Exploring India is fun but exploring India off the beaten path is better! Scattered across India’s 28 states and additional union territories (such as Delhi, Ladakh and the Andaman Islands) are enough overlooked, offbeat destinations to keep visitors occupied for years. Since publishing my original list of India’s top unexplored destinations, I have discovered several more impressive places worthy of mentioning.
India Off The Beaten Path. Again.
Before visiting the locations below, make sure that you have read the original article that started it all.
Escaping the crowds in India can be tough but it is easier at these off the beaten path destinations:
When it comes to Rajasthan, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur get all the attention. Everybody always forgets about Kumbhalgarh, the second largest fort in all of India. (Only Chittor Fort at Chittorgarh is bigger.)
Located around 80 km north of Udaipur, Kumbhalgarh is a UNESCO World Heritage Site included within the Hill Forts of Rajasthan. It is believed that the original fort was built by King Samprati during the 6th century, unfortunately most of its history prior to 1300 AD has been lost to the ages.
What we do know is this: Kumbhalgarh in its current form was built by Rana Kumbha, the 15th century ruler of the Mewar kingdom of western India. Out of the 84 forts in his dominion, Kumbha is reported to have built 32 of them – Kumbhalgarh is the largest and most elaborate of these.
Built on a hilltop in the Aravalli mountain range, Kumbhalgarh’s massive perimeter wall stretches over 36 km (22 miles) making it one of the largest walls in the world. Be sure to savor the view from the highest point of the fort, Badal Mahal – also known as ‘the palace of the clouds’ because of its breathtaking views of the majestic Aravali range.
How To Visit: By plane, IndiGo airlines offers flights to Maharana Pratap Airport at Udaipur from multiple major cities. If you are already in Rajasthan, there are no shortage of buses to get you to Udaipur. From there it is easy to arrange a tour to Kumbhalgarh.
Tso Moriri, Ladakh
Ladakh has become increasingly popular destination with both foreign visitors to India and Indians eager to explore more of their great nation. However, that does not mean there are no quiet, overlooked places left here.
Located in the picturesque Rupshu Valley within the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary, Tso Moriri is the offbeat, relatively unknown cousin of the more famous Pangong Tso in Ladakh. Surrounded by mountains on all sides, this tranquil lake sparkles with crystal-clear waters and brilliant shades of blue. It’s name is literally translated as “Mountain Lake” – at an elevation of 4,522 metres (14,836 feet) above sea level Tso Moriri is the largest high elevation lake in India.
Here you can bask in the beauty of the Himalayas and feel at peace with nature and the environment. Because Tso Moriri is a designated wetland reserve it attracts a wide range of migratory birds and exotic species, including Bar-Headed Geese. (This is their only breeding ground in India!)
Beyond simply birds, other wildlife sightings are common. Keep an eye out for lynx, Tibetan gazelle, and assorted species of sheep, marmot, hares and voles.
How To Visit: Tso Moriri is about 250 km (155 miles) from Leh and a permit is needed to visit. Because of the elevation and local climate, the lake is only accessible during the summer months. And yes, camping overnight is allowed (without the crowd like at Pangong Tso).
Back in the medieval times Patan was the capital of Gujarat. Historians estimate that it was the tenth largest city in the world by the year 1000 AD, with a population of around 100,000. Even still to this day the city evokes an almost medieval feeling in visitors.
The city welcomes you with a huge royal entrance gate, which also serves to prepare visitors for all of the impressive architecture contained within. Patan is surrounded by huge walls and known for being home to a large number of architectural gems.
One of the most important architectural monuments in Patan is Rani Ki Vav, a water storage system known as a stepwell. Literally translated as the ‘Queen’s Stepwell’, it was constructed in the 1060s. Rani Ki Vav is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the oldest and deepest of the 120 other stepwells in Gujarat.
How To Visit: The nearest airport to Patan is Sardar Vallabhai Patel Airport at Ahmedabad and SpiceJet has direct flights from two dozen different airports, both in India and abroad. See SpiceJet flight booking for more details. You can also reach Patan by road from Ahmedabad, for those already nearby.