Sometimes referred to as the land of rivers the waterways of India play an essential role in day to day life with strong religious, cultural and economic significance. Tourists can enjoy the Indian lakes and rivers in a number of ways, from exploring spiritual lakes to riding white knuckle river rapids.
Haridwar: One of the holiest places in India is Haridwar (the gateway to God). Millions of people come here to wash away their sins with a dip in the Ganga. Haridwar is particularly crowded during the Kumbh and Maha Kumbh Melas. These two festivals attract a sea of humanity and is popular with both devotees and photographers.
Rishikesh: Rishikesh attracts a very diverse crowd. It is packed with pilgrims as well as adventure seekers. This is one of the most popular places in North India for white water rafting. Rafting and kayaking here are seasonal sports because during monsoons the Ganges becomes extremely dangerous. Rafting camps are organized in Shivpuri, which is very close to Rishikesh.
Chhota Chaar Dhaam: Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath together form the Chhota Chaar Dhaam (the smaller holy four centers). The religious centers offer visitors divine beauty and an adventurous experience. One has to brave highly testing terrains to reach these locations. The glaciers that are the actual source of the Ganga and Yamuna are slowly melting, which has added to the urgency in people to see them as soon as possible. Of all the locations, Kedarnath is the hardest to reach and is off limits to people for several months of the year.
Nainital: Nainital is possibly North India’s most popular hillstation particularly amongst families. Nainital is the land of nine lakes and the most popular activity here is boating on the Naini Lake. One can hire row boats, pedal boats or sail boats to explore the massive lake.
Bhimtal: The Bhimtal Lake is the largest lake in the district of Nainital and people come here in large numbers from Nainital for boating. On the lake’s island there is a beautiful aquarium, which replaced a famous but overcrowded restaurant. The aquarium houses many species of fish from all corners of the world.
Naukuchia Tal: just 4 kilometers from Bhimtal is Naukuchiatal. The serene lake rests at an altitude of over 1,200 meters. Activities like boating and walks around the lake are popular amongst young couples as well as families. Naukuchiatal attracts large numbers of migratory birds from all over the world and is a haven for birdwatchers.
Sikkim: One of the 7 states that make up India’s North East is Sikkim. And in North Sikkim one can find the revered Gurudongmar Lake. To reach this enigmatic lake one has to undertake a two-day expedition as this is one of the highest lakes in the world. Another spiritually significant lake in Sikkim is Lake Khecheopalri. It is a two-hour drive from Gangtok and is respected as a wish fulfilling lake.
Manali: White water rafting on the River Beas is a popular adventure sport in Manali. The 10 kilometer trip down the river starts at Mohal offering grade II and III rapids. Rafting season usually lasts from April till June and September to October but monsoons highly influence the possibility of undertaking a trip. A famous source of hot springs in Manali is Manikaran. It is located between River Beas and River Parvati at an altitude of over 1750 m. The spring is believed to have curative powers and is important for its piligrim centres.
Jammu and Kashmir : Located in the state’s capital of Srinagar is the beautiful Dal Lake. This is the sight of quintessentially Kashmiri scenes which have captured the world’s imagination for decades. The view of floating shikaras, houseboats and the floating gardens is simply mesmerising. These shikaras and houseboats are easily available for rent. Unfortunately, the river has suffered extensively due to years of eutrophication but the government has now undertaken multimillion dollar drives to restore the lake to its original glory. In Srinagar one can also find the beautiful Chashme Shahi (Royal Spring). This is the smallest Mughal garden in Srinagar but is home to many springs, cascades and fountains.
Leh and Ladakh: Ladakh is one of India’s most enigmatic regions and it’s a splendid retreat for adventure seekers who love truly daunting challenges. In Ladakh one can choose from many rafting options that are carried out on the River Indus and its tributaries. While the easiest trip would be in Karu, a popular stretch is the one between Spituk and Saspol. The rapids beyond Saspol can turn the nerves of the most hardened thrill seekers to jelly. Another such stretch is the route between Padum and Nimo. This journey requires advance preparation. The most intimidating route is the one involving the mighty Zanskar. Even with professional guides and participants, rescue crews are a pre-requisite on this journey.
Staying in a homestay provides an excellent base to explore India from as your hosts will be able to help you plan activities and can advise you on local sights. You can build your own custom itinerary staying in our network of award winning homestays with the help of our reservations team.
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