India. The name conjures images of ancient temples and palaces, aromatic markets, colourful saris, curries and oh yes, the Taj Mahal. Dig deeper and one will quickly discover that India has much more to offer to visitors. With its amazing breadth and depth of attractions and experiences, it’s very easy to visit India and only just skim the surface. These days, with so many flights to India with a number of airlines, it’s become a lot easier to head off on an adventure in India and immerse ourselves in the wondrous sights, sounds and scents of the land. Of course you will want to see the sights – what’s a trip to India without the obligatory photograph outside the Taj Mahal or the Red Fort? However, if you want to get a glimpse into the real India, here is a list of some of the alternative things to do in India for visitors.
1 – Experience a colourful festival
There are almost as many festivals in India as there are number of Gods. And each festival is more colorful than the other. This makes visiting a festival one of the best things to do in India. While every festival in India is worth participating in, there are some you just cannot miss.Some of the most colourful festivals include Holi and Diwali but other festivals like Dussehra and Ganesh Chaturthi are just as lively and colourful!
2 – The Old Delhi Food Trail
Explore the narrow lanes and bazaars of Old Delhi whilst sampling arguably some of the most fantastic food you will find in the whole country. Your guide will encourage you to sample delicacies such as kulfi, chat papri, dahl and chai tea. The trip also allows you to visit a haveli – a traditional four-storey home with a central courtyard flanked by 58 doors.
3 – Chandipur Beach
It may seem like your typical beautiful Indian beach but twice a day a strange phenomenon occurs which will be worth the wait. When the tide goes out, it recedes up to 5km leaving the shore awash with driftwood, beautiful shells and thousands of tiny red crabs and horseshoe crabs foraging for food. It’s a phenomenal experience to watch the sea recede into the horizon, then slowly fill up the empty coast several hours later.
4 – Experience Gandhi’s Delhi
Follow in the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi and learn about the message of non-violence and truth that he tried to spread to the masses. You will travel on public transport to see all of the sites associated with ‘the Father of the Nation’ including the National Gandhi Museum.
5 – Kerala Backwaters
Step aboard a luxury kettuvallom and sail down the narrow canals and streams into the vast lagoons of this breathtaking region. Being on-board is an experience in itself and you will find it hard not to be completely won over by the lip-smacking cuisine, the aromatic plantations and the vibrant culture that surrounds you. Kettuvalom literally means ‘boat with knots’, a translation that is spot on considering the boats are made with coir knots only and not a single nail is used.
6 – Yoga retreat
Although increasing in popularity, a lot of travellers don’t even think to take the time to realign their chakras at a relaxing yoga retreat. Allow yourself to push your troubles away, improve your yoga practice and relieve your aches and pains with any number of healing treatments. If yoga isn’t really your thing, choose from a variety of relaxing Ayurvedic treatments.
7 – Palace on Wheels
India is famous for train travel but the Royal Train is in a completely different league. Enter a bygone era as the train, one of the top-ten luxury trains in the world, dashes through the countryside, past medieval fortresses and into the heart of Rajasthan.
8 – Meet a real life Maharaja
There are a number of heritage hotels dotted around the country that have been transformed by members of the Royal Family. Enjoy an evening listening to tales of the past and decadence you can only imagine.
9 – Witness the inexplicable
Visitors to the Sufi Qamar Ali shrine near Pune can witness, or take part in, what many people consider a miracle. 11 people are asked to stand around a large boulder and place their forefingers lightly on its surface. After repeatedly chanting ‘Qamar Ali Dervish’ the stone rises. If one person moves away the rock will fall. The levitating stone of Shivapur is an amazing, if not surreal, sight.
10 – Yak Safari
Climb on to the back of an enormous yak and trek the ancient grazing ground of the lonely yak herdsmen in the Himalayan region of Sikkim. You will trek along the Singelila Ridge past lakes, glacial valleys and plush forests until you find yourself in the shadow of the imposing peaks of the Himalayas.