Image Courtesy - The Bison Lodge
For a big part of 2020, we were cooped up inside our houses and all our travel plans stood cancelled, thanks to the Covid-19-induced lockdown. In 2021, it’s time to make up for the lost opportunities, starting with some unique experiences closer home. Forbes India picks 10 offbeat destinations in India that you could put on your calendar this year.
Stay on a tea estate in Darjeeling
Image courtesy - Taj Chia Kutir Resort & Spa
Opened in December 2020, the Taj Chia Kutir Resort & Spa in Darjeeling is inside the Makaibari Tea Estate, founded in 1859, and home to the world’s first tea factory. Spread across 22 acres, the 72-room property offers an elaborate high tea and tea tasting session with an expert tea sommelier at the Makaibari Tea Lounge, an all-glass bar that offers panoramic views of the tea gardens.
River cruises in Kolkata and beyond
Image Courtesy - Antara Luxury River cruises
Antara Luxury River cruises explore the rivers of India, giving travellers a unique experience of seeing up close the life on the rivers of India and along the cities. Their Artisans of Bengal cruise, a round trip from Kolkata to Mayapur, explores the varied traditions of textile weaving by handlooms and machines, indigenous pottery-making and the colonial heritage of Bengal. The 11 night-12 day Indo-Bangladesh tour (Kolkata to Dhaka) depicts the region’s history through the river Ganges. They also have a three-night cruise to the Sundarbans.
Stay in a residential palace in Jaipur
Image Courtesy - City Palace, Jaipur
The lavish Gudliya suite inside the 300-year-old City Palace, Jaipur, has hosted Princess Diana and Oprah Winfrey and is now available for booking on Airbnb. The City Palace is home to the royal family and a stay here gives guests a taste of the rich history, cultural heritage and artistic traditions of royalty.
Take a gondola ride in snow-covered Gulmarg
Image Courtesy - Yawar Nazir/Getty Images
Asia's largest and highest, and the world’s second largest and second highest cable car project, a Gulmarg Gondola ride offers guests a mesmerising mountains and valley view. The gondola can ferry six people at a time and 600 people per hour.
The Gulmarg Gondola takes you to the Kongdoori mountain, on the shoulder of Mount Apharwat—the highest ski point in the Himalayas at 13,780 feet. The Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering has stationed certified instructors here and provides skiing equipment for skiing enthusiasts.
Live in a Portuguese fort in Goa
Image Courtesy - Fort Tiracol Heritage Hotel
Goa has so many modern and fancy luxury resorts where you can go to party or relax. But if you want a taste of Goa’s culture, consider Fort Tiracol Heritage Hotel. Once an armed fortress that belonged to the Portuguese, Fort Tiracol stands on a cliff in North Goa overseeing the Arabian Sea and the estuary of the Tiracol River. It exists in its own space and time on the northern most tip of Goa.
Around Karnataka in a luxury caravan
Image Courtesy - Campervan Camps & Holidays India Pvt Ltd
Campervan Camps & Holidays India Pvt Ltd. launched LuxeCamper, a luxury motorhome in July last year. The company currently offers trips to forests, beaches, and places of historic significance in Karnataka, and has also partnered with small lodges, homestays and select campsites of Jungle Lodges and Resorts Ltd for camping.
Stay in a heritage palace in Udaipur
Image Courtesy - Gogunda Palace
Udaipur’s 16th century Gogunda Palace, Maharana Pratap’s coronation (1572) venue, is now a luxury hotel of 40 suites. Each room is different in terms of its colours, décor and even shape and size. One bathroom has Rajasthani miniature erotica, while another is made with thousands of tiny mirrors from floor to ceiling and yet another has a collection of pichwai paintings. You will never run out of things to see here.
Cherry blossoms in Shillong
Image Courtesy - Saqib Majeed/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Every year, in November, the Meghalaya government hosts the Shillong Cherry Blossom festival. Many parts of the picturesque state turn pink with these beautiful pink flowers. Last year the festival was cancelled due to Covid-19. But festival or no festival, you can always plan a visit this year.
Wildlife safaris with a wildlife photographer in Kabini
Image Courtesy - Shaaz Jung
Shaaz Jung is a wildlife photographer, big cat-tracker and a descendent of the Pataudi family of Bhopal. No other photographer knows Kabini as well as he does because he has been photographing the wild in this reserve for many years now. Jung runs the eco-friendly The Bison Resort in Kabini and often takes visitors on a guided safari to the tiger reserve.
Stargazing on Neil Island
Image Courtesy - Unsplash
People often go to the Himalayas or to Lonar Lake in Maharashtra for stargazing. But this year we recommend that you explore the quiet and serene Neil Island, one of the 572 islands of Andaman & Nicobar. Watching the thousands and thousands of stars of the Milky Way and the moon rise while listening to the sounds of the waves crashing on the island is an experience like no other.