Yes, there are many beautiful places in the world. Each more picturesque than the other. Scenic beaches, snow-mantled mountains, blue waters, unending valleys—but each touristy, peppered with brick hotels, straw cafes, plastic chairs, and excited humans. Need a more quiet, real and raw getaway? Want to get in touch with your inner self (whatever that is, if we actually have one)? Can be a leeetle adventurous? Try these.
Gran Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
At the end of the world – Gran Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
This is what you will encounter if you go to Gran Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flat in the world. Located in southwest Bolivia, it is covered with almost ten square kilometres of salt crust which lends it its famous flatness responsible for the optical illusions. The white flat is as arid as a desert and as white as a snow glacier. The eye can look as far as it can see. Go there for a respite for the eyes tired of looking at things, people, colour. And yes, you do have hotels there, offering a simple quaint ambience. Nothingness is what describes this place.
Pulpit Rock, Preikestolen, Norway
Lonely at the top – Pulpit Rock, Norway
Pulpit Rock is a huge monolithic cliff, 604 metres above Lysefjorden in Forsand, overlooking the rich green valleys of the Ryfylke region. The name ‘Pulpit’ because maybe when you stand atop it and look down below at the gorgeous scene, you might understand a thing or two about God’s ways. And it ain’t easy reaching the top. You have to undertake a hike of about 2 hours, and the walk is steep at a few places. The snowy winters are not really suitable for walking, so plan your trip from April to October. But when you reach the top, breathe.
Pangong Tso Lake, India-China
Heaven would be like this – Pangong Tso Lake, India-China
Water so clear it could be mistaken for glass, and so blue it could feel like a dream. Standing in disputed territory between India and China-Tibet, the Pangong Tso is indisputably one of the most tranquil places on earth. You would, however, need a permit to go there. It is at a five-hour drive from Leh, through a rough adventurous road. The lake freezes in the winter, thereby, completing the glass illusion. Sitting by the lakeside, surrounded by brown mountains, you will have to be demented not to be overwhelmed by the scene in front.
A Tip: Please don’t flaunt your machismo by daring to take a dip. Remember what happened with Anushka Sharma in the movie Jab Tak Hai Jaan; even Shahrukh Khan would not come to rescue you from the chilled water.
No single destination, city or town. The whole of it. Iceland is a happy country. Low cost flights straight to Iceland make people travelling to this country happy as well. Stable economy, low crime rate, fluid borders, happy people. The peace is bound to rub off on anyone who spends some time here. Misty weather, snowy mountains, clear lakes, hot springs, untouched landscapes—Iceland is straight out of a European romance novel. Okay, if you so insist on my recommendations for places to visit, I suggest the pastoral town of Akureyri, the pebbled beach of Djúpalónssandur (it took me a good 60 seconds to get the name right)…there are tens of places each equally worthy, so pick any.