With lofty snow-clad peaks, glaciers, caves, gushing rivers, steep gorges, vast swathes of forest land, wide seas and sweeping desert plains… India boasts a plethora of adrenaline-inducing destinations. Here is our rundown of some of the best destinations for extreme sports in India.
Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir
One of the most beautiful and adventurous destinations in India is Ladakh, in northern India’s Jammu and Kashmir state. With stunning landscapes full of snow-clad mountains, high-altitude deserts, glaciers, blue lakes and pristine beauty, Ladakh is a trekker’s dream destination. You can trek for as little as two days or as long as 20 days (or more), with differing levels of difficulty.
Moderate treks include the Ripchar Valley trek (4300 meters), Markha Valley trek (3700 meters) and Lamayuru to Darcha trek (5000 meters).
If you want to push your limits and test your grit, try a challenging trek, of which there are aplenty. One worthy of the ‘extreme’ tag include trekking on the frozen Zanskar River in winter (the Chadar Trek). The temperatures plummet to minus 25-35 degree Celsius at night. The Stok Kangri (6153 meters), Snow Leopard (4100 meters), and Kang Yatse and Dso Jongo treks (5200 meters, 13 days) are also all considered ‘extreme’.
Tip: It is highly recommend that you join a guided trek for the challenging treks in Ladakh, and don’t undertake these unless you’re a fit, experienced trekker.
The highest motorable road in the world is in Ladkah, the Khardung La Pass. It’s a great destination for mountain biking. Extreme sports lovers can also join a jeep or camel safari on the sand dunes of the Nubra Valley.
The smallest state of India has long been a popular vacation destination in India. Besides being a party capital and a paradise for sun worshippers and beach bums, Goa is a perfect destination for adrenaline junkies. Try scuba diving, wind surfing, knee wakeboarding, parasailing, jet skiing, speed boat rides, paragliding, banana rides, fly boarding, power scooter rides, snorkelling and ski-bobbing.
There’s also some good trekking in Goa. The Dudhsagar, Todo Waterfalls and Udaan Dongor treks are favourites.
This northern Indian state is full of locations for extreme sports. With its mighty peaks and glacial lakes, it is one of the best destinations for trekking. From short day hikes to week long treks, there are plenty of trekking trails to choose from, for both beginner and experienced trekkers. Some popular ones include the Roop Kund trek, Har ki Dun, Valley of Flowers, Milam Glacier, Dodital Lake and Neel Kantha Base Camp.
If skiing is your thing, look no further than Auli in Uttarakhand. Here you can find the finest snow-white ski slopes in the Himalayas, at an elevation ranging between 2500-3050 meters. Skiing here provides jaw-dropping vistas of mighty peaks like Nanda Devi, Dunagiri and Kamet. The main ski season is November until February, when you can expect stunning scenery and trees laden with snow. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned skier, Auli has something for all powder hounds.
A trip to Uttarakhand would be incomplete without heading to the ‘Adventure Capital of India’, Rishikesh. Here you can experience the thrill of whitewater rafting, bungee jumping or riding a flying fox (if you have a head for heights).
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
These islands offer colourful coral reefs, sunken ships and jagged rock formations, so are the best spot for scuba diving in India. Visibility can reach up to 45 meters. November to mid-April is the best time to go. The best diving sites include Havelock Island, Cinque Island, Dixon’s Pinnacle and Fish Rock. Many guided tours are available, and welcome both novices and seasoned scuba divers. Sign up at one of the many scuba diving schools and get a beginner’s license before taking the plunge into the gorgeous waters. If diving isn’t for you, snorkelling is also a popular activity.
Want to fly freely like a bird in the wind? Then head straight to Mysor, renowned as a sky-diving spot in India. There are several sky-diving camps at the base of the Chamunda Hills in Mysore. You have the option of skydiving tandem, static jumps or free falling at high-speed (after a couple of days’ professional training). If you’re a novice, you’ll be harnessed to an experienced sky-diving professional.
This north-eastern state is home to some of the largest and deepest caves in the entire South Asia region. You’ll find them in the Khasi and Jantia Hills. Some popular places for spelunking include the Mawsmai Caves, Krem Liat Prah, Krem Mawmluh Cave and Bat Caves, to name a few. Get ready to crawl your way through a labyrinth of caves in the ‘Abode of Clouds’.
With the vast expanse of desert plains, Jaisalmer is undeniably a perfect destination for dune bashing, otherwise known as a desert safari. You can go for traditional desert safari on camels or take it up a notch by driving an SUV on the shifting surface of the sand dunes. For the best experience, head to Sam Village, approximately 25.4 miles (41 km) west of Jaisalmer, a scenic destination with miles of golden sands. There are numerous tent resorts near the dunes that offer packages that include dune bashing, camping and food.
Himachal Pradesh is a perfect holiday destination, whether you’re an adventure enthusiast or not, but why not crank it up a notch and indulge in extreme sports. With towering snow-clad mountains and an abundance of nature, this ‘Abode of Snow’ offers a plethora of places to satiate the adrenaline junkie in you.
Trekking is one of the best ways to experience the Himalayas of Himachal. Moderate treks include the Triund trek (1100m), Hampta Pass trek (4278m), Bhrigu Lake trek (4270m), Chandra Tal trek (4300m), and the Kheer Ganga trek (3000m). More challenging treks are Hanuman Tibba trek (5932m), the Pin Parvati Pass trek (5334m), the Sar Pass Trek (4220m), the Chobia Pass trek (5029m), the Kinnaur-Kailash trek (5242m) and the Pin Bhabha Pass trek (4908m). Many travel companies offer trekking tours to these places.
If you’d prefer to glide through the air, head to Manali or Bir. Both are perfect spots for paragliding. There is no better way to see the Himalayas than from up high.
For white-water thrills, head to Kullu. Grade II and IV rapids can be ridden for 7 to 14 km. Soak in the views of the cascading River Beas on one side and spectacular mountain peaks on the other.
For some serious rock climbing, head to Kufri, Miyar Valley, Parvati Valley or Sar Pass in Himachal. Both pro and amateur climbers can have a go.
If you’re a real dare devil and love snow, head to Spiti Valley and climb frozen waterfalls – a thrilling experience, indeed!
Cycling down winding mountain roads is another exciting sport that can be done in Himachal. The best spot for this is Kangra Valley, along a 260 kilometer path.
‘God’s Own Country’ is an adventure traveller’s haven. Beaches, backwaters, forests, hills and valleys create a perfect setting for enjoying adventure activities. You can try a flying fox, wildlife safaris, bamboo rafting, mountain climbing, canoeing, kayaking, tree climbing, paragliding, scuba diving, wind surfing and snorkelling on the beaches of Kerala.