Oh cool, thank-god for summer.
Why be miserable and seek air-conditioning this summer,when you can be outdoors literally chilling out. Here are five places from the five major metros of India you should be going to for a cool break from 40°C. So rev up your car batteries and start preparing for a cool ride this summer.
Panchgani. Soar above the valley.
Panchgani(and its twin hill station Mahabaleshwar)is at an elevation of 1,293 m (4,242 ft)and is 285 kms from Mumbai. One look from the Table Landplateau on top is enough to confirm why people flock here in summer. Every meter up on the road in the ghats brings the mercury down a notch. The surrounding valleys and mountains stretch out endlessly even as the cool mountain breeze makes summer temperatures a distant memory. But that’s not why you go there. It’s summer. It’s Strawberry Festival time. Slurp on jams and syrups, cool ice-creams and shakes and munch on bright red strawberries, as all the strawberry farms open their gates for you. And in the early evenings run out of the hillside strapped on to a paraglider (there are a couple of known operators who provide tandem rides) and enjoy a view from a thousand feet up in the sky.
Lansdowne. Tales of bravery and birds.
The small tombstones all tell a story. Of how Kaludanda went on to become Lansdowne when the British fell in love with it in the nineteenth century as they sought relief from the overwhelming Indian summer. At an elevation of 1,706 meters (5,686 feet), it is the first of the famous hillstations in the Garhwal and home to the Garhwal Rifles regiment. The clouds also love Lansdowne as they play through the thick oak and blue pine forests that surround this town. Birds and animal life abound, the chirping of birds making a great alarm clock. A place steeped in rich tales, it’s a place with no action. Just quiet, peace and calm. Just 260 kms from Delhi, the road via Meerut and Bijnore is a quick get away from the mad heat of the plains.
Ajodhya Hills. Even the Lord took a break here.
At 330 kms. from Kolkata, Ajodhya Hills is a bit of a journey all the way to Purulia district. But trust us, it’s the really cool escape you deserve from the thick humidity of the summer. It is 700m above sea level and even in summer the streams and waterfalls are flowing. The place is steeped in lore as it is believed that SitaKund, the local lake, sprung from the earth from an arrow from the quiver of Lord Ram when he and Goddess Sita spent some time here in their time of exile. The hills are fullof forest trails where animal life is a sighting away. And amateur mountaineers can do a basic rock climbing course too. It’s a relaxed way to beat the heat.
Horsley Hills. Take a dose of chill.
Deer mornings make dear days of summer. Welcome to Horsley Hills, where the summer mornings are also fog mornings and the Sambar deer come out to play. A drive away from India’s largest banyan tree, the noble ThimmammaMarrimaanu spread over an astounding 11 acres is a great reason to make a trip there. Horsley Hills is about 274 km from Chennai down the Poonthamalli High Road and further down the route to Chittoor. What else is there to see? How about a rare phenomena of two trees with one fused trunk. That alone should make this place a must-see this summer and a relief from the claustrophobic temperatures of Chennai.
Nandi Hills. The hill-station of Tipu Sultan.
Far from the boiling madness of court room dramas, wars of succession and foreign threats, the Tiger of Mysore would quietly get his energy back, even as the heat swept through the Deccan. A sunrise here on Nandi Hills would clearly reveal why the Who’s Who of history have come for summer breaks here from Sir Lord Cubbon to Mahatma Gandhi. Just 35 kms from Bangalore and 45ft above sea level, a drive starting at about 4 in the morning would get you a sunrise view that would make you love the sun in summer. The cool fog in the morning workslike an iced face pack. And if you have a taste for the macabre, you can see the awe-inspiring 600 mt Tipu’s Drop where prisoners were hurled down to meet their sentence.
Your turn now.
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