Isn't it completely frustrating when weeks of planning and hours of travelling lands you at a place which is even more crowded than your hometown? It happens a lot more often these days since everyone tends to travel to the same tried and tested hill stations during vacations. What entails is hordes of smoke-spewing vehicles concentrated on a small land area polluting the serenity and atmosphere of an erstwhile pure hill station. This and traffic jams, time wastage and the booking out of good hotels at these destinations.
In order to do away with your worries and actually go on a vacation, you can easily take a detour to visit their more beautiful and less crowded alternatives instead. I've listed down the top seven options in our country with the best properties to stay in, below:
1. Narkanda, instead of Shimla
Being the most popular hill station in India has its disadvantages. Shimla is full of people, irrespective of the time of the year. Hence, Narkanda, nearby is a terrific option if you wish to stay in the Himalayas of Himachal, without being disturbed by the hustle & bustle of Shimla. Himalayan Orchard Farm Stay is a gorgeous apple orchard house located in Narkanda, which can host up to 11 people. It's perfect for couples and small families looking for a quiet time away. You can book it right away for the upcoming weekend.
Price per night for 2: Rs. 5,168
Distance & time from Shimla: 62.8km, 1 hour 56 mins
2. Barog, instead of Kasauli
The last time I travelled to Kasauli from Delhi, it took me more than nine hours to reach the "closest hill station to the capital". That's when I took a pledge to never visit this place on the weekend. What I ended up discovering though was a beautiful little hill station called Barog nearby that had all the charms of Kasauli, if not more. I would strongly suggest staying at the majestic Rambling Rose, which is a secluded cottage off the Kalka-Shimla highway. The stay provides stunning panoramic views of the Himalayas and is absolutely perfect for a weekend getaway. You should book it in advance because it's always in high demand.
Price per night for 2: Rs. 4,638
Distance & time from Kasauli: 17.7km, 43 mins
3. Chail, instead of Kufri
Widely known as the alternative to Shimla, Kufri has slowly become just like the former thanks to overcrowded lanes and lack of good hotels around the area. So what I recommend is driving another hour and staying in quaint Chail instead. The magnificent Villa Ekam there is a destination in itself because it is constructed over a slope that oversees a sea of pine, deodar and apricot trees before the next human civilisation can be seen. This stay can host a huge gang of up to 14 people and is equipped sufficiently in terms of food and breathtaking scenery so you won't need to worry about anything else while here. If you're looking for a vacation full of tranquility, book this villa before anyone else does!
Price per night for 2: Rs. 34,000
Distance & time from Kufri: 31.8km, 1 hour 8 mins
4. Ramgarh, instead of Nainital
What a beautiful hill station Nainital is! And what a pity that one never finds it quiet enough to enjoy its beauty nowadays. If you wish to avoid the long queues in Nainital, drive down to the dreamy little town of Ramgarh instead, which is just an hour away. The ravishing Frozen Woods promises you a stay like nowhere else since it is actually located in the middle of nowhere! Book a stay at this cabin in the woods for the upcoming weekend.
Price per night for 2: Rs. 3,060
Distance & time from Nainital: 35.1km, 1 hour 10 mins
5. Palampur, instead of Dharamsala
Cometh the weekend and all pseudo-hippies run off to either McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala or Triund in the hope of attaining some sort of nirvana. These three places are filled up to the brim and hence the only wise decision is to go to the nearby Palampur village instead, which is blessed with enviable natural scenary and old world charm. What will heighten your experience is staying at the Barot Cottage, which puts together the best of both primitive as well as modern times by being a fully-equipped modern resort in the guise of a village cottage. It's one of the most stunning places you'll ever stay at, and hence you must book it right now!
Price per night for 2: Rs. 6,185
Distance & time from Dharamsala: 35.8km, 1 hr 8 mins
6. Coonoor, instead of Ooty
Whenever you ask any IT professional working down south about his weekend plans, they will most probably tell you that they're going to visit Ooty as it's the most popular hill station in the region. And when you visit Ooty, you see tens of thousands of other frustrated IT professionals cramped up there as well. To prevent more frustration by such visuals, you should opt to stay in Coonoor instead, which is surprisingly less than an hour away. O'Land Plantation is quite simply the best stay in the whole of Coonoor. It's an internationally-acclaimed tea & coffee plantation which doubles up as a mammoth estate welcoming guests that want out-of-the-box vacations. Being 120-acres large, the beautiful O'Land will ensure that you will never have to step out of the property for any aesthetic and worldly satisfaction. Book it now to experience the good life out of your cubicle.
Price per night for 2: Rs. 4,638
Distance & time from Ooty: 20.7km, 46 mins
7. Chamba, instead of Dalhousie
Finally, my personal favourite stay from amongst all others listed. And it helps that it is situated in the verdant surroundings of Chamba. Since Dalhousie is extremely popular amongst honeymooning couples, it's always full of them. If you really wish to have the time of your life with your beloved, book a stay at the magical H2O House in Chamba. It's a sublime self-sustaining property which is constructed by a pristine river whose perennially mellifluous sound always reminds you that there's nothing to worry about while you're there. Visit it to believe it.
Price per night for 2: Rs. 3,000
Distance & time from Dalhousie: 53.4 km, 1 hour 48 mins
Don't let the crowds interfere with your unwinding and let this long weekend be the refuge you've been looking for!
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