With the mercury soaring high, you must have already started looking for relief from the scorching heat of the summer. And what can be better than a holiday in the hills? So we decided to round up five destinations in north India that make for excellent summer holiday destinations.

Kashmir

This list can never be complete without mentioning Kashmir. Srinagar, Gulmarg and Pahalgam are the three places that are often visited and offer natural beauty in abundance. It sits 5000 ft above sea level, and is aptly called heaven on earth.

Best time: March to October is the best time to visit the valley of Kashmir. This covers spring, summer and autumn in Kashmir, which is the best time to be here. From December to early March the valley remains covered in a white blanket of snow.

Highlights: Kashmir is ideal for honeymoons and family holidays. Skiing during December to early March is preferable—however, the Valley remains covered in snow then, so tourism does slow down. Shikara rides, gondola rides and the Mughal Gardens are some of the many tourist attractions in Kashmir.

How to get there: Srinagar airport is the closest (14 km from the city). There are regular flights from Mumbai, New Delhi, and from Jammu to Srinagar. Jammu Tawi is the closest railway station (approximately 305 km away). There are trains from cities like Kolkata, Pune, Mumbai and New Delhi. Additional trains also operate on this route during the holiday season.

Bollywood connection: Movies like Highway, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Student of the Year, Saat Khoon Maaf and Rockstar are just few of the many films shot in the beautiful valley of Kashmir. You can also read about the 5 locations used in Yeh Jawaani Ha Deewani.

Kashmir

Nainital

Nainital derives its name from Lake Naini which surrounds this hill station. It is known as the lake district of India because the place is dotted by many lakes. Nainital is the perfect holiday spot for those looking for some natural beauty and tranquillity.

Best time: Although Nainital can be visited round the year, it is best to visit between March and June.

Highlights: Naina Lake, Mall Road, Sattal, Land’s End, Naina Peak, Hanumangarhi and Naina Devi temple are few of the tourist attractions in Nainital. Nainital offers lush green valleys and some lip-smacking local cuisine food.

How to get there: For travelling by air, Pantnagar (65 km away) is the closest airport. Only personal chartered flights are operational to and from Pantnagar. Delhi is the second closest airport (290 km away). Kathgodham is the closest railway station (34 km) and it enjoys decent connectivity to places like Howrah, Delhi (daily trains) and Lucknow. Several buses operate from Delhi to Nainital, and this is considered the best way to reach Nainital. It is easily accessible by road too, and can be reached by car from Delhi (6-7 hour drive).

Bollywood connection: Kaal, Masoom, Vivaah and Kati Patang are some of the movies shot in the lush green beauty of Nainital.

Nainital

Ladakh

Visit Ladakh, popularly known as ‘Little Tibet’, for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is serene, calm and an experience that you will never be able to forget.

Best time: Summer, between May to September, because winters are extreme.

Highlights: With breathtaking landscapes, snow-capped mountains, beautiful monasteries and emerald lakes like Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri and Tso Kar, Ladakh is popularly referred to as the desert in the sky. Motorcycle road trips are very popular in Ladakh.

How to get there: You can reach Ladakh by air (Leh airport). Regular flights operate from New Delhi, Srinagar and Jammu. For a few months, the roads are also open (when the snow has melted). Bus, taxi and jeep services are also available.

Bollywood connection: 3 Idiots, Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Dil Se were all shot in magnificent Ladakh. Read about 6 Bollywood’s Favourite Locations in Ladakh.

Ladakh

Dalhousie

Dalhousie used to be a popular summer retreat for the British. In fact, it is also named after British General Lord Dalhousie.

Best time: A year-round destination, but attracts most of its tourists during the summer.

Highlights: It offers panoramic views of the Dhauladhar Mountain Range and is spread across five hills. You can witness some unique 6th century art and handicrafts. The hill station is also dotted with lots of temples.

How to get there: The closest airport is Pathankot (75 kms from Dalhousie), but it is only connected to New Delhi. Gaggal airport (Kangra district) is 140 km away. This airport is well connected to other cities within the country and internationally too. You can hire a bus from Kangra to reach Dalhousie. Train is the most cost-effective way of reaching Dalhousie. Pathankot’s Chakki Bank railhead is the nearest station. Many overnight trains to other cities are also available. You can also take a cab or bus and travel by road.

Bollywood connection: The recent movie Lootera was shot in the beautiful hill station of Dalhousie.

Dalhousie

Manali

They call it the top honeymoon destination in north India. It is nestled right between the Pir Panjal and Dhauladhar range of mountains. Manali is charming and relaxing.

Best time: April to October. The Rohtang Pass becomes inaccessible during winters.

Highlights: Manali offers splendid views, water streams, mountain adventures, paragliding, zorbing, trekking, water rafting, and the opportunity to visit the Rohtang Pass. Manali is often the last stop or base camp before the Himalayas. Go for a road trip to Leh from Manali.

How to get there: Manali is well connected by air, train and road. The nearest airport is Bhuntar (50 km from Manali). It is very well connected via road to New Delhi, Leh, Shimla, Kullu and Dharamshala by state-run and private buses. Manali is 550 kms away from New Delhi. You can also drive up to Manali and enjoy the breathtaking views on the way.

Manali

Bollywood connection: Krrish, Bang Bang, Jab We Met, 3 idiots and Mary Kom are some of the movies that were shot in the scenic and serene Manali. Read about the 7 awesome movies shot in Manali.