Head for the hills: Here are the best holiday hotspots for a dream vacation

If you need a holiday, don’t plan trips to far-flung destinations during the pandemic. Go on a road trip or take a train to a hill station in order to feel refreshed and energised. Here are six hill stations in the country that you can explore this year
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The pandemic has resulted in a shift of patterns across the globe. From a busy work life to a busy ‘work from home’ life, from jet-setting for work meetings to Zoom meetings and most importantly from experiencing life outdoors to seeking comfort and solace indoors.

Road trips to hill stations are very popular now

As we approach the close of 2020, things have slowly but surely taken a turn for the better. A sense of normalcy has prevailed over the last few months, as we slowly ease into our new way of living. Travel and leisure today have a whole new meaning, and the tourism industry that had come to a screeching halt has now adapted to the new normal and is ready to welcome guests again.

Today, short road trips take precedence over air travel to far-flung destinations. From planning a honeymoon at the French Alps to searching for the best romantic getaway in the Himalayas, the pandemic has certainly piqued our interest and changed our outlook towards domestic vacation hotspots.

After months of lockdown and travel restrictions, the urge for wanderlust is at an all-time high. And what better way to spend your holidays, than to explore the majestic and pristine hills and mountains of our country.

So, pack your bags, masks and sanitisers and get ready to explore India in all its glory.

A Shimla adventure

An OYO home near Strawberry Hill, Kasumpti, Shimla

Shimla, an all-time favourite for all nature lovers is just 341 kms away from the capital city and is just 110 kms from Chandigarh. One of India’s most beautiful hill stations, Shimla’s quaint cafes, museums, and nature trails, have a lot to offer tourists looking for a short getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Across Shimla, restaurants and cafes are open at 60% capacity for all tourists, thereby ensuring that one does not miss out on their nature-sque dining experience amidst the hills.

Do you want to enjoy a warm cup of hot chocolate on a cold morning while admiring Shimla’s historical Victorian architecture? If yes, pack your warm clothes, scarves and boots and start planning for your next long weekend. For a truly local and relaxing experience, we recommend opting for a homestay for this trip.

A holiday in the clouds at Kodaikanal

Kodaikanal

While tourists flock this small erstwhile colonial hill town during summer, this quaint town turns up its charm during winter. A short drive from Madurai (117 km) or Coimbatore (171 km) and surrounded by dense pine forests, one cannot miss this little gem.

Devour some locally made cheese and chocolate and enjoy treks and hikes that take you into surrounding Shola forest, for a one-of-a-kind experience. Kodaikanal is also home to one-of-a-kind flora and fauna. Kurinji flowers, native to this region, bloom only once in 12 years, leaving the entire town awash in hues of purple and blue. Who knows, you might be one of the lucky ones to visit Kodaikanal during the Kurinji flower season.

Trekking in Coorg

Coorg

Beyond Mysore (117 km) and Bengaluru (267 km), Coorg, nestled in the western ghats is known for various trekking and hiking spots, campsites and of course freshly brewed coffee from the plantations around the town.

Visit the famous coffee and pepper plantations, enjoy home-made locally grown passion fruit wine, hike the western ghats or simply devour the famous Pandi Curry (a Coorgi delicacy). There is something for everyone here. Don’t forget to visit Namdroling Monastery, a Tibetan monastery, (34 km from Coorg) while you’re here.

Most homestays in Coorg also offer amazing ‘workation’ deals if you wish to extend your trip just a little longer.

Dream destination: Darjeeling

Darjeeling

In the lap of Mount Kanchenjunga, this erstwhile British colonial holiday destination has retained its charm and beauty even today. Surrounded by numerous tea plantations, this destination is perfect for the laid back traveller.

Relish the world-famous Darjeeling tea, enjoy piping hot street food in the local markets on a cold winter day or just simply walk around the town to see some of the most exquisite Victorian architecture.

Don’t forget to take a joy ride of the famous ‘Toy Train’ or Darjeeling Himalayan Railway to just soak in the sights and sounds of the snow-capped mountain ranges. If you are an avid reader, you must visit the neighbouring village of Kalimpong, featured in numerous works of literature by famous authors like Kiran Desai, Christopher K Ahoy and more.

History and happiness in Lonavala

Lonavala

A pleasant drive from the crowded Mumbai (83 km) and Pune (64 km) will take you to this well-known tourist hotspot in Maharashtra, that is steeped in history and heritage.

A land of caves, forts and scenic Sahyadri as far as the eyes can see, Lonavala is best experienced during monsoons and winters. A short drive from Lonavala will take you to Matheran, a picturesque hill station overlooking the western ghats, which is perfect for a weekend getaway.

A view from the top at Mussoorie

Mussoorie

Surrounded by the Shivalik ranges, Doon Valley and the Himalayas, this town on the foothills is the perfect misty wonderland, not too far away from the bustling city of Dehradun (34 km) & Delhi (290 km).

Unwind in one of the many cafes in town while enjoying the views of the snow-dusted mountains. Like most hills and mountains in the Himalayan range, landslides are not uncommon.

If you are on a road trip, make sure to stop and enjoy the views of the Himalayas as you climb uphill and most definitely check the local weather before going. Monsoons can be risky with unexpected showers, which is why winter is the best time to visit this hill station.

(Images credit: OYO and Shutterstock)

Edited by Asha Chowdary

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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