Weekend getaways from Delhi




Here are a few of my favorite (long) weekend getaways if you live in or are visiting Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR). 

These getaways are family friendly, for nature and wildlife lovers, mostly pet friendly, great for amateurs or professional photographers, Dilliwalas, expats or repats, solo and group travelers looking to explore places not too far away from Delhi.

Nainital Region, Uttarakhand

Nainital Lake
Nainital Lake

If you love the mountains then Nainital is the closest 'hill station' for people living in Delhi. The roads are in good condition or you can even take one of the three comfortable trains (5-7 hours) to this town of lakes in the Himalayas. Get off at Kathgodam train station and hire a taxi from outside the station to take you to Nainital and beyond.

Misty Naintal Lake
Mist on Naintal Lake

I'm not a big fan of visiting Nainital in the summer because there are traffic jams and way too many tourists and that just defeats the purpose of a quiet weekend getaway. Instead, I like to go in the monsoons (July onwards) when it's misty and raining or November and December or March and April. Winter gets less traffic, is quiet, warm sunny days, clear blue skies and hence amazing views of the upper Himalayas and crisp cold but clear nights. 

Governor's House or Raj Bhavan, Nainital
Governor's House or Raj Bhavan, Nainital

If this is your first trip to Nainital, I recommend you cover some of the touristy activities first. These include a leisure walk or a rickshaw ride up and down the Mall Road, hike or go on a horse up to Tiffin Top for breathtaking aerial views of the Lake, visit Jim Corbett's home (Gurney House), take a tour of the 200 year old Scottish architecture inspired Governor's Mansion and go boating on the Lake. If you have done these in the past, then I would suggest you go on short trips around Nainital.

Sattal Lake 

Birdwatching near Sattal Lake
Birdwatching near Sattal Lake

Sattal Lake is very quiet compared to Nainital and is in complete wilderness thanks to it being a protected forest
. Think of Sattal as what Nainital would have been when it was initially discovered in the 19th century by the British. Sattal is a haven for bird-watchers and if you're a birder like me, read this - Birding in Sattal. Ideal for families with young children, get them to enjoy being in nature at a young age. 

Pangot

Birds of Pangot
Scarlet Minivet

Surrounded by  pine, rhododendron and cedar forests and a great place for people seeking solitude, birdwatching and a digital detox, Pangot is just an hour drive from Nainital. Keep your eyes focused on the road towards Pangot as you might spot local wildlife such as the barking deer, yellow throated pine martin, pheasants, Himalayan goral (mountain goat) and if you're lucky even a leopard. 

Beautiful stone architecture in Pangot
Beautiful stone architecture in Pangot

There are multiple options to stay in this area too. Great place to take your kids especially if you think they're getting too addicted too fast to all things digital.

Sunset Point and Tea Gardens at Ghorakhal

Sunset in the Himalayas
Sunset in the Himalayas

A short drive from Nainital on the Ramgarh road you can stop by the picturesque organically state owned tea garden. Don't forget to pick some organic green tea. You can then drive on towards Sainik School and watch the sunset over a hot cup of your favourite beverage.

Jim Corbett National Park

Birds of Corbett
Great Indian Hornbill, Jim Corbett National Park

Closer to Delhi than it is to Nainital, here you can go on a morning or evening jungle safari or if you have more time stay inside the National Park in one of the Forest Bungalows. Online bookings need to be done way ahead of time especially for the star of all zones - Dhikala. 


The Park is closed from July 1st to September 30th but please check the website for up to date timings. If you're new to India I would recommend you visit this National Park first. If you've never been on a jungle safari before, read my post on How to do a Safari Right!

A tigress during the Jungle Safari
A tigress during the Jungle Safari


Wildlife around Agra - the city of Taj

If you're planning to visit Agra (during the winter season - October to March) for the big marble of love, then plan to stay an extra night or two. I guarantee you won't regret it. There is more to Agra than just the historical bit. Within an hour drive from the city you are surrounded by raw nature and wildlife. Agra and wildlife?? No, I'm not joking!


Chambal River Safari near Agra
Chambal River Safari near Agra

If you like nature and wildlife, I highly recommend a river safari (on a motor boat) on the Chambal River - one of India's last remaining 'alive' river eco-systems. You can spot gharial crocodiles, marsh crocodiles, giant soft shell turtles, several migratory birds and more. Absolutely safe being around these massive reptiles. For details read this: Chambal River Safari

Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur

Sarus Cranes in Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur
Sarus Cranes in Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur

Another great option and my favourite if you're traveling as a family is the famous Keoladeo National Park. Back in the day, this area was the hunting ground of the former Maharaja of Bharatpur. Great to be here in the Winter, pack a picnic basket and enjoy the winter sun in one of the designated areas inside the Park. 

Birds of Keoladeo National Park
Lesser whistling ducks

To explore the National Park, you can walk, rent a bi-cycle or be more comfortable in a rickshaw or a golf cart. If you're a birdwatcher like me, you've come to the right place. Bird guides are available for a minimal fee at the entrance of the Park.

Bear and Elephant Rescue Facility

Bear Rescue Facility near Agra
Bear Rescue Facility near Agra
Photo Credits: Wildlife SOS

A short drive from Agra will take you to a non profit funded organisation, Wildlife SOS's bear and elephant facility. This facility is home to several rescued 'dancing' bears and elephants, many of whom are disabled or injured by their former owners. For a small donation which goes directly for the upkeep of the facility and the animals you get to interact with the NGO and learn more about the touching stories of the animals and the hard work being done to maintain this huge operation.

Leopard Spotting in Jaipur

Leopards of Jhalana, Jaipur
Leopards of Jhalana, Jaipur
Photo Credits: Abhikram Shekhawat

Spot leopards in the heart of Jaipur and that too in the wild. Jhalana Leopard Safari Park is close to the airport and home to over a dozen leopards. As a wildlife enthusiast, I know for a fact that spotting the extremely elusive leopard in the wild and getting good photographs of it, is way tougher than spotting a tiger. So head out there the next you visit Jaipur and want to see leopards and other mammals / birds up-close. 


Chambal River Safari - Kota 

Chambal River Safari, Kota
Chambal River Safari, Kota

If you have more time, then you can also visit the Chambal River near Kota (3 hours from Jaipur). The landscape, fauna and flora are very different than what you get to see at the Chambal River near Agra. You can also do the famous Ranthambore National Park (3.5 hours from Jaipur) for almost sure sightings of spotting a tiger.

If you have any questions about the above or suggestions for new places you would like to share that are ideal for a long weekend getaway from Delhi NCR, please email me on kunal@totravelwith.com. Thank you!


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