India is a famous destination with local as well as international tourists. India practically has it all; snow in Kashmir, sun in Goa, rain in Cherrapunji, mountains in Ladakh, adventure sports in Rishikesh and winters in Dharamshala. There is something for every type of tourist in this country. However, a traveller has a different bucket list than that of tourist and today we list down a list of traveller-friendly destinations that should be a part of your ‘Bucket List 2015.’
Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir: Arid, barren, magical; Ladakh is a traveller’s treasure. It is known for its pristine beautiful mountains, serene lakes and has a spirituality quotient with various monasteries present. You will like, rather love Ladakh if you are comfortable with long road journeys, unending landscapes, meeting people of different sorts and experiencing local culture in its rawest form. Even a traveller loves to click touristy pictures on some of the highest motorable roads like Khardung La, Taglang La and Chang La. If you are a bike enthusiast then the Manali-Leh highway will definitely give you a high en route to Ladakh.
Season: June to September
Pune, Maharashtra: A city that has the perfect pace of a fast life as well as options to just be and relax with friends. Be it a visit to the M. G. Road, the Osho Ashram or the German bakery, Pune has a vibe that many travellers enjoy. You can enjoy a culinary treat at Koregaon Park with many restaurants offering delectable dishes to satiate your palate. This quaint city also has a lot of forts, museums, temples and trekking trails for the adventurous explorer in you.
Season: Any time of the year
Haridwar, Uttarakhand: A religious abode, you will easily spot many sadhus in this spiritual city known for its holy river, Ganga. Various stories link to the presence of Ganga; be it that king Bhagirath brought the river Ganga from heaven to earth in order to provide salvation to his ancestors or Lord Vishnu set his foot print on the stone that is set in the upper wall of Har-Ki-Pauri where the Holy Ganga touches it all the time. Visit Haridwar, if you want to witness thousands of illuminated diyas floating on the holy rives of Ganga every evening post the Ganga Aarti. A dip in the Ganga is considered sacred to wash away your sins. Believe it or leave it!
You can also begin your Char Dham Yatra of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri from this city that is soaked in chants and hymns.
Season: February, March, August - October
Hampi, Karnataka: Time stands still at this travel-friendly destination. You might wonder what to do with so much time on your hand. Voila! That is the fun part wherein you are experiencing a new wave of awesomeness of leisure time and doing things at your own pace. Ride a bicycle and get nostalgic about your childhood or hire a two-wheeler to roam around the lanes of Hampi and meet interesting characters. You are sure to bump into local priests, small kids selling you touristy things and foreign tourists who are ever-happy to witness the grandeur of temples in Hampi. For a traveller, it is a treasure trove with free wi-fi facilities at homestays and simple food of various cuisines available. Do not rush to cover all the temples but enjoy Hampi at your own pace, in your own way. We recommend that you definitely visit the Matanga hills for a sunrise and the Hemkund hills for a sunset, an unparalleled experience.
Season: September - February
McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh: Absorb yourself in some self-reflection by visiting the monasteries and gompas of McLeod Ganj, the birthplace of Dalai Lama. Visit various monasteries to know about their rich history and talk to the friendly & shy monks to know about their life in seclusion while you sip the locally flavored tea. The traveller in you will witness an adrenaline rush by exploring the -known places like the Trilokinath village, Bhasgu Falls, Chamba village, Kangra fort, Darang tea gardens, Martyrs’ Memorial (dedicated to the martyrs of Kargil War) and many others.
Season: All throughout the year but best is during March-June.
Kashmir, Jammu & Kashmir: It proves the adage, ‘Heaven on Earth,’ in all possible ways; hospitable locals who are ever ready to help you, magnificent views of the snow-capped mountains, simple food and peaceful environs. Visit Kashmir in 2015 to bask in the glory of nature and do some soul-searching.
Season: March - October
Mumbai, Maharashtra: Once in a lifetime, everyone should visit Mumbai, aptly titled as ‘The City of Dreams’ as the Bollywood industry thrives here and also for the fact that this city gives wings to your dreams, whatever be it. Witness the grandeur of Gateway of India, enjoy an evening at Chowpatty or simply sit by the Worli Seaface promenade to soak in the vibe and feel of Bombay, famously known. The Fort area boasts of prominent Gothic and Art Deco styled monuments. You can simply take a stroll around the Fort area to witness some of the most beautiful monuments built more than a century back. So, what are you waiting for? Book for hotels in Mumbai online and enjoy a luxurious stay.
Season: Any time of the year
Coorg, Karnataka: If you are writing a book and need some inspiration around, head straight to the coffee plantations of Coorg. The green plantation expanse and the aroma of the coffee brewing are sure to astound you and inspire your creativity. Also, charm your senses with birdwatching. Listen to the music of their chirps in these green surroundings.
Season: October - April
The best way to visit all of these places is by the rail, road or air because we believe that the journey is equally important as the destination. A journey by these modes of transport will surely lead to a few unforgettable encounters with people from across the length and breadth of the country and give you stories of a lifetime. So, pack your bags, now.
Written & photographed by Megha Jamb