India is a country renowned for its diversity, rich history, and contrasting landscapes, and one not very spoken about aspect of its contrasting landscapes are the most isolated places in India. Despite its high population density, this vast country is home to a handful of places that brim with profound solitude and untouched natural beauty, where the humdrum of urban life gives way to the raw grandeur of nature and slower rhythm of life.
Venturing into these lesser-known territories of India is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that provise a glimpse of the resilient life of communities that live at the edge of the world. From the scenic cold desserts of Ladakh to the enigmatic wilderness of Silent Valley in the south, this article takes you on a journey to some of the most isolated places in India.
But first, let’s cover some basics…
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Siachen Glacier, Ladakh
We start off this list of the most isolated places in India with the Siachen Glacier. Often referred to as the ‘Third Pole‘ because the glaciers in the region contain more fresh water than anywhere else on Earth except for the polar ice caps, the glacier is 76 kilometers long and sitting idly at 5,400 meters above sea level.
Surrounded by towering snow-capped mountain peaks and home to several rare species of fauna like the snow leopard, Himalayan brown bear, and ibex, the glacier is a symbol of unparalleled natural beauty. However, due to its strategic importance (near the Chinese border) and the extreme weather conditions, the region is only open to limited expeditions that require special permits from the local authorities.
Phugtal Monastery, Ladakh
Founded in the early 12th century, Phugtal Monastery is a monastery built inside a cliffside and home to the Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery complex has its own prayer rooms, library, living quarters, and a sacred spring, believed to have healing properties (everything is located in caves inside the cliffs). The Monastery is not easy to access or find because there is no direct road leading to it. The only way to get there involves a long trek through rugged, mountainous terrain.
Chatpal, Jammu and Kashmir
Tucked away in the mountains of the Pir Panjal range, Chatpal is known in India as “Heaven On Earth”. Its verdant meadows, dense forests, sparkling streams, majestic peaks, and abundant wildlife make the region one of the best destinations in India for nature lovers and solo travelers. Despite being one of the most isolated places in India, Chatpal offers various outdoor activities like trekking, camping, and yoga retreats, making it an ideal destination for adventure enthusiasts or people looking to get a break from the stress of everyday life.
Zanskar, Jammu & Kashmir
Enclosed between the Greater Himalayas and the Zanskar range, this remote valley is famous for its rugged beauty, ancient monasteries, and the indigenous Zanskari people who inhabit the region. The primary route into the region is the Zanskar River which freezes in the winter and makes getting to the valley almost impossible. During this time of the year, the only way to get there is via the Chadar Trek that includes trekking on the frozen river amidst the snow covered landscapes and scenic ice formations.
Pangong Tso, Ladakh
Comfortably situated at an altitude of about 4,350 meters, Pangong Lake is one of the highest but also most beautiful lakes in the world. Its azure blue waters change colors throughout the day, from vibrant blue under the clear sky to greenish-grey in overcast conditions. The lake is surrounded by scenic, rugged mountains, and its shores are a popular site for camping.
In addition to this, the lake is also a biodiversity hotspot; despite its brackish waters, it’s a crucial breeding ground for a variety of migratory birds, including the rare Black-necked cranes and seagulls. The region around the lake is sparsely vegetated due to the harsh weather conditions, but these weather conditions are perfect for the local kiang (Tibetan Wild Ass) and the elusive snow leopard.
Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh
Located in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, Spiti Valley is one of the most isolated places in India. Also known as the ‘Little Tibet,’ Spiti, (meaning ‘The Middle Land’) is nestled between India and Tibet. Its high-altitude desert landscapes, striking blue skies, scenic valleys, and scattered hamlets provide an enchanting blend of natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. The Valley is home to some of the oldest Buddhist monasteries in the coutntry, including the Ki Monastery and the Tabo Monastery, as well as ancient cave paintings, reflecting a fascinating history dating back over a thousand years.
Nako, Himachal Pradesh
Nestled at an altitude of over 3,600 meters, Nako is an oasis of calm and natural beauty in the heart of the Trans-Himalayan region. The region’s main attraction is the beautiful Nako Lake, located in the center of the village. This is one of the most tranquil retreats in this part of the country and the water is said to be so clean it reflects the imposing snow-capped peaks that surround the village.
The lake is also home to four Buddhist temples with impressive stucco images and murals that showcase Nako’s deep-rooted Buddhist culture. Last but not least, Nako also serves as the gateway for the trek to the holy site of Tashigang where Guru Padmasambhava often meditated.
Dharwas, Himachal Pradesh
Dharwas is a small, picturesque village located in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, and one of the most isolated places in India. It’s situated in the lap of the Dhauladhar range, famous for its lofty peaks and scenic beauty. The village is renowned for its remote location, making it one of the least explored places in the country. The nearest town is Dharamshala, about 45 kilometers away which is also pretty remote on its own. Traveling to Dharwas gives travelers the unique opportunity to catch a glimpse into the Himalayan way of life, far removed from the hustle and bustle of urban settings.
Kibithu, Arunachal Pradesh
Kibithu is a small town located in the Anjaw District of Arunachal Pradesh, the easternmost state of India. Kibithu is home to the easternmost motorable road in India and is one of the country’s most isolated regions due to its rough terrain and challenging weather conditions. The town lies along the Lohit River and is surrounded by lush green hills and dense forests, that experience heavy rainfall throughout the year which makes the roads impassable, especially during the monsoon season. Infrastructure is minimal, and access to amenities like healthcare and education can be challenging.
Nestled in the upper reaches of the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, Kalap is another one of the most isolated places in India. Sitting at approximately 7,500 feet above sea level, this remote village is cradled by the Himalayan ranges and remains untouched (yet) by the bustle of mainstream tourism. The village is surrounded by verdant forests, cascading waterfalls, and terraced farmlands and views of the snow-capped Himalayan peaks can be seen from pretty much anywhere.
Mechuka, Arunachal Pradesh
Mechuka, whose name translates to “Medicinal Water of Snow” (a reference to the snow-capped mountains that surround the area), is a small town nestled in the West Siang District of Arunachal Pradesh. The town lies approximately 6,000 feet above sea level and is only 30 kilometers away from the Indo-Tibetan border without any other settlements in its proximity. The region surrounding the town is also home to dense forests, the majestic Yargyap Chu River, and the indigenous Memba people who follow a unique blend of Tibetan Buddhism and indigenous belief systems.
Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh
Tucked away in the remote mountains of Arunachal Pradesh, Ziro is one of the most isolated places in India. However, despite its remote geographical location, Ziro is slowly gaining national and even international attention for its picturesque landscapes, unique tribal culture, and the now already famous Ziro Music Festival. The valley is home to the Apatani tribe, known for their unique agricultural practices and sustainable way of living. Ziro’s most prominent feature, however, is its pine-clad gentle hills interspersed with bamboo huts that make the area the ultimate serene getaway from the urban chaos.
Laitmawsiang is a prime example of nature’s craftsmanship; we’re referring to the Garden of Caves, a range of stunning rock formations that have been created for over millions of years. This isolated region is inhabited by the local Khasi people who are known for their vibrant culture and traditions and it seems like the remote location and living in isolation didn’t affect their warm hospitality. They have managed to preserve their simple, archaic way of life throughout the years and live as custodians of the rich biodiversity in Laitmawsiang.
Haflong is the highest and most remote hill station in the state of Assam, often referred to as the “Switzerland of the East” because of its scenic landscapes with an abundance of greenery and alpine lakes. Haflong is also home to several indigenous tribes, including the Dimasa, Zeme Naga, Hmar, and Kuki, making the town a diverse cultural melting pot despite its remote location. The town is also known for being a hotspot for birdwatching with over 200 species of birds inhabiting the area.
Located in the Majuli district of Assam, famous for being one of the largest river islands in the world, Garamur is known for being one of the most isolated places in India. The town is nestled in the majestic Brahmaputra and is historically significant due to its association with the Assamese neo-Vaishnavite culture. Garamur is home to one of the important “Satras” (religious and cultural institutions) established by Srimanta Sankardeva, a 15th-16th century Assamese saint, scholar and cultural reformer.
Dzukou Valley, Manipur
Located at the border between Nagaland and Manipur, Dzukou Valley is a stunning and picturesque valley renowned for its natural beauty, seasonal flowers, and jaw-dropping landscapes. Situated at an altitude of approximately 2,450 meters above sea level, Dzukou is often referred to as the “Valley of Flowers of the Northeast” because of the abundance of exotic endemic flowers (like the Dzukou lily that can only be found here and nowhere else) that give the valley its beautiful colors.
Standing at 2,157 meters (7,077 feet) above sea level, Phawngpui is the highest mountain peak in the state of Mizoram in India’s northeast. The peak is located near the southeastern border of India and Myanmar and is famous for its spectacular views and rich biodiversity. The mountain is covered in lush forests that are home to a myriad of various bird species that’s just another great reason to visit.
Thangu Valley, Sikkim
Thangu Valley is a scenic high-altitude village and valley located in the north of Sikkim. The valley sits at an elevation of around 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) above sea level and is best known for its alpine meadows, scenic rivers, and snowy mountains. That’s why it should come as no surprise as the valley provides some of the most stunning panoramic views in this part of the country.
During the winter, the valley is covered in snow while in the summer, the snow is replaced by rare alpine flowers and lush greenery. In addition to its remote location, another reason why the valley is one of the most isolated places in India is its strategic location close to the Chinese border which is a militarized area (because of the ongoing tensions between the two countries).
Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim
Sitting at 5,430 meters (17,800 feet) above sea level, Gurudongmar Lake is one of the highest but also most sacred lakes in the world. The lake situated in the North Sikkim district close to the Chinese (Tibet) border is named after Guru Padmasambhava who is revered as the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. It’s believed that the guru visited the lake in the 8th century and blessed its waters.
As for the landscapes surrounding the lake, they’re arid, rugged, and covered in snow for most of the year (no wonder this is one of the most isolated places in India). The lake itself is renowned for its mesmerizing turquoise blue waters and for not freezing despite the harsh winter conditions (locals attribute this to the blessings of Guru Padmasambhava).
Thar Dessert, Rajasthan
This list of the most isolated places in India couldn’t be complete without the iconic Thar Dessert in Rajasthan. The Thar Desert, also known as the Great Indian Desert, is a large, arid region in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent that covers an area of about 200,000 square kilometers (77,000 square miles) and spans across the Indian state of Rajasthan and the Pakistani provinces of Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan.
The desert is characterized by vast sandy plains interspersed with dunes and is home to a significant population, despite its harsh environment (it’s actually one of the most populated desert regions in the world).
Ghuar Mota, Kutch Region Of Gujarat
Ghuar Mota is a remote village located in the Kutch region of Gujarat, India, well-known for its white salt desert named the Great Rann of Kutch. The region has a unique ecosystem, including various species of mammals, birds, and reptiles, including several that are rare or endangered. Ghuar Mota is also known for its rich cultural heritage, including distinctive forms of folk music, dance, and the production of traditional crafts such as embroidery, pottery, and wood carving.
Kaas Plateau, Maharashtra
Despite being home to Mumbai and Pune (two of the largest cities in India) and being the second most populated state, Maharashtra still has a couple of hidden gems that are worth mentioning. The Kaas Plateau is a biodiversity hotspot located in the Western Ghats region of Maharashtra.
It’s situated approximately 25 kilometers west of Satara city and is primarily known for its colorful landscapes dominated by the bloom of various species of wildflowers after the monsoon season (between August and September). During this period, the plateau is covered with a colorful carpet of flowers that features over 850 species of flowers that are reported to be found on the plateau. Many of these plants are endemic to the region, meaning they can’t be found anywhere else in the world…
Araku Valley, Andhra Pradesh
Araku Valley is a popular hill station in the Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh. It’s situated at an elevation of about 911 meters above sea level and is nestled in the Eastern Ghats mountain range. The valley is famous for its pleasant climate throughout the year, the lush greenery, numerous waterfalls, and tribal communities (like the Araku tribe), which add to its cultural richness. Last but not least, we shouldn’t forget about one of the main attractions of Araku Valley; its coffee plantations where Araku coffee (one of the finest Indian varieties) is grown organically.
Located in the remote Kandhamal district of Odisha, Daringbadi is one of the most isolated places in India. Often referred to as ‘Kashmir of Odisha,’ Daringbadi is a picturesque hill station sitting at 3,000 feet above sea level. Its mountainous landscapes that closely resemble Kashmire, the cascading waterfalls (like Putudi Waterfalls and Ludu Waterfalls), lush coffee gardens, and pine forests make the town one of the last hidden gems of the Eastern Ghats.
Moreover, cultural richness adds another dimension to Daringbadi’s charm; the region is home to the Kandha tribe, known for their unique customs and traditions.
Hukitola Island, Odisha
Situated in the Kendrapara district of Odisha, Hukitola Island is another isolated and relatively lesser-known destination. The island is best known for the historical Hukitola building, an architectural marvel built by the British in 1867.
Today, what was once rice storing facility with an innovative rainwater harvesting system, represents a monument of national importance. The building’s design is a remarkable blend of Indo-British architectural styles, featuring extensive use of laterite stone and lime mortar.
Moreover, the island is also a part of the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary, the world’s largest nesting beach for Olive Ridley Turtles which is a must visit if you’re a nature enthusiast who enjoys seeing rare species.
Indira Point, Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Located in the Great Nicobar Island, the southernmost part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Indira Point is one of the most isolated places in India. The spot is the southernmost tip of India’s territory and it was named after the former Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi. The point is famous for its white sandy beaches and clear turquoise waters, offering stunning panoramic views of the ocean. And if that’s not enough, the lush tropical greenery and the rich marine life further compliment the allure of this remote destination.
The point is also home to one of the most iconic lighthouses in India; the lighthouse is 35 meters tall and was operational and served as a significant guide to ships navigating the Malacca Strait prior to the devastating tsunami in 2004.
Ross Island, Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Ross Island was once the administrative headquarters of the British colonial government but today it’s nothing more than haunting yet beautiful ruins which contributed to the island getting its nickname “the Paris of the East”. The island is dotted with remnants of British colonial architecture, including the Chief Commissioner’s house, the Presbyterian Church, a bakery, a water treatment plant, and the penal colony. The island was abandoned after a recent earthquake and after this, it’s no longer inhabited but there is a small museum on the island that’s a must stop for all curious visitors.
Badami is a historical town famous for its red sandstone landscapes, rock-cut temples and fortresses, each dedicated to different deities – Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Mahavira. The town was once the royal capital of the Chalukya dynasty and its heritage is a testament to the architectural grandeur of the dynasty to this day. In addition to the cultural monuments, Badami is also home to Agastya Lake, which according to locals, has curative properties. Honestly, we don’t know if that’s the true or not but we do know that the beautiful lake adds a unique charm to the already beautiful town.
Known for its sprawling landscapes, stunning wildlife, spice plantations, and hydroelectric projects, Idukki offers a distinctive blend of contrasting natural beauty and vibrant cultural experiences.
The town’s diverse geography ranges from high-altitude mountains to low-lying valleys and rapid rivers but that is not the only thing Idukki is known for. It’s also home to the Idukki Dam, one of the highest arch dams in Asia, a testament to India’s renowned engineering feats.
Idukki’s natural beauty further extends to its wildlife sanctuaries, including the Periyar Tiger Reserve and the Eravikulam National Park, which harbor a rich variety of endemic flora and fauna.
Edakkal Caves, Kerala
Located in the Wayanad district of Kerala, the Edakkal Caves are not just one of the most isolated places in India, but also one of the country’s most significant archaeological sites. The caves offer a window into the ancient past, with their petroglyphs (rock carvings), believed to date back over 3,000 years.
The Neolithic carvings depict various human and animal figures, symbols, and scripts, providing valuable insights into the prehistoric civilizations that once inhabited the southern parts of India. Getting to the is a bit of an adventure, thought, and it requires a steep trek through coffee plantations, unpaved roads, and dense forests, making it an exciting journey for trekkers and nature lovers.
Marari Beach, Kerala
Located in the Alappuzha district of Kerala, Marari Beach is an idyllic and serene destination, perfect for escaping the hustle and bustle of city life. The beach, with its pristine sandy shorelines and clear blue waters, offers a tranquil retreat amidst the swaying coconut palm trees. Named after the local fishing village, this pristine beach remains surprisingly unfrequented with the exception of traditional fishing boats known (kattamarams) that dot the shoreline, painting a quaint picture of local life. Marari is inhabited mainly by sea turtles and different types of migratory birds most of which can be found in the nearby Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary.
Western Ghats, Kerala
The Western Ghats of Kerala are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the eight “hottest hotspots” of biological diversity in the world. Stretching along the west coast of India, the ghats (not to be confused with Varanasi’s crowded ghats) cover 160,000 square kilometers of untouched nature and abundant biodiversity. Despite the extensive coverage, many areas within the Western Ghats remain some of the most isolated places in India, largely due to their rugged terrain and the dense forests that make accessibility a challenge.
Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu
Dhanushkodi is an abandoned town on the southern tip of the Rameswaram island in Tamil Nadu. Sandwiched between the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal, this eerily beautiful ghost town that remains one of the most isolated places in India offers a unique blend of history, mythology, and natural beauty. The town gets its name from the Ramayana, where Lord Rama is said to have marked the spot for the construction of a bridge with his bow’s end, or ‘Dhanush Kodi’.
This mythical connection makes Dhanushkodi a pilgrimage site for many devotees who come to pay their respects at the Ram Setu (Adam’s Bridge) – a series of limestone shoals that extend towards Sri Lanka. The reason why Dhanushkodi is a ghost town is the cyclone in 1964, which washed away most of the infrastructure and cut off Dhanushkodi from the mainland.
Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin), Tamil Nadu
Last but not least, we round up this list of the most isolated places in India with Kanyakumari (formerly known as Cape Comorin). Located at the southernmost tip of the Indian subcontinent, Kanyakumari is a unique coastal town in Tamil Nadu that remains isolated despite its well-connectedness by road and rail. One of the unique features of Kanyakumari is the confluence of three major water bodies – the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and the Indian Ocean (which on itself is a reason enough to visit if you ask me).
This unique geographical location also makes Kanyakumari the only place in the world where one can observe the sunrise and the sunset from the same point (which is why the place is also known as India’s Twilight Zone).
Did you like our list of the most isolated places in India? Which one was your favorite? Do you know of any other remote places that deserve a mention on this list? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
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