Solo travel is just right on so many levels. It captures the essence of what travelling should do for you and delivers it on a platter of freedom. There is no pressure to keep up with schedules, to fit in others’ to-do list in your itinerary, check boxes on a bucket list, interact with other humans, and put up with the quirks and idiosyncrasies of your family (as much as we love them, we all need a break from each other every now and again). After all, travel is all about breaking free from your run of the mill existence, unwinding and reconnecting with yourself in the process. Embarking on a holiday by yourself, offers you the perfect opportunity to do just that.
Here is my pick of the best destinations for a solo trip on the home turf:
I’m kicking off this list with a very offbeat choice that deserves to be explored for its unique landscape and character. Long separated from mainland of Assam by the mighty Brahmaputra, Majuli is not only the world’s largest river island but also a different world unto itself. Given the abundant rainfall in the area, a better part of the island stays submerged throughout the monsoon season but is open to tourists for rest of the year. The unique neo-Vaishnavite culture, tribal traditions, bare-bone lifestyle of the natives, myriad species of birds, cluster of old Hindu monasteries and local wine made from rice are some of the highlights of this place. Embrace the laid back lifestyle of the island, cycle your way around this nature’s haven, and learn a few tricks in embroidery and weaving from the locals. Majuli is the perfect anti-dote to your urbanised existence.
From the east all the way to the south, Varkala is a unique destination marked by a towering cliff overlooking the mighty Arabian Sea. This coastal town in Kerala is home to many tourist attractions such as the Papasnanam Beach, Ponnumthuruthu Island, Janardhan Swami temple and Kapil Lake, but it is a destination that’s more about the experience than the sight-seeing. Imagine sitting at the edge of a cliff, watching the sunrise at the horizon, beyond the expansive ocean, or chilling on a hammock at the beach with a chilled beer in hand, a relaxing Ayurvedic massage, and generous amounts of delicious seafood on your platter. Allow yourself three to four day stay at this location to let it work its charm on your body and soul.
Popularly known as the Grand Canyon of Maharashtra, Sandhan Valley is a solo getaway destination for the thrill seekers. Open to tourists from November to May, this water carved valley running through the Ajoba and Ratnagad ranges offers a bare, bucolic close-to-nature experience. Cooking on campfires, living in tents, a five-hour trek through a rocky, water-riddled terrain with adventure activities like rappelling thrown in the mix, a Sandhan Valley trip has all the elements to send your adrenaline pumping. It is ideal for a long weekend getaway from Mumbai.
If the serene setting of the hills, quaint cafes, steaming hot momos, streams and waterfalls, Tibetan flags fluttering is your idea of a refreshing break, McLeod Ganj is where you should be headed to on your first solo trip. Being the abode of The Dalai Lama, the place has an infectious tranquil vibe. For those seeking an all-pervading sense of calm for some introspection and soul-searching, the His Holiness Dalai Lama Main Temple and Namgyal Monastery are the places to be. There are also numerous yoga and meditation hubs in and around McLeod Ganj. The Chinmaya Tapovan is one of them. Taking in the spectacular view of the snow-capped Dhauladhar ranges, walking through the nature trails and slowed down pace of life are therapeutic in their own right. Adventure lovers must go prepared to embark on a taxing trek up to the snow-capped Triund and perhaps camp there for a night. For the shopaholics, the flea market around the monasteries is a treasure waiting to be explored.
Kutch nahi dekha, toh kuch nahi dekha, as brand ambassador Amitabh Bachchan often reminds us in his advertisements. The punch line couldn’t ring truer for the geographic marvel that Kutch is. Abounding in rustic beauty, historical sites, wildlife reserves and a one-of-its-kind white salt desert known as the Rann of Kutch, the destination has so much to offer to those willing to seek it out. You can camp in the middle of the vast wetland surrounded by seawater, partake in the unique culture of the land, shop from local artisans, and wander through its rugged forts and architectural marvels. If you aren’t averse to the idea of being in the midst of bustling crowds on your solo trip, the Rann Utsav is the best time to behold Kutch in all its glory.