There are some things in life that you must do on your own, all by yourself and at least once. Solo Travel is gaining popularity among the travel community steadily due to the sheer spontaneity that comes with it. The quest to discover oneself along with spiritual rejuvenation and flow of adventurous adrenaline becomes a perfect reason to pack your travel bag and climb those serene mountains or stroll by silent beaches, all by yourself. Solo travel also allows you to not be enslaved by the whims and fancies of your fellow travellers, and your planning is largely unmarred by group dynamics. So if you want to trek up that hill on your next trip to the Himalayas, or watch the sunrise by the beach on your next trip to Gokarna, get ready to go! You get a sense of independence and freedom, from being out of your comfort zone while also getting cool stories to tell people back home! Here are some places you must explore if you’ve been bit by the little bug called wanderlust!
- Sandhan Valley
Referred to as the Grand Canyon of Maharashtra, the Sandhan Valley is a trek of a lifetime for the thrill-seeker in you. It’s a combination of a valley with a canyon. Accessible from November to May, this water carved valley has Ratnagad and Ajoba mountain ranges around it. Going back to basics, it is the quintessential tent-pitching camp where food is cooked in campfires with the aroma filling the air around. The trek takes five hours to finish with activities like rappelling to really get your adrenaline pumping.
Getting There – Reaching here is half the fun with a train journey to Kasara and then a bus till the Samrad village where it’s located in the Bhandardara region. You can also fly to Mumbai and then go on with the train.
Where and How Long to Stay -Accommodation is in the tents by the campsites in the area or even in the open if you’re an experienced trekker. This is generally a two day trip.
The most isolated of all the Himalayan valleys, Zanskar is to be explored by those who want to experience untouched, pristine beauty in India. The frozen waterfalls and the Chadar trek along with the frozen Zanskar River is a must-do while visiting here. Buddhist monasteries are also worth the visit here. The best time to visit is April to August.
Getting There – This is a destination which you must cover on a road trip to Leh-Ladakh. A bus or on a motorbike is the best way to get here.
Where and How Long to Stay – There are no resorts in Zanskar but tourists can pitch tents in the valley or stay in establishments at Leh. Ideally, three days or more are required to visit here. Preferably, take a whole tour of the popular places of the Himalayan region in a two-week expedition if you’re really feeling adventurous.
One of the most unexplored terrains in the country, Lahaul-Spiti is definitely a trip of a lifetime. Mountains and monasteries await you here. You can either make a long road-trip of these two places while passing Manali, Rothang Pass and Leh, these destinations can be visited individually also.
Getting There – This trip is strictly to be taken by road to actually experience what it is all about. Some of the highest motorable roads in the world exist here. Best time to visit from May to October.
Where and How Long to Stay – Though there are no hotels here, the people are warm and friendly who will let you stay with them as well as monasteries where you can spend the nights. Give yourself a week or ten days for this crazy road trip of a lifetime!
Old and new are both beautiful when it comes to visiting Manali. Thick pine forests and a gushing river make it seem like you’ve stepped into a perfect world that only exists in books and imaginations. Manali is also a starting point for many while going to Spiti and Leh. Having two major seasons of summer and winter, you can take your pick of which season you want to visit in to experience Manali in a different way. If you go in February, the Tibetian New Year and Lossar Festival happen then which is an extravagant affair. Temples, hot springs, monasteries, German bakeries are just some of the places to visit.
Getting There – You can either fly to Bhuntar which is 10 kms from Manali or take a bus or train if you want a longer, more scenic path along the rivers.
Where and How Long to Stay – Lots of hotels and hostels are there, depending on your budget. Keep five-six days aside to visit Manali, especially if you’re going in winter since the snow will make your drive there more treacherous.
If you want to go to France but don’t have the money yet, go to Puducherry instead! With French influence in its architecture, this sleepy little place is perfect for a serene, beach getaway. The food has a lot of French influence too and beer is cheap, making it a place to if you want a real culinary experience. The Auroville temple is a place to visit if you want to reconnect with your spiritual side.
Getting There – You can get here by driving down from Chennai on one of the most scenic rides in India. While there, you can walk around town and explore. It’s also famous for its incense at the Aurobindo Ashram shops. October to February is the best time to visit with the minimum temperature not going below 17 degrees.
Where and How Long to Stay – Staying in one of the colonial establishments converted into hotels is the best thing to do here. This can be a three-four day trip, ideally.
- Bodh Gaya
If you’re feeling spiritual, historical or just a curious Buddhist, a trip to Bodh Gaya is a must do for you. Essential to Buddhism being the place where Prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment under a bodhi tree, it attracts a lot of tourists who come here for meditation and study.
Getting There -The best time to visit is November to March while high season is December to January when his holiness Dalai Lama visits. Well connected by air, rail and road, with Gaya being the closest point of access of all three from where you can take a bus to the monasteries.
Where and How Long to Stay – The Bihar State Government runs 3 hotels, along with private hotels and bungalows available as accommodation. Try spending four days here so you can cover all the places given they are rich with Indian history.
If a chilled out beach experience is what you’re looking for then Gokarna is your destination. Even though it’s a temple town, the beaches here have some insane bonfire nights and parties for all. All the beaches are in quick succession of one another, each being even more beautiful than the previous.
Getting There – The best time to visit is October to March. Well connected with buses and rails, you should experience the drive to this place rather than flying down. Otherwise, the closest airport is Dabolim in Goa.
Where and How Long to Stay – There are cottages and guest houses where you can live like a real backpacker, chilling on hammocks and enjoying the balmy weather. This can be a four-five day trip.
A World Heritage Site, Jaisalmer is a jewel in the Rajasthani crown. Camels and sand dunes almost give it an Egyptian feel but the forts remind you that you’re still at home. Safari tours, visiting Jain temples, feeling royal at the havelis are just some of the things to do in this city.
Getting There – You can get here by bus or train easily but there are limited flights here. The best time to visit is October to March, when the temperatures drop.
Where and How Long to Stay – You can stay at hotels which used to be palaces or even camps in the desert, choosing the kind of experience you want.Two-three nights spent here are sufficient if you’re doing a pan-Rajasthan tour. Otherwise four days will do justice to the beauty of this place.
Could be called “Goa of the Hills”, Kasol is a destination that is on every trekkers list. Catering to a lot of hippies, it’s a small village on the banks of Parvati River in the valley. The river being replete with trout is ideal for fishing but you need a permit from the forest department. It’s also a great destination for rafting and water sports.
Getting There – Buses and trains are well connected to this region. The best time to visit is from March to May.
Where and How Long to Stay – There are quite a few cottages and hotels to stay at in the old and new parts of Karol.This can be a two day trip with one day for trekking and two days for chilling.
A scenic drive from Chennai, Mahabalipuram is a small temple-town. A major sea-port of the Pallava Kingdom, it is also a World Heritage Site. The architecture of the rock-cut temples is beautiful, which everyone goes to see. There are also local craftsmen who keep the art alive of carving idols out of a single stone.
Getting There – 2 hours away from Chennai by a car or bus, it’s a town that can be explored by foot or a bicycle.
Where and How Long to Stay – Guesthouses and hotels are plenty here to stay but you can also cover it in one day while on a tour of the South where you can additionally go to Chennai and Pudducherry and make a longer trip of it. This can be a trip of just a day or two if you want to extend it.
Some Do’s and Don’ts of Solo Travel –
While it is liberating to not have to check in with people constantly while travelling alone, make sure someone has the numbers of the places you’ll be staying at.
If you are going to a place where your phone might not get network and you are not sure where you’ll stay, get an MTNL/BSNL sim-cars for your phone as most places do catch their signal.
When going to a cold place, always carry an extra pair of woolen socks that can also double up as mittens for when your hands start to get cold.
Always have some money strapped on your person for if your luggage were to get lost, you can at least get by to a safe location with some money.
When backpacking, keep it light as you’ll only have to carry the bag like dead weight. Backpacking to colder places is better since you can re-wear the same clothes a few times, without sweating in them and feeling mucky.