Four decades back, few people in India travelled for fun, or rather could afford to travel for fun. It was usually a once or twice a year kind of activity, and there were so few holiday destinations to choose from.
The scenario changed with changing incomes and busier lifestyles. Now everyone talks of vacations and posts endless trip-photos on Facebook. But long vacations have become a thing of the past – who has the time? Still, work/life stresses demand that you take “Breaks” more often. So now people go for “weekend getaways”. Infact some even choose to take refuge in some local fancy hotel just to rest, relax and recharge.
With well-known tourist spots so darn crowded, overexploited and missing most of their original natural splendour, don’t you think it’s time we discover new holiday destinations? Real ones, I mean… Why?
Oh, I can dish out so many reasons… Here are a few from the top of my head –
1. I doubt if any hotel in the city, howsoever grand, comfortable & luxurious…
Pic: Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai
… could make you feel “footloose and fancy-free” to the same extent as a real holiday destination can
2. It’s absolutely mandatory that holiday destinations don’t look like this… Reminds too much of the crowded city you left behind, eh
Pic: View of Mussoorie
… when they could just so easily look like this
3. Looking out the room window and watching a well-maintained pool or carefully-manicured garden (if you are lucky) or roofs of nearby concrete structures (if not-so-lucky) might be your idea of “VIEW”…
Pic: View from Royal Orchid Sheraton, Bangkok
… I prefer to watch clear blue skies, snow-capped mountains stretched across the horizon, the ultramarine shades of pristine lakes, lush green vegetation growing wild… Every time
Pic: View from V Resorts Ramgarh
4. Jostling and navigating crowds on Mall Roads / Town Squares in well-known tourist spots is fun the first time, but not if you have to do so every time on the way to and from the hotel
Pic: Mall Road, Shimla
What if you could walk the narrow, winding, mountain trails alone, lost in thoughts, or with your best friend / soulmate exploring the wondrous sights???
Pic: Trekking in Narkanda
5. Relaxation and rejuvenation can be found at any Yoga Camp, I admit
Pic: Yoga Camp
But then yoga & meditation would be much more effective and fun to do if practiced in nature’s lap You would feel the calm descending in your soul with every single breath you take. Being one with self Being one with God
6. Travelling also means meeting new people. Hell – the guy you met in the hotel lobby this morning was an important contact at your client company What an opportunity
Pic: Meeting a Business Acquaintance
Relax Chill Ten years down the line, you won’t even remember him. It’s having tea & Parle G biscuits at the quaint little roadside chai-shop during your evening walk and hearing local ghost stories related by the pahadi chai-wala that would hold you spell-bound, and haunt you year after year
Pic: Local Chai Shop
7. And while on the topic of walks… You certainly don’t wish to come across half-naked bathers frolicking in streams / creeks / lakes… the commercialization and blatant exploitation would make your blood boil
Pic: Kempty Falls, Mussoorie
Wouldn’t you much rather see free-flowing, gurgling water falling down slopes unfettered and smashing into stones, raising fine mist and creating rainbows Ok Ok – the last part was pure wishful thinking, but rest sounds equally wonderful, doesn’t it?
8. Shopping for local handicrafts is fun, I agree, and a must, but don’t while away your time buying unnecessary items you could buy from city shops…
Do something you dreamt of doing all your life and never had a chance, and could do now
Pic: Angling in Sattal
9. And what’s the point of discovering a new destination if all you want to eat is the same Italian, Thai, Chinese, Mughlai, etc. – or heaven’s forbid – fast food, that you could get anywhere?
Pic: Pork Stir Fry with Vegetables
Why don’t you try some local dishes you have vaguely heard about somewhere, sometime, cooked with locally sourced fresh produce and spices? Represent the local spirit much better, you know
10. But at end of the day, it always comes down to the room Comfortable, luxurious, though impersonal, hotel rooms catering to all your whims and needs are fine for your stay
Pic: La Flora Amberly Resort, Ooty
But what if the room could also make you feel at home, not messy home, but HOME… Simple and warm in decor, extremely comfortable – Yes, but with a distinct persona that again reflects the region’s soul? And sets it apart from all other hotel rooms you ever stayed in…
So much so that the memory lingers… not just of the room, but the whole trip experience. That every time you think about it, you can almost breathe the smells, and taste it on your tongue… long after your return