Offbeat Place is probably is one of the most frequent questions asked by anyone planning a trip to Himalayas. For someone visiting the hills for the first time; maybe any of the popular tourist destinations like Shimla, Mussorie or Manali may sound good enough; but for people who visit Himalayas on a regular basis; people who would even use a weekend for a quick trip; these places have long lost their charm. If you too are planning a trip and looking for a “not so crowded” destination, below is a list of 10 offbeat places in Uttarakhand that you may consider.
What is an “offbeat place”? Well the definition can actually be different. Some people would consider it as a less crowded tourist spot while a lot will define it as a remote unexplored area. In this article however, I am listing places that are a bit of both. Places that are not so remote that you cannot plan a family outing and places not so well known as well that there will be a huge tourist crowd there.
One visit to Peora and you would have visited one of those fairy tale villages that you either heard of; or saw in Hollywood animated movies.This tiny hamlet is about 60 kilometers from Nainital and 22 kilometers from Almora.Do not however come here expecting to visit some tourist spots, or a market.
There is absolutely nothing here except for a few houses of the villagers and this is what makes this place unique. It stands still in time and gives a perfect chance to spend some time close to mother nature. This small village is at an elevation of 6,600 feet and provide picture perfect view of Shivalik ranges of Kumaon. There are several trails here that are worth taking a walk. If you are into photography, Peora will definitely be a place of interest to you.
I visited Kanatal for the first time a few years ago and I liked it so much that it immediately topped my list of weekend getaways. I live in Delhi and this place was perfect for a 2 to 3 days trip. The natural beauty around here is like nowhere else. It is a very small village, barely 15-20 houses and a few hotels. Weather is always cold and the place remain tucked up in the clouds. There is not really much to do around here except for spending time in tranquility of the place.
You can also take a drive towards the nearby and equally beautiful village of Dhanaulti. A little further ahead of Dhanaulti is the famous tourist town of Mussorie and its primary attraction, Kempty Falls. If driving from Dehradun, Kanatal is about 40 kilometers from Mussorie and if approaching from Rishikesh, it is about 16 kilometers from Chamba. It is at a height of 2,590 meters and remains buried completely under snow during winter.
You want to visit a town that is half in India and half Nepal? Think no more and head straight to Dharchula. This village is located on the banks of Mahakali river which acts as a natural border between India and Nepal over a long stretch. This village is located on both sides of the river and a bridge connects both parts of the village; so half of Dharchula is Indian and the other half is Nepali. It is just the geographical division though as there is literally no difference in culture and lifestyle of people. Dharchula derives its name from Hindi words “Dhar” which means mountain and “Chulha” which means stove because the valley in which it lies resembles a stove.
It is at an altitude of 915 meters and even though it does get a lot cold during winter, there isn’t any snowfall here. The town as well as the drive to it is quite scenic and it serves as the base for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra and Aadi Kailash Yatra.
Would you like to visit a quiet little hill staion with a hint of supernatural to it? Head straight to Abbott mount. This tiny hamlet was named after John Arnold Abbott, an English businessman who bought some tea gardens here and intended to make it as an English settlement. As per the legend, in one of the Bungalows here, a Doctor by the name of Morrison performed some dreadful experiments on the locals in 1920s. Spirits of his victim patients are still believed to haunt “Mukti Kothri”, one of the rooms of the old Bungalow.
Haunting however is not all that you should go looking for in Abbott Mount. This peaceful village offers great views of enchanting snow clad Himalayan peaks and away from the noisy city life; the atmosphere here is quite calm and pleasant. There are never a lot of tourists here and perfect if you are looking for a less crowded place.
Another tourist attraction here is the old cricket pitch which is famed to be the second highest in the world after the one in Chail.
Located about 50 kilometers from Srinagar (the one in Uttarakhand, not J&K) and about 20 kilometers from Pauri is a small and unknown village of Khirsu. It is at a height of about 1700 meters and surrounded by dense forests and apple orchards. The entire setting of the village, the trees, the clouds, the cold weather is such that it will immediately remind you of some Bollywood suspense thriller. If away from civilization, away from all the traffic noises, away from the regular rushed life is what you seek than Khirsu is a perfect place to go to. Trust me, this place is like a hidden gem of Uttarakhand that offers offers abundant opportunities to spend some good time with your family or friends.
Some of the known tourist destinations like Lansdowne, Dhanaulti, Munsiyari are nearby so you can also include this Khirsu with your itinerary to visit any of these places.
Chopta is a great place to visit if you have about 4-5 days in hand. Surrounded by the evergreen forests of Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary; it is one of the untouched beauties of Uttarakhand which offers not only a peaceful holiday but also a chance of some trekking adventure if you are up for it. This small town serves as the base for trekking to Tungnath Temple, located at a trek distance of 3.5 kilometers from Chopta. Trekking for another 1.5 kilometers from Tungnath will take you to the top of Chandrashila peak at a height of 4,000 meters. Another great place to visit around Chopta is Deoria Taal where you can also camp for the night.
If Dharchula is a bit too populated for you then there is another small village on the way that you may visit. About 52 kilometers from Pithoragarh is Askot, also known as Askote at a height of 1,106 meters. It was formerly a princely state of Uttarakhand and is now known for Askot Musk Deer Sanctuary. This sanctuary extends from an altitude of 600 meters to 6,905 meters at its highest elevation. Kali River separates this sanctuary from Tibet and flows down through the town of Askot. The entire village is surrounded by dense forests of Pinus, Quercus and Rhododendron trees. The sanctuary also offers great views of Himalayan peaks such as Najrikot, Panchuli, Chiplakot and Naukana.
Surprisingly, considering the short distance that Landour is at from Delhi, it is not really that known to many people. Total distance between Delhi and Landour is about 300 kilometers; which can easily be covered in 7 hours making it a perfect place for a quick weekend getaway. It is a silent Army cantonment which was established by the British and is home to famous author, Ruskin Bond. The famous Nag Tibba trek too starts from here.
If you visit in January, there is a high chance that you will find snow in Landour itself however if you did not; then take a drive towards Devalsari village. The trek to Nag Tibba starts from Devalsari and is a 13 kilometer moderate climb. Covering the entire trek in snow and reaching back to Devalsari may not be doable in one day; but walk until where you can, have fun in snow and come back before dark.
Chaukori is a small village located in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand. It is at a distance of about 86 kilometers from Pithoragarh and to get here; best route would be travel via Nainital and Almora. It is a small town consisting of about 250 houses and a few hotels; but offers great views of towering snowy Himalayan peaks of Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot and Panchhuli Group. At a height of 2,010 meters, this place is covered with tea gardens all around; and the sunrise/sunset views you will get from here are bound to take your breath away. Perfect if you want to spend some time away in lush green hills; away from the crowd and in peace.
I simple love Chakrata because of several things I love. First is that it is never too crowded here, just a handful of tourists. Second is that this place is an Army Cantonment which means well laid out roads and a clean town. Third is the location of the town which offers perfect sunrise views on one side and sunset views on other. If you are into photography, you must head to Chakrata to get those perfect dawn and dusk captures. In winter the entire place receives heavy snowfall but with drive-able roads because of Army presence.
Some other tourists attractions here are Tiger Falls, Deoban and Lakshmandal, an ancient Hindu temple complex. The entire place is surrounded by dense forests and completely lost in wilderness.
Pangot is a small village located at a height of 6,300 feet and about 18 kilometers from Nainital. If you have any interest in bird watching, then Pangot is the place you need to be at. Around 580 bird species are beleived to have been recorded in this area. The numerous perennial & seasonal creeks are home to a variety of flora and fauna including leopards, yellow-throated Himalayan martens, Himalayan palm civets, ghorals, barking deer and sambhar. The drive to Pangot from Nainital too is quite scenic however you may find a bit of tourists here as a lot of people head to Pangot from Nainital.
Would you like to drive to a quiet place, away from civilization and add a bit of adventure to it? Mori is a perfect little village that offers adventurous rafting in along with the peace and calm of the natural beauty around. It is located about a 100 kilometers from Chakrata and about 30 kilometers from Tiuni. The village is located on the bank of TOns river which is a major tributary of Yamuna.
Offbeat Places in Uttarakhand
These are just some of the numerous places in Uttarakhand that you can visit. A few other names that come to mind are Lohaghat, Ranikhet, Kasauni, Binsar, Mana, Munsiyari, Mandal. Khati Village, Gangolihat, Dudhatoli, Didihat and Jeolikote. If you have been to an offbeat place in Uttarakhand that is not listed here but is worth a visit, please do suggest the name in comments below.
I hope the information above regarding offbeat places in Uttarakhand was helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask at our Community Forum or in comments section below and I will be glad to answer.