By Lakshmi Datta Arun
Come summer, we all dream of the cool breeze of a nearby hill-station, but if you have kids you'll always be concerned about whether the destination will have enough to keep them occupied and happy. We bring you 12 hill-stations close to Bengaluru with plenty of entertainment options for children.
1. Ride trains, boats, horses and bicycles in Ooty
Ooty, situated 7350ft above sea level and located around 270km from Bengaluru is a beautiful hill station with lush greenery, waterfalls and plenty of fun attractions for young ones. There are a host of activities that kids will enjoy around the Eucalyptus-ringed Ooty Lake -- from boat rides, to horseback trots to cycling on hired cycles. There is also a beautiful botanical garden and a government rose garden for kids to enjoy. A must-do is the toy train that will take you to Conoor - The mind blowing scenery combined with the old-world charm of the train ride makes for an excellent trip. The Honey & Bee Museum is a novel project at Ooty by the NGO Keystone Foundation that has a small children's activity room and a small knowledge resource unit on bees.
2. Enjoy family treks in Conoor
Located barley 19km from Ooty, Conoor is another popular hill station of the Nilgiris, famous for its verdant environs and variety of wildflowers and birds. Conoor provides a perfect setting for activities such as trekking and hiking. It is also famous for its tea plantations. Kids will enjoy visiting Sim's Park, which is loaded with rare species of trees, plants and flowers of all varieties. There is a small pond where you can rent peddle boats or simply drop breadcrumbs to feed the multiple fish in the pond. Older kids will enjoy trekking through the mini forests to reach the Toda settlements.
3.Give elephants a bath in Coorg
Located in the Western Ghats in southwest Karnataka, 3500ft above sea level and 263km from Bengaluru, is Coorg, popularly known as the Scotland of India. The climate and the landscape of Coorg make it perfect for long walks, treks and its rich fauna make it a paradise for birdwatchers. Angling and white-water rafting are other popular activities. If your kids enjoy birding then a visit to the Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary is a must, but what absolutely cannot be missed is an outing to Dubare Elephant Camp where they can participate in bathing elephants.
4. See your shadow in the clouds at Kodaikanal
With its name meaning the "The Gift of the Forests", Kodaikanal is located in the eastward hills of the Western Ghats in the state of Tamil Nadu. It is approximately 462km from Bengaluru and around 7200ft above sea level. For kids, Kodaikanal offers numerous activities, including boating around the Kodai Lake, horse riding and even cycling. You can also take a 1km walk along Coakers Walk and witness a rare phenomenon known as Brocken Spectre, where your shadow is cast on the clouds that envelop the area.
5. Go trout fishing in Munnar
Munnar, located 475km from Bengaluru is a town and hill station in Kerala situated at around 5200ft above sea level. Kids will enjoy a visit to the Eravikulam National Park that is home to the endangered Nilgiri tahr. They are friendly, docile and naturally tamed, so kids can even pose for pictures with them. You can mosey on to Tata Tea Museum where you can witness tea-processing or scream your name at the famous Echo Point. For a more unique experience, you can even try your hand at fishing in the calm, still and trout-filled waters of Mattupetty Lake.
6.Hang out with deer at Yercaud
Yercaud is a hill station in Salem District, Tamil Nadu, located 4970ft above sea level and 228km from Bengaluru. For a fascinating educational experience, do visit the famous silk farms to learn more about the skills and techniques of silk production in India. Kids will also enjoy a picnic at the deer park where you can watch the deer up-close and enjoy a beautiful view of the valley. If your kids are curious about life during the Stone Age, a trip to the Kottachedu Teak Forest is a must. Filled with flora and fauna, the teak forest will take you back to a past where technology was not even a dream.
7.Go on a tiger safari at BR Hills
The Biligirirangan Hills, commonly called B R Hills, is a range situated approximately 254km from Bengaluru. One of the major attractions here is the BRT Wildlife Sanctuary -- a tiger reserve at a height of 5091ft above sea level.
8.Picnic at Nandi Hills
Nandi Hills is a hill station located about 35km east of Bengaluru and about 4500ft above sea level. It is perfect for a day trip and picnic with your family. Kids will enjoy running around the garden maintained by horticultural department. Do stop at the sunflower gardens en route to Nandi Hills.
9.Have a zorbing adventure at Horsley Hills
Horsley Hills or Horsleykonda is a series of hills in Andhra Pradesh located around 144km from Bengaluru. The town is in near Koundinya Wildlife Sanctuary and one can spot plenty of wild animals around the hill-station. There are plenty of adventure sports to explore, including trekking, rappelling and zorbing.
10. Marvel at the night sky at Yelagiri
Located about 150km from Bengaluru is the hill station of Yelagiri. Kids will love the view of the night sky at the Vainu Bappu Observatory (better known as the Telescope Observatory). This observatory offers tourists a beautiful insight into the movement of our solar system's celestial bodies. A trip to the government herbal farm is also a great way to teach kids about various medicinal plants and their uses.
11.Take an elephant safari at Wayanad
Wayanad, located around 271km from Bengaluru, is one of the most charming and calm hill stations of Kerala. It is abundant in waterfalls, lakes, ancient caves, wildlife and a plethora of birds, making it one of the most sought-after hill stations in India. The Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary offers a jungle safari on elephant back.
12.Learn how coffee is made at Chikmagalur
Located approximately 242km from Bengaluru is Chikmagalur, a hill station known for its coffee plantations. Many of these plantations organize guided tours for families, where they can learn all about these fragrant beans. You can also add a trip to the Coffee Yatra Museum to know more about the making process, right from picking and drying to grinding. After a tiring day at the plantation, head over to the Hebbe and Kalahatti Falls for some fun splashing and water play.