It is almost time to bid adieu to this year and its relentless drama. Seriously, for some of us, 2017 couldn’t come faster, and I can’t wait to go on my much-deserved year end holiday.
All the same, if you’re planning to bid farewell to the year in style, you had better start planning soon. Places that are popular for NYE celebrations are often booked really ahead of time and last-minute deals can turn out to be flaky if you’re not careful. Luckily, given India’s geographical diversity, there are numerous destinations to go to, if you think a little out of the box. Standard disclaimer: You will not find Goa on this list.
Instead, here are ten unique destinations for travellers in India to celebrate and welcome the New Year. Pick your favorite and plan now!
Kaziranga National Park, Assam
Located in the northeastern region of the country, the national park remains open in December and closes during the rainy season. If you are a wildlife enthusiast or simply even a nature lover, then don’t think twice and book your tickets for Guwahati. The rare and endangered one-horned rhinoceros will be happy to greet you! For accommodation, you can pick one of the beautiful wildlife resorts located within the park itself.
Nearest airports: Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Guwahati and Rowriah Airport, Jorhat.
Nearest railway station: Guwahati
Orcha, Madhya Pradesh
It is a hidden gem in the tourism map of the country. Dotted with palaces, forts and temples, the beautiful town of Orcha is frequented by very few people. Hence, it makes for a peaceful escapade during New Year’s eve. Book a hotel or resort by the Betwa riverside for the breathtaking view or go for a homestay. Jahangir Mahal is a must-visit destination here.
Nearest airports: Khajuraho Civil Aerodrome, Khajuraho and Rajmata Vijaya Raje Scindia Airport, Gwalior.
Nearest railway station: Jhansi Junction
Nestled amidst the Khasi, Garo and Jaintia Hills, this charming mountain town, popularly known as ‘Scotland of the East’ is a treat to the eyes. When in Shillong, don’t forget to visit Cherrapunji, Dawki and Asia’s cleanest village Mawlynnong which are just an hour away. Within the city, Wards Lake, Shillong Peak, and Elephant Falls, among others attract many tourists. To stay, the best options are guest houses, such as the Shillong Hills Guest House, though you are also likely to find several mid-range and budget hotels. Read our detailed travel guide to Shillong to plan your itinerary.
Nearest airport: Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Guwahati.
Nearest railway station: Guwahati
Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu
Lakes, pine forests, and waterfalls make up this charming hill station in South India. Provided you do not mind the cold, plan a trip to this quaint town this NYE for a nostalgic holiday reminiscent of childhood vacations. Dolphin’s Nose, Pillar Rocks, Kodaikanal Lake and Bear Shola Falls are some of the prime tourist attractions here. Although there are multiple hotels, we would suggest going for a homestay as it will give you an opportunity to interact with the locals and taste authentic regional cuisine.
Nearest airport: Madurai Airport, Madurai.
Nearest railway station: Kodai Road
Soak in the intimate beauty of the backwaters of Kerala by taking a houseboat cruise this New Year. Or, book a resort or home stay by the backwaters to welcome 2017 in style. The ‘Venice of the East’ also provides glimpses of rustic farm life. Catch a few fishes, lie down by the sea or simply take a walk around the gorgeous Vembanad lake.
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, Cochin.
Nearest railway station: Alappuzha
The ‘City of Lakes’ is underlined with a royal touch as numerous palaces are spread across its length and breadth. If you want to spend some quality time with your partner, then give Udaipur a try. Tourists can enjoy boat rides in Lake Pichola and Fateh Sagar Lake and admire the stunning architecture of City Palace and Monsoon Palace, from where, at sunset, the regal city offers gorgeous views. SajjanGarh Wildlife sanctuary, Jagdish Temple and Bagore ki Haveli Museum are also worth a visit. Stay in a heritage hotel or resort, only if you are willing to spend a good amount, otherwise choose a homestay. The budget hotels in the city are also impressive as compared to other places.
Nearest airport: Maharana Pratap Airport, Udaipur.
Nearest railway station: Udaipur
If you wish to start the year on a spiritual note, Amritsar is a perfect pick. You can celebrate over a plate of Makki di Roti and Sarson da Saag as they serve it in winters only, as well as sample a wide variety of North Indian delicacies right outside the Golden Temple. Visit the immense temple complex to experience the exceptional calm that is unique to this centuries-old place of worship. If you’re a history buff, other attractions include the Wagah border as well as the infamous site of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Budget hotels located near the Golden Temple offer a range of stay options and you roam around the city in auto rickshaws.
Nearest airport: Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport, Amritsar.
Nearest railway station: Amritsar
Kolkata, West Bengal
You must have heard that the ‘City of Joy’ dresses up during Durga Puja. Come Christmas and New Year, and Kolkata again wears festive colours and lights to celebrate its rich Ango-Indian heritage. The areas surrounding Park Street and New Market are the most happening, and people from across the city drive down to see the lights during this season.
There’s much to do in Kolkata even otherwise: Victoria Memorial, Dakshineswar Kali Temple, Howrah Bridge, Belur Math Shrine, St. Paul’s Cathedral Church, Shobhabajar Rajbari and Marble Palace are some popular tourist attractions. Don’t forget to sample the food in the city, as it’s easily one of it top highlights. Home stays, hotels and B&B options are aplenty in the city. Any place in and around Park Street is a great choice at this time of the year.
Nearest airport: National Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata.
Nearest railway station: Howrah Junction, Kolkata
Unlikely to be on most NY holiday lists, this largely unexplored town in Bastar district is dotted with waterfalls, museums, national parks, and temples. A perfect base to explore the tribal beauty of Chhatisgarh, Jagdalpur is know for its rich indigenous culture and traditional handicrafts. Visit the Chitrakot waterfall, Kanger Valley National Park and Ganga Munda lake, among others. Sanjay Market, which hosts the Sunday haat, promises a shopping experience with a difference. While there are very few home stays here, you can find many budget hotels as per your preference.
Nearest airport: Swami Vivekananda Airport, Raipur.
Nearest railway station: Jagdalpur
The quaint lanes and the sun-kissed beaches are any tourist’s delight in this former French colony. The vibe in Pondicherry is unique and ideal for modern hippes and even for solo travellers. There’s plenty to do within its tiny limits. Place of interest include the French War Memorial, the gorgeous coastal Promenade and Pondicherry Botanical Garden. Stay in a beach resort or a home stay with a beach view. Or just visit Auroville and welcome the New Year peacefully!
Nearest airport: Pondicherry Airport, Pondicherry
Nearest railway station: Villupuram
The road from Chennai to Pondicherry is beautiful and takes only three hours. So, you can also plan your getaways from Chennai, which is well-connected with the rest of the country.