April is here. Five seconds of spring flew by swiftly and now the long dusk of summer have made their presence known. This prolonged season symbolizes rejuvenation, frivolity, vitality, and holidays in India.
Let’s take a reality check first. Summers in India are intrinsically about cursing government for unscheduled power cuts while swatting bugs, chasing after kulfiwalas in the street for a cold bite, sleeping on the roof tops, wiping off sweat every other minute, enrolling in hobby classes, sucking the sweet flavours out of fresh mangoes, taking time out during IPL games, and packing bags for an exciting trip to cherish forever and after.
In Indian summers, mercury boils to unbearable temperatures that can melt door-knobs never mind the popsicles. Whether you’re a student looking to cool down after exam fever, a parent planning a long family trip, or just a solo traveller looking to escape the heat.
List of Top 10 summer holiday destinations in India
The capital of the state known as the “Abode of Clouds” is also a popular hill station with an elevation of 1500 metres. Let the moist breeze coming down from rolling hills settle on your face as you soak up the colonial-era charm and traditions of indigenous Khashi people. Elephant Falls, Lady Hydari Park, Entomological Museum, and Umiam Lake are major tourist attractions in Shillong.
Mount Abu, Rajasthan
It’s an oasis-cum-hill station in a sizzling desert state. Being easily accessible, it’s a popular retreat among Rajasthanis and Gujratis seeking respite. The 15th-century Achalgarh Fort, Jain temples of Dilwara, the Toad Rock near Nakki Lake, and several sunset/honeymoon points are must-see places. Make sure to reach the top of Guru Shikhar – the highest point of the Aravali Range – for an awe-inspiring panorama of Mount Abu Wildlife Sanctuary.
Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh
Nestled in the mighty Dhauladhar valley, Dharamsala is steeped in serenity. Namgyal Monastery, Kangra Art Museum in Kotwali Bazar, Bhagsu Falls, and War memorial are points of interest in Dharamsala. After making an acquaintance with the Dalai Lama and Tibetan culture, indulge in outdoor thrills like trekking and paragliding in Kangra Valley, explore the lesser-known gems such as Masroor Rock Cut Temple and the suburb of McLeod Ganj.
Tucked away in the evergreen Western Ghats, Munnar is the most coveted tourist destination in South India. Renowned for pleasant weather and tea plantations, its major highlights are Attukad Waterfalls, Top Station viewpoint, and Eravikulam National Park. Spend an afternoon at Mattupedi Dairy Farm, enjoy shikara ride on Kundala Lake, scream at the top of your lungs at Echo Point, and just take deep breaths in the sandalwood forests of Marayur.
Kalimpong, West Bengal
Of all the hill stations in the eastern Himalayas, Kalimpong is arguably the most charming. Situated in the lap of lush mountains, it is renowned for Lepcha people, Buddhist monasteries, orchid nurseries, and tea gardens — thanks to Darjeeling – a more popular tourist destination. Admire the big bends of the Teesta River from Durpindara point and opt for the choo choo ride on the scenic Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.
Ooty, Tamil Nadu
All hill stations in India should come with a sign“angrej chale gaye aur hame chhod gaye”; and Ooty – which should be called Udhagamandalam because somehow it’s easy to enunciate – is no exception. This popular summer destination lies amidst the natural beauty of Nilgiri mountains in western Tamil Nadu. Smell the fragrance of 20,000 roses in among the largest rose gardens in India – Government Rose Garden and while away the time in a boat house near Ooty Lake.
Panchmarhi, Madhya Pradesh
Lying in the heart of a state famous for tiger reserves, this hill station is locally known as Satpura ki Rani. Besides having a rich biosphere, its tourist attractions such as Bee Fall, Boat Club Lake, Pachmarhi Lake, Priyadarshini Point soothe the jaded soul. The town is a gateway to the Satpura National Park, an ideal area to catch a glimpse of the majestic stripped beasts on a jungle safari.
While the ‘Queen of Hills’ Mussoorie, literary Landour, and colonial Dehradun are the usual (thus crowded) haunts in the Doon Valley for summer escapes, a hamlet named Kanatal provides an idyllic charm like no other place. A popular destination for camping around snow-clad peaks, it lies about 38 kilometres from Mussoorie on the picturesque road to Chamba.
Odisha has to be the most unexploited state tourism-wise. Billed as the ‘Kashmir of Odisha’, Daringbadi is a rare hill station in an otherwise flat state. Blessed with pine-ringed deciduous forests, coffee gardens, and abundant wildlife, it is located in the Kandhamal district which is famous for waterfalls. The curlicues of the Doluri River carve out a perfect finesse in the region. As long as you’re here, arrange safaris in Belghar Sanctuary.
Birdwatching in Haflong is as customary as sampling tea of Assam. Haflong Lake, Panimoor Waterfalls, unique flowers, and a few km away the town of Jatinga are major tourist draws here. Savour the customs and traditions of various tribes like Dimasa, Hmar, Mizo, and Naga or plan a day trip to learn about the history of the Kachari Kingdom in the ruins of Maibang.
Lavasa and Lonavala in Maharashtra, Wilson Hills in Gujarat, Coorg in Karnataka, Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh, Auli and Nainital in Uttarakhand, and just about every other town in Kashmir Valley and Sikkim are worthy of planning a memorable summer vacation.