Don’t get me wrong, I like vacations that involve seeing lots of places, hiking, trekking, cooking outside, fishing (and then letting the fish go because poor fish) and so on and so forth. But I like all that in the winter. In the summer, I like beaches and hill stations where I can be lazier than Jughead at his most inspired, and I like vacations where I can just relax and let other people do all the work. About all the work I’ll do is lift a bottle or glass, depending on the location, to my mouth. There’s a deep joy in doing nothing but relaxing, and only lazy people can really understand it. For those of you who’re judging me right now, you wouldn’t turn your nose up at the idea if I called it meditation, would you!
1. Sernabatim, Goa
I could say just Goa, but that would be sloppy and lazy of me, and I’m not on vacation yet. Goa has a lot of excellent places. For a truly lazy vacation, you have to zero in on one spot and stay there for a week. That’s why I pick Sernabatim. The beach is almost completely pristine, with almost no trash anywhere. There are shacks with excellent food. There are beach huts and guest houses with wonderful food, excellent service and lots of beer. You can stay at slightly more premium huts like Blue Corner, or you could stay at the quietest end of the beach at Camilson’s beach house, or you could do what we did and stay at Anthy’s, which we loved. The water is great for swimming and it’s one of the least crowded beaches in Goa, as well as the loveliest, as far as I’m concerned. When I want to laze on a beach for a week, this is where I head.
Credits: Eustaquio Santimano
Of course Sikkim is on the list. We’ve quite established that this is my favorite place in the whole world, and you see, this is because Sikkim is perfect whether you want to be lazy or go trekking. It’s just perfect altogether. There are a lot of places to see in Sikkim. But Gangtok is a wonderful place to stay for a week and simply experience life. A lazy vacation at a hill station, for me, includes a lot of walks with a book for company, so that you can sit and read when you find the perfect spot. Go to a different little hole-in-the-wall for every meal, or stay at a sweet little place with a garden and awesome views (Mintokling is perfect if you don’t want to go the fancy resort way). If you’ve been to Sikkim for the do-everything, see-everything experience, you need to go again so that you can have the do-nothing, experience-everything vacation, too.
Credits: Kalyan Neelamraju
I heard the groan – it’s so touristy! But it’s only touristy if you go during peak season, which is summer. Don’t book a package tour of any sort. This is the perfect destination if you go in February or March and you decide to splurge on a good resort like the Carlton. But that will still be off-season, so you’ll get relatively decent packages. If you choose not to splurge, pick the right home stay, like Serenita, located up a hill, with a lovely view, and lots of paths for walks around. Now here’s what you do during your lazy Kodai holiday: you eat lots of chocolate, have lots of wine and cheese, try everything at all the local bakeries because they have excellent, very cheap food, then set yourself up in a spot with a great view with a book and your iPod. You can do the whole viewpoint and boating thing later. This is for great eats, beauty, privacy and relaxation – perfect combination for lazy people!
Having grown up in Kerala, I do appreciate the beauty of most beaches there, but Varkala is my favourite. The cliffs, greenery and the sea combine to make the kind of awesome landscape that you could just drink in and never have enough. And, well, sitting and drinking in the landscape with something more practical to drink along with it sounds like a wonderful lazy holiday, doesn’t it? To top it off, there are lots of Ayurvedic centres in Varkala that will pound your body into relaxation if that’s what it takes, or soothe it with a gentle massage. Stay at one of the cottage-style home stays along the cliff, though. That’s the best way to enjoy Varkala.
Kalimpong is for lazy people who like slightly bracing weather and a surprising lack of crowds. There are lots of places to see and lots of things to do in all of Darjeeling, but if you stick to Kalimpong, there isn’t much to do unless you decide to meet up with the hiking club. If you’re looking for a laid back time, no point doing that, right? Try the really nice cheese that’s a speciality here, and make sure you have loads of momos. There are hotels that will give you excellent privacy and service. Morgan House is a renovated old mansion that will soon be a hundred years old and is a government guest house, so adjust your expectations. Holumba Haven, though, is what I’d recommend. They have excellent cottages nestled in grounds that are really an orchid garden, and an excellent private library if you’d like to enrich your mind while your body is taking things easy.
Credits: Sek Keung Lo
I know, we have beaches already. But Pondicherry is special because it’s got a couple of really wonderful resorts with private villas, swimming pools and private beaches that won’t make your credit card or bank account weep. One of the essentials of a lazy vacation is excellent service – you do need somebody to pick up after you if you’re determined not to do a scrap of work. Le Pondy and Dune Eco Village are excellent resorts in Pondy that give you that extra hospitality that will make you feel completely and utterly pampered.
Credits: Sarath Kuchi
Again, the problem with saying ‘Dharamshala’ is that there’s too much to do and see. You can’t be lazy. But if you zero in on McLeodganj, you can have a wonderful week doing nothing more strenuous than walking, looking and eating. Have a picnic by the lake, amble along the monasteries, enjoy how you can turn around and see snow-clad peaks. You can also try your hand at yoga and meditation here. If this is not peaceful enough for you, take it a step farther and go to Heini where there’s a lovely little guesthouse called Jagatram Niwas. There are also plenty of places where you can get excellent massages for that extra pampering. If you’re flush, try a stay at Glenmoor Cottages. It’ll cost you, but boy, will you enjoy it.
Credits: Andrzej Wrotek
8. Old Manali
Folks who live in the mountains don’t have the luxury of being lazy. Life for them can be rewarding but extremely hard. But not so for city folks who take vacations in the mountains. Himachal Pradesh is one of the most obvious destinations for the urban professionals, but for a few days of complete separation from everything that has to be done yesterday, cross the Manalsu and go to Old Manali. Tourism, with its guesthouses and cafes, is one of the biggest source of income for people here, so you’ll have everything provided for you. Life is slow here, with the town waking up late and going to bed early, even if hard work is respected. Live in an apple orchard for a few days. Take the time to just be.
Credits: Daniel N. Reid
9. Houseboat in Allepey
Again, I’m back to Kerala because that’s what I know best. But you see my point. When you book a houseboat, you get staff aboard it who will make you food, clear everything up, take care of the houseboat, pop over to the shore and get something from the toddy shop if you want – basically, take care of everything. All this while you float lazily along, and you don’t even have to shift your position to get a different view every few minutes. The landscape will obligingly keep changing for you. The most energetic thing you’ll have to do is wave back to kids who always find it fun to wave to tourists lounging on houseboats!
Credits: August Gregg
This town has been declared India’s mini Switzerland, but that’s really selling it short. Why compare it to Switzerland when its charm is all its own? It’s only about an hour away from the much busier Dalhousie, and Himachal Pradesh Tourism has cottages and guesthouses here with fairly extensive grounds. Enjoy the Khajjiar lake, gaze upon the deodar forests and be awed by the Dauladhar mountains. It’s an extremely serene place where you can pass your laziness off as a quest for peace and have most guesthouses to yourself during the day because most people who come here go trekking. It’s a glorious place to just stop worrying about everything.
Pic: Srinivasan G