NCR has the advantage of being driving distance or overnight train trip away from several picturesque areas in Uttarakhand. There are many properties in lovely settings that are accessible. And no better way than spending a long weekend in the hills to ease the chaos of living in the urban centres.
Here are few ideas to inspire you to plan your next getaway with friends and family right away!
Sitla is a serene little village cocooned in the Kumaon region of the Himalayas, 7000 ft above sea level, in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand. A 150-year-old bungalow with a warm kitchen, cosy library, sprawling dining hall and rooms overlooking a breathtaking vista of mountains and orchards – that’s Sitla Estate. Need I say more.
View of Nanda Devi and several other peaks from Sitla Estate
Stay & Food
You can choose from the old colonial rooms, closer to the main house, with wooden floorings and fireplaces. I prefer the newer contemporary style rooms with huge windows offering views of the green slopes surrounding the estate and the hills in the distance.
Who says hill stations are for summers? We woke up on 31st Dec to this view from our balcony.
I don’t like to repeat properties, always on the lookout for a new one. Sitla is an exception. I would go back there to escape the urban chaos, at the drop of a hat. The food served has a large role to play with the addiction. From continental to kumaoni dishes, from North Indian to Italian fare – each meal is a surprise and something to look forward to. I love the breakfast in the open courtyard, with views of the Himalayas and the surrounding forest. Lunch served at times in the orchard makes up for a delightful picnic.
This mountain retreat has a cosy library with a good collection of books. Plus there are board games and a TT table. You can go exploring the jungle surrounding the estate with a guide from Sitla.
Contemplating life sitting in the open courtyard would be my recommendation.
How to reach
It is a long distance by road from Delhi – 350 km. So start early if you are driving down.
There are two trains from Delhi: the overnight ‘Ranikhet Express’ that starts from Old Delhi station and ‘Kathgodam Shatabdi’, a morning train that starts from Anand Vihar station. The property can arrange for the taxi for pick-up and drop from Kathgodam station (about 2.5-hour drive to Sitla).
Website: Sitla Estate
Tel: (+91) – (0)5942 – 286330/286030
The village of Ghatti is not on the tourist map. That’s part of the charm. It is a 1.5 hr drive beyond Corbett national park, towards Ranikhet. If you are looking for a cosy, comfortable, home-away-from-home feeling in a pristine surrounding, check out Faraway Renz.
During our stay over a long weekend in August, lush green hills, views of the Himalayan peaks and fresh air were to be experienced.
Stay & Food
The property is well connected to Corbett National Park, Ranikhet, Almora, Binsar, Nainital and Mukhteswar. Built out of stone, the property has a bungalow and six cottages that overlook a beautiful expanse of the Himalayan greens.
The bungalow with two bedrooms, a drawing room, a kitchen and a big private garden was perfect for us and our friends. The kids had a great time playing in the garden.
The cottages are good for a family; with the Family Retreat cottage being slightly larger than the rest. Home-styled food, with some pahadi dishes, is the standard fare.
There is also a small play area – the 3 kids in our travel party enjoyed themselves with regular swings and the sand pit.
The owners recommend doing nothing! You could spend your time watching the Himalayas, star gazing and breathing fresh air. Or you could be playing board games, reading a book, doing yoga, experiencing the nearby forest & village, bird-watching or just exploring the rich flora.
Green views from our short trek. The property can send someone to accompany you on the trek.
How to reach
From Delhi, you can drive up to Ramnagar via Moradabad. Faraway Renz is a 2-hour drive from Ramnagar (Jim Corbett National Park) on the Ramnagar – Ranikhet highway.
One can also take an overnight train to Ramnagar and then a taxi to the property. We had taken the ‘Ranikhet Express’, and requested the property to book a taxi for pick-up and drop from Ramnagar station.
Website: Faraway Renz
Tel: (+91) – 99106-48886
Heading towards Rajasthan? Do read – Suryagarh: reason enough to visit Jaisalmer.
Instead of staying in the increasingly cluttered Rishikesh, head to Shivpuri. This is the place to go if you want to be away from the crowds and pollution of the main town. And are keen to try rafting in the Ganga river with an experienced guide. Rishikesh is 30 minutes away, in case you want to go see the evening aarti.
View of the Ganga from a morning trek
Stay & Food
15 rooms and 4 forest huts are part of the property. The rooms are clean and basic; with air-conditioning, hot running water, wi-fi facility, flat screen TV. Super Deluxe and Deluxe rooms are larger and have better views. Forest huts are located independent of the main building and have a garden facing balcony beside the standard amenities provided to all rooms.
Home-styled food, largely Indian, at the resort, is good and varied. They will adjust spices for the kids on prior request.
The property is managed by Mercury Himalayan Explorations. So you can try several adventure activities with a good team – white water rafting on the Ganga, rock climbing, bungy jumping at Jumpin Heights near Rishikesh, abseiling into the Ganga.
We enjoyed rafting on the fast-flowing Ganga. And my friend and I went for a morning trek near the property.
Our kids never got off the trampoline and had such fun playing in the sandpit. (Photo courtesy: Rameet Arora)
How to reach
The main route is New Delhi-Modinagar-Meerut by-pass-Muzaffarnagar by-pass-Roorkee-Haridwar-Rishikesh-Shivpuri. If you leave Delhi early morning, the road drive should not take more than 6 / 7 hours.
There are five trains that leave from Delhi for Haridwar – they all depart between 5:30 AM and 11:00 AM. A good bet is the ‘Dehradun Shatabdi’. It leaves New Delhi Railway Station (NDLS) at 6:50 AM and you’re in Haridwar at 11:25 AM. The property can arrange for a car for pick-up and drop-off from the station (it takes about 1.5 hours).
The closest one is Jolly Grant Airport at Dehradun. It’s a 1-hour flight from Delhi and the property can arrange to pick you up from the airport if booked in advance.
Website: Bull’s Retreat
Tel: (+91) – (11) – 2334 0033, 2334 6209
Bhimtal is in Nainital district of Uttarakhand, suited to explore the Himalayan mountains, jungles, wildlife, lakes. Fishermen’s Lodge is located on the beautiful Bhimtal lake.
Stay & Food
Warmth and comfort come to mind when I think back to the long weekend spent here. There is a large living room and dining room, both of which serve as common areas. There are 12 rooms – comfortable and clean with fresh linen. Wholesome, delicious food is their forte.
The staff can easily arrange hikes, fishing trips, golf games, mountain biking excursions, picnics, and other such ventures in and around Bhimtal. Card and board games, a book and a movie library will come in handy if you are spending time indoors with family and friends.
View from my balcony. I spent a lazy day reading a book and looking out at the lake.
How to reach
The road trip should not take more than 7/8 hours. The route to be followed is Delhi – Hapur bypass – Gajraula – Moradabad bypass – Rampur – Haldwani – Kathgodam – Bhimtal.
There are two trains from Delhi: the overnight ‘Ranikhet Express’ that starts from Old Delhi station and ‘Kathgodam Shatabdi’, a morning train that starts from Anand Vihar station. The property can arrange for the taxi for pick-up and drop from Kathgodam station (about 1.5-hour drive).
Website: Fishermen’s Lodge
Tel: (+91) – (0) 94111 07854, 70551 11396
Which is your favourite hill escape from Delhi?
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