The Suave Indian traveller has taken to the international concept of the weekend getaway like a fish takes to whisky …err … I mean water.
This has lead to a boom in the tourism business for many destinations near the larger cities around India where the Indian professional class heads to unwind from the stress of the rat race.
This boom is welcome and it helps the local hospitality industry which would otherwise see business during the seasonal flow, whereas now there is any inflow of business all around the year and it spikes during long weekends of which we have two this month.
To make matters more complex these long weekends come slam bang in the middle of the festive holiday season, this means that the important tourist destinations are packed with the planned holidaymakers with the families in tow and now the weekend escapists decide to join the fray. It is now a fight to the finish.
One single image of the road to Rohtang Pass near Manali will give a clear idea of the chaos that is common place at times like this.
Here is a look at the scene in Shimla during a similar long weekend
And it is not just the hill stations that are packed, half the world is headed to GOA !!!!
You get the point right!!! Which bring us to the point of this piece.
Why go to the standard destinations? If you want to be with the “happening” crowd you should stick to the tried and tested places but if you are someone who wants to really unwind from the stressful corporate lifestyle you lead and be seen as a trendsetter who will boldly go where no simple “tourist” has gone before then you need to look into the list appended below.
1) Binsar near Delhi
Just 33 kms from Almora and a little under 400 kms from Delhi, this is a hidden jewel of the Himalayas and houses the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary which is spread around the Jhandi Dhar hills. This refuge was set up in 1988 for the protection of the broad leaf oak forests, and it has over 200 bird species.
The view displayed up here is from a place called Zero Point and one can see many Himalayan peaks from here. Kedarnath, Shivling, Trisul and Nanda Devi being some of them.
2) Lohagad Fort near Mumbai
Lohagad means the fort built with Iron and it is one of the many forts in the Western Ghats. Only 52 kms from Pune and close to the famous weekend getaways of Lonavala and Khandala that see vast traffic from Mumbai this magnificent fort is at an elevation of 1,033 m (3,389 ft) above sea level. Historic and imposing it is developing some interesting stay options and home stays around this pretty fort.
3) Savandurga near Bangalore
Savandurga is a visually delightful hilly area just 60 km from Bangalore just off the Magadi road. The hill has some kind of record as it is believed to be among the largest single stone or monolith hills in all off Asia. The area boasts of an altitude of 1226 m above mean sea level and contains forms like peninsular gneiss, granites, basic dykes and laterites. The river Arkavathi is close at hand to provide interesting frames for avid photographers along with the Thippagondanahalli reservoir and the Manchanabele dam.
These hills are visited by pilgrims due to the presence of the Savandi Veerabhadreshwara Swamy and Narasimha Swamy temples here. This place is big with Rock climbers, cave explorers and adventurers. Manchanabele Dam nearby is famous for watersports.
4) Dandeli near Goa
Fewer than 100 Kms from Goa is the stunning wilderness of Dandeli and the nearby Anshi National park. The 1st place to introduce commercial white water rafting in South India on the river Kali, Dandeli is also blessed with magnificent forest and a wild elephant population.
A local legend observes that the area is named after Dandelappa, a servant of the Mirashi landlords, who lost his life because of his loyalty, he is now considered a deity. Another legend states that the king named Dandakanayaka passed through the forests and named them after himself (so typical of these kings and politicians). The present city is believed to stand on the place where Dandakaranya stood when he named the area.
5) Gokarna near Goa
Fewer than 150 Kms from the busy beaches of Goa lay the golden sands of Gokarn. Gokarna started off as a small temple town and is own the offbeat heartbeat of the state of Karnataka. The local people came to visit the temple of Mahabhaleshwara. This temple is believed to house the original image of Lord Shiva’s lingam. The relaxed environs attract a lot of tourists and the beaches near Gokarn now house stores, restaurants and resorts.
Time to hit the offbeat beat, you packed yet ?