5 Unique Activities to Try While Travelling In India
Travellers can hardly be blamed for hitting the tourist trail — they exist for a reason — but sometimes all you want to do is try something a little bit different, and what better time to do that than when visiting a foreign country?
We’ve picked out five unique activities for you to try while travelling in India, to make your trip extra special.
1. Take a music lesson
Music has always been an important part of Indian life, so why not take a lesson or two? The style of music will vary depending on which part of India you visit, but all classical Indian music has three main parts, which merge to create a distinctive sound:
- Raga, a single pattern of notes, which is often played by a string instrument called the sitar.
- Drone, a constant fixed note. This can be played by an instrument called a tanpura, or on more modern equipment like an electronic box.
- Tala, the rhythm. This is normally played on small drums like tabla.
Traditionally, the teacher (guru) will pass on everything they know to the student (shishya), who learns through imitating and memorising each tune and shows the utmost respect for their teacher.
2. Watch a traditional dance performance (and maybe even try it out yourself)
Dance is an ancient art form in India and revered as one of the most sacred — legend has it that dance was invented by the Hindu gods.
Bollywood is the most famous style worldwide, admired for its dramatic, expressive movements and colourful costumes. Each gesture is symbolic of a theme, helping the dancer to tell a story, and its technique is rooted in traditional folk styles and Bharatnatyam, a form of Indian classical dance.
Find a local performance to see this vibrant dance style in person, or why not try learning it yourself? Some dance schools offer classes for beginners, where tourists are welcome.
3. Stroll through a one-tree forest
The widest tree in the world, the Great Banyan Tree is over 250 years old, covers 3.5 acres of land, and is still growing. It looks like a forest from far away, but the ‘trees’ are in fact aerial roots — 3600 of them. There’s nothing quite like seeing this natural miracle in the flesh so you can appreciate the awe-inspiring scale of it.
4. Experience a homestay
Book your accommodation at a resident’s house and learn all about Indian culture from people who live it every day. You’ll be able to try traditional food like curries, bread and dals, and may even be able to have a go at helping with the cooking yourself.
Chances are you’ll pick up a few words of the local language (22 major languages are spoken in India) and see your hosts’ favourite local spots, away from the tourist trail.
5. Explore the ruins of Hampi
Hampi was the world’s largest city before it fell in 1565, with a population of approximately 250,000. Awarded the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986, it’s made up of ruins, boulders, and tall buildings that are a blend of Eastern and Islamic styles, known as Indo-Saracenic architecture.
Highlights include the Vittala Temple, which began being built in the 1500s and remains unfinished to this day (although the stone chariot in its courtyard used to have working wheels), and the eerily deserted Sule Bazaar. You can also pay a visit to the stables, which once housed 11 elephants and now plays host to a sound and light show every evening.