India’s Hidden Gems

If you’re looking for something off the beaten track in India, this post is for you! Being seasoned travellers, with a taste for something unusual, some of our PlanetWildlife team members share their favourite hidden gems in India! A few of the destinations listed below are slightly difficult to reach, but that’s why they’re hidden and great for a getaway. Plan your trip with us and we’ll try to make your holiday as invigorating and stress-free as possible! So, when you’re planning your next big Indian adventure, consider these unique places:

1. The Sariska Palace, Rajasthan

Recommended by: Veda Reddy, CEO, Planetwildlife

My family and I stayed at The Sariska Palace Hotel situated on the edge of Sariska National Park nestled in the lap of nature. Sariska Palace is a heritage hotel in Rajasthan and was the former hunting lodge of the royal family of Alwar.

Away from the hustle and bustle, spending few days amidst the ultimate comfort and luxury makes you feel like a Maharaja of yesteryears! Royal chamber suites, authentic food and excellent service in the most beautiful natural setting make Sariska a perfect weekend getaway for family and friends.

Apart from indulging in luxury, a must-do activity is the jeep safari in the reserve. Though it is a bit difficult to spot a tiger, we spotted many other wild species like nilgai, langurs, sambar, rhesus monkeys, wild boars, spotted deer, Bengal foxes, and plenty of bird species and reptiles as well!

Great for: Families, friends, culture vultures, and wildlife lovers.

Getting there: The Sariska Tiger Reserve is located in Alwar district, Rajasthan. It is well connected from Jaipur (100km) and Delhi (200km).

2. Tharangambadi, Tamil Nadu

Recommended by: Mytri Reddy, Director

Tharangambadi (formerly Tranquebar) is a charming village located about 150 km south of Pondicherry. The word “Tharangambadi” literally translates to “place of singing waves”. Formerly a Danish Colony, Tharangambadi is now a small but thriving fishing village. It’s a perfect getaway if you are looking for a quiet holiday by the beach. Spend some time exploring the beautiful old Danish Fort here - Fort Dansborg and the old Danish cemetery. The entire place looks like it’s been frozen in time with the waves lashing against the old fort walls. Walk across the village and see quaint churches, most of which were built in the early 1700s! Also visit the 14th century Masilamani Nathan temple located so close to the waters that itgets flooded during high tide!

I recommend staying at this beautiful heritage property called the “Bungalow on the Beach” (Click here for gallery). As the name suggests, the place is located right on the beach!The corridors of this old home (now a hotel) are perfect if you want to relax and spend the afternoon reading a book!

Great for: Couples, families, friends, culture vultures and solo travellers.

Getting there:Tharangambadi can be reached by bus from Chennai (276km) and Puducherry (120km).

3. Nubra Valley, Jammu & Kashmir

Recommended by: Sachin Agarwal, Jack of all trades

Nubra Valley is an adventure traveller's dream destination, with rugged terrain, unique cuisine, and a rich cultural heritage. The landscape would seem Martian were it not for the dominant statue of Lord Buddha overseeing the valley. There is a 1,000-year-old monastery here - Diskit Monastery, that is definitely worth visiting for its intricate art and dramatic positioning. Also, the view from the monastery across the valley and of the Buddha statue is stunning! Further away from the monastery, you’ll even find some sand dunes that seem quite out of place here but make for a stunning sight.

A common activity here is taking a ride on the two-humped camels. Anyone interested in stargazing will find that the crisp, clean high-altitude air provides an amazing view of the heavens above.

Nubra Valley is not the easiest location to get to - the drive from Leh is, in part, through somewhat rough terrain. However, this is what helps it maintain its unique character and journey is well worth the views at the end.

You can combine a trip to Nubra with one of our snow leopard treks for an adventure-filled holiday!

Great for: Couples, friends, solo travellers, wildlife lovers, and adventure travel enthusiasts.

Getting there: Drive down from Leh (150km), preferably with a registered guide, to get to Nubra Valley.

4. Nagarhole National Park, Karnataka

Recommended by: Saranga Janga, Executive - Travel & Operations

I believe a picture is worth a thousand words, so let these photos of Nagarhole National Park make their own case for this beautiful gem in Karnataka: Click here for gallery.

I recommend you stay at Kabini River Lodge – an eco-lodge venture by the Forest Department. 

Great for: Couples, friends, solo travellers, wildlife lovers, and adventure travel enthusiasts.

Getting there: Driving down from Mysore (81km) is the best way to reach Nagarhole.

5. Marine Park Jamnagar (Pirotan Island), Gujrat

Recommended by: Lalitha Reddy, Assistant Manager - Media

I haven’t personally been to the Marine Park at Jamnagar but I want to visit soon! I came across the Marine Park on a travel show and started researching it online. Reading about the amazing marine life that can be seen here, I just knew I had to put this park on my must-visit list!

The Marine Park is made up of several islands off the coast of Gujarat, and Pirotan Island is one of the best for marine life viewing. Getting to Pirotan Island is a wonderful experience in itself that involves sailing past mangroves and trees that house beautiful birds. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a dolphin making its way past your boat! Reach the pristine shores of the island and see the wealth of marine life present here.

This park is one of the few rare places where you can see corals without having to go diving or snorkelling! Just walk into the water to where the tide flows in about one to two feet and see beautiful corals! Also look for starfish, puffer fish, and green sea turtles. If you’re exceptionally lucky, you might even see a dugong off in the distance!

A trip to Pirotan Island needs to be carefully planned in advance as the Forest Department allows restricted entry into the park to ensure conservation is placed first. But fret not, contact us and we’ll help you with all the trip planning!

Great for: Couples, friends, solo travellers, wildlife lovers, and adventure travel enthusiasts.

Getting there:The Marine Park can be reached via a two-hour scenic boat ride from Bedi Port. The port in turn, is located 312km away from Ahmedabad.

6. Namdapha National Park, Arunachal Pradesh

Recommended by: Parveez Islam, Manager - Travel & Operations

Namdapha has quite an interesting history. It originally gained notice for non-bio diversity reasons during the Second World War when Chinese flight planes would crash into these hills due to tough flying routes and weather conditions! Namdapha hosts vast mountain forests, hills and valleys, and rainforests, making it one of the most biodiverse and one of the largest national parks in India. Its amazing habitat includes a mind-boggling variety of mammals like clouded leopards, snow leopards, common leopards, and tigers. You can also see Asiatic black bears, wolves, dholes, over 500 species of birds, and many amphibians and reptiles!

I recommend starting your exploration at Deban, on the banks of the Noa-dihing River - a great place to spot gibbons, flying squirrels, and hornbills, amongst other species. A six to seven-day hike from Deban, covering a distance of about 100km, through the heart of Namdapha's forests leads to Gandhigram, the largest Lisu village. Just four hours away is the town of Vijaynagar whose beautiful surrounding forests and mountain peaks merge with those of Myanmar.

As with most hidden gems, Namdapha is not the easiest park to get to, but the long journey is well worth it. I recommend staying at campsites that are within the park’s buffer zones. Camps like the Haldibari and Hornbill are set amidst tall evergreen forests and great for bird watching. These camps require permissions from the Forest Department, but we can sort that out for you. Namdapha is one of the few parks in India where visitors can walk through the forest instead of being confined to a vehicle.There are several trekking routes and hiking trails for you to explore.

Best for: Friends, solo travellers, wildlife lovers, and adventure enthusiasts.

Getting there: You need to fly into Dibrugarh Airport in Eastern Assam and then drive for four hours to get to Namdapha. Foreigners need an inner line permit to enter the park.

Contact for more information and custom trips to these and other great locations in India.