From hot-air balloon rides and white-water rafting to scuba diving, there’s a lot in store for you this February. Take your pick:
Auli, Uttarakhand, for skiing
Situated deep in the hinterlands of the Garwhal Himalayas about 250km from Rishikesh, Auli is a sight to behold this time of the year. Blanketed in snow, it provides some of the best ski opportunities in the country. Learn the basics at Auli Ski & Snowboard School, ride a sledge along the slopes or take a cable car from Auli to the temple town of Joshimath.
Havelock Island, Andamans, for scuba diving
The archipelago of Andamans and Nicobar islands is a world removed from the overcrowded beach destinations in the country. And Havelock Island, a two-hour ferry ride, is just the place for snorkelling and scuba diving enthusiasts. The waters are warm and the seas calm around this time of the year. Strap on your gear and take the plunge to discover some of the most diverse marine life. Book a trip on Infinity Liveaboard, which specialises in curating trips that focus on underwater adventures. Or consider staying at Barefoot at Havelock, a resort at Radhanagar Beach, which organises trips to dive sites for every scuba level.
Jawai, Rajasthan, for a leopard safari
It’s a good time to head to India’s leopard hills. Sprawled between Udaipur and Jodhpur and surrounded by the Aravali hills, Jawai is where leopards roam freely and live in harmony with the inhabitants. Go on a safari to spot the wild cat, visit the Devgiri cave temple or the Jawai Dam crocodile sanctuary.
Kolad, Maharashtra, for white-water rafting
If you’re yet to check river rafting off your bucket list, Kolad is a breezy 2.5 to 3-hour drive from Mumbai and Pune. Kundalika White Water Rafting is one of the few locations in India that is open nearly all-year-round. Camp out at Big Red Tent, which is sufficiently outdoorsy, while offering creature comforts such as foam mattresses, sleeping bags and inflatable pillows.
Bandhavgarh, Madhya Pradesh, for a hot-air balloon ride
Ditch a safari jeep ride to revel in 360-degree views of Bandhavgarh National Park, which boasts of the highest density of Royal Bengal Tigers in the world. Just last month, Madhya Pradesh launched a hot-air balloon safari in the country. Operated by Jaipur-based Sky Waltz Balloon Safari, the activity is limited to the buffer zone, where you can catch a bird’s-eye view of not just tigers, but also leopards, Indian sloth bears and a host of other wildlife. Book here.
Goa for birding
It’s beak season in Goa! Thousands of birds, from blue-eared kingfishers to white-bellied woodpeckers, are making their way back to Goa for the winter. To celebrate their return the state is organising the fourth edition of the Goa Bird Festival from 5 to 7 February in Mollem. Register here.
Udaipur, Rajasthan, for Valentine’s Day
A lakeside studded with palaces and the Aravalli ridges beyond–Udaipur is pure romance. Go on a boat ride along Lake Pichola, watch the Mewar light and sound show, stroll around the gardens of City Palace and enjoy a candlelit dinner at a restaurant overlooking the gilded lake. Pick from a list of romantic hotels to stay at, including The Leela Palace Udaipur, The Oberoi Udaivilas, the Udai Kothi and the Amet Haveli.
Coorg, Karnataka, for coffee blossom season
Coorg is beautiful all year round, but there’s something about the winters here. February marks the onset of coffee blossoms. Dressed in emerald green, the hills are shrouded in mist and the air is filled with the aroma of coffee blooms and birdsong. Make the most of the sights, smells and sounds by booking one of these plantations stays, where you can learn all about how your coffee is harvested, processed and dried.
Kolkata, West Bengal, for Chinese New Year
Kolkata’s twin Chinatowns, Tiretti Bazaar and Tangra, with predominant Chinese settlements, ring in the Chinese New Year with much pomp each year. Fireworks fill the skies, dragon floats parade around the streets and red lanterns are hung outside homes to ward off evil. This year, the occasion falls on 12 February. While the celebrations might be muted due to COVID-19, head there to feast on some of the best Indo-Chinese delicacies.
Pondicherry Heritage Festival
A movement that started out to conserve Pondicherry’s age-old traditions has become an annual cultural celebration. The 7th edition of the Pondicherry Heritage Festival is ongoing until 21 February and is themed around the ‘The Talking Streets of Pondicherry: Preserving our Cultural Heritage’. Pondicherry was set along a pilgrimage route in the olden days. Devotees stopped by to relax on the thinnais (porticos) of homes. However, somewhere along the way, Pondicherry lost many of its thinnais. The festival highlights the lost architecture and beauty of the town. Although many of the events are now virtual, heritage walks and bicycle rides are also part of the festival. Register here.