I am told that 2017 is the year of long weekends. Personally life has been a long weekend since May 2015, after I quit my full time job. But I still remember the thrill of being able to work out my leaves around a long weekend. So, here are 10 long weekend destinations around Delhi NCR. If you choose good weather you will get the crowd too, if you go against the weather you will have the place to yourself! The choice is yours!
Agra is an obvious choice of a weekend for people of Delhi NCR. I admit trips to Agra happen more when you have to take guests to see Taj Mahal. But Taj Mahal is always beautiful. Combine Fatehpur Sikri and Bharatpur with it. But in good weather be prepared to face the crowd.
Bikaner is just 447 Kilometers away from Delhi. It has beautiful Havelis, magnificent fort, ancient monuments and temples, plenty to keep a tourist busy for a long weekend. And yet it is still not firmly on the tourist map. You now have the beautiful Narendra Bhawan to stay at if you are looking for luxury.
Photo Credit: Rajat Khurana/Shutterstock
Kaudiyala is just beyond Rishikesh. So you get the mighty Ganges minus the crowds. There are not too many hotels, but then there are too many people going there as well. If I have to visit the region, I will stay at Kaudiyala.
Once again Jaipur is a popular destination from Delhi. This time go to the Panna Meena ki Baoli (in picture above) which is next to Amber Fort. And then visit Chand Baoli too. It is about 100 kilometers from Jaipur.
I have always managed to miss going to Chand Baoli but this time I will use Ola Outstation and visit the Chand Baoli too. Lack of proper connectivity has always stopped me from going in the past.
Sariska is a national park near Alwar in Rajasthan. The proximity to NCR makes it for an excellent getaway. And who knows you may see a tiger too! But it is popular and gets crowded over the weekend.
Kareri Village is a hidden gem near Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh. In good weather you can trek up to the Kareri Lake too. There are only homestays available in this village.
Rajaji National Park
Photo Credit- Jeona/Shutterstock
Heading to the Haridwar region? This time don’t go to the city but go to the wildlife sanctuary Rajaji National Park. There are government accommodations inside the park. It is a peaceful retreat in a beautiful surrounding.
This time don’t stay in Shimla but go about 20 Kilometers ahead and stay at Fagu. You might escape some of the crowd. There is a huge HPTDC guesthouse which serves excellent food. If you go in winter you will get snow!
Narkanda is about 70 kilometers ahead of Shimla. It gets crowded in summer. But in winter there is skiing and there is no crowd. I got snow there in March. I would say it is more charming in winter to go there.
I love Jaisalmer as it has sand dunes. It is still not too touristy and it has all the good things that Rajasthan has to offer, like the fort, lake, a ghost town and colorful markets. If you are looking for luxury, stay at Suryagarh.
So here is my quick list of places near Delhi NCR. I am sire there is lots more. Do go out and explore. Be responsible to the environment too.
Te Aroha is tucked away in a snug corner at Dhanachuli, Uttarakhand. It was the former summerhouse of Asha and Sumant Batra. It gradually got converted into a 10 room hotel that is built with a lot of love and care. And you can see it in every corner of the place. While I would walk the pathways I would often stop to look at a curio and wonder, “How did I ever miss it the first time?” For example, this pretty bird was in a prominent place and yet there was so much to see, I missed it the first time.
A Bird on the Walkway, Te Aroha, Dhanachuli, Uttarakhand
I can actually fill this post with such cute things but I will do a photo feature of small things around Te Aroha separately. And if you are wondering why I went to Uttarakhand so soon after the floods you can read about it in detail here and here. The journey from Anand Vihar Railway Station to Kathgodam was routine, I had tea, ate breakfast and fell asleep in the train because I started at 4.15 am from Gurgaon to catch the train. I was received by the car and driver from the hotel and it was a smooth 2 hour drive to Te Aroha.
The Bedroom that was Mine for a Few Days, The Long House, Te Arhoa, Dhanachuli, Uttarakhand
Now I have to take Avomine (medicine for motion sickness) on the mountain roads but even through my Avomine filled haze I liked my room on the first sight! It was beautifully done and was quite inviting after an eight hour journey. The bathroom was an absolute delight and I had a living room too, all to myself. There was a piano in the living room but having no musical talents whatsoever I did not inquire about it further. I later got to know that the four poster beds in the hotel are about 100 year old!
Apples at Dhanachuli Village, Uttarakhand
Once I got out of my room, which I did reluctantly, it was time for lunch. The food at Te Aroha is wholesome and done with a lot of care. During my stay I had both Indian and continental and liked it all. There tomato shorba on a cold night was an absolute delight. I saw a mom requesting Maggi for son, who would not eat anything else, as well.
In my conversations with Sumant I got to know about the proposed expansion plans. He plans to add a museum of his collections along with a tea house to the hotel. He has an exotic collection of things, curios, advertisements, bollywood posters and a Vijay Super scooter as well! I have never seen so much reading material at any hotel. Now traveling alone, I never venture without my book but at Te Aroha I would have been fine. There was so much to read that I would need months to finish even those books that I liked.
Books at Te Aroha
Te Aroha is primarily a romantic getaway. Almost everywhere there are pair stories on the walls. There are some rooms that are given only to couples. I saw three rooms, the Long House, where I stayed, the attic room and the master bed room. I would say I had the best bathroom but I liked the attic room a lot because well it was in the attic! The master bedroom has a private garden as well.
Passageway in the Main Lobby at Dusk, Te Aroha, Dhanachuli, Uttarakhand
When I asked Sumant if the hotel was done by a professional interior designer, he confirmed what I suspected. He was the brain behind the concepts and had professional help. It shows, in the poems in my room, the small treasures all around, the books, the music and in the whole atmosphere. It is top class but not all color coordinated and brushed to distraction. Te Aroha has a cozy feeling to it, as if you were a guest in someone’s home, rather than at an well done but impersonal hotel.
Views around Dhanachuli, Uttarakhand
Tucked away within the lap of nature Te Aroha has big decks to sit and get lost in nature, in a book or your significant other if you wish. You are bound to come back relaxed but probably with a hangover like me, the high altitude hangover, which gets worse in the plains.
PS. I was invited to the hotel and I am so happy that I was!
Recently we visited Alwar on a very short trip. We went on Friday morning and came back on Saturday night! The good bit about Alwar is that it is quite close to Gurgaon. The Shatabdi Express train takes only an hour and a half to reach Alwar. My husband has been to Alwar before and he was quite keen on visiting the Siliserh Lake again. On his previous visit (which was office related) they stayed at the hotel Siliserh Lake Palace as well.
Siliserh Lake, Alwar, Rajasthan
The lake is about 15 km away from the main city. And there is no easy way to reach there by public transport. But that never stopped us from trying. There are small jeeps (maxxi type) plying within the city called Alwar Vahini and they were asking for a lot of money to go there. So we went to the bus station and asked around. One of the bus conductors told us that none of the buses stop there but they will take us and we should go and sit on the conductor’s seat. The bus was quite full.
Beautiful Siliserh Lake, Alwar, Rajasthan
As the bus started someone from the back told the conductor to stop the bus as a passenger was still outside. The conductor said this to the driver who kept on driving. So the conductor opened the mirror to the driver’s cabin and repeated the request saying, cabin band kar ke bahre ki tarah baith jate ho! (You shut your cabin and sit like a deaf person). The driver responded- ye company bag hai kya ki log ghumne chale jate hain! (Is this a bus or a public garden that people get down and start walking whenever they please). The missing passenger came back in the meanwhile and the driver started again only to break slyly knowing that the conductor was standing without support and he would be thrown forward! All this was done in good humor and thus started our journey to Siliserh Lake.
The Restaurant at the Siliserh Lake, Alwar, Rajasthan
If you are lucky to get a bus it will drop you at the mod (turn) to the lake. The lake is still 7-8 kilometers ahead. We got a shared tempo to go further. It was not too crowded but otherwise a lot of them seem to be advertisements of Fevicol rather than tempos meant for public transport. The tempo dropped us to the outskirts of the lake. We walked after that. Now that I know this I would say hire a cab and take out this hassle but then if you want to have some adventure can try our way too! The good bit- our daughter takes all this quite calmly.
The Boating Station, Siliserh Lake, Alwar, Rajasthan
At the entrance of the Hotel Siliserh Lake Palace there is an entry fee but I think that is optional. If you buy the ticket for entry they adjust it in your food bill in the restaurant. Boating tickets are available from this counter only. I say the entry is optional because the next day Chhavi and I visited the lake again (this time we took a taxi which cost us 800 rupees) and they did not charge us the entry fee as they did not have change!
To reach the boating station we climbed down and there are a lot of monkeys on the premises. We took a paddle boat for half an hour (Rs 200) and it was fun! The first day we went there was a Friday and the place was not that crowded. On Saturday there were a lot of people by the lake!
Chhavi had a great time, she particularly liked talking to the monkeys and was really thrilled with the Monkey drinking Mountain Dew!
Self Portrait in the Restaurant Window, Siliserh Lake, Alwar Rajasthan
There is only the RTDC hotel by the lake but a few kilometers before there are many dhabas. At the mod there is another hotel. But location wise no one can compete with the RTDC Hotel Siliserh Lake Palace. We ate at the hotel restaurant. The food and the snacks at the hotel are fine. The staff was attentive to the best of their capabilities.
When we went to the Siliserh Lake I had no idea it was such a huge one! It looks more like a mini ocean rather than a lake! I would say go there on a week day if you want some peace and quiet.