Skip the big-city madness!
Weekend getaways, journeys of discovery, chill-out breaks. Take your pick!
Surrender to rustic pleasures in Pollachi, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
Out of COIMBATORE (50 km)
Driving into the little, nondescript town of Pollachi might make you wonder what you’re supposed to do there. It makes sense then that the suburbs are what have put this place on the map. Essentially, there are three reasons why one must visit Pollachi. The first is Shenbaga Vilaasam. Located 6km away from Pollachi, the 150-year-old property is spread over 750 acres, and each of its four beautifully-appointed rooms is a treasure trove of artefacts. You can explore the property either on a cycle, or be driven around by bullock cart. Reason two is the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve. Parambikulam has a variety of stay options and you can go on safari in your own vehicle. Keep your eyes peeled; the density of leopards is rather high. The third reason is Maitreyi, a spiritual and cultural retreat, nestled in the magnificent Annamalai Hills. Try panchakarma or one of the several other Kerala Ayurveda therapies. If you do want to venture into Pollachi, check out the 13th-century Subramaniar Temple. Chances are, you might want to come back to the quaint little town. Soon.
Go birding in Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnataka
Out of BANGALORE (283 km)
On the drive to the Bhadra Reservoir, you’ll get no inkling of a water body coming up ahead; you’ll pass plenty of lush paddy fields and coconut trees instead, and, before you know it, the road will incline steeply and you’ll find yourself on the banks of the reservoir. Located on the periphery of the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, the reservoir is surrounded by thick forest and has no human habitation. However, set out on a boat safari in the afternoon, and you’ll spot hundreds of river terns. Amid the raucous terns, you might also spot the pratincole, a demure, fist-sized bird. If you venture deeper into the reservoir, you’ll spot more avian species: an osprey on a tree sticking out of the water, cormorants, a peacock on the banks, and the errant crocodile noisily gliding by. If you’d like to get out of the water and onto land, go on a jeep safari – you’ll catch sight of deer and sambar, wild boar, and, if you’re lucky, even the big cats. But, this trip is about the birds, so set out on yet another boat ride to the isles – you never know what else you’ll spot!
Get your adrenaline fix in Bir, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh
Out of DELHI (517 km)
On a sunny day, if you look up at the skies over Bir in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, it’s possible you’ll see more people than birds. One of the world’s best paragliding spots, Billing in Bir Village is perfect for seekers of a serious adrenaline fix. At 2,400m, the take-off point brings you pretty much at eye level with the snowy peaks of the Dhauladhar Ranges, and, once you take flight, you could even fly over the range. If you’d prefer to not jump off the cliff on your own, choose to go tandem. Your pilot will point out Dharamsala in the distance, while you look here, there and everywhere all at once. Soon enough, the sky will be filled with the sight of other colourful canopies and squeals of delight from your fellow ecstatic fliers. When you do land, stick around to watch other gliders float down from the skies and relive the moment. A short walk away from the landing site is the Tibetan Colony, the perfect end point to your thrilling day. Indulge in some steaming momos from street stalls as you watch the monks pass by.