10 Places You Can Travel Over The Christmas & New Year Weekend That Are NOT Goa
Posted by Priyanka Lahiri on December 20, 2016
Let’s admit it. Traveling to Goa over the Christmas or New Year Weekend has come to be passe, the most obvious and a rather boring option. Everyone’s doing it, and thanks to that the once serene beaches of Goa are now crowded and resemble the Kumbh Mela instead.
So, how about you break the rut and enjoy a different experience. Maybe there won’t be a lot of loud music, hordes of revellers, but you’ll get to experience a new place, have some peace and quiet to yourself, and best part, you won’t have to jostle for breathing space on your holiday.
We have compiled a list of 10 destinations that depending on where you’re from you can easily over on a weekend. Thanks to the easy availability of a number of non Ac, AC, sleeper buses, getting to these places is super convenient. Traveling overnight both ways gives you complete 3 days to soak in the place for perfect long weekend getaway.
If you’re from Bangalore or Hyderabad, Hampi is a 6-8 hours bus ride from either places. Nestled among rocks, palm trees and the ruins of majestic Vijayanagar empire, Hampi is a place like no other. This tiny town in the Hospet district of Karnataka is divided by the Tungabhadra river. While one side of the river is dotted with 20+ temple ruins of the Vijayanagar empire earning it a UNESCO world heritage site title, the other side is a little hippy paradise with shacks, paddy fields, cycling paths. Hampi has enough to leave on rejuvenated over a weekend trip. Plus, it’s great on the pockets as shacks can be rented for as low as Rs. 200 a day.
A small hilly town in Himachal Pradesh, Dharamsala is the perfect amalgamation of Indian hill tribes and the Indo-Tibetan community living in Harmony. It was the seat of the Tibetian government in exile and the residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
If you’re a sight-seeing enthusiast you can visits landmarks such as the War Memorial, Kangra Art Museum, Tibetan Handicrafts Centre, Bhagsu Nag Temple of Lord Shiva, Tsuglagkhang Complex, Church of St. John in the Wilderness, Diptse Chokling Monastery. If you just want to have a peaceful weekend, then just sit by one of the benches and enjoy a quiet moment to yourself while you spot a monk coming your way, smiling a shy smile. Have a meal at one of the many shacks and mingle with a horde of travelers – both Indian and foreigners- in this Himachalan paradise.
Orccha is a small town in Uttar Pradesh, a few hours away from Jhansi. The medieval city of Orchha seems to have frozen in time, its palaces and temples still retaining their original grandeur. Orchha had the distinction of being the capital of one of the largest and most powerful kingdoms of Central India. The Bundela Rajput chieftain, Rudra Pratap, founded the city, located by the side of the beautiful Betwa River, in the 16th century. The word Orchha means ‘hidden’. When the Tughlaqs, who were ruling Delhi in the 15th century, pushed the Bundelkhand rajas out of Garkhundar, they retreated to distant Orchha.
The temple complex is majestic, grand and evokes nostalgia from an era gone by, and the cenotaphs at the edge of the lake are a sight to behold.
Orccha can be easily reached with a one hour ride from Jhansi.
An erstwhile French colony, Pondicherry is a coastal town off the bay of bengal in east India. Just a few hours away from Chennai and Coimbatore. In the French quarters, one can still see the French architecture in old houses, bakeries and cafes. The streets are “rues”, and the yellows and wrought-iron balconies are hard to miss. Pondicherry also houses the Matrimayee temple and Aurobindo ashram where volunteers – both Indian and foreigners- work on a community and self-sustenance model.
A night at the Auro beach ending with a stay on a tree-shack at the Only place hotel can fill you with holistic joy.
5. Daman Diu
People from Gujarat usually have to contend with going to a Mumbai or Goa to let your hair down. However, a great weekend option for people living in Gujarat, as well elsewhere is the union territory of Daman and Diu. The black sand beaches in Daman may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but have a charm and beauty of their own. The Diu Fort, constructed by Bahadur Shah, the ruler of Gujarat, gives a nice view of the sea. The existence of such fantastic forts and palm trees makes this beach as one of the most visited places in Gujarat. Also, for the alcohol-deprived population of the dry state of Gujarat, Diu serves as a great replenisher too as drinking restrictions are little and low taxes make it a great option to stock up. The Daman fort was prominently featured in Hindi movie “Kai Po Che”
6. Ajanta and Ellora Caves
These world-famous caves are located in the Maharashtrian city of Aurangabad. Travellers to Aurangabad will find history dating back to the 2nd century BCE, when the Satavahana rulers established their capital in Pratishtanapura, today known as Paithan. It was around this time that the viharas(monasteries) were carved out of caves in what is now Ajanta, and the stunning cave paintings were made, to be lost and rediscovered in the early 19th century. The carvings in the Ellora caves track the changing fortunes of three major religions Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism between the 5th and the 10th century CE. Check out some of the other places to visit near Mumbai.
Known for its lush green hills, constant fog in the atmosphere and a generally chilled atmosphere, Kodaikanal is a great option for a long weekend as any longer there’s not much to do. You can stay at some quaint guesthouse or a homestay in Kodaikanal. The evenings get chilly, and the streets are lined with some steaming hot food which makes traveling in winters a special experience. Some of the areas of interest include Vatakanal, dolphin nose, pillar rocks and many waterfalls. Kodaikanal makes a great weekend getaway from Bangalore, Chennai and most of south India.
8. Malpe/Kaup Beach
Located just an hour’s drive from Mangalore, the small heritage town of Udupi is home to the famous Udupi Dosas. Another one hour drive will take you to the small Malpe beach, which still attracts more local crowd than travelers, and hence makes a great quiet weekend option. Spend a day at Malpe, and next morning take a short ferry ride to St. Mary’s island, an island which had the unique distinction of being dotted with volcanic rocks, lending it an eerie, exotic and beautiful feel, you will not experience elsewhere in India. From Malpe, another great option is the Kaup beach, which is home to an ancient lighthouse. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a performance or a quiz-on-the-beach organized by one of the colleges in the region.
People in Karnataka and Kerala are spoiled for choice when it comes to weekend getaways. Another great option to ring in the New Year long weekend is Coorg. Known as the Scotland of India, Coorg is flanked by misty valleys and mountains, while a faint aroma of coffee wafts in the mountain air. Home to the Kodagu or Coorgi people, Coorg is a little paradise. While the options for activities are limited, one can always discover great hiking paths, do bicycle trips, visit the many waterfalls or just stay in a homestay, and enjoy a night over some pandi curry, home-made wine. Coorg is also home to the camping music festival Storm which happens over the new year weekend. If you’re a music + nature aficionado, there’s very few options that can match this one.
Check out buses to Coorg here: From Bangalore | From Hyderabad| From Chennai
The only inclusion in the list from East India, Puri in Odisha (Orissa) has still not caught on as a travel destination, and just as well.
Enjoy walks on the beaches of Puri, while they’re still free of crowds, partake a freshly grilled fish delicacy and stay at one of the many options lined alongside the beach. If you’re lucky, you may spot a masterpiece sand sculpture by the world famous Sudarsan Pattnaik. While the mainstream traveller has been going to Goa and Hampi for years, Puri has quietly been hosting its share of the international traveler earning it a ‘little know hippie paradise” title. Having world famous sites such as Jagannath temple and Konark temple has helped gain traveling miles to this humble beach town. Puri is also home to the first Indian Surfing Festival slated to be held in Feb 2016.
So, what are you waiting for? Plan that perfect weekend getaway, or just book a bus, get on a train or drive, and get to any of these places and have yourself a great new year.
Enjoy this video by Travelyaari.
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We are the road trippers, the track bashers, the ones popping our heads out the bus window to soak in that gorgeous view. In the business world, we help you travel by bus across India. But here, we are the friends you make on that long journey home. Come with us, discover the fun of travelling in India by road!
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