With the threat of COVID still looming large in several parts of India, travel plans are on hold for many. If you are one of those travel bug bitten types, quench your travel passions at some place new, in the interiors of India – all from the comfort of your home. Being locked up in home for months gave rise to an all new admiration for the small town life. I have chosen these movies (though there are more) that transport you to five little towns in the tourism map of India. They can help one escape the metropolitan mood.

Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh

Chanderi has always been known for its handloom but thanks to a couple of Bollywood movies shot here, the sleeping town has now become a must visit for tourists. Chanderi town is adorned with historic monuments that are surrounded by mesmerizing lakes and hills covered with forests. Spending a week here will still leave you wanting more.

Stree (2018)

Stree is an entertaining horror comedy with Shraddha Kapoor and Rajkumar Rao in the lead roles. In addition to the film's horror scenes and performances, the locations are worth noticing. Even though the filmmaker intended to shoot the entire movie in Chanderi, part of it was made in Bhopal. Some parts of Chanderi Fort can be seen. The last scene of the movie, where the mysterious woman and the tailor (both lead actors) wait for the bus, was shot at Kati Ghati which is (dis)reputed to be a haunted place. It is said that the actors and team members experienced some paranormal activities while shooting for this film.

Sui Dhaaga (2018)

This film holds the potential to stir up patriotic passions in one. Sui-Dhaga is a heart warming story of pride and self-reliance, of how a local tailor with his wife’s embroidery skills makes it big in the textile arena. The movie has Anushka Sharma and Varun Dhawan in the lead roles. The scenes of the protagonists cycling through the narrow lanes of Chanderi gives a good feel of this small town.

Haridwar in Uttarakhand

Haridwar, which has the tag of ancient city, is one of the most important among several Hindu pilgrimage sites of North India. Capturing the nightly Ganga Aarti is every photographer’s dream. Although the charm of Haridwar is best captured during festivals, it’s definitely worth visiting any time of the year. It has made its appearance in several movies. It was only after the success of the movie Dum Laga ke Haisha that it suddenly became a popular spot in every travel enthusiast’s bucket list.

Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015)

This movie features Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar as the protagonists. It is a romantic comedy; a film worth watching with family. The location of the movie is well chosen and it captures the holy essence of the place. Every frame showcases the beauty of River Ganges. You will love watching the scooter ride through Ram Jhoola. As a part of this movie was shot in Rishikesh, you get to see a bit of Rishikesh too.

Jamshedpur in Jharkhand

Have you been to Jamshedpur? The city has several credits; it is one of the first planned cities of India and is also rated as one of the cleanest cities in India.

Udaan (2010)

This film is based on a problematic father-son relationship. It spins around teenager’s mental and physical struggles at home and the world. The fact that the movie did well and reached the Cannes Film Festival brought recognition not only to its filmmakers but also to Jamshedpur. A small part of it was shot in Shimla too. One takes a virtual tour of the city in the two and half hour duration of the movie. You get glimpses of statues of Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata and Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata, the pioneer industrialists, which you can rarely see in any other city. Prominent landmarks of Jamshedpur that you get to see are Hudco dam, Kaiser Bungalow, the Jamshedpur zoo, the Kadma-Sonari Link Road, K.D. Flats, DBMS English School, the Jusco office Jubilee Park, and the Circuit House area. Some scenes are shot in Tata Main Hospital. Those who grew up here can revel in nostalgia seeing the familiar landmarks, lanes and bylanes in the movie.

Tehri in Uttarakhand

Tehri was almost unknown to tourists before the release of the movie Batti Gul Meter Chalu. Thanks to this film’s immaculate portrayal of the serene, untouched, unpolluted scenic, Tehri was given a new identity overnight. Tehri is an ancient place, located at the meeting point of Bhagirathi and Bhilangna Rivers. Tehri dam in this Garhwal region has the distinction of being the highest dam of India and one of the highest in the world.

Batti Gul Meter Chalu (2018)

Theme of this film is socially relevant. It is based on pertinent issues, unreliable power supply, a basic amenity for all. Lead actors are Shahid Kapoor and Shradhha Kapoor. Though the length of the movie can be an impeding factor, you will be rewarded and compensated with exotic visuals of the Tehri hills. Scenic visuals of the Khatling glacier and the stunning Tehri Lake will surely stir up your desire to travel. The flavour and local essence of the adorable town can be experienced in the temple and market scenes. While the major part of the movie was shot in Tehri, small parts of it were shot in Dehradun, Mussoorie, and Rishikesh. The lead actors and team members later revealed that they ended up extending their stay as a result of being consumed by the beauty of these exotic locations.

Benares in Uttar Pradesh

There are 2 sets of people in Harishchandra Ghat – the first kind are the ones that cremate the dead bodies and the second kind are those that are cremated. Hardly anyone would list this place in their tourism map. But for those who are keen to see that burning ghat, Masaan is THE movie.

Masaan (2015)

Richa Chadha, Sanjay Mishra, Vicky Kaushal, Shweta Tripathi play significant roles in this multi starrer film. Masaan means cremation ground. It is the final destination of a human body’s journey after death and it remains the ultimate truth of life. But one is not alive to see what happens at the cremation ground or what the place looks like. To me Masaan was a partial eye opener in that aspect. Camera rolling through the old worn out streets capturing the scenes of intermingling local people and stained walls of Benares is a treat to the eyes. In those bylanes of Benaras and its people, the soul and realism coexist.