Sometimes we want to go far away, away from everything we know, maybe to find ourselves, lose ourselves or just relax and contemplate. Considering how vast our country is, India is filled with such ‘hidden’ spots that are a little difficult to reach but the natural beauty and the experiences they offer make it all worth it. We have done the hard work and found you 9 such getaways that will take you far away maybe physically but bring you closer to nature and to yourself:
1. Koh Hee Bed & Breakfast Homestay, Mayabunder, Andaman & Nicobar Islands
In the northern corner of Middle Andamans near Mayabunder is a quiet valley with a gurgling stream. Close to it in the village of ‘Webi’ lies a traditional ‘Karen’ home, Koh Hee, built of brick, wood and thatch and set amidst green paddy fields and forests and close to a pristine beach. While a road that passes through the Jarawa tribal reserve connects the village with Port Blair. However, this road passes through the protected Jarawa reserve and has caused problems for the remote community and is also subject to strict convoy timings. The alternate mode is a ferry that runs once a week and doesn’t have any schedule. Plus, once you reach the village chances are you will have no phone or internet connectivity. So it doesn’t get any remoter than this. But once you get here there is much to do and explore while living life on the slow lane. Like, going on walks in the forest or on bird watching hikes, taking a guided tour of the family farm, visits to the nearby beach or the turtle nesting beaches of Karmatang, Dhani Nullah or Cuthbert Bay. Or you could choose to just stay at home and enjoy the solitude, with just the sounds of the working farm and birds breaking the quiet of the day.
2. Langza Homestay/Lara's Homestay, Lahaul-Spiti, Himachal Pradesh
Langza is one of the highest villages, at a height of 14,500ft, that can be reached by motarable road. Yet, very few travellers still reach this village of about 150 set at the base of the Chau Chau Kang Nalda (CCKN) Peak. Here, set amidst fields of barley and peas, is the Banjara Camps & Retreats supported Langza Homestay. Guests can experience local village living and help the hosts in the kitchen (and learn some local cooking in the process) and in the fields, where traditional manual and animal-based farming is still practiced. The homestay is a good base for short explorations and excursions like hikes in the village and to nearby sights like the Buddha statue, the Fossil Park and the local temple. Longer hikes to the nearby Hikkim and Komic villages and treks to the Chau Chau Kang Nalda (CCKN) Base Camp and Peak and to the high altitude lakes of Tso Nyeti and Chumo Tso can also be done. However, the highlight might just be the chance to live a few days in a remote corner of the country that only a few travellers have explored.
3. Jia Organic Eco Resort, near Roing, Arunachal Pradesh
While Arunachal Pradesh is still quite remote for most Indian travellers the number of travellers to this Northeast state has been steadily increasing in recent years. However, most visit only popular destinations like Ziro and Tawang. There are plenty of other locales that are equally stunning in their beauty. Like the Lower Dibang Valley. A land of tall mountains, deep valleys and gushing rivers and streams, the Lower Dibang Valley is worth the long drive that will be required from any of the closest big cities. Here, in Jia village, about 12km from the district headquarters of Roing, is the simple Jia Organic Eco Resort. Comprising of bamboo and metal cottages and camping tents, the resort is set in a clearing amidst organic tea gardens and maize, ginger and mustard fields. Beyond are lush forests and high mountains. The setting is extremely scenic with many beautiful ancient ponds and lakes here. The Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary and Lake, home to the rare Red Panda, Hollock Gibbon, Elephant and even the Tiger, is nearby. So is Bhismaknagar, the oldest archaeological and mythological site in Arunachal Pradesh that dates back to 12th century A.D.
4. Elsewhere, North Goa
No one thinks of Goa as a place to escape from the crowds. What if we told you that the old Goa that allowed travellers to get-away-from-it-all is still alive in a quiet corner in North Goa where the beach is pristine, the tourists absent and fishermen and turtles have right of way. On a private spit of land, from where you can watch the waves roll and hear the seas roar, and separated from the noisy world by a salt-water creek stands Elsewhere. Fashion photographer Denzil Sequeira, who has restored five ancestral beach houses and added on three luxury tents right on the beach and opened them up to travellers who are in search of an idyllic, nature-filled beach holiday. An ideal stay experience here involves just lounging on the beach or verandah of a beach house with a book, swimming in the sea or just watching the fishermen bring the catch to shore. It is about slowing down and getting away, which is why the exact location of the place is shared only once a guest makes a booking!
5. Off The Grid, near Castle Rock, Karnataka
At Off The Grid, near rain washed Castle Rock that is known for being the closest railhead to the spectacular Dudhsagar Falls, you can forget your mobile phones and laptops and reconnect with nature. There is no WiFi, minimal phone network, no televisions and even no grid-electricity! A stay here is about living in sync with nature—swimming in the many pristine waterbodies nearby, exploring forest trails, watching the birds, napping in the afternoon in the outdoors, trying out the low-impact farming practices, harvesting fresh produce from the vegetable garden, cooking the bountiful produce on woodfired outdoor stoves, enjoying communal meals, gossiping around a campfire and picking up the basics of pottery.
6. Tanhau Homestay, near Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand
This homestay is hidden amidst dense foliage at the end of an uphill jungle dirt track near Corbett National Park. Perched on top of a hill in the Mohan range at an altitude of 4,200 feet, Tanhau overlooks the reserve forests of Corbett and the winding Kosi river. The views are spectacular! Tanhau specialises in walking safaris and camping experiences. Their nature walks, which last from a couple of hours to a full-day, are a speciality. There are great camping spots as well, so guests can camp out in the open under a million stars. The accommodation is in extremely comfortable and are each tucked away in their own private corners on the grounds. The hosts provide charged Kindles so guests can catch up on reading!
7. Shola Shack, Wayanad, Kerala
Located next door to the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Shola Shack isnot for those expecting creature comforts. The shacks have comfortable beds and attached baths and that’s about it (tents are available too). The idea is to be as close to nature and to take as little away from nature as possible. The views and vistas are stunning, green as far as the eye can see as over 300 Rare, Endangered and Threatened (RET) plants endemic to Western Ghats have been planted on the grounds. The land today is lush and the number of avian, herpeto and amphibian fauna in and around the ecostay has increased. Walking on the designated paths with a Shola Shack employee will help you come face to face with a wide variety of these animals and birds, many of them endangered and have made the property their home. Wayanad is filled with beautiful ‘scenic’ spots like waterfalls that can be easily visited from Shola Shack. But you will find very little reason to leave the property limits to feel one with nature.
8. Banlekhi Resorts, near Mukteshwar, Uttarakhand
The owners of Banlekhi have consciously not built a motorable road right up to the property gates to ensure the natural setting is not disturbed and so guests need to undertake a short trek. But the rewards at the end of the trek are worth the climb. Lined up on a lonely hilltop overlooking a tree-covered valley in the Kumaon hills are the six pinewood and stone cottages of Banlekhi Resorts. The view from these cottages are stunning. Even when the mist and the thunderous rains roll down from the mountains! For, you get to feel like you are at the last outpost of human civilisation. The forest and village trails here are great for treks and hikes; bird watchers will rejoice at the many sightings they are sure to have; picnic lunches and overnight camping are also arranged; guests can help out with farming activities and will especially enjoy harvesting the vegetables. Or you can just laze around and enjoy the views while sipping a cup of hot tea.
9. Cintacor Island Resort, off the coast of Karwar, Karnataka
What better way to get away from it all than by escaping to an island! At Little Earth Group’s Cintacor Island Resort, which is on the island of Kurumgad that’s accessible only by the resort’s boat from Karwar, you get the chance to have your Robinson Crusoe experience albeit with a healthy dose of luxury! About 80% of the 30-acre island is covered in forests and so, along with different types of plants and trees, the island is also home to many birds, reptiles, mammals, crustaceans, butterflies and insects. The land turtles and sea eagles are the most awe-inspiring of the island’s residents. The island has well-marked nature trails for guests to appreciate nature's bounty. The longest one runs around the island and takes you past the old fort to the beach and back to the jetty.