It’s the time of the year we all are looking for options to spend a cool holiday with family and friends during summer vacations. Here are a few off-beat destinations you will love to be at.
Gift your family a holiday in the land of pristine beauty. The breathtaking view of Mount Kanchendzonga, the quietness of sparkling lakes and the gurgling of rivers make North Sikkim a destination that no one should miss. The best time to visit are the months April and May when the rhododendrons are full in bloom at Lachung and in the Yumthang Valley.
HOW TO REACH: The nearest airport is Bagdogra (196 kms) and the closest railway station is New Jalpaigulri (190 kms). You get cabs from both places. You can also plan to go to Gangtok first and take a cab from Gangtok (116kms)
THINGS TO DO: Visit Lachung Monastary, Lachung chu, involve yourself in local farming activities, go for a village walk or just sit with locals and chat.
Excursions nearby: Yumthang Valley, Chopta Valley, Gurudongmar lake, Katao, Zero point
WHERE TO STAY: There are many homestay options available in Lachung. Stay with locals to experience the traditional life and culture of Sikkim and also get enriched by the knowledge of the host. Recommended stay: http://www.homestaysofindia.com/properties/lachung-homestay-north-sikkim/
If you want an adventurous trip head to Leh. From Leh visit Pangong lake, Sham Valley and Nubra Valley. Pangong is a beautiful high altitude Himalayan lake that is situated at height of about 14,270 ft and is 134 km long. It extends from India to China and around one-third of the lake lies in China. The lake is 5 km wide at its broadest point. The fascinating fact about Pangong Lake is that it has saline water and even then the water freezes. There are some migratory birds can be spotted.
Nubra valley is a beautiful valley created where Shyok River meets the Nubra River. It separates the Ladakh and Karakoram Ranges. The average altitude of the valley is about 10,000 ft. Travel over the Khardung La pass from Leh to reach Nubra. Also visit Hundar sand dunes and ride double hump camels.
HOW TO REACH: You can either take a flight directly to Leh or take a flight to Srinagar and drive on road ia Drass and Kargil to reach Leh. You can also drive from Manali to Leh.
WHAT TO DO: There’s a lot that can done while you are in Ladakh region. Adventure activities include River Rafting, Biking, camping, trekking and camel safari. If you are not an adventure person just enjoy the vast landscapes and the silence. Blue skies, high mountain ranges, old monasteries and simple people is what you can expect.
WHERE TO STAY: Homestays in Ladakh are run by local families who are very warm and hospitable. Consider staying in homestays in remote villages to support the economy of the region. You will surely cherish the experience for life.
Mukteshwar is a quaint little hill town in Nainital district of Uttarakhand. A kiss of crisp mountain air laden with the fragrance of oak and pines welcomes you to this sleepy hamlet. Stunning views of snow clad Himalayas, fruit orchards, mountain streams and waterfalls – it’s dreamland you must visit with your loved ones.
HOW TO REACH: Pantnagar is the nearest Airport (94kms) and Kathgodam the nearest railway station (62kms). Mukteshwar is 350 kms from Delhi. You can follow this route: Delhi – Gajraula – Moradabad – Rampur – Rudrapur – Haldwani – Bhowali – Mukteshwar.
THINGS TO DO: Visit Mukteshwar Dham Temple; Try adventure Sports like rock climbing and zip lining at Chauli ki Jali; Go on a nature trail to Bhalugaad falls; It is paradise for the bird watchers; Go on a village walk.
Excursions nearby: Do day trips to Nainital, Naukuchiatal, Bhimtal, Sattal and Almora
WHERE TO STAY: Stay in the midst of thick Oak forest in a farm stay and get a glimpse of traditional village life, try your hand at farming, participate in cow milking and adopt their organic way of life for a few days. Visit in the months of June July to taste garden fresh Peach, Plum, Apricot and Apple.
PIN VALLEY, SPITI, HIMACHAL
If you want your vacation to be adventure filled go to Pin Valley in Spiti. Pin Valley is the most picturesque valley in Spiti. It is formed by Pin River that runs throughout its length, before merging with Spiti River. ‘Pin Valley National Park’ which is the natural habitat of the Snow Leopard and Himalayan Ibex is located in Pin Valley. The valley is covered in carpets of green with mountains in the backdrop. Miles and miles of isolation, stunning vast landscapes and complete silence – that’s what will welcome you to the Pin Valley.
HOW TO REACH: Since its a remote village in Himalayas there is no airport or railway station nearby. The only way to reach the valley is on road. It is 789kms from the capital city of Delhi and 558 kms from Chandigarh. Follow this trail: Delhi-Chandigarh-Shimla-Sangla-Nako-Pin Valley
THINGS TO DO: The prime attraction of Pin Valley is it’s wildlife that includes Ibex, Bharal, Red Fox, Marten, Weasel, Pika, Snow Cock, Beareded Vulture, Chukor, Golden Eagle, Griffon, Himalayan Chough, Raven etc. It is also home to snow leopard.
You may go for various treks: Mudh to Barshaini via Pin Parvati Pass – 1 week trek; Mudh to Kaphnoo via Bhaba Pass (4850m) – 4 days trek; Sagnam to Laurang and back to Mudh – 4 days trek.
Other attractions: Spiti and Pin River Confluence, Kungri Monastery and small villages. Stay in one of the villages to get the feel of the life in Himalayas. Have long conversations with simple village people, learn how to cook local delicacies or Chang – a local liquor made from Barley, or spend time with kids.
You can do a trip exclusively to Pin valley and do some treks or you can visit Pin valley on your trip to Spiti.
WHERE TO STAY: Mudh is the last village in Pin Valley that is accessible by motor-able road. There are a couple of homestays, this is the one with all amenities you can think of in the high altitude village – http://www.homestaysofindia.com/properties/mudh-spiti-himachal/
Located on the banks of River Bias, Raison is a hidden around 12 km from Kullu on the way to Manali and is one of the top adventure destinations in Himachal that not many people know about.
HOW TO REACH: Bhuntar is the nearest airport (23 kms); Chandigarh is the nearest railway station (260 kms) . You can also take cab or self drive – Delhi 550 kms; Chandigarh 285 kms; Mandi 85 kms.
WHAT TO DO: There’s a lot that can done while you are in Raison. Adventure activities include River Rafting, Trout Fishing, Mountain Biking, Paragliding and Trekking. You may also do fruit Plucking if you go during the harvest season – August/ Sept. If you are not an adventure person just enjoy chirping of the birds, blue skies, butterflies in the garden and relaxing in the lap of nature.
Excursions nearby: Visit Manali, Rohtang pass and Solang vally
WHERE TO STAY Consider staying in heritage home made in Himachali style of architecture just a few meters away from the River Bias for a perfect summer holiday.
Shillong, the capital city of Meghalaya is tucked away in East Khasi Hills and is home to several waterfalls. It is also known as the Scotland of the East. It has the old world charm with beautiful houses having slanting roofs, large number of windows and wooden floors. The British legacy is still visible in the architecture and food habits of the population. Shillong receives heavy rainfalls during monsoon and the rainy season usually lasts longer than in the rest of India.
HOW TO REACH: The nearest airport is the Umroi Airport near Barapani (25 kms); The closest railway station is Guwahati (100 kms). You can self drive or take a cab or bus from Guwahati to Shillong.
THINGS TO DO: Visit Don Bosco Museum, Ward’s Lake, Shillong Golf Course, Wankhar Entomology Museum, Anglican Church, Cathedral Catholic Church, Lady Hydari Park, Spread Eagle Falls, State Museum, Elephant falls and Shillpong peak to get the bird’s eye view of the city. Go to Barra bazar to shop.
Excursions nearby – Trek to stunning Waterfalls and the Living Root Bridges, Visit Mawlynnong – Asia’s Cleanest Village, Trip to Cherrapunji and visit Mowsmai caves and Dawki.
WHERE TO STAY: Have a relaxed time with your family in some quiet homestay. We recomend staying at http://www.homestaysofindia.com/properties/shillong-homestay/. It is located in the residential area of Shillong away from the city noise yet within 7 minute walking distance from the local market, convenience stores, cafes and restaurants.