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All roads lead to Uttarakhand: 6 weekend getaways for the summer

For those looking to pack in multiple destinations at one go, look no further than the hill state of Uttarakhand that has options for every kind of traveller.

travel Updated: May 22, 2016 10:50 IST
Sneha Mahale
Head to Robber’s Cave in Dehradun to soak your feet in the waters of a flowing stream, while munching on chowmein or ice cream.
Head to Robber’s Cave in Dehradun to soak your feet in the waters of a flowing stream, while munching on chowmein or ice cream.(Sneha Mahale)

A road trip in the scorching summer heat may not sound like a winning proposition to most, but we were convinced to give it a try when the destinations included a mix of hill stations, an adventure haven and what is considered one of the “holiest cities in India”.

Unsurprisingly, the hill state of Uttarakhand did not disappoint. So, if you are still looking for a break this summer, head to Dehradun, and check out a few options in the vicinity.

Dehradun
Like in our case, several hikers and holidaymakers tend to use Dehradun as the starting or transit point to explore spots that are located in the vicinity — either by self-drive or by hiring cabs here. Nestled in a valley, and once considered a quiet place to retire in, the city has witnessed unprecedented growth in the Past few years. Should you visit, be prepared for unending traffic jams, roads under construction and attractions that are teeming with people. Also, gone are the days of cooler climes.

Summers now mean unbearable heat. But, interspersed around the city are points that are worth checking out. We recommend visiting the informative Forest Research Institute or the local Buddha Temple. Those interested in a mix of adventure and nature could head to Sahastradhara.
Stay: MakeMyTrip and Oyo Rooms offer several options depending on your budget.
Must-visit: Head to Robber’s Cave to soak your feet in the waters of a flowing stream, while munching on chowmein or ice cream.

Read: The Fall: Documenting India’s first frozen waterfall trek

Photographers and tourists — local and international — are known to gather at Haridwar every evening for the renowned Ganga aarti. (iStock)

Haridwar
Distance from Dehradun: 52km (approximately)
Good for a day trip, this temple town needs no introduction. Photographers and tourists — local and international — are known to gather every evening in the thousands at the Har Ki Pauri ghat for the renowned Ganga aarti. A walk down the many bylanes leading to the ghats can offer enriching insights into the history of the city, thought to be one of the oldest in the world. Spend some time visiting the many temples in the area, head to the Bara Bazaar to shop, or indulge in some Aloo Puri with Halwa at Mohan Ji Puri Wale.
Must-visit: Prakash Lok, which is located near Har Ki Pauri, is renowned for its creamy lassi.

The mighty Ganga is a force to reckon at Rishikesh, and attracts adrenaline junkies looking to indulge in some white-water rafting . (iStock)

Rishikesh
Distance from Dehradun: 45km (approximately)
Head to the unofficial ‘yoga capital of the world’ that is usually packed with spiritual seekers looking to spend some time at one of the many ashrams or meditation centres that dot this town. But they aren’t the only tourists you will spot here. You are also likely to come across backpackers, who use Rishikesh as a gateway to the many treks that one can undertake in the region.

The mighty Ganga is a force to reckon with here, and attracts adrenaline junkies looking to indulge in some white-water rafting at camping sites that have cropped up at Shivpuri, which is located upstream. Visit the Lakshman Jhula, spend some time at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram, where the Beatles once stayed, or learn more about rudraksh beads from the local shopkeepers.
Stay: At one of the ashrams.
Must-visit: The 13-storey temple on the banks of the Lakshman Jhula.

The famed hill station of Mussoorie provides a welcome relief from the heat in the summer months. (ImagesBazaar)

Mussoorie
Distance from Dehradun: 37km (approximately)
A short drive away from Dehradun, making it ideal for a day trip, the famed hill station provides a welcome relief from the heat in the summer months. But avoid making the trip during long weekends or public holidays, when the car build-up to the place can put traffic jams on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway to shame.

Once there, make your way to Gun Hill — which is accessible by a cable car — for views of the Doon Valley, take a walk down the Mall Road (the staple main road of most hill stations in India) to visit Gandhi Chowk or Kulri Bazaar, spend time watching a piranha at the Jawahar Aquarium, head to the beautiful Kempty Falls, or try the momos with spicy Schezwan sauce available at every nook and corner of Mussoorie.
Must-visit: One of the many Maggi Points on the way to Mussoorie, or Howard, the revolving restaurant, in the main market.

Read: 7 out of 10 travellers now book exclusively online

There isn’t much to do in Dhanaulti, except breathe fresh air and enjoy the greenery and the scenery.

Dhanaulti
Distance from Dehradun: 59km (approximately)
Another quick getaway, Dhanaulti offers solitude to those looking to escape the fast life. There isn’t much to do over here, except breathe fresh air, enjoy the greenery and the scenery, and enjoy some chowmein or pakoras at the local stalls or restaurants. But, should you do decide to check the place out, head to the Eco Park or Adventure Park for some relaxation.
Stay: Whispering Pines Himalayan Retreat offers a tent experience.
Must-visit: Surkhanada Devi Temple. Reaching here involves a bit of a trek, but the devout and nature lovers are likely to find the hike well worth it.

Surrounded by evergreen deodar trees, Chakrata offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges in the vicinity. (Sneha Mahale)

Chakrata
Distance from Dehradun: 95km (approximately)
The roads to Chakrata are bumpy, and there’s a chance of a landslide or cloudburst (we experienced one and just about managed to survive to tell the tale). But the destination is worth the journey. Surrounded by evergreen deodar trees and offering panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges in the vicinity, this hill station looks like something straight out of a postcard. Do visit the tiny Chakrata market to snag a good deal on the Chakrata Ka Special Rajma (grown locally), spend some time visiting the Tiger Falls, or just relax in your room to watch the sun rise and set behind the imposing snow-capped mountains.
Stay: Try Hotel Snow View, Himalayan Eco Lodge or Hotel Burans.
Must-visit: Deoban is a picturesque spot that is located about 16km from Chakrata. A 15-minute walk through the dense deodar forest leads you to Vyas Shikhar, where Vyasa apparently penned the Mahabharata.