Not that you need 37 ways to fall in love with India. But, here they are!
Fall in love, make merry, with the most misunderstood country…India. Do let us know if you change your mind about India after reading the below post. Dive in already!
1. Catch South Asia’s only active volcano on a liveaboard
Witness the plumes erupting from Barren Island, part of Andaman Islands, on a cruise aboard The Infiniti. And then dive in the waters around to spot unique stone and lava formations.
2. Pamper yourself on a private spa boat in Udaipur
AHA! Heaven alert! A Jacuzzi on a boat in the middle of lake is the perfect way to spoil yourself, isn’t it?. Charter the Taj Lake Palace’s Jiva Spa Boat to relax and rejuvenate, accompanied by a glass of wine in hand.
3. Take in the Taj Mahal on a full-moon night
The Taj Mahal is gorgeous, on any day. But, under a full moon, it turns ethereal. Sign up with the Archaeological Survey of India for a tour, or book the Kohinoor Suite at The Oberoi Amarvilas (from INR 7,50,000 a night!) for an uninterrupted view.
4. Explore Kerala’s gold-filled temple vaults
While most take the regular temple tours of southern India, few know of the gold trails that take one through the temple vaults. It’s a little-known secret, but hey, now you know.
5. Walk over a frozen river
Test your nerves (and luck) on the Chadar trek, which takes you over the frozen River Zanskar for seven cold days. With just a few inches of ice between you and a raging icy river, this one’s not for the weak and the meek.
6. Feast on a Kashmiri wazwan
An elaborate affair that involves a total of 36 courses, a wazwan is a feast fit for the royals. Meatballs, seekh kababs, spare ribs, Kashmiri pulao, phirni, kahwa… it’s a meal you won’t finish or forget in a hurry.
7. Go horse-riding in Rajasthan
Sign up for a journey on horseback from Dundlod to Alsisar. It’s strenuous, no doubt, but the charm of Shekhawati will take you over with its historic forts and palaces, quiet villages and painted havelis.
8. Rent a palace for two in Kochi
Once the rest house for Rama Verma, the maharaja of Cochin, the Chittoor Kottaram is now a single-key hotel, which means there will be no other guest apart from you! With room for up to six, the property is reachable by boat and lets you spend your days in royal style and even eat what the royalty did.
9. Play the archery lottery in Shillong
At the grounds near Ward’s Lake, archers from across Meghalaya bet on the number of arrows they will hit on a bamboo drum. After they send thin arrows at the drum, the organisers count the ones that hit the mark. Meanwhile, people across the state have placed bets on the final score. Those who get it right go home richer.
10. Learn cheese-making from a Bollywood film-maker
See how to make Gouda, Parmesan, mozzarella and more at Acres Wild, Coonoor, a gorgeous 22-acre farm owned by film-maker Mansoor Khan and his wife, Tina.
11. Stay with the king of Ladakh in his palace
The fact that all areas of Stok Palace are open to guests makes this an experience by itself. Watch the royal family go about its routine, chat with the king, and check out the thangkas and the queen mother’s crown at the palace museum.
12. Ride like royalty on rail
Take one of India’s several luxury trains to experience the classic train journey. Board the Maharajas Express for a tour that includes Rajasthan and Agra (INR 4,44,440 per head) or on the Deccan Odyssey, which takes you on a heritage trail across Maharashtra and southern India (doubles from INR 5,36,710).
13. Celebrate Holi in Mathura
In Mathura, the land of Krishna, the festival of colours takes on an unbelievable hue. There is bhaang, of course, but there is also food, music, and of course, colour. For the best experience, get yourself to Vrindavan.
14. Stay in a treehouse in Kerala
Ditch the luxury of a hotel for a stay amid nature. There’s Vythiri Resort in Wayanad, set in a biodiversity hot zone, and Rainforest, Athirapally (pictured) where the jaw-dropping views of the gushing Athirapally Falls will take your getaway to another level.
15. Float over a fort, forest and fair
Hop into a hot-air balloon for the best sights of Rajasthan. A flight from Jaipur will take you over the sprawling Amer Fort, from Pushkar over the colourful camel fair, and from Ranthambore over the home of the tiger.
16. Read Ghalib at Ghalib’s home
This restored haveli where Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib lived is charming enough to turn anyone into a romantic. Take a copy of ‘Ghalib: Life & Letters’ and find yourself a spot under one of its many archways.
17. Surf the waves off Puducherry
Serenity Beach, 10km north of Puducherry, draws surf addicts from across India. After the devastating 2004 tsunami, the Tamil Nadu government built two long piers to protect the beach, which created a surf break that provides great conditions for learners and professional alike.
18. Walk Meghalaya’s living root bridges
Built out of the roots of ficus trees—some even dating back 500 years—these bridges can withstand the heavy rainfall the region is famous for. Check out the Umshiang Double Decker root bridge in Nongriat village, south of Cherrapunji, and the one in Riwai near Mawlynnong.
19. Watch a boat race in Kerala
Dubbed as the largest team sport in the world, snakeboat racing is a heart-pounding, adrenaline-pumping affair. The splash of dozens of oars in perfect rhythm is a treat for the eyes. Catch Alleppey’s Nehru Trophy Valam Kali on the second Saturday of August every year.
20. Cycle around the ruins of Hampi
There are many ways to explore the ruins that date back to the 3rd century BC, but renting a cycle is perhaps the most enjoyable. Pedal your way around the various sites, and as dusk falls, load your bike into a coracle to arrive at the hippie side of town.
21. Pamper yourself at a Himalayan spa
Frequently ranked among the world’s top spas, Ananda in the Himalayas offers myriad treatments, from Ayurveda to stress management. Whether you’re tackling weight issues or you just want to relax, its customised programmes are ideal.
22. Get married in a Rajasthani palace
Can there be a more spectacular setting for your wedding than a historic palace with all its attendant royal trappings? Jodhpur’s Umaid Bhawan Palace; Udaipur’s Jagmandir Island Palace, The Leela Udaipur, The Oberoi Udaivilas, Taj Lake Palace and The Lalit Laxmi Vilas Palace; and Jaipur’s Samode Palace(pictured), all offer the perfect setting for you to exchange your vows.
23. Bike the Manali-Leh highway
Open from mid-June to October, the 476km highway guarantees a daring journey with jaw-dropping views. At its highest, it reaches an altitude of 16,000ft. Bragging rights guaranteed.
24. Ski in Gulmarg
India’s most popular ski destination pulls everyone, from amateurs and professionals, to its slopes each season. Its gondola is one of the highest in the world, and the ski-town now offers world-class lodging facilities. Sign up for heli-skiing to take things a notch higher, quite literally.
25. Dine at India’s best restaurant
The only restaurant from the country to rank in the world’s top 100, Indian Accent is an experience not to be missed. Chef Manish Mehrotra’s gutsy and modern take on Indian food is worth a trip to Delhi, from anywhere in the country or even the world.
26. Dance away on the sands of Goa
All-day parties, international DJs and the best of dance music—Goa’s music scene rocks comes alive in December with a clutch of events. Pictured: Sunburn Festival
27. Take the palace trail through Madhya Pradesh
From the Jahangir Mahal of Orchha to Jai Vilas Palace in Gwalior to Ahilya Fort in Maheshwar, the state is rich with royal homes, most of which are in excellent condition. Pictured: Gwalior Fort
28. Soar over Bir and Billing
In May and October, these towns in Himachal Pradesh, about five hours from Shimla, pull paragliding enthusiasts from all over the world. Great weather and the sight of green terraced fields all around make this a spectacular experience. Follow up your flight with a visit to the Buddhist monasteries and Tibetan settlements nearby.
29. Hope for a glimpse of the Kanchenjunga
At 8,586m tall, it is the third highest mountain in the world and Sikkim’s most sacred landmark. The snow-capped Kanchenjunga plays peek-a-boo with you from behind the mist, and you could spend an entire week without as much as glimpse. But when it does reveal itself, it’s a sight to remember for life.
30. Spend the night in a houseboat in Srinagar
Pick one of the many ‘floating palaces’ anchored on the Dal or Nagin Lake for a classic Kashmir experience. Each houseboat comes with lavishly furnished rooms, verandahs and a terrace that serves as a sun-deck for evening cocktails. That’s one way to float in paradise.
Pictured: WelcomHeritage Gurkha Houseboats
31. Drive to the mountain desert of Spiti
Rugged and remote, the Lahaul & Spiti district is a part of Himachal that’s yet to be discovered by tourists. The roads are terrible, the passes high and tricky, but the journey is its own reward. Head here to discover the simple life in a Himalayan desert.
32. Sign up for a tea trail through Darjeeling and Assam
Earn your badge as a tea connoisseur with a trip through India’s tea country. It helps that there are several tea estates that provide fine luxury accommodation and extensive courses in tea appreciation.
33. Brave the rapids at Rishikesh
River Alaknanda joins the Ganga near Rishikesh and offers grade III and IV rapids. Need more thrills? Follow up with adventures such as cliff-jumping, body-surfing and kayaking.
34. Trek to Roopkund Lake
The trek to Roopkund Lake in Uttarakhand is at once beautiful and haunting. Lush Himalayan forests, gurgling brooks and undulating meadows all take you to this lake at 16,500ft above sea. It’s all pretty till you see the dozens of skulls and bones lying at the bottom of the shallow lake since the 6th century. You’ll have chills running down your spine for more reasons than one.
35. Ride the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Fondly known as the Toy Train, this narrow-gauge railway runs from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling. The most popular route, however, remains from Ghum to Darjeeling, where it cuts through streets and markets. In service for over 130 years, it has earned UNESCO World Heritage status.
36. Watch polo in Ladakh
Believe it or not, polo has been a tradition in Ladakh for centuries! Watch professional teams from the villages of Ladakh square off at one of the world’s highest and prettiest polo grounds.
37. Spot the tiger, if you can
The No. 1 item on every safari-lover’s list is worth all the fuss. The majestic but shy Royal Bengal Tiger is quite a sight. For best odds of spotting the cat, head to one of the national parks in Madhya Pradesh or Rajasthan.