It’s the last month of the year and also the time to ring in the New Year in style. Travel to these places for a perfect end to the year
Words: Bindu Gopal Rao
The thrill-seeker: Bir Billing
If adventure gives you an adrenaline rush, Bir Billing which lies about 70 km from Dharamshala and 14 km enroute to the Thamsar Pass trek in Himachal Pradesh, must be your choice. A well-known paragliding destination, Bir Billing hosted the Paragliding World Cup recently and the views of the Dhauladhar mountains and Kangra valley are most amazing. The weather, smooth winds and the cloud base that ranges between 4000-6000 metres make this place ideal for paragliding. Apart from paragliding, you can also trek to Himachali tribal villages, try camping, mountain biking and angling in this Buddhist town that has a monastery and a Tibetan handicraft centre.
Focus on wellness: Ayurvedic spas in Kerala
For a relaxing holiday that can rejuvenate you and help you start the year on a positive note check into a good resort in Kerala that offers an Ayurvedic spa package and you can destress under expert guidance. Most resorts have packages for detox, rejuvenation and weight-loss among others. Some of the best places include Kairali, Somatheertham, Kumarakom Lake Resort, Kalari Kovilakam, Kalari Rasayana Venad, Fragrant Nature Backwater & Ayurvedic Spa, Shin Shiva Ayurvedashram and Sitaram Ayurveda Centre. Do try the holistic Panchakarma treatment that rejuvenates the body and soul and includes key treatments Vamana (Emesis), Virechana (Purgation), Snehavasthi (Medicated Oil Enema), Kashayavasti (Medicated decoction enema) and Nasyam (Nasal Nasal Drops).
It’s all about luxury: Resorts and forts of Jaipur
For people who enjoy the good life, the villas of Jaipur are the best way to welcome the New Year. Perfect for families, they offer a fine balance of privacy and luxury. Some of the interesting options include Winter Garden, the Rambagh Palace, the Umaid Vilas, the Royal Retreat, Anjana’s homestay, Agwan Villa, Pearl, Tree of Life Vilas Resort & Spa and Villa 243 among others. While in Jaipur, a visit to the architecturally rich Amer Fort is a must. A good idea is to head here in the later part of the afternoon to be able to catch the evening sound and light show as well. The Nahargarh Fort, City Palace Fort and the Jaigarh Fort are other sightseeing options.
The nature lover: Tadoba National Park in Maharashtra
If wildlife gives you a high, the best place to spot the elusive Bengal Tiger is at the Tadoba National Park in Maharashtra, the state’s largest tiger reserve and one of India’s project tiger reserves. The park has three sources of water: the Tadoba river, Tadobalake and the Kolsa lake and the safari takes place across all three regions. The central part of the park is the Moharli or Mahurli zone which is the best spot in the park to spot animals. The Tadoba zone is known for scenic locales and animal spotting while the Kolsa zone is a thick forest area and the flora and fauna is best enjoyed here.
The pilgrim: Bodh Gaya
To end the year on a peaceful note and feel zen-like, there is no better place than the village of Bodh Gaya in Bihar. A renowned site, this is where Buddha found enlightenment. At the Mahabodhi temple you can literally walk in the footsteps of the Buddha. The Bodhi tree under which Buddha gained his enlightenment is a popular meditational place here. Do check out the other sights like the great 80-foot Buddha Statue, Japanese Temple (Indosan Nipponji), Taiwanese Temple (World Chonghwa Buddhist Sangha), Thai Monastery as well as the Archaeological Museum and Bodhgaya Multimedia Museum. Starting the year on a spiritual note is a great way to begin.
The instagrammer: Shillong
The capital of Meghalaya, Shillong is a trendy place for the instagrammers to end the year, because of its lovely natural scenes and picture-postcards hills. Start at the scenic Shillong Peak, the highest point in the State 1965 metres above sea level that has panoramic views of the country side. And if you are a waterfall lover, Elephant Falls, Sweet Falls and Spread Eagle Falls are all scenic locales that will make your camera trigger happy. For more natural vistas check out the beautiful Lady Hydari Park, Umiam Lake and Ward’s Lake that have short garden walks and boating facilities. To understand the region’s tradition and ethnic tribal culture the Government Museum in the State Central Library complex and the Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures is a must.