What's more difficult than packing for a vacation? You guessed it right - deciding on the place to visit for one. With Instagram and Facebook, it anyway feels like you have travelled to all the popular destinations, several times over. So to help you beat your vacation-planning blues, we have compiled a list of 12 off-the-radar places that you can visit during your next break from work.
1. Mandawa, Rajasthan
The spectacularly colourful town called Mandawa is located in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan. The town dotted with old havelis is a treat for art lovers. Not only are the walls of these majestic buildings covered woth colourful paintings are murals, they cover a plethora of subjects. From political leaders to Hindu mythological figures, from miniature paintings to murals, you'll feel as if Mandawa was made for Instagram glory.
How To Reach: The closest airport to Mandawa is in Jaipur, 167 km away from the town. Mandawa can be accessed from the railway stations in Jhunjunu, Mukundgarh and even Loharu. You could also rent a car from Delhi or Jaipur and drive down to the town.
Where To Stay: There are a couple of high-end and also budget hotels in Mandawa.
2. Mawlynnong, Meghalaya
Dubbed as the cleanest village in Asia by Discover India Magazine, Mawlynnong is located in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya. A small village with around 50 households, Mawlynnong is nothing short of a village straight out of fairytales. The hamlet is perched on the hills and overlooks the plains of Bangladesh. They have just a handful of guesthouses and just one commercial eatery. However, people who have visited the place says all that is compensated by the view, the quiet and the lip-smacking chicken curry served at the eatery. And oh, don't forget to plan a trip to the living roots bridge that just a couple of kilometres ahead of the village.
How To Reach: The nearest airport is in Shillong. The best way to reach Mawlynnong is to drive down from Cherrapunji or Shillong. Public vehicles also run to this village.
Where To Stay: There are a handful of guest houses and homestays here but be sure to book well in advance.
3. Nako, Himachal Pradesh
Located in Kinnaur district of HImachal Pradesh, Nako is a place where you should head to escape the din of the city. If the breathtaking beauty is not enough, you can pay a visit to the Nako lake and the colourful monastery nearby. Oh, if due to city conditioning, boredom creeps in, you can pay quick visits to nearby Tabo and Kibber villages. If nothing else, there'll be herds of cuddly sheep waiting to greet you there.
How To Reach: The best way to reach Nako is from Reckong Peo. Take a bus from there. Although this place is never visited in isolation and as a part of a trail, you can always make an exception.
Where To Stay: There are quite a few budget hotels in Nako. Don't expect a luxurious stay and you won't be disappointed.
4. Vagamon, Kerala
Vagamon is located in Idukki, the largest but also the least populated district of Kerala. In fact, reaching Vagamon is an experience in itself- the views and sights will stay with you forever. The meandering roads will lead you to a land of foggy tea estates, sprawling green meadows. Vagamon is also home to some exquisite orchids.
How To Reach: The nearest airport to Vagamon is the Cochin International Airport. You could also take a train to one of the neighbouring railway stations and book a cab for the rest of the way. Kottayam is one of the major stations nearby.
Where To Stay: There are a good number of homestays and hotels in Vagamon.
5. Khonoma, Nagaland
Located around 20 km from the capital of Kohima, Khonoma is touted by many as the greenest village of India. Nearly 700 years old, this village lets you soak in rich Naga traditions and cuisine, during your stay. If acres of green and misty mountains get you going, plan your trip to Khonoma right now.
How To Reach: The nearest airport is in Dimapur. You could also spend a night at Kohima before heading out to Khonoma. The major railhead is in Kohima as well.
Where To Stay: There are a couple of hotels in and around Khonoma; advance bookings are suggested.
6. Devikulam, Tamil Nadu
The attraction of this tiny town is its 'sacred' lake. Located around 5 km from Munnar, Devikulam draws a major share of tourists because of the lake. Though locals believe it to be sacred, the water in the lake is said to be rich in minerals and has several curative properties. If you are visiting Munnar, a day trip to Devikulam shouldn't be missed at any cost.
How To Reach: You can take a train or a flight to Kochi or Kottayam. Hire a cab or take a bus from there to Devikulam.
Where To Stay: There are a number of mid-range to budget hotels in Devikulam.
7. Tarkarli, Maharashtra
Though it has managed to grab some attention in the recent times, Tarkali was not an usual choice for vacations till very recently. Located in the Sindhudurg district of the state, Tarkarli is popular for adventure sports like snorkelling, scuba diving, white water rafting. And if you are not the adventurous sort, you can still cool your eyes on the pristine beaches and sparkling blue waters.
How To Reach: The nearest railway station is the Kudal Railway Station. Tarkarli is easily accessible from Mumbai and Pune, and even Goa.
Where To Stay: There are a number of high-end to mid-range hotels in Tarkarli.
8. Kila Raipur, Punjab
Hosts of the annual Rural Olympics, Kila Raipur appears to be a village straight out of a work of historical fantasy fiction. Visit this place in February when the annual sports gala takes place and experience the thrill of unbelievable cart racing, kabaddi, tug of war and martial arts.
How To Reach and Where To Stay: The best way to access Kila Raipur is from Ludhiana.
9. Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh
Indie music lovers are familiar with the name Ziro. In fact, some of them swear by it. The Ziro music festival, which has drawn hundreds of people to the quaint northeastern town, is not its only attraction. Located at 1,500 metres above sea level and surrounded by mountains, getting drenched in the rain in Ziro is a memory you will want to cherish for years.
How To Reach: The nearest airport is in Tezpur and the nearest railway station is in North Lakhimpur, both in Assam. Buses and public vehicles from these places to Itanagar are easily available. Spend a night in Itanagar and proceed to Ziro from there.
Where To Stay: There are a couple of resorts and hotels in Ziro to choose from.
10. Champaner-Pavagadh, Gujarat
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Champaner-Pavagadh Archeological Site is a must-visit for history buffs. From palaces and ruins of gateways, to tombs and stepwells, this place is an architecture enthusiast's dream come true.
How To Reach: The nearest airport is in Vadodara. Although Champaner has a railway station, it is not well-connected. The Vadodara railway station would be a better option. Buses from Vadodara and Ahmedabad leave frequently for Champaner.
Where To Stay: There are numerous options in Champaner, catering to different budgets.
11. Talasari Beach, Odisha
If you are looking for a peaceful and clean beach to lie back on and watch the sun set, then head to Talasari Beach. It is also perfect for an early morning stroll. Unlike the crowded beaches of Goa, Talasari has coconut trees and serene villages nearby instead of fancy hotels.
How To Reach: The nearest railway station is 10 km away in Digha, West Bengal. The beach can be accessed from any of the towns nearby.
Where To Stay: There are a couple of resorts and hotels nearby.
12. Bundi, Rajasthan
A quintessential Rajasthani town, the main attractions of Bundi are its palaces and its stepwell. The lake, Nawal Sagar is the nucleus of the town.
How To Reach: The nearest airport is in Jaipur and the nearest railway station is in Kota. There are a couple of buses that head to Bundi. One could also drive down to the town.
Where To Stay: There are a couple of heritage and budget hotels in Bundi to choose from.
Although this list is not even scratching the tip of the iceberg, it is definitely a start.