Remember those childhood days when the whole family used to eagerly look forward to the children having their summer holidays. Everyone used to gather around the living room and start discussing where they should go for their annual vacation. Maps and guides and travel catalogues would be strewn all over the centre table and on the chairs and the sofas. Long discussions would take place with each member having his or her own preference for a holiday destination. Among these discussions one of the options that would come up most frequently is that of going to a hill station. On suggestion of these hill stations, all the members of the family would get very excited and further debates would begin on which hill station is the best and where they should all go.
So why are hill stations so popular? Maybe it has something to do with the old world charm that they have in abundance. Or maybe it is the cool mountain air, and the relaxed pace of life, and taking a journey to a place high in the clouds where all the stress and strains of everyday life magically seem to disappear. Most of the hill stations in India owe their origin to British days. The visiting Europeans found the fierce heat of the Indian summer too big a burden to bear, and felt that they needed to find solace in cooler environs. So they built hill stations all over the country. In the North and in the South, in the East and in the West, they can be found everywhere.
The magic of hill station holidays begins on the journey itself. Most hill stations are in remote places with the terrain being seemingly inaccessible. Engineers have had to use all their ingenuity and audacity to carve out roads and railways tracks among the impenetrable mountain walls. As the car meanders its way around the twisting and turning mountain roads, mile high Eucalyptus trees emerge by the side. The ground slowly starts disappearing below and the vehicle is transported kilometre by kilometre to the mile high Shangri-Las. As the passengers look out of the window they can see for miles in the distance where small towns and villages dot the landscape.
Some hill stations are lucky enough to have a legendary train journey providing access to the millions of tourists who scramble to its streets and hotels every year. Tourists stand in long queues at ticket counters just for a trip on these fairytale trains.
Having reached the hill station, the holiday begins with great earnest with families treating themselves to lazy days spent staring at the stunning mountain landscape, eating long breakfasts of scones and eggs and sandwiches, riding horses alongside lush meadows, spending their evenings gorging on cakes and ice creams, and while the children play their board games, the parents take romantic walks along charming streets that curve their way around splendid local towns. The old and the young alike make silent promises to keep taking repeat holidays to these magical spots.