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The secret list for summer vacations

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The school holiday season has started and the parents are struggling with the same summer challenge: where to take the kids without blowing the bank account and ensuring the small luxuries that we all look forward to on a holiday.

The high season rates, the rising airfare and the need to have a meaningful experience sure do make this a difficult ask if you don’t know where to look or visit our site. For our readers, we have complied a list of places that allow you to do so. These places are on every traveller’s list but are not in (what others think) their peak season. Between the great hotel deals and the lack of crowds, they make for ideal family holidays.

Central and North Goa

No one thinks of Goa outside of mid-April. Mostly, beyond the locals, everyone stays away. The shacks are shut, the sea is rough. But the beaches are peaceful and the rains make the environs lush green and scenic.

Things to do

  • Explore the Goan cities: With its old quarters, Panjim should be one everyone list. Mapusa too remains a thriving town. Each of them is charming in a way that is very Portuguese.
  • Learn medieval history: While old Goa is on the tourist map, its lesser known competitor is the Reis Margo Fort. It has now been restored. There is also the Tricol and Chapora Forts for the more enthusiastic.
  • Go on a food trip: Local Goan food is a mix of Konkan and Portuguese cuisine. All the older more established places are up and running without having to jostle for a table.
  • Experience Susegado: The rough translation for this term is quiet enjoyment. The only time Goa offers it is in the rains.

Details

Goa is well connected by air through the Dabolim airport. It is connected by train to the south western railway line and the Konkan Railways . There is a place to stay for every budget. However in the off seasons the more well known chains like the Hyatt, Leela, Taj, ITC, Raddison among others offer heavy discounts. These groups also have properties that are self-contained in terms of amenities making it ideal for a family.

Kochi 

There is more to Kerala beyond the back waters. Try visiting Kochi. It is known to often be bypassed in favour of the greater charms of run of the mill tourist experience. With its history , culture and an edgy food scene, it is a hidden gem.

Things to do

  • Explore the cities within the city: A well talked of secret, each part is different from the other. The Fort Kochi area is more historical and touristy but Ernakulum holds its own. For the ship loving enthusiasts a trip to wellington Island is enlightening.
  • Watch the Monsoons: The monsoons start from this part of the subcontinent and that itself is a go pro experience.
  • Shop: From Avenue road whole sale spice shops to the edgy upmarket boutiques in the Fort Area to the never ending Lulu mall , Kochi is a shoppers paradise.
  • Experience Ayurveda: Rains are the best time for this ancient art and Kochi is as good as any other place in Kerala.

Details: Kochi is well connected by air with an international airport . The Southern Railway connects the Ernakulam Junction. In terms of stay avoid the business hotels in Ernakulum. It is advisable to stay at the individual boutique hotels like the Brunton Boatyard or the Malabar House in the fort area . The well-known chains like the Taj Malabar and the Trident also offer great deals for families.

Ratnagiri 

The hidden gem of the Konkan Coast, this is the go to place for scenic beauty and a quiet holiday. Situated on the Arabian sea coast with the rolling hills of the western ghats, the small town is not yet on the map of the vacation crowd. The pre-monsoon and the monsoon bring the numerous rivers to life. Even otherwise, there is more here than can be explored in a week

Things to do

  • Explore the beaches : From the pristine white sands of Ganapatiphule to the black sand beach ofMandavi there are enough of the coast line to be explored
  • Trek Through forts : This district is blessed with beautiful forts built on the sea. With longhouses, batteries, look out points and all the other little nooks which make it a delightful exploration
  • Temple Tourism:From the famed Ganapatiphule to the Swayambhuganapati temples, this district is dotted with temples ranging back in time. There is also the palace of the displaced Burmese monarchy.
  • Visit an alphonso orchard: This is the land of the mango – the king of fruits and exploring its orchards is the ideal way. Most farms are only too happy to let you have a look

Details: Ratnagiri does not have an airport. The nearest airport is at Pune or Mumbai both around 300kms away. It is however very well connected by road including several private bus operators from Mumbai .For stay the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation is the best bet. However a locally run Hotel Sea Fan is a good option. The RatnaSagar resort on the beach is also a superb option with a range of in house amenities.

Puri

Well known for its golden beaches and the Sun temple, this is a place to be explored when the crowds thin. The weather is pleasant throughout the year making it a must visit for a family looking to explore the eastern sea board. It can also be used as a base to explore the nearby attractions.

Things to do

  • Explore the coast: The beaches of Puri, Konark and Baliharachandi can be quiet and beautiful at this time. While it lacks the glitz of the western coast, it is worth exploring for peaceful seaside holiday. A bonus is the sand art on display.
  • Visit the temples: Sample a meal at the lord jaggernath temple or admire the Sun temple of Konark. There are a infinite variety of other religious places to be explored as well.
  • Visit the Chilka lake: Watch the Dolphins and the birds at Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon. Dotted with a number of Islands and regular tours it should be explored in a leisurely fashion.
  • Explore the local handicraft center: A number of sustainable tourism initiatives are available to explore Raghurajpur. A heritage village near Puri, it is inhabited with artists who paint the intricate pattachitra. The village is also home to crafts like Tussar paintings, palm leaf engravings, stone and wood carvings, wooden, cowdung and papiermache toys, and masks.

Details: Puri is well connected through trains with the rest of the country. The nearest airport is Bhubaneswar which is served by all major airlines.  The hotels are mostly local chains with the Chanakya BNR, Mayfair Group and Toshali Sands being among the best in the range. Opt for a beach facing hotel with a sea view.

Panchmarhi 

This hill station in the heart of India is often ignored for its more glamorous Himalayan cousins. Situated at a height of 1,000 mts, it is a quiet town with all the charms of the  colonial era. The weather is perfect and the vicinity has a lot to offer.

Things to do

  • Explore the Satpura wildlife: The Panchmarhi Biosphere reserve has a rich and rare flora as well as fauna. It also a transition zone for the forest species between the eat and the western part of India.
  • Trek to the various falls: From the exotically places Bee falls to the magnificent RajatPrapat falls there are places to trek and enjoy the scenic beauty.
  • Hear a band practice: This town has the armed forces music school and it raises a charming cacophony. If you are lucky you may catch a performance
  • Cycling tours: the sparse population and the cantonment ambience make it ideal for cycling tours. Cycles and professional tours are available at a day’s notice.

Details Pipariya is the closest railhead for Pachmarhi. Pipariya is on the Itarsi Jabalpur railway line. Nearest airport is Bhopal (140 Kms). Taxis and buses ply regularly from these places. The best places to stay are the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation Guesthouses that can be easily booked through the internet.

Talish Ray

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