For all the exotic experiences that this beautiful world has to offer, there is a lot to unravel in our very own India too. Exploring these offbeat places in India means you’re giving yourself the chance to explore a hidden gem you probably never knew existed.
The classics are of course incredible, but if you find yourself saying, ‘been there done that’ too often, it’s best to turn to new chapters of travel. After all, India has so many underrated, under-the-radar experiences which can claim bragging rights to be counted among the best in the country.
Here are 6 offbeat experiences in India that we’ve hand-picked for you. These are ones that don’t fall in the mainstream touristy things.
Frozen River Trek in Ladakh
The Frozen River Trek, also known as the Chadar Trek, is a pretty intense trek in the Ladakh region of India. You will need to have some prior experience in trekking before going on this venture. This is a multi-day trek where you’ll be covering a stretch of 90 kms, over the span of 8-9 days, with temperatures dropping to -10 degrees during the winters. This mountain trail has ice-clogged rivers under blue winter skies, passing through beautiful valleys, frozen waterfalls and mountain caves.
This is one of the most thrilling adventures in the Indian Himalayas. Nothing beats offbeat, like walking down a frozen Himalayan river in the dead of winter, between majestic snow capped mountains. January to February is the only time this trek is possible, since the upper layer of the Zanskar river freezes during this time, forming a sheet of ice. Hence, it is referred to by the locals as ‘chadar’, meaning blanket. In this case, an exquisite blanket of ice on the river.
Once you reach Ladakh, you’ll need a day to get used to the weather conditions and have a medical check up, even before you start your trek. There are various organized tour packages which will cost you around INR 18,000-20,000. This is inclusive of your travel, stay, food and equipment for those 9-10 days.
Paragliding in Bir Billing
Paragliding in India had not been possible for many years. But recently, there has been a tremendous surge in paragliding opportunities. This wonderful adventure sport gives people a chance to experience the thrill of flying and soaring through the skies like a bird. Many enthusiasts head to Bir to taste the freedom of flying.
Bir Billing is a quaint village in Himachal Pradesh, situated around 65 km from the popular tourist town, Dharamshala. Bir was chosen to be the venue for the World Paragliding Championship in 2016, which made this a popular tourist spot for paragliders all over the world. This amazing spot for paragliding was discovered by European paragliders in the early 1990s. The locals have picked up this adventure sport overtime, and now Bir has over a 100 pilots in the region.
Bir has the best Takeoff and Landing spots with smooth winds, while also being blessed with suitable air currents and best climate conditions for paragliding. You can visit Bir for paragliding all throughout the year. However, March-May or October-November can be the best time to visit, because the climate is perfect during these months.
It will cost you around INR 1500-2500 per person, depending on the time you’re in air, which is around 20-30 mins. There are many experienced paragliding companies in Bir to choose from. They will provide travel to and from the takeoff and landing points. Video and Photography charges will be extra, around INR 500-800. But this is as thrillingly offbeat as an experience can get.
An international community located 6 kms North of Pondicherry in India, Auroville is like a different tiny city of its own. This experimental community has been around since the year 1968. If you’re looking at contributing your time to work for an organization, then this is it. Staying at Auroville is an experience like no other. Quite frankly, it is very rewarding and humbling in many ways. There are many initiatives for which you can volunteer here.
One such initiative is the Sadhana Forest community, where individuals staying in Auroville are working towards reforestation of 70 acres of land. The Auroville community believes in a sustainable way of living. You could volunteer here for a week and you’ll surely be taking care of nature. So you need to be responsible when you’re here.
Your tasks would mainly involve afforestation and maintaining the property. There’s no restrictions on age and everyone is welcome to volunteer towards this mission to recreate the forest. Here, you’ll actually learn what it takes to have a sustainable lifestyle, how to treat waste and also discover more about veganism.
Just spending a few days here helps you learn about simple things like the importance of recycling and how eating vegan food helps the environment. You would also be meeting with people from around the globe who come to volunteer.
Auroville is a non-profit ecological project, so there is no generation of income. Which means the food and accommodation isn’t free, but everyone shares the cost of the meals equally. It would cost approx INR 600 per day for meals. There’s a small library, bicycles which you can use for free and a swimming pool. The accommodation here is simple and dormitory style.
Taking An Electric Bike Tour Of Divar Island In Goa
Divar Island is a beautiful and scenic village in the state of Goa. The place is secluded and not commercialised yet. If you’re looking for ways to become more responsible while you explore, we’d highly recommend to try this unique experience. An E-Bike is not just safe and easy to operate, it’s quite fun too. It’s also very easy to go off road on an e-bike. You’d probably experience Goa like you’ve never before.
Divar Island is gracefully decked in various shades of green. The village has winding roads, which run through gorgeous old churches and quaint Portuguese houses. On an E-bike, you don’t have to pedal much, because the cycle works on the battery. So you can easily explore more with ease and not harm the environment. You would actually feel the countryside air, and this helps you see Goa from a new perspective.
The price can vary depending on the season but such a tour would cost you approx INR 1800-2500.
Experience The Countryside Of Jodhpur
Sometimes, you just want to turn down all the sounds of traffic and be surrounded by the sounds of birds. If you wish to just enjoy some time cycling, bird-watching and relaxing at a cozy and comforting countryside in Jodhpur, we’d highly recommend Chhotaram Prajapat’s Homestay. You should definitely spend at least a couple of nights here. This homestay is located in the village of Salawas, which is 20 kms away from Jodhpur city center.
The pace of living in this village is slow, so you could also enjoy the calm peaceful environment. The atmosphere here created by the villagers is extremely homely, genuine and really wholesome. Your meals would be authentic home cooked meals. The huts where you’ll stay here are made of clay and dung in the traditional way. Really simple but charming.
You will definitely be leaving this place with a huge smile, as the warmth of the people stays with you. It would cost you approx INR 3,000 to stay here for a night on double occupancy. This is a great experience if you’re going to be exploring Jodhpur. The unpretentious lifestyle of the people here, coupled with all that Chhotaram Prajapat offers makes it a tremendous experience.
Explore India’s Largest Salt Desert
Yes, we said a desert full of salt! The Rann of Kutch is home to India’s largest salt plain, in the Kutch district of the westernmost state of Gujarat. The scale of this place is nothing short of breathtaking. The Kutch desert is divided into the Little Rann, which is 4,950 sq km, and the Great Rann, which is a 7,850 sq km desert. If you love photography, you can get super creative here, as you will have miles and miles of pristine white backdrop.
Please keep in mind, you will need a permit to visit this place. Luckily, you can easily apply for one online on the Rann Permit Website. November to February is the best time to visit Kutch because the land is dry. To reach here, you must consider the city of Bhuj as your start point. It is the nearest city to Kutch and you’d take 1.5 hours to reach Kutch from here.
If you organise a tour here with an agency, it would cost you INR 1500-2000 approximately. This price would be per person for a day trip here. We’d highly recommend avoiding a visit during summers, which can even begin in February here, because the temperature can soar up to 48°Celsius! But the sheer uniqueness of this site makes it a worthwhile addition to the list of offbeat experiences in India worth discovering.