The rat race in our lives is never going to get over. School, college, undergraduate, post-graduate, job; the list of these dreaded milestones is never-ending. But however difficult it may seem to be, don’t forget to enjoy the ride while you’re at it. These milestones are just stepping stone to success, nothing more, and nothing less. Life has a tendency to hit us right in the face from time to time. So before you set out to pursue your next milestone – that coveted institution, that dream job, sit back, relax, and breathe. This is probably the only time you’ll get time to spend with your friends before life gets the better of you. Because in this world, the struggle is real, so don’t forget to unwind before the real grind. Set those travel plans in motion, take that long-awaited trip, because the time is right, and the time is now. And what better way to do it, than to travel with your squad in these amazing off-beat places motherland has to offer.
Kasol, Himachal Pradesh
Nestled in between lush green treetops with the Parvati River gushing right besides it, Kasol is a tiny hamlet in the Parvati Valley. This little hippie paradise is every traveller’s delight be it trekkers, backpackers or nature lovers. Home to a lot of Israelis, this place has much to offer, Indians and non-Indians alike. An ideal place to relax and just be with carefree vibes, waterfalls and snow-clad mountain views, set your mind free in nature’s true high. Gurdwara Manikaran Sahib, a mere 20-minute drive from Kasol is popular for its hot springs, while the tiny village of Tosh, no matter how treacherous the roads offers scenic views of stunning mountain passes and lush green meadows gracing the backdrop. Start your hippie-trail right here, for it is going to be a time of your lives.
This ‘City of Lakes’ serves as an oasis to the otherwise rustic landscape of Rajasthan. Sometimes called as the ‘Venice of the East’, Udaipur is truly fascinating for all its royal prominence and magnificent architectural grandeur. One can feel the royalty in the air all around, be it in the splendour of its majestic City Palace or the impressiveness of its humongous Bagore Ki Haveli. Surrounded by the Aravalli Hills on all side, a tranquil boat-ride in the glittering Lake Pichola will set your mood just right, no matter what time of the day. Take a walk amongst the hustle-bustle of age-old bazaars, enjoying the arts, colour and music. Watching the whole city get lit up while the sun goes down, sunset scenes from the lakeside are stunningly impressive. Absorb all the rich culture and history of this monumental place in many of its heritage walk tours and while you’re at it let all that old Rajputana charm sink in.
Take Goa; minus the thronging crowds and the touristy commercialization, and you have Gokarna. A quaint little temple town situated on the western coast of India, Gokarna offers the perfect mix of sun, sand and the sea. Its pristine beaches offer a stark contrast to the otherwise pilgrim town. As one moves towards the seaside from the town centre, the landscape drastically changes, dotted with coconut and palm trees, winding walking trails and endless stretches of sand. Add to it the laid-back atmosphere and the ever so lip-smacking seafood dishes; this place is a slice of heaven. One can go temple hopping within the city to Mahabaleshwara Temple, Maha Ganapati Temple and then head out straight to Gokarna Beach, Om Beach, Kudle Beach or the lesser known Paradise Beach and Half-Moon Beach. Though not very conventionally touristy, with gaining popularity, Gokarna is on the path to become the next Goa, so head out before it loses its rustic charm. Chill on a beach-side shack with a beer in hand, hogging on that perfect seafood platter, experiencing the slow-paced life, this one of a kind place offers.
Fascinatingly, Alleppey or Alappuzha is also known as ‘Venice of the East’. Home to a vast network of inland waterways, canals and lagoons, these famous backwaters of Kerala is the perfect place to enjoy nature’s tranquillity. The tiny villages on the banks are fringed with toddy shops, canoes and fisheries and spanning across all of them are thousands of houseboats. Rent out a houseboat with a group of friends for a laidback ride amongst lush greenery all around and you’re all set for your perfect evening. The modern houseboat comes equipped with cozy living rooms, stylish interiors, a private kitchen and an uninhibited view of the entire expanse of the backwaters lined with coconut trees on both sides. Float lazily along its waterways, buy fish of your choice from one of the many local shops, get it cooked onboard the houseboat and enjoy a scrumptious meal sipping toddy while gazing over the rice and paddy fields, experiencing God’s Own Country in its prime.
Yumthang Valley, Sikkim
One might have heard of Nubra Valley in Ladakh or Spiti Valley in Kaza but have you ever heard of Yumthang Valley? That is because this place has not become mainstream, yet. Situated in North Sikkim at an altitude of 11,800 feet around 128 kms from Gangtok via Lachung, Yumthang Valley is popularly known as the ‘Valley of Flowers’.With its dense bed of various rhododendrons in full bloom during spring, which one can see for miles and the Teesta River serving as a backdrop, this place offers stunning views of vast snow-capped mountains. With its surreal scenic beauty showcasing a perfect blend of flora and fauna, it is a paradise for nature lovers. The best months to visit when the flowers are in full bloom are March-June, while if you are looking for snow September-January is the most ideal. Zero point at 15,000 feet, further up and around 25 kms from Yumthang, is covered with snow almost throughout the year and is certainly not to be missed.
Meghalaya’s ‘Jewel Crest’, Cherrapunjee is a place of untouched beauty and as refreshing as a place can get. It is home to several waterfalls, extensive caves and numerous living root bridges, complimented by a climate, which remains extremely pleasant all year round. It once held a reputation as the wettest place in India, to be replaced by Mawsynram, 16 km away from Cherrapunjee. Strolling around in this evergreen misty landscape is like taking a walk amidst the clouds. A trek to the double-decker living root bridge, the stalagmoite and stalactite formations at Mawsmai Caves and the stunning view Nohkalikai Falls are few of the experiences worth relishing, frequented by travelers from all walks of life. You’ve to see it to believe it. Charming in its own way, it is good to visit all throughout the year.
Are you ready to take a walk amidst the clouds yet?
A confluence of yoga, meditation and adventure sports, Rishikesh serves as a perfect destination combining the best of both worlds. Situated on the Himalayan foothill on the banks of the holy Ganges, this place puts the sense in serene. Unleash the adrenaline junkie in you by taking out your raft into the water and get ready to battle the onslaught of the incoming rapids, while you twist and turn, heave-ho against the cold icy water. You can just stay put on your raft, or take a dip in the water because anyhow you’re going to get fully drenched. If you’re still not satisfied with just river rafting, there’s a lot to this adventure capital of India. Go bungee jumping at the country’s highest bungee or kayaking or even cliff jumping, the crazy adventures awaits you. End your day on a relaxing note with riverside camping and bonfire and you’re all set to head back with loads of memories.
Just to quote Christopher McCandless from Into The Wild “Happiness is only real when shared”, what’s stopping you from taking these epic trips with your closest friends and turn them into an adventure of a lifetime. Head out, venture into the unknown, explore the unexplored because YOLO and so does your friends. 🙂
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