New year, new Diwali. And the same old dilemma: What do we do differently this festive season?
Most people prefer to be at home. Therefore, this is precisely the time to go wacky with your travel plans. Why? Because as long as you have the company of your loved ones and the laddoos packed with you, the travelling Diwali should be just as fun.
Also, less tourists means more fun!
And since the AQI in most cities is terrible and likely to deteriorate post Diwali, why not get away from the urban nightmare to catch some fresh air?
Here's a curated list of SIX beautiful places in India to make the most of your long festive break.
If art and architecture interest you, then the heritage town of Badami in north Karnataka is where you should head to for an enriching experience.
Dating back to the sixth and seventh century AD, the stunning rock-cut cave temples boast the sublime Chalukya architecture style. Diwali celebrations at Badami would be about soaking in the atmosphere, which is rustic yet lovely.
This break can be clubbed with a trip to Pattadakal's temple complex, which is an UNESCO World Heritage site, and Aihole, where more such ancient marvels are situated. Both these places are only an hour drive away from Badami.
Nearby Attractions: Archaeological Museum, Badami Fort, Banashankari Devi temple.
Nearest Railhead and Airport: The Badami railway station is close to the town and Hubblli (Hubli) airport is about 100 km away.
Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh
Situated on the banks of the beautiful Narmada river, Maheshwar is a laid-back town notable for its royal allure.
Ahilya Ghat (the main ghat) is quite a picturesque and peaceful place, where you can literally experience the 'stillness of time'. Be there in the evening, take a sunset boat ride along the river for the view of fort and temples glowing in golden-orange hue.
Visit the small handloom industry shops which reflect the weaving tradition of Maheshwar.
Popular for its gorgeous saris, you can buy Maheswari weaves as Diwali gift for loved ones!
Nearby Attractions: Maheshwar Rajwada, Sahastradhara, Datta temple, Baneshwar temple.
Nearest Railhead and Airport: Indore is the main railway junction at 80 km. Indore airport is about 90 km away.
Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh
Ayodhya is shaping up as tourist magnet thanks to the lure of its Deepotsav, which is held on Diwali eve every year.
Entering its sixth year, the celebration is an enchanting mix of tradition and grandeur, as the banks of Sarayu river are lit with lakhs of diyas! This unique celebration has set a world record since it started in 2017.
The grand exhibition of laser and fireworks adds further fun.
Nearby Attractions: Kanak Bhawan, Ram Katha park, numerous temples and ghats.
Nearest Railhead and Airport: Ayodhya Cantt is close to the city centre. Lucknow is the major airport nearby at 130 km.
Manali, Himachal Pradesh
Manali sums up all that is good about a Himalayan town, and it is this vibe that attracts hordes of travellers all year around.
The charm doubles during Diwali when the locals buzz around the main marketplace on Mall Road for Diwali shopping and one is swept away by the general khushi.
One can experience, on a holiday to Manali, both traditional rituals and special blissful moments with nature at its most pristine. And since it is already the onset of winter, the cold breezes, which are not harsh, makie it an excellent time to explore the town.
Nearby Attractions: Hot springs at the Vasishth temple, Jogini waterfall, Naggar Castle, and numerous one-day hikes.
Nearest Railhead and Airport: Chandigarh, which is 250 km away.
The rustic appeal of Udaipur is unparalleled. The palace city boasts shimmery crisp blue lakes, the pretty Aravalli hills and centuries-old palaces that have been transformed into heritage hotels.
Celebrating Diwali here is to have an authentic experience that's in sync with the royal heritage of the region. Pretty cool, isn't it?
Nearby Attractions: Fateh Sagar lake, Sajjangarh Monsoon Palace, Bahubali hills and Badi lake.
Nearest Railhead and Airport: The Udaipur city railway station is close to the city centre; the airport is 23 km away.
How about an off-beat place for Diwali far from the urban hustlebustle, with no elements of disturbance?
Harishchandragad is where that solace can be found.
In close proximity of both Mumbai and Pune, the base village of Khireshwar is equipped with comfortable homestays. You can also choose to camp under the starry nights with a yummy, traditional Maharashtrian meal to mark Diwali.
On the next day, start your day on an adventurous note with a day hike to the Harishchandreshwar temple, the Kedareshwar cave, and the Konkan Kada (Konkan cliff) to experience the remote beauty of this region.
Being in the lap of nature makes for a truly hatke experience!
Nearby Attractions: Taramati Peak, Tolar Khind, Konkan Kada, Khireshwar Dam.
Nearest Railhead and Airport: Igatpuri railway station is 98 km away. Mumbai airport is 130 km away.