Living in India, there are certain places that have such a spectacular buzz around them that the final face to face feels like a dampener in comparison to the glorious stories. In some cases time has taken its toll as have the insane population and over commercialisation to transform a once beautiful spot into a crowded ‘must see’ location. Forget those overrated spots and instead visit these alternate locations that might come with lower expectations but are far better.
So, here’s a list of 10 terribly overrated destinations in India & where you could go instead:
1. Instead of Shimla
Infested by hotels, rickshaws and tourists, it is quite difficult to find peace at one of the most popular hill stations in India. The ever famous mall road is charming but does not offer anything that you wouldn’t find in Delhi or Mumbai.
Nestled in the lap of snow-capped peaks of Garhwal Himalayas, the picturesque town of Auli gives a breathtaking view of India’s second highest peak – Nanda Devi. And in addition it is also a premier ski resort with the world’s highest artificial lake. A holiday at this hill station will take your breath away.
2. Instead of Mussoorie
Heavy tourist traffic, the ubiquitous Mall Road, deforestation has destroyed this one time beautiful town’s quaint charm. There is nothing much to see except for Kempty Falls close by and roam in the market space trying to get away from the city life.
Surrounded by lush green forest, Chakrata is an ideal destination for a calm vacation. With options of trekking, skiing, climbing the Kharamba peak and getting enthralled by a rich variety of flora and fauna, a visit here is going to be the trip that you had been wanting for a while.
3. Instead of Baga and Calangute beach, Goa
The quiet and calm streets of Goa turn into something unrecognisable at this stretch of beach. With almost as much crowd as Mumbai’s Chowpatty, all vying for their spot on the sand, this is not the Goa experience you’d want. Not to mention the astronomical prices that will burn a hole in your pocket!
Head straight for Palolem Beach, Goa
At the fag end of Goa’s coastline is Palolem, a beach with the right balance of tourists, great food and natural beauty. Attend the silent party, sunbathe on the sand, kayak on the waters and go bird watching for a beach holiday you really wanted. Not to mention, the prices are half of what you find in Baga and Calangute.
4. Instead of Darjeeling
Funny or not, make sure that the hotel you choose to stay in does not have a water shortage. This once beautiful town now has turned into a place so crowded that you may feel like taking a break from your holiday to another place. Not to mention the famous sunrise on Kanchenjunga from Tiger Hill that you have to brave the early morning traffic to see. Unless you are into tea skip the journey altogether.
Take a detour to Gangtok
When you land at Bagdogra, drive to Gangtok instead for the white fragrant magnolias, traditional stupas and monasteries, magnificent tea gardens and also a thriving modern town. Popular for trekking sites and mesmerising beauty, it will leave you dumbstruck.
5. Instead of Ooty
Filled with tourists from all every possible part of the world, this super famous hill station in South, over years has fallen victim to rampant commercialisation. As a result what you see today is over-crowded and quite the opposite of what you’d expect from a holiday destination. Hotels and restaurants offer poor value for money, well known water shortages and with limited attractions, this town is not the ‘hatke’ trip you are looking for.
Clean, cool air, surrounded by greenery, Coorg or Kodagu has managed to remain the Scotland of India even now. Stay in a coffee plantation homestay, get lost in the rolling green hills, wooded slopes, undulating landscape and quaint villages and enjoy the superb Kodava hospitality.
6. Instead of Leh
Leh begins with wide asphalt roads like in any major metro, with a halt at the Leh palace and ends in a very crowded market place. Unless you are here on a spiritual or religious visit keep your visit limited to Ladakh.
Go down to Spiti Valley
Popularly known as Little Tibet, Spiti will leave you spellbound with its beauty. Surrounded by mountains and glaciers, it has a mix of quaint old monasteries and villages offering stays to the tourists. Indulge in trekking or a jeep safari in one of the many popular trails and check out Bara-Shigri glacier, the second longest glacier in the world.
7. Instead of Pondicherry
The charm of Pondicherry lies in its difference to the surrounding state of Tamil Nadu and the french architecture. And once you have stared at enough french windows and made a mandatory visit to the Aurobindo Ashram, you are going to wonder what to do next. Maybe sit at the rocky beach and enjoy the breeze but other than that there isn’t much to do.
Stay at Bekal
The lesser known town of Bekal offers a fascinating melange of lagoons, backwaters and the sea to the tourists. And the fact that its is somewhat unknown will give you the peace and quiet you would be looking for on your trip. When here hike across the Mangrove trail of Malabar, enjoy the panoramic view of the Bekal Fort and visit the nearby Valiyaparamba to cruise on the backwaters.
8. Instead of Munnar
Yes, it’s spectacularly beautiful due to its tea gardens and misty mountains. But once you have taken in the beauty, there is nothing much to do in Munnar. Add to that the insanely expensive hotels due to the large number of tourists visiting the place and average food, this is not the authentic Kerala experience you would want.
With its mist clad mountains and mountainous rivers, Wayanad is an idyllic destination for a weekend getaway. Climb the Chembra peak, see the elephants at Muthanga Wild Life Sanctuary and get drenched in the Soochippara Waterfalls. Or just stop over at a roadside food joint for some idiyappam, kadla and black tea.
9. Instead of Khandala – Lonavala
A couple of hours drive from Mumbai, these two hill stations have been synonymous with a popular Bollywood song. But rest assured, there is nothing to really go there for other than a drop in temperature and a few hills to make you feel like you’ve left Mumbai. Seriously overrated!
Walk to Matheran
Instead take a trip on the narrow gauge ‘toy train’ in Matheran. With motorised vehicles not allowed inside the place, the air is clean. Add to that a number of viewing points for the surrounding scenery and this becomes a lovely weekend getaway from the crowded streets of Mumbai.
10. Instead of Manali
One of the most explored tourist destinations already, it suffers from the trappings of commercialisation like others. Filled with honeymooners, here taxis are expensive, public transport is slow and non existential and if you are not making a trip to the elusive Rohtang Pass, might as well skip the trip altogether.
Spread out along the lovely Parvati River, Kasol is a small village overrun with reggae bars, bakeries and cheap guesthouses. Explore the forested valley around, take strolls to the neighbouring villages of Chalal, Katagla and Rashol or just relax at the local bar.