We’re all for active holidays, especially when they involve animals. To learn the ropes of horse riding, head to the Japalouppe Equestrian Centre in Talegaon near Pune. 3-day adult camps run through the year, generally over long weekends. While riding lessons do feature on the schedule, grooming and other activities to familiarise yourself with these elegant animals are also encouraged. Check the website for announcements of camp dates. You could also book family packages and individual lessons, separate from the camps. Staying on site is encouraged since it adds to the immersive experience. Basic accommodation is available at the centre.
If you have a taste for fine cheese, try your hand at making some. Plan a stay at Acres Wild in Coonoor or Cinnabar Farms in Kodaikanal. Both are B&Bs with organic farms that encourage guests to learn how to craft their own cheese. The former offers a two-day basic course where guests are taught to make soft and hard cheese. The latter offers cheesemaking classes alongside bread-making workshops and sessions onharvesting vegetables. For further inspiration, read about Kashmir’s cheesemakers here.
The next time you visit Pondicherry or the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, go underwater to discover a whole new world. Scuba diving certification courses are about four days on average, although higher levels can take about 15-30 days; you do need to fill out a medical statement before you can begin. Discover Scuba Diving programmes take beginners out for an assisted dive to a depth of upto 12 metres. Andaman Bubbles and Dive India are both recommended options. If you happen to be in Pondicherry, try Temple Adventures; read our guide here. Regardless of what company you choose, remember that you should feel comfortable about their safety procedure and equipment before you dive in.
There’s a certain pride in eating out of a vessel made with your own hands. Our Web Editor Neha Sumitran recently visited the little village of Andretta in Himachal Pradesh, took a spin at the pottery wheel and came away with a gorgeous terracotta bowl. Andretta functions as an artists’ colony that was started 75 years ago by an Irishwoman named Nora Richards. The Andretta Pottery and Craft Society holds three-month-long pottery courses for those who would like to learn the craft. Details here.
While Auli in Uttarakhand is popular for skiing in the Himalayas, Manali is a relatively lesser-known option. Himalayan Heli Adventures lets you heli-ski around Manali. Clifftop Club, a luxurious ski resort in Auli, offers international-standard slopes and looks like it belongs on a Christmas card. For other adventures in the mountains, including ice hockey camps and biking trips, go here.
Make the most of India’s vast coastline by mastering a water sport. Spend your mornings honing your balance on water at one of the many surf schools in the country. There’s the Mantra Surf Club in Mangalore, Soul and Surf in Varkala and Kallialay Surf School in Pondicherry. Our Features Writer Fabiola Monteiro took her first surfing lesson while holidaying in Varkala last year, and can’t wait to go back for more.
For the adventurous, mountaineering courses offer an escape to snow-clad summits. The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling conducts a 28-day basic mountaineering course for beginners, while the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports in Manali has a 25-day course. The Nehru Institute of Mountaineering also has 28-day basic courses. Slot a month off for this getaway to scale new heights and a chance at slow travel and, if nothing else, for the wondrous panoramas. For more mountain magic, read our guide to Himalayan travel for all ages.
There are various ways of embarking on a gourmet holiday, but in our experience, acquiring a specific skill or secret – how to preserve the flavour of sea crabs, for instance – infinitely sweetens any food trail. Web Editor Neha Sumitran hitched a ride with travel company White Collar Hippie, to explore the culinary wonders of the Malvan. Their three-day food tour takes you fishing, cooking, exploring spice gardens and more, with the locals.
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