This Diwali, take a break from city noise and travel
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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)
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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