While there isn’t enough clarity when international travel will open, there are thousands of places you can visit within India, and some unfrequented ones, too. These places are also quite approachable—most are near major cities, so renting a vehicle will be easy and there are enough places to stay—and have lovely and secluded roads around to drive. Remember, tourism rejuvenates the economy and supports local jobs. Your social interactions may look different, however.
Osian and the windmills: This small town, about 70 km from Jodhpur and 560 km from Delhi, is famous for its Hindu and Jain temples from the early medieval period. If you love driving, the area around has secluded roads, and lovely views of majestic windmills atop hillocks.
Rainforests of Goa: Goa lives by the sea. But if you want to see a Goa not shown in films or party-songs, head towards the Karnataka border. Dudhsagar Falls is famous, but a detour takes you to Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park, where the rainforests are so thick, it can be haunting.
Hotels: Panaji, and by the sea.
Gudibande Fort: Move over Nandi Hills. Almost 90 km north of Bangalore is a gem called Gudibande. The area is so unfrequented by tourists that you won’t see plastic waste (so keep it as pristine as you find it). There is a 17th century fort here, constructed by chieftain Byre Gowda, and the beautiful and blue Bhairasagara lake.
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary: Most eastward road trips that start from Kochi end in Munnar, but just 50 km beyond is the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary (175 km from Kochi). This place is the habitat of the near-threatened grizzled giant squirrel. You can contribute by raising awareness, and money.
Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary: Ranthambore forest might be more famous, globally, but about 100 km from Udaipur is a forest denser and tougher to navigate, and there are a lot of old abandoned roads you can explore nearby. And then there is the fort (with the second longest man-made wall in the world). The winding roads make for a lovely motorcycle ride.
White Rann: Thanks to the annual Rann Utsav festival (December to February) near Dhordo village in Gujarat, this place gets a fair share of tourists. But if you have your own/rental car, you can explore the shockingly beautiful, and still empty, landscape.
Hotels: Bhuj, and tents in Rann.
Konark to Satapada, via Puri: It’s a 90 km, two-hour drive along the coast of Bay of Bengal. Best time is early morning when you can see the sun rise from literally under the sea. In Satapada, you can see Irrawaddy Dolphins leaping in the waters of the Chilika Lake.
Hotels: Konark, Puri and by the lake.
(All photos clicked by the author.)
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