Nestled amidst the Himalayas' majestic peaks, India boasts many offbeat mountain destinations that promise intrepid travellers a unique and captivating experience. Beyond the famous tourist spots lies a world of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. From remote villages on cliff edges to serene valleys dotted with ancient temples, these offbeat mountain destinations offer a glimpse into a different side of India's natural and cultural heritage. If you yearn to escape from the ordinary, join OT as we explore five lesser-known mountain destinations in India.
The unexplored sibling of the Tirthan Valley—Sainj Valley, is quieter and better for multiple reasons. Even the most experienced trekker's treat a foray into the Great Himalayan National Park as a luxury. Walk through the vast, rolling verdure of Sainj Valley, the least-known of the four valleys of the national park, and witness its magic unfold. The verdant meadows and hirsute pine clusters stretching across the horizon in every way remind you of Kashmir - more so in the winter when the whole valley is cloaked in snow. While in the valley, undertake hikes of varying lengths, visit the stunning temples and holy lakes, camp at the inspection huts and watch the birds conquer the sky at dawn and dusk.
Located in the Dima Haso district of Assam, Haflong is where you can touch the clouds. Being the only hill station in Assam, Haflong enjoys a surreal mist and comfortable weather all year round. The untapped beauty of the hills beckons the intrepid and slow travellers alike, as they can engage in camping and trekking or soak in the nature scapes. The town also offers multiple short drive routes, each more promising than the other. Food lovers and architecture geeks are in for a treat as you can sample local horticulture produce and catch a glimpse of the British colonial past.
A part of the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary, Chopta in Uttarakhand is the base point for the Tungnath-Chandrashila trek. It is often called Mini Switzerland for its breathtaking panoramic views of the Himalayan range and beautiful bugyals (alpine meadows). As many as 41 peaks are visible from Chopta, including Nanda Devi and Chaukhamba. In Chopta, camping, trekking, skiing, rock-crafting, rappelling and rock climbing are popular activities in winter. And since Chopta sees the arrival of many rare birds in Chopta, birdwatching is a hobby worth pursuing here.
Pass over hyper-touristy Mussoorie and Nainital, and drive along to discover the offbeat hamlet of Kalsi, in Uttarakhand. The hilly retreat is a great hideaway for those seeking some solitude. Walking trails, river rafting and hiking, Kalsi does not fall short of options. Nestled amid the picturesque landscape of the Doon Valley, it is also home to a 2,200-year-old rock edict of Emperor Ashok, discovered by an Englishman, Forrest, in 1860.
Blessed with snow-capped Himalayas, gorgeous river views and dense birch forests, Darma Valley in Uttarakhand's Kumaon could be the kind of deep seclusion travel getaway you have been looking for. Nestled in Pithoragarh, the pristine valley is nothing less than a heaven for nature lovers and solace seekers. Encompassed by the Kuthi Yangti Valley and Lassar Yangti Valley, Darma Valley is shaped by the gurgling Darma River. Located at 3470m, the valley offers spectacular views of the glorious Panchachuli peaks. Home to 12 tribal villages, the valley draws tourists and backpackers with its unique experiences. Most people come here to undertake the popular Darma Valley trek and to experience the unparalleled hospitality of the warm locals, who love hosting them in their homestays.