Ever thought of traveling off the beaten path and glimpsing a side of India that few tourists see? From pristine beaches to quirky villages, hidden architectural marvels and more, there is no shortage of such unseen places in India. These pristine surroundings are waiting to be discovered. Check out these 24 offbeat destinations that are just begging for you to visit them!

1.   Anthargange: Land of Caves

Approximately 70 km from Bangalore, this unique hillside is heaven for cave explorers. It is scattered with a plethora of caves formed from small volcanic rocks. The caves are both welcoming and intimidating at the same time.

What adds to its charm? There’s a spring that emerges from a small crevice in the rock, a mysterious source. Local people believe the water of the stream to be very holy.

2.   Umri: The World’s Twin Capital

The small town of Umri in Allahabad, believed to be 250 years old, has perplexed researchers all over the world. Out of every 1,000 children born here, 45 are twins. In the last 80 years, the village has had 108 twins, which is amazingy. The reason for this remains unknown. But the villagers believe it to be god’s miracle.

Hemis monastery during their famous and colorful festival, one of India's incredible offbeat destinations
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3.   Hemis, Kashmir

Located about 45 km southeast of Leh is the beautiful town of Hemis. The town is popular for its Hemis monastery and a colorful festival that it celebrates every year.

4.   Bhangarh Fort: So Haunted its Illegal!

Like with other haunted places, Bhangarh has no shortage of myths and ghost stories. But unlike other places this one is so haunted the government of India has made it illegal to enter the grounds. Apparently anyone who has been out past sunrise in the ruined town of Bhangarh, also known as Bhangarh Fort, has never returned alive.

Read More   The Haunted Bhangarh Fort

5.   Ethipothala Falls: A Sight to Behold

About 11 km from Nagarjuna Sagar Dam in Andhra Pradesh lies Ethipothala, which is home to the spellbinding Ethipothala Waterfall. The falls are a union of three streams and are quite a sight to behold.

Bekal Fort, one of India's incredible offbeat destinations
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6.   Bekal Fort: The Giant Key-Hole Shaped Fort

Sprawling over forty acres, the 300-year-old Bekal Fort is shaped like a giant key hole. It is one of the best preserved forts in Kerala. The observation tower in the fort offers a fascinating view of the Arabian Sea and all the major places in the vicinity.

7.   Bada Imambra: Gravity Defying Palace

This architectural marvel was built in the 18th century in Lucknow. It is a fantastic mix of European and Arabic architecture. The most astonishing aspect is the central arched hall, a whopping 50 meters long and about three stories high, hanging without the support of any pillars or beams!

8.   Idukki: Land of Red Rain

Well known for its spice plantations, wildlife sanctuaries, hill stations and the gigantic Idukki arch dam, this district in Kerala truly is the epitome of natural beauty.

What makes this place really quirky? Idukki is known for the most unusual phenomenon called Red Rain. The colored rain of Kerala started falling in 2001. Since then it has become one of the most discussed anomalies of recent years.

Loktak Lake, also known as the floating lake, one of India's incredible offbeat destinations
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9.   Loktak Lake: The Floating Paradise

This is the largest freshwater lake in Northeast India and its banks are home to the world’s only floating National Park. The Loktak Lake in Manipur is also called the floating lake because of the floating masses of vegetation on its surface.

10.   Khajjiar: India’s Mini Switzerland

About 24 km from Dalhousie, this small picturesque saucer-shaped plateau is a wonderful destination. For a peaceful sojourn in the lap of the Himalayas, this is the ideal place for relaxation.

11.   Kolkkumalai: The World’s Highest Tea Plantation

For all the tea lovers reading this, this is one place you would crave to visit. At 7,900 ft above sea level the hills of Kolkkumalai in Tamil Nadu produce tea which has a special flavor and freshness.

Malana, deep in the heart of India's cannabis country and home of the pontent hash known as Malana Cream, is one of India's most incredible offbeat destinations
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12.   Malana: Little Greece of India, Popular for Its Cannabis Cream

In the northeast of the Kullu Valley lies the solitary village of Malana. The village is considered to be one of the first democracies in the world. It is also home to the notorious Malana cream, arguably the finest quality hash ever produced.

13.   Mawlynnog: Asia’s Cleanest Village, The Magical Paradise

Do you cringe at the sight of litter on streets in India? Well then you will be surprised to know about this village. Located about 100 km from Shillong is Mawlynnog, a small village in the East Khasi Hills. In 2003 it won the award of being the cleanest village -- not just in India but in all of Asia.

14.   Nohkalikai Falls: The Waterfall with a Tragic Tale

One of the five tallest waterfalls in the country, Nohkalikai Falls near Cherrapunji is named after the horrific tale of a woman named Ka Likai. The legend behind this gorgeous fall makes it all the more intriguing and beautiful.

Orchha dates back to 1501 and is full of palaces and shrines. This combined with a lack of tourists makes it one of India's most incredible offbeat destinations
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15.   Orchha: A City Frozen in Time

Full of palaces and shrines still retaining their original grandeur, the city of Orchha dates back to 1501 and is a must for all history / culture / architecture buffs. It is located near the banks of Betwa River in Madhya Pradesh.

16.   Roopkund Lake: The Mysterious Skeleton Lake

Situated at an altitude of 5,029 metres in the Himalayas, this lake is popularly known as Skeleton Lake. Skeletons of about 200 people belonging to the 9th century were discovered here. It was later found that a hailstorm had killed the people. To this day, visitors can still see those skeletons.

17.   Shetpal: The Village of Snakes

A village at about 200 km from Pune follows a frightful custom. Each house in this village has a resting place for cobras in the rafters of their ceilings. No cases of snake bites have been reported in this village despite snakes moving about freely in every household.

Spiti Valley, one of India's most incredible offbeat destinations
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18.   Spiti Valley: The Hidden World

Tucked away in the Himalayas of Himachal Pradesh, the Spiti Valley is a relatively unknown world! With Tibet in the east and Ladakh in the north, this region is scattered with tiny villages and monasteries rich in traditional culture.

19.   Tharon Cave: Archaeological Wonder

Located 27 km from the district of Tamenglong in Manipur, the Tharon Cave is of great archaeological and historical importance. A visit to this cave is reportedly the experience of a lifetime.

20.   Chilkur Balaji: The Visa Granting Balaji Temple

Is the USA your land of dreams? If yes, then you simply cannot miss visiting the Chilkur Balaji Temple, which is about 20 kms from Hyderabad. People believe the 21st century god of this temple has the power to grant you a US visa.

Yes, you read that right. Every week around 75,000 to 100,000 devotees visit this temple!

Dhanushkodi, one of India's most incredible offbeat destinations
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21.   Dhanushkodi: Ghost Town with Mythological Importance

About 620 km from Bangalore is the ghost town of Dhanushkodi. Not only is it famously known for its mythological importance, but also for the cyclone that hit the town in 1964, which ravaged the entire region.

22.   Vihigaon Falls: The Picturesque Falls

Located in the Thane district of Maharashtra, Vihigaons Falls is a monsoon fed waterfall. It is the perfect place for rappelling and canoeing.

23.   Wilson Hills: Hill Station with a Spectacular Sea View

About 870 meters above the sea level, this hill station is located in the State of Gujarat. The most amazing aspect about it is the rare and beautiful sea view that guests get to see.

Yumthang, one of India's most incredible offbeat destinations
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24.   Yumthang Valley: The Valley of Flowers

Located at about 148 km from Gangtok, the Yumthang valley with its scenic beauty is truly a paradise for nature lovers.

Most likely you won't have the time or money to visit all of these destinations. However make sure to squeeze at least a couple of them into your India trip -- it will be that much more special and memorable of an experience!

  Over the next six months I will be exploring as many of these locations as possible. 1 down, 23 to go! Follow along at blog.theHoliDaze.com

Like what you just read?     More Offbeat Travel Guides

Published in India

Leh is located at about 3,500 meters above sea level in the corner of Northern India, to be precise in Ladakh near the Indus Valley. It's the most common and most beautiful entry point to the Ladakh region. It is one of the most popular Kashmir tour packages.

Surrounded by two of the world's largest mountain ranges and also surrounded by alpine desert; Leh's dry, barren landscape is rich in historic Buddhist monasteries that make it an incredible sight to behold. This guide will help plan your trip in a better way.

How Do You Get To Leh & Ladakh?

  1. Flights to Leh operate on a regular basis from Delhi. Flights are also available to Leh from Jammu and Srinagar.
  2. Roads to Leh are open in the summer when the snow melts for a few months. The highway from Manali to Leh is open from June to October. The road from Srinagar is open from June to November. Buses, jeeps, and taxi services are all available.

Note: The trip is around two days because of the difficult terrain. Travel by road if you have that kind of time and stamina to withstand the terrain. The view would be worth it!

Best Time To Visit Leh & Ladakh

The best time to visit Leh Ladhak is in the summer i.e. May to November. Since Ladhak does not experience rainfall like the other places in the country, it can be visited during the monsoons as well. Even in the summers though, it is a good idea to carry light woollens as the temperatures and weather here are unpredictable. Also be sure to carry sunscreen to protect from the sun.

Kashmir, India
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Iconic Attractions

Leh’s Buddhist historical monuments and monasteries are the biggest draws for visitors. The most imposing of all is the Shanti Stupa, which is situated just outside town. There is an 800 year old Kali Temple, on the mountain, which is home to a collection of masks.

You should definitely stop to spin a huge prayer wheel on your way. There is also a 17th century Leh Palace which is built in traditional Tibetan style which offers a captivating view of the town. Southeast of Leh is the Thiksey Monastery, which is the place for seeing amazing sunsets. The Hemis Monastery is the wealthiest and the oldest most important monastery in Ladakh.

Festivals in Ladakh

The Ladakh Festival is generally held during the month of September. It opens with a spectacular procession through the streets in Leh. Villagers get dressed in traditional costumes; they dance and sing folk songs which are also backed by an orchestra. The festival also features musical concerts wherein dances are performed by masked lamas from mock traditional marriage ceremonies and selected monasteries.

The Hemis Festival, which takes place in June or July for two days at the Hemis Gompa, is to commemorate the birth of Guru Padmasambhava, who was the founder of Tantric Buddhism in Tibet. There is also a fair full of beautiful handicrafts, music and a traditional colorful masked dances.

Leh Adventure Activities

Nature and adventure lovers will be thrilled with the excellent hiking and paragliding opportunities. There are various long trekking trails to choose from like the ones from Spituk to Markha Valley and Likir to Temisgam.

Mountain climbing trips are also booked to peaks like the Goleb (19,356 feet), Stok (20,177 feet), Matho West (19,520) and Kangyatse (20,997 feet) in the Zanskar Mountains.

White water rafting is also possible in August and July along the Indus River in the Leh area.

Other side trips

One of the most awaited and most beautiful side trips possible from Leh is a journey along the Zanskar River. You will be amazed to see green villages, hanging glaciers, huge Himalayan peaks, and Buddhist monasteries. The Nubra Valley situated on the Khardung La is the world’s highest road. The sights of wild yaks and horses, hairy double humped camels and Himalayan icicles, and reward of mountains, desert and water all in the one area is a natural gift.

Permit Requirements

From May 2014 on, all Indian citizens no longer need to obtain an Inner Liner Permit to visit most of the areas in Ladakh including Khardung La, Pangang Lake, Nubra Valley, Changthang and Tso Moirri. Instead of this an identification card like driver's license will suffice the need. Foreigners including OCI and PIO card holders still need a Protected Area Permit (PAP). Local sightseeing in Zanskar, Suru Valley or Leh, does not require permits.

Ladakh Trekking Home-Stays

A recommended alternative while trekking around Ladakh is to stay in people's houses in remote villages which are along the way. This provides the traveller insight into the life of Ladakhi farmers.

You will even be fed with traditional home cooked meals which are prepared by the farmer families. Local trekking experts organize such trips to places off the beaten path. Local guide Thinlas Chorol is the founder of the notable Ladakhi Women's Travel Company, which is the first female operated and owned travel company in Ladakh that uses only female guides.

Travel Tips

  Give yourself plenty of time to acclimatize after arriving in Leh because of altitude sickness; avoiding anything for the first two days and drinking plenty of water should help the best.
  Laptops do not appreciate the high altitude and hard drives also crash. Nights get chilly during the summer so don’t forget warm clothes to layer.
  Leaving Leh by flight is a lot more challenging than arriving. Demand for flights in this region is high in peak season, so it is better to book well in advance.

Published in India

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