Like a fish to water, amateur skiers find their rhythm on the baby slopes of Gulmarg. The slopes have runs of varying difficulty and offer up some of the best views in the world. Who wouldn’t want to zip down snowy gradients amidst the clouds. The lush greenery visible from this height adds a totally new dimension to the adventure.
It’s an amazing feeling to be on top of the world, literally. But if you’d rather not walk up snowy slopes tugging along your camping gear, Khardung La is where you want to go. The highest motorable road in the world beckons with a splash of colour on a typically white canvas. Take a selfie or simply write your name on the ephemeral snow at Khardung La; it’s a once-in-a-lifetime journey.
Best known for the oldest monastery in Ladakh, Lamayuru surprisingly has all the makings of an offbeat mountain adventure. The picture-perfect homes balanced precariously on ledges are just the tip of the iceberg. If you are seeking tranquillity, a short hike up to Meditation Hill is your best bet. The inscriptions on the colourful rocks strewn on the path are just a build up to a stunning vista of moonlike craters.
The remarkable Chadar Trek is a one stop shop for all your ice-needs. Dawdling like penguins and tracking pug marks of the elusive snow leopard are exciting prospects on a trek that already deals in the adventurous and precarious. While the frozen waterfalls are captivating, what will enrapture is when you plop down at night and lay your head down to rest, and the entire night sky is lit up with millions of stars.
It’s time to get wet and wild at the turbulent, but predictable Inuds and Zanskar Rivers. The melee of rapids ranging from Class I to V are an excellent opportunity to hone your skills or conquer the gargantuan rivers that have gushed forth for centuries. So, get out your GoPro’s and set off on a downstream adventure that ends in the luscious, idyllic valleys of Ladakh.
If it wasn’t for the life jacket, you’d believe you were on a ship drowning at sea! The beauty and rage with which the Ganges flows is enrapturing, but pay heed to your instructor. When he says, “left paddle”, you best paddle with vigour. The heart thumping excitement only grows when you jump into the Ganges midway for a dip in frigid waters and then finish off the excursion with scrumptious, hot snacks.
Suit up and set off on a spectacular adventure over the Delhi countryside. The warm drafts carry you high from where it seems Lilliputian farmhouses dot the lush, green grasslands.
Beginners have found paradise here with gentle gradient hikes ending in momentous views. One of the more popular treks, the Deorital-Chandrashila Trek, apexes in Tunganath (the highest Shiva temple) – the perfect blend of adventure and spirituality. Another trek that will have you wishing you could live amidst the mountains is the Valley of Flowers Trek – believed to be protected by fairies, this untouched piece of Heaven on Earth is a sight to behold.
The stage is set. Undulating sand as far as the eye can see. A rumble grows under your feet and as your heart races, so does your quad bike! Blast off across the Thar Desert. Six Flags and Disneyland have nothing on these dunes.
The bird’s eye view of Mehrangarh Fort is a breath-taking experience that beautifully complements the indoor tour. Whizz across 6 different lines that take you over lakes and ramparts – adrenaline rush galore! Just remember, the sixth line made intentionally low is your chance to prove what a pro zipper you are.
The pink of Jaipur fades in from grey as it chases after the wonderful hues of the morning sky. Take flight in the wee hours of the day for an astounding view of the city from a hot air balloon. And just before you land, as you descend over the villages, the locals stand on their rooftops waving leaving you feeling special.
A proud descendent of the valiant steeds of heroes on the battlefields will be your mounts as you ride the trails where Rajput armies moved, now dotted with cenotaphs and wild life sanctuaries. Following in the footsteps of legendary legions and weaving through impressive castles is a lifetime experience for keen horsemen.
The inexplicable stretches the imagination beyond its limits, but of these one is the fancy we take with the ruined, the destroyed, the abandoned, the deserted and the sunk. Our whys go unanswered, yet there is satisfaction in swimming through the rusted portholes, and sinister joy in scaring the unsuspecting fish. First timers are also welcome to grab diving garb and plunge into the waters of the Arabian Sea.
If you have an itch to go caving every time an Indiana Jones movie plays on the telly, Cherrapunjee will not disappoint! While there’s no crystal skull at the end of the tunnel, swishing through knee deep waters, crawling on all fours through a channel where you can barely see two feet in front of you, and a cavern with a natural skylight that takes your breath away, is reward enough. So, strap into an adventure of the limestone variety.
Back in the day when conservation efforts were of little consequence, two Englishmen decided to golf around thick groves of pine and rhododendron trees. What remains is a lush golf course set in an undulating landscape making it not only the oldest, but also one of the toughest spots to land par.
Mountains clad with lush green vegetation, cool breezy air, sparkling waterfalls and sloping tea gardens…sounds like paradise, doesn’t it? That’s exactly what Kalimpong feels like, and now you can spread your wings and soar over the peaks that lie in the shadows of the Himalayas! Paragliding from Dello Hills, you can catch a glimpse of Kanchenjunga – a sight that is more majestic in the quiet of the altitude.
From the tea estates of Darjeeling to the rolling hills of Sikkim, follow a journey of delectable tastes as you indulge in the aromatic tea of Darjeeling, the crispness of cool mountain spring, the warmth of a hot chocolate in one of Gangtok’s most happening cafés and top it off with a traditional, home cooked meal of Momos, Wai-Wai and locally brewed Hit Beer.
When you’re out in the Ocean, riding the big waves to the shore with nothing but the sun and the spray for company, you will experience a world away from reality. Once you have your fill of the ocean, you can meditate on the beach to the lulling sounds of the gentle waves. A completely spiritual experience is guaranteed!
The many trekking opportunities on the Andaman Islands is a testament to the varying landscape. Through the sticky marshes of Elephant Beach or up Mount Harriet, or through the comforting silence in paradise or the wild cry of exotic birds, hiking is a great pass-time and the best way to experience these gems tucked away in the Bay of Bengal.
Remnants of an opulent past beckon at Ross Island, once British administrative centre for all the islands. Ruins of bazaars and community centres are overgrown with moss and creepers, making them seem much older than they really are. As you walk around looking for the perfect angle to photograph this memory, straight across you’ll see Viper Island with its infamous gallows where Indian Freedom Fighters were tortured for their dissent. Only a deafening silence prevails.
Life began in the ocean, and down there is the best place to observe it. The marine ecosystem of North Island is especially rich and colourful; you don’t even need to know how to swim to experience it! With a simple helmet and a trusted team of lifeguards, you can walk the ocean floor while interacting with a plethora of corals and fish species. You can even grab a picture of your high points on the walk as a souvenir on your way out.
Nothing like a good cardio session as you weave your way through the intricately carved temples dotting the hills and valleys. The musical pillared pavilion at the Vittala Temple captures passers-by with distinct, resounding notes emanating from each pillar as they are struck. With over a thousand shrines in the area, you’ll be hard pressed to see them all in a day. But come sunset, the view from the Tungabhadra Dam enraptures.
Adventure culminates in Badami; chockfull of bouldering routes through almond-coloured hills. The paths are many but the goal is inevitable. The sky above and the rugged rock face beneath your feet, sweaty palms and tough belays that save you from slipping – the ride to the top is just as ‘breath-taking’ as the actual view. The skies turn golden and pink before the evening sun dips beneath the homes in the distance. What can we say? This is worth it.
Explore the many paths that lead deep into the heart of the Kudremukh National Park. Whether you choose to camp overnight or just make a pit stop for a spot of lunch in the wilderness, Nature welcomes you to a front row seat in the Nilgiris. You can catch animals in action and scour the rugged terrain; heed the call of the wild.
Like huge, shaggy, gold-coated dogs taking respite from the unyielding heat, little mounds of palm leaf covered salt dot the expansive stretches of pans on your Ride to World’s End. The ride from Rameswaram to Dhanushkodi is absolutely surreal and we’re sure you’ll have take some great shots along the way. Journey on the spit of land that stretches between two seas, as you move ever closer to the mythical bridge that was said to have once connected Sri Lanka to India.
A curious fish saunters forward as you let loose a stream of bubbles, only to find that you’ve arrived smack in the middle of Temple Reef. Diving adventures and surfing escapades are just a few of the offerings in erstwhile French India. Home to colorful, colonial buildings and boutiques, Pondicherry is your relaxing getaway. A little away from the main town, Auroville is a complementary portal through time, and is a utopia for the eco-conscious, spiritual soul.
The hill station at Araku has your typical cool weather and undulating hillscape, as well as limestone caves, waterfalls and streams. If you’re looking to unleash your inner child, nearby Padmapuram Garden offers tree houses for limber visitors; is there anything more exciting than climbing a tree? After a ride on a toy train (if that takes your fancy), you wouldn’t want to miss Coffee House. More than a café, this museum of sorts is a coffee connoisseur’s paradise.
The greenery that thwarts the advancing hand of urbanization is a welcome change in Munnar. Biking here is the best way to take it down a notch. Tea pickers pick tender leaves as bees buzz in the cool afternoon mist, diminishing the sense of space and time. Leave your mark on the soft clouds that hang close to the ground, as you whizz your way through the crests and valleys covered in apple orchards, sandalwood farms and the bygone era of firewood and lanterns.
As visitors, we rarely get a chance to immerse ourselves into the unfettered lives of villagers. The serenity of field work, chatting by streams and participating in weddings rife with culture, all seem just out of our reach in our daily, urban lives. At Kumaon however, you can explore villages of Ruskin Bond-esque quality; weaving through forests that fringe the communities or taking a dip in a stream that runs through it.
A glass of Prosecco is served under a starlit night as you lie in wait to experience the vastness of the Andamans. The protected secrets of the archipelago are finally yours for the taking, on a luxury adventure through the islands. You can enjoy unimaginably beautiful dive sites in the far corners of the Andamans, state-of-the-art equipment aboard the ship and even an active volcano on Barren Island thrown in the mix!