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Short breaks from Delhi: Six multifaceted cities

A truly multifaceted city with an eclectic mix of history, culture and tradition, Delhi is one of the most visited cities in the world. Inhabited since the 6th century, Delhi is one of those cities where its rich past coexists and blends beautifully with its vibrant present. A bustling city that boasts of a population that is larger than several nations including Bhutan, Estonia, Fiji and Iceland, Delhi is a traveller’s delight.

Located in close proximity to the states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, Delhi offers the best historical monuments, unique museums, vibrant markets and shopping for visitors. Yet, equally exciting are the options available for short trips from this fascinating city, whether you are seeking adventure, relaxation, history or even royalty. Here’s a quick look into the best nearby cities you should consider visiting.

Lucknow

Mosque in Lucknow, India

Located about 500km from Delhi, this is the capital of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Also, known as the ‘city of the Nawabs’, it is home to some of the finest monuments like Imambara and Rumi Darwaza. So, when you are here, take a tour of the Bara Imambara which is one of the most magnificent buildings in the city. The complex also includes a mosque and there are two major gateways that lead to the main hall.

The Bhool Bhulaiya which is an interesting maze of narrow tunnels offering city views, is yet another highlight of the city. A grand gateway built in the 18th century and a classic example of Awadi architecture, the Rumi Darwaza is one of the main landmarks of the city. Best known for its literature, Lucknow is famous for Awadhi cuisine which includes its mouth-watering kebabs and biryani. Lucknow is also known for its trademark embroidery and ‘chikan’ fabric.

Varanasi

Man praying in Varanasi, India overlooking the river

Easily one of the most colourful and fascinating places, not only in India but on the planet, Varanasi is the epitome of all life and surprises. On the banks of river Ganga, Varanasi is one of the holiest cities and is synonymous with the ghats where people come to perform the last rites of their loved ones and take a dip in the holy Ganga. About 700km, the city is all that one can imagine India to be. Apart from the ghats, visit the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, take a boat ride on the Ganges and witness the spectacular ‘Ganga Aarthi’ on the river bank at night. An extremely vibrant city with plenty of photo opportunities, Benaras or Kashi as the city is also known, is truly a trip into the culture and traditions of India.

Chandigarh

People visiting the rock garden in Chandigarh, India

The capital city of Punjab and Harayana, this is one of the best planned cities in India; a bustling city that has a right mix of the contemporary yet historic appeal. There are several places to explore in the city which include the rose garden, the Chandigarh museum and the Capitol complex. The rock garden which is several acres of hundreds of sculptures made entirely out of recycled materials is a must see. All this is the handiwork of one man named Nek Chand. Take time to enjoy a leisurely ride on the Sukhna lake and sample the delectable Punjabi cuisine. Chandigarh is about 250km from Delhi.

Udaipur

Udaipur river and boat

The former capital of the Mewar kingdom, this is a city of lakes in the state of Rajasthan. Beautiful temples, magnificent palaces, native havelis and a vibrant art scene make it one of the most visited cities in India. It is about 700km from Delhi and is also called the ‘Venice of the East’. Lake Pichola, the largest and oldest of the lakes, the City Palace, Lake Palace and the Jag Mandir are some of the most popular tourist spots.

While in the city you can treat yourself to some exquisite shopping in the bustling bazaars and also check out the vintage car museum. The Bagore Ki Haveli as well as the Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal are great places to check out the art, artefacts, costumes and culture of Rajasthan.

Rishikesh

Rishikesh river in India

Rishikesh is nestled at the foothills of the Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand and is about 225km from Delhi. Known for its spirituality, it is also known as the yoga capital of the world and is home to a number of ashrams and temples. The Lakshman Jhula which is an iron suspension bridge on the Ganges, the Neelakanta Mahadev temple and the Beatles ashram are some of the top places of tourist interest. The Parmarth Niketan is one of the top yoga centres and one of the biggest ashrams around Rishikesh. The ancient holy pond of Rishikund is yet another must visit.

Rishikesh is also a popular white water rafting centre and a gateway to the Himalayas. So, if you are looking for some adrenaline pumping activities like river rafting, bungee jumping, rappelling or kayaking, head to Rishikesh!

Shimla

Shimla in India views

A hill station about 350km from Delhi, this was once the summer capital of British India. A picturesque city known for its markets and narrow gauge toy train, Shimla is a popular destination among locals and tourists. Panoramic views of the snow-clad mountains, lush greenery and beautiful lakes have made Shimla earn the sobriquet of the ‘Queen of Hill Stations’.

Jakhoo Hill which is the highest peak in Shimla, the state museum, Annandale and the Ridge in the town centre are some of the best places to visit in this town. The bustling Mall Road which is the main street in the town is the epicentre of all activity and captures the true pulse of the town. Be sure to take a trip on the 762mm narrow guage Kalka Shimla railway that passes through a whopping 107 tunnels and 864 bridges – it’s also a UNESCO World heritage site.

This article was originally published in Travioor.

16 thoughts on “Short breaks from Delhi: Six multifaceted cities

  1. Totally agree with your selection of the cities around Delhi. Each one has its unique charm and history. Gorgeous pictures too, Rashmi.
    Very helpful post for travelers.

  2. Thank you showing us the six cities that excel in cultural sights and are worth seeing! I noticed that the distances from Delhi are substantial. Are there good train connections? Five hundred km seems like a long drive by car.

    1. Thanks Peter, train connectivity is excellent in India. So all these places are easily accessible by train; flights are also available.

  3. Very nice read Rashmi & as always full of insight & info 😊 Shimla looks so beautiful, your picture is absolutely stunning:) And Rishikesh too! This article is very useful 😊

  4. A good list for beginners. Though touristy, people can enjoy a lot in these cities, the food in Lucknow, the divinity in Varanasi, the cleanliness of Chandigarh, the hills around Shimla and the royalty of Udaipur 🙂

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