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Summer Vacationing in India
Nidarshana Saikia Das
As the wife indulges in an invigorating massage, the kids have spread themselves in the fun zone hopping from one game to another and the husband is teeing away to glory with the cool breeze to his advantage.

Temptations, you might think, in the time of recession. But not as sinful – with the city turning into a tandoor by the day and the travel agencies rolling out attractive holiday packages, you must make the best of summers and give that heat a miss.

To help you plan better, here’s a handpicked select of a few popular thanda thanda cool cool joints for the entire family. Take a look...

Ananda in the Himalayas, Uttaranchal

India’s first destination Spa – the very mention spells bliss of a kind. Ananda is all the more loved because of its strategic position right in the Himalayas, amidst sal forests and overlooking the river Ganges. Credentials include celebrity guests (Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, the likes) and a bevy of awards from across the globe. Its holistic Spa experience will leave your senses invigorated, while the plethora of outdoor and adventure activities like golf, nature walks and treks, white water rafting at the Ganges and safari trips to the surrounding National Parks, will see that the entire family is entertained just as much.

Wildflower Hall (Mashobra), Shimla
Another fairytale spa resort, popular and much awarded, roosted at 8,250 ft in the Himalayas, is the Oberoi group’s Wildflower Hall – a 45 min drive from Shimla. Here too besides the Spa (by Banyan Tree) treatments, the ‘locational’ advantage leaves you spoilt for choices – mountain bicycling, horse riding, river rafting, wildlife photography, swimming, mountain treks and ice-skating (November to March, though), to name a few.

Please note, spa resorts in India, particularly the ones in the Himalayas, restrict children below 12 (14, in few places). Even if this doesn’t concern you, settle for the Himalayas only if close to nature family holiday experience, minus the regular children parks and toy zones, is what you are planning for the family. So confirm well in advance about the limitations.

North East India
By June, monsoons would have set in India’s North East quarters and to live amidst a canopy of verdant green, speckled with multi-hued flowers and migratory birds, can be a feast to the vision and replenishment for your city-chafed lung. Darjeeling, set against the snow-capped Mount Kanchenjunga, will enthrall kids as you chug up in the quaint toy rain, an engineering marvel of sorts, a treacherous and steep gradient to reach Asia’s highest railway station at Ghoom (7470 ft). Few miles further you reach the quainter Gangtok and Sikkim. Tea gardens, monasteries, treks up the Himalayan peaks, wildlife camps, mountain biking, river rafting, of simply walking through clusters of tribal villages and mingling with the simple, charming Lepcha and Bhutia people – this and more, to give your children a taste of a life unplugged from the intricacies of the modern world. Darjeeling’s Windamere Hotel and Mayfair Hill Resort, Sikkim’s Hotel Superview Himalchuli and Gangtok’s The NorKhill are staying options you might consider.

Kerala is a monsoon favourite and June is just the right time to be there, getting drenched and splashing water with your kids. Backwater cruise on houseboats, trek through spice and coffee plantations, elephant ride into the jungles, bathe in mineral water springs, live in a tree-house, rock about in a bullock cart, try fishing with Chinese fishing nets, binge on seafood by the sea, (goes without mentioning) enjoy the ubiquitous Ayurvedic massage – God’s Own Country has it all to leave you infatuated. From amongst the best, here are a few randomly picked ones and all with an Ayurvedic edge to them:
  1. The Leela (Kovalam): Supremely luxurious and with stunning viewof the sea.
  2. Taj Green Cove Resort (Kovalam): Another luxury beach resort, famous for its Jiva Spa.
  3. Kumarakom Lake Resort (Kottayam): Located amidst serene backwaters, bird sanctuary, mangrove forests, paddy fields, coconut groves and a thriving fishing hub.
  4. Coconut Lagoon Lake Resort (Kottayam): Approachable by a boat, its native landscaping allows guests experience Kerala up-close.
  5. Spice Village Resort (Thekaddy): Located by the cardamom hills, Periyar National Park, this one offers a perfect brew of adventure and rejuvenation.
  6. Travencore Heritage (Kovalam): An old-world charm with typical timber houses and ‘Nalukettus’ (houses with an open courtyard) of Kerala, this one is perfect for beach bums.
Homestays at heritage properties or simply with a Kerala family is another popular stay choice for a hands-on experience of Kerala. Nestled in a private coffee and vanilla plantation, laidback and tranquil with tree-houses, living at the Tranquil Plantation Hideaway (Wayanad) can be a stay to remember.

If you thought Goa isn’t for summers, you must have missed out the “Go Goa - 365 days” campaign. November to February is undoubtedly the best time to bask by the sea under the Goan sun and ‘bay-watch’, but consider checking out this seaside sweetheart in June, just when the monsoon sets in. The paddy fields turn verdant green, rivers overflow and the coastlines get wild and choppy. And not being the peak tourist season, you can get yourself the crème de la crème resort packages at jaw-slacking slashed rates. The Sereno Spa at Part Hyatt, the Jiva Spa at Fort Aguada Beach Resort, The Health Spa at Leela Kempinski being the most sworn at spa bets, besides zillion others.

Family Resorts
Alternatively, if you are a travel buff and a complete family vacation is what you are looking for, lifetime membership of one of the family resort chains like Club Mahindra can be a steal. Their bunch of properties flaked all over India, the RCI (world’s
largest vacation exchange network with some 4600+ connections worldwide) partnership, flexible EMI plans, exhaustive array of indoor and outdoor facilities and activities at and around the resort, makes Club
Mahindra the perfect family holiday resort chain completely worth your dough. For the season, their resorts at Munnar, Thekkady and Ashtamudi in Kerala, those in the Himalayan belt like at Dharamshala, Shimla, Manali, Mussorie, Auli, Binsar and the one at Coorg in Karnataka are recommended. Still brooding? Go book your tickets...
*with inputs from Holiday Advisor, Richa Mishra (New Delhi)

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