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Far From The Madding Crowd

Beat the summer heat and the holiday rush in India by escaping to the cool environs of these four offbeat hill stations packed with
inviting offerings.
By ANITA RAO KASHI

KUDREMUKH | KARNATAKA

Clouds waft across the hills of Kudremukh, Karnataka (Image Credits: Bambam Kumar Jha/EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images)

On any given early morning, the snaking road making its way up to the Kudremukh peak in Chikmagalur district is a surreal vision. Located at a height of nearly 1,900 metres, the route is shrouded in a heavy curtain of mist, creating a magical atmosphere. And as the sun rises, this misty curtain lifts to reveal stunning views of undulating hills and valleys stretching out into the horizon. Kudremukh, which literally translates to ‘horse-faced’ in Kannada, is a rugged range located within the eponymous national park. The chilly, crisp mountain air here is ideal for the intrepid traveller looking to explore the region along its many trekking paths, flanked by green forests. These routes lead into stretches of verdant grasslands, punctuated by several streams
and waterfalls.
Stay: Bhagawathi Nature Camp; junglelodges.com

KOTAGIRI | TAMIL NADU

A road weaving its way through the picturesque setting of Kotagiri, Tamil Nadu. (Image Credits: Dethan Punalur/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Surrounded by popular neighbours in the Nilgiris, Kotagiri is often overlooked, which actually works in its favour as the ideal, uncrowded getaway. Nestled amidst eye-catching environs—valleys carpeted with vast tea plantations, dotted with pretty colonial-era houses and bungalows, set against the backdrop of blue-green mountains from where the range gets its name—this scenic hill station is a lovely combination of nature and culture. The setting is perfect for long, languid, romantic walks deep into a green wonderland. A short ride away, Kodanad View Point offers spectacular views of the Nilgiri hills, while the 250-metres-high Catherine Waterfalls are certain to take your breath away with their pristine beauty. The dense forests of nearby Longwood Shola are ideal for trekking and birdwatching.
Stay: Nahar Retreat and Spa; naharretreat.com

RAISON | HIMACHAL PRADESH

River rafting on the cool, blue waters of the Beas, Raison, Himachal Pradesh. (Image Credits: ImagesofIndia/Shutterstock)

Sandwiched between the towns of Kullu and Manali, Raison sits on
the banks of the fast-flowing Beas River and is often bypassed by
the crowds. At nearly 1,500 metres, with breathtaking views of the towering Himalayas, this little hill station is a favourite amongst adrenaline-junkies making a beeline for white-water rafting in the region; the many tented camps that come up during rafting season (April to June) are proof of this. Not interested in rafting? No problem. Taking a walk along the tumbling river is also quite exhilarating; mix it up with long walks amidst tall trees and apple orchards, or through the nearby village clusters. You can even hire a bike and cycle along the mountain roads; better still, pack a picnic and spend a day communing with nature or follow a trekking trail and see where it takes you.
Stay: Ramgarh Heritage Villa; contact: 09816248514

CHATPAL | JAMMU & KASHMIR

A gushing rivulet flows alongside lush green trees in Chatpal, J&K. (Image Credits: Shah Hilal @liberaltraveller)

Tucked away in a tranquil corner and endowed with nature’s richness, Chatpal is perfect for a quiet holiday. About 90 kilometres southeast of Srinagar, at a height of around 2,250 metres, this little town sits amidst towering mountains covered either with snow or an expansive carpet of grass speckled with white and yellow flowers. Still off the main tourist grid, it has a sense of untouched beauty. Take a leisurely walk along the mountain roads, weaving through pine forests, along meandering streams flanked by rocky beds or apple orchards.
Stay: J&K Tourism offers basic, furnished bungalows; jktdc.co.in

 

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