Imagine a wedding amid snow-capped mountains, lush green hills, soaring pines, fresh air fragrant with blooming flowers, with a bunch of your closest relatives and friends around and all the wedding arrangements taken care of. Sounds like a perfect escape from the crazy, chaotic and tiring nuptial celebration in your hometown? This is what an increasing number of bridal couples are opting for these days: head to the soulful hill stations up north to tie the knot, celebrate their love before people most important to them, while gifting them a rare and fun getaway. For ‘destination weddings’ as they are called, the majestic Rajasthan and the gorgeous Goa have already emerged as popular choices over the last few years, but more and more love birds are now exploring the beauty in the region as a perfect setting to say ‘I do’. The norm is to book the entire resort where the two families, totaling 100-200 members, stay for a couple of days, involve in weddings ceremonies during the night and indulge in a variety of fun activities during the day. All the wedding arrangements from pre-wedding shoots, sangeet and mehendi to reception, cocktail party and vidai are tended to.
The region recently came into the limelight when two multi-millionaire families from Uttar Pradesh and Delhi chose a venue near the beautiful Dal Lake in Srinagar to enter holy matrimony and to entertain their 500-odd guests, turning down the calls of exotic foreign locales and popular Indian hotspots.
Now, if you are tempted to join the bandwagon for your own wedding, here are some top recommendations for the region.
1. Moksha Spa, Parwanoo, Solan
This beautiful place, a property of Timber Trail, attracts blushing couples for its sheer privacy and luxury. Perched upon 5200 feet above ground and offering a panoramic and unparalleled view of Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula, Moksha Spa will bring a smile to the bridal couple whenever they breeze through their wedding photos. Spread in seven acres of lush green land with 62 luxurious suites, the place, above all things, offers exclusivity – the promise to really cut you off from the jarring city life, something that the love couple would surely love.
You may opt to hold the various ceremonies in the open, overlooking the green hills and below the starry sky or inside the grand ballroom or banquet hall. There is facility of helipad and a major attraction for ‘baratis’ remain the Swiss cable car to reach the hilltop. For a recent wedding of a Panchkula couple, around 350 guests landed in choppers. Mandap is set up in an open area; golf cart is often decorated as ‘doli’. “In a wedding in the past, a ghodi was transported in a truck from the base to the hill top. The groom rode the ghodi through the ropeway to the royal ballroom,” shares Resident Manager Gurmeet Singh Randhawa. Families can come here, leave their wedding worries to the staff and chill out in an open air Jacuzzi, pamper themselves with spa treatments and natural healing therapies including Ayurveda, Shiastu, Balinese and Turkish hammam. Yo
u can also delight in the Hot Stone massages, dabble in gourmet cooking, and experience the aromas of organic wines. What’s more, you can also get your wedding invitation cards designed and printed from the resort itself.
Where: Parwanoo, Shimla
How to reach: 1.5 hours by road from Chandigarh on the way to Shimla.
Cost of a four-day wedding: Rs 35-40 lakh for a gathering of 150-200
2. East Bourne, Shimla
Recently renovated East Bourne, made famous with the shooting of Aamir-Khan starrer ‘3 idiots’, has hosted many an elaborate weddings from Punjab and beyond. Celebrity guests such as Anupam Kher and Shiney Ahuja have been part of the weddings held here, and singers from the region and Bollywood have specially been flown in to perform. The place takes its wedding arrangements seriously. “Most of the flowers we used are imported and exotic, and we change the menu and décor according to the theme of the wedding such as Punjabi, Rajasthani or even Himachali,” says General Manager Ajay Arora. The place is ideal for weddings with a long roster of guests. Its spacious banquet hall can accommodate a gathering of over 1000, and the resort itself has as many as 75 luxurious rooms.
While there are in-house arrangements for your reception, indoor and outdoor lighting, DJ, theme decoration, beautiful backdrops and bridal makeup, you can use the multi-cuisine roof top restaurant, a stylish bar, bonfire place, spa and multiple other facilities for an enjoyable stay. The resort has already solemnized over 20 weddings so far, and understand your needs and desires well. Trekking, paragliding, mountaineering and Kayaking are many activities you can enjoy yourself with given the resort’s strategic location. The place is recommended for those who aren’t exactly thinking of a bank-breaking extravaganza yet wish to have a memorable experience.
Where: Khallini, Shimla.
How to reach: four hours by road from Chandigarh; one hour from Shimla airport
Cost of a four-day wedding: Rs 10-20 lakh for a gathering of 150-200
3. Manuallaya Resorts, Manali
How about getting hitched with a backdrop of snow clad mountains and river Beas? Manu Allaya offers this much more. The beauty of the place seems to pay tribute to this enchanting, divinely picturesque valley, a great setting for any romantic affair, and a slew of online testimonies speak for it. Start your day with relaxing spa treatments, move on to sightseeing around the resort, shake a leg in the ballroom, and relax sitting around a bonfire in the night. This beautiful place takes pride in that they have and can organize any kind of wedding be it Indian or Christian or from elsewhere.
“We have a European ambience but can transform it into anything that suits the tastes of our guests,” says General Manager Puneet Bhambi. “Recently, we organized a seven-day wedding ceremony of a couple from Canada with 200-odd guests, arranging everything from sight-seeing to adventure activities. In another wedding, we organized an exotic ‘palki’ for the vidai ceremony for an Indian wedding. For a Christian couple, we had a special pony to ride them to rooms after the wedding vows that had the sign ‘just married’ hanging from its rear,” says Bhambi. The banquet at Manu Allaya can accommodate about 250 guests, and the sprawling lawns can host 1500 guests, making it a perfect hotspot for an outdoor wedding. The place has 55 rooms, suites and cottages, along with six acres of blossoming gardens. Each room has a private landscaped garden with individual swings.
Where: Sunny Side, Chadiyari, Manali
How to reach: Eight hours road drive from Chandigarh. Nearest airport is Manali
Cost of a four-day wedding: Rs 15-20 lakh for a gathering of 100-150.
4. Shilon Resorts, Shimla
If Switzerland has remained a favourite romantic destination among Indians, Shilon promotes itself as offering ‘40 acres of Switzerland’ for your wedding and honeymoon. If you gather your scattered family at this place, they are sure to remember your wedding for life. This sprawling resort – touted as the biggest in Himachal – merits in its strategic location and sheer size, offering you and your guests a rejuvenating vacation. They may spend a week here and be left wanting for more. Located on Kufri-Chail road – 24 kms from the bustling Shimla Mall Road, 16 kms from Chail and 8 kms from Kufri – is grand in many ways: Set in 40 acres of landscaped gardens, blooming apples and cherry orchards, the place sits majestic at 7200 feet above sea level and offers breathtaking views. During the stay, the families can make a half-day trip to Maharaja of Patiala’s Chail Palace, travel 8 kms to reach the famous tourist sport Kufri, where hiking, skiing, and a pony or yak ride can be had, or visit the famous Manoon temple just a km away.
The resort will go the extra mile to satisfy the fancies and desires of a couple. “We recently had a couple from Mauritius that came here with 80-90 people for an Indian style wedding. We decided to give them a taste of the traditional Indian wedding, complete with a pandit, kurta-and-saree attire, live classical music and food prepared sans onion and garlic,” says Vice-President Hemant Sharma. The resort has been designed on a unique architectural concept inspired by ethnic Himachali villages: it consists of 47 residential cottages that are independent, yet interlinked.
Where: Kufri-Chail road, Shimla
How to reach: Five hours by road from Chandigarh; 1.5 hours by road from Shimla airport
Cost of a four-day wedding: Rs 25-30 lakh for a gathering of 15-200. The price may reach 40 lakh for theme weddings.