There’s nothing quite like enjoying the charms of the great outdoors during a slow and laidback vacation. India is truly blessed with picturesque little villages that offer a nice hideaway from our busy city lives. If you are looking for special rural experiences in India, this list may come in handy. By Karan Kaushik
12 scenic villages in India that will leave you mesmerised with their natural beauty
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This lush hamlet delights trekkers and nature lovers with its enchanting waterfalls, green valleys, stunning hills, and rich heritage. Surrounded by the gorgeous Sahyadris in Maharashtra’s Konkan region, Rajmachi is blessed with two fortified peaks. These twin fortresses are called Shrivardhan and Manaranjan. An easy half-hour hike takes you to a plateau between these peaks.
The popular Rajmachi Fort trek begins from Udhewadi village, and the marked trail makes it possible to trek without taking a guide along. Rajmachi is also home to the Bhairavnath Temple, which is visited by devotees from all corners of Maharashtra.
Then there are ancient Buddhist caves, which can be visited during the trek to Rajmachi. Another beautiful spot is the tranquil Rajmachi Lake, which provides the perfect environs to unwind in the lap of Mother Nature.
Popularly referred to as the moonscape of Ladakh, Lamayuru enchants you with its spectacular geography and lunar landscapes. Home to one of the oldest monasteries of Ladakh, Lamayuru can be explored during a day’s trip from Leh.
The prime attraction in this incredible village is the Lamayuru Gompa or monastery, which features imposing frescoes. The monastery dates to the 11th century and also houses an ancient temple, known as Seng-ge-sgang. The best time to be at the monastery is during the annual Yuru Kabgyat festival in the months of June and July.
What makes Lamayuru otherworldly is its intriguingly odd geological formations. You can club your visit to Lamayuru with short detours to Magnetic Hill and the Alchi Monastery. If trekking interests you, there’s a long trek from Lamayuru to Darcha over Zanskar, which can be completed in 18-20 days. If you are looking for a shorter trek, you can opt for the Lamayuru-Wanla trek.
Touted as one of the cleanest villages in Asia, Mawlynnong must be visited for its scenic beauty, zen vibes, rich tribal heritage, and great food. From nervously walking on the iconic Nohwet Living Root Bridge to meeting the warm and hospitable khasis to memorable village walks, Mawlynnong will surprise you at every step.
Mawlynnong has also gained the epithet of “God’s own garden”, thanks to the picturesque orchards, gurgling streams, and swaying palms that bless its landscape. What also makes Mawlynnong amazing is the fact that it has not only achieved a hundred percent literacy rate, but the entire population of the village is highly progressive too.
When in Mawlynnong, you must treat yourself with local delicacies like Jadoh and Tungrymbai, which are prepared with fresh organic produce. To experience the village at its best, visit around July when they celebrate Behdienkalam or during the months of October and November when the village hosts the Nongkrem Dance Festival.
This cosy hamlet near Palampur must be visited if you want to blend your love for nature and art. Andretta has garnered fame as an artist’s village and attracts pottery enthusiasts throughout the year. Boasting stunning views of the Shivalik Hills and the mighty Dhauladhar range, Andretta is as offbeat as they come.
Legendary artists like Norah Richards, Prithivraj Kapoor, and Gurcharan Singh called Andretta their home and spent years here working on their art. The best way to spend your time in Andretta is by enrolling yourself in a pottery workshop at Andretta Pottery.
From fetching water from the gentle stream to kneading the clay to finally trying your hands at the potter’s wheel, learning clay pottery with the folks at Andretta Pottery is a truly enriching experience. You must also visit the Andretta Museum, which gives you an insight into the glorious cultural history of Andretta.
Renowned as Asia’s first green village, Khonoma is home to the warrior tribe Angami, which is committed to protecting nature. The people of Khonoma rely on cultivating paddy and garlic, and the terraced paddy fields here have become emblematic of the region.
Join a local in weaving the traditional Angami shawl lohe or visit a morung or boys dormitory. The morungs exhibit Angami Naga handicrafts, old utensils, traditional arms, and musical instruments. The circular public space in the middle of the village is where people gather for everyday chats and festivities. Dovipie Inn is a great place to retire for a cuppa after a walk in the village.
Khonoma is ideal for photographers, nature lovers, trekkers, and adventure seekers. Pay your respects at the Kohima War Cemetery, trek to Dzukou Valley and Japfu Peak for great views. If you want to experience the Hornbill Festival, visit in December.
Situated at the confluence of river Tons and river Yamuna, Kalsi lies at the Chakrata foothills. Heaven for birdwatchers and botanists, Kalsi offers rejuvenating trekking trails. Whether you want to enjoy a riverside picnic with your loved ones or whether you want to explore the rapids with your friends on a river rafting expedition, Kalsi will not disappoint.
Those looking for laidback experiences may fancy a soul-stirring angling session. Kalsi used to be an important town in the Jaunsar-Bawar region of Uttarakhand. Today, it exists as a quaint little hilly hamlet and offers a great hideaway for solace seekers.
From Kalsi, you can also visit the much-revered Paonta Sahib Gurudwara. Another popular attraction around the village is a 2,200-year-old rock edict of Emperor Ashoka.
Sand, silence and serenity best describe the sand dunes village in Khimsar. The place looks straight out of a fairytale, thanks to the majestic water body right in the middle of the desert. This picturesque oasis has made Khimsar quite popular among discerning travellers seeking extraordinary experiences.
At Khimsar, you can experience rural life without compromising on luxury. A part of the historical Khimsar Fort serves as a heritage hotel and promises a memorable stay. Spending the night in the desert under the star-studded sky is an experience that will stay with you forever.
Camel safaris on the sunlit dunes come highly recommended. From Khimsar, you can also plan a detour to Osian, known for its stunning Jain temples. Plan your trip around January and February and enjoy the cultural extravaganza that the Nagaur Festival is.
Beach bums looking for offbeat experiences must give Muttom a thought. Located near Kanyakumari, Muttom features an unsullied beach that will leave you smitten with its colonial charm. The All Saint’s Church adorning Muttom’s skyline stands as a fine specimen of Portuguese architecture.
At the beach, kids can have a nice time at the Children’s Park, while adults may wish to visit the Rock Bible Centre or the British era lighthouse, both located at the beach. The British began constructing the lighthouse in 1857 and it took its final shape in 1882.
The lighthouse also houses a museum, which narrates the fascinating history behind its construction. There’s a café in the lighthouse premises too, which serves good coffee and tea.
Tourists visiting Kanyakumari often come to Muttom to catch stunning sunsets from the beach. So, you know what not to miss in Muttom.
Once an important point at the Silk Route from Tibet to India, Zuluk should be on your list if your travels are mostly about watching extraordinary mountainous landscapes.
Engulfed in a thick blanket of fog for the most part of the year, Zuluk or Dzuluk is bestowed with an incredible wealth of Himalayan flora and fauna. Birdwatchers will have a nice time spotting species like Snow Pheasant, Monal Pheasant, and Khaleez Pheasant, to name a few. And who knows, you may even end up encountering the elusive Red Panda.
Watch the snow-capped Mount Kanchenjunga change its colour from gold to crimson to silver from the Thambi viewpoint, enjoy snowfall at the Nathang Valley, visit the serene Kupup Lake or seek blessing as the Nag Temple, Zuluk has a lot in store for you.
If archaeology is something you hold a keen interest in, Dholbaha in Hoshiarpur could be a nice option. Excavations carried out at the village revealed that the place goes back to the pre-historic period. The antiquities that were excavated belong to the Pleistocene period. Some fossils and tools also hinted that Dholbaha was perhaps once an abode for the early man.
Sculptures from the Gurjara Pratihara period have also been excavated. Historians also believe that the Dholbaha may also have a connection with the Pandavas. Specimens of ancient Gandhara art from the Indus Valley civilization have been found during the excavations.
Dholbaha is located at the Shivalik foothills and enjoys its share of natural beauty. There are peaceful dams, where you can spend some quality time away from the bustle of city life.
The Archaeological museum in Dholbaha and the Dholbaha Dam are the main attractions in this little hamlet. Wildlife lovers can keep a day for the Takhni-Rehmapur Wildlife Sanctuary.
Chitkul will amaze you in more ways than one. Its snowy landscape and lofty peaks make it a gem that deserves your attention. Located in the Kinnaur district around the banks of river Baspa, Chitkul is the last inhabited village at the Indo-Tibetan Road.
When in Chitkul, you can undertake the Charang Chitkul Pass Trek. It is one of the most challenging and enthralling treks in India. If you are not up for that kind of adventure, you may enjoy a stroll along the banks of the Baspa River. Find this scintillating water body flowing under a thick canopy of pine and oak trees.
Another important attraction in Chitkul is the Mathi Temple, located at the Sangla-Chitkul road. Locals believe that Goddess Mathi used to reside in Chitkul, which made their land pious; they believe, she is the reason for their prosperity.
Don’t forget to visit the Tibetan Wood Carving Centre and show your support to the talented locals. They design many unique artefacts that are a sheer reflection of Tibetan culture; you can buy a few as souvenirs.
Lush tea estates, gentle streams, untrammelled natural spots, and awe-inspiring views of the Himalayas together make Samsing special. This hamlet lies on the off-beaten path and charms you with its serenity.
Covered in a thick layer of mist, Samsing provides a perfect refuge for those looking for a much-needed break from their mundane and hectic everyday life.
A drive around the tea gardens of Dooars is everything countryside experiences are made of. Spend time by the banks of Suntalekhola, embark on a trek to the Mouchuki and tree fern point or take leisurely strolls at the tea gardens. The village also serves as the gateway to the Neora Valley national park.
A trip to Samsing would be incomplete without visiting Rocky Island, located at the bank of river Murti. On your way to the river, stop at the picturesque village of Khasmahal and visit the lovely orchards that dot its terrain.