Snorkelling on secluded reefs, farming on a private vegan farm or pitching a tent by a high-altitude lake …………… the desire to go off the beaten path on holidays is getting bigger and bigger. It could be actually going off the electricity grid and living on solar or hydro power or simply driving to an un-explored hideout with no screens or Wi-Fi to interfere with your idyllic vacation.
(1) Maritime Adventure : Sunbathe on pristine-white sand beaches, hunt for sea-shells and swim in the warm sea. Aquatic enthusiasts could take a dip and get “up close and personal” with some of the world’s rarest underwater marine life, including schools of dolphins, sharks and manta rays in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. For an out-of-an-ordinary experience, one could head to either Little Andaman Island in a helicopter, hike through tropical wilderness to cool waterfalls or visit the very remote Long Island, a tiny speck in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago, about a 1,000km off the Indian Coast in the Bay of Bengal. It is a six-hour boat ride from the capital Port Blair. The jetty ride to the island offers a view of thick groves of mangroves. Another place called Baratang Island, located 100km away from Port Blair, also offers a boat safari through a tunnel of mesmerising mangroves.
(2) Unplugged Vegan Forest : A genuine detour from the day-to-day existence, life on Sadhana Forest in Auroville, Puducherry, is truly fulfilling. Members of the forest, an international volunteer community, live in eco-huts and rely entirely on solar and windmill for energy needs. Their eco-friendly way of life also includes veganism, alternative construction, bio-degradable toiletries, recycling, food composting, riding bicycles, compost toilets, and purchasing local, organic foods whenever possible. They have been working on restoring indigenous topical pines to the land to help curb erosion, anchor soil and save water. Stay here for free, simply in exchange for some volunteer work on the organic farm or chip in cooking meals or maintaining solar panels.
(3) Hushed Homestay In The Ghats : Solar-powered LED lights, natural ventilation and home-grown supplies define this little gem tucked away in the Western Ghats on the border of Goa and Karnataka. Off the grid, as it’s called, is not connected to any supplied utilities like electricity, water, internet or phones. Run by white-water specialist John Pollard and his wife Sylvia Kerkar, a pottery artist, the place is eco-friendly, small, organic, rustic and ultra-low impact. Be it trekking, waterfall day trips or night safaris, this is a perfect noise-free vacation. A Bengaluru-based travel company Getoffurass has organised “Living off the Grid” vacations in the past in nearby North Karnataka. “The region is not connected to the grid, forcing travellers to live off the land exploring various local technologies on the farm like cooking over fire, building structures using mud, hay and more,” says organiser Santosh.
(4) Carbon Positive Break : Anyone who has been to Spiti, knows how off-the-grid it can get. High-altitude monasteries and nunneries and elusive wildlife, flora and fauna in an untouched land. Batal is the nearest habitation-point near Chandratal, a high-altitude lake in Spiti. There is nothing else for miles around. Camping in Spiti can be a genuinely off-the-map experience with only a starry sky for lighting and river water for cooking and drinking. Another way to see Spiti off-the-grid is to travel with Ecosphere, a volunteer organisation that’s running entire villages on wind solar hybrid power in the area. Go on yak safaris and rejoice in traditional theatre of the wandering Lamas.