A Vacation idea for every colour of the Indian flag- from the whites of the Himalayas to the green of a perfectly laid out Golf Course
It’s easy to dismiss the cliches about India being the land of many hues and flavours. But stereotypes abound for a reason, and between the hot pink salwar suit of your neighbourhood aunty, the inflamed jacarandas in the tree next doors, and the graffiti on your wall; every single corner of the country is such a profusion of colour and impressions, that it is often overwhelming.
When choosing vacation spots for the summers for our readers, we decided to throw caution (and your worry about the mercury) to wind, and chose places that best exhibited one of the glorious shades of the country. If it’s too hot, use SPF 30+ Sunscreen and make sure you drink plenty of lemon sodas. If it rains, give your gumboots an outing. But this summer don’t miss out on the brightest and best colours of your country for fear of an Indian summer!
There is the orange of gulmohars, of juicy Nagpur oranges, of a sadhvi or shaman’s robes, of glorious jalebis and of wedding marigolds- but is there a more beautiful orange than in the hurried brush strokes of a tiger hiding in the scrubs?
Even avowed cat-agnostics can’t help be taken in by the sheer majesty of this creature, and the sorry sight of him prowling dissolutely in the zoo just doesn’t compare, does it? That’s why the Big Cat Reserves remain a holiday destination for every season. And while the hot summer sun makes the safaris near-unbearable, it also give you your best chance to see the tiger in wild, as he encamps in the relative cool of his watering hole.
Our summer recommendation this year is the pretty step-sister of the Madhya Pradesh tiger reserves- Pench. Supposedly the inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book this picturesque reserve makes an ideal getaway for families. Come for the tiger, stay back for the mahuas and the lantana-filled bamboo groves teeming with chinkaras and nilgais.
Make sure you book both morning and evening safaris to enjoy the flora and fauna of this remarkable region in its full glory. In between those two excursions, cool your heels in the stylish air conditioned tents of the Pench Jungle Camp. But if your really want the high life, try the Taj Baghvan, ultra-luxe accommodations that have most city retreats beat!
How to get there: The Pench Tiger Reserve is about 2 hours by road from the Nagpur Airport. Most of the resorts will arrange a pickup for you at a nominal cost, or you could enlist a weekend package for the place from MP Tourism.
As white as a rosogolla, or the froth on a glass of lassi. As white as the marbles that built Dilwara temple. As white as a politician’s crisply starched topi in an election rally.
As white as the snows of Lachung Pass.
About 125 kms from Gangtok, near the Tibetan borders, Lachung is one of the few parts of India where you might just see snow in June. And even if you don’t see the actual snow, you are guaranteed to be stunned by the clarity of the skies, the translucence of the lakes, and the crispness of the air (not to mention its rareness, you are of course 12000 ft from sea level), when you spend a day any where in the breathtaking North of Sikkim.
It is not the easiest region to get to. You need to get a special permission pass at least a couple of days in advance, and are advised to visit the place as a package tour from Gangtok. But the sheer natural beauty of the place (seriously, its like being in the middle of a National Geographic spread) makes it the ideal getaway for the more adventurous.
Word of warning though- once the monsoons arrive, parts of Sikkim are prone to landslides and complex micro-floods, so any trip after the middle of June can be upset by the vagaries of nature.
If high altitudes, lack of civilisation and regimented tours are not your thing though, then get your inner beach bum on at the gorgeous white sands of Tarkarli, Maharashtra. There isn’t much to do by way of staying (apart from the perfectly serviceable and pleasant MTDC Resort in Tarkarli), no fine dining surprises await you, just a long thin strip of pristine white sand to read on, and a couple of tour operators to help you Scuba Dive. If you’re lucky, you may see a Dolphin or two. If not, you may run out of beer. In either case, it will be a vacation to remember.
How to get there: Lachung Pass is about 120 km from Gangtok, but the mountainous drive with tour operators may take up to 6 hours. Tarkarli is about 500 kms away from Mumbai. You can drive from the nearest Railway Station Malvan (30 km) or from the nearest airport Goa (150 km)
The Indian green is the green of a crisp guava, of a chilli with a bite, of unending rows of eucalyptus trees on the highway, and of the verdant tea-gardens on the Nilgiris.
Our green of choice for this summer are the rolling slopes of the Naldehra Golf Resort in Shimla.
Shimla has lost favour in the last few years because of its ubiquity, increasing commercialization and overall sense of decay. But over the last half a decade or so, both the Himachal Pradesh Government and private tour operators have made an effort to make the city a little-less run down. Just like the burra mems and sahibs, it remains the easiest place to get to for a bit of a respite from the summer heat, and The Shimla Summer Festival in early June is ideal for a dash of art and culture.
However, the reason we recommend a quick get away to Shimla this time is for a visit to Naldehra. If you’re an avid golfer you will likely enjoy the undulating terrain and the experience of playing a round in a course 2000 feet above sea level that has remained largely unchanged for the last 100 years. If not, you can reminisce about “ye olde days” of Kaka’s stardom as you play “spot that tree” for many of the 1970’s biggest blockbusters. The course is ostensibly closed for tourists but most good hotels in the region can finagle a day pass for you if you’re so inclined.
If staying in Shimla, splurge on the Wildflower Hall and be transported back to the Raj. If you prefer staying near Naldehra, then both the The Chalets, Naldehra and Hotel Golf Links make perfectly pleasant restovers.
How to get there: Of course Shimla has its own airport. But you HAVE to take the train to Kalka and then the toy train up for the full filmy experience.
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The MBRB Travel features are created as a compilations of the writer’s personal experiences, interviews with experts and copious research. Opinions expressed are the writer’s own, and given the vagaries of the tourism trade, your experiences may differ.