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Hill Stations India

Hill stations
Who doesn't love holidays? Everybody does. Should you ever think of going to a hill station for a holiday, to bask in the glory of nature, to watch the amazing gifts that God has bestowed to us, or to revel in some adventurous activity, contact us at Joy Travels and let us help you in planning your Hill Station trip

We have several packages, for families, honeymooners, the adventure-seekers and those who simply want to be one with nature, to recover from the many stresses of life.

India has innumerable hill stations, spread from the north to the south and from the east to the west.  There are hill resorts, which are fairly new discoveries; while there are others that are steeped in history or mythology, and carry a rich ancient culture with them. All picturesque and fascinating; some are just pretty hill resorts; some are quaint with an old-world colonial charm as these were architecturally developed by the Britishers. The natural beauty is Indian, however!

Hill Stations Escapade Package

Most of the hill stations in India were developed by the British, around a central mall, to get respite from the oppressive summer heat. Many have picturesque lakes as their focal point, making them excellent places for boating activities. One thing is for sure, you won't be short of things to do at any of the hill stations.  To add to the adventure, it is possible to take a toy train ride up to some of the hill stations on this extensive Hill Stations Escapade Package, located in different parts of the country locked up in a single package or flexible as per your choice, skipping the main cities, but if required, using them as a transit route, for an enigmatic tranquil change!

Shimla, used to be the summer capital of the British Raj when they ruled India. Now it is the state capital of Himachal Pradesh. This wonderfully cool and charming town sprawls along a mountain ridge, enveloped in oak, pine and rhododendron forests, and it is quite famous for its colonial style buildings and historic railway. The old Christ Church, with its beautiful stained glass windows, is one of the most prominent landmarks. Also to be enjoyed are the mesmerizing views from Scandal Point, and the Viceregal Lodge, where tourists should try to reach   for the sunrise or sunset on the Observatory Hill. There are plenty of adventure sports and short hikes on offer in the vicinity as well.

Start your journey with the Shimla Mall, which is the longest stretch of open-air pedestrian , eating-strolling-shopping promenades in the world, and the expanse extends from the Mall to the Viceregal Lodge, which defines the heritage zone of Shimla, lending the visitors thriller-drawn horse rides, ice cream vendors for that sweet taste, hot bhuttas, bars and restaurants to enliven their spirits, and cosy benches to view the magnificent surrounding hills, draped in cedars and cypresses, and hugging the thick wooden trails.  The Ridge is a flat, open area again with horse rides, shops and photographers with an intriguing Scandal Point, named because of the romantic rendezvous that were arranged here.  The silhouette of Christ Church and its cream coloured spires, with rich and intricate stained glass windows depict all the virtues. The attractive little red-roofed stone building of the State Library is near the Church and the erstwhile Bandstand is recognizable as it houses the HP Tourism’s Ashiana Restaurant! A quick tour of the Gaiety Theatre on the Ridge and the Muncipality Building, which is an imposing stone structure illuminated at night, would be spectacular. The Jhakhoo Hill towers over the Ridge and is crowned by the famous Jhakhoo Hanuman Temple having an extravagantly gigantic statue of the God! Move inside this exquisite holy stone structure to seek his Blessings!

Behind this sight, the Elysium Hill affords sights of Shimla’s spread out below. Further up the Elysium, the villages of Pabo and Kamiana goes over picturesque trails!

There is a veritable parade of heritage buildings on the Mall including the Kali Bari Temple, the impressive Gorton Castle with its red roof  and turrets, and the Himachal State Museum on Inverarm Hill, which displays the state’s cultural and archaeological heritage with wooden carvings, jewellery, manuscripts, arms and armoury, the gallery on miniature paintings quite noteworthy. The Anandale area is best known as a helipad, but the area is a large glade with a golf course, surrounded by thick deodar woods, with a charming temple by the edge, hence a thickly wooded ravine with a stream flowing through it.  The best way to know Shimla is to take a walk on some of its quieter roads such as the Sanjauli-Jhakhoo Hill-Ridge Walk with plenty of calm, birdsong and dappled sunlight with some Himalayan views. The woods give you an opportunity to light bonfires along with a joyous dinner, go for rock climbing and rapelling or just adventure a sense of the wild, deriving that sparkle on your honeymoon! The place also offers the possibilities of skiing, heli-skiing, paragliding, trekking, or simply snowman making, hosting a sense of sublime for its visitors!

Manali, with its soothing backdrop of the Himalayas, offers a blend of tranquility and adventure that makes it one of northern India's most popular destinations. You can do as little or as much as you want there. Located in the Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh it's a magical place bordered by cool pine forest and the raging Beas River, which give it a special energy. It is a collection of three adjacent hills, with each of them having a village and an old temple dominating them. The hill station became a global village as some foreigners and Indians who came visiting, discovered the serenity of the hills, yoga, even married some locals and started their cafes. This place offers haunting Himalayan beauty which other places in the lower Himalayan range can only aspire, as you look around and discover a river made of freshly melted snow, and protected stretches of deodar. The majestic Pir Panjal and Bara Bhangal ranges that cradle the town would charm the tourists.

You  could move on to discover  the hard- to- access village `Manala’ in the `Parvati Valley’,  a collection of castle-like stone and timber houses, in a hillside of splendid beauty and an ancient temple, which has survived in its blend of anthropological oddity and a fascinating piece of history and culture! Start your spree in this area which may be incorporated into a `Naggar-Malana’ trek,   occupying almost the whole day like a pilgrimage. Sink in the magical splendour of this dream-come-true experience, on the Hill Stations Escapade Package!

Start another trek towards the Rohtang Pass, another difficult climb but once on top, the stunning panorama of the glorious array of snow peaks, glaciers and the desolate Lahaul Valley below would banish all fears. Coat, snow boots and gloves are available on rent to make your climb comfortable as you peep into the dazzle of the cascading Rahalla Falls and the Sonapani Glacier. The best time to reach the Snow Point is in winters, when in the thick of snow, you can build your snowman, pound your friends with snowballs, and climb around in snow shoes. At the village of Nehru Kothi, you can savour possibly one of the most phenomenal views ever to be had of the Beas.

Back to Manali, to take a stroll through the entire stretch of mystical land. The Mall at Manali is lined with shops, restaurants and budge guest houses, and you may also cross the bridge across the Manalsu stream to reach old Manali, where a road leads to the Hadimba temple,   framed by towering deodars, worth a view, as the protected woods nearby exude peace, even though people line up for rides on yaks or to get a picture clicked in a Himalayan dress holding a rabbit. The Solang Nallah or the Solang Valley, to the left of the Leh highway, has adventurous activities like paragliding, zorbing or rolling down a hill strapped inside a transparent plastic ball, and horse riding. A popular picnic spot for a short rest, but has plenty of getaway space for those who want to walk that extra mile.

Matheran in Maharashtra, and close to Mumbai, offers plenty of walking trails and lookouts. The most unique thing about it and what makes it so special, is that all vehicles are banned there… even bicycles. It is a soothing place to relax away from any noise and pollution. Get there by taking the scenic toy train and then ride a horse around. This tiny hill area is the prime tourist destination in the region and has a thick cover of evergreen forest, ample birdsong and wonderful fresh air, thus continuing to be a haven for walkers, trekkers and holidaymakers who adore the views of lush plains and silver rivers. You can have your frolic here by moving around in hand-pulled carts, as the place is rich with scenic views having plenty of designated lookout points. The Panorama Point offers a refreshing trek, from where you can get a bird’s eye view of Neral town, and on a clear day, even as far as Mumbai. Midway, you may catch a toy train as it chugs along the narrow mountain tracks, as sunrises and sunsets are quite dramatic here.  The shaded walk to Hart Point and Monkey Point is rewarding in itself as it is densely forested and recommended for birdwatchers.  Crowds gather at Porcupine Point for the sunset and Louisa Point offers an undisturbed view of the ruins of Prabal Fort and grass-topped hills.  There is only one tree at the windy One Tree-Hill Point, a truly picturesque spot, after which you may go to Shivaji’s Ladder, Rambagh Point and Alexander Point, affording views of the Chauk valley. There is also the Charlotte Lake, fringed by the forest and with Pisharnath

Temple. There are yoga huts around to rejuvenate and relax and relieve you of the stress and pressures of urban life!

Secluded Kodaikanal is nestled a few kilometers from Madurai in the Palani Hills of Tamil Nadu. The name means "Gift of the Forest", and you will find many varieties of flora and fauna.  Orchards of pear trees, and charming buildings with gabled roofs, will greet you as you enter the town. There is an annual horticultural show at the landscaped botanical Bryant Park in May, waterfalls where you can enjoy a picnic besides boating on the lake, and plenty of walking trails. Herbs and aromatherapy oils are some of the more interesting things to buy in Kodaikanal, with the eucalyptus oils being particularly popular.

Kodai is rich with discoveries and the hills are alive with flora and fauna and you would need to slow your inner rhythms to appreciate them fully. There are mango and jackfruit orchards, lime and lemons abound, and there are lots of estates that grow coffee and pepper. Be careful as you explore these estates because they have no boundary walls and stretch to the edge where terra firma abruptly drops down several hundred metres into the valley. As you wind the road

Towards Kodaikanal, another popular hill station, you encounter the most scenic drive in the country as the Pallani Hills roll outwards green vistas dotted with lakes along with shoal forests in these parts which have a quiet and vivid beauty. The foliage is dense and varied, ranging from dappled yellows to intense greens. Wildflowers abound, as mist rolls on and off the hills, the starfish shaped lake is beautiful but the town centre is over-run with block-like buildings and plenty of home-made chocolate temptations. Secretive mountain paths, mist and bramble, hedges full of wildflowers, gardens full of roses, placid lakes and the hills are alive with flora and fauna with roads clean,  hygienically maintained and ideal for walking. Around the Kodai Lake, the best place  is Coaker’s Walk, a promenade on the south-eastern cliff of the mountain, a peek from the observatory to the Dolphin’s Nose, the Pambar River and far away, the tiny scramble of Madurai city, the Palani Hills stretching out like a carpet of gigantic dunes, Bryant Park, a horticultural garden with its neatly labeled trees and rose beds, defining the place with a soothing quality, Kodai Lake is best for ecstatic boat rides and is a uniquely pleasant experience.

It would be worth visiting the Green Valley View, Pillar Rocks and the Silver Cascade, a waterfall formed by the backwaters of Kodai Lake, Kurinji Andavar Temple, the Jain Temple, Bear Shola Falls, Pambar, Glen and Fairy Falls, and the Beri-Jam Lake, a place where the monkeys gibber, with the road winding up and into the shola forests, Mannavannur is surrounded by the countryside, rolling meadows, pine forests and hills. Check out Kundar Falls and the panoramic views from Poomparai Village on the way. The Pallani Hills are known for their forest-covered slopes, and the Pallani town in these hills, is home to the holiest shrines of Murugan, the patron deity of Tamil Nadu. Literally, Kodaikanal is the most well-known face of these hills which house countless species of flora and also the mighty Indian bison and the almost-extinct Nilgiri tahr, the only wild mountain goat found in Southern India. There is a beautiful rock temple called Thiruavinankudi Temple with a remarkable main altar and a magnificent six-tiered rajagopuram with colourful stucco sculptures and a large temple tank. The Shola Forests hold the promise of fresh air, the sounds of nature, thick jungles, interesting hikes, a serene lake, wildlife and birds. The Elephant Valley, described as cradled hills is at the edge of a reserve forest and offers much more than elephants……. crisp, clean air,  birds, than you can count  and plenty of trees than the eye can scan. This eco lodge is like a cup of manna for the jaded traveler.

Old-fashoioned village houses, bushes thickly covered with hibiscus and horses grazing in a large open space are a charming throwback to some older world, but the stream that passes through the resort clinches it.  The Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary hosts the tiger, leopard, elephant and gaur as well as the Nilgiri langur, the lion-tailed macaque and many birds. Coach safaris and nature walks and forest treks are conducted from here, to scintillate the tourists on the Hill Stations Escapade Package!

Darjeeling, in West Bengal, is also famous for its lush tea gardens. In addition, it's blessed with a stunning view of Mount Kanchenjunga, the world's third highest peak. Some of Darjeeling's most popular attractions include monasteries, botanical gardens, a zoo, and the Darjeeling-Rangeet Valley Passenger Ropeway cable car, the longest cable car in Asia. Darjeeling is a wonderful place to walk around, and explore the tea estates, villages, and markets. Don't visit during the monsoon season though -- the region is one of the wettest places in India! The home of the finest tea, Darjeeling is located in the eastern Himalayas, in the northernmost stretch of West Bengal that separates Nepal and Bhutan. This town is made for long walks, situated over a ridge and spilling down the hillside in a twisted series of interconnecting roads, with a cutting edge of colonial architecture, English cottages enclosing antiquated windows and smoking chimney, pathways cheered by mountain pansies, magnificent school buildings and churches.  Chowrasta, the main town square, is lined with shops, restaurants, curio dealers and hawkers.

 The Kanchendzonga range, the third highest peak in the world is omnipresent, and the town has every nook and corner positioned to get stunning views of the world’s most beautiful mountain peaks, with an unparalleled sight from dawn to dusk! You may wrap yourself with mufflers and proceed towards Tiger Hill in this highest mountain in the area. Near Tiger Hill is the Yiga Choeling Tibetan Monastery of the Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) sect, also called the Ghoom Monastery which has a tall sculpture of Maitreya Buddha, with beautiful thangkas pasted on the walls. The monastery stores Tibetan translations of famous Sanskrit works, such as the Meghdoot by Kalidasa, Nagamandala by Sriharsa and Nyaya Krit by Dharmakriti. Nearby is another Yellow Hat sect monastery, the Samten Choeling. The Bhutia Basti is the oldest monastery, rebuilt near Chowrasta, with an unusual blend of Tibeto-Nepalese architecture of rare artefacts, including ancient Buddhist texts.  The Mahakal Temple is worth a visit and is based on the original site of the Bhutia Basti monastery! Blasted by the wondrous sights of this epitome of charm on the Hill Stations Escapade Package!

The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute has a Museum enclosed with exciting displays and records of some major expeditions. Next door is the Everest Museum, which traces the history of different attempts on the Everest. A rock climbing lesson can be taken at the Tenzing Norway Rock.  The Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park is known internationally for its breeding programmes of the endangered snow leopard and the red panda! Tucked away in Darjeeling are some awesome gardens, shrubbery and parks. The Lloyd Botanical Gardens harbour Himalayan and alpine plant varieties, including flowers and the hothouse has a fantastic collection of orchids. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was considered a technical marvel as its tracks were constructed to rise from sea level to a very high altitude.  Today, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can take a short joyride from Darjeeling station to Ghoom Monastery. In the vicinity of the Toy Train Station, you can visit the Dhirdham Temple, built pagoda-style, the Ava Art Gallery displaying exquisite embroidery, the pristine Japanese Peace Pagoda. The Gangamaiya Falls are a short drive from main Darjeeling and are ideal for boating during season with rows of restaurants selling snacks and meals, and on the same route lies the popular Rock Garden.

Shopping:

Shimla offers you a variety of wooden items at the bustling Lakkar Bazaar along with woollens, household articles and souvenirs. The Mall also has big shops lined up for the glamorous and the elite with antiques, cosmetics, electronics, clothes, watches, books, gifts, biscuits and cookies, and chocolates. Don’t get to pick up that wooden stick!  There are colourful caps and shawls woven on the looms of the weavers in Kullu, as well as Kinnauri mufflers and scarves, Chamba rumaals as works of embroidered art, Buddhist thangkas, kangra miniatures, Chinese shoes, rare books, maps and etchings.

The Mall at Manali is an unending buy of woollens by the tourists.  CD’s,toys,gloves,mittens,socks,woolly jackets, overcoats, sweaters and shawls and the genuine Kullu `shawls’ are also available here. The shops stock an entire range of chutneys, pickles, the very rare apple pickle and wine. There are plenty of Tibetan shops selling handicrafts and souvenirs and thangkas, as well as a mixture of bookstores, handloom, clothing stores and grocers.  The German Bakery sells excellent sharp yak cheese, surrounded by outlets selling dried fruits, nuts, saffron, dried apricots, chilgoza nuts and churan.

Matheran in Maharashtra would encourage you to spend on souvenirs and gift articles, besides apparels and leather stuff.

In Kodaikanal, shops and stores are abound with  tea, coffee, organic food, pottery, handicrafts, oils, garments, incense, spices, homemade chocolates , handcrafted Pondicherry pottery, Japanese-inspired stoneware in exquisite glazes and colours, tea sets and incense holders,  handmade paper products, candles, jams and pickles, honey and  leather products. There are quaint little shops selling souvenirs and cosmetics such as aroma therapy oils, spices such as clove, cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, and colourful Tibetan stoles, shawls, jackets, caps and famous Magic Mushrooms, a naturally occurring hallucinogen. You would also find curtains and lamps made of shell, mementoes and rare antiques from old chettiar homes, knick knacks, instruments, pictures and photo frames, and steel and brass vessels, sometimes at fixed and otherwise at negotiable prices!

In Darjeeling, the Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Centre has Tibetans selling superb carpets, woodcarvings, woollens, thangkas and an assortment of  curios such as wind chimes, brass and bronze statues, leather work and jewellery. Most of the bazaar is lined up with a trove of such treasures! A must-buy, of course, is the Darjeeling Tea, which has an unparalled flavour and a divine fragrance, perhaps surpassing even the most delectable wine, and if possible, to squeeze a quick visit to the Makaibari Tea Estate, to enjoy plucking tea leaves or going for a hike and also purchasing from a direct source.

Cuisine:

In Shimla, most eating places offer North and South Indian, Continenta and Chinese food and some of the cuisines are served in the midst of wood-panelled and chandeliered elegance. Snacks, such as burgers, pizzas, pastas, ice creams, milk shakes, pastries, cakes, samosas, pao bhaji and the ever delicious chole bhature, in addition to the all-time favourite bhuttas!

The cuisine in Manali is a blend of Indian-North and South, a-la-carte and thalis, Chinese- Cantonese and Tibetan, and Continental fare, besides burgers,  pizzas and pastas, and a variety of confectionery stuff like chocolate and banana cakes, assorted pastries, croissants with a hot cup of coffee or a frozen cold coffee, with ice-cream or as a shake! 

Matheran has eateries and restaurants offering Parsi, Chinese, North and South Indian and Continental cuisine, besides lip-smacking dosas and crabs and fast foodstuff such as hot pakoras, vada pav, bhel puri, and chillia Muslim fare. Of course, if you are on a package which includes the meals, then custom-made dishes may be ordered on request, to satisfy your taste buds!

In Kodaikanal, culinary fare consists of Indian and Chinese food, multi-cuisine, cheese eggs, continental dishes, salads, soups like potato- potato soup, pizzas, pastas, steaks and sizzlers, being sold in outlets spread throughout the area. There are café-style restaurants serving a dish called chaiyo-minced meat-mint-lettuce starter, biryani, simple vegetarian meals, chettinad fare like chettinad soup with drumsticks, accompanied by rice and kozhambu, a thickened tangy stew, sambhar, rasam, curd,  kootu, a pachidi which is a raita made with vegetables, a masal of potato or yam, a thovattal of fired vegetables tempered with coconut, and may be a cutlet crumbed and fired on the outside and soft meat or potato on the inside,South Indian cuisine including garlic fish fry with a soft, thick, white dosa, tiger prawns and masala fish fry – catering to foreign as well as Indian taste. There is no scarcity of vegetarian thalis, bhajjis, parottas, South Indian staple, and multi-cuisine food, as well as compact set-ups, highlighting romantic candlelit dinners with delicious Indian, Chinese, Italian and Continental meals, cooked on a wood fire, juice bars and organic coffee bars, and ready-to-eat stuff like fresh breads, cheese, muffins, jams, peanut butter, brown rice, red rice, pure honey, herbal tea, organic dried fruits, sandwich, pastries. For fruit lovers, a cornucopia of pleasures is available with plums, pears, cherries, butter-fruit, jamuns, apples, rambutan, and mangosteen.

In Darjeeling, there are plenty of food parlours and restaurants serving breakfast spreads, cold cuts, vegetarian meals, desserts, momos, thupka and the spicy Tibetan chilli chutney, homemade chocolates, éclairs, cakes,  pastries and bread.

Climate:

In Shimla and Manali, the summer months are pleasant and cool in the hills, but the winters are very cold and snowy, although there is enough rainfall throughout the year.  Recommended for a visit any time, as there is a plethora of stunning indoor and outdoor panoramas to satiate your appetite, in this journey of a run-away from the hustle and bustle of every day routines!

In Matheran, India’s only pedestrian hill station that lies above sea level in the Western Ghats is pleasant throughout the year, but magical during the rains from June to August!

In Kodaikanal, the most comfortable season to visit would be between October to March, but recommended for a visit throughout the year, as even in the hottest of heat, or the stormiest of a storm, or a heavy downpour of thick rain, there is enough to keep you involved indoors and outdoors, just rolling and wrapping yourself in this abundance of nature.

In Darjeeling, the summer months are very cool and pleasant with a few drops of sunshine, and occasional rainy paths and terraces, though the monsoons are strong, but apt for indoor and outdoor activities, enclosed in the charm of soothing air and peace, and nature in full bloom!  The winters are blaringly cold with perhaps snowfall and frost around, as winter sports emerge in the exteriors, but warm and cosy surroundings exist within the lodges or guest houses or hotel!


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