Holiday shopping can be a stressful time. Even with online shopping retailers, the abundance of options seems to make narrowing down on a gift a harrowing task. So instead of lugging your suitcase full of goodies to your chosen destination, why not gift life-changing experiences? Here’s a list of ideas we came uo with to gift this holiday season. Your friends and family will start off the new decade with a bang.
An art workshop in the hills
The mesmerising hills of Kalimpong are home to the School for Natural History Art, run by award-winning botanical illustrator Hemlata Pradhan. You can gift workshops and classes on botanical, and other forms of art, against picturesque views of the hills and valleys. It’s a colourful voyage about nature, and into nature. For more information, email [email protected].
A luxury river cruise through Bengal’s heritage
The Ganges Voyager is a floating boutique hotel, journeying up and down the Hooghly with multiple stops along its way. The heritage cruises run from September to March and give an insight into the battlefield of Palashi, Siraj-ud-Daulah’s tomb, the Hazarduari Palace, Nizamat Imambara, the Char Bangla Shiva temples of Azimganj, the quiet village of Baranagar, and many other points in history. For more information, visit gangesvoyager.net.in.
A stay at the world’s most unique National Park
Manipur is home to the world’s only floating national park, Keibul Lamjao. And this unique ecosystem of circular biomasses, or phumdis, has the world’s only population of the brow-antlered sangai deer. Gift the chance to stay in the midst of this unique biodiversity on Sendra island.
Read | Did you know about this floating National Park?
Camp and learn in Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary
For all the wildlife enthusiasts who run in your circles, gift them certificate courses in subjects such as ornithology, herpetology, biodiversity conservation, butterfly studies, botany and marine conservation. Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh and is also a birder’s paradise. For more information, visit bnhs.org.
Hit the differently-abled-friendly skies
An air safari adventure is always on the cards for every season, holidays or otherwise. Switch out the holiday sweater and gift your loved ones a paramotoring adventure they will remember for a lifetime. For more information, visit flyboy.in. They also has other experiences on offer like floral showers and love messages, perfect for everyone with a flair for some extra cheese.
Pledge for conservation
Herping enthusiasts and serious science students both can enjoy the workshops and programmes by Herpactive. You can gift reptile and amphibian treks, photo documentation surveys and dedicated herpetofauna study expeditions in Goa and around the country. They also have exciting programmes like pit viper expeditions and conservations road trips. For more information, visit herpactive.com.
Ride around in style
If you have a friend of family member with a fetish for retro cars, give them a whole day driving around in one. Or to turn up to the neighbourhood holiday party in style. You can hire vintage cars from some rental companies where the selection ranges from Bentleys, Fords, Buicks and good ol’ Chevys. For Mumbai, visit kingsofcarhire.in. For Delhi, NCR, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, visit victoriatravelsindia.com.
Dive into the new year
If you’re heading to the coast anytime soon, gift your travel buddies a scuba diving experience. We suggest Gandhinagar beach on Havelock island in the Andamans where they can take in the coral beauty of Nemo’s reef. There are multiple providers offering the service. Other islands in the Andaman and Nicobar islands also have once-in-a-lifetime diving experiences, as do Karnataka and Goa.
Read | Adventure sports to try at least once
Hot air ballooning through the skies
Can you imagine experiencing the sweeping sunset over the desert skies on a hot air balloon? You can make it a reality for someone this holiday season. Rajasthan is one of the best spots in India for hot air balloon rides, with Jaipur being the most popular. However, if you want a bang for your buck in terms of views, we suggest doing it over the Thar desert in Jaisalmer.
Read | Up, up and away in India
A heritage feast from the British Raj
Gift your loved ones a traditional Bengali or Anglo-Indian feast in Raj-era splendour in an 1882 building that once housed one of Asia's most magnificent department stores, Whiteway Laidlaw & Co.The magnificent Metropolitan Building with Corinthian pillars, and a clock tower houses the atmospheric apartment belonging to Bomti Iyengar. The neo-baroque structure sets the mood even before the menu appears. Set against the Kolkata skyline, feast your eyes as well as your tummy as you devour the mouth-watering, curated menu set for six to nine people at a time. For more information, email [email protected]