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Best Places to Visit in Summer in India
Summer, when pronounced in Sanskrit, etymologically also means ‘Samar’ or the heat of battle. In a sub-tropical country like India, which also happens to be a peninsula, the season of summer is nothing short of a battle. In most of the south, west and mid-North India, summer is excruciatingly hot. While the coastal areas benefit from the sea’s maritime influence, the landlocked states are the ones most affected with dry heat called ‘loo.’ But summer is also the season for vacations in most of the country and even abroad, so then, what do you do if you want to plan a holiday to India in summer?
Well, we have a saving list for you. It details the places in India, the mountainous regions, the hill stations, the northernmost Himalayan cities; places that are worth a visit from the month of March to June-July and show you a great time even in the heat of summer.
Manali is one of the foremost suggestions that come to mind when we think ‘hill stations.’ Well, good for Manali, because the town is a stunning summer getaway. It maintains the perfect weather at this time of the year, perched high as it is in the snow-capped ranges of North India. It is not too cold, but cooler than the other scorching parts of India. There may not be any snow to play in at this time, but you can rest assured that there will be loads of greenery, some snow to see on far flung mountains, cool days and cooler nights. You can indulge in trekking, zorbing, mountain and quad biking as well as paragliding in Manali in summer, and go visit the beautiful bird sanctuaries nearby.
Shimla is known as the summer capital of the British soldiers that missed too much of their own home. With its quaint mountains and deep valleys, light mist and cool sunshine, Shimla is one of the most elegant hill stations of modern India. Although crowded with tourists in the May to July months, the city still makes for a great holiday for summer. The cafes in its lonely streets, the too-crowded-for-their-own-good markets, the temples of local deities on hilltops and lodges that still bear the mark of the British - we bet you are already in love with it all!
Summers in Ladakh may not be as warm as most people like them to be, but they are the best there is. In fact, the road to Ladakh from Srinagar is almost virtually inaccessible in the peak winter months. So travellers only get these few summer months from March to August-September to visit the northernmost state of India. Many adventure enthusiasts also prefer to take their bikes and cut a road trip up north from Delhi or Srinagar. Ladakh with its stunning landscapes, white deserts, Buddhist monasteries and crystal clear lakes is a land right out of fairytales. You get adventure and serenity in equal doses here, and how!
Who said India does not cater to ski lovers? Auli is its star in the skiing world. With its undulating beautiful slopes, perfectly powdered snow maintained all through the year, and sceneries to die for, Auli is India’s own ski resort perched high up in the state of Uttarakhand. It has as many miles of green meadows and coniferous tree forests as it has powdered snow slopes, so you get the best of both worlds - the peace of the mountains as well as the thrill of skiing. Though February onwards is the best time for skiing in Auli, summer months are big on tourism here because of the unbearable heat in the rest of the country. You can enjoy cable car rides, take a trekking trip up a pass, go for overnight camping and bonfires, and of course, enrol in a skiing resort.
What could one say about Kashmir that already hasn’t been said? It is a force of nature that has been good to the world but the world hasn’t been good to it. Even so, Kashmir is one of the most beautiful paradises in the season of summer. When the streams burst out of their thawing trickles and trees bloom with nascent flowers, when there is a light mist and not the dense fog of winter to navigate, and the Dal flows freely with shikaras bobbing with fruits, flowers and green leafies, Kashmir welcomes tourists with open arms. Though in the current scenario you will need to inquire about the state of affairs and security in the state, it is almost always safe to travel. Enjoy sights in Srinagar, go boating in Dal, head to Gulmarg for a photoshoot ala Yash Chopra or go see the fields of gold and heavenly horses galloping in Sonmarg. When in Kashmir, sky is your limit.
Steering from the north of India to the east, one finds that summers weave their own magic in this part of the country too. Gagtok, the capital of Sikkim, makes for a brilliant destination for summer travel as it is ensconced in thick clouds, is endowed with lush greenery of summer and gives you a stunning scenic backdrop of valleys and hills. It is fringed by the mighty Khangchendzonga peak. Another hilly city that is a mix of Buddhist peace as well as daring adventure, when in Gangtok, you get to enjoy the wildlife at the national parks, visit monasteries, gorge on bowls of piping thukpa and momos, as well as meditate in the alpine ranges that border China.
Tawang is a neighbour of Gangtok’s and just as beautiful, yet in a different way. It has a rocky geography and has most of the rock carpeted in lush verdant greenery. With its Buddhist hamlets that are clustered in valleys and monasteries that date back hundreds of years, Tawang is a real heart breaker with its beauty. Summer weather here is just as beautiful and people come here from all over the East and North East to find some peace in a monastery or by a waterfall. At either place, the serenity of Tawang is undisturbed.
Darjeeling world over has been synonymous with tea. And why not? It is one of India’s leading producers of this beverage, with its rolling gardens of tea in its hills. Most tea-lovers and travellers come to Darjeeling searching for a corner to fix their tea-addictions. With the fragrance of black and oolong in the air anywhere you go, and gardens in sight from wherever you see, Darjeeling is a British summer hill station that has lately acquired tourism for its produce. You can go on tea tours, see how tea leaves are harvested, processed and packed; you can also gorge on the magnificent view of the mighty Kanchendzonga, climb up the Tiger Hill, sit and watch daily routines at a monastery or sit back in your resort and see the sun go down over the mountain mist.
Cherrapunji is, as you may have learnt in 10th grade Geography, the wettest place on this earth. It rains the most here and it rains for the longest here. So even when on vacation in summer, you may not completely escape showers. There will be thick cotton-candy like clouds engulfing you, mist hanging and swirling like a witch’s cauldron and everywhere you see only lush greenery in view. During summer especially the water bodies are all mildly warm and freely flowing, the natural root bridges are sturdy and dry to walk on, caves easier to navigate and every other natural site a little bit better than it would be during the wet monsoons.
Dalhousie can be called a tinseltown, for the lack of a better word. It is a serene little summer getaway hill station, developed for the same reason by the British and named after Lord Dalhousie. With its vintage colonial charm houses, churches and market buildings resembling the days of the yore and natural wonders like pine tree forests, chain of valleys and rolling meadows of flowers in about every colour; Dalhousie is a dream destination. The town has an inherent Scottish influence, as is evident by the man’s name that it bears; but it also has architecture that may remind you of Scotland. Chocolate factories, cafes selling hot cakes and pies, markets where woollen wear is famous and bars for a nightcap that are open late into the evening - Dalhousie is brilliant.
One of the most coveted hill stations from Mumbai and Pune, Mahabaleshwar is Maharashtra’s foremost destination on the summer-getaway list. With its ghats and mountains, valleys and strawberry gardens, waterfalls and lakes and temples, it is a scenic delight for a long weekend away. People prefer to drive up into the Sahyadris and enjoy going for day treks, sightseeing tours from viewpoints, exploring forts and roaming around in the local markets. The Mapro Farm here is a must-visit and you will get to taste and buy delicious fresh fruit jams, crushes, syrups and fudges; eat Mahabaleshwar’s famous strawberry & cream, and gorge on piping hot pizzas, soups and grilled sandwiches from their in-house cafe.
Coorg is a hill station in Karnataka known for its spices, lush verdant mist-covered mountains and waterfalls. During summer, while the lowlands of South India are a cauldron of fire, travellers prefer to escape into the hills of Coorg to chill. With its scenic position and views that sweep in front of you, this town is perfect to relax, rejuvenate and recuperate. You can go and bathe elephants at a sanctuary (a therapeutic experience, if there ever was one), climb up trekking routes to visit the famous Iruppu Falls, drink copious amounts of filter coffees at cafes and restaurants and pick up fresh spices that were once more expensive than gold in the world.
Tamil Nadu’s personal hill station for a summer spent well, Coonoor is only about 40 km away from Coimbatore. It is a retreat of sorts, with its treehouses and little cottages and resorts that spell opulence and luxury in the lap of nature. Travellers enjoy hiking, sitting by waterfalls, going to viewpoints and the usual walking round the town market when in Coonoor. Its X-factor is the Droog Fort where Tipu Sutan made his base during his fight against the British. Then there are the fragrant Nilgiris, tea gardens and dewy meadows that roll down the hills on a summer day. Utterly breath-taking.
A hill station in God’s own land, Munnar is the highlight that leaves behind the backwaters of Kerala and takes you to the hilly vantage points that overlook all that beauty. With greenery and hills, amazing summer climate and rolls of tea plantations, Munnar is perfect for a vacation from March to June. There are lakes to go boating, and waterfalls to reach by hiking; there are special resorts that hire out tree houses for a stay and slopes where you can rent a mountain bike. With so much to do, you are bound to forget about backwater rides and Ayurvedic massages in a jiffy.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Now the coasts of Indian peninsula do heat up during summer, that is true. But some places are still worth visiting. Like the Andaman And Nicobar Islands. The beaches and small islets here are suffused with glittering golden sands, clear torquiest waters and green mountains that are sea-lovers’ dreams. Even though it is mildly hot in the day, the cooler sea breezes by the evening more than make up for it. At this time of the year, the beaches have lesser crowd and also serve most adventure activities as monsoon is still far away. You can enjoy your time at places like Port Blair, Neil Island, Havelock etc; go banana boat riding, sailing, parasailing, deep sea diving as well as scuba diving. You can also get your PADI certificate from one of the schools here.
Rishikesh is a delight of spirituality, adventure and serenity. In summers, this jewel of Uttarakhand shines with adventure tourism as well as those visitors that come seeking yoga, meditating courses and to learn the ancient arts of Indian Ayurveda. There is river rafting, white water rafting and mountain climbing as well as ashrams to go to. During summer, the temperature of Rishikesh is controlled to a cool mild 25-35°C. This lends it an air of charm. Sitting on Ganga ghats, going for camps and meditating in one of the ashrams make for great summer activities here.
Corbett National Park
While most national parks in the country are too hot to visit during the peak summer time, Corbett National Park is not so bad. Due to its location in the northern reaches of India, and its proximity to the foothills of Himalayan ranges, the Corbett National Park is great weather-wise in summer months. You also have a higher chance to scout tigers and other rare wild animals as they come out of their holes in search of water due to the parched summer. So if a wildlife safari trip is your idea of a summer holiday then Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand is perfect.
Mcleod Ganj or mini-Tibet is the home of Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader in exile. There are also Tibetan refugees here who settled after their exodus from Tibet back in the ’50s. Hence Mcleod Ganj today is a great place to go for a holiday and learn about Tibetan culture, history and way of life. During summer, Mcleodganj is nice and cool, welcoming the travellers weary from the heat of the plains. This little town in Himachal Pradesh houses lakes and settlements, hills and monasteries. You can go to a handicrafts store and pick up Tibetan handmade souvenirs, visit Tibetan museums, spend an evening chatting up locals or just go to a quiet monastery and meditate. For the hippy at heart there are also many bars, cafes, tattoo studios and more.