Going offbeat in India—secrets around some world famous neighbourhoods

A country as impressive as India would certainly have a lot more than just the famous ones—if that thought has ever run in your mind, we have answers. While, of course, the country has a mammoth population count, it also has travel secrets and treasures that are largely untouched. If you are over the unquestionable splendour of the Golden Triangle by now and are looking for something that falls on the touristy route but is totally offbeat, this read is for you. We have covered the lesser famous neighbours of some of the most visited places in the country.

Jaipur, with its grand forts and colourful markets, is still as alluring as it once was, but if no more trips can be done to the Pink City, Shekhawati should be your go to. Assuming that you have Rajasthan on your mind but are craving for a very offbeat experience, Shekhawati is our go to. This region comprises several smalls towns and is brimming with really ancient havelis; in fact, every house in the region is a haveli. What sets these apart are the colourful frescoes adorning their walls, capturing scenes from everyday life. It would not be wrong to call Shekhawati a painter’s dream come true; visit it and you will know what we are hinting at.

Alleppey is perhaps the most photographed, most visited attraction of Kerala. It is home to the world-famous backwaters, and all of this attention is probably why it has been reeling from over-tourism. For those eager for a similar experience, complete with backwaters and even houseboat stays, Kumarakom is the ideal stop. Right by Alleppey, Kumarakom has everything that Alleppey has sans the crowd. It is also home to some of the most luxurious hotels and wellness centres, making it ideal for a relaxing vacation.

Come summers and you will even find traffic jams in the rather narrow lanes of Manali. In fact, even Old Manali, the once quaint hamlet, sees so many tourists in the summer season that it is bothersome to walk around. Yet, if you are in love with the mountains around and are intent on a vacation, the nearby hamlet of Naggar is your go-to. Stunningly beautiful, it attracts only daytime visitors from Manali. Book a stay here and you will have all the joy of the Himalayas minus the crowd of Manali. Even during the peak of summers.

While Shimla has been reeling under heavy tourist footfall, there is a treasure trove of places beyond it. You can escape the mad frenzy that Shimla sees in summer and during the winter snowfall bouts by heading to Kinnaur Valley. An unforgettable road trip on the Hindustan-Tibet road will take you to the mountains that are unlike you would have ever seen before. And the people here, it would suffice to write that the people of Kinnaur are some of the warmest, happy souls that you would meet in the country. You can further go on to explore Spiti Valley, another wonder in the Indian tourist map.

Well, you would have to land in Srinagar if you take a flight, so there is no avoiding it. Yet, as much as we like roaming around in the quite ancient and history-laden lanes of Srinagar, Pahalgam is where our soul always wanders to. Again, an Enid Blyton dream, this place has River Lidder gurgling across it, meadows that are lush with wildflowers except in winters, homestays that are slowly coming up, and miles of Himalayas on the sides. Autumn is another perfect time to go here, for the slight nip of winter would be there, with the landscape turning into shades of orange from the autumn leaf-fall.