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Underrated destinations in India Part 1
Monday, January 14th, 2013

By Sudha Mathew

 

It’s a well-worn phrase, I know but it’s true! India does have a spectacular wealth of natural beauty and cultural heritage. While the Miss India title has been permanently retained by the Taj Mahal and the Runner Up titles are usually shared by the Red Fort, Kerala’s backwaters or Rajasthan’s forts, there are a host of underrated destinations in India. Which is good news for travelers. If you are willing to put a little extra effort in reaching there, you will be rewarded with lesser tourists, few or no touts, cheaper prices and most valuable of all, the high of discovery sans drugs and a stillness that lets you really feel the place in your being.

 

There are so many great offbeat places to visit in India that one post will only scratch the surface. I’m choosing three of my favorites for this post – Part 1. I will be back with Part 2 in another post.

 

Destinations in India-Coorg
Coorg scenes

COORG

Coorg or Kodagu is a rarity in India, a hill station that is not ravaged by ugly modern construction. Except for Madikeri town, the rest of Coorg more or less remains as it was when the British called it the Scotland of India. Clean cool air, the color green everywhere and rolling hills are the lasting impressions that this beautiful district in Karnataka leaves on besotted visitors.  Another rarity is the roads, clean and litter free to a great extent. Coffee is the main crop in Coorg but the annual yield remains at the mercy of nature. To supplement their income, most plantation owners run homestays on the estates. That’s an experience I highly recommend. Staying in a homestay in Coorg gives you access to the unique Kodava culture and to the innards of a coffee plantation. Not to mention their superb hospitality.

 

Pros: Great weather, clean air, natural beauty, scrumptious food, hospitable people, escape from city stress and chaos.

 

Cons: Very few restaurants (but luckily food served at most homestays is superb), no public transport.

 

For whom: Nature lovers, families with kids who enjoy open spaces, city dwellers looking for a retreat, honeymoon couples.

 

To see/do: Irrpu Falls, Abbey Falls, Bylakuppe monastery, coffee estate visit, Dubare Elephant Camp, trek to Thadiyandemol, Tala Cauvery temple.

 

Nearest big city: Bangalore

 

Destinations in India-Pondicherry
Pondicherry scenes

PONDICHERRY

Perhaps it is the weather that keeps a lot of travelers away or perhaps it is the lack of an airport or convenient rail connection. Whatever the reason, Pondicherry largely remains the preserve of French travelers and Chennai residents looking for a quick weekend getaway. All of these reasons mean that Pondicherry or Puducherry, the new name, retains the air of a charming seaside town with a laid back air harking back to its Gallic origins.

 

Pros: Gorgeous heritage buildings, well maintained historical zone, excellent restaurants with French, Creole cuisine, fine quality handicrafts, antique furniture, pottery and home decor, Auroville, most places are within walking distance, beaches.

 

Cons: Weather is usually hot except Dec-Feb.

 

For whom: Francophiles, heritage and architecture enthusiasts, surfers, families with beach loving kids, foodies

 

To see/do: Heritage architecture from the French rule era, native heritage architecture in the Tamil Quarter. Take an INTACH guided walk if possible. Visit Auroville and meditate at Matri Mandir or do some shopping for your home at the quirky shops in the Visitor Center. There are many interesting cuisines to explore in Pondicherry.

 

Nearest big city: Chennai

Destinations in India-Kaziranga

Indian rhino in Kaziranga

 

KAZIRANGA

Imagine a 2-ton machine with impenetrable armor and a speed of 55 kms/hr coming at you. Now add a single horn on its head and hey, it’s not a machine! It is the rhinoceros unicornis or the great Indian one-horned rhino. This fearsome, unique and endangered animal is best seen at Kaziranga National Park in Assam.  But the rhino is not the only highlight of Kaziranga. It is also home to the rare wild buffalo, swamp deer and over 450 species of birds.

 

Pros: Home of the Indian one-horned rhino. Also a chance to see the Indian tiger, herds of elephants, wild buffalo, swamp deer. Excellent bird watching.

 

Cons: Involves more than one air connection from most cities and road travel.

 

For whom: Wildlife enthusiasts, nature seekers, families.

 

To see/do: Wildlife and more wildlife. Try the jeep safari and elephant safari. If you are interested in local culture, you could check with your guide if a visit to a Karbi or Mising village is possible. You could combine this trip with a visit to other destinations in the beautiful North East of India.

 

Nearest big city: Guwahati

 

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What’s on your list for 2013? Are there any underrated or unknown destinations that you would like to share?

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 Rhino Photo Credit: yathin via Compfight cc

 

Cheers,

Sudha



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Plan to travel to an Indian holiday destination?

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About me

The wise man travels to discover himself - JR Lowell

 

My name is Sudha Mathew. I'm an ex-banker who quit the rat race after a decade to follow my passion for travel and to combine it with my experience in understanding client requirements and exceeding their expectations.

 

While our content is mostly about the holiday experience, the accommodation and services, there's so much more to a journey. I have discovered a whole new me through travel. So I've reserved this corner of the website to share the unexpected aspects of travel. This space is also to hear from you about your journeys and discoveries. Bon Voyage!

 
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