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Travel: Top spots for love and romance

Last updated on: February 5, 2010 17:54 IST

Travel: Top spots for love and romance

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Harnoor Channi Tiwary

One can never outgrow the charm of Valentine's Day. No matter what people say, it is a occasion to celebrate love. Add to it the fact that this year, it happens to fall on a long weekend with Friday, February 12 being Shivratri and a holiday for many. So pack your bags this Valentine's Day and take a weekend break to one of these magical places in India, perfect for a romantic getaway.

The Misty Hills of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh

How much ever people try to dissuade you, do not listen. Shimla, about 370 km from Delhi, is the eternal favourite honeymoon spot in North India and for good reason too. The nip in the air, the misty skies, the breathtaking views and evening walks on the Mall road make it the perfect romantic location.

Must-do: Walk hand in hand with your beloved while devouring a softy ice cream from the famous stall near the church. The toy train from Kalka to Shimla is also a must-do.

Where to stay: Unless you want to go the luxury way and stay at the Oberoi, be adventurous and walk down the mall towards a campsite called Potters Hill. The Swiss Tents are comfortable and the location in the middle of the pine forest perfect.

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Photographs: Rohan Tiwary
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Marvelous Matheran, Maharashtra

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Leave the hustle bustle of city life behind and lose yourself in this tiny hillock called Matheran, about 108 km away from Mumbai.

The only hill station where there is no vehicular traffic allowed, spend leisurely afternoons taking pony rides or treks along the unused railway track.

Matheran is delightfully accessible from Mumbai and Pune by local trains that don't need prior booking.

Must-do: Take a walk along the lanes that wind their way through the forests, buy a guava from the stall on the way and hear the birds twitter.

Where to stay: Maharashtra Tourism has excellent cottages at throwaway prices.

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Gopalpur-on-Sea, Orissa

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It may sound like a description but Gopalpur-on-Sea is actually the name of this sleepy town located about 180 km from Bhubaneshwar in Orissa.

Once a busy sea port, it is now a quaint and quiet beach side town. There is a lighthouse for some sightseeing but besides that, there is just the sand, the sea and you. Perfect for a quiet romantic weekend.

The waters of the sea here are a pleasurable deep blue which is rare to find in the ever crowded Goa.

Must-do: Walk barefoot in the sand and watch the sun go down on the sea.

Where to stay: Swosti Palm Resort is a nice and clean but affordable stay option here.

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The Spice Route through Kerala

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One would never think of Kerala as a weekend vacation. But if you happen to be in that part of the country, this is the perfect answer to your Valentine's Day plans.

What could be more romantic than a cruise in a houseboat down the backwaters at Alleppey and fresh prawns for dinner!

Plan a 2-day trip to Cochin and go down to Alleppey (2 hours away) for a day's cruise.

Must-do: Visit the Mattancherry Antique market in Cochin and pick up a 200 year old souvenir to remember your trip.

Where to stay: Book the houseboat for the night and return to Cochin the next day.

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The epitome of Love - Taj Mahal, Agra

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It would be sacrilege to talk of romance and not mention the monument of Eternal Love, the Taj Mahal in Agra, about 203 km away from Delhi.

As hyped that the monument may be, a visit to the Taj will convince you that it still remains magical in its power to amaze.

Club a visit to the Taj with a tour of the magnificent Agra fort and you are in for a treat. Immerse yourself in the romance of years gone by and rediscover each other.

Must-do: When you visit the monuments, do make sure you hire a guide. They may charge an extra Rs.50 but they will help you appreciate the beauty much more than you otherwise would.

Where to stay: There are plenty of 5 star options in Agra, the best of which is the Jaypee Palace.

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Seeped in history - Orchha, Madhya Pradesh

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This may not be an obvious choice but it is merely a lack of marketing and not of potential. Madhya Pradesh remains one of our most unexplored jewels and Orchha may just be the crowning gem.

A town seeped in history and culture, Orchha, about 170 km away from Khajuraho, is a historian's dream.

You don't necessarily need to appreciate architecture to pay this town a visit though. The quiet little town on the banks of the Betwa river is as romantic as it gets. Orchha is best reached by taking a train to Jhansi (16 km away).

Must-do: Watch the sunset over the river.

Where to stay: Book the Orchha Resort and stay in the Swiss Tents instead of the rooms. You will have your morning tea literally in the lap of the ruins.

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Coorg (Kodagu), Karnataka

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Referred to as the Scotland of India, nestled between teakwood and sandalwood forests, Coorg is beauty that must be experienced.

A popular destination yet so abundant in natural beauty that it seems untouched. The region is known for its stunning scenic beauty and undulating coffee plantations.

A comfortable drive from Bangalore (252 km)/ Mangalore (135 km), Coorg is the perfect Valentine's Day weekend if you live in these cities.

Must-do: The Abbey Falls, near the main town of Madikeri can be reached by hiking through the cardamom and coffee plantations.

Where to stay: The best part about Coorg is to stay in the midst of the plantations. For a luxury option, the best recommended is Orange County. But if you want to save the dough, experience Coorg by staying in one of the homestays like Ashraya Homestay or the Palace Estate Homestay.

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Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

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Though Udaipur is rumoured to be the romantic capital of India, take a cue, bypass the city and plan a trip to Jaisalmer instead.

There are few things more romantic than endless sand dunes till the eye can see, villagers dressed in the colours of the rainbow and a camel ride watching the sun go down.

All this and more, only at Jaisalmer the desert capital of India.

Must-do: Take a guided tour through the ancient fort of Jaisalmer, once an important stop on the trade route between India and Persia and Egypt.

Where to stay: Fort Pokaran has fabulous location and completes the Rajasthani experience. For a more budget option, stay at the lovely Hotl Fifu. Despite the strange sounding name, the hotel is well located and has tasteful rooms.

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