The pandemic has kept us cooped up in our homes for over a year now. It has also given us a new perspective on travel and the often ignored destinations close to us. Here are 10 summer getaways in India that will let you stretch your feet when it’s safe to travel again. By Shrimayee Thakur
10 Summer Getaways in India you need to bookmark
Pahalgam, Jammu and Kashmir
The picturesque landscapes of Pahalgam have featured in multiple films such as Raazi, Haider, and Aiyaary. Located on the banks of the Lidder River and flanked by towering mountains, it’s easy to see why this ‘Valley of Shepherds’ draws moviemakers. This summer getaway in India is an ideal setting for activities like hiking, trekking, and fishing, while also offering a peaceful getaway in its meadows, pine forests, and apple orchards. The Aru and Betaab valleys are popular tourist spots, with the latter named after a movie of the same name. Aru Valley also serves as a base camp for treks to the Kolahoi Glacier and the Tarsar Lake. If you like angling, head to the Lidder, where you can fish for trout after obtaining a license from the Department of Fisheries.
Located 10 kilometres away from Shimla, Mashobra features the same cool climate and stunning vistas, but not the crowds that throng its popular cousin. Serene and beautiful, Mashobra has the honour of being home to one of the two Presidential Retreats of India, with the other one located in Hyderabad. Take a stroll in the Reserve Forest Sanctuary to gaze at soaring Himalayan peaks, and take your binoculars along to get a close look at rare species of birds. Try your hand at golfing in nearby Naldehra, known for its challenging golf course that is one of the oldest and finest in India. Take in Himachal’s history and culture at the Himachal State Museum, which is housed in a converted Victorian mansion. For a dose of adrenaline, trek up to Shali Tibba, a standalone peak at an altitude of 2,872 metres, which offers a panoramic view of the region.
Clear blue lakes, mesmerising waterfalls, and lush landscapes—it’s not hard to see why Tawang district is among Northeast India’s best summer getaways. The 400-yearold Tawang Monastery is the second-largest in the world, making it a coveted place. Pay tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives in the 1962 Sino-Indian War at the Tawang War Memorial, designed using Buddhist architectural elements. Trek up to the snow-clad Gorichen Peak, the highest scalable peak in Arunachal Pradesh. Also check out Sangetsar Lake, which was formed after an earthquake in 1973 and, at some point, renamed after a famous Bollywood actress!
Sitting next to Emerald Lake, Yercaud is a less explored jewel in the Eastern Ghats. The lake is surrounded by gardens and trees, which give the hill station its moniker: yer means lake and kadu means forest, therefore Yercaud literally means ‘lake forest’. Take a boat out into the water to enjoy a lazy afternoon admiring its pristine surroundings and serene atmosphere. Close to the lake, Anna Park houses myriad varieties of plants found around Shevaroy Hills. Drive around the 32-kilometre loop road, which starts and ends at the lake, to get a closer look at Yercaud’s coffee plantations and thick bamboo forests. Catch a hypnotic sunset at Lady’s Seat, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Popularly called ‘mini Kashmir’, Pithoragarh is among the summer getaways in India that sits on the Indo-Nepal border and brims with orchards, meadows, and springs. It also offers views of the majestic snow-capped Panchachuli peaks and opportunities for trekking, hiking, and camping. A centre of power during the reign of the Chand kings in Kumaon, Pithoragarh is now popular due to its stunning natural beauty and historical and religious monuments. One such place is the Kapileshwar Mahadev Temple, which is located inside a cave and requires a long climb to reach. A spectacular view of the Sor Valley makes the climb well worth the effort. Catch a glimpse of the snow leopard and musk deer at the Askot Wildlife Sanctuary, located 52 kilometres from Pithoragarh.
Located in the Western Ghats, Dandeli has imposing mountains that offer plenty of adventures, nature reserves, and sightings of exotic wildlife. Head to the Kali River for a range of watersports such as whitewater rafting and kayaking. Nature lovers can venture into Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary to catch a glimpse of panthers and bisons, and perhaps even a tiger or two. Get up close to the wildlife by choosing to stay in one of the camps instead of a resort; many of these offer guided treks through Dandeli’s forested terrain. Navigate your way through the ancient Kavala caves, or climb your way to the top of the Syntheri Rock, a huge limestone rock formed due to volcanic activity—there’s no dearth of thrill in Dandeli.
Renowned for its panoramic views, Buddhist monasteries, and colonial-era buildings, Kalimpong is a mixed bag of history, culture, and nature. The Deolo and Durpin Dara hills offer incredible views and adventures like paragliding, trekking, and horse riding. Durpin Monastery provides a peek into Buddhist and Tibetan cultures with its exquisite architecture, Tibetan paintings, and a rare collection of Buddhist texts. Visit Cactus Nursery, one of Kalimpong’s biggest commercial nurseries, to admire rare species of orchids and cacti set against the backdrop of imposing mountains. Step into the past at Crockety, a majestic British cottage built in the 18th century. Also interesting is the supposedly haunted Morgan House, which was built in the 1930s and serves as a classic example of colonial architecture.
Often referred to as the ‘Scotland of the East’ due to its striking similarity to the Scottish Highlands, Shillong is one of India’s most beautiful destinations. It looks straight out of a movie with its rolling green hills, scenic lakes, and breathtaking waterfalls. Umiam Lake, a man-made water body surrounded by thick forests and the East Khasi Hills, is one of the most popular places to visit. You can plan a picnic on its shores or partake in water sports such as sailing and kayaking; visit the nearby Lum Nehru Park, popular for its orchids and aviary. The three-tiered Elephant Falls, flanked by thick vegetation, is another popular spot. To learn more about Meghalaya and the Khasi tribe, head to Don Bosco Museum, which has a huge collection of traditional attire, weapons, and artefacts. Visit the Police Bazar to shop for local weaves and sample delicious jams and jellies made of sohiong, blackberries indigenous to Meghalaya.
The only hill station in Madhya Pradesh, Pachmarhi is also known as ‘Satpura ki Rani’ and has been listed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve because of its bountiful flora and fauna. Wildlife enthusiasts can head to the Pachmarhi Wildlife Sanctuary, which is adjacent to the Satpura National Park, to spot rare wildlife. The hill station gets its name from the area’s five (pach) caves (marhi) that are believed to have been inhabited by the Pandavas during their exile—according to The Mahabharata. History buffs can visit Christ Church, which is a prime example of colonial architecture. Pachmarhi is also known for its spectacular waterfalls, such as Rajat Prapat, Jamuna Prapat, Apsara, and Duchess. Head up to Dhoopgarh, the highest point in Pachmarhi, to catch beautiful sunrises and sunsets.
Famous for being the only hill station in swelteringly hot Rajasthan, Mount Abu offers a cool climate, thick forests, and insightful glimpses of the state’s rich culture. It is home to the Dilwara Jain Temples, built between the 11th and 13th centuries and renowned for their exquisite marble carvings. Unwind on the banks of Nakki Lake, a water body that is believed to have been carved out by a god using his nails (nakh). Toad Rock, which, as the name suggests, is shaped like a toad, is close to the lake and an excellent spot for sightseeing. Another popular tourist spot is the Achalgarh Fort; just outside its premises is the Achaleshwar Mahadev Temple, which is said to have been built around a toe print of Lord Shiva and houses a statue of Nandi built from five metals.