Take on the monsoon!
Weekend getaways, journeys of discovery, chill-out breaks. Take your pick!
Find inner peace in Thimphu, Bhutan
Out of Kolkata (fly 1.25 hours)
If you’re looking for a different monsoon experience, head north across the border to the kingdom of happiness – Bhutan. The capital Thimphu is remarkably clean and well planned. A monumental tribute to the religious leader, the Buddha Dordenma Statue towers over the city and makes for an awe-inspiring welcome. The crafts bazaar in Norzin Lam is a must-visit, with its many handicrafts and curios. When you want to take a break, settle down in one of the many pubs and restaurants in the area. The locally-brewed beer pairs perfectly with all kinds of food. Done with the bustling streets? Head to either the National Memorial Chorten or the Phajoding Monastery for some spiritual time out. Visit the open-air zoo, Takin Preserve Motithang, for a glimpse of Bhutan’s national animal, the rare takin. The seat of the government at Tashichho Dzong, on the banks of the Wang Chhu River, is also impressive. Thimphu stands for everything that Bhutan is – a heady mix of bazaars, pubs, history and, of course, happiness.
Go back to nature in Bhoramdeo, Kawardha, Chhattisgarh
Out of Raipur (120km)
No matter the season, a visit to this offbeat destination is guaranteed to secure you a holiday far from the madding crowd. Start off on a historic note at the Bhoramdeo Temple, with its 11th-century architecture and lotus-dotted lake. Stroll through the sal forests of the Maikal Hills and take a peek at the lives of the tribes in the area – the Gonds, Baigas and Bhatras. While some kind souls might even open up their homes to visitors, the best way to take a non-intrusive look at how the locals live is by visiting the local market, or haat. The villages take turns to host the market on different days of the week, so you can choose between Taregaon or the one near Bhoramdeo itself. It’s advisable to make enquiries once you get there to figure where you want to go. If you’re lucky, a village shaman will demonstrate how they practise their craft. It’s an invaluable experience that lets you into the world of our country’s indigenous people. Not only is it immensely enriching, but, with waves of ‘development’ washing across the country, these little pockets of history might be wiped away in a few years.
Discover hidden gems in Bundi, Rajasthan
Out of Jaipur (220km)
It’s hard to find a place in this state that is not always thronged by hordes of tourists. Yet, a few pockets do still exist. Bundi, with its ornate forts, bustling bazaars, ancient stepwells and brightly-painted houses, is one such gem. Take a stroll through the town’s ancient bylanes and take a breather at one of the many small cafés. When you’re done getting a feel of the place, head to the site that should be on top of any visitor’s list – the Garh Palace. Built in the early 1600s, this landmark finds fame in the writings of Rudyard Kipling. From the Chitrasala to Badal Mahal, there are murals here aplenty that depict life from another age. If you need a break from man-made wonders, head a little way off to Bhimlat Waterfall. In the monsoon, the falls are in full flow, and the natural pool at the bottom looks straight out of a postcard. Back in town for more history, there’s the 14th- century Taragarh Fort, the lake-facing Sukh Mahal and the Raniji ki Baori (queen’s stepwell). Bundi, with its hidden gems, demands a spirit of exploration. Make sure you take your time.