The enigma called India is an incredible destination with hundreds of offbeat places. There are hidden gems tucked away in forests, hills and islands that needs to be explored fully before we head out to international destinations. We are writing about the 20 top offbeat places in India in this blog that will take you to a wanderlusty trip of a lifetime.

20 Top Offbeat Places in India to see before visiting an International Country

Papikondalu, Telangana

Papikondalu. Photo credits.

Papi hills are often compared to the hills of Kashmir for their structural hills and raw, untouched natural beauty. Papi mountain ranges are named from the Telugu word meaning partition because from an aerial view they looked like a partition a women makes in her hair. The Papi Hills are situated in the border confluence of Khammam district in Telangana and East Godavari and West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh in India.

Entry to Papi Hills region is possible  in two directions either from Kunavaram or from Rajahmundry. Kunavaram is reachable by road from Hyderabad , Khammam and Bhadrachalam. Rajahmundry also offers boat services to Papi hills. It is well connected by road and rail. The nearest airports are at Rajahmundry Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada.

A boat trip on the Godavari River in the Papi Hills region is quite mesmerising and romantic. Boat trips are available from Bhadrachalam, Rajahmundry and Kunavaram. Kunavaram also offers the fastest and cheapest way to explore the hills. The most visited tourist spots include.

Gandi Pochamma, the temple of Gandi Pochamma Deity. Also the major stopover in boat trips, Perantalapalli has Ramakrishna Muni Ashram and other religious places. Pamuleru Vagu is famous for bathing in the water which originates from the hills. Papikondalu National Park  covers a large area and wild water buffalos were seen here till 1980s, but it appears they are now extinct in this region.

Also Read: 20 budget friendly places to travel in your 20s and 30s 

Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh

Ziro Arunachal Pradesh
The Apatani Tribes in Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh. Photo by Raj Kumar.

Ziro is the peace seeker’s paradise to observe the beautiful green patches, feel at home with Apatani tribes and enjoy a soothing offbeat holiday. Ziro is a town in Arunachal Pradesh, home to the Apatani tribe and famous for its pine hills and rice fields. The nearest airport from Ziro is at Jorhat, Assam which is connected to the major cities of India And another airport is at Lilabari. Also the nearest railway stations from Ziro are at Naharlagun and North Lakhimpur.There is a night bus available from Guwahati to Ziro. Talley Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a large variety of flora and fauna also this sanctuary has a spectrum of flora as well which includes silver fir trees, bamboo and rhododendron.

It is also a biodiversity zone which makes it one of the must visit places in Ziro. Another landing attraction here is Bamboo grove which is famous for one stem bamboo, referred to as monopodial grows here with blue clad pine. This spot is frequented by hikers as well as tourists. Tipi Orchid Research Centre, is home for a wide range of orchids that exceed 1000 varieties. Orchid glass house in the centre with fiberglass roof has a gallery and a pond with a fountain is a major attraction here. Also some interesting sightseeing places here include the 5000 years old ‘Meghna Cave Temple’, ‘Siddheshwar Nath Shivling’, and ‘Tarin Fish Farm’. Many tourist places in Ziro are declared as World Heritage Sites. The climate in Ziro is mild through the year, making it comfortable to travel all year round.

Spiti, Himachal Pradesh

Spiti river. Photo by Ajith U

Spiti means “The Middle Land” and it is truly situated in the land between Tibet and India. The Valley is a cold desert mountain valley located high in the Himalaya mountains in Himachal Pradesh. A century ago Rudyard Kipling in his novel “Kim” described Spiti as “a world within a world” and a “place where the god lives”. And the novelist truly justified the beauty of Spiti and even today it is used as the location of the scenery and cinematography in the Indian films including Paap, Highway and Milarepa. Lahaul and Spiti are separated from Kullu by the Rohtang pass and Kunzum pass and it lies on the Manali-Leh highway. This route is fine to reach Spiti valley during the summers but is inaccessible mostly around  the year due to heavy snowfall and landslides. But Spiti valley is accessible throughout the year though from Shimla via Kinnaur. However There are many public and private buses running between Shimla and Kinnaur from 5 AM to 8 PM Via Kinnaur through Hindustan – Tibet Highway.

The other option is to take a private/public bus from Manali and reach Kaza through Rohtang Pass and Kunzum Pass via Manali highway. One of the must visit here is the key monastery which is one of the biggest and oldest Monasteries in Spiti and hence is the most important tourist destination in this region. Other tourist attractions include Chandratal Lake, Suraj Tal Lake, Pin Valley National Park, Dhankar Monastery, Pin Valley Park Trek.

Gokarna, Karnataka

Gokarna beach in Karnataka. Photo credits

Gokarna is a town in Karnataka and popular pilgrimage destination for Hindus. It’s known for sacred sites and unspoilt beaches. Being a temple town primarily, the place is of a slow and relaxed atmosphere, which makes for an offbeat and smoothing holiday destination. Nearest airport to Gokarna is Dabolim airport in Goa. Dabolim airport is well-connected with all the major cities of India and as well as from few foreign countries. From Dabolim, taxi and buses are available. The nearest railway station to Gokarna is Gokarna road.

However, being a small station it is not connected with the major cities. Another station, Ankola railway station is considered as the nearest well-connected railway station to Gokarna. Maha Ganapati Temple is among the best places to visit  here. The temple deity is a black stone idol of Lord Ganesha, and Hindu devotees visit this temple first before Mahabaleshwara Temple. One of the must visit tourist places is the 4th century temple showcasing the brilliance of the classic Dravidian architecture is the Mahabaleshwara temple. The major attraction of this temple is 1500-year-old deity that is carved stone of Lord Shiva. Nearby, Koti Tirtha is a temple tank where devotees wash in the holy waters. The town is also home to beaches such as palm-lined Gokarna, in the center, plus Kudle and Om farther south. Gokarna can be comfortably visited all year round, except the rainy season, when the beaches are unkempt and desolate.

Tamenglong, Manipur

Being a quietude in this beautiful hill town Tamenglong’s beauty and pristine glory never fails to mesmerize the tourists. Tamenglong is known as the land of Hornbill as many of its species can be found here. Apart from the hornbills, Tamenglong houses a number of rare plants and animals in its forests. It is the home to hog deers, leopards, wild dogs, hyenas, tigers etc. The nearest railway station is Dimapur in Nagaland. Dimapur is connected to Lumding which is connected to other parts of India. The Imphal airport is the nearest and is well connected with frequent flights to Kolkata, Delhi and Guwahati.

Zeiland lake is the most famous lake of this place. This lake is home for aquatic animals like fishes, tortoises and water birds as well as Many migratory birds are seen here throughout the year. Zeilad lake has also recently been declared as one of the four wildlife sanctuaries of Manipur. Tharon caves also known as the Thaeuluan cave is a landing attraction of Manipur as It has five exits and thirty-four joints. Map of the entire cave has drawn and can be seen at the entrance for easy navigation which is painted and carved on a stone. Visiting these caves will prove to be an experience of a lifetime. Other places to visit in Tamenglong include Burning Meadow, River Barak. Barak Waterfalls and Forests. October to April is a good time to visit Tamenglong.

Majuli, Assam

The traditional practice of dance in Majuli, Assam. Photo Credits

Majuli known as the world’s largest river water island is now at the edge of extinction due to soil erosion and rising water levels. Tengapania is a  golden temple-like structure, which is located near the river Brahmaputra and is known to be a very popular picnic spot. A must-visit while in Majuli, it eludes the kind of grace that Assamese culture exemplifies. Other places to visit in Majuli include Kamalabari Satra, Garmur, Dakhinpat Satra, Auniati Satra. Jorhat is the only connecting point between Majuli and other cities. Nearest Airport is Jorhat Airport with a well-developed airport, Jorhat can be reached easily. From there, you can start your journey to Majuli. Trains are available from Jorhat which is connected with Guwahati, a major Assam city. The largest river island in the world, Majuli is one of those places you must visit for a perfect weekend.

Halebid, Karnataka

Halebid temple
Hindu temple in Halebid. Photo credits

Halebid is Known as Dwarasamudra means gateway to the seas. It is one of the ancient temple towns of South India and must visit for exploring the temple ruins of Halebid.

Hoysaleswara or Halebidu Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and this Hoysala empire and is also the largest monument dedicated to Lord Shiva in south India and the temple itself is considered as one of the seven wonders of the country. It has also been proposed to be listed under the UNESCO world heritage sites. The nearest international airport is Kempegowda International Airport situated in Bangalore. It is roughly four hours drive away from Halebid. There are a lot of state and private buses which run from Bangalore to Halebid. The nearest railway stations to Halebid are Mysore, Mangalore and Hassan. These stations are connected to all the major cities in the country. Taxis are available from outside the station. Popular tourist attraction here include Basadi Halli, Yagachi Dam, Archaeological Museum, City Shopping, Kedareswara Temple  and Shantaleswara Temple. Also tour can be combined with a visit to Belur along with Jain monuments at Shravanabelagola.

Sojha, Himachal Pradesh

A small village that offers the best that nature can give you. A drive through the lush green valley, snow covered trees and a beautiful guesthouse with small stream which makes Shoja a perfect weekend destination. Major attractions in Sojha include Waterfall point, Jalori Pass, Serolsar Lake, Tirthan Valley and Raghupur Fort. Bhuntar airport in Kullu-Manali is the closest air base to Shoja. The Bhuntar airport is directly linked with many major cities in India. Private and state-run buses have regular services from Delhi and other neighbouring states. The nearest railway station to Shoja is Shimla. Regular buses and taxis are available from the station. Overnight trek to Basheilo Pass or day treks to Serolsar Lake, Raghupur Fort, waterfall point  attracts trekking enthusiasts around January to march. Shoja offers excellent snow peak views as it’s situated just a few kms short of Jalori Pass.

Champaner, Gujarat

Champaner is a true window to the glorious past of Gujarat’s lost capital and also this area is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The beauty and coexistence of the mosques and the temples is truly admirable and the Jama Masjid located inside the park area is a fine example of Hindu-Muslim architecture.

Landing tourist attractions here include Kalika Mata Temple, Fort of Pavagadh and the ruined Hindu architecture ,Jain Temples, Lakulisa temple, Jain temples, Kevda mosque, Lila Gumbad Ki Masjid, Nagina Masjid and Cenotaph. Nearest airport is Vadodara Airport  and nearest railhead is Vadodara Railway Station both are well connected to the Major cities of India. Cabs are available from Vadodara to Champaner to the archaeological park. Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park is truly an evidence of 16 century contrast between Hindu and Muslim. It is said that the Pavagadh hills are nothing but a chunk of the Himalayas carried over by Hanuman during Ramayana.

Kamshet, Maharashtra

The picturesque hill station is straddles the ancient trade route between the Konkan region and Pune. Nestled in the Western Ghats the awestruck view of place makes it a perfect getaway. Also hills in and around Kamshet are dotted with ancient cave temples and medieval fortress. The world-class paragliding facilities attract a large number of flying-sport aficionados to khasmet. The best season for paragliding in Kamshet is generally from October to end of May. Several paragliding schools are situated around Kamshet and offer training or tandem flights. These schools have access to a variety of flying sites in and around Kamshet. Fly Nirvana is the oldest school in the region. In the west wind season, some schools offer flying at Lake Pavna, locally referred to as Pavana dam which is a biggest tourist attraction here. Vadivale Lake is one of the larger lakes in the area, the backwaters of the Uksan Dam and Thokarwadi lake are the must visit places here.

Other attractions include Karla Caves, Bedse Caves, Bhaja Caves, Wadeshwar Temple, Kondeshwar Temple  is dedicated to Hindu god Shiva and Sangameshwar is a very old Shiva temple. Nearest airport is New Pune airport and Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at Mumbai is the major international airport from where buses, taxis as well as suburban trains are easily available to Kamshet.Kamshet is well connected to other major cities of the country via regular private and state-run buses and cabs.

Lonavala is the nearest railway station to Kamshet and It connects all the major Indian cities in the country. Cabs or a buses are available from the station to head to Kamshet.

Khajjiar, Himachal Pradesh

Khajjiar is referred as ‘mini-Switzerland of India’ because of its  natural beauty and picturesque landscape of this place are bound to leave an everlasting impression on a tourist. Khajjiar is known for its nine-hole golf-course which is nestled in the midst of dense forest and a breathtaking landscape.

Khajjiar does not have any airport. The nearest airport is in Dharamshala called the Gaggal airport but Taxis and buses are easily available from the airport to Khajjiar.The nearest railway station is in Pathankot. Trains from Delhi, Bathinda and Chandigarh are available till Pathankot. Taxis can be hired to complete the journey till Khajjiar. Other places to visit in khajjiar include Khajjiar lake, Kalatop wildlife sanctuary, Lord Shiva Statue, Golden Devi temple, Khajji Nag Temple and Tibetan Handicrafts Center. This region also attracts adventure enthusiasts because of a lot of options in adventure sports like paragliding, horse riding, zorbing, trekking are available. However, the way to Khajjiar can be closed sometimes during winters because of heavy snowfall.

Also Read: A Short Trip to Khajjiar, Himachal Pradesh

Varkala, Kerala

Varkala beach
Varkala beach. Photo credits

Varkala is the only place in southern Kerala where cliffs are found adjacent to the Arabian Sea and situated in the south Kerala at north end border of the district Trivandrum.

Government of India and Geological Survey of India have declared Varkala Cliff as a geo-heritage site. There is no direct flight connectivity to Varkala. The nearest airport is in Thiruvananthapuram and Taxis are easily available from the airport to Varkala. Varkala is well connected to the rest of India by railways as well. Varkala Sivagiri Railway Station is the principal railway junction serving the city of Varkala. Local transport like auto rickshaws and taxis are easily available outside the railway station. Water Sports in Varkala is one of the landing tourist attractions throughout the year. popular tourist destinations here include Varkala Beach, Edava Beach, Thiruvambadi Beach, Sivagiri Mutt, Anjengo Fort Ponnumthuruthu and Janardhana swamy Temple. Due to its religious importance, is often referred to as the ‘Kashi of the South’ as well as known for its several Ayurvedic treatment centers and spas.

Savandurga, Bangalore

Savandurga hills
Savandurga hills. Photo credits

Savandurga recognised to be one of the largest single rock formation in the whole of Asia. It comprises of two hills, Billigudda and Karigudda, locally known as white hill and black hill also has a temple situated at the foothill and a pond nearby. Savandurga has no airport so  Bengaluru International Airport is the closest airport to Savandurga and cabs are available from the airport to reach the destination. Savandurga has no railway station of its own. The best possible route is to take a train up to Magadi. This place is frequented by travelers for trekking, camping and rock climbing as the Arkavati river can be seen from the top which makes for an easy picturesque climb.

Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh

Budget Friendly Places to Travel
Bhimbetka caves. Photo: Think Global School

The Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has earned that title by being home a set of extraordinary cave paintings made by Man in prehistoric times. The nearest Airport is Bhopal. It is well connected with all major cities of India.Bhimbetka is just around 46 km drive from Bhopal. Cabs and Buses are easily available on this route. Bhopal junction railway station is the nearest railway station to the site. Popular tourist destinations here include The Rock Caves, Hoshangabad, Bhojpur and Bhopal.

Lunglei, Mizoram

Lunglei means ‘bridge of rock’ and got its name from a bridge like rock found in the riverine area around Ngasih – a small tributary of the river Tlawng. Lunglei is famous for its scenic beauty and natural setting which makes it as a popular tourist destination. Lunglei does not have an airport. Nearest airport is Aizawl Airport. which is connected to the major cities in India. Instead of Lunglei trains are available to Manu on regular basis.It is an ideal destination if one wants to take a break and look away, towards nature’s simple offerings. Trekking, bird watching and adventure sports are frequently enjoyed by tourists.

Mokokchung, Nagaland

Mokokchung in Nagaland. Photo credits

Mokokchung in Nagaland is a ‘trekkers paradise.  Nature widens its arm to taste the tender touch Kohima to Mokokchung, natural experience with cordial Nagamese & they are awesome. Mokokchung is the cleanest place among the cities in Nagaland. The nearest airport to the town of Mokokchung is Jorhat, located at a distance of approximately 110 km.

Also the nearest railway station to Mokokchung is Mariani in Assam and trains are available from majorly all nearby cities and town commute to Mariani, further taxi are available to make it to Mokokchung. Must visited places here include Longkhum, Ungma Village, Langpangkong Caves, Molung Village, Chuchuyimlang Village and Caves. Local food is a must try here. Locals are very amicable and cordial. Captivated to taste the bliss of mountains.

Shekhawati, Rajasthan

Shekhawati region is often referred to as the world’s largest open air art gallery because the old havelis walls are adorned with intricate paintings. This region was established in the 18th century along a caravan trade route, and ruled by the Shekhawat Rajputs. The region was a prosperous one, with over 100 villages, and 50 forts and palaces. but this place is often overlooked because of the popular tourist attractions in Rajasthan. Sanganer Airport Jaipur  is the nearest one after Indira Gandhi International Airport of New Delhi. Nearest railway station is in Jhunjhunu and from there rail routes are connected with Delhi, Jaipur and Bikaner. The most visited places here include Sikar, Churu, Nawalgarh, Mandawa, Badalgarh Fort, Pilani and Dundlod. A large number of tourists come every year for Horseback Riding.

Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu

Dhanuskodi in Tamil Nadu. Photo Credits

Dhanushkodi is known as ghost town because it’s an abandoned town at the south-eastern tip of Pamban Island. Ramu setu also known as Adam’s bridge is a landing attraction here it’s a 30kms long causeway built of limestone shoals that lies between Mannar island in Sri Lanka and Rameswaram island off the coast of Tamil Nadu in India. According to  Indian mythology, it was built by Lord Rama of Ramayana to reach Sri Lanka to rescue Sita from Ravana. Historic records indicate that it was apparently above sea level, and passable by foot till around 1480 when a cyclone that hit the area ended up submerging most of it under shallow waters.

The nearest airport is Madurai and If direct cabs or buses aren’t available, then only way is to come to Rameshwaram and take another mode of transport from here. The nearest railway station is Rameshwaram and it is well connected to major cities in India. Here other popular destination include Gulf of Mannar Marine, Dhanushkodi Beach, Pamban island and Ramar Patham temple in Rameswaram.

Chopta, Uttarakhand

Chopta Uttarakhand
A wild goat with amazing surefooted climbing skills can be seen around Chopta in Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo by Koshy Koshy

Chopta is a scenic hill station in Uttarakhand perfect Holiday destination for adventure junkies because Chopta serves as a base to trek to Tungnath temple and the Kedarnath wildlife sanctuary as well as  trek to Chandrashila peak. The Jolly Grant Airport, which lies in the city of Dehradun, is the closest air link from Chopta. It is also well connected to the major cities in India and cabs are available to reach the hill station of Chopta. Rishikesh is  the nearest railway station. Tourists can first catch a train to Rishikesh and then cover the remaining distance by road. Deoria Tal, Tungnath temple is famous for Panch Kedar are the five shrines of Lord Shiva, established by the Shaivite sect, Ukhimath and Kanchula Korak Musk Deer Sanctuary. Chopta is also a popular destination during the winter months from November to December due to the snowfall that the area experience.

Hutbay, Little Andaman

Hutbay Little Andaman
Hutbay in Little Andaman. Photo by Amit Sengupta

Hutbay boasts of hosting the best surfing destination in India. It’s not an exaggeration and when you visit this isle, you would believe. Located in Little Andamans, Hutbay hosts the longest beach of Andaman and Nicobar Group of Islands – 22 kms stretch – from Netaji Nagar at one end till Butler Bay beach at the other hand via ‘Kalapathar’ (black rock). The Butler Bay beach which is gaining popularity among domestic and international surfers for its exquisite sea surfing waves is teemed with activities during the winter and summer months. A host of few private resorts flanking the Netaji Nagar are offers surf boards on rent (however, do check with them prior to your arrival). There needs to be adequate infrastructure facilities in this beach but you would be mesmerized by the golden sandy stretch that this place offers. If you are not a surfer, you can still go for snorkeling, sun bathing, or boating amidst its clear waters.

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