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Where Would You Go?

Friday, January 08, 2016

It’s a new year, and time to add a new holiday destination to your list. What places are you dying to visit this year? The 48hrs Team picks their favourite destinations and speaks to people around the city to find out where they want to holiday this year

Besides the fact that 2016 has several long weekends, the new year always brings with it excitement and novelty. As 2016 begins, we look at a few destinations to add to your travel bucket list. We’ve picked places from India and around the world that leave us excited about travel and exploration — whether it’s for our love of the outdoors, the glamour of a getaway, to steep ourselves in the culture of a region or for some good old-fashioned alone time. We’ve also spoken to people from across Mumbai to find out about their picks for travel this year.

Ladakh for its culture

Who wouldn’t love to go to Ladakh? That’s why it features among our picks of the places to visit in 2016. Ladakh is one of the most popular tourist spots in the conflicted region of Kashmir, but sadly, many are yet to visit it. And, when you are there, don’t miss the Thikse Buddhist Monastery, which was founded in the 15th century and is located at a staggering altitude of 11,800 feet above sea level! See the surreal lakes Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri for photo opportunities that you won’t find anywhere else. Zanskar Valley, one of the most isolated locations in India, offers brilliant views of mountains and gorges, but plan carefully, because it is closed for eight months of the year due to heavy rainfall.

The Galápagos Islands for its connection with life
We can dream a little bigger in 2016, can’t we? While the Galapagos may not make everyone’s bucket list for travel, the sheer history associated with this archipelago of volcanic islands makes it a great place to visit at least once in your lifetime, especially if you love nature. After all, Charles Darwin laid the foundations for his theory of evolution right here! Even if you aren’t scientifically inclined, the Galapagos Islands teem with nature and take you away from your city life.

Magical Mykonos for glamour
Popularly known as the glamour island of Greece, Mykonos has been attracting leisure travellers and adventure seekers alike — and it has roped us in too! With an array of panoramic beaches, breathtaking views, luxurious hotels and budget-friendly hostels, there is no reason why you shouldn’t plan a sojourn to the island. The best time to visit Mykonos is in September and October, so booking now should help stay within your budget. However, it hosts a range of events regardless of the season. And, summer 2016 will see a range of beach parties on the mystique island that you shouldn’t miss out on.

Kodaikanal for its isolation
There is more to Tamil Nadu than just travelling around in a packed bus with sweat-soaked seats and the sun blazing down on you. Surprisingly, Kodaikanal is quite an interesting place to visit, and we think it’s genuinely prettier than its popular counterpart, Ooty. 120 kilometres northwest of Madurai in Palani hills, the hill station is intimate, relaxing and just the right distance away from the city. We would not want to miss a chance to spend even a weekend in this magical land away from the stress of city life.

Andamans for its legendary beaches
If you want to visit beaches that actually live up to their promise of fine sand and clear waters without having to get a visa stamped on your passport, the Andamans is where you should be! Travelling here will require careful planning — some of the Nicobar Islands are out of bounds to tourists (Indian or otherwise) and this is not a cheap destination. But, what it has to offer is nothing less than a dream — pristine beaches, picturesque blue-green water, a unique tribal ecosystem and diverse flora and fauna. Go for a dive at one of the many diving schools and then cycle around to visit all the attractions — a vacation here will be a blissful break from the daily grind.

Find out what people around the city are planning for their travel in 2016.

The vibrant Marrakesh in Morocco
Hair and makeup artist Priya Kapur tells us that she wants to explore this vibrant Moroccan city known as the Red City because of its sturdy brick walls. She says, “Marrakesh’s historic architecture and bustling streets are the closest I’ll ever come to travelling through time. I would love to visit its crowded souks (spice markets), while away afternoons in the labyrinthine gardens and learn more about its artistic and literary culture.”

The lovely Bora Bora Island
Fashion designer Masumi Mewawalla is super excited about Bora Bora, an island in the Pacific Ocean, close to Tahiti and part of French Polynesia. Masumi tells us, “With its endless stretches of pale blue seas and white sandy beaches, Bora Bora is a paradise on earth! Whether you want to simply take a nap on its sunny shores or try some adventure sports on its natural terrain, the spot offers a variety of options. I would love to stay at an ocean-view villa, just so I can wake up to a breathtaking sight every morning.”

Off the beaten track — Croatia
Vacationing in Europe doesn’t immediately throw up images of Croatia. But, fashion designer Sanchit Jain of the label Devasya, tells us that it’s a place he wants to visit this year. He says, “I have been told that Croatia is a picture perfect destination. I would love to go there with a few of my close friends. I plan on exploring the beautiful view and the pleasant atmosphere. I would love to rent a yacht and enjoy the sea — it has been my Mediterranean fantasy. Getting inked there and having a water adventure is also on my mind.”

The cold, barren land of Alaska
Dreaming of a white Christmas, but couldn’t go in time? Founder of travel company Adventure Overland, Tushar Agarwal, says that his travel goal for 2016 is to go to Alaska for the unique wildlife and the Northern Lights. He tells us, “The challenge, the excitement and the barrenness of Alaska make it special. You can cross the Arctic Circle, walk on glaciers and drive to Deadhorse, the northernmost point of America! It is going to be a very special holiday and I’m looking forward to having a once-in-a-lifetime experience in Alaska.”

London for a bit of “bleasure”
Akalpit Prabhune, director at Rhythm Winery, tells us that he doesn’t have the time for a full-blown vacation. He says, “At this point in my career, I don’t have the liberty to follow my heart for a vacation. I always travel for “bleasures” — i.e. business with pleasure. For that, I have plans to travel to London. It’s the perfect blend of a European, British and Indian lifestyle.” And, he thinks it’s also the perfect place for Rhythm’s authentic Indian wines to be launched.

The allure of Pondicherry
The South of India has a unique allure and it has captured the heart of fashion designer Ritu Seksaria. She tells us, “A few of my friends went there last year and since they returned, they have been raving about the destination. I would like to learn more about the French influence on their culture and cuisine. A walk on the pristine and desolate beaches would be the perfect way.”

The Sundarbans for some peace and quiet
Author Ekta Saigal Pundit has been eyeing The Sundarbans in Bengal for a while. She tells us, “I have had a fascination for the jungle ever since I began to understand myself, and have spent quite a few years exploring many beautiful jungles of India including Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Thekkady, Corbett and Ranthambore. They not only offer me respite from the mundane, organised life of the city, but also rejuvenate me completely. For me, being in the soul stirring environment of the jungle is somewhat akin to meditation. The Sundarbans are an alluring destination for several reasons. I feel drawn to the mystical aura of this forest, the wilderness and the life that they contain.”

The Tuscany charm
Archana Kumari Singh, president of Frazer and Haws, says that her 2016 would be incomplete without a visit to the villages in Tuscany. She says, “I want to get a grasp of their cuisine, so who better to turn to than the locals? I would love to live with a resident family and learn their exotic preparations, but also adopt the subtle nuances of their everyday cooking. I want to learn about their local ingredients and how they are used because I believe that gorging on local food is the best way to acquaint yourself with a culture!”

Istanbul once again
Though Prem Dewan, retail head of OSL Luxury Collections Pvt. Ltd. Corneliani, has been to Istanbul before, it’s the cuisine, architecture and warm hospitality that draws him back. He tells us, “I want visit Istinye Park again and shop for their vibrant and affordable local fashion. I also want to party hard in Nupera and enjoy their exotic Turkish baths again. There are the popular attractions including the Hagia Sophia mosque, but there are so many unknown spots in the city that haven’t become tourist centres yet, and I plan to head to them first.”

Pleasant weather shopping in Greece
Pooja Dhamdhere, founder and creator of INTOTO, already has her mind made up. Her travel calendar has May 2016 marked out for Greece. She says, “All the boutique resorts will open up and there will be more frequent ferry trips between the islands of Santorini and Mykonos during that season. This summer will give me respite from the boiling heat in Mumbai and I want to spend my nights partying at beach bonfires on Greece’s innumerable islands.”

Goa, because you can never go wrong
When it comes to beach parties and tropical destinations, our very own Goa tops the list for most people every single year. So, if you’re in the mood to go local, just like 25-year-old vocalist Nihal Shetty is, you know where the party’s at. Nihal tells us, “I’m a total beach person and it’s been almost six years since I last visited Goa. I love the Goa vibe. It’s a great place to just kick back with a couple of beers and lounge around while staying within budget.”

Marseille calling
22-year-old PR executive Megha Iyer finds Goa a bit too mainstream, and hopes to explore some spots not usually synonymous with tourism. She says, “This year, I’m in the mood to explore untouched parts of the world. While there are several yet-to-be-explored destinations in India, Marseille, in the south of France, is also on my bucket list. Despite being one of the oldest cities in France, it’s not quite a hot spot for Indian travellers, which makes it a great destination for someone like me who wants to explore an entirely new culture, meet different people and try the local food.”

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