‘Way of the Vagabond’, a travel crossword to inspire your 2024 long weekend plans

Do you dream of sun-kissed islands, while your budget only allows a hop around the block? Don’t let the luxury vloggers fool you—there’s plenty to see in India beyond the same ol’ Shimla-Goa-New Delhi circuits.

Today’s National Tourism Day crossword is designed to give you long weekend ideas for 2024. Inside the game lie six hidden travel destinations that should be on your radar this year. These regions are underrated, affordable and renowned for their natural beauty. See if you know them all!

Solving tips for beginners

  1. The six destinations are marked in mauve. You get extra points for finding them fast.
  2. To solve with a friend, use the ‘Play Together’ tool. Use ‘Check’ to find errors.
  3. Every answer will be in the same tense or singular/plural form as its clue.
  4. Once you’re done, scroll past the game box to explore our trip planning guide.
  5. Any score above 120 is great. Best of luck! You can start playing below:

Hidden gems for your 2024 long weekend plans


What: Surreal salt flats in Gujarat with striking views and the annual Rann Utsav

Best time to visit: October to February, ideally during the Utsav

What to try: Adventure sports, wildlife safaris, shopping for textiles (mirror work, vibrant weaves, rare rogan art) and khavda pottery, which has roots in the Indus Valley civilisation. Tourists on Utsav packages also get to enjoy folk music and dance performances from local tribes like the Siddi, who bear African ancestry.


What: Dramatic national park in Jammu & Kashmir, home to the elusive snow leopard

Best time to visit: May to October, for comfy summer hikes. For a snow leopard expedition, come in the winter. Plan well, for Hemis lies in a cold desert north of the Himalayas.

What to try: Walking safaris, birdwatching (there are 73 species!), visiting Hemis Monastery (the monks have a festival in June-July), local eats like skyu (a hearty dumpling stew) and butter tea. 


What: 16th-century heritage complex in Madhya Pradesh, with palaces and temples galore

Best time to visit: October to November.

What to try: Monument and temple visits, nature trails, kayaking or rafting on the Betwa river, Bundeli food. Don’t miss the Orchha Festival in March—for dates, keep an eye on utsav.gov.in 


What: Postcard-pretty Ladakhi village near the Indo-Pak border

Best time to visit: May to September, to see nature at its finest

What to try: Landscape photography, monastery hike through orchards, plucking apricots, waterfall visit, spotting K2 and army bunkers, the Balti Heritage House and Museum.


What: Sun-kissed tropical island in the south of Lakshadweep

Best time to visit: November to February

What to try: Lighthouse visit, kayaking, sailing and diving to see coral reefs and shipwrecks. Also sample the local cuisine—think tuna curry, fried octopus, batla appams—which fuses Maldivian, Sri Lankan and Burmese influences. Ambitious travellers can attempt to learn Mahl, the local language.

If our travel crossword gave new life to your bucketlist, let us know on @iepuzzles! More fun awaits on Express Puzzles & Games.

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