Summer Holidays: Five offbeat hill destinations in India

NITN | @notintownlive | 19 May 2023, 08:32 am

Summer Holidays: Five offbeat hill destinations in India Offbeat destinations

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As the summer holidays begin in schools and colleges, there is a rush for the hills. Resulting in popular places such as Darjeeling, Shimla, Mussoorie, etc. bursting at the seams. So why not move away from these crowd-pullers and head to some of the lesser known destinations across the country? Interestingly, these are not only places to sit back and relax but also try your hand at trekking and other adventure sports.

Kurseong, West Bengal

The least visited among the popular trio (Darjeeling-Kalimpong-Kurseong), this dainty hill station surrounded by sprawling tea gardens is an ideal getaway for those seeking a quiet retreat. Kurseong is a key halt on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) route.

Watch the merry toy train pass through the town, go for walks in the countryside, pay a visit to a tea garden, visit the Eagle’s Crag – a pleasant view point with a watchtower, Dowhill – with its schools and forest museum (caution: avoid going off on a walk in the forest because there are wild animals here), Chimney Heritage Park, Netaji Museum, the DHR Museum in the rail station premises etc.

While there are budget hotels in town, you may opt for some of the retreats in the countryside, ranging from tea garden stays to jungle camps.

How to go: The nearest airport is Bagdogra, about 40km by road. The transport hubs of New Jalpaiguri (the nearest broad gauge rail head) and Siliguri are about 45km and 35km away by road respectively.

Rinchenpong, Sikkim

This tiny village tucked away among lush green hillsides with the majestic snow peaks of the Himalayas towering above them is for the solitude lovers. On a clear day, you can watch the snow peaks – Kanchendzonga, Kabru, Narsing, Pandim and Thinchinkhang – change colours with the passing of the day. Take a walk among the hills. A short trek can take you up to the old Resum Monastery which offers a magnificent view of the mountains and countryside – a view which has been immortalised by the famous Russian painter Nicholas Roerich when he visited the place in 1924. On the way back, you may stop for a while at the tree encircled Poison Lake. However remember to take along a local guide since these areas are not much visited and it is easy to lose your way.

Accommodation is limited but you will find budget hotels and homestays.

How to go:  Pelling (about 45km away by road) and Legship (12km) are the two nearest gateways.

Phulara Ridge, Uttarakhand

If you are the adventurous kind, this ridge trek in the Garhwal Himalayas is worth trying. “This is a trek hidden in plain sight,” says Swathi Chatrapathy, digital content head of a popular hiking-related website. Off the popular routes, it is a moderately difficult trek (you have to physically fit) which takes you across a picturesque mountain ridge. Usually, trekkers start from Sankri village, the gateway to the Govind Wildlife Sanctuary and a few other popular trek routes in the area. The trek, which may be spread over a few days, is best undertaken with a registered agency who can provide guides and other support services. Hardy trekkers may also combine a visit to the Pushtar Bugiyal.


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Limited accommodation in Sankri. Camping during the trek.

How to go: DehraDun to Sankri is about 200km by road. You may hire cars or take public transport.

Mukteshwar, Uttarakhand

Surrounded by forested hill slopes and the lofty Himalayan peaks, this scenic corner is a solace for the city-frazzled nerves. Visit the Mukteshwar Shiva Temple, go on a short hike to see the Bhalu Gaad waterfall jumping down 60 feet, etc. The area is also known for adventure sports activities such as trekking and paragliding.

There are hotels and homestays in the area apart from a few luxury hotels.

How to go: Pantnagar, about 100km away by road, is the nearest airport. Kathgodam, about 65km away, is the nearest railhead.

Shoja, Himachal Pradesh

Image credit: Sankara Subramanian/Wikimedia CommonsImage credit: Sankara Subramanian/Wikimedia Commons

If you love off-road driving, then Shoja village may be your kind of holiday destination; getting there is half the fun. Not many visit this mountainous domain where apple orchards and quaint homes dot the countryside. The surrounding area is home to a variety of birds. There is a waterfall near the village. You may drive up to Jalori Pass, which is about five km away. Those interested in trekking, may walk to the Serolsar Lake from the Pass, at a distance of another five km.

Accommodation is limited to a few guest houses in the village.

How to go: Shimla (150km away by road) and Kullu (75km) are the nearest and most convenient transport hubs.

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