As much as you loved your vacation, the holiday weight and sluggishness that comes along with it does not help in getting back to the daily grind. Offering the opposite are these riveting experiences. They bring back the spring in your step and restore your fountain of youth.
Rejuvenate at the foothills of the Himalayas, go trekking on a frozen river, take a bicycle race amidst the vast expanse of the desert, receive spiritual enlightenment at a mountain peak or let nature cure all your ailments. Here is a list of 25 places from where you come back younger and fitter.
For the adventure seekers:
1) Chadar Trek, walking on water
Image Credit: Christophe Roudet – Flickr
How often does one boast about walking on a frozen river in a dreamlike destination? Stamped as one of the most thrilling experiences for an adventure aficionado, the Chadar trek route connects villages in the Zanskar valley deep in the mountains with Chilling and the frozen Zanskar River.
Image Credit: Pradeep Kumbhashi – Flickr
Bringing back the vigour of younger days, the once-in-a-lifetime experience will make you come across breathtaking sights. It also gives you the much needed nudge to be physically fit before you even get there.
2) Tenzing-Hillary Everest Marathon, adventure fiesta
Making you go that extra mile is the Tenzing-Hillary Everest Marathon in Nepal. Touted as one of the most adventurous trail runs in the world, triumphing this coup is nothing less than life-changing. With this experience, commence your race at the Everest Base Camp, proceed through Everest National Park and then Namche Bazaar.
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Trek your way through Sherpa villages and enjoy great views of snow capped peaks. The highest point on this trip is Kalapatthar that stands tall at 5545m/18200ft. If that is not enough, there is an overnight camp at the base of the iconic Mt Everest, close to the Khumbu Icefall which brings the entire trek to its completion.
3) Sandakphu trek in Sikkim, nature’s beauty at its best
Image Credit: Ozen Sherpa
If you crave adventure and are willing to do what it takes, opt for the Sandakphu trek conducted by the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. Brace yourself for this will involve rigorous training that includes waking up at 4 every morning, running uphill and downhill whilst performing obstacle courses.
Image Credit: Nicolas Mirguet – Flickr
When on the 7-day trekking expedition, go through an offbeat experience where you get to sleep in public schools and villages. Mingle with the locals, stride through forests and serene paths and discover the mesmeric beauty of Sikkim. Feel the thrill as you cut through and above the clouds. Once back from this grueling journey, come back younger, fresher and get that toned physique that you have always dreamt about.
4) Rajasthan Camel Safari, uncover desert gems
Feel like Indiana Jones on a quest in the desert. Though you will be riding on the back of a camel, this seven-days and six-nights safari is not going to be a piece of cake. The activity would require you to be fit and more than anything, have a strong back. However it has its own perks.
In a span of one week, uncover fascinating routes that include desert gems such as Jaisalmer, Unda, Bheeloki Dhani, Bhaiarsar, Punasar, Chooreya, Dangri , Karada , Bhopa and more. Interact with villagers, ride through isolated sand dunes, get a glimpse of wildlife, watch the sun drop into the dunes of the desert and sleep under the a galaxy of twinkling stars. What’s more, it might change your entire perspective on life too.
5) Ladakh marathon, on the mountain top
Every marathon requires discipline and more than anything, tons of practice. Taking the challenge further up is La Ultra that is held at the high altitude and mesmeric region of Leh-Ladakh. With distance options of 111 km, 222 km and 333 km, you have to undertake a course that also passes through Khardung La. For the uninitiated, this place peaks at a staggering height of 17,700 ft and is hence the highest motor-able mountain pass in the world.
[Check out our amazing Ladakh travel guide]
With temperatures dipping and soaring from 40 degree C to minus 10 degree C and oxygen levels only 40 percent of the sea level, this is no mean feat. Conquering the marathon will not only make you absolutely fit but will prep you up for any challenge that may come your way.
6) Nilgiris cycling, push your boundaries
Gear up for an exciting cycling tour of the Nilgiris, considered as one of the longest and largest tours in the country. The experience would demand an unbelievable amount of preparation before you even embark upon it.
You would have to push your boundaries to achieve fitness levels that will physically prepare you to cycle for around eight days. After having passed through verdant stretches and some stunning sights, it is guaranteed that you will be feeling fresh and revitalised, like a new you.
[Also see list of wildlife Sanctuaries in India]
7) Kanchenjunga run and raft, manoeuvre fierce rapids
A true test of your stamina, this experience will keep you on your toes as you cut across various adventures. These include a combination of rafting, trekking and running. Providing the backdrop for the same is the unsullied land of Nepal.
Get to manoeuvre rapids while you raft on the fierce and exquisite Tamur River, revel in a four day trek that offers captivating views of the Kanchenjunga range and run across high peaks. Rest assured, these activities will ensure you feel fitter and younger.
In addition to availing your dose of adventure, participate in a global movement dedicated towards fighting poverty and injustice. Enroll yourselves in the Oxfam India Trail walker that takes place in Mumbai and Bangalore.
With slogans like ‘challenge yourself, challenge inequality’, you would be proud to be associated with a team of four that conquers 100 km of Indian terrain within 48 hours. Apart from the obvious positives fitness-wise, there is always that spirit of comradeship and thrill that will make you feel young again.
9) Chandrabhaga Horse Safari, through the jungles
Not your ordinary horse safari, the Chandrabhaga entails a high level of fitness and discipline. With this experience, explore the road less traversed and make way through the bountiful jungles of Bijaipur. Starting from Bijaipur, proceed to Nahargarh, Dorai, Pangarh and return back to the starting point.
Besides, the Chandrabhaga fair is held every year at Jhalrapatan (6kms from Jhalawar) in the month of Kartik.
10) Desert 500, Full Moon lit Cycling Challenge through Thar Desert
Image Credit: Desert 500
The Thar Desert brings with it plentiful charms and challenges. Cycle through it all but be warned for temperatures oscillate between a fierce 25 degrees C to icy 10 degrees C leaving you with vast stretches across the endless expanse of the desert. Depending upon your choice, opt for a 500 Km, 250 Km, 150 Km or 50 Km bicycle race.
Image Credit: Desert 500
The activity requires intense preparation that pushes your body to insurmountable levels. However, the adrenaline rush that you will receive after the race will make you feel youthful and energised.
Those in need for wellness:
11) SDM Yoga & Nature Cure Hospital, understand nature’s language
There is nothing that is quite like taking into nature for your mental and bodily wellness, especially if you are ailing from something. Set in Dharmasthala, amidst serene natural surroundings on the banks of the Holy River Netravathi, the location itself is therapeutic.
Helping you understand nature’s language, this naturopathy institution provides Yogic therapy, Acupuncture and reflexology, Magneto therapy, Electrotherapy, Physiotherapy, Reiki and Pranic healings. When here, you can engage in yoga and meditation, get invigorating therapies, eat pure and healthy food and indulge in a wholesome experience that will ultimately give you a younger and fitter zest for life.
12) Ananda Spa, Himalayas, surreal experience
We all need a bit of pampering once in a while and what better way than to get at the foothills of the snow-capped Himalayas, being surrounded by Sal forests! Restoring your fountain of youth, Ananda Spa offers a surreal experience.
When here, be surrounded by nature, enjoy extravagant luxuries and simultaneously discover the union of body, mind and soul. Spoil yourselves with top-notch spa treatments and avail packages from the likes of Himalayan Bliss, Essentially Ananda and Couple’s Connect. This is certainly an experience that will get you that spring in your step back.
13) Shreyas Yoga Retreat, Bangalore, bid adieu to stress
For a revitalizing experience, escape to Shreyas Yoga Retreat, Bangalore that spreads across 24 acres of green estate. Offering you a much-needed break, the meditation and chanting classes will calm your nerves and while your stress away.
The daily yoga practices promise a more fit and flexible you whereas the ayurvedic spa therapies will bring back the glow on your skin. Adding to the experience are the luxurious cottages, an infinity swimming pool, an organic garden, a yoga pavilion and verdant outdoor spaces.
14) Bio Resurge Clinic, Alila Diwa Goa, lose the inches
Offering luxury and stunning seaside views, Alila Diwa Goa is what one would look for in a holiday. The only difference is that you get to lose the inches as well. The Bio Resurge Clinic that is privately housed in the resort only selects a maximum of 10 clients at one time and nurtures good health with a weight loss program.
When here, get pampered with massages, indulge in workouts and power walks, learn the art of healthy eating and emerge a younger and leaner you.
15) Parmarth Niketen, Rishikesh, embodying serenity and spirituality
Resting peacefully at the Holy Ganga River and fringed by the verdant Himalayas, Parmarth Niketen embodies the serenity and spirituality of Rishikesh.
A yoga course here is a unique and inspiring experience. Taught by qualified teachers who follow the traditional ancient yogic discipline, it gives you a taste of the sublime. Not only would you come back mentally and physically stronger but you can adopt the yoga way of living for the rest of your life too.
16) Kalari Kovilakom, Kerala, to lap up the best of Ayurveda
Image Credit: Anushree Basu Bhalla – basuandthebees.wordpress.com
For a fetching experience that relies on Ayurveda, ancient philosophy, organic farming and nature-livelihood for your wellness, whisk yourself away to Kalari Kovilakom in Kerala.
It is here where natural remedies are produced from freshly picked herbs which are used in an array of massages that keep you hale and hearty. Not only that,also get a whiff of royalty as the centre is a 19th Century South Indian palace. Depending upon your demands, take to any of these wellness packages that include Rasayana Chikitsa (anti-ageing), Manashanthy (stress relief), Pancha Karma (rejuvenation) and Thanlyakina Chikitsa (weight reduction).
17) Jindal Naturecure Institute, Bangalore, peaceful environs
Welcoming you with 120 acres of greenery in the outskirts of Bangalore, Jindal Naturecure Institute is where you should head to for alternate healing purposes and naturopathy.
Special care is provided to cure ailments such as asthma, diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, migraine and abdominal problems. Re-energise and restore your health through long walks, yoga, massages, alternate therapies and healthy eating. The calm and peaceful environs will further bring you respite.
Those in search for spiritual enlightenment:
18) Vipassana, 9 days of silence
Many a time, we would prefer to switch off. In a world full of chaos and confusion, silence is golden. For an uplifting experience, head to Vipassana that has centres across the country. It is based on ancient meditation techniques passed on by the teachings of Gautama Buddha.
Image Credit: Axel Drainville – Flickr
During this ten-day course, you will be cut off from the outside world and have to observe 9 days of silence. Also known for self-transformation through self-observation, people have often said that they come out of this experience a changed person. The process is aimed at slowing down your body process.
With a focus on mental training and discipline, you will be eating healthy food at strict timings (dinner usually comprises of chai and puffed rice that would be had at 5pm). All in all, come out of it an energized person who is mentally, emotionally and physically fitter, stronger.
19) Sadhana Mandir, mystic environment
Retreat to a mystic environment and learn the art of meditation. Resting on the banks of the Ganges in Rishikesh and confined to the foothills of the Himayalas, Sadhana Mandir Trust was established by the revered Swami Rama, author of “Living with the Himalayan Masters”, and other well-known spiritual books.
Adding to the tranquil atmosphere is the garden laced with vibrant flowers, lotus ponds and mango trees. Participate in the many interesting courses such as ‘8 Steps to Self Transformation’, ‘Spiritual Origins of Health’,’Inner Peace in a Troubled World’, ‘Program for Progress in Meditation’ that work on the individual and spiritual self. In totality, rediscover yourself and come back a new you.
20) Tushita Meditation Centre, McLeod Ganj, inspiring experience
Image Credit: Lisa Tully – Flickr
Sheltered in the woody hills above the town of McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, Tushita Meditation Centre offers an inspiring experience. It is dedicated to the study and practice of Buddhism from the Tibetan Mahayana tradition.
Avail the many courses on Buddhism, and if lucky, get taught by His Holiness the Dalai Lama himself. At this restful place, bid all your stresses away, reflect, contemplate and arise with a fitter mind and body.
A pilgrimage tour
21) Shrikhand Mahadev Yatra, not for the faint-hearted
Embark upon one of the toughest pilgrimages of India. Shrikhand Mahadev Yatra in Himachal Pradesh is not for the faint-hearted. During this 35km stretch, you would have to climb through alpine meadows, beyond snow path, to a 72-ft high natural Shivling, that is perched on an astounding 16,900 feet above sea level. It would take you around 10 days to complete it.
Though challenging, reaps of this are many. On this spiritual journey, which is also a treasure trove for devotees, you would also come across surreal sights which entirely will help hone your fitness skills.
22) Shikharji pilgrimage, numinous charm
Basking in the luminous charm of Shikharji, believed to be the very destination where several Tirthankaras attained Nirvana. Located on Parasnath Hill in Jharkhand and translated as ‘venerable peak’, the place holds a literal and symbolic meaning.
Though the pilgrimage to the hill takes an entire day, it is recommended to take 2-3 days so you can pay homage to the countless religious sights on the way. You can either traverse by foot or palanquin for a round trip of 27 km through the Madhuban forest. The journey would include flat, hilly terrains and steps on steep climbs.
23) Mata Vaishno Devi Yatra, inspiring expedition
Towering at a height of 5,200 feet above sea level is the Trikuta Mountains, about 61 km north of Jammu. Within it lies the respected cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi. Though demanding in nature, people from all religions undertake the yatra.
During this illuminating expedition, you would have to engage in a 13 km trek and weather cold conditions to reach the place of worship. Furthermore, legend has it that many miracles are granted for those who complete the pilgrimage.
24) Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, mystical land
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Regarded as one of the most difficult treks in Asia, the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra drives you to achieve overwhelming heights of mental and physical greatness. Hindus believe that it is on top of the peak that Lord Shiva lives in an eternal state of meditation and creates a force that holds the universe together.
It is said that upon completion of this sacred pilgrimage, all your sins from many lifetimes get washed away. The path meanders through Nepal and Tibet and transports you to a mystical land that you only thought existed in novels.
25) Palitana Temples pilgrimage, deep spiritual experience
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For a deep spiritual experience, climb 3950 steps to reach the Palitana Temples. They are located in Shatrunjaya, Bhavnagar district, Gujarat. Dating back epochs away between the 11th and 12th century AD, the temples lend an ancient charm and transfer you to another world.
There is a lot to unravel during this journey since about 863 temples existed starting from the peak to the base of the Shatrunjaya Hills.