India is a land of diversities-be in food, culture, language, or tradition. It’s also the land of extreme climatic conditions, beautiful and disparate landscape. There are places that can send a cold shiver run down your spine. These spots are power packed with thrill, adventure, and excitement. Hence, it is not meant for the weak-hearted. We have come up with one such list.
Mawsynram is a town in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya and is 60.9km from Shillong. Mawsynram receives the highest rainfall in India. Famous for being the wettest region in the world, Mawsynram holds a Guinness World Record for receiving almost 26,000 mm of rainfall back in the year 1985. The village is located at an altitude of 1400 metres above sea level and is believed to receive such heavy rainfall due to its location near the Bay of Bengal. Mawsynram receives 467 inches of rain per year. Labourers who work outdoors often wear full-body umbrellas made from bamboo and banana leaf. One of the most fascinating and beautiful features in the region are the “living bridges" spanning rain-soaked valleys. The 'Maw' in Mawsynram is a Khasi word that means 'stone', thus referring to certain megaliths found in the Khasi Hill area. The village is most famous for the gigantic formation of a stalagmite, which resembles the shape of a 'shivling'. Mawsynram is situated at an altitude of 1400m.
It is known as the hottest place in India and is situated at Thar desert’s Buffer zone. The temperature will rise up to 51 degrees here. But despite the heat, there are people who live here. In fact, this hot land is also a tourist destination. Phalodi is known as the salt city and is one of the main tourist centres of Rajasthan. It is an old caravan centre that is still engaged in trading salt on camels, the ships of the sandy desert.
Often known as the ‘Gateway to Ladakh’, Dras is the second coldest inhabited region on the planet. At an altitude of approximately 10,597 feet above the ground, you can always feel an icy chill in the air. The temperature often drops as low as -45 degrees Celsius and the lowest temperature recorded here was -60 degrees Celsius. This small town in Jammu and Kashmir came into the limelight after being attacked during the Kargil war in 1999. Currently, Dras is heavily guarded by militants. The intense beauty of this quaint little mountain village with its frosty temperatures is what makes this one mysteriously tempting to venture into. Drass is the world's second coldest inhabited place after Siberia's Oymyakon. Minus 30 to 35°C is common here during the winter. Though the coldest points in Siberia have changed over the years, Drass still holds the second rank in the world.
The capital of Ladakh, Leh surrounded by snow-capped mountains is also the driest place in India. Leh is located at a high altitude - nearly 10,000 feet above sea level. As one climbs higher, the amount of oxygen in the air begins to fall. So, yes, there is less oxygen in Leh, as compared to low altitude and plane areas. Since rainfall is less, Leh has become a snow desert. The beautiful Himalayas add beauty to Leh.
Rohtang Pass is a high-altitude mountain pass at a height of 13,054 feet above sea level. This pass connects Kulu to Lahaul and Spiti and promotes access to Leh. Hence, Rohtang Pass is strategically important for the country. This pass is an ancient trade route between the people on either side of Pir Panjal. It is one of the highest roads and poses a challenge to the vehicles that pass through. The road is filled with heavy snow and gets covered with slush which makes it even tricky to drive or ride on it. Furthermore, the road is covered in dense fog for most of the time of the year that further makes the task difficult for the travellers. However, the raw beauty of Rohtang Pass enclosed in snow-clad mountain range is a sight to behold. The pass is open from the month of May to November and is so dangerous that the Indian Government has constructed Atal Road tunnel. Now one wouldn't need to go through Rohtang Pass.
The Thar Desert enthrals travellers with its eternal sand dunes and surreal beauty, but it is often combined with life-threatening experiences. Mostly located in Rajasthan and extending to some parts of Gujarat, the Thar Desert is home to countless deadly creatures. What makes it vulnerable are the presence of more than 20 species of venomous snakes namely Black Cobra, Sand Boa, Saw Scaled Viper, Rat Snake to name a few. In case you are able to handle the arid climate of the desert, beware of the danger around! Thar region of Rajasthan is the biggest wool-producing area in India. Chokla, Marwari, Jaisalmer, Magra, Malpuri, Sonadi, Nali, and Pungal breeds of sheep are found in the region. Of the total wool production in India, 40-50% comes from Rajasthan. The Thar Desert remains hot and dry throughout the year. There is very little or no rainfall. In summer, days are very hot and nights are cool. The Thar Desert is the most densely populated desert in the world, with 83 people per square km. This population lives in small villages, far apart from each other. The people are often nomadic: moving when their sparse water supply dries up.
Located at a distance of approximately 130 kilometres from Srinagar, Gurez Valley, famously known as the Crown of Kashmir, is a beautiful amalgamation of landscapes, mountains, and rivers. It sits deep in the Himalayas and many travellers are unaware of this hidden gem even today. Due to its close proximity to the 'Line of Control', this place is extremely unsafe and volatile. Not only the enemy poses threat but also there are reports of stray landmines having blown people off. In addition, Gurez valley is also prone to avalanches that killed many people in the region including a few soldiers. It is said that the area has experienced 80 landmines in 3 days. However, the danger of this tumultuous zone is offset by its incredible scenic beauty. If you continue travelling on the main road, reach Dawar and stick to the main towns of Gurez Valley then it is safe to visit here.
Kuldhara is an abandoned village in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer. Established around the 13th century, it was once a prosperous village inhabited by Paliwal Brahmins. According to a popularly held notion, the village is now inhabited by ghosts. Once home to rich Paliwal Brahmins, the "haunted" village was abandoned by its inhabitants because of atrocities committed by a powerful minister of Jaisalmer, Salim Singh. Kuldhara Village is a historical site now maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, so tourists can visit the place and look around to have a glimpse of how the ancient village used to be during its time. The entire Kuldhara region stretches for a vast area, including about 85 smaller hamlets.