Manali: High up the mountains of Himachal Pradesh sits Manali, famous not only for a sexy view of snow capped Himalayan peaks but also as a hub of adventure sports in India. There are many worthwhile places to visit in and around Manali. The Naggar Fort, a remnant of the Pala Empire, Hidimba Devi Temple, dedicated to a local deity and wife of the Pandava prince Bhim, Rahla Waterfalls located just before the climb to Rohtang Pass, Solang Valley, Manikaran hot springs and of course, Rohtang Pass situated at 13000 ft all make for a great vacation.
Ooty: Located in the Blue Mountains of the Western Ghats also known as the Nilgiri Hills, Tamil Nadu, Ooty almost seems like a collection of beautiful picnicspots. It is surrounded by lofty mountains, great lakes, dense forests, sprawling grasslands and seemingly endless tea gardens and eucalyptus trees. The panoramic view from Doddabetta Peak, at the junction of the Western and Eastern Ghats, Ketti Valley, Pykara Lake Boat House and Pykara Falls, Kamraj Sagar Lake etc are truly awe inspiring.
Gangtok: The capital city of Sikkim is also the capital of ecotourism in India and most tourist activities here revolve around nature. For example, trekking, river rafting, mountaineering etc. Tassi View point provides a spectacular view of the mighty Kanchenjunga and Tsongmo Lake, Yumthang Lake, Lachen Lake, Lachung Lake and Grurudombar Lake are awfully pretty. The religious can make a trip to the peaceful Hanuman Talk and Ganesh Talk as well as the Baba Mandir. Nathula Pass on the India – China border is also worth a visit. While doing all this, be sure to take a bite of the momos here!
Kodaikanal: Also found in Tamil Nadu, Kodaikanal is often known as the Princess of Hill Stations. With great views, it is definitely a favourite for honeymooners. The Kodaikanal Lake is an artificial lake built a century and a half ago and one of the main attractions. Coaker’s Walk, a paved walking path winding around Mount Nebo provides a great view of the plains and the Bear Shola Falls, Green Valley View Point, Pillar Rocks, Guna Caves, Silver Cascade, Dolphin’s Nose and the Kurunji Andavar Murugan temple make provide plenty to do and see here.
Gulmarg: A 3 square kilometre cup shaped meadow surrounded by snow capped mountains on all sides, this Kashmiri hill station is a wonderland. On a clear day, the Nanga Parbat and Srinagar city are clearly visible from here. Gulmarg hosts one of the oddest tourist attractions – the highest cable car which is so popular that it ferries about 600 people an hour in peak season. Skiing and other winter sports activities are also very popular here.
Mt. Abu: The highest peak of the Aravalli Hills range in Rajasthan, Mt. Abu is a favourite amongst residents of Rajasthan and Gujarat. Abu has been historically and culturally relevant in India, reflected in the existence of Rana Kumbha’s fort, the Dilwara temple complex famous amongst Jains and the many other Hindu Temples. Today, Nakki Lake and the nearby Toad Rock are visual delights, along with the rest of the contrasting green that engulfs this destination in the middle of an arid dessert. Resorts in Mt. Abu too are beautiful.
Munnar: Located in the Western Ghats of Kerala, Munnar is named after the three rivers that run through it. With a perfect view of lush tea plantations, clear blue skies and striking mountains, its popularity is no surprise. The Anamudi peak is the highest Indian mountain south of the Himalayas. Mattupetty, known for its storage masonry dam and beautiful lae has boat rides to enable you to fully enjoy the landscape. The Pallivasal hydro-electric project is also in a place of such scenic beauty that it makes for a great picnic spot. To enjoy a panoramic view, visit top station, the highest point on the Munnar – Kodaikanal road.
Tawang: A small town in North Western Arunachal Pradesh, Tawang is a peaceful and ideal for a nature enthusiast with religious/spiritual affinity. It is home of what is claimed to be the biggest Buddhist monastery in the world outside of Lhasa, Tibet and was built as per the instructions of the 5th Dalai Lama. There are many scenic lakes that deserve a visit and the Orchid Sanctuary nearby has over a thousand varieties of the flower. Definitely worth a visit.
Coorg: Also known as Kodagu (which translates as dense forest on steep hill), Coorg has thousands of acres of lush coffee and tea plantations and happens to be one of the most sought after golfing locations in the country. In terms of sightseeing, Talakaveri is the place where the Kaveri river originates from also has a rare Brahma temple on its banks, Nisargadhama is an island picnic spot, Irrupu falls, Abbey falls, Nagarhole National Park are all fantastic.
Mahabaleshwar: The summer capital of the Bombay province during the British Raj, Mahabaleshwar is situated on the Western Ghats in Maharashtra and has one of the few evergreen forests in the world. Apart from being a major pilgrimage site to the Mahabaleshwar temple, it is also known for the honey and strawberries produced here. The strawberry farms in Mahabaleshwar can be real fun if you love the fruit. The Venna Lake is surrounded by trees on all sides and a evening boat ride in the winter is brilliant.