Shivpuri White-water Rafting
Discover the thrill of riding the rapids of the icy Ganga on an inflated raft, as the mighty river flows down to the plains. Add to this camp life full of bonhomie on white sandy beaches, with sunbathing and bonfire nights – not to mention the delightful hiking trails on the forested slopes behind – and you have a destination that you’ll want to return to repeatedly.
Mountain Views from Mukteshwar
Perched at 7218ft in the sloping hills of Kumaon, Mukteshwar has fabulous views of the Himalayas that stretch across the horizon in a 180-degree arch. On a clear day, you can see as far as the snow-capped peaks of Nanda Devi, Trishul and Panchachuli in the deep blue sky. On the way here, you’ll pass some charming colonial cottages – complete with stone walls and pretty tiled red roofs.
Ganga Aarti, Haridwar
The ancient holy town of Haridwar has given solace to those who seek it for centuries. As dusk descends on the river, Haridwar witnesses one of the most magical of prayers: the Ganga aarti. Bells clang, lamps glow in the dark, the melodious chanting of a crowd of voices rises in the air, and offerings of flowers float out of sight in the glinting waters. A touch of the divine even for the most cynical.
Tiger Spotting at Ranthambore
An appointment with the Royal Bengal tiger is a bit of a gamble – some return again and again without success, others are graced by a glimpse of the beast on their very first visit. Only one thing is certain: when you do see that tiger, you’ll never forget it. The dry scrublands and fortress ruins of Ranthambore are as magnificent a setting as this great animal deserves. Go on, try your luck.
Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary
A slice of heaven in Kumaon, Binsar invites you to its pristine forests of pine, oak and cedar, which are a paradise for birdwatchers and hikers. Easy picturesque walks to local villages, or up hills that offer breathtaking views, are part of Binsar’s delights. Don’t forget to check out the Mary Budden Estate here, a plush homestay in a renovated 150-year-old cottage.
Toy Train from Kalka to Shimla
There’s something undeniably joyful and romantic about the ‘toy’ train that winds its way up from the plains of Kalka to the grande dame of hill stations, Shimla. You’ll meander along 100km of hilly tracks, through dozens of tunnels and past acres of pine-covered slopes, stopping once in a while at cute little stations, some of which are perfectly preserved from 150 years ago.
Taj at Sunrise
Whether at sunrise, sunset, or glowing under the moon, there can be no other like the Taj. While this monument is a glorious sight at any time of day (or night), sunrise is when it’s least crowded. Having the Taj Mahal more or less to yourself is a whole new kind of pleasure. As you watch the sun rise from behind the exquisite mausoleum, you marvel at the sky and white marble reflecting off each other, and the colours changing from misty grey to a deep golden glow. Shah Jahan’s monument to love is pure magic.
Birding in Bharatpur
Only four hours away by car, the woody parks and marshy ponds of Bharatpur will make Delhi seem as far away as, well, Siberia (from where cranes flew in, but sadly no more). Flocks of rosy pelicans and greylag geese, kingfishers and bee-eaters of all kinds, owls and nightjars hidden in the foliage, and dabchicks and ducks dabbling in the water – you simply can’t get enough of the birds. If you take your eyes off the binoculars, you may even spot a herd of deer, or a python in the sun.