How about taking the road less travelled this vacation? Check out these seven gorgeous yet underrated, unexplored places in India which are worth exploring this season. Come, take a look:
Mandu, Madhya Pradesh
The romantic Mandu is one of the hidden gems in Madhya Pradesh and is worth visiting, especially during the monsoons. When here, do not miss Songadh, Jahaz Mahal, and Sagar Talao Group, all within the enclosed area of the fort.
USP: Catch the romantic beauty of Mandu under the rains while you take a lesson or two in history.
Getting there: Indore is the nearest airport and railhead at 99 km (2 hours).
Where to Stay: MP Tourism’s Malwa Resort and Hotel Rupmati.
Gandikota Gorge, Andhra Pradesh
Gandikota, popularly referred to as India’s Grand Canyon, is a beautiful gorge formed in between the Eramala Hills in Andhra Pradesh. The main attraction of this place is the canyon which is breathtakingly beautiful and serene.
USP: USP is the canyon itself and that you can camp here just adds to the charm!
Getting there: The nearest airports are Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Tirupati, and Chennai (all 300-400 km away). Kadapa is the nearest railhead (80 km) and there are regular buses from cities of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka to Proddatur and Jammalamadugu (45 minutes distance).
Book your train tickets
Where to stay: The best place to stay is the Andhra Pradesh government resorts that are some three kilometres away from the main location of Gandikota.They charge a very nominal amount.
The quaint, little Chakrata is one of the army cantonment hill stations in India, which still retains the charm from original days when it was established by Colonel Hume and fellow officers, some 125 years ago.
Time seems to stand still in Chakrata’s narrow bazaar and its teashops, where groups of elderly paharis discuss the state of Indian politics over endless cups of sugary tea. Chakrata is ideal for those who want to do nothing more than relaxing in the mountain sunshine, or tackle one of the many treks around the area.
USP: The unspoilt Himalayan beauty and the lovely walks!
Getting there: Dehradun and Mussoorie are the two preferred spots for getting to Chakrata.
Where to stay: GMVN’s Snow View Hotel, Forest Rest House and Hotel Himalayan Paradise
The pretty Mandawa is a new star on the tourist map, all thanks to Bollywood blockbusters like PK and Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which were shot here. The place is famous for its forts and havelis and has become one of the most sought after offbeat destinations in Rajasthan.
Mandawa Fort is the most striking architectural piece of the place along with some of the popular havelis such as Goenka Double Haveli, Murmuria Haveli, and Jhunjhunwala Haveli. Next thing that you should not miss is the Thakurji Temple, not just because it is an amazing temple but also because of the murals depicting the soldiers being shot from the mouths of cannons reflecting on the Mutiny of 1857.
USP: For a date with the history, plan a trip to Mandawa.
Getting there: 250 km from Delhi, you can directly book a cab to Mandawa.
Where to stay: Castle Mandawa Hotel and Hotel Heritage Mandawa
Tiny Mawlynnong is cited as the model village of Meghalaya and the ‘cleanest village in India’.
Walking through the village, you’ll see well-tended garden paths, with cane basket bins placed along the way, houses with manicured gardens.
You can visit the living root bridge of Riwai village, a short, 10-minute hike away. Further ahead are Lyndew Falls and Nairiang Falls. Dawki (20 km) is the last village on the Indian side, along the Umngot River.
USP: Well, the title says it all– The Cleanest Village in India!
Getting there: Shillong’s Umroi Airport is the nearest one at a distance of 100 km.
Where to stay: Mawlynnong Guest House is an eco-tourism resort with Khasi-style huts.
Shoghi, Himachal Pradesh
Shoghi is an unassuming, roughly 2-km stretch whose highlights are the warm people and the natural beauty it is surrounded by. It is more than just an affordable, quiet alternative to Shimla, one of the most famous hill stations in Himachal Pradesh.
This is a temple country as well with temples like Tara Devi, Hanuman Temple, and a peaceful Kali Temple.
USP: It’s an ideal place to chill. Turn off your phone and listen to the forest.
Getting there: Nearest airport is Jubbarhatti Airport (37 km, 2 hours) and the nearest railhead is Kalka (75 km, around 3 hours).
Where to stay: Park Woods Forest Retreat and Sunrise Villa.
The name ‘Unakoti’ is a Bengali word, meaning one less than a crore. It is a Shaivite pilgrim spot full of ancient rock-cut sculptures and stone carvings. Apart from its religious significance, the place is also a tourist magnet because of its surrounding natural beauty with rolling mountains, lush greenery, and waterfalls.
The best time to visit Unakoti is from October to May when the town is flocked by millions of devotees who take part in the Ashokastami fair, the largest of its kind in the town.
USP: For all those who love exploring heritage sites with an aura of tranquility.
Getting there: 178 km from Agartala, 8 km from Kailashahar. The nearest railhead is Kumarghat, about 20 km away. You can get a cab or a state bus from there.
Where to stay: Unakoti Tourist Lodge and Hotel Nirmala
All these beautiful places are still unexplored, undiscovered and that is what adds to their charm. Visit them if you want some solitude and only your thoughts for the company.
About the author: Jigyasha loves to read and travel, in that order!
Photo courtesy: Official Facebook Page of Madhya Pradesh Tourism, Uttarakhand Tourism, Wikipedia users Atudu.