Set off on a coracle ride down the Tungabhadra river in Hampi, take a jeep safari through the historic lanes of Mumbai, see the Taj Mahal from 20,000 feet up in the air and drive to the highest motorable road in the world. We list five experiences only this country can offer you
Boating and bouldering in Hampi, Karnataka
A swirling cruise down the Tungabhadra river on a coracle – a bowl-shaped boat made of bamboo and reed – is one of the most unique and thrilling experiences you can have in Hampi. This unforgettable boat ride gives you an unparalleled taste of adventure even as you take in the serene vistas around you. The best time to embark on a coracle ride is either in the morning or at dusk. If boating isn’t your cup of tea, go for a spell of bouldering (rock climbing without harnesses). Hampi is renowned as a site of archaeological significance, but it also draws adventure seekers from all over the world for its giant granite boulders.
Hot air balloon over the Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh
The Taj Mahal, the fabled monument of love that has captured the imagination of travellers the world over, presents an ethereal facade when seen from 20,000 feet up in air. At the Taj Balloon Festival, which is organised almost every year and is slated to be held in February this year, hop aboard a hot air balloon and see the Taj like never before. As the pristine white edifice reveals its hidden subtleties to your eyes, watch Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s ode to Mumtaz Mahal acquire a new layer of magnificence, reflected on the surface of River Yamuna as it flows past, carrying stories of an era bygone.
Jeep safari in Mumbai, Maharashtra
There are few better ways to discover Mumbai beyond the Gateway of India, Marine Drive and Bollywood than an open jeep safari. Innumerable stories echo in every nook and cranny of the city as you explore its bylanes. Visit some of the most popular flea markets it is home to, such as the 150-year-old Chor Bazaar, and make your way to the Dhobi Ghat at Mahalaxmi to catch nearly 10,000 washermen in action! Also stop by the historic Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus Railway Station, to see the famed dabbawalas of Mumbai at work.
Ride to the highest motorable road in the world, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir
If adventure is what you live for, then strap on your backpack and take a ride to the highest motorable road in the world. The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has constructed a motorable road – higher even than Khardung La (17,582 ft) in Ladakh, passing through Umling La Top, at over 19,300 ft. This new 86-km-long road connects Chismule and Demchok villages, located about 230 km from Leh.
Rann Utsav, Kutch, Gujarat
Few sights in the world are as surreal and captivating as the snow-white salt plains of the Rann of Kutch, gleaming on a full-moon night. And there is no better way to soak in its traditions, culture and spirit than by visiting the Rann Utsav. An annual winter event, currently on till February, it features colourful fairs, handicrafts, a complimentary safari on an open double-decker bus in the daytime and folk performances at night. For an even more authentic taste of Kutch’s way of life, a few villages adjoining Dhordo (where a tented city has been erected for the festival) have opened their doors to visitors so they can experience local culture, cuisine and hospitality.