India is a diverse country with so many different places to see, festivals to celebrate and there are so many different activities to do. Most of the people follow the trend and visit popular must visit places in India. There are so many offbeat destinations in India, which are not on popular tourist circuit but offer so many interesting things to a traveler. I have traveled to many beautiful places in India and now I look for offbeat places, which are not frequented by many tourists. I like to visit places which are not crowded and which I can explore at my own pace. This is the list of offbeat destinations which I have complied with the help of fellow travelers and bloggers.
A list of unexplored places in India.
Orchha in Madhya Pradesh
Orchha is one of the most interesting places in the list of offbeat destinations in India. It is situated on the banks of the river Betwa. The city of Jhansi is 17 Km from Orchha and it is the closest railway station. There are many interesting and well-known places in Madhya Pradesh but Orchha has a unique feel. This small little town is still not bustling with tourist and that’s why a perfect place to relax. Most of the people combine it with Khajuraho, which is 170 Km from Orchha.
The literal meaning of Orchha is “Hidden one” and it’s actually a hidden gem. It was once the capital of Bundela kings and they have made some beautiful palaces & temples in Orchha. It seems that the medieval city of Orchha is still frozen in time as there are not many modern structures.
Some of the most visited places in Orchha are Orchha Fort, Jahangir Mahal, Chaturbhuj temple, Ram Raja Temple, Purana (Old) Mandir, Laxmi Narayan temple, and Royal Cenotaphs. Despite neglect of several hundred years, these monuments still stand in good condition. Scenic landscapes with these monuments add to the beauty of Orchha.
Orchha is a small town so all most all places are within walking distance from the heart of town. A leisure boat ride in Betwa is another good activity when you just want to relax in peace.
There is a small wildlife sanctuary also on the other side of the Betwa river. Though I can’t spot animals in the sanctuary I was able to watch many species of birds. The wildlife sanctuary is also a perfect place to watch the sunset with cenotaphs in the foreground.
Orchha is a perfect amalgamation of nature with history and it is still not in the popular tourist circuit so it is a good place to enjoy holidays in peace.
Munroe Island is Ellis Veen’s favorite offbeat destination.
After several trips to India, it is Munroe Island that is my most cherished travel memory in this large and diverse country. The island in the middle of Kerala’s enchanting backwaters is a small paradise on earth in the Ashtamudi Lake near Kollam.
I stayed in a cute homestay close to the river amidst palm trees that provided much-needed shadow throughout the day. My two days on the island consisted of a sequence of highlights. First, there was the delicious homemade food. The different curries and chutneys flavored with coconut and rich spices were the best I had in Kerala.
Then there was the peaceful and serene atmosphere on the island that was only disturbed by its colorful temple festival with a procession of elephants with dance and music during the night. It was pure luck I happened to be there for this annual event.
My main reason to visit Munroe Island was of course to see Kerala’s backwaters. Most people visit the more famous Allepey, but I am so glad I choose to visit a different place that is less known. The large and busy waterways in Allepey were nothing compared to the beauty of the narrow and quiet palm fringed canals that the owner of my homestay showed me on his small canoe boat.
It was here that I developed my love for birds and bird watching. The playful kingfisher, the impressive Brahminy kite and the elegant egrets. I didn’t expect such a variety of animals, but the owner of my homestay enthusiastically explained the biodiversity of this area. After the boat tour, he showed me around the village as well, including some of the spice plantations and coconut farms.
Unfortunately, the future of the island is uncertain and it is better to visit now than later. The island is sinking and the annual monsoon season is already causing problems. With climate change, it is not clear whether a sustainable solution can be found.
Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya is Jill Bowdery’s favorite offbeat place.
If you think of the Buddhist religion, you may not immediately think of India. But the country played a starring role in the life of Buddha and the enlightenment that led him to found the religion that is followed by more of today’s global citizens than any other. There are 4 main sites fundamental to Buddha’s life, three of which are in India, and the most important of which is the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya.
Situated in the heart of Bihar state, some 60 miles from Patna and close to the city of Gaya, the Mahabodhi temple has created its own town, Bodhgaya, serving those who work at and visit the temple. Bodhgaya was the location where Buddha gained the all-important enlightenment, as he sat and meditated beneath a Bodhi tree. Today, the sprawling temple complex is still home to that tree, albeit a descendant of the original, to which pilgrims from across the globe come to pray.
The temple itself is a stunning building of ornately-carved pale sandstone and granite, forming a steep pyramid with a stupa on top. It dates from the 5th or 6th century, although it has been restored many times. Around the temple, white marble walkways teem with the faithful; monks in robes of saffron and ruby red, pilgrims from many nations in outfits of all colors, and local people in colorful saris. While I was visiting, a group of Korean nuns all in white passed us by. Bodhgaya is not just a pilgrimage site for Indians, but for Buddhists from all over the world.
The complex rings to the sound of chanting. Around the Bodhi tree, penitents tie prayer ribbons and offerings to railings covered with gold leaf or add gold themselves as an act of faith. To one side, local men and women string garlands of flowers to be used as offerings; around the temple tank, young monks in crimson robes and modern sports shoes giggle and pose like little boys the world over.
For those of Buddhist faith, the Mahabodhi temple is a must-visit; for those, like me, who are not Buddhist, it is a fascinating and privileged insight into faith and culture. It is most certainly a must-visit destination for any visitor to India.
Pangong Lake in Ladakh is Neha’s favorite offbeat destination.
Pangong lake, or Pangong Tso as it is known locally in Ladakh, is the most popular lake in Ladakh thanks to the feature in the movie “3 Idiots”. However, this is not why I recommend it to anybody planning a trip to the region. To me, a visit to Ladakh is just incomplete if you haven’t seen the remarkable scenic beauty of this lake. Yes, it is definitely one of the places to see before you die!
Pangong is a saltwater lake, located partly in India and partly in China. The most remarkable thing about the lake is the color of the water – it keeps changing between different shades of blue and green, depending on the level of sunlight and clouds! An afternoon spent walking beside the lake and watching the bird life around it is sheer bliss. At sunset, the play of light on the mountains encircling the lake is gorgeous and makes for some beautiful photographs.
You can reach Pangong Lake from Leh within a 6-hour drive. During the summer season, a number of basic tented camps come up near the lake for people to stay overnight. However, you can also experience the lake by taking a day-trip from Leh – the wiser option if you are traveling with children or senior citizens. I say this because Pangong’s altitude and wind factor is more severe than that at Leh, and this must be kept in mind before deciding on where to stay.
Whether you visit for a day or stay a night nearby, Pangong lake will surely win your heart the way it won mine. You’ll go trigger-happy with your camera, and will be talking about the visit for days after your return. The lake tends to do that to its visitors!
Marayoor near Munnar in Kerala is Penny’s favorite offbeat place.
Marayoor is a tiny little city in Kerala that does not get much attention. In fact, I only realized that it existed on the map when I was scouring around for things to do near Munnar. Located a couple of kilometers away from Munnar, this little town enjoys a quiet laid-back atmosphere while simultaneously being high enough on the hills to have the perfect climate to escape away from the summer heat. An added advantage is that it is a very small town which means that you get away from the throb of city life.
The issue about Marayoor is largely its accessibility. If you decide to take the public transport it may be rather hard to get there and then take in the sights. Renting a car or bike is probably your best bet and you will enjoy the drive in the Western Ghats.
One of the things that I really enjoyed doing was wandering around aimlessly on the roads that surrounded the village. Sometimes the inclines were steep and at other times it was a rather easy walk, but at all times it gave us a glimpse of what the local village life was like. Come sundown, we were never disappointed as the sky would turn a brilliant shade of crimson.
It is hard to find many tourists in Marayoor. Most people just pass it by because it isn’t big enough or popular enough but if you are looking for a really quaint place without noise, then this is the place that you want to be at. Quiet, peaceful, laid-back and perfect.
Kodaikanal is Priyadarshini’s favorite place.
Kodaikanal is an offbeat destination with tourists trying to escape the summer heat in South India. This charming town, fondly known as the Princess of hill stations by locals, is indeed a cool retreat from harsh Indian summers. It maintains low temperatures throughout the year because of its location in Palani hills, about 7000 feet above sea level. If you do not enjoy very cold weather, avoid October through January.
There are plenty of interesting things to do here and you can easily spend at least 2 full days in Kodaikanal. Many tourist attractions are centered around the man-made Kodai lake, so if you stay close to this spot, you can simply walk to many of the must-see spots in town.
Boating at Kodai lake is a pleasant experience as is the shopping at the lake entrance. Bryant Park is close to this lake too. Coaker’s walk is a short paved walk over a huge valley and it feels like you are floating in clouds as you can literally feel them around you here.
Check out the beautiful views at Pillar rocks, drive to Silent Valley viewpoint, look at the steep Guna Caves, Cap Valley and if you feel like it, take a cool hike down to Dolphin’s Nose. Sometimes because of cloudy weather, views can be blanketed. So, be prepared to turn back and move on to the next attraction. Be careful not to get too close to the edge as it is dangerous at Dolphin’s Nose point. Everywhere you go, there are local stalls selling yummy candy, hot grilled corn, and souvenirs.
For more things to do, you can hire a taxi or rent a car and do the drive to the gorgeous Berijam lake. This road needs a special permit, so make sure you get it before making the journey. Go early to the forest office to get a permit as the number of visitors per day is limited.
Daringbadi is Anwesha’s favorite offbeat destination in Orissa.
The picturesque land of Daringbadi is one of the untainted beautiful hill stations in Kandhamal district of Odisha and popularly known as the Kashmir of Odisha. Surrounded by pine forests, coffee gardens and green valleys, Daringbadi is a perfect offbeat summer destination. It is approximately 250 km away from Bhubaneshwar and can be easily reached via public buses or private cabs.
The hill station got its name from the British officer Mr. Daring, who was in charge of this place during the British Raj. The other half of the name means village. Even though Daringbadi brings relief to its visitors during the hot summer seasons, the temperature drops down well below zero degrees during winters. You can expect moderate snowfall in the peak winter seasons in Daringbadi but not as much as in Kashmir.
There are a lot of interesting spots in and around Daringbadi that you should check out during your stay. One such exciting place to visit is the Emu farms. Emu farming is currently a new trend in Odisha as it’s not labor-intensive and it is compatible with rearing other livestock.
Other major places you should visit are Lover’s point, Pine forests, Spice gardens, Ludu waterfalls, Kalinga Ghat, and Hill View Sunset point. The presence of colorful meadows makes this places suitable for picnic lovers. Adventure lovers can hike the trails around the hills and camp in the pine forest areas.
Daringibadi is believed to be the native land of one of the most primeval tribes of India “Kutia Khond”. The Daringibadi-Belghar belt provides a glimpse of the lifestyle of the famous Kutia Khond and Dongri Khond tribe.
You can stay in the tribal cottages of the Daringbadi nature’s camp which is an initiative by the tourism department of Odisha to bring local flavors to tourists. You can also take guided tours of the Kutia Khond villages and learn a bit of their “Kui” language. Alternatively, you can stay in Baliguda which is approximately 50 km away from Daringbadi and the distance can be covered in 1 hour. You can find good accommodations and food options in Baliguda. From Baliguda, you can visit the tribal villages of Dongri Khond in Rayagada and learn about their traditions.
Beyt Dwarka in Gujarat is Ketki’s recommendation.
The name ‘Dwarka’, is synonymous to Lord Krishna and is considered as one of the four Dham in India.’ The island of Beyt Dwarka although less famous as the religious site as compared to main Dwarka temple is a budding ground for marine life and migratory birds. Slowly gaining popularity for island camping and offbeat destination, Beyt Dwarka is something one should definitely look out for while planning trips in India.
One has to take a ferry from Okha port, to reach Dunny point on the Beyt. From the dunny point, you will be transferred to inland camps. These camps are located right on the beach so you right amidst nature. Coral identification, dolphin spotting, aquatic life watch are some of the activities one can be involved here at the island. You will be cut off from the world as there is no electricity or network and have the perfect digital detox and some tan.
Eating traditional Gujarati food and using makeshift (yet clean) toilets will be something to look forward to. You will be awe of the watercolors and probably pinch yourself as you will feel like you are not in India.
Swimming is not advised as it is a rocky portion and if you want to, it is advisable to do it with an expert. Cooler months of November to February are ideal for the island visit as you can do without electricity. Couple of NGOs arrange group trips to Beyt Dwarka. When are you planning yours?
Wayanad in Kerala is Greta’s favorite offbeat place.
If you’re looking for off the beaten track destinations in India, Wayanad has to feature on your travel bucket list. Wayanad is a rural district in the state of Kerala, in the southwest of India. It’s a must visit especially for adventure travelers, thanks to the many outdoors and adventurous activities that you can do there.
Wayanad is located high in the Western Ghats mountains, with altitudes starting at 700m and going up to 2,100m. The lush green vegetation is home to countless animal species, amongst which elephants, tigers and leopards, and is the perfect backdrop for all sorts of activities. Some of the activities you can do in Wayanad include repelling, hiking, bamboo rafting and cave exploring.
In the south of Wayanad you will find the Edakkal Caves; secluded caves that contain ancient petroglyphs dating back to the Neolithic Age. The only way to reach these is through a narrow hiking trail with stunning views over the surrounding hills. There are hiking trails for all levels of difficulty in Wayanad, ranging from short hikes with little elevation to multi-day hikes with lots of changes in elevation. It depends on your level of fitness how adventurous you want to make it!
Even if you’re not an adventure fan Wayanad has plenty to offer. You can find a lot of luxury properties at affordable prices, where you can relax and switch off from busy everyday life while surrounded by the sounds of nature.
Hampi in Karnataka is Sinjana’s recommendation for offbeat places.
Hampi is the erstwhile capital of the great Vijayanagara Empire, which attracted foreign merchants and tourists in the medieval ages. The rocks of Hampi are millions of years old, formed as a result of erosion of giant monoliths. As you walk on the fascinating landscape of rocks and temples you will time travel into a different era.
The age of peace and prosperity where gold was sold in the open market called Hampi Bazaar, where traders from as far as Portugal and Spain used to come for business, a landscape that inspired the travelogues of several foreigners who came to this mystic land. The allure of Hampi lies in its untouched rugged beauty! In Hampi, you will find some of the world’s finest temples carved out of boulders and intricate structures carved out of single rocks.
After an exhausting walking tour of the Hampi bazaar, take a coracle ride in the Tungabhadra river during sunset. Next day you can head straight to North Hampi where you would feast your senses on the grandeur of the Vijaya Vittala temple, test your fitness by trekking to the Anjaneya hills and watch another golden sunset at the Monkey temple.
There are a plethora of options to stay at Hampi – the backpackers choose to stay in the small huts in Hippie island (North Hampi) while the families choose to stay near Hampi bazaar.
If you have more time you can self-drive through the Daroji The national park is known to catch a glimpse of the sloth bear, peafowls and other wild species in the beautiful dense forests.
You can also extend your trip to the heritage golden triangle of Karnataka – Badami, Aihole, and Pattadakal. It’s impossible to believe how such exotic travel destinations still remain free from the touristy crowd. This is what makes it one of my favorite offbeat destinations in India.
These are some of the offbeat places in India, I recommend everyone to visit at least once. Please feel free to add more to this list. I would be happy to have more options.