Peak season spells peak cost and frenzied hordes, but with a little effort, you can still find yourself holidaying at dirt cheap rates in near deserted locales.
THE JUNGLE TRAIL
This is the season to catch a tiger. But while the cacophonous hordes at Corbett National Park or Ranthambore scare away animal life, here are some places where silence still reigns supreme:
Nameri, Assam: Apart from being home to elephants and leopards, this is the place for angling. Plus it’s less touristy than Kaziranga. A tent at the ecocamp here costs just Rs 850 a night.
Palamau, Jharkhand: Its tiger count may be falling but since it is a small park, your chances of getting lucky increase dramatically. A night at a forest rest house costs Rs 300 and there are plenty of rooms.
Chikaldhara, Maharashtra: Wildlife, waterfalls, waterbodies...this sanctuary in Amravati has it all. Average cost per night is under Rs 700 for a family.
THE GREATER HEIGHTS
A visit to any of the colonial hill stations, each one almost identical to the other, might seem like an exercise in futility. Be it Shimla, Ooty or Darjeeling, most have become clones of the very cities we long to escape from. For a dose of serenity head for:
Pabbar Valley, Himachal Pradesh: How many places can boast of having something for everybody? Check out scenic Rohru, four hours from Shimla, where a night’s stay costs under Rs 1,000.
Yercaud, Tamil Nadu: It may be called the “poor man’s Ooty” by some, but don’t let that dissuade you. For Rs 6,300, a couple can bag a lake view room for two nights complete with all meals and free non-alcoholic drinks as a New Year special.
Amboli, Maharashtra: It’s the last hill station in the Sahyadri Range before it flattens out into the beaches of Goa. This is one of those places that those in the know hope to keep secret. And you can do just that for under Rs 1,200 per couple a night.
Can you think of anything more jam-packed than Goa for Christmas or New Year? If it is a beach vacation you fancy, you can’t dream up better options than the Andaman Islands or Lakshadweep. But in the event that those places are too far, too expensive or too difficult to reach, here are some alternatives:
Nagoa Beach, Diu: This island allows you to be as lazy or as busy as you fancy. The fact that hotels here are not sold out yet speaks volumes about its privacy quotient. Damage to wallet: under Rs 3,000 a night per couple.
Gahirmatha Beach, Orissa: Soft sands, azure waters and a chance to watch the annual migration of Olive Ridley turtles. Average cost: Rs 750 a night.
Kundapura, Karnataka: Apart from sand, surf, scuba diving and snorkelling, this place also has backwaters. A night here will cost under Rs 2,500 for two.
These are just a few suggestions. There are any number of alternatives you can think up. Say, hitting a resort just out of town, be it a sybaritic spa or a back-to-thebasics retreat, instead of battling traffic snarls in your home city on New Year’s eve.
Go river rafting on the Brahmaputra instead of the Ganges. Try out an ecocamp, or even better, pitch your own tent, to break free from the ordinary. Not only will you be kinder on your wallet, but also see seclusion and basic comfort come together in glorious union. Much like caramel and coffee ice cream.
Hotel Rosemount, Ranikhet
Cost: Rs 8,555
Soak up the winter sun during this two-night stay, which comes along with breakfast and choice of lunch or dinner and evening barbecue. Offer valid from 20 December to 5 January. Every guest will have to pay Rs 1,000 extra for a gala dinner on 24 and 31 December.
Ashiana Club Rooms, Bhiwadi
Cost: Rs 7,800
Take a weekend break at this newly opened business-cumleisure resort in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan. While you take a massage break, the children can get busy at the state-of-the-art playroom. Offer valid for a superior room till 31 March.
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