For us Indians, winter is the time to pack our bags and head out to see some of the many beautiful destinations in our country. The cold weather and grey environs of urban life drive Indian families to a variety of exotic and colourful getaways during this season as the cooler weather makes travelling less tiresome and begs us to take long walks to explore a new city, town, beach, forest, mountain, or island. We are blessed to live in a country like India which has an expansive variety of destinations to satisfy the wanderlust of every kind of tourist.
Here are 10 of the best getaways for the winter traveller:
The second largest city in Rajasthan, Jodhpur—popularly known as the Blue City—has towering fortresses looking upon a city bathed in various vivid shades of blue. Surrounded by forts, dotted by different palaces and temples, bursting with bustling markets full of inviting smells and sounds — there is something to delight everyone in this wonderful city.
Important attractions: Mehrangarh Fort, Khejarla Fort, Umaid Bhawan Palace, Moti Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, Phool Mahal, Sadar Bazar, Ghanta Ghar
Close to the Thar Desert and located in western Rajasthan, Jaisalmer looks upon a magnificent landscape of unforgiving sand dunes and natural splendour. Its Jaisalmer Fort is not just a tourist attraction but also contains a bazar, hotels, and ancient homes where descendants of the original inhabitants still lead their colourful lives.
Important attractions: Jaisalmer Fort, Jaisalmer Government Museum, Mandir Palace, Gadisar Lake, Jain temples, Wood Fossil Park, Desert National Park
A UNESCO World Heritage Site situated in east-central Karnataka, Hampi was the capital of the Vijayanagar Empire and is home to the dauntingly beautiful and scientifically sound architecture that still speak volumes of the era’s aesthetic brilliance. It also contains rock edicts from the era of Ashoka from 3 rd Century BCE and temples from 7th Century AD. An ancient pilgrimage spot, the area contains monuments and temples from across the vagaries of time.
Important attractions: Vithala Temple complex, Matanga Hill, Virupaksha Temple, Elephant stables, Daroji Bear Sanctuary, Sanapur Lake, Queen’s Bath
Goa is famous for its natural beauty and relaxed lifestyle. Beach parties and incredible food are major draws, but Goa has some amazing historical and cultural landmarks as well. Beautiful old churches and forts displaying a fusion of Indian and Portuguese architecture, the nearby Bondla Sanctuary, and museums can keep you occupied during the day before you start partying in the evenings.
Important attractions: Dudhsagar Falls, Fort Aguada, Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Museum of Christian Art, Basilica of Bom Jesus, Agonda Beach, Bogmalo Beach
This quaint town in the northern part of Karnataka lies within the Western Ghats. It is home to the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary, where, if you are fortunate, can spot tigers, leopards, black panthers, elephants, gaurs, deer, antelopes, and bears. It is also an adventure sports destination, being one of the few spots for white-water rafting in South India.
Important attractions: Dandeli Appa Temple, Sintheri Rocks formation, Kavla caves, Sykes Point, Supa Hydroelectric dam, Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary, Anashi National Park
Thattekad is a picturesque destination, a flat forest that’s home to the famous Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary and is one of the best destinations for birding in India with over 500 species of land and water birds residing there. The scenic beauty of the landscape and the incredible diversity in flora and fauna make this a perfect offbeat destination for nature and bird lovers.
Important attractions: Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Nadukani, Bhoothathankettu, Malayattoor, Kodanad, Kalady, Wellington Island, Bolgatty, Mattancherry
Once a private hunting area for the British, Kabini is a famous wildlife destination with a rich variety of flora and fauna that make it a gorgeous tourist spot. The Nagarhole National Park provides tourists with jungle and elephant safaris, as well as options for boating on the lake (Kabini backwaters) created by the Kabini dam. The town has a small market where tourists can shop tribal handicrafts made by locals.
Important attractions: Nagarhole National Park, Kabini River, Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Banasura Sagar Dam, Kutta, Rameshwara Temple, Lakshmana Tirtha River
An island that resembles a tortoise in shape, the erstwhile princely state is home to vast expanses of the white salt desert in the Rann of Kutch. The pure-white landscape’s surreal beauty has to be seen to be believed. Kutch is also home to a flamingo sanctuary (Kutch Desert Sanctuary) and the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, and is close to some stunningly beautiful beaches nearby — at Mandvi.
Important attractions: Rann of Kutch, Kala Dungar, Koteshwar Mahadev Temple, Siyot Caves, Tera Fort, Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, Chhari Dhand, Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary
Andaman & Nicobar Islands
The azure sea and golden sands of the pristine islands offer an incredible getaway for Indians looking forward to visiting a beautiful beach and escape the pressures of modern life. Located in the Bay of Bengal, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are scenic destination spots with beaches, dense forests, and adventurous water sports options for tourists.
Important attractions: Radhanagar Beach, Cellular Jail, Jolly Buoy Island, Ross Island, Elephant Beach, Makruzz, Chidiya Tapu, Samudrika Marine Museum, Corbyn’s Cove
Situated at a commanding height of over 6000 ft above sea level, Manali is one of India’s most popular, beautiful, and awe-inspiring hill stations. Surrounded by majestic mountain ranges, beautiful forests, and the pristine River Beas, Manali offers tourists a stunning vista of the mighty Himalayas. This is an ideal place for families to have a wonderful and rejuvenating holiday, with adventure sports and temples rounding out a complete holiday destination catering to people of all ages.
Important attractions: Solang Valley, Rohtang Pass, Hadimba Temple, Vashisht Baths, Manikaran Gurudwara, The Great Himalayan National Park, Hampta Pass
The writer is the co-founder & CEO at Toehold