It is the time to head to hill getaways to spend some days in salubrious climate. To beat the summer heat.
We were discussing among ourselves and with friends where to head to escape from scorching Indian summer. We finally came up with a short list of 7 places in the hills you should head this summer. Some are really interesting places. Unexplored. Off touristy circuit. These are “Hill Getaways” as we call where you can feel the chill in the air when rest of India is sweltering in other parts of the country. We also deliberately left out the well known and popular hill stations when we looked at this list…….except for one. Please click on the pictures to see them in larger size.
1 Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh
It is widely believed that the city has got its name from one of the most ancient and the biggest Buddhist monasteries in the country, Tawang Monastery and the name ‘Twang’ is a combination of ‘Ta’ meaning Horse and ‘Wang’ meaning Chosen. Located in the state of Arunachal Pradesh in North Eastern India, Tawang is one of the beautiful towns to visit and is resplendent with breathtaking sceneries. The drive to Tawang is most picturesque. The famed monastery – one of the largest – is the cynosure of all eyes. Explore Gorsam Chorten, Tawang War Memorial, Sela Pass, Nuranang Falls, Tawang Monastery and Jaswant Garh. For adventurous minded, there are many treks in the Himalayas which require a local guide. You may still find snow when you go in April/May. Tawang is at its best in its short summer months. Don’t miss it. It was on our schedule six years back. Bad weather ensured the cancellation of chopper sortie and we couldn’t make it.
2 Lachung, Sikkim
It is known as the gateway to Yumthang valley or the valley of flowers in Sikkim. When the plains in east india are sweltering in heat wave conditions, you may need a thick blanket in Lachung! The picturesque mountain village of Lachung, at a height of 8610 ft, surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks, breathtaking waterfalls, sparkling streams and apple orchards is the perfect holiday destination. Sprawled across the banks of the Lachung Chu [river] which slices the village in two, Lachung is famous for its apples, peaches and apricots. At Lachung, you can visit the Lachung Gompa, built around 1880, the monastery is situated amidst apple orchards across the river from the town centre. Go for day trek in Yumthang valley to experience the beauty of Himalayan Wilderness. Also visit the handicraft centre which has exquisitely woven rugs and blankets.
3. Kotagiri/Avalanche – Neighbourhood of Ooty, Tamil Nadu
If you don’t want to travel north where can we go in South India? Where you don’t find crowds, the scenery is spectacular and you have great places to stay in? It has to be Kotagiri and Avalanche areas of Ooty. The unspoiled spots in the “Queen of Hill stations”, these are the places to sit with your favourite book and enjoy the lovely sunshine. If you are outdoor type, go for short hikes or cycling in the mountains. We wrote in detail on Avalanche in Ooty – A quick escape to Red Hills!
4 Gurez valley, Kashmir
Years of insurgency meant Gurez did not get its due. Poorna’s Army friends rave about its beauty. With situation improving in Kashmir and tourist footprint increasing, it is time to explore this nice valley. It is on our bucket list too. At about 8,000 feet (2,400 m) above sea level, the valley is surrounded by snow-capped mountains. The Kishanganga river flows through the valley. The road to Gilgit runs through Gurais.
While describing the Kishenganga valley (Gurais) Walter R. Lawrence writes in his book The Valley of Kashmir
“ Gurais is a lovely valley five miles in length lying at an elevation of about 8000 feet above the sea. The Kishenganga river flows through it, and on either side tower mountain scraps of indescribable grandeur. Perhaps one of the most beautiful scenes in the whole of the Kashmir is the grove of huge poplars through which the traveller enters the Gurais valley. The climate is dry and mild, excellent English vegetables can be grown, and the wild raspberries and currants are delicious.”
“The valley is extremely picturesque, as the river comes dashing along through a rich meadow, partly covered with lindens, walnut and willow trees, while the mountains on either side present nothing but a succession of most abrupt precipices, and Alpine lodges, covered with fir trees.”
5 Shillong, Meghalaya
Shillong of all the places? Yes, the Scotland of the east is one of the coolest places in North East India. Literally. Poorna has special affinity having served in Assam rifles. We did travel to this place six years back in Christmas. Comfortable mornings and cool evenings beckon the visitors. Add to it nice day trips to Cherrapunji – check out Cherrapunji – Where wet is beautiful – and beautiful vistas from Shillong peak, Located in undulating pine-covered hills, the city has a milder climate than tropical India. The city centre is 1496m above sea level . The British legacy is still visible in the architecture and food habits of the population.
6 Sangla, Himachal Pradesh
Still off the touristy circuit, Sangla is like an uncut diamond. If a landscape had the powers of casting spells, then the Sangla valley would be a magician extraordinary. Once seen, it is a place that can never be forgotten. Even the rushing waters of the Baspa river, that flow through its 95 km length, seem to absorb some of the magic and slow down to savour its snow-frame beauty. 2 km from Sangla is the fort of Kamru (300 m) its tower like architecture resembles that of the Bhima Kali complex and this was the origin of rulers of Bushehar. Chitkul (3450 m) is the last village of the valley and beyond lies Tibet.
7 Abbot Mount, Uttarakhand
We fell for the name of the place and then checked that not only the name is good, the place is also fantastic. Corroborated by Poorna’s friends who served in famed Kumaon regiment. Perched on a hill 6500 feet above sea level, the seven roomed British built cottage provides panoramic views of Kumaon Himalayas. Abbot Mount is a picturesque and hidden destination situated at an elevation of 6400 ft. above sea level. It offers a tranquil,salubrious and serene environment. The enchanting snow-clad Himalayan peaks can be seen from Abbot Mount. It is located away from hustle bustle of the city and there are only 13 secluded cottages spread over this hill. Abbott Mount was founded by and named after John Harold Abbott, an English businessman. Contrasting other hill stations of India. Abbott Mount has changed little since its inception. A picturesque church is situated amidst the forest in Abbot Mount and you can also see an old cricket pitch with ravishing view of the mountains.
This was our list of lovely Hill Getaways. Do you have any favourites? Did you go to a place which is cool in summer but still remain unknown? Please do share it with us.
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