India has always been notorious for its harsh summer months when the heat becomes intolerable, and the entire country experiences waves of raucous and dry winds. This is precisely why when the British ruled India; they found the summer escape at the country’s many beautiful hill stations where the weather remains enjoyable and supportive of tourist activity even during the summer months. If you are planning a summer escape in India, here’s our list of top Indian hill stations where you can retire to and one thing that you shouldn’t miss doing while there:
Tea/Coffee at the Mall Road, Nainital
One of the most popular hill stations in India, Nainital in the state of Uttarakhand is defined by the stunning lake around which the hill station is built. On one side of the lake is the Mall Road dotted with restaurants, cafes, hotels and gift shops. While you can shop for bargains, savour tasty thukpa (a kind of tangy soup served with noodles) and enjoy street food in the nearby Bhutia Market, the Mall Road is where you should spend maximum of your vacation time. Find a spot at one of the many restaurants/cafes here and as you sip your tea/coffee, enjoy the breathtaking views of the stunning lake set against the backdrop of majestic mountains and the visitors enjoying boat riding on the lake.
Cafe Hopping in Old Manali
If you want to feel away from India while in India, book your tickets to Manali in Himachal Pradesh, frequented by a large number of foreign visitors. Known for its ‘hippie vibe’, most evident in the town’s quirky cafes serving some soul-searching tourists into the wee hours of the morning. Popular for their retro ambience and embellished with little trinkets, mostly of Buddhist influence, these cafes are where you have a real chance at meeting fellow travellers from various parts of the world.
Toy Train Ride in Shimla
If you are a fan of train rides (read: UNESCO World Heritage listed trains), a journey aboard the Kalka-Shimla toy train should be the highlight of your trip to Shimla, a picturesque hill station in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. You pass the picture-perfect stations, hill towns and mountain scenery as well as dramatic tunnels as the train chugs slowly towards Shimla. Although, visitors do enjoy rafting at Tattapani as well as ice skating at what is touted as Asia’s only open-air ice skating rink when in Shimla, if you have to pick just one adventure, the toy train ride should be it.
Taking a Ride on the Darjeeling Ropeway
The stunning Darjeeling, in the Indian state of West Bengal, is known for its rolling tea estates and expansive tea gardens producing the finest quality tea that you can taste in India. A popular summer retreat of the British, Darjeeling remains known for its old-world charm. Though, there’s a toy train that you can ride even here, our top recommended activity to take back with you the essence of the town is to take the famous Darjeeling Ropeway, the oldest cable car system in India. As you begin your 45-minute long ride from an altitude of about 7,000 ft towards the Singla Bazar station, you will be met with astounding views of Mount Kanchenjunga and the lush tea gardens where local women can be seen plucking fresh tea leaves.
Watching Sunset at the Laal Tibba in Mussoorie
While book nerds can go and meet the great Ruskin Bond, an Indian author of British descent, at the Cambridge Book Depot on a Saturday or at his home, the Ivy Cottage; our top recommended activity for Mussoorie is a bit of a mountain cliché but hear us out! Located on the highest hill of Mussoorie, one of the most commercialised hill stations in India, Laal Tibba is where you can finally have some moments of actual peace at the hill station that remains highly crowded. The trails of significant Indian pilgrimage sights namely Kedarnath, Baderpunch, Badrinath can be seen via a telescope here along with vast stretches of verdant hills. Brace yourself for the sunset though; it is going to be one of the most beautiful you have ever seen, glorious orange and red hues included.