Travel: Don't know where to go for Christmas, New Year's? Here are 4 options
Made last-minute travel plans for the festive season, but don’t know where to go? Pack your bags and pick from these destinations, each suited for a unique taste
For some festive cheer: Goa
Winter and a vacation in Goa go hand in hand, if the huge influx of tourists at this time of the year is anything to go by. And why not? The weather is at its most pleasant, with a slight chill settling in after dusk. If you're looking to avoid the crowds, steer clear of the beach belt around Calangute.
Make the most of your visit to Goa during Christmas by visiting its beautiful churches. Pic/Joseph Desousa, Wikimedia Commons
Instead, settle for one of the many beaches further up north, like Morjim or Ashwem. Or better yet, base yourself in South Goa, which is quieter. Goans love celebrating Christmas and New Year, so if you'd like to join in the fun, head to one of the many dances that take place at open-air venues across the state. Don't forget to bring back Christmas goodies like kulkuls and milk cream with you.
Getting there: Flights to Goa are expensive around this time. Your best bet is to take an overnight bus or train.
For an activity-filled break: Puducherry
There's plenty to do while in charming little Puducherry. Apart from exploring the lovely French quarter on foot and making a trip to the Aurobindo Ashram, you can dive into a whole lot of activities.
Apart from Puducherry's historic French Quarter
The Chunnambar backwaters offer the perfect opportunity for a spot of boating, while birding enthusiasts could head out to the century-old man-made Ousteri Lake (also referred to as Osudu Lake) situated about 10km from Puducherry town. Here, you can spot an array of birds, including golden orioles, tailor birds, painted stork, white-breasted water hens and spotted owlets. The waters off Puducherry are also a haven for scuba divers.
The Ousteri Lake in its outskirts is a birders' paradise
Getting there: Fly to Chennai. Puducherry is around 170km by road from Chennai airport.
For an Awadhi feast: Lucknow
This might seem like an unlikely vacation spot, but for the food lover, there is no better place in India to be. Lucknow, after all, was the land of the nawabs, and its cuisine still carries more than just traces of its rich heritage.
Go on a walk around the Chowk area to sample some of the land's best street eats, from the legendary tunday kebabs to fragrant nalli nihari and the winter favourite, nimish. Or better yet, sign up for a feast - and a peek into Lucknow's illustrious history - with the last remaining royals. If indulgence is what you're looking for, this city is where you should be.
Getting there: There are direct flights connecting Mumbai to Lucknow.
For an encounter with the wild: Pench National Park
So stunning is this national park in Madhya Pradesh that it became the setting for the Rudyard Kipling classic, The Jungle Book. Winters are a great time to visit as daytime temperatures stay pleasant. Set out on a safari to catch glimpses of sambar deer, langurs, and - if you're lucky - the majestic tigers that call this reserve home.
Apart from its majestic tigers
There are over 200 species of birds to see here, too, including peafowl, crimson-breasted barbets, racket-tailed drongos and lesser whistling teals.
Pench is also known for its diverse fauna including bisons
Antlers and dholes
Getting there: Fly or take a train to Nagpur. Pench is located around 60km from there.
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A walk through Mohammed Ali Road's Khau Galli