Guys, India is a mysterious, magical land that most people know nothing about aside from the stereotype that it’s full of call centers and overflowing train cars. Okay, both are pretty much true. But still, the country is so much more than that. For example, did you know that India has 9 officially recognized religions, 22 different languages and is home to over 2,000 different ethnic groups? You didn’t. India is also a place full of super weird, cool places that are worth exploring. Here is a list of 15 that need to be on your itinerary.
1. Shetpal, Maharashtra – The Village of Friendly Snakes
Peeps, do you like snakes? Probably not. What about the super nice kind? Still no. I see. Well, Shetpal is the perfect place to overcome your fears. The village is full of cobras and every home is required to provide them with a place where they can crash after a long day of slithering around. Sort of like your slacker friend, but… fangier? Actually, there has never been a single reported snake bite, so feel free to give them an affectionate poke to the face. No, please don’t.
2. Chamoli, Uttarakhand – The Lake of Skeletons
Chamoli, located 16,500 feet above sea level in the Himalayas, is one of the most isolated and dangerous places in the world. Which means you’re probably totally rushing to buy your bus ticket right now. Anyway, what really freaks people out is the hundreds of skeletons found floating there when Roopkund Lake thaws out after the winter months. Radiocarbon tests indicate that they date back to the 1400s and it’s been speculated that the corpses belonged to the king and queen of Kanauj and their royal court, who died after getting lost on their way to a rock festival. Or a pilgrimage to celebrate the birth of their heir, most likely.
3. Lepakshi, Andhra Pradesh – The Hanging Pillar
This important historical and archaeological site contains a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva the Destroyer. Now if that isn’t a cool nickname, I don’t know what is! Anyway, among the 70 pillars is one that appears to be hanging in mid-air. We suggest that you blow your mind by passing objects under it. How the hell does this happen? Nobody knows for sure, but that’s some Harry Potter-level magic right there.
4. Talakadu, Karnataka – The Mysterious Mini Desert
Located along the banks of the Kaveri River, there’s an ancient village completely buried in sand. It is believed that there are around 30 temples under there. According to legend, the devoted widow of Lord Shiva placed a curse on the place, turning it into the desert that it is today. The lesson? Don’t mess with Shiva’s lady, we guess.
5. Shani Shingnapur, Maharashtra – The Village Without Doors and Locks
When you enter this village, you might find yourself scratching your chin and thinking, “Hmm. Something is different about this place. But what?” Then you realize that not one of its houses, schools or even commercial businesses has a single damn door! The villagers claim that not a single crime has ever been committed here, which is why I am going to contact the mayor of my town in Iowa and tell him to enact a door ban! The villagers believe the crime-free community is the work of Lord Shani the Hater of Doors. Okay, we’re just making that nickname up.
6. Deshnok, Rajasthan – The Temple of Holy Rats
Big fan of rats, are you? Then make your way to Karni Mata Temple, home to more than 20,000 rats! Leave the rat poison at home though. Our rodent friends with scaly tails are worshipped by the locals because they are believed to be the reincarnated relatives of the female Hindu warrior sage Karni Mata. The white rats hold the highest honor of all because…reasons.
7. Bandai, Rajasthan – The Motorcycle Shrine
Let’s be honest: no list would be complete if it didn’t include a motorcycle that people worship. While many of us revere our Harleys (and for a few misguided souls, their Vespas), the folks in Rajasthan have created a shrine to the Bullet Baba, a motorcycle that protects travelers. The story goes that a dude who might or might not have been named Om Banna died in a motorcycle accident on the very spot where the shrine is located. The authorities carted off the motorcycle (murder machine?), but it would somehow manage to make its way back to the spot even after they had emptied its gas tank and shackled in chains. So naturally they took a sledgehammer to the demonic bike that was clearly trolling them, right? Nah. They just gave up and the locals proceeded to build a temple around it because why not?
8. Kodinhi, Kerala – The Village of Twins
Identical twins are creepy, okay? (Full disclosure: my mom is an identical twin and neither she nor my aunt are creepy. But they are exceptions to the rule.) The odd thing about this village is the statistical anomaly in which there are more than 400 sets of twins – and a lot of triples as well – among a population of 2,000 families. Scientists aren’t exactly sure why so many twins (around 15 sets per year) are born there, but we’re going to go ahead and assume Lord Shiva’s widow had something to do with it.
9. Kongka La Pass at Ladakh – Home of the Space Aliens
The Kongka La Pass, with an elevation of nearly 17,000 feet, is one of the least accessible places in the world. Unless you are a visitor from another planet, of course. *Cue the X-Files Music* The locals who do live there have reported all sorts of UFO activity and even an occasional sighting of those Little Green Men. If you’re going to visit, make sure to bring plenty of Reese’s Pieces. I’ve been told the ETs can’t get enough of them.
10. Idukki, Kerala – Where the Skies Bleed
For those of us who were alive back then, July 25th, 2001 was probably just a typical day of drinking cheap beer all afternoon long. But in Idukki, red rain began falling from the skies, staining the clothing of people who didn’t have the foresight to wear something red that day. This continued off and on for around two months. So what’s the deal? Did Lord Shiva cut himself shaving or something? Turns out, there was a scientific answer: the red particles were the result of airborne spores of a particular type of algae that grows in the area.
11. Kangra, Himachal Pradesh – The Immortal Flame
Located in the lower Himalayas, this temple is famous for holding a flame that has been burning nonstop for more than a century… and nobody knows why. Okay, they do. There is a supply of natural gases such as methane that will keep the firing going for a really long time. Those heating bills though.
12. Jatinga, Assam – The Suicidal Birds
Jatinga is a pretty quaint place to hang out in, except during monsoon season months of September and October. That’s when the migratory birds who fly overhead just give up on life and crash into trees, buildings, polls and the like. A suicidal rampage, if you will. Some have suggested that it has something to do with the dense fog and high altitudes, which cause the birds to become disorientated. But most agree that the birds are probably so deep in financial debt that the kamikaze is the only solution.
13. Chilkur, Hyderabad – Home of the Visa God
Say, do you dream of visiting America? Unless you come from one of the 38 countries that allows you to enter the States visa-free for 90 days, you’re going to need a visa. So what should you do if your application keeps getting rejected? Make your way to the Balaji Temple in Chilkur and your visa is guaranteed to be granted! Okay, so we’re a bit skeptical of this method, but if you’re desperately hoping to take a selfie in front of Time Square or a Taco Bell or whatever, do what you’ve gotta do.
14. Shivapur, Maharashtra – The Levitating Stone
When it comes to shrines built in honor of the great Sufi Hazrat Qamar Ali, we’re assuming that the Hazrat Qamar Ali Darvesh shrine is the typical run-of-the-mill. However, the one in Shivapur has one usual thing going for it: it is known for a cursed rock weighing around 155lb (70kg) or 200lb (90kg) or…okay, so nobody can keep their story straight. Anyway, it’s been said that the only way to lift it is if exactly 11 men touch it with their forefingers and call out Qamar Ali’s name, at which point it magically levitates! Okay, we’re calling out shenanigans on this one. All evidence points to people wanting to believe what they want to believe. But just to make sure, we would kindly ask you to fly out there and report back on your findings.
15. Kuldhara, Rajasthan – The Ghost Village
Once upon a time, the village of Kuldhara was inhabited by people. And then it just wasn’t. Around two hundred years ago, all 1,500 Paliwal Brahmins who lived there said, “Screw this place,” and just upped and left overnight. To this day, anybody who attempts to move there is chased away by evil spirits. Or most likely boredom. The night clubs in an abandoned village must to be totally dead, even on 80’s night. You’re free to roam around, but be warned: it’s been said that tourists who enter the village start to feel uneasy due to their overactive imaginations.