Quaint escapes

, Breathe

Often overlooked over famous destinations, these small towns and villages can offer travellers memorable experiences.  

Words: Avika Kashyap

India is a country known for its rich heritage. Be it Rajasthan and Gujarat in the west, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in the south, Assam and Manipur in the East or Himachal Pradesh and Delhi in the north, there is no dearth of places for people to travel. However, apart from its heritage and architecture, India boasts of various quintessential villages having their own way of life. People throng to these villages for their old-world charm, serenity, rich cultural heritage, quiet and peaceful environment. These jewelled enclaves are perfect for tourists who go that extra mile to know the unknown.

Landour town

Landour, Uttarakhand

A charming small town in Uttarakhand, Landour is most famous for being home to the incedible author Ruskin Bond. A cantonment town at an altitude of 7,000 ft, it is blessed with a pleasing climate throughout the year and is less crowded than Mussoorie, which is just 1,000 ft below. People can visit this small town for the British era churches like the Kellogg’s Church, St.Paul and the Methodist church. Being surrounded by mountains, it also offers some popular trekking routes that pass through the beautiful valleys of Uttarakhand.

Sindhudurg Fort in Tarkarli was built by Chhatrapati Shivaji in 1600’s and took about three years to complete with almost 100 architects from Portugal

Water sport at Tarkarli beach

Mawlynnong, Meghalaya

The cleanest village in Asia (it won this status in 2003), Mawlynnong is located about 100 kms from Shillong, the capital of Northeast India’s Meghalaya. Absolutely clean, green and stunning, walk the cobbled streets bordered with thatched Khasi huts and gardens full of colourful flowers. The villagers have kept bamboo baskets outside every house to be used as bins. The village is also home to few of the living root bridges of Meghalaya. Unique to Meghalaya, the roots make a pathway across a stream, making it easy for villagers to commute. Few of the bridges can hold over 50 people at one time.

The Double Decker

One of the most famous root bridge of the state “The Double Decker” root bridge, can be found in Cherrapunji (one of the wettest places on earth). Just two and a half hours drive from the capital city and you will be able to see another 11 functional root bridges in this area.

Adventure Files

Get thrilled with an action-packed experience of Quad Biking in Jaipur.

Ride on off-road tracks that go winding through the forest

Tarkarli, Maharashtra

A serene and tranquil hamlet on the shores of the Arabian Sea, Tarkarli is a pretty village in Maharashtra. What makes this village different from others is the white sands of the Tarkarli Beach. People come here and laze around for the day. The village is also close to an island which houses the Sindhudurg Fort. Built by Chhatrapati Shivaji in 1600’s, it took about three years to complete with almost 100 architects from Portugal and manpower of 3,000 people. Apart from the architectural brilliance of the fort, it also houses temples inside dedicated to Goddess Bhavani, Lord Hanuman and Jarimari. Tarkarli is also a place where tourists enjoy various water sports like parasailing and scuba diving. Dolphin sighting is also one activity quite common here.

Samode, Rajasthan

Situated about 40 km from Jaipur, Samode is located on the way to the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. Famous for its historical lanes, forts and palaces, the Samode Palace is the biggest attraction here. Unlike other palaces of Rajasthan, Samode Palace doesn’t belong to any royal family but the Rawals of Samode. About 400 years old, the interiors portray fusion of Rajasthani and Mughal art and architecture. The 300 descending steps in Samode Fort leading to an underground passage used by the royals for secret escape during emergencies is also quite intriguing for visitors. While in the village, you can also interact with the friendly villagers and know about the bygone time and era. Few other places that you can visit here include Samode Fort, Mahadev Temple and Sultan Mahal, among others.

The 300 descending steps in Samode Fort leading to an underground passage used by the royals for secret escape during emergencies

Majuli, Assam

The largest river island in the world, Majuli is located on the banks of the Brahmaputra river. Spread across 400 sq km, the island can be accessed only by ferries. This island is an archaic world in itself where you can find locals living in bamboo huts and cooking on fire. Abundance of natural beauty, diverse wildlife and impeccable serenity make this place a global phenomenon to experience. The island is also an important cultural centre of Assam. Many monasteries constructed by the Assamese Saint – Srimanta Sankardeva – still survive and depict the vibrant culture of Assam. The island also offers opportunities for birding enthusiasts. Both domestic and migratory birds, including storks, kingfisher, egret, purple moorhen and white-breasted waterhen can be spotted here.

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