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Offbeat Tours in India
Offbeat Tours in India

Offbeat Tours in India

While travelling to India most people already have their must-visits ilke Agra, Delhi and Jaipur (the golden triangle), the beaches of Goa, the backwaters in Kerala, or even the romantic  Udaipur and the bustle of Mumbai. But India is so vast (I describe it like Europe, each state can actually be a country) that you can find places which are not yet a part of the tourist trail, and I hope they never are. So here is a list of our favourite offbeat routes

Lahual Spiti – the lesser known Himalayas

Everyone knows of Leh and Ladakh and the British summer capital Shimla, but the Himalayas have some wonderful lesser explored regions which are a must to visit at least once. The region of Lahaul – Spiti is a part of northeast Himachal, the roads and infrastructure are not the best and that means that travelling here is a little hard but the views and locale ensure that a 8 hour drive passes in the blink of a eye.

Himachal – Offbeat Route

Delhi/Chandigarh – Shimla – Thanedar/Kotgarh – Sangla – Kalpa – Tabo – Kaza- Kullu (Manikaran) – Chandigarh/Delhi

Start your trip in Delhi and head first to Shimla (yes a touristic start!). Shimla has expanded and grown into not such a pretty hill station, but still has an old world charm about it. The next stop would be Kotgarh, a small quaint village around 2 hours north of Shimla,

The next stop, Sangla, is what I call heaven on earth. A gushing noisy river with the Himalayan mountains surrounding you on all sides, as you sit in apple orchards and watch the world go by. The next few destinations are a part of the snow desert and with terrain similar to that of the famous Leh and Ladakh. The road journeys are long and open only from July – September, but the effort is completely worth it with striking monasteries and perfect blue skies along the way. You should end your trip in the hippie region of Tosh or Parvarti Valley, with Bob Marley posters, peace signs and the vices that go along with it.

Stay and Travel Find the perfect blend of home stays, guesthouses and some fantastic boutique hotels. See the other side of Shimla by staying at either Sunnymead or Aira Holme Stay and experience hospitality like never before. Then head to the lovely home in Kotgarh (Seetalvan homestay) where you can see range after range of mountains while sitting in a veranda sipping a cup of chai. The Banjara camps in Sangla are just brilliant and you can try Ecosphere in Kaza and Tabo. In Tosh you should get there without a plan and find the place you like most.

In terms of travel it would be best to hire a chauffeur driven car for the entire trip, but you could also take local buses if you are on a tight budget.

Best time to travel Number of days needed Ideal for
July to September 15-18 days Couples | Families | Friends

Rishikesh and the Kumaon region – Spirituality, the Mountains and a Tiger National Park

Uttarakhand is known as the land of gods. The fresh air, snowy winter, larger than life mountains, the small villages and simpler people make this a great destination. Known for its adventurous side with River Rafting, Trekking, Skiing, Camping, Rock Climbing, Rappelling, Uttaranchal also has some unbeliavble boutique hotels with just the right amount of luxury. Combine a trip to the Jim Corbett National park with the Kumaon hills and the touristy Rishikesh  for the full experience.

Uttarakhand – Offbeat Route

Delh/Dehradun – Rishikesh -Jim Corbett – Nainital/Nagar – Itmenaan – Kathgodam – Delhi

Start your trip in Delhi and head first to Rishikesh (yet another touristic start). Rishikesh hit stardom when the Beatles spent a few months there with their spiritual guru, and ever since you’ve had lots of yogashala’s and courses for tourists wanting that calming and spiritual experience. That aside, it’s a nice small town on the banks of the mighty Ganga (where you can river raft), with great places to eat.

The next stop would be Jim Corbett National Park. A dense forest with the chance to spot a tiger in the wild, it’s exactly like Ruskin Bond describes it in his books. if you are not fortunate enough to spot the elusive tiger, you will definitely see a host of other wildlife. From here you could make your way into the Kumaon Hills and the beautiful hill station of Nainital, and then to a lovely property called Itmenaan tucked away in the mountains.

As you make your way back down to Delhi via Kathgodam, you can add a few more places to your itenerary like Munsiyari, or Ramgarh if you have time. One thing we can promise is that not too many people would have already travelled this route.

Stay and Travel Again you can combine guesthouses or home stays with boutique hotels. In Rishikesh you can find a place in your budget, though we recommend staying at Seventh Heaven Inn  or Glass House on the Ganges for a more luxurious experience. In Jim Corbett you must stay in the Dhikala forest lodge. The stay is simply out of this world, you cannot beat the experience of living in the middle of a forest. Once in Kumaon you have a range of boutique hotels which you should stay in like White Peaks, The Retreat, and Itmenaan Lodge. We can go on with options, but  if you just let us know the number of days you have available, we can plan the trip for you.

In terms of travel it would be best to hire a chauffeur driven car for the entire trip.

Best time to travel Number of days needed Ideal For
February to June 12-15 days Couples | Families | Friends

 


Travelling to North East India
Travelling to North East India

North East India is one of the most remote regions of India and relatively untouched by the overbearing tourism industry. It consists of the seven states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. The North East is a part of the second largest biodiversity hotspot in the world, with more than 60% of the area under forest cover. Although the cultures of this area are often banded dismissively together, they are in fact incredibly diverse and very well worth discovering.

How to get around in North East India?

Being a remote and hilly area, infrastructure is not well developed. With the exception of Assam where they have 4 lane cemented highways, the roads can be pretty bad. In Arunachal and Nagaland roads are continuously winding and poorly maintained restricting top speed to 30 kmph, making journeys between two places long and arduous. Having said this, the views are spectacular and will keep you spellbound almost all the way.

Accommodation in North East India

Accommodation is pretty basic in most places. Hotels often do not have geysers or showers so hot water for bathing is provided in buckets. Some places may not even have western style toilets so be prepared to squat. Assam, Sikkim and Gangtok do have some extremely comfortable places for travellers, and a growing interest in the area promises newer options.

Who is it for?

North East has a very raw and rugged beauty, bearing a closer affinity to South East Asia than to the general perception of India. If you like to travel rough and honestly experience the lives of other cultures then this is the place for you. Expect the unexpected when travelling in this region. Despite the idea most people have of the North East being incredibly primitive and and backward, they have the most widespread rock music scene in all of India. Look up college festivals and local concerts and competitions to get a chance to experience something terrific. They also play host to quite a few music festivals that draw in crowds and bands from across the country.

 

There are very few luxury hotels in the North East and those which exist are found only in selected places like Kaziranga, Shillong, Jorhat and Dibrugarh. So if you are a luxury seeker and like to be pampered on your vacation then you might want to look elsewhere.

Cost of travel in North East India

Being a remote area the cost of trips to North East works out nearly 20% higher than a similar trip in any other place in India. The main reason is the transportation cost which is quite high due to roads being steep and in poor condition. Hence it is most economical to travel in groups of 4 or above. Hotel charges are also higher than other places in India. A big bonus is that the cost of living is low, and you’re unlikely to come across touts whose only aim is to fleece foreigners.

Seasons in North East India

Generally speaking November to May is a good time to visit the North East, but depending the the kind of trip and places you would like to visit certain months might be more favourable than others.

Food in North East India

While sticky rice is the staple diet of almost all the tribes in the North East, they compliment it with a dazzling array of meats, pickles, vegetables and beans cooked in endless variety. They love meat; pork being the favourite but vying among several other contenders ranging from chicken and fish to snail and smaller game. The residents of the North-East are famous for cooking anything that moves, a topic you should probably not bring up directly if you don’t want to offend your host but definitely something to look forward to if you really want to dive into a new culture.

 

Alcohol goes well with all the meat they eat. Rice and millet make the base for delicious local brews.

Permits for North East India

Foreigners do not require permits to enter any of the North Eastern states besides Arunachal Pradesh. For visiting Arunachal foreigners need a PAP (Protected Area Permit) which costs US$100 for 2 people and is granted for a duration of 30 days. The permit has to be applied for through a tour operator recognised by the Government of Arunachal.

In conclusion we at India Someday would recommend that you keep at least 10 days for a trip to the North East since the region is pretty remote and has so much to discover, but with slow internal travel. Road journeys are long and tiresome so it is best to have more days at hand to see the region in a more relaxed manner. Most circuits in Nagaland and Arunachal would need around 15 to 20 days if you wish to properly experience the varied culture.

 


Travelling to India during the off-season
Travelling to India during the off-season

Which months are off-season months in India?

The beginning of May until the end of September is considered off-season for tourism in India. The period is divided into two seasons weather-wise i.e. May to June—summer months and July to September—monsoon season.

May and June are relatively busy months for tourism in the Himalayas as schools are out for summer in India and a lot of families plan trips to hills to escape the heat.

What is travelling during off-season like?

If differs a little from region to region and depends on whether you plan to visit during the summer or the monsoon months.  Other than in the Himalayas, you can expect to see a lot less crowd and enjoy great discounts on accommodation.

Summer off-season months – Expect really hot weather. You must prepare yourself for the heat, travel slow and pick accommodation with air-conditioning.

Monsoon off-season months – July onward the heat gets more bearable, often the weather can be in the mid 20’s. However, depending on which region you plan to visit you will encounter at least a little rain, with heavy showers in several areas.

At India Someday, we strongly recommend tours to North India during the monsoons as the rains are light and the region does not receive prolonged spells of showers. All in all, you end up enjoying pleasant weather, light rains, green countryside, off-season discounts and see very few tourists.

Tips for travelling during off-season

  • May and June are the hot months. They’re better avoided unless you plan to spend time in the Himalayas. Despite the fact that it is holiday season for Indians and the Himalayas are popular you can still enjoy a great holiday in there during these months
  • July to September are the monsoon months. They are still considered off-season months for travelling in India. Kerala receives a lot of rain during these months  However, we believe it is a great time to tour North
  • Across India you will enjoy fabulous hotel deals. Expect budget hotels to be 30% cheaper and upper end hotels to be up to 50% cheaper.  India has an amazing collection of palace and boutique hotels, that suddenly become affordable during this
  • September marks the end of the off-season in India. It is increasingly considered as low-season, rather than off-season. While you might see a few more tourists, the monsoon showers have usually receded by then. The countryside is gorgeously green. We believe September is probably the best off-season month to visit India.

 


Best Places to Street Shop in Mumbai
Best Places to Street Shop in Mumbai

5023649567_b733513dcf_zIn Mumbai and looking to shop? Ditch the snazzy boutiques and comfort of air-conditioned malls and hit the road for some fun street shopping! Mumbai has some of the best places for clothes, shoes, bags, jewellery and all at affordable prices.

One golden rule though: you have to haggle. Haggling is an art and if you’re up for it, then you’re all set for an awesome shopping spree.

Colaba causeway

In the same area as the Gateway of India and a definite stop for all tourists. The best place to shop for jewellery. Chunky jewellery, neckpieces, danglers, bangles, bracelets, they’ve got it all. They also sell some lovely scarves here and antique wares like clocks, lamps, bells etc. Walk around here just to get a feel of the city, as this is in the heart of the backpacker district in Mumbai

Fashion street

This shopping lane is near Churchgate station. Mainly for clothes and a few shoe stalls, it’s one of the few places that also caters to men. Don’t expect their clothes to last you a life time but at the prices they offer, you can change your wardrobe every three months.

Hill road

A hip shopping locale in the ‘Queen of the Mumbai Suburbs’, Bandra.  Frequently visited by college girls looking for trendy stuff. I love this place for the shoes! Boots, Wedges, Kitten heels, Stilettos, the whole shebang! A good place to get western clothes, gowns or evening dresses stitched.

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Linking road

This is on the other side of Bandra. I guess of the four places, this is the longest shopping lane and it has lots to offer too. You’ll find a string of shoe stalls here but mostly daily wear. There are also quite a few boutiques here, some by budding designers and some export rejects.

Chor bazaar

Literally meaning ‘Thieves Market’, it’s one of the largest flea markets in India. You can find almost anything here and it isn’t limited to just clothes and accessories! The place is massive and has everything from brassware and ceramic to vintage collections. You can even get imported stuff at dirt cheap prices. Brands—think Puma, Nike, Hummel. A paradise for brand-conscious guys that is also light on the pocket!

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By Sneha@stage2.indiasomeday.com


Rajasthan – A tryst with royalty
Rajasthan – A tryst with royalty

When you think of India, Rajasthan is probably the first word to come to your mind, after the Taj Mahal of course! Known for its massive forts, culturally and historically rich cities, and being very tourist friendly, Rajasthan  is surrounded by the Great Indian Desert and nation’s oldest hills – the Aravali ranges. Its history is moulded from the valour of the ancient Rajputs and the impressions wrought by the Mughal invasions.

A land of little water, Rajasthan’s response to its arid climate has been the creation of thbeautiful lakes, tanks and step-wells. To combat the lack of colour in their environment, the people showcase colourful and vibrant clothing. This can also be seen in the sheer variety of handicrafts, art, cloth and semi-precious stones that are sold in its curious bazaars and stores.

Other than the historical forts and colour-coded cities (blue, pink and gold), you can also find a national park replete with tigers, a religious and spiritual oasis, and a chance to explore the desert. Rajasthan also offers a great range of hotels, from charming home stays (Hem Guest House, Jodhpur) to luxury heritage hotels (Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur). This is probably the reason why every third international traveler in India tours Rajasthan.

We at India Someday have experienced the beauty of Rajasthan firsthand and would love to help you share it.


An Introduction to India
An Introduction to India

 

India—the land of blinding colours and dazzling lights demands all your attention, enticing you to come see, smell, taste and touch. With so much to do, the first time visitor might find themselves put off by the exasperating Indian bureaucracy, having to rush from pillar to post and wrap their minds around the confusing informal travel options alongside the equally frustrating official requirements. The sheer immensity of planning a trip to India may sometimes overpower you, and that’s where we step in. We help you navigate the complex web of visa requirements, travel bookings and choosing accommodation, and simultaneously help you acquaint yourself with the customs and sights of your destination. With all your preparation in place, you’re free to throw yourself headfirst into this intoxicating country and experience it wholeheartedly!

jodhpur in Rajasthan

The blue city of Jodhpur in Rajasthan

India Someday helps you plan your trip to India, and ensures that your energy gets put to good use where it belongs—travelling.