The Great Indian Outdoors
Lonely Planet Magazine India|July 2020
The Great Indian Outdoors
Escape to our country’s wide, open spaces, right from the confines of your four walls

Yumthang Valley, Sikkim

Sikkim, the tiny mountain state tucked away in the Himalayas, is still one of those places where commercialisation hasn’t managed to find a firm foothold. Especially if you venture towards the more remote areas of the state, you could go weeks without having to jostle for space with other visitors. Closed through the winter months from December to March, the most colorful season to visit Yumthang Valley, also known as the Valley of Flowers, is from March to June, when the entire valley floor is covered in blooms. If you want to get an insight into local culture, traditions and people though, it’s a better idea to go there in February, during the Losar Festival. Locals celebrate the Tibetan New Year in traditional attire, and festivities continue for a week or two. If you’re just looking to relax, there’s also a hot spring in the valley to soak up some therapeutic minerals in. The best part is there aren’t any places to stay in Yumthang Valley, the closest town being Lachung, where you will find accommodation. This is definitely one of the more relaxed trips you will have in the lap of nature.

The past few months of staying indoors under lockdown have got to have gotten to even the most dedicated of homebodies. By now, most of us are itching to get outside and explore beyond our four walls. We must adapt our lives and lifestyles to the new normal. While governments across the world figure out best practices and ease up on restrictions, we can find hope in the fact that there’s plenty to explore still, away from urban hubs and crowds, and more in the soothing lap of nature in India.

Across the length and breadth of our country, there are many places to get out amid nature and reconnect with the planet and the other species that inhabit it. Traveling locally has many advantages. Not only does it minimise risks by eliminating international air travel but also makes your holiday much more carbon-conscious. Not to mention the benefits to the local economies. The best part? Out in the great outdoors, there’s plenty of space for everyone, with safe distance in place. Take a look at our list of destinations that will transport you far from the madding crowd and into adventures with a natural bent.

Udaipur, Rajasthan

It might be famous for its lakes, palaces, and herds of tourists, but Udaipur takes on a very different face if you choose to explore beyond the well-oiled and conventional tourism machinery. Ditch the tour van and hire a bicycle instead. Leave behind the photogenic monuments and head out into the countryside. Lovely hills, picturesque lakes, panoramic landscapes, and friendly locals will make it a memorable experience. While a trip by yourself is fairly doable given how welcoming the people in these parts are, taking a local guide along will only make your experience all the more authentic and give you an unparalleled insight into regional customs, traditions, culture and lives.

Indrahar Pass, Himachal Pradesh


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July 2020