Valentine's Day travel planner: Four perfect excuses to make sweet love
February brings plenty of reasons for lovers to celebrate, including four perfect getaways. Canoodle on the beach, steam up that boat ride, surf the wave of love, or turn on the lovelights by the lake.
February. The official time to go soppy, all in the name of Valentine’s Day. Never mind those who tut tut at (or in some extreme cases, beat up) couples holding hands in public. It's time to channel your inner romantic and head out for a V-day break to one of these destinations.
Love-lights in Udaipur
It is considered the most romantic city in India, the city where celebrities choose to tie the knot in princely style (alright, now is not the time to think of Elizabeth Hurley). Take a morning to go around the city palace with its gorgeous coloured glass windows and elegant paintings. Then stop off for lunch and shopping along the side lanes. As you walk around, you will be reminded by restaurants and cafes that the James Bond movie Octopussy was shot here. Every one of them has a board inviting you for free screenings of the movie along with dinner on the roof-top.
In the evening, take the ropeway going up from Deen Dayal Park near lake Picchola to the top of Machhala hill to watch the sun set over the lake and in the Aravalli mountains in the distance. Wait for the lights come on in the city, and you’ll know what the fuss is all about. The city palace all lit up is an especially lovely sight.
If you have the money, then splurge on the Taj Lake Palace hotel that seems to float dreamily right on the lake, or the Oberoi UdaiVilas/Leela by the shores. Udaipur also has many guesthouses and homestays for all budgets. The Ishwar Palace is a budget option near the lake. The Devra is a bit more expensive (rooms start from Rs 5500 per night for a couple) but highly recommended.
Bollywood romance in Kasargod
Tired of the same cliché Kerala scenes of boats on the backwaters and swaying coconut trees? Head out instead for the rain-drenched ramparts of the Bekal fort made famous by director Maniratnam in his movie Bombay. With its soulful music and looks of longing on the faces of Manisha Koirala and Arvind Swamy, the fort has come to symbolise the ultimate lovers rendezvous in the area. Go on a weekday and you will find the place quiet and almost empty.
The fort, maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, in the Kasargod region of Kerala is the largest in the state, spread over 40 acres, and certainly the best preserved. It was built sometime in the 1650s and has been ruled in later times by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, followed by the British.
Stay at the plush Lalit Hotel and Spa in Bekal or at the Nalanda Resort in nearby Nileshwaram, which also offers an ideal base to explore the entire region. If you must have the backwaters experience (after all, you are in Kerala), then opt for nearby Valiyaparamba, which is being promoted by the Kerala government as the most scenic backwaters stretch in Kerala. Valiyaparamba is about 30 km South of Bekal, and is fed by four rivers and includes several little islands. So go ahead, take that steamy boat ride.
Romantic adventure in Orissa
If you prefer a dash of adventure to spice the lovelife, head out early for your romantic getaway to Orissa for the country’s first surfing festival. To be held between 7-9 February, it will be staged on a beach called the Marine Drive between Puri and Konark. It is organised by a local group called Surfing Yogis and is aimed at promoting Orissa as a world class surfing destination. Along with the surfing, there are workshops, music performances and cinema screenings on the agenda.
If you are not an experienced surfer, now is the chance to learn from experts from all around the world. Participants can stay in tents or huts at Surfer’s Island close to the venue. For more details, write to email@example.com. Or plan your trip now with the High on Travel guys.
And while you are in Orissa, be sure to check out the beautiful sun temple at Konark, just 35 km from Puri. The temple is dedicated to the sun god Surya who resides there with his two wives Chhaya and Sandhya. The scorching, all-powerful sun with his soft, gentle consorts, shade and evening. The detailed carvings on walls of the temple moved Rabindranath Tagore to say, “Here the language of stone surpasses the language of man.”
Carnival of love in Goa
If you cannot get away for Valentine’s Day (it does fall mid-week), then head to one of the quiet beaches of South Goa that weekend for a quick break. I recommend Palolem that remains relatively unvisited and has some of the cleanest and prettiest stretches of sea in Goa. The Palolem Beach Resort is a good option for a quiet and comfortable stay.
The really good news: you get to check out India's best-known carnival which begins on 18 February, and offers the perfect excuse to extend your romantic sojourn. The Carnival celebration, an 18th century legacy from the Portuguese era, happens just before Lent. It is now an annual 3-day event here and features floats, processions, performances and general frolic, in keeping with the spirit of Goa. Go there with a firm resolve to eat, drink and be merry, and take your camera along. The photographyonthemove team is organising a two day photo tour in Goa – see here for more details.
And finally a bonus: 17 February is the Random Act of Kindness day. So go all out, bring a smile to someone's face this month.
Charukesi Ramadurai is a freelance writer and travel blogger from Bangalore. When she is not actually travelling, she is busy planning her next trip. Read more about her at her website.
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