" Trees are Earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven." ~ Rabindranath Tagore

The Adventurers

Bittu Sahgal, Editor, Sanctuary and Cub magazines offers his suggestions of unforgettable holidays!

Forget the mundane. Ignore the ordinary. India can offer you heart-thumping, adrenalin-pumping excitement… if only you care to look and dare to experience. So what does India have to offer audacious, vibrant and raring-to-go travellers? The world! The very best in the world. But… lets start at the very beginning… in the sea, from whence all life on earth emerged.

Dive to adventure
Without a shadow of doubt, the most practical, yet impressive undersea adventures available in India are to be had in the sun-washed Lakshadweep Islands (literally meaning "hundred thousand islands). Never snorkelled or dived before? So what? With a bit or training and in the company of any of the island's experienced sun worshipers, you could find yourself swimming like a fish in wonderlands of the like you have even imagined existed. Jump of almost any island-hopping boat and you will be able to gaze down on marine life such as groupers, skates, barracuda and mantas. Scuba diving in the Lakshadweep waters (average temperature 260C, qualified instructors on hand) is still a horizon holiday experience. There are some very professional outfits which could help you find your gills, but any way you look at this, it is a holiday with a difference holiday with a difference. Located just 200 km. off the coast of India and accessible by air from Kochi, your first port of call will probably be Bangaram, where an environment-friendly administration insists on welcoming only a limited number of tourists at a time (make your arrangements well in advance and be prepared to carry back your non-biodegradable refuse!).

Spirit of the Jungle
The Wilderness
Last of Asiatic Lions

Adventure activities
Rock Climbing
Scuba Diving

Leisure Holidays
Wild Life

Tales from Nubra
Born Again

butterfly fishOnce there, simple but clean facilities and swaying palms combine to wipe out memories of urban glitz and grime in moments. Literally a hop and a step away you could visit a natural undersea diorama comprising colourful corals, schools of millions of brilliantly-hued fish, dolphins and even sharks (perfectly safe!). Tourists can also enjoy kayaking and night fishing with the locals.

More about Scuba Diving

But wait…if the sea is not your bag, rise to the occasion and climb the highest mountain.


Ladakh: The world's highest airport
Often called Little Tibet by the international travel set, according to the India Rough Guide (get the book!) the name Ladakh comes from "La Dags" or land of high mountain passes. The physically fit are advised to use their legs and trek through this Himalayan wonderland which look lifeless at first glance, but reveals its inner secrets to those with the patience and sensitivity to ponder awhile. If you are prepared to leave the monasteries and gompas to the tourist set, you could collect ponies, guides and gumption and head off (in summer) to the unbelievable Hemis by way of the Markha Valley (budget a week). A road-less route, this trek is only for the fit of body and soul. There are less taxing adventures to be had in Ladakh, and almost all of them will take you through remote, inaccessible. And amazingly austere landscapes. Do your homework and you will discover that Ladakh is really the mother-destination of adventure travel including some of the most hair raising white-water experiences imaginable!!

Check out Holiday Options

Take to the Skies:

leopard WWith the arrival of more and more foreigners to India, sports such as hang-gliding have emerged as easy adrenaline options in places as far removed from each other as Pune in Maharashtra and Billing in Himachal Pradesh's Himalaya (where some of the world's finest treks are also available near Palampur). But if such 'ordinary' experiences are not your cup of tea, why not really get into the heart of it all?

Read more about Paragliding

Try caving in the limestone caverns of Meghalaya.
Recently the world's largest and possibly most complex cave systems were discovered in the North Eastern state of Meghalaya. Threatened by cement companies, these caves are to be found in the elephant frequented forested belt of Siju-Rewak. In the company of bats you could enter the very bowels of the planet. But be warned, these are possibly the least mapped caves in the world and though they are likely to become the most popular in a few years, you should only attempt this experience if you fit into the professional caving bracket.

Check our North East Holiday Packages and ask for Caving Options

Hikiing and whitewater rafting:
Though Kashmir is shrouded in political problems, skiing in Gulmarg is still a distinct possibility. And if you are prepared to walk up to Tanmarg, you will probably come across leopard, bear and musk deer tracks en route. Alternatively, opt for a skiing holiday in Auli, Uttar Pradesh. For the most organised of all whitewater rafting experiences, float down the Ganga from Rishikesh. Side attractions could include a trek to Dodi Tal, Har-ki-Dun and Yumnotri. All these destinations are underdeveloped (by western standards) and that, in fact, adds to their charm.

Check our Rafting options

Check our Trekking options

Essentially, adventure travel involves packing the right attitudes with your sleeping bag and hiking shoes. If you cannot do without creature comforts, or do not like the company of strangers… stay home! On the other hand, if you want to be surprised at every bend in the track and wish to rub experiences with free-spirited souls… the India of your dreams awaits you.

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.