Winter is fading fast. The imminent onset of Summer brings a whole new set of travel possibilities. The months of February and March is also the ideal time to narrow down on your Summer sojourn and book your accommodation in advance to beat the soaring rates in the coming months and the hectic flow of tourists.
With better roads and connectivity, the journey to Leh-Ladakh won’t be as cumbersome as it was a few years back. Ladakh will wow you with its ever-changing, supernatural landscape and its white-washed Buddhist monasteries (gompas) that stand on jagged mountains flanked by imposing sow-capped mountains. One common yet surreal feature that you will notice is fluttering of prayer flags that whisper their blessings to the bohemian mountain breeze. Although a lot more people are visiting Ladakh than ever before, it must be said that the sanctity of the place is still intact. Ladakh’s major attractions are its spectacular monasteries, high mountain passes, Pangong Tso Lake, Tsomoriri Lake, Hump-backed camels in Hunder, dry desert in Diskit etc. But to reach here, travellers need to cross several high mountain passes that remain closed from October till end of April due to heavy snow. It must be said about Ladakhis that although they are not cash rich, they have much to teach to foreigners abut ecological awareness. They have large mud homes that are mostly self-sufficient in fuel, dairy products and organic vegetables.
Getting there: Ladakh is beautiful all year round, but its mostly accesible from May onwards till end October by road. Flights are also available from all big cities of India: New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kochi, Chennai.
The beauty of this place is not realised enough. Located on the banks of the tranquil Betwa river, Orchha is a historic village testament to a brilliant display of Mughal and Bundelkhand architecture. The prominent cenotaphs, also popularly known as ‘Chhatris’ in Hindi, are memorials dedicated to the rulers of Orchha built around the 17th and 18th century. The atmosphere here is quite laid-back and stress-free. There are plenty of homestay as well as luxurious options available. Amar Mahal is one of the best properties in Orchha, which offers some spectacular views of the cenotaphs.
The fact that the Bundela heritage is so well preserved even till date is a good enough reason why the ancient monuments still breathe life into this part of the town. The best way to enjoy the countryside is either on a cycle, or walking as the average distance between places is around 2-3 km. Also, do consider trekking along the banks of the river to see the village in all its glory. Orchha is an ideal getaway from New Delhi, Bhopal and Kanpur.
Getting there: You can reach Orchha either by car from New Delhi (8 hours) or take a train from New Delhi Railway Station till Jhansi in UP (7 hours). From here it’s only 18 km by car. Orchha is usually quite accessible from all major cities in India.
This enticing valley is surrounded by sharpened mountain peaks and lush green meadows. The name Sonamarg means ‘Golden Meadows’. Rightly so, it conjures up scenes from American musical drama the Sound of Music. Although the main settlement along the Srinagar-Leh highway might not be very interesting, just veer a little off road and you will be welcomed by endless meadows and deep forests, where you can trek endlessly. The Thajiwas Glacier is just a few kilometers trek from here. Depending on where you start from, you can explore the ‘Seven Lakes’ trek from here.
Getting here: Direct flights from all Indian cities are available till Srinagar. If you want to explore Kashmir by road, then just stick to the Srinagar-Leh highway. It’s 51 km from Srinagar so ideally a 3-4 hour ride.
Warm-hearted and hassle-free, Sikkim is easy to fall in love with. An erstwhile kingdom, Sikkim retains its own ubiquitous personality where traditional Tibetan Buddhism, with its mural-adorned walls, coexists harmoniously with Hindu shrines. Sikkim is much like an effervescent dream you don’t want to wake up from given the picturesque landscape dotted with rhododendron plants and lush subtropical woodlands with the majestic white-topped peaks of the Eastern Himalayas. And when are skies are clear, you can spot from a vantage point the third highest mountain peak Kanchenjunga sitting at 8598 metres above sea level.
Getting there: Daily flights operate from all cities of India to Bagdogra aiport. From here, its another 5 km to Gangtok.
Situated next to the Tirthan river in Himachal Pradesh, Tirthan Valley is an ideal getaway to the Great Himalayan National Park. This place is for trekking enthusiasts who love hiking along moss-covered trails, with the river running by your side. If you wish to bask in the luxury of quiet and nature or do Trout fishing, this place should be right up your bucket list in Summers. Since this place is located inside the protected Himalayan National Park, don’t be surprised to spot a bear or leopard who usually descend from snowy areas to realtively warmer temperatures for hunting deer and other animals. Just keep an eye out while camping and take all necessary precautions. March to November is the ideal time to visit the place where temperatures hover between 8-24 degrees. Tirthan Valley is our window of opportunity to explore camping and trekking in the wild.
Getting there: You can reach Tirthan from New Delhi in 6 hours by road. Nearest Airport is Bhunter near Kullu from Manali side. If you travel by train, Chandigarh is the closest major Railway Station.