Living in Delhi is a great advantage for mountain lovers. One can get transported to the paradise – the Himalayas, within hours. Though the Himalayas are a single range of mountains but its character and culture changes every hundred Kms. Uttarakhand Hills are bestowed with extra ordinary beauty and most of it is unseen by the outside world. Known as "Dev Bhoomi" meaning "Land of Gods", Uttarakhand is the land of spirituality and enthralling beauty. It is the only state in India, which has an equal mix of alluring natural beauty and spirituality. There are many hill stations, mountain peaks, waterfalls, ancient temples, forest reserves, national parks, wildlife and bird watching places, adventure destinations that are not very popular in spite of being drop-dead gorgeous. The infrastructure is constantly under repair but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Here is my list of must visit Five ‘Un Touristy’ Weekend getaways from Delhi in Uttarakhand:
1. Lansdowne, where you can let your hair down
If you want a quick break to rejuvenate without involving too much time and effort, then Lansdowne is the place for you. Take a stroll in the majestic oak & pine forests, reclaim freedom from deadlines by trekking into the wild, hear the sweet symphony of wind, trees and birds, pluck mangoes or simply do nothing here! A pure, alluring, refreshing, quite and clean environment makes Lansdowne a preferred destination to experience serenity and takes you away from the humdrum city life. There is not much to “sight see” here but aren’t short breaks meant to connect you with your inner self than collecting images for FB picture gallery?
Major Attractions: Garhwali Mess, Regimental Museum, Bhulla Tal, Tip-n-Top, Tarkeshwar Mahadev Ashram, The War Memorial, St. Mary's Church
2. Chopta, a walk to remember
‘Virginity’ is an overrated word but not when you use it to describe the fascinating beauty of Chopta Valley. Located at an elevation of 2680m, Chopta valley trek is one of the most stunning and easiest treks in Garhwal Himalaya. With the splendid Himalayan view accompanying you throughout the trail, you'll come across the ancient and magnificent valleys of Ganges to the crystal clear Lake of Deoria Tal. On the way you'll visit the renowned Panch Kedar temple “Tungnath”. You can use the mountain bike through the dense alpine forest with blooming Rhododendrons. If solitude with a touch of divinity is your idea of a perfect holiday then this is the place for you. It is accessible round the year – blooming with flowers and lush verdant greenery during summers and snow quilted during winters. In monsoons greenery takes a whole new meaning here.
Major Attractions: Tungnath Mandir, Chandrashila, Gopeshwar, Kanchula Korak Musk Deer Sanctuary, Ukhimath and Deoria Tal.
3. Harsil, where time stands still
Whether you are an adventure freak or spirituality seeker, Harsil will not disappoint you. Known as the camper’s bay of Uttarakhand, Harsil is a small cantonment area located on the banks of Bhagirathi River on the way to Gangotari. Besides lying on the spiritual path of Uttarkashi, Harsil is admirable for its non-touristy, celestial, unrivaled, tranquil and exquisite beauty. For a change, get woken up by the chirping of birds, treat your lungs to the aroma of fresh air, watch the magnificent rays of the sun turn everything into gold, let the gushing sound of River Bhagirathi rejuvenate your tired soul, get amazed by admiring the tall peaks of Bhagirathi, Trishul and Shivaling. And if you are the one who likes to explore and indulge in small talks then try talking to Jadhs - an ethinic group of the Bhotiyas with their language resembling Tibetan. Or get lost into nature’s best web – explore trekking destinations like Sattal, Kedartal, Dodi tal, Gaumukh Glacier, Dayara Bugyal, etc.
Major attractions: Gangotri, Uttarkashi and Maneri. For trekking Harsil can be the base camp for different trekking excursions like Dayara Bugyal, Kedartal, Dodi tal, Gaumukh Glacier, Sattal.
4. Chamba, a hamlet at midpoint
Do you remember Subhash Ghai’s musical extravaganza ‘Taal’? It had the setting of Chamba in Himachal but the Chamba I am talking about is different and relatively lesser known as compared to its namesake. As you move further north of uber popular Mussori and Dhanaulti, you embark on an uncharted, untouched and flawless serene destination at a height of 1676m, which provides a spectacular panoramic beauty of Himalayan peaks and Bhagirathi River. During the monsoons you are literally walking through clouds and the seasonal waterfalls. This quiet, charming and enchanting village amidst the apple orchards will definitely leave you spell bound. It’s a great weekend getaway from Delhi.
Major attractions: Mussourie, Dhanaulti, Surkanda Devi Temple, Ranichauri, New Tehri, Kanatal
5. Chakrata, chakravyuh of natural beauty
I fell in love with Chakrata on my first trip there, like love on first sight but arranged by office. Chakrata is situated between tons and Yamuna River surrounded by rhododendron and oak trees and is 92 km away from Dehradun and 73 km from Mussoorie. Like many other hill stations, it is a cantonment. Food and stay facilities are basic but what makes this place special is the incredible Himalayan views it offers. During the night don’t be surprised if you find a visitor in the form of a bear or any other wild animal. Perfect hideout for writers or people who wants to connect with the nature. The amazing contrast of green hills, blue sky and snow-clad mountains will leave you mesmerized. Tiger falls is a good picnic and photography spot.
Major Attractions: Tiger Fall, Chilmiri Neck, Dehradun via Mussoorie, Mahasu Devta Temple, Skiing at Mundali in winters
These are the quick 5 Weekend Getaways in Uttarakhand that don't pinch your pocket but leave your soul washed in splendor, allowing you to marvel at the creation called Himalayas.