Offbeat places to visit on this long Holi weekend
And a long weekend at that. If getting away from the city is your idea of celebrating the festival of colours, sign up for these offbeat escapes to make the most of your sojourn
Who needs a pool party when you can splash around in the pristine waters of Lakshadweep? And if the underwater world fascinates you, this marine camp at the picturesque Thinnakara Island, organised by the Bombay Natural History Society, is for you. The archipelago brims with about 600 species of fish, 78 species of coral and over 100 species of other marine invertebrates. With most snorkelling in waist-deep coral lagoons, you won't miss out on any fun if you don't know how to swim.
FROM: March 3 to 7 meeting point Agatti airport, Lakshadweep.
LOG ON TO: bnhs.org
COST: Rs 49,000 (includes stay, food, one snorkelling session per day; excludes flight/train tickets)
Attend a turtle festival
WHERE: Velas, Ratnagiri
Watch hundreds of baby Olive Ridley turtles take their first steps towards embracing the ocean at the annual Velas Turtle Festival. An initiative to conserve and raise awareness about the vulnerable species, it is organised by Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra and Kasav Mitra Mandal. The three-day trip includes homestay, simple Konkani food, and visits to Bankot fort and the 16th-century Harihareshwar temple as well.
FROM: March 2 to 4, 10.30 pm
MEETING POINT: Pritam Hotel, Dadar East.
LOG ON TO: mumbai-rangers.com
COST: Rs 2,400 all inclusive
WHERE: Pushkar, Rajasthan
If you'd rather skip the wild Holi revelries of Vrindavan to mark the end of winter, opt for the easy vibe of the sandstone town of Pushkar, nestled in the Aravalli range. A pilgrim centre with ancient temples by the ghats of its famous lake, Pushkar offers a vivid landscape and views unlike any you would come across in a busy metro. While strolling by the Pushkar lake, take a detour to the many rose gardens in the vicinity. A three-day travel plan can comfortably pack in desert camping in Jaisalmer.
ON: Early March ideal
LOG ON TO: facebook.com/HakunaMatataTour
EMAIL: Hakunamatatatoursltd @gmail.com
COST: Rs 8,000 onwards
Explore the heart of India
WHERE: The Satpura range, Madhya Pradesh
The dense deciduous forests in the Satpura range of Madhya Pradesh are said to be one of the best-kept natural secrets of India. Lesser-known than Pench, Bandhavgarh and Kanha reserves, the Satpura National Park is not just a wildlife lover's paradise. Its placid water bodies lend themselves perfectly to boat safaris and canoeing. Head to nearby Pachmarhi for its beautiful sunset points and waterfalls. A visit to the archaeological site of Bhimbetka rock shelters can also be packed in a three-day itinerary.
ON: Early March is ideal
AT: Resort Madhai by MPâÂÂÂÂTourism; Reni Pani Jungle Lodge and Pugdundee Safaris are some options.
LOG ON TO: mptourism.com
COST: Rs 4,000 onwards per night
Live the quaint life
WHERE: Kumaon, Uttarakhand
If extending your long weekend by a few days is not too difficult, this eco-friendly retreat in the Himalayas will help you come back refreshed. The itinerary includes a stay in a century-old traditional stone house, visits to Mukteshwar, Ranikhet and a few hidden gems of the Kumaoni region, a Holi celebration in the Aerodeo ridge, all while living the mountain life and relishing Kumaoni meals.
FROM: February 27 to March 3
MEETING POINT: Delhi.
LOG ON TO: mumbaitravellers.in
COST: Rs 16,999 plus tax (excludes transfers to Delhi and back)
For the real deal
*Participate in Holi rituals at a campsite just two hours away from Mumbai. Chip in with wood at the Holika Dahan, and enjoy rain dance, thandai and bhajiyas the next day, while you play with natural colours.
FROM: March 1 to 2 at Moksh Mantra campsite, off Khopoli-Pen Road.
LOG ON TO: mappingjourneys.com
COST: Rs 1,700
*Enjoy Holi festivities with a live band performance, kayaking, pool party, traditional meals and accommodation in floating tents.
FROM: March 1 to 2
AT: Moonstone Hammock Camping Grounds, Karjat.
COST: Rs 3,990
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