When there’s a long weekend coming up, you don’t need any excuse to get out of the city. Abandon the heat and dust for clean air, sparkling streams, scenic views and scented forests with these options from Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.
At its busiest, you would find about 150 people but more than 350 species of birds here. Barely 17km from Nainital, Pangot is a village surrounded by thick forests, quiet hamlets, streams and walking trails. The rare and beautiful bird species that inhabit these woods attract enthusiasts from around the world. With only nature as the attraction, Pangot offers a much more peaceful holiday than its famous cousin, Nainital.
Rafting in Shivpuri
Discover the thrill of riding the rapids of the icy Ganga on an inflated raft, as the mighty river flows down to the plains. Add to this camp life full of bonhomie on white sandy beaches, with sunbathing and bonfire nights – not to mention the delightful hiking trails on the forested slopes behind – and you have a destination that you’ll want to return to repeatedly.
Visiting Kasauli is like spending the summer with your grandparents. You may think you’d prefer more action, but it’s hard to resist the soothing pleasure of visiting old stone churches, and listening to the warble of birds while walking along endless forest pathways. The uncluttered cantonment town continues to breathe a tangibly 19th-century English air.
Another cute and quiet hill town, quite apart from the busier Himachali resorts, Chail has an air of exclusivity. Thick deodar forests, panoramic views, the highest cricket ground in the world, and a sprawling palace hotel, are the off erings of this alpine haven. Long rambling walks, picnics on the hillside and easily available solitude all add to its charm.
A quiet, peaceful hill station tucked away in the Western Ghats, Matheran is known for its red soil, vehicle-free surroundings and, of course, its monkey population. Dotted with a wide variety of hotels and guesthouses, a bustling market street, and surrounded by lush hills and valleys, Matheran is a getaway in the true sense. Chilly evenings draped with a velvety blanket of star-speckled skies, bonfires and a deck of cards can complete an enjoyable evening or two with friends and family.
Wrap yourself in light woollens and explore the quaint strawberry county of Panchgani. Delightful Parsi-run heritage hotels here offer an old-world charm and a wonderful sanctuary to weary city dwellers. Enjoy the scenic valley views, try some of the local bakeries or sink your teeth into some delicious strawberry and cream, the area’s most famous offering. Better yet, take a walk through some of the strawberry farms and pluck your own fruit!
Nature’s bounty awaits at Mahabaleshwar. Its green mountains and red earth, sylvan lake and pleasant weather, have made this hill station a hit with holidaymakers. The place abounds with honey and strawberry farms, making it a sweet spot for a short escape from the city. Take a quiet walk along one of the many winding roads and enjoy the lovely misty weather or visit a strawberry farm and pick your own fruits. Mahabaleshwar has something for everyone.
One of India’s key coffee destinations has a lot more to it than the presence of coffee conglomerates. For travellers, it’s more about history – this is the place where coffee first arrived in India. Follow the mountain trail of Baba Budangiri and Mullayangiri, an area into which a 17th-century saint (Baba Budangiri) smuggled coffee beans. Enjoy astounding views of the coffee- and cloud-covered valley below from these peaks and stay on a plantation to complete the experience.
Visit Coonoor for a pleasant change from the run-of-the-mill hill station holiday. This tea country is an olfactory paradise for lovers of the cup that cheers. Enjoy the peaceful bellflower-lined streets (preferably on foot). Around town are numerous viewing lookouts, which are best explored early in the mornings. The locomotive buff will surely enjoy a ride in the heritage Nilgiri Toy Train.
Masinagudi offers a wildlife experience as authentic as any. Though the jungle safaris have been restricted due to a court notice, the resorts and homestays in the area give one a chance to unwind in the vicinity of wildlife. The lush and peaceful forests are home to (among other creatures) elephants, deer and leopards.