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Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to explore our country in all its glory! It’s time to explore India like never before.
1. Neil Islands, Andaman
Aah Neil! Just the thought of this white sand beauty fills me with longing. While its neighbour Havelock gets all the attention, Neil Islands is just as gorgeous! Some of India’s most beautiful coral reefs are located here, giving ample opportunity for scuba, snorkeling and just lazing around. Try a basic scuba diving course from Dive India. It’s just four days and is exhilarating. The days are quite warm but the evenings cool down to below 18 degrees Celsius with a light breeze.
Where to Eat: I wish I could recommend one restaurant but it’s the tiny, local joints that are truly wonderful. We love Nandini’s which serves the most delicious mango milkshake. There’s Smriti Restaurant that serves grilled white snapper tediously steamed in palm leaves and it’s something you just can’t miss.
Travel Cost: Round trip air fare: INR 18,500 per head (Fly via Chennai for cheaper airfares)
2. Masinagudi, Tamil Nadu
Plonk yourself right in the middle of lush rainforests and enjoy nature the way it should be experienced. If you’d like to detox from everything and everyone around you, the lesser known Masinagudi is where you should be doing it. Visit the Nilgiri Tea plantations, plan a day trip to Ooty, soak in some spirituality at Gopalswami Betta, a hill with a historic temple at its peak. Alternatively, just lay back and relax!
What to Eat: Masinagudi is home to sweet aromas and distinct flavours. There are both veg and non-veg options for all to explore. Famed for it’s South Indian foods, the appam and chicken stew is something you cannot afford to miss. There’s also an option of vegetable stew. My personal favourite is avail which is a mixed vegetable gravy in curd.
Travel Cost: Round trip air fare: INR 8,500 per head
Also Read: Six Best Yoga Retreats In India
3. Khajjiar, Himachal Pradesh
The mini Switzerland of India, Khajjiar is everything you’ve dreamed of at half the price! Think Instagram pictures for a month, at least 5 new profile pictures and a bag full of memories. If we had to use one word to describe Khajjiar, we would call it ‘picturesque’. The Khajjiar Lake & Ground has been made iconic in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. It looks like a floating island and is an absolute must visit. Don’t forget to get a glimpse of Mount Kailash.
What to Eat: A nice hot bowl of noodle soup! That’s what you should eat here. The food options are relatively limited here but the bigger restaurants serve more variety.
Travel Cost: Round trip air fare: INR 19,500 per head
Also Read: Sleep Under The Stars in Switzerland
4. Gangtok, Sikkim
Gangtok is perfectly situated in between statuesque mountains, paddy fields and orange orchards. Home to the beautiful rhododendron flower, Sikkim celebrates beauty. If you’re a lover of everything beautiful, you can’t miss the International Flower Festival in Gangtok. It showcases all the splendor of Sikkim in one place.
What to Eat: If you think Khajjiar had limited meal options, Gangtok has more than enough to compensate. Momos, Thukpa, Wonton, Gyathuk, Thenthuk, Shah-Phaley, authentic soups. Don’t forget to try Chang – a local, alcoholic beverage. Sikkim also serves Tibetan and Indo-Chinese cuisines. There’s also fermented Soybean and pork fry which is absolutely delicious.
Travel Cost: Round trip air fare: INR 20,000 per head
5. Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh
The land of the rising sun people, Tawang is nature’s allowance of everything good and right. Tawang is endless beauty, seamlessly wrapped into one tiny place. Situated 10,000 feet high above Mean Sea Level and surrounded by lakes, this beautiful location is a feast for your senses. There are loads of places to check out including Sela Pass, the beautiful Tawang Monastery, Taktsang Gompa, Gorichen Peak, Shonga-tser Lake and the mesmerizing Nuranang Waterfalls.
What to Eat: You will find plenty of momos and thukpa in Tawang but that’s not to say that Tawang does not have its own authentic dishes. Do try out the authentic dishes of Tawang like Zan, Khura and Gyapa Khazi. Our sincere advice to you is to pick the local joints and avoid the more established restaurants.
Travel Cost: Round trip air fare: INR 15,000 per head
6. Puri, Orrisa
Celebrate your spiritual side at the famous Jagannath Mandir. Visited by devotees in the dozens Puri is a major fulcrum of pilgrimage in India. However, spirituality is not the only thing to celebrate here. The city is famous for its moderate climate, architectural grandeur, historic antiquities and seascape beauty. The stretch of beach is more suitable for a long walk than a swim.
What to Eat: If you have a sweet tooth, then you have to try the chhena poda. It’s like a cross between a cheesecake and a flan and is absolutely delicious. Fish is an integral part of the Odisha diet so you can’t leave without tasting the yummy Crab Kalia and the Machcha Ghanta. Treat yourself to other fun desserts like the authentic Rasagulla, Rasmalai, Khirmohan, Rasabali and Kalakand.
Travel Cost: Round trip air fare: INR 5,000 per head
7. Sandakphu, Darjeeling
A peek of the peaks – that’s what Sandakphu is. A wonderland for trekkers, this one is for the adventure junkies. With climate ranging between 9-12 degrees, to say that your stay here would be pleasant is an understatement. Much like Gangtok, Sandakphu is home to a million blossoming rhododendrons that make the landscape gorgeous. Trek up to the highest peak and enjoy a panoramic view of the Himalayas. Prepare to witness 4 of the 5 highest peaks in the world.
What to Eat: There’s Bengali, Naga, Tibetan and Chinese cuisine but as you go higher into the mountains your meals may be limited to steaming bowls of Maggi noodles. Believe me when I say that you would never have tasted as many variations of Maggi as in Sandakphu.
Travel Cost: Round trip air fare: INR 10,000 per head
8. Lansdowne, Uttarakhand
A beautiful hill station, Lansdowne is blessed with salubrious weather. It is probably one of the few unspoilt areas of India. Away from the tourist gaze, this is exactly where you need to go to unwind. While it may be remote, it is well-connected with motorable roads. Surrounded by blue pine forests and thick oaks, Lansdowne is almost like a sanctuary. The lace is named after the then Viceroy, Lord Landsowne and has mesmerising Himalayan views. There’s plenty of British architecture and the city borders on quaint.
What to Eat: There’s a lot of choices in Lansdown from continental to Garhwarli. The most delicious and convenient options for food would be the hotels, lodges and resorts, since there aren’t too many restaurants here. Some of the local cuisine to try out would include Bhaang Ki Khatai, Kappa (a green curry), Sisunak Saag, Aloo ke Gutke and more.
Travel Cost: Round trip air fare: INR 16,000 per head
Also Read: Holiday Without An Agenda? Head to Lansdowne
9. Pachmarhi, Madhya Pradesh
Pachmarhi, popularly known as Satpura ki Rani is embellished by nature in the truest sense. Located in the Satpura range, there’s an ancient legend that the Pandava brothers visited Pachmarhi during their exile. We’re just suggesting a holiday! A treasure indeed, this hill station is the perfect way to beat the heat. It has beautiful Buddhist caves and gorgeous waterfalls. There’s also the Satpura National Park which makes for the perfect family excursion.
What to Eat: If you’re a fan of Gujarati and Mahrashtrian cuisine, then you’ve hit a jackpot. Pachmarhi specializes in Jain food. For those who aren’t fans of either cuisine, don’t worry. The hill station serves Chinese, Continental and Indian dishes as well.
Travel Cost: Round trip air fare: INR 7,500 per head
10. Kalimpong, West Bengal
Kalimpong is an excellent location to base your vacation in North Bengal. You can make day trips to several scenic spots including Lava, Loleygaon, Rishyap, Pedong and Rikkisum. The beauty about Kalimpong is that it even connects to Darjeeling, Mirik, Kurseong and Gangtok so it sort of makes it an ideal spot to set base.
What to Eat: Most tourists prefer the in-house dining options in their Kalimpong hotels. Bengali, Tibetan and Chinese cuisine dominate the food scene in Kalimpong with the popular items being Momos, Thukpa and Churpee (cheese made from yak’s milk). We do recommend the Paris Kalimpong Bakery which makes excellent eclairs, baguettes, quiches cheese brioches and cakes,. plus coffee.
Travel Cost: Round trip air fare: INR 20,000 per head
We’ve given you all the scoop. Now you need to tell us your next holiday destination.