Out of the bosom of the Himalayan range, the practice of yoga was born. Today, the who’s who of the yoga world from all across the globe participate in the Annual International Yoga Festival set in the rolling mountains. Here you’ll find the line between the mystic and the spiritual blurred. Through countless forms of yoga, transcend the worldly at the Parmarth Niketan Ashram.
If it wasn’t for the life jacket, you’d believe you were on a ship drowning at sea! The beauty and rage with which the Ganges flows is enrapturing, but pay heed to your instructor. When he says, “left paddle”, you best paddle with vigour. The heart thumping excitement only grows when you jump into the Ganges midway for a dip in frigid waters and then finish off the excursion with scrumptious, hot snacks.
Beginners have found paradise here with gentle gradient hikes ending in momentous views. One of the more popular treks, the Deorital-Chandrashila Trek, apexes in Tunganath (the highest Shiva temple) – the perfect blend of adventure and spirituality. Another trek that will have you wishing you could live amidst the mountains is the Valley of Flowers Trek – believed to be protected by fairies, this untouched piece of Heaven on Earth is a sight to behold.
As visitors, we rarely get a chance to immerse ourselves into the unfettered lives of villagers. The serenity of field work, chatting by streams and participating in weddings rife with culture, all seem just out of our reach in our daily, urban lives. At Kumaon however, you can explore villages of Ruskin Bond-esque quality; weaving through forests that fringe the communities or taking a dip in a stream that runs through it.
No man’s struggle to find balance is as obvious as that of Jim Corbett’s. The hunter-turned-conservationist never gave up hunting, though he eventually only hunted man-eating wild cats. At Gurney House, you can see his collection of hunting memorabilia alongside prudent efforts to maintain balance in the ecosystem of the valley. You would also be remiss to disregard the expansive gardens filled with indigenous herbs, planted in intriguing manner. Don’t forget to ask your naturalist the significance of the Bichu Bhooti and Hara Patta plants!
Click for a quick taste of the region!
Sipping tea on your balcony overlooking the Naini lake is one of the best ways to spend a morning. The rich aroma of Darjeeling tea sets up your day; perfect for boating and even visiting the Nainital version of Chandni Chowk under the moonlight.
Some trippy sceneries await inside Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary. Tall, spindly trees rise from a carpet of green, towering over you on your forest walk. You can then spend the night at a village homestay, a simple experience under the stars.
This Park signifies leaps and bounds in the efforts of conservationists. Besides being the first national park in the Asian continent, it is also the first Park where Project Tiger was implemented. Ride amidst Bengal Tigers and safari on elephant back through the jungle.
This quiet hill station is the Mother of all getaways. Is there any other way to relax than to be completely cut off and in the middle of the highest mountain range in the world??
While this city is filled with temples, it is surprisingly a great place for cycling trails, golfing and shopping. This ‘City of Joy’ as the locals call it, is a haven for religious fairs too where you can buy exotic wares from the far East of India or the Southern tip.
The start line for most pilgrimages to Badrinath, one of the Char Dham, abounds with temples devoted to the varied line-up of Gods in Hinduism. If you’re looking to catch a glimpse into the pious fervour of thousands of Indians, this is the place to be – more so if you happen visit during the Kumbh Mela.
Once a small hamlet by the Ganges, Rishikesh is now a major centre for Hindus, located at the foothills of the Himalayas. It is also on the wish list of many yoga practitioners, who consider it the point of origin for yoga.
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