As the monsoon is settling down and making way for fall, there are many locations in the country best to be explored this month. Avail it to tick a few places off your bucket list.
Sikkim’s modern capital, Gangtok, is layered along a precipitous mountain ridge, descending the hillside in steep tiers. Other than a few minor sights, there are countless viewpoints with panoramas that encompass plunging green valleys and, if weather favours, glimpses of Kangchenjunga on the distant skyline. Gangtok is a pleasing destination and makes for a nice vacation to a hill town. A short trip can be planned to explore the place inside out.
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.
Lonavla is a raucous resort town about 106km southeast of Mumbai, loaded with pretty little waterfalls. Its main drag consists almost exclusively of garishly lit shops flogging chikki, the rock-hard, brittle sweet made in the area, and you get fun-for-the-whole-family kind of stuff like wax museums, go-carts and a large water park. One of the main reasons you’d want to come here is to visit the nearby Karla and Bhaja Caves which, after those at Ellora and Ajanta, are the best in Maharashtra.
The best thing about Mahabaleshwar is the jaw-dropping mountain scenery on the road to get here. As it is surrounded by beautiful hills, Mahabaleshwar’s viewpoints and falls attract quite a large number of tourists. The town can also be used as a base to visit the impressive Pratapgad Fort or Kass Pleateau of Flowers, both nearby.
Situated amidst the ancient mountains called the Aravalli Range, Udaipur is fondly known as the ‘City of Lakes’ and has five main lakes which include the Fateh Sagar Lake, Lake Pichola, Swaroop Sagar Lake, Rangsagar and Doodh Talai Lake. The city of Udaipur is dotted with magnificent palaces dating back to the 16th century forts, temples, royal gardens and wildlife sanctuaries.
Puducherry (or Pondicherry), is a perfect blend of beach, heritage, adventure and cultural experiences. The tranquil atmosphere of this lovely destination promises peace, because time almost stops. That said, you’ll never get bored.
Bikaner is a vibrant, dust-swirling desert town with a fabulous fort and an energising outpost feel. It’s less dominated by tourism than many other Rajasthan cities, though it has plenty of hotels and a busy camel-safari scene, which attracts travellers looking to avoid the Jaisalmer hustle.
The carvings that swathe Khajuraho’s three groups of World Heritage–listed temples are among the finest temple art in the world. The Western Group of temples, in particular, contain some stunning sculptures. Khajuraho’s isolation has helped preserve it from the desecration invaders inflicted on ‘idolatrous’ temples elsewhere. Architecture lovers can treat themselves here.
Enthralling, historical Jaipur, Rajasthan’s capital, is the gateway to India’s most flamboyant state. The splendours of Jaipur’s majestic past are islands of relative calm evoking a different pace and another world.
Rajasthan’s only hill station nestles among green forests on the state’s highest mountain. Quite unlike anywhere else in Rajasthan, Mt Abu provides Rajasthanis, Gujaratis and a small number of foreign tourists with respite from scorching temperatures and arid terrain elsewhere. The mountain is of great spiritual importance for both Hindus and Jains and has over 80 temples and shrines, most notably the exquisite Jain temples at Delwara, built between 400 and 1000 years ago.
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.