1. From Delhi- Chandigarh Picture Perfect
Best known as India’s most planned city, Le Corbusier’s, Chandigarh on the foothills of the Shivalik range is a fantastic choice for a weekend getaway. Begin exploring from the Capitol Complex, the administrative quarters, and a grand expression of the French architect’s work. Chandigarh’s must-see attractions include the Rock Garden, scattered with figures and sculptures created by Nek Chand, using interestingly shaped pebbles and rocks, interspersed with waste materials like glass shards. Also visit Sukhna Lake, where the city gathers in the evening to stroll, unwind and just hang out. You can spend some quiet time strolling through the city’s pretty gardens, such as the Zakir Hussain Rose Garden and the Garden of Fragrance in Sector 36.
Chandigarh’s museums and galleries are as well-organized as the city itself. Take a tour of the Government Museum and Art Gallery in Sector 10, which has a splendid collection of stone sculptures from the Gandhara period. Then there’s the Museum of Evolution of Life in Sector 10 that takes you back 5,000 years to the Indus Valley Civilisation. The International Dolls Museum in Sector 23 has a colorful collection that children will especially love. Spend an evening in Sector 17, the sleek shopping area, dotted with fountains and sculptures, which becomes one big outdoor club every night. There are plenty of drinking and dining options here. To get out of town, head to Prakriti Farms, an organic farm an hour’s drive from Chandigarh. Take a farm tour and see environment-friendly farming practices. Dine on delicious Punjabi food prepared from vegetables grown on the farm.
Drive: It’s a four-and-a-half hours’ drive from Delhi, making this a perfect weekend getaway from the capital.
Stay: There’s a vast range of accommodation available here. For mid-range hotels in Chandigarh check out Ginger and Lemon Tree. For luxury, there’s JW Marriott.
Eat: In Chandigarh, you’re never far from good Punjabi fare. Tehal Singh’s Chicken in Sector 22-B has quite a reputation for kebabs and roomali rotis.
2. From Chennai – Puducherry French Connection
First-time visitors to this former colony are bound to be surprised at its distinct French air. The town that hugs the sea is laid out in a tidy grid of streets lined with lovely white buildings and little patches of green. Rubbing shoulders with the Ville Blanche, or the white town, is the colorful ethnic side with its temples and bustling markets. An eclectic mix of restaurants, free-flowing drinks, and a slow pace makes for a great weekend getaway. One of the best ways to see.
Puducherry is a walking tour through the rues and the avenues which allow you to admire the French colonial architecture. Hit the promenade at dawn or in the evening. This is where the city comes to jog, stroll, eat ice-cream or drink coconut water. There isn’t much to do in Puducherry, and that’s one of the charms of the place. So, find a pleasant restaurant, and while away the hours, drinking beer and tucking into some superb seafood. Make the trip to Auroville and visit the Matri Mandir—the heart of the township and a magnificent edifice that can be viewed from afar. You will need a visitor pass to see the inside, which also provides access to the meditation chambers. Other activities you can engage in Auroville are yoga, tai-chi, and courses in alternative healing. If you wish to relax on a beach, Auro Beach is within walking distance of the township.
Drive: It’s a three-hour drive from Chennai, along the scenic East Coast Road.
Stay The Promenade which overlooks a promenade is a good option. Ask for a sea-facing room.
Eat: Several restaurants such as Rendezvous and Satsanga serve good French fare. You’ll find menus peppered with Coq au vin and crepes Suzette everywhere you go.
Buy: Shop at Casablanca for home linen and accessories. Visit the Auroville shops for stationery and gifts.
3. From Mumbai – Dadra & Nagar Haveli Lost In Time
This is a tiny Union Territory with Nagar Haveli nestling between Maharashtra and Gujarat, while Dadra is an enclave a kilometer away. The region was under Portuguese rule until the mid-1950s, and you can still see traces of this colonial past in many places, particularly in the quiet capital, Silvassa. If you want to get away to a non-touristy destination, amidst soothing nature, then this is it. The Daman Ganga River flows through this verdant zone, adding to its scenic beauty. A short drive out of Silvassa there’s the Vanganga Lake Garden, a well-laid out green space, with water features, quaint bridges, and jogging tracks.
Another green space is the unique Nakshatra Garden, with its profusion of medicinal plants and flowering shrubs. Wildlife-lovers can head to the Vasona Lion Safari, just outside Silvassa. You ride through the wildlife park, seeing up close majestic Asiatic lions in their natural habitat. Also, make the trip to the Deer Park situated on the Khanvel-Silvassa Road. This wildlife sanctuary is home to a variety of deer species like sambhar, chital, and nilgai, and also attracts birdwatchers. From the watchtower, you can get superb views of the Satmalia Park and Madhuban Dam across the Daman Ganga. In Silvassa, see the Portuguese Church and visit the Tribal Museum.
Don’t expect a break packed with things to do here. But if you wish to slow down, enjoy being in the midst of nature, and strolling through lush gardens, then Dadra & Nagar Haveli makes for an ideal getaway from Mumbai.
Drive: Silvassa is 180 km from Mumbai and a comfortable drive.
Stay: You’ll find resorts aplenty in this holiday destination—such as Ras Resorts and Treat Resort.
Eat: Try a variety of Gujarati-style foods here, including a local version of undhiyo. There’s good seafood to tuck into as well.
4. From Ahmedabad – Daman And Diu Beach Breaks
If Goa and even Gokarna have begun to look a bit jaded, head to the former Portuguese enclaves of Daman and Diu. Explore their churches and forts and relax on unspoiled beaches during your break. In Diu, a picturesque island located off the southern tip of Saurashtra, see the Diu Fort, with its double moat, from whose ramparts you can get some great sea views. Nagoa Beach is one of Diu’s best known, a horseshoe-shaped expanse of sand washed by the waves. It’s safe for swimming, and you can also indulge in water sports here. Just beyond the walls of the Diu Fort are the Naida Caves, an intriguing network of square-hewn hollows and steps.
And on to Daman. Devka Beach is the most popular here, an excellent spot for a family outing with opportunities for swimming and gathering shells. Jampore Beach in Nani Daman is one of the few black sand beaches in India, clean, relatively uncrowded, and a great place to watch the sunset. Beach-hoppers can head to Ghoghla Beach as well. The Church of Bom Jesus in Daman is definitely worth visiting. Built-in 1559, it’s an example of the engineering skills and artistry of the Portuguese. The Fort of Saint Jerome is another fine edifice that heritage-lovers will enjoy visiting. Spend an evening at Diu Market which comes alive at night. You can have a drink and savor fresh seafood in small stalls at the edge of the beach.
Drive: It’s a 350-km drive from Ahmedabad.
Stay: For a splash-out stay, check in to the Deltin Hotel & Casino. There are several mid-budget resorts here as well.
Tip: Hire a cycle and see the sights here. The roads are quiet, and you can travel at your own pace.