When Cliff Richards crooned ‘we are going on a summer holiday…no more working for a week or two’ he gave voice to the elation which a long summer vacation brings to children and grown-up alike. This summer, take some time off and head to an exotic destination to escape the heat and unwind.
An ideal destination for a summer holiday is a hill-station or an international destination which offers activities to engage all age groups. Here are a few destinations to keep in mind while planning your summer holiday.
Stay on a Houseboat in Kashmir
Doing justice to the nickname, Paradise on Earth, Kashmir is sure to leave you spellbound. From the snow-capped peaks of the Pir Panjal range visible over the tranquil Dal Lake with its houseboats to the scenic slopes of Gulmarg, the best ski resort in the country, Kashmir is rich in picturesque locations. The well-laid out Shalimar and Nishat Gardens, Chinar Bagh, Sonamarg and Pahalgam with its horseback rides are some other places to check out.
Enjoy the Views at Auli
Situated in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains in Uttarakhand, Auli offers a perfect escape from the punishing summer heat. Gorson Reserve Forest is a good place for some wild encounters while Gurso Bugyal is where you should head for trekking or a glimpse of peaks such as Nanda Devi, Trishul, and Dron. Rudraprayag, Nandaprayag, Joshimath, and the Chenab Lake are all easily accessible from Auli.
Outdoor Fun in Manali
Nestled in a valley, Manali has been a summer getaway for decades. Enjoy winter sports such as skiing and snow biking at Rohtang Pass, enjoy trekking and camping in Solang Valley, get an adrenaline rush with white water rafting on the Beas River, and soak in the spectacular beauty of the glacial Bhrigu Lake, up in the mountains. Kasol is a great backpacker hub while the Hadimba Temple dedicated to the demon goddess and wife of the mighty Bhima is sure to be of interest to mythology buffs.
History Meets Culture in Shimla
Once the summer capital of British India, Shimla is located along a 12 km ridge with forested slopes on all sides. No traffic is permitted in the heart of town and makes it easy to take in the historical buildings and shops that dot the famous Mall Road. Kufri is a hiker’s paradise and a photographer’s dream come true while the Green Valley is a spectacular view point from where you might sight a few yaks and other species. Annandale is perfect for a picnic while Jakhoo Hill, the highest point in the city, has a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman and run over by monkeys!
Smell the Roses in Ooty
Aptly known as the ‘Queen of Hill Stations’, Ooty has long been a favourite with tourists and movie-makers. Wonder at the thousands of colourful roses in different sizes at the famed Rose Garden and stroll through the Botanical Gardens with over a thousand varieties of plants, herbs, and trees, both exotic and indigenous. The banks of Kamaraj Sagar Dam and Emerald Lake are great picnic spots. The lush tea gardens with their factory tours are worth a visit if only to take home some fresh tea leaves for that hot cuppa to refresh your memories of the holiday. When in Ooty, don’t forget to go for a ride the quaint toy train!
Indulge in Nature in Mussoorie
A popular getaway of the rich and famous during colonial times, Mussoorie is now a coveted tourist hub. It is home to Kempty Waterfalls, perhaps Uttarakhand’s most famous, is here as is Gun Hill, with its cable car ropeway, which is a stone’s throw from Mall Road. Catch the sunrise or the sunset at Lal Tibba or head for Benog Wildlife Sanctuary for some bird watching. Don’t forget to picnic by Mussoorie Lake and take in a boat ride while you are there.
Spectacular Vistas Beckon in Leh-Ladakh
Cuddled up in the shadows of the mighty Himalayas, Leh is the capital of Ladakh and is also known as the cold desert. A trekker’s paradise the region is also known for its breath-taking scenery and the tranquillity that surrounds it. The 17th century Leh Palace is a stunning example of medieval Tibetan architecture while the Stok Palace is a blend of traditional and contemporary architectural styles. The dome-shaped Shanti Stupa, Wanla Gompa, Tsomoriri Lake, the region’s largest, Drang-Drung Glacier, and Khardung La Pass are some other attractions.