An explorers guide to offbeat destinations in India Aug 28, 2015 If you're one of those who've succumbed to the pleasures of wanderlust, then you're accustomed to the pleasant tingling sensation of waking up in a new place. Travel is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves. There's a destination out there that caters to every whim, preference, and budget. Whether it is a weekend sojourn or a lengthy summer getaway, a break away from routine is highly recommended to revive the body and mind. When it comes to diversity, India is unbeatable in terms of geographic terrain and culture. Beaches, deserts, jungles and mountains, all are within our borders, ready to be explored by the curious traveller! We've short-listed below some offbeat tourist spots to felicitate an audience with Mother Nature. India's least populated state is also a bio-diversity hotspot. More than eighty glaciers feed over two hundred high-altitude lakes and over a hundred rivers. Largely mountainous in terrain, Sikkim is bordered by Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet. Home to more than 500 varieties of orchids, and about 35 kinds of rhododendrons, the summer months find the hills carpeted with blooms of the latter. Such richness in flora attracts hundreds of rare butterflies and moths, creating a canvas of ethereal beauty. The Shingha Rhododendron Sanctuary, in North Sikkim should be on every nature lover's bucket list. Situated 24 km away from Gangtok, is the Rumtek Monastery. Built in the 17th century, disciples of the Karma Kagyu lineage perform rituals and oblations to honour their Karmapa, or spiritual leader. This monastery is considered to be one of the holiest of all Buddhist shrines. If you're seeking something more adventurous, Zemu Glacier embedded in the Kanchenjunga mountain, will certainly give you a "high". Spanning the east side of the world's third largest mountain, the glacier at 5,600 feet nourishes several rivers. Spring and summer are ideal seasons to visit and enjoy the mountainside lush with sprouting flowers. Welcome to the lair of the Royal Bengal Tiger. Wildlife enthusiast or not, be prepared to be enthralled by over 10,000 square kilometres of mangrove forests. Nestled in the state of West Bengal, the Sunderbans is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a National Park, a Tiger Reserve and a Biosphere Reserve. In the world's largest estuarine forest and delta, tributaries of the Ganga and Brahmaputra, seamlessly merge into the Bay of Bengal. The magnificent tiger can be spotted only from strategically placed watch towers. Given the mammoth scale of the forest, and scarcity of tigers (about 170), the task could be time-consuming! Nevertheless, traversing through Sunderbans numerous waterways by boat is guaranteed to delight you with sightings of some rare birds and animals. The Olive Ridley turtle, wild boar, deer, seagull, kingfisher and the sandpiper should be on your lookout list. Once a day, the whole mangrove succumbs to high tide and is completely drowned in water. Lodge and rest house accommodation by the West Bengal Tourism are comfortable and offer easy access to the National Park. May your foray into the jungle be greeted with a mighty roar! In the desolate Thar Desert lies one of the largest salt marshes in the world. Natural erosion over several years separated a large land mass from the Arabian Sea. Consequently, the entire landscape has been left encrusted with a layer of salt. Rann of Kutch is made up of two distinct sections; The Great Rann of Kutch and Little Rann of Kutch. This region has the unique distinction of being flanked by the sea on one side, and a desert on the other. The marshes, as well as the harsh desert, is home to a variety of vegetation and wildlife. The grasslands are teeming with nilgai, chinkara, wild ass and black buck. There are private tour operators who conduct safari excursions into the Rann. The best time to visit is during the Rann Utsav, or desert festival held every year from December to March. A carnival of music and dance awaits you. Mingle with the brightly attired Mirs and Rabari tribal folk and see them spin magic with traditional Ikat, Patola and Bandhini weaves. Equally exquisite is Kutchi mirror-work and embroidery like Ahir, Banni and Mutwa. Time your trip to be here on a full moon night. The desert lights up with a luminescent, shimmering light as the moon beams hit the salt crystals on land. A pearl-like glow floods the plains in entirety. We bet that you won't be able to find an experience more celestial than this. It's time to wake up and smell the coffee! No better place than Coorg in Karnataka to perk up your senses. Coorg was the first coffee growing region in the country and is the 6th largest producer in the world. Arabica and Robusta, are two of the most popular blends to come out of this region. Staying on a plantation is like revisiting colonial living. Large plush bungalows, liveried staff, verdant forests, and the aromatic smell of a classic brew! Just the right prescription for a relaxing holiday. Coorg gets intense rainfall in the monsoon and several seasonal waterfalls mushroom in the surrounding hills. Bamboo, vanilla, silver oak, sandalwood, black pepper, thrive in the climate, and the dense jungles make for interesting treks. Bird-lovers in particular, should keep their binoculars handy. Dubare, a government run elephant camp offers tourists a chance to swim and bathe with the pachyderms in the river. Ancient temples and monasteries can be part of the travel itinerary too. Coorg is best enjoyed by staying in a home-stay or resort on a coffee estate. Visit in January to see how beans are harvested and processed. We hope your cup of coffee may always run over with joy! An archipelago of around thirty-nine islands, Lakshadweep lies off the south-western coast of India. Committed to preserving the ecological balance of the islands, local authorities have made it mandatory for tourists to obtain a permit before arrival. Quality, over quantity, is exercised to maintain the region's pristine nature. Known for its rich marine life, Lakshadweep is also a favourite with scuba divers. Crystal clear water, coral reefs, white sand and underwater marine diversity attracts professional divers, as well as amateurs. With snorkelling, kayaking and windsurfing on offer, these islands are fast becoming a hub for water sports. If you prefer to be on firm ground, pay a visit to the island of Minicoy. Here stands a 300-foot tall lighthouse built in 1885; the perfect spot for an expansive and panoramic view of the ocean. Explore a fish hatchery on Agatti island or walk amidst millions of hermit crabs at Parelli island, the options are many. All of Lakshadweep's islands are reachable by boat, plane or helicopter, making voyaging to this virgin territory extremely easy. Whether a nature reserve or wildlife park, hillside or ocean, here's hoping that one of the above will be your destination of choice in the near future!