Something’s happened to our generation. The pressures that we faced from: academics, peers, neighbours, relatives and random strangers judging us – changed us a bit. And then we saw the world changing with the internet & smartphones. We learnt to focus on ourselves, our happiness and the joys of life. And we also got into the habit of burning out with long work hours, saying ‘Yes’ to every opportunity and trying to stretch a little bit with each passing day. In the midst of all this, Google Maps arrived along with TripAdvisor, Goibibo, Makemytrip and others. And voila! We somehow developed the supersonic ability to listen to the sound waves. We might not read the emails of our colleagues, or notice the pings from our juniors, or the ring on the phone when our parents called us. But we sure did learn to listen every single time the mountains called us.
Come Monsoons and most of us develop an it*h to travel, to break out of the routine, measure the roads, spend our hard-earned money and stay in a place where no one can see or hear us.
What? That’s not YOU?
Then, maybe it’s just me. 😀
With the monsoons, most places nearby Delhi NCR turn bearable (in terms of temperature). Some become downright gorgeous with the Green foliage. And some get crowded with the whole of Gurgaon and Noida driving down to find a place and a moment of solace, over there. But then, in winters too, if you want to experience the snow, the chilled out winters, or the pleasant temperature, you can visit the nearby places for a short break. Here are 13 recommended weekend destinations for you if you live anywhere in Delhi NCR:
Ranthambore is my new favourite. At a distance of 4 hours (by train) and 8 hours (by road), this place attracts tourists from all over the world. Thanks to tiger safaris! The place has the best hotels and retreats. You can treat yourself to luxury and spend your days like royalty. Or you can go to Ranthambore fort and enjoy the panoramic views. The options are endless. I particularly enjoy the tiger safaris across the many zones of Ranthambore national park. My second favourite thing to do is to either stay in Jhoomar Bawri (a beautiful, heritage resort with great food, super amazing views, surrounded by forest that overlaps with a buffer zone of Ranthambore National Park). Sometimes you can meet the crazy Tigress, Sultana, on the way who’s learnt to charge on vehicles. 😀 Did I call her crazy? My bad! She is gorgeous.
Or to stay at Taj Ranthambore and spend my days in luxury.
If you have a weekend free and nowhere to go, go to Jaipur. I have lost the count of the number of trips I have made to Jaipur, but then – who’s even counting? There’s so much to see in Jaipur that it needs a series of posts to just describe that. And my blogger friend does exactly that. Check out Jaipurthrumylens to discover numerous ways to discover Jaipur. Be it the food, silver jewellery or shopping for clothes, Jaipur provides unlimited avenues. And not to mention the various forts, palaces and old buildings of significance. Jaipur is my absolute favourite when it comes to spending weekends.
Manali is not that nearby. At a distance of 12 hours, it’s best to travel via road. You will enjoy good, highway food en route. And when you reach, there will be so many treats waiting for you – a flowing river, beautiful mountain views, amazing food, long walks on the mall road, endless shopping trips to the souvenir shops and much more. You just have to go there to experience the goodness of Manali. By the wa
If you enjoy the sounds of a flowing river and don’t mind a little adventure, explore Rishikesh. Camp outside, stretch yourself and indulge in Yoga. Eat good food, connect with nature and go for treks. And the best of all – try rafting . When you pass the rapids one after the other, and your raft somehow manages to stay afloat, you gain a new respect for life. And don’t forget the Beatles’ Ashram in Rishikesh where they stayed for weeks and wrote many of their songs. Who knows?! You might write a few there too or find music inside you.
The best part about NCR is the diversity of travel options available in and around the city. It’s not just mountains, hills, forests, tigers, temples, architecture or palaces and forts ( I realise that it’s a lot anyway). But then, you also have one of the world’s richest bird parks nearby too – Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary where you may find a rich variety of native and migratory birds. Just find a pair of binoculars and lose yourself in the wilderness.
One of the world’s seven wonders, and the epitome of undying love of a king for his queen is situated in the city of Agra, just about 3 hours away from NCR. You know what they say – that the Taj looks breathtaking under the moon of Purnima (full moon night) and it can make any two people fall in love with each other. Okay, I made up the last part but the feeling of ‘love’ absolute truth. And if you are bored of love and romance and all that crap that Bollywood has taught us over the years, I invite you to eat your heart’s out in Agra and listen to the guides and their stories that they share while giving out tours of Taj and Red fort – for shits and giggles!
7. Dharamshala and Mcleod Ganj
Did I tell you how rich & diverse Delhi NCR is?! Oh yes, I did! So you already know that there is a lot happening around this place. Add the charm of Dhauladhar mountain range to the already amazing list: Dharamshala, McLeod Ganj and Khajjiar (that’s also called the mini switzerland of India). And there are crazy treks that test your endurance, everywhere in Mcleod. If you are looking for peace and quiet, there are options for that too. Enter the many monasteries of Mcleod Ganj where you will find quiet, nature and inner peace.
When nothing is going right in life, you can pack your bags and leave for Bhimtal. Because no matter what, the clouds will still loom large (nicely), the lakes will sparkle and the mountains will say Hello – irrespective of what shit is brewing in life. I visited Bhimtal at such a point a few years back when I needed a break from humans! Just no nonsense and some time alone with myself and my crazy thoughts.
The capital of India’s fourth largest state is Lucknow – the royal city of tehzeeb where they continuously encourage you to smile. Because when in Lucknow, you smile. But that’s not the only thing that you do in Lucknow. You also shop for chikankari, enjoy the kebabs and rolls, finish with a Thandai, malai ka paan or daulat ki chaat depending upon the season.
Part of erstwhile Awadh area, Lucknow still carries the impressions of the bygone era. It can be seen in their buildings, culture and attitude. It can also be experienced in their amazing food that often takes elaborate preparations. If you are looking to chill over some food, Lucknow is the place to be!
10. Jim Corbett
Have you heard the tales of man-eating tigers? Yeah, they exist. Often when we encroach forests to claim more area (because we are a greedy species), Tigers lose their territory and attack anything made of flesh and blood, to find food. Pretty basic?! Or when Tigers get old, lose their teeth or their nails, it becomes tough to hunt. And hence the easy target – of human beings!
A long time back, a great hunter named Jim Corbett realised how magnificent, beautiful Tigers are! And developed one of the biggest reserves in erstwhile Uttar Prasesh (existing Uttarakhand). Yes, it’s called Jim Corbett. And it’s not that easy to sight Tigers in this huge forest. So have patience, book a few safaris and enjoy the beautiful forest!
By now, you must have noticed that I have a special interest in forests. Another forest, just 3.5 hours away from Delhi NCR, is Sariska Tiger Reserve. It took great many years to control the Poaching incidents, but then it eventually stopped. And now the population of Tigers has grown considerably. And even then the sightings remain far and few. But then, the forest is beautiful. By the way, did you watch the repeat telecast of the old Ramayana during pandemic?! Remember that incident when Bheema went looking for something in the forest, and stumbles upon the tail of Lord Hanuman?! That very spot is in Sariska Tiger Reserve. There’s a temple in that spot.
This one is a bit far, but totally worth the trip. Ambarsar or Amritsar is called the food capital of India. You get the best kulchas, maa ki daal and lassi in Amritsar. And not just that, one of the holiest places on the Earth exists in Amritsar – the Golden Temple. Just outside the Golden temple, exists the place that turned the tide of India’s independence struggle – Jallianwala Bagh. And not to mention the Pulkari, Juttis and the patiala suit. Amritsar is a perfect weekend destination and warrants many many trips.
Some places get popular and then there are some places that get too much popular because of Bollywood! Shimla is one such place. Long mall road merging with old spots of significance, with cute little cafes here and there, Shimla is all about old world’s charm. You can book a taxi and visit nearby places such as Kufri, Mashobhra, Chail and Naldehra. And if that is your plan, do plan for a long weekend. You won’t regret it even for a bit.