We handpicked five itineraries—from glamping in the hills to cruising along the coast—to sort out your next summer holiday in India. By Sushmita Srivastav & Rashima Nagpal
1. Wellness in the Himalayas
Yoga on a hill, organic brunches, and forest bathing—opt for this wellness itinerary that goes beyond spas.
Duration 7 – Days
Starting point – Delhi
Ending point – Dehradun
Delhi to Nainital
Although India’s long coastline offers spiritual and physical therapy, a wellness vacation in the foothills of the Himalayas is unparalleled. Spend a day in Nainital if your idea of healing involves taking idyllic strolls or paddling on pristine waters. Nainital, 330 kilometres from Delhi, allows you to experience nature at your own pace. Around Lake Naini, a web of walking tracks is ideal for long strolls, with the distant Himalayan peaks adding to the serenity. Make yourself at home at The Naini Retreat, a luxury heritage resort overlooking the lake from the Ayarpatta Slopes (starts from INR 13,450/USD182). The resort offers various experiences like an excursion to an apple orchard, golf games, forest walks, spa sessions, and more. You can fly from Delhi to Pantnagar Airport (two hours from Nainital) or take an overnight bus to Kathgodam, 35 kilometres from Nainital.
Jim Corbett National Park
After taking leisurely walks in the lap of the Himalayas, pack your bags for some nature therapy and head to Jim Corbett National Park, around two hours from Nainital. Jim’s Jungle Retreat—an eco-conscious boutique resort tucked away on the southern end of Jim Corbett National Park—is for those who believe that a wellness retreat doesn’t have to be austere (starts from INR 8,400/USD115). It is an eco-conscious wildlife speciality lodge where cycling tracks are surrounded by herbs and medicinal shrubs, and thick foliage blankets rustic cottages. Go on nature walks along with the organic farms, take safari rides in the national park, get therapeutic massages at the spa, and try forest bathing in the silent woods around the property.
Jim Corbett National Park to Rishikesh
Rishikesh, the yoga capital, is 129 kilometres from Jim Corbett National Park. Here, meditation centres and ashrams thrive, and chants fill the crisp mountain air. Stay at Ananda in the Himalayas—an award-winning luxury spa resort that mixes Ayurveda and yoga with global wellness experiences, fitness routines, and healthy organic cuisine (starts from INR 26,000/USD352). Indulge in one of Ananda’s signature therapies and attend gourmet ayurvedic cooking classes.
There is no better way to start a day in Rishikesh than rising early and meditating by the River Ganga, temple bells ringing in your ears. Take a dip in the holy river and then, make your way to the Beatles Cafe that serves healthy breakfast plates, including vegan and gluten-free options. Drop by the Anand Prakash Yoga Ashram, an uplifting East-meets-West retreat that blends traditional yoga with aromatherapy, crystal healing, and relaxing music. Later in the evening, join the thousands of devotees and tourists at Parmarth Niketan Ashram by the banks of the Ganga and witness the luminous Ganga Aarti.
From Rishikesh, Dehradun is merely 47 kilometres, and easily accessible by taxi. Vana, an incredibly impressive wellness retreat, is your journey’s end. Located on the road to Mussoorie, Vana, with a simple design aesthetic and neutral palettes on the walls, evokes a sense of calm and well-being the moment you step in (starts from INR 29,000/USD399). There are forest and garden rooms, and ancient practices of Ayurveda and Sowa Rigpa find space here. Spend at least three nights here to get used to the healthy lifestyle—no phones, sessions with experts for better self-understanding, bespoke treatments, yoga classes, aqua therapy, meditation sessions, and buffets and à la carte meals made from organic produce.
Make time to visit the Beatles Ashram in Rishikesh that gained fame after the ‘60s rock band The Beatles landed there in 1968, to learn Transcendental Meditation from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The place is in ruins now, but you can visit it for the eye-catching graffiti on the walls, the vibe of the place, and an easy yet scenic trek down to the Lakshman Jhula (three kilometres).
2. Cast Away in the Andamans
If it is an under-the-radar holiday that you seek, go island hopping in the archipelago of Andaman and Nicobar.
Duration – 4 Days
Starting point – Port Blair
Ending point – Neill Island
Begin your island adventure at Port Blair, which is a two-hour flight from Kolkata or Chennai. With a shoreline stretching along the Andaman Sea, the lively capital of the archipelago has a number of luxury resorts like Sinclairs Bayview Resort (starts from INR 10,200/USD138) and Fortune Resort Bay Island (starts from INR 10,000/USD135). Spend your day strolling in the Aberdeen Bazaar or drop by the Sagarika Government Emporium to shop for pearl and seashell jewellery, sarongs, bamboo cane craft, and carved wooden furniture. For lunch, gorge on fresh seafood at The New Lighthouse Restaurant (Marina Park). Later, take a 45-minute drive to the Chidiya Tapu beach (17 kilometres from Port Blair), which offers one of the best sunsets on the island along with a mini-zoo where you can spend time birdwatching. In the evening, catch the Light & Sound Show at the Cellular Jail that narrates the story of India’s freedom struggle every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (INR 100/USD1.3 is charged per foreign national as the entry ticket; the show ticket is priced at an additional cost of INR 100/USD1.3).
Recently renamed Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Dweep, Ross Island is a 15-minute ferry ride from Port Blair’s Aberdeen Jetty. The former British administrative headquarters in the Andamans is known for its colonial-era architecture. A one-day trip reveals wonders such as an old church with a grim history, man-caves crocheted by roots of fig trees, and a protected forest. However, staying overnight here is prohibited. Once back in the capital, kayak on the calm waters of Corbyn’s Cove Beach and relish Oriental dishes for dinner at Corbyn’s Delight restaurant at Peerless Sarovar Portico.
The Makruzz ferry leaves from Haddo Jetty in Port Blair to Havelock Island (recently renamed Swaraj Dweep) every day at 8 am. Book yourself a seat on the upper deck to enjoy breathtaking views of the ocean during the 90-minute journey (starts from INR 1,400/USD19). Stay in a tent, thatched cottage, or villa at Barefoot at Havelock (starts from INR 11,500/USD155), a luxury eco-resort on Radhanagar Beach. Havelock Island is, undoubtedly, the highlight of any Andaman itinerary, and Radhanagar Beach is probably why. A long powdery curve fronted by aqua waves and fringed with swaying palms, it is one of the best beaches in Asia and is ideal for underwater adventures. With Barefoot Scuba, dive deep into turquoise waters, swim with schools of fish, witness striking corals, and immerse yourself in the quietude of the underwater world. If you have a few days to spare, stay back for a four-day course to get the Open Water Diver certification. On Beach 3, the Full Moon Cafe is where weary divers and tourists arrive to gorge on fresh catch.
Catch the Green Ocean ferry at 8.30 am (starts at INR 1,044/USD14) to arrive early on Neill Island for the last leg of your Andaman adventure. Officially renamed Shaheed Dweep, Neill Island has an undulating landscape of rice paddies, coconut palms, and fruit plantations. Pearl Park Beach Resort offers a luxury stay in the middle of it all (starts from INR 9,500/USD128). Ride a cycle along long empty roads through quiet clusters of homes, and take long walks along the coastline. If you are up for some underwater fun, take a glass-bottom boat ride and go snorkelling to explore virginal reefs near Bharatpur Beach. Tour operators like Experience Andamans and Travel Triangle offer luxury tour packages to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
All foreign nationals require a permit (Restricted Area Permit) to visit the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is easily available on arrival at Port Blair airport and is subject to availability of a valid visa.
Built in 1906, Cellular Jail in Port Blair was designed in a way that none of the 698 cells let any natural light in. Punishment included isolation, hunger, and hard labour under the scorching sun. Popular as the prison of black waters, most of it was destroyed in the Japanese attacks during WWII but some of it remains to tell the grim tales of the Indian freedom fighters.
3. Glamping in Ladakh
Experience the Land of the Lamas as you glamp your way through its astonishing landscape.
Duration – 6 Days
Starting point – Leh
Ending point – Diskit
A rule of thumb is that your day of arrival in Ladakh must be dedicated to doing nothing, as Ladakh demands acclimatisation. Land and base yourself in Leh, the largest town in Ladakh. At 3,500 metres, Leh is a quaint town along the River Indus dotted with monasteries, an eponymous palace, and a bustling bazaar. Roughly 20 minutes from the Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport, The Indus River Camp can be your first glamping site on this trip (starts from INR 4,500/USD61). It is a 40-acre natural sanctuary on the banks of the Indus, in the village of Chuchot. Apart from the choice of eight luxury tents, cabins, and cottages, it comes with a library, an organic kitchen, daily yoga sessions, and guided experiences. The Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport in Leh has direct connectivity from Delhi, Mumbai, and Srinagar.
After a night of rest, begin your day with a walk to the nearby Thiksey Monastery. A 12-storey complex made from mud and stone, this is one of Ladakh’s most iconic monasteries. Climb to the top to watch the sunrise and join the prayer ceremony that takes place in its assembly hall between 6 am and 7.30 am. Post that, take a tour of this 16th-century Buddhist institution as well as the adjoining museum. Spend the rest of the day at the camp or visit the camel sanctuary—which re-homes double-humped Bactrian camels, a species which, until recently, had nearly disappeared from the area.
Hemis National Park
In the spirit of a true camper, dedicate an entire day to hiking through the Hemis National Park. Dominated by the peak of Stok Kangri (6,150 metres above sea level), it occupies a vast area to the west of the Indus River and extends across the Markha Valley. Well-known for its snow leopard population, the park is also home to species such as ibex, blue sheep, and mountain weasels. Hike from the village of Zingchen to Rumbak, for easy entry into the park.
After spending three nights in the beautiful environs of your first glamping site, it’s time to move on, further away from civilisation. Hit the road for a four-hour drive to Diskit—the hamlet that doubles up as the gateway to the otherworldly Nubra Valley of Ladakh—via Khardung La, claimed to be the highest motorable road in the world. Chamba Camp in Diskit (starts from INR 65,000/USD881) is inspired by the aesthetics of safari camping. The site beautifully complements the rugged terrain of the surrounding valley.
At the confluence of rivers Shyok and Siachen, separating Ladakh from the Karakoram Range is Nubra Valley, which takes you back in time into a nearly forgotten Shangri La. Drive along River Nubra, where the villages of Sumur, Kyagar, Tirith, and Panamik, among others, give you a glimpse of how life thrives in one of the challenging regions of the country. In spring, see the valley transform into a garden of apple, apricot, and willow trees. Some of Nubra’s salient features, however, remain largely out of reach—like the Siachen Glacier, the world’s second-longest glacier outside the polar regions.
Following an early morning breakfast, hit the road towards Turtuk—famous as India’s northernmost village! A reminder of the Balti Dynasty, Turtuk features steep labyrinthine streets, traditional houses called nangchung, and a perennial stream that runs through the village. Unlike most of Ladakh, which is steeped in Tibetan culture, Turtuk, along the border of the Pakistan-administered region of Gilgit-Baltistan, sports a unique Balti Muslim culture. Stay at The Buckwheat Root Camp in Turtuk, located by the stream (starts from INR 4,000/USD54).
Natives of Gobi Desert, the double-humped Bactrian camels have grown from less than a dozen to a few hundred in Ladakh—the only place in India where can you find them.
4. Drive along the Western Ghats
Make your way through the Nilgiri Mountains in Ooty, glide by the Konkan Coast, and arrive at the beaches of Goa.
Duration – 4 Days
Starting point – Ooty
Ending point – Goa
Smooth winding roads surrounded by verdant plantations and rolling hills—Ooty in Tamil Nadu makes for the ideal starting point for your road trip adventure along the Western Ghats. Ooty, or Udhagamandalam, is a three-hour drive from Coimbatore International Airport. Kick start your journey from here but not before exploring its colonial-era bungalows, bazaars, temples, and tea plantations. If you have time, take the leisurely train ride from Ooty to Mettupayalam along the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, via postcard stops like Coonoor, Wellington, and Lovedale.
Bandipur National Park
Mudumalai is just 45 kilometres from Ooty. Visit the Bandipur Tiger Reserve and National Park where you can spot the tiger, elephant, leopard, Indian bison, spotted deer, sloth bears, and over 350 species of birds. From here, a four-hour-long drive to Kannur in Kerala via the Malabar Hill Highway is alluring—the highway turns smoother and the landscape greener as you approach the state of Kerala. Stop by the Muzhappilangad drive-in beach for an exhilarating drive along the shimmering Malabar coastline. Pick any of the independent beach houses by the Thottada Beach Stays for the night and go on an idyllic night strolls among the mangroves, enjoy Malabari dinner paired with a performance, and wake up to stunning beach views (starts from INR 4,100/USD55.
You may want to spend some time in Kannur, for this little coastal town in northern Kerala has a lot to offer. Visit the 14th-century St. Angelos Fort, a massive sea-facing structure built by the first Portuguese viceroy in India. Take a laid-back boat ride in the backwaters of Kavvayi Islands and drop by the Arakkal Museum, the former residence of the only Muslim royal family of Kerala. Further ahead on the Konkan belt in the state of Karnataka is Mangaluru, a 143-kilometre drive through National Highway 66. A diamond in the rough, Mangaluru has an appealing non-touristy vibe and urges you to spend your time surfing, admiring the architecture of local temples, and gorging on the delicious Mangalorean cuisine including the famous neer dosa, chicken ghee roast, kori roti (rice crisps), fish pulimunchi (fish in coconut and tamarind gravy), and more. The Gateway Hotel Old Port Road, Mangalore (starts from INR 5,640/USD76) and Goldfinch Hotel Mangalore (starts from INR 3,499/USD47) offer luxury stay options.
The last leg of your road adventure—the 345-kilometre drive from Mangaluru to Goa via National Highway 66—brims with untouched beaches and interesting pit stops like Kaup, Udupi, and Bhatkal. En route Goa, you may stop to see the 100-year-old lighthouse at Kaup, pray at the Sri Krishna Matha Temple in Udupi, go parasailing on Malpe Beach, laze in a hammock on Devbagh Island near Karwar, and visit the 16th-century Jattappa Chandra Natheswara Jain Temple in Bhatkal. In stretches, the highway to Goa is flanked by the ocean on one side and jade rivers on the other. You may need to be slightly wary of traffic, but Goa is worth it, with its trendy bars, beach shacks, elegant cafes, and many clubs and discotheques. Try The Leela Goa, a property sprawled across 75 acres, with a winding river on one side and the azure blue sea on the other (starts from INR 13,500/USD183).
If you have days to spare, take a detour of 72 kilometres from Bandipur to arrive at the historic settlement of Mysuru in Karnataka, famed for its majestic Mysore Palace, the 125-year-old Devaraja Market, and the famous Mysore Pak (dessert bar made of gram flour and ghee).
Nearly 60 kilometres before Karwar, Gokarna is worth a longer roundabout route. A low key pristine beach destination, Gokarna is where you must spend a day or two if you want to find some quiet before you hit Goa for its thumping parties. Do visit Om Beach, known for its spiritual vibe and water sports.
5. Trekking in the Northeast
Explore the uncharted territory between Manipur and Nagaland, and the gorgeous landscape of the Dzukou Valley.
Duration – 3 Days
Starting point – Kohima
Ending point – Jakhama
Arrive in Nagaland’s capital, Kohima. The nearest airport is at Dimapur, 66 kilometres away. Spread across hilltops, the town makes for an enjoyable stroll any day of the year. However, the treasures of Nagaland are nestled in its hamlets. Take a peek into the tribal culture of the region at the Naga Heritage Village in Kohima. Check yourself into a cosy Airbnb or a plush hotel such as de Oriental Grand (INR 10,000/USD135) and venture out to explore the village. Also known as Kisama, it comprises 16 morungs, or traditional houses, that represent the 16 tribal communities of Nagaland. The WWII Museum in the village houses a collection of memorabilia from the historic battle that took place at Kohima in 1944, between the invading Japanese and the defending British and Allied Forces. A 10-minute drive from Kisama, Kigwema is an Angami village where Japanese forces set up camp before the final showdown with Allied Forces in 1944. The modest valley-view home of General Sato, the commander of the Japanese troops, still stands and bears bullet holes from the battle that raged here. Several households in the village welcome tourists (preferably accompanied by local guides) for a night’s stay.
The trek to Dzukou Valley commonly begins from the village of Viswema, 25 kilometres from Kohima. At a height of 2,438 metres above sea level, behind Nagaland’s second-highest peak of Japfu, Dzukou Valley gets its name from river gushing through it. Between spring and summer, the valley dons a carpet of multicoloured flowers and attracts nature enthusiasts. It is particularly famous for the rare and indigenous Dzukou Lily. Reach Viswema in time for breakfast and brace yourself for a steep climb of two hours. The climb to the top of the hill comprises 1,200 odd steps cut through a dense forest of bamboo, oak, chestnut, birch, and maple trees. Once in the valley, traverse through its winding paths for at least six kilometres, and pitch your tent. Alternatively, continue for two hours to reach the guesthouse facing the valley—perhaps the only trace of human settlement in the region. Apart from a firewood kitchen and proper bathrooms, the guesthouse also rents out mattresses, blankets, and pillows, and has a friendly caretaker to look after the guests.
One may choose to extend the trek by three more days to include a trail of rhododendron forests to Japfu Peak, known for its stunning sunrise and panoramic views of not just Dzukou, but also parts of Nagaland, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh. Even if you choose to return to Kohima on day three, there’s an alternative path that you can take to reach the village of Jakhama, 20 kilometres from Kohima. The trail between the valley and Jakhama is dotted with stone steps, which are easier to descend, compared to the narrow muddy path from Viswema. In about three hours, one can reach the base from where the trek begins.
Keep in mind that Dzukou Valley is a plastic-free zone. If you are carrying polythene bags, you’ll have to pay a security fee, which will be refunded when you leave with your bags.