Easy escapes

Delhi is an amazing place to celebrate Diwali with your friends and family. But if you want some ‘me’ time once the festivities are over, these five destinations, less than 300 km from the city, can give you the calm you need after the celebrations.

Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

Situated on the banks of the Ganges, Varanasi is considered to be the country’s most important historical city and is one of the oldest living cities in the world. Packed with temples and teeming with pilgrims, the city attracts travel enthusiasts of all genres. While Dashashwamedy Ghat is the focal point in Varanasi, explore the Manikarnika and Harishchandra Ghats as well. The city also celebrates Dev Deepavali in a unique way, a fortnight after the rest of the country has celebrated the Festival of Lights, Diwali.

Where to stay: Conveniently perched on the river bank, the Brij Rama Palace is one of the oldest landmarks and hotels in the city. You can also try the Taj Nadesar Palace.

Mussoorie, Uttarakhand

Located around 35 km away from Dehradun, Mussoorie is nestled in the foothills of the Himalayan Range. The hill station is home to five grand waterfalls – Mossy Falls, Hardy Falls, Company Khud, Bhatta Falls and Kempty – with Kempty being the most popular. You can also visit the Mussoorie Lake for a picnic or Mussoorie’s highest point, Lal Tibba, for views of the snow-capped Himalayan range.

Where to stay: Jaypee Residency Manor offers spectacular views, unbridled luxury, exceptional service and an uninterrupted encounter with nature. The JW Marriott is also a worthy option.

Jaipur, Rajasthan

Sumptuous fortresses, glorious palaces and brilliant havelis, the ‘Pink City’ of India is a place for history and architecture buffs. Start your tour by taking an elephant ride to the Amer Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its blend of Rajput and Hindu architectural styles. Hike to the adjoining Jaigarh Fort to see its large cannon foundry, and then take a cab ride to explore the sprawling fortress of Nahargarh, Jal Mahal, Albert Hall Museum, Kanak Ghaati and Vrindavan Gardens. Don’t forget to treat yourself to a delectable, traditional Rajasthani platter at Chokhi Dhani.

Where to stay: The Royal Heritage Haveli by Niraamaya was a former royal hunting lodge, recently restored to a luxurious boutique property.

Agra, Uttar Pradesh

A former capital of Mughal Empire, Agra is also called the ‘City of Love’ and exudes an old-world charm. While the Taj Mahal is undoubtedly the biggest attraction, Agra Fort, Sikandra Fort, Jahangir’s Palace and Akbar’s Mausoleum are few other wonderful monuments that are worth exploring. The city is a great destination for foodies to sample the famous Agra petha and flavourful chaat and lassi.

Where to stay: Radisson Blue Agra houses 142 tastefully decorated luxury rooms and suites, each with its individual design, character and charm. The Oberoi Amarvilas, just next to the Taj, is another great option.

Jim Corbett, Uttarakhand

A perfect place for nature and wildlife buffs, Jim Corbett National Park is spread across 520 sq. km and has the glory of being India’s oldest national park. A paradise for tigers, it is best to visit Corbett Tiger Reserve during winters (November to February) as it is the only time of year when all the zones in the park are open for tourists, making it easier to spot animals, including the Bengal Tiger, often found enjoying a winter sunbath. Jeep safaris are the best way to explore the park.

Where to stay: With over 100 plush cottages and rooms spread across 18 acres of landscaped gardens, Corbett The Grand is one of the finest resorts in the Corbett Region. Tiger Resort and Le Roi Resort are other great choices.

Words: Rekha Shukla

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