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 hill stations near Delhi that are accessible. And no better way than spending a long weekend in the hills to ease the chaos of living in the urban centers. Here are few ideas to inspire you to plan your next getaway at a hill station near Delhi with friends and family right away!
I have updated this post with more recent weekend getaway options in Uttarakhand visited post pandemic. Some of the properties like the Sitla Estate surprised me with their consistent appeal and service. While I have discovered a few others during road trips from Gurgaon done in the past couple of years.
If you are looking for a weekend getaway from Delhi within 4 hours, check out Tijara Fort-Palace.
Sitla estate, near Mukteshwar
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. Mukteshwar is the popular spot in this district, but it gets quite crowded during peak season for my liking. I prefer the quieter Sitla village.
A 150-year-old bungalow with a warm kitchen, cozy library, sprawling dining hall and rooms overlooking a breathtaking vista of mountains and orchards – that’s Sitla Estate. Need I say more.
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.
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 and service has a large role to play for this recommendation. 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 cozy 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.
How to reach
It is a long distance by road from Delhi, about 370 km that would take you about 10 hours to reach. 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
Bara Bungalow Gethia, near Nainital
If you are heading to Nainital to beat the summer heat – that only seems to be worsening each year in NCR! – I recommend not staying in the crowded Nainital. Instead a stay in the nearby village of Gethia will give you both comfort and tranquility. This is about 5 km away from Nainital town.
Bara Bungalow in Gethia is a home-style bungalow that is perfect for a lazy weekend getaway with family and /or friends. This old bungalow is now part of the Rosakue Collection.
Stay & Food
The property has about 12 rooms divided amidst 2 bungalows with a terrace and pool area connecting the 2. Some of the rooms are suites with an attic bed that young kids may enjoy. The older bungalow at the main entrance has a garden on one side and a sun terrace / pool area on the other side. The newer bungalow is at one end of the property.
Bara Bungalow does more than home styled food. We enjoyed both Indian and continental fare. And a kumaoni lunch served al fresco. Both the high tea served in a garden nook with views of green mountains and the tandoori kebabs for dinner in the same place were memorable.
Curling up with a book to read or with music to enjoy would be an unmissable activity! Add the mountains to gaze at and friends to laugh with, and your day will pass easily. There is a small library, game room and a billiards room on the property.
We also enjoyed a short trek up the hill next door. You could also drive to Bhimtal lake or Naini Lake easily for lunch or boating or whatever else you may fancy to do.
How to reach
Driving distance from Delhi is about 280 km so a early morning start and one break midway should comfortably get you to Gethia by lunch time.
If you rather take the ‘Kathgodam Shatabdi’, a morning train that starts from Anand Vihar station. The property can arrange for a taxi from Kathgodam station, just a half-hour drive.
Website: Bara Bungalow Gethia
Faraway Renz, near Ranikhet
The village of Ghatti is not on the tourist map. That’s part of the charm. This hill station near Delhi is a 1.5 hr drive beyond Corbett national park, towards Ranikhet. If you are looking for a comfortable, home-away-from-home feeling in a pristine surrounding, check out Faraway Renz.
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 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.
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
Bull’s Retreat, near Rishikesh
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.
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 was managed by Mercury Himalayan Explorations when I visited, the management has now changed so do check about the adventure activities.
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.
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
Fishermen’s Lodge, Bhimtal
Bhimtal is in Nainital district of Uttarakhand. This hill station near Delhi is 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 more than a decade ago! 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.
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
If you are heading to Himachal Pradesh, you could consider Kasauli.
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Which is your favourite hill escape from Delhi NCR?
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