commercial tourism, pure and unexplored. And while these offbeat destinations are pure bliss, there’s also a catch – Offbeat getaways will change the way you look at travel. Let me say it in the very beginning that this is not for everyone.
These Himalayan Getaways will open your mind and leave you spellbound but you will have to give in to a certain amount of uncertainty in plans, deal with not-so-perfect road situations, and you might have to settle for something that’s less than a five star hotel comfort. But if you are an adventure addict, and if you are ready to spend time travelling and exploring out of your comfort zone – you will fall in love with offbeat travel.
Highly under rated and extremely beautiful. This is a place in Garwal Himalayas that wasn’t even open to civilians till a few years back. About 2 hour drive from Mussorrie, Chakrata is a small town which is the very definition of quaint and pretty. Check out the Tiger falls, hike along the trails of the surrounding mountains, or just walk on the winding cobbled roads covered in mist – and spend a weekend of complete serenity here. I stayed at the Himalayan Eco Lodges & Camps at Viraatkhai near Chakrata, a company that I totally love, and it remains one of my favorite offbeat getaways. The camp location is beautiful and accommodation is cozy. Food is fresh and staff is amazing, and I particularly love the fact that they employ local staff. They also arrange Rafting trips on Yamuna and hikes etc and if you go there, definitely ask them to arrange a Day Picnic for you – they do an amazing job at it and trust me, even though it might sound a little childish to some, a day picnic between snow clad mountain peaks is so cool that you’ll recommend it to people once you’re back in civilizations, like I am doing right now.
|I’m in love with the views! Himalayan Eco Lodges & Camps, Chakrata.|
2. Landore Cantt.
Any talk about Himalayan Getaways is never complete without the mention of this quaint little place! Just above Mussoorie, Landour Cantt is said to be one of the most beautiful towns in developed Himalayas. This too, is easily reachable by road, though the drive is steep and pretty narrow at time. Char Dukaan in Landour is popular, and pancakes here are a delight. But don’t stop here, go ahead. We stayed in the amazing Rokeby Manor, and you should definitely give it a try. You can read about my Rokeby Manor experience here in details. In brief, it is an Offbeat heaven! Walk to Laal Tibba and spend time in the old church from the British era. Hike till the
Sister’s market and oh, go check out Sanjay Narang’s Out-Of-This-World properties all along the way. Landour is also famous as Sachin Tendulakar’s winter time Himalayan Getaways holiday destination because this is where the God of Cricket spends a couple of weeks every year without fail. He used to stay at Rokeby till a few years back, but now stays at another one of the Rokeby owner – Sanjay Narang’s other property which we did check out because – husband is a huge Sachin fan like everyone else. If you are one too, go check it out and take selfies with Sachin’s winter holiday spot’s tall walls or it’s pretty scary looking alarm-door. Or go there in Winter time because locals say they see Sachin walking along the beautiful narrow roads when he’s here. But don’t stalk him. Stalking reminds me – Ruskin Bond also lives about 4 km before Rokeby Manor and I know we love him and all that, but don’t be a bloody psycho and go knocking on his door. Do not stalk. Just don’t. Have a good weekend.
|Back yard of the Rokeby Manor.|
3. Rajaji National Park.
This has just been declared a national site and this is why you have to check it out before it becomes yet another commercialized wildlife spot like Corbett. This is just between Haridwar and Rishikesh, is also known as Chilla, and is completely magical. We stayed at the Forest guest rooms and there are some really cool Garwal Mandal Guesthouses too, which are Pine wood huts with posh interiors etc right next to a canal. Definitely go for the Forest Safari were you can spot one of the 12 tigers of Rajaji or at least one of the several leopards, see elephants in their natural habitat and loads of other animals. I saw a dancing peacock here for the first time, and a huge at least 6 feet tall back Sambar (which is huge male deer of the Indian Subcontinent, with antlers like those of Harry Potter’s patronus). It was super cool. We were a group of 10 to 12 people and we did some pretty cool stuff like eating choley bahture and cheese sandwich with yummy lemon tea at the dhabha right in front of the national park gates. In the evening, we arranged for barbecues and karaoke nights and guitar playing sessions – and it was one of the best weekends of my life. Best part was when we decided to step out of our guestrooms at midnight for a look around, we found about 15 deer grazing right in front of us, at not more than 5 feet away, and before we could even process the sight in front of us, the trees came alive with bird calls and other animal sounds and the deer all stood still and alert – the animal calls were indicating an approaching predator. I got goose bumps, witnessing all this, and as we rushed inside our rooms again, we were overwhelmed by nature. Seriously, go here once. You can tie up with GIO Adventures for this trip, they will take good care of you.
|The trail on which the Rajaji national Park safari is conducted, is lined with sights like this.|
4. Gagar, near Nanital.
If you want to break free form the touristy and Hill-Station-y stuff at Nanital, drive ahead and some to Gagar – an amazing gem of Uttrakhand Himalayas and almost untouched. We stayed at Soulitude, which is really beautiful and stunning. The rooms are comfortable and the view is great. I made the booking directly on the phone and you can do it too. Just go here. Explore the Ramgarh Market in Gagar, it’s cute and small and essentially Himalayan with all it’s happy faces and kids with red cheeks. Adorable. Also, Nanital is nearby and you can go for small hikes around here, just ask the staff.
|View from the top. Soulitude in The Himalayas.|
Think Jayalgarh, think Himalayan Eco Lodges and Camps. Right by the Alaknanda River, this is a location that will blow your mind. It. Is. Beautiful. take my word for it. Take my photographs for it. Jayalgarh is a MUST visit offbeat destination. At about 320 Km from Delhi, this is a drive that will keep you enchanted with the stunning views all along the way. The camp is a treat. I stayed in a deluxe tent, with hot/cold water, 24 hour electricity, yummy food and a lot of activities to indulge in. Check out the Kanda temple when you’re here. I am a River Rafting freak, so I did just that – on Alaknanda, Bhagirathu and Ganga! Yes, the camp is located at a point where you can raft 3 rivers in 3 days and it’s a thrill like no other. You can also go for small hikes like Hishria Khal or the Chandrabadni temple, or go for cycling trips, or other activities they have on menu – OR, just don’t do a thing and relax by the river. Here at the Himalayan Eco Lodges camp site, you look around at the snow clad mountains and the young rivers and the mighty Himalayas and it is such a humbling experience that no words can express. Here, you realize your place in the universe, you see nature up close and you feel the magic that mountains weave. Oh! Bonfires at night are amazing! I am planning to go here again this June end with my toddler because they also have special activities for kids and hey, what’s a better way to pass on the love of travel to our kids, right? Go stay here once and let me know, okay?
|River rafting with GIO Adventures. Spot me!|
And because I want you to explore more Himalayan Getaways, and also because I am super duper awesome, here’s the bonus.
This is known as India’s very own Mini Switzerland, and rightly so. The place is so beautiful that it will haunt you. At about 50 odd km from Almora, you can easily drive here. We stayed at the Heritage Resort which is said to be the best around here. It is also bang on the the road which is a nice. The view is awesome, with mighty Himalayan peaks looking at you from all sides. The tea gardens here are an attraction too, but I’ve lived in Assam/Arunanchal so I was more interested in the deep valleys of Baijnath and Garur. This hotel was booked for us by friends, and according to them, you should try and negotiate the rates on the phone. They also have bonfires at night and it’s fun.
|The Heritage Hotel, Kausani|