‘The mountains are calling and I must go.’
– John Muir, Scottish-American Naturalist & Author
A sentiment now millions echo whenever they hit Uttarakhand, John Muir probably never realized the impact of his simple words in his lifetime.
There’s just something about the mountains and valleys of Uttarakhand. They draw you in like a moth to a flame and then enrapture, enthrall and engage you in their beauty like few places of the world can.
While planning a trip to this picturesque place, most people focus on its claims to fame – Yamunotri, Nanda Devi, Valley of Flowers National Park, Dehradun, Nainital, Rishikesh and the like.
But few know that some of the most beautiful spots in Uttarakhand are the ones that don’t enjoy the spotlight. The northern state is full of un-crowded hidden gems that deserve your time and attention.
So, here we are presenting 16 secret destinations of Uttarakhand that you can explore with your girl gang. The next time you plan to hit the land of the holy and the hospitable, make sure that these secret destinations of the valley are a part of your must-visit list!
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If you’re in Uttarakhand, make sure you stop at Peora on your way to Nainital. This quaint hill town is perched between Nainital and Almora at a height of 6600 feet. Known for its Kumaon Himalayan forests, you’ll get a taste of both wildlife and delicious fruits here. From apples and plums to bird watching sessions and forest trails, this offbeat town has something in store for everyone who comes here.
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Booking an Uttarakhand tourism and travel package? Check if the destination list features the lesser known Khirsu as one of the stops. Especially if you and your girlfriends intend to visit the northern state for some much needed relaxation. Ensconced in the heart of lush Deodar and Oak trees, this tiny hamlet is one of the best offbeat destinations in Uttarkhand. You can indulge in a wide variety of activities at Khirsu – backpacking, trekking, nature walking, temple touring and more.
Getting to Khirsu is easy. You could either land at Jolly Grant Airport and drive 145 km or take a train from Kotdwar. We recommend driving. The views are worth it!
3. Patal Bhuvaneshwar
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Sharing the second half of its name with the capital of Odisha, Patal Bhuvaneshwar is nothing like you’ve ever seen before. A serenely relaxing getaway from the humdrum of daily life, Patal Bhuvaneshwar boasts of a cave temple of the same name. This mysterious temple not only houses Lord Shiva but is also supposed to the abode of all the 33 crore gods and goddesses that grace the lands of this country! That’s reason enough to give Patal Bhuvaneshwar a visit.
You can get to Patal Bhuvaneshwar via Gangolihat in Pithoragarh, which is just 13km away from this secret destination.
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Not far from the capital of Uttarakhand, Dehradun, is a small cantonment town known as Lansdowne. Established during the British Raj, the town is a mesmerizing getaway that enjoys amazing weather all year long. A visit to the centuries old Shiva temple – Kaleshwar Temple – is an absolute must when you’re in Lansdowne. So is one to St. Mary’s Church. Don’t forget to picnic at Bhulla Tal (lake) and enrich yourself at Garhwali Museum too! If that’s not your thing, you can always go trekking and camping at this hill station.
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The name of Didihat is a combination of the Kumaoni word Dand (small hill) and hat of the Haat Valley. Didihat is indeed the land of hills and valleys and it’s absolutely breathtaking. Sitting atop a height of 5659 feet, you can visit Didihat en route to Kailash Mansarovar. At this little hill station, you’ll discover flora and fauna and stunning architecture mingle together to form a seamless whole. Ancient forts in Didihat lie in the lap of Panchachuli Peaks. They come alive during the festive season making for a spectacular experience you’ll never forget!
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Snuggled in the heart of Uttarakhand, India is the sleepy region of Binsar. If you’re a nature buff, Binsar is the place you should be at. The region offers you breathtaking views of 4 absolutely stunning peaks of the Himalayas – Kedarnath, Trishul, Nanda Devi and Shivling. You can also indulge in wildlife safaris and bird watching sessions at the scenic region of Binsar. Other attractions include Kasar Devi Temple, Golu Devta Temple and Zero Point.
7. Abbott Mount
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If you crave the luxurious greenery of a forest with the steep slopes of gorgeous mountains, head to Abbott Mount. One of the lesser known destinations of Uttarakhand, Abbott Mount is a photographer’s paradise due to its more than picturesque views. Despite being a hilly region with plenty of treks and trails to explore, you can enjoy a laidback vacation at Abbott Mount soaking in the views it offers. Just book a resort in either Lohaghat or Pancheshwar and you’re all set.
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Of the several tourist places in Uttarakhand, you have to give Gwaldam a visit. It might not be as famous as Ranikhet or Nainital but it’ll prove to be well worth your time. More so if you’re looking for a Buddhist connect in your visit. Located in the Chamoli district, Gwaldam houses lush tea gardens and Buddhist monasteries for a truly spiritual and relaxing experience. Come here to enjoy a walk in the lap of nature or to gaze at snowcapped peaks and vibrant birds that leave you awed.
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Tired of the overcrowded Nainital? Looking for a quieter lake to while your time away at? Then head straight to Khurpatal! A stone’s throw away from Nainital, Khurpatal is just as picturesque and majestic as its more famous cousin. Located at a height of 5249 feet from sea level, Khurpatal offers you enchanting views of pine and cedar trees. The quaint town is home to a wide variety of beautiful fishes, which you can check out in its icy cool waters. No vacation could get more relaxing than this!
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Termed as the Switzerland of India by none other than Mahatma Gandhi, Kausani is like a slice of heaven on earth. Get to Kausani and you’ll be greeted with panoramic views of various Himalayan peaks, which makes this town one of the best places to visit in Uttarakhand. The blissful ambience of Kausani will relax your mind body and soul; while its local cuisine will delight your taste buds. Filled with temples and ashrams galore, Kausani is the place to be at, no matter what season it is.
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There’s nothing like a peaceful trip. Chakrata is just that – an escape into pure bliss, far from the madding crowd and blaring noises of the city life. Picture perfect in every way possible, Chakrata is as much a destination for adrenaline junkies as it is for peace lovers. From rafting and skiing to trekking and cave tours – you can do everything you want at Chakrata. That’s not all. If you’re feeling a little religious, you can head over to its ancient temples and offer your prayers. Other notable points of 7000 feet high town include Tiger Falls, Deoban and Chilmiri Neck.
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Just about 24km away from Ranikhet lays another offbeat destination in Uttarakhand by the name of Sitlakhet. This quiet hill station, located in the middle of Syahi Devi, offers the most enchanting views of the Kumaon Himalayas. Perfect for a meditative retreat, you can indulge your senses in the aroma of rhododendrons and the touch of cool, soft breeze. The flora and fauna at Sitlakhet are unmatched.
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If you believe there’s nothing better than a beautiful, invigorating Himalayan sunrise, you have to plan a trip to Nagthat in Uttarakhand. With its arresting sunrise views and pollution-free environment, Nagthat serves as the perfect break for weary travellers. We suggest you make Nagthat your last spot on a trip to Uttarakhand as its tranquility will rejuvenate you after a tiring yet thrilling journey. Nagthat is also the perfect destination for honeymooners on a budget who wish to get a feel of the Alps in India.
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Fruit lover? Then you’ll love Bhowali! Apples, apricots, peaches, plums, strawberries – you find the juiciest fruits here. A great place for the taste buds if you ask us! Nearly 6000 feet above sea level, Bhowali is only 11km away from Nainital, which means getting over there is very easy. The land of Bhowali is also rich in wildlife and is the best retreat for those who seek a comfy retreat and some amount of solitude.
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Bhimtal is not generally a part of Uttarakhand tour packages so you won’t easily spot it but it’s a place you should visit regardless. With a shimmering lake located right in the center of the city, Bhimtal offers you the magnanimous beauty of Nainital at a much lower price. Named after the Mahabharata warrior Bhima, Bhimtal is anything but violent. It’s supremely peaceful even at its noisiest days and is the perfect destination for honeymooners and solo travellers. Oh, and did we mention you can paraglide here?
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Snowcapped peaks, meandering meadows and verdant woods make up the landscape of this offbeat destination in Uttarakhand. Chopta generally serves as a stopover for travelers and trekkers, giving them a welcome break during their tiring journey. Thanks to its idyllic villages, it is said that time stands still at Chopta. Home to many temples, you can seek solace in the green lap of Chopta the sun set in crimson-gold skies.