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In close vicinity of the states of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Delhi is an excellent base for weekend trips into north India. However, if time is a consideration, these day trips out of the city will satiate your travel bug with a mix of history, culture, nature and food:
1) Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Home to the Taj Mahal, the monument of love, Agra is less than a 3 hour drive on the Agra expressway; taxis and buses are readily available. Besides the Taj Mahal, visit Agra’s other two UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, and after indulge in some traditional street shopping in the busy by-lanes of the city.
For a taste of what some call the best food in India, take a day trip to Punjab, a 3 hour drive or train-ride away; a spectacular drive through farms of yellow mustard in winter. While Chandigarh (the capital) and Amritsar (home to the Golden Temple), are only feasible with an overnight stay, get a taste of the famed Punjabi country hospitality and traditional Punjabi food at the many roadside eateries.
3) Bharatpur, Rajasthan
Located an hour further from Agra, Bharatpur is best known for its bird sanctuary, a haven for bird watching, especially during the migrations in winter.
4) Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
Though a good 4 hours away by train, Rishikesh is a worthwhile day trip from Delhi for the spiritually inclined. This holy city on the banks of the Ganga, is bustling with ashrams, holy men, and meditiation centres. Besides a dip in the holy river, Rishikesh is popular among locals for adventure sports like white water rafting. Daily flights now ply between Delhi and Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport, in close vicinity of Rishikesh.