Get Set Go! Take that backpack, book a tour, and do what you and the people around you have been planning to do from a long time – break free of the monotony and have the time of your life!
Here is a sneak peek of some of the places near the Capital aka Saddi Dilli:
The hub of Indian tourism, Shimla is perhaps the most romantic place enveloped by snow-capped mountain ranges in winters, and tall trees. The wonderful locations and calm atmosphere made Shimla the summer Capital of India in British era. Fagu, Summer Hill, Hatu Peak and many other locations are perfect spots for experience seekers. Other places to check-in are The Mall Road, Kuthar Fort, State Museum, Jakhu temple, Tattapani, Himalayan bird sanctuary etc. Within no time you can reach the outskirts entering Chail, Kufri and other beautiful locations to add adventure to the amazing trip.
Manali is one of the most exciting hill stations to get spiritualized by breath-taking natural beauties. The clattering sound of Rahala, Jogini, Rozy and Zana waterfalls, the 300mtr snow lift at the Solang Valley and hot water springs in Manikaran create a paradise of sorts. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, so trekking to reach the falls and hot water springs, rafting and road trip at the Rohtang pass with Tea n Maggi as a highway retreat is something that one must experience. As a pilgrim, pay a visit to the holy Manikaran Gurudwara, and Raghunath, Hidimba and Manu temples.
300km North of Delhi is the Queen of all hill-stations, Mussoorie, which thrones at an altitude of 6,600ft surrounded by Shivalik range at the South, the snow ranges to the North-East and the hill top named “Lal Tibba”. Capturing moments at the beautiful locations of Kempty and Jharipani falls with some shopping at the local heritage and art centres is quite an escape from daily routine. Romantic walks to the Cloud End accompanied by family time at Mussoorie Adventure Park and Lake Mist will be an indispensable getaway. Mussoorie is the gateway to Yamnotri and Gangotri which makes it one of the top-rated destinations on the travel guides.
A place with endless exploration opportunities, Nainital is one of the shining stars of the Himalayan range. The Lake District is pleasant throughout the year with the highest temperature of 27 degrees and a minimum of 10. Enjoy boat ride and ropeway at 2270mts above the beautiful Naina Lake to have a glance at the Kumaon region, and don’t forget to pay a visit to the Tibetan Market which is famous for its momos. Naina peak, Lands’ end and China Peak give a 360degree view of the mountain ranges at Tibet border and the Himalayas which is a heaven in disguise for photographers and adventure seekers. Eco Cave Park, Mall Road, the historic Raj Bhavan and the local zoo are few places to go along with children, while the famous Nanda Devi temple, Mukteshwar Temple and Hanuman Garhi are few must visit temples for those who seek religious peace in the hills. For an extended trip, bird-watching and sight-seeing at Sattal, Tiffin Top, Palgot & Kilbury bird sanctuary, and Khurpa Taal are highly recommended.
Western Himachal is a package full of nature and beauty. Wherever you look, the landscapes will take you to another world. Dalhousie, the small hill-station delivers an old world charm where you may laze around in luxuries and sightseeing. The old school architecture and few natural spots (Danikund Lake, Chamera Lake, Ganji Pahari) are ideal places to cruise and chill-out with friends and family. St. John and St. Patrick are the two very old Churches, where you can seek spiritual solace. Not so far is Khajjiar, particularly known as the “Mini Switzerland of India”. The Khajjiar Lake and Ground is a picnic spot where the horses are available for you to take a ride around the blue lake. In the midst of the green field is the Khajji Nag temple (12 Century AD) which is a holy place with 5 trees named after Pandavas who built it, as it is believed by the locals. The place is surrounded by thick green lush from behind which makes this solitary destination a must visit.
One of the seven holy places of Hindus isn’t so far from our Capital. Haridwar, the kaleidoscope of Indian culture and Lord Shiva’s beliefs is a lifetime experience. Pilgrims from all over the world gather at Har ki Pauri bank for the great aarti, and the famous Kumbh Mela in every 12 years makes Haridwar so rich in cultural heritage. N number of temples including Daksh Mahadev, Chandi Devi and Mansa Devi temples will lighten up the religious spirits. At the higher altitude is the Rishikesh where the holy Ganga breaks free. Another religious trip full of adventure awaits your presence there. To get an unforgettable experience visit the Kunjapuri Devi Temple, the peaceful Vashishta Gufa, Neelkanth Mahadev Temple and Sivananda Ashram, Beatles Ashram (named after the Beatles band) and many more all around the city. To grasp the architectural edge visit the Ram Jhoola and Laxman Jhoola which are made to cross the Ganges from one bank to another. To get an adrenaline pump visit Paddle India and Jumping Heights and enjoy river rafting and bungee jumping. Campfire near the water stream with live music and barbeque will give eternal peace in the twilight zone.
A short trip to Amritsar welcomes people from every walk of life at the Harmandir Sahib, also known as Golden Temple and Darbar Sahib. The enchanting sound of kirtan echoes the four entrances and delivers a soulful state of mind. The Langar made by the volunteers feeds thousands of people every day. Dukh Bhanjani Beri, the Amrit Sarovar which surrounds the temple and the Sikh Art Library are few popular attractions for the tourists in the Gurudwara Complex. 30kms drive from the Golden Temple takes you to Indo-Pak Border popularly known as the “Wagah Border” or “Attari” where a heart throbbing military practise takes places every evening between the BSF and Pakistan Rangers. The soldiers display their perfection from both the sides, which is the beating retreat border ceremony which ends with the lowering flags of both the countries and a parade.
Home to the great Dalai Lama, Dharamshala in Himachal is a city where you will find Buddhist and Hindu culture in perfect harmony. One can visit popular religious destinations like Dalai Lama Temple, Jwalamukhi Devi Temple, Church of St. John and many more. A beautiful forest encrusts the land mostly covered by Deodar trees. Tea gardens and an International Cricket Ground in the city make Dharamshala a tourist hub. Library of Tibetan Works Archives, Gu Chu Sum Movement Gallery and Gyuto Monastery depict the cultural trademark of the place. Namgyalma Stupa, Kangra Valley, Dal Lake are few of the gifts of nature in the lower Himalayan region.
The command office of the Garhwal Riffles, Lansdowne, Uttarakhand, was founded by the British. A stone throw journey from Haridwar lands you in Lansdowne which makes it the nearest hill station from Delhi. The Tip n Top point gives you a panoramic view of the Himalayas especially the early morning sunrise. The manmade Bulla Lake is a place for kids to do boating and swings while you can get a picturesque view of the ducks and other birds in the peaceful atmosphere without any rush from the green area. Other tourist attractions in this quietest hill station of India are the Tarkeshwar Mahadev Temple, Durga Temple and the Church made by the British.
The sacred shrine of Vaishno Devi Mandir in the Katra district of J&K is flocked by lakhs of worshippers for darshan. Every year millions trek the holy mountain and sprawling greens of the locale with the help of porters, ponies, palanquins and helicopters irrespective of all the difficulties being faced. Proper refreshments, medical facilities, cloak rooms, souvenir shops and other resources can be availed during the yatra. On your way, you must visit the Ardh-kuwari which is halfway from the main shrine. Every day the devotees take part in the Aarti before sunrise and after sunset at the shrine. This religious trek is incomplete without paying a visit to the Bhairav Nath Temple which is the last point of pilgrimage. Other religious places to stop by are Raghunath Temple, Shrine of Dera Baba Banda, Baba Dhansar Temple, Shiv Khori Cave and many more. If you are looking for a peaceful family time and to be at leisure after the expedition, Patnitop which is easily connected to the Vaishno Devi Mandir by national highway is going to be a much needed break. A bird’s eye view of the valley and a small excursion in the hill will add more peace to the journey. Sansar meadows and Billo ki powri which is a staircase carved in the mountain is quite an escapade for the kids and ramblers.
The birth place of Lord Krishna in Mathura is one among the Sapta Puri, hence being a place of religious importance, millions visit Mathura every year. Keshav Dev Temple (Sri Krishna Janm Bhoomi) here is home to a prison cell where Sri Krishna was born. The place still has the touch and feel of the ancient architecture which is thousands of years old. Mathura is also famous for its sweet Peda. Kusum Sarovar, Radha Kund, Govardhan Hill, Shani Temple, Radha Raman Temple etc. are other places one can check out. The twin-town of Mathura and Vrindavan is a religious hub consisting of hundreds of temples, one of which is The Bhuteshwar Mahadev Temple, believed to be a Shakti Peetha. ISKCON, Banke Bihari, Prem Mandir are few other temples holding value in our culture.
Nahan, the headquarters of Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh is located at the cockpit of the Shivalik Hills. The calm and silent city with a dust-free environment is a great escape from mundane work schedule. The biggest lake of Himachal Pradesh, Renuka Lake is situated 38 km from Nahan and is a perfect tourist destination with a wildlife sanctuary located in the vicinity. Apart from all, there’s a small festival which is similar to the Kullu festival that takes place every year where a number of devotees gather at the Jagannath Temple. A 45 km drive will take you to Paonta Sahib where weaponry used by Guru Gobind Singh in his time is on display at a museum. Every year lakhs of believers come to seek the blessings of Ma Balasundari Ji, hoping to get their wishes fulfilled at the ancient Trilokpur Temple (1573) which is 6km from Kala Amb and 23 km from Nahan. On the way to Nahan from Kala Amb there’s Suketi Fossil Park displaying the extinct animal species from the Jurassic era which will add excitement for the children.
Situated at the banks of river Yamuna, Agra is one of the greatest cities of historical importance in Uttar Pradesh. Of course, the land of Taj Mahal which is a symbol of love is among the biggest tourist destination in the world. The city of Agra is also famous for the green Mehtab Bagh in front of the Taj, The Agra Fort, Tomb of Mariam-uz-Zamani (Jodha Bai), Ram Bagh and religious places like Guru ka Taal, Mankameshwar Temple, Moti Masjid and the Jama Masjid. The city is also popular for its leather goods and food items especially Petha. The neighbouring Fatehpur Sikri that once served as the capital of Mughal Empire is now a gateway to the Mughal and Rajputana architecture. Panch Mahal, Joh Bhai Palace, Hiran Minar, Khwabgah and Buland Darwaza are few examples.
The Capital city of Rajasthan, Jaipur, definitely holds its position out there. The historic monuments based on Hindu architecture are spread throughout the pink city. Hawa Mahal, Amber Fort and Palace, Jantar Mantar, Sheesh Mahal, Panna Meena ka Kund, and City Palace are few among the many places to visit. If looking for entertainment, Elefriend, Raj Mandir Cinema and Albert Hall Museum will make the trip worthy. Foodies can have a gala time eating at Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar, Peshavari and Peacock Roof Top restaurant. Jaipur is renowned for Galtaji, Birla Temple and Govind Dev Ji temple, while the adjoining district of Ajmer which is 130 km approx. is also a popular pilgrimage centre especially for Muslims. The Ajmer Sharif also known as Khwaja Garib Nawaz Dargah is perhaps one of the most visited religious places in India. Ajmer is also a base for travellers going to Pushkar to pay a visit to the only Brahma Temple in the world, known as Jagatpita Brahma Mandir near the Pushkar Lake. Aptaeshwar and the colourful Varaha temple are less touristic yet addable to the bucket list. Camel safari in Pushkar provides an adventure displaying the Rajasthani culture.
The wealthiest city on the Indian Index, Union Territory of Chandigarh is also a great place to spend your weekend. Shopping, food, entertainment, industry, you name it and it’s there. The Capitol Complex, Chandigarh War Memorial and Le Corbusier Centre present the architectural edge, while the beautiful Rock Garden which is spread over 40 acres of land and is made of industrial waste, and the Rose Garden with more than 1600 species of rose add to the elegance of this city. The neighbouring district, Panchkula in Haryana lies at the foothills of the Shivalik Range. The well-maintained city is famous for Gurudwara Nada Sahib and the very old Mansa Devi Temple (1811-1815) where Navratri is celebrated with full force. Like Chandigarh, Panchkula is also famous for Cactus Garden covering 2,500 species and 15ft tall cactuses. ChattBir Zoo (Zirakpur) and Chokhi Dhani are few places to go along with the children.
Located in the outskirts of Gurgaon, Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary has an estimate of more than 250 bird species nesting there and is also a breeding ground for more than 100 bird species which migrate here. The best time for bird-watching is 6am on a winter day from any of the four watch towers, as the migratory birds return at dawn once they leave their nests. Dove, Laughing Dove, Indian Roller, White Throated Kingfisher, White Ibis and Black headed Ibis etc. are few resident birds while Siberian Crane, White Wagtail and Eurasian Wigeon are some of the migratory ones. It’s a 90 minutes’ walk to cover the park on foot. Nearby places to discover are few gems of Mughal architecture like Farrukhnagar Fort, Sheesh Mahal and Ali Gosh Khan Baoli.
The beautiful waterfront in Karnal, Haryana is a perfect weekend hideaway to celebrate picnic with family and friends. The location attracts tourists to stop by and spend quality time boating and experiencing hospitality at the lake facing resorts ignoring the noise and grime of the NH-1 which runs just beside this lake, which acts as a mid-point between Delhi and Chandigarh. For the bird watchers the reservoir is a must-visit place in winters. Karnal Lake has a mythological importance too, as it is believed that Karna used to bathe and also gave his kavach and kundal to God Indra here. Nearby places to explore are Arya Samaj Temple Dayalpura, Gurudwara Manji Sahib, Devi Temple, and Shiva Temple.
The well-known tourist hot-spot nowadays in the Gurgaon district is Damdama Lake, which is one of the biggest lakes in Haryana. It is surrounded by Aravali Hills, and a narrow bumpy ride going through villages lands you into the hills where this lake is a cradle to more than 190 bird species, both migratory and resident. You may catch a glimpse of blue bulls and peacocks on the way. One can add excitement to the trip with rock climbing, air rifle shooting, spider web, and other obstacle courses like barrel crossing and zigzag bars. You can also experience different types of boating (Row Boats, Paddle Boats and Motor Boats) and other adventure activities such as parasailing and hot-air ballooning.
Haryana, being a neighbouring state to the Capital offers quite a few opportunities to explore its natural and cultural legacy. Manesar, a rapidly developing NCR region has a number of places to visit. The very famous place of worship, Mata Sheetala Devi Temple is located in the suburbs of Gurgaon; Chaitra (March-April) is the best time to visit the temple although it is crowded throughout the year. the Heritage Transport Museum here is India’s first transport museum with a very elegant set-up covering 3 acres of land, where a lot of exhibitions and events take place, which make it a must-go place with family and friends for checking out the evolution of the means of transport in India. Manesar is also a gateway to visit the Sultanpur bird sanctuary, Damdama Lake as well as Sohna.
Sohna Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in the country, located at the periphery of Gurgaon city about 25 km towards Alwar. The ecological environment here is famous for hot-water springs which are sulphurous in nature, and have medicinal properties, as claimed by the Nature doctors. These natural springs are located at the feet of a steep rock covered by a rocky dome-like structure which is a picturesque sight. Sulphur & steam bath facilities are available near this place along with amusing activities like boating and fishing which will frame a perfect weekend for you. The ancient Shiva temple in Sohna which was built by the King of Bharatpur/Gwalior is worth the jaunt.
Located at the fringe of the Thar Desert, Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary also known as Keoladeo Ghana National Park Reserve is one of the finest Wildlife destinations in the world. A statute of Shiva is placed at the centre of the dense forest where a large number of bird species from Africa, Sibera and Central Asia migrate to spend their winters. This includes Pelicans, Cranes, Larks, Geese, Ducks, Wheatears, Hawks, Shanks, Eagles Stints, Warblers, Wagtails, Flycatchers, Buntings, and Pipits, etc. Rickshaws, horse-carts and battery operated vans are available to take a ride through this natural habitat. Deeg Palace, Lohagarh and Shergarh forts display the ancient Hindu architecture. Govt. Museum, Bankebihari Temple and Ganga temple are other places of interest.
After being surrounded by controversies regarding animal poaching, Sariska Tiger Reserve in Alwar, Rajasthan is back in its form with jaw-dropping tiger sightings in last 2 years. Sariska is perhaps one of the most visited parks by wildlife enthusiasts all over the world. The huge area covering 800 square kilometres holds a wide range of animal species including the Royal Bengal Tigers and leopards, Crocodiles and other reptiles, and a number of herbivores too, sharing a similar topography like the Ranthambore National Park. This wilderness is an important place from religious perspective too, so the park is open throughout the year. Other tourist attractions are The Sariska Palace which was made by the Maharaja of Alwar, Bhartrihari Temple, Siliserh Lake, Kankwari Fort and Hanuman Temple located in Pandupol.
The oldest National Park is a home to many flora and fauna species. At the top of the food chain rules the great Bengal Tiger which attracts tourists worldwide. Easy sightings and luxurious properties at the jungle periphery offer a much-needed breather from busy schedule. Asiatic Elephants, Deer species and Fishing Eagles too co-exist with the Royal Cat. Other places near the park are Garjia Temple and Bijrani.
Ahead of Jim Corbett, about 22 kms from Nainital, is the beautiful Bhimtal Lake. Pure weather with boating adventures and butterfly & bird watching in Kumaon Hills add up to the beauty. Bhimtal is home to most of the species of butterflies, and in fact has a museum at Jones Estate that has a large collection of butterfly specimens. Bhimeshwar and Golu Devata Temple will help you find solace. A number of devotees also visit the very old Hanuman, Shiva temples and the Karkotaka Hill (Nag Temple) every year. Sattal, a group of seven interconnected lakes, Naukuchiya Tal, and Hidimba Parvat will garnish the trip.
The Lake City is flocked by thousands of tourists every year. The Royal city was once dominated by the Rajputana Kings; the forts and the lakes with hilly surroundings make it one of the best places to visit in India. Art galleries and large amount of temples deliver peace of mind. A popular nearby check-in is the son of Himalayas, Mt. Abu, known for beautiful rocky hills with flowering shrubs. The sunset and honeymoon points accompanied by few lakes and temples give a pleasant retreat.
Another wonderful destination in the beautiful Kumaon region is Almora. The essence of nature neighboured by the Himalayas and the green ‘n blue panoramic views will awaken the spirit within you. Remember the Gods by visiting Nanda Devi temple, Kasar Devi temple and other holy places in this natural ambience. The snow clad peak at the Black end corner and natural gardens in Martola and Simtola are breath-taking beauties. Deer park and Binsar wildlife sanctuary, a paradise for bird-watchers, located at a stone throw from Almora will add adventure to the trip.
Home of the famous Tigress Machli is the Ranthambore National Park in Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan. Abandoned forts and lakes are now breeding grounds of many animal species including crocodiles. In fact, the croc-sanctuary in the vicinity of Chambal River summons wildlife lovers from all over the world. You may have a glimpse of Ranthambore’s famous culture by visiting the temples, the art galleries, Khandar Fort and Rameshwaram ghat. Delhiites who wish to see the big cat in action should head to Ranthambore; chances are that you will easily spot one there, in comparison to any other tiger reserve near the Capital.
Mahatma Gandhi once described Kausani as “Switzerland of India”. The gorgeous piece of land facing the silent Himalayan valleys and coo-cooing birds awaits you. Sunrise and sunset is the best time to see the Himalayan Range. Rudradhari Waterfall and Koshi Mool drive you away from the usual hustle-bustle in regular lifestyle. To get more socially involved in this eco-friendly place you may visit the famous Anasakti and Lakshmi Ashrams. Pay a visit to Kausani Tea Estate and very old Baijnath Temple (12th Century) to travel off the beaten track.
Around 350kms from the capital is the Queen’s Meadow known as Ranikhet, a disciplined station, being a cantonment town. The hill station is a prime attraction of the nature lovers, capturing a view of the Himalayas between the Pine trees will take you directly into the Mother Nature’s Lap. Beautiful Orchid trees and freshly picked apples and apricots in Chaubatiya gardens will give you a royal treat. Find inner peace by paying a visit to Haidakhan Babaji Temple, Katarmal, St. Bridget Church and other religious places. Bhalu dam, Saylikhet and tarikhet are nearby attractions.
Just few moments from Joshimath capturing the mind-blowing beauty spots, you will reach Auli in no time. The range is covered with beautiful conifers and snow beds. The epic Trishul Peak and mesmerising Chenab Lake prevails near Auli. Being adjacent to the holy Badrinath, you’ll have a list of holy places to pay a visit with a number of saints and tourists. Also experience one of the best Ice-skiing and other snow adventures in India.
Chail and Kufri are grandeurs of natural beauty near Shimla. Chail is considered to be the hiker’s paradise and other recreational activities like bamboo bridge, Tyre Bridge, rope walk and rock rappelling. The area is surrounded by forests including the gigantic Deodar trees, Himalayan Bear and bird species. Kufri, on the other hand is a hill station which looks captivating in snow. It is a place where you can enjoy Yak ride with the family, and join the famous trek going all the way to Shimla and Chail, covering the golden triangle of Himachal. Other adventure activities like tobogganing, go-karting and hiking too can be relished. Nearby city, Parwanoo, spread through the Shivalik Range is known for its scenic beauty, Mansa Devi temple and Orchards. One’s trip to Shimla is incomplete without checking-in here.