Alternate ideas for Summer Travel in India
Come April and luxury train operating in India will go for annual maintenance and revamp in different rail yards across countries. Whereas Maharajas’ Express last departure of the season is on April 17th, The Deccan Odyssey and The Golden Chariot and Royal Rajasthan on Wheels will end their seasonal run in March itself. The more popular luxury train Palace on Wheels will continue to run till 30th of April before going for annual maintenance.
|Exterior of the Golden Chariot, a luxury train operating in South India
So what to do after the luxury train traveling season is over and the service not resuming before September. Here are a few suggested itineraries which you might want to take:
Pilgrimage Tours in India
Whether you are a devotee or an adventure seeker, you’ll definitely enjoy a break in Himalayas as it comes as a breather from scorching Indian summer. If you are a trekking enthusiast or interested in landscape and nature photography, then these pilgrimage treks will present ideal opportunity. It’s like shooting two targets from one arrow.
Although not a devoutly religious person, I have personally relished every opportunity presented during pilgrimage tours in Himalayas made for not so religious purposes. Here are a few recommended pilgrimage tour itineraries which will enthrall the adventurer in you and bless the religious in you.
Chardham Yatra Uttaranchal
Covering 4 major Hindu pilgrimage destinations Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, Char Dham itinerary will take you to some of the most scenic locales, challenging treks and sublime landscapes.
Alternatively there is Chardham Yatra by Helicopter packages which you may opt for a premium price and exclusive experience.
Kailash Mansarovar Yatra
A trek which includes traveling in Part India and Part China (Tibet), Kailash Mansarovar is one of the most sought after global trekking and adventure destinations. Lake Manasarovar nestled on the high altitule of 15,060 ft in Tibetan Plateau.
According to Hindu beliefs, Mansarovar Lake is a personification of purity and one who drinks its water is believed to be purified of all sins committed over even a hundred lifetimes by Lord Shiva’s blessing.
Alternatively you may go on Mansarovar Yatra by Helicopter if looking for quick pilgrimage tour.
|A shepherd with Kailash Mansarovar in the background
Mountain Railways of India
Darjeeling Toy Train
One of my favorite, it’s like entering inside a world of 1970s Bollywood movie always reminds me of the song sequence “Mere Sapno ki Rani” in which superstar Rajesh Khanna is driving his Jeep and the hot Sharmila Tagore is sitting on Darjeeling Toy Train. Darjeeling Mountain Railways has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Besides riding on toy train indulge at Glenburn Tea Estate. A ideal place to relax and savor the beauty of Darjeeling and Himalaya.
Alternatively there is Nilgiri Mountain Railway and Kalka Mountain Railway which you may try for a scenic old world train ride through captivating landscapes.
Splurge at Heritage Hotels
Live like a maharaja and sit back and relax, take rejuvenating therapies, play golf or do nothing, heritage hotels in India are the former palaces of maharajas of India who were renowned for their opulence and indulgence as well as patrons of art and crafts. Heritage Hotels will transport you into a more gracious age of royalty. Relive the romance especially if you are in Rajasthan in one of the heritage hotels
Needs no introduction and only place which could be relished and enjoyed throughout the year. Kerala backwaters also offer luxury houseboat. Apart from one of the most popular honeymoon destination, Kerala is renowned for its eco tourism, beaches and responsible travel initiatives.
Nothing beats a tour to Ladakh if you are an adventure seeker. I myself travelled on bike to this magnificent place and was spell bound by its stark landscape, high mountain passes and high altitude lake as well as Buddhism. This place was like tiny Tibet a place out of India. I did meet several bikers, men and women mostly foreigners en route to Ladakh following Manali-Leh highway.
More adventurous souls took to bicycling all the way from Manali to Leh. You may fly, ride, take a cab or ride a bicycle to Leh depending on your adrenaline rush. My preferred mode was Royal Enfield which is what most travelers choose. Beside passes and valleys do visit Pangong Tso its breataking more so due to surrounding landscape.
And remember route to Ladakh open late in May and is again clod in September just before luxury trains start plying so make your travel plans quickly.
|A Breathtaking view of the barren landscape from Gata Loops