Because you can always make money but you can't always make memories, Gypsy Shack lists the following 10 immersive experiences to beat the heat this summer. Each of these will bring you closer to nature or teach you something new or simply help you grow as a person. So pack your bags and gift yourself the gift of travel!
As our eyes get used to the darkness, hundreds of pale green pin-pricks appear dancing. The symphony is dynamic; clusters make and unmake themselves. Trails swirl down the hillside and lose themselves in the forest. Welcome to the village of Purushwadi in Maharastra! Every May-July, the firefly festival is organised here. This is their mating season and about 2000 firefly species, each with a different code of flashing light to attract mates, turn the village into a fairy-tale. Can there be a more innocent joy than the ones Nature gifts us.
Fireflies at Purushwadi (Photo courtesy: Mumbai Gloss)
Known for its salubrious clime, Coonoor is the jewel of the Nilgiris. Amid these rolling tea gardens, and spice plantations, enroll for an organic cheese making course. There are 2-day courses in cheese making where you can learn making two cheeses of your choice. The Nilgiris have a rich wildlife. Gaurs roam free. You can also come across elephants, barking deer and the occasional panther and leopard. These hills boast of rich birdlife, and spotting kingfishers, Brahmini kites, woodpeckers, shrikes, pied bush chats is common.
Organic Cheese (Photo courtesy: aroundyou.com.au)
Interleaved by hundreds creeks, the mangrove forests of Sundarbans are one of its kind. As the early morning light ripples through the canopy, the forest comes alive. Colorful birds break the grey-green monotony. Often a barking deer streaks past. Crocodiles sun themselves on the mud banks. And if you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the magnificent Royal Bengal Tiger. Visit the many villages that dot the waterways, catch the local play "Bon-Bibi'r pala." You might even choose to volunteer with local organisations that work towards the many challenges that plague this tide country.
Deer at Sundarban (Photo courtesy: indiatimes)
Under the warm turquoise waters of Andaman lies a treasure trove. Formations of brightly coloured coral reefs, shimmering shoals of fish, jellyfish and barnacles and vibrant flora transport you into a wonderland. Andaman has some reefs in the world. Pull on your breathing tube and dive at some of the least explored stretches around South Button Island, Tamarind Camp and Inglis Island. Scuba diving also draws numerous enthusiasts. Enroll for a PADI Certified Course and dive your way around the world! You can also go on a road-trip to Baratang and trek to limestone caves and mud volcanoes.
Snorkelling in Andaman (Photo courtesy: Conwaysailors)
No points for guessing why this makes it to our list. First inhale the bouquet, then sip the amber elixir as you watch the fog wafting pensively over boundless stretches of tea plantation. For a detail on the various processes that go into the manufacture of the famous Darjeeling tea, visit the Happy Valley tea estate.
Tea tasting (Photo courtesy: discovering tea)
Barren breasts of the Himalayas rise up like sentinels behind the turquoise Pangong Lake. Wait, did we say turquoise? The lake is a chameleon and changes color with the changing sky. One moment it is a cobalt mass of water, the next a still grey and then a deep shade of sapphire. The wind raves along its sandy shores, tears up the still surface into waves. Camp on the shores and watch the sky light up gorgeously after sun set. From this altitude, the stars seem to embrace you.
Stargazing at Pangong Lake (Photo Courtesy: holidify)
20 km from Palampur is the artist's alcove, Andretta. Hardly known outside a small circle, this little hamlet is nestled deep in the Shivalik Hills. Artist's retreats here hold courses in pottery with clay sourced from their own estates. Apart from pottery, you can also try your hand at painting under the tutelage of artist Gauri Sharma.
Trying your hand at pottery (Photo courtesy: Manila reviews)
What can be more between than picking luscious red apples in the beautiful valleys of Himachal Pradesh! Season runs from June to September and most of the apple orchards are located on the slopes of Kinnaur, Kotgarh, Rohru and other small towns around Shimla. Apple picking treks are common- stroll through fruit laden orchards to pick apples and then go to one of the small factories where they make jams and preserves.
Apple picking (Photo courtesy: cbslocal.com)
Because sun, sand & chilled beer equals bliss! Billed as the next Goa, the temple town of Gokarna in Uttara Kannada is gaining popularity as a surfing destination. Gokarna's beaches, namely Gokarna beach, Main Beach, Kuddle Beach, Om Beach, Half moon Beach, Paradise Beach and Nirvana beach are spectacular and relatively less touristy. Be ready to take on the waves on your surfing board and flaunt your tan and bleached hair. The Cocopeli Surf School is the most well known.
Surfing (Photo Courtesy: Surfermag.com)
The Himalayas offer the world's best trekking opportunities. No matter what your experience, there is a trek for everyone. Walk through forests of oak and pine, spruced up with clusters of scarlet rhododendrons, over rickety bridges; wade through icy mountain streams; walk along sapphire lakes, over snowfields, glaciers and meadows bustling with flowers- the Himalayas have no competition. If you haven't explored these mountains on feet, you are missing out on some of the best secrets of the planet.
Trekking in the snowy Himalayas
India offers the discerning traveller a bouquet of fantastic experiences that are many notches over the cliched and very touristy sight-seeing. This summer we are immersing ourselves in experiences and not just holidaying. What about you?