Restful vacations, lazy holidays, quick getaways amidst snow capped peaks dotted with orchards, dense forests and green meadows. Are you looking for all or many of these? Then join Mariam Noronha as she unravels holiday destinations hidden in the Indian landscape. Here is a look at her top five tranquil holiday destinations in India…
Pauri, Himachal Pradesh
If a restful stay at a quaint forest lodge and some quiet time in a beautiful retreat is what you are looking for then head for Pauri, 1814 mts high on the Northern slopes of the Kandoliya hills in Himachal. To get there fly to Jollygrant, the nearest airport, 155 kms or take a train to Kotdwar, 108 kms or drive from towns in Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir.
Your accommodation options include: GMVN Tourist Bungalows at Pauri and Lansdowne and Ramkund Resort both Government approved resorts and The Wild Brook Retreat and Fairydale Resort.
Head to Kandoliya, 2 kms, where you can visit the Kandoliya Devta Temple and catch a glimpse of a panoramic view of the Gangwarsyun valley. The 8th century, Kyunkaleshwar Mahadev Temple, 3 kms offers a breathtaking view of the Himalayas and the Srinagar Valley. A one day picnic at Ransi, 2.5 kms, is enjoyable and restful and if you’re lucky you could catch a game at the famous stadium. Challenging treks await you at Doodhatoli, 100 kms and enjoy the view from the summit.
More quiet retreats at unusual resorts are a few kilometers away. Adwani, 17 kms nestled in dense forests is where you can stay overnight at the Forest Rest House or the Tourist Rest House near Ghandiyal Devta Temple located in the vicinity of Khisru, 19 kms from Pauri is tranquil and unpolluted except for the twittering of the birds.
Nanital, Himachal Pradesh
April to June and September to October are the best times to visit Nainital, a picturesque hill retreat discovered in 1841 by Lord Baron.
Getting there: Your travel options are numerous, a flight to Pantnagar, the nearest airport or a train to Kathgodam the nearest railway station. Luxury coaches ply to Nainital ride from Delhi and buses connect it to Kanpur, Lucknow, Agra and Haridwar.
Where to Stay: The Mukteshwar Himalayan Resort, Mukteshwar, Himalayan Heights, Ramgarh and Van Vilas Camps, Bhimtal are some good accommodation options around Nainital.
Getting Around: Trekking and horse riding are the best ways to explore Nainital its vicinity.
Things to do: Start by exploring the Naini Lake, the landmark of Nainital, surrounded by hills dotted with colonial cottages by day and an illuminated township in its shimmering waters by night is a sight to behold at anytime you choose. Yachting, boating or paddling at Mallital and Tallital both ends of the lake joined by a bridge is something you must try.
Other things to do: Go on a horse ride from Mallital to Naina Peka or China Peak, 6 kms away or a less strenuous hike uphill to Lands End, 4 kms or Dorothy Seat and Tiffin Top also 4 kms away or a ropeway ride to Snow View Peak with tea and snacks while enjoy the view and spend quiet time at the temple.
The sleepy little town of Bundi in Rajasthan can be reached from the nearest airport Sanganer, Jaipur is 210 kms and Bundi is linked by rail to Agra, Kota, Chittar and Neemuch. 40 kms by road from Kota or 170 kms from Ajmer brings you to the land of palaces, forts and lakes.
Landmarks you must visit in Bundi include the Taragarh Fort, one of Rajsathan’s most magnificent forts built in 1354 AD, is star shaped fort stands out stark white atop a thickly wooded hill. You can see Nawal Sagar, an artificial lake from the ramparts of the fort. This lake is the heart of Bundi, where the entire town’s reflection is visible in its clear visage. Dotted with islets, the temple to Varnal, the Aryan God of water stands submerged in the lake. The Bundi Palace, a wonderful example of Rajasthani architecture is where you can see some beautiful murals.
Another landmark is Raniji ki Baori, a 46 m deep well, dating back to 1699 A.D. is the place to see intricate carvings on pillars and a gate with a high arch. Chhattar Mahal, The Palace of Towers, can only be described as a rhapsody in stone with Hazari Pol (elephant gate) with its old water clock, Nawbath Khana and the Diwan-e-Aam. Shikhar Burj, a royal hunting lodge and the Sukhmahal Summer Palace are great for one day excursions and visits.
In the vicinity: The Jait Sagar Lake, 3 kms is a great place to drive out to by night. For the spiritually inclined, the cave temple of Lord Shiva in Rameshwaram 20 kms, Dhooleshwar Mahadev Temple, 53 kms at Talwas, 53 kms and the temple complex and foaming waterfalls at Meenal 70 kms are places to head out to.
Lahaul and Spiti District, Himachal Pradesh
The state of Himachal Pradesh is a great place to visit if you like valleys, hills, orchards and beautiful flora and fauna. Keylong village, 3156 mts, is the hub of commercial activity in the remote Lahaul district. It is thickly populated and comes with all the trimmings of city life post, telegraph and telephone. The Circuit House, PWD Guest House, Sainik Rest House or Tourist Bungalow are your accommodation options in Keylong.
Places to see and visit include the Tayul, Kardang and Sha-Shur house to soak in tranquility and see beautiful scriptures and paintings of Buddha and other Gods and Goddesses. Chandrataal, one of the most beautiful lakes of the Spiti Valley is located at 4,270 mts. Steeped in the legend of a mermaid who once lived here the lake is nestled in a broad grassy plain which once was a glacier. At the heart of the kilometre long lake is a brownish peak Samurdai, which is still unconquered. The area is a favorite grazing ground for shepherds, in summer it is filled with Alpine vegetation and you can see the stones at the bottom of the lake that’s frozen in winter.
In addition, Surajtaal, at the summit of the Baralacha la, a little below 16000 ft is where trekkers stop to take a drink of the lake’s cold sweet water after a long trek. Surrounded by flowering cacti it is the place to enjoy the breathtaking view over a hot cup of tea. A tiny monastery and gamboling lambs make a pretty picture against a chain of serrated, snow streaked mountain peaks.
Take the Blue Mountain Train from Mettupalayam via Coonoor to hop on to the magical route to Ooty.
Your accommodation options are numerous but if you want a tranquil experience then the Red Hills, Ooty and Orange Mist, Coonoor are options worth exploring.
Nestled in the Blue Mountains of the Nilgiri range Ooty’s cool and pleasant climate is what made it a preferred hilly retreat for the British in the 19th century.
A great place to spend some quiet time in the hills, walking around Ooty is invigorating and enjoyable and undeniably the best way to explore this scenic locale.
A boat ride in the lake and a walk in the Botanical Gardens is a veritable feast for the eyes. If you want to get away from it all then there’s always the option of trekking up to the Doda Betta peak, perched at 8,606 feet for panoramic views of the Nilgiris.
Images reproduced from lonelyplanet.com and holidayiq.com
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