This Diwali, take a break from city noise and travel

  • Nivedita Mishra, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Oct 20, 2014 20:51 IST

It's that time of the year when the weather is at her best. It's also the festival season in India. With Diwali just round the corner, shopping and festivities are likely to be high on our minds. But if you notice closely, you'll see that there's an opportunity for a quick getaway as well. With Diwali falling on a Thursday, a weekend travel plan should definitely be on your radar.

Just in case you yearn for some me-time, away from the din and bustle of city life, away from routine office and family responsibilities, HT brings you a great list of places to run away to from the four big cities in India- Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata.

Happy travel!


Sikar, Rajasthan
Located in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan, this region is particularly known for its unique and colourful fresco paintings donning its exterior walls. Home to wealthy merchants and local royals, the town is full of old monuments, forts, palaces, boundary walls and temples, many of which have frescos.

1) Madho Niwas Kothi, Sikar
2) Rani Mahal
3) Diwan Ji ki Haveli
4) Agrsen Mandir, Chiranji Panwadi ki Gali

How to reach:
By bus from Delhi (281 km; Time: 6 hours 30 minutes): The most convenient means of transport remains bus (state transport buses, Nand Travels, etc)
By taxi from Delhi (281 km; 4 hours 30 minutes, Rs 800-900): This is the fastest way to get to Sikar.
By train from Delhi (281 kms; 3 hours 15 minutes, Rs 180): No direct train; Chetak Express runs from Delhi to Ringas; take a taxi to Sikar

Places to stay:
1) Hotel Manwar {starting from Rs 941 (per room per night)}
2) Welcom Heritage Koolwal Kothi, Government Hospital Road, Nawalgarh{starting from Rs 6,000 (per room per night)}

Pangot, Uttarkhand
A picturesque hill station about 15 kilometres from Nainital, the hamlet is famous for its bird life. Some 580 species of birds can be spotted in the vicinity of the town. A host of Himalayan species await you.

1) Himalayan griffon, blue-winged minia, variety of thrushes to sample some
2) Leopards, Himalayan civets, ghorals, barking deer and Sambhars
3) Detox in the lap of nature

How to reach:
By road: Reach Nainital. Take a taxi to Pangot, about 15 km from there.
By rail: Kathgodam is the nearest railhead, well connected from Delhi. Hire a cab for Rs 300 (approx) to reach Pangot in half and hour.
By air: Pantnagar is the nearest airport (58 km). Taxis are available for Rs 600 (approx) to Pangot.

Places to stay:
1) The Nest Cottage {Several packages available | Eg: 2 nights, 3 days for 2 adults with breakfast & dinner Rs 10,000 plus 15% tax}
Contact: 09411150530, (05942) 236216
2) Kafal House {packages available | Eg: Rs 4000 plus 15% tax per night for 2 adults with breakfast, lunch & dinner}
Contact: +91 120 4222797 | +91 9811704651

Gajner Palace, Bikaner
A palace property off Bikaner (30 minutes drive from the city) is a heritage property, which was previously the hunting resort built by HH Maharaja Sir Ganga Singh of Bikaner.


1) Discover the property: Sprawling and majestic palace, distinctive terraces and balconies, great setting and unhurried way of life

2) Detox: Nature-walks, boat-rides, sanctuary dinners and desert safaris

3) Gajner lake

How to reach:
By road: You could drive to Bikaner (approx 7 hours drive from Delhi). From Bikaner, local taxi will cost Rs 1500-2000 (approx)
By rail: 5 trains run Delhi to Bikaner { Train nos - 22472, 12457, 12371, 12463}; Bikaner to Gajner local taxi will cost you: Rs 1500 - 2000 (approx)

Places to stay:
As a heritage property, it offers many packages. In this season, the winter package makes sense.
For 2 adults a 2 nights 3 days stay as per winter package: Rs 19,000 {includes tax}
Contact: +91 1534 275061 - 9

Sojha, Himachal Pradesh
A picturesque destination located in the Seraj valley in Himachal Pradesh, Sojha is a perfect weekend getaway. If nature is your calling for relaxation, Sojha is the place for you.

1) Panoramic view of the Himalayas
2) Trips to Serolsar Lake, Raghupur Fort, Waterfall point, Jalori Pass, Budhi Nagin temple and Tirthan Valley

How to reach:
By road: Drive from Delhi to Kullu via NH1 and NH 3 (511 km in over 9 hours). From Kullu, take state transport bus to Sojha.
By rail: Closest railhead is Joginder Nagar railway station (164 km). Reach Pathankot from Delhi {Train nos - 14037, 14033, 06687, 18601 to name a few}. Local buses/cabs available to reach Sojha from said station.
By air: Bhuntar airport at Kullu {80 km}. Local buses/cabs available to reach Sojha.

Places to stay
1) The Himalayan Lodges {packages available; for 2 adults, 2 nights 3 days}
2) Banjara Camps and Retreat {no packages available; for a couple, rooms are available within a range of Rs 5900 - Rs 8500 with 5% service charge.}
Contact: +91 11 65152334/5/6

Chakrata, Uttarakhand
A fascinating little gem in Uttarakhand, Chakrata was once a cantonment town set up by the British Indian Army in 1866. With Mussourie to the east and Kinnaur valley to its west, this is an ideal getaway, far removed from the din and bustle of the city. A secluded hill station surrounded by coniferous, rhododendrons and oak trees, nature is its chief attraction.

1) Nature walks, bird watching, treks
2) Panoramic view of lower Himalayas
3) Hano Mahasu and Lakhamandal temples on the banks of river Yamuna and its ancient Shiv temple that dates back to the times of the Mahabharata.

How to reach:
By road: Reach Dehradun from Delhi (5-6 hours); you could drive or take bus from ISBT Kashmere Gate. Local buses/cabs available to reach Chakrata (4 hours).
By rail: The closest railhead is Dehradun (train nos: 19019, 12017, 19565, 14309, 14317, 12287) . Local buses/cabs available to reach Chakrata (4 hours).
By air: Jolly Grant, Dehradun is the closest airport to Chakrata. Spicejet, Jet Airways and Air India all fly to Dehradun. Local buses/cabs available to reach Chakrata (4 hours).

Places to stay:
1) Himalayan Paradise {tariff ranges from Rs 3000 - 6000 per night for 2 persons; includes breakfast and dinner; includes tax}
Contact: 075002 73517
2) Snow View Hotel {tariff Rs 2250 per night for 2 people; includes morning tea, breakfast and dinner; includes tax}
Contact: 094113 63231


Vythiri, Wayanad
One of the main taluks of Wayanad district of North Kerala, Vythiri is at the heart of spectacular Wayanad. Located at the southern tip of the Deccan plateau. Wayanad is blessed with the most amazing vistas -- lofty ridges criss-crossed with dense forest, tangled jungles and deep valleys. River Kabini that flows east to form one of the main tributaries of Kaveri is also an attraction. This is also coffee plantation region.

1) Nature-walks, treks
2) Wildlife treks to spot exotic fauna (bonnet macaque, slender loris, mongooses, jungle cats, squirrels, jackals, hares, cobra can be regularly seen while tiger, sambhar, spotted deer and leopard can be spotted occasionally.)
3) Unwind with nature

How to reach:
By road: A number of private luxury buses (4 direct buses) run from Bengaluru to Vythiri. {292 kms | Rs 800 onwards | Time: 4 - 5 hours}
By rail: No direct train from Bengaluru to Vythiri. Could avail Shatabdi to Mysore and then hire a cab
By air: Closest airhead is Kozhikode (Air India, Jet airways). Take a cab to Vythiri (Overall duration: 3 - 4 hours)

Places to stay:
1) Vythiri Homes {price range Rs 1200 - 2500 for 2 persons per day; includes tax, excludes food; online booking}
Contact: +91 9745605454
2) Vythiri Greens {price range Rs 4000 - 4500 for 2 persons per day; includes tax and complementary breakfast}
Contact: +91 09544827771

Chikmangalur, Karnataka
Located in the heart of coffee land of Karnataka, Chikmangalur is a this calm and serene town full of surprises in its neighbourhood. The gentle slopes of the Western ghats offer great relief in the lap of nature.

1) Mountain treks - Mullayanagiri
2) Waterfalls visits - Manikyadhara, Hebbe, Shanti, Kadambi and Kallathigiri falls
3) Temple town Sringeri
4) Wildlife - Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary and Kudremukh National Park

How to reach:
By road: It is best to hire a cab and drive to Chikmangalur (5 hours | Rs 15 to Rs 45 per km)
By rail: There is no direct train to Chikmangalur; closest railhead is Kodur (40 km). Regular trains from Bengaluru (Train nos- 12608 and 11042)

Places to stay:
1) Naturecraft Homestay {Rs 1750 person per day includes breakfast and dinner; includes tax}
Contact: 099721 61237

2) Eagle Eye Holidays Resorts (Rs 2750 per person per day, includes tax, 3 meals)
Contact: +91 9341 415 58

Masinagudi in Karnataka is a stretch of land extending from the outer fringes of the Bandipur National Park in Karnataka and running into the Mudumalai National Park in Tamil Nadu. Absolute virgin territory with thick vegetation and a wide variety of flora and fauna, Maginagudi is perfect destination for unwinding.

1) Mudhumalai National Park with its wide variety of wildlife
2) Forest treks, nature walks, elephant, wild buffalo, deer spotting

How to reach:
By road: Best way to reach Masinagudi from Bangalore is by car/cab. (238 km | Rs 8 to 40 per km | 5 hours)
By air: Closest airport is Coimbatore (123 km from Masinagudi). Hire a cab to Masinagudi.

Places to stay:
1) Jungle Hut {Rs 7000 per couple per day - 3 meals and inclusive of tax}
Contact: + 91 97876 33433
2) Jungle Retreat {Rs 4800 per couple per day includes 3 meals and tax}
Contact: 91 98840 50575

Nestled in the Nilgiri hills in Tamil Nadu is a beautiful hill station called Yarcaud. With its cascading gentle slopes and dotted by lakes and lush greens on all sides, Yarcaud is a bliss to tired city dwellers on the lookout for a quick getaway.

1) Nature walks, mountain treks
2) Wildlife spotting: bison, deer, ant-eater, rabbits, hares, foxes, mongoose, squirrels, partridges, snakes, bulbuls, kites, sparrows, swallows and paradise flycatchers.

How to reach:
By road: The best way to Yarcaud from Bangalore is to drive. Hire a full day cab (approx price Rs 3000 - 7000)
By rail: Reach Salem junction from Bangalore (Train nos - 16231, 16731, 16525, 16528). Hire a cab for Yarcaud (25 km).

Places to stay:
1) Golden Nest Resorts {price range Rs 2900-3600 per day, per couple; includes breakfast and tax}
Contact: 081440 81440
2) Clifton Inn {Rs 2500 per couple per day; includes breakfast and tax}
Contact: 04281 222 911

About 100 km from Bangalore is Mekedaku (goat's leap) where the raging river Kaveri passes through a really narrow gorge.

1) The spectacle of a raging Kaveri river
2) Popular picnic spot
3) A little upstream is a famous Shivanasamudra fall.

How to reach:
By road: The best way to travel to Mekedatu is to drive. Else, hire a cab for a 2-hour drive (price range - Rs 600 to 800).

Places to stay:
Since it is so close to Bangalore, stay over is never a necessity.


Located at the outer reaches of the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka and right next to Goa is a beach town of Karwar. With its many beaches, museum and wildlife, it makes a perfect choice for a quick getaway from Mumbai.

1) Beaches - Devbagh, Karwar, Ravindranath Tagore beaches
2) Kurumgad Island and Kali river estuary
3) Sadashivgad Fort
4) Shivaganga Falls

How to reach:
By road: There are no direct buses from Mumbai. Reach Goa and then head for Karwar.
By rail: Take a train from Mumbai to Karwar (about 20 trains run on this route; train nos - 12133, 12619, 12978, 12998, 16345 | Time: 8-9 hours | price: Rs 400 approx)
By air: Take any Mumbai-Goa flight. Hire a cab to reach Karwar (overall 3-4 hours)

Places to stay:
1) Majali Beach Village {Rs 3100 plus 10% tax per couple, per day; breakfast included}
Contact: +91-9242280768
2) Aditi Comforts Premium Serviced Apartment{Rs 2985 for AC double room includes tax; does not include food}
Contact: 083822 21203

Situated at the south-western end of Maharashtra, Malvan is culturally rich and known for its famous Malvani cuisine. It is a historically important town having associations with the Marathas.

1) Malvan (marine) Wildlife Sanctuary
2) Scuba diving and snorkeling
3) Jet-Ski, Banana boat ride, Bumper boat, Kayaks on Tsunami island
4) Sidhugarh fort
5) Beaches - Chivla, Arse Mahal, Tondavali, Achra, Devbaug
6) Temples - Rameshwar Temple (23 km north of Malvan) and Vetal Mandir (4 km north of Malvan)

How to reach:
By road: There are state buses running from Mumbai to Malvan. (Price: Rs 900 approx)
By rail: No direct trains to Malvan. However, Kuval is well connected to Mumbai (Train nos - 09009, 01033, 01203, 01007) and then hire a cab. (price: Rs 800 approx)
By air: Take any Mumbai-Goa flight. Hire a cab to reach Malvan.

Places to stay:
Abhiruchi Resort {Rs 1500 per couple ac room includes tax, no food}
Contact: 91 (02365) 253156, 9867828541
PS: High on demand - 5 other hotels we called were all going full to capacity.

The new wine country of India, Nasik is an old city with a lot of history in her folds. Lord Ram is said stayed here during his fourteen years of exile. Kumbhmela, a huge and peaceful congregation of Hindus and different from one in Allahabad, takes place here by the banks of Godavari. But in recent times, Nasik along with Mumbai and Pune has acquired the repute of forming the golden triangle of Maharashtra.

1) Domestic religious circuit: temples by the bank of Godavari, Pandavleni caves
2) It's salubrious weather
3) Wine tourism (chiefly Sula Vineyards)
4) Deolali Camp
5) Trek to Saptashrungi shrine

How to reach:
By road: Many private and state transports ply from Mumbai. (165 km | Rs 200 - approx | 4-5 hours)
By rail: Given the busy route, there are many trains running from Mumbai to Nashik (Train nos - 12109, 12071, 11071, 17617, 11401; price: upto Rs 200)
By air: No air link

Places to stay:
1) Lily Sarovar Portico Hotel {Rs 300 plus tax with breakfast per couple per day}
Contact: 099238 90777
2) Hotel Rama Heritage {Rs 2000 plus tax with breakfast per couple per day; Rs 1800 plus tax with breakfast per person per day}
Contact: 095451 69777

The newest planned city to come up in independent India, Lavasa is fast emerging as a tourist hotspot for people around the Mumbai-Pune belt. Its town planning and designs have come up for much praise and have won awards too but the site has been plagued with issues relating to environmental damage as well.

1) City tour: Lavasa's urban landscape is a huge attraction. Gallivanting in the town, its many restaurants, its hilly terrain, inviting weather remain a huge attraction.
2) Its many lakes and the undulating Western ghats
3) Joy rides and motor cyclists rides: Its many winding roads with their twists and turns are a big high for bikers.

How to reach:
By road: Road travel is the best bet to reach Lavasa from Mumbai. Either drive down or hire a cab along the Mumbai-Pune Expressway (191 km | 3 - 4 hours | price: Rs 4-5K approx {car} Rs 400 {bus})
By train: Travel to Pune by train (Train nos - 11043, 16209, 16507, 16505, 16531) and then hire a cab (Rs 400 - 700 approx)
By air: Fly to Pune and then hire a cab (Rs 400 - 700 approx)

Where to stay:
1) Viva Inn Hotel {Rs 2818 includes tax and complementary breakfast per couple per day}
Contact: 020 2295 2838
2) Lemon Tree Hotel, Pune {Single room: Rs 3697 plus taxes complementary food & WiFi | Double room: Rs 3815 plus taxes complementary food & WiFi}
Contact: 020 4423 2323

A tiny little hamlet tucked away in the western ghats in south-west Maharashtra, Amboli is a haven for nature lovers. It is become 'eco hotspot' with many tourists flocking the place for the quiet of nature. Its chief attraction is its high rainfall and its resultant lush greenery and long periods of mist and clouds. Its waterfalls deserve a special mention.

1) Detox: Perfect to get date with nature, with its dense vegetation and misty surroundings.
2) Nature walks and hill treks
3) Amboli and Nangartaas Falls, Mahadevgad and Kavaleshaad and Shirgaonkar points, Hiranyakeshi temple

How to reach:
By road: Drive on NH 17 to Savantvadi and hire a cab to Amboli (527 km | 7 hrs | cab - Rs 30,000 approx)
By train: Closest railhead is Savantvadi (Train nos - 10103, 12201, 10111) and hire a cab to Amboli
By air: Fly to Belgaum from Mumbai (Spicejet) and hire a cab to Amboli (68 km)

Where to stay:
MTDC Green Valley
Contact: 02363 240239
JRD International
Contact: 02363 240222


Simlipal, Odisha
The Simlipal National Park in north Odisha is a perfect weekend getaway from Kolkata. At the distance of 240 km from the city, it can be easily reach by road and rail. Tigers occupy the pride of place but the park has many more surprises in store. A word of caution: the place is prone to cerebral malaria so take utmost care while planning the trip.

1) Wildlife: While its principle attraction remains tigers, it boasts a plethora of wildlife with elephants and crocodiles being the big gamers.
2) Flora wealth: The place is home to close to 96 varieties of orchids.
3) Detox in the lap of nature

How to reach:
By road: Drive, hire a cab from Kolkata or get to a bus (240 km | About 5 hours | Rs 600 - approx)
By rail: Closest railhead is Baripada (Train no: 18007) and take a local transport (taxi) to Simlipal

Where to stay:
Toshali Jungle Lodge {Rs 3000 all meals and tax included, per couple per day}
Contact: 9938358166

Netrahaat, Jharkhand
Tucked away in the heart of eastern ghats is a jewel called Netrahaat in Jhakhand. Surrounded by verdant hills and virgin forests, Netrahaat is often referred to as a queen of Jharkhand.

1) Detox with nature
2) Spectacular sunrise and sunsets (better in summers though) - Magnolia and Koel viewing points
3) Waterfalls - Sadni, Upper Ghaghri, Lower Ghaghri and Lodh falls

How to reach:
By road: Drive or hire a cab from Kolkata (600 km | Rs 4-6K)
By rail: Reach Ranchi by train (Train nos - 12019, 11448, 18615, 18617, 18627) and hire a cab (110 km)
By air: Reach Ranchi (Jet and Indigo) and hire a cab to Netrahaat

Where to stay:
No data available; best bet would be to stay in Ranchi

McCluskieganj, Jharkhand
What was set up as a township for Anglo Indians in pre independence India has now become a tourist spot to take in a bit of nature away from the rumblings of big city living. Situated at a distance of 40 kms from Ranchi in Jharkhand, if listening to wild calls and soothing your eyes with nature's bounty is your calling, then McCluskieganj is the place to head for.

1) Nature walks
2) Detox in pleasant weather and unpolluted environs
3) Trek to Dugadugi river, hills and river-lets in the neighbourhood
4) Old colonial mansions

How to reach:
By road: Drive up to Ranchi and head for McCluskieganj. Else, take a bus to Bokaro (500 km | 6 hours | Rs 600 ) and hire a cab to McCluskieganj (Rs 2-3K {from Bokaro})
By rail: Cheapest way to travel to McCluskieganj (Train no - 11448) and hire a cab
By air: Reach Ranchi (Jet and Indigo) and hire a cab

Where to stay:
Gordon Guest House {Rs 700 per day per couple, includes tax but excludes food}
Contact: +919470930230

Doars, WB
In the north of West Bengal lies the Dooars, the floodplains at the foothills to Himalayas. Meaning door in east Indian languages, it serves at the entry point to Bhutan and is blessed with a wide variety of flora and fauna.

1) Wildlife sanctuaries: National Park of Gorumara, Chapramari forests, Buxa Tiger Reserve, Jaldapara Santuary
2) Detox with nature
3) Wildlife spotting: Tiger, Rhinoceros, Elephants among others

How to reach:
By road: You could drive to Dooars (NH34 and NH31) or take a luxury bus to Siliguri and then hire a cab to Dooars (560-70 km | 10 - 11 hours)
By rail: The best and cheapest way to travel is by rail to Siliguri (Train nos - 05905, 15643, 15901, 13149) and then hire a cab
By air: Kolkata to Bagdogra (Indigo, Jet, Spicejet) and then hire a cab to Dooars

Where to stay (no specific info available):
The Mystic Forest, Jaldapara
Sinclairs Retreat Dooars
Rose Valley Resort, Lataguri

High on the Buddhist circuit, Rajgir is a fascinating place to get to for a quick getaway. With a rich Buddhist, Jain and Hindu past, Rajgir should be in the must-visit of history and culture aficionados.

1) History haven: Venuvana vihara, Ajatashatru's fort, Bimbisara's jail
2) Culture: Amaravana or Jivaka's Mango garden, Griddhakuta or Vulture's peak

How to reach:
By rail: Take the Janta express from Kolkata (Train no - 13039) to Rajgir
By air: Take a flight to Gaya (Air India, Jet) and hire a cab to Rajgir (Rs 1500 approx | 3 hours)

Where to stay (no specific info available):
Indo Hokke Hotel
Rajgir Residency
Hill Queen Hotel

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