The fabulous experiential riches of exploring India’s supreme range of tourist destinations are simply mind-boggling. And that’s putting it mildly! We hesitate to even offering this small sampling of what in store for the visitor, simply because there is so much out there calling out to be included in this list!
The Taj Mahal by Moonlight
Ready yourself for the most otherworldly experience as you witness the ethereal beauty of the world’s most fabled monument to love, the Taj Mahal, bathed in the splendour of a full moon. Built by the legendary Mughal Emperor Shahjehan for his beloved wife of 19 years, Mumtaz Mahal, they have succinctly described the monument as a ’teardrop on the cheek of time’. This marvel in pristine white marble is embedded with semiprecious stones and richly illustrated by carvings and Koranic verse in calligraphy. Set along the right bank of the holy Yamuna River in the Mughal bastion of Agra, it took 20 years to be completed after being commissioned in 1632. Also buried here is the emperor.
A Spiritual Awakening at the Kumbh Mela
Described as the greatest religious gathering of humans at a single place on earth, the Kumbh Mela offers you a fabulous window, not only to India’s spirituality but also to its abiding cultural heritage in all its richness and diversity. A UNESCO -acclaimed Intangible Cultural Heritage site, the festival is an outstanding extravaganza of time-worn Hindu rituals and people-centric activities elevated to the most unimaginable levels of faith. The astonishing get-up of some sadhus, the storytelling from the scriptures, the spiritual discourses, the yoga and meditation, the shahi snan processions of the sadhus followed by millions of devotees taking the ritual dip at the Sangam - the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati rivers at Prayag (Allahabad)… it’s too amazing for words !
Chadar Trek in Ladakh
A trek which will make you rethink what it’s like enjoying’ extreme’ adventure activities takes you to the moonscape vistas of Ladakh. Your journey begins on that legendary Zanskar River, where you may have had a spiritually transforming river rafting experience in summer. But in winter the Zanskar is frozen solid and offers another high altogether. Ladakh’s Chadar Trek (it’s called so because a solid sheet of ice covers the river) is pulling in more and more adventurers from all over the globe. The 62 km long trek on the frozen river is the most surreal experience ever. Frozen waterfalls and snow bound hanging cliffs punctuate the route. Interacting with the local offers insights into survival in these harsh terrains where temperatures drop to sub-zero levels.
Umgot-Meghalaya’s Transparent River
Floating on air… that’s what it looks like when you take a boat ride on the Umgot River at Dawki, in Meghalaya, close to the borderlands of Bangladesh. And that’s because they consider the river the cleanest in India. It’s so clean, the crystalline waters so transparent, you can see the mosaic of multi-coloured pebbles on the river bed. Descending from the higher reaches of the emerald Khasi Hills, 100km from Shillong, the Umgot has several spots where you can enjoy this phenomenon. Apart from Dawki, you can take a boat ride at Darrang and Shnongpden, all of which are quite close to each other. The Umgot is also a big hit for angling.
Valley of Flowers Trek-Monsoon Magic
It is only in the monsoon months that you will experience one of the most amazing experiences of nature in Uttarakhand. While trekking is a no-no in the rainy season, the Valley of Flowers begs to be a brilliant exception to the rule. This remote valley in the Himalayas blossoms into a carpet of some of the most gorgeous blooms of at least 500 different species. The trek attracts all age groups, and since the window is so small for this phenomenon, they limit trips inside the valley to preserve its pristine environs. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site it is visited between June and October.
Bandhavgarh–World’s Top-Tiger Spotting Terrain
Said to be the world’s best spot for sighting tigers, Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh has to be on your bucket list for India. Spread across 716 sq km, the reserve has the highest density of tiger population in the world, and is a magnet for wildlife enthusiasts. Tiger spotting is pretty rewarding here, not just for its great tiger population, but also for the terrain, which allows for frequent sightings, unlike say in the iconic Corbett National Park where the forest is so thick. Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve is also known as a nursery of tigers in the state.
Lonar Lake Tryst
What’s exceptional about Lonar is your date with a world beyond Planet Earth. About 52,000 years back, a meteor collided with the earth’s surface during the Pleistocene Epoch. The spot where it did this was the place that we know today as Lonar, 150 km from Aurangabad. Over millennia, this enormous crater transformed itself into a vast lake, which was spoken about by J. E. Alexander, a British officer, when he was visiting this area and came upon this 4000-foot wide, 450 foot deep water body. Some stones have a magnetic quality. Take a compass along to check this out! The only Crater Lake in India, this geological treasure, has been declared a Ramsar Wetland Site. The ancient Daitya Sudan temple here is a pilgrim spot.
A Taste of Bollywood
Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Kajol… The line-up is pretty impressive and can go on–all the way back from the days of the silent movies era in Indian films.The fabled colourama of India’s popular Hindi Cinema has a vast global following. To figure out what makes the industry tick you can enjoy a fun-filled guided Bollywood Tour in Mumbai. From behind-the scenes look-ins to watching a film shoot, from dance performances to a special meet –the-star highlight– you will just love it!
Waterfall Rappelling in Coorg
The sumptuous beauty of South India’ s Coorg region is a delight for the Nature lover. From visiting tea estate and bike rides in the countryside, there are many thrilling things to do here. But what you will really love is some exceptional twists to soft adventure activities by enterprising adventure firms. A unique experience to look forward to is waterfall rappelling. This entails rappelling through a water cascade (not just a rock face) and thrilling to the frothy spume as you descend, while enjoying the play of the water and the gorgeous surrounds. They will well equip you with the gear for this sport.
Kathakali Performance in Kochi
Synergise your senses with the fantastic display of the Kathakali dancer’s craft in Kerala, which goes centuries back. Your thoughts on storytelling are going to take a deep dive into this amazing experience which has transformed into a unique art form. That heady mix of dance, music, the elaborate costumes and makeup, the mobility of the facial expressions, the classic gestures, indelibly layer the entire performance with deep significance–all of which will leave you in a deep state of wonder.
As we shared earlier; this is not even the tip of the iceberg for the amazing experiences to enjoy in India. We trust you are going to make many return trips to get deeper into this country’s fantastic offerings to holidaymakers!