Thanks to my job I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to many countries that I otherwise wouldn’t have made it to. But whilst travelling with work may sounds glamorous, it often isn’t. You see a tiny snapshot of a country, instead spending hours shuttling between hotel rooms and factories. It’s a different side to the tourist trail but it’s often enough to whet the appetite to return. Travelling as a family is an entirely different prospect to business travel but it’s far more appealing – what better way for children (and us adults!) to learn about the world than to experience it? Our travel bucket list is always increasing but there’s one that I’d love to get back to as soon as I can, travel visa in hand and that’s India.
If you’re looking for a travel experience to overwhelm the senses, then India is the place to go. Vibrant, loud and packed full of culture, India’s a country like no other. There are heritage sites, thriving cities, beaches and jungle galore, each with a huge spectrum of wealth, history and religions all jostling against each other. Whether it’s joining the crowds at the Taj Mahal, taking a tuk tuk ride around a city or eating curry at the beach in Kerala like a local, there’s really nowhere quite like it.
Do You Need A Travel Visa?
If you’re looking to travel to India then you’ll need to get an Indian visa. You’ll need to apply online for your visa, filling in a simple form to do so. For tourists, that means an eTourist visa. Once you’ve filled out the form, you must pay your visa application fee. If everything is okay, your visa will be available to you within four working days. Need it faster? You can apply for an emergency visa and have it with you in as little as 24 hours.
India visa regulations have changed, meaning that your eTourist visa can now cover you for a longer period of up to 365 days. During this time you can make multiple trips to India and can stay up to a maximum of 180 consecutive days – certainly long enough to really get a feel for the place and make the most of the visa outlay!
Is It Safe To Travel In India With Young Children?
India is generally considered a safe country to travel in. It goes without saying that you should always check areas prior to travel to make sure you’re aware of any special considerations you may need to make, known scams or places you might want to avoid. Additionally there are all the things you need to consider travelling anywhere with children, especially little ones such as ensuring you know where healthcare is available and making sure you have decent travel insurance – especially prior to travel, just in case you need to cancel for any reason.
However, children are often considered the focus of Indian family life and as such, your little ones are likely to attract attention wherever you go, especially if you go to areas that are less used to tourism. It’s important to stick with what you’re happy with and not be afraid of being firm with people. That said, children are welcomed in most places and you can be pretty sure that they’ll have a great time with all the new sensory experiences around!
Where To Visit In India With Young Children
You could spend months travelling around India and still find pockets that are completely new experiences! It goes without saying that this isn’t an exhaustive list but here are some of the places that have wiggled their way on to our India bucket list.
You can’t go to India and not visit the iconic Taj Mahal. Situated in Agra, this perfectly symmetrical masterpiece is widely considered the jewel of Muslim art in India. The Taj Mahal was built by an emperor in memory of his favourite wife and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As I said – you can’t go to India and not visit it!
Situated just 40km away from Agra (so nice and close to the Taj Mahal for route planning), is the abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri. The city was built by an emperor to act as his new capital city but after his death and thanks to being situated in an area of water shortages, the city was abandoned. Now it would form the perfect backdrop for curious little (and big) explorers alike, allowing you to wander around the deserted red-sandstone palaces and make up all manner of stories.
Ranthambore National Park
One of India’s largest national parks, Ranthambore National Park spans nearly 400 square kilometres. Situated around 130km from Jaipur in Rajastan, Ranthambore is one of the most famous former hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur and is now home to a huge wealth of wildlife. For us, spotting tigers in their natural habitat is one of the top attractions of any Indian visit and Ranthambore is considered one of the best places to see them with specialist safaris aimed at spotting them. You can even stay on site and make it a real visit to remember.
According to Rough Guides, Kerala is one of the best places to make a family trip with small children. They describe it as the best way to experience India at a slower pace than the usual vibrancy of major cities. With small backwaters winding their way around the region and beaches galore, it’s a holiday destination that’s less well known than Goa. We love the sound of elephant spotting in the national parks and spending the night on a river boat cruising around the region.
The previous summer capital of the British in India, Shimla is set up in the hills and has a far more favourable climate than the cities in the heat of the summer. Enjoy a narrow gauge rail journey from Kalka to Shimla was built in the 19th century and apparently still delights today. At the time of building it had the world’s longest tunnel and world’s highest multi-arc bridge as part of its 100+ tunnels and 800+ bridges and it’s now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Having enjoyed the train ride, explore Shimla and the hill top destination from years passed.
One of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, Varanasi sits on the banks of the River Ganges and it’s here that life takes place. Take a boat ride on the Ganges and take it all in, the bathing children, the funeral pyres and the festivals. Varanasi is said to look spectacular during Diwali but equally so during Dev Deepawali, a festival celebrating the return of the holy deity Lord Shiva to his home in Varanasi and his triumph over a demon. People visit from all over to bathe in the Ganges and light over one million oil lanterns (diyas) that then line the streets, the steps to the Ganges and more.
This is just a snapshot of the variety that India can offer to travellers, even those with young children. The thought alone is enough to make me want to apply for a travel visa and get planning! Where would you add to our Indian must see places?