The Indian tourist board revealed its ambition this week to make cheap holidays in India one of the premier options for travellers around the world.
It said that in the next decade it would like to see India become one of the world’s top 20 travel destinations – at the moment its sits in 40th place among the most popular countries for international tourism. As part of this, the Indian government is investing a hefty £7.5 billion in tourism infrastructure such as hotel development over the next two years – with the eventual aim of increasing tourism revenue by 42 per cent by 2018.
It is quite a tall order to break into the top 20 of international holiday destinations, as it means besting such firm favourites as Australia and South Africa, but there’s no doubt that India has much to offer the visitor.
One of the main sticking points for a lot of UK holidaymakers, however, is the climate. We hear a lot of complaints that India is simply too hot in the summer months, the traditional time for the big vacation.
Fortunately, with such a large and diverse country as India, there are many places to go to escape the sweltering heat of the big cities and the scorching plain – just do what Indians do and head for the hills.
Delhi Hotels recently published its top ten suggestions:
1. Shimla: this hill station is capital city of Himachal Pradesh and was developed during the Raj as a resort for the families of the British officers.
2. Manali: another gorgeous hill station in the northern Indian State of Himachal Pradesh. It is well known as a honeymoon destination and is also great for fans of hiking, trekking and mountaineering
3. Goa: A well-known destination among the more hippy traveller, it is a lovely place for a summer retreat, with chilled beaches and a relaxed attitude in general.
4. Srinagar: The former summer capital of the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir boasrs the beautiful Dal Lake, known as “Heaven on Earth.”
5. Kodaikanal: The “Princess of Hill stations,” Kodaikanal lies in the southern Indian state of Tamil and was another great summer getaway spot established for officers’ families during the Raj. It is famed for its pastries.
6. Munnar: With stunning landscaped scenery, such as lakes, hills and forests, this small hill station in the southern state of Kerala lies in one of India’s major tea-producing centres. If you love a cuppa, it’s perfect for a pilgrimage
7. Coorg: One of the most attractive hill stations in India, Coorg is famed for its incredible views and its coffee, orange and honey plantations.
8. Mahabaleshwar: Found on the Western Ghats, Mahabaleshwar is the highest hill station in the west of India.
9. Ooty: A popular holiday destination in the south of India, Ooty is celebrated for its thickly-forested Blue Mountains and its tea plantations.
10. Nanital: a hill station in Uttarakhand, lying in the foothills of the Kumaon mountain range, its hotels are found in a lovely valley with a pear-shaped lake.