India is a fascinating country with zillions of tourist points. While many are downright beautiful, some look a bit quirkier. For those looking for something unusual, you’ll be glad to know that this incredibly diverse South Asian country has a myriad of such places up its sleeve that will astound even the most intrepid of travelers. Here are just some of the highlights.
This place is not for the faint of heart! Roopkund is a glacial lake that sits at an altitude of 5,029 meters in what is reportedly one of the most remote and dangerous areas. The lake is circled by snow-laden mountains and rock-strewn glaciers, and for most times of the year, it remains frozen. This lake is shrouded in mystery that’s buried deep inside its surface. About 300 odd human skeletons are buried under this frozen lake and when the snow melts, you can actually see them. Legend has it that these corpses date back to the 9th-century, and are of the then King of Kanauj and his entourage. The King and his retinue were on their way to a pilgrimage site, when a deadly hailstorm occurred and took the lives of everyone. Since then, their skeletons are buried beneath the lake. You need to trek your way to reach this lake. The trek begins at Lohajang Pass, and passes through several villages, glacial valleys and mountain passes – it is the one of the most challenging treks.
Karni Mata Temple, Rajasthan
Karni Mata Temple is home to over 20,000 rats, called ‘Kabbas’. These Kabbas are said to be the manifestation of Goddess Karni Mata, and are regarded to be highly sacred and worshipped every day. These kabbas roam around freely in the temple, and can be spotted drinking milk from a huge bowl. Every day, hundreds of devotees visit this temple, worship and feed the rats. It is believed that if you see white mice, which don’t often show up, you receive the blessings and good luck from God. Besides, killing or hurting the kabbas is considered a sin, and if you happen to step on these furry inhabitants and trample them, you have to purchase a silver or gold rat statue and offer it to the temple to atone for the sin committed.
Loktak Lake, Manipur
Have you ever thought of standing on a land that floats? Well, you can do just that in Loktak Lake in Bishnupur district of Manipur. Popularly known as the ‘Floating Lake’, it is the world’s only floating lake and the largest freshwater lake in north-eastern India. It is known for its phumdis, which are actually a cluster of huge amount of organic matter, vegetation and soil. This lake spreads over an area of 300 square meters, and serves as a source of livelihood for its inhabitants. There is a tourist house on the lake, called Sendra Tourist Home. What’s especially noticeable about this lake is that it houses the world’s only floating national park – the Keibul Lamjao National Park that is home to over 233 aquatic plant species, 425 animal species and over 100 species of birds.
Bara Imambara, Lucknow
Bara Imambara is a historical structure that dates back to the 18th-century. One of the fascinating features of this ancient structure is its architecture, which is a blend of European and Arabic styles. The other noticeable yet unusual point is its central arched hall, which is three stories high and 50 meters long, and the roof of this hall hangs upright without any support whatsoever…no beams or pillars! This gravity-defying phenomenon has attracted many tourists from across the world. Besides this, there is also a storied maze in the main hall, a baoli, a mosque and verdant gardens.
Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu
Rameshwaram is considered one of the most sacred places in India, as it is from this place that Lord Rama’s Vanara Sena constructed a floating stone bridge (called, Ram-Setu) across to Sri Lanka. The stones used for bridge construction had the name of Lord Rama inscribed on them, and what is unusual about them was that they never sank, instead floating on water. You will still find these ‘floating stones’ in Rameshwaram, and in fact, they are the main tourist point in the town.
Magnetic Hill, Ladakh
Located at an elevation of 3,352.8 meters, the Magnetic Hill is one of India’s most unusual places. It is famous for its magnetic properties that pull a vehicle uphill, even if the ignition is turned off. This unusual phenomenon is actually the result of an optical illusion created by the gravitational force of the hill. Owing to this unusual yet thrilling phenomenon, it is one of the major tourist attractions.
Shri Veerabhadra Temple Lepakshi, Andhra Pradesh
India is known for its immense diversity of architectural beauty. Lepakshi temple is one of the gems that will leave you astonished. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is known for its floating pillar. There are about 70 pillars, out of which, only one is suspended in the air. Every day, many tourists visit to see this miracle pillar, and it is said that if you pass any thin article under this pillar, it will bring good luck in your life. An unusual claim and one that has to be seen to be believed.
Chandipur Beach, Odisha
This beach is popularly known as the Hide and Seek beach and for good reason. The seawater recedes up to three miles during low-tide and returns back during high-tide. This unusual yet interesting phenomenon is unique to this beach and happens every day.
Bibi Ka Maqbara, Aurangabad
Did you know there is a replica of the majestic Taj Mahal in India itself? In Aurangabad lies Bibi Ka Maqbara, which was commissioned by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in memory of his wife, in the 17th-century. Often referred to as the ‘Taj of the Deccan’, its appearance resembles the original Taj Mahal and is surrounded by lush gardens and fountains. Though the size is smaller than the original, it is beautiful in its own right. And, as the sun goes down, the marble colour of the mausoleum changes to orange and pink – a sight to behold.
Hazrat Qamar Ali Darvesh Shrine, Shivapur
This shrine is known for its levitation stone. There is a 70 kg rock placed in the shrine. About 800 years ago, this place was a gymnasium (or akhara). Qamar Ali, a Sufi saint was insulted by a wrestler and ruffled by it, the saint put a curse on the rock used by the wrestler. And, since then, this rock cannot be lifted by a single person. Instead, 11 people are required to lift it just by using their forefinger, alongside chanting the name of the saint who put a curse on it, following which the rock hangs in the air magically. Don’t believe us? Try it for yourself!
Great Banyan Tree, Kolkata
The Great Banyan Tree in the Archarya Jagdish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden, Kolkata is the oldest tree in India and the widest in the world, encompassing an area of 14,500 square meters. From a distance, it looks like a dense green forest, but as you go near it, you’ll see it is just a single tree. People from across the world come to witness this gigantic tree, said to be over 250-years-old and with approximately 3,300 aerial roots expanding far and wide. This tree has faced numerous catastrophes, like a cyclone, lightning, etc., but it still stands tall. If you want to watch the tree up-close, you need to take a road constructed around its circumference, and 330-meters in length.
Living Root Bridges, Meghalaya
Have you ever heard of natural bridges? In West Jantia hills and East Khasi hills district of Meghalaya lies the marvel of Mother Nature – Living Root Bridges. These bridges are made of rubber tree roots that are placed into the trunk of the plant and once the roots reach the other side of the stream, they are ingrained in the soil and fortified with pebbles and stones. It takes approximately 15 years for the bridge to build and get stronger. An interesting fact about these bridges is that they last for several hundreds of years.