POOVAR ISLAND, KERALA
If solitude and the quiet life are what you seek, then this tiny isle located between the Arabian Sea and the Neyyar River in the south of India may just be the place you are looking for. The beautiful confluence of serene backwaters and miles of golden sandy beaches in one scenic setting makes Poovar Island one of the most stunning places to visit in Kerala. There’s plenty to keep you engaged, as well. Head to Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary to explore an abundance of unique flora and fauna, or take a canoe ride through the swamp forests. Hire a luxury houseboat for a more relaxed day out. And since wellness and Kerala go hand-in-hand, you can rejuvenate with an Ayurveda session at one of the luxury resorts.
GETTING THERE: Fly to Thiruvananthapuram International Airport from any major city in India. A 45-minute taxi ride will take you to the nearest jetty, from where Poovar is a 15-minute boat ride away.
STAY: Estuary Sarovar Portico, a luxurious beachside resort, features garden-view, private-pool, and estuary-view villas, among other options (sarovarhotels.com).
Picture-perfect views of the majestic Himalayas and rolling stretches of greenery are just two of the many reasons to visit this tiny hamlet, located 2,590 metres above sea level, on the Mussoorie-Chamba Road. Pretty apple orchards, winding roads surrounded by fragrant pine, deodar, and rhododendron forests, and views of sun-kissed peaks make this an ideal getaway for the weary soul. A trek up to the alluring Surkanda Devi Temple is enough to invigorate you, especially in the winter months when the hills are covered with snow. There’s more than enough to excite the adventurous soul, with activities such as star gazing, bird watching, rock climbing, and camping trips organised by various tour groups. Exploring the rich flora and fauna of the region on a safari through Kodia Forest is highly recommended.
GETTING THERE: The nearest domestic airport, Jolly Grant Airport is well connected to major cities like Delhi and Mumbai. Kanatal is a three-hour drive from the airport.
STAY: The Terraces, an exquisite boutique-spa resort, offers 20 rooms and a suite with stunning views of the snow-capped Himalayas (theterraces.biz).
This tiny village in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar district is renowned primarily as the setting for the Velavadar Blackbuck National Park, which is spread over 34 square kilometres and is home to India’s largest population of blackbucks. The elegant Indian antelope, characterised by long horns shaped like corkscrews for the males and considered sacred by Hindus, can be seen sprinting across the grassy terrains of the expansive park. One can also spot the endangered Indian grey wolf, golden jackals, and striped hyenas, as well as a huge variety of reptiles. Bird lovers are sure to enjoy sightings of several migratory birds, including pelicans, painted storks, flamingos, and more.
GETTING THERE: The nearest domestic airport is Bhavnagar Airport, which welcomes daily flights from Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Velavadar is an hour’s drive from Bhavnagar.
STAY: The Blackbuck Lodge offers luxurious cottages within the park, with views of the grassland, blackbuck safaris, and a barbeque dinner under the stars (theblackbucklodge.net).
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