From ziplining across Asia’s longest Flying Fox to exploring Rajasthan’s villages, 15 fun holiday ideas for 2015
After you’re done partying till dawn in Goa or counting the stars in Dhanachauli as you usher in yet another year, there’s only one thing that can help retain your sanity – drawing up your travel plans for the next 12 months. For isn’t the anticipation of travel as intoxicating as the actual journey?
So whether you’re searching for the biggest adrenalin rush of your life or a quiet, do-nothing holiday, here are 15 destinations to give you bragging rights throughout the year. Happy travels!
For the Thrill Seeker:
From white water rafting to rock climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, bungee jumping and zip lining across Asia’s longest Flying Fox, Rishikesh offers boundless pleasures for the adventure junkie.
Kullu & Manali
A popular starting point for road trips to Ladakh and Spiti, the pretty valleys of Kullu and Manali have a range of options for the adrenalin seeker. From skiing to river rafting , mountain climbing, trekking (don’t miss the one to Chandrataal) and paragliding in the picturesque Solang valley (including an awesome cable car ride), Manali is the spot for year-round adventure.
Find out more here
Paragliding in Solang Valley
Jammu & Kashmir
Not for nothing is Emperor Jehangir rumored to have called this land paradise on earth. The scenic vales of Kashmir offer a stark contrast to the barren grandeur of Leh & Ladakh. A road tip to Ladakh is on the list of every adventure enthusiast, but Kashmir also offers some of the most stunning, and challenging, treks in India, apart from other activities such as mountain climbing, rafting across the Zanskar rapids, paragliding and trekking.
Find out more here
For the Nature Lover:
Kumaon & Garhwal Himalayas
From long pleasurable walks to some of the most challenging treks in the world, India is a haven for mountain lovers. And nowhere is this bounty more evident than in Uttarakhand, home to the Kumaon and Garhwal regions of the Himalayas. If hardcore trekking is your thing, then you can’t miss the Kedarnath, Roopkund and Valley of Flowers treks in Garhwal. But for a sheer range of experiences, from glacier trekking to luxurious retreats, we prefer escaping to the Kumaon ranges.
Find out more here
Madhya Pradesh Jungles
It’s renowned for the highest tiger population in India, but the eleven national parks and over two dozen wildlife sanctuaries of Madhya Pradesh have so much more to offer jungle lovers. The towering sal trees and sacred rivers provide shelter to thousands of birds, animals and mammals, many of which – such as the tiger, barasingha, gharial and the Ganges river dolphin – are on the brink of extinction. One visit to the Bandhavgarh or Kanha National Park is all it takes to ignite a lifelong affair with the land that inspired Jungle Book.
Read more about the Kanha National Park here
Monitor Lizard in Kanha National Park
Exploring the North East
It’s time to move beyond Darjeeling (West Bengal) and Gangtok (Sikkim) and explore the Seven Sisters of North East India. Visit the wettest place on earth and walk along living root bridges in Meghalaya; fix a date with the one horned rhino in the Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam; enjoy the festivities of the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland in December; go river rafting and trekking in Arunachal Pradesh; explore the lush valleys of Mizoram, the floating lake islands of Manipur and the stunning architecture of Tripura. You can easily spend a year discovering the many hidden treasures of the Wild East.
Explore the double decker living root bridge of Meghalaya here
For the Road Tripper:
Mumbai to Goa along the coast
There are two main ways to get to Goa from Mumbai – the relatively straight forward route along NH4, or the longer one that winds its way along the Western Ghats and offers numerous detours to the Arabian Sea. Obviously, we prefer the latter. You can easily spend a week exploring the local culture and cuisine as you halt at the towns that pepper this scenic route. With ample gas stations, hotels and restaurants, this is also one of the safest driving routes in the country.
Read an account of a road trip from Mumbai to Goa here
Ahmedabad to Bhuj
You can call it the anti-road trip, given that you are likely to encounter numerous shades of brown, and little else, on this journey. The landscape will change from greenish-brown scrubland to the shimmering yellow and brown of the Rann. Yet that is precisely what makes this one of the most exciting drives in India. And just as you begin to miss the lush greenery of your previous road-trip, you will catch yourself craning out your neck to admire the bright red lehengas and the beautifully mirrored cholis of the village women, patiently waiting for your car to pass so they can cross the road. The insanely high day temperatures and the treacherous salt pans of the Rann makes this one of the most challenging, and thrilling, rides in India.
Finally, there’s the mother of all drives – biking from Manali to Leh. And if that isn’t challenging enough, consider crossing some of the most dangerous roads in the world as you drive from Simla to Kaza – this one definitely isn’t for the faint hearted.
Read more about Spiti here
Driving from Simla to Kaza
For the Beach Junkie:
Havelock Island, Andamans
A visit to the stunning islands of Andaman and Nicobar in the Bay of Bengal is no longer considered off the beaten track. But zillions of tourists notwithstanding, the over 600 islands are paradise for water lovers. Apart from diving, surfing, snorkeling and coral hunting, you can also visit India’s only active volcano on Barren Island and stuff yourself on freshly caught crab and red snapper.
Read more about a unique Andamans experience here
There’s something about Goa. Our parents loved it, we love it, and chances are our grandchildren will love it too. The only problem – the massively overcrowded beaches and the recent concerns about crime and safety. If you don’t mind the hordes, then head to the popular North Goan beaches of Baga, Calungate and Anjuna. But if it’s serenity that you’re after, then Colva, Varca and Palolem in South Goa should be your destination.
If you’ve had your fill of the Goan beaches, escape to neighbouring Karwar, Devbagh or Tarkali to soak in the wonders of the Arabian Sea sans the masses.
Read more about the wonderfully secluded Tarkali beach here
Located just 60 km south of Chennai, Mahabalipuram is one of our favourite beaches on the Bay of Bengal. One big reason is the fantastic, coast hugging drive along the East Coast Road (ECR), even though the sea is visible only upon reaching Mahabs, as Mahabalipuram is popularly called. The other is the magnificent rock carvings and the 1400 year old Shore Temple, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Finally, there is the beach itself, with numerous opportunities for surfing, fishing and turtle watching. And if you spent your childhood collecting seashells every time you visited a beach, you can’t afford to miss the India Seashell Museum for a nostalgia laden trip down memory lane.
For the Experience Seeker:
Home stay in Spiti
If a non-touristy vacation is on your mind, then nothing quite beats sharing the home of a local family in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh. Get a taste of surviving in one of the harshest climes in the world, learn about the fragile ecology of this region, enjoy a shared meal of potato dimsums and spend the sunny afternoons playing cricket with the kids or simply taking long walks along this unique landscape.
Read more about a Spiti homestay here
Traditional Spiti Home
Snake Boat Racing in Allepey
Cruising the backwaters of Kerala in a luxurious houseboat is on the bucket list of every travel aficionado, but nothing quite beats the experience of witnessing 50 or more oarsmen maneuvering a single canoe as they race other snake boats, some as long as 100 feet, in the pretty Alappuzha backwaters. Held every year on the second Saturday of August, watching the frenzied oarsmen, and the equally frenzied spectators, up close from the comfort of your houseboat is an unforgettable experience.
Find out more here
Explore Rural Rajasthan
You’ve ticked off the grand forts & palaces, bargained your heart out at the bazaars and eaten to your heart’s content, but how much do you really know about colourful Rajasthan? For that, you need to mingle with the artisans behind the colourful fabrics, pretty leather juttis, exquisitely crafted jewellery and hand hewn toys for which the land is famous. This two week trip traverses the villages around Jaipur, Pushkar, Jodhpur and Udaipur, giving you the chance to experience the glories and contradictions of Rajasthan.
What’s on your bucket list for 2015 ? Tell us in the comments below, or share your recommendations on Facebook or Twitter. And keep returning to MBRB as we look at some of the year’s most memorable moments in the world of books, pop culture, travel and more.
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