January 22nd 2017
Does the thought of a long weekend mesmerize you? If yes, then brace for one as Republic Day, Thursday 26 January is approaching, perfectly setting the stage for a long lazy weekend if you could be off from work on Friday 27 January. For some, a long weekend means that long sought after drive. India has a multitude of weekend destinations that make you forget about the stress of the week. Here, we have outlined 5 top destinations for a thrilling drive or ride this weekend, which would have you thinking about that weekend trip right away. Right from the impressive Chandigarh in the north to the serene Hogenakkal in the South you’re spoilt for choice. What are you waiting for? Ignite and you go…zoom!
Delhi to Chandigarh
Chandigarh a.k.a The City Beautiful, is clothed in boulevards, lakes, gardens and impressive buildings. It is a majestic city with an air of tranquillity about it. A prominent tourist attraction is Nek Chand Rock Garden with 2000 sculptures made up of stones, debris and junk. The Garden of Fragrance and Sukhna Lake also draw visitors in hordes. For shopaholics and foodies, Sector 17 with its variety is perfect. So, unwind and embrace Chandigarh’s variety.
Drive: Delhi to Chandigarh by car is roughly a four hour journey. The roads are in terrific condition. The first destination would be Ambala. From here, Chandigarh is an hour away.
Where to Stay: Chandigarh, which is the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana, has on offer hotels all over town. One can find hotels of numerous price ranges. Two five-star options are Taj Chandigarh and JW Marriot Chandigarh, located in sectors 17 and 35 respectively. The tourist hub though is Sector 22. There are hotels dime a dozen there. For a price range of less than Rs.1500, one can put up at Hotel Diamond Plaza. Another option would be Hotel Aricent which comes at Rs.1,800 per night.
What to Eat: While visiting Chandigarh, one’s taste buds gravitate toward sumptuous Punjabi food. Both vegetarians and non-vegetarians could tuck in heartily. The aroma that hits the nose when one passes a dhaba (a local Punjabi restaurant) is an invite. Try out Amritsari Zaika, located in Sector 37. The Kulcha Parathas, Dal Makhni and Butter Chicken are too good to pass up. Pal Dhaba in Sector 28 also offers the best Punjabi food. So, eat away.
Chennai to Puducherry
If you’re a Frenchman staying in India and missing home, head to Puducherry better known as Pondicherry. The French Colony in Pondicherry would make you think you’re back home. The signposts have French names and there are quite a few French people. Auroville, an internationally acclaimed mediation center, also houses a lot of people from various countries. The locals also add their own flavour to this place. And not to forget the serene beaches and the entire stretch along the Rocky Beach that comes alive with tourists and hawkers in the evenings. Pondicherry is a place you should definitely visit once in your life.
Drive: Pondicherry is a 3 hour drive from Chennai. The East Coast Road is the best way to go. Chennaites driving down up to Pondicherry almost every weekend is a regular affair.
Where to Stay: There are a plethora of hotels in Pondicherry. If you want luxury hotels, try out the Palais de Mahe, in Busy Street. A three-star hotel, it has every comfort on offer from a spa to a rooftop restaurant. A stay here will cost you Rs. 12, 731. Another similarly priced hotel is the Le Dupleix, in Caserne Street. If these exhaust your finances, cheaper options are available as well such as Ginger Hotel. A room here is Rs.3,300. There are rooms facing the promenade available here. Ajantha Sea View and The Promenade, both located along the Beach Road are irresistible. The former is a 3-star property while the latter falls in the 4-star mark.
What to Eat: Right from breakfast to dinner, Puducherry has a great variety of continental food. You can start your day with a filling Spanish Omlette, bread and a glass of juice. French eating joints are all over town. If you want a steak, then Puducherry is the place to go. One famous eating joint is Rendevouz. They serve excellent continental food here. The Auroville Bakery is famous too.
Mumbai to Dadra and Nagar Haveli
Irresistible—the word that describes Dadra and Nagar Havel perfectly. Visitors are invigorated by the forests, rivers, waterfalls and hills. The weather stays pleasant throughout the year. It attracts tourists by the dozen, especially honeymooners. Silvassa, only 29 minutes away, is a tourist attraction. Visit the Vanganga Lake and Island Garden as well. Two parks – Vandhara Udhyan and Bal Udyan –should be on your itinerary. All in all, Dadra and Nagar Haveli is a perfect getaway.
Drive: Dadra and Nagar Haveli is around three hours from Mumbai by bike or car. The Western Express Highway is the best route from Mumbai to Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
Where to Stay: The main source of livelihood for Dadra and Nagar Haveli is tourism, therefore there’s no dearth of hotels. They have several resorts on a variety of price ranges. A luxury resort would be the Keys Ras Resort in Silvassa. A room here would cost around Rs. 8,500. If this beyond your budget, do not worry. The Wonderland Resort in Silvassa at Rs.4,500 is another great option. Both these resorts provide every amenity to make you comfortable. If you still feel this is expensive, there’s the Krishna Resort where rooms are available for as low as Rs.1,500. So, relax and take that well-deserved holiday.
What to eat: Although Dadra and Nagar Haveli is located between Maharashtra and Gujarat, it is closer to the latter, therefore there are a plenty of vegetarian option. Non-vegetarian food is in abundance too. The food here is influenced by the culinary styles of the numerous tribes living near this town. On the whole, there is an assortment of Gujarati, Continental and Chinese food. Some well-known eating joints are Bistro, Khichdi Khatiyamwadi Restuarant and Valentino Restaurant.
Ahmedabad to Daman and Diu
Want to hit the beach? Want to soak in some sun? Head to Daman and Diu. The many beaches here make them a popular holiday spot. For quiet time, the beaches are perfect. For water sports aficionados, Daman and Diu is heaven. The climate is also pleasant and the serenity only adds to the places. History buffs are drawn to this union territory because of its massive forts and stupendous cathedrals. So, buckle up and go!
Drive: A drive from Ahmedabad to Daman and Diu lasts for roughly 6 hours. The route via Bhavnagar is a nice drive and a very popular one too.
Where to Stay: The best time to visit Daman and Diu is between October and May. Daman and Diu thrives on tourism. As a result, one finds hotels in almost at every nook and cranny. There are resorts aplenty here. A high-end resort is the Azarro Resort and Spa located in Diu. A room here for one night will cost you Rs.7,500. If this is out your price range, try out Hotel Apaar, offering rooms at Rs.3,899. Hotel Maheshwari is even more affordable at Rs.1,500.
What to Eat: Papri, boiled sweet and salty peas, is a delicacy in this part of the world. One can relish authentic Goan cuisine and also try some delicious Chinese food here. Being very close to Gujarat, vegetarian food especially a Gujararti Thali is popular among the people. The O’ Coqueiro Music Garden restaurant, which serves Italian and Portuguese food, is frequented by tourists. The Resort Hoka restaurant is also well-attended most of the times.
Bengaluru to Hogenakkal
Hogenakkal, called the Niagara Falls of India, is one of the country’s most scenic destinations. First-hand accounts from visitors say it brings a comforting effect, so much so that some liken it to a spa. The spot is surrounded by mountains, making it suitable for a trek. A must-see attraction here is the crocodile park near the Hogenakkal bus stand. All in all, it’s one of Southern India’s most popular tourist attractions.
Drive: It takes one nearly 4 hours for one to reach Hogenakkal from Bengaluru by car. It’s a nice getaway in more ways than one. Usually people leave in the morning and come back in the night. The scenic drive is simply irresistible.
Where to Stay: The best time for a visit to Hogenakkal is in February. Although a popular destination, Hogenakkal has few staying options. The most famous amongst these is Hotel Tamil Nadu. It comes for a relatively cheap price at Rs.950. It’s a decent hotel, but one cannot expect the facilities seen in a resort. Apart from this you can also stay at the KSDTC Tourist Bungalow owned by the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation. One can try out the Hotel CM Boarding and Lodging or Hotel Priya Lodge.
What to Eat: The fresh fish flowing from the Cauvery is a much-desired food. The fresh fish curry and the fish fry draw huge crowds. Some of the varieties of fish sold are katla, robu, kendai, keluthi, valai, mirgal, aranjan and jilaby. A lot of people usually bring their own food.