There was a distinct pep in the air and the met department was predicting a perceptible drop in mercury by the end of the week. Nevertheless, the air conditioner continued to purr and the temperature gauge in my car indicated that October in India is a warm month. I contemplated on the way forward as I waited for the traffic light to change to green I finally decided to identify the right places to visit near Delhi.
Winter vacation was still a few weeks away and I wondered if the kids would enjoy a quick weekend trip to one of the resorts near Delhi.
As a software engineer with tight deadlines, taking a break is a challenge. So like others in the city, I usually opted for short weekend trips from Delhi. Although there are some very exciting tourist places in Delhi as well as convenient quick weekend getaways from Delhi, making the right choice can be a perpetual challenge.
Some of the most viable options that could work for most of us this winter could well include the likes of :
Snow Fall in Shimla.
Strategically located a shade under 350 Km from Delhi, Shimla is arguably the best hill station near Delhi as I could opt for a scheduled trekking expedition while for the kids we could opt for a more experiential sightseeing tour. The trekking experience requires special mention considering the fact that whenever you draft a list of some exotic places for trekking near Delhi, one of the most popular options is invariably Shimla.
If you have a penchant for history like I do then you would well be aware that Shimla was once the summer capital of British India and is reminiscent of the colonial Raj, to say the least.
The Fort of Nahan, c.1850
I even checked out Nahan as it is the nearest hill station from Delhi. Thus this would mean a quicker trip and we could plan a 3-day vacation over an extended weekend. This could be attributed to the fact that Nahan is a unique hill town, a mere 260 Km from Delhi. This relatively lesser known hill town is picturesquely located on the Shiwalik range of hills has a range of sightseeing options. To illustrate the case in point, I would particularly enjoy a leisurely walk along the Rebuke Lake. On the contrary, if you are looking for a more spiritual experience, you would find Aponte Sahib and the Trilokpur temple the perfect option.
The weather is pleasant and the roads good, thus arguably our drive would be pleasant regardless of when the kids break from school.
Timber Trail Ropeway, Parwanoo.
Those with prior experience are of the opinion that Parwanoo can never be a one-stop destination for those looking for adventure, Although you will find it the perfect getaway to relax and rejuvenate, you should continue on the same highway until you reach Shimla. To further elaborate the case in point, if I should opt for Shimla, I will typically break journey at Parwanoo so that I can soak in the early morning sun. If you do the route, then you will particularly enjoy the panoramic view from the cable car that plies between the highway and the resort.
When in Parwanoo make sure that you visit the Gurkha Fort and the Cactus garden and you will have something memorable to write home about.
Nainital in Uttarakhand
As I thought about Nainital, I remembered that chilly winter morning two years ago when I had planned a family trip to Nainital. We were celebrating our new car and what better than a winter drive through the hills!
This exotic hill station is located a mere 276 Km from Delhi. Nainital needs no introduction and continues to be a favorite tourist destination for Indians and foreigners alike. The name is suggestive considering that the pear-shaped lake has an uncanny resemblance to the human eye. What makes it even more intriguing is the fact that Nainital is located in a valley and is surrounded by the Kumaon hills. The perfect getaway, Nainital seldom crosses the 27 degrees mark on the thermometer, thus making it the perfect option for those looking for a summer getaway close to Delhi.
View of the Dun Valley and Mussoorie in the evening.
A legacy left behind by the British, Mussoorie continues to be a haven and if I consider a shorter trip then the preferred choice would be this unique hill town. A pleasant six hours drive from Delhi, there is scarcely a drive which could be considered as picturesque as this in Northern India.
It was way back in the year 1823 that the British established this unique hill town and there has been no looking back since then.
Flowering Trees in spring at Dharamshala.
A backdrop of the majestic Himalayan ranges, deep gorges and a subtle blend of diverse cultures best defines Dharamshala. Thus regardless of whether it is an adventure that you are looking for or a quick getaway to rejuvenate, all that you will need to do is to block time for a visit to this quaint hill station.
The right time is September to June and the perfect mode of travel is by road. On the contrary, if you are short on time, you could board a direct flight from Delhi for Dharamshala. Home to Dalai Lama, the famous Tibetan leader, Dharamshala is a favorite haunt for the young and the elderly alike.
Bhulla Tal Lake in Lansdowne
On the contrary, if you are looking for a more relaxed vacation then arguably Lansdowne could be the perfect option for you and your family. The perfect getaway for those seeking solace, Lansdowne is best known for its idyllic location, pristine environment, and pleasant weather conditions at any point of time. Driving conditions are good, thus if you are looking for the right location to relax then all that you would need to do is get behind the wheel and drive towards the hills for that perfect experience.
The Auli Magic
View of the Himalayas from Auli.
If you have a penchant for adventure and would like to experience some snow then come to Auli. Strategically located in close proximity to Badrinath, this exotic skiing paradise is a relatively recent discovery amongst tourists. Thus it is not surprising that staying at Auli is about adventure and solace depending on personal preference. It is indeed fascinating that Auli is considered as one of the coldest places in India at this point of time.
Toad Rock at Mount Abu.
Contrary to popular belief there is more to the desert state of Rajasthan than mere sand. This is more than validated by the fact that Mount Abu is a hill station. A hill station in the midst of a desert state is arguably an intriguing sight. Thus if you are planning to visit Rajasthan make sure that you spend at least one evening at Mount Abu. Those with a penchant for history would find some excellent forts and exotic palaces reminiscent of a glorious past.
View from Dalhousie.
This is yet another of the numerous hill stations developed by the British. It was way back in 1850’s when the British developed this exotic hill station to escape the scorching Indian summers. Unlike a typical hill station the roads in Dalhousie are not steep. If you are looking for a serene and placid retreat to spend a quiet weekend with your family, you could not have chosen a better location. If you are an avid walker, you will arguably enjoy your walk on the picturesque Thandi Sarak which is lined by trees and keeps the sun out for the better part of the day.
Take a walk down memory lane and stroll to the other side of the ride for a visit to the St John’s and St Francis’ church. Nestled amongst the tall pine trees they continue to mesmerize and are reminiscent of the colonial rule.
Solang Valley ,Manali.
Enclosed by picturesque mountain peaks, this is one exotic hill station in close proximity to the much talked about Beas River. What makes it all the more intriguing is the fact that regardless of your family composition there is something for everyone here. To further elaborate the case in point, your kids may enjoy trekking and paragliding, while your wife may well enjoy the hustle and bustle.
Thus it is scarcely surprising that backpackers make a beeline for this hill town and add to the flurry of activity which makes Manali the preferred hill destination in contemporary times.
Ladakh – Destination Beyond Compare
Pangong lake, Ladakh. Courtesy Nick Irvine-Fortescue
A retreat beyond compare, this remote hill town is strategically located in a valley surrounded by the Himalayas. The lakes are pristine blue, the mountains majestic, this is one hill retreat which is beyond words once it comes to descriptions.
When it comes to distances, Ladakh is at some distance from Delhi, thus even the most rapid of drivers could take the better part of a day to reach this magnificent hill town. Take a walk along the Pangong Tso Lake and as you imbibe this experience you will not regret the time spent.
Thus it is more than evident that weekends trips from Delhi are never a challenge. There are plenty of options available and you can pick and choose depending on the time of year and your personal inclinations.