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An eclectic palette of hues shades the landscape of India as the spring season arrives. Gorgeous flowers come into full bloom, a lush scenery envelopes the land and there is a spirit of rejuvenation and regeneration in the air, with the cool winds easing you into warmer climes after a frosty winter. As you curate your itineraries for the coming season, here are top 10 locations that will check all your boxes for a memorable vacation.
Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand
With the majestic Zanskar range in the backdrop, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Valley of Flowers lies at an impressive altitude of around 11,000 ft. Resembling an artist's canvas, the valley is like a flood of colourful hues in spring, held together by snowy mountain peaks and white glaciers. It is located between the conversion point of the Himalayan ranges, Zanskar and the Western and Eastern Himalayas and is formed by the Pushpawati stream. Besides popular species of ferns, dwarf iris, dwarf larkspur, dwarf rhododendrons, primula, blue poppies, one can also find thousands of shrubs, orchids and plants in beautiful shades. It was Frank Smythe, an English mountaineer, who discovered this beautiful place in 1931 when he was returning after completing an expedition to Mt Kamet.
A popular trek to this paradisiacal place takes travellers through gorgeous landscapes, where they get the chance to sight rare and exotic Himalayan flora. For the avid trekker, the somewhat difficult treks are rewarded by numerous scenes of cascading waterfalls, streams and flowery meadows around every corner of the landscape.
Things to do: Photography, trekking, visit Nanda Devi National Park, enjoy nature walks
With a lush carpet of rolling green punctuated by low mountains of the gorgeous Western Ghats and unending tea, coffee and spice plantations, Munnar, in Kerala, is nature's paradise. No matter where you go in Munnar, a mixed scent of tea, coffee and cardamom will follow you. And wherever you look, you will be greeted by nature's bounty. Such is the beauty of the myriad shades of green of the landscape that Munnar is often called the Kashmir of South India. Nestled at the confluence of the gushing rivers, Mudrapuzha, Nallathanbi and Kundala, Munnar literally means three rivers. Replete with a plethora of flora and fauna in its teeming national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, Munnar is an exhilarating natural jewel. Every 12 years, as the vibrant and rare Neelakurinji flower blooms, the town of Munnar and the hills around it, are transformed into an artist's canvas. As shades of blue and purple carpet the land, the town acquires a paradisiacal setting.
Munnar is also home to the highest peak of South India, Anamudi, at a height of 2,695 m. This peak has several trails that make it a must-visit for trekkers and backpackers. Munnar is well-connected to Bengaluru, Kochi, Mysore and other larger cities, ensuring an influx of travellers all year round, including the rainy season, when Munnar is its most vibrant and fragrant self.
Things to do: Tour tea and coffee plantations, wnjoy nature walks, photography, visit national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, trek to Anamudi peak
A coffer of coffee, cardamom and tea plantations, which envelope the land with lush emerald greenery and fill the air with a heady aroma, Wayanad, in Kerala, is one of the most beautiful regions of the state. Perched on the southernmost tip of the Deccan plateau, Wayanad boasts dense forests that are one of the 20 reserves in UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves. A bridge to neighbouring states, the hills of Wayanad are connected with Bandipur (Karnataka) and Mudumalai (Tamil Nadu) to form a massive landmass that helps the wildlife of the region to freely move around in their natural surroundings. For the discerning traveller, Wayanad offers ideal picnic spots next to gurgling mountain streams, serene lakes and cascading waterfalls. While adventure-seekers can opt for mountain biking, camping, trekking, speed boating, zorbing and ziplining, wildlife enthusiasts can choose from wildlife safaris, forest trails or treehouses. Wayanad is also home to Edakkal Caves, where one of the oldest signs of human settlement are preserved. Leading tourist destinations of Mysore, Bengaluru, Kannur, Ooty and Coorg are close by.
Things to do: Visit Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, visit Banasura Sagar Dam, enjoy bamboo rafting, go caving in Edakkal Caves, boating, camping, trekking, tour farms
The quaint town of Mon in Nagaland is an ideal stopover for trekking and angling. Known as the land of the Konyak Nagas, the charming town makes for a perfect vacation spot for nature lovers and adventure travellers. Its traditional architecture and age-old sculptures are reminiscent of the historic past of the Konyaks and their culture. For scintillating views of the Brahmaputra river and the Chindwin river of Myanmar, head to the highest peak of Mon, the Veda peak. The Longwa village in Mon is the closest you can get to Myanmar as the Indo-Myanmar border passes through this village. Shangnyu and Chui are two other villages in Mon. Declared as ethnic villages, Shangnyu and Chui provide various educational research opportunities to anthropologists.
Things to do: Trek to Veda Peak, visit the Indo-Myanmar border, explore the ethnic villages of Shangnyu and Chui, enjoy nature walks
Tulip Garden, Srinagar
Located at the foothills of the Zabarwan mountain range, on the banks of the Dal Lake, Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden is a beautiful expanse of lush greenery. Spread over an area of 30 acre, it is the largest tulip garden in Asia, and is more commonly known as Siraj Bagh. More than 60 varieties of tulips numbering over a few lakh can be seen here, along with many other species of daffodils, hyacinths and ranunculus. Beginning 2017, a Tulip Festival is organised with the onset of the spring season every year to showcase a wide range of flowers. The festival lasts a fortnight, between April 1 and April 15. The beautiful garden is surrounded by Dal Lake, Nishat Bagh and Chashma Shahi on three sides.
Things to do: Attend the Tulip Festival, photography, explore diverse varieties of tulips.
Yumthang Valley, Sikkim
A burst of colours in spring, there are very few spots in the country that can beat Yumthang's all-year-round natural splendour. Also known as the valley of flowers, Yumthang valley is a magnificent mix of flora and fauna set amidst picturesque beauty. During spring, when the flowers bloom, the valley comes alive with varied hues of rhododendrons and primulas that lend it different colours, making it look like an artist's canvas. An unmissable site is Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary that boasts more than 20 species of rhododendron flowers. In spring, when these flowers bloom, bright shades of red, purple and pink paint the valley floor, the a riot of shades. Framed against the towering snow-capped mountains, the landscape looks surreal. The best time to visit the sanctuary is from April to May end when the flowers are in full bloom. To the right of River Yumthang is a hot spring, equally popular among tourists. The views of the flat valley surrounded by lush green mountains and the Yumthang river flowing through grassy alpine meadows are mesmeric. You can walk to the river, sit on its banks and enjoy the beauty. Situated at a height of 3,597 m, Yumthang lies to the north of Sikkim, about 25 km from Lachung. A good time for a visit is between February and March when the popular Buddhist festival of Losar is organised.
Things to do: Enjoy nature walks, visit Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary, explore hot springs, attend Losar Festival
Sprawled over a steep mountain ridge and dotted with unending stretches of emerald green tea plantations, the quaint hill station of Darjeeling, in West Bengal, is a popular travel destination. The most in-demand attraction here is the majestic Kanchenjunga or Khangchendzonga, the third-highest peak in the world. Tourists flock to nearby peaks to watch glorious sunrises and sunsets over Kanchenjunga. Darjeeling boasts remnants of colonial-era architecture that exude a charm of their own. One of the best ways to explore the city is by riding in the 140-year-old Darjeeling Himalayan Railway that meanders through some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in and around the hill station.
The city is a treasure trove for adventurers as well, who can indulge in trekking to the Singalila Ridge or explore the area on a mountain bike. Tourists can dive into the local culture and have a memorable experience at the bustling bazaars of the city. From handcrafted products to Tibetan souvenirs, there's a lot on offer.
Things to do: Tour tea plantations, see the majestic Kanchenjunga, watch glorious sensets and sunrises, ride the 140-year-old Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, trek to Singalila Ridge, mountain biking, visit local bazaars.
Spread along a saddle-shaped ridge, overlooking the meandering River Teesta, the hill station of Kalimpong in West Bengal, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region. Surrounded by snow-capped Himalayas and crowned by the summit of Kanchenjunga (Khangchendzonga), the third highest peak in the world, it invites travellers for its picturesque landscapes and colonial charm.
Situated around 65 km from Siliguri, Kalimpong is noted for its Buddhist monasteries, Tibetan handicrafts and churches. Legend has it that when the local Lepcha tribesmen were not busy with agricultural commitments, they indulged in field sports. Hence, the name Kalimpong, which means the ridge where we play.
Things to do: Sight the summit of Kanchenjunga, visit Buddhist monasteries, explore quaint churches, shop for Tibetan handicrafts
Rolling hills of honey-hued sand dunes, vast barren expanses, contrasting colours and mesmerising historical treasures, make up the stark beauty of the enchanting city of Jaisalmer, in Rajasthan. The city holds the still-inhabited Jaisalmer Fort at its heart, which seems to rise out of the desert like a mirage and looks ablaze as the golden rays of the sun bathe it. Encircled by 99 bastions, this fairytale-like-fort enthrals you with its grandeur. This far-flung city of Rajasthan invites tourists from across the globe with its intricately carved temples, narrow streets and almost perfectly concealed delights, which can be explored through camel rides amidst the mystic desert. While it gets sweltering in the city in summers, spring presents the best time to explore the city when the weather remains pleasant.
Jaisalmer has a history dating back to the prehistoric period, which is preserved in the Akal Wood Fossil Park. A must-visit is the Tanot Mata Temple, which lies close to the India-Pakistan border and became famous during the 1965 war, when the bombs that fell near it did not diffuse. It has also been featured in the movie 'Border',
Jaisalmer is also known for its wood carvings, local artistry and fabulously rich cultural heritage of performing arts.
Things to do: Visit Jaisalmer Fort, explore Akal Wood Fossil Park, visit Tanot Mata Temple, shop for traditional handicrafts, watch performing arts, enjoy a desert safari, visit Gadsisar Lake.
Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh
Surrounded by the snow-capped Shivalik Hills, the ideal, fairy-tale town of Kasauli, in Himachal Pradesh, has an old-world charm. Lined with a number of sprawling colonial bungalows, quaint cottages tucked amidst oak and pine trees, cobbled pathways, serene churches and small souvenir shops, Kasauli is where colonial tales come to life. Tourists can experience this rich legacy while staying in the Raj-era bungalows that have now been converted either into homestays or hotels. With its lush green mountains home to a wide variety of species of birds and animals, Kasauli has a rich reservoir of flora and fauna.
Folklore says Kasauli has derived its name from a flower found in the hills called kasool, which carpets the hillside in the season.
Things to do: Ride in a cable car to Timber Trail, shop at the Mall, visit the Sunset Point, enjoy nature walks, photography, visit quaint churches, admire colonial architecture