Venya (my six-year-old niece in an excitement mode)- Yeyeye.. My vacations are going to start from tomorrow. Me (tensed and stressed)- Oh yeah! I am glad to hear it, and what are you planning to do? Venya (She shouts out loud)- I am going to play, practice drawing and dancing, and go for a trip. Remember, you promised last time if I get good marks in exam, you will take me to a summer vacation. So Aunty, where are we heading to? At the beginning of every summer comes a day of reckoning, the time when every man, woman, and child must answer a crucial question: So, where are we planning to visit this vacation? The statement of this tiny tot (Venya) landed me in trouble, and I started recalling the places where I can take this little devil for a vacation. And the next big question that clicked my mind was to look for such hill station, which is quite close to my city because travelling all the way to another part of the country with this little devil can be little exhausting and exasperating. After some research, I jotted down some places, taking into account what can appeal to a child, where we can go for summer vacations. Also, I figured out that from towering hubs in Himalaya and the lush hills of Meghalaya to the rich flora of the Eastern Ghats and the grandeur of the Western Ghats, goodness of nature is spread in each and every corner of India. Now let’s have a look at the list.
Like most spectacular hill stations of India, Nainital is plagued by a regular traffic. At an elevation of 1938 m above the sea level, Nainital– the lake district of Uttrakhand, keeps on buzzing with travellers, corporate and leisure, from different corners of the world during the summer season. And why it shouldn’t be, the city offers numberless activities, which makes it on the radar of every traveller. Strolling on mall road, enjoying boating, view of the sunset from the snow point, everything about this hill station fascinates tourists. Venya is surely going to love this as where she can enjoy sailing over the Naini Lake, spot some endangered high altitude animals at the zoo, and experience the thrilling cable car ride. If your kids like skating, then you can take them to Zoomland. Offbeat attractions nearby Nainital like Sattal, Bhimtal, Naukuchiatal, and Khurpatal are also some attractive holiday spots. You can even go for a soothing drive to Corbett National Park to make your kids summer holiday wild and adventurous. After reading so much about it, I feel like going to this place now.
Ahh.. Manali! When the summer reaches its peak and the sizzling sun treats you with a 35to 45 degree, the only place to visit on mostly North Indian people mind is MANALI. It’s soothing environment, breezy air, and bountiful vistas make it one of the best summer vacation place in India. Nestled at an altitude of 2050 m, in the Beas River Valley, Manali offers spectacular views, gurgling water streams and an array of kid-friendly activities. Earlier, I was little muddled about whether I should take Venya here due to its high altitude. But after a 2-hour exploration and scrutinising session, I realised that missing it in my list would be a big mistake. When on a trip to Manali, tourists can take their kids to Rohtang Pass, where they can enjoy yak and ropeway ride. Besides this, you can also introduce your kid to Buddhist culture by visiting the magnificent monasteries and ancient temples beholding legendary stories. During your holidays in Manali, you can visit Hadimba Temple, Solang Valley, Vashisht Village, Naggar, and Rahala Falls for sightseeing.
“Agar firdous baroye zameen ast, hami asto, hami asto hami ast” – Amir-e-Khusru Dehluvi (If there is paradise on earth, It is here, it is here, it is here) These were the wise words stated by the great poet Persian poet, Amir-e-Khusru Dehluvi, when he was left awestruck by the beauty of Kashmir. No doubt it’s a paradise on this earth and many people keep on saying this thing… ‘Go to Kashmir’. People say zillions of things about its beauty, but according to me, there are very fewer words that can elucidate the mysticism’s that this city boasts. Speaking about the best summer holidays for children in India, Kashmir Valley is something you shouldn’t miss. Though the city has been a talk of the town due to many interferences, yet this charming city with amiable hospitality can make you forget all the disturbances and scorching city life that has baked, sterile your working life. Coming back to my agenda, where should I visit in Kashmir? Well, my research says I should begin with Srinagar, Rajauri, Gulmarg, Sonmarg, Pahalgam and Kishtwar. Starting with Srinagar, here you can go for a soothing Shikara ride on the Dal Lake, indulge in water skiing (if your kids are minimum 12 years of age) or can visit orchards to pluck some apples from the trees. If your kids are more of nature lovers, then you can visit the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden to see the mesmerising and eye soothing tulips. April, May and June are the best time to visit Tulip Garden as the flowers are in its full bloom. One place where tourists in large number throng is Gulmarg, a popular hill station in Kashmir. The major attraction in Gulmarg is the two-tiered Gulmarg Gondola ride– world’s second highest cable car which connects Kongdoori and Apparwath Peak. Chances of experiencing snowfall are quite bright here, thus, here one can indulge in activities like snowboarding, skiing, and sledging. Besides tourists can also visit Sonmarg- an offbeat attraction in Kashmir, which’s hard to reach but has many interesting things to offer. Summer is the best time to visit Kashmir as the place looks like a mosaic of varying shades of green – rice fields, meadows, trees, etc. and Srinagar with its lakes and waterways is a heaven after the scorching heat of the Indian plains.
A perfect escape from the scorching heat of the summer, Ranikhet holds a charismatic layer of grasses dotted with wildflowers. Home to military quarters, peaceful parks dotted kaleidoscope of flowers, and gorgeous temples, Ranikhet is one of the laid back hill station of North India for summers that is hardly explored by tourists. Those who want to relax, rejuvenate and love to live in the harmony with nature, should visit Ranikhet. If travelling with kids, take a trip to Chaubatia Orchards– the garden captivates kids to such an extent that they can spend years just by lying on the turfs and relishing the view. In the garden, kids can see two hundred varieties of flowers and fruits. If you have kids older than 12 years, you can go for trekking from Gagas to Dwarahat. You can also consider a visit to some pilgrimage sites like Mankameshwar, Binsar Mahadev, and Haidakhan Temple.
In my four years of travelling experience with Venya, I have realised that she love train journey, especially the part when she peaks outside the window and spot animals, colours, and hills. Keeping her interest in my mind, I think Darjeeling would be an incredible place to visit as she can enjoy the toy train ride. The train runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling. Tourists have exploited Darjeeling, but the silhouette of the city is still maintained, and it had managed to keep hold of its old world charm. Surrounded by well-manicured gardens and towered by majestic Khangchendzonga peak, here one can indulge in perfect summer holidays. Toy Train is one thing that you should try, besides you can also visit the Tiger Hill to see the silhouette of magnificent birds gliding below the sun. A ride on the Darjeeling-Rangit passenger cable car or the ropeway can be a thrilling experience for your kids. Singalila National Park, Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, Observatory Hill, Japanese Peace Pagoda, and Neora Valley National Park are some famous attractions of Darjeeling that has lots to offer to its visitors.
Slice of India’s heaven lies in Sikkim. A visit to the northern part of Sikkim can soothe your soul with its luscious mountains, sprawling forest and fresh air. Small in size and colossal in beauty, North Sikkim is an ultimate destination for summer vacation which any traveller shouldn’t miss. When on a summer holiday with kids, you can visit monasteries, lush biospheres, garrulous waterfalls and shimmering lakes. There are many breathtaking destinations in Sikkim where one can go to spend ideal summer holiday. Confined within the vast ecosphere of Sikkim are some places like Lachung, Yumthang Valley, Lachen, Chungthang, and Thangu, boasting the diorama of different ethnicities like Lepchas, Nepalese and Bhutia. Hence, it’s a great place to meet and greet people from various cultures. A picturesque town in the North-Eastern region of Sikkim, Lachung is a tiny village, few kilometres away from Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary. If your health and kids get acclimatise, you can head out to Thangu to savour the impeccable view of Kanchenjunga range. Another summer retreat in North Sikkim is Lachen, a tiny settlement amidst the snow clad mountains and famed for Gurudongmar Lake and Lhamu Lake. Besides, tourists can visit neighbouring places like Ravangla, Gangtok, and Kampong.
Keeping in mind kid’s love for fruits, I have listed Mahabaleshwar on my blog. A former capital of Bombay Presidency- Mahabaleshwar is a gem of Western Ghats, perched at an elevation of 1372 metres in Satara district of Maharashtra and is quite famed for strawberry farms. Mahabaleshwar offers soothing environment so tourists can savour the view of nature at its blooming best. Visit to the Venna lake could be a good treat for the kids as here they can indulge in boating, horse riding, trampoline, and bungee jumping. Also, there are many sightseeing places in Mahabaleshwar like Arthur’s Seat, Needle Hole Point, Kate’s Point, Wilson’s Point and 3 Monkey Point, from where you can see the view of the sun gliding below the horizon, leaving behind the hues of orange. You should also stop at gardens like Mapro Gardens and Cream Corner to pluck some fresh strawberries and pick bottles of some fruit jams. If you love strawberries, you should visit Mahabaleshwar particularly in the month of May as this is the time when ‘strawberry festival’ kick-starts. Food lovers should try strawberry with cream, which is available at almost every restaurant of Manahabaleshwar.
Not many people in India know that Gujarat has a hill station within its vicinity. Sapatura, a tiny hill station snuggled in the enchanting greens of Dang forest and ensconced in the Sahyadri range, is a little hub for mostly people living in West India. Obviously, every time one can’t visit all the way to Nainital or Shimla in up north, or Queen of the Nilgiris, Ooty, which is too south for a summer break. Therefore, Saputara is one of the places to visit, and it is easily accessible for residents of the west India. However, Saputara has an influence of India’s best Hill Station- luscious forest reserves of Chail, sunset points from Nainital, botanical gardens from Ranikhet, and waterfalls from Kerala. It’s a fantastic place to look out for nature’s bounty and spend some good playing time with your kids. For those travelling with family, a visit to Saputara Tribal Museum and Artist Village is a must as here one can get to know more about tribals staying in native Dangis. Rose Garden, Lake Garden, Step Garden, Gira Waterfalls, Mahal Forest, Gandhi Shikhar and Sunrise Point are some of the prominent places, which are truly a delight to visit in Saputara. In Saputara, you can also enjoy a ride in the cable car and paddle boat. Honey Bees Centre can be the sweetest point to visit in Saputara as it brings the amazing world of the honeybee to the general public. The interactive tour to the honey bees centre includes insight into the functioning of honey industry. It is also a great place to purchase health products made from natural bee products and of course – honey. The hill station is hardly 280 km away from Mumbai, 180 km from Surat and can be easily reached by any mode of transport.
After jotting down a little bit of North, West and East India destinations, now it’s time to move to South India. If you have been thinking Munnar is all about backwater and south Indian dishes, like mostly Kerala towns, then let me tell you that it is a leisure hill station that holds the secrets of India’s best tea and spices. In class by itself, Munnar was once the retreat hub for Britons and still retains its old world charm, which is quite evident from drowsy little bungalows that here one can see. Your kids are going to love this place as here they can see some gushing waterfalls, get to know more about tea culture, enjoy bumpy elephant rides and visit forest covers and grasslands as here where they can see the Nilgiri Tahr. With the presence of some soul soothing places like Kundala Lake, Marayoor Sandalwood Forests, Blossom Hydel Park, Echo point, Rose Garden, Mattupetty, Rajamalai National Park, and Elephant Lake, Munnar is a great place to escape for family trip from sizzling scorching summer. Cycling and trekking is the best way to get to know Munnar better.
As the tedious summer descends in India, tourists are often seen thronging to Ooty as this is what the perfect places to calm down and beat the heat. Summer vacations in Ooty can be a thrilling one as the weather is good enough to do to keep your days packed with activity and excitement. There are many fun places to visit in Ooty like Rose Garden, Botanical Garden, Wax Museum, Mudumalai Forest Sanctuary, Doddabetta Park, Annamalai Temple and Pine forest. The Ooty Lake is a must visit, if travelling with family, as the place offers many fun-filled options for kids as toy train ride, horse riding and boat rides. Also, they can go for a thrilling go karting session at Jolly World Children Park. A visit to Black Thunder, one of the finest theme park, is also a must on a trip to Ooty. A swimming pool for kids built around an artificial volcano deserves a special mention along with other adventure and water rides. Also a holiday in May can be fun as it in time to witness the glorious beauty of the ‘Ooty Summer Festival’. Organized every year by the tourism ministry, the festival hosts a series of events and fun-filled activities by locals for the visitors in the Botanical Garden, the venue of the event.
Oh yes, Beach Holiday! Venya loves beaches and coastal areas as she enjoys splashes in the waves of the sea, make his fairytale castles, roam freely, and get dirty and drenched. However, there are many summer beaches in India, but Andaman and Nicobar’s azure water and the sun-kissed beaches make it the land of unending beauty. Showered with heavenly landscapes, this enigmatic group of island in Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea has surprised tucked in every nook and corner. Besides a sunny day at the beachside, you can take your kids to cellular jail, where they can see the an eye-catching yet enlightening light show and get to know more about the India freedom struggle. Also, here your kids can spot brilliantly-colored tropical and native butterflies. Furthermore, kids can also visit the Mahatma Gandhi National Marine Park to see the magnificent underwater and sea life of Andaman Sea. Radhanagar Beach in Havelock Island, Ross and Smith Island Beach, Laxmanpur Beach in Neil Island, Lalaji Bay Beach in Long Island and Wandoor Beach in Port Blair are some of the best beaches to visit in Andaman and Nicobar with kids. Apart from its unmatched beaches, you can visit the beauty of Andaman by visiting Japanese Bunker, Limestone Caves, Mount Harriet National Park, Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve and Austin Creek. Go ahead and enjoy your summer.
If Ooty is the queen of South India Hill Station, then Kodaikanal is its princess. Cious environment to soothe the senses, picturesque landscapes and salubrious climate make Kodaikanal a popular hill station in South India. Spread across the scenic Western Ghats at an altitude of 7,200 feet, the misty air of the place will infuse your soul as you set to experience some of the breathtaking destinations of Kodaikanal. Kodai Lake is the centre attraction Kodaikanal, apart from Berijam Lake, Pillar Rocks, Kurinji Andavar Temple, Telescope House, Green Valley View, Thalaiyar Falls and Kukkal Caves. If your kid has a keen interest in astronomy, then you can visit the Kodaikanal Solar Observatory, which offers tours of the facility, access to the astronomy library, night time telescopic sky viewing, seminars, and workshops.
And finally, my list of best summer destinations in India has come to an end. Hopefully, I will pick one of them and make Venya’s summer holiday a memorable affair. And if you think, I have missed out some places; please feel free to mention them in the comment box below. Also, if you have already explored some of these destinations, please share your experience in the comment box below.