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Off-Season Bonanza

Great deals and smaller crowds make these popular tourist destinations even better during the lean season

Kalyani Prasher  

 

Abhaneri, Rajasthan

If you want to get away during this season and stay off the beaten track, Abhaneri is a real find. A small village tucked away in this touristy state, its location is its biggest advantage, what with Jaipur, Ranthambhore and Bharatpur just a couple of hours away. There is much more to Abhaneri than its convenient location, though.

Stay at its only heritage hotel, a haveli and enjoy the quiet pace of life. When you have had enough of doing nothing, step out to the famous stepwell, Chand Baori, a fascinating structure with 3,500 steps spread across 13 levels. Built in the ninth century by King Chanda of the Nikumbh dynasty, it was meant to provide water to this arid region during dry spells. Today, you can walk down 100 feet below the ground level to explore one of India's largest and deepest stepwells. The off-season is also a great time to visit popular destinations that surround Abhaneri -- you won't have to shove past crowds to admire the Hawa Mahal in Jaipur or enjoy an early morning bird walk in Bharatpur.

Stay at: Abhaneri Niwas, an under-stated heritage hotel, call +91 97 9973 9700; +91 87 6906 5556


Chikmagalur, Karnataka

Hill stations may be crowded, but the foothills remain less so during the rains. Chikmagalur, about five hours from Bengaluru, is an ideal destination to enjoy a view of the hills with a side of coffee.

Beautiful through the year, the rains lend a special flavour to the gorgeous coffee plantations of Chikmagalur. As the flowers bloom, entire estates are filled with the fresh, musky aroma of wet greens.

Choose a good estate hotel and enjoy the clouds rolling in, covering everything in broody, beautiful darkness, as you sip on single-origin coffee and read your favourite book. In between the rain, step out for plantation walks and coffee tours -- and there's always the lush green Western Ghats, permanently on display.

Stay at: Primrose Villas, a small beautiful plantation hotel, primrosevillas.com
 
Puri, Orissa

What do you do on a beach when it's raining? Nothing. That's the whole idea. Don't go to the temple, don't go to the markets, don't plot daily sightseeing. No, none of that this holiday.

Try something else: Go for walks within your hotel, enjoy the view of the sea from your room, pamper yourself at the spa and generally luxuriate in the comfort of doing nothing. It's off-season so you can get luxury for less and this is the time to seize it.

There is always the rest of the year for zooming around exploring the country. When there is a break in the rains, you can hop on to the popular green rickshaws of Puri and explore the town at a leisurely pace.

Stay at: Mayfair Waves, a comfortable option by the sea, mayfairhotels.com/mayfair-waves-puri/

Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh

Perhaps one of the warmer places in the country to visit this season, but the weather may be a boon as it keeps the crowds at bay. The wildlife parks are closed until October and being out in the open isn't really fun. Here is what you can do -- just carry an umbrella to keep the sun or rain away and explore the temples of Khajuraho in peace.

Built by the Chandella dynasty between 950 and 1050 AD, it is a UNESCO world heritage site. It's a huge complex with 20 (remaining) temples, the experience usually marred by milling crowds. But now is the time to take an entire day to see everything at your own pace.

Nearing sunset, the tourism department organizes a light and sound show in the western temple complex, a great feast for the eyes that you can enjoy with your family.

Stay at: Radisson Khajuraho, safe and comfortable, near the temple complex, radisson.com/khajuraho-hotel-in/indkhaj


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