By Nicky Collins:
This 15th August, I couldn’t help thinking how much India has changed since gaining independence. Especially regarding the priorities of the people. While in 1947, we would have been content with food to eat, clothes to wear and a roof over our heads, today, our needs are different — a luxurious lifestyle, a good reputation, and perhaps the most insatiable of our desires, adventure. It is this last aspect that extreme sports fulfill and this country has woken up to the fact that few things in life equal the thrill of jumping 80 feet from a cliff with nothing but water to break your fall. The adrenaline rush you feel while crocodile bungee jumping (yes, it actually involves crocodiles) or volcano boarding is unparalleled in the sedentary lifestyle most people lead today. This article brings you up to date with 4 places that you must visit in India if you seek adventure sports.
1. Rishikesh — The first time somebody told me that the ‘yoga capital of the world’ is becoming even more famous for its adventure sports, it took me some time to scrape my dropped jaw from the floor. However, thanks to its geographical advantage owing to its location in the foothills of Himalaya and the river Ganga which flows through the city, this might actually be happening. It is already a popular site for white water rafting and hiking for obvious reasons. With the establishment of the first bungee jumping camp in India recently, it has cemented its reputation for adventure sports. Other options available are rappelling, rock climbing, trekking, kayaking and pretty much everything you can think of.
2. Andaman islands — This one is not a surprise because islands and adventure come in a package deal. Presence of both land and water means there is a greater diversity of activities — from para-sailing and water skiing to trekking and camping. What makes this entire experience a memorable one is the scenic beauty and natural heritage of this place that has not yet been contaminated by human activities. The robust marine life and pristine greenery coexisting with modern facilities for extreme sports make a visit to Andaman as enlightening as it is adventurous.
3. Manali — Apart from being a picturesque hill station, it is also an up-to-the-minute place that offers excellent opportunities for mountaineering, trekking and skiing. However, I would recommend this place specifically for paragliding which is available in areas like Solang nullah and Marhi. Most apprehensions regarding safety have been put to rest ever since the government decided to regularize this sport earlier in July this year. Flying is inarguably one of the most common fantasies of humans and has captured our fascination since time immemorial. What makes the paragliding experience all the more better is the birds-eye view of this place that has come to be known as the ‘Queen of valleys’.
4. Candolim Beach — Not many people would agree with me for suggesting this beach when there are many other beaches in Goa that are more popular. But that is precisely why I am suggesting this one — the fact that most people prefer other beaches would guarantee some degree of welcome solitude. That is not to say that it is not a lively place because there are quite a number of adventure sports that are prevalent here like parasailing, jet skiing, wind surfing and scuba diving. Or if you want something less taxing, you could try deep sea fishing or even dolphin spotting. The facilities are bound to be world class because of the reputation that Goa enjoys in tourism, not only in India but also abroad.
I would like to end this article with a word of caution. Before you visit any of these places for adventure sports, remember that your neck is more important than thrill. While adventure is a vital aspect of human life, it is definitely not worth dying for. Never compromise your safety for the sake of your budget. More importantly, adventure is a relative term. In fact, I was very tempted to add ‘your home’ as the fifth place in the list. You really don’t have to go to a faraway place to find adventure because it can be found in the smallest of the things we do. Realizing this is the key to living a life of satisfaction.