Families looking to wean their kids away from electronics, at least for a little while, can jump on the astrotourism trend — stargazing in the night sky — at a selection of Taj hotels in wonderfully exotic locations in India.
From meteor showers and constellations to planets and shooting stars, these properties will help you take stargazing to the next level.
Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Andamans, for example, located in western India on Havelock Island’s Radhanagar Beach, offers the services of an on-site naturalist to help guests find the best views. Keep an eye out for Orion’s Belt, Cassiopeia and the North Star, all while enjoying such activities as night kayaking in the mangroves.
By day, enjoy picnics and barbecues on what is widely considered one of Asia’s best beaches, along with an array of water sports, such as snorkeling, scuba diving and fishing. The resident naturalist will help you and the kids identify different species and chart personalized trails for both adults and children interested in exploring the island’s flora and fauna.
Guides will also lead small groups at night onto the beach to observe the female turtles laying eggs. Locals joke elephants outnumber people on the island, and guests can often see them swimming and bathing in the water.
Taj Madikeri Resort & Spa in Coorg, located in a 180-acre rainforest in southern India, gets you even closer to the sky, thanks to its mountain-top location at some 4,000 feet above sea level.
Enjoy the isolation from light pollution with astronomy lessons over a multicourse candlelight dinner at the Buddha Garden.
For high-adrenaline daylight fun, zipline through the forest, take a crash course on survival training in the wilderness, tackle off-terrain biking or simply swim in the pool or take advantage of the many hiking and walking trails that surround the property. You can also take a more laid-back approach with ceramics and pottery classes and relaxation at the Jiva Spa.
Banjaar Tola, Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh in central India offers a rural destination just right for spotting the Milky Way. Nestled amid 90 acres of private forest interspersed with grasslands and a seasonal lake, guests can take a guided night walk with the in-house naturalist to learn about the stars as seen from this vantage point.
By day, families can enjoy twice-daily safari drives conducted by expert naturalists in specially designed 4X4 vehicles with theater-style seating. Morning safaris start shortly after sunrise for Kanha National Park in search of photo ops with tigers and leopards and the afternoon safaris typically end at sunset.
Young guests can join the interactive Budding Naturalist program, which usually spans three or four days and includes everything from early-morning nature walks and safaris to late-evening ‘frogging’ and star-gazing sessions.
For a dose of local culture, you can also enjoy a bush dinner with entertainment by tribal dancers and an optional visit to a local village.