Top Summer Holiday Destinations in India

The arrival of the summer season heralds the beginning of a very special time of the year. With schools and colleges closed for months, it’s a great opportunity for families to venture out on short and long vacations and explore the wilderness of India. Here’s our top picks for summer holiday destinations in India:

  1. Ladakh, J&K
  2. Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand
  3. Kullu & Manali, Himachal Pradesh
  4. Mcleodganj, Uttarakhand
  5. Coorg, Karnataka
  6. Munnar, Kerala
  7. Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand
  8. Sikkim
  9. Ooty, Tamil Nadu
  10. Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra

Get to know these destinations up close and personal below. We have included the most useful information to help you decide the right place for your family this summer.

 

1. Ladakh, J&K

Situated at the gaps between the Western Himalayas and Tibet, Ladakh is an icy Shangri-La situated at an altitude of 2750-6670 m.  This trans-Himalayan paradise offers a breathtaking experience of the Himalayan ranges and boasts of a variety of rare and exotic flora and fauna.

Weather in Summer Holidays

Ladakh experiences a sunny and pleasant summer starting from the last week of April. The snow starts to melt during the middle of May and temperatures range from 15 degree Celsius to 30 degree Celsius.

Flora/Fauna

The wildlife in Ladakh is an extension of the Tibetan ecosystem along with a significant population of rare Indian migratory birds. Mentioned below is a snapshot of wildlife found in Ladakh.

  • Ibex
  • Bharal
  • Chiru or the Tibetan antelope
  • Kyang or the Tibetan wild ass
  • Snow leopard
  • Eurasian lynx
  • Tibetan wolf
  • Black necked crane
  • Brahmini duck
  • Indian redstart
  • Turkoman rock pigeon

Places/Activities of Interest

Contrary to the popular notion, Ladakh is not exclusive to adventurers and bikers. Apart from treks, climbs and biking trails, this snowy heaven has numerous beautiful monasteries, nature trails, valleys and conservation parks for tourists to visit with family and kids. Some of the popular tourist spots in Ladakh are:

  •  Tsomoriri Wetland Conservation
  • Hemis National Park
  • Magnetic Hill
  • Camel treks along Diskit and Hundar valleys
  • Spituk monastery
  • Phugtal monastery
  • Shanti Stupa
  • Tso Kar
  • Suru and Zanskar valley

Culture, Crafts & Food

There is a heavy Tibetan and Buddhist flair throughout the region which can not only be seen in the local architecture and monasteries but also in their cuisine which is replete with Tibetan and Central Asian dishes like Thukpa, Tsampo and Momo.

Some Great Eco-resorts and Hotels 

  • The Grand Dragon – Luxury
  • Nimmu House – Mid-range
  • Snow Leopard Lodge – Budget

 

2. Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand

Photo credit: Alosh Bennett via Flickr

The western valleys of the Himalaya cradle one of the largest floral gardens in the world. The Valley of Flowers is located in the Chamoli district and stretches for over 87.5 km. The Pashupati river flows across the valley resulting in numerous breathtaking waterfalls.

Weather in Summer Holidays

The Valley of Flowers experiences pleasant sunny weather during the summers. On an average, the highest temperatures reach 17 degree Celsius and an average low of 7 degree Celsius. The peak blooming season is marked by the months of July and August.

Flora/Fauna

The sheer floral abundance in the region is breathtaking. There are around 200 different species of rare flowering plants found here. A variety of Tibetan wildlife like bharals, tahrs, snow leopards, musk deers and Himalayan bears also inhabit the region. Some notable flowers found in the region are:

  • Cypripedium
  • Dactylorhiza
  • Bistorta
  • Ligularia
  • Thermopsis
  • Marsh marigold

Places/Activities of Interest

  • The Valley of Flowers is a world heritage site and is considered as one of the natural wonders of the world. Surrounded by somber snowy peaks, there are numerous nature walks and  scenic trails in the location.
  • The porcelain beauty of Hemkund, which is a lake surrounded by seven snowy peaks is rivaled by very few locations in the whole world.
  • While most of these trails are relaxing and invigorating, young children may find it difficult to participate in some of the longer treks such as that from Govindghat to Ghangaria, which is about 14 km.

Culture, Crafts and Food

Famous for its Kumaoni cuisine, the Valley of Flowers and the surrounding areas are filled with restaurants that offer healthy Kumaoni delicacies such as Ras-Bhaat, Faanda and Pinalu Ghutuk, which is a dish made of out of fried potatoes. The famous local dessert, Bal Mithai is made from sugar and Khoya and is supposedly a divine experience for children and adults alike.

A Great Eco-stay

  • Frozen Woods – Mid-range

 

3. Kullu & Manali, Himachal Pradesh

The Kullu valley in Himachal Pradesh is an ethereal beauty that merges snowy mountain ranges and lush river valleys. The Beas River flows across this valley in rocky narrow streams surrounded by wildflowers and exotic creatures. Manali, a hill-station with an active marketplace, is situated on the banks of this river.

Weather in Summer Holidays

The summers are the best time to visit Kullu & Manali for its sunny weather. The temperatures between March and June range from 10 to 25 degree Celsius.

Flora/Fauna

The Kullu valley is famous for its dreamlike alpine forests of sal, rhododendron, oak, fir, deodar, birch, and pines. A wide variety of Himalayan fauna such as ibex, thar, Himalayan brown bear, musk deer and snow leopards roam the wilderness of these mountains.

Places/Activities of Interest

The dreamlike valley is home to some of the most beautiful temples in India along with exotic crystal-like waterfalls. Some of the most iconic locations in the region include:

  • Kullu has an array of beautiful ancient temples such as the Vaishno Devi temple, Jagganathi temple and especially the Raghunath temple where a world famous celebration of Dussehra is held every year.
  • The naturally occurring hot sulphur spring at Manikaran is said to be enriched with medicinal properties that can alleviate chronic pains and illnesses.
  • The breaking of the river into rocky streams offers water sports activities like whitewater rafting and river crossing.
  • Most of the treks in the valley such as Deo Tibba, Hampta Pass and Friendship peak are technical treks requiring prior experience and strong endurance.

Culture, Crafts & Food

One of the most popular street delicacies of Manali is Sidu which is a variety of steamed bread made from local white flour. The bread is coupled with mutton and is a must-have in Manali. Manali is not just your everyday hill-station, it has a happening marketplace with a wide variety of restaurants, high end pubs and a happening nightlife. You can also try some Yak-milk cheese that they serve here.

Some Great Eco-resorts & Hotels

  • V Resorts Kullu – Budget
  • The Himalayan – Mid-range
  • Our Place Himalayas – Mid-range
  • Solang Valley Resort – Luxury
  • Span Resort & Spa – Luxury

 

4. Mcleodganj, Uttarakhand

The Dharmashala surrounded by the Himalayas is a place of phenomenal natural beauty and is regarded as a place of spiritual pilgrimage for the seekers of enlightenment and Buddhist students. Mcleodganj is the suburban area of Dharmashala and is a unique hill-station that is too small for a town and too progressive for a village. Located in Himachal Pradesh, Mcleodganj offers the experience of a lifetime with its spiritual ambience and the surrounding Himalayan ranges. If you are lucky you might also get to meet His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

Weather in Summer Holidays

The summer season lasts from March to June with an average temperature range of 15 degree Celsius to 30 degree Celsius. The weather feels fresh and rejuvenating with abundant sunlight.

Flora/Fauna

The region is rich with alpine forests of pine, oak and rhododendron, along with the Himalayan wildlife. There are also a wide variety of birds in the region especially around the Kareri Lake.

Places/Activities of Interest

  • Dharmakot which is about 14 km from Dharmashala is a perfect location for family picnics and offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding Himalayan peaks.
  • The Rakkar road leads up to a place known as Ghoomakad which is an eclectic community of technocrats, artists, musicians and inventors who work on various projects such as alternate farming, holistic living and renewable energy among others.
  • While most of the treks here are stamina-intensive, there are some relatively simple treks such as the walk to the Bhagsu waterfall.

Culture, Crafts & Food

Known as “Little Lhasa” due to the presence of a strong Tibetan culture, the local cuisine here is obviously Tibetan with Thukpas and Momos being local favorites. Mcleodganj over the recent years has seen the development of upbeat restaurants and bars that offer a wide range of cuisines from Japanese to continental. Tourists who are passionate about the new age lifestyle of alternate healing, reiki, Ayurveda and yoga, will be thrilled to find an abundance of yoga centers and holistic healing communities such as Kundalini yoga, Dhamma Sikhara and Kailash School of Yoga & Holistic Healing.

Some Great Eco-resorts & Hotels

  • Udechee Huts – Budget
  • Nishaad Resort – Budget

 

5. Coorg, Karnataka

Hidden within the hills and waterfalls of Karnataka lies Coorg, a collection of villages surrounded by mountain ranges, dense forests and exotic wildlife. Situated on the Western Ghats in Karnataka, with rich coffee plantations and spice gardens, Coorg has often been called the philosopher’s dreamland. The hills and mountains are stripped by heavy rainforests with a rich biodiversity. The Nagarhole National Park, located in Coorg is home to a plethora of flora and fauna.

Weather in Summer Holidays

Due its geography, Coorg experiences tropical monsoon climate with the summers experiencing temperatures as high as 35 degree Celsius to around 15 degree Celsius at nights. The region witnesses heavy rainfall starting from the month of June.

Flora/Fauna

The Nagarhole National Park which is located in the Nilgiri Hills is home to the royal Bengal tiger along with a variety of other wildlife such as Nilgiri tahrs, Nilgiri langurs, Asian elephants, boars, deer and leopards.

Places/Activities of Interest

Coorg not only offers the elusive beauty of forests but also the humbling presence of beautiful hills. Some of the popular tourist attractions in the region are:

  • The Harangi Dam is a beautiful spot for a casual walk or family picnic.
  • One of the most famous tourist attractions of the region is the Durbare. It is an elephant training camp operated by the forest department on the banks of the Krishna river.
  • Coorg is also famous for its enchanting waterfalls out of which both the Iruppu Falls and the Abbey Falls are must-see.
  • Madikere, which is the main city in this district houses the Madikere Fort which was built by the great king Tipu Sultan.

Culture, Crafts and Food

Rice is one of the staples of the region giving birth to numerous varieties of rice based dishes such as Aaki Oti, which is a form of flatbread made out of rice. The local folks like to indulge in spicy curries such as the famous Pandhi Kari which is a spiced-up, coconut curry cooked with pork. The local markets here are exploding with a huge collection of handicrafts such as hand-woven clothes, bamboo baskets, stone ornaments and sculptures.

Some Great Eco-resorts & Hotels

  • The Windflower Resort & Spa – Luxury
  • Dubare Elephant Camp by Jungle Lodges – Mid-range

 

6. Munnar, Kerala

Munnar, famous for its tea plantations and silver oak forests, is a simple yet breathtaking hill station in Kerala. Three rivers, Mattupetti, Nallathanni and Periavaru flow through this high-altitude town which also has the highest peak in south India called Anamudi (2695 m).

Weather in Summer Holidays

The sunny yet pleasant summers in Munnar experience temperatures from 19 to 35 degree Celsius on an average. The summer lasts from March till May and is the best season for sightseeing and exploring the tea gardens.

Flora/Fauna

A significant number of birds and animals in Munnar belong to the Nilgiri family. Some of the notable examples of flora and fauna are:

  • The endangered Nilgiri tahr is found in Munnar at the Eravikulam National Park along with the rare lion-tailed macaque.
  • The Pampadum Shola National Park has a whole host of wildlife such as tigers, lorikeets, mugger crocodiles, Indian star tortoises, Indian porcupines among others.
  • The Chinnar wildlife sanctuary houses an incredible collection of rare aviary species such as Nilgiri wood pigeon, Nilgiri pipet, Nilgiri flycatcher, Indian Rufous babbler and grey breasted laughing thrush among others.
  • Guarded within the Kurinjimala sanctuary is the floral sapphire known as Neelakurinji. This violet-blue orchid blooms only once in twelve years transforming entire plains into surreal blue fields.

Places/Activities of Interest

  • The Tata Tea Museum is a beautiful tea plantation which curates a collection of colonial era artifacts
  • Around 5 km from Munnar, along the Kochi road lies the Atukkad waterfalls which a breathtaking sight among forest-clad hills.
  • The Kundala Lake is a perfect spot for families looking for a boating experience among hills. The lake is surrounded by jungles and vibrant hills.
  • The appropriately named Top station is the most popular tourist attraction in Munnar as it provides a high-altitude, above the clouds experience. The area is easily accessible via bookable jeep rides and the journey takes about an hour.

Culture, Crafts and Food

Munnar is famous for tea and coffee along with home-made chocolates. It is also known for spices like cloves, cardamom and pepper. You should definitely visit some of the factory outlets here and try their freshly brewed teas.

Some Great Eco-resorts 

  • Kaivalyam Retreat – Mid-range
  • Ela Ecoland Nature Retreat – Budget

 

7. Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand

The Himalayan forest of the Jim Corbett National Park is home to an exotic range of flora and fauna. Easily one of the most popular eco-tourist locations in the country, the park receives more than 70,000 visitors every year. The park is named after Edward James Corbett who was a hunter and conservationist responsible for putting down several man-eating tigers.

Weather in Summer Holidays

The weather during the summers remains comfortable with temperatures ranging from 13 degree Celsius to 25 degree Celsius. The summer begins in the month of March and lasts all the way to July.

Flora/Fauna

  • The park is home to over 480 different species of plants. Some of the notable varieties of plants found in this region are bamboo, sal, sissoo, ber, kuthber, kharpat and rohini.
  • The park is especially famous for its tiger reserves which are only partially accessible to tourists. There are over 33 varieties of reptiles, 7 different types of amphibians and 37 different species of dragonflies found in the region.

Places/Activities of Interest

  • Dhikala is the most popular tourist attraction in the region. Famous for its organized safaris through the jungle, the possibility of finding tigers is significantly increased by staying here.
  • There are elephant safaris organized in Dhikala which are really popular among tourists, especially among families and children. The rides are organized twice a day and take the tourists through deep jungles and grasslands in search of tigers and other wild animals.
  • The Corbett Museum houses personal effects of the man Jim Corbett himself. Tourists can visit the museum to know more about the person and the location.

Culture, Crafts & Food

Famous for its Mughlai and Kumaoni cuisines, some of the local delicacies found here are Bhaang Ki Khatai, Sisunak Saag, Kappa (a green curry), Aloo ke Gutke and Rus ( dal preparation) among others.

Some Great Eco-resorts

  • Brys Cave – Mid-range
  • Corbett River Creek Resort – Mid-range

 

8. Sikkim

Located at the foothills of the great Himalayan range, Sikkim is an east-Indian state famous for its cloud defying peaks and beautiful green valleys. With over 40% of the state being covered by forests, the name Sikkim translates to “A beautiful home.”

Weather in Summer Holidays

The summers are the best time to visit Sikkim with the season lasting from April to June. The weather is salubrious and sunny. The lowest temperature during this time is 20 degree Celsius with the highest reaching 27 degrees at moderate altitudes.

Flora/Fauna

  • The state is famous for its beautiful and lush mountain flora. It is globally known for rare orchids like Cymbidiums, Cattlelyas, Dendrobiums and Hooheriana.
  • Some of the other varieties of plants and trees found in the region are figs, laurel, sal trees, bamboos, oak, chestnut, maple, birch alder and magnolia.
  • Sikkim has a diverse aviary population with rare specimens like emerald doves, kingfishers and woodpeckers. The Khangchendzonga National Park is one of the highest national parks in India housing a multitude of flora and fauna.

Places/Activities of Interest

  • Gangtok is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Sikkim. It is one of the cleanest cities in India and is encased by Himalayan peaks. There are numerous walks and treks organized at Gangtok and the city itself is equipped with numerous restaurants, shops and pubs for you to unwind with friends and family. Some of the most popular and scenic walks are those to the Raj Bhavan and the one between Human Tok and Ganesh Tok.
  • A popular tourist attraction in the region especially for children and families is the ropeway tour which operates between Deorali and Bidhan Sabha offering a wide, bird’s-eye view of the entire town and the mountain ranges.
  • About 40 km from the main city of Gangtok resides the breathtaking Tsomgo lake (also known as Changu lake), which a glacial lake located at the base of mountains.
  • Pelling, a small town located in western Sikkim offers the best view to the Kanchenjunga. It is as close as one can get to the mountains without leaving proper civilization. The size of the population is fairly low making Pelling a quiet haven away from the commotion and confusion of cities.
  • The Khangchendzonga National Park is one of the highest national parks in India and houses a heavenly ecosystem complete with rocky streams, rare animals like the Himalayan tahr and musk deer along with entire fields covered with flowers.

Culture, Crafts & Foods

You can easily notice the strong Tibetan and Buddhist influence in the region, be it in the architecture, monasteries or local cuisines. The Limboo tribe indigenous to Pelling is a rich and diverse community and even perform their traditional music and dance during major festivals. Chhang, also known as Thumba or Chee is a locally brewed millet beer available across Sikkim. The local markets in Gangtok are famous for handicrafts and curios pertaining to Buddhism. There are also a number of nurseries near Gangtok where one can buy beautiful and rare orchids like azaleas and cattleya.

Some Great Eco-resorts & Hotels

  • Martam Village Resort – Mid-range
  • The Elgin Mount Pandim – Luxury
  • The Solluna Resort – Mid-range

 

9. Ooty, Tamil Nadu

Famous for the rolling Nilgiri hills, tea gardens and a wholesome diversity of flora and fauna, Ooty is rightfully named as the “queen of hill stations”. Some of the popular tourist attractions in the region include visit to the botanical gardens, various national parks, nature walks, wildlife excursions and boating on lakes.

Weather in Summer Holidays

The summers in Ooty are extremely pleasant with the season lasting till the month of June. The average temperatures during this season don’t exceed 20 degree Celsius making it the perfect time for a vacation with family and friends.

Flora/Fauna

Located in the Nilgiri belt, Ooty typically has tropical and temperate vegetation. Famous for its incredibly tall trees on the western slopes, some of the common varieties of plants found in the region eucalyptus, fine pine, Shola vegetation and numerous varieties of tea.

Home to two famous national parks, the Mudumalai  and Bandipur National Park, Ooty is filled with rare and exotic wildlife such as barking deer, panthers, tigers, boars, gaurs, spotted deer and sambars among others.

Places/Activities of Interest

Ooty not only has places of immense natural beauty for the passionate eco-tourists but there are also local tourist attractions which are popular among families and casual tourists. Some of the popular tourist spots in the region are:

  • The Botanical Gardens in Ooty are home to over 650 different varieties of trees and plants. There is also a fossilized tree in the gardens which is over 20 million years old. The gardens are a special favorite among nature lovers and tourist with families.
  • The Dodda Betta peak which is situated at the meeting point of the Western and Eastern Ghats happens to be the highest peak in the Nilgiris offering a breathtaking view of surrounding hills.
  • The Ooty Lake is an artificially created water body surrounded by greenery and hills on all sides. With toy trains, boat rides and snack shops, the lake is one of the most popular attractions among tourists with families and children.
  • Located just a few kilometers from the town of Masinagudi, the Mudumalai National Park is an established tiger reserve with an estimated tiger population of around 50.

Culture, Crafts & Foods

Famous for its local tea, some of the other locally available crafts and foods include spices, eucalyptus oils, homemade chocolates and gourmet cheese. Ooty’s cheese is especially famous for its unique flavors and quality. Made by the Acres Wild Cheesemaking Farmstay in Coonoor, they offer a variety of different cheeses like cheddar, gouda, Monterey and jack and herb cream cheese. The local tea factory is also an interesting sight, famous for its naturally induced elaichi tea.

Great Eco-stays

  •  Little Earth Resorts – Mid-range

 

10. Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra

Filled with serene lakes, breathtaking waterfalls and emerald peaks, Mahabaleshwar happens to be the largest hill station in the Sahyadri ranges of Maharashtra. Located at an altitude of 1372 m, the hill station used to serve as the summer capital during the days of the Bombay presidency.

Weather in Summer Holidays

The summer starts in the month of May and lasts till June. The average temperature is around 30 degree Celsius. The weather is not uncomfortably warm and provides abundant sunshine.

Flora/Fauna

The Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary in Mahabaleshwar houses a number of exotic plants and animals. Located on the Western Ghats, the sanctuary provides residence to a number of endangered trees such as Dhup, Euphorbia longan, and Elaeocarpus among others. Wildlife such as tigers, panthers, Indian giant squirrel, mouse deer and cobras are a common sight in the sanctuary.

Places/Activities of Interest

Mahabaleshwar is populated with lots of tourist attractions and spots of natural beauty. Famous for picnics and family gatherings some of the most famous natural spots in the region are Malcolm Point, Marjorie Point, Kate’s Point and Wilson’s Point. Some of the other well-known locations in the region are:

  • The Mumbai Point is probably the most popular location in Mahabaleshwar. Especially popular among families and kids, Mumbai Point organizes horse rides and horse performances for the audience. Also known as Sunset Point, the place provides the best view of sunset in all of Mahabaleshwar.
  • Another popular destination among families is Arthur’s Seat. Named after the British actor Arthur Malet, the spot offers a unique and beautiful view of the surrounding hills.
  • The Mahabaleshwar temple is a 500 year old piece of architecture dedicated to the Indian deity Shiva. The temple lends its name to the hill station and houses a naturally occurring “Shivlinga”.

Culture, Crafts & Foods

The Bazaar is the main cultural and economic hub of the hill-station. Tourists can find a plethora of locally made handicrafts in these shops such as walking sticks and shawls. The famous Kolhapuri leather sandals are available in the shops here. The Bazaar also contains a special shop known as the Imperial Store which has been operated by generations of a local Iranian Family. You can find pretty much everything here from videos, travel provisions and ice creams to beer. Mahabaleshwar is also famous for its locally made honey which is sold in the Bazaar.

A Great Eco-stay

  • Citrus Chambers – Mid-range

Leave a Reply