By Alaric Moras
Spring in India is a beautiful time to pack your bags and travel. Coffee and apple flowers are in bloom, the first flush of tea is picked, wildlife spotting is at its best and the mountains fill with colors – enough incentive to take a vacation with your family, friends or loved ones. SaffronStays recommends 8 places to visit this spring and some cottages, homestays and Villas that you can consider staying in while there.
#1. See the colorful rhododendrons blossom in Sikkim
Sikkim is worth a visit throughout the year but the months of April and May are definitely the best for the colorful rhododendrons are in bloom and one can see them all across the towns and villages. Irrespective of whether you’re planning to go for a trek to the Rhododendron Sanctuary, you’ll still be able to see the colorful flowers in the well-maintained gardens of the homes of locals. Staying in homestays is the best way to soak up the natural beauty and culture of the region – stay next to a forest in a cottage in Ravangla, go bird watching with the host during your stay in log cottages in Kewzing or stay in a homestay in a scenic village near the Rhododendron Sanctuary.
#2. Watch the white coffee flowers blossom in Coorg, Karnataka
Famously known as ‘the Coffee Cup of India,’ the months of March and April find the Coorg air filled with the heavy fragrance of snow white coffee blossoms. Enjoy the cool breeze that accompanies you through your exploration of the Coorg district, particularly so in the numerous wildlife sanctuaries in the area. Of great interest to nature lovers is the Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, where evergreen forests and high altitudes cause a further dip in temperature. The district is also known for the famous Bylakuppe Tibetan Settlement, home to around 70,000 Buddhists today, which houses a number of beautiful Tibetan monasteries.Watch the coffee flowers bloom by staying with the locals in a Colonial Bungalow dating back to the British Raj, in a rustic homestay in the coffee plantations or in a Farm House. Make sure to try the Pandi curry while there!
#3. Watch the apple orchards in full bloom in Kotgarh, Himachal Pradesh
Located about 6,500 kilometres above sea-level, Kotgarh is situated about 75 kilometers away from Shimla. The scenic hill station hosts terraced fields dotted with apple trees and bungalows, and is famous for its many apple orchards and pine forests, all in full-bloom during the season of Spring. Places to visit include the Hatu Peak, from where one can stare, awe-struck, at a spectacular view of the Himalayan range, including the snowline. Other sites include St. Mary’s Church, a marvellous epitome of gothic architecture, built in 1872, and interestingly, the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Plain Tales from the Hills.’ There are two beautiful Homestays to choose from – one that lies in the midst of apple orchards, and the other that lies in a quiet spot surrounded by woods. Both homestay hosts gladly organise barbeques, orchard tours and village walks for guests.
#4. Watch the snow melt in Kullu- Manali, Himachal Pradesh
Springtime at this hill-station is particularly fulfilling because of the apple and plum orchards that are in full bloom. These reside side by side with tall deodar trees, and birdsong is the only sound that fills the air. Whether you choose to visit the Jana Falls, Solang Valley or drive all the way to Rohtang Pass- you’ll see the snow melting away to reveal lush green landscapes and a weather that is it’s pleasant best. Avoid staying near the markets and choose homestays and cottages located in scenic locations instead – stay in an apartment en route Rohtang, in a cottage in the village of Shuru, or in a homestay in Bipasha Valley – all of which are run by locals and offer great hospitality.
#5. Watch the first flush of tea being picked in Darjeeling, West Bengal
Darjeeling has long since shaken off its colonial roots to become a destination that attracts travellers round the year. If you’re a tea lover, then we recommend you plan your trip in Spring to grab a cup of tea brewed from the first flush. Tea plantations abound in Darjeeling, and the first flush of tea is picked during this time. It is a beautiful sight to witness planters harvesting the fruits of their labour after many months of hard work. Darjeeling also has its own passenger ropeway that offers a splendid view of the many tea factories down below. Make the most of your trip by staying with the locals – stay with a warm family in Darjeeling town, in a beautiful farm house where you can also see orange flowers in bloom, or in simple homestays in the tea garden of Makaibari where you can learn about tea processing first hand.
#6. See the mountains and valleys fill with colors in Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand’s northern borders are largely comprised of the Himalayan mountain range, and thus, many of India’s major rivers find their headstreams located in this beautiful state. During spring, make your way to Uttarakhand to experience the rivers in fool flood. The snow that accumulated through the months of October through February begins to thaw in the valley at this time and the hamlets begin to fill with colors. Nature lovers and backpackers will be delighted to know that every year, Uttarakhand organises the Uttarakhand Spring Bird Festival, where bird watching camps are conducted at 25 birding destinations within the state. Also of interest is The Valley of Flowers in the Chamoli district, home to 300 different species of wildflowers and also a UNESCO heritage site. There are some beautiful stay options here – a homestay near Alaknanda river and Valley of Flowers, a lake view cottage in Naukuchiatal, and a beautiful cottage in Nathuakhan.
#7. Welcome mango season & spot wildlife in Thekkady, Kerala
Mango plants are in full bloom in Kerala by the end of February. Thekkady, best known for its lush fields and the Periyar National Park, is the ideal place to be at this time. This is the time when many species of animals, from tigers to sloth bears, emerge from within the forests. It is also an ideal time to escape the holiday crowds who do not begin to flock here till later in the year. Homestays in Thekkady include rustic huts, tree-houses, and properties near jungles. You can choose to indulge in a farm experience in a beautiful farm house, soak up nature in a luxury tree house or stay in a homestay in the buffer zone of Periyar National Park.
#8. Go wildlife spotting in Kanha
The town of Mandla is situated in a loop, surrounded by the Narmada river on three sides. A short distance away is the Kanha National Park which is best visited in spring. The National Park is home to around 1,000 different species of flowering plants, and also boast open grasslands and aquatic plants in the little lakes that dot it. At this time of the year, the vegetation is lush and abundant, and chances of spotting tiger are more favorable as many resident naturalists will tell you. During your visit, choose to stay in a beautiful homestay which allows you to feel one with the forest – rooms with a view of the dense cover, a swimming pool, outdoor decks, private balconies and the option of dining in the open.
Where will you be welcoming spring this year? Share with us in your comments.
About the author: Alaric Moras spends most of his time reading, writing and interning with industries that read and write. He aims to become a clinical psychologist, providing therapy and catching Freudian slips during the day, writing and reading through the night. He likes all manner of animals, the smell of books, and the oxford comma.