10 Surreal Destinations in India for a Hilly Escape - Part 2 of 5

By Akshata Mishra on Mar 02, 2016
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Continued from the previous list of best hill stations in India

We hope our previous list got you tuned in to the finesse of hill stations and you are all geared up to explore more. Here’s a list of the next top destinations from all over India to tickle your sense of exploration, after all what’s a summer if not spent in vacations.

11. McLeodganj

This one is an almost exotic and mysterious small village, perched in the Kangra district. It is also known as "Little Lhasa". The place harbors a lot of Tibetan population, and hence it’s also called "Dhasa”, which is short for Dharamshala for them. It has become quite popular as a favored tourist destination for foreigners and Indians alike. The place is architecturally grand which manifests in its monasteries, temples and ancient architectures. It is blessed by nature in terms of the fact that its serene and full of greens, graced by Buddhist’s charms. All of it makes the environment spiritually charged and enchanted with the added dash of treks, yoga and Tibetan food.

Best time to visit McLeodganj: Contrary to other hill stations that hail the masses in the summers, this place is perfect to visit in the winters. It becomes pleasant and ideal for sightseeing

How to reach McLeodganj: The nearest airport is the Gaggal Airport, 3 km away at Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh. McLeodganj doesn’t have a railway station. The nearest one is at Amb Andaura and Pathankot Junction. McLeodganj is connected via bus routes and services to all major cities in India.

Must See in McLeodganj

  • Tsuglagkhang Complex
  • Men-Tsee-Khang Museum
  • Library of Tibetan Works and Archives
  • Tibetan Handicraft Center
  • Kora Circuit
  • St. John in the wilderness
  • Kalachakra Temple
  • Tibetan Children’s Village
  • Namgyal Gompa
  • Gu-Chu-Sum Movement Gallery
  • Tibetan Song and Dance Show
  • Tse Chokling Gompa
  • Tibet Museum
  • Chorten

Famous delicacy in McLeodganj: The Yak Cheesecake is the most priced exclusive and famous sweet dish around here. The firm yet soft layer on top when sliced, tastes creamy and subtle sweet flavor with a biscuity bottom layer. This dish is savored by all and sundry.

12. Shimla: Most visited Hill Station in India

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

This hill station has such grace and beauty that it is hailed as the capital of the state of Himachal Pradesh. Studded beautifully in the Himalayan foothills, it had the honor of being the summer capital of British India. Shimla is India’s most popular winter resort with happy tourists thronging the place on vacations and otherwise. It’s peaceful and pristine, with traffic banned in the central part of the town, one can stroll around and absorb as much without the din and honking. The whole city is framed with pretty snow-capped mountains and gets a sheet of snow quite a few times in an year. Check out: Things to do in Shimla.

Best time to visit Shimla: Shimla is a perennial year round destination with something to do all throughout the months and seasons. Summers are the most popular amongst the diaspora and the tourists alike. The weather is perfect for trekking, camping, paragliding and rafting. This is followed by the rains, which makes the whole city look lush and green. Winters are popular amongst the honeymooners, who’d like to enjoy a pristine snowfall, with skiing, the cool and a hot cuppa.

How to reach Shimla: Jubbarhatti is the nearest airport to Shimla, which provides cabs services to reach Shimla. There are quite a few good bus services, both state run and private which connects them to the major cities of North India. The city has its own railway station which is just one kilometer away from the heart of the city. The famous toy train in the city runs between Kalka and Delhi.

Must See in Shimla

  • Ice Skating Rink
  • Lakkar Bazar
  • Mall Road
  • Rafting at Tattapani
  • Lower Bazar
  • Glen
  • Viceregal Lodge
  • Jakhoo Temple
  • Gaiety Theatre
  • Himachal State Museum
  • Rothney Castle
  • Indian Coffee House
  • Christ Church
  • Shimla Heritage Museum
  • Kali Bari Mandir
  • Himalayan Bird Park
  • Himachal Emporium
  • Gorton Castle
  • Town Hall
  • Scandal Point
  • Tibetan Handloom Shop
  • Minerva Book House

Famous delicacy in Shimla: A revered sweet dish of the place is the Meetha Kaddu, which pumpkin pudding, basically made up of red pumpkin, whipped with lentil fritters, stewed in sugar syrup and doled out with vanilla ice-cream.

Read more on hpshimla.nic.in

13. Gulmarg: Hill stations, Snow, Trekking, Skiing and More

Image Source: Colin Tsoi/flickr.com

Gulmarg, boasts not just of ice and colors, but of refreshing cool breeze and summer meadows. Fringed with pine trees and long lonely roads, for a quiet walk. The whole place is very picturesque, with it’s serene spots, long roads graced with flowers and the whole environment of solace and mystery. Gulmarg has something for everyone in store, be it the adventure bug with trekking and skiing in mind, the couple who wants privacy and warmth and the fun loving traveller who wants to soak in the whites and absorb the beauty. Check Out: Things to do in Gulmarg

Best time to visit Gulmarg: With so much beauty and so much to explore, Gulmarg forms for an year round destination. There’s something in the pandora’s box for travellers, tourists, couples alike throughout the year! As the winters descend, the whole place get carpeted in snow. It’s the perfect time for couples to visit and for the adventure bug to ski and snowboard. As is apparent, summers are the best time to visit this place. It's cool and comfortable and you get to witness this place as "Meadow of Flowers” as it is rightfully called. Monsoons constitute for the warmest season in Gulmarg. Though it’s an off-season, go for the visual imagery that is a treat to the eyes.

Must See in Gulmarg

  • Gondola
  • FSH- Swiss Ski Agents
  • Kashmir Alpine
  • Gulmarg Avalanche
  • Church of St. Mary’s
  • Mt. Afarwat
  • Pampore
  • Awantipora
  • Sangam
  • Anantnag

Famous delicacy in Gulmarg: Zafrani Pulao is the sweet recipe, full with saffron, dry-fruits and delicious rice. Must try when in Gulmarg.

Check Out : Pre Wedding Photo Shoot Locations in India  

14. Almora

Image Source: Flickr.com

Almora is famous for its picturesque panoramic view of the Himalayas, the yummy food and trekking outfits. It’s famous for its handlooms and painted wooden artifacts shop. The whole city is studded with tiny houses, which form to give a beautiful view of greens sandwiched in between, on descending waters and hills on the backdrop. It may stay misty on most occasions here. There’s large pastures of meadow, overlooked by mountains with snow-capped peaks. And by grace if you catch a glimpse of the rising sun, you’d be enthralled with joy at the sheer beauty of golden hues captivating and encircling you. Check out: Things to do in Almora

Best time to visit Almora: The best time to visit Almora would be between August to November, in the falls, post the showers and right before winters seep in. The other most suitable time would be the blooming springs, February to May, when it’s cool, colorful and pretty. It’s cool and welcoming throughout here.

How to reach Almora: The nearest airport to Almora is at Pantnagar, which is 4 hour drive away. The state bus services are well equipped, cutting through quite a few National Highways, excellent for backpackers. The nearest railway station is at Kathgodam, from where you need to book a cab to Almora.

Must See in Almora

  • Bright End Corner
  • Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Kasar Devi Temple
  • Katarmal Sun Temple
  • Gobind Vallabh Pant Museum
  • Kumaon Regimental Centre Museum
  • Martola
  • Kalimut
  • Nanda Devi Temple
  • Pt. GB Pant Museum
  • Jageshwar Archaeological Museum
  • Kausani Tea Estate
  • Anasakti Ashram
  • Bagnath Temple
  • Mountain Magic
  • Snow View
  • Methodist Church
  • Gurdwara
  • Jama Masjid

Famous delicacy in Almora: A very famous sweet dish of Almora is the Baal Mithai, which is milk boiled in sugar cane, until it turns brown and resembles chocolate fudge. Garnished with white sugar balls, its a treat to all senses.

15. Leh: Most Traveller Friendly Hill Station in India

Image Source: Kunal Mukherjee/flickr.com

Here’s a vivid picturesque place, with brown of the mountains complementing the blues of the waters, with the backdrop of the clear blue skies white stroked at places with clouds. It’s the most traveller friendly and hassle free destination that there is. From between the browns and sands, cuts the broad black road which will take you to the most scenic of destinations and the ride of a lifetime. The lake here, is pristine in its outlook and most revered by all the travellers. There’s a certain sense of peace that engulfs this place. You’ll find camels lounging around in the valley and traditional styled Ladakhi homes, with wooden windows, flat tops and resilient walls. It’s a must visit place for every traveller.

Best time to visit Leh: April to June is the best time to visit Leh. It’s sunny and beautiful, perfect for exploration and a good ride. It’s kind of a contrasting beauty that Leh displays in these months. With snow capped mountain tops and frozen lakes you can walk on, Leh is at it’s warm and pretty best, in these months.

How to reach Leh: Owing to its reputation of an year round destination, Leh airport is functional throughout the year. It’s a military airport and hence, security would be a little more stringent here. You could reach this place by bus from the nearby places of Jammu & Kashmir or Manali by road. It would be one bumpy fun ride, with loads to see and gaze at. You could also reach this place by road from Delhi. Pathankot and Chandigarh are the nearest railway stations to Leh. It’s still a three day bus ride away from the station and hence, least preferred by travellers.

Must See in Leh

  • Pangong Tso
  • Sarchu
  • Leh Palace
  • Spituk Gompa
  • Stok Kangri
  • Chamba Lhakhang
  • Shanti Stupa
  • Mahabodhi Centre
  • Sankar Gompa
  • Leh Old Town
  • Zanskar Valley
  • Central Asian Museum
  • Penguin Garden
  • Tsemo Gompa
  • Hall of Fame
  • Tsemo Fort
  • Sankar
  • LAMO
  • Jamia Masjid
  • Chadazik Gompa
  • Meditation Centre
  • Gomang Stupa
  • Nirvana Garden
  • Maney Tsermo
  • Nezer Latho
  • Chowkhang Gompa
  • Open Ladakh
  • Ladakh Bookshop

Famous delicacy in Leh: Holkur is a Ladakhi biscuit, prepared using sugar, nuts and grain meal. It’s baked and served hot and delicious.

More on tourism in Leh here

16. Nandi Hills: Hill Station Every Bengaluru Person Enjoys

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

This joyful place is hailed as "The Hill of Happiness” and derives its name from the fact that it resembles a sleeping bull. Avidly known as a favorite picnic place for the youngsters, the pleasant climate enthralls both youngsters and the old alike. This place is a complete package for all and sundry, owing to its pleasant weather and spiritual aura. It is quite a famous off-beat honeymoon destination too and a cocoon for lovers also. This ancient hill fortress is also known as an excellent place for hiking for the nearby tourists from Bangalore.

Best time to visit Nandi Hills: Nandi Hills is one of those few pleasant places that has comfortable ideal temperature throughout the year. Tourists and travellers can indulge in some sight-seeing in the cool and comfort whenever it pleases them.

How to reach Nandi Hills: The most feasible way to reach Nandi Hills is through a road trip from Bangalore. There are no direct flights, railways or bus services to Nandi Hills.

Must See in Nandi Hills

  • Nandi Temples
  • Tipu’s Drop
  • Tipu’s Summer Residence
  • Muddenahalli
  • Amrita Sarovar
  • Yoga Nandeeshwara Temple
  • Nehru Nilaya
  • Brahmastram
  • Papagni
  • Children’s Park
  • Paragliding

Famous delicacy in Nandi Hills: One very famous sweet delicacy, usually had as breakfast in Karnataka is Kesari Bath. It’s a concoction of ghee, semolina and sugar. Tasty and grainy, it gives a smooth finish and a lingering taste.

Check out other Places to visit near Bangalore

17. Pahalgam: Beautiful Hill Station in India

Image Source: Harsha Narasimhamurthy/flickr.com

As is customized for the Himalayas, This place is studded with pine trees. The rivers gush down valleys that are covered with giant conifers, with around 20 lakes that are a sight to behold. This hill resort also acts as a homestay for the pilgrims visiting Amarnath. It acts as a resort of and to sorts, with it’s varied range of activities that you can indulge in and soak. It acts as a perfect spot for lovers, while being highly equipped for family holidays too. It is one of those serene places, where you can just laze around and do nothing. You could take fun donkey rides or go for a good trek. The place is the pride of the heaven on earth Kashmir and takes you through a journey of its own, be it a quiet stroll or a trek or just some pleasant time with your dear ones. Check out: Things to do in Pahalgam

Best time to visit Pahalgam: Both summers and winters in Pahalgam are cool, winters naturally cooler. In the subtle warmth and cool of summers, you could go for sightseeing and explore the place. The entire place gets covered in a layer of snow in winters. It’s beautiful and serene and quite cozy when indoors.

How to reach Pahalgam: Srinagar Airport is the nearest airport to this place. It’s well connected to all the major cities and carriers also. Pahalgam is well connected to major cities of Srinagar and Jammu and regular bus services are available, both private and state. The closest railhead to Pahalgam is Jammu Tawi which is connected to most major cities.

Must See in Pahalgam

  • Jawahar Institute
  • Highland Excursions
  • Rafting
  • Troutbeat
  • Pahalgam Golf Course
  • Betaab Valley
  • Aru Valley
  • Chandanwari
  • Tulian Lake
  • Mamleshwar Temple
  • Sheshnag Lake
  • Khadi Bhandar

Famous delicacy in Pahalgam: Kashmiris don’t boast much about their sweet dishes, but Phirni is a humble sweet dish that they savor. Phirni is a part of Wazwan. It’s basically ground rice cooked in milk until thick custard consistency, garnished with silver leaf and assorted chopped nuts.

18. Kasol

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

This is the chirpy hipster locale, where the rave and reggae parties go to from Goa in the summers. It caters to the largely Israeli and hippie crowd, who make it their exploration base and chill here. Graced with the lovely mountain hotels towards the north east, and the giggling river flowing by, this quaint village has bars, bakeries and everything that you need for a party to roll. Known as mini Israel, Kasol is an ideal destination for trekkers, backpackers and climbers alike. It is also a treat for the nature enthusiasts, with its untampered mountains and soothing climate throughout the year. It is the most perfect location to vacation in the lap of nature, christened in the Parvati Valley.

Best time to visit Kasol: The most suitable months would be from March to June. It’s the month of pleasant weather wherein Kasol has a lot to offer.

How to reach Kasol: Bhuntar Airport near Kullu is the nearest airport to this village. It is well connected to the nearby cities of New Delhi, Shimla and Pathankot. The state bus transportation department runs frequent buses to and fro to Kasol from neighbouring states and major cities in it. Pathankot is the nearest railway station to Kasol. Next is Chandigarh railway station which is the nearest feasible one. They are both connected to major cities.

Must See in Kasol

  • Parvati Valley
  • Manikaran Sahib
  • Tosh
  • Malana
  • Kheer Ganga
  • Trekking
  • Rock Climbing
  • Rashol
  • Solang Valley
  • Jogini Falls
  • Rohtang La
  • Spiti Valley
  • Chandratal Lake
  • Tabo Monastery
  • Kibber Village

Famous delicacy in Kasol: The German Bakeries around here serve the best bakes. Apart from this, the cafes here serve really nice pancakes and has quite a few waffle stations.

19. Mahabaleshwar: THe Most Popular Hill Station in Maharashtra

Image Source: Flickr.com

It is one of the most famous tourist destinations and hill stations in the Western Ghats. It’s one of the segregated evergreen forest patch in the country, wherein you have the best of red sweet strawberries to much on while you gaze at the beauty around. Buzzing with tourists throughout the year, it was designed to be a health resort cum getaway. The dense jungles are buzzing with wildlife and birds throughout the year. There’s enthralling cottages that lend the much needed charm and sophistication to this place. The whole city has a distinct old world getaway charm to it, wherein you can take long walks in the shady boulevards and gaze at the panoramic view around. This pretty locale tucked away in the hills, not far away from big cities of the state, attracts holiday-mooners, film directors, nature lovers and lovers in general. You could even plan a weekend short trip with the family. Check out: Things to do in Mahabaleshwar

Best time to visit Mahabaleshwar: Owing to its geographical location, this hill station has pleasant climate throughout the year. Due to its popularity it is flooded with tourists all throughout the year, so if you wish to stay away from the din, off-season would be the best time to visit this place. Since this place is uber famous for its strawberry harvest, you could always drop by in these months to hand-pick the strawberries and have a ball meanwhile!

How to reach Mahabaleshwar: Mahabaleshwar yet doesn’t have an airport of its own. The nearest airport would be at Pune, from where quite a few services are available to drop one to the destination. There are quite a few arrangements made to take people by road from Mumbai or Pune to Mahabaleshwar. Both state run government bus services and private services ply. Mathar is the nearest railway station to Mahabaleshwar, but the most convenient one is Pune station.

Must See in Mahabaleshwar

  • Viewpoints
  • Lodwick Point
  • Arthur’s Seat
  • Bombay Point
  • Lingmala Falls
  • Elphinstone Point
  • Wilson’s Point
  • Babington Point
  • Chinaman’s Falls
  • Mahabaleshwar Strawberry Garden
  • Mapro Garden

Famous delicacy in Mahabaleshwar: When in Mahabaleshwar, you cannot miss out a visit to the colorful and fruity Mapro Gardens. Gorge on fresh juicy red strawberries, jams and squashes of a lot of fruit flavors. You must not miss the strawberry with fresh cream or ice-cream that’s savored by people of all ages.

Also read about these perfect Summer Getaways in India

20. Chikmagalur

Hailed as an ideal place for a short holiday, this place is as scenic as it is pretty. Known widely for its coffee estates and holiday homes, Chikmagalur is studded in the foothills of Mullayanagiri. The place is graced with tall mountains, lush green forests, aromatic coffee plantations, breathtaking valleys and sparkling waterfalls. The whole place is quite refreshing and soothing, like a breath of fresh air from the daily monotony of your life. Also, if you are a coffee lover, you just cannot resist this place as it is the largest producer of coffee in India. The place has the prettiest views which are both accessible to the city and overlooked by mountains. Read more on Places to visit in Chikmagalur

Best time to visit Chikmagalur: The most suitable time to visit Chikmagalur is between September and March. You can indulge in vacation travels, sightseeing and relax besides the cascading waterfalls.

How to reach Chikmagalur: The nearest airport to this place is at Mangalore. It provides quite a few pick up options from there to the hill station. Chikmagalur is well connected to all the major cities of Mangalore through state and public transport. Gudur Railway Station is the nearest railhead to Chikmagalur.

Must See in Chikmagalur

  • Mullayanagiri
  • Kudremukh National Park
  • Kemmangundi
  • Datta Peeta
  • Kalhatti Falls
  • Hebbe Falls
  • Kadambi Falls
  • Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Sharadamba Temple
  • Sringeri Sharada Peetha
  • Coffee Museum
  • Bhadra Dam
  • Manikyadhara Falls
  • Jungle Stay
  • Coffee Plantation Experience
  • Estate/Forest Stay

Famous delicacy in Chikmagalur: Kunda is a very famous sweet delicacy of Karnataka. It is made with thick, rich, sweet condensed milk. The dish is lip smacking and delicious!

India is replete not just in it’s culture, but its flora and fauna also. There’s such immense diversity and beauty everywhere, that you can land onto any part of the country and experience the most exotic combinations of a whole lot of things. This is just the tip of the iceberg people, there’s many such similar pretty locales to come.

So, until next time, stay tuned!

Check out the Top 10 Hill Destinations for Your Next Holiday - Part 3

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