Beat the heat!
Weekend getaways, journeys of discovery, chill-out breaks. Take your pick!
Walk through the woods in Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, Sikkim
Out of Kolkata (670km)
The first sight that greets you when you wake up in Sikkim’s Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary is Mount Kanchendzonga, rising up through the clouds as the sun’s first rays light up its sides. In the sanctuary, you’ll have nothing but the birds, bees, fantastic views, and a whole lot of flowers for company. Through April to June, the flowers that give the sanctuary its name begin to bloom, and the green of the mountainsides is broken by bursts of deep pinks, reds and whites. The flowers attract an assortment of birds, including tragopans, larks and finches. Spend your days trekking through the woods; while clouded leopards and red pandas do live in the sanctuary, it’s unlikely that you’ll come across either, but keep your fingers crossed and your eyes peeled – you might just spot an exotic little red panda lounging high up in the trees. If you’re feeling adventurous, trek down to Dentam, 11km away, and spend the night in relative comfort in Pelling, a bustling, tourist-filled hill town, before making the long drive back to Bagdogra.
Go snorkelling in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu
Out of Chennai (600 km)
A few hours south of Chennai is Rameswaram, a little-known patch of paradise that’s almost too good to be true. A tiny speck of land between India and Sri Lanka, India claims it as its own thanks to the Pamban Bridge that connects it to the mainland. One of the best things about Rameswaram is that it’s the only place in India where the beach faces north and south (others along the Indian coast are east- or west-facing). This guarantees favourable weather conditions for water sports throughout the year – you can go stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, snorkelling and even sailing, and all this in waters so clear you will spot your shadow on the ocean floor. There are multiple coral reefs in the calm waters around the island that are teeming with marine life – on a good day, expect to spot angel fish, trigger fish, starfish, seahorses, and maybe even an octopus, stingrays and dolphins. The reefs might not be of the Maldivian or Andaman variety, but they’re gorgeous in their own right.
Embark on a food trail in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh
Out of Delhi (475 km)
There’s more to Dharamsala than its mystical Tibetan influence and laid-back spiritual vibe. Case in point: the numerous shacks, eateries, bakeries and cafés that line its charming little lanes. Make the best start to your food trail by getting breakfast at M Hotel & Restaurant; call for some hot lemon-ginger tea to go with your sunny-side-ups, bacon strips and chicken sausages. A just-as-goodand popular option is Nick’s Italian Kitchen. Sit out on the large terrace and call for the pizza, lasagna or the quiches. For some delectable local fare, drop by Norling Café. Set in a Japanese-style garden complete with rock pond, this all-veg café offers great Tibetan and Chinese fare. Try the mothuk, which is much like thukpa but with momos instead of noodles. And if momos truly interest you, visit Tibet Kitchen for some excellent chicken momos. Mark an end to the trail with some hearty wood-fired pizza in the company of books at Illiterati Books & Coffee – you’re sure to go home with a smile and a very full stomach