Proximity to Himalayas makes Delhiites run towards the hills for some respite during the summer. When it’s winter, it’s the snow which lures them to come out of their blankets and head towards sub-zero. If one needs a change from the dizzying heights and towering rocks, the neighbouring state of Rajasthan has plenty of palaces, lakes, places of historical interest and the beauty of sand dunes and surreal landscapes waiting to be explored. For a quick weekend getaway, here are five of the best road trips from Delhi you may consider.
The top destination for anyone coming to India for the first time, Agra is home to the majestic Taj Mahal. With excellent road connectivity, getting to Agra from Delhi is now a breeze. Apart from offering views of an imposing mausoleum, the city also lets you take a walk through history at the Red Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, all three of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Apart from these popular historical monuments, Agra is dotted with a lot of other unique structures and gardens which transport you back in time to the magnificence of the Mughal Era. If the fragrance of great food is your pied piper, traditional Mughlai food and delicacies which are unique to the city will make you lick your fingers clean.
One of the closest hill stations you can reach from Delhi, it takes about 5 hours to reach Lansdowne by road. The section from Kotdwar to Lansdowne is particularly scenic, where sights of the Himalayan foothills cast a spell as you climb towards the cantonment town. Lansdowne is one of the quietest hill stations in India, surrounded by thick forests of Oak and Pine trees. You may choose to wander off into the foliage for some bird watching, carry some lunch and a book to the Bulla Tal lake or find a quiet place which lets you get closer to mother nature and yourself.
At the halfway mark on the Delhi-Jaipur highway, is ancient historical town of Neemrana in the Alwar district of Rajasthan. Located here is a 15th-century hill-top fort which has now been converted into a heritage hotel. Some distance from Neemrana is another fort, Kesroli, which is one of the oldest heritage sites in India. Here, one gets to see the oldest remains of Buddhist Vihara at Viratnagar where legend has that the Pandavas spent the last year of their exile. Not too far away is the Sariska Tiger Sanctuary, where 14 tigers, along with other species of wild animals like Leopards, Neelgai, Deers, Wild Boars, Crocodiles and many bird species reside.
Chand Baori & Bhangarh Fort
At a distance of 240 km from Delhi, Chand Baori is a steep well in the Abhaneri village and one of the oldest and most popular attractions in Rajasthan. It is one of the largest stepwells in the world and was built to conserve water and provide respite to locals from the intense heat. An architectural wonder, the structure has 3,500 perfectly symmetrical, narrow steps, the geometry of which attracts numerous local and international visitors every year.
While on your way back from the Well towards Delhi, make a pit-stop at what they say is the most haunted place in India – The Bhangarh Fort. There are three legends related to the history of the fort and no one is allowed to remain in its precincts after Sundown, as per a notice board put up by the Archaeological Survey of India at the entrance. As soon as you enter, you are greeted by huge Banyan trees followed by the main fort. Most of the structure is now just remains of sandstone and marble, however, a good guide will help locate the “Secret Tunnel” and tell you stories which could give you goosebumps.
At a distance of 248 km from Delhi, Nahan is a town in Himachal Pradesh and the headquarters of the Sirmaur District. Home to the Indian Army Special Forces Training School, Nahan is situated on a hilltop in the Shiwalik Hills. At a distance of 21 km from the town is the Suketi Fossil Park which displays life size fibre reinforced plastic (FRP) models of pre-historic animals whose fossil skeletons were unearthed here. The park is the first of its kind in Asia to be developed at the actual discovery site of fossils.
The Renuka Ji Lake, the biggest in Himachal, is not too far from Nahan. If you look at the lake from a height, it looks exactly like the profile of a lady lying down. Legend has it that Renuka Ji jumped from a hill after an argument with her husband and the place where she fell, turned into this huge lake. There’s also a tiny zoo adjacent to the lake which houses Leopards, Bears, Deers and a Lion.
So next time you have time, don’t think twice before swinging a leg over your machine and escaping to one of these destinations. Oh, and do share your experiences with us so the other members of the riding community may benefit as well.