Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, India, Offbeat, Rajasthan, Travel Lists, Unique Places to Stay, Uttarakhand, Weekend Getaways
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6 Long Weekend Getaways From Delhi to Rejuvenate You.

monsoon

I think I’ve finally come to love the monsoon season in India. I’m mesmerized by the way the rains paint the mountains an emerald green, and provide relief to the parched desert. The way the clouds playfully flirt with the moon at night. The way the monsoon mist descends on lakes and waterfalls. The cool breeze, the raindrops on my skin, the smell of the earth, they are all subtle reminders of how travelling makes me feel – liberated.

On the coming long weekends, I urge you to get off the beaten path, soak in the sheer beauty of the rains, and witness the glory of the lower Himalayas and the Thar desert during the monsoons.

Presenting 6 ideas for weekend trips away from Delhi, that can comfortably be done by road or train over a span of three days:

Peora, Uttarakhand

In the terraced valleys of Kumaon, crowned by dense pine forests and majestic Himalayan peaks, sits the charming village of Peora. Away from the popular hill stations of Almora and Mukteshwar, this is your introduction to real life in the mountains. Follow the forest trails to mountain meadows, stop by at the local dhaba for a plate of hot maggi as the unleashes itself on the valleys beyond, or get chatting with a local for some crisp village gossip (Read: Tales From a Kumaoni Village).

Stay at The Dak Bangalow, one of the many English bungalows built in the region in the early 1900s to house British troops and their horses as they walked from village to village. Leased by a wonderfully warm family that works with the local NGO, it has been renovated as a homestay while retaining its colonial character.

Take the Shatabdi train from Delhi to Kathgodam, from where Peora is a 2.5 hour drive.

Also read: Awe-Inspiring Hideouts in Uttarakhand to Tune Out of Life and Tune Into the Mountains

Peora, Kumaon village, Kumaon Himalayas, Delhi weekend getaways

The terraced valleys of Peora.

Peora dak bungalow, Kumaon himalayas, uttarakhand hill stations

The colonial interiors of The Dak Bungalow.

Phalodi, Rajasthan

Undoubtedly one of Rajasthan’s best kept secrets, the Phalodi district of Rajasthan packs in salt lakes, sand dunes, and tribal villages in a single trip. One of the district’s last villages connects to the Indira Gandhi canal, and flourishes with greenery all year round. But to watch the rains paint the golden dunes with traces of green, or play with reflections of a cloudy sunset on the salt lakes, is something else. (See: In Photos: Bhap Village, Rajasthan)

Stay at Barsingha Villa, an old Rajasthani haveli turned into a hotel, on the outskirts of Bhap village, where the colorfully decorated rooms come with traditional courtyards. Take their safaris into the local villages, the nearby salt lakes, and the massive dunes of Phalodi.

Take the overnight train, Mandor Express, from Delhi towards Jodhpur, and get off at Phalodi Junction. From there, Bhap village is a one hour drive.

Rajasthan village, Indian villages, Rajasthan photos, Thar Desert Rajasthan, Phalodi

A desert village in Phalodi.

Barasingha Villa, Phalodi Rajasthan, Rajasthan village

The courtyards at Barsingha Villa in Bhap.

Bhimtal, Uttarakhand

I must confess I was among those who dissed Bhimtal as just another hill station, turned off by the ugly concrete construction that marks the diversion up to the town. (Read: Bhimtal: Forests, Farms and False Impressions) Then I saw the Bhimtal Lake engulfed in the monsoon mist. Lush forests brimming with colorful birds, butterflies, langurs, monkeys and such wildlife, rice paddies, terraced farms of wheat and potatoes, colorful stone houses, and a pretty English church – Bhimtal has it all, minus the crowds of Nainital. Hike towards Panna Tal, one of the lakes of Sattal, and soak in the beauty of the rains descending upon it from one of Bhimtal’s many vantage points. Better still, walk down and swim in the lake in the rain!

Stay at The Retreat, a colonial house inhabited by the descendants of the same family that built it, on what was once a tea estate. Besides its English character, the house still guards the family’s colonial recipes, offering some of the most delicious food in this region.

Take the Shatabdi train from Delhi to Kathgodam, from where Bhimtal is a 1.5 hour drive.

Bhimtal Uttarakhand, weekend getaways from Delhi, monsoon trips near Delhi

The farms of Bhimtal.

The Retreat Bhimtal, Bhimtal, Bhimtal Uttarakhand, hill stations near Delhi

The colonial outlook of The Retreat. Photo: The Retreat.

Fagu, Himachal Pradesh

When it comes to Shimla, most of us have been there, done it. But Fagu, though only 45 minutes away, is a whole other story. In this quaint little town that seemingly has nothing, watching the rains engulf the mountains beyond is a scene out of a coffee table book. Interspersed among charming stone houses covered with tiled roofs are lush green farms, whose ingredients make for the most delicious pahari meals. In the surrounding dense oak forests, leopards are believed to be seen more often than in most national parks.

Stay at Northmoon Homestay, an all wooden house with urban comforts, built by a hospitable village family, also invested in rainwater harvesting and organic farming. Their home-cooked pahari meals are finger-licking good!

Take the Shatabdi train from Delhi to Kalka, from where Fagu is a 3 hour drive.

Fagu Himachal, Shimla homestays, Delhi weekend getaways

The farms of Fagu. Photo: Northmoon Homestay.

Northmoon homestay shimla, shimla homestays, Fagu Himachal, Delhi weekend getaways

The wooden interiors of Northmoon Homestay.

Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

Although not offbeat in itself, Jaisalmer is something else during the monsoons. Never before have I witnessed the Thar desert covered with pastures so green. Or spotted an oasis, nay, a full fledged lake, in the middle of a desert. Or imagined that this barren land could be tilled and farmed. Or even experienced the simple joys of watching the raindrops kiss the parched desert terrain. (See: In Photos: Jaisalmer in The Monsoons)

Stay at Suryagarh, a luxury boutique hotel built like a Rajasthani fort, literally in the wilderness of the desert, away from Jaisalmer city. Embark on one of Suryagarh’s personally crafted journeys to explore virtually unknown parts of the desert, with green pastures, cattle, typical desert villages, and yes, fascinating desert oases!

Take the overnight train, Mandor Express, from Delhi to Jodhpur, from where Jaisalmer is a four hour drive. The direct train to Jaisalmer takes much longer to reach.

Rajasthan rain, Jaisalmer monsoon, Rajasthan monsoon, Thar desert rajasthan

Dramatic skies and green pastures in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan in monsoon.

Suryagarh Jaisalmer, Suryagarh, Suryagarh palace, Delhi monsoon getaways

The palatial outlook of Suryagarh.

Dhanachuli, Uttarakhand

Another picturesque village in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, Dhanachuli is where I first fell in love with monsoon in the lower Himalayas. Strolling along the winding roads, I watched the locals sit atop the roof of their stone houses, soak in majestic Himalayan sunsets, then gather in their apple orchards as the train trickled down, sweetening the fruits of the season.

Stay at Te Aroha, a summer home lovingly built by Sumant Batra, and later converted into a boutique hotel. Every room has a theme, and there are little personal touches everywhere. (Read: Te Aroha: Under The Yellow Rooftops). Take part in my travel contest before August 17th, to win a 2 nights stay there!

Take the Shatabdi train from Delhi to Kathgodam, from where Dhanachuli is a 3 hour drive.

Kumaon village, Kumaon hills, Kumaon himalayas, Dhanachuli

A taste of village life at Dhanachuli.

Te Aroha Dhanachuli, Dhanachuli Uttarakhand, hill station in Uttarakhand, Delhi weekend getaways

Monsoon sunset at Te Aroha, Dhanachuli.

What are your favorite long weekend escapes from Delhi?

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Featured image by Kasia.

35 Comments

  1. Visited only one of these so far, Shivya 😉 But am off to Himachal next month and Fagu is one of the places I’ll be visiting. As for the other places, one day I’ll visit them too !

    • I think I can guess which one 😉 Oh yes, you’re going to love Fagu. Such a pretty little town away from the hustle bustle of Shimla. Can’t wait to hear all about the Himachal trip. Let me know if you need any recommendations!

      • Shubham Thakur says

        Me and My friends want to visit Uttarakhand or Himanchal in August, but many of us are fearing the Landslides and Heavy rains which can foil our trip. Can you please suggest some places to trek and visit around quietly? Please. We are so Confused.
        I’ve followed you on Twitter and We’re also a nature lover like you.

  2. “I’m mesmerized by the way the rains paint the mountains an emerald green, and provide relief to the parched desert. The way the clouds playfully flirt with the moon at night. The way the monsoon mist descends on lakes and waterfalls. The cool breeze, the raindrops on my skin, the smell of the earth, ” I so love the way you articulate, Shivya. I really feel connected as i myself observe nature in a very similar way. For me, though, its not travelling which is a liberating feeling, Its rather the feeling of losing myself in the beauty and grandeur of nature, in both its subtleties as well as in its perfected big picture which gives me the feeling of liberation. Bhimtal is just an hour drive from my home and i love the place. 🙂 I would urge you to try another beautiful location just around 40 minutes above Bhimtal: Kainchi Ashram. Its a b’tful silent ashram located near an equally b’tful and silent town of Bhowali. 🙂

    • Thanks Nakul! I know what you mean, the grandeur of nature is one of the reasons I travel too. Wow, you live so close to Bhimtal? That’s amazing. I think if there’s a day when I finally tire of travelling, Kumaon is the place I’d want to live too.

      I’ve heard a little about Bhowali, putting it on my list of places to check out 🙂

      • :). I love Kumaon and want to settle there myself. Imagine being from Kumaon and having to live in Delhi… 🙂

    • A friend of mine (@Abhiandnow on twitter) is there now, and his pictures from Udaipur are so very tempting! Thinking of heading back to Rajasthan this weekend.

  3. The pictures of the Dak Bungalow, The Retreat and the Barsingha Villa are stunning! I would love to visit at least these three places out of your list, if not all.

    I am in love with Te Aroha ever since I read about it on your blog, too. 🙂

    • I have no doubt you’re going to love all three of them! They’re some of my favorite getaways from Delhi, not just for the beauty of these places, but also for the heartwarming hospitality of the people who run / manage them.

  4. There’s a place called Kingdom of Dreams, an arts-and-crafts village, near Delhi, I’ve heard, but never been there. I have been told it is good. Any idea?

    Also, Jaipur and Udaipur are also not too far from Delhi, right? They can be covered over the weekend. Mussoorie and Dehradun, too, right?

    • I’ve heard about Kingdom of Dreams but not really visited it. Not a fan of “manmade” places that replicate art / nature etc, to be honest. But Delhi has some real villages with pottery et al that sure are worth a visit.

      I’m from Dehradun 🙂 Have you been?

      Absolutely, Jaipur, Udaipur, Dehradun, Mussoorie are all doable over the weekend. Didn’t include them here with the assumption that most people who live in Delhi have already been to these / know about them!

      • I haven’t been to Dehradun or Mussoorie yet, but would love to. In fact, meeting Ruskin Bond in Mussoorie is a bucket list item for me. 🙂

        You are so lucky to be from Dehradun!

        Yes, most people from Delhi would have already done these places to death, I assume. My husband works from Delhi often, and I try to join him for a short while whenever possible. That’s how the trip last week became possible. 🙂 I was just thinking aloud about which of these enchanting places we could visit over the weekend while in Delhi.

  5. Hi Shivya hope you’re okay – I really must go to India some day soon looking at some of these. That sunset pic of Dhanachuli is so atmospheric…

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  9. saurabh says

    Hi Shivya, I am planning a trip to rajasthan in mid august. What to expect of the weather there? Is it hot or comfortable? Planning Jaisalmer, Jaipur and Udaipur.

  10. akash says

    hey shivya, visited phalodi on the recommendation and booked the barsingha villa, in advance for the weekend of 15th Aug.
    but to my utter disappointment there were paint jobs in the veranda, tile cutters outside the rooms and a gooey mess on the entry…
    when an explanation was demanded from the management/owner, his reply was as simple as ‘why would I inform anybody against my resort, I did not force you to book here, and its not my problem if the renovations are going on, I also need to earn’
    so much for the hospitality, that we had to convert a picturesque relaxing trip to an adventurous road trip…

  11. Sonal says

    Undoubtedly, these images are breathtaking, but it’s the writeup that makes them even more irresistible.I can’t hep but think how amazing can this job get! I am too a travel freak, funds sometimes cause a problem. Would love to hear your side of the story. How you started off? May be I’ll also find a way to do, what I genuinely love to do.

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  13. I have saved the blog link with me Shivya! I would explore each of these destinations (hopefully soon now) and will get back to you!

    Just wanted to say, your journey is remarkable. And very inspiring. I am a corporate slave myself, and hence I feel more towards your journey so far!

    Hope to soon send you my Selfie with sharks! That would be awesome, right?

    Keep inspiring people like me! Good luck!

  14. Saumil says

    ….first of all it’s great reading abt ur escapades, many tnx for sharing it wit like minded travel junkies, am planning to visit mussorie (sterling property) n landour (la villa Bethany ) end of nov….any suggestions

  15. Alistair Watt says

    Hello from Australia Shivya,

    I have just completed the first ever major biography of the Scottish botanist Robert Fortune who collected in China and Japan in the years 1843-1861. This book will be published by the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew.

    Fortune visited Bhimtal in the 1850s when inspecting the early Tea Plantations there, he had brought Tea plants and seeds from China

    I wonder, please, if you could help me out with an image or two of this hill station that I can publish in the book. Photo credits will definitely be given.

    I very much hope that you can assist me.

    with best regards

    Alistair Watt

  16. sajjan singh charan says

    The pictures of the Dak Bungalow, The Retreat and the Barsingha Villa are stunning! I would love to visit at least these three places out of your list, if not all.
    I am in love with Te Aroha ever since I read about it on your blog, too.:)

  17. Srishti says

    I was looking for places to visit during the monsoon season and that’s how I bumped into your article. It is so well written, wish I could visit all of the places! Can you guide me please? I actually wanted to go on a trip to a ‘cool’ picturesque place(being from delhi, thats a must!) nearby. Is there some place I can go where there won’t be the risk of landslides? I plan to go around the 20th of June. Kumaon is on my list..will that be safe?

  18. Yukti says

    Loved the way you have potrayed these places.. I am though still looking for Srishti’s reply, as I am planning to visit somewhere near Delhi, with pleasant weather and no fear of landslides.
    I am sure your suggestions would give me some options 🙂
    Happy tripping :=)

  19. Amazing places to go around for a weekend getaway near Delhi. The places mentioned by the blogger are up on my trip checklist. I recently visited this village at 100 kms from Delhi. Garhmuskteshwar, an experience it was so organic and refreshing.

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