2024 travel bucket list unveiled – Discover India’s unique experiences

Haven’t ticked off all your travel plans for the year yet? No stress, we’ve got just the thing for you. This new year, why not level up your game with a bunch of incredible travel experiences right here in India? After all, India is like a page out of a fairytale – from grand palaces and wild jungles to vast deserts and peaceful beaches, India’s got it all. This land of contrasts has something magical for every traveller. Imagine journeying from the snow-kissed peaks to the sun-baked deserts, and then to the balmy backwaters in the South – there’s a treasure trove of unique experiences in India waiting for you. 

As we approach the new year, we’ve crafted a list of 24 must-do things in 2024, which only scratches the surface of what India has to offer. These are not just trips; they are once-in-a-lifetime experiences in India. From bustling, spice-filled vegetable markets and the vibrant hues of its festivals – we’ve handpicked these Indian experiences to make your road trips unforgettable. So, to all the adventure seekers, travel enthusiasts, and shutterbugs out there, we’ve compiled a list of once-in-a-lifetime experiences in India. Get ready for unique experiences in India to explore the country in a whole new light. It’s going to be an adventure you won’t forget!

1. Embark on a mesmerizing tea journey in Darjeeling and Assam

Love tea? Now picture yourself in Darjeeling and Assam, the heartlands of tea. Imagine wandering through the lush, green tea gardens of Darjeeling, with their enchanting views. How about picking your tea leaves and then savoring a cup of the freshest brew on a sunny terrace at the Glenburn Tea Estate? Next, you’re off to Assam, hitting up the cool Tea Festival in November, where you’ll partake in the lively Tea Festival in November, a celebration of the robust flavors from the world’s second-largest tea-producing area.

This trip offers a glimpse into a heritage spanning over a century, reminiscent of the British Raj era. Accommodations in historical bungalows, rounds of golf on traditional courses, and explorations of charming towns like Dibrugarh and Jorhat complement your experience, all while sampling an exquisite selection of teas. Ready to plan your epic tea journey? Here is the perfect itinerary to embark on your tea trail in the northeast.

2. Experience the thrill of India’s rural Olympics

Ever heard of an Olympics for the rural heartland? Welcome to the Kila Raipur Sports Festival in Punjab, a unique event that’s much more than just a sports meet. Here, you can witness a spectacular array of traditional and modern sports, from bullock cart races to power-packed wrestling, and even feats of strength like pulling vehicles with teeth! It’s not just humans showcasing their talents; this festival celebrates the prowess of animals too.

Here, camels, dogs, and bullocks compete, displaying their strength and stamina. This event, rooted in tradition since 1933, is a vibrant testament to the spirit and culture of rural India. The prizes range from cash awards to simple tokens like packets of ghee. Whether you’re in it for the thrill or just to watch, the Rural Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime event that epitomizes the vibrant, diverse heart of India.

3. Play Holi with ashes instead of colours in Varanasi

Celebrate Holi in a way that’s completely different from the usual festivities. Varanasi, for its 84 ghats, each with its own significance, presents a unique way of observing Holi at the Manikarnika Ghat. Holi is marked with pyre ashes at the Manikarnika Ghat.

Image credit – News18

This tradition, known as Masan Holi, is a profound cultural and spiritual practice that represents a deep connection with life, death, and the hope for ‘Moksha’ (salvation). During this festival, devotees cover themselves in ashes and dress as gods and goddesses, joining a celebration believed to be attended by celestial beings. 

4. Trek to the mystical glowing forests of the Western Ghats

If you were mesmerized by the glowing forests in the movie “Avatar” and thought such a spectacle was purely fictional, the Western Ghats in India are here to surprise you. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the planet’s eight biodiversity hotspots, the Western Ghats stretch for 1,600 kilometers along India’s western coast. However, the Western Ghats hold an even more mystical charm. During the monsoon season, from June to October, a surreal and awe-inspiring phenomenon takes place – the forests begin to glow.

This magical illumination is the work of bioluminescent fungi, a natural wonder that transforms the rain-soaked jungles into a glowing, ethereal landscape. This phenomenon, while present in other parts of the world, is especially striking in the Western Ghats, notably in areas within Maharashtra and Goa. It stands as one of the once in a lifetime experiences in India.

5. Zipline through Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to race through a city like Batman? You can get a taste of that thrill at the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, famously used as the backdrop for the prison where Bruce Wayne is held captive by Bane in the Batman series. Here, you don’t need a bat-cape; you can immerse yourself in a zipline adventure across the fort, one of the most unique experiences in India.

Zipline at Mehrangarh Fort
Image credit – LBB

This exhilarating zipline allows you to glide over the grand Mehrangarh Fort, offering breathtaking views of the ‘Blue City’ of Jodhpur, making it one of the most adventurous things to do in India. The ride encompasses not just the majestic fort but also stunning vistas of the surrounding desert landscapes, including two desert lakes and the Rao Jodha Eco Park. Soaring high above the Rajasthan countryside, you can get a bird’s eye view of the Chokelao Palace and Garden, Ranisar Lake, Balsamand Lake Palace, and Rao Jodha Park.

6. Stay in an igloo in Sethan Village, Himachal Pradesh

Turn your childhood dream into reality by staying in an igloo in Sethan Village, located in the scenic beauty of Manali, Himachal Pradesh. For a reasonable price, you can experience the novelty of living in a snow dome, complete with opportunities for skiing, tube sliding, and sled sliding.

The experience is made even more special with night-time bonfires, offering a cozy and adventurous way to enjoy the winter season. This is a distinctive and memorable way to experience winter, blending adventure with the unique charm of igloo living. Discover more about these lesser-known winter adventures in India by clicking here.

7. Meet the Konyak head-hunter tribe in Mon, Nagaland

A visit to Mon in Nagaland presents an opportunity to encounter one of the world’s most fascinating tribes, the Konyaks. Known historically as head-hunters, the Konyak tribe is among the 16 distinct tribes of Nagaland, each with its own unique rituals, attire, and culture. This interaction offers a glimpse into a lifestyle that is both ancient and intriguing, making it one of the unique experiences in India.

The Konyaks are not just a tribe; they are a living testament to human heritage, with their rich traditions and relics from the past providing a rare insight into the diversity and depth of human cultures. This makes meeting them one of the top things to do in India before you die. It’s not just a visit; it’s an exploration of one of the best experiences in India, offering a deep dive into the traditions and stories of a community that has preserved its unique identity over centuries. Indeed, it’s one of the most unusual things to do and a visit to their land is truly among the unique places to visit in India.

8. Go bioluminescence kayaking in Mulki, Karnataka

Unique experiences in India - Bioluminence kayak
Image credit – Treehugger

In Mulki, Karnataka, a truly magical kayaking journey awaits, offering one of the most unique experiences in India. Paddling through the Shanbhavi river here is akin to navigating a star-filled universe, thanks to the mesmerizing blue-green bioluminescence that lights up your path. This extraordinary activity is more than just visually stunning; it’s an adventure where you’re accompanied by the silhouettes of dolphins, rays, and manatees, all shimmering in this natural light show. This kayaking experience in Mulki is not only one of the most adventurous things to do in India, but also is a once in a lifetime experience in India. Embarking on this journey offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and a chance to delve into the fascinating science behind bioluminescence. It’s an integral part of Indian travel experiences in 2024, akin to gliding through a galaxy of stars, but on water.

9. Spot space-ships in Chandratal, Spiti Valley

Chandratal, the “moon lake” in Spiti Valley, is not only known for its breathtaking landscape but also for its intriguing legends and sightings. Reaching this remote location is a challenge, but it’s rewarded with more than just scenic beauty. Local lore tells of fairies at the lake, adding a mystical aura to the already enchanting environment. In addition to these tales, there have been numerous reports of spaceship-like objects hovering over the surrounding mountains. True to its crescent moon shape, Chandratal is surrounded by a wealth of fascinating stories, folklore, and an enigma reminiscent of the X-Files, attracting many adventure seekers. To delve into the mysteries surrounding Chandratal lake, click here.

10. Savor the local brew of Chhang in Sikkim

To immerse yourself in the local culture of India, particularly in Sikkim, trying chhang is a must. This traditional Tibetan alcoholic beverage, made from millet, offers a unique taste of the region. Served cold in the summer and especially enjoyable in the winter, chhang is more than just a drink; it’s a cultural experience. Enjoyed from a large wooden mug and sipped through a bamboo tube, chhang is not only about the flavors but also the unique way it is consumed. This fermented drink is a key part of local life and offers a warm, hearty treat during the colder months, giving visitors a genuine taste of Sikkim’s hospitality and traditions. Additionally, India is home to a variety of local brews and beverages, each unique to its region. To explore more about the diverse Indian summer drinks, click here.

11. Indulge in a 24-karat gold dosa in Bangalore

Gold dosa in Bangalore
Image credit – Whats Hot

Bangalore is the ultimate destination for a Dosa trail, offering an array of amazing dosas in every nook and cranny. For a truly opulent culinary experience, head to Dose Camp (aka Ganesh Darshan) in Jayanagar, Bangalore, to try a dosa like no other. Here, the classic South Indian staple gets a luxurious twist with a thin layer of edible gold foil. This unique creation is a testament to the region’s fascination with gold, transforming the humble dosa into a high-end delicacy. Priced at Rs. 1011, it might be a bit pricey, but it’s worth it for the golden, Instagram-worthy moment. 

12. Send a postcard from a floating post office in Srinagar, Kashmir

Floating post office - Srinagar

In the picturesque setting of Dal Lake in Srinagar, there lies a unique attraction – the world’s only floating post office. Housed in a beautifully carved wooden houseboat, this government office has become a tourist spot in its own right. Visitors often take a boat ride to this charming post office just to send a postcard. The postal seal here is special too, featuring an image of a man rowing a shikara, making it a unique souvenir that captures the essence of Kashmir. Sending a postcard from here is an experience that leaves you with a lasting memory of the serene beauty of Kashmir. To fully enjoy the experience and explore more of Srinagar, consider booking a Savaari, enhancing this picturesque and unforgettable journey.

13. Explore the Himalayan wilderness on a Yak safari

For those seeking an offbeat adventure, a yak safari in the Himalayan regions of Tsogomo Lake and Dzongri in Sikkim is an unparalleled choice. This journey, where you ride on yaks adorned with decorative embellishments around their horns and melodious bells around their necks, stands as one of the most unique experiences in India.

Unique experiences in India - Yak Safari

These gentle giants offer a distinctive and serene way to traverse the stunning landscapes of the Himalayas, making it one of the most adventurous things to do in India. As you meander through the picturesque settings, don’t miss the chance to sample dried yak milk, a local specialty. While it might have an acquired taste, it’s an integral part of the cultural experience. 

14. Witness the ancient art of Kalaripayattu in Kerala

Kalaripayattu, Kerala’s ancient and traditional martial art form, stands as one of the oldest and most scientific martial arts in the world. This art requires a unique set of skills and an immense physical and mental discipline, making it a practice only for the most dedicated and well-trained artists. The training for this art is conducted in a ‘Kalari’, a specialized school where the intricate techniques and philosophies of Kalaripayattu are passed down through generations.

Unique experiences in India - Kalari in Kerala

The Kerala Kathakali Centre in Kochi is an excellent venue to watch and learn about this art form, making it one of the most unique experiences in India. For those visiting Kerala and wishing to watch Kalari in action, booking a Savaari in the Kochi is a great option. It not only facilitates exploration of the local culture but also provides an opportunity to learn a few combat moves and appreciate the rich heritage of Kerala.

15. Fish for the prized golden mahseer in Arunachal Pradesh

For fishing enthusiasts and adventure seekers, Arunachal Pradesh offers a unique and thrilling experience – fishing for the golden mahseer in the Upper Siang region. The golden mahseer (Tor putitora) is not just any fish; it’s one of the world’s great game fishes, renowned for its strength and beauty. This species, native to the Himalayan rivers and streams, is a part of the Cyprinidae family, with a mysterious evolutionary history believed to have originated in Central Asia.

Golden mahseer fishing
Image credit – India Angling

Fishing for the golden mahseer between Yingkiong and Boleng is an adventure in itself, often involving navigating the white-water rapids. This prized fish is highly valued for its meat and as a challenge for sport fishing, making it a sought-after catch for anglers.

16. Party with the tribes at the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland

The Hornbill Festival often hailed as the “festival of all festivals,” is a vibrant celebration held every year in Nagaland, North East India, from December 1st to 10th. This festival is a spectacular showcase of Naga culture, featuring an array of traditional music, dance, and performances that vividly represent the region’s diverse tribes and their rich heritage. Each tribe in Nagaland contributes to making the festival, making it one of the most unique experiences in India.

Hornbill festival in Nagaland, India

The celebrations include exhibitions of traditional Naga Morungs, arts and crafts sales, traditional songs and dances, local games, archery, Naga wrestling, flower shows, beauty contests, fashion shows, and musical concerts. It’s an event where contemporary artists also get a chance to display their work. Click here to learn more about the Hornbill Festival and the significant role it plays in the cultural life of Nagaland.

17. Experience a Theyyam performance in North Kerala

Theyyam is an ancient form of ritualistic folk dance dating back to around 500 BCE, rooted in the Dravidian culture of Southern India. This expressive dance form, a storytelling medium, vividly brings the gods and goddesses of Kerala mythology to life, making it one of the most unique experiences in India. Performers, known as Theyyakarans, are believed to be possessed by the deities they represent, adding a deep spiritual dimension to the performance.

Theyyam performance in Kerala

Theyyam is traditionally performed at night in rural village shrines in North Kerala and is a ritual passed down through generations. The rarity and cultural significance of Theyyam make it not just an artistic expression but also a once in a lifetime experience in India. Its elusiveness adds to its allure, as it is guarded and preserved with great devotion by the local communities, making it a must-include in the list of things to do in India for anyone seeking to explore the rich tapestry of Indian cultural traditions.

18. Witness the Gangaur festival where couples elope in Rajasthan

Gangaur is a widely celebrated festival in parts of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and West Bengal, observed with great fervor from March to April. This festival honors Gauri, Lord Shiva’s consort, and celebrates marital fidelity, childbearing, and harvest. Married women participate in the festival to pray for the health and longevity of their husbands and a happy marriage, while single women seek blessings for a good husband. Gangaur also presents an auspicious time for selecting life partners, particularly in tribal communities. During this period, men and women get the chance to meet, interact, choose their partners, elope, and marry. 

The festival is famed for its traditional processions, with the Gangaur fair in Jaipur being particularly renowned for its grandeur and pageantry. To fully experience Gangaur festival, book a Savaari in Jaipur, which will enable you to explore the festivities and the city’s historic sites in comfort and style.

19. Learn about the Pattachitra art in Raghurajpur, India’s art village

Raghurajpur, nestled in Odisha’s rural heart, is a living gallery showcasing India’s rich artistic heritage. Known as the “Heritage Village Raghurajpur,” this village lives up to its name with its neat rows of houses beautifully adorned with wall paintings. The village’s history as a settlement of artisans dates back to the 13th century, following the establishment of the Jagannath Temple in Puri.

Raghurajpur Pattachitra art

In Raghurajpur, every household boasts a chitrakar (painter) who brings life to canvas, practicing the ancient art of Pattachitra. Visiting this village is a unique chance to immerse oneself in the realm of traditional Indian art. Book an hourly car rental in Puri to explore Raghurajpur and its artistic wonders, as it ensures an enriching journey into the heart of India’s artistic heritage.

20. Release a lanterns in the air in Jaipur, Rajasthan

Makar Sankranti, a festival celebrated with great enthusiasm across India, is observed in various unique ways depending on the region. The cultural significance of Makar Sankranti varies from place to place, but in Jaipur, the celebrations are especially spectacular. For those who are enchanted by the scene of floating lanterns in the sky, as depicted in the movie “Tangled,” Jaipur during Makar Sankranti is an essential destination. While kite flying is a popular activity, Jaipur takes the celebration a notch higher with the release of countless Chinese flying lanterns. Imagine standing on a terrace, joining hundreds of others, as you watch the sky transform into a dazzling display of lanterns, creating an illusion of millions of twinkling stars. 

21.  Join the enchanting dance of fireflies in Purushwadi, Maharashtra

Imagine a night under the stars, surrounded by millions of twinkling lights, not in the sky, but all around you. This is what awaits you at the Purushwadi Fireflies Festival, an annual spectacle in the quaint village of Purushwadi, Maharashtra. As the pre-monsoon season ushers in, from late May to June, these magical creatures emerge to perform their luminous dance, transforming the forests into a mesmerizing, natural light show. It’s not just about the fireflies; this festival is a celebration of eco-tourism and environmental conservation.

Purushwadi fireflies festival

Here, you can embark on night walks through the woods to witness this incredible display, dive into the rich cultural tapestry of the village, and enjoy traditional performances. This festival offers a rare opportunity to connect with nature, understand the local way of life, and be part of a community that values the environment. Don’t miss this chance to experience a night like no other, where nature’s own festival of lights unfolds before your eyes.

22. Experience a 36-course Wazwan feast in Srinagar, Kashmir

In the heart of Srinagar, Kashmir, you can immerse yourself in one of the most unique experiences in India: the indulgence in a wazwan. This traditional 36-course meal is not just a feast for the taste buds; it’s a cultural odyssey that traces back to the 15th century, a culinary legacy of Taimur’s invasion, which introduced a plethora of skilled cooks to the Kashmir Valley. Today, the wazas, descendants of these cooks, continue to prepare this elaborate feast. The meal includes an array of dishes primarily focused on lamb, vegetables, and cheese, each meticulously cooked, often overnight, to perfect the flavors. Restaurants like Karrem and Ahdoos in Srinagar offer a special wazwan experience that echoes royal dining. As a part of Indian travel experiences in 2024, indulging in a wazwan is a must-do, offering a deep dive into the flavors and traditions that define the region’s unique identity.

23. Visit the Apatani tribal communities in Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh

Ziro Valley, nestled within the mountains of Arunachal Pradesh, is not only known for its stunning landscapes but also the Apatani tribal community. The valley, with its picturesque rice fields, flowing rivers, and the famous Ziro music festival, which you can learn more about by clicking here, offers a perfect amalgamation of natural splendor and rich cultural heritage.

Unique experiences in India - Meeting Apatani tribe

The highlight of a visit to Ziro is meeting the Apatani tribe, especially the older women who are known for their traditional facial tattoos and oversized nose piercings. This practice, which has historical significance as a deterrent against kidnapping by neighboring tribes, has been discontinued since the 1970s, but the older women in the village still bear these markings. This interaction offers a glimpse into a lifestyle that is both ancient and intriguing, making it one of the unique experiences in India. It’s essential to explore these villages with a local guide to ensure a respectful and welcoming interaction with the community. 

24. Dolphin spotting on a river safari in Chambal River, Uttar Pradesh

Ready for an adventure that’s a bit off the beaten path? Book a Savaari from Delhi and head over to the National Chambal Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh, where you can hop on a boat and cruise through the waters in search of the elusive Ganges Dolphin. While renowned for its gharial population, it is also a haven for the endangered dolphins. With over 320 species of birds calling this sanctuary home, it’s a biodiversity hotspot. Tourists can hire boats to navigate the river, offering a chance to spot the elusive Ganges dolphins and gharials up close. So grab your binoculars, pack your sense of adventure, and get ready for a day of dolphin spotting and bird watching like no other. Who knows, you might just have a dolphin or two pop up to say hello!

Exploring India’s wonders – Your 2024 travel odyssey

While our list of 24 must-do experiences in India for 2024 is a great starting point, it barely skims the surface of this vibrant country’s countless wonders. Understanding the depth and diversity of India’s cultural and geographical landscapes, we have meticulously crafted “Mystical Trails, Travel Tales,” the latest edition of Savaari’s annual travel magazine

Savaari travel magazine

This free-to-download magazine is your key to unlocking the myriad of experiences that India presents. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveller, this magazine will serve as your compass, leading you to both celebrated and off-the-beaten-path marvels. But that’s not all – for a truly seamless travel experience, download the Savaari app, your reliable travel partner. The combination of insightful tips from the magazine and Savaari’s expert chauffeurs promises an unparalleled road trip experience. Together, they form the ultimate duo for an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Enchant, surprise, and transform yourself with the myriad wonders of Indian travel experiences in 2024. This isn’t just a trip; it’s an epic odyssey of discovery and adventure, waiting to unfold before you.

Last Updated on January 12, 2024 by Swati Deol

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2024 travel bucket list unveiled - Discover India's unique experiences
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2024 travel bucket list unveiled - Discover India's unique experiences
Embark on a once-in-a-lifetime journey to uncover the unique experiences in India in 2024. Explore India like never before.
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About the author

Shabari, a modern-day wanderer, seeks out the hidden stories within the world's serene landscapes and vibrant cultures. She views each person as a living, breathing tale, a unique signature in the grand narrative of existence. With an insatiable curiosity for local customs and traditions, Shabari explores the rich drapery of humanity wherever her journey leads. Her passion is to unravel the secrets of tranquil temples, scale majestic mountains, and share the ancient wisdom they hold. Join Shabari on her quest for solace amidst the world's quiet corners and let her writing transport you to the heart of these captivating adventures.

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