After more than a year of constant stress and worry, it’s time to disconnect from the chaos of reality and escape to nature.
Switch off and go off-grid in one of India’s many stunning natural destinations, where your boss can’t reach you and your worries seem to melt away.
Blessed with abundant natural beauty and wildlife, India has sky-high mountains, verdant valleys, sparkling waterfalls, emerald lakes and exotic wildlife. Nature lovers won’t find it hard to seek out their secluded corner here.
Here are five ways to switch off and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of India:
1. Wander through Uttarakhand’s national parks
A mystical land filled with mountains, mythologies, mesmerising landscapes, and mind-blowing adventure, Uttarakhand is every nature lover’s dream. Sheltered by the otherworldly Himalayas, this northern state is home to India’s holiest pilgrimage sites and is aptly named the ‘Land of Gods’. The beauty of this unique landscape has been drawing visitors for centuries. Very little will come between you and nature in any corner of this state.
Wildlife lovers will particularly be drawn to the breathtaking flora and fauna within its 13 national parks. But the crowning jewel is predictably India’s oldest, Jim Corbett National Park. Within its 521 sq km, you’ll find tigers roaming freely alongside elephants, otters, pangolins, jackals, bears and more.
Perhaps, you’ll find solace in Valley of Flowers National Park, a heavenly World Heritage-listed site set against the backdrop of the Zanskar range. Every September, the hills come alive with enchanting alpine blossoms that need to be seen to be believed.
Wildly popular among trekkers, Gangotri National Park is a wide expanse of lush meadows, verdant valleys and gorgeous Himalayan landscapes. This is where India’s holiest river, Ganges, begins its journey. Truly secluded and remote, this is where you’ll encounter rare Himalayan fauna such as snow leopards, musk deer, Himalayan Thar, blue sheep and more.
2. Wake up in the Himalayas
Nothing in the world matches the grandeur and solitude of the Himalayas. Ditch the chaos of cities and embrace the tranquility and serenity the Himalayas so easily offer. Endless pine forests, meadows carpeted by flowers, fruit orchards, gushing rivers, glassy lakes and 180-degree views of the mountains await.
Enveloped in the shadows of the majestic peaks, countless villages dot the states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Arunachal Pradesh. Replace the blare of traffic with the call of birds and animals in remote locations such as Rishikesh, Rakchham, Auli and Ziro. Our pick is the alluring town of Mukteshwar. Perched on a ridge, 7,513 feet above sea level, this hilly town lets you gaze upon unparalleled views of the Himalayas. The region is covered in dense forest and apple orchards line the streets.
Bhimtal is another Himalayan jewel located in the famous Nainital district. Sporting the magic of Nainital minus the crowds, Bhimtal is a secluded paradise made for serious rejuvenation. Defined by a beautiful lake, Bhimtal will calm your soul with its silence, lush forests and historical sites.
Where to stay: Rosefinch Sarovar Portico, Bhimtal
3. Get up close with wildlife
One of the few countries in the world to be blessed with exotic and diverse wildlife, India is the only country in the world with native populations of both lions and tigers, and is home to 12% of the world’s bird species. Across the country’s mountains, valleys, hills, forests and grasslands, you’ll spot some amazing native wildlife. No matter where you are in the country, you are never far from a national park. After all, India boasts more than 100 of them.
Replace your family chatter with the cacophony of animals in any of the protected reserves. Make memories to last a lifetime when you spot that elusive cat, the gentle elephant or the shifty fox.
But India’s majestic national animal rules them all – the tiger. A drawcard for safari enthusiasts, tigers have a mesmerising hold on wildlife lovers. One of the most popular homes of the striped cats is Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan. Once a private hunting ground for the royals of Jaipur, Ranthambore is perched right at the meeting point of the Aravallis and Vindhyas. Turn off Netflix and spend your time watching tigers, bears, jackals, deer, macaques and more.
Where to stay: Nahargarh Ranthambore
4. Head to the coast
What could be better than sun, sand and sea? India’s impressive 7,500-kilometre coastline beckons with sun-kissed beaches, pristine shores, seaside towns and adrenaline-pumping water sports.
Breathe in the salty air, relax as endless waves crash melodiously on the beach, enjoy a refreshing dip in the cool waters of the sea or simply watch the sun rise and melt into the ocean every day. Whether it’s Tarkarli in Maharashtra, Kovalam in Kerala, Puducherry in Tamil Nadu, Gokarna in Karnataka or the pristine Andamans, there’s a seaside town for everyone.
Discover one of Asia’s best beaches hidden away from the mainland, on the pristine island of Havelock, in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Radhanagar Beach’s crystal-clear waters, powdery white sands and remoteness make it a countrywide favourite. The island is also ideal for watersport lovers, with scuba-diving a popular pastime. For those who want to see the exotic colourful aquatic life here, snorkelling is a must.
Where to stay: Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, The Andamans
5. Embrace the serenity of the backwaters
The emerald backwaters of Kerala beckon visitors from far and wide. This long, intertwined network of lagoons, lakes, rivers and canals runs parallel to the Arabian Sea and is the answer to your stress and worries.
One of the quintessential ways to experience these waterways is to take a traditional Kerala-style houseboat, kettuvallam, on Vembanad Lake, India’s longest lake. Kick back and relax as the houseboat cruises around the calm waters, and watch the world slowly pass you by. Sunsets are absolutely magical here.
Foodies will particularly enjoy the fresh seafood delicacies on offer here. Plus, you can also peek into the lives of local villagers and soak up some culture.
Find your slice of paradise in any of the backwater-lined towns: Alleppey, Kozhikode, Ashtamudi and Thrissur are all popular options.
Where to stay: Estuary Sarovar Portico, Kerala