Exhilarating yet enchanting, India is indeed a lively treat for every traveler. From scenic landscapes and splendid architectural marvels to exceptional art, diverse culture and delectable cuisine, it is a feast for all your senses.
Truly, any journey to this amazing country is not simply about seeing it, but also experiencing it. Here are a few such unique experiences that encompass the essence of India.
1. Watch a Puppet Show in Rajasthan
Such is the vivacity of the Rajasthani culture that it transforms even a lifeless desert into a colorful spectacle. Garbed in vivid ethnic gear, the traditional Rajasthani puppets, known as ‘kathputli’ are nothing short of stunning. Watch these wooden dolls sway gracefully to the melodious tunes of folk music and songs about captivating tales from the past or pressing social issues of the current times. Across large cities and quaint villages alike, you are likely to find puppeteers perched at street corners, entertaining crowds by skillfully pulling the strings.
2. Eat at a Highway Dhaba in Amritsar
When in Punjab, do as the Punjabis do! And what better way to begin than to eat at a famed Amritsari dhaba? Conveniently situated along the highway, these dhabas are the favorite haunts of many truck drivers who stop by for a hearty meal. Spend a memorable evening at the popular Kesar ka Dhaba, relishing delectable Punjabi dishes while enjoying the open-air ambiance, often accompanied by folk music.
3. Perform Ganga Aarti at Dasawamedh Ghat in Varanasi
At dusk in Varanasi, even as the sunlight fades away, the banks of the river Ganges remain lit with five enormous flaming brass lamps, moving in synchronized, circular patterns. This spectacular sight is, in fact, the sacred ritual of the Ganga Aarti, performed every evening at the Dasaswamedh Ghat. The holy chants hummed in unison by the enormous gathering evoke a spiritual atmosphere that is sure to leave you spellbound.
4. Get Your Fortune Told on the Road
The future, with all its uncertainties, is indeed intriguing. Although some may take life as it comes, many can’t wait to find out what their fate holds. Well, if you are in India, decoding the mysteries of future and fortune is as easy as walking down the street. Strolling along the lanes, you might just stumble upon a mystic fortune-teller, sitting sagely by the road. From palmists to unique parrot-astrologers, you can have your future predicted in an astonishing variety of ways.
5. Meditate at an Ashram in Rishikesh
Nestled in the midst of the majestic Himalayas while the river Ganga flows by, the scenic natural setting of Rishikesh exudes a distinct serenity. It is here among the quaint ashrams that you can unveil your spiritual self. Settle into a relaxed state of mind as you learn and practice the traditional yogic meditation passed on for centuries. This soulful journey towards self-discovery is an experience you will cherish for a lifetime.
6. Witness a Kathakali Performance in Kochi
Garbed in elaborate costumes, their faces painted in vivid colours, the graceful gestures and dance moves of Kathakali performers to the tune of classical music will leave you spell-bound. Capturing the essence of Kerala’s epic culture and traditions, this age-old dance form is a delight not to be missed. Such scintillating performances are often staged at Kochi’s renowned Kerala Kathakali Centre.
7. Enjoy a Traditional Rajasthani Thali at Chokhi Dhani
The homeland of the majestic Rajputs, everything about Rajasthan has a regal air to it. Naturally, Rajasthani cuisine, too, is a royal treat for your taste buds. From dal-batichurma and kachori to ghevar, this thali is a perfect blend of spicy and sweet on a single plate. Visit Chokhi Dhani for a sumptuous meal served with the warm and insistent hospitality of Rajasthani households.
8. Travel in a Hand-Pulled Rickshaw
In India, you can surely expect the journey to be just as much fun as the destination itself! How, you might ask? You only have to hop on to a rickshaw, and even a mundane street will offer you an amusing ride. This much-loved mode of transport is typically a small wagon pulled manually, offering an excellent way of navigating narrow by-lanes and crowded alleys. Found in almost every Indian town, a bumpy rickshaw-ride is truly a memorable experience.
9. Learn Kalaripayattu in Kerala
Kerala’s history shines with tales of mighty rulers and brave warriors. The ancient warriors may be no more, but their martial legacy not only survives but thrives today. Considered to be one of the oldest arts of combat, Kalaripayattu is a spectacle of strength and concentration. With dedicated training at the traditional Kalari schools, spread across the state, you, too, can perform these lithe yet lethal moves.
10. Visit the Potters’ Den in Dharavi, Mumbai
Mumbai’s Dharavi is infamous for being one of the largest slums in the world. But whilst navigating the labyrinth of narrow, winding lanes, you will discover small but efficient business pockets. At its heart is a fascinating world of clay pots and beautiful earthenware, the Kumbharwada. As the name suggests, it is home to a community of potters, who use their traditional craft to mold pots and lamps from indigenous red clay.
Each of these experiences is an adventure within itself. Whether you devour the food, admire the art, immerse in spirituality, or indulge in urban expeditions, you will uncover a new layer of India every time. Let your senses lead you on an exceptional journey through this marvelous country.