The announcement of a ‘picnic’ in school, or even at home was considered, by everyone involved, as an omen of fun times. Roger that! The amass of planning for the event, the rush of excitement casting the night sleepless before the D-day, the eager bouncing till the destination was reached – all these being reasons enough for even a dour soul to grin like a Cheshire cat. With places like these (and more) around Delhi, revisit all the motions of those commotions, and enjoy the day off, get closer to nature, get your adrenaline pumping with adventure sports or spend a day playing board games with kin and your kith. 🙂
Drive about two hours from Delhi and you’ll get to Damdama lake in Gurgaon which offers the visitors, apart from the scenic backdrop of Aravalli Hills – straight out of our first drawings of scenery, birds to spot, space to walk amidst nature, and a shot at boating, cycling, rock climbing, kayaking, valley crossing, para-sailing, angling and lots more. Resorts like Dream Island Resort, Botanix Nature Resort, Saras Tourist Complex around and about the lake provide ample activities to spend the day as well.
The Aravalli hills as its back scape and amphitheatre as its embankment makes Surajkund a point for your picnic date, and coupled with the spring seasonal Surajkund International Crafts Mela, visiting this artificial lake is worth your day off work and on leisure. Living up to its name, Surajkund (the lake of the sun) had been constructed akin the rising sun, and is also known for peacock sightings in the monsoon. The Surajkund International Crafts Mela is as embellishing – with the lake’s backdrop, the annual fair from February 1st to 15th is convened showcasing Indian values, culture and heritage through handicrafts and food. Get a taste of the Indian ethos at this along with various other handicraft markets in and around Delhi.
Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary
Abode for the resident and the migratory birds, Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary has a magnetic pull for the flying fauna as well as their observers. The birds find it to be a snug harbor from the harsher, colder weathers in the East, and far West and hence they flock here. Flock here to see the likes of Purple Sunbird, White-throated Kingfisher, Weaver Bird, Spotted Owlets, Siberian Cranes amongst egrets, ibises, larks, bulbuls, flamingos; and if you’re lucky blue bull (neelgai) and black buck as well. Do not forget to pack your field glasses/ binoculars for Sultanpur, truly a sanctuary for birds and bird watchers alike, and now a national park.
A forested region, as the name suggests (Vrinda/ Brinda – holy basil, van – grove/ forest), the town of Vrindavan is as religiously significant as it is for the purposes of leisure visit. It’s close to Mathura, the birth place of Lord Krishna, hence the spiritual pull. Let the holiness sink in, in this serene place where Lord Krishna’s childhood was spent as well as visit the myriad temples all over the town on your day outing; you can also put up in the various ashrams and dharamshalas here if you plan to extend your trip.
For a holy-day off, head here for a Ganges vista, the Ganga temple with 100 descending steps leading to the river, 85 of which are still intact, the Mukteshwar temple from where the town of Garhmukteshwar derives its name, and a mosque, bearing an inscription as ancient as 1283 A.D. The holy immersion in the Ganges River every full moon in the month of Kartik of the Hindu calendar as well as the festival of Dussehra are celebrated with much fanfare.
Kingdom of Dreams
An aggrandization of the Indian culture, crafts and art and cuisine, thrown in together with state of the art technology is this kingdom where dreams come true. Just kidding. Well not dreams, but fantasies? Sure! Bollywood styled restaurant (IIFA Buzz), tented amphitheatre (Showsha Theatre), serving of cuisines right out of the 14 states of India as well as the handicrafts on sale (Culture Gully) and a grand palace auditorium to stage musicals and productions (Nautanki Mahal) – apart from being aptly christened, each section will live up to what they promise to offer – novel carnival package Indian style.
Bharatpur (Keoladeo Ghana National Park) Bird Sanctuary
A bit farther from Delhi, this bird sanctuary in Rajasthan has activities all year round – with the flora and fauna of course. Migration of birds in the winter, breeding and growth of vegetation in monsoon, consequently attracting the ones who feed on them to this park, birds building nests in the populating trees, along with spotting of selective wild animals. Do head there, for there will not be one dull moment in this sanctuary, now a national park and also a World Heritage site.