Uttarakhand is one of the most underrated travel destinations of India. There are plenty of less explored towns and parts of Uttarakhand that are beaming with scenic tourist spots. Irrespective of whether you are planning a pilgrim trip, a honeymoon with your partner or a serious soul-searching solo trip, Uttarakhand has got something interesting for every type of traveller.
Planning your trip
12 days is a sufficient duration for a trip to Uttarakhand, which will leave you with enough time to visit some of the most beautiful cities. We suggest you start off with Haridwar, spending about 4 days/ 3 nights there. Next, drive down to Lansdowne and spend one night there. The distance from Haridwar to Lansdowne is only about 5 hours via road so you will not end up spending too much time in travelling, however, make sure you leave early in the morning to avoid too much rush. You can then head to Kausani for a night which is again, only two hours away from Lansdowne. After Kausani, take a two-hour drive to Almora, stay there for four days/ three nights and then finally head to Nainital for the rest of your time in Uttarakhand.
Nestled in the lap of nature, Lansdowne is located in the Garhwal Hills of Uttarakhand and is one of the most offbeat travel spots of Uttarakhand. Untouched by man, this beautiful little hill town is far away from the chaos of city life. Very few people know about Lansdowne being the den of the Garhwal Rifle regiment of the Indian Army. If you are looking at taking a break from the overly commercialized city life, Lansdowne is just the right place for you! However, if you are on a tight schedule and want to explore more places, you would not need more than one night in Lansdowne.
Kausani is perched at an altitude of 1890 metres above sea level and is one of the best places in Uttarakhand to experience snowfall. In the winter months of December and January, the temperature often drops to a negative, going as low as -5 degrees. When in Kausani, you can visit the Anasakti Ashram, the iconic Gandhi Ashram known to have been the home for Mahatma Gandhi in the year 1929. Feeling a little adventurous? Head to the Rudradhari Falls and Caves, here you can dive deeper into Hindu mythology or visit the apricot/ pear farms in Kausani. Make sure you pick up a shawl or two from Kausani Shawl Factory for yourself and for loved ones back home.
Most of us have only thought of Haridwar as being a Hindu pilgrimage site. However, we forget to acknowledge that this ancient city has lots of hidden gems that not only appeal to pilgrims from different parts of India but also tourists from across the world. When in Haridwar, you must experience the evening aarti at Har ki Pauri, a ghat in Haridwar, built decades ago, by King Vikramaditya. The evening aarti is a mesmerizing sight to behold, as thousands of decorated diyas float on the water surface, making it look like a floating diya garden. If you are looking for some peace and tranquil, head to the Saptrishi ashram, one of the most well-known ashrams of Haridwar, where you can relax to seek some spirituality in the midst of the beautifully built cottages, in the company of many other devotees. Make sure to indulge in some rejuvenating ayurvedic treatments at the Aurovalley ashram, Santosh Puri ashram or the Patanjali ashram. These ashrams offer some of the best ayurvedic healing services that are deeply rooted in India’s cultural values. Another activity that you can participate in, is visiting the Rajaji National Park, spread over a sprawling 1150 square kilometres, this park affords the best wildlife spotting and photography opportunities for the nature lover in you!
Almora is another one of Uttarakhand’s ancient cities, established in the 16th century. You can visit the Binsar Mahadev Temple followed by the Kasar Devi Temple in Almora and then enjoy some adventures like mountain biking, trekking, river rafting, hiking, among lots of other opportunities. For trekking enthusiasts, the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary is the best place where you can trek to the Zero Point and overlook the Kedarnath peak, Nanda Devi and the Shivling. Don’t forget to do some fun shopping at the Thana Bazar in Almora, where you can witness the diversity of the local culture. Watch the stunning sunset from the Bright End Corner and spend some time in solace, admiring the views of the gorgeous hill ranges.
One of the most favourite travel destinations for most Indians, especially honeymooners, Nainital is the picture-perfect city, made of postcard-like vistas. Popularly known as the Lake City, Nainital is full of green hills, old cottages, a serene lake and small Tibetan markets. Start off your day in Nainital with the ropeway that gives you a chance to overlook the entire hill station from thousands of feet above mean sea level. This cable car passes by towering hills, the Naini Lake, among other beautiful landscapes. Next, head to Nainital’s very own Raj Bhavan which readily gives the Buckingham Palace, a run for its money. Lounge around on the verdant lawns and around the 18-hole golf course that surrounds the Nainital Governor’s House. After visiting the Raj Bhavan, you can go to Nainital’s biggest Tiger Reserve of India, the Jim Corbett and spot some tigers. One of the best places to visit in Nainital is Naini Lake, take a boat ride and paddle away to explore the scenic lake. After boating, head to the Boat House club or Sonam’s for some sumptuous dinner, after a long day of exploring Nainital.
Uttarakhand might not sound like the best place for a holiday but if you plan your trip properly, you can cover some of the most scenic, picturesque destinations in the state. Home to some of the most iconic travel destinations such as the Valley of Flowers National Park, Nanda Devi Temple and the yoga capital Rishikesh, Uttarakhand should definitely be next on your travel bucket list!