BOULDERING IN HAMPI
For climbing enthusiasts, the giant granite boulders dotting the Tungabhadra valley beside the ruins of the Vijayanagara Empire have become quite a craze. It’s the kissing distance between centuries-old temples and pinch holds, crimps and belays that makes it so irresistable to travellers who also love to climb. There’s nothing a climber likes better than solving the ‘problem’ of the perfect line of ascent, and Hampi’s boulders, with their bizarre shapes, pose problems aplenty. The boulders cover some 300sqkm, making it one of the largest climbing arenas in the world. Check out Golden Boulders: Climbing Handbook Hampi by Gerald Krug and Christiane Hupe for a detailed list of climbing areas and lines.
The fourth iteration of the annual Ladakh Marathon kicks off in September this year. Possibly the highest run in the world (you just can’t avoid such labels with Ladakh!), the marathon is divided into four races, the shortest of which is merely 7km—though running 7km at almost 12,000ft is no joke! For the truly adventurous there’s the 42km full marathon, starting at the Shanti Stupa before heading down to the airport and then to the villages of Palam, Chushot and Choglamsar, crossing and re-crossing the Indus before heading back to Leh. Finally, there’s the epic 71km endurance run from Khardung to Leh across the 5,370m Khardung La. You can register at ladakhmarathon.com. Fees begin from Rs 1,000 (for Indians not native to Ladakh).
TREKKING TO KANGCHENJUNGA
Considering the fact that we share half of the world’s third-highest mountain with Nepal, it’s a wonder that more people don’t venture to the Kangchenjunga Base Camp and the beautiful Zemu glacier. The approximately 11-day trek begins and ends at Zema, in the Zemu Chu valley. The trail passes through some wild landscapes of gorges, forests and meadows. In springtime, there are rhododendrons in bloom, and, in autumn, an amazing array of moss and lichens. The Zemu glacier has amazing views of the northeast face of Kangchenjunga, as well as giant peaks like Siniolchu, Simvu, The Twins and many more. A trekking agency like www.toursinsikkim.com, can organise the myriad permits that are required here.
MEHRANGARH FORT ZIP LINING
Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh is one of the most imposing fortresses in the country, and for years now, one of the best ways to enjoy its spectacular ramparts, moats and the lake-filled ravines that surround it has been by ziplining. In an experience that brings you as close to being Batman as possible, fly along any of Flying Fox’s (www.flyingfox.asia) six different ziplines for great views and a full-on adrenaline kick. From the baby 70m Chhota Wallah line across a ravine to the big-daddy The Magnificent Marwar (300m) line across two lakes to the tip of a tower, each of the lines is an adventure.
CYCLING IN THE NILGIRIS
In December every year, for the past eight years, the Tour of Nilgiris (www.tourofnilgiris.com) takes biking enthusiasts on a 900-km odyssey through Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The route passes through the Bandipur, Wayanad and Mudumalai sanctuaries, traversing challenging terrain and offering riders the spectacular scenery and biodiversity of the range. Travelling an average of 100 to 160km every day, this can be a punishing schedule, but the tour is organised so that the riders get enough time to appreciate their amazing environment and go home not just with calves of steel, but also with greener lungs!
CLIMBING KANG YATSE
The beautiful peak of Kang Yatse is familiar to anyone who has trekked in the Markha valley. This graceful 6,400m peak can be easily climbed nowadays. The route follows the Markha up past the camp site of Hankar to the base camp. The push for the peak happens in one day, starting at about 2 am to reach the fore summit (6,100m) before the sun becomes too strong. The remaining traverse to the main summit is technical, as it goes over a heavily exposed, knife-thin edge, so most climbers turn back from this point. On a clear day, you get fantastic views of Zanskar, the Indus valley, and Karakoram peaks like K2. Peak Adventure (www.peakadventuretour.com) organises a 12-day expedition.
SURFING IN VIZAG
Vizag is a great place for beginners to bone up on their surfing skills. The area around Rushikonda beach and Ramakrishna beach is fast becoming a popular destination. Five years ago, the sight of a surfer out in the Bay of Bengal used to stop traffic; nowadays there are quite a few dedicated surfing clubs with local members who surf daily, and even hold surfing workshops. The waves here are fairly tame, about 3-to-5 feet in height (sometimes going up to 8 feet during storms or in the monsoon), but that’s what makes Vizag a great place to learn. Get in touch with Lonely Surfers Surf School (+91-9642086790; www.facebook.com/LonelySurfersSurfSchool) the next time you’re in Vizag.
KAYAKING IN GOA
The Goa Kayaking Club,based in Chichalim in Vasco da Gama, has made a name for itself by running excellent kayaking tours through the incredibly scenic Zuari, Mandovi and Nerul rivers, as well as the Sal backwaters. Goa enjoys a high biodiversity, especially in the interior parts of the state, made up of thick jungles, mangroves and riverine beaches hosting a wide variety of avi-faunal life. Relaxed day-long kayaking trips are probably the best way to enjoy this different Goa, and the club endeavours to keep the trips as environment-neutral as possible. They also offer week-long kayaking safaris, and night kayaking. From Rs 4,200 per person; www.goakayaking.com.
RIVER RAFTING IN ARUNACHAL
With its countless rivers, Arunachal Pradesh is one of the best places in India for rafting. Three river systems are especially good. These are the Brahmaputra (or Siang), the Subansiri and the Lohit. Each one offers days of easy sailing as well as rapids that are Grade III and higher. Typically, rafting trips here take 10 to 12 days, due to the difficulty of the terrain. Kayaking is another great way to explore the rivers, especially at stretches like the Marmong Gorge on the Siang. The remote Subansiri valley has no road connectivity, which adds to the sense of being alone in the wild. Operators like Thrillophilia (www.thrillophilia.com) offer a variety of rafting options.