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10 places to vacation with kids this festival season

BENGALURU

The upcoming festival season is the perfect time to take a break. Your office is off, schools are closed and the weather is about perfect. But its often a struggle to find places that both kids and adults can enjoy at the same time. Open spaces, plenty of activities and safety are some factors to consider when you plan a vacation with your kids.

We are here to make your choices easier. India has many destinations that are child-friendly – clean and uncrowded beaches where you can relax and watch your kids build sand castles or heritage destinations where kids can discover a thing or two about India’s rich history.

1. Ooty
ooty180Chocolates are sure to entice the young and the young at heart! Indulge your sweet tooth with truffles, fudges and marshmallows available at King Star Confectioners on Commercial Road. Let the little tyke indulge in mini-train and pony rides. An educational trip to the tea and botanical gardens and a live demo about honey gathering and bee keeping at the Honey & Bee Museum must be a part of your trip. Not to forget, make sure to take a boat ride on the famous Ooty lake. Says HolidayIQ Traveller Ramna Kumar says, “We spent a good time boating at Ooty Lake. Children will love it!”

What Kids Must Do: Chocolates at King Star and a boat ride at Ooty Lake.
How to Reach: Approximately 88 kilometres away, Coimbatore is the nearest domestic airport from Ooty which is well-connected with most of the Indian cities. The nearest railhead is Mettupalyam, 40 kilometres from Ooty.

2. Jaisalmer
Who isn’t fascinated by fairytales? Jaisalmer is like an open history book. Don’t miss a chance of walking your kids through historic tales of valour and visit Jaisalmer’s old forts and palaces! And then there are Jaisalmer’s local transport options – the elephants, camels and rickshaws. Suggests HolidayIQ Traveller Umesh, “The camel safari experience here is one-of-a-kind. However, we opted for the camel cart for our kid’s safety, which was very comfortable as compare to a ride on the camel.” You can also camp in the Thar Desert and star gaze.

What Kids Must Do: Camel safari and star gazing in Jaisalmer
How to Reach: Jodhpur Airport is the closest domestic airport that is functional throughout the year. Jaisalmer is well connected with a wide network of trains covering most of the Indian cities like Delhi, Jodhpur, Jaipur and others.

3. Goa
HolidayIQ Traveller Anshuman says, “Beaches like Calangute can be visited with family. The beaches in Goa, especially Calangute, are safe for kids as they have many lifeguards around. Sea rides and seeing dolphins are great activities.” Adventurous kids will love water sports – snorkeling, boat rides and parasailing! Or you could just flop on the beach under a palm tree while your children make sandcastles. Take them to Old Goa, which has beautiful churches, monuments & forts. Benaulim Beach, Mandrem Beach and Morkim Beach are famous for their soft sand & clean, shallow water.

What Kids Must Do: Water rides at Goa’s beaches and a heritage tour of Old Goa
How to Reach: The Dabolim Airport lies just 29 kilometres from the state’s capital, Panjim. The two major railheads in Goa are Madgaon and Thivim, which are well connected by trains from all over the country.

4. Ajanta & Ellora
Walk them through the Ajanta-Ellora Caves – UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The caves are home to beautiful paintings, monuments and sculptures. HolidayIQ Traveller Divya from Delhi suggests you buy something from stores outside the caves. “They sell a rare collection of encyclopedias and folk literature that makes great reading for kids and adults like.” Also, do “visit Siddharth Garden for its sprawling landscape, exotic animals and a toy train ride for the kids,” says HolidayIQ Traveller Amrita.

What Kids Must Do: Buy encyclopedias outside the caves and visit Siddharth Garden in Aurangabad
How to Reach: Currently Aurangabad is the nearest Air point for Ajanta. It can be reached from New Delhi and Mumbai (Bombay), international airport. Jalgaon is the best place to drop in for Ajanta if you like Rail journey.

5. Darjeeling

“Take a trip to Mirik Lake or visit Himalayan Zoological Park. Don’t forget to take a toy train ride from Darjeeling to Kurseong,” says HolidayIQ Traveller Debarati. Think of Darjeeling and you can think of nothing but the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway or the Toy Train. Make sure that you take kids for a pony ride on Mall Road.

What Kids Must Do: Pony rides on Mall Road, a cable car & toy train ride. Visit the Garg World Amusement Park, Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, Observatory Hill, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Bengal Natural History Museum
How to Reach: Bagdogra Airport is the nearest air connection which is 96 kilometres away from Darjeeling. The DHR Toy Train service starts at New Jalpaiguri and will get you to Darjeeling at a speed no faster than 30 miles per hour. It takes 7 hours and halts at Batasia Loop from where passengers can take photographic shots of Mt. Kanchenjunga.

6. Gir National Park
“It’s a great place for kids and to rediscover the child in you,” says HolidayIQ Traveller Rajesh from Ahmedabad. Consider the Gir National Park for a quintessential wildlife experience. Spot the Asiatic lion in the wild. Hotels located close to the Park have activities that will keep kids busy. Sasan Gir is a great opportunity to reconnect with nature, hear the chirping of the birds, take a walk along natural streams and breathe in fresh air.
What Kids Must Do: A wildlife safari and nature walks
How to Reach: Closest airport to Sasan Gir Railway Station is Keshod Airport.

7. Shillong
Living root bridges, scenic surroundings as well as clean and fresh air to breathe in, Shillong is a place where you can let your kids truly enjoy a relaxed vacation. Shillong has many attractions children will love including “the Indian Airforce Museum, which is an informative place for kids,” says HolidayIQ Traveller Rajesh from Mumbai. HolidayIQ Traveller Supriya from Kolkata adds, “Take your children to the Lady Hydari Park. They will love it.”
What Kids Must Do: Visit the Indian Airforce Museum and Lady Hydari Park
How to Reach: The nearest major airport and railway station is at Guwahati, which is nearly 120 km away from Shillong. Guwahati Airport is well connected to many major cities in India including Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata.

8. Auli
HolidayIQ Traveller Subho from Kolkata recommends, “Carry a lot of woolens for kids especially as they will love playing in the snow. Do carry or rent gumboots, water jackets and pants.” Auli has a vast range of exciting adventure activities. It is a great place for skiing.
What Kids Must Do: Skiing in Auli. Government-certified operators at GMVN offer beginner courses.
How to Reach: The Jolly Grant Airport located in Dehradun is the nearest airport to Auli. It is at a distance of around 279 km from the hill station. It connects the place with several cities of the country.

9. Kaziranga
Atop an elephant or in jeep, embark on a family adventure! Drive through green grasslands and spot giant one-horned rhinos, myriad species of birds, elephants, wild water buffalos, and if you are destined to, the tiger! Kaziranga National Park is “a great holiday destination for families especially with kids,” says HolidayIQ Traveller Pritesh from Guwahati. Do not forget to carry a pair of binoculars and watch in awe beautiful animals in the wild.
What Kids Must Do: An elephant safari at the Kaziranga National Park
How to Reach: Nearest airport is in Jorhat town, which is 96 km away from Kaziranga. Jorhat is connected to Kolkata, Delhi and Guwahati by regular flights. The nearest railway station to Kaziranga is Furkating, which is 80 km away.

10. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
HolidayIQ Traveller Anisha says, “Havelock Island is great place for kids. They will enjoy playing on the beach. Do take them snorkeling with Rajan – the swimming elephant.” The islands aren’t a world away, but the flight across the ocean, boat and ferry rides are nothing short of a fairytale. Diving and snorkeling to watch corals is a must-do. You can also take him for a ride on a glass bottom boat and let him take a closer look at the vast coral colonies.
What Kids Must Do: Glass bottom boat ride to see corals and underwater sea life
How to Reach: Port Blair is Andaman’s major gateway which is well connected by air & sea while regular passenger ship services are available to Port Blair.

Musafir Namah Bureau

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