Are you planning a trip with your besties soon? Before you start looking up tickets to Goa or Manali, may we suggest you try something different this year? How about exploring a hidden destination in the country and embarking on a new adventure instead? Intrigued? From nature trails to exotic wild animal spotting, you’ll find that these hill stations and small towns make for a great holiday destination with your besties. Just remember to set your phone aside to reconnect and make new memories with your friends.
Ziro Valley, Arunachal Pradesh
India is home to quaint hamlets and Ziro Valley is one of them. Tucked away in the mountainscape of Arunachal Pradesh, the town is surrounded by a ring of green forest, and makes an enchanting holiday spot in North East India. The sprawling rice fields, rolling green hills and buzzing local shops are the biggest draws for visitors. Trek around the gorgeous town, plan a picnic in the rice fields with your BFFs, go to the Talley Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, and don’t forget to visit Siddheshwar Temple, which cocoons a natural Shiva lingam. Immerse yourself in the state’s culinary traditions with rice cooked in leaves, flavoursome curries and momos, though local delicacies include more adventurous forays into the rodent and insect world too.
Getting there: The nearest airport is at Jorhat in Assam, 98 kilometres away.
Chaukori is a colourful little hill station in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, surrounded by snow-capped Himalayan peaks and lush green forest. Plan a picnic with your friends in forests full of deodar, pine and rhododendron or in a fruit orchard, or walk down one of the many beautiful trails. You can also visit the Askot Sanctuary to catch a glimpse of the endangered musk deer and a variety of birds to cheer any birdwatcher’s heart.
Getting there: Naini Saini Airport in Pithoragarh is the nearest domestic airport.
Srikhola, West Bengal
If you and your friends are looking for an adventurous getaway, we highly recommend the scenic mountain village of Srikhola located at an altitude of 6,900 feet, about 87 kilometres from Darjeeling. The destination ranks high among trekkers for its scenic trails. You and your besties can spend days trekking, plunging into the icy waters of the Srikhola River, or even fishing. Srikhola is also a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts, and you can spot red pandas, Himalayan black bears, palm civets and barking deer among other animals at the Singalila National Park.
Getting there: Srikhola is very well connected by road to other parts of West Bengal; you can drive in from Siliguri, Darjeeling, Bagdogra or Manebhanjan.
If you were invested in Katrina Kaif and Vicky Kaushal’s wedding, there are high chances you’ve heard about this small town in Rajasthan. Sited between Udaipur and Jodhpur, Jawai is one of the very few districts around the Jawai Dam. It’s located in the heart of the Aravalli Hills, and, if you and your BFFs are keen on spending some time spotting wildlife, head straight to one of the reserves in Jawai. Book a wildlife safari, stay at one of the luxury resorts or visit the temples; there’s plenty to do at this stunning destination. You’re also almost certain to spot leopards as there are quite a few in the small town and they roam around freely!
Getting there: Fly into Jodhpur Airport, then take a train to Jawai Bandh.