This year’s Republic Day marks the first long weekend of 2023. It’s on a Thursday, so if you can take a leave from work on Friday, voila — your four-day long weekend is sorted!
If you are someone who is always on the lookout to explore the little-known and uncharted destinations in India, our list is just what you need to plan your first trip of the year. From wildlife safaris to beautiful hamlets in the lap of the Himalayas, these getaway ideas will help you make the most of your first long weekend of 2023.
1. Kuno National Park, Madhya Pradesh
Home to some of the best national parks in the country, Madhya Pradesh is the hub of Indian wildlife. While Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Panna and Pench are some of the most popular ones, Kuno has emerged as the state’s latest attraction ever since cheetahs made a comeback to India after 70 years.
In September 2022, eight cheetahs from Namibia were brought to Kuno National Park as part of the 'Action Plan for Reintroduction of Cheetah in India' helmed by the Wildlife Institute of India. Another batch of 12 cheetahs is likely to arrive from South Africa soon. So, grab this chance to spot an African cheetah amidst ancient forts and the rocky landscape of Vindhya hills.
2. Belur and Halebid, Karnataka
When it comes to exploring the history of Southern India, lost temples and their architecture, Hampi has been the reigning attraction in Karnataka. For the longest time, the Hoysala temples of Belur, Halebid and Somnathpur have been overlooked, but not anymore.
The sacred temples of the Hoysala dynasty have now been officially nominated for the 2022-23 UNESCO World Heritage Site tag. Located in Sakleshpur, the twin cities were designed by renowned architect Jakkanna Acharya. There’s a lot in store to marvel at — from intricate wall sculptures to friezes with figurines from Hindu mythology, it’s a gem in the truest sense.
3. Jawai, Rajasthan
If you have watched season 2 of Fabulous Lives Of Bollywood Wives, you already know how incredible this place is. While Rajasthan is known for some of the best tiger sightings at the Ranthambore National Park, the Jawai Leopard reserve is increasingly attracting interest with much to explore and enjoy.
Inhabited by the Rabari tribes, it is home to 60 cave leopards, crocodiles and more than 100 species of migratory birds. During winter, it’s an experience that no wildlife lover should miss!
4. Meghamalai, Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu isn’t just about Ooty, Kodaikanal, Coonoor, Puducherry, and Rameswaram. Often referred to as High Wavy Mountains, Meghamalai is a quiet hilly village located in the Western Ghats of the Theni district.
It is a hidden paradise with breathtaking views of the Cumbum valley and cloud-laden landscapes which make it a postcard-perfect getaway. The key attractions are Clouds Land falls, Suruli falls, Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary, Maharaja Mettu view point, Manalar dam, Highway point dam, and the tea plantations.
5. Divar and Chorao Islands, Goa
Goa has always been the go-to and most doable long-weekend getaway, and for all the right reasons. However, we insist you ditch the crowded beaches and pubs and delve deeper into the other side of Goa this time.
Talk about the history and abandoned architecture of Goa, and Divar and Chorao Islands are secret havens waiting to be explored. Some of the must-visit attractions of Divar are Our Lady of Piety Church, Church of the Holy Spirit, and Shri Gramdev Dadeshwar Devasthan temple. Chorao Island, about 45 minutes away from Divar, is known for Chorao church, the first seminary in Asia, and Dr Salim Ali Bird sanctuary where you can spot the most gorgeous migratory birds.
6. Tons Valley, Uttarakhand
This unexplored village in the lap of the Himalayas, located in the extreme northwestern region of the state, offers holistic and sustainable tourism.
Plan a stay at the Tons Trails Camp Rupin Retreat by the idyllic river Rupin. It is surrounded by abundant lush greenery and beautiful glacial streams and waterfalls. Expect unparalleled views with guided tours by locals.