||It’s dangerous, difficult and delirious. But you know
your limits only when you
And a lot more
Some of you might wonder: Why should I make myself go through this? But you know what it’s all about only once you’ve been there, done that. If adventure sounds good enough, high-altitude adventure is a different ball-game altogether. It demands the utmost out of you, and you might discover not only
new lands, but also yourself in the process. The humility that comes when you get to the peak of those gigantic mountains, the adrenalin rush that comes with being in a spot where one wrong leap can end tragically and the feeling of overpowering your own demons after some heady victories are all unparalleled. We give you some spectacular getaways for that rush to the head.
||Cycling through the countryside is a pleasure, but when it’s on a high altitude, the level of difficulty rises tremendously. Testing your mental and physical endurance to the hilt, the tryst with the wheel has taken man to great heights. Though the sport is quite new to India, our country offers some challenging trails. The Leh-Manali Highway is the second highest motorable road in the world. It winds its way through some of the most hostile terrains. The entire 485 km stretch offers a challenge to mountain bikers who have the opportunity to cut across the
|majestic Himalayan ranges through four mountain passes. This highway reaches a height of 5,328 m (17,480 ft) at Taglang La pass; the other three on the way are the Lachlung La, the Baralacha La and the Rohtang pass. This trail’s a dangerous one, not meant for beginners, but with the challenges it offers also come stunning landscapes. The Kalka Shimla route, which is famous for its toy train journey, is also a paradise for biking lovers. Biking in the foothills of the Himalayan ranges in and around the towns of Haridwar, Rishikesh, Dehradun and Mussoorie is for the lesser experienced bikers, albeit they come with their own set of thrills. You can also go for mountain biking in Kullu and Manali in Himachal Pradesh. The foothills of the eastern Himalayas in Sikkim, Darjeeling and Kalimpong also offer a number of short- and longdistance mountain biking trails.
Travelling in the Himalayas offers endless adventure, an opportunity to see some of the highest settlements in the world, interact with cultures that are hostile to modernisation and umpteen recreational opportunities. The Western Himalayas covering the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttaranchal form a major trekking area in India. It is followed by the Eastern Himalayas covering Darjeeling in West Bengal, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh. A trekking holiday in India over the Kauri Pass (3840m) offers some of the most amazing views of the Greater Himalayan Range. When you reach the pass you are rewarded by an impressive panoramic view. Some of the best mountaineering spots can be found in the Garhwal and Kumaon regions, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh and the North-East. Num and Kun, and the Zanskar range in J&K are renowned summits. Technical climbing skills are put to test at Kishtawar at peaks that are as high as 6,500 m above ground level. Lahaul and Spiti in Leh, and the Kullu valley also have several challenging peaks. Lying in India's eastern Himalayas, Sikkim is the abode of five peaks of Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. Even crossing the paths, meandering through green forests, waterfalls, untamed
streams rambling through meadows, pilgrim routes and finally reaching the sacred monasteries perched high in splendid isolation is a memorable experience in itself.
All of us have, at some point in our lives, looked up and wished to soar freely like the birds. The closest substitutes, these aero-sports allow you to enjoy the diverse beauties of our country through a bird’s-eye view and enjoy the ethereal serenity of the sport. A paraglider is much lighter than a handglider, easier to open up, takes little time, and the additional advantage is that you do not need to jump from a
helicopter or airplane to enjoy the glide in the sky. A handglider is heavy, complicated and bulky but unparalleled in its thrill, while a parasail is a parachute attached to some moving transportation medium like a four-wheel drive or a motorboat. The slopes of the Solang valley near Manali offer some of the most popular sites for paragliding. Other areas coming up for this sport are the Nilgiri hills in the south, the Eastern Himalayas in the Darjeeling/Gangtok area, Auli in Uttar Pradesh, and Sansar in J&K. Garhwal is a paraglider’s and parasailor’s paradise. In the north, one has the huge ramparts of the great Himalayas and in the south are the plains of the Terais. In Himachal Pradesh, Billing in the Kangra Valley is a fantastic location for hang-gliding and paragliding. The Dhauladhar range at 20,000 feet and the Kangra valley below create an ideal location for high- altitude and cross-country gliding. This location is special because when you take off from the top, the fall is about one kilometre.
Imagine the thrill of rushing down rapid streams, the waters soaking you to the skin, being thrown against boulders and deep gorges, and having to weave yourself across mighty rapids while you try clinging on to a fragile, inflatable rubber raft or dinghy for your dear life! The Himalayas, stretching 3,200 kilometres along India’s northern frontiers and veined with a plethora of wild water bodies call out to enthusiasts from all over. You can emulate Brad Pitt, who reportedly tastes the near-fatal challenges
on the Indian waters at Rishikesh. In J&K, the Indus river waters, flowing across high altitude deserts, between Spituk and Saspol have professionally guided rafting trails. For the experts, the thrill lies beyond Saspol when the waters get more than stormy. The Zanskar river has the most gripping whitewater rafting course. In Garhwal, the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers, the main tributaries of the Ganga, meet at Devprayag, where their foaming waters provide excellent opportunities. The 70-km stretch to Rishikesh is a fantastic venue for the sport. In Kumaon, the river Sharda (or Kali Ganga) flows down from Nepal to meet the Gori River at Jauljivi, making it suited for more experienced river
rafters. However, in the lower reaches, the waters are calmer and even novices can enjoy this stretch.
A winter sport brought in by the Europeans, this one is still looked upon as a privileged sport, to be enjoyed in Hollywoood flicks. Little do we know that we have some spectacular ski slopes ourselves. The hills of Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh in north India have snow covered mountain peaks and
valleys. These places become ski-able in the winter months. Auli, 16 km from Joshimath in Uttaranchal, is a popular winter resort run by the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam offering good skiing
conditions. There are many slopes, which provide excellent opportunities for cross-country, slalom and snow-hill skiing events. State-of-the-art facilities add to it. Gulmarg, in J&K, is transformed into a glittering winter wonderland, making it the country's premier arena for action-packed skiing. Gulmarg
has slopes varying between 8,700 and 10,500 feet with some of the highest ski runs in India. The Shimla, Narkanda, Kullu-Manali, Chamba, Kuper and Pabber areas in Himachal Pradesh have several ski slopes, though Kufri is the most popular. If this doesn’t satiate your appetite, do check out heli-skiing, which involes a helicopter leaving you at the top of a snow-capped peak from which you descend. Indian Himalayan region is just the best way to start off this thrilling sport. Some of the best choices include Hanuman Tibba, Deo Tibba, Rohtang Pass and Chandrakhani Pass near Manali.
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