For a perfect weekend, Escape Route picks up these ten destinations around Delhi that make for stunning weekend escapes…
For those who love to travel, a perfect weekend is about escaping the daily grind and exploring new destinations. From historical marvels and wildlife sanctuaries to picturesque hill stations and cultural havens, pick the destination of your choice along with a suggested stay option and escape for a road trip! (Please note: The distance to each of the following is as measured from Delhi.)
Bhowali – 307 kms
In the vicinity of many popular hill stations of Uttarakhand, beautifully secluded Bhowali is a relaxing weekend escape. You will find the beauty of nature in abundance here; it is one of those destinations to go to and do nothing at. If travelling between June and August, you must get your hands on freshly ripened apples, apricots, peaches and plums indigenous to the area. Other than that, explore an existing nature trail or discover one of your own, hike to the famous Tiffin Top to see what the view from their looks like.
As you arrive in the capital city of Rajasthan, its vibrancy, culture, and people make you its own… The famous forts and palaces are the heart of the Pink City; be it experiencing the sunrise from the top of Nahargarh Fort, an elephant ride in the Amber Palace, a walk through the heritage Hawa Mahal or the sunset view from Jal Mahal built in the middle of Man Sagar Lake, each has its own charm.
On the other hand, the hustle-bustle in the colourful streets of Baapu Bazaar and Johari Bazaar keeps the city alive and is something to be experienced. It is a paradise for shoppers as a range of artefacts, jewellery, traditional footwear, apparels and leather items etc., can be found here as you walk through the lanes. For the foodies, local delicacies such as daal bati churma, ghevar and pyaaz kachodis in the bylanes of Jaipur must be relished. The city has been one of the most convenient weekend escapes for the people of Delhi and we see no reason why it shouldn’t be!
To travel to the city of love, take the route through Yamuna-Agra Expressway and enjoy a smooth and comfortable road trip. Chances are that this will not be your first time in Agra and you might already have plenty photos with the Taj Mahal. Whether or not that is the case, this time, try and look at Agra as the capital that it was during the Mughal Empire. Trace the walls of the Red Fort,
The city owns the most magnificent architecture, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Taj Mahal, built on the banks of river Yamuna. It is the royal beauty of this monument and picturesque location that attracts travelers from across the globe.
While Taj Mahal is built from the precious white marble, its sister monument – the Agra Fort – is beautifully built in red and white sandstone. Don’t forget to try the popular “Agra Ka Petha” while you stay in Agra. 35km ahead of this is Fatehpur Sikri, a city with grandeur indo-Islamic architecture, culture and Mughal heritage worth exploring.
Apart from the adventure activities, Rishikesh, is also a center for spirituality and pilgrimage as the scenic view and holy atmosphere detoxifies the mind and soul. If you like solitude and introspection, then Parmarth Niketan is a must visit for meditation and spiritual healing. Well, the Beatles Ashram is also a place to be at, the famous music band visited the place back in 1968 to learn Transcendental Meditation and since the last few years it has become a famous tourist spot. Small shops offer head massage and body massages while restaurants like Chotiwala, street food and small bakeries will entice your taste buds.
*Please note that Shivpuri has been shut since the beginning of June and rafting activities have been discontinued until further government notice.
The paradise of bird watchers, Bharatpur, is the ultimate destination for exotic bird watching and nature photography in the popular Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary or Keoladeo National Park. Come here to listen to the songs of nature and enjoy the magical flora & fauna. Rare and endangered species of birds right from Sarus Cranes, Herons & Egrets to Indian Darter migrate here during different seasons. It is not advisable to cover the entire area on foot instead you can opt for a cycle or Tonga ride as well as jeep safari and elephant back safari, which are more fun amidst the nature.
The Lohagarh Fort in Bharatpur is magnificent and strong architectural structure ever built in India and this is a place often explored by curious travellers. The lovers of history often discover their “bliss” in the Government Museum of Bharatpur, where they find illustrations, sculptures, artifacts, weapons of the Jat rulers, zoological preserves and manuscripts paintings all under one roof dating back to second century.
Bhimtal, The Lake City, is an ideal getaway for a peaceful and pleasing stay amidst hills and lake. Nature lovers find this picturesque location their abode for the variety of activities they do here to stay close to nature such as exotic bird watching, nature walk, boating and much more. Unlike its more popular cousin Nainital, Bhimtal is more peaceful and less crowded which makes it more striking to nature lovers looking for an escape. There are these little tals around Bhimtal easily discoverable on foot, each with a story to tell.
Do not forget to pay visit to the Butterfly Research Centre, the fourth largest reference collection centre in India for butterfly and moth. It is believed that in Bhimtal alone, around 240 species of butterflies is found of the total 1300 species present in India. Also, what adds value to a place is the charming stays and the hospitable staff, giving you the best of services and local guidance during the stay.
If you are looking for a relatively less crowded and unspoilt hill station then, Lansdowne is the place to be at. The road journey from Delhi to Lansdowne is about 7 to 8 hours with well-connected roads, so for a relaxing weekend escape, it is one of the pleasing hill stations to be at. A perfect escape from city life, Landsdowne is an easy option to rejuvenate your soul.
One of the tourist attractions here is, The War Memorial, at the Parade Ground of the Garhwal Rifles Center, for which you will need permission from the military authority. With a short walk you could get a panoramic view of the Garhwal Hills with the backdrop of magnificent Himalayan Range., During monsoons, this hill station witnesses devotees of Lord Shiva from all over paying visit to its most famous temple, Kaleshwar Mahadev Temple.
Get lost in nature amidst mountains and dense forest of tall oak and deodar trees and explore the serenity of this peaceful hill station. Unlike many other active hill stations of Uttarakhand, Dhanaulti is peaceful and untouched which is why travelers dwell to this place for solitude during weekends. For the adventurous kind, there is a lot Dhanaulti has to offer, such as hiking in the lush green forests of Dhanaulti is the perfect thing to start your day with. Rappelling, Burma bride, horse riding and various other adventurous activities can be enjoyed in the Eco Park. The hot & delicious Maggi and tea served right at the entrance of the park will calm your hunger pangs and relish the taste buds in the mountains. Dhanaulti has less of luxury accommodation options, so camping under the open sky with stars twinkling right above makes the trip an everlasting experience. Tents can be availed on rent as well.
Rejuvenate yourself completely in this calm and beautiful hill station, Landour. Almost 5kms, away from the crowded bazars of Mussoorie, it is a more serene place to be at. Prefer a walk between the bazars of Mussoorie and Landour and enjoy the tranquility of life. As you move towards the Laal Tibba Hill, which is the highest point in Mussoorie, hold your breath because from here you experience the most charismatic sunrise and sunset.
Landour’s Chaar Dukan area is quite pretty and a popular spot, where tourists often stop-by for lip-smacking sandwiches, ginger lemon honey tea, Maggi, juices and more at Anil’s Café. Landour happens to be the hometown of Ruskin Bond, so you might get a glimpse of him. It is one of the first places in India where Peanut Butter was made commercially so do not forget to carry some fresh homemade peanut butter back to your homes.
Sarika Tiger reserve has held its fort for tourists over past many decades. The population of tigers might have been in question once in a while, but the place is the nearest getaway for wildlife enthusiasts from Delhi. Here, you will find a variety of wild animals such as jackals, leopards, jungle cats, wild boars, deer among many other not so wild species such as sambhar, spotted deer, lots and lots of peacocks. Some of the rarest species of birds migrate here, so for bird lovers this place has to be in their bucket list.
Though whenever one hears about Sariska, it is The Sariska National Park they think about but it has many hidden gems as well that are worth exploring such as the magnificent Sariska Palace, which was once the home of Maharajas of Alwar. The ruins of Bhangar fort, which is believed to be haunted is the most explored places when people visit Sariska. There are endless haunted stories of Bhangarh that catches people’s interest.
Please note that Sariska Tiger reserve is open for the public every day from October till May from 6 am till 3:30 pm.
Just like the beginning of life, each trip begins with an idea of hope, happiness and a new start…
A trip through unexplored routes fills us with freshness about an escape from the mundane. There is a start with determination that things will never be the same again and only better from thereon.
Sometimes you meet roadblocks in the beginning but those are soon overcome with the unending quest to explore something new, give our ideas the reality they deserve. As we grow, as we move forward in our trip, we meet new people. Each route, each person offers a new sight and new perspective. Every new stopover, every new interaction offers a new experience.
Each personality is developed by the perspectives we have built, experiences we have earned and that makes us decide what we like and what we will seek.
We have minimalists and glam packers, we have adventurists and comfort seekers, we have those who seek isolation and we also have story tellers, we have a variety of personalities, some seeking the same comfort everywhere and some seeking a new experience at each new turn. Technology and social media has coined a term for each and we have all become comfortable with our kind of personality whether it is in social life or real life.
While you are busy exploring newer terrains and yourself, you realize no matter what all you know and how good you are, there will always be people who face hardships better than you do. Those who embrace good parts of the trip, each new turn, condition, interaction, experience etc and you wish that you could be like them as well. You also learn that one trip is not enough to cover this big vast world and you start growing restless about what all you are about to miss.
There are challenging routes and there are fun routes but both are important for else, it will be meaningless to have a trip which did not present any hardships. By now you have realized that hardships make the best of stories, fun is just okayish.
There are also these parts of the trip where you are thankful to everyone for all that you have been able to cover and witness. There are these moments of eternal happiness and grave sorrow and sometimes they are too much to handle. But that’s just how it is and has to be dealt with.
While you are busy figuring out the answers to your own quests, discoveries, you realize the trip is already over and you must head back to where you came from. This generally results in an outbreak of emotions. Good or bad, ugly or beautiful, you realize that the trip was important. After all, all’s well that ends well.
“At last, we reached Komic; the signage read a height of 4587 meters and a village population of 114 inhabitants”…
The road that turns left from Koksar towards Spiti Valley does not look anything like a National Highway. It is full of challenges, adventure, risk and yet breathtaking landscapes. If you have covered the stretch from Jammu to Leh passing through the mud mountains, lunar landscapes, magnetic hill and more, you cannot expect Spiti Valley to surprise you, yet it enchants you like never before.
Our intention was to have evening tea at the highest motorable village in Asia, Kibber, and we crossed all hurdles with a smile. It was only at Key Monastery that we realised that the road now extends to Komic Village and the tag of the ‘highest motorable village’ had moved. The thing with tags such as highest, longest and brightest is that they can always be challenged. Unfazed, we changed our direction and set course towards Komic which was 21kms farther and much higher than the erstwhile highest village, Kibber. Not sure of what to expect, we were greeted by a narrow tar-less road uphill and a lot of dust, enough to change the colour of everything it touched. As we escalated up, the landscape kept getting more appealing and colourful. At last, we reached Komic village, the signage read a height of 4587 meters and a village population of 114 inhabitants. There was still no sign assuring of the highest-village-in-Asia claim. It was only after exchanging words with the indigenous lamas that the title was confirmed and we swell our chests with pride. Komic Village has a total of dozen odd houses and a 14th century old monastery which is the abode of Lamas. Most of the lamas keep shuffling between the Komic and Kaza as Kaza is the activity hub.
Komic means Snow Cock Eye. There are legendary stories associated to the village as robbers trying to steal the main deity but were unable to lift it after a point as it kept getting heavier, hidden treasures such as egg of the dragon, horn of a unicorn etc. Even the carving shapes of some stones will yell of delight. The earthquake in 1975 shattered the whole place around yet the deity statue at Komic held its place.
With one look around at the settling sun flickering over the Kaza mountain range, the thought of having tea at Asia’s highest village soon turned into the will to have dinner. We requested the head lama to let us stay the night and we were offered a room. We can never forget the delicious vegetable rice ‘pulao’ that the lama cooked up for us learning that we were hungry. We also gorged over vegetable ‘thenthuk’ for dinner. Well for tea, we are not sure how much we consumed as it tasted better than any other elixir in the world.
The village remains disconnected from the rest of the civilization for half the year due to heavy snow and lack of proper roads. The villagers are hospitable and are undaunted by lack of infrastructure or public services we, city dwellers, cannot live without. The trip to Komic is an essential escape from our worldliness to connect with the Lama life, to lay sight on landscapes and mountain ranges at same height as yours and more so to understand the true meaning of minimalism which cannot be taught better by anyone but the inhabitants of Komic village.
We are once again escaping to Spiti, in August this year. Know more about it here.