We go on vacations for some peace and quiet. For a change from the routine. To breathe in some fresh air and get away from the madding crowd. But nowadays, with more Indians taking vacations than ever before, there is no guarantee your vacation destination will be an oasis of calm. If you want to avoid places that are likely to be overrun by bus loads of tourists, lots of hawkers, and really need to peace out…check out these 3 destinations for a serene holiday!
Aren’t you curious to pay a visit to the place that caused emperor Ashoka to have a change of heart and give up his violent ways for good? It is a little hard to believe that this sleepy little hill was where the bloody Kalinga War took place. But the bloodshed that turned river Daya red caused Ashoka to repent for all the unnecessary violence of war. Later, he became an emissary of peace. Today, you can book a Savaari Car and drive down in just 7 hours by road from Kolkata, to Dhauli.
Visit the calming, white Shanti Stupa built by Japanese Buddhist organizations in the 70s, pass by the daya river, check out the edicts of Ashoka on the road leading up to a hill with green all around…and soak in the air of tranquility. A short drive from the capital and temple town of Bhubaneswar, enroute to the beautiful beaches of Konark, and not too far away from the millenia old city, Cuttack, there is much you can do and see in underrated Odisha. Shop for beautiful silver filigree jewellery, be awed by the Sun Temple, try your hand at surfing at Puri or visit the vast Chilika Lake. We highly recommend Odisha for a peaceful, offbeat holiday.
Auroville, the ‘City of Dawn’
How about meditating in silence at the Matrimandir in Auroville, and see the golden structure lit up in the rays of the gentle morning sun, in winter. If that sounds too intense, you could always engage yourself in a bamboo jewellery making workshop, try organic farming, quilling, pottery making, or even yoga, with any of the practitioners and life-time residents of this experimental township. Auroville, a drive from Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu, and accessible via the beautiful ECR, is certainly a place like no other. A little over 6 hours from Bangalore and 3 hours from Chennai, it retains a laidback vibe, and if you are seeking a calming holiday, it may just be the place to recharge your batteries. Curious about the idealistic principles that drive this global community? Take a half day tour led by one of its longtime residents. You can stay in Pondicherry 12 kms away, or see if you can spend a few days in one of the guesthouses in Auroville. Once there, you can cycle or drive to the many restaurants that dot the area, for some raw vegan food, some handmade pizza, french cuisine and more. Or visit their store for some fabulous handmade paper, organic soaps, incense sticks and other goodies to bring back to your friends and family.
Seek the White Sands of the Rann of Kutch
Seeking a place to gaze at the stars on a full moon night? Want to pretend to be royalty with your own well-appointed tent in the middle of a desert? Head to the beautiful and desolate salt-marshes Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. The area hosts the famed Rann Utsav, in the winter months, beginning in December. The state government hosts visitors in luxurious tents. The festival is designed to give tourists a taste of authentic local hospitality, cuisine and make them familiar with the region’s attractions. 80 odd kilometres from Bhuj, Dhordo and Hodka are entry points at the edge of the desert. Bhuj is a 5 hour drive from Ahmedabad, or a good 800+ kms from Mumbai. Tourists can witness folk dance and musical performances, shop for famed Kutchi handicrafts, and go on special sightseeing tours. You can walk along the historical Hamisar Lake in Bhuj, take a moonlit safari, be enchanted by the flame pink flamingoes who descend on Narayan Sarovar during the winter months, or walk through the Banni Grasslands. The holiday is also perfect for the devout and spiritually inclined, because you can visit the Koteshwara Temple or the Ashapura Mata temple, nearby.