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9 Amazing Places To Visit In India

“India is a melting pot of cultures, so rich, vast and diverse that you’ll be surprised at the sheer beauty and creativity of its communities and ability to sustain themselves,” say Laxmi Sorte and Kaustav Ghosh who travelled across 29 Indian states and five Union territories in 101 days.

While the experience and memories of the places they visited and people they met will last for a lifetime, the Navi-Mumbai based couple is now on a year-long mission to promote and encourage local businesses in the country through their pan-India initiative, The Great Indian Travel.

If you love travelling and are looking to explore the real India and its lesser known beauty, Laxmi and Kaustav recommend the following destinations:

Photographs and videos: Kind courtesy The Great Indian Travel

 

Unexplored Bastar, Chhattisgarh

Best time to visit: January to April; July to December

Before travelling to this place, we were told this place is unsafe because it is known to be a Naxal area. However, our hosts, Unexplored Bastar (an eco-tourism team), have been doing a fabulous job trying to break this mentality by promoting responsible community tourism.

In Bastar we got to meet and stay with local tribes and saw how they were quite self-sufficient.

We stayed with them in mud houses, where they served food in dona — plates made of leaves, visited the tribal market and learned how they integrate nature in their daily life.

What else to experience in Bastar

  • Torchlit cave tours in Kanger valley: Bastar is home to numerous underground caves where you have to literally crawl to get through. Each of the caves are filled with stories and look magnificent under torchlights where you get to explore their natural formations.
  • Secret waterfalls
  • Loh Shilpa: A traditional art in which locals melt wrought iron to make interesting showpieces, kitchen cutlery, ornaments etc.
  • Weekly haat (Tribal market) and festivals

Watch the video below for Laxmi and Kaustav’s glimpses from Bastar:

 

Roshgullas in Balasore, Odisha

Best time to visit: October to February

Bengalis never get tired of arguing ‘Where to find the best roshgulla in India’?

I can now easily bet that you get the best melt-in-the-mouth roshgulla in Balasore.

Watch the video to see Kaustav dig into spongy soft milk roshgullas and nolen gur (date palm jaggery) in Balasore:

 

What else to experience

  • Chena poda, milk sweets and milk products.
  • Puchkas. The puris here are bigger in size; the masala and water taste different.

 

Asia’s longest living root bridge in Meghalaya

Best time to visit: October to February

We travelled to Pynursla which is over 50 km from Cherrapunji, so we could experience the living root bridges.

While there are lots of bridges including single and double decker ones, we were guided by Morning Star, founder of the Living Bridge Foundation.

Morning Star explained how each of these roots are carefully grown over decades until they are long and strong enough to be tied together to form a bridge. We went down 1,500 steps then walked for some 600 metres in between dense forests and crossed a valley on it.

Some of these bridges are over 500 years old and can carry approximately 30-40 people.

Check out this vlog in which Laxmi and Kaustav are seen walking on the Ritymmen bridge in Pynursla, Meghalaya, one of the continent’s longest living root bridges.

 

What else to experience

  • Phe Phe Falls: Usually we hike upwards to reach a waterfall. But to reach the crystal clear Phe Phe waterfalls, we hiked for approximately 40 minutes from the main road downwards, then trekked some 400-500 steps.

    What’s fascinating is we noticed that the local guide and tribe member walked ahead of us and thoroughly checked each of the steps if they were strong enough before letting us walk. If it was loose, he’d use some of his tools that he’d carried to fix it and ensure it was safe for us to cross.

 

Bamboo village in Tripura

Best time to visit: October to March

The north eastern states of India collectively represent 28% of India’s bamboo production. Tripura has 2,397 sq km of bamboo forests, which forms about 23% geographical area of the state.

Craft Brzee has been organising workshops and promoting a wide variety of artefacts and daily objects made from bamboo, also known as green gold or poor man’s timber.

From toothbrushes to musical instruments and jewellery cases, they make a range of handmade products using bamboo.

 

Pottery in Manipur

Best time to visit: October-April

After fire, pottery is one of the oldest known inventions of mankind.

Andro village is a quaint town in Manipur where we saw how pottery is done without a wheel.

The local artisans use a portion of locally available mud and beat it with stone and a special bat to create amazing pots, vessels and storage containers.

Usually, tribes are known for their local beer and alcohol, but people in this village want to erase that image by empowering its women and making them self sufficient through pottery.

 

Elephant safari to see the one-horned rhino in Assam

Best time to visit: October to February

The Kaziranga National Park has the world’s largest number of great Indian one-horned rhinoceros, wild Asiatic water buffalo and the eastern swamp deer.

There are two morning slots — 5 am to 6 am and 6 am to 7 am. We strongly recommend taking the 6 am elephant safari. The timing is perfect as you get to see a lot of wild animals including the one horned rhino.

After 7 am, the elephants go grazing so you will have to prebook your slots in advance while planning this trip.

Check out the video to know how exciting the safari is:

 

 

Buddha statue in Rawangla, Sikkim

Best time to visit: March to May; October to December

The 130 feet statue of Buddha made from copper took seven years to complete and was blessed by the Dalai Lama in 2013.

Rawangla is approximately 3 hours from Gangtok by road, but it’s accessible and worth visiting.

There is a museum and park as well.

While you are here, you can meditate and take in the gorgeous view of the artwork on the walls and the surroundings.

In the winter months, there is fog which makes the place look more serene and beautiful.

 

Nelliyampathy hills, Palakkad, Kerala

Best time to visit: October to May

We’ve all heard of Munnar, Wayanad and Aleppey backwaters. But if you are looking for some place new and less explored, Nelliyampathy is an equally beautiful hill station in Kerala that makes for a perfect overnight stay.

The average annual temperature here is between 10-12 degrees.

We drove over 5 km on kachha roads and there was no phone network in the area surrounding the cottage where we stayed.

It’s unusually quiet here so you can relax in the midst of nature sounds.

We visited the nearby tea estate, did some sight seeing and ate the famous puttu(steamed rice cake) and kadala curry (black chickpea curry) for breakfast. Since it wasn’t too crowded, the whole experience immensely peaceful and satisfying.

 

Mechuka valley, Arunachal Pradesh

Best time to visit: October to May

Situated on the India-China border, Mechuka Valley is an absolute treat to sore eyes.

There is snowfall during the winter months and beautiful streams of water (freshly melted snow) flowing at the beginning of summer. There are plenty of monasteries that you can visit here.

Besides, every year, in November, Arunachal Pradesh encourages a special adventure festival for travel junkies which involves paragliding, kayaking, downhill and terrain biking etc.

The food here is basic and there are lots of home stays that will help you cut down your travel budget and also benefit the locals.

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