Don’t let the onset of unforgiving summers and blazing loo discourage the travelling bug in you. Find the source of the Ganges, trek in tea plantations of Eastern Himalayas, run with the chariots in South India, dance with tribes in a village, be one with nature in wildlife sanctuaries, go for a romantic honeymoon in the Western Ghats, do volunteer work for non-profits, and if it isn’t too much to ask for, do not waste your summer vacations by warming your couch. Add a new horizon to your life and go footloose yourself!
Take a look at some of the ideal summer destinations where your sweat glands will not weep.
Rest your retinas and picture yourself in a village of Kerala where you’re sitting the deck of a houseboat as paddy fields, palm groves, and your worries float by. Not hypnotised yet? Try again, this time you’re on a floating water-bed receiving an Ayurvedic Massage. How about now? Pristine stretches of sand along the Malabar Coast, emerald backwaters of an unassuming village, natural beauty of Athirappilly Falls, tea plantations in Munnar, rolling meadows of Vagamon, and wildlife safaris in Periyar National Park, are popular tourist destinations in ‘God’s Own Country.’
A place with no guise is a place worth delving into, and Uttarakhand is all about that. The ‘Dev Bhoomi’ boasts of jaw-dropping views of the Himalayas with every new turn on a road. The Doon Valley is a repository of natural resources and hill stations like Mussoorie and Landour. While Almora and Pithoragarh are underrated gems in the culture-rich Kumaon region, many Hindu pilgrims are drawn to Gangotri and Badrinath that lie in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. “Hey, sugar, take a walk on the wild side” in Jim Corbett National Park. Kudos to those who had answered the call of Lou Reed’s voice.
Like other states on the northeastern fringes of India, Mizoram is unpretentious and sings a song that rest of India finds difficult to tune to. The frontier town on Indo-Myanmar border, Champhai, is called the “rice bowl of Mizoram”. A melting pot of culture and communities, the state capital Aizawl clings to a chain of hills along the Tlawng River. Stretch your diaphragms and take a breath of fresh air in unspoilt forests and spectacular landscapes in Murlen National Park, learn traditions of Mizo people, scale the Reiek Mountain, and visit the milky Vantawng Falls near Thenzawl.
What could be a better way to spend scorching summers than in “paradise on earth?” The charm of snow-clad peaks and flower-laden valleys is too tempting to ignore. Whether it is skiing in Gulmarg, glacier-watching in Sonamarg, garden-hopping in Srinagar, woollen-shopping in Jammu, trekking in Zanskar region, or biking across Ladakh region, exceptionally picturesque J&K caters to every whim imaginable to escape from summers in rest of India. Remember to catch the first bloom of Tulip Festival in Srinagar that will be held at Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden.
Like John Muir, if your ears are ringing with call of the mountains, Himachal Pradesh is the perfect remedy. Go meet the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala, spend a weekend in a cottage at Dalhousie, attend Rhythm & Blues Festival in Kasauli, do sightseeing and shopping in Shimla, mingle with pahari people in Chamba, enjoy backpacking in the otherworldly Spiti Valley, savour the rustic charm of Chail, and take the scenic Kalka-Shimla Railway for a trip worth remembering.
Yuksom and Pelling in West Sikkim are the best places that behold the great panoramas of holy Kangchenjunga, and these towns serve as the base for guided trekking and hiking excursions. Visit Sikkim’s only tea estate, Temi Tea Garden, near Namchi, spin the prayer wheels at Rumtek Monastery in Gangtok, plan a trip to less-explored snowy slopes of Yumthang Valley, and take a peek into China from the famous mountain pass, Nathu La. To curb your enthusiasm, try white water rafting in the Teesta River and take the yak ride to reach Tsomgo Lake.
While Mumbai is somewhat unthinkable to visit in summers, the Western Ghats – dotted with quaint hill stations – is an ideal weekend getaway. Lavasa, Lonavala and Mahabaleshwar remain evergreen and tourist-corrupted year round. Take a trip to offbeat destinations such as Matheran (India’s smallest hill station), the caves of Ajanta and Ellora, the forts like Murud Janjira, Shivneri and Raigad, the verdant vineyards of Nashik, and tiger reserves such as Tadoba Andhari and Melghat.