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Traditional Chinese nets on the banks of Khekutia River which flows to the north of Majuli, India's largest river island | ©Udit Kapoor/Wiki Commons
Traditional Chinese nets on the banks of Khekutia River which flows to the north of Majuli, India's largest river island | ©Udit Kapoor/Wiki Commons
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Emerging Destinations in India You Need to Watch Out For in 2018

Picture of Arun Venkatraman
Updated: 21 December 2017

India has a way of giving travel guide writers a run for their money. Just when you’d think you’ve covered just about every place worth visiting, the country throws up a dozen new destinations that are equally fascinating to travel to!

Even as its more popular tourist centers become increasingly commercialized, travelers from far and wide are seeking untouched territories and cultural experiences that make India worth visiting over and over again. If India’s on your travel plans for 2018, then check out these new emerging destinations in the country to bolster your travel bragging rights.

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Sariska Tiger Reserve/Astroport

While the Sariska Tiger Reserve has always been a popular tourist destination for its natural beauty and wildlife (including the majestic tigers), it has got a major fillip this year in the form of India’s first astronomy-themed resort. The newly-opened Astroport Sariska is truly a stargazer’s paradise and is bound to capture the imaginations of city-dwellers who are used to seeing dark skies. Filled with state-of-the-art pieces of equipment relating to astronomy and experts to fill you in on visible astronomical wonders, the Astroport promises a spell-binding experience to those with a curious bent of mind.

Astroport Sariska, Rupbas, Tehla, Rajasthan, India,

The Astroport Sariska, India’s first astronomy-themed resort | ©Umangsjain/Wiki Commons

Mumbai-Goa Ferry

While it is not exactly a destination, this soon to be started travel experience definitely deserves a place on everyone’s itinerary. Expected to start in December this year, the ferry service between Mumbai and Goa has already racked up a lot of interest among travel enthusiasts all across the country. The Konkan steamer service was a popular mode of travel between Goa and Mumbai in the 60s and 70s, with ferries such as the Konkan Sevak being a much-loved experience. However, the service was stopped due to the increasing accessibility of flights and is only now being reopened. While details such as ticket price and availability are still awaited, the ferry can carry up to 300 people and will provide spectacular and never-before-seen views of the Konkan Coast.

The original Konkan Sevak ferry at Vijaydurg Port in the 70s
The original Konkan Sevak ferry at Vijaydurg Port in the 70s | ©Abhishek Pujari/Wiki Commons

Yamne River/Damro, Arunachal Pradesh

Damro and the villages surrounding Pasighat have long dominated Indian offbeat destination lists with their untouched natural beauty, tribal culture, and wonders such as the famous hanging bridges of Arunachal. However, in recent years, the area has become popular for farm-stays and expeditions, with popular facilitators such as the Abor Country Travels and Expeditions setting up shop and expanding operations. Apart from being the cultural point of origin for the Adi Padam tribe, the Damro village is also popular for tribal delicacies such as traditional pork preparations and Apong, a popular indigenous rice beer.

Damro, Upper Siang Dist., Arunachal Pradesh, India

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Anaimalai Hills

While the Western Ghats have been in the spotlight as a tourism hot-spot for a long time now, their tall tallest sub-cluster, the Anaimalai Hills, have often been overlooked in favor of more popular ranges and clusters such as the Sahyadris and the nearby Nilgiris. In recent years, the rich plantations of coffee, teak, and sandalwood that surround the hills have lured many travelers looking to experience the majestic Western Ghats in their pristine and untouched form.

Anamudi, Kannan Devan Hills, Kerala, India

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A view of the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary with Anaimalai sub-cluster in the background | ©Marcus334/Wiki Commons

Keezhadi and Rakhigarhi

Until a few years ago, Keezhadi was a tiny and nondescript village in Tamil Nadu that courted few visitors, if any. But the Keezhadi dig of 2013 led to the discovery of this site’s massive archaeological importance and established it as one of the biggest archaeological finds of the decade, with invaluable artifacts dating back nearly 3,000 years. It shares a similar story with Rakhigarhi in Haryana, which has been established as the biggest settlement of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization discovered in India. With proof of settlement and houses dating back more than 6,000 years, Rakhigarhi is set to become India’s foremost destination for history-buffs visiting the country.

Keeladi (Keezhadi), Silaiman, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India

Rakhigarhi, Hisar Dist., Haryana, India

Archaeological remains and artifacts at a dig site in Keeladi/Keezhadi, Tamil Nadu
Archaeological remains and artifacts at a dig site in Keeladi/Keezhadi, Tamil Nadu | ©Paramatamil/Wiki Commons
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Majuli, Assam

This massive river island on the Brahmaputra became India’s first island district in 2016 and is also gunning for the UNESCO World Heritage Site tag. Thanks to its geographical isolation, Majuli is home to a culture and tradition of Assamese neo-vaishnavite movement that has remained untouched by external influences for hundreds of years. Apart from its pristine natural beauty, Majuli is also known for its tribal bamboo cottages and traditional hand-spun textiles such as mirizim shawls. With its popularity increasing every year, this one’s a must-see in 2018 before it gets commercialized.

Majuli Bazaar, Majuli, Assam, India,

Majuli_Island

Assamese fishermen in a traditional canoe hauling in the fresh catch at a lake in Majuli Island, Assam| © Kalai Sukanta/Wiki Commons

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Dhabaleswar/Gopalpur Beach, Orissa

With a coastline that spans more than 7,500 km, India has always been a destination of worldwide renown for its pristine beaches. Sadly though, it is the western half, hugging the calm Arabian Sea, that has hogged all the attention. However, over the years, commercialization has crept into the beaches of Goa, backwaters of Kerala, and to a certain extent even the long sandy foreshores of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. As a result, increasing numbers of beach-lovers are seeking out the less-popular shores of Orissa that can rival any beach in the world in terms of natural beauty. Of particular interest among tourists are the southern shores of Gopalpur and Dhabaleswar that have long been upstaged by the more popular ones near Puri, but have come into their own in recent years. Head here for a beach holiday that is devoid of nagging tour guides and the kitsch designs of commercial tourism.

Gopalpur Beach, Gopalpur, Odisha, India

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Visitors taking in the sea breeze at the step embankment at Gopalpur Beach, Orissa| © Jagadhatri/Wiki Commons

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Parule

Located in the Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra, this village is sandwiched between the more popular Tarkarli Beach to the north and the pristine waters of Bhogave to the south. But what really sets Parule apart, and has led to a spurt of interest in recent years, is its rich Konkan culture that is at once both welcoming and enriching. A number of popular farm-stays and nature-friendly experiences have sprouted up in the vicinity and promise a vacation that is as therapeutic as it is fun. Head to Maachli for a magical farm-stay experience, or head for a lazy sojourn at the bamboo cottages of Bhogave. And if you’re looking for something a little more mainstream, the stunning sunset views of Nivti Fort and snorkeling/water sports at Tarkarli are just a short drive away. Either way, you won’t go home disappointed!

Maachli, Parule Village, Maharashtra, India,

Bhogwe

The pristine beaches of Bhogwe, which is just a short trek away from Parule village, Maharashtra | © Ankur P/Flickr