2012 India ideas: Adventure

If you enjoy the adrenalin rush through your veins and love to explore, then here's a list of adventurous places in India where you can dive from the sky or experience a safari.

Here are some adventure options for all adventure junkies.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands
1. Seasoned scuba divers love the clear waters around Barren Island and Narcondam Island. Write to info@diveindia.com or dive@barefootindia.com to book a session.

2. India's only active volcano is also on the picturesque Barren Island. And the best views can be had from the Pawan Hans Cessna flight that flies daily from Port Blair. The flights don't operate during monsoon. http://tourism.andaman.nic.in

3. Watch elephants being trained for logging as you trek the Madhuban nature trail on Mount Harriet, 55 km by road from Port Blair. Saddle Peak, the highest peak in the archipelago, is also a good day trek option. For other trekking routes, check http://tourism.andaman.nic.in

4. Snorkelling, diving, canoeing... You name it and the beautiful Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park in Wandoor, 30 km from Port Blair, offers it. The park is also known for its birding sites. At last count, more than 100 species were spotted here. None of these activities, however, can be done during the monsoon.

 





Arunachal Pradesh

1. Dramatic scenery. Challenging rapids. A great adrenaline high. That's the gist of white water rafting on the Subansiri, the biggest tributary of the Upper Brahmaputra. This one is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

2. Equally exciting is the 180-km run on the Brahmaputra from Tuting to Pasighat. Some of the rapids en route have interesting names: Moing Madness, Zebra Rock and Pulsating Palisi.

3. One of the most scenic trekking routes in Arunachal is the one that connects Tezpur (in Assam) to Tawang, via Bhalukpong and Bomdila. The road ends at the Tawang gompa, one of the most revered institutions for Mahayana Buddhism. Catch your breath in the prayer hall before you trek back.

4. For bragging rights, walk the Bailey's, Asia's longest suspension bridge (320 ft long) across the turbulent Deopani river. Go for a practice session at the shorter suspension bridge near the pretty town of Daporijo on the Upper Subansiri.

5. Spread over only 8 sq km, the Glow Lake on the steep Chongkham-Wakro Road is a beautiful spot for a picnic. Trekking is the only way to reach this place carpeted with flowers and snow-clad mountains as a backdrop. In Lohit district.

Bihar
1. Retrace the footsteps of legendary Chinese chronicler Hieun Tsang across 36 sites in Nalanda district. The trail takes you through hilly tracts and forests. E-mail: nepura@exploreruralindia.org; Tel: (0) 94312 70891

Chhattisgarh
1. Go down a cubby hole to enter a breathtaking world of limestone formations at the 40-ft deep Kutumsar Cave. At Kanger Valley National Park, 38 km from Jagdalpur.

Goa
1. Don't worry about cliches. Diving rarely gets better than in Goa. We recommend the Grande Island and the Sao Jorge Island. www.barracudadiving.com

2. An offbeat Goa experience, and equally rewarding, is a trek to the Dudhsagar waterfall through lush forests. The monsoon is perhaps the best time for this. The waterfall, true to its name, looks like a torrent of milk rushing down boulders.

Gujarat
1. A horse safari across the Little Rann of Kutch gives you the chance to ride some of the best steeds in that part of the country. Choose from Marwari, Sindhi and Kathiawadi breeds. www.rannriders.com

2. Jump off an aircraft at 10,000 ft, only to land on your feet. That's what brings enthusiasts to Deesa, one of India's first skydiving zones, in Banas Kantha district. www.sycd.gov.in

Haryana
1. Not many people are aware of this but you can pitch a tent at Surajkund campsite, more famous for the crafts mela, and go hot air ballooning or quad biking. Tel: (0) 93111 13333

2. Try your hand at parasailing in Kanwar Shikha near Sohna, 60 km from Delhi.

3. White water rafting at Hathnikund near Yamunanagar is sure to get the adrenaline flowing. Launch your raft at Paonta Sahib over medium-intensity rapids. Perfect for first-timers.

Himachal Pradesh
1. Paragliding is synonymous with the towns of Bir and Billing in Kangra Valley. The views are simply breathtaking and first timers will really enjoy the experience.

2. The seven-day trek to Kinner Kailash starts at Manimaheshwar in Bharmaur district and takes you across the Kinnaur district to the base of the lofty peak. Those up to the challenge are rewarded with spectacular sights along the route.

3. Bravehearts can also opt for the eight-day Jalori Pass trek that begins at Kullu and takes you right up to the Sereulsar Lake at 11,500 ft.

4. In the same league is the trek to the Rohtang Pass, about 50 km from Manali. The high point of the trek is the sight of the sparkling Doshohar Lake near the pass.

5. From Jari in Parvati Valley or Kasol in Kullu Valley, you can trek to Malana, both routes are incredibly scenic. Once you reach Malana, however, you can't touch anything according to strict local rules! Pitch a tent in the bordering fields and enjoy views of the hills instead.

6. An affair with Himalayan caves can start with Karol Goofa, 8 km from Solan. One of the longest in the region, this one begins at Karol Tibba to end at Pinjore Gardens.

7. Beas Kund trek, through Manali and Solang Valley, takes 10 days.

8. Skiing on the dazzling white slopes of Kufri, a mere 16 km from Shimla, attracts enthusiasts between December and February every year. Non-skiers can do the pony trek to the top instead and enjoy the views.

9. The swirling waters of the Beas are good for white water rafting, canoeing or kayaking. Manali is a good starting point for beginners. www.raftingmasti.com

10. One of the newest sports on offer, zorbing means getting zipped into a plastic ball and rolling down a steep slope at Solang Nullah, Kullu Valley. Snowboarding is another sport you can try here.

11. Interact with locals as you cycle your way through the high-altitude Spiti Valley. Check www.mtbhimachal.com for trails and route maps.

12. Camp at Tabo, also in Spiti, and visit the centuries-old monastery in the village. www.banjaracamps.com

13. Rahul Bose Raft from Rudraprayag to Rishikesh, 135 km of pure adventure on the Ganga.

14. Make Kaza your base in Spiti Valley for treks in the high-altitude desert region. The village is known for its homestay programmes.

15. Test your endurance with some rock climbing in the mountains of the Vashisht region. www.himalayan-extreme-center.com

Jammu and Kashmir
1. Ladakh's Dah and Hanu villages are home to the quirkily-attired Drokpas, considered pure Aryans. A two-day road trip from Leh to these villages will be an experience of a lifetime.

2. Enjoy a day of easy rafting through the splendid canyons in Ladakh. Choose between Phey to Nimmu, ideal for beginners, and Chiling to Nimmu (grade II/III).

3. Camping by Ladakh's turquoise blue lakes make for lifelong memories. Two popular spots are Tso Moriri, 220 km south of Leh, and Tso Kar, 150 km south of Leh. Both are popular with birders.

4. If camping is too leisurely an idea, you could go biking to Khardung-la, the world's highest motorable pass. Less than 40 km from Leh.

5. For the serious-minded adventurer there's little else in the Himalayas that comes close to the unique challenge of the Chadar or the Frozen River trek in Zanskar, Ladakh. Not to be attempted without professional guidance. www.whitemagicadventure.com

6. When in Gulmarg, take the cable car up to the first phase, Kongdoori Station at 8,530 ft, and then hike/ pony trek to the barren, rocky areas around Khilanmarg. Sit by a stream and enjoy the piping hot coffee or tea served by the locals for a price, one that you pay for a lifelong memory.

7. Test your courage with a heli-skiing session at Gulmarg. This activity can be done only from January to March. www.gulmargheliski.com

8. Ease the pace with a leisurely trek to Aru Valley, about 12 km up from Pahalgam. A walk by the Lidder, a nap in the shadow of the deodars, chasing butterflies in the meadows and a cuppa in village homes are some of the en route pleasures. Some scenes from the recent Ranbir Kapoor-starrer Rockstar were shot here.

9. Though still in its nascent stage, white water rafting on the Lidder in Pahalgam is slowly drawing attention of enthusiasts. The Chandanwari-Nuwan stretch has four categories of rapids.

Jharkhand

1. A host of activities await the enthusiast at the sports complex of Khandoli near Giridih. You can choose from rock-climbing, kayaking and parasailing.

2. Less than 30 km from Jamshedpur is the government-run adventure camp of Turi Tamang, which is haven for rock-climbers.

Karnataka

1. Ramanagaram, a boulder strewn quaint township 40 km from Bangalore, is where Bollywood blokes Jai and Veeru beat the daylights out of the fearsome Gabbar Singh. Do some great rock-climbing here and also relive moments from the iconic film, Sholay.

2. The boulder-specked terrain of Hampi, known for its centuries-old stone temples, is also good for some easy rock-climbing.

3. Flex your calf muscles on a day trek to the peak of Thadiyendamol, a lofty hill in the coffee carpeted Coorg region.

4. Wait for the first few showers of the monsoon before you go white water rafting on the Upper Barapole river, also in Coorg.

Kerala

1. Forget the traditional kettuvallam (boat). Cruise the backwaters of Alappuzha, Vagamon (Idukki district) and Thenmala (Kollam) on a kayak.

2. Wayanad's Chembra Peak, almost 7,000 ft high, makes for a good one-day trek. A heart-shaped lake on the way is where you should break for a breather and also a quick bite.

3. Done with Chembra, we now move on to two other Wayanad peaks--Banasura and Brahmagiri. A number of streams, rivulets and of course dense forests teeming with wildlife add to the thrill.

4. Thenmala in Kollam district is also good for treks. Touted as the country's first eco-tourism destination, this one, too, is big on forests and wildlife.

5. Move over to the beaches of Kovalam for snorkelling. Back on the surface, book a catamaran ride at sunset. The beaches also have many good restaurants.

Lakshadweep

1. Among the easiest to access because the airport is here, Agatti is snorkelling and scuba diving paradise.

2. Set apart from the rest, Kalpeni is not just another beautiful island in the archipelago. A huge bank of coral debris makes it an ideal location for reef walking.

3. Go kayaking or sailing in the shallow lagoon west of Kadmat Island

Madhya Pradesh
1. The heritage town of Orchha is also where two rafting safaris on the Betwa are conducted. A 90-minute expedition (3.5 km-long) begins from the scenic Kanchana Ghat and culminates at Shiv Ghat. The three-hour ride (6 km) packs in a breakfast/lunch before its wraps up at Notte Ghat. E-mail: betwa@mptourism.com

2. Feast your eyes on the terrain of the Satpuras as you go paragliding from Pachmarhi, the only hillstation in the state.

Maharashtra
1. Take a glider flight and admire Pune's hilly horizons from the skies at the Hadapsar Flying Club. Tel: (020) 2699 2048.

2. Another adventure in the air worth a try is paragliding at Kamshet, near Lonavala.
3. Move 15 km from Lonavala for a trek to the lofty Rajmachi Peak and a glimpse of medieval fortifications atop its summit.

4. Trek up to the summit of Tikonia Hill, one of Mumbai's favourite weekend adventure destinations.

5. Since the whole world has taken the toy train to Matheran, we like to do it different. By trekking up Shivaji's Ladder. The gruelling day hike serves as an alternate access route to Matheran.

6. For an ear-popping and almost frightening experience, hop onto a cable car and graze up the sheer stone cliffs to the top of Raigad Fort, 80 km from Mahabaleshwar.

7. Go on an excursion to the intriguing Daulatabad Fort near Aurangabad. For a hair-raising experience, make a scramble for the summit of the fortified hillock through a pitch-black tunnel. True adventure!
8. Trek to the old viewpoint at Ajanta, on top of a distant hill. This is the point from where a British posse led by officer John Smith first spotted the caves amid the wilderness back in 1819.

9. The blend of history and adventure continues with a trek to Sinhagad Fort from Pune. Take in fantastic views of the sunset over the Sahyadris.

10. Go snorkelling in the ultramarine waters of Tarkarli beach on the fringes of southern Maharashtra.

Manipur

1. The most challenging trekking trail in the state lies in the Shirui-Kashong mountain range. It starts from Shirui village, 14 km from Ukhrul, and moves along the path that has many winding trails and steep rocky climbs.

Meghalaya
1. Each of the halls at Mawsmai Cave, crammed with stalagmite and stalactite formations, is like a world in itself. Note: don't attempt caving without the assistance of a guide. www.megtourism.gov.in

2. A walk to the top of Shillong Peak is something you can easily do by yourself. Security in the area is strict due to the presence of an Air Force radar station. Photography is strictly prohibited.

3. Renowned explorer David Scott's old mule trail runs from the Assam border to the Bangladesh border across the Khasi Hills. The whole trek can be done in five days. Beginners can attempt a part of it. The easiest stretch is the day-trek from Mawphland Sacred Forest to Lad Mawphlang.

4. Waterfall hopping, as we like to call it, is almost a Meghalaya exclusive. Elephant, Bishop, Beadon, Crinolene, Blue Heaven, Imilchang Dare... The list is endless. You can start at Shillong and criss-cross the state as you trail the cascades.

5. Walk the double-decker living root bridge at Tyrna village, near Laitkynsew. At 59 ft in height and 83 ft in length, the bridge can be enjoyed best through an arduous 90-minute trek. Totally worth the effort, we say.

6. More on bridges. This one, however, is made of iron. The suspension bridge on the walking trail to Mawshubuit to Sohrynkham, built in 1927, rises 40 ft above a valley from the middle.

Mizoram
1. The largest cave in the state, Pukzing is believed to have been carved out of a mountain with a hairpin! Go caving, 25 metres deep, in Aizawl's western hills.

2. Test your rock-climbing skills in the atmospheric surroundings of Phwangpui, the highest peak in the state.

Nagaland
1. A 15-day mountain biking tour of Nagaland is something that few people have done or even heard of. A tour that starts at Dimapur goes through Mokokchung, Tuensang and Mon districts. Contact Gurudongma Tours; tel: (0) 94340 62100, (03552) 255 204

2. Woodcutter trails, seasonal farms, flower gardens... Find all this and much more as you walk into the wilds above the Riphym Tourist Village in picturesque Wokha. The viewpoint above the tourist lodge offers splendid views of a dam on the Doyan river.

Rajasthan
1. An elephant safari in the forested hills of the Aravali behind Jaipur's Amer Fort may not be your idea of hardcore adventure, but we like it all the same. Book much in advance. E-mail: udaijit@deraamer.com

2. A camel safari from Jaisalmer is also quintessentially Rajasthani. The duration of the safari is entirely up to you--make it half a day or two weeks. www. trotterscamelsafarijaisalmer.com

3. One of the newest offerings in the state is ziplining. Try it at Neemrana for an awe-inducing view of the fort, the rolling hills and the valley below. www.flyingfox.asia/neemrana

4. It's fun floating over the tiger haven of Ranthambhore in a hot air balloon. Every second of the 50-minute ride is thrilling. www.skywaltz.com

5. Unleash the rider in you with a weeklong horse safari of the rugged Shekhawati region. The pleasure of riding purebred Marwari mounts is the highlight of the trip. http://royalridingholidays.com

Sikkim
1. A three-hour yak safari is perhaps the best way to take in some of the beauty of North Sikkim. The route from Thangu, 30 km north of Lachen, to Phalung is rated as one of the best. www.trekkinginsikkim.com

2. Sikkim is full of trekking trails, both for the novice and the expert. A popular trekking route is the one from Dzongri to Goecha-la, which offers superb views of the Khangchendzonga and Pandim ranges. It takes six to seven days, depending on the level of fitness. Beware of leeches.

3. Called the Monastic Trek, this trekking route from Pelling to Tashiding via Khecheopalri Lake takes you past some of the most historic monasteries in Sikkim--Phodong, Pemayangtse, Rumtek and many others.

4. White water rafting on the frothy Grade IV rapids of the Teesta and the Rangeet can get the adrenaline racing. www.gurudongma.com

5. Short but exciting is the paragliding flight between Thamidara and Reshithang Sports Village near Gangtok.

Tamil Nadu
1. The Nilgiris have more than 20 peaks towering above 6,000 ft, all of which are a trekker's delight. Some of the more popular ones are Doddabetta, Snowdon, Coonoor Betta and Mukurthi Peak. Most of these are scattered around Coonoor, Ooty and Kodaikanal.

Uttarakhand
1. Auli has one of the best slopes for skiing. A course is conducted by the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam between January and March every year. www.gmvn.in
2. The Jharipani trek to Mussoorie, an easy 12 km, is a good option for keen birders and shutterbugs.
3. Though 45-km long, the trekking route to Pindari Glacier, lying between Nanda Devi and Nandkot peaks, is one of the less strenuous in the state. The trek starts at the base camp at Saung in Kumaon district.
4. Start from Ghuttu in Tehri district for the 55-km trek to the Khatling glacier. It is one of the best routes for those who love photography.
5. A six-day trek to Milam from Munsiyari takes you through many picturesque villages where you can stop for a cup of tea and conversation with the locals.
6. Though less-known, the trek to Kafni, on the east side of the Pindar Valley, will be highly rewarding.
7. The trek to the 12-km long Bunder Punch glacier is challenging to say the least. En route is Osla Ruinsara, a gorgeous camping site.
8. The trek to Sunderdunga glacier in Kumaon Valley is rated as one of the toughest in Uttarakhand. Sunderdunga literally means 'valley of beautiful stones'. That defines the route for you.
9. At 83m, the bungee jump at Rishikesh is the longest in Asia. It's 10m taller than Qutub Minar!
10. On a different level altogether is the 17-km trek to the Valley of Flowers. Enough has been said and written already about the thick carpet of flowers that line the valley between July and September.
11. The Nanda Devi National Park is a Unesco World Heritage Site. The trekking route to the park from Lata village, where the famous Chipko movement was born, can bring you up close with the meek bharal (blue mountain goat) as well as the feisty leopard.
12. Criss-crossed by rivers, the Champawat Valley in Kumaon, made famous by Jim Corbett in his chronicles, has many trekking trails of varying levels of difficulty.

West Bengal

1. The easy day-trek to Lava-Lolegaon, with Kalimpong as the base, is a good option for debuting trekkers.
2. The Darjeeling-Sandakphu trek, which takes about four days to complete, offers majestic views of the Khangchendzonga and the Everest group of peaks.

Reproduced From India Today Travel Plus. © 2012. LMIL. All rights reserved.