Month: July 2016

Charanag – Just Another Town, Across The Mountains

When you’ve been travelling 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 too 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 sometimes 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 …

Travelling India – Where Every Step Is A New Learning

It has been more than a year now since I’ve been travelling in India and during this time I’ve come across, this repeated question of 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 to various excuses on why we should be travelling our own backyard. When you’re in India, not only you feel more alive, thanks to the country’s colourful diversification but you also learn 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. And if you’re looking for more reasons for me to be travelling in India, here are some of the reasons and some life lessons that India has taught me during all these journeys: People Are Not Bad, After All Before I started travelling, …

Sandakphu Trek — All You Need To Know

As I entered the town of Sandakphu, a signpost welcomed me with an unusual charm. “Pollution Free Zone” it read, obstructing a view to the mighty Everest at a distance. It took me three days to reach Sandakphu, while slowly galloping through flying clouds and interrupting lakes. “Pollution Free Zone” I read the signpost once again, only a little louder this time and asked myself, with a smile — how many of those are still left in the world! Singalila Ridge Trek (or Sandakphu trek, as is often called) is one of the most picturesque treks around Sikkim. The highest point in West Bengal, the trek offers some of the most fantastic views in the Himalaya. The valley beautifies itself, with clear panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, as you start your journey from Mane Bhanjang towards Sandakphu. The funny thing is, as you start waking from Mane Bhanjang to Sandakphu, you cross India-Nepal border a few dozen times because the Sandakphu trek is more or less the borderline between India and Nepal. And the towns that come …

Rishikesh: An Ideal Travel Guide

It is easy to visit Rishikesh and feel that you have not got under its skin. It offers a seemingly different stage-set experience during your every visit. For example, if you visit Rishikesh during the monsoon you are more likely to lose yourself in a crowd, dominating its streets, with their confusing march pasts towards Gangotri (yes I’m talking about the pilgrimage to the source of the Ganges that take place every year during monsoon!) whereas if you visit Rishikesh 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 to offer for everyone – from those looking for a month-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 accumulatively. Well, there’s a feeling in Rishikesh unlike anywhere else, and it draws you in. A Peaceful Rishikesh Vibe I find Rishikesh a deceptively powerful …

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 travelled, 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. Here, a photo journey to Spiti Valley: [Also Read: My Solo Bike Expedition To Spiti Valley On A Budget, 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 in Spiti Valley, 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. …

What To See And Do In Manali

I consider Manali, in Himachal Pradesh, my second home — and I believe it isn’t just me but everyone who lives in New Delhi. Manali’s close proximity to the capital city of India and other big towns like Chandigarh makes it people’s preferred weekend getaway and a frequented holiday destination. This particularly happens during summer, when the heat in Indian cities is unbearable and everyone fancies a quick escape. But if you just happen to be one of those people who is visiting Manali for the first time then fret not. These experiences to try and attractions to see will help you get the most out of your to Manali.  Things To Do In Manali Stroll Along The Mall Road: Though after a few visits the Mall Road (the main shopping street in Manali) seems more like a tourist trap and less like an attraction, for the first timers, it indeed remains a highlight. At Mall Road in Manali, there is something for everyone — good food, bike rentals, adventure tours, local wear, Kashmiri Pashmina, Darjeeling Tea, you name …

Backpacking Through Bhutan: Is It Possible?

Nestled between India and Tibet, the remote and breath-taking Kingdom of Bhutan has always been popular for restricting the inflow of tourists. 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. But I wanted to travel like a real backpacker. Paying $250-A-Day Royalty In Bhutan 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. The country requires you to pay $250-a-day in Royalty, against which you will get a pre-booked accommodation and a complete end-to-end itinerary — right from the morning tea to the late evening snacks. You will moreover be accompanied by a tour guide, during your entire …

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 self, and my actions spoke about my condition well. But now, after travelling for a few years, I know things 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 …