The new Apple iPhone 7 has been released but it doesn’t come cheap. As a matter of fact, they cause quite a hole in your pocket if ‘rich’ is not your middle name. If you’re in the school of thought that experience and memories matter more than possessing a swanky new phone, here are 6 places in India to visit that are cheaper than the iPhone 7.
- Kasol, Himachal Pradesh
Stretched along the beautiful Parvati River and with mountain views to the northeast, Kasol is the main travelers hang-out in the valley. It’s a small village, but almost overrun with reggae bars, bakeries and cheap guesthouses catering to a largely hippie crowd. It’s also a summertime venue for trance parties transplanted from Goa and at any time an easy base for exploring the forested valley or just chilling out.
Manikaran Sahib is a huge Gurudwara tucked between imposing hills and a fierce Beas. The high point of the Manikaran Sahib is the hot spring located within the premise of the Gurudwara. Manikaran is just about 6 kms from Kasol so you can take a hike or hitch a ride, whatever suits you. Unless you’re planning a budget trip, this is certainly cheaper than an iPhone 7.
If what you seek is peace, then Pondicherry is one of the choicest holiday destinations in South India. The town offers a unique experience with its mix of modern heritage and spiritual culture. With a predominantly historical background, Pondicherry takes one centuries back in time. Let’s not forget that it also makes for the perfect bachelorette destination too.
Learn to surf at the Kallialay Surf School in Tandriankuppam or if you’d rather be underwater, you can explore the waters of the Bay of Bengal which are rife with aquatic life. Also, because Pondicherry is a union territory, alcohol is cheaper here than in most places in India.
- Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu
There are few more refreshing Tamil Nadu moments than boarding a bus in the heat-soaked plains and disembarking in the sharp pinch of a Kodaikanal night or morning. This misty hill station, 120km northwest of Madurai in the Palani hills, is more relaxed and intimate than its big sister Ooty (Kodai is the ‘Princess of Hill Stations’, while Ooty is the Queen). It’s not all cold either; during the day the weather can be more like deep spring than early winter.
The street food in Kodai is amazingly good, going at Rs.20 for a whole packet of fried chicken or any other variety of the like. There are also several places to stay going from Rs.200 upwards and the views are fantastic.
- Alleppey, Kerala
Alappuzha is a magnificent destination in Kerala with mix of Backwaters and Beach. While Kerala has much to offer especially places like Kochi, Alappuzha is something very different. Also known as Alleppey, it is situated on the shores of Arabian Sea close to the banks of Vembanad Lake. It is fondly referred to as ‘Venice of East’, because of being nestled by canals and other waterways. This water-locked district with its picturesque lakes, serene day to day life, sandy beach, well-fed canals flanked by palms and spectacular lagoons, attract a crazy number of tourists every year from all around the world. You can rent a kayak of your own for a meager Rs.100 and explore the backwaters.
- Pushkar, Rajasthan
Pushkar has a magnetism all of its own – it’s quite unlike anywhere else in Rajasthan. The town curls around a holy lake, said to have appeared when Brahma dropped a lotus flower. It also has one of the world’s few Brahma temples. With 52 bathing ghats and 400 milky-blue temples, the town often hums with puja (prayers) generating an episodic soundtrack of chanting, drums and gongs, and devotional songs.
The result is a muddle of religious and tourist scenes. The main street is one long bazaar, selling anything to tickle a traveler’s fancy, from hippy-chic tie-dye to didgeridoos. Despite the commercialism and banana pancakes, the town remains enchantingly small and authentically mystic. Whether it’s lodging, food, camel rides or some good ol’ bhaang lassi, Pushkar is there to sort you out with a bargain.
- McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh
When tourists talk of heading up to Dharmasala (to see the Dalai Lama), this is where they mean. McLeod Ganj is the residence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and the site of the Tibetan exile community’s main temple. The Tibetan government-in-exile is based just downhill at Gangchen Kyishong, and McLeod is home to a large Tibetan population, including many monks and nuns.
It’s also, along with Manali, one of the two big traveller hang-outs in Himachal Pradesh, where thousands of people come each year to volunteer with the Tibetan community, take courses in Buddhism, meditation or yoga, trek in the lofty and beautiful Dhauladhar Mountains, or just hang out and enjoy the low-budget spiritual vibe. McLeod has many budget hotels and guesthouses, cafes and restaurants offering Indo-Italo-Israeli-Tibetan food (with free, erratic wi-fi), travel agencies and shops selling Tibetan souvenirs, all crowded into just a couple of blocks, like a mini-Kathmandu.