Five favourite destinations this December
In a few weeks, winter will be upon us. Fog will descend and our flight schedules are bound to be disrupted. Yet, it is the best time to visit India. The mountains beckon you, the migratory birds are here and the forests have just opened after the monsoons. Head to the snowy peaks of the Himalayas, the dense canopy of the Western Ghats or the beaches of Goa or the backwaters of Kerala. It is festival time galore – be it in Kutch or Odisha. And personally for me, it’s the time to visit heritage destinations – from Tamil Nadu to Rajasthan . If you are asking me for my wishlist, here are my five favourite December destinations
Valparai is a plantation town, a hill station, a bio diversity hotspot and a tropical rain forest – all rolled into one. Located in the Anaimalai Range of the Western Ghats, this is one of the most pristine places in Tamil Nadu .One of India’s bio diversity hot spots, this little piece of land is known for several endemic flora and fauna which are now facing threats. The journey is beautiful surrounded by mists and waterfalls and a man here even claimed to have “Seen God” in this area that the place is named after him.. However it is not just a tourist destination, it’s about a journey through the forests that opens our eyes to conservation , to the shrinking rain forests and to the endangered species.
It is not just erotic art that lends sensuality to Khajuraho. Walking around the ancient town, I feel as if I am entering a medieval world of apsaras and deities, mortals and devils. Located on the banks of a tributary of the Ken river, these medieval monuments are today part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built between the 10th and 12th centuries by the Chandela Rajputs, these temples hidden amidst the forests were not fully explored until the 19th century. The Western Group of temples is the largest. There are then the Eastern and Southern groups and a few Jain monuments as well. There were once more than 85 temples here. Today, about 22 remain. One wonders why this town, named after the khajur or date-palm, would be chosen by the Chandelas as their cultural capital.
Read more on Khajuraho here
A little hamlet on Chilika Lake in Odisha, Asia’s largest brackish lagoon, is home to over 100 odd species of birds that have come here from all over the world. There are birds from Russia and Mongolia that have flown here from this ecological hot spot years ago. Water birds from the Caspian Sea have migrated here. Some have come from the colder climes of Ladakh to reach this little spot. And they find this destination year after year. Drive a couple of hours from Puri to reach this small village and you can take a boat around the many narrow canals to see the migratory birds up close and personal.
Read more on Mangalajodi here
Driving to the remote part of Arunachal Pradesh in the north east corner of India is an exhilarating experience . Colours change with every curve in the mountains and so does the scenery. Bright yellow mustard fields merge with some brilliant orchids that suddenly morph into dense forests with rivers gliding past them to snow clad mountains and conifers kissed by snow flakes to frozen lakes to a valley of clouds that wrapped mountains as we cross Sela Pass and drive towards Tawang. This is a town which sees the first rays of sun in India, but ironically the sun never shines . Tawang is famous for its monasteries, gompas on one end, a war memorial on the other It’s a town ravaged by war and was once in possession of the Chinese. The home of the Mompas, Tawang is known for the lakes and waterfalls and driving around to see some of these frozen lakes is quite an experience.
Move over Goa, here comes the beaches of Sindhudurg. But it is not the just the beaches that beckon you here. Palaces, forts, temples vie for attention with the forests and birds .
The forts located right in the middle of the ocean and along the coast take you into a historic past of the Marathas as you delve deep into the woods and encounter sleepy fishing hamlets lined with cashew plantations that lend a green cover.
Planning a trip to any of these destinations or anywhere else in winter ?