Offbeat Destinations That Are Not So Offbeat Anymore


Once upon a time there was a little happy place in the mountains that nobody had ever seen or heard about. Then one day, a group of enthusiastic tourists went to explore this place. When this group came back from their happy trip, they told the whole world about it and sadly, this once upon a time happy little place, no longer had the luxury to be happy anymore.

This is the story of almost all pristine, unconventional and apparently offbeat places that are discovered by travellers. And with every year that passes by, such places lose their charm to travellers. However, tourists continue to go there and create a ruckus. But the blame for the damage doesn't just lie with people who visit such places. Local tour operators are equally at fault since they insist on increasing the inflow of tourists every season to make as much money as they can. 

Here is a list of 10 such places, which used to be major offbeat destinations back in time, but now due to a boom in tourism, have very well lost all their charm or are on the brink of losing it. It's high time we give such places a break.

Credit: Tanweer Morshed

Photo of Old Manali, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Pritha Puri

A paradise for hipsters in the 70's, Old Manali was all about vintage cafes and a good atmosphere. Very recently, after a few popular movies were shot in some locations here, Old Manali had an outburst of tourists. It took time even for locals to adjust and develop the necessary infrastructure. Today, Old Manali is nothing but a crowded bazaar street from one of the metropolitan cities in India.

Credit: John Hill

Photo of McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Pritha Puri

A story similar to Old Manali's is McLeod Ganj, a destination close to the monastery that is home to His Holiness, The Dalai Lama. McLeod Ganj is called 'Mini Tibet' and is known for the handicrafts made by Tibetan refugees who reside here. Today, the story is a little different, McLeod Ganj is far from the neat paradise it used to be. Yoga and meditation enthusiasts from all over the country come here to get some peace and quiet, but end up making a lot of noise.

Credit: McKay Savage

Photo of Leh by Pritha Puri

A friend of mine who recently came back after spending a month in Leh, training for a marathon said to me, "This place is soon going to become the Manali of Ladakh". But it was only when I went there after that I understood what he meant. Leh's picturesque bazaar until last year was only frequented by foreigners, and now it's streets have way more people than it can handle. Many hotels, homestays and other resorts have come up to cope up with the absolutely massive tourism wave that has hit Ladakh.

Almost every person wants to go to 'Leh Ladakh' or has already been there. Tourism is the only way locals in Ladakh earn and they have tried their very best to keep this going. This isn't the only problem. Water scarcity has increased, and tourists are not mindful of conserving water. The winters in Leh have become much less harsh and the otherwise cold desert is now becoming green, leaving the senior Ladakhi locals absolutely shocked and rushing in to protect their fragile environment.

Credit: Apadegal

Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Pritha Puri

Hampi in Karnataka, which is a group of ruins and monuments, used to originally be the go to place for wall climbers. But this pretty much changed when bouldering enthusiasts were overtaken by the crowds who decided to give 'revisiting history' a chance. So many Israeli cafes have opened up here, and intoxication is quite common. Hampi isn't completely done and dusted. There's still time to save this beautiful heritage site from the wrath of unwanted, careless tourists.

Credit: Cafe Valentine

Photo of Kasol, Himachal Pradesh, India by Pritha Puri

We all know why Kasol and Tosh are famous, besides for the natural beauty of the region. Travellers who come here are largely irresponsible, leaving behind hoards of junk and plastic, completely ruining the ecology of these pretty villages. Kasol and Tosh were the ultimate places for every person to score. This attracted many youngsters and foreigners looking for some "high" in their life. Now it seems like almost any and everybody prefers to go to Kasol and Tosh and strike it off their 'bucket list'. Not a very wise thing to do.

Credit: Alok Kumar

Photo of Triund, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India by Pritha Puri

I understand that this is a very doable trek with a fantastic view but it would help Triund so much more if there was a cap put on the number of groups or people that could do this trek at a time. Triund used to be a magnificent getaway for people who thrived on adventure, but had little time on their hands. You could easily trek up and camp amongst the clouds hovering around your tent, and enjoy the surprise of a snowfall in the morning.

But all this is a thing of the past. Present day Triund is done by each and every amateur who can walk. It is so crowded it's not even funny anymore. In its touristy season, it becomes so difficult to find a decent accommodation to stay in, because everything is full and Triund is packed up till its neck! To revive the charisma of this trek, local authorities will have to take strict measures to preserve the route, lest it be lost to increasing heaps of garbage dumps.

Credit: Klaus Nahr

Photo of Anjuna Beach, Bardez, Goa, India by Pritha Puri

Remember the 60's and the 70's when really cool people would just pack up and leave for the beach to refresh themselves and spend their time strumming their guitars or listening to the sound of waves crashing on the beach? Well, Anjuna was the definition of hipster in Goa. But over the years, change occurred and while change is inevitable, so is pollution. Anjuna might still be the lesser frequented of its contemporary beaches like Baga, Calangute or Vagator, but it is not what it used to be; a paradise for people who were spiritually and creatively motivated in life.

Credit: Henrick Jagels

Photo of Varkala Beach, Kerala, India by Pritha Puri

With beautiful cliffs behind your back and a never-ending expanse of blue water in front of you, Varkala as everyone would suppose would be nothing less than visiting a surreal location from a film. The truth is not very far from this as the sight from the cliffs really is breathtaking, but there is an increasing number of vendors that have been allowed to sell their items on the beach, which is almost like an intrusion for people who come here for its solitude. It isn't half as bad as Goan beaches, but if the inflow of tourists continues to grow at its current pace, there will be no looking back and no more would you be calling it a 'hidden gem' since it is so not hidden anymore.

Credit: ArmstrongVimal

Photo of Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu, India by Pritha Puri

A town wiped out because of a tsunami, had been left abandoned by its inhabitants, and the buildings that were destroyed were a standing proof that there was nothing left to occupy anymore. But inquisitive travellers came and discovered a lot more than just broken buildings covered with sand dunes. Dhanushkodi, an extremely beautiful place for people who like ruins is well frequented by backpackers who love to see the tip of our country. It's been very much discovered, and on its way to being one of the most frequented place by travellers and tourists both, and we all know what's to follow next.

Credit: Nechyporuk

Photo of Gokarna, Karnataka, India by Pritha Puri

We had found a perfect substitute to escape the crowded beaches of Goa and head a little bit more south to explore Gokarna, but the trail was soon popular enough. Gokarna's beaches were everything you would read about in books. They were clean, quiet, and you could go for a swim in the sea without being worried if 10 other people would join you within close proximity, but sadly this is exactly what happened. A favourite amongst students in Bangalore who get long weekends off, Gokarna is no longer the place to head to if cleanliness is what you are looking for. Too many people and too much plastic everywhere!

Even though almost every destination in this list is close to dead, it's not really true that their beauty no longer exists. It just means that too many people have jumped in at the same time, often ruining the experience that an offbeat destination ought to offer you. The problem has been discussed, but the solution still seems very vague.

Just like every individual needs time off work, every destination should get time off people too so that it can rejuvenate and regain its lost charm. This article isn't all about discouraging you to travel to these 10 destinations, but should subtly remind you that wherever you go, please be mindful of the way you travel and do not to let your presence destroy the ecology, or ruin another person's experience. If not thoughtfully protected, just like animals, these destinations will one day become extinct.

Do you know of more such places that have been over-populated? Let me know in the comments section below, or write your own article on Tripoto!

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