5 Weekend Getaways Near Delhi

New Delhi is not only the capital of India but also one of the busiest metropolis in the country. The people are always rushing and the city practically never sleeps. Top MNCs and over ambitious individuals, this city definitely deserves a break every now and then. And, nobody celebrates weekends like the super cool, super ambitious, and super adventurous delhites!

Following are some of the most visited weekend destinations near New Delhi:

McLeodganj, Himachal Pradesh

The official residence of The Dalai Lama and a major Buddhist and Tibetan centre, McLeodganj is a small hill town roughly 4 kilometers north of Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh. It is also known as the upper Dharamshala or the home the Dalai Lama. McLeodganj is also the HQ of the Tibetan Government in exile. Along with Manali and Shimla, McLeodganj completes the BIG traveller hang-out in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Most of the population in this town comprises Tibetans 9mostly refugees) and Buddhists. Expect to see lot of robes around, especially during a Buddhist festival or when the Dalai Lama is in residence.

There are several spiritual activities and courses that are and can be pursued here. Additionally, there are many volunteering opportunities for travelers to take part in. With a unique mix of travellers, monks, volunteers, and locals, the town is always lit with conversations and liveliness. Tsuglagkhang Complex and Men-Tsee-Khang Museum are two of most important places to see in the area.

As mentioned before, there is no dearth of activities that one can indulge in during their stay at McLeodganj. There are dozens of practitioners in the town who offer courses in holistic and alternative therapies.

How to reach here from Delhi:

The nearest railhead to McLeodganj is Gaggal which has two daily flights from Delhi. A taxi from the airport to McLeodganj takes around 45 min. There are several daily trains from Delhi to Chakki Bank and Pathankot. Once you reach Pathankot, you can either take a taxi or a bus to McLeodganj. There are daily buses from Delhi and Manali to McLeodganj. Confirm that the bus goes all the way to McLeodganj and not just Dharamshala.

Nainital, Uttarakhand

300 km from Delhi

Nainital is the largest town in Kumaun and is one of the favourite hill towns in the country for vacationers. The town is located in Uttarakhand in North India and is roughly 300 km from New Delhi. It surrounds a steep forested valley with the namesake volcanic lake, Naini, as its centre of attraction (quite literally).

The forested hills of Nainital are densely populated by hundreds of budget and expensive accommodation options, many markets and souvenir shops, and several walking tracks overlooking the viewpoints from where you can get glimpses of the Himalayan peaks. There are several activities for travellers to indulge in –trekking, rock climbing, Horse Riding, and boating are few of them.

Some of the most popular attractions here are the Naini lake, Tiffin Top and Land’s End, and a ride on the cable car.

How to reach here from Delhi:

The nearest railhead to Nainital is Kathgodam, however, Haldwani (one stop further) is the main transport hub around the town. There is rail connectivity to and from Dehradun, Delhi, Lucknow, Gorakhpur, and Kolkata. Though there are a few cities and nearby towns which are connected directly to Nainital via bus, however, the nearest towns of Haldwani and Bhowali still remain the main transport hub. Regular buses depart for Ramnagar, Delhi, and Haridwar from Haldwani. Additionally, you can also take the shared taxi service from Haldwani or Kathgodam which cost roughly INR 100 for shared and INR 500 for private taxis.

Jaipur, Rajasthan

Amer Fort, Jaipur

Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan and is its largest city. Also known as the Pink city, Jaipur is one of the most visited tourist destinations in India. In fact, Conde Nast Traveller Readers Choice Survey ranked Jaipur as the 7th best place to visit in Asia in 2008. CNN ranked the Presidential Suite at the Raj Palace Hotel as second in its “World’s 15 most expensive hotel suites” list in 2012.

The city of Jaipur has everything – arts, history, shopping, entertainment, and food! Some of its must visit sights are City Palace, Hawa Mahal, Amer Fort (as shown in the picture above), Jal Mahal, and Jantar Mantar.

Apart from these breathtaking historical sights, Jaipur is also famous as the host of the Annual Jaipur Literature Festival (also known as Jaipur LitFest) which is held every year in January. Prominent writers, authors and other such literary experts gather from all over the world to attend this festival which carries on for 2-4 days.

For a splendid twist to your holiday experience in Jaipur, sign up for a Hot-air balloon sunrise ride over Amer Fort.

How to reach here from Delhi:

Jaipur International Airport has regular flights connecting the city to other major cities of India such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Kolkata. RSRTC (Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation) operate between Jaipur and other nearby cities in Rajasthan. There are also daily buses from New Delhi.

Frequent trains to and from Delhi, Agra, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Ahmedabad, Jaisalmer, and Pushkar make travel even easier.

Mount Abu, Rajasthan

Mount Abu, Rajasthan

Fenced by the beautiful flora and fauna of Mount Abu Wildlife Sanctuary from a height of 300m upwards, Mount Abu is the exclusive hill town of Rajasthan most famous as a summer getaway of locals and tourists from all over the country and abroad. The town is perched on Rajasthan’s highest mountain at the south western edge of Aravali range and is very close to Gujarat.

Apart from being a tourist destination, Mount Abu also holds high religious importance for Hindus and Jains as it is home to more than 80 shrines and temples, most famous of which are the Delwara Jain Temples built over 400 to 1000 years ago. Out of the cluster of Delwara temples depicting a rich history and magnificent artwork, there are two – Vimal Vasahi and Luna Vasahi – which stand out as the most significant ones.

Apart from these shrines, one of the most prominent tourist spots  in this hill town which reserves its place in the cameras of almost every tourist visiting this place is the Nakki Lake (as shown in the picture). Legend has it that the lake got its name because it was carved out by a God using his nakh (nails). It’s a pleasant lake area surrounded by parks, hills, and interesting rock formations – Toad Rock is the most famous one – it looks like a toad ready to jump into the lake. Raghunath Temple,  a 14th century shrine, which is very famous in the region, stands tall on the south end of the lake. You can take boating tours of the lake.

How to reach here from Delhi:

The nearest airport to Mount Abu is in Udaipur – Maharana Pratap Udaipur Airport. You can hire a taxi from the airport to take you to Mount Abu. Abu Road is the nearest railhead which falls on the Delhi to Mumbai route via Ahmedabad. You can take a taxi or jeep from Abu road to your hotel in Mount Abu. There are buses connecting Mount Abu to Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Udaipur. Regular buses operate between Abu Road and Mount Abu every half hour from 6 in the morning until 7 in the evening. You can also take a taxi which would cost INR 300 during day and INR 400 overnight (approx.).

Rishikesh, Uttarakhand

Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India

Unknown to masses once, Rishikesh rose to its fame when the world famous music band “The Beatles” came to the town and stayed at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram.

Rishikesh has been divided into two parts by tourists who visit this town – one is the packed, less appealing main town area which also has the town’s bus and railway station, and another is the area near Ram Jhula and Laxman Jhula (two suspension bridges in Rishikesh which also happen to be iconic landmarks of the town) which are the riverside regions and host most of the travellers. ‘Swarg Ashram’ in the eastern bank is free from traffic and houses most of the yoga ashrams in the town, whereas High Banks in the west of Laxman Jhula is a small colony famous among backpackers.

Religious or not, it is worth checking out the evening prayer ceremony which takes place on the banks of river Ganges every evening organized by the countless temples, particularly Parmarth Niketan, lining the banks and their pujaris (priests) or sadhus (holy people).

Rishikesh happens to be amongst the top white water river rafting joints in India and you will find hundreds of agencies and shops offering various rafting packages.

If you are in Rishikesh for a relaxing summer holiday with your family and yoga or extreme sports is not your thing, head to spend some quality time in the beautiful Neev Garh Waterfall, and you can still camp along the river without having to sign up for treks or rafting.

How to reach here from Delhi:

The nearest airport to Rishikesh is Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport. The distance is approximately 26 km and takes approximately 30-45 mins in a cab from the airport to the city.

If you are planning to take the train, it is best to alight at Haridwar and take a bus (45 mins approx.) or taxi (30 mins approx.) to Rishikesh.

For international tourists coming to India for the first time and arriving in Delhi, hiring a car is a good option as well. It takes about 5-7 hours and $80-$120 depending upon the type of car. Don’t opt for prepaid taxis at the airport as they charge really high and there is no scope for bargaining.

One can also take a direct a bus from Delhi to Rishikesh which would take 5-7 hours. Fare depends upon the bus operating agency and the bus type (AC, non-AC, Volvo, Sleeper, non-Sleeper, etc.)


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