It’s with our families that much of our holidaying is done. Nothing matches the joy of taking off to someplace nice with our families. Given the times we live in, families are in a constant search of offbeat places. We’ve put together a list of family-friendly holiday destinations that will offer a safe experience for you and your loved ones. Time to get your family together and pack your bags. By Karan Kaushik
Here are 7 lesser-explored destinations in India for your next family holiday
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Nicknamed as the Queen of Chotanagpur, Netarhat is a charming little British-era hill station that could turn anyone into a poet. Netarhat looks nothing like your stereotypical hill station but is still every bit idyllic and rejuvenating. Blessed with dense forests, Netarhat is also steeped in history. Some even say that the British had named it “nature’s heart” and that its present name is just a corruption of that.
The hilly hamlet is famous for its stunning sunrises and sunsets. Visit the nearby tribal hamlets and meet the Birjia and Birhor tribes. Head to Magnolia Point to savour the best sunsets. The point is named after a British girl, who fell in love with a young shepherd. Their beautiful statues adorn the place. Other major attractions in Netarhat include Netarhat Dam, Koel Viewpoint, Upper Ghagri Falls, and Lower Ghagri Falls.
Wilson Hills, Gujarat
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Located in Valsad’s Dharampur tehsil near Surat, Wilson Hills is an enchanting hill station. Picture winding roads, verdant hills, shimmery white waterfalls, and foggy environs. That’s Wilson Hills for you. A paradise for trekkers and nature lovers, the hill station is named after British officer Lord Wilson, the then governor of Mumbai. Often referred to as mini Saputara, Wilson Hills enjoys a pleasant climate throughout the year. Monsoons are typically beautiful.
When here, you can explore the Pangarbari Wildlife Sanctuary. The Barumal Temple, nestled amidst the lush hills, is another prime attraction. Take your kids to the District Science Centre in Dharampur for an educative experience. Then there’s the Lady Wilson Museum, which offers a peek into the history of the hill station. It also showcases the rich tribal heritage of Gujarat. If you love waterfalls, visit the Jodia and the Bilpudi Twin Waterfalls. The Marble Umbrella, built in the memory of Lord Wilson offers spectacular views of the hill station.
If you have had enough forts and palaces, give the gorgeous havelis of Shekhawati a chance for a great offbeat family holiday. Known for its age-old havelis and rich painterly tradition, Shekhawati comprises the small towns of Fatehpur, Mandawa, Nawalgarh, Dundlod, Alsisar among others. Constructed between the late 18th and early 20th centuries, the havelis of Shekhawati stand as architectural marvels and remind visitors of the opulent lives lived by the Marwari businessmen who built them.
Thanks to its incredible frescoes, Shekhawati is fondly known as an “open-air art gallery” today. From grand mansions to ancient step wells to beautiful cenotaphs, you’ll have much to appreciate here. Visit the Podar Haveli Museum in Nawalgarh, marvel at the tasteful murals at the Mahaveer Prasad Goenka Haveli in Fatehpur, and luxuriate at Castle Mandawa. Other must-visit attractions are Alsisar Fort, Rani Sati Temple in Jhunjhunu, and Dundlod Fort.
One of Northeast India’s best-kept secrets, Unakoti will leave you surprised with its ancient bas relief sculptures. Renowned for its mammoth stone and rock-cut sculptures, Unakoti has its share of myths and legends. Legend has it that Lord Shiva had spent a night here on his way to Varanasi. According to a popular story, it is believed that Lord Shiva turned 99,99,999 deities into stone after they couldn’t wake up on time to leave for Varanasi.
Some locals also believe that the sculptures were made by an artist called Kallu Kumhar. Particularly noteworthy among all sculptures at Unakoti are those of Lord Shiva, Ganesha, Hanuman, Goddess Durga, Nandi, and Ravana. Other attractions around Unakoti include Jampui Hills, Rowa Wildlife Sanctuary, Muraichara Eco Park, and Rajkandi Reserve Forest.
Araku Valley, Andhra Pradesh
Encompassed by lofty mountains and lush forests, Araku Valley makes for a nice excursion from the touristy Vizag. From limestone caves to waterfalls to coffee and tea plantations to museums, Araku promises a fantastic family holiday. The Ananthagiri Hills of Araku is home to the incredible Borra Caves, known as India’s largest caves.
Kids would have a great time learning about Andhra Pradesh’s rich cultural heritage at the Araku Tribal Museum. From here, you can visit the Padmapuram Botanical Garden and spend some quality time unwinding in the lap of nature. Then there’s Chaparai Waterfalls, also known as Dumbriguda Falls, where you can enjoy a nice picnic with your family. Foodies must try out Araku’s popular Bongulo Chicken. The tribal delicacy is made by cooking rice and chicken inside a bamboo stem.
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If you are not too adamant about going sightseeing and doing everything touristy, let Chatpal give you a chance to show your kids that travel is not always about checking things off a pre-planned itinerary. Sometimes, travel is just about experiencing the place, appreciating its landscapes, and nurturing lifetime bonds with the locals at some offbeat family holiday destination.
Nestled away in a peaceful corner of southern Kashmir, Chatpal is located 90km from Srinagar and offers a pleasant stay away from the touristy bustle. Here, you will be welcomed by endless green meadows, sky-kissing pine trees, clear blue skies, and stunning mountain views. When in Chatpal, you can fancy nature walks, enjoy Kashmiri tea at local eateries, and visit apple and walnut orchards. If adventure excites you, the mountains of Chatpal offer great trekking opportunities.
Namsai, Arunachal Pradesh
This lesser-known town must be on your list for its grand pagodas, age-old monasteries, scenic charms, and lovely people. Namsai’s landscape features lush paddy fields, gurgling rivers, shiny pagodas, traditional bamboo houses, and inviting tea plantations. Home to the Tai Khampti and Singpho tribes of Arunachal Pradesh, Namsai is home to the famous Golden Pagoda, its top tourism hotspot, and an ideal location for an offbeat family holiday spot.
Also known as the Kongmu Kham, the pagoda will impress you with its zen vibes and well-kept lawns. Witnessing cute little monks indulge in their evening prayers is a delightful experience. You can also visit the Namsai Monastery for a truly enriching time. From Namsai, you can make daytrips to Parshuram Kund, Chongkham, Wakro and Jairampur.