Bharatpur (Rajasthan)

If you and your family want to get away from the smog and noise of Delhi, Bharatpur may be your answer. Bharatpur’s highlight (and really the only reason to visit) is the Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary, famous for its various species of avian residents. Every year rare Siberian Cranes come to spend the winter here along with numerous other species of migratory birds. It’s also home to huge pythons, who come out to bask in the sun in the winters. The park is open throughout the year and although cars are not allowed, the options for exploring it are many. You can hire a bicycle, a cyclerisckshaw, take a boat ride through the park’s marshes, or simply walk. It takes a little under three hours to reach Bharatpur by train or road from Delhi, 185km away.

Dharmsala (Himachal Pradesh)

A visit to Dharmsala and its popular outlying villages of McLeod Ganj, Bhagsu, and Dharamkot, feels like a trip out of India. This northern hill station is the home of the Tibetan Government in Exile and the spiritual leader of the Tibetan peole–the Dalai Lama. Westerners flock here to learn about Buddhism and Tibetan culture or just relax, shop, and hike. Major attractions include the Dalai Lama’s residence, the Tibetan Museum, the Norbulinka Institute of Tibetan arts, and the beautiful peak of Triund–a four-mile hike from McLeod that’s easy enough for older children or anyone who is moderately healthy. Dharmsala is 514km from Delhi and takes about 11-12 hours to reach by road. Regular buses leave the capital in the evenings at 5 or 6 and reach Dharmsala early the next morning. Alternatively, take a train to Pathankot and then a bus or taxi the remaining four hours to Dharmsala.

Puhkar (Rajasthan)

This holy lake city in the heart of Rajasthan is popular with Indian pilgrims and Western tourists alike. It’s a good place to go and explore religious sites, shop for Indianised western cloths, or simply “hang out”. Popular attractions include the Brahma Temple (one of the only ones in the world) and the holy lake. The sunsets here are amazing, and every evening tourists and locals gather by the sunset cafes to take in the view of the sun dropping down into the lake. There are also camel rides available all around the city, which are naturally very popular with children! Just ask your hotel owner to book one for you. Pushkar is 407 km from Delhi. It takes about 8 hours by road or 7 hours by train to reach Pushkar. If you opt for the train, you will need to go to Ajmer, some 11 km away and take a taxi or a bus to Pushkar.

Rishikesh (Uttarakhand)

This charming town flanking the River Ganges is named for the sages, or rishis, who have lived there for centuries. Pilgrims come from all over India to collect water from the holy river and focus on their spiritual lives. It’s also the world capital of yoga and has been drawing in streams of Westerners since the Beatles first studied here with their then guru, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. You can visit his ashram, as well as many other ashrams and temples that make up much of Rishikesh’s architecture. Don’t miss the sunset aarti at the ghats in the Swargashram area, a moving evening worship ceremony. As it’s popular with Westerners, Rishikesh is a great place to eat affordable, “continental” food suited to international tastes. Because of it’s peaceful atmosphere, it’s a good place to bring children, and a visit here ensures a greater understanding of Indian culture. There’s also a waterfall a short hike from the town’s Laxman Jhula bridge. Rishikesh is 227km from Delhi, and getting there by road takes 5-6 hours. Alternatively, take the Shatabdi Express to Haridwar and take a taxi or rickshaw the 24km to Rishikesh.

These are just a few of the place you can see around New Delhi, if you plan to stay for a long time, you might want to pick up a copy of Outlook Traveller’s 52 Weekend Breaks from New Delhi

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