Thursday, April 25, 2024

8 Senior-Friendly Destinations To Visit In India

Regardless of age, as human beings, we are all driven by an insatiable hunger to travel, to gather heartfelt memories beyond the boundaries of our city. The small moments of spotting a bulbul perched on a treetop or catching a whiff of an unknown yet irresistible local snack get our spirits high, and we suddenly find ourselves connected to the long-lost curiosity of life once again.  

We are ever-curious travellers longing for an innate connection with the vast world to help us understand ourselves better. The experiences we go after are a reflection of who we are. Each escapade alters us in some way, as we leave bits of our soul scattered in unique locations. Believe me when I say, the more scattered our souls, the more intense our longing for travel. 

Ageing and voyaging don’t always go hand in hand. Life gets in the way in the form of health-related limitations, physical disabilities, and perhaps even financial constraints. However, with improved amenities across destinations, you can quite easily surpass these challenges. Here’s a roundup of eight senior-friendly destinations in India so you never have to pull the brakes on your wanderlust.

Manali (Himachal Pradesh): The Thrill-Seekers’ Haven 

Image courtesy : alightindia

Sitting snug between the Dhauldar and Pir-Punjal mountain slopes, Manali is the ideal destination for over 60 voyagers looking to add a sprinkle of adventure while out and about. However, this picturesque location demands a certain level of physical fitness. If that sounds like you, feel free to embark on the Beas Kund trek, navigate the Solang Valley on skis, or experience the gushing rapids while rafting in the glorious Beas River. 

The serenity lovers, on the other hand, can go on leisure strolls through the Old Manali market, immersing themselves in the local cultures. You’ll notice colourful murals, dainty cafes with a rustic ambience, and vendors selling handmade crafts. 

But it doesn’t end there—Manali is a true (and endless) feast for the eyes. The Naggar castle, overlooking the Kullu valley, uniquely combines European and Pahari-style architecture, while the wood-and-stone-designed Manu temple holds the potential to ignite spiritual intensity within those who enter. 

Best time to visit: If witnessing snowfall is a priority, visiting between October to February proves ideal, but adventure seekers will prefer the slightly warmer months of March through June.   

Precautions for seniors: Manali is situated more than 6,000 feet above sea level, which can aggravate high altitude-related stress on the body, especially for seniors with underlying health conditions. Before booking, you’ll want to check whether you’re fit enough with your healthcare provider. 

Best way to get to Manali: Seniors are advised to take a flight to Bhuntar airport and arrange for a prepaid taxi to Manali, located 49.7 kilometres away. The journey typically takes slightly over an hour.

Ooty (Tamil Nadu):  Everlasting Serenity

Surrounded by sky-kissed mountains, tea gardens, and a blanket of green foliage, it’s no wonder this idyllic nature getaway was the summer retreat for the British. Today, it’s the perfect location to unwind and be one with nature’s expansive beauty. 

From trout fishing at the serene Avalanche Lake to bird watching at Biso Valley, Ooty is full of hidden offbeat gems that bring you closer to nature. The space vibrates with a raw energy that beckons us to toss away our mobile phones and soak in the scenic views.  

Driving 14 km from Ooty leads you to Wenlock Downs, which has two visually stunning shooting points called Sixth and Ninth Mile. These locations are perfect for capturing Instagram and Facebook-worthy portraits or reels to bolster your social media game. You can also mount a horse to appreciate the surroundings from a unique vantage point, but it may come at the expense of a sweet ache the following day. 

Best time to visit: From March to June, the hill station enjoys a refreshing breeze, providing the perfect climate for those aged 60 and above.

Precautions for seniors: Ooty is considered one of the safest locations for older adults, but carrying a raincoat or umbrella is necessary, thanks to its unpredictable weather conditions. 

Best way to get to Ooty: The nearest airport is in Coimbatore city. From there, you’ll need to book a taxi, and the ride typically spans around two hours. 

Jaisalmer (Rajasthan): The Glistening City of Golden Sands

Image courtesy: wanderon

Shimmering in an ethereal golden light, the desert city of Jaisalmer could have been plucked from the pages of a fairytale. Such magnificence exudes from its winding streets, ornate temples, and majestic forts. 

The Jaisalmer Fort, which is the pulsing hub of the city, gives off a simultaneous serene and tumultuous vibe. If you deeply love history and architecture, you’d be remiss skipping this destination. Even the city’s magnificent havelis draw visitors in with their meticulously detailed carvings and elaborate balconies. 

A testament to architectural brilliance, each of the seven Jain temples displays carvings so intricate that it’s a challenge for your eyes to take it all in. And while dune bashing at Thar—a 20-minute drive away—isn’t for the faint-hearted (and those with back issues), seniors would thoroughly enjoy relaxing camel safaris, dining beneath the stars, grooving to Rajasthani folk music, and luxury camping.  

Witnessing the Annual Desert Festival in Jaisalmer at least once in your lifetime is a must. For three days in February, this event celebrates Rajasthan’s rich culture with a vibrant showcase of music, cuisine, and tradition. 

Best time to visit: The city is at its optimal pleasantness in the colder months of November to February. 

Precautions for seniors: Taxi service is widely available, so seniors won’t have much walking to do. But depending on your physical strength, you’ll want to confirm with your healthcare provider before participating in more adventurous activities like quad biking and dune bashing. 

Best way to get to Jaisalmer: The nearest airport to Jaisalmer is Jodhpur Airport, but brace yourself for a four-and-a-half-hour drive thereafter.

Darjeeling (West Bengal): A Tea-Centric Hill Town

While most of us have heard of Darjeeling tea or probably even have a packet stowed away at home, only a handful have set foot in eastern India to marvel at the breathtaking town it originated from. The 60-uppers who love themselves a cup of warm, comforting chai must visit one of the many tea factories in Darjeeling to experience first-hand the intense tea packaging process before it reaches different corners of the globe. 

A toy train experience should be ticked off on everyone’s bucket list, and what could possibly be better than boarding the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway? This adorable yet powerful locomotive built between 1879 and 1881, runs daily between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling, transporting tea and passengers. 

Another enchanting sight to behold is the evening prayer session in West Bengal’s largest Buddhist monastery. All the monks come together before the Budhha statue, playing different instruments, from bells and trumpets to cymbals. 

Best time to visit: You can visit during spring (March to May) or autumn (October to November). Winters in Darjeeling are extremely cold and not recommended for older adults. 

Precautions for seniors: Carry heavy woollens if visiting in autumn or early winter, and ensure your hotel has a sound heating system. 

Best way to get to Darjeeling: You’ll need to take a flight to Bagdogra Airport, then embark on a three-hour uphill drive.

Kerala: The Land of Enchanting Backwaters

Kerala, or God’s own country, is a paradise in its own right, with the all-encompassing Western Ghats, sprawling spice plantations, beautiful Malabar Coast, pristine beaches, and cascading waterfalls. If you’re up for wildlife spotting, you must stop at the Amabady Estate—a gorgeous valley home to various species of deer, the giant squirrel, a striking parade of colourful birds, and diverse flora and fauna. 

You cannot visit Kerala without spending a night (or plenty) aboard a luxurious houseboat. They offer all the amenities seniors seek, from rejuvenating Ayurvedic therapies and spacious rooms to mouth-watering traditional cuisines and a spot-on setting to relax and introspect. Most houseboats also have wheelchair access, and a friendly staff is always at your service. 

The population of Kerala boasts the highest life expectancy and literacy rates in the country, while people of various religions coexist harmoniously.

God’s own country? It might as well be.  

Best time to visit: For minimum humidity and pleasant winds, you should visit between September and March.

Precautions for seniors: Getting around Kerala is relatively convenient for seniors. The transportation network is robust, and most accommodations offer wheelchair facilities. 

Best way to get to Kerala: Depending on your destination, you can select from the three airports in Kerala—Thiruvananthapuram, Cochin, and Calicut.

  1. Shillong (Meghalaya): Unparalleled Scenic Beauty 

The elegant charm of Shillong goes far beyond the picture frame. Its wow factor lies in its lively culture and abundant nature. Those ever ready to lace up their trekking boots, allowing nature to lead the way, are in for a spectacular scenic surprise at the Khasi Hills trek.   

The roaring Elephant Falls is another must-visit in Shillong, yet its three-level stairway can be a bit much for seniors. While accessing the first level is relatively easy, evaluating your physical fitness before venturing further below is advisable. 

Shillong’s quaint local markets display versatile textiles and handicrafts you can take home as souvenirs, and the peaceful Umiam Lake sits smack in the middle of towering hills. You can walk along the bank, go boating, or engage in thrilling water sports.   

Best time to visit: The optimal seasons for visiting Shillong are summer (March to June) and winter (October to February), both providing delightful weather conditions

Precautions for seniors: When travelling in summer, it’s advisable to pack light clothes. Conversely, ensure you have warm woollen clothes, gloves, socks, and other essentials for winter trips. Always carry an umbrella, as rain showers are unpredictable. While the waterfalls are stunning, remember they can also be slippery, so exercise caution. Booking a private cab is the only viable choice since public transport options are limited.

Best way to get to Shillong: Shillong Airport, situated 35 km away in Umroii, connects the hill station with Kolkata through Air India regional flights. Travelers can also consider landing at Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati, approximately 130 km from Shillong. Upon arrival at either airport, you’ll find taxis readily available. 

Bodh Gaya (Bihar): A Spiritual Awakening 

This one’s for the spiritual seekers looking to intensify their longing at a culturally significant and strategic location where Lord Buddha himself is believed to have attained enlightenment. There are numerous temples and monasteries to visit. The Mahabodhi temple, well-known as the “Great Awakening Temple,” depicts Lord Buddha’s life through detailed motifs and beautifully carved sculptures. As you close in on the space, a calming silence permeates the area, allowing your mind to enter deep meditative states. 

Other religious sites include the Vishnupad temple, Mangala Gowri temple, Jal mandir, Mithila Shakti Peeth, Dungeshwari cave temple, and the list goes on. Discussing spirituality is one matter, but living it is a narrative that is difficult to weave into words. Such is the vibrance of Bodh Gaya; it leaves you speechless, quite literally. 

Best time to visit: The best months to visit Bodh Gaya are October to March, with temperatures ranging from 4 to 28°C. 

Precautions for seniors: It’s best to carry warm clothes as Bihar can be pretty chilly from December to February. The Mahabodhi temple’s medical centre provides basic healthcare services to visitors, and wheelchairs can be arranged. 

Best way to get to Bodh Gaya: The Gaya International Airport (GAY) is 17 kilometres from Bodh Gaya. But since flights to Gaya are somewhat infrequent, you can land at Patna airport, 110 kilometres away from Bodh Gaya. From Patna, trains, luxury buses, and taxi services are available to reach Bodh Gaya.

Pondicherry: Cultural Crossroads of France and India

Picture this.

As you step out of your quaint guesthouse, you’re met with the aroma of gently brewed coffee and the calming sound of the waves gently lapping the shore. 

Pondicherry is another peaceful coastal destination, but with a unique hint of French elegance. You can pitstop at the sacred Sri Aurobindo Ashram, a spiritual centre founded by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. 

Just outside Pondicherry lies Auroville, an experimental township with the aim of realising human unity and sustainable living. It’s also renowned for the Matrimandir, a large golden meditation dome that aspires to move one beyond human limitations. So, if you want to look inward and introspect, these two locations provide the perfect opportunity! 

No trip to Pondicherry is complete without indulging in French delicacies, from the Quiche aux Champignon (mushroom-filled Quiche) and baguettes (long bread) to the Ratatouille. 

Best time to visit: October to February is the peak season to visit Pondicherry, but that also means you’ll have to book your stay well in advance. This destination attracts visitors from all over the globe.  

Precautions for seniors: Getting around Pondicherry is easy since it’s reasonably small and cabs are readily available. Temperatures don’t drop drastically, but you might want to carry an extra layer of clothing for chilly mornings and nights. 

Best way to get to Pondicherry: You can fly to the Pondicherry airport, which is the most convenient route for seniors.

Karishma Joshi
Karishma Joshi, a meditation-driven wordsmith, crafts content in the realm of tech, health, and wellness.

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