1. Munsiyari, Uttarakhand
Located in the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand in India, Munsiyari is a quaint hamlet located at an altitude of 2,290 metres. Fenced by Indian borders with China and Nepal, Munsiyari was a restricted area until recently. Ever since it became accessible, the village has been serving as a base camp for treks to Milam Glacier, Khaliya Top, Ralam Glacier, Nanda Devi Base Camp, and Chiplakot Bugyal. Blessed with views of the snow-capped Panchachuli peaks, the hamlet also makes for an ideal destination for a slow holiday. Visit the Tribal Heritage Museum here to learn about the local crafts, culture, and traditions.
2. Dawki, Meghalaya
A little less than 100 kilometres from Shillong, along the border of India and Bangladesh, is a picturesque town called Dawki. It is surrounded by the verdant Jaintia and Khasi Hills. But Dawki’s best-kept secret is a crystal-clear river called Umngot—it originates in Meghalaya and flows into Bangladesh. Also known as River Dawki, it hosts a boat race every spring. While kayaking on the river makes for a tranquil experience, a suspension bridge built over it by the British in 1932 offers panoramic views. Besides being naturally blessed, Dawki gives you a taste of the state’s tribal culture in the form of delectable food.
3. Cherai, Kerala
Featuring a 10-kilometre beach of the same name, Cherai wins hearts with its laid-back atmosphere. Overlooking the Arabian Sea, it is the smallest town on Vypin Island and a lesser-known site for spotting dolphins. Leading to Cherai Beach is the Beach Road, which is usually lined with eateries, hotels, and homestays. Drop by a shack to gorge on seafood—crabs, prawns, and squid dishes are aplenty. In the Cherai Lagoon, one can get a glimpse of Kerala’s Chinese fishing net culture, while temples like Shree Gowreeswara (famous for its winter elephant parade), and Azheekal Shree Varaha (home to a rare chariot) woo history lovers. The cultural riches of Kochi are a stone’s throw away.
4. Khimsar, Rajasthan
Located at the edge of the Thar Desert, 90 kilometres north of Jodhpur, Khimsar was once an independent kingdom. Here, the pièce de résistance is the Khimsar Dunes Village, 15 kilometres outside of the main city. A model village built around a small lake, it offers eco- huts and lodges for a rustic Rajasthani experience and is accessible only by a desert safari. Back in the city, a tour of the Khimsar Fort, spread over 11 acres of lawns, easily takes up a whole day. A part of the fort is well-preserved and doubles up as a resort with modern comforts.
5. Daksum, Kashmir
Nestled in the snow-laden Pir Panjal range in Kashmir, the village of Daksum is charming in more ways than one. It is known as the last village in the Bhringi River Valley and leads to Sinthan Top, a 746-metre-high pass. Surrounded by coniferous forests, wooden cottages, grassy meadows, and the gushing Bhringi River, Daksum is picture-perfect. Located at an altitude of 2,438 metres, it lies at the end of a 100-kilometre drive from Srinagar. Explore a nature trail, find a picnic spot, or try angling to catch the best trout (with a permit).