, DelhiZarafshan Shiraz
Families looking at adventurous destinations don’t need to look too far as India, with its varied topography, is bestowed with scenic beauty for the adventure seekers, be it the popular destinations or the offbeat destinations. Adventure sports are not just meant for thrill seekers but anyone looking for unusual, exciting experiences.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Ankush Rana, CEO and Co-Founder of ParaBooking, shared, “One such offbeat destination that never disappoints is Dhobi village in Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh. In addition to offering the most scenic views of the Himalayas, Dhobi is perfect for adventure sports and easily accessible by Kullu and Manali. Paragliding amidst the majestic backdrop of this less explored place is a must. One can delve into adrenaline rush with river rafting.”
He added, “Those looking for a scenic view for their first paragliding experience can also opt for Kamshet in Maharashtra, known for its scenic beauty and pleasant weather. Apart from a paragliding paradise, families can enjoy their time by camping, rock climbing, kayaking, boating and hiking along the beautiful trails of the Western Ghat range. It’s perfect for a weekend getaway for adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers.”
Bringing his expertise of off-beat travel suggestions in India and abroad, Daniel D’Souza, President and Country Head – Holidays at SOTC Travel, recommended:
- Double Decker Living Root Bridge in Nongbareh– Located in Meghalaya, the living root bridges in Nongbareh, a few of which are estimated to be over 500 years old, attract tourists from all over the world. Historically, India’s monsoon season brought heavy storms and floods, leading man-made bridges to rot and decay. To survive these conditions, Meghalaya’s indigenous Khasi people made bridges out of a tree commonly known as the Indian rubber plant. The process of growing a living root bridge is neither short nor simple. It takes 10 to 30 years before the tree’s roots resemble a bridge. Once the bridge is formed, however, it can live for centuries. The Nongbareh living root bridge has a double-span structure which bisects the Amayalee River and a road going to the river Umngot, and is recognised for its mesmerising beauty. Travellers can also visit the Rainbow falls and the Shmia Syntem – another lovely unique destination for travellers.
- Home to a few of the most beautiful and exotic islands and beaches of India, Lakshadweep is known for its stunning views, captivating flora, exotic fauna and incredible adventures. From scuba diving, snorkeling, kitesurfing, paragliding, canoeing – the island is a paradise for all adventure seekers. History buffs can take a day excursion to the Lighthouse in Minicoy Island that brings a serene respite away from the worldly affairs. Located amidst the vast expanse of the Arabian Sea, Minicoy Island is a hidden gem of Lakshadweep known for its luxury beach resorts, vibrant coral reefs, lush greenery, and rich cultural heritage. Known as the ‘Fishing Capital of Lakshadweep’, Agatti Island is a paradise complete with beautiful geographical formations and exotic marine life.
- Cruise in Sundarbans Jungle – The Sundarbans is the largest protected mangrove forest in the world, one of the planet’s most critical wetlands that supports nearly 700 species of wildlife, including the Royal Bengal tiger and home to fascinating communities. The immersive four-day sailing is curated for those who are intrigued by the complex riverine ecosystem. One can spot several exotic species such as the Gangetic river dolphins, Asian small-clawed otters, turtles and migratory birds like ospreys, the elusive Royal Bengal tiger and brahminy kites.
- Hidden gems/unknown locales like Laitmawsiang in Meghalaya, Chopta in Uttarakhand, Idukki in Kerala; equally fresh and unique experiences like the living root bridges or canoeing on the Dawki Lake – a clear lake in Meghalaya, white water rafting in Subansiri of Arunachal Pradesh, rock climbing in the Satpura mountain range, Athirapilly waterfall at the Sholayar Forest Range in Chalakudy in Kerala and winter sports in Auli and Gulmarg.
- An island nation away from crowds, yet at a convenient short haul flight duration, Mauritius offers a kaleidoscope of cultures, eclectic gastronomy, vibrant local markets, host of pristine beaches and clear blue waters, exhilarating catamaran/speed boat/yachting and water sports, spa-wellness experiences, making it a traveller’s paradise. The plethora of unique sightseeing options include the spectacular La Vallee des Couleurs Nature Park (valley of colours with 23-coloured earth), Black River Gorges National Park, Le Morne Brabant – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Grand Bassin, L’Aventure du Sucre, numerous waterfalls and trekking/hiking amidst spectacular volcanic landscapes. On the edge of the lagoon just off Mauritius’ pristine southeastern coast, Île aux Aigrettes offers a vision of the ancient and wild Mauritius that greeted early explorers, the forest today shelters all manner of endangered bird and other wildlife species.
- A tropical haven of white sand beaches, the Maldives is ideal destination for honeymoon, adventure, or a leisure holiday. Popular for its incredible diving opportunities, Maldives’ azure waters are home to diverse marine life and corals. One can go snorkelling, kayaking, diving, catamaran sailing, underwater walk, wakeboarding, parasailing, spotting dolphins and mantas, swimming with whale sharks, and more. Also a wellness haven, Maldives offers some of the most luxurious spa/wellness therapies and its serene environment makes it a perfect destination for yoga and fitness sessions. Experience the local Maldivian flavours and the famed Bodu Beru show giving a glimpse into the Dhivehi culture.
- Cruise on Danube– A cruise here has something for everyone, be it an art lover, a foodie, a history buff or an energetic adventurer. Customers aboard have the option to choose experiences as per their interest and pace. Experiences include browsing through the art collection of the Habsburg Empire, sipping local vintages at an Austrian wine tasting or hiking to Count Dracula’s prison tower, sightseeing with an expert local guide, a visit to Belvedere Palace in Vienna to see Klimt’s renowned “The Kiss,” a Medieval Knights Tournament at a Visegrád castle, sampling cheese and beer made by Trappist monks, creative experience in culinary or performing arts, an active excursion by bike, hike, canoe, and more!
Adding to the list of family vacation spots, Rajeev Kale, President and Country Head, Holidays, MICE, Visa – Thomas Cook (India) Limited, highlighted:
- Kashmir – Kashmir offers a plethora of experiences for travellers with its splendid locales to be explored. Travellers can go skiing in Gulmarg – the world’s third-highest ski resort (elevation of 3950 metres); experience the Gulmarg Gondola Ride, colourful shikara ride on the peaceful Dal Lake, cruise off the lake to see the floating market, view the city from the top of Shankaracharya Temple, and stay in the iconic houseboats or eco-friendly mud houses; also visit the famous restaurants in Srinagar which serves authentic Kashmiri Cuisine and the glass igloo restaurant in the middle of snow-covered mountains in Gulmarg.
- Kerala – Kerala with its extraordinary landscape including exotic beaches, mountains, waterfalls, lagoons and rivers make a great travel option for travellers. Women travellers to Kerala are enrolling for a special self-defense program – Kalaripayattu (one of the oldest surviving martial arts in India). Travellers are showing interest in local experiences: visiting the Kannan Devan Plantation Museum to witness tea-processing and taste different teas, staying in unique houseboats, watching the colorful Snake Boat races in Alleppey; taking a tour of the spice plantations or gardens in Munnar, Thekkady or Wayanad. Besides its famous backwaters, ayurvedic treatments and delicately spiced cuisine, vibrant traditions such as Kathakali plays and temple festivals create an overwhelming travel experience.
- Goa – Travellers can opt for scuba diving and banana boat riding at Grande Island; enthralling water sports like parasailing, bumper rides, jet ski, boat rides at Baga beach; visit Dudhsagar Falls, Mandovi River Sunset Cruise, cycling at Divar and Chorao Islands, hot air ballooning in addition to exploring Baga and Candolim Beach; visiting Anjuna Flea Market, Casino Royale, the Basilica of Bom Jesus, Aguada Fort, Dolphin Ride and more. Travellers can stay with a local families to experience the local culture; also showcase interest for cooking with a local chef to learn the local cuisine.
- Singapore – Travellers are exploring Singapore on a Vespa, Segway; racing at The Karting Arena for a high-intensity adrenaline rush; experiencing free-fall with indoor skydiving. Other sightseeing options include the Marina Bay, Gardens By The Bay – the crown jewel of Singapore; S.E.A. Aquarium, Sentosa – Southeast Asia’s largest indoor aquarium; Night Safari; also pub crawls for an exciting nightlife experience. Additionally, the Singapore Travel Card offers seamless travel experience.
- Koh Samui, Thailand– Koh Samui is one of Thailand’s largest islands, known for palm-lined beaches, coconut groves, and lush jungles. Koh Samui also has some unexpected cultural sites and features some of the most luxurious spas and resorts. Travellers can take a relaxing sailing tour to the limestone islands of Ang Thong Marine Park, snorkel at Emerald Lake and remote lagoons and kayak along the coast and through tunnels.
- Jeju Island, South Korea – Jeju Island, South Korea’s largest island, has a plethora of lovely scenery, fascinating museums, quirky theme parks and fantastic recreational activities for visitors to enjoy. Some popular tourist attractions include Cheonjiyeon Waterfall, Yeomiji Botanical Garden, Jeolmul Natural Recreation Forest, Jeju World Natural Heritage Center, Hallasan National Park, Jeju Stone Park and more. The best time to visit Jeju Island in South Korea is from November to May when the climate is mild. Winter is popular for outdoor activities, while Spring is the best time for sightseeing, especially Manjanggul Cave (a UNESCO World Heritage site).
- Abu Dhabi – In addition to being a major cultural and commercial centre, Abu Dhabi offers captivating experiences for travellers. The destination offers architectural marvels like the iconic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque; adventure activities at Warner Bros. World, Ferrari World, Yas Marina Circuit and more; also for shopping Persian carpets, rugs, Arabian perfumes, Pashmina shawls, aromatic wood chips and oils, gold jewelry, Arabic coffee pots, spices and more.