India is a vast country with a rich history and vibrant culture. While famous destinations like the Taj Mahal and Kerala backwaters attract millions of tourists, India also has many hidden gems waiting to be explored.
In this article, I will reveal 7 secret places in India that are off-the-beaten-path and not well known to most tourists. From secluded tropical islands to extraordinary architecture museums, these destinations offer a glimpse into the hidden side of incredible India.
1. Lakshadweep Islands – India’s Own Maldives
The Lakshadweep Islands are a pristine tropical paradise tucked away from the world’s gaze. With its coral reefs, clear blue waters, and untouched beaches, Lakshadweep is a haven for divers, snorkelers, and sunseekers.
Fun Fact: Lakshadweep has around 36 islands but only 10 are inhabited. Out of those, only 6 islands are open to tourism.
So it is an exclusive and secluded slice of preserved nature. You won’t find any mega resorts here like in the Maldives, just humble eco-friendly accommodation.
Getting There: Lakshadweep is not the easiest place to reach. You need to take a flight or drive to Kochi, then take a boat ride to the islands. But the effort is worth it!
What to Do:
- Relax on the white sand beaches
- Snorkel or scuba dive to see the coral reefs
- Go on a sunset cruise
- Try watersports like kayaking, sailing, windsurfing
Where to Stay:
- Bangaram Island Resort
- Kadmat Island Resort
- Minicoy Island Resort
If you love tropical island getaways, put Lakshadweep on your India bucket list!
2. Ramoji Film City – World’s Largest Film Studio
For Bollywood fans, Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad is a must-visit. This massive studio complex spans over 2000 acres and has been the filming location for over 1000 movies.
Fun Fact: Ramoji Film City holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest film studio complex.
It contains over 5,000 movie sets including replicas of international landmarks, real villages, fantasy locations, and more. You never know where imagination ends and reality begins here!
Getting There: Ramoji Film City is located about 30 km outside Hyderabad. A taxi or private car is the most convenient way to reach here.
What to Do:
- Take a guided tour of the studio sets
- Watch live action film shoots
- Enjoy theme park rides and attractions
- See stunt shows and filmmaking demos
- Shop for movie merchandise
- Eureka – An 81 ft statue of India’s first astronaut
- Hanging Gardens – Based on the Hanging Gardens of Babylon
- Chennai Railway Station
- Airport Terminal Set
Ramoji Film City brings the magic of the movies to life. It’s a must-visit for any Bollywood or cinema fan visiting Hyderabad.
3. Rann of Kutch – Magical Salt Desert
The Rann of Kutch in Gujarat is an ethereal salt marsh that resembles a frozen desert under the moonlight. Walking on the sparkling white salt flats is an otherworldly experience.
This unique landscape was once a shallow part of the Arabian Sea. After getting disconnected, it gradually became a salt desert over centuries. During monsoons, the Rann fills up with water to become a scenic wetland.
Fun Fact: Rann of Kutch is the largest salt desert in the world. The salt flats spread across 7,505 square km.
Getting There: The nearest city is Bhuj. To reach the white desert, take local transport or arrange a private car. The ideal time to visit is November to March.
What to Do:
- Watch sunset or sunrise on the salt flats
- Stay in traditional mud huts to stargaze at night
- Visit Kalo Dungar (Black Hill) for panoramic views
- Spot wildlife like nilgais, chinkaras, foxes
- Buy handicrafts and traditional dresses
A trip to the Rann of Kutch is like traveling to another planet! This surreal landscape should be on every India traveler’s bucket list.
4. Chintakur Island – Private Island Escape
For the ultimate island getaway, head to Chintakur Island off the Karnataka coast. This private island getaway has just 8 rooms, so you’ll feel far away from the crowds.
Chintakur has an infinity pool overlooking the sea, private beach access, and secluded villas to stay immersed in luxury. The island exudes an exclusive tropical vibe.
Fun Fact: Chintakur island can be booked out fully for destination weddings or corporate retreats.
Getting There: Reach Mangalore by flight or train first, then take a speedboat to Chintakur island.
What to Do:
- Relax by the infinity pool
- Have romantic sunset dinners
- Try water sports like snorkeling, kayaking
- Get spa therapies and Ayurvedic treatments
- Spot dolphins on a cruise
Where to Stay: Chintakur Island has private villas and suites for an intimate escape.
Chintakur Island offers a dreamy slice of paradise with few guests, letting you soak in the beauty of the Indian Ocean in peace.
5. Channapatna – India’s Toy Town
The small town of Channapatna near Bengaluru has been renowned for its wooden toys for over 200 years. The colorful handmade toys are made with natural dyes.
This traditional art is now endangered with only 1000 artisans left in Channapatna. Cheap plastic toys are threatening the livelihood of these skilled craftsmen.
Fun Fact: It can take 2-3 hours for a skilled artisan to handcarve and paint a single Channapatna toy!
Getting There: Channapatna is just a half-day trip from Bengaluru by road. You can visit on a day trip.
What to Do:
- Visit toy factories to see production
- Buy unique souvenirs and toys
- See lacquerware and doll making
- Try your hand at toy making
- Support the artisans by shopping locally
Visiting Channapatna gives travelers a chance to experience India’s incredible arts, crafts, and disappearing heritage up close. It’s time we protect these traditions before they vanish completely.
6. Hasta Shilpā Heritage Village
Tucked away in Mangalore, Hasta Shilpā is a one-of-a-kind outdoor architecture museum. It documents diverse architectural styles from different Indian states.
Obsessive collector Mr. Vijayanath Shenoy built this heritage village by relocating over 18 ancient houses to his land. The houses were dismantled from their original sites and rebuilt in Mangalore.
This “living museum” authentically showcases building styles from Kashmir, Gujarat, Kerala, and more. For architecture lovers, Hasta Shilpā is a hidden gem worth discovering.
Fun Fact: Hasta Shilpā means “handicrafts” in Sanskrit. The museum has over 4000 artifacts on display!
Getting There: Hasta Shilpā is 6 km from Mangalore. Take a taxi or rickshaw to reach here.
What to Do:
- Take a guided tour of the houses
- See rare artwork, antiques, furniture
- Shop for handicrafts and souvenirs
- Relax in the open-air restaurant
Hasta Shilpā beautifully captures India’s diversity under one roof. Don’t miss this secret museum on your next trip!
7. Mahabalipuram Monuments
The coastal town of Mahabalipuram has UNESCO World Heritage monuments dating back to the 7th-9th century Pallava dynasty. The rock-cut cave temples and stone carvings display exquisite artistry.
Yet Mahabalipuram remains off the radar beyond the iconic shore temple. By exploring beyond the main complex, you can discover hidden gems like Krishna’s Butter Ball, the Tiger’s Caves, and more.
Fun Fact: Mahabalipuram was an important port for trade between South India and Europe. Many monuments have Greek/Roman influences.
Getting There: Mahabalipuram is 60km from Chennai, under 2 hours by car. Trains and buses are also available.
What to Do:
- Marvel at the architecture and stone carvings
- Visit the museums to learn history
- Relax on the beach
- Shop for stone sculptures as souvenirs
The monuments of Mahabalipuram offer a glimpse into India’s majestic past. Away from crowded cities, it makes for the perfect history getaway.
Best Time to Visit These Secret Places in India
Here is an overview of the best time to visit these offbeat destinations in India:
|Place||Best Time to Visit|
|Lakshadweep Islands||October to May|
|Ramoji Film City||Open year-round|
|Rann of Kutch||November to March|
|Chintakur Island||October to March|
|Channapatna||September to March|
|Hasta Shilpā Heritage Village||Open year-round|
|Mahabalipuram Monuments||October to March|
The winter and post-monsoon months are ideal to explore India’s hidden treasures. Summers can get very hot in most parts of India.
How to Make the Most of Your Trip
- Plan in advance – Many of these places need permits or are not easily accessible. Do your research beforehand.
- Hire local guides – This helps overcome language barriers and navigate easily.
- Respect the environment – Follow responsible tourism guidelines to preserve the ecology.
- Travel in small groups – To experience the magic and not overwhelm fragile destinations.
- Pack appropriately – Carry supplies like medicines, snacks, and gear based on the place.
- Shop local – Buying locally made crafts supports traditional artisans.
India’s hidden gems offer a magical look into the incredible diversity of the country beyond the popular circuits. For your next visit, venture off the beaten path to uncover the secret soul of incredible India!
Offbeat Hill Stations
Munnar, Shimla, Darjeeling…India has iconic hill stations on the tourist map. But hidden in the mountains are also lesser known gems with old-world charm.
Pachmarhi, MP – Scenic hill town with waterfalls, caves, and grottos set in the Satpura ranges.
Chitkul, HP – Last village on the old Hindustan Tibet trade route, with stunning mountain views.
Kotagiri, TN – Misty hill retreat with tea estates in the Nilgiri hills.
Mawlynnong, Meghalaya – “Cleanest village in Asia” with living root bridges and waterfalls.
So next time you plan a trip to the hills, try one of these offbeat destinations for an unforgettable experience. The landscapes and village life will leave you enchanted.
India offers intrepid travelers endless opportunities to uncover secrets around the corner. Once you venture beyond the guidebooks, a hidden world of magic and wonder awaits.
Respect local cultures, travel slow, and immerse yourself fully. The real heart of India beats in the hands of artisans, echoes in ancient caves, and lives on through dying traditions. Go discover it!
Which of these hidden gems intrigued you the most? Share your thoughts below!