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Where to travel during COVID-19: 7 quaint destinations in India

Restrictions on international travel and economic slowdown mean budget-friendly domestic vacations are the way forward. And if you’re wondering where to travel during COVID-19, here are seven spectacular hidden marvels in India you’d love to explore.

7 best travel destinations in India you can explore —

Orchha, Madhya Pradesh

where to travel during COVID-19

Orchha has many astounding palaces and temples dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries, built by the Bundela Rulers. One of the most iconic sites is the chattris buildings that dot the landscape. The spires against the sky in the morning or at sunset is a magical sight. Then there is Jehangir Mahal, the 17th century Raja Mahal and the fountain-studded Phool Bagh. But the best experience in Orchha is sitting by the river Betwa and seeing the world pass by. Thrill-seekers can indulge in rafting and boating here.

Sindhudurg, Maharashtra

where to travel during COVID-19

This seaside town has some fabulous sea forts, dating as far back as the 12th century, water sports like scuba diving and snorkelling, and great seafood. The major attraction here is the imposing Sindhudurg fort flanked by the Western Ghats on one side and the Arabian Sea on the other. Curl up with a book on the pristine beaches that line up on the Konkan coastline – Tarkarli, Shiroda, Bhogwe, Kunkeshwar, Mochemad, Achra, Vayangani, and Redi. And when hunger strikes walk across to Atithi Bamboo for a delicious seafood meal. Spend the evening amidst the old fort ruins of Niviti overlooking the Arabian Sea and wander down the coast. Finish the day with a sunset swim.

Basar, Arunachal Pradesh

where to travel during COVID-19

Arunachal Pradesh’s best-kept secret, Basar comprises of about 26 unexplored villages with picturesque trek trails, mystical caverns, and stunning jungles. A good place to start is the famous Tapen Penru or Bat Cave. The path leading to the cave is just as stunning as the waterfalls, lush paddy fields, and gurgling rivulets. After a traditional lunch of rice and chicken curry cooked in bamboo and washed down with fresh poka (the local rice beer), set out to discover Hidohidi–a 70-meter deep waterfall and a lovely spot for an impromptu picnic. Dite Dime waterfalls and Joli–a haunted gorge are some of the other attractions here. Just remember to say “Aldu re?” (‘how are you’ in Galo language).

Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh

From the towering gopurams that dot the old town to ancient rock-cut caves, magnificent temples to parks, forts, museums, and breathtaking bridges, Vijaywada is nothing short of spectacular. A must-visit here is the Undavalli Caves believed to be built between the 4th and the 5th centuries by Gupta dynasty. A short hike from the caves leads to a serene spot with exceptional views of the Krishna river. The impressive three-storied Kondapalli Fort is worth spending a few hours in. While here do shop for the beautiful Kondapalli wooden toys carved out of softwood known as Poniki. End the day with a leisurely walk over Prakasam Barrage, an imposing bridge that connects the districts of Krishna and Guntur. Lit up in a symphony of lights, this magnificent road-bridge glistens like the Venetian at dusk.

Khajjiar, Himachal Pradesh

where to travel during COVID-19

This picturesque plateau near Dalhousie is designated as “Mini Switzerland of India”. With dense pines, deodars, lush green meadows, and imposing Dhauladhar ranges, it justifies the title. Among the popular sights is the floating island that is also the place to get your adrenaline fix – paragliding, horse riding, zorbing. Those looking for a softer pace can head to Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary to gawk at Himalayan black marten, barking goral, deer, bear, and little streams. But the best experience is a leisurely stroll through the quaint villages dotted with apple orchards and unbeatable views of snow-laden hills and mount Kailash.

Bijanbari, North Bengal

where to travel during COVID-19

The winding scenic road that goes down to this sleepy town itself will put you in a trance. On the way, you will pass by lovely mountain streams, waterfalls, prize-winning tea gardens, and unspoiled forests. Stopover at the great Hima Falls for a spontaneous picnic. Watch out for Biswambhar rock, a steep 50-ft high rock rising vertically. Bijanbari has some great hiking routes. The hydroelectric power plant here sheathed by lovely orange orchards and steep hills is another compelling draw.

Munroe Island, Kerala

where to travel during COVID-19

The palm-fringed Munroe is a hidden pearl and just the respite you need from the busy and overcrowded Alleppey. Start with a tranquil canoe tour that will take you into most breathtaking canals, gorgeous lagoons, lush green coconut plantations, and narrow bridges. A walk through the island will bring you up close with playful kingfishers, impressive Brahminy kites, and elegant egrets. End your walk with a refreshing dip in the river. Friendly locals and tantalizing fresh fish delicacies at the Munroe Island lake Resort make this a perfect island getaway.

Nivedita Jayaram Pawar

Pawar is a senior journalist based out of Mumbai. After spending nearly two decades as editor for various newspapers and magazines, she turned freelancer five years ago. Currently contributing travel and lifestyle stories to some of the leading publications in India and abroad, when not on board an airplane or furiously keying in to meet deadlines, she is likely gobbling up a Murakami novel or perfecting her yoga poses.