WHEN THE SWISS MOUNTAINS ARE CALLING…

… heed the call. Every summit in the bucolic country offers a unique slice of Swiss bliss

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity

― John Muir, Our National Parks

They say you have to climb up a large mountain to appreciate how small you are and Switzerland offers ample towering mountains for you to explore the world outside and the one within you. You cannot help but marvel at their breathtaking beauty. Whatever the season, you have the opportunity to appreciate unspoiled nature at its best – dainty wild flowers, dramatic rock faces, cascading waterfalls, snowy peaks, fresh and pure mountain air and a unique feeling of calm and tranquility…

Mt Säntis

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Seeking a pleasurable high-altitude excursion? Head to the hamlet of Schwägalp that’s a favourite with the locals.

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What you see are mammoth mountains enclosing you and free-roaming goats and cows dotting the lush green landscape while nibbling on fresh grass. Ride a cable car that departs every 30 mins up to the peak of Mt. Säntis. At 8,209 ft, it is the highest mountain in eastern Switzerland. The very shape of the summit— an arc of jutting rock that swings up to the jagged peak housing the station — is spectacular. In perfect weather conditions, you can get a 360 degree view of five other countries – Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, France and Italy – all at the same time!

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PAMPER YOUR MIND, BODY & SOUL AT HILTON SHILLIM ESTATE RETREAT & SPA

When my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year, I said some peace and solitude. So, we opted for a three-day getaway to Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa, near Pawana Lake, a 45-minute drive from Lonavala. Set amidst the breathtaking landscape of the Sahyadri mountain range in the Western Ghats, the 320 acre property offers undisturbed natural beauty, topped with complete seclusion and serenity.

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Since it was a warm summer’s day, it was nice being greeted with a cold, fragrant towel, a glass of fresh juice and some homemade energy bars that instantly helped us regain all the vitality we had lost during the five-hour road journey from Mumbai to Pawana Lake, courtesy the traffic jam at Mumbai-Pune expressway. Yes, our stomachs were growling with hunger and we headed straight for breakfast, obviously a healthy one.

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Post a hearty breakfast, we were escorted to our discreet King Spa Pool Villa – a 205 sq m villa, with a private pool and lawn area as the name suggests – and we were more than delighted to make it our home.

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Apart from offering breathtaking views of the valley from the private deck, the villa featured a sun bed to spend some relaxing time outdoors, a beautiful stone bathtub with candles to amp up the romance factor, outdoor and indoor shower with indulgent bath amenities and, not-to-forget, a royal four poster bed. Clean, contemporary and elegant. Read more

GET HIGH ON HIGHLANDER LIFE

To describe Zakopane in three simple words, you can easily call it ‘heaven on earth’. Here’s more about the little country town – situated in the shadows of the Tatra mountains – in Southern Poland.

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Even before you reach this modest peasant resort town, you want time to slow down and gradually come to a standstill. The scenic road route from Krakow to Zakopane is enough to keep you up throughout the two-hour journey. What you see on both sides are little picturesque hills bespeckled with pine trees and country-like mustard-brown wooden chalets – topography that’s bright and yellow-green in summer and buried in purple-white snow during winter months. In front of you, the view of the towering Tatra mountains – that seem to come closer as you progress towards your destination – is spectacular. And once you’re there, all you wish to do is stand and stare at what lies in front of you and take deeper breaths to feel the unadulterated air.

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TENTING IN THE HILLY HEAVEN

A quaint, little hamlet in Uttarakhand, Kanatal grants every wandering traveller an invaluable gift – the gift of inner peace and silence

The mountains are calling and I must go.
– John Muir, Scottish-American naturalist

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While leading a boisterous, flashy life as an urbanite, you’re constantly connected. It’s become a rare thing to break away from technology and keep sometime solely for yourself, to let your thoughts take you wherever they wish to. While you may perceive this as a ‘waste of time’, it’s a way of life for people living in the mountains. The layered hills of Kanatal – a picture-perfect hill station near Dehradun, perched at an altitude of over 8,500 feet – urge you to tune out of the mental baggage, tune into nature and reconnect with your disoriented self. Yet unharmed by commercialisation, Kanatal is surrounded by dense pine, cedar, oak and rododendron forests and offers a splendid view of mammoth snow-capped Himalayas.  Ornamented by beautiful wild flowers; it looks like a landscape straight out of Keats’ poetry.

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