Gravity defying mountain peaks, spectacular landscapes, rolling hills of verdant hues and that gentle cool breeze caressing your face – summer brings with it the annual trips to higher altitude, away from the city’s bustle and a chance to escape from the dreary of everyday life.
Ootacamund, Tamil Nadu
Ootacamund, Ooty or Udhagamandalam, as its known officially, is a popular hill station. The town is situated in the heart of Nilgiri Hills and the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, part of the biologically rich and eco-sensitive Western Ghats that has over 90 species of mammals, 300 species of birds, and vibrant flora and fauna. The weather in this hilly town is quite pleasant, offering a great escape from the heat of the plains.
When in Ooty, visitors must take a trip on the Nilgiri Mountain railway, a streak of bright blue toy train that slowly chugs along the mountainside. From rice fields to rugged terrains, through tunnels and over bridges, passengers can get lost in reverie with the idyllic rhythmic movement. A visit to the Tribal Museum is highly recommended, and it showcases the lives and artefacts of the local Todas, and other tribal groups of Tamil Nadu and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Famous for Nilgiri Tea, visitors can also take a trip to the tea plantations and learn more about the process from leaf to cup. The Ooty lake, covering an area of 65 acres, offers boating facilities that is quite popular with tourists. Surrounded by Eucalyptus trees, beautiful gardens and even an amusement park, this is sure to be popular with the kids.
From Fernhills Palace to umpteen temples and churches, mountain peaks to conquer and visit the parks and waterfalls, there is much to do and see when in Ooty.
GoAir Connect: Ootacamund is 270 km (approx.) from Bengaluru. GoAir operates direct flights to Bengaluru from Delhi, Goa, Mumbai, Ranchi, Pune and Port Blair among others, and easy connections from Ahmedabad, Bagdogra, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Jammu, etc.
Mashobra, Himachal Pradesh
Imagine vast undulating terrain of peaks and valleys and breathtaking green cover that shimmers in the sun, Mashobra is an enticing tourist destination. With fleecy mists wafting across the horizon, the cluster of houses offer a speckled view. Located in the Shimla district, it is home to one of the two presidential retreats in India, the other being in Secunderabad.
At an average elevation of 7,041 ft from sea level, the oak and pine forests render the area an archaic appeal, and coupled with colonial style wooden houses, it offers the ambience of a beautiful retreat. With deodar and rhododendron, maple and apple orchards in the neighbouring vicinity, Mashobra makes for a perfect getaway that is nestled in the lap of nature. With a number of accommodation possibilities available, there are ample restaurants serving up a variety of cuisines.
Visitors can indulge in trekking and camping, while the area also offers good picnic spots. Almost 3 km from Mashobra is Carignano, that has a villa built by an Italian photographer, Chevalier Federico Pelite, who had named it after his hometown. Travellers can also visit the Reserve Forest Sanctuary that is blessed with a staggering variety of flora and fauna. One of the largest watershed areas in Asia, many can indulge in birding while walking along the nature trails.
GoAir Connect: Mashobra is 123 km (approx.) from Chandigarh. GoAir operates direct flights to Chandigarh from Mumbai, and easy connections from Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Kochi, Nagpur and Goa among others.
A beautiful hill station situated on a plateau, Saputara, also known as the ‘abode of serpents’ resides in the midst of the Dang Forest region of the Western Ghats. The region gets its name from the serpent god revered by the local tribes here, and are known for their traditional dances. At an altitude of approx., 3,000 ft above sea level, Saputara offers sweeping views of the lush landscape and is blessed with consistently pleasant temperatures year-round. Visitors can drop by any time of the year. Be it in the peak of summer when the plains are drenched in sweltering humidity, or during the monsoon, Saputara offers a beatific floral environment during summer, rolling mists of rain laden clouds and a fresh, vibrant ambience, and a nip in the air during winter.
The only hill station in the state of Gujarat, Saputara is home to an artist village that has tribal artefacts on display and for sale, and visitors can even try their hands at fashioning some themselves. One of the best parts of this quaint town is the Saputara Lake that offers ample opportunities for boating, and other recreational activities. Another must-do activity is ropeway from Governor’s Hill to Sunset Point, that serves a thrilling and magnificent view of the valley. Along with a multitude of gardens, do visit the Honey Bees Centre that though may be on a small scale, offers visitors an educational tour while selling natural honey.
Apart from the Hatgad Fort, a little way off from Saputara, Nashik is a good place to stop by and enjoy the vast vineyards, while sipping on the locally made wines of global repute.
GoAir Connect: Saputara is 250 km (approx.) from Mumbai. GoAir operates direct flights to Mumbai from Delhi, Goa, Jaipur and Chennai among others, and easy connections from Bagdogra, Port Blair and Guwahati.
Kalimpong, West Bengal
Burrowed in the mid ranges of the mighty Himalayas, Kalimpong has been a summer getaway spot of choice since the colonial times. The town, at 4,100 ft (approx.) above sea level, sits on a ridge that overlooks the Teesta river, and due to its temperate clime and fascinating view of the towering Khangchendzonga, attracts many holiday seekers from far.
The picture postcard town was ruled by the kingdom of Bhutan until mid-19th century, when the British took over. It was also an important trade hub for food grain, wool and fur between India and Tibet. Considered as an ecological hotspot, Kalimpong is rich in terms of flora and fauna, and is well endowed in its horticultural industry. The region is perfect to bring out the birder in you, as you train your peepers on warblers, sunbirds, flycatchers, minivets, swallows and more.
Kalimpong is every traveller’s delight. Offering a potpourri of cultures and heritage, visitors will be enthralled by the architecture of churches, monasteries and temples, while shoppers can choose from quaint thangka paintings, fabrics, daggers, masks, curios, etc. The food connoisseurs can slurp on steaming bowls of thukpas or piping hot momos and different types of local cheese.
GoAir Connect: Kalimpong is 78 km (approx.) from Bagdogra. GoAir operates direct flights to Bagdogra from Delhi, and easy connections from Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune and Srinagar.
Written by Mia Gandhi