The last long weekend of 2021 is approaching, and now is the time to plan a peaceful New Year’s getaway!
For most, a fresh new year has to begin with a bang — with throbbing music, pub crawls, bottomless champagnes, and last minute countdowns. Even with the rising number of Omicron cases an state-wise limitations on parties and large gatherings, people are all pumped up to welcome 2022 with probably a bash at home with friends and family. But if your idea of a perfect New Year Eve’s celebration doesn’t match with that of the party hounds, fret not. We have come up with a list of offbeat getaways in India that you can go to this weekend, for a peaceful New Year. You’re welcome!
Andretta, Himachal Pradesh
A popular artist’s village near Himachal’s Palampur, Andretta offers a blend of natural beauty and art. The cosy hamlet boasts spectacular views of the Dhauladhar ranges, and attracts intrepid travellers and artists all year long. Andretta has also been home to legendary artists like Norah Richards (Irish-born actress who originally set up an artists’ colony here in 1920), Prithivraj Kapoor, and Gurcharan Singh. Visit India’s oldest pottery studio here and enroll yourself in a workshop where you get to do everything artsy, from kneading the clay, trying your hand at the potter’s wheel, to painting terracotta pots, and make functional glazed earthenware. You can even take a three-month introductory course if you are looking for a truly immersive experience.
Where to stay: The Mirage is a yoga retreat and heritage homestay, offering comfy cottages and vintage rooms.
Located upstream of Jawai Bandh, one of western Rajasthan’s largest reservoirs built across the eponymous river, Jawai is rich with a serene rural landscape. In this little village of the Pali district, wild beasts coexist with the vibrant Rabari community. Arrive here to spend peaceful days, strolling by the river’s banks and spotting flamingos, geese, cranes and other exotic migratory birds. A wildlife trail through its jungles in a 4by4 may reveal the elusive leopard, the Indian wolf, sloth bear, and antelope..
Where to stay: Jawai Leopard Safari Lodge lets you stay in luxurious tents with a private deck offering uninterrupted views of the vast wilderness and the dramatic landscape of granite formations and sandy riverbeds.
What’s more: The famous Jain temple at Ranakpur and the UNESCO-listed Kumbhalgarh Fort are just an hour’s drive from Jawai.
Want laid-back Goan vibe minus the crowd-pulling pubs and rave parties? Fly down to Gokarna instead, which is ideal for a low-key, chilled-out beach holiday. Its pristine beaches and colourful temples make it ideal for both, peaceful retreats and spiritual travel. Serene, secluded beaches such as Paradise, Nirvana, Kudle, and of course, the famed Om line the coast in the gorgeous Gokarna, which is just a two-hour scenic drive away from the Hubli airport. Stroll along the long stretches of sand, visit the majestic Jog Falls, say a prayer in Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami Temple, and explore the mysterious Yana Caves.
Where to stay: Kahani Paradise, a luxury oasis of tranquillity perched on a hilltop above Paradise Beach, promises a secluded slice of heaven in the coastal town.
What’s more: A four-hour journey to Mangalore takes you through Udupi, known for its delicious cuisine and the famous Udupi Sri Krishna Matha Temple, and Murudeshwar, known for a 123-foot-tall Shiva statue.
Mandu, Madhya Pradesh
Dating back to 6th Century BCE, Mandu (or Mandavgad) is known for its Afghan architecture, steeped in history. Located on the outskirts of Indore, the ancient town overlooks the regal Mandu Fort—Asia’s largest fortified citadel—like a towering bastion, and is home to many architectural marvels including Roopmati’s Pavilion, Hindola Mahal, Darya Khan’s Tomb complex, Jami Masjid, and Jahaz Mahal. Once done exploring these gems, attend the famous Mandu Festival that happens every December, and take a hot air balloon ride, floating over the breathtakingly beautiful town!
Where to stay: The 18th-century Ahilya Fort Hotel sits above Narmada River and offers 19 tastefully done regal rooms.
What’s more: Base yourself in the town of Maheshwar (39 km from Mandu), to explore its age-old weaving traditions and get your hands on stunning handloom saris.
Slowly making its space on the global map, Mayurbhanj in Odisha is still widely untouched and unknown to many. Quite rich in culture and endangered arts like Dhokra (an ancient wax casting art form) and Chhau (martial arts dance form), it is home to over 40 different kinds of tribal communities with agrarian backgrounds. Try local staples like gughni (yellow pea curry), pakhala (a fermented rice dish), and mudhi mansa (mutton curry and puffed rice) at Baripada Bazaar. Or pack a picnic at Lulung, a riverbed overlooking the buffer zone of Similipal Elephant and Tiger Reserve. You can also check out Khiching Temple, an eighth-century temple and museum of archaeological excavations.
Where to stay: The Belgadia Palace, the private residence of the erstwhile royal family of Mayurbhanj, is now a boutique property with nine heritage suites, seven acres of mango orchards, outdoor patios, and manicured gardens.
What’s more: Visit the Haripur village, home to 14th-century fort ruins that are mentioned in Akbar’s biography, Akbarnama! Also, make time for shopping local handloom like tussar silk sarees, bronze hadicrafts, and pattachitra paintings.
One of the largest riverine islands in the world, Majuli’s geographic isolation and serene atmosphere draws travellers from across the country. The picturesque island sprawling along the mighty Brahmaputra river, is known for its pollution-free environment and unique cultural traditions, making it a strong aspirant for the UNESCO World Heritage tag. Take a idyllic boat ride in the river, go on riverside strolls, feast on unique Mishing dishes, catch surreal sunsets at Luit Ghat, and spend your free time angling in swamps.
Where to stay: Stay in a lovely bamboo cottage at La Maison de Ananda and enjoy homecooked meals and bicycle rides through Mishing villages.
What’s more: Witness women of tribal settlements here weave mirizim (ethnic shawl) and other homespun textiles. Take a tour through the Samaguri Satra to witness the process of mask-making, which Majuli is so famous for.
Forget Munnar. Make your way to the offbeat Vagamon in Kerala this time. With rocky hills, verdant valleys, thick pine forests, and a river cutting through, the quaint little hamlet is ideal for some quietude in the southern hills. The Ulipooni Wildlife Sanctuary here is home to a diverse bird population from the Malabar grey hornbill to the spotted dove, porcupines, and hares. Thrill-seekers can also enjoy adventures like trekking, camping, mountaineering, boating, and paragliding at peace, far from the madding crowd.
Where to stay: Base yourself at Airbnb-listed Vaga Roville, a peaceful getaway offering well-groomed interiors, charming exteriors, and postcard-perfect views.
Rajmachi is a great alternative to done-to-death road trip destinations in the Western Ghats. Surrounded by the gorgeous Sahyadris in the Konkan region, the lush hamlet has a serene hamlet with cascading falls, rolling valleys, and rich heritage. Rajmachi is blessed with twin fortresses, called Shrivardhan and Manaranjan. Take a hike up to witness the plateau sandwiched between the two. Or better yet, go on the popular Rajmachi Fort trek that begins from secluded Udhewadi village and leads you on a breathtaking trail through lush environs.
Where to stay: Rajmachi has no luxury accommodation. You can pitch your own tent or rent out one from a designated camping facility at Rajmachi Fort.
What’s more: If you are on a lookout for some inner peace, go on a spiritual sojourn through the village, visiting the Bhairavnath Temple as well as the ancient Buddhist caves here.