There are so many things to do when you visit India, but it’s easy to fall into the tourist trap and to miss some of the more unique, special offerings in this great country. Here are a few suggestions for more unusual activities to participate in when you travel to India.
#1 Pushkar Camel Fair
One unique way to enjoy the diversity of people and cultures in India is viewing the Pushkar Camel Fair aboard a hot-air balloon. This five-day festival celebrated on the full moon of November brings cattle and camel buyers and sellers together to conduct business and appreciate these majestic animals. The carnival atmosphere offers everything from snake charmers and acrobats to magicians and amusement rides. Among its estimated 200,000 celebrants each year, some come to bathe in the lake in a ceremonial rite to wash their sins away. Others come to dive into the lake to receive special blessings.
#2 Celebrate Holi
Another interesting gathering in India is during Holi which is celebrated to usher out the winter season and welcome spring. This 40-day festival honors the birth of Lord Krishna. For the purpose of celebrating the triumph of good over evil, participants enjoy dancing, strolling musicians, and partaking of special foods such as Bhang. This festival of unity and brotherhood takes place in mid-March.
#3 Visit the Havali Museum
For art aficionados, the outdoor galleries offer samples of 18th century frescoes adorning stately homes. In Nawalgarh, the Havali Museum, founded in the 1920s, is a must-see. Some of these homes are preserved via their use as tourist accommodations, so if you book early you may even get to spend a holiday there.
#4 Moraka Foundation
Another place to visit is the Moraka Foundation, established for the preservation and future of rural tribes in India. Here you will get to see how the rural people in India live, and how different their lifestyle is to the people who live in urban India. Many businesses contribute and offer their services to improve the living conditions of these people. For example many of the tribal people do not have access to health care, and an online doctor appointment was set up to give better health care access to tribals. Tourists can help by volunteering to organize the event.
#5 Gandhi Smitri
No visit to India would be complete without walking in the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi to see the site of his 1948 assassination, known as Gandhi Smitri. In addition to exhibits devoted to items owned and used by Gandhi, opportunities are available to attend lectures devoted to his life and teachings. Also open is Mani Bhavan, a palatial site frequently visited by Gandhi from around 1914 until serving as the site of his arrest in 1932.
#6 The Marari Beach
For those who wish to relax and escape buildings and crowds, a visit to Marari Beach is the ideal solution affording opportunities to stroll, wade in the river and visit a birdwatcher’s mecca, Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary. Many visitors enjoy watching the snake-boat races during which 100 participants man the oars required to ply the waters aboard 100-120-foot long craft.
The above 6 ways to see India are different from what normal tourists do, but it will give you a better understanding of the people and culture of India. I moved to India in 2006 and have been living in Kerala for the last 2 years, working as a consultant for Icliniq. Please feel free to add your suggestions in the comments below.
Guest post by Natasha who offers great ideas for things to do when you visit India.