Few can turn away from the shimmer and shine of a vast body of water, its promise of a cool breeze, and the temptation for a quick dip. Children beg their parents to go out onto it, be it in a boat or on an inflated tube.
When opportunities arise to get into a yacht, gondola, houseboat, shikara, paddleboat, jet-ski, or even an old ferry, hold on to the rail with both hands and soak in the sights. With a coastline of more than 7,500km and rivers crossing vast plains, the availability of natural and artificial lakes, and dam reservoirs, India is only recently coming into its own where water tourism is concerned.
Here are five places in India where you can glide on water.
On a trip to paradise on earth, ensure you get on to a shikara on the Dal, the gem of Srinagar. Shikara rides keep you close to the water, but be mindful of not rocking the boat too much. Staying on the houseboat will give you a glimpse of Kashmiri culture which is renowned worldwide for its warm welcome of guests.
How to get there: Fly to Sheikh Ul Alam International Airport and take a taxi ride to the city. If you're travelling by train, get off at Jammu Tawi Railway Station and continue by bus or car to Srinagar, which is 250km away. A road trip to Srinagar will have you pass by gorgeous landscapes but be mindful of the bumpy roads.
The serene waters of the revered river Ganga in Prayagraj offer many boating and sailing opportunities. One of these is a multi-day trip down the Ganga from Prayagraj to Varanasi. As you swish past the venerable temples that line the historic ghats, you may get lucky and spot the elusive Gangetic river dolphin revelling in the holy waters.
How to get there: Touchdown at Prayagraj Airport or the Prayagraj Railway Station, one of the busiest train junctions in the country. A road trip from a city like New Delhi can take 12 hours to cover. There are bus services aplenty within Uttar Pradesh and from New Delhi to Prayagraj.
The state of Odisha has a lengthy coastline and is home to many river gorges and lakes. The largest among them is technically a saltwater lagoon - Chilika Lake. You can also choose from an array of boating experiences while basking amidst crocodiles and exotic birds in the canyons of Satkosia Gorge, through which the Mahanadi River flows. In Sambalpur, western Odisha, is the Hirakud Dam on the same river. Here you can enjoy paddle boating and other water sports too.
How to get there: Take a flight to Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar and a bus or taxi to cover the 60km to Puri, which also has a railway station. Satkosia Gorge is 215km away from Bhubaneswar so hire a taxi or a hop on a bus. Sambalpur has a railway station and is accessible by road from Bhubaneswar seven hours away.
Situated along the coast, Mumbai is surrounded by the waters of the Arabian Sea which make it ideal for all water-based tourism activities. From day-long trips to short ones lasting just a few hours, there is no shortage of options if you want to be on the water, with yachts, sailboats, catamarans, and ferries available. There are jetties for tourism-related activities dotted at many points across the city.
How to get there: Land at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport or any of Mumbai's numerous railway stations. There are intercity buses and taxis available for hire within Maharashtra and from Goa, Karnataka, Gujarat, etc.
For once, leave aside the beautiful coastline of Kerala and look towards its interiors, especially to the Idduki Dam on the Periyar River. This reservoir is set between two mountains, Kuravanmala and Kurathimala, and has regular on-boat sightseeing tours. Many yachting competitions are held here and tourists can easily rent a yacht, sailboat, or rowboat.
How to get there: Step off at Cochin International Airport and hire a bus or taxi to take you to Idduki district which is 100 km away. Book a train to Kottayam Railway Station which is four hours away from Idduki by car.