Silence is one of the most fearsome yet alluring things. I seek it all the more when I travel since Delhi is abuzz 24 hours a day. While some love its fast pace, crowd and a skyline that is rapidly filling with skyscrapers, I don’t. Thus, I travel, in search of calm. If you too are searching for places to reconnect with nature or yourself, these are my pick for some of the most solitary and largely offbeat places in India.
- Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh
Kinnaur lies in the state of Himachal Pradesh and has the more famous Spiti Valley for its closest competitor. While a majority favours Spiti over Kinnaur, I’ll stick to the latter. Unlike Spiti which is a cold desert, Kinnaur is lush green. It’s a land of waterfalls, gregarious rivers, gaping cliffs and the always smashing Himalayas. Visit it around monsoons and you will have a waterfall on almost every road turn though roads take quite a beating around then. Some of the major pitstops in Kinnaur are Reckong Peo, Sangla, Chitkul (the last Indian village in Himachal; it borders Tibet), Kalpa and Nako. And take my word when I say that Kalpa is stunning; this sliver of a place has the majestic Kinnaur Kailash mountain range for its horizon. I have not been to a place in India that is this beautiful; and solitary.
2. Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir
This one needs no introduction. It has world’s most stunning landscapes, layers and layers of the Himalayas and folks who are simpler than the word ‘simple’. While Leh has become quite touristy now, specially during the summer months, there is a lot more for anyone chasing calm. Consider heading off to Hunder, Alchi or Turtuk and you will see a Ladakh that very few people frequent. The more ardent ones can also stay/work/volunteer at one of the many Buddhist monasteries in Ladakh. Ladakh in winters is, again, an idea that does not lure many but has a quite some charm for anyone eager to avoid crowd. Though it gets cold, enough to make you numb, even with the glaring Sun, Ladakh under a snow cover is surreal. You would love yourself for doing this.
3. Kumarakom, Kerala
Kumarakom basks in its own glory while Alleppey, its more famous neighborhood, reels under touristy glare. Both the places are home to the very stunning backwaters of Kerala but it is Kumarakom that is more like an oasis that a very few people see. Known, largely, for its uber-luxurious spas and resorts like Zuri, Kumarakom has a lot more. Some quaint cafes, houseboats and ferries to roam around, lesser people on the backwaters and paddy fields right by the backwaters. Stay at one of the homestays run by the fishermen and local folks by the side of backwaters and you will know what makes living slow so interesting.
4. Dzongu, Sikkim
A village perched around a cliffside by River Teesta in Sikkim, Dzongu is my piece of heaven on the Earth. Home to Lepcha tribe who would open doors to their home for you at 4 in the morning, this is a place where you can fall in love with yourself, with anyone. As Teesta gushes fast by its side, rope bridges swaying with the wind, you can sit and listen to prayer bells from a tiny monastery that lies in the upper village. Evenings at this offbeat place in India are best spent huddled around bonfires with a tumbler full of Chi, the homemade millet beer. With some luck, you will catch an uninterrupted view of the very glorious Mt Kanchendzonga, world’s third highest mountain peak.
5. Dawki, Meghalaya
Another magical place, Dawki in Meghalaya is just 2 km from Bangladesh’s border with India. A place more known for its limestone and coal quarries, it is as idyllic as you can imagine. Umngot river at this village is startlingly green, emerald green in colour. Its first sight might make you go giddy with delight, such is the splendor. You can see river’s bottom with a clarity that is surprising. A short drive from Shillong, Meghalaya’s capital, this place offers nothing other than pure bliss. Spend days watching boats, fleeting on the rather calm waters of the river here.
I’m putting together more places in this series of the most solitary and offbeat places in India. Do leave a comment if you have an idea that fits the bill. And don’t forget to share if you liked what you read here.
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