Popular Himalayan destinations can also be touristy in summer. Some guests prefer to head for offbeat and non-touristy areas that offer outstanding Himalayan character while being completely away from tourists.
Some of the popular offbeat Himalayan destinations are as under:
Sangla Valley (9000 ft asl)
Sangla area is renowned for its apple orchards, Baspa riverside and close-range views of the Himalayan ranges. Sangla is suited to those who want to enjoy a really cold climate in summer (night temperatures can be zero degrees Celsius even in June), just sit by the riverside and do nothing and go on a few walks around the area, while enjoying a complete Himalayan experience. Sangla is best visited from April to October.
Kinnaur and Spiti Valley (7000-16000 ft asl)
Kinnaur and Spiti regions are one of the most remote Himalayan areas of India. A journey through Kinnaur and Spiti valley takes an off the beaten path away from tourists where you experience remote Himalayan villages, rugged drives, high mountain passes and enjoy a totally offbeat experience. This sector is best visited between June to Sept.
Raison – Naggar (5000-6000 ft asl)
Raison lies mid-way between Kullu and Manali sporting a riverside character. Naggar is set between Kullu and Manali on the other side of River Beas. Both Naggar and Raison offer holiday cottages and hotel stays with offbeat character and superb views. Travellers come here to spend a few days exploring nature and to be completely away from touristy Manali (20-25 kms from either destinations).
Kullan area, 16 kms short of Sonamarg is a quiet riverside area with superb views and an orchard character. Here, you go on village walks, explore the riverside, enjoy simple cuisine and have the option to undertake half-day or full-day walks and treks. Unlike Sonamarg, Kullan is open all through the year and is a kind of place for offbeat travellers to spend a couple of days in complete isolation.
Ladakh is a popular holiday destination especially after it was featured in the Bollywood superhit movie “3 Idiots”. However, its high-altitude lakes, remote villages and rugged countryside character make it more suitable for offbeat travellers looking for an experience of completely “another world”. There is nothing like Ladakh anywhere in India (except Spiti Valley). The world’s highest mountain passes, spectacular views, ancient monasteries, remote villages and humble hospitality make Ladakh a special destination for offbeat and experiential travellers.
Turtuk Village, Diskit in Nubra Valley, villages in Leh outskirts, Nimmu, Uley, Zanskar Valley, Temisgam, Tsomoriri Lake and Tsokar Lake are areas that are completely away from tourists and perfect for offbeat and experiential travellers.
North Bengal (Lava – Rishyap – Rishi Khola – Zuluk)
Hillside areas of West Bengal off Kalimpong (popularly known as North Bengal) are renowned for bird watching and remote Himalayan character. The 100 kms stretch from Kalimpong to Zuluk (10000 ft asl) is a journey into another world, seldom visited by tourists at large. Stays here are mainly homestays or guest houses offering simple character, hospitality and local cuisine. So, if there is an “explorer” in you then Zuluk may be the destination to spend a few days discovering “Real India” in the Himalayas.
Arunachal Pradesh in North East India is renowned for its orchids, high mountain passes, remote villages and ancient monasteries. There are no star-category hotels, no fancy restaurants and no touristy elements as you get transported into another world of ever smiling locals, rugged drives and exceptional Himalayan beauty. Destinations such as Dirang, Tawang, Ziro Valley, mountain passes such as Sela Pass and Bum La Pass and monastery of Tawang all offer a combination that is simply unforgettable, offering an experience that is unlike anywhere else.
Himalayan hamlets (Pangot, Ranikhet, Ramgarh, Mukteshwar) and lakeside hamlets (Bhimtal, Sattal, Naukuchiatal) are renowned getaways and perfect for holiday travellers looking for a bit of offbeat character and nature-based activities such as walking, bird watching, etc. The region is renowned for its experiential retreats that are high on style and character, attracting urban travellers from all over India for being away from touristy areas and experiencing nature in its most authentic form. So, if the idea is to live by the river or stay in a cottage overlooking the Himalayas, then there is no better place than Kumaon.
Offbeat and experiential holidays in the Himalayas are meant for well-heeled travellers looking to be away from tourists and experience the Himalayas in their most authentic form.