10 best weekend escapes in January

Experience the breath-taking landscape in Auli
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Your dream vacation might just be a weekend away. Nature’s bounty, adventurous sport activities, heritage monuments, abundant wildlife, laid back beaches or magnificent mountains to trek- pick your style and head out. Make good use of this month and pick from this list of places.

AULI, UTTARAKHAND

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).

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HAVELOCK ISLAND, ANDAMAN

 

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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 a treat for the eyes 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.

MUNNAR, KERALA

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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.

KHAJURAHO, MADHYA PRADESH

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The carvings that swathe Khajuraho’s three groups of World Heritage–listed temples are among the finest temple art in the world. The Western Group of temples, in particular, contains some stunning sculptures. Khajuraho’s isolation has helped preserve it from the desecration invaders inflicted on ‘idolatrous’ temples elsewhere. Architecture lovers can treat themselves here.

SHIMLA, HIMACHAL PRADESH

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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

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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

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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.

KALIMPONG, WEST BENGAL

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The understated bazaar town of Kalimpong sprawls along a mountain ridge overlooking the roaring Teesta River and lorded over by the summit of Kangchenjunga. 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 good hikes.

GOA

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Goa’s biggest draw is undoubtedly its virtually uninterrupted string of golden-sand beaches. This shimmering strand stretches along the Arabian Sea from the tip to the toe of the state, and each of the various beaches has developed their own personalities and reputations since the hippie days of the sixties. But the pint-sized state is more than beaches and trance parties. A kaleidoscopic blend of Indian and Portuguese cultures, sweetened with sun, sea, sand, seafood and spirituality, there’s nowhere in India quite like it.

RAMESWARAM, TAMIL NADU

Rameswaram is a small fishing town on conch-shaped Pamban Island, connected to the mainland by 2km-long bridges. The Ramanathaswamy Temple, where a god worshipped a god, is flocked by millions of pilgrims each year. The island’s eastern tip, Dhanushkodi, only 30km from Sri Lanka, has a magical natural beauty that adds to Rameswaram’s appeal. And for activity-loving travellers, the island’s western edge is buzzing as a low-key water-sports destination.