5 little-known places in India that should be on your bucket list

From Dawki to Dhanushkodi and beyond: we bet you haven’t heard of these hidden gems.

If you, like us, simply prefer to stray away from the madding crowds, you’ve landed on the right page. Because of several reasons Indians are travelling more than ever (not to mention the fact that more foreigners are visiting India with each passing year). Unsurprisingly, almost all our major hill stations and beaches are now overcrowded with travellers looking out for virgin territories to get away from. Today, we bring you five little-known places in India that you absolutely must visit. Ready?

1. Dawki, Meghalaya
Imagine a place where the waters are so clean you can see the riverbed! Welcome to Dawki, the real gem of Meghalaya known for its emerald green River Umngot. Located some 96 km from Shillong, the state capital, Dawki’s waters are so clean that you’d be forgiven for thinking that your boat is suspended mid-air. Dawki offers almost no places to stay but Mawlynnong (reputed to be Asia’s cleanest village) is just about 35 km away and has several homestays.
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons

2. Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu
You could argue that Dhanushkodi isn’t exactly a hidden gem since it is very much on the map of pilgrims visiting the Kothandaramar Temple. These pilgrims travel 25 km to bathe in the ocean as part of a temple ritual. But barring these women and men, Dhanushkodi sees little activity. It has been a ghost town since the cyclone of December 1964 that not only killed the townsfolk but also the 150 passengers on board the Pamban-Dhanushkodi passenger train. Dhanushkodi was declared unfit for habitation and abandoned. But, quite like several abandoned towns across the world, Dhanushkodi is strangely beautiful. Its dilapidated houses and churches can be hauntingly attractive. It will only be a matter of time before Dhanushkodi becomes a centre of activity again since it is here that the proposed 23-km bridge connecting India to Sri Lanka will end.
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons

3. Mararikulam, Kerala
This hamlet by the sea is perhaps Kerala’s finest beach getaway that has somehow stayed hidden from the prying eyes of tourists. While CGH and Abad, Kerala’s two major resort chains, have been running resorts here, the best places to check into are the many homestays lining the beach. Indeed there isn’t anything to do in Mararikulam but if you’d rather spend your weekends taking walks in the village and kayaks into the sea or just lazing around in your hotel or homestay, Mararikulam is a pretty darned good option.
Photograph: N Borun/Flickr (Under Creative Commons license)

4. Udvada, Gujarat
Home to the Aatash Behram (entrance pictured above), the holiest and the oldest fire temple of the Parsi community, Udvada is just about 200 km from Mumbai but hasn’t ever been marketed as a tourist destination. However if your idea of fun involves taking a walk back in time, there cannot be a better getaway from Mumbai than Udvada. With its turn-of-the-century houses with trademark double poaches and narrow roads with just a handful of hotels serving delectable Parsi cuisine Udvada is not a place you’d easily forget.


5. Orchha, Madhya Pradesh
No list of hidden gems in India can ever be truly complete without Orchha. For starters, its name can be literally translated as ‘hidden place’. Typically, a lot of people would just visit Orchha alongside Jhansi, which is about 16 km away or en route to MP’s superstar destination, Khajuraho, which is some 170 km away. But Orchha with is beautiful monuments, several of which continue to retain their grandeur, deserves a weekend of its own.
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons