Quirky Indian Travel Experiences for the Next Gen Travelers #Bucketlist

Often when you are planning your holiday in India, the first thing that you want to check off your travel bucket list is visiting one of the Seven Wonders of the World: Taj Mahal. But what next? Everybody wants to make the most out of their trips and would like to experience a place from a local’s point of view.

That’s why I have compiled this list of some quirky Indian travel experiences that I highly recommend to be on your India travel bucket list! On that note, I had a few travel blogger friends of mine, share their amazing travel experiences in India which I have included below for your reference!

1. Stay in India’s first Igloo hotel

Igloo Stay of Keylinga Himalayan Adventures is one of its kind
A one of its kind Igloo stay | Image by Keylinga.com

Yes, India finally has its first operational Igloo hotel in the hills of Hamta/Sethan valley making your dream come true of staying amidst snow-capped mountains, all because of two winter-sport specialists, Vikas Kumar and Tashi Dorje.

The Igloo stay of Keylinga Himalayan Adventures is one of its kind. Not only that, to make the stay more exciting, it has been clubbed with winter activities like skiing, tube sliding, snow sledging and even building our own Igloo!

The Igloos are built in the mountains, located approximately 10,000 feet MSL, in Hampta/Sethan Valley which is approximately 18 km away from the main town of Manali and it is accessible only by 4WD vehicles or by trekking which normally takes 3-4 hours from the Base Camp (Hotel Keylinga Inn at Prini – 4 km from Mall Road, Manali) during heavy winters.

The Igloos will melt away too with the approaching summer months, so from January to March, are the only chance to undergo this unique and wonderful experience, which should surely be on your bucket list if you are planning to visit India in those months.

2. Camel Safari in Thar Dessert By Rhianne of Wanderfully Living

Amazing view from a Camel's back
Amazing view from a Camel’s back

Jaisalmer is an interesting, dusty desert town on the far west side of Rajasthan not too far from the India-Pakistan border. On your way to the town, you cannot miss to stop and go on a desert Camel Safari. You can book a Camel safari in any of local booking offices and in almost all the hotels in the area.

Once you reach the desert camp site, the next step will be to mount a huge camel which will be your mode of transport in and around the desert. Don’t worry if you’ve never ridden a camel before, there’s nothing to fear. There will be a dessert camp guide to escort your through your journey. You will slowly travel over the rolling sand dunes and into the vast nothingness of the Thar desert. The Safari ends with a relaxing camping experience in the dessert under starry sky. It’s an experience of a life time and can turn your India tour quite memorable.

3. Go Glamping like Royalty in Rajasthan

This can be highlight of any trip
This can be highlight of any trip | Images by DessertGlamping.com

An amalgamation of splendor and regal heritage, Rajasthan is nothing less than a medley of beautiful palaces, vivacious fairs and festivals, delicious food, striking monuments and camel safaris in the Thar. With camping being an integral part of the nomadic desert life, your trip would be incomplete without a night spent in a tent by the desert in Rajasthan.

If spending the night in a rustic tent is not your thing then no worries. There are plenty of options that will let you go glamping like a royalty! Be it in the desert or under Aravalli range’s green shelter, there are plenty of luxury tents in Rajasthan to pick from.

Staying in one such tents by the dessert, will let you explore the rugged desert life and see the vivid beauty of the sand dunes at night, as well as experience the solitude of desert living. Or if you choose to stay surrounded by lush greenery, you can soak in the beauty of the rough landscape as well as experience the thrill of staying in adventurous tented camps.

4. Hot Air Balloon Ride in Jaipur

Looking down at the Pink City of India from a Hot Air Balloon
Looking down at the Pink City of India from a Hot Air Balloon | Image by Jovial Club

The Pink City of India, Jaipur is home to some of the most magnificent palaces and forts from the bygone era, besides several man-made lakes and temples that never seize to amaze the tourists. The latest additions to the city of Jaipur are various adventure activities to entertain the myriads of tourists visiting each year from all across the globe.

One such activity is hot air balloon ride overlooking the vast expanse of the land covering palaces, forts and lakes with the Aravalli hills in the backdrops. There is nothing quite like it. The absolute peace of immense panoramas, subdued colors and crisp fresh air and the pervasive touch of something wild as the balloons float you silently above it all “like a dream come true”. Sounds fascinating, isn’t it? If you are any adventure seeker, then adding the hot air balloon ride in Jaipur to your India travel check list is a must!

5. Skiing in Winter Wonderland of India

Close to heaven, down to Earth
Close to heaven, down to Earth | Image by AuliSkiing.in

If you don’t already know, I am talking about Auli, a quaint little town at a height of 2500 – 3050 mts above sea level in Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. Its snow-white mountains engulfed in oak fringed slopes and coniferous forests, offers extensive opportunities to both skilled as well as beginner skiers. Auli has quickly emerged as one of the best destinations for skiing in India.

Winters of Auli is the best time to visit for the adventure lovers. Starting from the late November till the end of March, the winters cover the mountains of Auli with blankets of snow. Particularly the month of January is highly fit for skiing as it receives maximum amount of snowfall. During this time, many ski festivals are organized annually to bring this sport to limelight.

Not only that, Auli has two rope-way rides – the longest of two is Joshimath-Auli-Gondola and a much shorter ride from GMNV to Auli (880 m). If you are sports lover than I will urge you to add skiing in Auli to your India bucket list.

So what are you waiting for? Visit Auli as Warren Miller once said, “A pair of skis are the ultimate transportation of freedom.”

6. Fancy a luxurious train ride in India? By Olga of Dreamsinheels.

Journey aboard one of the most luxurious train in India, the Deccan Odyssey
Journey aboard one of the most luxurious train in India, the Deccan Odyssey. | Image by Aghil Menon

One of the most magical adventures I had during my travels, was during my first visit to India. It was an experience of traveling in style, being aboard one of India’s top luxury trains, the Deccan Odyssey.

The Deccan Odyssey should definitely be added to your bucket list of amazing things to do in India. India is so magical but exploring it for 8 days aboard a royal train, with great food, a personal butler, stops along the way with a mix of well known and off the beaten path destinations was just a “wow” experience that’s unmatched to date.

It all started in Mumbai, and from there the train stopped along the way at many UNESCO world heritage sites, caves, palace to meet and greet a queen, to beaches, plantations, so many places to see spectacular architecture, to learn tons about their history, traditions, culture and even fashion. Furthermore, there was lots of food to try and we even explored the wine capital of India – Nashik.

Got your attention, right? Then read the full itinerary and journey aboard one of the top luxury trains in Asia, and the most luxurious train in India, the Deccan Odyssey.

7. Yoga & Meditation Retreats in Auroville By Erika of Erika’s Travelventures

Matrimandir: An edifice of spiritual significance for practitioners of Integral yoga
Matrimandir: An edifice of spiritual significance for practitioners of Integral yoga

There’s a unique town outside of Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu that is home to an experience that can’t be missed on your Indian bucket list: Auroville. Auroville is an experimental township that is focused on encouraging human unity over religion, money, and ethnicity. It’s home to people from all around the world and is a place to discover new theories and research behind meditation, yoga, sustainable energy, organic farming, and natural building.

The center of Auroville is Matrimandir, ‘soul of the city’. It is an incredible experience also called “The Loudest Silence You Ever Heard” by Indian Nat Geo Traveller. After making a reservation at Auroville’s visitor center, you can go to meditate in the Matrimandir’s center chamber.

Whether you’re looking for peace of mind, a unique place to meditate, or you just want to learn about alternative living, Auroville and its Matrimandir is an amazing place to visit in India. Connect with Erik on her Instagram page for more such stories.

8. Can you finish this Kumbhakaran Thali single-handedly?

Amalgamation of sweet and savories: The Kumbhakaran Thalli
Amalgamation of sweet and savories: The Kumbhakaran Thalli | Image by Zomato

Any takers for the challenge? Aaoji Khaoji, a pure vegetarian restaurant of Pune is making this jumbo thalli for people with huge appetites for quite some time now. The Kumbhakaran thalli is an amalgamation of sweet and savories that will make your taste buds explode and leave you craving for some more. This thalli is name after one of the younger brothers of King Ravaana of the Hindu legends of Ramayana. He was given a boon to sleep for six months and to eat indiscriminately the next six months.

This jumbo thalli will cost you Rs 2000 and includes two types of dal, eight types of special main course dishes, three types of delicious desserts, two types of rice, five lachha paratha, four papads, raita and a bowlful of butter along with pickle & salad. To finish this off, a huge dry fruit lassi glass comes along with the jumbo thalli.

If you are up for the challenge, then don’t forget to try Kumbhakaran thalli and feel a royal welcome in India.

9. Indulge in Sky Dinning in Bangalore

A thrilling meal up in air!
A thrilling meal up in air! | Image by Dineout

We all love to explore new places for dinner and what better way to create a dreamy ambiance for your meal other than having your meal suspended in mid-air by a crane at one of the India’s first Sky or should I say Fly Dinning restaurants brought to us by JumpKing.

Enjoying the view of Nagawara Lake and the Karle township in tranquility and gorging on some delicious food from a table of 22, hung up by a crane 160 ft above the ground, can be a dream come true (unless you are afraid of height).

This once in a life time experience, can cost you INR 6,999 per person for a set menu of drinks and food and INR 3,999 for only a mocktail and starters between 4 PM and 11 PM, in 45 minute slots. This could be a perfect change from your on-ground restaurant meals.

10. How many flavors of Rasgolla have you tasted?

Some of the flavors on display. Looks yummy already!
Some of the flavors on display. Looks yummy already! | Image by Youtube

Coming to India and not tasting a single piece of sweet. How can I let that happen? You might have already researched and know that India is like a ‘Sweet Heaven’. You can get all kinds of sweets – fried, dipped in sugar syrup, vegan. But let me introduce you to one of my favorites – Rasgolla. I like everything about it. It’s sweetness, fluffiness, juicy texture. Just thinking about it, brought back sweet memories of my childhood.

So, when I found out a Kolkata based entrepreneur has given a new spin to our age old favorite sweet dish and has created 250 different types of flavored Rasgolla, I had to try some, only after which I have included it in this bucket list. She specializes in Indian sweets that she sells under her brand ‘Swati’s Flavours Of Rasgolla’ at 12 London Street, Elgin Road.

She came up with insane and mind-boggling flavors that are absolute delicious to taste and made from fresh fruits. From fruity flavors like Strawberry, Black Currant, Raspberry, Green Apple, Orange, Blueberry to offbeat ones like Gundi Paan shot, Cappuccino, Jeera, Green chili, among others.

11. Enjoy a long night of Sufi songs By Ellis of Backpack Adventures

Qawwali session at shrine of Nizamuddin
Qawwali session at shrine of Nizamuddin

One of my favorite places in Delhi is the neighborhood of Nizamuddin. In the 12th century it was just a small village near the mausoleum of a Sufi Saint, but it was slowly engulfed by Delhi. However, Nizamuddin kept its own culture. In a way it is still a village of its own within Delhi. A maze of narrow lanes and ancient mosques where age old traditions persist.

One of these traditions are the qawwali performances at the Nizamuddin shrine. The Nizami brothers are the actual descendants of the Sufi saint and they have been singing at the shrine for more than 700 years. The Sufi songs are mesmerizing and hypnotic. Bringing people in a trance. The performances are also an essential Delhi experience.

On Qawalli nights it is insanely crowded and as you push through the crowds it can be quite overwhelming. However, once you are inside and found a spot to sit, the rhythm of the songs will soothe and relax you. Nizamuddin is a great neighborhood to explore and also one of the best places to eat in Delhi. After the qawalli’s you should treat yourself on a meal here. Be it Biryani or tender meat kebabs. It will be a night you won’t forget. Connect with Ellis on her Instagram page for more such stories.

12. Watch Famous Traditional Art Form: Kalaripayattu in Kerala

A performer jumps through a fire loop in Kadathanadan Kalari
A performer jumps through a fire loop in Kadathanadan Kalari | Image by Ian Ord

Kalaripayattu is one of the ancient traditional martial art forms, originated from God’s own country, Kerala. It is considered the most scientific type of martial art form in the world and can only be performed by well-trained artists who possess the unique skills required to withstand the training.

Combat training is usually undertaken only at a professional training school known as Kalari. Once all the basic moves are mastered, students are given lessons in using weapons like spears, maces, daggers, swords, bow and arrow, etc. Kalaripayattu training aims to help the performer eventually gain co-ordination of the mind and body. So, some of the traditional centers include training in native medical practices too.

Performers show a variation of styles with incredible strength and agility to captivate the audience. While it was originally practiced in many parts of South India as training for combat, it now serves as a popular form of entertainment in Kerala. There are several places in Kerala where you can experience the beauty and valor of Kalaripayattu in all its original glory.

13. Enjoy a relaxing ride in Shikara in Srinagar

Shikaras ready for their next customers on the banks of Dal lake.
Shikaras ready for their next customers on the banks of Dal lake. | Image by Yogesh Gupta

A dreamland for everyone who has been yearning for some relaxing moments amidst the breath-taking vista of nature, Kashmir undeniably comes out on top. And Srinagar is the perfect place to start your trip.

Dotted with numerous beautiful sights, the city looks astounding in a canopy of landscaped flowering gardens, crystal clear lakes, superb edifices and bustling market. Amidst this colorful world lies one of the mesmerizing attractions of the city, the small wooden carved boats known as Shikara.

Shikara rides in Kashmir are one of the most captivating facets of Jammu and Kashmir tourism. A relaxing ride while enjoying the calming surrounding views around Dal Lake and Nagin Lake is truly a valuable pleasure. Shikara boat rides are also used for sightseeing nearby attractions that are close to Dal Lake like Nishat Garden, Shalimar Garden and the Hazratbal Mosque.

These are some of the travel experiences that you shouldn’t miss to make your holiday in India memorable. Apart from these activities/experiences, you should definitely checkout India’s various UNESCO heritage sites. I will keep on adding to this ever growing bucket list, so stay tuned to my site. If you have done any of these activities in India, don’t feel shy to share them with me in comments below!

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