TOP 15: MUST-VISIT summer destinations in India!
Avni Mehrotra suggests 15 Indian travel destinations where you can cool off your heels this summer.
Let's face it, summer is probably the least favourite time of the year, unless of course you're still in school or college and are probably chilling out at a cousin's place or trekking in the Himalayas somewhere.
Working adults such as us however have to usually negotiate our way through heavy traffic, abusive drivers, truant autowallahs and the soaring temperatures. With April drawing to a close and the month of May staring at us ominously from the calendar on the wall here are 15 domestic destinations you can hit this summer!
Tawang , Arunachal Pradesh
One of the few places that still give a glimpse into the paradise on earth, Tawang is a canvas of unspoiled scenic beauty. The Monpa dynasty would be your hosts and the whole valley is filled with the whisper of Tashi Delek.
Apart for spectacular sightseeing of pristine lakes, rivers and mountains, one can visit various gompas and Buddhist monasteries.
For adventure lovers, one can indulge in trekking and hiking activities amidst the pristine lakes and valleys.
Affordable government and private accommodation is available at hotel Tawang View and Tourist Hut between Rs 300 and Rs 2,500.
Image: Tawang Gompa - the second largest Buddhist monastery in the world
Photographs: Anirudh Rao/Creative Commons
Corbett National Park, Uttaranchal
Inhabiting varied species in their spellbinding landscape, Corbett distinguishes itself as being the first national park in Mainland Asia.
Offering activities apart from just nature trekking, Corbett encloses the rich cultural and historical heritage of India.
With its long history in conservation, the park continues to progress in its effort of preserving wildlife and conserving natural heritage.
The park remains open from November 15 to June 15.
Accommodation within the park comes cheap with dormitories and rooms as affordable as Rs 250 to as high as Rs 2,500.
Image: Corbett National Park, Uttaranchal
Photographs: Wribs/Creative Commons
Born in the laps of nature, Shillong is rightly called the 'Scotland of the East'.
The series of gushing waterfalls, majestic mountains, and tranquil waters of the crystal clear lakes provide a breathtaking view to enchant you with their surmounting beauty.
There are many attractions like Botanical Garden, Golf Course and Lady Hyadri Park along with many lakes and waterfalls.
Luxury hotels like Alpine International, Hotel Center Point come affordable with room tariffs ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 4,000.
Image: Shillong, Meghalaya
Photographs: Sarit/Creative Commons
Darjeeling/Gangtok, West Bengal/Sikkim
Due to their sheer proximity, a visit to one city goes incomplete without the other one. If trekking and connecting with the nature is what intrigues you and your family, then you can as well as undertake a trek to the Himalyas, starting from Gangtok.
A tremendous view of the mountains coupled with breathtaking tea estates add to the scenic wonder of this part of northern Bengal.
Make sure you try out the local food.
Hotels cost anywhere between Rs 1,300 and Rs 3,500 with Hotel Berries and Sterling Resorts being the recommended ones.
Image: Visitors watch the sun rise from Tiger Hill near Darjeeling (C) in the Indian state of West Bengal October 2, 2009. Also pictured is Khangchendzonga (top) also spelled Kanchenjunga, which means 'The Five Treasures of Snows', is the third highest mountain in the world with an altitude of 8,586 metres (28,169 feet). It is located on Nepal's eastern border with the state of Sikkim in India. Khangchendzonga contains five peaks, four of them are over 8,450 metres. Picture taken October 2, 2009.
Photographs: Tim Chong/Reuters
Sarahan, Himachal Pradesh
Bathed in natural beauty, the town of Sarahan is flanked by River Sutlej. With mountains on one side and steep cliffs on another, the town is adorned with apple orchards, terraced farms and pine forests.
One can get a view of the snow capped Himalyan peaks and the magnificent River Baspa. Resembling a monastery the major attraction of the city is the Bhima Kaali temple. Other places would be the Bhabha Valley and Bird Park.
Accommodation is available at Hotel Sagarika and Hotel Srikhand at Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,500 per night.
Image: Sarahan, Himachal Pradesh
Photographs: Leon Meerson/Creative Commons
Mcleodganj, Himachal Pradesh
Mcleodganj is the renowned seat of the Holy leader Dalai Lama. An amazing learning centre of Tibetian culture, you would enjoy this place if learning about new cultures and religions appeals to you.
The city is enriched with various ancient temples, monasteries and structures.
Buddhist religious practices and Mother Nature's beauty bless this place with all magnanimities. Make sure you take away with you Buddhist Handcrafts, garments and thangkas.
Accommodation is affordable with Hotel Akash, Surya Mcleod and Hotel India House offering rooms at Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,500 per night.
Image: Mcleodganj, Himachal Pradesh
Photographs: Kiran Jonnalagadda/Creative Commons
Nubra Valley, Jammu and Kashmir
Situated in the magnificent land of Jammu and Kashmir, the Nubra valley derives its name from the Nubra River which flows through it. Situated close to the Siachen Glacier, the valley is termed as the 'Valley of Flowers', because of the variety of flowers present here.
The valley proves to be the most attractive spot for sightseeing in Ladakh because of its many gardens of colorful flowers and ripe fruits. The place proves to be a religious center because of the many monasteries and temples.
The Yarab Tso Hotel provides good and cheap accommodation with rooms starting from Rs 2,100.
Image: Nubra Valley, Jammu and Kashmir
Photographs: Rajesh/Himalayan Trails/Creative Commons
Boasting of virgin hills, this city has pristine beauty coupled with year long rain. It is the lovely weather, which makes this place accessible all through the year.
With blooming orchids and dense woods, the place provides a series of enchanting views.
Other major attractions would be the Mawsmai Falls, Khasi Monoliths and even get a glimpse of Bangladesh.
Recommended hotels would be Cherrapunji Holiday resort, Coniferous resort which offer rooms ranging between Rs 1,200 and Rs 2,500 per night.
Image: Cherrapunji, Meghalaya
Photographs: Subharnab Majumdar/Creative Commons
Kaziranga National Park, Assam
The pride of the north east, the land of the one-horned rhinoceroses, Kaziranga is one most renowned national parks in the world.
Located in the Golaghat and Nagaon districts of Assam, the part flourishes with great biodiversity in both flora and fauna.
Kaziranga is one of the best places to catch a glimpse of Indian rhinos, elephants, wild water buffalo and swamp deer in their natural habitat.
Accommodation is available at various cottages and lodges like the Diphlu River Lodge and Unicorn cottage from Rs 1,000 and Rs 6,000 per night.
Image: A group of elephants stroll in Kaziranga National Park in the northeastern state of Assam
Photographs: Kamal Kishore / Reuters
Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh
Situated at the foot of the Dhauladhar, giving a magnificent view of the snowy peaks, deodar and pine forests, lies the pristine land of Dharamshala. The town has gained international recognition due the many Tibetian settlements and being the residence to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Places like Dal and Kareri Lake, Strawberry Hills and the various tea gardens are too beautiful to be inconspicuous.
Places like the Jwalamukhi temple, Kunal Pathri Temple and St John's church lend Dharamshala that religious essence. Accommodation is affordable in hotels like Hotel Annexe, Hotel Bhagsu at Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,500 per night.
Image: Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh
Photographs: Barry Pousman/Creative Commons
Horsely Hills, Andhra Pradesh
Situated 144 kms from Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, the journey to Horsley Hills is as beautiful as its destination.
Once in the area you will find yourself immersed between the various plantations of Eucalyptus, Jacaranda, Mahagony and natural sandal wood. Do visit the Kalyani Eucalyptus tree that is 150 years old!
You can also enjoy various adventure activities like trekking, rock climbing etc.
Accommodation is provided by APTDC and many budget hotels like Haritha Hill Resort with prices from Rs 700 to Rs 1,500.
Image: Horsely Hills, Andhra Pradesh
Photographs: Vijay S/Creative Commons
Kadmat Island, Lakshadweep
The 8 km long island is just 550 m wide long and surrounded by lagoon, Kadmat is the perfect destination to seek solitude. The lagoons provide an ideal center for water sports.
The sandy beach, coral reef and astounding variety of flora and fauna make it a paradise for nature trails.
The best place to stay here would be the Kadmat Island resort which also offers a six-day Marine Wealth Awareness Program tour of the island. One can even indulge in various water sports like kayaking, yachting, boating and skiing.
Image: Kadmat Island, Lakshadweep
Photographs: cprogrammer/Creative Commons
The holy town of Rishikesh lies at the foot of the Garhwal region and serves as the starting point of the holy pilgrimage of the Hindus and a center for learning and meditation.
The town is surrounded by scenic beauty on all three sides with various temples along the river Ganges.
When in Rishikesh one can also explore trekking expeditions to the Himalyas and enjoy white water rafting. One can stay in Hotel Great Ganga and Sanskriti at around Rs 2,000 to Rs 8,000 per night.
Image: Rishikesh, Uttaranchal
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com
The hill station which gives a sneak preview of the ocean is a half day's drive from Kovalam.
The gaping climb encounters you with loaded clove, rubber and cashew plantations. During the drive you will also stumble upon dense bamboo and teak forests situated across the mesmerizing rivers and the many tea plantations which adorn the misty mountain peaks.
There are various tourist Guest houses and the KTDC Golden peak which provides affordable occupancy at Rs 500 onwards.
Image: Ponmudi, Kerala
Photographs: Girish/creative Commons
Yercaud, Tamil Nadu
The uncommercialised town of Yercaud nestles in serene coffee plantations and many thick forests. Unlike the other tourist spots of Tamil, you will not bump into any film crew shoot or find any honeymooners getting too close for comfort.
The town boasts of being an ensemble of various lookout points and lakes.
Do visit the Shevaroyan temple and the Holy Trinity church while vacationing in this town flurrying with rich flora. You could stay at the Grange resort or the Grand Palace hotel from anywhere between Rs 2,200 and Rs 5,500 per night.
Image: Yercaud, Tamil Nadu
Photographs: Deepak Nagaraj/Creative Commons