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India Activities

Hindu masks, including the elephant-headed Ganesh

The number of trekkers visiting the Indian Himalaya is small compared to those tramping the tracks in Nepal, so if you want to peacefully experience the world's greatest mountain range, try trekking in Himachal Pradesh or Uttar Pradesh. The trekking season runs roughly between April and November, but this varies widely and some routes are only open for a couple of months each year. India's main trekking centres are Lahaul, Spiti and the Kullu and Kangra valleys in Himachal Pradesh; north of Rishikesh in northern Uttar Pradesh; Darjeeling in West Bengal; Yuksam in Sikkim; and Leh in Ladakh.

The ski season runs from January to March, and there are resorts at Narkanda in Himachal Pradesh and Auli in Uttar Pradesh. Facilities are rudimentary but that makes it all the more fun. There's usually one lift in working order and a place to hire gear. Apr├Ęs-ski consists of chapatis and a nice cup of ginger tea.

India is not renowned for its beaches, but there are popular beach centres with acceptable swimming in Goa, just across the Karnataka border in Gokarna and at Kovalam in Kerala. There are also beaches at Diu, and at Puri in Orissa. The Andaman & Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal have good beaches and boast India's only diving and snorkelling opportunities.

Camel treks can be arranged in the deserts around Jaisalmer and Pushkar in Rajasthan. Treks last anywhere between a few hours and a few days. The best season is between October and February. If camel trekking leaves you feeling scorched and sore, try white-water rafting on the Indus. Trips can be organised in Leh.

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