The top 10 off-beat wonders of India!

India, undoubtedly, is a land of wonders! There are many off-beat destinations which are unexplored, unknown and unspoken of! Many of them have made a mark on the world’s map owing to their unique perspective. They stand different when compared to cliche destinations and hence should be visited once for an enthralling and exciting experience.

Here I unravel a few unconventional travel options which might offer splendid joys if you are an inquisitive traveller. The journey to top 10 off-beat wonders starts here:

1. Muzhappilangad Beach in Kannur, Kerala, the longest drive-in beach in Asia

Imagine a long stretch of sandy land and blue waves hitting the black rocks while you drive on the sea shore. This visual experience becomes a reality when you reach Muzhappilangad Beach in Kannur. It’s the longest drive-in beach in Asia, where you can drive or bike along the 4 km pristine stretch. There are clusters of green trees on the other side which make the scene all the more appealing. To add more to its beauty is the amazing view of sunset.

How to reach

By air : Nearest airport is Kozhikode International Airport which is 100 km from Kannur

By rail: Nearest Railway Station is Kannur-15 km

By road: Kannur is 155 km south of Mangalore

2. Drass, the second coldest inhabited place in the world

drass.jpgIndia is home to the second coldest inhabited place in the world! Surprised? But yes, it is a true fact. Drass in Jammu and Kashmir enjoys the credit of being the second coldest inhabited place in the world! The temperature here dips to -50 degrees and the snow layer touches the height of 35ft. River Indus gets its water from this glacier.

By air: Nearest airport is Srinagar Airport (SXR) 98 km away

By train: Drass does not have any train station. Nearest option is Udhampur which is 176 km from Drass.

By road: The driving distance between Srinagar and Drass is 151 km

3. Nohkalikai Falls, Meghalaya, is the tallest plunge waterfall in India

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You might have enjoyed the beauty of several cascading waterfalls but are you aware which one of them is the tallest plunge waterfall and in which part of India is it located?

It’s Nohkalikai Falls located near Cherrapunji, which is a 3-hour drive from Shillong, and is said to be the tallest waterfall plunge of India. The gushing water cascades from a height of 1115 feet (340 metres) from this waterfall.

How to reach:

By air: The nearest airport is Guwahati airport which is 128 kms from the site.

By road:  From Guwahati, it’s a 4-hour journey to Shillong, which is about 54 km distance to Cherrapunji. From Cherrapunji main town, it’s a 10 mins journey to the falls. One can also hire a taxi to reach the falls.

4. Mawlynnong Village in Meghalaya, the cleanest village in Asia

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At a time when Clean India campaign has made waves across the nation, not many of us might be aware that one of the north-eastern states houses the cleanest village in Asia.

You can visit Mawlynnong Village and can trust your eyes by looking at this “Cleanest village in Asia”. Tucked in the East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya, this place is also known as ‘God’s Own Garden’. The credit of attaining such a high quotient of cleanliness goes to the local community which has made an honest attempt to maintain its pristine ambience. The narration of this place goes incomplete without mentioning about the Living Root Bridge, which is yet another wonder.

How to reach

By air: The nearest airport is Shillong Airport in Umroi, Meghalaya

By train: The nearest railway station is Guwahati (120 kms)

By road: Mawlynnong is 90 kms southwards of Shillong.

5. Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh, where the earliest rock paintings took shape

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This is the place where a new era started! Bhimbetka marks the beginning of the South Asian Stone Age. Declared as the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, it contains the earliest rock paintings. These are as old as 30,000 years old and are the first proof of human life in the Indian subcontinent.

How to reach

By air: The nearest airport is Bhopal airport which is 55-km from the site.

By train: Bhopal railway station. You can find taxi service easily.

By Road: You can reach Bhopal by road which is well-connected by road.

6. Lonar Crater Lake in Maharashtra created by meteor impact

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Many years back, the mysterious Lonar Crater Lake was created by a meteor impact. This is a saline soda lake which is one of the most interesting offbeat places to visit in India. Besides scientists, the Lonar Carter Lake also attracts numerous travellers. The lake is also surrounded by diversified flora and fauna, which make it a lot more exciting!

How to reach:

Air: Nearest Airport is Aurangabad which is 122 km from the site.

Rail : Nearest Railhead is Malkapur on the Mumbai-Bhusawal line, or Jalna 90 km.

Road: Lonar is well connected by regular bus service from Malkapur, Khamgaon, Aurangabad, Ajanta, Buldhana, Jalgaon & Mumbai in Maharashtra.

7. Borra Caves in Andhra Pradesh making yet another natural wonder in India

Borra Caves.jpgBorra Caves in Andhra Pradesh are yet another wonder in Incredible India! They date back to over million years. Discovered by Willian King George in 1807, these caves originated from river Gosthani owing to its continuous flow over the limestone terrain. The presence of mercury, sodium vapour and halogen illuminates the Borra Caves. Situated at a height of nearly 4265 feet above sea level and around 95 kms away from Vishakhapatnam, these caves are the biggest in India considering the geographical area they are spread on.

How to reach

By air: The nearest international airport is Visakhapatnam Airport, 76 km (47.2 mi) from Borra caves and 12 km from the Visakhapatnam city center.

By road: You can reach Vishakapatnam which is 90 km away from the site

By train: The train journey is over a distance of 100 km (62.1 mi) from the Vishkapatanam railway station. It takes about 5 hrs to the railway station near the caves called the Borra Guhalu Railway station’.

8. Loktak Lake in Manipur, the only floating lake in the world!

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Another incredible fact in Incredible India! The country is home to the one and only floating lake existing in the world. Besides, Loktak Lake is also the largest freshwater lake in northeast India. It got its name as the floating lake due to the large number of phumdis present on the surface. Phumdis are heterogeneous mass of organic matter that have solidified over the years. This ancient lake also has the only floating park in the world.

How to reach

By air: The closest airport to Phumdi, Loktak Lake is Imphal Tulihal Airport

By rail: The closest junction to Phumdi, Loktak Lake is Dimapur railway station

By road: Phumdi, Loktak Lake is easily accessible by using Manipur State Road Transport Corporation and some private bus services from all major towns of Manipur and surrounding areas.

9. Gurudongmar Lake in Sikkim is one of the highest lakes in the world!

Gurudongmar Lake in SikkimSituated at a height of 17,000 feet above sea level, the Gurudongmar Lake enjoys the credit of being one of the highest lakes in the world. Throughout the year, the lake water looks milky. And the view of water merging with mist is quite stunning here.

The Gurudongmar Lake also enjoys religious significance and is considered sacred by the Hindus and Buddhists as well. During winters, the entire lake freezes except one side which people believe is blessed by Guru Padmasambhava.

How to reach

By air: The nearest airport is Bagdogra near Siliguri, which is at a distance of 124 km from Gangtok

By road: It is a 7-8 hour journey from Gangtok through lush greenery and waterfalls as one reaches the Lachen village, which is the base for the trip to Gurudongmar.

By Train: The nearest railhead is New Jalpaiguri which is well-connected to most of the major cities in India.

10 Barren Island in the Andamans is the only active volcano in South Asia!

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The Andaman & Nicobar islands in the East houses the little Barren island, which is home to South Asia’s only active volcano. It is basically composed of the volcano and its debris.

The volcano’s last eruption was reported on July 19, 2009 and till date, it continues to exhale clouds of ash. This island was uninhabited a few years back, however, many wild goats have secretly made it their home. You will be surprised to see them going down to the sea to drink salt water.

How to reach

The only way to reach Barren Island is by Ship. A passenger ship with a capacity of 75 pax goes to Barren Island from Phoenix Bay Jetty, Port Blair every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday of the week. It starts from Port Blair at 09.00 pm and comes back next day 11.00 am.

Tickets are issued from Inter Island Ticketing Counter between 1400 hrs. to 1500 hrs. on the day of sailing.

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The tale of a generous watchman!

The land of royal rulers presented yet another pleasant offering to me! I was left astonished with the generosity of this watchman at Chokhi Dhani.

While we were touring the resort and watching different attractions, my son stopped right in front of Pratap’s statue. He saw the watchman wearing something colourful and holding a Bhala.

He wanted to wear the same dress and get himself clicked. I was little skeptical of requesting him to lend his dress.

It was like a catch 22 situation. I could see him watching my son cry and his eyes expressed his helplessness. I think he was in his line of duty and hence was expressing his helplessness.

But the human soul in him overtook his professional approach soon and he came forward with a solution.

In a very humanitarian gesture, he gave his cap and Bhala to Apoorv, my son and asked him to get himself clicked.

And I could see the satisfaction on his face on looking at the smiling face of my son.

It’s true that satisfaction comes from within and you cant buy it from anywhere! And that satisfaction was very much visible on his face and in an effort to appease my son, I couldn’t even thank this man…

My apologies…Thanks Mr XYZ for giving us such a cherishing memory.

When rails, roads and airlines are no help to you…!

Does travelling in India come as a challenge during  urgent circumstances?

My experience says ‘yes’. This is because recently while travelling from Jaipur to Delhi, I got a news that my mother had met with an accident near Indore and has lost her life. I was informed that two of my aunts have also passed away. Mid-way in train, I was clueless how to handle the situation.

My co-passengers started surfing their nets to check tickets in tatkal and general and ladies quota. Much to our surprise, not even a single seat was vacant.

Then, they started surfing net for airlines. Surprisingly, the prices were enormously high for a middle class to handle. While Delhi-Indore morning flight showed Rs 11000 per person as its fare, the evening flight displayed Rs 18000. It meant a dent of above Rs 50000 as we were four in a family.

Left with no choice, we have to book air tickets to Udaipur which were within our reach and from Udaipur, we hired a private vehicle to Ratlam. Overall, it was again a dent of Rs 35000.

In between, we got the news that my cousin is also critical. I wanted to fly away, time looked like the only bottleneck which was stopping me to reach to her.

Emotions ran crazy and tears kept rolling. Wanted to sue the entire system that what am I paying my taxes for if I am not getting the right facility at right time.

The worst happened when during our road journey, we were stranded in long queues many times. This is because it was the last day of Simhastha and many vehicles were stranded at toll taxes counters.

Long queues, endless waits, sweaty summers and immerse mental trauma due to grief and sorrow instilled a traumatic feel.

And hence was forced to pen down my experience that how come there is no facility available for those who want to travel in urgent circumstances? Doesn’t there be a special counter for handling emergency situations?

We think big…are looking forward for a bullet train, have prestigious airlines flying in our skies, have smooth taxis running on roads, but are we able to meet grassroot challenges?

Does someone really care for those who want to travel urgently.

I wish there’s someone who can take my plea forward and introduce emergency quota for those who are distressed and want to reach their destinations fast!

We miss you mamma!

Mamma why you left for heaven above?

Who will now shower the mother’s enormous love?

Who will hug us when we come home?

Your void will be enormous and we will be all alone.

Your sweet smile and care had just no match,

Rest everything in world now looks like a catch.

The house, it seems, has lost its heart,

There’s no warmth left and days too look dark.

I know you must be twinkling in the sky,

And watching us shedding our tears from eye.

I know you might feel bad when you see us cry,

But tears don’t stop and they roll down from eye.

Whom should we talk to when we need your guidance?

In tough times too, you had always shown your patience

We were your darlings and how could you go,

without even sharing your plans for heavenly abode.

That holy dip became your final voyage,

And we couldn’t even know that we will come to give you final homage.

The life looks tough n dad too looks feeble,

Everything it seems is difficult to handle.

But we will try to be strong,

to follow what you have taught,

‘No matter what happens

But The Show Must Go On…!’

We will smile,

Will bask in pride,

Coz you were our mom,

and will wish, you should always be our mom!

And am in kings, queens’ land

Yes, am surprised that I am a resident of the then land  of kings and queens.

If you are thinking this city to be Jaipur, you are absolutely right. I am residing in Jaipur.

Once upon a time, this city used to be my dream city. I used to visit here quite frequently from Delhi to catch up with its royal past. And now when I am here, there are many more reasons for my happiness..

Immersed in lot of stories of royal past, this city still carries a rich heritage of the then rulers. As I have just shifted from the Indian capital, I can now feel that I have started living my life to the best…

  • Firstly, I know what I am breathing is not that polluted as that of Delhi air.
  • Secondly, I don’t find those big traffic jams.
  • I don’t see people stranded on roads.
  • And then, I can trace so many different species of sparrows, on our balcony, on our terrace.
  • And imagine, waking up to the sounds of chirping of sparrows.
  • There is so much space in and around our house.
  • People are polite and lack that showy nature.
  • There are no big mobile towers here that allows different species to fly without fear of radiations.

Here I thank God to have brought me back to a city where people still live life like a human being and not like machines, where evening snacks still bring the taste of mouth-watering dishes and where life is awesome…!