Memos from Asia

7 Must-Visit Thrilling Adventure Destinations in India

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Hot balloon air over Jispa town, Lahaul valley, Himachal Pradesh, India.

For most travelers, India is an exotic destination that promises a cultural explosion packed with amazing colors, smells, sights, and traditions. However, due to its varying landscapes that include mountains, rivers, valleys, and deserts, India has also grown as an exciting adventure destination.

Throughout its states and cities, visitors can now enjoy an array of dazzling possibilities from bungee jumping over the river Ganges to hiking, skiing, scuba diving, and white-water rafting. Here are seven such places in India that promise you a thrilling adventure ride full of adrenaline-pumping action.

Rishikesh

Rishikesh, India – October 19, 2017: River rafting group paddling on the Ganges River in Rishikesh.

An important holy city situated next to the Ganges river, several Indians and tourists travel to Rishikesh every year to immerse themselves in its spiritual aura. While also an excellent place to learn and practice yoga in a serene environment, Rishikesh is equally renowned for its adventure activities.

Adventure enthusiasts primarily visit Rishikesh for white water rafting. Professional tour administrators organize rafting trips that range from 16km to 35km in length, featuring Grade I to IV rapids. The rapids one encounters on the Shivpuri stretch are gentler and thus fitting for beginners. That’s not all though, as one can partake in bungee jumping, zip-lining, kayaking, and even camping on the banks when the river’s water level is low.

Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India, December 22, 2018: Camel caravan pass through the Thar desert

The barren expanse of the desert has forever intrigued people, especially those living in fertile regions and cities. For adventure tourists in India, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan provides a unique desert experience through safaris that take tourists deep amongst the Thar’s rising sand dunes.

There are two options to explore the desert around Jaisalmer, either with a camel safari or via a 4×4 off roader vehicle. The camel safari is a more leisurely way to take in the views and get an idea of how challenging it is to live in an arid region. Taking a tour that involves a 4×4 SUV is more stimulating as it involves high-speed dune bashing, a fun way to drive around the desert that will have you screaming and shouting with excitement.

Hampi

Hampi is a religious town in Karnataka known for its ancient temples with intricate carvings. Come winters, though, and the area becomes one of the leading adventure destinations in India, mainly known for hot air ballooning.

The ballooning activity offers wide-eyed travelers the chance to witness the region’s exquisiteness from high above. Each balloon has a professional pilot onboard, and a trip lasts from one to two hours. A jeep typically follows the balloon to accommodate the customers upon their arrival back on the ground. In December-January, Karnataka also holds a hot air balloon festival across some of its cities, including Hampi, Mysore, and Bidar. It is possible to participate in the event or simply enjoy the beautiful sight of colorful balloons floating in the sky from the ground.

Gulmarg

Skiing at the world-famous ski resort in Gulmarg. The skiing season commences in December and goes on till the month of April.

There aren’t too many places in India to ski, but Gulmarg more than makes up for the lack of options. Located in Kashmir, Gulmarg transforms into a winter wonderland ideal for skiing from December till late March.

The best thing about Gulmarg is that its slopes are diverse enough for both beginners and experienced skiers. Home to the “highest gondolas in the world,” there are quite a few national and international skiers who come here annually. Classes for beginners, equipment on rent, constant monitoring, and available medical services make this a safe and exciting adventure for the entire family. There are plenty of resorts in Gulmarg for those who want to stay awhile, along with two skiing institutes with longer skiing courses.

Bir

Paragliding across the Dhauladhar range above Bir billing, Asia’s highest-flying spot

Type Bir Billing in your Google search, and one of the top results to pop up is paragliding. Two picturesque villages in Himachal Pradesh, Bir, and Billing invite visitors to a tranquil environment with a pure vibe. Famous for ecotourism and nearby Buddhist monasteries, they are world-renowned paragliding destinations having hosted international championships.

When considering a trip to Bir for paragliding, October to May is the best time. This adventure sport in India can be enjoyed by everyone as there are tandem jump options that pair inexperienced visitors with expert paragliders. The jump-off point is in Billing at the height of 2430 meters, with landing in Bir. A flight usually lasts anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes and promises unforgettable panoramic views of the valley and surrounding mountains.

Bandhavgarh

Tiger walking in the forest of Bandhavgarh National Park in India

The sight of a predator in the middle of a jungle is just the kind of adventure that can get your heart thumping within seconds. While there are many National Parks across India, Bandhavgarh has the highest density of tigers, making it the place you are most likely to face this majestic beast.

Open top jeep safaris with drivers and guides are the best way to experience Bandhavgarh. A limited number of jeeps are permitted, twice a day, inside the park, and thus it is essential that you make a safari booking in advance. While the park is famous for its tigers, please don’t overlook the variety of flora and fauna it displays. Also, don’t forget your cameras with zoom lenses and binoculars to capture the fascinating wildlife in its natural habitat. October to May is the idyllic time for Bandhavgarh safaris, as the weather is dry and the temperature bearable.

Andaman

A girl sitting in the clear waters of the Andaman sea

The waters around the Andaman Islands are teeming with vibrant surprises, be it the corals, multi-colored fishes, or sharks that call this region their home. As a result, Andaman is a must-visit adventure destination in India for visitors looking to snorkel or scuba dive.

One can find tour operators on the inhabited islands that cater to first-timers as well as professional divers. There are plenty of dive sites, but the ones closer to Havelock Island and Port Blair are the most frequented. Those interested in snorkeling should head on out to North Bay Island, Red Skin Island, or Elephant Beach on Havelock Island.

A few notes on activities in India

When picking an adventure activity in India, perform your due diligence on the operators beforehand. Most activities are safe and monitored by professionals. Still, it is a good idea to first read reviews online about them. Moreover, when participating, make sure you respect the nature around you and leave it as you found it.

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