As India’s cities become overpopulated concrete jungles, there seems to be no escape from the treacherous claws of urbanisation. Indian villages are often stereotyped as poverty-stricken, filthy and devoid of basic facilities. But here some rural areas that are so stunning, they will capture your imagination.
1. Kothi, Manali
Located at a distance of 16 km from Manali along the Lahaul-Spiti-Leh highway, the village of Kothi forms the bottom of the Rohtang Pass. It is possible to view the deep gorge at an elevation of 2500 metres and the River Beas rushing through it.
This is perfect for trekkers and adventure travellers as there are trails with several thermals which attract local eagles. The climb from the village to the gorge takes about an hour. And what’s waiting at the top? An opportunity to go paragliding 😀
2. Vashist Village, Manali
3 km away from Manali is this quieter version of the popular hill station. Many tourists visit to bathe in hot springs and visit typical Himachali temples while taking advantage of the cheap accommodation.
The houses built here have intricate carvings and are made of wood or stone.
3. Mawlynnong, Meghalaya
Dubbed as Asia’s cleanest village, the residents stick to a strict code of cleanliness and expect all visitors to adopt eco-friendly habits during their stay. A skywalk offers a breathtaking view of the forest that stands 80 feet above the ground.
Mawlynnong is accessible by road and is 90 km from Shillong.
4. Naddi Village, Dharamsala
2 km from McLeodganj and at an elevation of 2000 metres, it is the only place in Dharamshala where the mountains and wide valleys on Dhaula Dhar’s southern side can be seen. It is also a starting point for treks to Kareri Lake, Guna Temple and Triund.
5. Malana, Manali
Located in the Parvati Valley, Malana is a small village of wood and stone houses, and people who have strange customs. Touching villagers and their property (houses and temples included) is forbidden. Although this village is beautiful, it is advisable to venture forth with the help of a knowledgeable guide.
6. Tarkarli, Maharashtra
Tarkarli is a small coastal village in the Malvan taluka of the Sindhudurg district (450 km from Mumbai). It has a long and narrow strip of beaches that have pristine waters. On a clear day, it is possible to see the sea bed that lies 20 feet below. Snorkeling is a popular activity here and if you’re lucky, you might see dolphins.
The Padmagarh fort is a monument worth seeing while in Tarkarli.
7. Velas, Maharashtra
Located in the Ratnagiri district, this village is a sight for turtle breeding. In 2006, a homestay programme was started where local families hosted visitors during the celebration of the Turtle Festival, where participants bid wishes of prosperity for the newly born turtle hatch-lings that make their way to the sea.
8. Pangot, Uttarakhand
The main attraction is bird watching with over 580 species that have been recorded here so far. Some commonly sighted Himalayan birds are Lammergeier, Himalayan Griffon, Rufous Bellied Woodpecker and Blue-Winged Minla.
Pangot is a 15 km drive from Nainital with views of the Cheena peak forested area.
9. Lambasingi, Andhra Pradesh
This is the only place in South India that experiences snowfall and government agencies expect it to be the next big tourism spot in the years to come. Coffee and pepper are grown in this region which are exported.
10. Kalap, Uttarakhand
Located in the upper Garhwal Himalayas, Kalap is one of the most remote places in India. Getting there requires a 4 hour trek from Netwar, a small town a few kilometres from Dehradun. The scenery here is absolutely breathtaking as it is located in the grasslands of the Himalayas.
Life is simple in Kalap as the main occupations are agriculture and animal rearing.
11. Kheerganga, Himachal Pradesh
Kheerganga lies at the end of the Parvati Valley and is a meadow at 2960 metres, where Shiva is said to have meditated for 3000 years. The hot water springs are an experience worth remembering and the 8-hour trek is absolutely worth it. The best times to visit are between May and October.
12. Tabo, Himachal Pradesh
Located in the Spiti Valley, this village is home to the 1000 year old Tabo monastery which His Holiness the Dalai Lama considers the holiest of all monasteries. Hotels are sparse, hostels and guesthouses of the monastery are other alternatives for accommodation.
13. Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh
Chitkul is the last inhabited village on the ancient India-Tibet trade route before the Indo-China border. The Kagyupa temple has a highly valued old image of the Shakyamuni Buddha, a Wheel of Life mandala and four Directional Kings on either side of the door.
14. Majuli, Assam
Majuli is an island on the Brahmaputra river and covers a total area of 1250 sq km. Rice is predominantly grown here, especially some interesting varities like komal saul that is cooked in warm water in just fifteen minutes. Another is bao dhan which is eaten as a breakfast cereal. Textiles using Muga silk are also produced here.
15. Ladghar, Maharashtra
The main attraction here is the beach “Tamas Teertha” where the sunset is a view to behold. Some parts of the sea appear to be red in colour while boat trips are available for dolphin watching.
This beach has two beautiful, ancient temples – one of Lord Shiva known as “Veleshwar” and the other of Lord Datta situated on a small hill.
16. Patnitop, Jammu and Kashmir
The strange name is actually a distortion of the original name “Patan Da Talab”, meaning pond of the princess. Patnitop offers beautiful picnic spots, peaceful walks, trekking trails and views of the mountainscape of the Chenab basin.
17. Panamik, Kashmir
This is situated close to the Siachen glacier and renowned for its hot springs. The Panamik hot water spring is situated at an elevation of 10442 ft above sea level. The spring water contains high amounts of sulphur, believed to be the best for curing rheumatism and other ailments.
Panamik is also the base for trek to Ensa Gompa. The 250-year-old Ensa gompa is popular for Buddhist murals and scriptures. The gompa overlooks snowcapped mountains and the Nubra Valley.
18. Kunjkharak, Uttarakhand
Kunjkharak is located at an elevation of 2323 metres, which makes it the perfect place to view the Himalayas. It is home to the endangered khoola moss which is used in many cosmetic products.
Local legends say this was the last place on Earth that Shiva was seen before ascending to the heavens.
19. Kalsi, Uttarakhand
Kalsi is a small beautiful village situated 780 metres above sea level at the junction of the Yamuna and Tons river. The village falls on the old route to Yamunotri, the origin of river Yamuna. Sitting quietly in between the gigantic hills and plateaus, Kalsi attracts travellers with its majestic beauty. It is the buffer zone between Uttarakhand and Himanchal mountains.