A month, replete with liveliness, colours, shopping and good dining, Ramazan is drawing to a close, and soon the world will celebrate Eid-al-Fitr. Muslim or not, celebrating this event with all our heart is something which we all should do. The best thing about Eid this year is that it will fall on June 15th, which is a Friday, meaning we will have a long weekend to make the most of it. If not taking part in religious ceremonies, then going on a trip is the least we can do to celebrate the festival. So what if it is summers?! I say, this is perhaps the best time for a short break as tourists in most places in India would be few and flight, train and hotel rates will be lower. Read ahead for our recommendations on the top places to visit on this upcoming long weekend (15th-17th June):
Lined by the Arabian Sea on one side and the backwaters of Vembanad Lake on the other, Kochi is a true vacationing paradise. Relaxing, sunbathing or swimming off the famous Cherai Beach and seeing the unique Chinese fishing nets in action are must-dos when here. If you are a history buff, then make sure you check out Fort Kochi and Mattancherry Palace. Other places you can explore are Paradesi Synagogue, Kerala Folklore Museum and Indo-Portuguese Museum. Do not leave the city without attending a Kathakali performance and trying the spicy Malabari cuisine.
Recommended Hotels in Kochi: FabHotel Blue Orchid and FabHotel Evershine Residency
If you are a peace seeker, then the mention of Rishikesh will bring images of yoga, ashrams, peaceful river and tranquil mountains to your mind, but if you are an adventurer, it will definitely make your adrenaline rush. After all, Rishikesh is called the Adventure Capital of India. For the real thrill, go for a white water rafting trip on the Ganga River, ranging from 9 km to 34 km in distance. Bungee jumping and giant swing rides from an 83-metre high platform above a seasonal rivulet is as good a way of blowing off steam. Not satisfied yet? Then, try rock climbing, rappelling, zip lining, camping or trekking, all in the scenic hills.
Recommended Hotels in Rishikesh: FabHotel MJ Inn
If you are worried about the summer heat, then Kodaikanal should feature in your travel plans. Being a hill station, it is always cool and pleasant here. The adventure begins even before you reach the place as the ride itself through the Western Ghats will be extremely rewarding in terms of scenery on the way. Once at the hill station, ditch public transport and do most of your sightseeing on foot. Morning, noon or evening, a boat ride on Kodaikanal Lake is always a memorable experience. To see the hill station in all its glory, plan a trip to Coaker’s Walk, Pillars Rock, Bryant Park and the picturesque pine forest. Did you know that besides its natural beauty and cool climes, Kodaikanal is also famous for its home-made chocolates? Buying these would do you a bunch of good.
Recommended Hotels in Kodaikanal: FabHotel Kodai Kings Park and FabHotel Dream Land
The Queen of Hills, Ooty is one of the highest hill stations in the country! That’s right…with an altitude of almost 7350 feet, it is even higher than places like Nainital, Manali, Shimla and Srinagar. The toy train which connects Ooty to Mettupalayam offers incredible scenes, so make sure you ride it. Once in the hill town, observe bewitching views from atop Doddabetta, admire colourful flowers at Government Botanical Garden and rejuvenate at Pykara Lake and Falls, Kalhatty Falls and Avalanche Lake. Boating on Ooty Lake is one activity you should never miss out on as is hiking in the lush hills all around.
Recommended Hotels in Ooty: FabHotel Picnic Plaza and FabHotel Vinu Valley Resorts
How can one talk about weekend getaways and not mention Jaipur?! One of the quintessential places to learn about the glorious Indian history, it needs no introduction. Needless to say that you ought to explore Amer Fort, City Palace, Nahargarh Fort, Jaigarh Fort and Albert Hall Museum. Also stop by Hawa Mahal to click loads of photographs. If you are adventurous enough, then go for a hot air balloon ride from Amer Fort. You have got to go on a shopping spree at is famous markets like Bapu Bazaar, Nehru Bazaar, Tripolia Bazaar and Johri Bazaar. The evenings are best enjoyed at Chokhi Dhani, a one-stop destination to partake in every aspect of Rajasthani culture from puppet shows to delectable dishes.
Recommended Hotels in Jaipur: FabHotel Jaipur Villa and FabHotel Luxurs
Mysore is to Karnataka what Jaipur is to Rajasthan…its largest cultural hub. It was the residence of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, whose legacy is as alive here today as it was in the olden days. A visit to Mysore Palace, Jaganmohan Palace and Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace will give you an insight into their lives. Situated atop the Chamundi Hills, Chamundeswari Temple is a great place to learn about the local culture and admire panoramic views of the city. Spend your evening relaxing at Brindavan Gardens or picking up a fine silk saree. Another great site to explore is St Philomena’s Cathedral, mainly for its Gothic architecture. Also, remember to boat on Karanji Lake and gorge on Mysore Pak.
Recommended Hotels in Mysore: FabHotel Dawn
There is perhaps no livelier city in the country than Amritsar, where people believe in enjoying every moment to the fullest. Whether it is their way of talking, the big smiles on their faces or their folk dances, every aspect reflects enthusiasm towards life. When in the city, you absolutely have to visit Harmandir Sahib to bathe in its piety; remember to wait long enough for the delicious Karha Prasad and the daily Langar. If you can, do help out as a volunteer; it will definitely feel worth it. Jallianwala Bagh, the site of the infamous 1919 massacre is another popular attraction. It is advised you keep your evening free for a short trip to Attari-Wagah Border, where the energetic flag lowering ceremony is hosted. Treating yourselves to the most authentic forms of Punjabi delicacies is another thing you must do.
Recommended Hotels in Amritsar: FabHotel Royal Suites and FabHotel Basera
For a peaceful holiday wherein you can immerse yourself in spirituality, Varanasi is the place to be. Settled on either bank of the sacred Ganga, Varanasi or Kashi as it is also called is a place like no other. Its most recognisable feature is its ghats that are used for bathing, paying homage to the river as well as for cremations. Dashaswanedh Ghat, Assi Ghat, Panchganga Ghat and Manikarnika Ghat are the most prominent among these. However, the most significant attraction and religious site here is perhaps Kashi Vishwanath Temple. To see intricate carvings and tracery, you can head to Gyanvapi Mosque and Alamgir Mosque. When in Varanasi, start your day with a boat ride on the river in the morning and attending the Ganga aarti in the evening. Do try the iconic Banarsi Paan to add a dash of sweetness to your life.
Recommended Hotels in Varanasi: FabHotel Uma Palace
Criss-crossed by tree-lined boulevards and dotted with cute, little cafés, Pondicherry is France away from France. As it has not yet developed into a raging corporate hub, the everyday life here is slow, just what you need to relax. The Grand Canal, which in colonial days provided the city with water, also acted as a divider between the French Quarter (White Town) and Tamil Quarter (Black Town). Walk through these neighbourhoods to see contrasting architectural styles, temples, churches and masques. If you would rather laze by the sea, then Promenade Beach, Rock Beach and Serenity Beach are the places to hit. Don’t forget to visit Aurobindo Ashram and the magnificent Matrimandir within Auroville.
Recommended Hotels in Pondicherry: FabHotel Esparan Heritage and FabHotel Thaneegai Residency
Located in the Doon Valley, Dehradun is bestowed with views of the lush Shivalik Hills all around. You can easily come here and spend 2-3 days without much ado. A great place you can visit to refresh is Guchupani, commonly known as Robber’s Cave. A natural limestone formation, it has rivers flowing through it! Sahastradhara, with its name translating into ‘a thousand streams’, is another popular picnic spot in Dehradun. And, while you are in Dehradun, it only makes sense to cover Mussoorie as well. Kempty Falls, Gun Hill, Lal Tibba, Bhatta Falls, Camel’s Back Road, Company Bagh, Adventure Park and Dhanaulti are its popular attractions.
Recommended Hotels in Dehradun: FabHotel Central Park Inn
With all these holiday ideas at your disposal, you will not have to worry about another long weekend going by without any fun. A trip to these places will surely give you loads of memories, and also recharge and refresh you for the week ahead.