Make Picture-Perfect Memories With A Road Trip to These Places

Some travellers love having an itinerary that plans every minute of their holiday; others are more free-spirited and prefer to “go with the flow” when they travel. And then there are those who desire to experience journeys instead of only counting destinations.

What travel style you choose doesn’t matter, as long as your quest to explore new places drives you to plot a plan on the map ever so often. And with the winter in full bloom, now is an excellent time to escape for a week or more. So, if you’re looking for a great start to 2021, check out these off-beat destinations to experience a blend of culture, spirituality and natural scenic beauty.

Tamenglong, Manipur

The heavenly charm of this quaint town in Manipur will leave a mark on every nature lover’s heart. Also known as the land of Hornbill, the forest in Tamenglong is a biodiversity hub and home to rare plants and exquisite wildlife including hyenas, tigers and leopards. From an enthralling expedition in the Tharon cave or sitting by the picturesque setting of Zeilad lake, the opportunities for adventure and relaxation reside in equal amounts in this town. You can head out to the Barak river to enjoy a day of picnicking amidst the beauty of cascading waterfalls or indulge in water sports for an adrenaline-packed day.

Driving through Tamenglong will take you over dirt, rocks and occasionally, even through water. With your Ford Freestyle, traversing these steep roads and challenging terrains will be easy and safe thanks to its SUV-like credentials, high ground clearance and enhanced safety with segment-first active rollover prevention or ARP. With its immersive infotainment system that has embedded navigation, finding your way through this lush green area would be a breeze.

Pushkar, Rajasthan

Very often, you hear avid travellers talk about the “vibe” of a place, but it is not until you step foot in Pushkar that you can grasp that essence. This tranquil town is just a two-hour drive from Jaipur and is perfect for vacationing on a budget. Apart from lip-smacking Rajasthani delicacies like Malpua, the booming cafe culture in Pushkar will take you to Italian pizzerias and middle eastern cuisine. Foodie or not, your tastebuds will have a gala time devouring these treats. The Pushkar lake or ghat is the lifeline of this town and sitting atop its steps is an excellent way to enjoy the sunset hues. If you’re itching to stretch your legs, hike up to Savitri temple to soak in a panoramic view of the valley and snap some epic shots of the bustling town. With many pocket-friendly hotel options right in the heart of the main market, you can explore the vibrant alleys of Pushkar at a leisurely pace.

Varkala, Kerala

Varkala has a hearty combination of serene beaches and lively shacks that are popular among backpackers looking for a laid-back, bohemian vibe. With a picturesque cliff stretching over the Arabian Sea, you’ll find plenty photo-ops during the golden hour. Laze around by the soothing Kappil Lake Beach and peek into the Portuguese era by exploring the Anjengo Fort. Those looking to channel a spiritual aura can visit the Janardhana Swami Temple or the Sivagiri Mutt which is mausoleum perched on a hillock. And be it an Ayurvedic treatment to align your chakras or surf lessons that kicks your adrenaline, this town covers it all.

The drive from Kochi to Varkala is about 170 km, and you can make it enjoyable and relaxing by turning on the Cruise Control in your Ford EcoSport. The Push Button Start and paddle shifters on the EcoSport AT will add to your convenience while features like automatic Climate Control ensure the cabin temperature remains cool and comfortable throughout your journey.

Vattakanal, Tamil Nadu

High up in the Nilgiris is the tiny, lesser-known hamlet of Vattakanal in Tamil Nadu. It is also known as ‘Little Israel’ and is situated 471 km away from Bangalore and about 180 km from Coimbatore. Shrouded in clouds and surrounded by awe-inspiring cliffs, Vattakanal is not far from the popular hill station – Kodaikanal. The most famous sightseeing spot here is the Dolphin’s Nose which is a rock structure that juts out from the edge of the cliff and offers a breathtaking view of the alpine forests. A hike here will bring you face-to-face with the cascading Vattakanal waterfalls; an ideal place to unwind in the reflection of its crystal clear and cool waters. Foodies will particularly enjoy the offerings from the many cafes in the region that serve Middle eastern delicacies like Shakshouka. But to experience the true essence of the place, opt for a homestay or hostel and cherish the warm hospitality of the locals.

Kasar Devi, Uttarakhand

Befittingly called a hidden gem in the crown of Uttarakhand, Kasar Devi is a hushed hamlet situated a short drive from the buzzing town of Almora. A place that served as the meditation spot of Swami Vivekananda and was also D.H.Lawrence’s abode, it offers an escape tranquility and peace. Sit back and enjoy majestic views of Himalayan peaks or visit the Binsar wildlife sanctuary if you want to spot exotic birds and animals. And to enjoy authentic local food, relish the Kumaoni cuisine served at the restaurants.

If you often find yourself overpacking, you have nothing to worry about in your spacious Ford Endeavour. With power-fold rear seats, you will have a boot capacity of 2,010-liters, leaving you with space to carry all your travel essentials along with a camping kit to spend the night under the starlit skies. Besides, features like Terrain Management System and Hill Descent Control can help you confidently tackle the twists and turns that the winding slopes might throw at you.

Nothing screams freedom that travelling to your heart’s content. So, take that extended leave from work, put your responsibilities on snooze and give your worries about the future a break! After all, a rejuvenated mind and a happy, relaxed soul are just what you need to start the forthcoming year on a positive note.