India's 10 Most Beautiful Unspoiled Places
Although westerners usually see TV programs and news articles about Indian slums and polluted cities, this paints an incorrect picture of the country.
India has many scenic places that are still untouched by civilization, such as vast jungles, tea and spice plantations, as well as an incredible amount of conservation zones abounding in diverse wildlife.
Whether you head North to the region of Himalayas, or travel to the tropical South, you'll find many places of picturesque beauty, such as rustic Himalayan villages whose only power source is the sun, or dense jungles of Kerala and Karnataka where wild elephants still scare the local population and threaten road safety.
Below I've picked some of the most incredible natural places to visit all over India. I hope that after reading this hub you'll be better informed about India's unspoiled nature.
1. Yana, India
Yana is a village located in a vast thick jungle abounding in wildlife and home to tribal people. This place attracts only a few tourists because it's very difficult to get to.
The roads are narrow and winding, therefore probably the only mode of transport that will lead you into the midst of Yana is a motorbike (you need to get to the middle of it to enter the jungle reserve with a parking facility and tourist trails).
Yana jungle abounds in many types of snakes, tigers, pumas and wild elephants. It has a few narrow tourist trails leading to the Yana's main attraction - strange rock formation.
You are not allowed to step out of the defined tourist paths, because it isn't safe. Wild animals are familiar with the location of public paths and don't cross them during the day; so since they respect areas marked for humans, we must respect their habitation zones too!
When I was visiting this jungle a few years ago, my ex-partner and I saw only one Indian family exploring the jungle quite far away from us - it is that deserted! Also, I was probably one of a few European travelers who ever visited this place.
Although the trail leading to the rock formation is very easy even for children, the difficulty lies in getting to the middle of the Yana jungle itself. You'll need to hire a motorbike to do so, and it will take you a few hours to reach it if you're traveling from Kumta direction - not so much because of the distance, but because of narrow winding jungle roads.
If you go there, make sure to talk with the staff who work in that reserve. They will gladly share their first-hand experiences with snakes, pumas, tigers, wild elephants and other wildlife inhabiting Yana jungle. These people even sleep there, sometimes witnessing tigers walking around their wooden huts!
You can see many more Yana trekking photos on Tripadvisor.
Map Location of Yana, Karnataka
2. Gavi, Kerala
Gavi is a forest village inside Periyar Tiger Reserve, Kerala.
I've first found out about it from a Malayalam movie Ordinary, which was about a ticket inspector working on a bus that served that destination. In the movie the place looked absolutely charming, so I started considering visiting that place.
Upon some research and talking to locals, it turned out it's quite a difficult place to travel to due to:
- the lack of public transport options (there are no trains - only buses go there);
- difficult road conditions;
- the fact that travel permit might be required if traveling by a personal vehicle (which can be difficult to obtain as severe daily limits are imposed on the number of vehicles allowed);
- the risk of encountering wild elephants on the way.
So that's why Gavi is unspoiled even to this day - very few tourists actually reach it! But for nature lovers, and the ones that aren't discouraged by difficult road conditions and wildlife dangers, it might prove to be an excellent travel destination.
A good in-depth article on visiting Gavi can be read here, together with pictures of Gavi wildlife.
Map Location Of Gavi, Kerala
3. Thenmala, Kerala
Thenmala is a tourist destination located in Kollam, Kerala. Kollam isn't popular with foreign tourists, as there's nothing much to see. Thenmala is one of its rare attractions, yet due to the lack of the promotion of this destination to foreign travelers, it's visited mainly by Indian tourists.
Thenmala is the first planned eco-tourism destination in India. South Indian people know this place very well due to many Kerala and Tamil movies being filmed there. It might be of interest to those who like boating, trekking and biking, as all these activities can be done there.
It's also a place for deer-spotting, as well as witnessing a tribal way of life - you can see tree-houses built and inhabited by forest-dwellers to escape from being harmed by wild animals.
Map Location of Thenmala, Kerala
4. Bannerghatta Biological Reserve
Bannerghatta Biological Reserve (also known as Bannerghatta National Park) is a popular Indian tourist destination for animal-spotting, trekking, hiking, and seeing an ancient way of life, since this reserve is home to six cultural villages.
This national park has many tourist attractions, like a zoo, animal rescue center, butterfly park, elephant sanctuary, aquarium, snake house and safari park.
Bannerghatta Biological Reserve has many kinds of wildlife, including lions, wild boars, cobras, hares, monitor lizards, peacocks, jackals, deer, foxes, and many more. You can see many pictures of the animals that can be seen in this reserve in the Wikipedia page of this park.
Map Location of Bannerghatta Biological Reserve
5. Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh
It is the largest national park in Central India. It hosts a well-known Kanha Tiger Reserve which is popular with Indian tourists.
Kanha park has a significant population of the following animals: royal Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, sloth bear, barasingha (swamp deer), and Indian wild dog. It has beautiful bamboo and sal forests, and is home to over 1000 species of flowering plants.
Kanha park also has a large bird population as well as different kinds of snakes. Gaur, also called Indian bison, is the largest animal of this park. You can see its picture here.
Tourists can see freely roaming tigers and elephants in this park, and maybe spot some wild cats or grass snakes too; but usually these latter animals come out only at night.
Map Location of Kanha National Park
6. Nanda Devi National Park, Uttarakhand
This national park is located in the Himalayan region of Uttarakhand, around the peak of Nanda Devi. Nanda Devi peak is the second highest mountain of India, and is marked as the 23rd highest mountain peak in the world.
Nanda Devi national park became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.
Apart from the glacial basin called Nanda Devi Sanctuary that is extremely hard to reach, another tourist attraction of this park is The Valley of Flowers. Here is its picture:
Nanda Devi National Park is home to many interesting animals, including snow leopard, Himalayan black bear, langurs monkeys, and rhesus macaque, who is known to be the best-known species of the Old-World monkeys. Here's a great picture of rhesus macaque.
Since the Nanda Devi sanctuary is located in the Himalayan region at an elevation of more than 3,500 m (11,500 ft), vegetation is scarce and the land is dry. To protect its natural beauty, climbing the Nanda Devi peak isn't allowed.
Here is a good short video showcasing more of this natural reserve's beauty:
Map Location of Nanda Devi National Park
7. Silent Valley, Kerala
Silent Valley is the largest national park of Kerala, one of the states of India. It's located in the Nilgiri Hills, in the area of Palakkad. It is one of the last remaining undisturbed tracts of South Western Ghats mountain rain forests and tropical evergreen forests of India.
It got listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2007. This park was threatened to be destroyed in 1970s, when it was targeted as a location for a hydroelectric project (dam construction). But environmentalists interfered and the project was cancelled, thus saving this beautiful nature reserve with its virgin rainforest (Bless those nature lovers!).
Silent Valley is home to a large population of lion-tailed macaques, which is an endangered species of primate. It also has many bird species such as rufous babbler, Wynaad laughing thrush, broad-tailed grassbird, and Nilgiri laughing thrush.
Here are the pictures of some of the birds found in Silent Valley, Kerala:
Here is a video showcasing many scenic views of Silent Valley:
Map Location of Silent Valley National Park
8. Khati Village, Bagheswar, Uttarakhand
Khati village is located in the Bageswar district of Uttarakhand. Due to its location - being surrounded by high mountains with few trails leading to it - the village has remained almost untouched by civilization and is sparsely populated.
It's the last village located on the Pindari Glacier Trek. Some trekkers stay there to relax and enjoy the lush greenery and serene surroundings of the place.
Although Khati village is truly rustic and relies only on solar power for its energy needs, it has quite a few guest houses for trekkers to stay overnight.
Map Location of Khati Village
9. Matheran, Maharashtra
Matheran is a peaceful hill station in which motor vehicles are banned. It attracts many Indian tourists, especially from Mumbai.There is a small entry free of 50 rupees to enter this hill-station, which contributes to the protection of the area's fragile environment.
Matheran is home to scenic hills and dense forests.Travelers can explore this beautiful hill station on foot, by riding a horse or hiring a rickshaw. You should stay alert for cheeky monkeys who might snatch your personal belongings, especially if they resemble food!
This hill station is best for sightseeing, since it has many wonderful natural points of beauty, such as Charlotte Lake, Sunset point, Mount Barry, Panorama Point and many more. The best time to visit Matheran is just after monsoon, because then it abounds in lush greenery and its waterfalls and lakes overflow with fresh waters.
Please note that since it's a hill station, nights can be quite cold.
Map Location Of Matheran
10. Wayanad, Kerala
Wayanad is a famous Kerala hill district. It's known for its spices, waterfalls and wildlife. It has many tourist attractions like Chembra Peak (the tallest peak in the region), Neelimala (a place for trekking), and Meenmutty Waterfalls.
Wayanad attracts tourists due to its natural beauty and interesting natural attractions such as dense forests and large rocks; it's home to many kinds of birds including the critically endangered white-backed vultures, red-headed vultures and long-billed vultures.
A bird survey conducted in Wayanad in the year of 2014 recorded eleven species of woodpeckers, seven species of pigeons, five species of bulbuls, six species of owls, and seven species of cuckoos inhabiting this area (source).
Various animal species can be spotted in this hill district too, including elephants, spotted deer, bison, tigers, cheetahs and wild bears.
Here is a good video introducing more of Wayanad's beauty:
Map Location of Wayanad
I hope that this list of ten natural attractions of India has made you better informed about India's untouched scenic places and its wide variety of flora and fauna.
Finally, I'd like to leave you with one important tip, in case you do decide to visit these or similar places of India. It's this - do not go to such places alone!
It's one thing to travel solo to India's tourist hubs of Rishikesh, Varkala or Goa, and quite another - to visit uninhabited or sparsely inhabited places of India. Travel to such uncultivated places in a group, or at least with one more person, so that your safety is assured.