Offbeat Escapes for 2014 Long Weekends!

2014 brims with a whole number of long weekends. Remember all the festivals that fall on a Monday this year? So, if you are not into too much revelry and are waiting to hit the roads, ixigo will tell you where to go. Places so quaint and offbeat that all the long weekends in 2014 will be eagerly awaited for.

 

No matter which region of India you are craving to explore, here are plenty of options for you. Choose wisely, choose many! 

 

North India

 

Binsar, Uttarakhand

Photo Courtesy – sporadic

Wildly growing pines, wooden cottages with smoke swirling out of chimneys, orange(r) sunsets, valleys that comes alive with rhododendrons, the only colour that you will see here is green. Away from the hustle of towns that are some kilometers away at the nearest, Binsar (also Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary) is a world lost unto itself. Imagine yourself watching a sun rising over the Himalayas, curled up around a bonfire, saying to yourself, “Happy Weekend.”

 

How to get there?

 

At 9.5 hours drive away from Delhi (closest airport to it), Binsar has Almora for its closest town. Your best bet is to drive down or take a train to Kathgodam Railway Station and then hop aboard a taxi for a 4 hour drive to Binsar.

The place has some resorts and cottages that also offer meals (which you would not get around considering it’s a wildlife area).

 

Nagini, Himachal Pradesh

Photo Courtesy – Koshy Koshy

There is little or no crowd here. Mostly solitude lovers, photographers and people into fly fishing make for the crowd at Nagini, Tirthan valley. So, you can rest all your fears of water balloons and all the hullabaloo. Trek up to Baggi and Chehni Kothi, an old stone tower that is surrounded by little wood and stone houses. Also, a trip to Jalori Pass will have you poring over snow clad mountains and the Serolsar lake. It’s life, as far as it can be from its madder version.

 

How to get there?

 

A 9 hour drive from Chandigarh, driving is your best bet. Or take a flight to Bhuntar Airport. The Himalayan Trout House is the most recommended stay option here.

 

Raison, Himachal Pradesh

Photo Courtesy – Sanyam Bahga

While Kullu and Manali, Raison‘s two neighbours go mad in tourists’ cacophony, it steers clear of the buzz. A little settlement, it’s down a dirt road some 12 km from Kullu. River Beas throws in a generous blue in the snowy white for a very different mix of colours. Mountain biking, white water rafting, a chit chat with the villagers over a cup of chai; Bijli Mahadev Temple and Naggar Mahal are worth a visit. Plus, a promise of the  most enchanting views of Parvati Valley.

 

How to get there?

 

Buses from Delhi and Chandigarh ply regularly. After that, taking a cab to reach Raison is advisable. Closest railheads are at Kullu, Ambala and Chandigarh. You can look for a homestay there, or else, there is the much loved resort, Neeralaya, for a comfortable stay.

 

West India

 

Alibaug, Maharashtra

Photo Courtesy – Rakesh Ayilliath

Okay, there is nothing to do here. But then, Mumbai that is a stone’s throw away (a 2 hour drive) has so much to do that you’ll soon find yourself running from it. Alibaug is for the lazy souls, who are quite happy with sleeping in a hammock by the beach, reading, enjoying a coffee at one of the many cafes here, a game of volleyball or making sand castles (my pick). With three days in your hand, a short trip to Kihim, Mandwa and Nagao is like a complimentary treat.

 

Gir National Park, Gujarat

Photo Courtesy – Falense

If you are in Gujarat and gunning for a weekend vacation, Gir National Park is for you. Take the hat and camera out, book yourself a safari, do some lion trailing and call it a day at the Gir Jungle Lodge. With Swiss tents and AC Bungalows thrown in amidst mango orchards and (of course) lions, stay holed up here for the whole weekend. You’ll have an enviable flickr album by this trip’s end.

 

How to get there?

 

Almost every city in Gujarat has GSRTC buses for Gir. Alternatively, you can also take one of the private run volvos. Booking a safari as well as stay can be easily done over the internet.

 

Goa Spice Plantations

Photo Courtesy – Alexander Klink

Goa isn’t all about partying and the mad frenzy of people. If you have often found yourself searching for a solitary corner at Goa, this is for you. Mainly clustered around Ponda and Panaji, spice plantations in Goa are an ideal treat. More than just sniffing in the various spices and visiting the farms, you can play with the elephants, give them a bath, or let them squirt water at you. Book yourself a homestay at one of the Goan homes here, gorge over Konkan cuisine, bask in the spices’ aroma and relax; you have three days for this weekend!

 

How to get there?

 

Drive to Goa from Mumbai for one of the most scenic rides in India or take a flight to the Goa International Airport. Enquire for homestays at any of the spice plantations and you’ll have plenty to choose from.

 

South India

 

Kudremukh, Karnataka

Photo Courtesy – Nilesh Thakur

A perfect getaway if you are anyway near Bangalore, Kudremukh is your introduction to a time warp. Cut off from its more touristy neighbours that include Coorg and Shimoga, Kudremukh is again a perfect hit for a longer weekend. Home to some of the most enticing waterfalls, this place is a free treat from nature. Thrown in rafting for the ones who wish to hit it out, Kudremukh is a place to enjoy by oneself. Not a difficult task, knowing that running into another person is kind of tough here. Sparse population you see.

 

How to get there?

 

Bengaluru is an 8 hour drive from here. You can also take a train or flight to Mangalore (97 km). There are a number of decent stay options here, including resorts, homestays and a budget inn too.

 

Dindi, Andhra Pradesh

Photo Courtesy – Kotikalapudi S V D Prasad

The very enticing Papikondalu range makes for much of the horizon at Dindi village. Life is surprisingly slow at Dindi, and you will realise that on your way back from Purushotapatnam (3 hour drive from Dindi). A slow cruise on the clear waters of river Godavari awaits you here. Take photographs, do some painting, fall asleep on a boat, or just sit watching the Papi hills and gulmohar trees rushing by you in slow motion. Island hopping and waterfalls are the only distraction.

 

How to get there?

 

You can drive down to Dindi from Rajahmundry that has an airport for the easiest way to reach here. There is a government resort and a few other stay options here.

 

Lakshadweep

Photo Courtesy – Thejas

Okay, that name needs no introduction. So I’ll straightaway ask you to choose from any of the 36 islands here and settle in for a good time. If you want something more than sleeping in the hammock time, explore around to know of all the tales that connect Lakshadweep to the jataka tales. Or else, go scuba diving for a lesson or two on the ecological system of the very Nat Geoish corals that are found here.

 

How to get there?

 

Take a flight to Agatti Aerodrome to reach Lakshadweep. Make a dash to book your tickets or you might as well settle for a ship ride from Kochi.

East India

 

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Photo Courtesy – Brendel

If you haven’t vacationed at the Andamans yet, do it now. A long weekend is the best bet (that too in March) to go beach hopping. You are surely in for a more than great time if sea food gets you slurping. Other than the power naps, diving, and book reading session by the beach, a sunset from Ross Island is a must. The fascinating marine life here makes for a very colourful experience (I’m talking of what won’t land in your plate)!

 

How to get there?

 

You can take a flight to Port Blair, or get aboard a ship from Kolkata, Chennai or Vishakhapatnam. You’ll find ample of stay options, catering to all sort of budget requirements, at Andamans and Port Blair.

 

Gopalpur, Orissa

Photo Courtesy – Bernard Gagnon

Do not tell of this one to many people, for even the troopers from Kolkata are yet to discover it. A beach town, Gopalpur has colourful boats, the old lighthouse, the Olivey Ridley turtles’ nesting ground at Puranabhanda, sulphur springs at Taptapani, Padamsambhava Monastery (!) and so much more that you will fall in love with exploring it. Booking a cab for all these little sojourns is imperative since you cannot do all the walking around. You might come back wishing for an even longer weekend.

 

How to get there?

 

Bhubaneshwar is just 174 km from Gopalpur, making for a two hour drive. Alternatively, you can take a train to Brahmapur or a flight to Bhubaneshwar Airport. There are many beach resorts catering to every budget here.

 

Darjeeling, West Bengal

Photo Courtesy – Darkone

Darjeeling has a charm that never gets lifted. Even if you have visited it before. There’s nothing that can beat the sight of that train chugging its way from between the crowd, actually. Lose yourself, yet again, to the rolling greens and the most amazing sunsets at Darjeeling and hours of uninterrupted, leisurely strolls. This Himalayan town is never going to disappoint you.

 

How to get there?

 

You can either take a flight to Bagdogra (90 km) or find yourself a seat on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (88 km) from Jalpaiguri (my pick). A huge number of hotels can be chosen from.

 

Northeast India

 

Dzongu, Sikkim

Photo Courtesy – Nichalp

First tip, book yourself a homestay at Dzongu, for there is no hotel here. A tiny piece of land in the Himalayas, cut off from the rest of the world, it’s home to the lepchas, a closely knit community fighting to sustain on eco tourism and preserve its culture. Dzongu is a dreamy destination with a few souls and a whole lot of nature around. The gurgling river that flows by its side and the treacherous cliffs will have you falling in love.

 

How to get there?

 

You can either take a flight to Bagdogra or a train to Jalpaiguri. Rest of the journey takes around 4 hours and a cab. As I have written above, homestays with some of the most friendly, generous folks for company awaits you here.

 

Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh 

Photo Courtesy – Soumyanath

India’s Scotland, Tawang is for the most ardent lovers of nature and culture. Take a lesson in Buddhism, practice meditation, go on long hikes, or simply play a game of football with the kids here. There’s nothing run of the mill to do here. Jang Waterfall and Tawang Monastery are sights good enough to go on picture postcards. Make sure you too are in the frame. Spend one (or more) weekends here to find the whole of Sela Pass covered in snow!  

 

How to get there? 

 

You can take a direct flight to Tawang or drive down the road from Tezpur or Guwahati. There are a good number of hotels and homestays that you can choose from. 

 

Khonoma village, Nagaland

Photo Courtesy – Jim Ankan Deka

At some 20 km from Kohima, Khonoma village is a secret that I’ve kept tucked away in my journal for long. While the journey on the not so good roads is quite scenic, this village is a gorgeous place to be at. Little, wooden houses are lined on the mountain slopes, with folks that arduously work for wildlife conservation. A visit to the Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary is a must. 

 

How to get there? 

 

You can either take a flight to Dimapur (74 km) or a bus from Imphal, Guwahati or Dimapur. There on, you need to take a cab to Kohima and Khonoma village. Plenty of homestays can be found at Khonoma. You can also stay at Kohima that has some good hotels as well. 

 

My tip, call it a sick day on Friday and you’ll have a four day weekend. Plus, do not let your bosses read it. 

 

About the Author

Shikha Gautam loves to play with steering wheels, roads, words, flute and guitar among other things. Not necessarily in that order! You can contact her on twitter @ShikhaGautam