It's that time of the year, when, until 2019, we would all pack our bags and scoot for the hills in roadways buses, trains and our own cars. Be it weekend getaways, camping trips, trekking expeditions or simply backpacking through scenic villages, the hills of Uttarakhand have provided succour from the punishing north Indian summer.
So what if you're staying home and helping control the pandemic? We have got your back as always. This time, we bring you 10 epic pictures from the hills of Uttarakhand. Bon appetit.
Rishikesh: The Ganges, Yoga, and The Beatles
Ever wondered what John Lennon meant when he advocated world peace in Imagine? Even if the evocative currents of the Ganga or the cultural melting pot of Rishikesh don't prove to be enough hints, a visit to the Beatles Ashram would really leave you convinced what the Beatle meant.
Starting from Barsu village (45 km away from Uttarkashi), the six-hour trek to Dayara Bugyal will take you through beautiful countryside with lush greenery and stunning view of the hillocks and mountains. Miles and miles of greenery, gentle rolling hills, view of not-so-distant mountains, cattle grazing—absolute idyllic bliss
Valley of Flowers National Park
Flowers burst upon rocks, proliferate over every inch of space and devouring every morsel of soil. In May, large parts of the valley are full of blue primulas. In June, it is the purple-red of geraniums that dominate, but gives way to herds of lanky, fragrant polygonums in September. Monsoon time is when maximum flowers bloom. The valley is home to a bewildering variety of plants; in a few square kilo metres there are a hundred plant species to be seen. At the far end of the valley is where the Pushpawati spreads out into many streams.
Kausani: Perennial Darling
Kausani is not just a scenic hill station in Kumaon that travellers visit for its sublime views of the Panchachuli mountains. It is deeply rooted in history—according to cosmic time, it was where the Pandavas had their last meal. It is also the home of the poet Sumitranandan Pant, and a long-time residence and ashram of Mahatma Gandhi. The views of the Kumaon Himalaya, as we said, are to die for.
Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary
To most, Kedarnath immediately brings to mind the 1200-year-old temple here that is one of the 12 jyotirlingas. However, the larger Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary has a fascinating, sub-arctic environment with quite a few treasured animal species here, including the Himalayan Musk Deer—for whose conservation the reserve was conceived in the first place—and the Himalayan Monal.
Lansdowne: The Woods are Lovely, Dark and Deep
the locals even today fondly recall Lansdowne as ‘Kaalundanda’, translating to 'the dark woods' in Garhwali. A light mist covers much of the way that winds around the valley, and offers plenty of photo-ops and resting spots. Also try hiking up to the Tiffin Top—a bracing climb that’ll zap the lethargy right out of you—and enjoying the view of the Trishul and Chaukhamba peaks from the top.
Ranikhet: Walker's Wonder
This thickly forested paradise was discovered by the British who, in the late 1860s, came looking to house their army and administration in a hilly ‘station’ that could provide both strategic and economic advantages. The tranquil green meadows surrounded by pine and oak forests, with a panoramic view of the Kumaon Himalaya, provided ideal environs for Tudor-style bungalows, churches, a country club, a golf course and a full-fledged army regiment.
The cable car from Joshimath deposits one from over the treetops right into the heart of snow. The air is scented with pine and there are oaks and firs everywhere. The ski resort is located at a height of around 10,000ft and despite there only being opportunities for skiing, the experience that it offers is unforgettable.
Binsar: Birdwatcher Haven
Lying in the lap of the Kumaon hills, the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary stretches over 47 sq km of unsullied dense oak, rhododendron and pine forest at an average altitude of 8,000m. Its inhabitants include barking deer, goral, pine Martens, langurs, porcupines and leopards.
Landour: Mussoorie's Little Brother
Mussoorie is probably one of the most-visited places in northern India in terms of travelling to the mountains. And why not? It is a historical sanatorium and a prominent British summer capital with several iconic landmarks. But a short walk away is Landour, its cozy little sibling where the famed Mussoorie winter lines can be seen. Landour, known for its cafés and chic hotels, is also where writer Ruskin Bond and filmmakers Victor Banerjee and Vishal Bhardwaj have residences.