Are you scouring the internet for places to take your kids to this summer vacation? Even if you’re not a parent, you might be mentally picking out getaways that help you beat the sauna-like summer heat of Indian cities.
Since I did a bit of looking around, I thought sharing a few destinations with you might not be a bad idea.
So this summer, you could go skiing in Himachal Pradesh, white water rafting in Uttarakhand, pet elephants in Karnataka, enjoy a shikara ride in Kashmir, fuss over red pandas in West Bengal or just look out the window at glorious snow covered peaks in the North East.
Here are a few top destinations in India to beat the heat.
I prefer Manali over Shimla – it’s just less crowded and touristy. So, go pose with yaks at the Hadimba Temple, scale the heights of the Himalayas with an adventure company, make snowballs at Rohtang Pass or just stroll in the Van Vihar National Park (close to Mall Road).
Admire the blue waters of Pangong Lake, where the movie ‘Three Idiots’ was shot. Feel the peace at Lamayuru Monastery or experience the contrast of sand dunes in Hunder amid the greenery of Nubra Valley.
Mussoorie stands out in my memory for its spectacular view over the valley. If you don’t mind the crowd, get wet in the Kempty Falls, else trek down to the less frequented Jharipani Falls.
The Dhanolti Eco Park near Mussoorie is worth the one and a half hour ride. Not only is it a birder’s paradise but it also has interesting activities for children like zip lining etc.
If you fancy lakes, Nainital beckons – after a cable car ride to Snow View Point, just stroll near Naini Lake or pay your respects at the Naina Devi Temple.
India’s little Europe. Kashmir’s peaks rival those in Switzerland and its shikaras mirror Venice’s gondolas. Visit Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Sonmarg and Srinagar and you will be convinced that the Gods indeed live here.
Heliskiing (using helicopters to reach harder to access skiing spots) is all the rage these days.
Visit the Dubare elephant camp or chill at Nisargadhama island while in Coorg. The Iruppu Falls offer photo opps to all those so inclined, but if you are crowd averse you could go to the Unchalli Falls.
Wear those shoes out on a trek to Thadiyandamol Hills or put your feet up at a home stay in one of the several coffee plantations in this land of coffee.
In Munnar, try your hand at picking tea at one of the plantations, rendezvous with the endangered Nilgiri Tahr or take a boat ride on the Devikulam Lake. If they don’t rejuvenate you, just head to the world famous ayurvedic spas.
If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, you could spot elephants at Thekkady‘s Periyar Sanctuary, chase butterflies in the proposed Ranipuram National Park or watch tigers from the safety of a jeep in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary.
Incidentally, Kerala is home to the highest number of hill stations in India – you can get the list here.
If you’re in Central India, you could photograph a sunset at Dhoopgarh and see rainbow pools in the Duchess Falls when you visit Pachmarhi.
Maharashtra – Strawberries in Mahabaleshwar, spectacular sunsets in Matheran, visits to British and Parsi homes in Panchgani – that’s Maharashtra for you.
Else, just take off in a paraglider from Saputara in nearby Gujarat.
Make friends with the Red Panda and the elusive Snow Leopard at the Himalayan Zoo or catch some mountaineering action in Darjeeling.
Or just go watch a sunrise on the Kanchenjunga peak from the Deolo Hill in Kalimpong.
Take a dip in the Changu Lake near Gangtok, smell flowers at the Yumthang Valley of flowers in Lachung or let Mount Khangchendzonga in Pelling put the spell on you.
Live in a Khasi (tribal) style hut in Shillong or chase the clouds in Mawsynram, the wettest place on this planet.
So this summer you don’t have to bother about the heat dragon sucking the life out of you – just head to any of these places and you’ll be just fine.
Oh, you were thinking of going somewhere else? Mind sharing your idea in that case?