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Healthy India

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Last week, we told you about the healthiest international holiday destinations. If you don’t want to go too far from home, you are in for a treat, as Rhea Dhanbhoora & Dev Goswami are bringing you picks from the healthiest places to visit in India

From mountain trails, to cities and towns that specialise in Ayurvedic treatments and massages, Indian travel destinations have a lot to offer when it comes to healthy vacations. In this article, we tell you about some cities and towns in India that promise a healthy break, and also tell you where to head if you want to experience the thrill of adventure sports and give your body a great workout.

Hassan may not be the first city you think of on a visit to Karnataka, but you should. The city is amongst the top three on a list of the least polluted cities in the country. While the weather there is similar to that in Bangalore, the air is much cleaner.

What to do: When you’re in Hassan, you’re going to be surrounded by beautiful temples, religious structures and ancient architecture. If you visit during October, you can visit the Hasanamba Temple, which is open to pilgrims once a year. While you won’t be able to watch a film or do much shopping in Hassan, you should get into adventure mode when you’re here. You can swim in the river, or go kayaking and rafting at the Tungabhadra River, which is relatively clean. You can also trek at the islands near the city.

Also one of the three least polluted cities of the country, visiting Kollam will ensure a healthy getaway. Formerly called Quilon, kollam is located in Kerala, and is an old seaport city that has refreshing coastal air and is not overpopulated.

What to do: This is one of our favourite destinations on the list, because there’s just so much to do here. The city is home to the Santhigiri Ayurvedic centre, where you can stay (for `500 a night) and come away relaxed and rejuvenated. There’s also Munroe Island, where you can take a canoe ride. Visit the Palaruvi Falls for a quick trek and walk around St. Thomas Fort. Explore the museums and temples on foot to get a little activity into your day and then relax on the beaches, specially Kollam and Thirumullavaram.

Chennai is not the healthiest city, but amongst all the major cities, it ranks as the least polluted. It is a part of the top ten healthiest destinations to visit in India and is home to great art and culture, which means that you can walk around the capital of Tamil Nadu to see the sights and sounds. It’s also slightly cleaner than most of the other major cities in the country.

What to do: When you’re in Chennai, don’t miss out on visiting Fort St. George. It’s a great place to walk around. Also visit Marina and Breezy beach and then head to Covelong, a small fishing village where you can relax by the sea. Chennai is not packed on activities, but it’s a great place to get a little peace of mind. You can also visit the Nanmangalam Reserve Forest, where walks are organised through the year. The Pondy Bazaar is a good place to shop, because it’s a large area to walk through. The city is home to several national parks and gardens, including the Guindy National Park and Pallikaranai Marsh, as well as the backwaters, where you can relax among natural surroundings.

Ayurvedic massages are one of the many things that Kerala is known for, and Palakkad is the place to go to if you want your vacation to include these deeply relaxing and healing treatments. Palakkad lies at the foot of the Western Ghats and is home to several resorts, as well as standalone centres that offer these treatments. However, you must remember that the massages are aimed at healing, more than relaxing you. So, don’t expect luxurious interiors, or 5-star services. But, what you can look forward to are consultations with Ayurvedic doctors, who will prescribe massages as well as lifestyle changes that can tackle ailments ranging from obesity and eye problems, to stress and even cancer.

What to do: Palakkad is an excellent place for outdoor excursions. The Silent Valley National Park is a popular attraction, and is home to several endangered animals, making it a great place to visit if you’d like to go on a walk surrounded by lush greenery. If you want to soak in some culture, hike to Attapady, a tribal hamlet that is nestled deep in the forest. You can also go on a three-hour trek to Dhoni Hills, which has several beautiful streams and waterfalls.

A four-hour drive away from the city of Bangalore, Coorg is a great place to go if you’re looking for tranquillity and relaxation. The hill station has several resorts that arrange hiking tours to keep you active while you’re on vacation. Coorg is also known for the Jiva Grande Spa at Vivanta by Taj. The spa has often been on lists of the healthiest retreats in the world and offers ancient Indian Ayurvedic treatments that promise to clear your body of toxins and help improve your overall health. The treatments include yoga, meditation and traditional healing therapies.

What to do: As we mentioned earlier, Coorg is a great place to go on a hike or trek. The Pushpagiri Hill, Brahmagiri Hill and Virajpet are some of the most popular trekking spots. The varied terrain offers hikes of different levels of difficulty, which allows you to choose one that is perfect for you. Coorg is also famous for river rafting and its waterfalls, all of which are a visual treat, especially during monsoon.

From skiing to rock climbing, adventure sports are one of the best ways to have a memorable and active vacation. While most places on our list offer some kind of adventure activity, if you really want a rush of adrenalin, add these places to your travel bucket list:

Skiing in Kashmir: Ever wanted to ski? You don’t have to visit an international destination, just visit Jammu & Kashmir between December and March, which is when the region is covered in snow. Kashmir offers a range of snow sports such as skiing, snowboarding and ice-skating.

Mountaineering in Uttrakhand: Mountain climbing is one of the most physically demanding activities, but it is extremely thrilling. The hilly terrain of Garhwal and Kumon in Uttrakhand is home to the best places for mountaineering in India.

Scuba Diving in Andaman: We’re sure that you already know about this, but just in case you were wondering where you can get up close and personal with underwater flora and fauna, it is at the scenic islands of Andaman. Havelock Island in Andaman is popular the world over for its virgin beaches and great scuba diving opportunities.

Rock climbing in Madhya Pradesh: Ever wanted to be like Tom Cruise at the beginning of Mission Impossible II, where he climbs rocks to reach the summit of a hill, in the middle of a dessert-like terrain? If you do, then you should visit Madhya Pradesh. The Satpura mountain range located in this state offers great opportunities for rock climbing, river rappelling and trekking.

Take a look at some of the healthiest dishes from various cuisines across the country:

Sambhar: Sambhar is made with chickpeas and a variety of vegetables, so it’s hardly surprising that this preparation is rich in proteins and vitamins. The dish is available all over India, but the tastiest version can be found at south Indian tourist

Idli: Another south Indian speciality, idlis are a simple and nutritious breakfast option. They contain rice and chickpeas, which are fermented and steamed, making them a safe and healthy option for when you’re on vacation.

Dhokla: A Gujarati speciality, this savoury cake makes for a healthy snack. The preparation is similar to that of an idli and uses fermented dal, which is then baked or steamed to produce this fluffy delicacy. It’s low in calories and high in proteins and fibre.

Daliya: Daliya is a type of a cereal that is extremely rich in fibre. In certain parts of central and northern India, it is mixed with milk and served for breakfast. Daliya, which is essentially broken wheat, is also used to prepare the traditional Gujarati and Maharashtrian sweet dish, Laapsi.

Palak ki subzi: We’re sure you are aware of the benefits of including green vegetables in your diet, which is why this dish, made using spinach, is extremely healthy. In northern India, you’re likely to find it made with dal, while in central and eastern India, it is usually prepared with potatoes.

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