One for the Family
Make the most of your summer break by combining learning and exploring
When it comes to treks and the great outdoors, there are few places in India, indeed the world, that are better than Sikkim. With the looming peaks of the Eastern Himalayas always in sight, you can choose from a variety of grades of walks, hikes and treks that are suitable for the fitness level of your family. A popular day trek starts from Ravangla (three hours from Gangtok) to Maenam hilltop or you could go for the eight-day Dzongri trek and camp on beautiful locations en route. You can also choose to stay in Gangtok for the entire duration of your holiday and ask your hotel for short walking routes nearby.
Stay at: The charming The Hidden Forest Retreat (hiddenforestretreat.org).
Gulf of Kutch, Gujarat
Falling off the map was never easier. At the very edge of Gujarat is Okha. It is at one end of the Gulf of Kutch, the inlet of the Arabian Sea into Gujarat, that you only see on an atlas. At the other end is Mandvi, with a stunning and absolutely empty beach. Not only are these places totally unexplored, they are also fabulous for learning how to swim because the tides are calm and the water is safe. Imagine learning to swim in the ocean! What a fantastic way to spend your holiday … You can take the ferry to Okha from Mandvi, where there are better stay options. Visit the Marine National Park near Okha, a wonderland where children can learn about aquatic wildlife. Then, take the ferry back to Mandvi beach for the more relaxing part of your holiday.
Stay at: There are limited stay options in this area, but Vijay Vilas Heritage Resort in Mandvi is a decent heritage option near the beach. (vijayvilasheritageresort.com)
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the haunting beauty of Hampi must be seen to be believed. Eerie yet gorgeous, the stone monuments of the place tell silent stories of a time gone by … a time when it was one of the richest and flourishing cities of the world under the Vijayanagara Empire. Today you can see a number of monuments of historical significance in and around Hampi, including the famous Virupaksha Temple, a fabulous example of temple architecture of south-ern India, dedicated to Lord Shiva. For some fun and adventure, try out bouldering, a form of rock climbing without harnesses, with the whole family.
Stay at: The beautifully designed Machan homestay (urammaheritagehomes.com/machan-studio-homestay)
Despite the political turmoil, Kashmir manages to draw travellers, thanks to the sheer power of its natural beauty. After a period of unrest, calm seems to have been restored in the Valley*. It's time for travellers to return and enjoy the pleasures of Kashmir, while also doing their bit to support the local travel economy.
Gulmarg is a joy for children, with the famous ski gondola, the world's second highest cable car, taking you up to Apharwat Peak at 14,000 feet above sea level. You can ski (the season lasts until April-end), or just enjoy being out in a breathtaking landscape that's covered in snow -- white and endless, as far as the eyes can see. Let the family explore the area on horseback and taste the delicious Kashmiri wazawan too!
Stay at: Without doubt The Khyber is the best place to stay in Gulmarg with an impressive design and local architecture and warm and accommodating staff. (khyberhotels.com)
Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh
There are some places that heal you from the moment you step into them -- Mukki village is one of those. A clean, beautiful, green place full of friendly faces and pretty tree-lined roads, this is the village adjoining another area of rare beauty, the Kanha National Park. From the word go, you will feel disconnected from the world and totally at peace. There is no better way to take a break from the daily drill: Enjoy a safari where the jungle takes over your mind, body and soul.
Kanha is also your best chance in India to spot the tiger, apart from a host of other beautiful animals and bird species. It's a great way to sensitize your children to conservation and the environment. Once they see all the beautiful creatures in the wild, they will understand why their habitats must be protected.
Stay at: Hotels in Kanha are not cheap, but include all meals. Bagh Villas is perfect for the family in the middle-price range, with luxury tents that add to the sense of adventure. (baghvillas.com)
*Please check for security alerts in Kashmir before leaving for your trip.