Month: July 2016

Charanag – Just Another Town, Across The Mountains

When you’ve been traveling for long enough, you start calculating the benefits. You wonder whether your travels have made you a better person, and whether all these journeys, that you’ve so far taken, have given you a deeper understanding of yourself – from within, and without I found myself pondering over such infinite and boundless thoughts as I decided to stay yet another day in Charanag – a small village in Himachal, secluded from the-road-much-taken towards Manali – where I ended up being the (only) tourist in the entire town. Though in my mind I’ve always been a drifter, it’s places like these, that slow down my movement. As I wandered through its small, cosy alleys it struck me that going slow, and sometime going nowhere at all, and just sitting still – killing every minute as it approaches you, with a new challenge – is the best of all joys. And here, in places like these, you find that joy. The joy in sitting still. In studying locals, and following their cultural routine to each days …

Travelling India – Where Every Step Is A New Learning

It has been more than an year now, since I’m travelling India – exploring its horizons and stretching through its boundaries – from days on end.  And during the stint I’ve come across, this repeated question, a predicament rather, that why am I busy travelling my own country, when there is so much to see in the world. “What is the reason behind this abiding fascination,” someone once asked. I give people different reasons – that start right from the obvious mentions of its cultural diversity to the warmth of the people. When you’re in India, not only you feel more alive, thanks to the country’s colourful ambience, but you also lean a lot – about yourself, and about the world around you. Not to mention all the ways it familiarises you with the many imperative spiritual truths. Here, some of the most important life lessons this country has taught me: People Are Not Bad, After All Before I started travelling, and during the days of my bustling life in New Delhi, I often heard people saying …

Sandakphu Trek — All You Need To Know

Singalila Ridge Trek (or Sandakphu trek, as is often called) is one of the best treks around Sikkim and West Bengal. You literally walk through a beautiful land, covered with green grass and wild rhododendrons, for a few days, as sometimes – flying clouds interrupt your walk, and sometimes – periodic lakes. As you reach Sandakphu you enter into a zone whose entry signs reads “Pollution free zone”. And I wonder, how many of those are still left in this world. Sandakphu trek offers fantastic views of the Himalaya. The valley beautifies itself, with clear panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, as you journey towards Sandakphu. You start the trek from the town of Mane Bhanjhang, and as you walk towards Sandakphu, you enter/exit into India, and likewise into Nepal, at least a few dozen times. How? Because the Sandakphu trek is more or less a borderline between India and Nepal. And the towns that come on the way, including Tumling and Sandakphu are owned by both countries. Sandakphu, as a town, is popular because it …

Rishikesh: An Ideal Travel Guide

It is easy to visit Rishikesh and feel you have not got under its skin. It offers a seemingly different stage-set experience during your each visit. For example if you come here during the monsoon you are more likely to lose yourself in a crowd, dominating its streets, with their confusing march pasts towards Gangotri; whereas if you visit during winters, expect the place being swirled over with hippie westerners. But where is the real Rishikesh? Does it even exist? Well, yes, if you know where to look. Rishikesh has something on offer, for everyone – from those looking for a few months long yoga vacation to the less fortunate, time bounded, adventure seekers. During my last 12 month travelling stint in India, I have, myself, spent more than 90 days here – including many short and untimely trips. Well, there’s a feeling in Rishikesh unlike anywhere else, and that’s the most compelling part. A Peaceful Vibe I find Rishikesh a deceptively powerful place. Its robust, pristine nature, and the fact that it is probably …

A Photo Journey Through Spiti Valley: Amongst World’s Most Beautiful Landscapes

Isolated and wild from inside out, as it appears – the journey to Spiti Valley will take you to the roads less traveled, literally! It is “The Middle Land” between India and Tibet, and much of it is either inhospitable or unexplored. Life here is tough and a little less ordinary, perhaps that’s why every moment spent here has its own significance. [Also Read: My Solo Bike Expedition To Spiti And How I Did It In Less Than 5K Rupees] A cold desert, a raging river, few rugged and narrow roads, and many uninviting trekking routes – no wonder Spiti Valley has no charm for a weakling.   It is said that the journey is more exciting than the destination itself. And when you’re here, you understand that well. Driving for long hours of a day, counting each mile is no less than a thrilling experience. It is something that every adventurer dreams of. The Majestic Key Monastery with a vainglorious mountain range trying to address its authority. Come to this barren land and you’d find nature ruling over every bit …

Backpacking Through Bhutan: Is It Possible?

Nestled between India and Tibet, the remote and breath-taking Kingdom of Bhutan, has always been well known, for restricting tourist activity. But if you look at the world now, Bhutan is the only remaining Buddhist Himalayan Kingdom in the entire world, which makes it alluring to tourists. What makes it more alluring is the fact that it has only opened its borders to tourists only in 1974. Perhaps that’s why I’d initially decided to backpack across Bhutan, I knew I was in store for a travel experience unlike any other. (Read What Makes Bhutan A Great Place For Backpacking) Paying $250-A-Day Royalty Where many want to experience Bhutan’s culture and learn about the unique sentiments attached to it, travelling to this Unknown Shangri-la is no easy job – even if you’re an Indian (a Bangladeshi or a Maldivian, its close allies). And if you’re into the budget backpacking thing, it might be a complete no-go for you. The country requires you to pay $250/day in Royalty and you will be accompanied by a tour guide at …

7 Things I’d Tell A New Traveler

Hope. Anxiety. And Excitement. Such emotions are inevitable, when you leave for the first ever grand adventures of your life. When I’d initially quit my job to travel, I had no idea what to expect. No one I knew had ever done it before. I was feeling a bout of jitters. To compensate my unpreparedness, I followed a few guidebooks and hoped for the best. I was an inexperienced and a hopeless wanderer, and my actions spoke about my condition well enough. But now, after travelling for a few years, I know better. And if I could sit my younger self, I’d give him this advice: Don’t Be Scared Walking off the beaten path and travelling places you’re not familiar with, might be a little scary, but you aren’t the first person doing so.  There is a well-worn travel trail and hundreds of online blogs and guidebooks to walk with you along the way. So don’t be scared. And if thousands of people can make their way around to the world, and to the place you’re going, …

 7 Ideal Locations To Camp And Not Pay A Penny, On The Road To Spiti Valley

Bike expedition in Spiti Valley, itself, is adventurous. And the idea of camping through it, rather than opting for the safety and comfort of a guest house, is an adventure of a next level. Unlike other parts of Himalayas, here you can’t think of camping out in the wild, away from any civilization. Gusty winds and an unfriendly terrain makes it just too hard. When I initially left for the solo bike expedition to Spiti Valley, I had no intention to sleep all the way through it – in my own tent; though I brought it with me to spend a night or two in Chandratal, which falls almost on the way. I ended-up camping for the first night (in a town called Arphu), because I was struck with the idea of sleeping somewhere quieter than the likes of Shimla and Rampur. I needed a place which was not bustling with tourists or, in fact, had no tourists at all. Arphu fit the description, but since it had no guest houses, camping seemed the only possible way. But …