There’s always something or the other happening in Delhi – from cultural activities to heritage walks, talks and seminars, food festivals and fine dining evenings. But if you are on the look-out for new places to explore outside the city limits, there are many options that make for ideal weekend getaways. Going past a picturesque countryside, stopping by at interesting dhabas for a wholesome meal or just a simple cup of tea, chatting with the locals – all adds to the experience. We take a look at some of the unique, but lesser-known places that are worth a first-hand dekko.
Not far from the Delhi-Punjab highway, the majestic structure of Noor Mahal presents an imposing sight. Walk in to a warm welcome and you can’t help but gaze in wonder at the lotus fountain and the Swarovski chandelier that glitters underneath the hand painted dome ceiling in Rajasthani style.
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Among the many wondrous pieces here is the portrait of Maharaja Duleep Singh (1838-1893), the last maharaja of the Sikh Empire and that of an Amritsari Sardarni of the pre-Independence era. It is adorned with 22k gold and semi-precious stones. And then, of course, there is the palace’s piece de resistance- the Frontier Mail restaurant inspired by the ‘railway’ that ran between Bombay and Peshawar in the 1930s. Its railway track, train coaches and the platform area, all take you back in time and offer cuisine that has since become synonymous with the North West Frontier regions.
If on the lookout for a place to relax over a long weekend, the Mud Fort that lies at just about 1.5 hours’ drive away from the capital is a great idea. The first look of the fort might just blow you away with its simple yet regal charm – for it is made entirely of mud. You will surely love the seclusion that this place offers. Spend the day walking in the fields or sitting around curled up with a book and in the evening participate in activities such as pottery-making, bullock cart and tractor rides to get a feel of the areas around. A visit to the jaggery-making units proves to be an enthralling experience.
At just about 160 kms from Delhi and 12 kms from Alwar lies this beautiful slice of history that sits perched atop dark hornstone Breccia rocks. The 14th century fort that has been converted into a heritage hotel goes back to the time of the Yaduvanshi Rajputs. Because of its location on a large rock, it gives guests panoramic views of the areas around. And yes, the greenery and the farmlands around attract a number of birds thus making it a go-to place for ornithologists. After spending the day enjoying the sights and sounds of the fort including a gorgeous 100ft long swimming pool, you can also take off on cycle excursions in the lanes around the fort.
Right from the moment you drive past the fort town of Mandawa, its welcoming charm is sure to have you enthralled. This is a region known for its beautiful Shekhawati havelis (palaces) of the rich businessmen, traders and landlords that go back to the 18th century. The Matsya Vilas offers a refreshing getaway with its breath-taking mix of regal opulence and artistic simplicity. Besides walks in the areas around and taking in the historic architecture of the place, you are sure to be charmed by the more than a 100-year-old buggy and motor cycles that go back to the time of the World Wars. You can spend the evening enjoying some exotic local cuisine (there are other options too) besides puppet shows and performances by the local folk musicians.
The Dadhikar Fort
Lying just about 150 kms from Delhi on the Daruhera Road is the Dadhikar village that goes back to more than 1100 years. The elderly folk here talk about a fort that they had heard was either razed to the ground by subsequent rulers or washed away in a flood. The stony façade of the recreated fort stuns with its traditional architecture that is typical of the region’s style. While you can spend the day taking in its regal ambience and enjoying the vegetarian food on offer, particularly the daal-baati-churma, options for outings to the Sariska Tiger Reserve or boating on the Siliserh Lake, among other such delights are also on offer.