Whether you are in Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta or Bangalore, we have the perfect place to celebrate a 3 day weekend
From Delhi: Orchha, Madhya Pradesh
The Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is a goldmine for travellers and its state tourism department is possibly the best in India, offering reasonably priced accommodation at exquisite locations. The only challenge to travelling in Madhya Pradesh is the weather – its location in the heart of India means that it gets unbearably hot during summer! That leaves only winter (November onwards) to travel the state in relative comfort, and March is pretty much the last month before the dry, hot winds descend upon the state.
Our advice for Delhiites eager to exploit the 3 day Holi weekend, skip the hills and head instead to Orchha in Madhya Pradesh. Situated on the banks of the Betwa river, the city was founded by a Bundelkhand Maharaja in 1501 and still retains a quiet charm reminiscent of that era. It is renowned for the architectural beauty of its palaces, forts and palaces – particularly the chhatris or dome-shaped pavilions that are a leitmotif of Rajput & Mughal architecture. Some of the old palaces have been converted into heritage hotels, offering superb views of the Betwa and the town’s architecture. The old Fort complex housing Jahangir Mahal & Raja Mahal, the Chaturbhuj Temple and the Ram Raja Temple are very popular, as is the collection of 14 Chhatri shaped memorials for the town’s rulers on the banks of the Betwa.
Getting There: Orchha is just 15 km from Jhansi, so the best way to get into town is to take one of the numerous trains to Jhansi (journey time of 4-5 hours) and then a taxi to Orchha. Jhansi is also well connected by bus to Delhi. If you feel like driving, then budget about 10-12 hours for the 500 km journey that passes through the excellent Agra Expressway but also some really patchy (and non-existent) roads between Gwalior and Jhansi.
From Calcutta: Bishnupur, West Bengal
If you’re a true-blue Kolkatan, then you don’t want to escape for a weekend. But on the off-chance that you like the occasional weekend getaway, may we suggest Bishnupur?
A visit to Bishnupur is the antithesis of an adventure vacation. Instead of clamoring for new and adrenaline-charged experiences, you set yourself up on a cycle- rickshaw and drive gently from one gorgeous terra cotta temple to the other. As he expertly guides you from one of the temples to the other, your rickshaw-wallah will also perhaps give you a short history lesson about the place. The Malla rulers of the place built a succession of intricate temples (most of them dedicated to Radha and Krishna) over the district in the 17th and 18th Century. The Jor Bangla Temple, the Madanmohan Temple, the Rasmancha (where your tour begins)- each is more beautiful and intricate than the other, and you don’t have to be a pilgrim to appreciate their beauty. While there, don’t forget to pick up a Baluchari Saree (and visit one of the many small mills where they’re weaved) and a few terracotta bric a brac.
Getting There: Although only 150 km from Kolkata, the journey may take as long as five hours because the road in parts is not great. You may be better off booking a cab from a reputed tourism agency.
From Mumbai: Ratnagiri, Maharashtra
If it’s a long weekend then let’s head to the hills – screams the average Mumbaikar as she takes off on her quarterly pilgrimage to the greens of Lonavala or Matheran. If she needs some sun, sand and beer she sprints along with the rest of the world to Goa. But if you want to try something different for your weekend getaway, then why not try Ratnagiri?
The world famous Hāpus (Alphonso) mango is not the only reason to visit Ratnagiri. History buffs will enjoy visiting the quaint Thiba Palace- where the last king of Myanmar lived after exile, and Ratnadurga- another one of the glorious Sahayadri forts, this time surrounded on three sides by the Arabian Sea. Unfortunately neither of the two monuments are particularly well maintained, but what they’ve lost in detail, they make up in the way they’ve integrated seamlessly into their majestic surroundings. You can also head to some of the Konkan’s most untouched sandscapes at the Ganapatipule, Guhagar, Bhatye or Aare Beach (warning: these are NOT swimming beaches). The city specializes in a million different flavours of chat, and if you land in March you are also just in time for some delicious Kaju chi Amti- cashew curry spiced with red chillies. And if you have a second day to spare, then just head off to neighbouring coastal areas such as Chiplun and Kunkeshwar. The entire stretch is just begging to be discovered!
Getting There: At 300 km from Mumbai, Ratnagiri is not the most ideal drive. Instead, take one of the many trains on the scenic Konkan rail route. Make sure you get yourself a window seat as you savour the last of the cool sea breeze before a cruel summer sets in.
From Bangalore: Sakleshpur, Karnataka
Bangaloreans are the most spoilt for choice when it comes to weekend getaways, and most of them are adventurous enough to venture beyond Mysore, Coorg & Ooty. For a break from the other usual suspects (Bandipur, Kabini, Chikamagalur, Wayanad…), why not head to Sakleshpur? For adventure lovers, follow the trail of the stunning Green Route Trek that traverses numerous bridges and tunnels (you need to take prior permission) – be prepared to make way for a goods train as you cross the tunnels, but it will be worthwhile as you take in the astounding greenery of the Bisle forest and its environs. If trekking is not your thing, simply select a nice homestay and explore the owner’s coffee plantations, or visit the beautiful Kadamane Tea Estate (the drive to which is like a walk in the clouds). And if you are history buff, tee off to the magnificent Belur & Halebid temples for a peek into the Hoysala epoch.
Getting there: Sakleshpur is around 250 km from Bangalore on the well kept Mangalore road – you can zip across in a few hours but we are convinced that you will be tempted into making several stops along the way (don’t miss Sharavanbelagola, world’s largest monolithic stone statue of Bahubali). There are many excellent overnight buses between Bangalore & Mangalore that also pass through Sakleshpur.
Know of other interesting weekend getaways from these cities? Share with everyone in the comments below!
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