There are innumerable places in this vast country that offer adventures to last a lifetime. In this series of travel posts we shall look at places that are well known as well as those that are still relatively unexplored and unfamiliar.
We will begin the journey with a quick look at some of the better known hill stations in the Himalayan region in India.
Also known as the lake district of India, Nainital is located in the Kumaon region of Uttrakhand. The place has derived its name from the famous Naini Lake which also happens to be the most popular tourist destinations in the area. The town is located at a distance of around 300 km from New Delhi and it takes about nine hours to reach here from the capital.
Nainital is a unique and a breathtakingly beautiful place and you can relax and enjoy the beauty of the lower Himalayas. Some of the main places of interest in addition to the lake are the Eco Cave Gardens, Kainchi Dham, Nainital Zoo, Hanuman Garhi, Naina Devi Temple and Raj Bhawan.
While visiting Nainital, you can also drive up to Mukteshwar which is just 51 km away and surrounded by a dense reserve forest. Visitors in Mukteshwar get the opportunity to view the Great Himalayan range and vast open blue skies while relishing wild fruit berries found in the reserve forest. There are other locations nearby such as Naukuchiatal and Bhimtal that boast of pristine lakes themselves, though they are smaller than the larger Naini Lake. These pristine lakes never fail to mesmerize tourists from India and the rest of the world. You can see more by clicking on the Uttarakhand tourism site here.
Days you will need: Nainital: 1-3 days; Mukteshwar: 1-2 days; Naukuchiatal and Bhimtal: Half day to 1 day
Yet another famous tourist destination, the town is located in the state of Uttrakhand and is located at an altitude of 2,006 m above sea level. The place is also known as the Queen of the Hills and prides itself of an abundance of flora and fauna, most of which are endemic to the Himalayan region.
There are many interesting and adventurous points of interest in Mussoorie, the most popular being the Gun Hill which happens to be the second highest peak of the town and gives visitors an aerial view of the Himalayan range. There is also the Mussoorie-Jharipani road which leads to the stunning Jharipani Falls. In addition, you can visit the highest point of Mussoorie (called Lal Tibba) to see some surreal and stunning views of the Himalayas on one side and the city, Dehradun and the North India plains on the other.
While in Mussorie, you can also think of visiting the small hill station of Dhanaulti that is just half an hour drive away. One of the main tourist destinations in Dhanaulti is the Eco-Park which has been developed by the Forest Department of Uttrakhand in collaboration with the local youth. You can comfortably stay in the ‘Eco-Huts’ developed by the local authorities and soak in the green pastures all around. During their stay, visitors will feel relaxed and be able to wean off the fatigue and stress caused by hectic city life and the chaotic daily humdrum usually witnessed in cosmopolitan cities. You can see more by clicking on the Uttarakhand tourism site here.
Days you will need: Mussorie: 2-3 days; Dhanaulti: 1-2 days
This is another famous hill station and is situated in the northern India state of Himachal Pradesh. This small and quaint hill station used to be the summer capital during the British Raj. Shimla is situated in the lower Himalayas and despite being the capital of the state and seeing fast growth, has still managed to retain its colonial old world charm.
There are many exciting places to visit in and around the busy hill station. The two main tourist attractions in Shimla are the Mall Road and The Ridge. The former is a busy commercial area constructed during the British Raj while the latter is a centre of cultural and recreational activities.
The neighbouring hill station of Chail is one of the other places you should visit in your Shimla journey. Nestled amidst dense deodar trees, Chail has all the perfect elements of a holiday retreat. You will find many well-made cottages that provide visitors with all the facilities and comfort of an ideal holiday resort. You can also try fishing and trekking while you are here in addition to taking in the famous Chail Wildlife Sanctuary. You can see more by clicking on the Himachal Pradesh tourism site here.
Days you will need: Shimla: 2-3 days; Chail: 1-3 days
Situated in the northern part of the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, the place is well known for its aromatic tea. In fact, in addition to the views of the Himalayas and exploring the city itself, visiting one of the many tea estates is something you should not miss.
Also known as the ‘The Land of Thunderbolt’, the town is one of the most visited destinations in the state. You must not miss the breathtaking view of the Kanchenjunga, though legends say it only graces the true travellers with a view of its loft heights. The best place to view the mountain is Tiger Hill and on clear days even Mount Everest is also visible from this point.
In addition, there are many attractions and spellbinding places in Darjeeling for you to take in. Some of them are the Ghoom Monastery, Shanti Stupa, Senchal Lake, Bengal Natural History Museum, Happy Valley Tea Gardens (we can’t help it – there is something about the green rolling tea-leaf laden hills), Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and the UNESCO World Heritage Himalayan Railway. And this is just a few. You can see more by clicking on the West Bengal tourism site here.
Days you will need: Darjeeling: 3-4 days
Each of the places we have mentioned here offer more than what even a full-length book can accommodate. There are unique stories, legends, histories – you name it and you shall get it. And we have not even started on the food here!
We will continue to explore more places in the coming days. Get ready with your backpacks as we explore the length and breadth of this beautiful country called India.