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Traumhafter Blick auf Teeplantagen in Indien, Bild: DR Travel Photo and Video / shutterstock

Discover India’s Hidden Gems: Lesser-Known Destinations

Away from the tourist crowds, India is a bit different. Much more relaxed. Quiet but never boring. Beautiful and always a bit magical. If you feel like taking a stress-reducing, relaxing getaway on your trip to India, here are a few suggestions for destinations that will take you deeper into your India experience than is possible at the well-known, more tourist-frequented sights.

1. The preparation

Just as relaxed as the whole vacation, you can approach the visa issue if you simply apply for your eVisa to India electronically at home. A visit to the embassy is no longer necessary. Good equipment, such as a good backpack, sturdy shoes, clothing suitable for the tropics are advisable. You don’t necessarily have to use local public transport as a typical backpacker on the way to remote destinations. You have a little more comfort if you rent a car or a motorhome. It may even be advantageous to hire a driver at the same time, who can then also be used as a tour guide, for errands, bookings or translations. The costs for this are hardly significant in view of the extremely low prices everywhere.

2. Mysuru: City of Sultans and Maharajas

Mysuru is located in the south of India in the state of Karnataka. The university town is perhaps better known by its English name, Mysore, which was only officially abolished in 2014 in favor of pronunciation in the local Kannada language. There is a long history of the Principality’s sultans having wars with the English, but they ultimately won them.

Despite its almost one million inhabitants, Mysuru has somehow retained the character of a quiet and relaxed small town. The tourist and cultural highlight of the city is the Sultan’s Palace, built at the time of the greatest concentration of power in the capital of the empire at the time. Cultural highlights and events still take place there in the palace, which is magnificently illuminated at night. But the many small, older palaces from the time of the maharajas are also worth seeing. A trip to the Chamundi Hills, from where you look down on the city, is a special experience. The tropical gardens of Brindavan or Tibetan refugee camps in Bylakuppe are possible destinations from here. The ancient Dasaprash Hotel in the heart of the city offers good service at backpacker prices.

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3. Via Shrirangapattana to Shravanabelagola

Only a few kilometers north of Mysuru on an island of the Kaveri River lies Shrirangapattana, a small town of just under 30,000 inhabitants, which was the capital of the state of Mysore from 1610 to 1799. There is a fortress built by the Sultan to defend against the English. The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in the fortress is one of the largest temple complexes in Karnataka. There is also a mosque there.

With about 8,000 inhabitants and a rather rural character, Shravanabelagola , 70 km to the north, is worth a few relaxing days. There you will find a huge statue carved out of a boulder of a completely naked enlightened person of Jainism: Bahubali. This is reconsecrated every 12 years, a huge festival to which around 20,000 pilgrims have traveled every year for a thousand years. The next festival will take place in 2030. A lakeside hotel offers a pleasant, friendly atmosphere.

4. Rushikulya Beach and Puri

Sun Temple of Konark in Puri
Sun Temple of Konark in Puri, Image: Erhard Wolloner / shutterstock

When you think of the most beautiful beaches in India , the first thing that probably comes to mind is the famous beaches in Goa. On the other side of the subcontinent, near Rushikulya on the east coast, there are a number of beaches that have hardly been developed for tourism so far. Here you can still find many Olive Ridley turtles and untouched nature. There is also the mouth of the Rushikulya River. If you are not afraid of high waves and are looking to cool off from the tropical heat in the relatively cool waters of the Bay of Bengal, then a few days in Rushikulya Beach are a tip for you. Accommodation, taxis and food are available in the surrounding villages about 10km away.

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About 100 kilometers further along the coastal road to the northeast is Puri, the holy city of the Hindus with another beautiful, thirty-kilometer long beach, Swargadwar Beach. The best time for a beach holiday in Odessa is probably October to February.

5. Mountain holiday in the cool north

Shimla, the cool summer residence of the English, or Leh in Ladakh are already widely known. Better suited for cooling off the beaten track is the province of Lahaul-Spiti in Himachel-Pradesh, in the shadow of the mighty 6517-metre-high Mulkila. There is hardly any tourist infrastructure, but the views are breathtaking and the people warm and hospitable in a way that you rarely experience anywhere else.

Hiking and climbing are possible, but for beginners it is best only with a local guide. The Chandra Valley in the north of the Mulkila lies in its rain shadow and is very dry, while the Kulu Valley in the south of the peak or the valley between the 6200 meter high Shikar Beh and the Mulkila have lush vegetation. There are also overnight accommodations.

For the journeys over these mountain roads, buses or rental cars with experienced drivers are recommended. If you’re looking for some civilisation after your wilderness excursions, then the resort town of Manali is only about 20 kilometres further south. There you can book ski trips, hiking, paragliding, whitewater canoeing or try out guided mountaineering routes for beginners.