As the weather gets warmer in most parts of the country in the month of May, it is a good time to set off for a short holiday. Pick your place from our list of destinations below.
A mighty gash in the earth fringed by hulking mountains, Tawang Valley works a special magic on the minds of travellers. The valley is a gorgeous patchwork of mountain ridges, vast fields and clusters of Buddhist monasteries and Monpa villages. The setting is more beautiful than the town itself, but murals of auspicious Buddhist emblems and colourful prayer wheels add interest to the central Old Market area.
Set on a magnificent estuary, serene Kochi has been drawing traders, explorers and travellers to its shores for over 600 years. Nowhere else in India could you find such an intriguing mix: giant Chinese fishing nets, a 450-year-old synagogue, ancient mosques, Portuguese- and Dutch-era houses and the crumbling remains of the British Raj. The result is an unlikely blend of medieval Portugal and Holland and an English village grafted onto the tropical Malabar Coast. It’s a delightful place to explore, laze in arty cafes and relax at some of India’s finest homestays and heritage hotels. It’s also an important centre for Keralan arts (traditional and contemporary) and a standout place to see Kathakali and kalarippayat.
Pint-sized Goa 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. Laze away days lying along the beachline or go for some sport activities like banana ride, parasailing and even scuba diving!
A few kilometres south of Shimla, Chail village is a peaceful and secluded summer retreat. With thick pine and cedar forests and moderate temperatures, the area 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 in the grounds of Rashtriya Military School.
The oldest and smallest of the three Nilgiri hill stations, Kotagiri is set in the most beautiful location of them all – 30km east of Ooty, beyond one of Tamil Nadu’s highest passes. The town centre is surrounded by plunging ridges sculpted with tea estates and dotted with pastel villages, framed by the high green walls of the Nilgiris.
Nature’s bounty is at its best in Dandeli, a short town full of wildlife experiences. Get set for an adventure packed holiday here with activities like white water rafting, hiking, mountain climbing, kayaking, bird watching, jungle safari, camping and nature walks.
Separated from fertile Lahaul by the soaring 4551m Kunzum Pass, the trans-Himalayan region of Spiti is another chunk of Tibet marooned within India, a kind of ‘mini-Ladakh’ with fewer tourists. The scattered villages in this serrated moonscape arrive like mirages while the turquoise-grey ribbon of the Spiti River is your near-constant companion, albeit sometimes way below in precipitous gorges. The whole Spiti–Kinnaur loop is scenically spectacular, attracting hordes of summer motorcyclists completing one of India’s great road trips.
Rajasthan’s only hill station nestles among green forests on the state’s highest mountain at the southwestern end of the Aravalli Hills and close to the Gujarat border. Quite unlike anywhere else in Rajasthan, Mt Abu provides Rajasthanis, Gujaratis and a small number of foreign tourists with respite from scorching temperatures and arid terrain elsewhere. The mountain is of great spiritual importance for both Hindus and Jains and has over 80 temples and shrines, most notably the exquisite Jain temples at Delwara, built between 400 and 1000 years ago.
Set along a steep-sided ridge, Almora is the regional capital of Kumaon. These days you’ll find colonial-era buildings, reliable trekking outfits and a couple of community-based weaving enterprises. Head to the pedestrian-only cobbled Lalal Bazaar, lined with intricately carved and painted traditional wooden shop facades. It’s a fascinating place to stroll, people-watch and shop. On clear days, you can see Himalayan snow peaks from various spots around town.
Known as the Ooty of Andhra Pradesh, this quaint hill station will charm you from the moment you drive through its yellow blossom lined roads. It was named after a British officer W.D Horsley, who set up an abode here to escape the heat. You can still visit his home and explore the amazing views of the valley around it. Take your kids to the small animal park here or indulge in some adventure sports like zip lines, rope activities, trekking or ATV rides. Remember to look out of your windows when driving – you are likely to spot some prancing deer along the way.