There’s still time to tick off those items on your travel bucket list this year. We’ve picked trip ideas across the country for Nature lovers, adventure buffs, parents with kids, revellers and hermits.
You won’t worry about keeping the kids busy in these open spaces.
Rann Utsav, Gujarat
For a memorable New Year’s celebration, head to Gujarat’s Rann Festival. There’s something for everyone – folk dances, traditional handicrafts, museums and palaces. Keep the kids happy with camel safaris and trips to the Little Rann of Kutch to spot wild ass, desert fox, blackbuck and more. Stay in tents for the full desert experience.
Kaziranga National Park, Assam
As you prepare to bring in 2016, take the kids to Assam’s Kaziranga National Park for a trip they’re unlikely to forget. Hop on to the back of an elephant and explore the 858 sq. km reserve, keeping an eye out for Kaziranga’s most popular resident, the one-horned rhino. The reserve is also home to leopards, sloth bears and Gangetic dolphins.
Plantations in south India
Travel back to a slower time at one of the multiple homestays at plantations across the south. Pick from tea, coffee or rubber estates. Activities usually include plantation tours, organic farming, cheese-making and cooking with local ingredients. Some even offer “high tea” on the verandas in the evening. There’s tons of space for your children to run around and discover Nature up close.
You’ll never have to worry about keeping the kids occupied in Auli. A premier skiing destination, this gem in Uttarakhand is home to some of the best slopes in the country. Sign up for classes and enjoy the thrill of gliding down the snowclad slopes. Snow angels, snowball fights – the opportunities are endless for a good roll-around in the white wonderland. Or just settle in with a steaming cup of chai and take in the majestic mountains.
Sometimes the best way to celebrate is to do nothing.
This pick is a no-brainer. It’s not very wallet-friendly, but celebrating 2016 on the beaches of the Andaman Islands will be unforgettable. Live out your beach-bum fantasies as you lay back and take in the azure skies and turquoise seas of the Bay of Bengal. Island-hop to enjoy everything this destination has to offer. Or just find a stretch of sand and bask for the entire trip.
A trip to Lansdowne will transport you to colonial times. This quiet hill station retains its old-world charm thanks to its well-preserved Scottish architecture. Walk along the Mall or make your way to Tiffin Top for splendid views of the Himalayas.
Chandipur Beach, Orissa
Skip Orissa’s famed beaches and head to Chandipur, a remote and beautiful beach. During low tide, the sea is said to recede about 5km, creating the illusion of melting into the horizon. A picture-perfect way to coast to new beginnings.
Like much of Rajasthan, Mandawa has a fair share of forts and havelis. But what sets this town apart are the painted frescoes. Don’t miss the gold-leaf painted room in Jhunjhunwala Haveli. Spend your days wandering through the town, or hole up in a boutique hotel and live out your maharaja dreams.
Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu
Enjoy steaming cups of coffee and watch the first sunrise of 2016 come up over Kodaikanal’s lush hills.
Shut out the chaos that New Year’s Eve can bring and book yourself in a hotel for pampering and quality time with loved ones. Lose yourself in the blissful treatments of Ananda In The Himalayas, take in beautiful views from your room at the Ri Kynjai in Shillong, picnic in lake-side tents at Mihir Garh in Rajasthan or enjoy the azure waters of the Bay Of Bengal when you stay at the Vivanta by Taj – Fishermen’s Cove in Tamil Nadu.
Party until dawn and soak up festival vibes.
Bid 2015 adieu at Sunburn Goa (December 27-30, 2015) in Vagator. This year’s edition includes performances by David Guetta, Martin Garrix and Bass Jackers. There’s also VH1’s Supersonic 2014 (December 27-30, 2015) in Candolim with a line-up that includes the likes of Axwell and Don Diablo. Don’t miss the Saturday Night Market in Arpora for a taste of global music, cuisine, clothing and accessories. A beach, good music and fireworks – you’ll have all the makings of a great New Year’s Eve.
Crisp weather, trees and music – New Year’s at Coorg’s Chasing The Storm NYE, a camp-out music festival, has you pitching tents and sleeping under the stars. Tickets are on sale now. The website also promises bonfires and marshmallows.
Mount Abu, Rajasthan
The Winter Festival (the last week of December), a government initiative, takes place at Mount Abu each year. From gilli danda, kite-flying and soaring in hot air balloons to performances by folk artists from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana, the festival is a mélange of activities bound to keep you on your feet for three days. The festival culminates in a fireworks display.
Bishnupur, West Bengal
The Bishnupur Utsav has been organized every year since 2008 by the state’s tourism department. The town already attracts visitors with its terracotta temples and baluchari saris, but this festival takes it a step further with a variety of folk music and dance performances.
Escape the city with a Nature retreat.
December’s a good time to visit the wildlife at Rajaji National Park. The park is known for the 500 elephants that call it home, in addition to tigers, panthers and barking deer. Birdwatchers alert: Keep an eye out for the over 400 species that roost in the vicinity. While you’re in the area, stop by Dehradun, too.
Rent a houseboat on Kerala’s backwaters for a gentle entry into the New Year. Choose your boat depending on the size of your group. The lush, green banks and calm waters are the perfect kind of quiet for your year-end break.
Go paragliding about 100km from Mumbai. Kamshet’s open fields are a lovely way to unwind from a hectic year. While you’re there, stop by the ancient Buddhist caves and temples, some of which date back to the seventh century B.C.
Kibithu, Arunachal Pradesh
This is the easternmost place in India – go here to greet 2016 earliest. You can trek around the picturesque little town, and if the winds allow, even cross the hanging bridge. The town is steeped in history, and was at the centre of the 1962 Sino-Indian war. You’re bound to come away with a compelling story.
Stay at The Blue Matsya and go surfing with the Shaka Surf Club. There are other water sports that the homestay can arrange for too. Watch out for dolphins if you go on a morning boat ride, and if you’re feeling even more adventurous, climb up to the top of the local lighthouse.
Embrace underwater calm in the Bay of Bengal by scuba diving with Temple Adventures off Pondicherry (Puducherry).