Year: 2019

Visiting Chanshal Pass, In Pabbar Valley

“Shimla district’s highest motorable pass? Are you sure? Where is it? I’ve never heard of this name Chanshal Pass before.” I remember fairly well how my friend responded as I told him about our plan of spending a few days together in Pabbar Valley, and visit Chanshal Pass. I was on a (nearly) 1-month solo road trip across the Shimla district, in Himachal Pradesh, the last few days of which I carefully planned with an old school friend. I started my (solo) trip from Shimla and wandered across the Shimla district, visiting places like Chail, Mashobra, Neldehra, Cheog, Kotkhai, and a few more, before meeting my friend and concluding the trip at the highest motorable pass in Shimla district – the Chanshal Pass. To be honest, when I left home, even I didn’t know about Chanshal. In fact, the name was only introduced to me a couple of days before I visited Chanshal. I was having dinner with my host in Kotkhai and told him how I am meeting an old friend over the next …

Leaving For An Epic Motorcycle Adventure TOMORROW: Sach Pass–Zanskar–Kargil–Leh

So tomorrow (on 15th September) I am leaving for one of the most epic and adventurous motorcycle rides of my life – covering nearly 4000km on some of the world’s deadliest, treacherous and highest motorable roads. I will be starting from New Delhi and covering Sach Pass, Zanskar, Kargil and Leh, with mountain passes as high as 5000m above sea level. With an aim to cover 4000 km in about two weeks (on roads that actually defy all definitions ‘a road’) this is going to be the most thrilling ride of my life! Until now, motorcycling seemed like an utter waste of effort to me. I always thought, what thrill do these so-called bikers get in riding across a place for weeks. I mean think of it this way: when you travel from point A to point B in a bus or, say, in a train, you get to see and do so much than when you do the same journey riding a motorcycle. When you’re on a motorcycle, all you do is get a …

Staying In A Tree House Near Shimla, Himachal Pradesh

Want to experience staying in a tree-house in Himachal Pradesh? Try this place near Shimla! Out of all the experiences that I’ve had during my previous 4 years of nomadic life – from experiencing luxury train in India to volunteering in Germany – if there was one experience that was missing, it was, staying in a treehouse. A place tucked away in between branches, far away from the real world; a place for shelter or just to see the earth from another perspective. And this time, as I planned a (nearly) one-month motorcycle ride across the Shimla district in Himachal Pradesh, I succeeded to tick off that wish from my bucket list. But before I go ahead and tell you how and where it happened, I want to disclose that this isn’t a sponsored post. I know it’s rare for me to talk about a hotel, and so far I’ve written only one more article on my blog where I openly and dedicatedly promoted a place (this village homestay in Uttarakhand) sometimes, when I find …

Looking For Village Experience Near Shimla? Visit Cheog

Want to spend a holiday in a village in Himachal Pradesh and get real local experience? Try village Cheog in Shimla district! For a traveler like me, understanding local culture and getting a feel of the local way of life is just as much a part of the travel experience as visiting new places or meeting new people is. If I didn’t have any local interaction in a journey, the journey feels incomplete. This is perhaps the reason why I prefer homestays over hotels, and that I, every now and then, try volunteering while travelling. If I talk about my previous motorcycle trip, for example, that took me around places in the Kumaon region in Uttarakhand for about 20 days, the most memorable experiences I had was eating in someone’s house in a small village called Naikana, and not when I camped in the wilderness one of the nights, or when I first saw the Panchachuli peaks in Munisyari. Similarly, this time as well, as I motorcycled across the Shimla district in Himachal Pradesh, for …

Why Monsoon Is The Best Time To Visit Shimla

What’s the best time to visit Shimla? I say “Monsoon!” For a long time, I kept myself away from traveling to Shimla, and this was for one reason – Shimla is a popular tourist destination and remains crowded for most of the time of the year. Hill-stations and mountains, for me, are a synonym to peaceful, and if I know that I am going to find a big crowd to wherever I am going, I stay away from it. But then, a part of me also always want to visit the crowded places and see what actually made them so popular in tourist charts in the first place. So this time, as monsoon hit Himachal Pradesh hard, and the news made people stay away from it, I found myself the perfect time to go and explore some of these top tourist destinations in Himachal Pradesh. And Shimla was one of them. Shimla In Peak Season Despite being born in Shimla (and not staying there for long before my family moved out) I never felt an …

Chail Or Shimla: Which Is Better?

Struggling with the idea of whether you should visit Chail or Shimla on your next holiday? Wondering which one is better among the two? Well, this blog is for you! During my recent 1-month monsoon ride across Himachal Pradesh, I happened to visit both Chail and Shimla. And it was my second visit to both the places. Where I loved Shimla for it wasn’t overwhelmingly crowded (for a change) as I never hit anyone’s shoulder despite wandering around on its mall road for about an hour, I adored Chail for an even more peaceful experience. During the months of monsoon, Shimla and Chail felt (almost) equally enjoyable. But, for a different reason! The First Visit The first time I visited Shimla, it was during the peak tourist months of May and June. I had just returned from the UK (after living there for 3 years) and wanted to see what Britishers have left behind in India. It was a solo backpacking trip – the kind that starts with exploring a place in the morning and …

Barog: A Weekend Getaway Destination From Delhi

Off late, I’ve seen myself covering weekend getaways on my blog quite a lot, places that can be reached in or around 6 hours from New Delhi. And this is happening because I’ve recently bought a new motorbike, and with that, started planning more and more road-trips. The only problem is, however, every time I leave home for the next big adventure, I end up staying at a place not too far from New Delhi, on Day 1. My inexperienced rider ‘self’ doesn’t allow me to ride for more than 6 hours, or, say, 300 km in a day. Where this is certainly annoying, for it takes me twice the time to travel (for example it takes me two days to travel from Delhi to Manali on my motorbike, that, otherwise, is a convenient overnight journey) it allows me to explore a place that can otherwise be an ideal short-weekend-drive-away-destination from Delhi. For example, during my previous 20-day road trip across Uttarakhand, I spent my first night at Kalagarh – which, I later realized, can …

Jewel Changi Airport: A Fine Example Of Singapore’s Creative Indoors

And here’s an astonishing truth: In March 2019 Singapore’s Changi airport won the best airport in the world title (as per WorldAirportAwards) for the seventh year in a row. That was before Changi had its architectural marvel ‘The Jewel’. Now, after its opening, I wonder how any other airport in the world is going to get that title, at least, in the foreseeable future. Every country is good with something, they all have their unique strong point. Some are good in arts, some with technology, while others, in preserving a rich cultural or traditional heritage. For example, when I think of Japan, the first thing that comes to my mind is how they have maintained a perfect harmony between the old and the new-age culture. When I think of Germany, I think of fast cars and perfection. Similarly, Paris is fashion. Switzerland is nature and luxury-living. Peru is beautiful landscapes. India is an amalgamation of cultures and traditions. And Singapore, yes… the country of the topic is creating ‘inspiring indoors’. Every time I visit Singapore …

Why I Loved Luang Prabang

The French colonial buildings, ancient wats, and the fishing boats in the Mekong make Luang Prabang an unforgettably beautiful and a seemingly offbeat destination in Southeast Asia. Beyond the frequented, my 2019 has taken me to two offbeat Southeast Asian destinations (speaking as per Indian standards!) so far: one, the island of Borneo that I happened to visit during a media-trip to Sabah, in Malaysia last month; and second, the landlocked, the unfrequented, the unheard-of (again, by most Indians!) country of Laos. To be honest, I had never considered visiting Laos myself and I think the biggest reason for it was the lack of information available online about where and how to go to Laos. I mean before my visit to Luang Prabang, I had no idea that Laos, in fact, has four international airports across the country. Though it is true that those airports still have no direct flights from most of the countries in the world, the fact that you can actually fly to pretty much any corner in Laos is quite a …

Luang Prabang’s Morning Alms Giving Ceremony: Tak Bat, In Pictures

A group of nearly 2 dozen monks hurried towards me as I caught hold of this unfamiliar religious act in Luang Prabang called Tak Bat for the first time. They were all barefoot, looking and walking straight in one line. The first few in the queue, as I guessed, were in their late teens, followed by some as young as 7 or 8 years old. This is how every morning in Luang Prabang is rewarded – with the colorful sight of hundreds of saffron-robed Buddhist monks and novices walking in a peaceful procession through the sleepy streets of the city, accepting alms from locals. This daily ritual of Tak Bat in which kneeling locals give rice and fruits and snacks (or what can otherwise be offered and called as alms) to the monks, is a timeless tradition that dates back its existence to the 14th century. Every day, hundreds of monks (from 30+ monasteries across the town) would walk barefoot, and in meditative silence, through the streets of Luang Prabang to collect food offerings from …