When travelers think of India, they know it to be a land of spirit and deeply soulful with colorful, heaving cities but, I think this overshadows the glorious natural attractions of India which seem to be down the pecking order of things to see and do. India is a massive country which means Mother Nature has a huge palette to work with and indeed she has truly blessed us with some spectacular sights. Here’s just a few of the notable natural attractions of India besides the Himalayas, which we all know of.
1 Lonar Crater Lake
The Lonar Lake fills an impact crater measuring more than half a mile across and more than 800 feet deep, made by a huge meteorite that crashed into the now Buldana District some 50,000 years ago. The Lonar Crater Lake is one of the most significant natural attractions of India because it has a unique eco-system. Flora and fauna are found here that exist nowhere else in India. Naturally, Indian mysticism has made connection with the lake and there are temples dotted around the crater.
2 The Kerala Backwaters
Kerala State is a growing force in Indian tourism and many visitors are attracted by the floating hotels that were once large Kettuvallms – traditional rice boats. The backwaters are a chain of lakes and lagoons that lie parallel to the Arabian Sea coast. The waters are home to an amazing array of trees, plant life and wildlife including turtles, otters, frogs, crabs abd many species of water birds, and of all of these, many are unique to Kerala.
3 The Valley of Flowers
A heritage site and a national park, The Valley of Flowers is the parochial name for the Byundar Valley which is at more than 11,000 feet above sea level, high up in the Himalayas. You have to trek for 10+ miles to reach the valley in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand but it is worth it to see the gorgeous scenery of snow-capped mountains, glistening waterfalls and twinkling streams and the carpet of more than 500 species of flowers which bloom magnificently in August and September which is surely one of the most splendid natural sights of India.
4 Kanha National Park
The magnificent Bengal Tiger is one of the endearing creatures of India, though like many beasts, it is at threat from man and his destruction of their natural habitat. Kanha National Park however, is one of the natural wonders of India where there is still a healthy population of tigers who make their home among the bamboo and sal forests, greasy meadows and ravines. Sharing the park with bears, leopards, snakes and wild dogs, it’s no wonder Kanha inspired Rudyard Kipling to write The Jungle Book.
5 Nohkalikai Falls
One of the most stunning waterfalls (and one of the highest) Nohkalikai Falls are found in the Khasi Hills in North East India. It’s not just that they cascade 1100 feet from a lush plateau into a green plunge pool that makes them one of the wondrous natural attractions of India, but that the rivers that feed them are pretty short and also fairly dry for most of the year. The falls are near to Cherrapunji – one of the wettest places on Earth, where rainfall is beyond belief. Rainfall on some days in the monsoon season has been measured at over 1 meter.
6 Thar Desert
The Thar Desert is a massive dry plain that covers an area of more than 77,000 square miles in northwest India, across the two states of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Despite the strong winds and severe drought people do try to farm here, and do so successfully, particularly where the desert plains are bordered by rivers. Those winds and the rains (when they come) have sculpted a magnificent landscape of shifting dunes and broken rocks. One of the most visited natural attractions of India is the Sam Sand Dunes and many people make their way there on a camel safari.
7 Borra Caves
Although unconfirmed, the Borra Guhalu are believed to be the deepest caves in India. Extending to a depth of over 250 feet, and over 2,300 feet up in the Ananthagiri Hills of the Araku Valley in Andhra Pradesh, the caves have a fascinating collection of stalactites and stalagmites and also speleotherms (weird shaped mineral columns). The Borra Caves is one of the natural sights of India that also has an intrinsic man-made attraction: Locals named many of the stalactites and stalagmites for their appearance and for the one that appears like a symbol of Shiva, a shrine was created around it over time.
I had a fabulous time on my short whirlwind tour around some of the best natural attractions of India. How about you?