Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, includes sprucing up the house, adorning it with flowers and lights, inviting friends and families and exchanging gifts. However, amid celebrations, Diwali increases air pollution with bursting of crackers, exacerbating the already poor air quality in Delhi. So, plan a Diwali weekend getaway to get an escape from the noise, pollution and smoke. By Manas Sen Gupta
Although society has become increasingly conscious of the depreciating air quality and has been finding novel ways to celebrate a pollution-free Diwali, there is a long way to go. Until then, those seeking a break from the smog that fills the air can opt for a Diwali weekend getaway to places where they can breathe clean air and stare at the endless blue sky.
Also, with Diwali falling on November 4 this year, you can combine it with the weekend for a longer vacation to unwind and refresh the mind and body.
And those in Delhi can be at an advantage. The national capital is strategically situated between the Thar desert and the lush green mountains, and there is no dearth of activities in any of these places. While the sandy and rugged terrains house magnificent forts and palaces showcasing splendid architecture and incredible history, the panoramic view of the Himalayas will leave you enchanted. Additionally, children will enjoy and learn about wildlife and the geography of the place if you choose to go on a desert safari or witness the untouched natural habitat and villages nestled in the hills.
Having said that, the most important aspect of undertaking any such journey starts with a luxurious stay.
So, here are seven Diwali weekend getaway options to choose from:
The Gulaal, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
The Gulaal is a luxury boutique hotel around a kilometre from the world-famous Jaisalmer Fort, or Sonar Kella — as the bastion is popularly known. From the outside, the hotel seems like a part of the majestic fort because of its design and the materials used to build it. The hotel’s architecture reflects the traditional style of havelis (palaces) that dot the desert landscape in and around Jaisalmer.
There are 24 rooms, including four grand suites where the finest of Rajasthan’s traditional hospitality blends seamlessly with modern amenities. Ostentatious royalty is highlighted in each room’s décor. Combined with the overall quaintness of the hotel, The Gulaal is the perfect reason to leave Delhi for a pollution-free Diwali weekend getaway.
During the daytime, take a dip in the hotel’s alluring swimming pool or spend a lazy afternoon at the lavishly done spacious courtyard aptly named the Maharaja Lounge. Head to the rooftop restaurant after sundown and witness the beautiful sight of the Sonar Kella bathed in night lights as you enjoy a delicious meal.
The Gulaal also provides guide services for heritage walks for a well-rounded understanding of the history of the region. Moreover, guests can also see the Thar desert under a starry night and sleep inside comfy luxurious Swiss tents, which is among the hotel’s special camping facilities.
Call: +91 29922 51450 / +91 95714 12150 / +91 97845 88254
Amritara Gogunda Palace, Gogunda, Rajasthan
Gogunda is a small town famous as the coronation site of Mewar ruler Maharana Pratap. It was also near here that Maharana Pratap fought the historic Battle of Haldighati in 1576 against the forces of Mughal emperor Akbar, led by Raja Man Singh of Jaipur.
The Amritara Gogunda Palace was originally built as a fortress in the 16th century. After restoration, that returned the palace to its former glory, it was opened as a hotel in 2017. Today, the Gogunda Palace is one of the most luxurious hotels in the Udaipur district.
Its location in the Aravalli hills makes the hotel a fine place for guests unwind in the solitude. Visitors can witness the breathtaking beauty of the Aravalli mountains from the hotel’s terrace, named after these hills. The rooms, ornately decorated with Rajasthani murals, woodwork and artwork, will leave visitors enthralled. Every corner of the palace — be it hand-painted walls, the marble work, or the intricately carved jharokhas — testify to Mewar’s cultural finesse.
Besides the palace rooms, guests can choose to sleep in comfortable heritage suites, Gogunda suites and the Raj Mahal Suite. Visitors can stay luxuriously in the regal splendour of the Raj Tilak suite — the largest of all rooms and suites measuring 1,700 square feet. This is where the Maharana’s coronation was held.
Explore Haldighati and other nearby places such as Kumbhalgarh and Ranakpur or take cycling trips through the picturesque terrain.
Call: 02956 282072 / +91 91166 27373
The Orchard at Peora Estates, Peora, Uttarakhand
This farm-to-table boutique hotel is like a slice of Italy in the Kumaon hills, and it is not just because of its food, but also the bungalow’s architecture. Visitors will feel teleported to a very Instagrammable farmhouse in Italy’s Tuscany the moment they lay their eyes on the building. Made with marbles and tiles brought from Italy, The Orchard is designed to maximise space and comfort while providing uninterrupted views of the rolling hills all around.
Perhaps the most laudable thing about the hotel is its dedication to sustainability. Rainwater harvesting, solar power, use of recycled wood and lead-free paint are some of the many ways through which The Orchard takes care of the environment.
The concept extends to the table too — chemical-free fruits and vegetables are used in the kitchens, meat comes from local organic vendors, and fish is caught from the rivers and streams of the valley right before cooking. Guests can also opt for a vegan menu.
What makes The Orchard an ideal escape from Delhi for a Diwali weekend getaway is its location in the hills. Peora is a small hamlet in the Nainital district and just about 20 kilometres from Mukteshwar. Its lush vegetation is home to various animal species, including leopards and jackals.
Call: +91 99581 64110
The Lake Resort, Naukuchiatal, Uttarakhand
The Lake Resort is situated in the north-eastern corner of the Naukuchiatal lake, which lends the place its name. It is nestled amid a lush green oak forest, and its immediate surroundings offer breathtaking Himalayan natural beauty nurtured by the waters of the lake. The forests are home to around 135 species of birds and a wide range of flora.
The deep, nine-cornered lake is itself the centre of attraction both for photography enthusiasts and those eager to undertake leisurely water activities such as boating. An ideal Diwali weekend getaway, visitors can go to Jim Corbett National Park, Bhimtal lake and Sat Tal, too.
Rooms and suites can be booked in any of the three blocks — the main block, the middle court and the specially built hunting lodge. Besides terraces and balconies, large windows offer views of the lake and the forests.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Telephones: 0091 5942 247183, 247184 / +91 84499 47183, 84
Taara House, Manali, Himachal Pradesh
Calm and luxury converge at the Taara House — a cottage located 2,011 metres up in the Himalayas. Interestingly, Taara House is just about three kilometres from Manali, but its pristine surroundings make it appear as if it is cut off from the world. This makes it perfect for a Diwali weekend getaway for a pollution-free celebration!
The mountain lodge has two bedrooms, Therefore, up to four guests can book the entire property. A fully-equipped kitchen helps guests cook their meals with their own groceries. The highlight of this place is its glasshouse, a specially-designed section with a glass roof and floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Visitors can gaze at the stars above while dining in the glasshouse.
During the daytime, the Pine covered hills and the snow-capped Himalayan peaks make for the perfect backdrop for photoshoots. The building has been made using, among other materials, recycled and reclaimed wood as well as Pine, Burma Teak and English Oak. The design of the bedrooms reflects the artistic taste and ecological awareness of the owners. Guests will find a fine blend of tradition and modernity in the architecture.
Apple Farm Stay, Kotkhai, Himachal Pradesh
This incredibly beautiful place is designed in an enchanting traditional Kuni architectural style of Himachal Pradesh. It can house up to five people. Guests can even bring their pets, which makes this place a sought-after site for those looking for a Diwali weekend getaway from Delhi.
The building was originally built around 100 years ago and is now restored with tasteful interiors. It sits in the middle of a beautiful apple orchard, which has lent its name to the farm.