20 Natural Wonders of India Which You Missed In Your Geography Books!

Unravel the many natural charms bundled up in eclectic India. Some of them are a case of intrigue while others are plain enchanting! While there are plentiful, we have listed 20 of them. Feast your eyes on the world’s third largest crater, enigmatic dancing lights, the largest salt desert in the world, unique volcanic formations, balancing rocks and more!

1) Lonar Crater Lake – World’s third largest crater dating back to some 50,000 years ago

Set off to the outskirts of Lonar town, Maharashtra and you would come across a rather interesting formation that appears like it was hit by a massive ball from outer space. Said to be the world’s third largest crater, the Lonar Crater Lake came into being 50,000 years back as a result of a meteorite hitting the earth, causing the depression.

The roundish water body fringed by clusters of green and brown ground in the middle of nowhere makes for quite a sight. There are mentions of the same in ancient scripts like Skanda Puran, the Padma Puran and Aaina-i-Akbari.

2) Needle Hole Point Mahabaleshwar – Natural rock formation that appear like an elephant’s trunk

For a rare view of nature, head to Needle Hole Point / Elephant Point, Mahabaleshwar to witness what seems to be finely sculpted by a craftsman. From here, you can take in the stunning sights of Deccan traps, which look like an elephant’s trunk.

The natural rock formation resembling the adored animal is uncanny. This site is located close to Kate’s Point. It is referred to as Needle-hole as one can view a natural rock formation with a hole in between over here.

3) Belum Caves – Second largest cave in Indian subcontinent

Dash off to the enigmatic Belum Caves that has many delights hidden in its dark caverns. Famous for its stalactite and stalagmite formations, it is the second largest cave in Indian subcontinent (3229 metres) and the longest caves in the plains of the Indian Subcontinent.

In here are lengthy passages, airy chambers, fresh water galleries and siphons. This underground cavern was naturally formed due to the continuous flow of underground water. As of today, 3.5 km of this fascinating natural wonder has been successfully explored, though only 1.5 km is open to tourists.

4) Marble Rocks at Bhedaghat – White shining wonders

Displaying exquisite beauty, Marble Rocks at Bhedaghat near Jabalpur MP are a stunning sight. It soars to a hundred feet on both sides of the Holy Narmada. This river has carved the soft marble, producing a lovely gorge of about 3 km in length.

The effect of the sunlight shining on the marble white pinnacles and creating shadows on the limpid waters is magical. The entire scenery is especially worth watching on moonlit nights.

5) Banni Grasslands Reserve – Enigmatic dancing lights

This might look like an occurrence of UFOs or that of ghosts. For long, the locals have alleged that they have witnessed some enigmatic dancing lights at Banni Grasslands Reserve in Rann of Kutch. Soliders and visitors have been creeped out too as these lights seemed to have followed them.

Named as Chir Batti, they appear to be as bright as a mercury lamp and can alter their colour into blue, red, yellow to a pear- shaped moving ball. At times they remain still and other times they move in a quick speed.

Scientists have gotten to the root of this phenomenon and claim that this happens so due to oxidation of methane from the marshes.

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6) Borra Caves- The deepest in the country

Huddled in the Ananthagiri Hills of the Araku Valley, Andhra Pradesh, the Borra Caves are the deepest among its kind in the country (over 260 feet deep). Over here are a great array of stunning speleothems that vary from very small to big along with unevenly shaped stalactites and stalagmites.

Over here, as mineral rich water trickles from the roof of the cave, they make a small ring of minerals in its wake. When this drips on the floor, it forms another small mineral deposit. Over the ages, these shape to form soda straws and cones on the ceiling, while creating conical cake like assemblies on the floor.

7) Amarnath Cave – Where the mystical ice lingam of Lord Shiva resides

Considered as among the holiest shrines in Hinduism, the mystical ice lingam of Lord Shiva at Amarnath Cave is where thousands of devotees throng to. This natural stalagmite formation takes shape due to the freezing of water drops that trickle down from the roof of the cave on to the floor beneath. It then rises vertically from the floor and waxes and wanes with the moon.

Legend has it that this is the very cave where Lord Shiva unravelled the secret of life and eternity to his divine consort, Parvati.

However, in the recent years, there have been cases of premature melting due to the heat produced inside with the presence of many pilgrims, rising temperature, less snowfall during winters.

8) Loktak Lake – Floating vision

For a rather unique vision, scamper off to the nature rich region of Manipur. Over here lies the mesmeric Loktak Lake that appears as if it is floating.

Said to be the only Floating Lake in the world, the formations (phumdis) are made of vegetation, soil and organic matter. This location has been a case of interest and intrigue among many. This water body is home to local villagers who have made thatched huts on these floating islands and get around in dugout canoes.

9) Columnar Basaltic Lava – Unique volcanic formations

These are not your regular rocks by the sea but ones that have been formed by a volcano. Saunter off to Columnar Basaltic Lava in Coconut Island, St Mary’s island to witness this strange marvel. The story goes something like this. When a volcano explodes dense viscid basaltic lava is hurled out which cools quickly and it contracts in a manner that a sequence of spider web like cracks develop in it. These cracks take the form of hexagons and polygons. As the lava congeals into rock, wheat is left back in the columns of the rock, making it appear as if it were shaped by human hands.

The columns in Karnataka took shape more than 60 million years ago, during the formation of the Deccan traps. Do not expect a sand beach to unwind as the place is scattered with basaltic rocks.

10) Living Tree Bridges of Cherrapunji – Sight of fantasy

Seeming to pop straight out of a fantasy, the Living Tree Bridges of Cherrapunji in Meghalaya makes for an unbelievable sight. The rubber tree here actually has roots that can extend up to 3000 feet.

Image Credit: roman korzh – Flickr

Over many years, these winding roots have grown and spread along the slopes. As the trees grip to the upper areas of the riverbank, they direct their roots below to the riverbed. It is said that over the ages, humans have moulded them as a natural bridge between the rivers.

11) Sambhar Lake, Jaipur – India’s largest inland salt lake amidst a desert

India’s largest inland salt lake, the Sambhar Salt Lake is another wonder of the country. It lies in the arid Thar Desert. Usually desert areas are supposed to desolate and barren, however this water body is an exception. The lake is bowl shaped and rings the historical Sambhar Lake Town situated south west of the city of Jaipur.

Legend has it that, Shakambhari Devi, the tutelary goddess of Chauhan Rajputs and the consort of Lord Shiva, turned a dense forest into a plain of silver as a reward to the services done to her. The locals feared that greed would overcome people and hence, she later converted it into a lake. The shore over here till date has a temple devoted to Shakambhari Devi.

12) Hide-and-seek Beach, Orissa – Which appears and disappears

When you pay a visit to the Hide-and-seek Beach in Orissa, it may or may not be there. Situated in Orissa, the Chandipur Beach is also referred to the Hide –and-Seek Beach due to its quality. There are times when you get to see the water and other times in the same spot lies nothing but Casuarina trees and creeper sand dunes.

The reason for this occurrence is that the sea water recedes around 5kms during low tide and reappears to the shore during high tide every day. This is a rare phenomenon not witnessed by many till date.

13) Gurudongmar Lake – Among the highest lakes in the world

A surreal and breath-taking sight, Gurudongmar Lake is located in Sikkim and is considered as among the highest lakes in the world. One of the sources of River Teesta, this water body is plonked at an altitude of 17,100 feet.

Fringed by zigzag snow clad mountains and barren land and with cotton candy clouds hovering above, the pristine lake is a riveting sight. On the banks is a venerated Gurudwara to honour Guru Nanak’s visit here. It is believed that where he struck his walking stick a tree now stands.

14) Balancing Rock, Mahabalipuram – A case of curiosity

There are many who have come to this site and scratched their heads over how this is possible. At the heritage rich destination of Mahabalipuram, is the famous balancing rock. A rather massive stone, it stands on very tiny and slippery area of a hill but has never lost balance. There are also times when animals take shade underneath it from the blaring sun.

Locally known as Krishna’s Butter Ball, the stone is twenty feet high and 5 meter wide and weighs over 250 tons. It is a case of curiosity how the rock manages to stay put and not roll down.

15) Hoggenakal Falls – With Carbonatite rocks among the oldest in the world

A sight of extreme splendour, the Hogenakkal Falls that cascade in South India on the river Kaveri is also referred to as the Niagara of India. It is believed that the Carbonatite rocks from here are the oldest in South Asia and among the oldest in the world.

Meaning ‘smoke rock’ in Kannada, these falls gush in full force creating the appearance of the smoke coming from the rocks. Hence the name. A popular tourist attraction, one can enjoy medicinal baths and hide boat rides at this place.

16) The Aleya Ghost Lights – Strange paranormal lights

The name Aleya Ghost Lights itself does conjure up scary images. Appearing in the swamps of West Bengal, there have been many speculations of these mysterious lights. Some say they are cause of paranormal activities whereas locals believe that they are souls of dead fisherman.

Scientists refute this saying that lights are gases created by the decaying organic matter in the swamps. When it appears on the surface and gets mixed with oxygen, the result of oxidization and ionization make an alarming glow in the air.

17) Barren Island of Andamans – South Asia’s only active volcano

Home to the only confirmed active volcano in South of Asia, the Barren Island of Andaman is another natural wonder. It is situated about 135 km northeast of Port Blair. The island primarily consists of the volcano and its debris and belongs to the chain of volcanoes that mark the boundary between the Indian tectonic plate and the Burmese plate. The volcano towers about 305m above sea level and stretches around 2,000m below it.

The first recorded eruption was in 1787. From then onwards, the volcano has flared up more than ten times. The latest one which began in September 2010 continued through January 2011.

18) Magnetic Hill – Appears to defy gravity

Imagine a hill where your car appears to defy gravity and move upwards instead of downwards when put on neutral. Creating a rather fascinating optical illusion, the Magnetic Hill also known as ‘Himalayan wonder’ is located in the celestial like destination of Ladakh.

The mountains, road, and hill are situated in such a manner that it looks like the area is an uphill terrain. Though, in truth, this is a bit downhill. That is why, when a vehicle is put out of gear, it appears it is rolling uphill. Interesting phenomena indeed!

19) Great Rann of Kutch – Largest salt desert in the world

The largest salt desert in the world (around 7,505.22 square kilometres), the Great Rann of Kutch is an engaging sight. This seasonal salt marsh sprawls in the Thar Desert in Kutch, Gujarat and the Sindh province of Pakistan.

This is where you can lap up unbridled views of the horizon yonder. The place especially comes alive during full moon nights that cast a sparkling spell on the desert.

20) Valley of Flowers – 300 types of endemic alpine flowers

Get whisked away into a flowery fairy-tale world. Welcoming you with a wide range of vibrant blossoms, winsome network of streams dotting refreshing meadows, Valley of Flowers makes for a picturesque sight. The background of snow clad mountains further enhances the appeal of the place. Cossetted in the dreamy West Himalaya of Uttarakhand, there are around 300 types of endemic alpine flowers and a rich range of flora here.

Prajna Rao

Awesome editor at Thrillophilia.

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