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2019 Top 10 India Series – Far from the madding crowd

Travelers within Indian destinations is increasing every year. You would inadvertently find huge crowds and cramped logistics unless you plan off hand or plan to be there in off season. Also, with almost all places seem to be captured by one or another, one rarely finds novel / untouched places in the Indian subcontinent.
Here is my list of places for 2019, which still find least crowds, are stunningly beautiful, not esoteric but travel worthy and provides you the bragging rights of “been there done that, before others…”. Go ahead, dive deep.

Lakshwadeep:

Why: Still, amongst India’s least visited places. Its turquoise waters and fine white sand compete with the best of beaches in this world. Made up of 36 islands but only 64,000 permanent citizens.

How to reach: flights and ships operate only from Kochi (Kerala) to Agatti and Bangaram Islands in Lakshwadeep.

Best time to go: October to February

Lakshwadeep (courtesy Magzter)

Tawang:

Why: Jewel of Tibetan culture, amidst the high eastern Himalayas. Boasts of the biggest Buddhist monastery in the world after Potala (Lhasa), and was ruled directly from Lhasa for most part of its history. The Dalai Lama fled to Tawang from persecution in Lhasa in 1959, after which India granted him political asylum.

How to reach: Can be only reached by road from Guwahati or Tezpur. Takes 2 days (with a night halt) to reach from Guwahati. You can fly to Guwahati from many parts of India. Citizens need an ILP (Inner Line Permit) first to visit.

Best time to go: March to June

Tawang
Tawang

Munsiyari

Why: Almost at the border of India and Nepal, provides the best views of awesome Central Himalayan peaks called Panchachuli (Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot, Trishul, Rajarambha etc.) and awe-inspiring glaciers like Namik and Milam. Perhaps the cleanest airs in whole of Uttarakhand!

How to reach: Road is the best option and connectivity is good right upto Delhi. The base town where all options congregate to go towards Munsiyari is Almora. Roads beyond Almora are just about OK. Almora to Munsiyari is 8-10 hours’ drive.

Nearest Railhead is Kathgodam, from where again it takes 10-11 hours to get to Munsiyari. Nearest Airport is Pantnagar (flights connect from Delhi). It again is 10-hour drive from Pantnagar.

Best time to go: March to June | September

Munsiyari
Munsiyari (courtesy: India Travel Places)

Spiti

Why: Heavenly landscapes (rather, Moonscapes), 12,000 feet and higher – clean air, thin air and the adrenaline rush of having done that. Least commercialization of a place that you will find in India

How to reach: Road is the best option and there are 2 main towns through which one can reach various part of Spiti Valley – Manali (Rohtang Pass to Kaza) and Simla (Sumdo to Kaza). Both routes are just navigable in terms of road conditions.

Nearest Railhead is Simla or Chandigarh from where again one would need to choose the road route. People coming thru Chandigarh tend to choose Manali, though it is a heavy traffic road. Our suggestion is Simla – Kinnaur – Nako – Sumdo – Kaza.

Best time to go: April to June

Spiti (devil on wheels)
Spiti (courtesy: Devil on Wheels)

Orchha

Why: Architecturally splendid Palaces and Temples, basked in the sunrise rays washed by the Betwa river, with miles of forests around. Travel 30 mins and you find yourself amidst the most erotic temples of Khajuraho which are world renowned. And yes, the food is awesome!

How to reach: Orchha is well connected by road from Delhi (480km) as well as Jhansi (18km) and Gwalior (120km). Nearest Railhead is Jhansi which is quite well connected to Indian cities. Khajuraho is the nearest airport and flights connect it to Delhi, Varanasi and other metros through hops.

Best time to go: November to February.

Orchha (courtesy: Intrepid)
Orchha (courtesy: Intrepid)

Champaner

Why: A UNESCO world heritage site, once the capital of the Chavda dynasty in Gujarat, this place is untouched. Earlier known as Mahmudabad (and it took 2 decades to build this city), it served as the capital of the region before it moved out to Ahmedabad. It was made famous by the Bollywood movie “Lagaan”.

How to reach: Champaner is best connected from Baroda (40km) – which in turn is very well connected to rest of India through air, road and rail. Ahmedabad may be the closest international airport and the one that connects most Indian metro cities. Champaner is 145km from Ahmedabad

Best time to go: November to February.

Champaner (courtesy: Goibibo)
Champaner (courtesy: Goibibo)

Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand

Why: You will perhaps not see a more beautiful valley, laden with flowers that lifts your spirits up and connects you to the divine. With mighty western Himalayas as its backdrop, there are as many as 520 species of flowers which boom here. A paradise for trekkers, photographers and also the spiritually inclined (Gurudwara Hemkund Saheb is just nearby)

How to reach: Nearest airport is Dehradun (295km) and nearest railhead is Rishikesh (276km). There on, it’s a drive of about 10 hours on the roads which will get you till Gobind Ghat (13km away). It is a walk / trek from Gobind Ghat all the way to the Valley. Base camp for the valley is a place called Ghangaria.

Valley of Flowers
Valley of Flowers

Yumthang, Sikkim

Why: Another valley of flowers, close to Tibet (North Sikkim) at 12,000 feet. Rich with Sulphur springs, Rhododendrons and a stunning set of mountains overflowing with snow, Yumthang is the jewel of east Himalayas, and secluded from the routine travelers. Stand there at the Zero point and see for yourself!

How to reach: Gangtok is the nearest airport (but most flights from India connect better to Bagdogra from where Gangtok is a 4-hour drive). Lachung is the base village from where one drives to Yumthang (as one can’t stay overnight in Yumthang). Gangtok to Lachung is a 4-hour drive (110km) and Lachung to Yumthang is 1more hour (25km).

Best time to go: March to June

Yumthang
Yumthang

Mandu

Why: An ode to romance (between King Baj Bahadur & Queen Roopmati), etched in splendid Afghan architecture, almost in the middle of nowhere in Central India. Almost a 1300-year-old city, it still comes alive with royal romance as you walk around the well preserved palaces, gateways, mosques and waterways.

How to reach: Indore is the gateway to Mandu (99km away). Indore has a well-connected airport and also a very well-connected railhead that branches to most cities in India. Even Ratlam (124 km away) is another major rail hub to reach Mandu. Indore to Mandu is a 90 mins drive on good roads.

Best time to go: November to February

Mandu
Mandu

Gurez Valley, Kashmir

Why: Because heaven on earth (atleast in India) has always been the Kashmir valley and Gurez is undoubtedly the most beautiful part of Indian administered Kashmir. Add to it the pristine Kishanganga river (it becomes Neelam when it crosses into Pakistan), and snow Leopards. While we do have some instability in Kashmir for the last few months, Gurez is untouched and very welcoming to travelers.

How to reach: Srinagar airport is the fastest way to land in Kashmir. From there, you can take a Chopper to Gurez or take the road (124Km) and will take you 6-8 hours with check posts and frisking on the way.

Best time to go: May to August

Gurez Valley
Gurez Valley

These undoubtedly are the best in India. If you get inspired to go see any / many of these, get in touch with us and we can help you plan better. Go ahead, dive in!

About the author

The author is a Marketing Management graduate. Currently lives in Bengaluru, India. He believes that his education and work have been kind enough to take him to many places in this country and to different parts of the world. He has been to almost all states of India and to as many as thirty five plus countries in the world. He loves traveling and cherishes the knowledge that these experiences bring. Besides, he is a voracious reader ,a movie buff, a music lover and a photography enthusiast. Get in touch with him at https://www.traveljaunts.in for any travel advice

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