India is a land of picturesque beauty which attracts wanderlust-smitten individuals from far and wide. Despite the mammoth growth in tourism, there are hill stations near Delhi that are still hidden gems and have managed to remain untouched by the stress of commercialization.
Hill Stations Near Delhi
Here I have mentioned 7 hill stations which might not appear in the list of popular hill stations near Delhi, but will certainly add a rustic flavor to your India trip. I have added a couple of mainstream destinations as well as they are totally worth a visit.
1. Kanatal, Uttarakhand State
The Uttarakhand State is dotted by quaint villages, hidden away from the tourist circuit. Shadowed by the more popular destinations, these villages still boast of untouched nature and serenity. One such destination is Kanatal.
Known for Eco-Friendly Homestays
Best known for the lovely resorts and eco-friendly homestays, Kanatal can offer an experience which perhaps, popular destinations cannot. Hikes through deodar trees and bathing in streams can conjure breathtaking memories for you. The best thing about exploring Kanatal is the absence of touts trying to take advantage of tourists. The gorgeous snow-covered Himalayas visible from almost every corner of Kanatal town offers you a constant opportunity to drift in oblivion.
The resorts here have been focusing on helping out the local villagers. The villagers are glad to offer you a scrumptious lunch at a very minimal charge. The country chicken marinated in the local spices can make you forget about all the luxurious meals you had at boutique resorts. Kanatal is a truly worthy destination to spend a weekend or more.
Highlights in Kanatal: Rustic Village experience, Lovely Resorts overlooking lush green valleys, Untouched Nature
Distance from Delhi: 8 Hrs, 320 km
Recommended Mode of Transportation: Direct Cab
2. Mcleodganj, Himachal Pradesh State
Situated in upper Dharmasala, Mcleodganj will leave a lasting impression on your memory. Named after the former Governor of Punjab, here you can witness the convergence of Buddhist dharma and Tibetan culture. Located at an elevation of 1,700m in the state of Himachal Pradesh, the region is enriched with monasteries, ancient temples, and mesmerizing art edifices.
Tsuglagkhang is the main temple enshrining Padmasambhava, Avalokitesvara and Sakyamuni Buddha. The ambiance of this temple resonates Buddhist lifestyles and practices.
Art-loving tourists can visit TIPA, or the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, to unravel the culture, history and art forms that depict the magnificence of Tibet. You can also enjoy a surreal trek to Triund which is a delight for nature lovers. You get to camp in front of snow-clad mountains which will engrave a picturesque frame in your mind.
Highlights in Mcleodganj: Tibetan Colony, Trek to Triund, A Relaxed ambiance and plethora of cafes
Distance from Delhi: 9 Hrs, 478 km
Recommended Mode of Transportation: Overnight Bus from Delhi
3. Bir – Billing, Himachal Pradesh State
Head to Bir, another hill station near Delhi, for a thrilling experience amidst lush greenery! This offbeat destination is known for treks into wildness and adventure sports such as paragliding.
Bir is known as the 2nd best site for paragliding in Asia and hosts international paragliding contests. The morning sky in Bir is dotted with colorful specks representing the paragliding enthusiasts, practicing their amazing skills.
Apart from the adventure quotient, the offbeat township serves as a center for meditation and spiritual studies as well. Influenced by Tibetan culture, the town has abundant opportunities for indulging in adventure activities.
Lose yourself in the quaintest routes you would ever find in Himachal Pradesh while in Bir. There is so much to explore and experience while staying in this exquisite little settlement.
Highlights in Bir – Billing: Paragliding, spiritual indulgence, rustic homestays and unexplored hiking terrains
Distance from Delhi: 10 Hrs, 515 km
Recommended Mode of Transportation: Overnight train from Delhi to Pathankot & subsequent cab from Pathankot to Bir. Cabs are available for hire at Pathankot station.
4. Mukhteshwar, Uttarakhand State
One of the most popular destinations in Uttarakhand is Nainital. Located near the border of Jim Corbett National Park, Nainital attracts hordes of travelers in summer season, so it becomes quite crowded. Mukhteshwar, nestled in the lush green landscapes, appears as a savior here.
At a distance of 47 km from Nainital, Mukhteshwar is more suited if you are looking to escape the vacationing crowds from Delhi. There are some very beautiful homestays in Mukhteshwar where you can look upon never ending valleys from your balcony and read your favorite novel.
A great destination for relaxation, Mukhteshwar also offers plenty of hiking opportunities. If you are visiting Mukhteshwar, do visit Sitla as well, which is a great picnic spot near Mukhteshwar.
Highlights in Mukhteshwar: Sitla spot, hiking trails
Distance from Delhi: 8 Hrs, 348 km
Recommended Mode of Transportation: Delhi to Pantnagar by train or flight. From Pantnagar, you can book a cab to Mukhteshwar or opt for public transport.
5. Twin towns of Sangla & Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh State
I visited Sangla when I went for a trek in Higher Himalayas. The lovely village is as picturesque as you can imagine. Located 20 km away from Sangla is another gem called Chitkul. Both these villages are very close to the Chinese border, just 30 km.
The popular tourist circuit ends at Shimla in Himachal Pradesh state. But these twin towns, tucked another 200 km away, create a great spot to spend an extended weekend.
Due to its distance from Delhi, I would not recommend these hill stations for a weekend. Club the public holidays and plan a trip to Sangla & Chitkul. There are very few resorts near these villages. You will have to stay in homestays or lodges.
Highlights in Sangla & Chitkul: Offbeat attractions, crystal clear rivers, proximity to Chinese border
Distance from Delhi: 14 Hrs, 580 km
Recommended Mode of Transportation: Delhi to Shimla or Chandigarh by flight or train and then cab to Sangla.
6. Rishikesh, Uttarakhand State
Though most of the Delhi hill stations on this list are offbeat and lesser known, I have to recommend visiting Rishikesh despite it being very popular. Due to the multitude of adventure activities offered here, Rishikesh is a lovely spot for an excursion.
Spend a week in Rishikesh and indulge in awesome adventure experiences. The 83 meter high bungee jumping experience was the highlight for me. You can also enjoy ziplining across the tumultuous Ganga River in Rishikesh.
Best known for River rafting, Rishikesh cannot possibly disappoint an adventure junkie. The rapids in Ganga river can go up to grade 4, offering a great thrill and adrenaline rush.
You can also indulge in some yoga retreats in the quaint town. Another recommended experience in Rishikesh is the morning or evening prayers offered to the Holy Ganga River.
Highlights in Rishikesh: River rafting, Bungee Jumping, Camping, Yoga Retreats
Distance from Delhi: 7 Hrs, 245 km
Recommended Mode of Transportation: Direct over night bus from Delhi to Rishikesh
7. Fagu, Himachal Pradesh State
Located 20 km from Shimla, Fagu is best known for the lovely fruit orchards covering a sprawling area with apple or orange plants. A great collection of orchard stays await your arrival in this adorable town.
If you seek some adventure while staying in Fagu, you can head to Chaba, a spot from where river rafting begins on the Satluj River. A 12 km stretch from Chaba to Tattapani will leave you exhilarated.
Post monsoons, the river rafting on Satluj can beat the rapids of Rishikesh! In fact, the river rafting on Satluj River is banned right after monsoons to prevent thrill seekers from suffering injuries. Chaba is located only 45 km from Fagu, making it a great day expedition while staying amidst fruit orchards.
Highlights in Fagu: Fruit Orchards, River Rafting on Satluj river, offbeat attractions
Distance from Delhi: 8 Hrs, 359 km
Recommended Mode of Transportation: Direct train or flight till Shimla or Chandigarh and subsequent cab till Fagu.