Weekend escapes in August

Neelakurinji blossoms in Munnar
Image courtesy: ©Kerala Tourism Board

Oh joy! August, the month filled with long weekends is close and we are here with hand-picked destinations to enjoy your holidays. Forget work and start packing, head to any of these places for a wholesome vacation.

Munnar

The rolling hills around Munnar, South India’s largest tea-growing region, are carpeted in emerald-green tea plantations, contoured, clipped and sculpted like ornamental hedges. But this time, in August, the hills will be painted light blue with the Neelakurinji flowers, that blossom once in 12 years! So, don’t miss this rare chance of witnessing the green sea turn blue.

Chail

With thick pine and cedar forests and moderate temperatures, Chail village has some nice walks, including through Chail Wildlife Sanctuary up the panoramic hill Kali Ka Tibba, 6km south of the village. It also claims the world’s highest cricket ground, on a levelled hilltop 2km southeast of the village centre.

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Sattal

 

Image courtesy: ©Amdy yns

Sattal is the perfect refuge from Delhi’s chaos. Scenic long walks where you don’t meet a soul, deer grazing in the woods as your boat gently splashes past, hills to climb up, rock faces to clamber down- Sattal brings you nature’s bounty with inimitable generosity. Trekking, rappelling and camping are additional activities to look at.

Coonoor

Image courtesy: ©Dethan Punalur/Getty Images

Coonoor is one of the three Nilgiri hill stations that sit high above the southern plains. Smaller and quieter than Ooty (20km northwest), it has some fantastic heritage hotels and guesthouses, from which you can do exactly the same things (hike, visit tea plantations, marvel at mountain views) you would do from bigger, busier Ooty. From upper Coonoor, you can look down over a sea of red-tile rooftops to the slopes beyond and soak up the cool climate, quiet environment and beautiful scenery.

Cherrapunji

Image courtesy: ©AYAN MUKHERJEE/Lonely Planet

Laid out along razor-like ridges of a high mountain wall, Cherrapunji (known locally as Sohra) sits at the edge of the Himalayas, overlooking the pancake-flat plains of Bangladesh. The road from state capital Shillong passes through pretty scenery that becomes dramatic at the Dympep viewpoint, where a photogenic V-shape valley cuts deeply into the plateau.

Sandhan valley

Located in the backwaters of Bhandardara dam, Sandhan Valley is a mid-level trekking destination. It is a ridge (or crack) formed between two mountains. The ridge at points is about 15 ft wide and 150 ft high. Adrenaline rush comes in staying at accommodation camps that are seen hanging down from the top of the ridge into valley. Photographers find a delight in capturing the play of light and shadow as well as vastness of the ridge.

Sunderbans

Image courtesy: ©Roop_Dey/Shutterstock

Home to one of the largest concentrations of Royal Bengal tigers on the planet, the 2585-sq-km Sunderbans Tiger Reserve is a network of channels and semi-submerged mangroves that forms the world’s largest river delta. The ecosystem here is contiguous with the Sunderbans delta in Bangladesh, which lies eastward across the international border along the same shoreline. Cruising the broad waterways through the world’s biggest mangrove sanctuary (now a Unesco World Heritage Site) and watching wildlife is a world away from Kolkata’s chaos.