If you want to experience amateur spelunking in the comfort of a mainstream holiday destination, Eco Cave Gardens in Nainital, Uttarakhand, is where you should head. Here, you will get to walk, bend, crawl and climb through several inter-connected caves named after different animals – Tiger, Panther, Porcupine, Bat, Squirrel, Flying Fox and Ape.

Priyam Bagga
A view of the valley
A view of the valley

As you pass through each cave, the degree of difficulty increases. The last one – the Ape Cave – will truly test your upper body strength. Although small in size (even if you’re slow, it will take you less than half an hour to traverse all the caves), these caves are still great fun to explore! You won’t find any river systems or vegetation inside, but they are extremely well-lit, well-marked and cool, literally and figuratively!

Priyam Bagga
Watch your head inside the cave
Watch your head inside the cave

The Eco Cave Gardens are a great starting point if you’re interested in caving as an adventure activity. Beware of bawling babies and selfie-takers who might slow down your progress though! Claustrophobes should be careful; certain sections of the cave system are extremely narrow. Also remember to watch your head; I’m pretty sure I lowered my IQ by a few points while passing through some sections of the cave system! Once you’re done exploring the caves, the park has a nice viewpoint where you can celebrate your Indiana Jones-ish adventure with a few pictures. There’s also ziplining and a mechanical bull for a dose of extra fun!