India’s vast landmass encompasses several geographical zones and ecosystems making it a very rich and diverse country. This beautiful country is blessed with high mountains of Himalaya to the north, the Great Indian Thar desert in the west, series of hill ranges in its northeast while the endless stretches of Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal lies to its south, surrounding the vast Indian Peninsula.
There are several more geographical subzones within the country like the Gangetic Plains, salt marshes of Rann of Kutch, mangrove delta of the Sundarbans, backwaters of Kerala, and numerous other destinations that enhance the appeal of India. Add a mix of different ethnicity, culture, customs, traditions, cuisine, languages, religion and sects, all you have a land which is incredible in all aspects.
Some Indian destinations are already popular with travellers across the globe. Destinations like Goa, Kerala, Himachal and Rajasthan are enjoying a steady arrival of tourists. However, there are several hidden gems of India waiting to be explored. Check out the top 10 lesser known Indian destinations that you must visit!
Nubra Valley, Jammu and Kashmir
To reach the remote Nubra valley is like an adventure of a lifetime. Driving down the dangerous high altitude roads and crossing the terrific Khardung La pass, you will arrive at a valley that is shaped by two beautiful rivers – Shyok and Nubra. Surrounded by high mountains, the valley is cut off from the world during the winters. In the summers, lush green vegetation coupled with blue rivers and clear skies resembles like a paradise.
Gurez Valley, Jammu and Kashmir
Opened to tourists in 2007, Gurez Valley is a delightful hidden gem of India. It lies close to the Line of Control in Kashmir with unspoilt natural landscape and the free flowing Kishenganga River. The central township of Dawar is cut-off from the world due to heavy snowfall for six months. In the remaining six months, you will see unspoilt forests, meadows and if lucky, can spot the elusive snow leopard, Himalayan brown bear and several rare species of flora and fauna.
Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh
A secluded and remote land with a stunning landscape is a trekkers’ and photographers’ paradise. Perched at a height of 12,500 feet above sea level, Spiti Valley comprises of barren hills, green farms and awe-inspiring Buddhist monasteries and cluster of villages perched on the side of hills. See the gravity defying Ki and Tabo monasteries, a personal favourite of Dalai Lama. Spiti is magical and always enchants travellers with its barren landscape and unknown mysteries.
Ziro Valley, Arunachal Pradesh
India’s easternmost state Arunachal Pradesh hides a surreal landscape known as Ziro Valley. Lush and abundant with water and wildlife, Ziro has an excellent climate all-round the year. This captivating land is home to Apatani tribe, one of the several protected tribes of India. Time seems to stand still in the valley that is often covered with mists hiding the rolling green farms, villages of bamboo huts and hills covered with thick forests.
Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu
A ghost town that was wiped away in the devastating cyclone of 1964, Dhanushkodi, reminds the humankind about its conflicting relationship with nature. Remains of damaged buildings, churches and a depleted railway station still stand today as a reminder of one of the most devastating natural disasters in India. Virgin white sand beaches and azure waters of Palk Straits are its treasures along with the Dhanushkodi Rama Setu Point, a key Indian mythological landmark.
Little Rann of Kutch, Gujrat
In the Indian west, lies the Little Rann of Kutch, part of the Great Rann of Kutch. This interesting landscape comprises of vast saline desert dotted with thorny shrubs, salt marshes and lakes filled with migratory birds. Home to the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, this dry and harsh landscape is ruled by Indian Wild Ass (Khur). The magic of Little Rann of Kutch is best revealed on full moon nights as the endless stretch of desert shines with a blueish glow under the moonlight.
Kila Raipur, Punjab
A famous village of Ludhiana district, Kila Raipur is famed for its unique rural Olympics, an annual event that attracts thousands of visitors, journalists, photographers, sponsors and athletes. The annual Kila Raipur Sports Festival held in the month of February witness unique rural competitions and cultural events. Started way back in 1933 by a philanthropist, Kila Raipur has established itself as one of the most interesting and offbeat destination of India.
An enchanting hill station, Ponmudi is located in the Western Ghats of Kerala. Located at an altitude of 1100 metres from sea level, Ponmudi is covered with rolling green hills often covered by rains and mists. The picturesque Kallar River passes through these hills and culminates in the charming Meenmutty Falls that is enclosed by dense tropical forest with several species of plants and wildlife. A true birdwatchers’ and trekkers’ delight and certainly one of the best kept secrets of India.
Sandakphu, West Bengal
The name Sandakphu means “Height of the Poison Plant” derived from the poisonous aconite plants that grown at these wonderful offbeat hill station. Part of the Darjeeling district in West Bengal, Sandakphu is perched at an altitude of 11,941 feet. This majestic peak offers incredible views of Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga, Lhotse, Makalu and several lofty peaks of the Great Himalayan Range. Floating clouds, magical sunrises and sunsets, sudden rains, and unspoilt nature are its added treasures.
Majuli is a large island located in the middle of Brahmaputra River. This beautiful island is eroding at a rapid pace. However, it still supports precious flora and fauna and is a treasure bowl of culture and traditions of this region. Dark green forests, wetlands and rice farms with mud huts gives it a very rustic and exotic look. Visit this beautiful island before it gets completely eroded by the fast currents of River Brahmaputra.