1. Too broke for a trip to Switzerland? Well, Khajjiar in Himachal Pradesh looks exactly the same!
Here's a picture of Switzerland. Nice?
Okay, this one here is Khajjiar. SAME THING!
Surrounded by meadows and forests, it's a hill station in Himachal Pradesh, India. It is about 6,500 feet above sea level in the foothills of the Dhauladhar ranges of the Western Himalayas and peaks can be seen in the distance.
Khajjiar is among the 160 locations in the world that bear topographical resemblance with Switzerland. On 7 July 1992, Mr. Willy T. Blazer, Vice Counselor and Head of Chancery of Switzerland in India brought Khajjiar on the world tourism map by calling it Mini Switzerland. The Vice Counselor also took from Khajjiar a stone which forms part of a stone collage around the Swiss Parliament to remind the visitors of Khajjiar as a Mini Switzerland of India.
How to reach Khajjiar:
Khajjiar can be reached from Dalhousie, the nearest major town and hill station, by bus in an hour. To reach Dalhousie, take an overnight train to Pathankot from Delhi (about 10 hour) and then a 2 to 3 hour drive from Pathankot to Dalhousie.
2. Can't afford to go to Venice but want to enjoy the calm of canals? Go explore the backwaters of Kerala instead.
The Grand Canal as seen from a boat. Romantic?
Well, this here is a houseboat in the backwaters of Kerala. SO MUCH BETTER!
A chain of brackish lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea coast, the Kerala backwaters' network includes five large lakes linked by canals, both man-made and natural, fed by 38 rivers, and extending virtually half the length of Kerala state.
When there you can enjoy boat races, which are occasions of great excitement and entertainment with thousands gathered on the banks to watch and cheer. Very interesting stories lie behind the origin of Moolam Boat Race.
How to reach there:
To access Astamudi Lake, Thiruvananthapuram Airport (TRV) located in state capital Thiruvananathapuram is better, as its located within 68 kms. Regular cruises call at Kochi port from where tourists can reach Vembandu lake either by car or yachts or light cruisers.
3. If you are thinking of visiting the quaint villages in France for some peace and calm, you need to go to Pondicherry NOW!
Lush gardens, European mansions and elegant walkways, Pondicherry is "The Indian Côte d'Azur" and "The Riviera of the East", a haven of French style and refinement separated from Boomtown India. Almost everyone uses bicycles, or they stroll along the tree-lined boulevards. It's as if an elegant French country town has been transported to the Bay of Bengal.
A popular tourist destination in South India, the city has many colonial buildings, churches, temples, and statues which, combined with the systematic town planning and planned French style avenues, still preserve much of the colonial ambiance. In other words, all of Pondy could well be mini-Paris on the Coromandel Coast.
How to reach Pondicherry
Chennai is the second nearest domestic as well as international airport which is approximately 135 km away from Pondicherry. The Chennai airport is well connected to all major cities across the globe. Once you reach the airport, you can hire a private taxi to reach Pondicherry.
4. If you want to go backpacking across Europe, you must first experience Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh.
Hemmed in by giant-pinnacled mountain peaks, the Parvati Valley, which twists west from the glaciers and snowfields on the Spiti border to meet the Beas at Bhuntur, is a picturesque place, with quiet hamlets perching precariously on its sides amid lush terraces and old pine forests.
How to reach Parvati Valley
Kullu Airport near Kullu is the nearest airport to reach there. On land, Ahuj Railway station is the nearest railhead from the Parvati Valley. From there to make the most of Parvati's stunning scenery, you will have to hike.
5. If you are planning a trip to Scotland, go to Shillong instead. It isn't called Scotland of the East for nothing.
Capital and hill station of Meghalaya, Shillong is also known as "The Abode of Clouds". It is one of the smallest states in India. It is said that the rolling hills around the town reminded the European settlers of Scotland. Hence, they would also refer to it as the "Scotland of the East".
Its old-world charm is a delight to unearth on a bracing wintry walk. Though the relentless march of urban redevelopment goes on at the fringes, Shillong’s trove of heritage buildings, parks and lakes create a timeless illusion of the good old days, of life moving at a slower, more sustainable pace.
How to reach Shillong
The state of Meghalaya is well connected to all metropolis cities of India. Shillong lies at a distance of 60 km from Cherrapunji and it has a domestic airport. Guwahati that lies at a distance of 181 km has the nearest railhead, and also has an international airport.
6. Why go hiking over the famous Overland Tracks in Australia when you can do the same in Ladakh?
Ladakh, meaning land of high passes, is a region in Jammu and Kashmir. Renowned for its remote mountain beauty and culture, Ladakh is hemmed in by walls of dramatic mountains.
Ladakh's remarkably well-balanced traditional society has much to teach the West in terms of ecological awareness. While most Ladakhis are cash poor, traditional mud-brick homesteads are large, comfortable and self-sufficient in fuel and dairy products, organic vegetables and barley used to make tsampa (roast barley flour) and chhang (barley booze).
How to reach Ladakh
From New Delhi it is 1047 km. The overland approach to Ladakh from Kashmir Valley via Kargil is approximately 434 km, which remains open for traffic from early June to November. The J & K State Road Transport Corporation (J&K SRTC) operates regular Deluxe and Ordinary bus services between Srinagar and Leh on this route with an overnight halt at Kargil. Taxis (cars and jeeps) are also available at Srinagar for the journey.
7. If you want to be amazed by the architecture in Rome, then Udaipur is where you need to be.
Famously referred to as the Venice of the East, Udaipur is the historic capital of the kingdom of Mewar in the former Rajputana Agency. A very popular tourist destination, it is known for its history, culture, scenic locations and the Rajput-era palaces. Udaipur was also voted as the best city in the world in 2009 by the Travel + Leisure magazine.
The city's fantastical palaces, temples, havelis and countless narrow, crooked, colourful streets add the human counterpoint to it's natural charms.
How to reach Udaipur
Located in Rajasthan, it is well-connected with major cities of the state and the country and can be reached via rail, road and air. Maharana Pratap or Dabok Airport is located at a distance of 22 km from the city of Udaipur. There are frequent trains which run to and from Udaipur connecting Jaipur, Mumbai and Delhi. The luxury train Palace on Wheels is also a good option for those who wish to pamper themselves.