India is home to some of the most renowned heritage sites all over the world and the summer vacations are the right time to educate your kid about these places. Here is our list
By Jayanth Sharma
When summer rolls in, the desire to travel peaks for many and children are especially excited about going on a holiday to an interesting destination. Vacation is the time to reconnect and relax with family, to recreate favourite childhood memories and build new ones in interesting locations.
Sometimes, it can be hard to decide an apt vacation for you and your family. But what can be more apt than exploring your country’s heritage? After the latest edition of World Heritage Sites in India, the country now has 36 World Heritage Sites listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), and that makes India among one of the top countries globally in terms of the number of such sites.
All these heritage destinations feature cultural exhibits throughout the year, offering fun experiences and educational opportunities for children. These trips can also help to explore varieties of food and lifestyle of the people, which you cannot find in textbooks. On World Heritage Day (April 18), here are some well-known and some not-so-common heritage destinations you can explore with kids --
It is one of the most famous monuments in the world, known for its beauty and uniqueness. The heritage site symbolises the love of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz and is counted among the ‘Seven Wonders of the World.’ The sangmarmar stones give the monument its unique quality and it is a must-see on every heritage traveller’s list. The best time to visit the Taj is at sunrise or at sunset. Kids will surely be astonished by the architecture and it will be on their must-do list in future.
Nearest metro: Delhi (233 km)
How to reach: Agra is well-connected by rail and road from major cities in India. The city also has an airport.
Your children will be enamoured by the tryst of royalty that Jaipur offers. Well- known as the ‘Pink City,’ it has many well-preserved monuments and historical sites that are all worth a visit. The city gives you a glimpse of the proud Rajputana culture. Give your little ones a taste of the royal culture by taking them on an elephant ride to the Amber Fort. The Hawa Mahal and Nahargarh Fort are quite breathtaking and attract a lot of tourists.
Nearest metro: Delhi (271 km)
How to reach: Jaipur has a well-serviced airport, which connects it to all the metros and major cities. It is also well-connected by road and rail.
A sacred place for Buddhists living all over the world, this is an ancient temple that was restored to its present glory. It is built in the Dravidian style around the Bodhi tree, under which the Buddha is supposed to have attained enlightenment. A place where children will imbibe the message of peace and self-control.
Nearest big city: Patna (110 km)
How to reach: Bodh Gaya has its own airport and many tourists also come to the holy place through the airport in Patna. The nearest railhead is in Gaya (16 km).
The gigantic and mystical Ajanta caves are a set of rock-cut Buddhist monuments and are milestones of ancient Buddhist art. During the Gupta period (5th and 6th century), many more paintings were added. Situated at Aurangabad, Maharashtra, the caves are one of the finest surviving examples of ancient Indian art and culture. Kids visiting this place will be overwhelmed by the cultural aspect it provides. It attracts tourists from every corner of the country and around the world.
Nearest metro: Mumbai (427 km)
How to reach: The nearest airport to reach Ajanta caves is Aurangabad (102 km), while the closest railway station is at Jalgaon, which is 60 km away.
The thrilling wildlife in the beautiful environs of Kaziranga, in mesmerising Assam will be an instant hit with kids and it is the best choice if you are looking for a wildlife adventure. It is home to the great one-horned rhinoceroses, which attracts many tourists. The world heritage site is located on the edge of the Eastern Himalayas Biodiversity hotspot, providing an opportunity to see a wide variety of flora and fauna. The park is also home to buffaloes, swamp deer, and elephants.
Nearest big city: Guwahati (193 km)
How to reach: The heritage site is well-connected by rail, road and air. The nearest airport is Jorhat (97 km) and from there you can hire a cab to the park.
A milestone in ancient Indian architecture, the Elephanta Caves are located on Elephanta Island, which features two hillocks separated by a narrow valley. The rock-cut cave temples were carved out of single solid basalt rock. The main attraction in the cave is a sculpture of Lord Shiva, which shows his three moods as the creator, the destroyer and the preserver, and the sculptures of Mount Kailash, Parvati and Ravana. A visit to the site is a great opportunity for children to learn about ancient Indian art and architecture.
Nearest metro: Mumbai (20.5 km)
How to reach: There are regular ferries or boats from the Gateway of India in Mumbai to the Elephanta caves.
It may be in ruins today but the ancient city of Hampi, which is in northern Karnataka, is testimony to the riches and grandeur of the legendary Vijayanagara empire. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and children will love to explore the ruins. A visit to this place is a mesmerising experience and nothing short of a history lesson for everyone.
Nearest big city: Bengaluru (351 km)
How to reach: Hampi is connected well by road to the nearby towns and the nearest railway station is at Hospet Junction, 13 km away. The nearest airport is in Hubli (143 km).
Which kid doesn’t love a toy train? The historic Darjeeling Himalayan train is not just exciting for children but adults too. The toy train is a two-feet narrow gauge railway, based on zigzag and loop-line technology which runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling. It was established by the British in the 19th century. The journey opens up some magnificent natural vistas including a breathtaking view of the Kanchenjunga, as the train reaches its highest point at Jorbunglow (2,438 m).
Nearest metro: Kolkata (615 km)
How to reach: Darjeeling is connected to all major cities through the nearest airport in Bagdogra, which is 95 km away.
The author is a wildlife photographer, and Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Toehold.
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