Looking for some unique natural experiences in 2021? Head to these lesser-known destinations in India
India is an abode of nature’s fabulous creations and unexplained mysteries. From glowing waters in Gokarna to the vanishing sea in Odisha, India is a popular destination for surreal experiences. Keeping this in mind, Booking.com, the leading digital travel platform, has curated a list of lesser-known domestic destinations where one can visit for the most unique and unusual natural experiences which will surely leave you enchanted and surprised.
Chandipur (Odisha) for vanishing sea
Have you ever seen a sea disappear right in front of your eyes? Chandipur, a secluded beach in Baleswar district of Odisha is one of the few mysterious places on Earth where the sea water vanishes and returns after a few hours. The sea recedes by 5km during low tidal moments, and returns during the high tide, twice on the same day. As an unusual and unique beach, one can literally walk or ride bicycles by the water’s edge during the day, and suddenly watch the water disappear right in front of you, making it a truly unforgettable experience. The best time to visit Chandipur is during winter, between November and March
Purushwadi, Ahmednagar (Maharashtra) for firefly sightings
Located around 151 kms from Ahmednagar, the tribal village of Purushwadi in Maharashtra attracts millions of fireflies every summer. During their breeding season, fireflies produce bioluminescence at twilight to attract mates, leading to a beautiful sighting in the village of Purushwadi. One can witness trees dotted with thousands of fireflies, dazzling with blinking patterns, making the village look magical at night. Purushwadi also hosts a firefly festival in the months of May and June where one can watch the fireflies in all their glory. What's more, the village is just a drive away from Mumbai and Pune as well. So if you wish to see the twinkling fireflies in the beautiful night sky, Purushwadi is the place to be.
Gokarna (Karnataka) for bioluminescent phytoplankton viewing
As the sun sets in Gokarna, something special happens at its pristine beaches. The waters around Gokarna light up from the bioluminescent phytoplankton which glows a stunning blue every night. On some nights, the plankton is bright enough that you can see it without entering the waters, and they are visible even from a distance. The sightings that can be enjoyed only at night, and it is best seen during the new moon as moonlight might hamper the sightings. The best season to enjoy the plankton is just after the monsoons when the water starts to warm up but isn't quite hot yet
Andaman and Nicobar Islands for the Barren Island
One of the unique experiences travellers can witness is the 1.8 million-year-old island in Andaman and Nicobar, where one can see steam rising from the peak of the green slopes as it is the only active volcano in South-east Asia. The island, named the ‘Barren Island’ is indeed barren and uninhabited by humans. One can witness the magnificent phenomenon on a boat ride from Havelock Island. This is a special permit zone and while you are allowed to see the stunning volcanoes, no one can actually land on Barren Island. So next time you are travelling to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, make sure you pay a visit to the Barren Island, which will certainly add to your experience.
Meghalaya for Living Root Bridge
Living root bridges are Meghalaya’s most famous attraction. These centuries-old living bridges over flowing streams were built by the native Khasi tribe by tangling the naturally growing aerial roots of Ficus Elastica (rubber fig trees) that are local to the region. The roots are tied through the hollow betel nut tree trunks to form a structure that grows stronger over the years. While there are several living root bridges in Meghalaya, a must visit is the 180-year-old Nongriat double decker bridge, the Ritymmen Root Bridge which is the longest at 30 m and the Mawsaw Root Bridge that has several natural swimming holes nearby. So, next time you plan a vacation, pick Meghalaya and visit the marvellous living root bridges which are one of India’s best natural wonders
Lonavala (Maharashtra) for Reverse Waterfalls
While Lohagad Fort in Lonavala might look like a normal man-made fort from the outside, it is home to a trekking path that leads to one of nature’s rarest phenomenons - ‘The Reverse Waterfalls’. During monsoon, the water that runs off the hilltop takes a life of its own to fight against gravity and goes back upwards with the help of high-pressure winds making The Reverse Waterfall a waterfall that flows in the reverse direction. The best time to visit this natural wonder is during the monsoon season
St Mary's Island, Udupi (Karnataka) for Volcanic Rock Formations
What makes St Mary’s Island so special is its numerous volcanic rock formations. The hexagonal and polygonal rock formations go back around 60 million years ago when dense viscid basaltic lava cooled down and took various interesting shapes. They are today known as the Columnar Basaltic Lava, and the natural phenomena resemble the work of an expert sculptor and give an impression these structures are man-made. The crystal clear green sea, the cleanliness of the beach, the flat hexagonal rocks where one can rest and relax, and the exquisite beauty of this island makes it a must visit for travellers looking at a unique experience