If you’re struggling with ideas for a four-day vacation, we’ve got inspiration. Soak in the sun on India’s southern coast, scarfing down delicious beef fry in Mararikulam, Kerala, and diving in Pondicherry, near Chennai. Wildlife lovers might try their luck spotting the one-horned rhino in Assam’s Kaziranga National Park; March is prime safari season. Or escape to the mountains to soak in the last of the winter; try your hand at pottery in the village of Andretta in Himachal Pradesh or choose long walks and fruity treats in Uttarakhand’s Landour, home to Ruskin Bond.
Elephant rides allow visitors to get quite close to the wild one-horned rhino. Photo: Strdel/AFP/Getty Images
Squat rhinos peep from the tall elephant grass, as swamp deer gaze lazily at elephants carrying fascinated tourists. Kaziranga Tiger Reserve offers a unique experience: it is the best place in the country to see the highly endangered one-horned great Indian rhinoceros in the wild, since two-thirds of the world’s one-horned rhino population lives here. While the armoured mammals are the main attraction, many birds and animals can be spotted through the dense vegetation, including the wild Asiatic water buffalo, Bengal tiger, hog deer, and Assam roofed turtle. —Natasha Sahgal
Life’s a beach when you’re on a sunbed at Mararikulam, Kerala. Photo courtesy Marari Villas
Mararikulam is a spectacular beach, a snaking strip of sand wedged between deep-green backwaters and the Arabian Sea. Marari Villas is designed to provide guests maximum privacy. The resort combines the perks of renting a bungalow with the advantages of checking into a resort. Each of its five villas has its own housekeeper, chef, and manager to make sure guests have everything they need. There are five spiffy villas, some for couples, and others for families of six or more. —Neha Sumitran
A diver prepares to go underwater at Shy Shark Reef, a popular dive spot for shark sightings. Photo: Jyothy Karat
When I discovered that it was possible to scuba dive in Pondicherry (Puducherry), I was delighted. The Temple Adventures dive centre buzzed with divers of all levels. The dive centre is popular with advanced divers. But beginners can pick the “Discover Scuba Diving” programme that allows even non-swimmers a glimpse of the world under water. The waters around India’s east coast remain largely unexplored. Every now and then, a new dive site is discovered. —Jyothy Karat
Spend your days bent over a potter’s wheel in Andretta. Photo: Yamini Dhall
Andretta is a prosperous, clean and green village. It curves around a gentle hill slope and looks up at the mighty Dhauladhar range, which often has snow-covered peaks. The streams are noisy and houses hide behind overhangs of trees. It doesn’t feel like I am living in a village because the crowd is such a mix of international and local people. The paths are mostly paved or metalled, and there is marked absence of garbage or visible sewage. Yet, it is not urban in any sense of the word. It is an idyllic space that lets you dream, slow down a little. The villagers are used to eccentric artist-types moving around, so they are not overtly curious or judgmental. In typically Himachali fashion, they are warm with their hospitality and help. —Yamini Dhall
Lovely Landour looks like a picture postcard and is about the same size. A steep, four-kilometre drive from Mussoorie, it is a world that floats dreamily in clouds and mist, far removed from the crowded hill station below. Salubrious air and beautiful walks remain the chief highlights of this former cantonment area. Besides colonial-era churches, quaint shops, and a 19th-century cemetery, there are brick and stone cottages peeping from under ivy, and weathered, wooden signboards carved with names like Parsonage and Cosy Nook. —Ambika Gupta
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