1. Munnar, Kerala: All the features of a classic hill station are here: cool weather, verdant valleys and, of course, tea as far as the eye can see. Munnar’s resounding popularity amongst honeymoon couples has ensured that the main bazaar is cluttered with guesthouses, hotels and resorts of all budgets. And, for those yearning for tranquility, there are some wonderful remote places to stay, just a few kilometres away from the main town.
2. Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh: Dalhousie’s host of thickly wooded trails, magnificent views, and salubrious climes are exactly what the doctor ordered. Dalhousie 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.
3. Binsar, Uttarakhand: A mountainous wildlife sanctuary, Binsar is cool, very peaceful and with superb views. The forests and birdlife are there for the taking. Animal sightings are a bonus. And the road itself through the sanctuary is a charming walking or driving option. Don’t forget to check out the Mary Budden Estate here, a plush homestay in a renovated 150-year-old cottage.
4. Chikmagalur, Karnataka: Enjoy astounding views of the coffee- and cloud-covered valley below from these peaks and stay on a plantation to complete the experience. If you want to combine your coffee buzz with an adrenaline rush, you can go rafting on the Bhadra River or head for a bracing trek on Chikmagalur’s high mountains.
5. Srinagar, J&K: Indulgent houseboats, historic gardens, distinctive Kashmiri wooden mosques and a mild summer climate combine to make Srinagar one of India’s top romantic destinations. The city’s greatest drawcard is placid Dal Lake, which stretches in a southwestern channel towards the city centre, paralleled by the hotel-lined Boulevard from which a colourful array of houseboats forms a particularly colourful scene.
6. Andaman Islands: Nestled in the Bay of Bengal, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is one of the prettiest archipelagos you can possibly imagine. It has some of the top diving destinations in the country, and offers a number of stunning beaches where you can simply watch the sea change colour while lazing on the white sands.
7. Lakshadweep: On arriving at this aquamarine paradise, you will be overcome by a combination of surprise and gratitude that this spectacular tropical island system is a part of India. The ferociously blue waters are strangers to pollution, the silver sands have never seen a plastic bag and the villages haven’t been turned into tawdry tourist traps. While the sea at kavaratti introduces a kaleidoscopic underwater world, the mysterious Minicoy throws up ancient shipwrecks and lighthouses and kadmat speaks only of serenity.
8. Palolem Beach, Goa: Palolem presents a quiet and intimate getaway where the call of seagulls and the chime of beer bottles are pretty much all you will ever hear. Choose from a range of yoga, massages and therapies on offer and enjoy the low-key nightlife.
9. Marari Beach, Kerala: If God’s own paradise was a beach, Marari’s tranquil coast, located between Alappuzha and Fort Kochi, is an Eden to unwind in. Settle for a languorous holiday and get pampered by the breezy beachside resorts here.
Escape to a Resort
10. The Khyber, Gulmarg, Jammu & Kashmir: Built in the style of an alpine resort with lots of pine and slate, this swanky new hotel consists of double-storey units scattered on a terraced slope just behind the Gondola station (you can ski in and out of the resort). The 85 rooms are luxuriously appointed in traditional Kashmiri style: expect silk carpets, embroidered furnishings and carved walnut panelling coupled with unfettered views of Mt Affarwat or of the valley.
11. Ri Kynjai, Shillong, Meghalaya: This charming resort on the far banks of pristine Umiam Lake, 22km from Shillong, is a tranquil getaway boasting wood-pillared cottages with fabulous lake views. The gardens are lush green and the cottages are impeccably presented with elegant furnishings and lavish bathrooms. There’s a spa, a restaurant and a bar with lake views.
12. Te Aroha, Dhanachuli, Uttarakhand: Affordable elegance, wellness and walks. This boutique resort sits on a hillside, looking down into a valley of hamlets, terraced fields and pine and oak forests. Look forward to chic interiors, superb views, good food (and caring staff ), ample spaces and indoor games, massages, and a non-touristy village experience.
13. Wildflower Hall, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh: The place for unabated luxury, Wildflower Hall invites you to forget the world outside and, for a change, really pamper yourself. Yes, it comes at a cost, but splendidly furnished rooms, a range of exciting activities (if you wish), and staff that will go out of its way to craft the perfect holiday for you in the heart of a lush forest reserve, are some pretty good reasons to splurge.
14. Shreyas Yoga Retreat, off Bangalore, Karnataka: A 1hr 30min drive from Bangalore, Shreyas offers a lavish wellness break with authentic Ayurveda, Yoga and meditation. Though set in the backdrop of a village, this getaway has all the ambience of an international retreat. Stay for at least a night here to experience the impeccable standards, the warm, personalised service and the carefully-tailored programmes.