At times, all you have are some odd 48 hours of your weekend where you want to escape the hustle and bustle of your everyday life. You just want to sit back and relax and give time to your body to rejuvenate your physical as well as mental health. Mussoorie-Dhanaulti belt is already a popular retreat amongst the NCR folks. But given that Uttarakhand has a total geographic area of 53,483 km2 and you choose to stick to the time and tested Queen of Hills, it would be an injustice to the rest of the Himalayan range.
For those outside the NCR circle as pointed above, Musoorie and Dhanaulti top the popular getaway list in Uttarakhand. Dehradun is the nearest railway station and airport as well. Either city bus, booked vehicle or your private transport can be used to reach the Library Bazar in the hearts of Mussoorie. It is not just the destination, but also the journey from Dehradun to Musoorie which is wonderful and relaxing, given the many maggie points dotted on the roadside, with a glittering view of the Doon valley. Dhanaulti is further 25 km from Musoorie, and is popular for giving a panoramic view of the Lesser Himalayas, especially in winter. Some popular places to hangout are Gun Hill, the second largest peak in Mussoorie after George Everest, Kempty falls, Lal Tibba, Cloud End, Binog Mountain Quail Sanctuary and Company Garden. Dhanaulti can be the base point for further travelling to Chamba (31 km), Surkanda Devi (9 km) or Lakha Mandal (51 km).
Next we come to Naintal, the lakehouse resort town from Kumaon, which houses one of the fifty-one shakti peeths across India, Naina Devi Temple, dedicated to Goddess Sati’s eyes. Take a stroll through the Mall Road and view the beauty of the Naini Lake on one side, and refreshment as popular cafes on the other. At affordable price, you can book travel packages for yourself which will include a tour of Nainital with other popular places from the surrounding, like Ranikhet (61 km), Jim Corbett National Park, Bhimtal (22 km), Hanumangarhi(3 km), Khuspa Tal, Kilbury, Eco Cave Gardens, Tiffin Top and Snow View Point. You can find beautiful cottages and resorts in colonial styles for stay, in and around the city. Nearest railway station is Kathgodam. Nearest airport is Pantnagar (71 km).
Kumaon, in fact, has many summer retreats which were developed by the Britishers. 66Km from Nainital, at an altitude of 1650m is Almora. It was occupied by the Britishers after the Gurkha war of 1814-15. The town is a remnant of the once dominant Chand dynasty. Situated between the Kosi and Suyal rivers, Almora is surrounded by poplar hill resorts like Binsar, Ranikhet, Kausani and Bageshwar. At 35 km and nestled in the Deodar forests is Jageshwar, which holds importance both historically and religiously. Also known as an abode of Shiva, it houses around 125 temples built by the Chand Rajas, some of them being the famous Mrityunjay temple, Dandeshwar temple, Jageshwar Mahadev temple, Jhanker Saim Mahadev temple, Kuber temple and Airavat Gufa.
With almost every place in Uttarakhand lying in one or the other Himalayan zone, the list for a leisurely getaway is endless; Sankri in Uttarkashi is a trekkers paradise, Kausani in Bageshwar offers view of some important peaks like Nanda Devi and Panchachuli, Khirsu in Pauri Garhwal is famous for its apple orchids, Chaukori in Pithoragarh is host to a spectacular view of the golden dawn, Auli in Chamoli is the ultimate skiing destination, Chopta is famous for being the mini Switzerland of Uttarakhand, etc. So the next time you want to visit a hilly retreat in Uttarakhand, just close your eyes and point anywhere at a map of Uttarakhand, and you won’t be disappointed at all!