Nature’s bounty, adventurous sport activities, heritage monuments, abundant wildlife, laid back beaches or magnificent mountains to trek- your dream vacation can readily be fulfilled. Don’t make any extra efforts on planning for leaves, just utilise your weekends this month and set off with a backpack to tick-off places from your bucket list.
With the perfect weather, clean environment and limitless tea-plantations carpeting the rolling hills, Munnar makes for a splendid holiday for nature lovers. The low mountain scenery is magnificent – you’re often up above the clouds watching veils of mist clinging to the mountaintops. While you sink yourself in the blissful experience of being into nature’s lap, do not miss to visit some of the attractions like Tea Museum, Mount Carmel Church and St Anthony Statue. Also visit the Lockhart Tea Factory, the only working one open to the public, 15km from Munnar. There’s also a small museum, nursery, gardens, tastings and a shop here.
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Adventure lovers should give no second thought about travelling to Auli this time of the year. Flocked with professional skiers, Auli is ideal for skiing at this time as the hills are carpeted with bright white snow and winds are also favourable enough. Do enjoy the cable car ride on Auli ropeway which is quite high and shows a magnificent view of the hills around, especially Nanda Devi (India’s second-highest peak).
HAVELOCK ISLAND, ANDAMAN
This little island in the Andaman archipelago is a haven for tourists seeking beauty, relaxation, closeness to nature and even adventure. Boasting endless stretches of crystal clear waters, white-sand beaches and lush green forests, these are a veritable slice of paradise- something that the shutterbug in you will never tire of clicking. It’s an eye-treat to watch the Sun setting at Radhanagar Beach here. At Havelock, one can just plunge into the sea with activities like scuba diving and snorkelling. Also, indulge in beach hopping to discover some unique shorelines.
SHIMLA, HIMACHAL PRADESH
Shimla is one of India’s most popular hill resorts, buzzing with a happy flow of vacationers and full of relics of its previous life as the summer capital of British India. Traffic is banned from the central part of town, so walking is pleasant – even when huffing and puffing uphill. The long, winding main street, the Mall, runs east and west just below the spine of the hill. The town gets carpeted with snow during this season so snowfall lovers can definitely head here for a unique experience.
TAWANG, ARUNACHAL PRADESH
Tucked away in the north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, Tawang falls on the road less travelled. It’s for those who love the mountains and enjoy the thrill of watching tall waterfalls gushing playfully down deep gorges, and walking close to the azure waters of its lakes; check out the picturesque Sangetsar Lake in particular. Take a trip to the quaint Zimithang and monasteries such as Galden Namgyal Lhatse perched on the highest point in Tawang, among others. You could also try skiing on the enchanting Pankang Teng Tso Lake that lies at 13,000 feet above sea level.
OOTY, TAMIL NADU
Immortalised by Bollywood, Ooty is rightly recognized as ‘Queen of the Hills’. With many ‘tick off the list’ things to do, it’s an engaging destination with the toy train, Botanical Gardens, Boat House and many more tourist attractions. Stay on the outer fringes to get a taste of old-world charm, still lingering in refurbished colonial bungalows. Go tea tasting at several factories open to public and relish the home-made chocolates popularly available in local markets.
CHADAR TREK, LADAKH
Unknown to the world until a few years ago, the Chadar Trek in Ladakh is currently a raging favourite among hardcore adventurers. This is one of the riskiest walks in the mountains. It literally sees you walking on thin ice as you trace the course of the frozen Zanskar River. Being one of the most secluded regions in these highlands, your route will seldom see you come in contact with humanity. Needless to say, this outing requires not only physical fitness, but oodles of mental resolve as well.
KALIMPONG, WEST BENGAL
The understated bazaar town of Kalimpong sprawls along a mountain ridge overlooking the roaring Teesta River and lorded over by the summit of Khangchendzonga. This quiet and picturesque hill town offers the much needed relaxation to travellers. It is worth a short visit for Himalayan views, some fine walks, temples, Buddhist monasteries, colonial-era architecture and a fascinating nursery industry, all linked by some fine hikes.