Taking vacations with your family is an integral part of growing up. From learning about new cultures and meeting new people to creating lifelong memories to cherish, travelling with your family is one of the best ways to bond together. People choose holidays of different kinds according to what they are looking for. While some are of the adventurous kind, other love to nerd it out at museums and historical monuments.
In the second part of the series, we feature the rest of the handpicked 5 places where you can have a memorable vacation with your fam.
Sattal: If you Want to go Camping Together
A holiday in Sattal, a group of seven lakes set against a backdrop of oak trees, is perfect for some gentle roughing-it-out. To make the most out of your Sattal experience, leave the boat rides on the lakes to day-trippers and be a bit more adventurous. Carry your own tents, sleeping bags and walking shoes, and set up camp by the lakes. Or you could stay at one of the organised campsites, which are great if you are travelling with kids.
Sattal is a trekker’s paradise with both explored and unexplored paths in thick forest cover. Mountain climbing, rappelling, river crossing, rambling, fishing and mountain biking are some of your other adventure options here. And don't forget the campfires and barbecues in the natural outdoors to add to the fun.
What makes Sattal the perfect choice for camping is its equable weather throughout the year. Located at around 4,000 ft, it offers excellent nature trails. If it’s your first attempt at trying adventure sports, Sattal will make it all possible. Rock-climb up ‘Suicide Rock’, then rappel down the vertical face, cross lakes and gorges on ropes, all under the watchful eyes of an instructor. You’ll meet plenty of boatmen who would be happy to take you around the lake at a reasonable price. Angling permits can be had from the Forest Department in Sattal. Check with the camp you are staying at and they will arrange the permit. Camps also provide fishing rods and bait so you are saved the hassle of carrying your equipment all the way.
Route from Delhi: NH24 to Rampur via Hapur, Garhmuktesar, Gajraula and Moradabad Bypass; NH87 to Ranibagh via Rudrapur, Haldwani and Kathgodam; SH to Bhimtal; state road to Sattal via Mehragaon.
Bandhavgarh National Park: For a Wild Experience
Once a game reserve of the rulers of Rewa, this is one of the most celebrated tiger reserves in the country and has become almost synonymous with tigers. Bandhavgarh, and the adjoining Panpatha Sanctuary (also a part of the reserve), came under Project Tiger in 1993. The tiger reserve is flanked by flat-topped hills, with the high hill of Bandhavgarh Fort in the centre, dominating the landscape. The fort is said to be a thousand years old. From sal and bamboo forests to grasslands and swampy terrains, the national park is blessed with a rich vegetation.
The many vantage points in the national park offer spectacular views and provide you an opportunity to overlook the nesting site of dozens of vultures as well as the flight plans of rare Malabar and grey hornbills. The national park is bounded by the Sone River in the east, the Johilla River in the south, and drained by the Umrar River in the west. While vacationing in Bandhavgarh, you must go on every possible safari, because no sighting is guaranteed, and no sighting is the same. Options abound, from jeep to elephant safaris. If your idea of a holiday does not include getting up early morning, do make the most of the afternoon. There’s plenty of time before and after safaris to relax around the camp, read, eat, sleep, and, in the evenings, drink around the open fires that most hotels organise.
Route from Bhopal: NH12 to Jabalpur via Obaidullaganj and Suatala; NH7 to Katni; NH78 to Umaria; SH11 to Bandhavgarh
Karjat-Matheran: For Long Nature Trails
Matheran literally means a forest on top of the hill. Its dense forest cover, teeming birdlife, long walks and flora and fauna make this an all-time favourite for walks. It’s pollution-free as no vehicles are allowed in. With more than 8-10 different routes, Matheran is the ultimate destination for the trekker, naturalist and outdoor enthusiast.
Here's our suggested walking route. Start from Karjat and follow the road to Karjat-Chowk for 3 km until you come across a signboard indicating a right turn, northwards for Vaverle village. Walk another 2 km along a tarred road from Vaverle to Bhorgaon village (due north-east), which is at the base of Matheran. If you’d rather not walk along a tarred road, you could hire an autorickshaw to Bhorgaon. If you decide to take a cross-country route, remember that you will have to cross a wide stream to get to Bhorgaon. It may be difficult in the monsoon. Just before you enter Bhorgaon village, a well-used footpath turns left (due west) and heads up a very gentle spur. It runs across some fields before turning northwest and climbing another spur, at the top of which you will come to Ambewadi village. This is the last point where you will get water, so fill up your bottles as you pass the two village wells just beyond the village.
From Ambewadi, the trail is joined by another well-used path coming up from Varosa village, on the other side of the spur. This is the final 3 km ascent to the top, climbing up a steep spur (due north) to a flat area. Big Chowk Point is clearly visible and looks like an elephant’s head. The track now heads into a stretch of thick forest, which is a welcome respite from the sun.
As you near the end of the thick forest, you come to a mass of boulders and rocks into which the trail disappears. This is known as Shivaji Steps or the Shivaji Ladder. According to local legend, Shivaji rode up this route on horseback. From here, it’s 1,640 ft to the top, up the bed of a stream that’s dry for most of the year except during the monsoon. As you get to the top, you will see the quaintly-named One Tree Hill on your left, connected to Matheran by a narrow ridge. On reaching the ridge, take a right turn to come out at a cold drink stall. From the stall, it’s an easy 3-km amble to the marketplace in Matheran.
Route: Karjat-Vaverle-Bhorgaon-Ambewadi-One Tree Hill-Matheran-Neral