Most families are surprised to learn about the affordability, accessibility, and attractions of India. Children are considered an integral part of the culture and they are welcomed and included in almost any function or event. Also, the country offers activities and interests for all family lifestyles and remains one of the top ten most affordable destinations in the world.
India has a seemingly endless options of attractions, including history, culture, architecture, adventure, beaches, shopping, festivals, music, dancing, museums, and wildlife. Here is a sample of my favorite family experiences, Indian style:
Safari by Jeep, Elephant, or Camel
India has 84 national parks, 447 wildlife sanctuaries, and 12 national biosphere reserves. Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan is one of the most filmed wildlife reserves in the world and offers safari by jeep or elephant. Other popular options include the Sunderbans in West Bengal, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala, and Corbett National Park in Uttar Pradesh. For something more unconventional, consider a Himalayan Jeep Safari in Leh or a Camel Expedition in the Thar Desert.
Kerala is known, among other things, for its backwaters. Families can board an overnight houseboat and leisurely cruise the extensive network of rivers, canals, lagoons and lakes. The kettuvallam or ‘boat with knots’ is held together with coir knots only - not a single nail is used during the construction. Meals are prepared on board by your private chef while you observe the untouched Keralan life.
Palaces of Rajasthan
Rajasthan is the largest state in India endowed with a natural beauty and royal history. The cities are a vibrant display of blue, pink, red, and green, offering a delightful scattering of color in an otherwise arid landscape. Stars twinkle above brightly lit palaces, many of which have been converted to hotels and offer oversized rooms with balconies or patios. Children love exploring the courtyards and pavilions - in addition to feeling like a prince or princess. Bonus: Most hotels include breakfast in the room charge.
Adventure and Cultural Activities
India’s diverse climate and landscape make it an enticing option for adventure activities, including hiking, white water rafting, scuba diving, snorkeling, horseback riding, skiing, and kayaking. Consider an overnight hiking and camping trip in the state of Himachal Pradesh, at the base of the Himalayas, or the Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu. If you prefer sun and surf, stay at a beach resort on the pink sand beaches of Goa or on the Malabar Coast in Kerala. For an exotic experience, visit the Lakshadweep Islands in the Arabian Sea, consisting of three coral reefs, twelve coral atolls, and numerous islets.
Also, Indians are some of the most welcoming and gracious people in the world, so don't be surprised if your family receives an unexpected invite to a wedding or other cultural affair. If you feel comfortable, say yes and enjoy the experience!