tourists an opportunity to pick and process a cup of tea to their liking. People are also given an option to buy freshly made tea leaves like Flowery Orange Pekoe and the Broken Orange Pekoe.
After sipping a hot cup of freshly made tea, tourists can walk down a narrow pathway that ultimately leads to the plains. However, the hilltop plantation can only be reached by jeeps as the roads are not suitable for any other vehicle due to rains.
If you want to take a small detour, head to Munnar as the popular tourist destination is known for its picturesque valleys, colonial bungalows.
It is a quaint little hill station nestled in the Shi-Yomi district of Arunachal Pradesh. Mechuka Festival is an event that has adventure sports activities such as rock climbing, river crossing, mountain biking. So, all the adventure hungry people can head to this little town to get their fill of Adrenalin.
For all those who like being in the kitchen, they can learn the art of making delicious momos with the Memba tribe. Travelers can also sit down and relax with a glass of locally produced Millet beer.
If you are a sucker for tea then do not miss the famous butter tea. The Tibetan is made in a unique way by churning Yak’s milk in a wooden vessel.
You will also find the deep-rooted Tibetan influence in Mechuka. Gompa and Chubas- the traditional Tibetan dress are classic examples of Tibetan culture.
Hemis National Park
Tucked in the beautiful valleys of Ladakh, Hemis National Park is one of Asian natural habitats of the Snow Leopard. Travelers plan a trip to this snow laden high-altitude National Park to witness the exotic variety of Fauna. It is home to the Great Tibetan Sheep, Tibetan Wolf etc.
If you are willing to get yourself acquainted with Buddhist culture heritage then visit the Hemis Monastery. It was built before the 11th century.
Adventure junkies can go on a trek to Gotsang Gumpa and rejuvenate themselves. This trek will take you to a place tucked away from the world and untouched by human civilization.
Phugtal Monastery will always spark a sense of amazement among people searching for historical wonders in India. It is located in the remote Lungnak Valley in South- Eastern Zanskar. This place can only be reached by foot as it remotely located.
If you are curious, then you will be interested to know that Phuktal is derived from Phukthal. Phuk means ‘cave’ and Tai or thal refers to ‘at leisure’.
This ancient monastery has been constructed around a natural cave. Legend has it that sages, scholars and monks visited here in search of a perfect place for peace and solitude to meditate.
In the monastery, you will find the main temple, a library housing rare sacred texts, a kitchen and sacred spring. Get a glimpse of Tibetan culture by witnessing the most important Tibetan Buddhist celebration of the year i.e. The Smonlam Chenmo (great prayer). It signifies the start of the New Year. This large-scale celebration is conducted towards the end of February or at the beginning of March.
Curated by Ruchit Rastogi