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June 2010
Daring To Be Different
Mukesh Khosla
Tempt fate this summer with some adrenalin-pumping adventures.India has a lot to offer for your passion.

On Top of the World
One of the most exotic extreme options for the hard-core adventure lover is a self-driven bike or jeep ridefrom Manali to Leh. The 475-kilometre distance tests the nerves of even the toughest high altitude drivers, even as it opens up the most stunning sights you’ve ever seen.

The road is over 13,000 feet above sea level and the three-day drive takes you through four mountain passes, sometimes at dizzying heights of around 17,000 feet. It is nature at its loftiest. Do not expect fancy hotels and eateries on the way. And by the way, don’t forget your camping gear or you’ll have nowhere to sleep in the night!

A Bend in the Ganges
For the water babies there cannot be a more exhilarating excitement than white river rafting in Rishikesh. Here you will encounter sharp bends and exciting rapids which are graphically termed as The Wall and Marine Drive. There are baby patches for the faint hearted and Roller Coaster, Double Trouble and Crossfire for the ‘River Rats’ as the extreme adventure seekers are called.

At times gradients can drop a mind boggling 50 feet for each kilometre. Raftable water levels are unpredictable which makes this one of the scariest adventures for the uninitiated.

Plumbing the Depths
Those who seek ‘deeper’ excitement can head for the silvery beaches of Bangaram in the Lakshadweep Islands for some deep sea adventures. Scuba diving here is one of the most thrilling experiences. At places the magnificent coral reefs start from the shore and then drop sharply from 10 metres to a mind-boggling 100 metres, which can tear into the nerves of even the hardened seafarers.

Those with a lesser appetite for adventure can try snorkelling in the Jolly Buoy /Red Skin Islands in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This is an equally exciting water sport as the sea here offers some exotic views of marine life and coral beds. The surf on the beach can be rough, so it is advisable to go with a tour operator who provides the full gear for the sport. If you're lucky, you'll swim with the rare dugongs, dolphins and sea turtles.

Take to the Skies
If you’d rather fly like a bird, you can go hang gliding and paragliding in Bir-Billing in the Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh. Considered to be one of the best paragliding take-off points in the world, Bir-Billing at a height of 7,500 feet is surrounded by the Dhauladhar range, which rises to a dizzy height of around 13,000 feet. Thus even as you soar in the skies you will see mountain peaks below you and above you, An experience you are not likely to forget in a lifetime.

If you like to be airborne but find paragliding too hot to handle, head for Ranthambore in Rajasthan. This is not just one of India’s best known tiger reserves but is also well known for hot air ballooning. View the tigers from the skies as your balloon soars higher and higher. Besides the enthralling experience you could also take some amazing pictures from up there. Go ahead and test your limits with some adrenaline-pumping activities this summer.

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