India holds many secrets within its vast expanses of land that is dotted with nature’s bounty, so it doesn’t come as a surprise when even well-travelled people find a new place to explore. There are many destinations that remain untouched by commercialisation and unharmed by the frills of tourism. We found a few gems that are ideal to bring in the new year.
This may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of spending New Year’s Eve, but if you want to be away from all the hustle-bustle, then India’s first fresh water river island, Majuli, is an ideal spot. Often shrouded in a veil of mist, emitting sounds of migratory birds who have made it their home, this is one of the most picturesque islands in the country. Every moment captured in your camera is fit to translate into a picture postcard. Spread over about 400 sq km, the island that rests on the Brahmaputra is home to verdant rice fields, and over 100 species of birds. Many people come here during the Raas festival in November that celebrates the life of Lord Krishna in the form of dances and plays. During your visit, hop on a cycle and navigate your way around narrow bridges and winding roads as the locals do.
Driving on the Chamba-Mussoorie Highway, lined with thick trees, it’s a task to find the remote hill station of Kanatal. There are barely any signboards on the way, leading you to a path of self-discovery, one that promises to reward you with clear views of the sprawling snow-covered Himalayan mountain range amid sweet-smelling pine trees, fragrant rhododendrons, and intimidatingly tall deodar trees. An ideal place for those looking to trek up rolling hills through unknown pathways, laze around lush greenery, plucking fresh fruits from apple orchards, meditate in the lap of nature or simply escape bustling crowd to a serene getaway.
A former trading centre, Vengurla is a small town, about 110 km north of Goa. Relatively unexplored, it is home to unspoilt sultry beaches without any crowd, rows of cashew, mango and coconut trees that dot the coastline and rolling hills that surround the town. One of the most well-known landmarks here is a quaint lighthouse, which you can reach within a mere 10-minute walk up a hill through a narrow stairway. Once you’re atop, soak in the stunning aerial views of the town, the Arabian Sea, the burnt islands (a bunch of jagged rocks that were once an important navigation point for sailors), and dozens of coconut trees. Soak in the sunset and welcome the new year with open arms.
Often overtaken by the lakes of Udaipur, this hidden gem in Rajasthan is home to the mighty Kumbhalgarh Fort, known as the Great Wall of India. Built by Rana Kumbha in the Rajsamand district of Rajasthan, this 36-kilometre-long meandering wall protecting the fort is the second longest fort wall in the world after the Great Wall of China. The fort is home to over 300 temples and is surrounded by the Aravalli range. The remoteness of the location and the possibility of witnessing wildlife at the Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary are reasons enough to welcome the new year here.
Tranquebar, Tamil Nadu
Located close to Puducherry, this is a quiet and pretty town set on a long sandy beach with a few fishing boats. Traquebar, was a former colony of the Dutch, who used it as a trading hub before selling it to the British, and remnants of Danish heritage are scattered all over. The most imposing of these is Fort Dansborg which dates back to 1624. Tranquebar is also home to some pretty churches.