From a Tibetan colony in central India, artist villages, a riverine island to a luxe leopard safari camp, ANURAG MALLICK and PRIYA GANAPATHY walk the less-travelled path to present 10 new travel destinations before they go mainstream
Though India is known for its rich art forms, the unsung Chitrakars of Jharkhand paint on scrolls made from leaves and barks as they relate ancient legends through a series of pictures. At Amadubi artist village, 65 km from Jamshedpur, watch the pictorial storytellers develop these Pyatkar paintings. Experience Village Tourism in rustic huts, dine on local steamed dumplings like ud-pitha (lentils), gud-pitha (jaggery) or zil-pitha (non veg) and watch traditional dances at the akhara (open stage) during festivals.
In the Konkani settlement of Parule, enjoy farm tourism with the Samants at Maachli – milk a cow, get a fish spa in natural streams, do a plantation walk, use a laath (traditional irrigation method) and relish Malvani cuisine. At Bhogwe, lying in the shadow of Tarkarli nearby, stay in eco bamboo cottages, visit a devrai (sacred grove) and cashew processing units, go birdwatching in mangroves in country crafts, enjoy sunsets at Kille Nivti fort or take a boat ride to Golden Rocks.
Surrounded by terraced fields and a short hike from the longest hanging bridge in Arunachal Pradesh, Yamne Abor is a cluster of thatched bamboo houses at Damro, between Pasighat and Yingkiong. Visit Damro, the original village of the Adi Padam tribe and get an insight into their unusual Donyi-Polo culture centered around the worship of the sun and the moon. Don’t miss the local staple of smoked pork, lai (leafs), raja chili chutney and apong (rice beer).
Garamur (Majuli, Assam)
One of the largest riverine islands in the world, Majuli’s geographic isolation and serene atmosphere provides sanctuary to many satras (monastic centres). Slowly eroded by the Brahmaputra, Majuli’s fragile environment and unique cultural landscape make it an aspirant for the UNESCO World Heritage tag. At Garamur, stay in bamboo chang ghars, ethnic huts of the Mishing tribe. Feast on Mishing cuisine like fish, duck and bamboo shoot, catch blazing sunsets at Luit Ghat and witness the raas festival in Oct-Nov.
La Maison D’Ananda Ph 9957186356 (Manjeet) Email firstname.lastname@example.org Me:Po Okum Ph 9435203165
A 12km diversion from Karwar towards Dandeli on SH-95 leads past agricultural fields, Konkan railway crossings and Asnoti village to the riverside hamlet of Hankon. Spread over 5 acres by the gently flowing Kali, River Edge Paradise Resort is an eco-adventure camp that offers a range of water sports – kayaking, canoeing, rafting, tubing and river crossing – right on the property!
Ph 08382–266 742, 9449006742 http://www.paradiseadventureresorts.com
Equidistant from Udaipur and Jodhpur and an hour’s drive away from Ranakpur and Kumbhalgarh Fort, lies Jawai Leopard Camp. Located upstream of Jawai Bandh, one of western Rajasthan’s largest reservoirs, the camp is virtually enclosed by leopard country. Stay in luxurious tents with private viewing deck and 4×4 jeep safaris across a dramatic landscape of granite, scrub and riverbeds.
After a group of Tibetan refugees working in road construction at Sitapur stumbled upon the cool climes of Mainpat (now in Chhattisgarh), they were resettled on 3000 acres of wild tract. A 30km ascent from the base of the hill through forests of sal and bauxite mines leads to Mainpat, with its 7 camps, the Thakpo Shedupling Monastery, scenic viewpoints like Mehta Point, Tiger Point and Jaljali with farms of potato and tau (buckwheat).
Chhattisgarh Tourism Board Ph 0771 4028635/6 http://www.chhattisgarhtourism.net
Neduncheri T Puthur (Tamil Nadu)
Just 12 km from Chidambaram and 2km east of Veeranam lake, Lakshmi Vilas is a heritage hotel run by the Saradharam group at Neduncheri T Puthur. Housed in a traditional 1927 pannaiyar bangla (landlord’s bungalow) on Sivankoil Street, the 4½-acre property has 20 heritage rooms and a restaurant in a coconut grove. Get your fortune read by a parrot (Kili jyotisam) or play traditional games like Pallankuzhi, Adu Puli (tiger hunt), Goli Gundu (marble balls), Pambaram (top spinning) and Uri Adithal (blindfold pot breaking).
With no electricity, phones or roads, Off The Grid is a unique homestay experience in the Western Ghats run by whitewater specialist John Pollard and his wife Sylvia Kerkar, a pottery artist. Eco-friendly, small, organic, rustic and ultra low impact, the camp offers teepee tents, oven-fired pizzas and homemade breads, guided walks to a private waterfall, nature treks, night safaris and offroad drives to Dudhsagar waterfall.
A 10km drive from Thrissur takes you to Urakam where Clayfingers Pottery teaches you to shape earth into things of beauty. Set in peaceful rustic surroundings by a river, this multi-disciplinary 15,000 sq ft pottery studio is a resurrected brick and tile factory that was built in the 1950s. Offering Artist in Residence programmes and Internship courses, Clayfingers allows you to discover or hone your skills at claymodelling and glazing from experts.
Authors: Anurag Mallick & Priya Ganapathy. This is an abridged version of the article that appeared on 7 May 2014 in Conde Nast Traveller online. Read the full story here: http://www.cntraveller.in/story/10-hot-new-indian-destinations-you-ve-not-heard