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In the blazing heat of the summer, residents of the Indian subcontinent will escape to hill stations - small towns nestled in mountains and valleys - taking advantage of the cooler temperatures and serene landscapes. Touring India's cities after monsoon season is much more bearable, but honeymooners looking for a spectacular retreat away from Mumbai or New Delhi need look no further than these hilltop getaways.
The blue mountains
Many different locales have been called the Queen of the Hill Stations, but Ooty makes a particularly compelling case. The Nilgiri hills provide its backdrop, the station having situated itself between four of them - Doddabetta, Snowdon, Elk Hill and Club Hill. It is also the crossroads between the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka, as well as the converging point of the Eastern and Western Ghats mountain ranges. As if celebrating its cross-pollinating locale, Ooty offers lush valleys, rich arrays of flowers, and bunches of eucalyptus trees whose scents waft in the breeze. Walks among the hills and botanical gardens are sure to set a mind at ease.
A striking scene
Darjeeling has housed travelers from the British Raj to Mark Twain, the author having called it "the one land that all men desire to see," according to Frommer's. Once given as a gift to the British by the kingdom of Sikkim, the bustling, Himalayan-based Darjeeling now offers the spectacular view that is Mount Kanchenjunga - the world's third-highest mountain.
It's worth swinging by this colonial mainstay just for the sight of the mountain and perhaps as a jumping off point for hikes through Sikkim. However, Frommer's suggests moving on to nearby Kalimpong, which still retains that sleepy hill station ambience that makes for the perfect honeymoon getaway.
Forest-shaded Matheran has long been a popular hill station, but travelers have no need to worry of noxious overcrowding. That's because Matheran - which sits among the Sahyadris Mountains - has a ban on all cars and bicycles. Instead, transportation is limited to horseback and hiking. In fact, to reach Matheran, travelers used to take a small train along 13 miles of scenic track just to reach the village. While monsoons in recent decades have damaged the track and thereby suspended those train rides, hopefully the scenic route will be up and running soon. In the meantime, travelers can still enjoy the tranquility of this gorgeous escape.
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