The ideal season of travel has finally arrived, so those who have been finding it difficult to get out of their blankets can pack their bags without giving a second thought. It’s neither too cold to carry warmers, nor too hot so you won’t be sweating a lot.
Hassle-free and warm-hearted, it’s a state that’s all too easy to fall in love with. Clean, green and ‘all organic’ since 2016, Sikkim is mostly a maze of plunging, super-steep valleys thick with lush subtropical woodlands and rhododendron groves, rising in the north to the spectacular white-top peaks of the eastern Himalaya. When clouds clear, an ever-thrilling experience from many a ridge-top perch is spotting the world’s third-highest mountain, Kangchenjunga (8598m), on the northwestern dawn horizon.
Read More: In Pics: A short trip to Udaipur
Enthralling, historical Jaipur, Rajasthan’s capital, is the gateway to India’s most flamboyant state. The city’s colourful, chaotic streets ebb and flow with a heady brew of old and new. Careering buses dodge dawdling camels, leisurely cycle-rickshaws frustrate swarms of motorbikes, and everywhere buzzing autorickshaws watch for easy prey. In the midst of this cacophony and mayhem, the splendours of Jaipur’s majestic past are islands of relative calm evoking a different pace and another world.
The town of Vrindavan is where the young Krishna is said to have grown up. Pilgrims flock here from all over India and, as it’s the centre of the Hare Krishna community, from all over the world. March plays a special role in bringing visitors here as the festival of colours-Holi- is celebrated with great fervour. It’s a delight for the shutterbugs and tourists alike.
Encompassing part of the Western Ghats’ Nilgiri Biopshere Reserve, which spills into Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, Wayanad’s landscape combines mountain scenery, rice paddies of ludicrous green, skinny betel nut trees, bamboo, red earth, spiky ginger fields, slender eucalyptuses, and rubber, cardamom and coffee plantations. It’s an excellent place to spot wild elephants. Travellers stop here between Mysuru (Mysore), Bengaluru (Bangalore) or Ooty (Udhagamandalam) and Kerala, and Wayanad is a popular escape for city-based tourists – yet it remains fantastically unspoilt and satisfyingly secluded.
A regular nominee among travellers’ favourite beaches in India, Gokarna attracts a crowd for a low-key, chilled-out beach holiday and not for full-scale parties. Most accommodation is in thatched bamboo huts along the town’s several stretches of blissful coast. It’s a calmer substitute for Goa if one is looking for a beach holiday.
Comprising a string of 36 palm-covered, white-sand-skirted coral islands 300km off the Kerala coast, Lakshadweep (India’s smallest Union Territory) is as stunning as it is isolated. Lakshadweep’s real attraction lies underwater: the 4200 sq km of pristine archipelago lagoons, unspoilt coral reefs and warm waters are a magnet for scuba divers and snorkellers.
This misty hill station, 120km northwest of Madurai in the protected Palani Hills, is more relaxed and intimate than its big sister Ooty. It’s not all cold either; days feel more like deep spring than early winter. Centred on a beautiful star-shaped lake, Kodai rambles up and down hillsides with patches of shola (virgin forest), unique to the Western Ghats, and evergreen broadleaf trees like magnolia, mahogany, myrtle and rhododendron.