The temperatures are soaring high and the sweltering sun is ready to bring your energy down. So the time is probably right to ditch the heat and plan a vacation at cooler places. Here is a list of our top picks this month.
Lonavla is a raucous resort town about 106km southeast of Mumbai. Its main drag consists almost exclusively of garishly lit shops flogging chikki, the rock-hard, brittle sweet made in the area, and you get fun-for-the-whole-family kind of stuff like wax museums, go-carts and India’s largest water park. But there are some pleasant side streets, serene residential areas and destination yoga places along with the pastoral surrounding countryside that means you can choose your own path here. One of the main reasons you’d want to come here is to visit the nearby Karla and Bhaja Caves which, after those at Ellora and Ajanta, are the best in Maharashtra.
Valley of flowers, Uttarakhand
The bugyals (high-altitude meadows) of tall wildflowers in the Valley of Flowers are a glorious sight on a sunny day, rippling in the breeze, and framed by mighty 6000m mountains with glaciers and snow decorating their peaks year-round. Over 300 species of flowers are found here. It makes for a beautiful vacation with family or friends.
The union territory of Puducherry is a miniature France in India. The place was under French rule until 1954 and the French aesthetics reflect in the hotels, restaurants and ‘lifestyle’ shops. The internationally famous Sri Aurobindo Ashram and its offshoot just north of town, Auroville, draw large numbers of spiritually minded visitors. Thus Pondy’s vibe: less faded colonial-era ville, more bohemian-chic, New Age–meets–Old World hang-out on the international travel trail.
Darjeeling is the definitive hill station and is arguably West Bengal’s premier attraction. Apart from gazing at the mighty Kangchenjunga, one can explore colonial-era architecture, visit Buddhist monasteries, and spot snow leopards and red pandas at the nearby zoo. The adventurous can arrange a trek to Singalila Ridge or hire a mountain bike for a guided ride around the hilltops. Meanwhile the steep and winding bazaars below the town bustle with an array of Himalayan products and faces from across Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet. And finally, when energies start to flag, a good, steaming Darjeeling brew is never far away.
About 16km southeast of Kovalam, almost at the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, Poovar is the gateway to a region of beaches, estuaries, villages and upmarket resorts that comprise the ‘mini backwaters’ of Kerala’s far south. Numerous ‘boat clubs’ and operators along the Neyyar River or backwater canals will take you on 1½- to two-hour cruises through the waterways visiting the golden sand beach, bird-filled mangrove swamps and forested Poovar Island.
Dalhousie’s host of thickly wooded trails, plunging pine-clad valleys, magnificent views, and salubrious climes are exactly what the doctor ordered! ‘This town is like a painting straight out of the pages of a Victorian sketchbook. It lulls you into sweet slumber. Action seekers may shun this sleepy hill station for its slow pace of life, but lovers of solitude find heaven in the former sanatorium.