The blankets of snow on the Alps are alluring, but did you know that India has its own ‘Mini Switzerland?’ Or that a tiny hill station in Kerala was once the summer treat for the rulers of Travancore?
The nip in the air will soon be followed by winter, which means it’s time to begin planning your next vacation. To help you find your perfect destination, we’ve compiled a list of off-beat locations across the length and breadth of India.
Here are lesser-known getaways around India that are worth exploring in the winter:
1. Khonoma, Nagaland
Khonoma is a quant Angami Naga village located close to the Indo-Myanmar border, which overlooks beautiful paddy fields and lush green forests.
The village has a rich history and is often described as a “warrior village” for showing strong resistance against the British government in the colonial era.
Khonoma is also India’s first ‘green village’ and has formed the Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary to protect several endangered wildlife and rare plant species in their natural habitat.
One of the best times to visit is during the Hornbill Festival in December. The village is abuzz with activities as tribes across the state gather to celebrate their culture and identities, and it’s the perfect time for tourists to indulge in the local culture, food, scenery, and more.
How to reach: The nearest airport is the Dimapur airport, about 75 km away, and the nearest railway station is the Dimapur railway station, around 79 km away.
2. Lambasingi, Andhra Pradesh
This charming hill station in Andhra Pradesh is the perfect destination for a peaceful and quiet winter break.
Located in Chintapalli Mandal in Visakhapatnam district, the village is nestled amid the Eastern Ghats, perched at a height of around 1,000 metres above sea level. Because of low commercialisation, it stays relatively cool throughout the year, even during peak summers.
Notable places to visit here include Thajangi Reservoir, Kothapalli and Yerravaram waterfalls, Susan Garden, Kondakarla Bird Sanctuary, and Annavaram Temple.
During the winter, the temperature can go even below 0°C, and tourists can experience spells of rainfall.
How to reach: The nearest airport is the Visakhapatnam airport, around 106 km away, and the nearest railway station is the Chintapalli railway station, around 20 km away.
3. Lava, West Bengal
Tucked away in the eastern Himalayas is a little town named Lava, located in West Bengal’s Kalimpong district. This town experiences snow every winter, and is known for several scenic attractions, as well as its flora and fauna.
Located at a height of 7,016 feet above sea level, Lava is situated close to the famous Neora Valley National Park and serves as its base.
It also boasts of several monasteries and temples. Lava is an ideal winter destination for nature and adventure lovers who can go for treks, bird watching, and plant and wildlife exploration.
How to reach: The nearest airport is the Bagdogra airport, around 118 km away, and the nearest railway station is the New Jalpaiguri railway station, around 102 km away.
4. Araku Valley, Andhra Pradesh
With vast coffee plantations and beautiful sceneries, Araku is surrounded by lush green forests and the Easter Ghats, and is located at an elevation of around 3,200 feet above sea level.
Visitors can enjoy the views of Raktkonda, Sunkrimetta, Chitamogondi and Galikonda mountains, as well as the Ananthagiri and the Sunkrimetta Reserved Forests. The region has many scenic trails and is popular for trekking activities.
It also houses the Tribal Museum, dedicated to the area’s numerous indigenous tribes; the Borra Caves, among the largest in the country; the Padmapuram Botanical Gardens; and the Chaparai waterfalls.
How to reach: The nearest airport is the Visakhapatnam airport, around 107 km away, and the nearest railway station is the Visakhapatnam railway station, around 112 km.
5. Megamalai, Tamil Nadu
Located in the Theni district of Tamil Nadu, Megamalai, also known as Paccha Kumachi (Green Peak), is a less-explored destination in the Western Ghats.
During British rule, the region was called Highwavys Mountains, but locals later renamed it Meghamalai, which translates to ‘cloud mountain’ in Tamil. This is because the peak is always covered with clouds.
Megamalai offers a stunning view of the entire range of Varusanadu Hills. Other than the views, tourists can explore the waterfalls, dams and cool weather.
How to reach: The nearest airport is the Madurai airport, around 103 km away, and the nearest railway station is the Madurai railway station, around 104 km away.
6. Peermade, Kerala
A small hill station located around 950 metres above sea level, Peermade or Peerumedu in Kerala is known for nature’s bounty.
It is said that this was the summer retreat for the rulers of Travancore, and today is a vast expanse of plantations of tea, coffee, coconut, and cardamom. The region is part of the Western Ghats and also has several spectacular waterfalls, scenic grasslands, pine forests and viewpoints.
How to reach: The nearest airport is the Cochin International airport, around 135 km away, and the nearest railway station is the Kottayam railway station, around 80 km away.
7. Baisaran Valley, Kashmir
This offbeat destination in Kashmir’s Anantnag district is dotted with dense pine forests, long green meadows and a view of snow-capped peaks. With this, it has earned the moniker ‘Mini-Switzerland’.
It is undoubtedly an ideal location for those looking for a quiet destination for vacationing. The valley also serves as a camping spot for trekkers heading to Tullian Lake. Some tourist attractions near Baisaran are Kanimarg, Kashmir Valley Point, Pahalgam Old Village, Dabyan, and Deon Valley Point.
How to reach: The nearest airport is the Srinagar airport, around 95 km away, and the nearest railway station is the Udhampur railway station, around 220 km away.
8. Rajgarh, Himachal Pradesh
Situated in Sirmour district of Himachal Pradesh, Rajgarh is popularly known as the Peach Valley of the state and produces the best stone fruits like peaches, plums, and apricots in the country.
The village is blessed with immense natural beauty and is a base for several trek routes, including the route to the peak of Chur Dhar (Chur Chandni).
From January to March, Rajgarh experiences snow and the temperatures go to freezing points. Visitors can also enjoy camping, treks, and several adventure activities here.
How to reach: The nearest airport is Shimla airport, around 90 km away, and the nearest railway station is the Solam railway station, around 40 km away.
9. Chopta, Uttarakhand
Chopta is a small hamlet and a wonderful trekking destination in Uttarakhand. The region is surrounded by green meadows and evergreen forests with spectacular views of mighty Himalayan ranges. It serves as a base for several trekking destinations such as Tungnath, Chandrashila and so on.
Named ‘Mini Switzerland of Uttarakhand’, Chopta is nestled amidst rich flora and fauna which includes the dwindling pine trees, deodars, rhododendrons and more. The region also provides panoramic views of the snow-covered peaks of Trishul, Nanda Devi and Chaukhambha.
How to reach: The nearest airport is Jolly Grant airport, around 175 km away, and the nearest railway station is the Haridwar railway station, around 183 km away.
10. Lansdowne, Uttarakhand
A cantonment town in the Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand, Lansdowne is dotted with dense oak and blue pine forests.
The town is an ideal retreat for nature lovers, and the townhouses, churches, beautiful flowering thickets, and pristine water bodies like springs and ponds add to its old-world charm.
Tip-in-Top is among the most popular sightseeing spots in Lansdowne, where one can glimpse a magnificent view of the Himalayas. From here, you can also explore the town and forests on foot.
How to reach: The nearest airport is Jolly Grant airport, around 143 km away, and the nearest railway station is the Kotdwar railway station, around 39 km away.
A guide to Lambasingi, a beautiful hill station and weekend getaway in Andhra, by Paul Oommen; published by The News Minute on 16 July 2021.
Araku Valley by India. com
Peermade hill station by Tour my India.
Baisaran Valley by Tour my India.
Chopta by Holidify.
Edited by Divya Sethu
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