Therapeutic hills

Green landscape, clear mountain air, gushing streams, all await you to unwind here. We invite you to make your holiday even more pleasurable by visiting quaint hill stations, the country is home to…

Holiday is on everyone’s do-to-list. With hot and humid summer is at its best, it is the best time to drag yourself out from your home and head for a holiday that you’ve been craving for. Indian summers are harsh, so it becomes an absolute necessity to put a full stop to the sweaty humdrum of city life. School is out in June, making this month a perfect time for a holiday. Hill stations have all the ingredients for a perfect summer holiday –beautiful landscape, mist, gurgling lakes, fruit orchards, and other myriad charms that would provide just the right setting for a fun yet memorable holiday. India is home to numerous hill stations. Some will marvel you with their colonial charm, some would entice your spirits with lofty snow capped peaks.

So, get set to unwind, book your tickets and head hillwards. I invite you to make your holiday a pleasurable one by mixing it with fun activities like paragliding, trekking, camping and a lot more. I’ve picked eight exotic yet offbeat hill stations in different parts of the country that come with a promise of satiating your senses. Come, explore with me

Peaceful North: Serene Patnitop

At Patnitop your eyes would not want for anything more pure or serene.The matchless beauty at this charming pleateau would make you long for more. Nestled in the pristine valley of Jammu and Kashmir, Patnitop is an offbeat hill station that has all the facets for an ideal summer getaway. This relatively unknown piece of land is dotted by dense woods and a lush spread of pine trees. With all its beauty, Patnitop is situated at a height of over 2000 metres above the sea level. Lofty peaks, green landscape and gurgling steams will usher you through the journey from Jammu to Patnitop.If you are looking for a getaway that offers complete relaxation of soul, this place is hard to beat.Perchedover the picturesque plateau, the destination offers myriad options for a trek or a stroll. The thick forest cover that sheaths the landscape provides the panoramic view of the valley.

The key attractions of Patnitop are the gurgling ice-cold freshwater springs that have medicinal properties. Taking a walk or trekking in the lush and wooded forest is not a bad idea when you are on a relaxed holiday. Nature is at its best here, and flowery pastures, pine trees, and verdantlandscape will accompany you as you drift along the unspoiled walkways. You can opt for a pleasant stroll around the area or get a bit adventurous by taking the 11 km long trek to SudhMahadev, which is located at an altitude of 3500 metres. The trek would entice you with the panoramic views of the basin of river Chenab.

Adventure lovers mayopt for paragliding and basic skiing while others can enjoy camping and pony rides. Camping and paragliding are other adventure options available in the region, promoted by the tourism department. Camping amidst the natural surroundings is not a bad option, time stills stand here and the calm prevails.

How to reach

Patnitop is situated at a distance of 112 km from Jammu. Buses and taxis are easily available.

Stay at: Huts and tourists bungalows managed by J&KTDC are good options, they come equipped with all the necessary facilities.

 Main Attraction: Trekking, Camping, Paragliding, Skiing

Best Time to visit: From April to June, September-October

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Grandeur at its best at Lahaul and Spiti Valley

Here’s an exotic location for you this summer. Easily accessible, Lahaul Spiti is one of the unkept secrets of Himachal Pradesh. Known for sharing borders with the Zanskar range, the Tibetan plateau, Kinnaur and the Bara Shigri glaciour, the valley is a hot favourite of adventure enthusiasts. People come here to witness something out of box and also to avoid heavy rush that makes life uneasy at other hill destinations. Here’s your chance to witness the unplugged grandeur, bright sunshine, lush valley and a lot more. High peaks are sure to give you an adrenaline rush, here the peaks can get trecherous at times. There cannot be any better place in northern India to exploit your adventure potential.

Those looking for a relaxed holidaycan spend their time by visiting some exquisite places of interest like the Chandrataal, Keylong, Mrikula Devi temple, Rohtang Pass, Surajtaal, or the Trilokinath Temple and Udaipur.There is a whole gamut of beautiful monasteries that lie in harmony with the landscape. Perched on the primitive and unusual panorama Tahul, Ghemur, Guru Ghantal and Kardangmonasteries in the Lahaul valley are striking. There are some monasteries that await you at the Spiti valley – the Kibber, Kungri, Kye, Tabo and Tnagyud. Camping here is a perfect idea for a laidback vacation. You can also try your hand at angling, or jeep safari at the Kunzum pass and Pin valley. There is no dearth of adventure optionsavailable here –river rafting at the Chandra river, or rock climbing and trekking. Experiment with the options at the great Himalayan territory and it will only make your holiday even more memorable. Himachal Tourismorganises an array of adventure sports in the valley between July and September. Explore and rejoice..

How to reach:

Lahaul and Spiti valley is situated at a distance of 120 km from Manali. Buses and taxis are easily available.

Stay at: There are some tourists bungalows managed by Himachal Tourism at Manali that come equipped with all the necessary facilities. You can also opt for the home stays.

Main Attraction: River rafting, Camping, Jeep safari,

Best Time to visit: From March to September

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Pristine South: Lush Horseley Hills

Hills exude an undulating charm that rejuvenates the senses, taking away all the stress. Horsley Hills offer the same. Situated in the otherwise hot and humid Andhra Pradesh, the hill station acquired its name from once the collector of the Cuddapah district in the state – WD Horsey, who chose the region as his summer residence. The quaint ghat road, quiet and verdant landscape, welcomes you here. Situated at high altitude of 1,265 metres, the setting here looks straight out of a storybook. The pristine hill station offers a slice of tribal life, as the Chenchu tribes inhabit the region.

The scent of jacaranda, gulmohur and eucalyptus is just enough to suffice your senses as you enter into this new world. Today, wherever the sight goes, you will see shady slopes, natural forests, luxurious plantations, spice creepers, shrubs and thick territory where plants and animals thrive together.Witness the beauty of flowers like reeta, shikakai, amla or spices like bay leaves. Sandalwood, red sanders, blue gum, mahogany and bamboo will greet you on the narrow roads. Offering captivating natural beauty, the place is a perfect recluse for the sun-scorched. Those looking for a quiet holiday can sit by the banks of Lake Gangotri or take a boat ride. Cruise along the river is sure to make your holiday a memorable one. After the scenic boat ride you can visit the Environmental park of the Horsley Hills Museum. Those looking for some adventure can opt for Zorbing, which is offered in Horsley Hills apart from rapelling, rock climbing and trekking. Horsley Hills is one of the lesser known places where zorbing is conducted. The charm of rolling in a sphere, generally made of transparent plastic, performed on a gentle slopeis unmatched. It allows the rider to roll downhill and the fun is unlimited.

How to reach

Nearest airport is at Bangalore, situated at a distance of 165 km. State transport buses and taxis ply to the hill resort of Horsley Hills. There are daily buses to Horsley Hills from Tirupati, situated 160 km.

Where to stay:Accommodation is easily available at Horsley Hills.

Main attractions: Zorbing, trekking, rapelling and rock climbing

Best time to visit: March to June

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Scenic Peermade

Hailing from one of the most picturesque states of the country – Kerala, Peermade is a tiny town with the right mix of offerings for a great holiday. It is one of those locations that magnetise the traveller, who comes back for more. Nestled in the Idukki district of Kerala, Peermade is a lesser mentioned part of the Western Ghats. Standing at an altitude of over 1000 metres, this little town invites travellers for thecaptivating charm of barren hills, frangrant tea plantation and a lot more. The verdure of Peermadeenthralls everyone with the panaoramic vistas of gushing waterfalls and gives you a chance to observe wildlife and uncommon birds.Visit some gurgling waterfalls -Meloram, Nallathanni, Panchalimedu and Valanjamkanamare worth visiting.Kerala is a hub for eco tourism and at Peermade, the possibilities are myriad.Lying in close proximity to the travel hubs of the state – Thekkady, Munnar and Vagamon, the region is perfect for taking up quiet walks, exploring the plantation and bird watching. Trailing down hill and climbing up, all you would come acrossgrasslands, coffee and cardamom shrubs, banana trees, eucalyptus and pine trees dotting the pathways.

There is a range of trekking trails that add to the untouched beauty of once the summer retreat of the Maharajas of Travancore. Today, the place attracts a host of trekkers, nature lovers, and adventure enthusiasts.Peeru Hills, Kalthotti, Vagamon along with Karandakapara Hills, Grampi or Parunthupara, Memala offer excellent trekking routes. You can also go cycling or horse riding. Breathe in some fresh air here and you will be rejuvenated completely.

How to reach

Peermade lies 85 km east of Kottayam. Nearest airport is Kochi

Where to stay: You may stay at the Government Guest House of Peermade that offers a comfortable and cozy stay.

Main attractions: Eco tourism, trekking, cycling

Best time to visit: Throughout the year, avoid the monsoon months

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Enchanting West – Pleasing Saputara

The colourful state of Gujarat casts a spell on a traveller with an assortment of choices. From waterfalls to sandy beaches, from heritage monuments to religious places, from national parksto verdant gardens, the state has something for everyone. Saputara or the ‘abode of serpents’ is the only hill station in vibrant Gujarat.Nestled amidst the Sahyadri range, Saputara is bundled with quaint charm that is yet to be explored. The hill station offers a heady mix of being offbeat and exotic. Dotted with green hues, cascading waterfalls and rolling hills the destination allows you to take a deep breath and sink in the beauty of the place. People who’ve been here call Saputara a nature’s womb, where everything lies in complete harmony. The lofty hills dressed in pleasing green is surrounded by luscious cascading small and huge waterfalls, which might make you pass it off as a foreign locale. Gira Falls, situated 52 km away from here, should not be missed as it offers a slice of serenity.

Taste a bit of excitement at the thrilling slopes of Saputara.Trekkers dote on this hiking haven as they are always engulfed by clouds and embraced by greenery. The hills are also home to quails, rails, crakes, flamingos and cuckoos. And bird watchers, might not want to return as the clean air here is always reverberating with the sounds of mellow birdcalls. The never-ending vistas of Saputara would drag you out to witness the chirping birds and the lush charm of the flowers. If you are in search of solitude, you can take a misty walk.Enveloped by the thickest forest cover the state boasts, Saputaraoffers breathtaking view of the sunset and sunrise. This is the best place to relax, sans the city traffic snarls and a boss to look into your day. While on your visit to this land of many opportunities, you can tread along the lush walkways soaking up the fragrance of the valley.

How to reach: the nearest airport is at Ahmedabad
Where to stay:There are few hotels in Saputara besides the cottages and huts that offer a comfortable stay at Saputara.

Main Attraction: Bird watching, trekking

Best season: June to September

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Enthralling Panchgani

Those who didn’t know much about Panchgani, here’s a dollop of information – the nature’s bounty is also regarded as the ‘Mecca of Maharastra for its pleasing environ. Verdant surroundings at Panchgani may leave you with a burst of freshness and a foreign like feel.Once the favourite summer retreat for the British, Panchgani is flanked by second highest volcanic mountain plateau in the continent.We wouldn’t refuse to call the region mini-Britian for the hugeness the region holds – volcanic mountain plateau that edges one side and the ragged cliffs on the other.

Lying between the five strikinghills in the Krishna valley, the hill station is situated in around 1300 metres above the sea level. Take a tour of the fantastic scenery the magical destination boasts, and the pristine, colonial-style townis sure to marvel you. Cradled between the Sahaydri range, Panchgani is an undulating lush county.Rich in bounties of nature, the hill station is an ideal getaway if you are looking for some peace of mind. Tranquillity and peace the forests here offer are hard to get anywhere else. Panchgani has some great trekking trails through its verdant forest cover and valleys. Take a pleasant walk or indulge in cycling. You can meander through the oak forests by taking up pony rides, which will take you through the fine hamlets, farms and ravines with the greens accompanying you along. Families can enjoy picnics by the banks of the ravishing River Krishna that strolls its way through the area.Exotic flora and fauna, striking tracks for strolls, water bodies for boating, and the pleasant climate of Panchgani is sure to enchant you. This summer, Panchgani invites you to explore a whole lot of possibilies, and have a never-before experience.

How to Reach

Panchgani is situated at a distance of 16 km from Mahabaleshwar. Situated in the Western Ghats Panchgani is close to important cities Pune, which is located at a distance of 98 km.

Mystical East

Nature’s blessing: Pasighat

Nature lies in abundance in India’s Northeast. The charming state of Arunachal Pradesh is a nature’s bounty, where options are never less, and magic doesn’t seem to fade with time. Endowed with a heady mix of lakes, waterfalls, picturesque landscape, Pasighat the hill resort situated in the state is perfect for your summer holidays. A photographer’s delight, as it is referred is a close confuence of green landscape and sublime countryside. Here’s your chance to witness nature in its purest form here at Pasighat. The enchanting beauty of Pasighat dots the mighty Brahmaputra, which is referred as Siang here. Transcending down from Tibet, the magnificent river is called Brahmaputra as it meets Dihang and Lohit in Assam.

Established in 1911, Pasighat gets its name from Pasis tribe, who inhabit the region.Inhabited by a galaxy of tribes, the beautiful hillside is enveloped by the green valley. The hill resort is the perfect getaway from the maddening city humdrum. It acts as a perfect recluse for those who want to enjoy the solitude. Those who want to enjoy a laidback stay at Pasighat, here’s a goodnews. You can try your hand at fishing and angling, which is organised atYingkiong, Bodak, Siom. If all goes well, you may even catch Mahseer, which weighs around 20 kgs. Here, the guides would share some of their secret and traditional methods of fishing.And if you are in for some adrenaline rush, go for river rafting at the Siang river, an ideal abode for the amateurs and the seasoned ones. Rowing ahead and rafting down to the spine chilling rapids of Pasighat will give you a unique experience. And at the end of it, you would yearn for more…

How to reach: The nearest airport isGuwahati in Assam

Where to stay: You can stay at the Siang guesthouse or the circuit house. Hotel accommodation is also available in the city and paying guest accommodation can be managed on prior notice.

Main attractions: Fishing, angling, white water rafting

Best Season: April to August

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Pristine foreign

Get adventurous at Pokhara

Known for being the tourism hub of Nepal, Pokhara is situated in the northeast corner of the pristine Pokhara valley, 200 km from Kathmandu. Travellers and wayfarers who had their stint in the region consider Pokhara as one of the most alluring places in the world. Maybe because from here, you can witness the grandeur of three highest peaks in the world. Out of 10, three peaks are easily visible from Pokhara – such is the flamboyance this mountanious station shows off.

Pokhara acts as the base camp or the starting point for most of the treks undertaken in the Annapurna circuit. The banks of Phewa Tal offer a fantastic view of the Annapurna range and bestows a traveller with the most stunning view of the Machhapuchre or the fish-tail peak. You can opt for a boat ride here at the Phewa Tal, which is one of the most beautiful lakes in the country. Surrounded by verdant forests and lofty peaks, the lake boasts of untouched blue waters.

Pokhara became popular as a hippy retreat in the early sixties. Historically, Pokhara was a mystical place but partly inaccessible. After the construction of roads in sixties, the city developed rapidly and today it is a peaceful, yet active resort town.Though there is never a dearth of exciting activities here, which are available at all corners of the region, one of the best activities in the area is off road mountain biking.The place is a haven for those who love rush in their adrenaline. Don’t miss white water rafting on the Nepali rivers or paragliding above Lake Pokhara and the Annapurna. Those who want the real taste of the place can opt for mountain biking, which will introduce you with the grandeur and the local life. The best route to try your hand at mountain biking is Pokhara to Kathmandu that has been described as ‘the best off-road riding in the Himalayas’.

How to reach

Kathmandu is situated at a distance of 200 km. Private taxis are easily available.

Where to stay:

Main attractions: Mountain biking, paragliding, camping, cycling, boating, river rafting.

Best season: Pokhara has a subtropical climate with moderate temperatures. April to November is the best time to visit Pokhara.

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