Bringing your children to India is bound to be an unforgettable experience for the entire family. No matter where in the subcontinent you decide to visit, there are plenty of activities that will delight (and educate) your children, ranging from exotic animal encounters to once-in-a-lifetime cultural experiences.
Do your kids love animals? Go a step beyond the local zoo and let your kids encounter some of the world’s most exotic animals in their natural habitats. India is home to more than 60 percent of the world’s population of Bengal tigers and in central India, more than two dozen tour companies provide visitors with the chance to observe the big cats in the wild. Tiger tracking excursions range from day tours of the preserves, to multi-day treks, with accommodations in ranging from riverside tree houses to traditional guesthouses.
For a truly unique experience, bring the kids to Kim Corbett National Park, where the whole family can sign up for an elephant safari. Visitors explore the park on top of an elephant, looking for tigers, monkeys, crocodiles and other exotic wildlife.
Wildlife tours are best during the drier winter months and costs range from a few rupees for park entrance to several thousand dollars, for an extensive tour with accommodations and food.
The Taj Majal
One of the most recognizable structures in the world, the Taj Majal in Agra is a must visit and sure to be memorable for kids and adults alike. Only a short 35-minute flight from from Delhi, kids will love exploring the opulent mausoleum, which is nothing like it appears at Disneyland or even in photographs. Take time to explore the site and its gardens, noticing how the colors change throughout the day. Occasionally, the Taj Mahal opens to visitors in the evening; the World Heritage site is even more magical in the moonlight.
Train travel in India harkens back to a different time, when the journey was as enjoyable as the destination. India has an extensive rail system, making it a great option for families traveling between regions. Many of India’s trains are historic and kids will love watching the ever-changing landscape as you travel from one point to another. For example, take an 8-day train trip from Mumbai to the beach state of Goa, stopping along the way to explore popular tourist spots, on board the luxurious Deccan Odyssey. If a long journey is not practical, some trips are shorter, such as the 90-minute “toy train” ride from Neral to Patheran.
Got a couple of beach babies? Head to the sleepy fishing village of Benaulim in Goa. This small town is family friendly, with gorgeous beaches and plenty of activities for kids and adults. For just a few rupees, rent bicycles and explore this seaside town, or hitch a ride on one of the many fishing boats to look for dolphins. On Wednesdays, the nearby Anjuna flea market is a good place for the kids to shop for souvenirs from their Indian adventure.
Headed to Mumbai? You’ll need several days (or even weeks!) to explore this cosmopolitan and historic city. Take a double-decker bus tour or catch a ride in one of the horse-drawn carriages along the ocean. Let the kids burn off some energy at the Kamla Nehru Children’s Park. Then, explore the Hanging Gardens across the street. The Nehru Science Center and Planetarium offers a children’s park with interactive exhibits, as well as planetarium shows. And if you just need a touch of more Western entertainment, head to Essel Park, a traditional amusement park or Water Kingdom, a large water park complete with slides and pools.
These are just some of the options for exploring India with kids. With such a diverse culture and landscape, it would take a lifetime to explore everything that India has to offer, thus making it impossible to see and do everything during your vacation. Choose activities based on what your kids enjoy, but don’t be afraid to introduce them to new sights, flavors and experiences. No matter what you choose to do, your kids will never forget the time they spend in this amazing country.
This guest post article was written and provided by Erica Gustafson who is a freelance digital media consultant and travel writer. She enjoys traveling throughout India and writing about her experiences.