My weekend getaways from Delhi – Journeys and experiences

After buying my own car a couple of years back, I’ve fallen in love with the idea of small 1-3 day weekend getaways from Delhi to explore places around my city which are self drivable, without getting too tired in the process. Usually the idea is to leave super early on a Saturday morning (around 4 am) and get back late on Sunday (or Monday, incase of a long weekend)

If you are like me, the biggest question on your mind would be – Where should we go? I’ve noticed that there are far too many blogs and websites which list many such possible places. But still, good, tested and authentic information is very hard to find.

This blogpost is an effort to share my own journeys and experiences as well as tried and tested places where my friends have been to.

1. Jaipur – Delhi to Jaipur is roughly a 5-6 hour drive, provided you start super early and cross Manesar before the city wakes up. Otherwise, you’ll end up wasting a lot of time standing in a never ending queue of Maruti trucks at the various toll booths that come on the way. The highway is OK-ish but even after years and years of renovation, there are plenty of diversions so your car will pickup speed only in patches.

In Jaipur, you can explore a variety of places including Amer Fort, Hawa Mahal, Chowki Dhaani, LMB Sweet Shop etc. You can find out more on Wikitravel, Tripadvisor etc. Jaipur deserves a minimum of 2 nights stay.

(There’s another route to Jaipur that goes via Agra. So you take the Yamuna expressway to Agra and then from Agra to Jaipur. It’s definitely longer but the drive is smoother, as I’ve come to know.)

2. Neemrana Fort and Palace, Neemrana – This one is roughly mid-way between Delhi and Jaipur on the Delhi-Jaipur highway. Neemrana fort is one of the oldest properties of the super popular Neemrana group. It’s basically a fort converted to a hotel. Book for a maximum of 1 night and explore the fort. You’ll absolutely love it. There are also a few activities that the hotel organizes – Zipping, vintage car rides etc. to name a few.

Rooms can be booked only from the Neemrana Hotel website (not via Cleartrip, MakeMyTrip etc.) and rooms differ by size, number of beds and location inside the fort. If you go on a weekday, your room will probably be upgraded.

3. Rishikesh – The road that connects Delhi to Haridwar is a complete mess, especially after crossing Khatauli. So much that it took us almost 9 hours to reach Rishikesh. But oh boy, once you reach the camp you realize what a place it is! Rishikesh is the place to go camping and rafting. Most camps are situated roughly 20-30 kms after crossing the main Rishikesh city. So if you’re planning to camp as well as explore Rishikesh in the same trip, it won’t be easy.

Another problem with the camps is that most camps are usually empty and deserted, so choose carefully. We stayed at “Camp Rapidfire” and were fortunate to have a large group of school students occupying the remaining tents.

Staying besides the Ganga, on the dry sand, inside a tent where you’ll have to survive with a torchlight at night – It’ll be an experience you’ll cherish forever.

4. Agra – The one thing that’s better than Agra itself is the road that connects Delhi to Agra! Got a good car and really want to rev up the engines? Bring it to the Yamuna Expressway. A flat straight empty road that goes on for miles and miles – What else would you want?

We stayed at Agra for 1 night at the Trident Hotel. The hotel was amazing and so was the city (if you can ignore all the filth and dirt spread all over the city). Agra is the home of the Taj Mahal, Panchi Petha and numerous other places which you can explore at leisure.

Side note- The Yamuna Expressway has no street lighting, no “roadside shops”, just 1 petrol pump, no signboards etc. so avoid travel at night.

5. Vrindavan – Well connected to Delhi via the Yamuna Expressway, Vrindavan is a pilgrimage spot entirely dedicated to Lord Krishna. So much that almost every shop you’ll see would be “Radhe sweets”, “Radhe travels” etc. Your trip will consist almost entirely of visiting one temple after another. Don’t bother with the “ghats” – They’re dirty and not worth your time.

6. Murthal – What’s the harm in a long drive to Murthal just for the paranthas? Go for it on a Sunday morning. The drive is roughly 1-2 hours depending on where you start from. Have the lovely Aloo Pyaaz paranthas at Sukhdev and be back by noon.

7. Lansdowne – Lansdowne is the closest hill station to Delhi, yet so few people know about it. That’s because there’s practically nothing to do there once you arrive. And that might be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you like to enjoy your vacation. Being a military base, the place is spick and span – Not even a bit of dirt anywhere. And so are the roads that connect Delhi to Lansdowne.

Gotchas: Many blogs/websites recommend Amritsar, Dharamshala and McLeodganj for a weekend trip. They are quite far off from Delhi and definitely not a weekend trip, especially if you are driving yourself. Please do not attempt them.

Other options that I will be exploring shortly are:

1. Jim Corbett National Park
2. Sariska National Park
3. Tree House Resort (near Jaipur)
4. Pratapgarh Farms

Have you tried any other places? How has your experience been? Please add a comment and share!

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