A board-gamer’s guide to 4 perfect vacation spots in India!

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Photo of A board-gamer’s guide to 4 perfect vacation spots in India! by Adwita Pant

Be it breaking the ice with a stranger while travelling solo, or spending a quiet evening with your friends, after a day of intense exploration or even whiling away time if your flight is delayed – there is one thing that can help you unwind, without either distracting you from your surroundings or killing conversations! And that’s a board-game!

The word is enough to have vivid, colorful images of Ludo, Monopoly, Chinese Checkers and the rest flare up in our heads! We’ve all grown up playing them in some form or the other. However, very recently, board-games have become an integral part of my travel checklist.

Even though you can challenge or get challenged for a board-game face off anywhere under the sun, the places listed below are picture perfect destinations to relax, find your corner and host that board-game night you’ve been forever procrastinating!

1. Kumarakom, Kerala

Kerala soaks you in pure warmth and positive vibes with its serene backwaters, quaint houseboats, exceptionally clean beaches and the food! It can boast of exotic places such as Munnar, Kochi, Wayanad and many more - but the peace that I found in Kumarakom was something else all-together.

Kumarakom is a town located next to Lake Vembanad – the largest lake in Kerala and a water-highway to all the houseboats around. On the other side of this lake is the very famous city of Alleypey. Both these destinations have equal access to the lake and you can cover either or both the cities in your trip. However, Kumarakom is more secluded comparatively.

Most resorts here give a direct view of the lake, with special platforms that act as a houseboat boarding point or a patio to catch the sunset/sunrise. The perfect thing to do would be to rent a houseboat and float around all day or even enjoy an over-night stay. The houseboats, as the name suggests, are actually fully functional, floating houses with rooms, lavatories and kitchen. For the sea-food enthusiasts - yes, they serve you the fish caught right in front of you!

There couldn’t be any other vacation more relaxing with a perfect view of the blue water meeting the blue sky with hint of lush green, thanks to all the coconut trees around.

Paradise? God’s own country indeed!

Photo of Kumarakom, Kerala, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Kumarakom, Kerala, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Kumarakom, Kerala, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Kumarakom, Kerala, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Kumarakom, Kerala, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Kumarakom, Kerala, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Kumarakom, Kerala, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Kumarakom, Kerala, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Kumarakom, Kerala, India by Adwita Pant

2. Pelling, Sikkim

I keep repeating one thing whenever I talk about this place - Sikkim was the Master Oogway to my Po.

This is one destination that can change your life. There is such a strong, spiritual vibe here that talks to your soul, automatically calms you down and let go of any negative thoughts in your head.

Pelling, one of Sikkim’s best offerings, is a tiny town in the West Sikkim district. The first thing which you’ll notice here is that the snow-capped Mt. Kanchenjanga keeps staring at you wherever you go. It just won’t leave your sight! The best time to catch the perfect view of the mountain is in the morning around 3.30 - 4 am (mornings are really early here since its East – 4 am is like 6 am in the West, so don’t freak out). Take a seat wherever you are and enjoy the sun-rise while sipping on your morning coffee and begin your day.

Apart from a few good waterfalls around, two major attractions are the Pemayangste Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries around, and the ruins of Rabdentse, the ancient city which used to be a capital of Sikkim in the olden days. If you’re someone who loves stories from the past, these places should definitely make it to your to-go list. You can also visit the sacred wishing lake, Khecheopalri Lake.

Pelling is the kind of place you go to, to recharge yourself. And, no matter what state of mind you’re in, it doesn’t disappoint! It is the perfect place to be an explorer all day and your laziest best in the evening, with a cherry brandy shot to keep you warm!

Photo of Pelling, Sikkim, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Pelling, Sikkim, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Pelling, Sikkim, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Pelling, Sikkim, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Pelling, Sikkim, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Pelling, Sikkim, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Pelling, Sikkim, India by Adwita Pant

3. Ooty, Tamil Nadu

The place they call the “Queen of all hill-stations”. If you are craving for the mountains and not able to plan a trip north, head down south to the Nilgiri Hills, which is where Ooty is situated. Contrary to popular assumptions, there was absolutely no language issue here - both English and Hindi were understood and reciprocated well, considering we were on public transport for most part of the journey.

The main town of Ooty is pretty crowded, which is true for all popular hill-stations these days. However, there are some hidden jewels in terms of stay options - look out for those on top of the hills surrounding the town. These will help you escape the hustle-bustle of the city but you’ll still not be too inaccessible.

The countryside in Ooty is beyond beautiful. The ghats preceding the town are covered with innumerable pine trees, all standing in row – reminded me of the morning assembly at school! It looks so divine, that you can’t help but go for walk right there. 9th mile is a place about 9 miles away from the town (duh!) where you can see layers of mountains right in front of you. And since there are innumerable mountains around, you can choose your own sunset / sunrise viewing point, giving the touristy ones a miss!

But the cherry on top of the beautiful cake that is Ooty, is the toy train ride. The full train ride is a 3-4 hour journey that takes you to the foot of the Nilgiri Hills. However, for those who don’t have a lot of time, you can go for a day-trip from Ooty to Coonoor and back. You get to enjoy the train ride, the gorgeous tea plantations and explore the country side.

Most vintage hotels here have a fireplace installed in each room and the common area, which is a blessing, especially if you’re visiting during winter. With your favorite drink in your hand, feel free to take over the common room and convert it into your game war-zone. And who knows, the staff may also join in – the more the merrier!

Photo of Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India by Adwita Pant
Photo of Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India by Adwita Pant

4. Malshej Ghat, Maharashtra

Living in Mumbai, I can empathize with people slogging their butts all day through the weekdays and doing laundry or other household chores through the weekends. This city for sure never sleeps! More reasons to not wait for a long weekend to plan that fancy trip. Take any road going away from Mumbai and within an hour (start really early though!), you’ll be breathing the freshest air around!

Malshej Ghat is one of the many easy-drive options from Mumbai, which are perfect for a weekend trip. The drive takes around 3 hours and will give you the most beautiful view of the Western Ghats - Konkan countryside at its best!

You may not find too many fancy stay options - a couple of good resorts around are perpetually sold out. However, the home stays or camping options have a different charm completely. There is nothing better than setting up a tent with the lake on one side and shoulder high millet-crop farm on the other!

Monsoon is generally the best time to visit this place as you get to drive through a 50 shades of green paradise, the lake is full and there are tiny, but gorgeous, waterfalls all around. However, since it is far, far away from the city noise – you can head there whenever you need a quick break from civilization (and network!) – alone or with a few close friends. Don’t forget to pack those board-games!

Photo of Malshej Ghat, Maharashtra by Adwita Pant
Photo of Malshej Ghat, Maharashtra by Adwita Pant
Photo of Malshej Ghat, Maharashtra by Adwita Pant
Photo of Malshej Ghat, Maharashtra by Adwita Pant
Photo of Malshej Ghat, Maharashtra by Adwita Pant
Photo of Malshej Ghat, Maharashtra by Adwita Pant
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