Experimenting with your choice of an ideal travel companion can be disastrous at times, but you can hardly ever go wrong with your close group of friends. Whether in school, college, at work or at a later stage- travelling with friends is an experience unmatched and makes memories unforgettable.
We bring you a list of Indian destinations that you should definitely visit with your friends to take the travel experience a level ahead.
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Goa is, for sure, the dream destination of most groups, especially in schools and colleges. The pint-sized state’s biggest draw is undoubtedly its virtually uninterrupted string of golden-sand beaches. This shimmering strand stretches along the Arabian Sea from the tip to the toe of the state, and each of the various beaches have developed their own personalities and reputations since the hippie days of the sixties. They cater to every tropical whim: choose from backpacker Arambol or bolder, brasher Baga; from the palm-fringed sands of Palolem to hippie market bliss at Anjuna or lovely, laid-back Mandrem.
A less-crowded Goa, Gokarna has a similar vibe and always welcomes young and old groups of travellers alike. It attracts a crowd for low-key, chilled-out beach holiday. Staying right on the beach in a simple thatch bamboo hut could be blissful.
Ever since the Beatles rocked up at the ashram of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the late ’60s, Rishikesh has been a magnet for spiritual seekers. But it is also the most popular backpacker hangout station and attracts thousands of groups, especially for adventure sports every year. The exquisite setting on the fast-flowing Ganges, surrounded by forested hills, is conducive to fun and relaxation.
For the beach loving groups, Andaman Islands should surely top the list. With breathtakingly beautiful coastline, lush forested interior, fantastic diving possibilities and a far-flung location, these islands are a perfect place to ramble around or simply chill out on sun-toasted beaches.
Just about 8-10 hours of drive from Delhi will take you and your gang to a beautiful hill town in Himachal Pradesh. The village of Bir is internationally famous as the base for some of the best paragliding in the world. The take-off point at Billing, 14km up a winding road hosts major competitive flying events. Book a bonfire camp overnight at Billing, and fly 1000 metres down to Bir next morning.
With some of the most dangerous roads, a bike trip to Ladakh is for those who always want that adrenaline rush. Spectacularly jagged, arid mountains enfold this magical Buddhist ex-kingdom. Picture-perfect gompas dramatically crown rocky outcrops amid whitewashed stupas and mani walls. Colourful fluttering prayer flags share their spiritual messages metaphorically with the mountain breeze. Watching the spectacular landscapes by some of the most pristine lakes with friends could become a beautiful memory.
The Parvati valley has a well-deserved reputation as a backpacker hotspot, and several villages have been transformed into hippie/backpacker hang-outs, offering cheap accommodation, international food and nonstop music to travellers. The Parvati River enters the Beas just above Bhuntar and its ethereally beautiful valley stretches back up to the hot springs at Manikaran and beyond into the 5000m heights of the Great Himalayan Range. There are some excellent treks in the area, including over the Chandrakani Pass to/from Naggar, or the Pin-Parvati Pass to/from Spiti.
This sloping alpine meadow is a beautiful 3-4 hour walk up the Parvati Valley from Barsheni, which is 13km up from Manikaran. The meadow is home to delectable hot springs and a shabby collection of shack guesthouses and cafe-restaurants open from about April to October. A day trip to Khir Ganga and back is also well worthwhile.
Lahaul & Spiti
The desolate northern and eastern tracts of Himachal Pradesh are among the most spectacular and sparsely populated regions on Earth. Crossing the Rohtang La from Manali, you arrive first in Lahaul’s relatively green Chandra Valley. Travelling east, up the Chandra Valley and over the Kunzum La into Spiti, you pass into the rain shadow of the Great Himalayan Range. Spiti is 7000 sq km of snow-topped mountains and high-altitude desert, punctuated by tiny patches of greenery and villages of whitewashed houses clinging to the sides of rivers and meltwater streams.
Triund trek is one of the easiest and most stunning treks in Himachal Pradesh. About 10km from McLeodganj, nestling at a height of about 2,828 m, this little jewel of the Dhauladhar Range is a must for both seasoned as well as amateur trekkers. Climbers often say they forget their fatigue once they reach the top as they encounter the breath-taking, pasture-like vistas that Triund offers. And in case you are thirsting for more, there’s another hike – up to Kareri Lake where there are some ancient rock-cut caves.
This article was first published in August 2018 and has been updated since.