A pilgrimage site for Hindus, Amarkantak is the source of the Narmada and Sone rivers. Picturesque ponds, hills, forests and waterfalls make the village a very sought after destination for tourists. The story of the ashes of Shiva’s destruction fell on the village that magically transformed into thousands of shivalingas. One such idol still stands today at Jwaleshwar.
Amarkantak got its name from the Sanskrit poet Kalidasa, who called it Amrakoot due to the abundance of mango trees.
Despite several pilgrims visiting it every year, accommodation is limited to state run guest lodges and ashrams.
2. Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh
Located 3048 metres above sea level, Tawang is located in the northwestern edge of Arunachal Pradesh and shares a border with Tibet. It is well known for the Tawang Monastery which was founded by the Mera Lama Lodre Gyasto in accordance with the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, Nagwang Lobsang Gyatso. It belongs to the Gelugpa sect and is the largest Buddhist monastery in India.
The gilded roofs stand majestically with the background of the Himalayas, and the 8-m-tall statue seated Buddha is a grand image to be seen.
3. Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu
The origins of this town lies in Hindu mythology where Lord Rama was crowned the King of Lanka after defeating Ravana. He was asked to destroy the Rama Setu which he had built in order to cut off the island and he did so with his bow and arrow. Hence the literal translation of the name is “Bow’s end” (Dhanush for bow and kodi means end).
Today on the southern most tip of Pamban island and the closest point of India to Sri Lanka lies an abandoned ghost town. A cyclone in 1964 destroyed it and several people lost their lives. Today, visitors and pilgrims to nearby Rameswaram (18 km away) visit the ruins and remains of the town.
4. Punsari, Gujarat
This is sometimes called the model village as it has embraced modernity by adopting technology in every aspect. Every household has access to wi-fi while CCTVs have been installed for the security of all residents. Some of the facilities provided by the panchayat include local mineral water supply, sewer & drainage projects, a healthcare centre, banking facilities and a toll-free complaint reception service.
The scenery is not the highlight but the astounding development that we could never imagine for an Indian village is top-notch.
5. Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh
Sanchi houses various Buddhist memorials and historic sites which belong to the period ranging from 12th century CE (Common Era) to 3rd century BCE (Before Common Era). The Sanchi Stupa is a popular Buddhist pilgrimage centre in India. The area has won the honor of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Several pilgrims come here to visit the memorials as it played a significant role in the rise of Buddhism in the country.
Other than the stupas, there is an archaeological museum in place which houses a number of amazing relics and works of art. These works of art truly reflect the culture and background of this famous pilgrimage site. Stunning carvings and implements made of metal as ancient as 2000 years would instill a sense of that period in you.
Sanchi is 46 km from Bhopal.
6. Tanot, Rajasthan
This village is close to the border with Pakistan and has a connection to the Kargil War. In 1965, the Pakistani army tried to bomb the Tanot Mata Temple but none of the bombs fell directly on it or damaged any of the property. Today those bomb shells are housed in the army museum of the temple which is run by the jawans. Tanot is a sea of dunes and is the best place to admire the beauty of the Thar desert in winter.
For all you Bollywood fans out there, the movie Border was shot here.