Our one hour zig-zag journey from Dalhousie in the green Chamba range seemed rewarding once we reached Khajjiar. Its nickname truly justifies the natural beauty present there. Khajjiar sits on a small plateau with a small stream-fed lake in the middle that has been covered over with weeds. The hill station is surrounded by meadows and forests.
To make things better, an array of snack shops and small restaurants cater to the needs of the tourists. We eagerly grabbed a table with the most scenic view or should I say, every sitting had a beautiful view. After gulping down the north-Indian thali and feeding the little one, we went forward with our venture.
Our little one was happy to play with rabbits available there by vendors who charged a nominal amount if you wished to get clicked with the furry animal. We also bought football for him and he could not help but kept running on the lush green field. We spotted cattle comprising of sheep, horses, cows and bulls. Our little one was delighted to see his farm book coming to life.
Though the center of the field was muddy and difficult to get through, we kept ourselves on the periphery of the field and enjoyed a lot. My husband took the little one for a little horse-riding experience in the thin lanes of the mountains. Soon, it was time to return.
Overall, I found Khajjiar to be a very child-friendly destination. Only negative was reaching there as it was quite an adventure. On peak days, you can be stuck in traffic-jams on the thin curvy hilly road for more than two-three hours. Luckily, we did get back in time to Dalhousie.
Aamby Valley City is one of India’s best-planned city and has been regarded as a benchmark in urban planning and designing. Well connected with roads, its easily accessible, though in order to enter, one must have a booking at any one of its hotels. It’s a picturesque place with lots of amazing spots and that is why it is one of the most favorite places for grand destination weddings. The city incorporates luxury, business convenience, leisure and entertainment.
Upon entering this luxurious and ultra clean city, we were awed by its resemblance with any European city. The Shayadri mountain range encircles the whole city making it visually attractive. Grand statue of Bharat Maa greeted everyone right at the entrance.
The Timber Chalets are Swiss-style cottages which are available on rent and make an ideal weekend getaway from Mumbai or Lonavala. The teak wood finishing adorns the cabins completely and makes them very pleasing to look at.
Lush greenery adorns the whole valley. And beautiful structures in the form of huge pillars, elephants and so on are found everywhere in the valley.
WATER TAXI, AAMBY VALLEY
Recreational activities in the form of Ayurvedic massages, Disco, various specialized restaurants of vivid cuisines, horse riding, toy-train ride and water taxi (which is actually a bus) gives people of all ages almost everything to have fun over the weekends.
On a business trip to Pune, we planned to spend a day in Lavasa. Based on the Italian town Portofino, Lavasa is a privately planned city built near Pune. It can be easily said to be one of the most beautiful man-made place in India.
The artistic corridor parallel to the lake has hotels and cafe on one side and lake on the other side. Its a beautiful sight not only in day-time but also at night. There were plenty of activities for children. We arrived by evening and stayed at Mercure hotel. After having a stroll on the riverside, we called it a night and planned for an early day the next day.
We were greeted by sumptuous breakfast at the hotel who were helpful in preparing baby food as well. There were variety of options for kids on the lakeside. We started with toy-car ride and then we went for two-seater bicycling. After that, we went for boating in the lake which was quite refreshing in the sun. There was a place with family games options but our little one was too young to enjoy that.
Cycling in Lavasa
Boating in Lavasa
Out of numerous dining options, we chose to have lunch at the Country club which offered a panoramic view of the lakeside and town. The club provides a plethora of leisure facilities that include a world-class spa, restaurants, a pub, a gymnasium and indoor games. The time was well spent over there too and we had fun. In short, top activities to do in Lavasa with a baby will be :
The marvelous and beautiful palace in the Man Sagar lake in Jaipur is known as Jal Mahal. This lake was basically constructed by the rulers to fight famine and shortage of water in Rajasthan as a dam. However, the palace underwent many renovations and now stands as a famous tourist attraction in Jaipur. Though, the palace is a five storied building but only the top floor is exposed. The road corridor connecting the main tourist attractions of Jaipur basically the Amer fort and the Nahargarh fort runs through this road. Generally tourists are not allowed to visit this palace, but we managed to visit it with our little one.
We reached the palace by a traditional wooden boat through the clean lake. Our son enjoyed the boat ride and was fascinated to find the sailor using oar to splash water and move the boat forward. The air was misty and refreshing. As soon as we stepped in the palace, we were amazed by its wonderful architecture. There was a narrow corridor running in the periphery of the palace and it was very airy. The ancient Indian Maharajas were wise to come up with such a clever architectural plan. Since there was no electricity, they kept the palaces well ventilated in the center of the lake to make it cooler.
After spending sometime in the palace, we went on its terrace and was awed by the gardening done there. We could really imagine how the Maharajas and their allies must be having good time in the past. It was a beautiful view. The Jal Mahal palace provides a picturesque view of the lake , and the surrounding Nahargarh hills. You can also spot small islands in the lake which act as wintering grounds for migratory birds. Overall, the trip to Jal Mahal went very well.
With dozen of impressive gardens and parks, Singapore has a wide range of places to keep nature-lovers busy. Different categories of parks like historic parks, coastal parks, community parks, marine parks, nature parks and riverine parks to choose from, we prioritize the interest of our child and went to the ‘Singapore Zoo’ and ‘Jurong Bird Park’.
Singapore Zoo is a wonderful place for kids. All animals are kept in their natural environment, making the whole experience to be very refreshing and pure. The tram ride is very convenient to go from one place to another. However, we preferred walking as we did not want to miss any animal. Numerous shows like the ‘Splash safari show’, ‘Animal Friend Show’ and ‘Elephants at work and play Show’ are not only entertaining but they are educational too. With numerous zones and countless animals, the whole zoo experience was tiring as well as rewarding.
Splash Safari Show
Thrilled by seal playing with a ball
I still remember the priceless expression on my child’s face which was full of joy and curiosity throughout the zoo. He observed most of the animals and could make out if they were friendly or not. After attending shows and watching numerous animals like the tiger,lion,panther,zebra,giraffe,kangaroo,polar bear and so on; we were drenched with sweat. With scores of ice-lollies and ice-drinks, we were able to cover most of the zoo’s attraction.
So we thought to leave but were suddenly reminded of the ‘Rainforest Kidz Area’. We reached there and for the next hour, our little one was busy playing in the ‘Wet Play Area’ with other local kids. There were many dining options in the zoo. Out of which, we chose to eat at KFC which was strategically located near the ‘Wet Ply area for children’. We could eat and watch him play at the same time. Once I changed his clothes, he dozed off on the pram and we headed back (walking again as we did not wanted to wake him up by sitting in the tram).
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS SINGAPORE & RESORT WORLD SENTOSA
One of the most accurately rated place to visit is the Universal Studio. To avoid the effort of packing and unpacking, we did not stay in Sentosa. Rather we preferred to visit it from our hotel which was located near Clarke Quay. So, to make the most of the day, we reached Universal Studios at around 10 am. It was a breeze to enter as there was no rush. Though I have been to the universal studios located in Paris, but this trip was special as the little one was accompanying us. It was his first ever theme park experience and it went very well.
As he had not even reached 80 cm mark (so tiny and cute) for his height, there were not many rides, he was allowed onto. But , we made the most of the approved rides. We started with the Madagascar rides and as our little one is very fond of animals (i wonder why all babies love animals), he thoroughly enjoyed it. The first ride was more like a boat ride with beautiful scenarios on the sides and the second one was a go-round ride; both were comfortable with baby.
SCI FI CITY
Canopy flyer in the lost world and treasure hunters in ancient egypt were awesome experiences for our baby too. He loves dinosaurs and was pleased to find so many different kinds around him. (Though he got petrified with a robotic dino on a van who was promoting the shows by roaring loudly) We were able to attend most of the shows like the Rockfellas at the New York and Sesame Street show in Hollywood. Being a weekday and our early arrival accounted for such a great use of time as we did not miss anything. There were ample food options and once we had lunch, our son slept in his pram. That was when we decided to explore Sentosa.
We wanted to go to the Adventure Cove Waterpark, but our little kiddo was not allowed for any of the rides there so we gave it a miss. The whole holiday was supposed to be for our son and therefore we only wanted to do what he loved. So, we took the monorail to the Siloso beach. After walking so much, we just wanted to relax on the beach and by the time, we were all set; our baby was awake and ready to play (its always like this – the moment we think of relaxing,he is awake for more fun). The beach was very clean and was a good place to sit, with sunset views in places. While the little one was busy making a sand-castle, we clicked pictures and enjoyed coconut ice-cream. After a short dip in the sea, we headed back to our hotel.
Sometimes doing the less obvious is fun. Therefore, after visiting the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort,we decided to enjoy other activities. Mainly because we did not want our baby to be overly tired and we wanted him to have fun. So here is a short list of things which can be done apart from visiting the famous historical structures which Agra has:
Engage in a puppet show. There were many traditional puppet shows in Agra. As these shows are not at a premium scale, they let us try our hand on the puppet too. It was fun for our little one as he was happily engaged in the puppets.
Taking ride on the horse cart. Its super fun for the kids as they love watching the galloping horse. Also, it lets you imagine the historic set up which the city offers.
Watching the musical love story of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal at the Kalakriti Cultural & Convention Center.
Taking a boat ride in the Yamuna. But be sure to ascertain the condition of the boats as many seem to be broken.
Shopping at the popular Sadar Bazar. You get extremely beautiful leather shoes at reasonable rates. We bought our son’s first leather shoes from here. Its best to go in the evening when there are no cars allowed.
Your trip to Agra is not complete without indulging in the famous Agra ka petha. Petha is available all over Agra and the Panchi brand is particularly popular. It also makes for a great gift from Agra for your friends & family back home.