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The Pichavaram Mangrove Forest is one of the largest in the country
The Pichavaram Mangrove Forest is one of the largest in the country

9 Lesser Known Places to Visit in India

Picture of Arun Venkatraman
Updated: 3 January 2018

When it comes to offbeat tourism, India is a treasure trove that keeps on giving. And no matter how many new destinations you visit, there are always new and lesser-known options that remain largely unexplored. From undiscovered beach towns to villages with unique cultures, here are some great destinations in India that are as far away as possible from tourist crowds and promise a great getaway.

Assagao, Goa

Over the years it has become a widely accepted notion that if you want to get away from tourist crowds and all the cacophony associated with it then South Goa is your best bet. However, contrary to this popular belief, a little further from the tourist zones of North Goa are quaint villages such as Assagao that are much less explored but at the same time make for a great adventurous experience. With its boutique and eco stay options, Assagao is fast becoming a hub for offbeat tourism in Goa. Villages such as Assagao, Morjim and others around Bardez are the perfect example of Sussegad (an expression relating to the quiet life in Goa) and now is the best time to visit them before they too fall prey to commercialisation.

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Morjim, a village in North Goa | ©SSR/Wiki Commons

Nagapattinam and Pichavaram

Tamil Nadu‘s beach experience has often been restricted to the coasts of Chennai and Pondicherry, or at the most Kanyakumari. However, these aren’t the only beaches in the state and quaint and obscure beaches in towns such as Nagapattinam boast of some of the best and pristine beaches in the state with the added plus of being as far away as possible from tourist crowds. From the untouched beaches of Nagore to quaint beach towns of Karaikal and Tranquebar (which also has a beautiful Danish Town with a Fort), Nagapattinam is full of great places to visit.

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The Danish fort of Dansborg in Tharangambadi, Tamil Nadu | ©Esben Agersnap/Wiki Commons

Karwar

Just across the southern border between Goa and Karnataka is the surreal cultural centre of Karwar, a beach town that has long been overshadowed by its northern neighbour. From the glorious and nearly always empty beaches such as Karwar Beach and Rabindranath Tagore Beach to the beautiful banks and leisure boats of Kali River, Karwar scores top marks in natural beauty. To add to this, Karwar also boasts of a vibrant culture and is home to several well-known temples and forts. To put it simply, Karwar is Goa without the tourist crowds, a dream of almost every beach-lover.

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Aerial view of the Kali River in Karwar, Karnataka | ©Solarisgirl/Wiki Commons

Dholavira

Historical tourism in India is just picking up and at the centre of this trend are lesser-known destinations such as Dholavira in Gujarat’s Rann of Kutch that not only offer a great getaway but also provide an educational experience of India’s ancient and mysterious history. The Harappan site of Dholavira is situated right in the middle of the Rann of Kutch lake and is one of the oldest discovered sites of the Indus Valley Civilization that existed in India and Pakistan in the third and second millennium BC. While the site is of immense historical importance, in recent years, it has also attracted a fairly large number of tourists. This ancient city with proper fortified walls and dams is an architectural marvel of its age, making it one of the most wonderful tourist experiences in the country.

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Ancient ruins of the Indus Valley Civilisation at Dholavira, Gujarat | ©Lalit Gujjer/Wiki Commons

Hemis, Jammu and Kashmir

The largest high altitude national park in Jammu and Kashmir state of India has always played second fiddle to Ladakh, which is located in the vicinity, despite its magnificence and natural splendour. The Hemis National Park is famous all across the world for being home to the largest number of snow leopards and being the only place where you can see them in the wild. However, lack of infrastructure and the presence of almost no motorable roads has meant that this beautiful region is visited and explored much less than it could be. Apart from the snow leopard, the Hemis National Park is also popular for being home to endangered creatures such as the Tibetian wolf, Eurasian brown bear, and the red fox.

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Hemis National Park is the only place in the world with a wild population of snow leopards | ©J&K Wildlife/Wiki Commons

Parule

Nestled between Mumbai and Goa is the quaint coastal town of Parule in Maharashtra, which in recent years has become one of India’s top offbeat tourist destination. This is primarily because of the several new amazing homestays and farmstays that have come up in the region and offer a great cultural experience close to nature. Most famous among these is Maachli, which offers an exquisite nature-friendly experience and insight into the culture of this region’s Samant people. Parule is also popular for being an access point to several untouched and upcoming destinations in the region such as Tarkarli, which has water sports and scuba diving, and the pristine Bhogwe Beach, one of the best hidden beaches of Maharashtra.

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Bhogwe Beach is a five-kilometre trek from Parule | ©AnkurP/Flickr

Majuli, Assam

This large  island on the Brahmaputra river is best-known for its picture-perfect views and untouched tribal culture of the Mising, Deori, and Kachari tribes. One of the few such large wetland ecosystems in the country, Majuli’s fauna includes several native and migratory birds such as the greater adjutant stork, Siberian crane and pelicans. Tourism has picked up in recent decades, however, the island is facing severe environmental crisis and large swathes of it have disappeared over the years. This has also drawn attention to this region in terms of eco-tourism.

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Majuli in Assam is the largest river island in the world | ©Kalai Sukanta/Wiki Commons

Makokchung, Nagaland

This sleepy and hilly district is the cultural centre of Nagaland‘s Ao people, who are particularly known for their exquisite tribal culture, handlooms and their popular Moatsu festival. Located at an altitude of 1,325 m, Makokchung boasts of a mild and favourable climate all through the year, making it a perennial destination.

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The gate denoting entry into Nagaland | ©JackPluto/Wiki Commons

Rushikulya Beach

Noted for being one of the most important Olive Ridley Sea Turtle nesting grounds in the world, the Rushikulya Beach on Chilka Lake is an untouched natural paradise unlike any other in the country. Located in Ganjam district of Orissa, the area around the beach has very little tourist infrastructure and consequently sees very few visitors, except for the sea turtles, who visit it annually in their thousands. Each year, during the hatching season in March-April, the beach is covered in turtle hatchlings and is also visited by several conservationists who help the hatchlings get to the sea.

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Rushikulya River in Orissa | ©PP Yoonus/Wiki Commons