Posted by LONELY PLANET
There is a lot to pick and choose from Goa to suit individual travel tastes. Central Goa (practically beach-free) is Goa’s historic and cultural heart, home to capital Panaji, Old Goa’s glorious churches, inland islands, bird sanctuaries, spice plantations and the Western Ghats. North Goa is the Goa you’ve heard all about: busy beaches, upbeat nightlife, Goan trance, great food, bohemian market places and yoga retreats. South Goa has cleaner, whiter and quieter beaches. Choose from Benaulim for its rural vibe to Palolem, Patnem, and Agonda for some bliss at the beaches. Sun, sea, sand, seafood wellness and the typical Goan susegad, there’s nowhere in India quite like it.Read More: Festivals of the month: FebruaryRead More: Ideal places to get a ‘yes’ from your partner NashikLocated on the banks of River Godavari, Nashik’s antique past goes back to the India epic of Ramayana. This large provincial city’s old quarter has some intriguing wooden architecture, interesting temples and huge bathing ghats. It is noticeably cleaner, better maintained and greener than many other cities. In recent years Nashik’s potential as a wine tourist destination is growing. Go wine-tasting at Sula Vineyards, located 15km west of Nashik, which commands around 65% of the Indian wine market.KovalamWith its crescent beaches all around, Kovalam competes as Kerala’s most developed resort. The touristy main stretch, Lighthouse Beach, has hotels and restaurants built up along the shore, while Hawa Beach in the north is usually crowded with day trippers. It’s a convenient place to have fun by the sea as there are some promising waves (and a surf club), and it makes a good base for ayurvedic treatments and yoga courses. About 2km further north, Samudra Beach has several upmarket resorts, restaurants and a peaceful but steep beach.Snow covered GulmargImage courtesy: ©Tanay JainGulmargOffering an extremely thrilling skiing experience in high-altitude powder, Gulmarg is rightly the dream winter sports destination in India. The town is encircled by snow-capped peaks, the most impressive of which is Mt Affarwat, accessible via the precipitous Gulmarg Gondola – the second highest cable car ride in the world. Adventurous folks can take a detour and trek another hour from the summit to the spectacular frozen Alpather Lake. The historic Gulmarg Golf Course occupies a significant chunk of the valley meadow.Amber Fort in JaipurImage courtesy: ©Genova/ShutterstockJaipurEnthralling, historical Jaipur, is the gateway to Rajasthan. The city’s colourful streets ebb and flow with a heady brew of old and new. The city’s majestic past speaks through the numerous palaces and forts. At the city’s heart, the City Palace continues to house the former royal family; the Jantar Mantar, is the intriguing royal observatory; and the honeycomb Hawa Mahal gazes on the bazaar below. And just out of sight, in the arid hill country surrounding the city, is the fairy-tale grandeur of Amber Fort, Jaipur’s star attraction.DarjeelingSpread in ribbons over a steep mountain ridge, surrounded by emerald-green tea plantations and towered over by majestic Khangchendzonga, Darjeeling is the definitive Indian hill station and is arguably West Bengal’s premier attraction. Explore the colonial-era architecture, visit Buddhist monastries and spot snow leopards in the nearby zoo, all, of course, once you are done gazing open-mouthed at the magnificent Khangchendzonga. The adventurous can arrange a trek to Singalila Ridge or hire a mountain bike for a guided ride around the hilltops. When energies start to flag, a good, steaming Darjeeling brew is never far away.An early morning view in CoorgImage courtesy: ©Jishnu Changkakoti/500pxCoorgNestled amid evergreen hills that line the southernmost edge of Karnataka is the luscious Kodagu (Coorg) region, gifted with emerald landscapes and hectares of plantations. A major centre for coffee and spice production, this is also home to the Kodava people. The uneven terrain and cool climate make it a fantastic area for trekking, birdwatching or lazily ambling down little-trodden paths winding around carpeted hills.LakshadweepComprising a string of 36 palm-covered, white-sand- skirted coral islands 300km off the coast of Kerala, Lakshadweep is as stunning as it is isolated. The real attraction of the islands lies under the water: the 4200 sq km of pristine archipelago lagoons, unspoilt coral reefs and warm waters are a magnet for scuba divers and snorkellers.MussooriePerched on a ridge 2km high, the Queen of Hill Stations vies as Uttarakhand’s favourite holiday destination. When the mist clears, views of the green Doon Valley and the distant white-capped Himalayan peaks are superb. Walk down the narrow and wide lanes of the town and relish the gift of life with your dear ones.