7 offbeat Indian destinations for Christmas and New Year
Seeking solitude away from the crowds this Christmas and New Year? Here’s a super cool list of the best offbeat places to visit in India during this holiday season!
Ahoy! With Christmas and New Year approaching, it’s time to elevate the excitement levels! While the chilly bites of winter might nudge you to curl up in a blanket and sip on hot chocolate, we suggest kicking off the new year with a bang of adventure by exploring some incredibly thrilling, offbeat destinations.
India offers a plethora of budget-friendly options for those seeking solitude amidst lesser-known spots, away from the tourist crowds. And don’t worry about expenses! Whether it's skiing in Himachal's snow, indulging in dune bashing in Rajasthan's deserts, or lounging with cocktails on Goa's beaches, here’s a super cool list of places awaiting your arrival, promising an exhilarating holiday experience.
Embrace the thrill of December with activities suited for every type of traveller. Get ready to jot down your favourite picks from this comprehensive list of the best offbeat places to visit in India during the Christmas and New Year seasons!
Nestled in the idyllic corner of south Kashmir about 90 km from Srinagar, Chatpal remains blanketed with snow in December. The scent of pine trees, a clear sky, vibrant yellow and white wildflowers, and the awe-inspiring backdrop of majestic mountains define this quaint town.
Though Chatpal might not boast numerous tourist attractions, its allure lies in serene nature walks amidst emerald valleys, sipping some local Kashmiri chai, and setting afoot on treks. While summer reveals its verdant beauty, Chatpal's snowfalls cast a spell of their own, offering a spectacular sight.
But guess what, this little, pretty town is largely hidden and untouched by commercialisation. While Kashmir remains flooded with tourists this December, why not steal a peek at Chatpal and immerse in Wordsworth’s poetry?
Rann of Kutch, Gujarat
The Rann of Kutch in Gujarat is renowned for its expansive white salty desert sands, proudly holding the title of the largest salt desert globally. This mesmerising landscape, with its cracked earth stretching inland from the sea, is a sight that truly captivates.
Visiting this place in December has an added advantage as you can witness Kutch's cultural and artistic heritage during the Rann Utsav, an annual extravaganza between November and February. This season offers numerous opportunities for thrilling activities like night desert safaris and enchanting camping experiences beneath the starlit sky. The temperatures during this period are ideal for sightseeing, enhancing the overall experience.
Kutch also stands as the exclusive breeding ground for flamingos in India boasting an impressive presence of 13 species of lark, adding to its ecological richness and allure.
Nestled between India and Bangladesh, in Meghalaya's northern expanse, lies the serene Dawki, celebrated for the pristine waters of Umngot, also known as the Dawki River.
Often overlooked from the itinerary, this destination blooms into its glory during winter, emerging as one of India's hidden gems. With temperatures ranging from 16 to 20 degrees Celsius, Dawki becomes an idyllic haven that promises an unforgettable experience.
The sheer clarity of the waters, surrounded by lush greenery, casts a spell of enchantment over this place. Glide over the crystalline waters on a boat and experience a mesmerising sensation that defies gravity—it feels like levitation, not floating. One can see their entire physical self while boating!
Dawki is a delightful choice for a family winter retreat, offering captivating vistas of the Meghalayan landscape. Its strategic location provides a stunning vantage point to admire the majestic Khasi and Jaintia Hills, adding to the allure of this picturesque town.
The author regrets having missed this gem from her Shillong itinerary in 2012.
* cries in a corner *
Nestled in Karnataka's coastal embrace, Gokarna shines as a haven for those seeking an unforgettable New Year celebration. Often termed a milder version of Goa, Gokarna boasts less crowded beaches and a richer cultural tapestry.
As the clock ticks towards the new year, this town transforms into a hub for exhilarating all-night rave parties, drawing in a global crowd. It's a hotspot particularly favoured by international tourists seeking vibrant experiences. Dive into the vibrant pub scene, and unique beer blends, or simply unwind on the tranquil shores.
This coastal gem epitomises the essence of relaxation, offering an easygoing atmosphere and serene beaches, ideal for indulging in much-needed personal time. Tranquillity knows no bounds here, amidst the breathtaking shores, hippie vibes, and surrounding wilderness. Even a fortnight feels inadequate to soak in the beauty of Gokarna.
Having a mix of adventure and serenity, Gokarna is ideal for both beach and adventure lovers. For adventure seekers, beach trekking is a favourite activity. The trek leads to Half Moon Beach, nestled just beyond Om Beach—a secluded paradise adorned with lagoons. Though it boasts fewer eateries, shacks, and accommodations, this rarity is what renders the place truly special and highly sought after.
Lolegaon, West Bengal
Nestled in West Bengal's Kalimpong district, Lolegaon stands as an unexplored place for nature enthusiasts.
This tranquil village boasts varied pine forests and clear views of the majestic Kanchenjunga, the world's third-highest peak. The Heritage Forest, adorned with sprawling canopies of oak and cypress trees, instils a profound sense of peace. The experience is further intensified by strolling across a 180-meter hanging bridge within the dense forest. If you’re God’s favourite, a December visit might even treat you to a magical snowfall—an ideal way to ring in the New Year!
Perched atop the scenic hills of Nagaland, Khonoma stands out as an offbeat gem to explore in North East India, especially during winter. This village, known as the Angami Naga village, holds the esteemed title of being the country's first green village. Khonoma's allure lies in its conservation efforts, verdant forests, and distinctive agricultural practices, boasting some of the oldest terraced farming techniques in the region.
The village's history is marked by a significant transformation. Once plagued by extensive hunting and rampant deforestation in its surrounding jungles, a pivotal moment unfolded in 1998. Through a collective effort, the inhabitants of Khonoma took a resolute stand. Village elders and seasoned hunters unanimously decided to prohibit hunting animals and birds and cease the felling of trees in the jungles. This led to the establishment of the Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary, underscoring the community's unwavering commitment to safeguarding their natural heritage.
So, if you’re visiting this December, you may have the rare opportunity to witness terrace cultivation, engage with the local tribe and learn about their lifestyle and vibrant culture.
Chuka Beach, Uttar Pradesh
Tucked away within the Mahof forest range between the Sharda Sagar Dam and Sharda Canal, Chuka Beach remains a well-guarded secret in the lesser-known Pilibhit district. This hidden paradise has maintained its serene allure, evading the throngs of tourists and offering an idyllic refuge for those yearning to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
It beckons exploration, weaving through dense forests, inviting you to traverse scenic trails, capture the vibrant bird life or simply bask in the sun while lounging on its sandy shores.
To add, there’s also a little treehouse amidst this secluded haven. From this vantage point, you can witness breathtaking panoramas. And perhaps, if fortune favours, you might catch a glimpse of some of the area's elusive wild denizens, adding an element of thrilling surprise to your tranquil escape!
So, what are you waiting for? Book your tickets now and flaunt your vacay pictures on the ‘gram!