In cooler climes

A view of Kanchenjunga. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish   | Photo Credit: SUSHANTA PATRONOBISH

When you need a quick holiday, hill stations are a great option. The beautiful scenery and chill weather (with warm rugs and hot soup) take you far from routine city life. You are bound to find one not too far away to chill out in. Here is a pick of India's best hill stations.

Unexplored Shillong

Shillong is located away from the metros, so the pure, natural beauty is fairly untouched. Lady Hydari Park has a good variety of roses in different colours; it provides a visual feast. There is a mini zoo and deer park also. Ward's Lake is a century old, picturesque lake, also known as Polok Lake. Being in the heart of the town, it is popular for garden walks and boating. Elephant Falls, situated outside the city, has mountain streams cascading gracefully over moss-covered rocks. Cherrapunji, known as the rainiest place on planet Earth, is located just 56 km away. There are a number of caves here with a large number of stalagmites and stalactites inside, though many are still unexplored.

Photogenic Mahabaleshwar

One of West India's best hill stations on offer is Mahabaleshwar. The Venna Lake covering 25 acres is an ideal spot for boating. The Pratapgarh Fort, 25 km away from Mahabaleshwar, was built during Shivaji's reign. There is a temple here that's worth visiting. Panchgani, another hill resort, is only 19 km from Mahabaleshwar. Tapola is a picnic spot located at the meeting point of the Koyna and Solshi rivers. It's the perfect spot for amateur and professional photographers, providing panoramic views. The Koyna dam can be seen here. In Mahabaleshwar, Lodwick Point, Elphinstone Point and Arthur's seat are tourist spots to visit to get the best views of the place.

Chugging along in Shimla

Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh, sees snow in December. In other seasons, the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas are visible. The Kalka-Shimla railway line built in 1806 with 806 bridges and 103 tunnels is something unique. It was known as the “British Jewel of the Orient.” Walking across green, grassy paths takes you to “Annandale,” where the large grounds used to host a number of sporting events. Chadwick Falls is ideal for a mid-day picnic. The sound and beauty of the falls can be enjoyed from a safe distance. Getting to Jakhoo Hill, Shimla's highest point, involves a difficult, upward walk, but for die-hard travel enthusiasts, it is worth it.

Serene Darjeeling

The rows and rows of tea plantations amid high mountains bring a sense of calm and peace. The Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park in Darjeeling is the only zoo to breed the snow leopard and Siberian tiger in South Asia. The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute gives an astounding view of Kanchenjunga. The Shrubbery Park is on the top of a hill, and the view you get from there is out of the world. The Darjeeling ropeway connects the hill station with Bijanbari, down in the valley. It is a mono-cable type, where you can ride in a boxed car that carries six passengers. Travelling in a cable car offers unique views.

High points at Udhagamandalam

One of the attractions of this South Indian spot is a small narrow gauge railway track which supports a toy-like train that links Ooty with the town at its foothill, Mettupalayam. The Botanical Gardens have more than 600 species of plants and trees. The Doddabetta Peak, at an altitude of 2623 metres, is the highest point in the Nilgiris. Kodanadu, a scenic spot located about 30 km from Udhagamandalam, offers magnificent views of Moyar river and the tea estates. The Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary is located about 70 km from Udhagamandalam, and has a wide variety of flora and fauna. If you are lucky, you could spot a tiger or a leopard. You are sure to see a wide variety of deer, monkeys, flying squirrels and birds. The Kalhatty Waterfall, located 13 km outside Ooty is also a beautiful spot where Nature can be enjoyed in all its beauty.

John Ben is a student of Fellow Programme in Management (FPM) at the Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow.

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Printable version | Sep 16, 2021 7:21:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/nxg/In-cooler-climes/article14690316.ece

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