While India’s cultural settings—its exquisite forts, shrines, temples and Taj Mahal—claim all the headlines, its natural treasures, from the shores of Goa to the mountain tops of the Himalayas, capture the essence of this vast and diverse country.
India’s main cities also offer groups a variety of outdoor venues, from rooftop restaurants to palace gardens.
“Every major city for MICE in India has ample outdoor venues,” said Sandhya Haridas, assistant director of India Tourism, Los Angeles Office. “Most of the major cities also have adventure activities and heritage sites in the vicinity to explore.”
Experiences in the North and Central states include taking rickshaw tours and walking food tours in Old Delhi, ziplining in Neemrana, bird watching in Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary or Keoladeo National Park, desert camping in Jodhpur, wildlife viewing in Ranthambore and river rafting in Rishikesh, according to Haridas.
In the Western and Southern states groups can take a boat ride to the Elephanta Caves in Mumbai, tour Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad, try microlight flying in Bengaluru and go waterskiing in Goa.
“Yoga sessions would also be a great way to engage in a group activity, or play a round of golf at any of the signature golf clubs across the country,” she said.
At the time of its construction in the 17th century, Old Delhi was considered one of the most prosperous and beautiful cities in the world. Despite today’s whirlwind pace, the mystical side of Old Delhi lurks in its 400-year-old web of alleys, all ready to be explored on foot or by bike with companies like DelhiByCycle.
“DelhiByCycle offers an exhilarating glimpse into the life and times of the great Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan and the 1,500-acre expanse of his capital—Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi),” said Pravin Tamang, general manager of PEAK DMC India. “With the smell of brewing tea and simmering breakfast curry, you see a mind boggling co-existence of the past and the future, competing for your attention.”
Bike tours also pass many of the city’s highlights, such as the Red Fort.
For a respite from the city’s streets, Lodi- The Garden Restaurant in Delhi’s capital of New Delhi, mirrors the serenity from the adjacent Lodhi Gardens, a peaceful heritage park popular with locals and visitors, according to Tamang.
Housing numerous trees more than a century old, Lodhi Gardens feature 16th and 17th century Mughal architecture and decorated tombs.
Another outdoor venue, The Waterside Bar at upscale hotel ITC Maurya, New Delhi offers pool-side space for cocktails. Meanwhile, The Oberoi, New Delhi is slated to reopen in January 2018 with a rooftop bar available for groups.
The convention hall at The Ashok hotel is popular for meetings and conferences, as are the MICE facilities at properties such as The Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi; Le Meridian New Delhi; and Hyatt Regency Delhi.
Two hours from Delhi, Flying Fox offers zipline adventures over the 15th century Neemrana Fort-Palace as a day trip for groups, with views of the Aravalli Range.
Far north, Rishikesh and other mountain areas are the perfect adventure spots for river rafting and tubing as well as trekking.
A few hours south of Delhi, Agra, home to the Taj Mahal, is a magnet for group excursions. One outdoor venue, Sky Deck Restaurant, offers views of the Taj Mahal and serves as a window to the ancient Mughal era. The restaurant offers breakfast, lunch or high tea.
Agra is also home to the Jaypee Palace Hotel and Convention Centre, which opens its terrace gardens for up to 500 people.
Groups can take a break from the congestion of Mumbai, India’s largest city, with excursions on Mumbai Harbour, home to the iconic Gateway of India stone arch, built by the British Raj in 1924.
To experience Mumbai from the water, Aquasail 360’ Sailing offers teambuilding options and charter boats in the harbor.