The onset of the summer vacations and the soaring temperatures make it imperative to plan a family holiday. Travel to a place that promises exciting excursions, safari camps, and historical landmarks. A family vacation is a time to unwind and revel till the last day. Step out of your comfort zone to try adventure sports or new activities. Here are the top 10 places for a summer vacation in India:
1. Lahaul Spiti
Temperature April-May: 5°C-15°C
Nearest Railway Station: Shimla- 341 km
Nearest Airport: Bhuntar Airport, Kullu- 245km Stay Options: Tethys Himalayan Den, Zostel Homes Tabo & Kibber, Hotel Deyzor, The Nomad’s Cottage
Lahaul and Spiti Valley are one of the least populated districts in India, no wonder the natural beauty of this remote land is untouched by the traps of civilization. The high-altitude trails can be an intense cardio workout, the spiritual Tibetan culture provokes soul-searching and the gigantic Himalayas remind us we are a speck in the endless universe. Naturalists or adventure junkies, Lahaul and Spiti are on everyone’s wish list. The windswept mountains of Spiti are a magnificent sight to behold, donning a band of colours throughout the day. All the more thrilling when you are riding a motorcycle and camping in nature’s lap at night. A word of caution: all this is best done after a day of rest and acclimatisation due to the lack of oxygen in these parts. This mesmerising destination is popular in the summer holidays as it is a cold desert mountain valley, blessed with matchless serenity.
- Pristine Lakes: Chandrataal is a crescent-shaped water body, Dhankar Lake is a must-visit, and Suraj Taal is the third highest lake in India. Captivating scenes everywhere you go.
- Cave Camping in Tabo, Spiti: Modest yet invigorating. In ancient times, these caverns offered respite from harsh weather, now they are solitary meditation spaces for the lamas.
- Monasteries: Key Monastery, a 1000-year-old learning centre for Buddhists; Dhankar, standing since the 16th-century offers panoramic views; Lhalung is known as the golden monastery; Tangyud, is a fortified palace with battlements and Tabo, is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Temperature April-May: 14°C-28°C
Nearest Railway Station: Pathankot Station, 96km
Nearest Airport: Pathankot Airport- 100km
Stay Options: Grand View Hotel, Brij Villa, Fortune Park, Zostel Dalhousie, Best Western
Dalhousie is part of the Chamba district in Himachal Pradesh and is named after a British General, Lord Dalhousie. It is a tranquil township unlike the other overcrowded hill stations of Shimla and Kasauli, which is why it is ideal for a family holiday during the summer vacation. The Dhauladhar Range flourishes the landscape with stunning views and favourable weather. Planning a family holiday to a hill station during the summer vacation is primarily about breathing in the fresh air and absorbing the splendour of the natural surroundings. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose had taken an immense liking to this hamlet and there are two places named after him, Subhash Baoli & Subhash Chowk. Dalhousie is preferred for sightseeing than shopping, it is the hilltop getaway from all urban distractions. The must-do activity here is paragliding which is sure to give an adrenaline rush. The churches of St. Patrick, St. Francis, and St. John are impressive reminders of early twentieth-century English architecture.
- Khajjiar: Mere 20kms from Dalhousie, is the mini-Switzerland of India abundant with lush green meadows and a lake; flawlessly painted like a priceless artwork. The green dales of Khajjiar are also home to a nine-hole golf course.
- Satdhara Falls: Falling in unity as one from seven springs. The water here is said to be containing the mineral mica, rich in healing properties.
- Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary: Wildlife enthusiasts will love to explore the terrain, it appears black due to the dense cover of thick deodars and pines; it is home to many endangered animals. Hiking and trekking are permitted.
- Dainkund Peak: A sublime view from the highest peak of Dalhousie, this is also known as the ‘Singing Peak.’
Temperature April-May: 20°C-38°C
Nearest Railway Station: Rishikesh
Nearest Airport: Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun- 35km
Stay Options: Aloha on the Ganges, Sterling Palm Bliss, Sanskriti Vedic Retreat, Lamrin Boutique Cottages
A riverside adventure camp or a holistic retreat, Rishikesh is an interesting medley of lifestyles. Visit this city that stretches on both sides of the river; the ashrams, the vegan cafes, ayurvedic clinics, and the beaches are equally thronged by foreign tourists, pilgrims, and sojourners. River rafting won glory and a mean edge in this city. The rapids are fast and furious, constantly testing the limits of the riders while steered by trained professionals. Adding to this rush is the Laxman and Ram Jhulas teasing with their swaying motions, this is intensified by the cool winds and the gushing water that flows beneath them. The Ganga waters shine icy blue with white foam since Rishikesh is the first city to be touched by the holy river after it descends from the mountains of Uttarakhand. Explore the Ganga beach by camping out in tents and attend the famous Ganga aarti in the evening at the Triveni Ghat. The Yog Nagari is famed for awakening your chakras with the ghats playing host to yoga and meditation rituals.
- Beatles Ashram: You know the band had an Indian connect, come here to learn how and why.
- Patna Waterfall: A short-height waterfall, approximately 13km away from the city. A 1.5km easy trek makes it approachable. There are limestone caves nearby.
- Cafes: Continental food with a vegan twist served in retro-inspired cafes, many are ventures by foreign nationals.
- Rajaji National Park: About 13km from the city limits, this reserve deploys jeep safaris for visitors.
4. Ranakpur via Udaipur
Temperature April-May: 21°C-40°C
Nearest Railway Station: Falna- 27 km from Ranakpur
Nearest Airport: Udaipur Airport- 106km
Places to stay- Ranakpur: Mana Hotels, Fateh Bagh, King’s Abode
Places to stay- Udaipur: Bloom Boutique, Ananta, The Fern, Karma Seven Lakes
Rajasthan’s hidden gem has off-late gained immense popularity for its pink leopard sightings in late 2021. A family vacation in the hinterland allows you to unplug and detox. Ranakpur is an evergreen valley surrounded by the Aravallis, it enjoys pleasant weather throughout the year in the desert state of Rajasthan. Plan a staycation in the affordable and upmarket hotels in Ranakpur to be pampered during your summer vacation. With umpteen activities to do indoors and outdoors, adults and children are recharged in the oxygen-rich environment of Ranakpur. Ranakpur Dam is a reservoir with a view, a picnic lunch can be arranged here by the hotels in Ranakpur. The best way to reach Ranakpur is via Udaipur. A one-day trip to the Venice of the East can be included in your travel itinerary; the lakes, palaces, and museums of Udaipur stir one’s imagination.
- Ranakpur Jain Temple: A man-made architectural wonder and a holy pilgrimage for Jains. Globally, the temple is renowned for its heavy-duty stone lattice workmanship and massive structure.
- Jungle Safaris: Trained naturalists accompany jeep safaris to explore the flora and fauna of the rich Ranakpur-Kumbhalgarh reserve forest. The Jawai Leopard has often been sighted along with other wild animals.
- Museums in Udaipur: City Palace museum should not be missed. Other things to see are Bagore ki Haveli and Saheliyon ki Bari.
- Sunsets on the Lake: Lake Pichola and Fateh Sagar are excellent examples of artificial lakes that have supported ecology.
5. Dadra Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu
Temperature April-May: 25°C-34°C
Nearest Railway Station: Vapi- 12km
Nearest Airport: Diu Airport
Stay Options: The Fern, The Deltin Daman, Gold Beach Resort (Daman and Diu)
Pearl Resort, Treat Resort (Silvassa)
In 2020, Dadra Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu were merged as a single union territory for better administration, with its headquarters at Daman. Silvassa is the largest city in this entire territory; transformed from a tribal region to an industrial hub and tourist attraction. A family holiday is incomplete without exploring the Vasona Lion Safari Park. As a coastal plain, this territory has a pleasant climate all year around. Diu is separated from the others by a small stretch of the Arabian Sea. It has a vibrant history and culture, along with powdery white beaches. Diu is unlike a Goan family vacation because it does not overflow with tourists and thus boasts cleaner spaces. A lazy lunch at the sea-facing bistros that serve multi-cuisines is relaxing. The Gangeshwar Mahadev Temple is washed by the Arabian Sea waves throughout the day, almost as if nature paid homage to a deity. A day trip to the ancient Somnath Temple can be made from Diu. Absorb the simplicity of this land during this summer vacation.
- St. Paul’s Church: Portuguese architecture, art, and craftsmanship add flair to the divine grace of this church. It is an example of the European Baroque.
- Beaches: At Devka in Daman, couples will enjoy sunbathing and long walks. A trip to Jampore Beach completes a family holiday. Ride horses into the sunset with your tribe.
- Diu Fort: A 16th-century Portuguese encampment, makes for a memorable postcard. Close by, the Naida Caves are structurally dramatic and are appreciated by onlookers
- Lakes: Dudhani and Vanganga on the Dadra side are picturesque locations.
6. Coorg or Kodagu
Temperature April-May: 15°C-28°C
Nearest Railway Station: Mysore- 95km
Nearest Airport: Mangalore International Airport- 140km
Stay Options: Club Mahindra, Heritage Resort, Coorg Cliffs, Purple Palms, Amanvana
Going to Scotland for a family holiday beyond your budget? The Britishers found us our very own highlands, Coorg. From the highest point at the Raja’s Seat, witness the evergreen Western ghats form formidable hills and valleys, while the Cauvery feeds exotic waterfalls. As a Southern hill station, it has the dreamiest climate all year round, with clouds hanging low and the rains flourishing the air with a spicy note. Historically, it has a heritage of warrior clans and tangible remnants in the form of colonial-era bungalows and forts. It is the largest domestic coffee producer and an icon for spices; pepper, cardamom, and cinnamon are found abundantly. In April the valley blooms with white flowers thus trekking is one of the best activities as the forests are green and offer ample coverage. Pick a plantation estate rather than a hotel to truly appreciate Coorg; this rare Southern gem radiates excellence.
- Plantation Tours: Romantic weather, a quaint bungalow on a coffee estate, and a leisurely trail. Indulge in coffee picking and acquaint yourself with the processing of this bean.
- Waterfalls: Bountiful and beautiful, Abbey Falls is a photogenic location. Waterfall Rappelling is an adventure sport at Chelavara Falls. Rafting takes place at Barapole.
- Elephant Camp, Dubare: Age is no bar when it comes to enjoying nature’s gifts. Feed, bathe, and ride these glorious creatures.
- Madikeri Fort: Coorg’s history from ancient times to the colonial past can be traced here.
7. Gulmarg via Pahalgam
Temperature April-May: -2°C to 9°C
Nearest Railway Station: Srinagar Railway Station, Nowgam
Nearest Airport: Srinagar- 55kms Stay Options: Pine View, Shaw Inn, Pahalgam Hotel, Hotel Heevan
A slice of heaven for your family holiday? Extraordinary hill stations, Gulmarg and Pahalgam, under 100km in distance, are paradigms of India’s charming landscape. In early April, fresh snow can be seen but a month later, the valleys bloom with fresh flowers and lush green vales. An excellent choice for a family vacation as the sun and sights are heart-warming. Gulmarg is visited for skiing in the winter months and Pahalgam’s Chandanwari is en route to the Amarnath Yatra, a sacred pilgrimage only open during the summer vacation. No amateurs at the exclusive golf courses here. Saffron, plentiful here, is a lavender flower whose lightweight buds are a luxury superfood. Locals graciously pour a steaming cup of kahwa made with kesar, while you enjoy a shikara ride. Don’t miss strawberry picking in the Gulmarg valley, it is a children’s delight. The summer season is idyllic weather for a family holiday in this northern paradise.
- Houseboats & Tulip Fields: Stay for a night on Srinagar’s Dal Lake, this is a lifetime’s experience. The tulip fields of Srinagar are exceptional.
- Aru, Betaab Valley, and Baisaran: These valleys are a sight for sore eyes. Hiking can be enjoyed, along with activities like Zorbing and horse-riding.
- Gulmarg Gondola: You would think you are in the European Alps, a ride on this is paramount with stellar views.
- Sheshnag and Tullian Lake: Spotless water bodies surrounded by the alpines. Avid trekkers love the workout and prefer camping in these serene ranges.
Temperature April-May: 15°C-25°C
Nearest Railway Station: Guwahati- 100km
Nearest Airport: Umroi Airport, Barapani- 25km
Stay Options: The Loft, Shillong Club, Hotel Roi-Ki, Ri Kynjai, Ladybird Hotel, Pinewood
Meghalaya’s hill station is also known as the abode of the clouds. Picturesque and ancient, Shillong is known for its lush forests, high waterfalls, and peerless azure lakes. Shillong is famed for its cherry blossom trees that bloom in November. During the summer vacation, there are many local festivals to witness traditions, revelry, and sample north-eastern cuisine. The Mawphlang Sacred Forest is a one-of-a-kind network of trees, medicinal plants, rare herbs, orchids, ferns, and insect-eating pitcher plants. Trekkers love exploring the countryside trails of this hilly terrain. A hike up Shillong’s Peak lends a birds-eye view of the entire hill station. For the enthusiast rock climber, we recommend a mountain climb to Diengiei Peak. The Nokrek National Park, 145km away, is home to the endangered Red Panda. Visit the Don Bosco Museum for cultural insight and lounge near Ward’s Lake.
- Dawki Lake: As crystal clear as glass, the lake will have you examining its transparent surface. Choose a boat ride or angling for a fun day.
- Cherrapunji: Only 54km away, this is India’s wettest city and is home to ‘living bridges’, handmade from rubber trees, serving generations of Khasi folk. It is also home to the Seven Sisters Waterfall, dazzling the eyes with its mist.
- Water Rappelling: The Elephant Falls in Shillong has a great view and exciting adventure sports. Wei Sawdong Waterfall has a tiered structure.
- Cave Exploring: There are above 1500 cave systems in the state, and the ones in Mawsynram, Cherrapunji, and Shillong are some of the longest natural marvels in the Indian subcontinent.
Temperature April-May: 8°C-17°C
Nearest Railway Station: New Jalpaiguri, Siliguri- 148 km
Nearest Airport: Bagdogra, West Bengal- 124km
Stay Options: The Fern, Sterling Gangtok, Noblestride Resort, Club Mahindra
Northeastern Himalaya’s sleeping beauty, Gangtok, is Sikkim’s capital. Emerald green mountains, clearwater lakes, and waterfalls; the land here is rich in flora, fauna, and culture. Tibetan Buddhists have called it home for decades, the calm and mindful nature of this religion has seeped into the hearts of the people who call it home. Gangtok Ropeway offers a trip that serenades you with appealing views, each cable car carries up to 25 people and has no seats. Visit the cafes on M.G.Marg, click pictures in the avenues, and indulge in retail therapy too. The Nathu La pass approximately 50km from the city is a key factor in Sino-Indian trade; it is historically part of the Old Silk Route. Visit the Gangtok Royal Palace and the famous monastery here. On a clear day Kanchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain, is visible from many sunset points and monasteries.
- Tsomgo Lake: 36km from the city, it is a scenic locale with orchids and rhododendrons blooming here post-March till May.
- Rafting at Teesta: One of the most adventurous rafting stretches in the world, some routes are hours long while short ones can be completed in under an hour.
- Paragliding: An exciting activity in Gangtok, that has certified trainers and professionals.
- Tashi Viewpoint: Snow-capped peaks, valley views, and a glittering sunset. It is perfect for a hike.
Temperature April-May: 24°C-32°C
Nearest Airport: Veer Savarkar Airport or Port Blair Airport km
Nearest Port: Kochi
Stay Options: Bangaram Resort, Agatti Beach Resort, Minicoy Resort
36 coral islands from the union territory of Lakshadweep. White beaches, with swinging palm trees and an infinite blue sea; this is a haven for beach-lovers. Not just for honeymoons, this is preferred as an exciting destination for a carefree family holiday in the summer vacation. The weather does not demand an overpacked suitcase, as it is windy and pleasant. Post-May, the onset of the monsoon drenches the small group of islands. All of the islands of this union territory offer intriguing sights and activities. Bangaram Island is the largest among the others, with a population of a handful, it is an escape from society. Abbott Island is visited for the Saint Ubaidullah Tomb and the octopus population in its lagoons. Book a cruise along with your hotel stay for a sound package.
- Kavaratti Aquarium: Bumper marine life and corals, it is informative and amusing for children.
- Water Sports: A wide variety of water sports for adults and children. Watergliding is a must as well as scuba diving and snorkelling; Lakshadweep is home to opulent corals.
- Pitti Island: Desolate and calm, mostly visited for its sparkling clean beaches. It has a bird sanctuary that can be visited.
- Minicoy Island: Picture-perfect lighthouse for storming your social media pages.
Happy Trails Everyone!