Summer’s approaching and you don’t want to take your children to meet relatives yet again – they’re also bored with that. You’ve also been to all the beaches nearby; the hill stations around your city, including the fun parks, so now you want to give them more than that.
You know that India is a huge country with many things to see and explore. But, going so far just to show them the Sun Temple at Konark or exploring Mount Abu or marvelling over the Meenakshi Temple sounds like too much money and effort. Also, how long can one stay there? There’s the entire holiday to go!
A little hint: why not see the vastness of the country as a plus point and not so much as a daunting factor? Let the whole family get involved in this game of making a creative travel plan, rather like a treasure trail.
To have a completely “touristy” outlook is having only half the fun, for tourists invariably see places and are not so interested in looking at the connections between the places and the people who live there and develop their own ways of life. And that is what is so exciting about travel: to explore the ways in which people live, work, eat, celebrate and connect with each other.
But you could also think of the fantastic Ugrasen ki Baoli – a majestic medieval structure that was a water storage system – right next to the well-known Connaught Place in Central Delhi. Or, you could visit a place called ‘Matka Baba’, the shrine of a Sufi saint where people, whose wishes have been granted, put up matkas or earthen pots on branches of trees… Why do they do that?
Discover a state
Explore, and you will get to see a new aspect of Delhi. From Delhi you can make a small arc to places in other northern states that are not too far away and cover a state or a region.
Look at it this way. The kids have at least two weeks or more and it would be such fun to discover India with them. How about taking up any one state at a time as a holiday theme? You will never be at a loss for places to go and people to see… Every holiday will be different.
Places you could be missing!
One way is to choose what you are interested in and then try and weave your trip around that – in a new place. A few examples:
- If wildlife, conservation, environmental ecology interests you, try out Keibul Lamjao National Park in Manipur, which is home to the endangered rare brow-antlered deer, or sangai. It’s a floating park on Loktak Lake, comprising islands that are actually floating weed! The sangai are found only at Lamjao. Several migratory birds also visit the lake.
- Pakshi teerth in Tamil Nadu. It is a temple where a golden eagle visits on a particular day in a year and takes food. Create your own trail from here.
- Tonk in Rajasthan is known for its mountains made of mica that makes them shine “like a mountain of silver” as the locals say.
- Discover new places off Mumbai such as the Mujud Janjeera in Mumbai. It is an island off the Gateway of India that houses an old fort.
Time your visit
While deciding on a particular state, it would be a good idea to time it around a particular festival or event. That is the best way to know in a short time, the ways of life of the people – their cultures. This might even help you plan your trip in advance – for instance, a visit to Kullu or Mysore during Dussehra, and similar events in other parts of the country. A detailed road map would be an ideal companion to plot your journey.
The state tourism office is recommended over any odd travel agent. And considering the facilities, state tourism guesthouses turn out cheaper than private hotels.
- If state guesthouses are already booked, try the International Youth Hostels. You can get yourself and your kids (age is no bar here) a membership at the nearest hostel. They have a chain of good hostels around the world and in different parts of India.
- Get international student identity cards made for your children at the nearest Stic Travels office. You can get travel and other discounts on it even within India.
- Medicines for all common problems like dysentery, headaches, fever, cold, allergies, stomachache, constipation and a complete first aid kit.
- A detailed road map of the state you’re visiting.
- Carry along a guide that gives you a smattering of the common phrases of the language used in the state you are about to visit (the ‘Learn Tamil in Seven Days’). It will make a world of difference to your holiday.
- Travel as light as possible.