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Why I Quit My Job To Travel

Smiling faces

Last week, I took a wee trip to Rishikesh – the land of sadhus and of many people’s spiritual rebirth. I have a personal affection, some attachment to this place. This is where I once spent two months, practicing meditation and taking spiritual lessons.

But this time, my arrival was accompanied by a sense of unexpected realization. I wondered, as I grabbed myself walking along its frenzied, confused walkways, that how lucky I am to experience places like Rishikesh again and again. And yet, it is never the climax of my trip. It is always the beginning.

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls” Anais Nin

It has been more than two years now, since I quit my job and started travelling, yet I never shared here why and how it all happened. It would be nice to say that I wanted to understand myself, and find my inner consciousness, but frankly speaking, it’s not true. The only part which is true is that I’ve had enough living the same boring 9 to 5 corporate life every day. I wanted to do more than that. I wanted to see the world. Meet new people. Learn better ideas. Find out what’s wrong with this system of corporate culture, that it never made anyone happy – no matter what they achieved in their life. Simply put, I wanted to educate myself in a way that no school, no job ever did before.


But one thing is saying that I want to do this and the other thing is realizing I am actually doing it.

Traveling is no less than a pursuit of happiness for me. Yet, throughout this time, I’ve often stumbled upon questions like “Why I quit my job to travel” or “How did I manage to make such a decision” or “What’s next” – with all this, what others actually wanted to ask me was why did I not go for a two-week calculated holiday (or a couple of month’s sabbatical, if I am being pretentiously brazen about it) to quench my thirst of travel, as an averagely sane person would otherwise do.

The truth is, there is no fun in that. I have taken enough of these recreational holidays – as people often term them – in my life. When I was working I found myself claiming the boundaries of my city almost every weekend, with a couple of friends, drinking a bunch of beers and coming back, but that was no solution. The minute you enter the premises of your office, the next day, it feels as if that sweet, sally trip, that in fact, went past in the blink of an eye, actually never happened. I wanted something more than that. Something bigger. Something permanent.

Discontentment Is Good

Discontentment is the very first step to a new beginning. My discontentment towards my job brought me into this. I’d always loved India, but I never loved my life in India. I loved my profession (of writing), but I never loved my job. It seemed I was just accepting things as they came, and as everyone says “this is life and you got to learn to deal with it.”

But I think I never managed to master that art. Though I tried to suppress my unsatisfied soul the traditional way, by changing jobs and running after money. But it was just not enough. My audacious, fertile mind – discontented and grumbling – kept pushing me until I shifted focus.


The Journey That Changed It All

I took my first solo trip back in 2014 (you can read about it all here), while I was still working, to trek for a few days under the colossal Himalayas. It was a life changing experience. Though there was nothing extraordinarily great about the journey, the freedom in travelling solo was, in fact, quite addictive. And that was it. I spent the next few months, saving as much money possible from the job I was doing, having a very clear focus in my mind – to leave this lifestyle behind and travel the world.

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world” Mary Anne Radmacher

Though it may sound cool and easy how I managed to quit my job and get ahead with the mission See-The-World. But trust me, it wasn’t.

Two years Later

Though my journey as a solo traveller and as someone on a perpetually limited budget – particularly during the first year of travel-blogging – has had many highs and lows, when I look back and think of what travelling has given me during all this time, if there’s one thing that comes to my mind, it is: a mileage of a different kind.

I mean forget about the money I’ve made and the number of sponsored trips I’ve scored during all this period, the kind of self-transformation travelling have provided me with, compensates everything.

And speaking of what’s next, I think I’ll continue travelling for as long as my heart will desire, and if I ever wanted some stillness, or a periodic absence-of-movement in life, I can always go back and resume what I was (before 2016) doing. But this time, to only do it much better!

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Travel Packing Tips For India: All You Need To Know

After travelling across India for years and having periodic visits to other continents in between, I’ve noticed that travelling in India demands a different packing list. For example, when in Europe, you may not need to carry a portable power bank with you as finding a charging socket is often easier in most public places. But when it comes to India, and particularly if you’re into budget backpacking — travelling in rickety buses and staying in budget guesthouses facing frequent power cuts — a power bank may just be the most useful thing ever.

So when planning for a long journey in India, I pack slightly differently. And then again, which part of India I am travelling to also makes a significant difference. So let’s break the geographical regions and understand what you may need where.

For The Himalayas

Pack enough warm clothes, irrespective of what time of the year you are visiting. This particularly applies if you’re travelling anywhere above 2000 metres above the sea level. A warm nylon jacket and a few pairs of woollen socks/gloves are a must. If travelling during mid-summer, days can be fairly warm due to intense sunshine but as soon as the sun goes weary the cold takes over.

Other travel essentials for the Himalayas:

  • A backpack, and not a rolling suitcase: Even if you’re going for a luxury tour carry a backpack with you, because in the Himalayas no luxury is a real luxury. So bring with you something that’s easy to carry.
  • A power bank to charge your phone/camera: as many places will have a very limited, or no electricity at all.
  • A headlamp: because street lights, or literally any source of artificial light whatsoever, is a rarity in the Himalayas.
  • A reusable water bottle: because water in the Himalayas is mostly clean and readily available. This will also help in cutting down the plastic waste in the region.
  • A first aid kit and other required medicine: as in most places in the Himalayas finding a drug-shop is a challenge.
  • A sunscreen, sunglasses and a suncap: because at a few thousand metres above the sea level, the sun is more intense. It can give you some nasty sunburns in a very short period of exposure.
  • Camping equipment: if you want to save some money & trek in the mountains carrying your own camping equipment is a good idea. It’s fairly safe to camp anywhere in the Himalayas and is moreover universally accepted.
  • If you’re travelling in the state of Uttarakhand and have the habit of taking meat and poultry products during the day for rich protein, carry some protein powder with you, as chances of finding meat in most parts in Uttarakhand are next to none.
  • Always carry enough cash because ATMs are also rare.

For The Coastal South

Except for a couple of months between mid-December and mid-February, the coastal region of India remains fairly warm and sweaty  — a kind of weather that makes travelling a fairly tougher deal if you aren’t prepared for it. Always carry more t-shirts than you think you may need to avoid being smelly. If you have the habit of wearing shoes, you may need a few extra pairs of anti-sweat socks, but if you can just walk around in a pair of flipflops to keep your feet comfortable and at ease, nothing better — just look around and you will find everyone around you wearing flipflops, if someone’s going for work they may have a fancy version of sandals but still no shoes!

Other travel essentials for Coastal Southern India:

  • At least one pair of full-pants and a shirt (or a top) covering your shoulders: for in most temples in southern India you’re not allowed an entry if dressed showing skin.
  • A sunscreen, sunglasses and a suncap: southern India remains sunny for most time of the year, hence proper sun-protection is needed.
  • Ear Plugs: because cities in India are noisy. And ear-plugs keeps you from going crazy during your initial few days, as you slowly blend in.

For The Plains In The North & Central India

If travelling during peak summer time (between May and August) when the heat (though still dry) plays no mercy, with temperatures going as high as 40 and 45 degree Celcius, pack enough light cottons. Also in the summer, a pair of flip-flops promise for a comfortable stay. For winters, however, that stay anytime between November and February, with temperatures soaring down to as low as 3 or 5 degrees Celcius (even in cities like New Delhi and Varanasi and around) carry enough woollen.

Other travel essentials for the region:

  • A rain cover for your backpack: not to keep it from getting wet in rain but for hiding your zippers and refraining from getting anything stolen as you travel in a train or a bus. Though most Indians wear their bags on the chest in public transport in big cities, I just use the same trick of putting a rain cover on my bag and hiding any zippers. The trick works every time. And the reason why I advise this trick only in the north and central India is due to the fact that pickpocketing and petty crimes are more common in this region — south and the Himalayas are fairly modest (except for big cities like Bangalore and Mumbai and Chennai).
  • A sunscreen, sunglasses and a suncap: though only if travelling during the summer.
  • Ear Plugs: because cities in India are noisy. And ear-plugs keeps you from going crazy during your initial few days, as you slowly blend in.

Other Travel Essentials For India

  • Tea tree oil: Mosquito bites are common in pretty much the entire country. And a healthy alternative to mosquito repellent spray is using some good tea tree oil.
  • A silk liner to avoid sleeping on dirty sheets: If you’re a budget traveller in India, expect to find some pretty nasty accommodation with super dirty sheets in your room. And to make it worse, asking the hotel staff to change it for you doesn’t really work. So instead of getting in a huff, bring your own silk liners and be happy.
  • A combination lock: Because hotels/guesthouses offer their own locks and keys and you need to feel at ease using your own combination lock.
  • Some charcoal tablets: For those visiting India for the first time, this is an incredibly effective way of stopping diarrhoea and preventing dysentery (Delhi Belly). Charcoal Tabs quickly absorbs the toxins or pathogens that are causing the problem and keeps the immunity strong.
  • Toilet papers: Believe it or not, toilet paper is still mostly unused in India. Only the more expensive hotels keep them. When you’re out and about you will be hard-pressed to find a place that has any at all.
  • A voltage converter: If you wish to use any electronic devices from the United States, you may need a voltage converter and a plug adapter. However, people coming from countries such as Australia and the UK, only require a plug adapter for their appliances.  Please note that in India we use 220 volts, alternating at 50 cycles (Hertz) per second, for small appliances.
  • A Scarf: If travelling to big cities where the air pollution is always above the limits wearing a lightweight scarf is handy, as it can be wrapped around the mouth and serve as a primitive breathing filter. It can moreover come in handy for wiping away sweat and wrapping around your head to escape the sun.

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A Road Trip Across The Coastal Maharashtra: The beauty Unexplored  

“We think of travel and we look to far-flung places. We don’t think of stopping to view what’s on offer in our own streets, or neighbouring towns” I never expected this statement being valid on me until very recently, as I explored the beauty of coastal Maharashtra on a four-day road trip.

So far I believed that India has everything to offer but a scenic coastal ride, and to get the best of a road trip in India your options are limited to the Himalayas, with Spiti Valley and Leh Ladakh topping the list. To make it even ironic, every time someone asked me about my favourite coastal route the first thing that came to my mind was the Great Indian Ocean Drive in Western Australia, or someplace in Italy. Though I am certainly not comparing the coastal roads of Australia or Italy with those of Maharashtra, in India, the fact that I never explored my own backyard that I didn’t know what beauty it had to offer.

4 Days | 600km | Unbounded Beauty

For those who love road trips and beaches, coastal Maharashtra has everything. Roads covered with coconut trees and an inviting smell of the sea, taking the intrepid closer to the rural charms in Maharashtra — of flourishing fishing villages and strange regional delicacies, with adventure water sports as a highlighted bonus. What’s better is that the road offers an ever-changing landscape that, at every 50 km, shifts from high cliffs to beach-side drives to isolated hilltops barren with red laterite soil.

A road trip on coastal Maharashtra is all about the journey and not the destination.

Starting from Mumbai we stopped at the three highlighted towns of Harihareshwar, Ganpati Pule and Tarkarli (or Malvan) before finally reaching the last leg of our trip and the final destination of Goa. For the most part of our trip, we were driving on the impressive state highway 4 (or SH4) that, in reality, was more of a country road than a highway, but the natural beauty and the experiences it had to offer made it up to us.

SH4 is known as the coastal route due to its proximity to the ocean. On several occasions (in our case it happened thrice) it would end up in the ocean or a massive lagoon and a ferry must be taken to get to the other side. From moment to moment, it offered dramatic backdrops of the blue Arabian sea from atop a steep cliff, before taking us downhill for a close hug with the coast. As we neared Goa, the highway starting going inland more frequently, over surprisingly isolated and barren hills, with pleasant villages periodically showing up for a change.

Though for most of the part the SH4 remained a poor country road, at times, it turned into a well marked and a well-sealed highway too. Yet, doing more than 200km a day was practically impossible and made no sense since the idea was to cherish a good road trip experience and grab the scenic beauty en-route.

Tip: Since National Highway 48 is a better alternative to the coastal State Highway 4, Google will keep rerouting you to 48. So just have your wits about going parallel to NH48 and sticking closer to the coast. At times you may have to deviate and go inland a little, but starting from Mumbai to all the way to Goa, there are a few different (though for the most part the SH4 only) highways running right next to the coast.

The Coastal Maharashtra route is off the tourist trail. Most tourists doing Mumbai-Goa or Pune-Goa take the better version of the roads and follow NH 48.

The Itinerary: Mumbai-Harihareshwar-Ganpati Pule-Tarkarli-Goa

As it happens that once you witness someplace comparatively more beautiful you stop appreciating the beauty of less beautiful places, I would say that the first and the last leg of the journey (Mumbai to Harihareshwar and Tarkarli to Goa) were the most uninteresting parts of the journey, yet fairly scenic.

Day 3 of Ganpati Pule to Tarkarli remained the highlight of the journey with the most spectacular stretch of the whole trip starting right after Ganpati Pule. As you leave Ganpati Pule, the road climbs around a cliff with Aare Ware beach appearing at a distance below, on the right, providing gorgeous views. A perfectly carved road further compliments the experience. From Ganpati Pule to all the way to Ratnagiri (a 25km stretch) you get periodic glimpses of Arabic Sea shimmering on your right as the roads winds uphill and downhill regularly.

The three ferry crossings on Day 2 (at Bagmandala jetty, at Dhabol and at Tawsal) were also quite an experience and offered great photo ops.

Tip: Bagmandala ferry (to Bankot) departs every hour and start a 6 in the morning. The ferry from Dhabol to Dopave departs every 45 minutes, starting at 6.30 a.m. The last one leaves at 10 p.m. From Tavsal to Jaigad too the ferry runs approximately every 45 minutes, but this one’s the longest of all rides (around 20 mins) with the last ferry, again, leaving at 10 in the night. Cars, motorbikes, and even trucks can be transported on all three ferries.

6 Highlighted Stops On Coastal Mahrashtra

Though there’s enough to see and do on the way, and one can easily spend a week while slowly traversing towards the south and still not get bored with the journey, for those doing it in the minimum time, yet enjoying a good share of stop-overs, here are my six suggested stops en route Mumbai-Goa following the coastal Maharashtra of State Highway 4:

1)  Harihareshwar Beach: The highlight of the pilgrimage town of Harihareshwar, the Harihareshwar beach is ideal for those looking for a clean and a soothing beach where one can spend some unhurrying time and forget their bustling life in cities.

The beach assures a noise-free ambience with no watersports and no loud tourists around, as most people visiting Harihareshwar come here for paying their tribute to lord Harihareshwar. There’s moreover only one shack available throughout its half a kilometre expanse.

2) Anjanvel Village: One of the many villages en route, Anjanvel village offers an ideal rural escape. During our stop at Anjarle and a few hours of strolling and eating in the town, I found people in Anjanvel being very hospitable, with most of them eager to share smiles and engage in a happy conversation with tourists.

A noticeable highlight was the local Malvan food we had in the town, that was more a food tour experience.

3) Harnai Fish Market: Though you’re going to find quite a few fish markets on State Highway 4, Harnai Fish Market just happens to be one of the largest and busiest. The eclectic atmosphere at Harnai Beach with women clad in bright sarees screaming and yelling for their best prices and the men going catching and bringing fishes from the ocean to the land is quite a sight. It’s amazing to see how as soon as fresh fish hit the beach, the action starts.

4) Aare Ware beach Road: A 10 km stretch of a road the Aare Ware Beach road — that starts right from Ganpati Pule beach to the next T-point junction — is the most beautiful highlight of the entire Coastal Maharashtra route. With its many twists and turns, the road frequently goes uphill and downhill, with sometimes offering a distant view of the mighty blue ocean from up a cliff, and sometimes, a closer shrug.

5) Devgad Fort & Ananvadi Fishing Village: If deserted forts and dramatic sunsets overlooking an infinite ocean is your thing then you’re going to fall in love with coastal Maharashtra. Starting Mumbai to all the way to Goa, we came across a few dozens abandoned forts, but the one we stopped by for capturing the sunset was the fort of Devgad and I can’t recommend it more.

The adjoining fishing village of Ananwadi was moreover a great place to capture some village life.

6) Tarkarli Village: Out of all the villages we explored, I particularly loved the setting of Tarkarli village.

Though the highlight in Tarkarli is the adventure water sport (including Scuba diving, Jet Ski, Banana Boat Ride and Parasailing, among others) for a photo buff, Tarkarli had much to offer. Just walk across the many intermingled bylanes and capture the essence of rural coastal Maharashtra.

Have you been on a road trip around coastal India? Where was it? Spill in comments, below!

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Want To Become A Full Time Travel Blogger? Here’s My Advise!

Off-late I’ve started getting a lot of message requests from my readers showing their interest in travelling and becoming a full-time travel blogger — people working as investment bankers and engineers earning a seven-figure income, yet unsatisfied with their lifestyle, wanting to break into (how it appears to an unschooled) the ever glorious field of travel blogging.

In the previous month itself — and particularly after my recent blog trip with The Golden Chariot, as I posted some flashy pictures from a luxury train ride in India — I’ve received a few dozen such queries, all starting with a brief praise for making blogging a successful carrier for myself followed by the inevitable: “I want to do the same but just don’t know where to start from, and how!”

So if you too are struggling with a similar unsettling bug of making travel blogging a carrier choice, here’s my advice to you…

Start With Becoming A Part-Time Blogger

Blogging is a slow process and takes time to eventually grow into a full-time revenue-generating business. Even if you’re exceptionally good in writing content and have a fair knowledge of how SEO and digital marketing works, expect no monetary benefits (or even a sponsored trip) during your first year of blogging stint. Those not qualifying as a pro in any one of the above-mentioned traits may take even more time.  So the best thing to do is go slow, start today, and give blogging some organic time to grow on its own.

Start with a Facebook page or an Instagram handle and build your community. If you know that you’re eventually going to take blogging full-time, buy a cheap hosting plan, build a website and keep blogging part-time until you see a potential return.

Though I know that I was one of those bloggers who quit their job to travel and started blogging full-time soon after without knowing if it would eventually pay or not (yes, I still call myself lucky for it worked all well) I still advise people not to follow the same path. I managed to start making money from travel blogging because I had a fair knowledge of how online publication businesses work, thanks to my previous couple of corporate jobs, but you may just belong from a different field and that may make all the difference. So start with part-time travel blogging and let your blog grow to an assuring point before you make it your only revenue source.

Save Enough Before Discontinuing Your Previous Lifestyle

One thing I always advise people showing their interest in discontinuing their previous lifestyle and becoming a full-time travel blogger is having some financial assurance before they do so. Have enough in your bank account so that you can sustain for at least a couple of years, even if you made no money from blogging.

When I quit my job I’d enough to be able to keep travelling for 3 or 4 years without making any money. Having some financial assurance allows you to keep going and as with every business, with blogging too, if you survived your initial one or two years consider your business a success.

Now, another thing to keep in mind here is your identity. For an Indian, for example, working and travelling visas are not possible unlike for people with stronger passports in hand. For an instance, people from Western Europe can easily move to Australia (and dozens of other countries) the next day they decided, and work and travel at the same time, which means they can continue travelling, keep working and making money on the go, as well as blog about their journeys. For Indians, or for someone having a similar useless passport as the weak Indian passport travelling anywhere out of their country only means travelling — and in other terms, bleeding money! So before you decided to go for blogging full time, make sure you’ve enough money saved in your bank account depending on your travel choices and personal lifestyle.

Be Money Smart & Start As A Budget Traveller

When I initially started travel-blogging, I had no idea about when will I actually monetize from my blog. So I started as a budget traveller trying to make my money last longer. I would camp in the Himalayas and save money on accommodation, or hitchhike and save on transportation. The two self-sponsored international trips I ever did were moreover focused on minimum spending.

However with time, and as I started making money from travel blogging, and sponsored trips became more frequent, I changed course from budget backpacking to premium flashpacking. Now, had I not cared about how much money I was spending during the initial days, I might have run out of money before blogging even picked up for me. So be thoughtful of your resources and create a long-term plan.

sun sillouhette

Gain Traction By Positioning Yourself As Someone Different

The key to successful travel blogging, or any kind of blogging for that matter, is standing out from the crowd. Rather than trying to cover every topic and being everything to everyone, focus on one or two areas of expertise.  Understand what are you passionate about and what drives you.

For example, my branding is based on travel resources which included city guides, how to’s, budget travel tips, travel blogging tips and pretty much everything else you can think of, but all while keeping Indian community in mind. If I am talking about how much money you need to travel in Thailand, I’d write it while keeping Indians in mind and convert all prices in Indian Rupees. Branding is what has differentiated me from other travel blogs out there.

beach pictures
And last but not the least, professional travel blogging is tough, and if you think that this job is just an extended vacation, you are very, very wrong. Travel blogging is like having a 365-day job with no vacations and no annual leaves. Though it’s a different thing that once you get into the business and get comfortable, you start enjoying it.

Having said that, and to conclude it on a positive note… Travel Blogging is the best thing ever happened to me!

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Experiencing Luxury Train Travel In India: With The Golden Chariot

The Golden Chariot — an absolute luxury train travel in India!

For a country like India that is so diverse and distinct, train-travel remains a beautiful highlight. Hopping from one place to the other while noticing small differences in the culture, traditions and landscapes, is a delight of a different kind. And when you get to do it under the luxury of having your own private room, some world-class food and a whole lot of other perks that came along with you — say a gym or a spa — things become even more interesting. Yes, I am talking about one of the five Maharaja Trains that run across India: The Golden Chariot.

I happened to experience The Golden Chariot during a blog trip with the Ministry of Tourism in India. A part of 15 other bloggers, representing 6 different continents from across the world, we travelled across the parts of Karnataka and Goa, visiting some of the highlighted gems in the region. Despite personally repeating most of the places (as I’d visited them in the previous years) the entire experience felt no less refreshing — after all, The Golden Chariot promises a rich cultural experience, coupled with absolute comfort, style and decadence. It does not only promise luxury, but ‘royal luxury’!

7 Days | A Few Highlighted Stopovers | Many Uncountable Memories

Before the start of our journey, I was quite unsure about what to expect from it. Being a frequent train-traveller in India, the entire idea of luxury train-travel felt a bit strange. But it turned out that travelling in The Golden Chariot was not just about experiencing luxury or exploring a few highlighted places, but experiencing a way of life — all with a touch of royalty.

Before we started our journey, from Bangalore, and boarded the train for the first time, we were welcomed with a brief red carpet walk, some live Indian classical music, flower garlands, and refreshments, just like Maharajas would do in the past.

Later, the representatives of The Golden Chariot greeted in a traditional South Indian way and quickly debriefed us with what to expect in the days to come. From the decor of the suites to the cuisines served at the dining cars to the places we travelled to, all spoke of nothing but a hint of rich South Indian lifestyle.

The Golden Chariot currently operates on two circuits:

  • The Pride of South that starts from Bangalore and concludes in Goa, covers destinations including Mysore, Bandipur, Chikmangalur, Hampi, Badami and Goa.
  • The Southern Splendor, however, covers three states – Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala – and takes you through Chennai, Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry, Thanjavur, Madurai, Thiruvananthapuram, Alleppey and Kochi.

I happened to cover The Pride of South.

Our journey took us to many UNESCO and other archaeological sites in India. To name a few, we visited The Mysore Palace, Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace, the 12th-century Hoysaleswara temple in Hassan, the highlighted ruins in Hampi, Badami Caves, and the 8th-century temple complex in Pattadakal. Other than exploring temples and the rich Indian history, the journey took us to a coffee plantation in Chikmangalur and India’s largest tiger reserve of Bandipur National Park for a morning and an evening safari.

The tour concluded while relaxing on a private beach in Goa and toasting with new friends with some style and decadence.

Now if you’re thinking how we managed to visit all the places since some destinations didn’t have a railway line connecting them, let me tell you that we did it in a luxury bus, which was just as much a part of the journey as travelling in the train. At every destination, we would meet a tour guide and travel with him on the bus that would take us through the details of various sight-seeing places and help understand the place better. We would explore the place in the day and return to The Golden Chariot in the night and continue the journey to our next destination.

For example, during our trip to Hampi, we disembarked at Hospet and departed for Hampi in the coach. We explored the local Hampi Bazaar, the popular Virupaksha Temple and a few other places before moving to a resort in Hampi for lunch, followed by the highlight of the trip — the Vittala Temple (and the Stone Chariot, that train The Golden Chariot was named after).

When done, we returned to the train and started our journey towards Goa.

A Bit About The Train

Awarded as ‘Asia’s Leading Luxury Train’ in the year 2013, The Golden Chariot is a magnificent treat in terms of hospitality and service. All its cabins are inspired by the ancient Hoysala temple architecture and are vibrantly coloured in golden and purple — exhibiting the fine architecture of the South and the astounding craftsmanship of the golden days of South Indian kingdom. From the ceiling to the floor, and everything else in between appeared like a mini replica of a south Indian palace.

The coaches were moreover named after different South Indian dynasties like Chalukya, Ganga, Vijayanagara etc. My coach, for example, was named after a royal family ‘Kadamba’ that ruled the parts of northern Karnataka — with the interiors of the coach resembling the architectural style of that era. The whole idea of living under that name while being treated as someone no less royal was indeed charming.

Speaking of the facilities on board, The Golden Chariot, in addition to a contemporary and classic lifestyle locale, was being equipped with Wi-Fi, channel music, television set, and private writing desks, so staying connected was never a question. For health aficionados and workaholics, the train came with a gym and a spa, and a mini business center.

The train moreover had two fully dedicated restaurant coaches, that, by definition, had a pretty standard menu (of Indian and continental cuisine) but the guests always had the freedom to demand something fancier. If the crew knew how to cook it, they were going to do it for them.

What Made The Journey Unforgettably Special

The hospitality of the staff remained the biggest highlight for me. They would do everything for the guests — from bringing them the morning tea in the room (if asked for) to taking care of the laundry to keeping them appraised of each day’s schedule — and make them feel special.

Another thing that felt quite special — that, in fact, is hard to convey in words — was the luxury of lying in the comfort and privacy of my own bed, and staring dreamily out the window as the train traversed through a changing landscape. The whole experience was quite philosophical and entertaining at same time.

What made The Golden Chariot a go-for experience over the experience of moving around places and choosing a luxurious hotel every night was the ease and peacefulness of having your own room as you slowly shift through places, yet, at the same time, escaping from the need of packing and unpacking daily. Consider The Golden Chariot as your own private moving hotel.

Luxury Train Travel In India: Is It Even Possible?

You know the thing about India is that here everything is possible. It’s one of those rare places in the world where you can travel on less than 10 dollars a day or end up spending over 10,000 — all you need to have is the pocket for it, and India can spoil you to the extremity. And my experience with The Golden Chariot was something just as similar. In almost a week, I was spoiled to a point that normal life started feeling unbelievably normal. From the welcome ceremony to the farewell, everything was royal in its own way.

I remember how on my first morning I was greeted with a knock on the door (by our smiling butler Raj, who later become our smiling ‘friend’ Raj) and a sight of beautiful countryside and green palm trees and open fields flew past. As I stepped down on the carpeted floor and slide opened the door, Raj handed me with our day’s itinerary and humbly asked to be in the restaurant at 8 for breakfast. We were arriving at our first destination Mysore in two hours.

I quickly took a shower and headed to the restaurant car for the breakfast. The first experience of eating in The Golden Chariot felt no less a fairytale either. Everything around me — from the golden chairs to the yellow lighting took me back in time. The entire locale was just too opulent to be true for an Indian train. I mean travelling in a train in India that is often an unpleasant, arduous and tiring experience, here I was expecting someone to be making my bed for me as I slowly ate my morning fruits and drank a filtered coffee.

Have you experienced Luxury Train Travel In India? How was your experience?

Disclaimer: I experienced The Golden Chariot on a blog trip with Incredible India. Though my trip was sponsored by the India Tourism, all experience and viewpoints are solely personal. I only recommend what I personally experience, and find worth appreciating.

Visit The Golden Chariot website for the updated itinerary and tariff details.

camping near manali

Planning Camping In Manali? Try Footloose Camps!

After exploring three continents and much of India in the previous two years when the idea of starting a new venture — of opening a tourist facility — struck my mind, the Himalayas felt like the best option. But where in the Himalayas was the question! From the vainglorious far-out valleys in the East to some of the most splendid and frequent in the West, the Indian Himalayas offer a great deal of natural bounty and experiences and basis on where you end up staying (unless you’ve spent years exploring it, just like I did) you shape a picture of your own version of the Himalayas, and its people.

Imagine if you stayed at only one place in the Indian Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, and that happened to be Darma Valley in the Pithoragarh district — you’d consider Uttarakhand as a land of meat-eaters, and a place where animal sacrifice is still blatantly practised. Now those who are familiar with Uttarakhand, very well know that Uttarakhand is majorly a dry district, where in most parts serving any meat and alcohol is a criminal offence — forget butchering. Well, that’s the Himalayas in a nutshell — more diverse and discrete than one can imagine.

So when the idea of starting a tourist facility in the Himalayas struck my mind, I chose a place that offered an amalgamation of cultures and experiences, on top of having a central location, and a popular and an unfrequented name.

Camping In Manali: The Center Of The Indian Himalayas

Manali is closer to trans-Himalayas than most other places. Getting here (from Delhi) is an overnight business. No other popular town in Himachal Pradesh allows you to reach all three states of J&K, Delhi and Uttarakhand, overnight, but Manali does.

Sitting strategically at nearly 2100m above sea level, I see the town of Manali as the centre of the Indian Himalayas. On its West lies the beautiful valleys of Jammu&Kashmir and the home of the Buddhist leader His Holiness The Dalai Lama. In its north, you find some of the highest passes in the world (as high as 5,000m above the sea level) and easiest and the most frequented road-connection to the trans-Himalayas. On its East, and in the neighbouring state of Uttarakhand, lies the four holy shrines, and the backbone of Hinduism.

Manali’s own setting is somewhere similar, a strategically flowing river Beas, diving Manali into two parts — the old and the new.

The road connectivity to Manali from most big towns (like Delhi or Chandigarh or Amritsar) is moreover good. And with a 6-lane highway (all the way from Delhi to Manali) to be starting getting constructed soon, travelling to Manali is going to be easier and quicker. So choosing Manali as my base for starting my first hospitality venture was a well-thought-of decision, but starting it right inside the town of Manali was never the idea.

Footloose Camps: Located In Manali, Yet Away From It

No wonder, with soaring popularity, Manali is getting crowded, so I wanted a place that compliments the accessibility to Manali but not literally.

About 15km from Manali, a 45-min drive, and over 35 crazy-but-surreal hair-pin bends, as you climb from an elevation of 2100m above the sea level (of that of Manali) to a whopping 3200m, you reach the Buddhist town of Sethan.

Located in the Manali area, Sethan offers all comforts of a big town, while allowing you to escape from its madness at the same time – and thus promising the tranquillity of the Himalayas. Here crowded streets and unknown faces do not exist. Most of the days you don’t have anything to do but count the number of cars that came this way. Sitting on top of the world, at Footloose Camps, some rejuvenation is assured.

Here, a few Reasons To Visit Footloose Camps:

  • After quitting my job and becoming a full-time nomad in 2015, I’ve been to three continents and pretty much entire India. Where I’ve never repeated any place between those years to Manali region (say between Kullu and Solang Valley) I’ve travelled a few more than 10 times. Spending time with the affable Himachali people was the best detoxication for me. And the Buddhist Himachali around Sethan was even better.
  • Getting here was super-easy: You can drive all the way to the campsite. Or if coming on a public bus, can catch frequent taxis from Manali that drop you in Sethan (and right outside my campsite) in around 45 mins.
  • Despite being located close to the town Manali, Sethan assured a good escape from its madness: Visit Sethan for losing yourself in the stillness of the Himalayas. And if you want the best views, you won’t get it from anywhere than Footloose Camps (we can tour about this in the area when you’ll come, if you want!)
  • Excellent phone reception: Phone network in Sethan will keep offering you a strong 4G connection, allowing you to stay connected to the digital world if you fancy.
  • The Ancient Silk Route: Sethan is actually the starting point of the popular Hamta Pass trek, that further takes you to Spiti Valley. Back in the days, this route connected Tibet with the Pir Panjal mountain range in India.
  • The Pir Panjal range around Footloose Camps, in Sethan, moreover offers some of the best ski-slopes for backcountry snowboarding in India. According to an Australia based ski expert and the author, C.R. Spooner, who had spent years exploring different valleys in Pir Panjal and published a book, Pir Panjal mountains near Manali and Sethan is the Mecca backcountry skiing/boarding locale in the Indian Himalayas.
  • Footloose Camps is located only a one and a half hour drive from one of the top 15 highest passes in Indian Himalayas: Rohtang Pass (nearly 4,000m).
  • Other than skiing or snowboarding, we offer a host of other activities, including Rock Climbing, Jumaring, Paragliding, Mountain Biking, Trekking, Snow Trekking, Apple-Picking and Stargazing.
  • We have the nicest 100% Buddhist community in Sethan.

And here’s the view you will get from the campsite. I choose to make it my workstation every evening: 

Campsite currently under construction.

A few good pics of the campsite is currently being clicked. Uploading in the process too… 

Opening March 30th! Thank you for your patience!

snowboarding india

Buying A Snowboard In India & Becoming A Pro In Under 30,000 Rupees

Ever since I visited Sethan last year, in the winter of 2017, for learning snowboarding for the first time in life, I’ve been hooked to the sport. I was, in fact, so hooked that you would have found me watching tutorials about snowboarding on youtube, had you suddenly popped into my life a few months ago. From how to correctly stand on a snowboard to how and why to wax it — I’ve seen them all.

So as winter approached this year, one thing was clear: I was going to buy my own snowboard and become a pro — but all in a bargain.

Buying A Snowboard In India: The Reality

To cut things short, let me tell you… buying a snowboard in India is a challenge, just like buying other sport equipment. Even the most popular locations for skiing like Auli and Gulmarg or someplace in Himachal Pradesh have no stores to quickly grab one. Though you may easily find one to rent, buying is, unfortunately, pretty impossible. Most online retailers moreover don’t sell one.

When I was planning to buy a snowboard, right after my first snowboarding experience last year, I almost got a sticker shocker finding someone in Manali selling his 4 year old snowboard for 35,000 Rupees. “If a used snowboard costs 35k, how much a new one would be” I wondered.

And then Decathlon happened…

Buying A New Snowboard From Decathlon India

No wonder, Decathlon stores have revolutionized the sport and adventure scene in India. Their products, though may not be of top quality, are at least affordable and have allowed masses in India for trying different sports, that they had only dreamed of before. I’ve seen kids in my neighborhood, in Delhi, chasing each other on skateboards — something that only felt like a foresighted dream.

So when renting a snowboard (for as much as 500 Rupees a day) and buying one seemed unreal to me, Decathlon’s Wed’ze came as a rescue option.

At only 9000 Rupees Decathlon was selling a brand new snowboard. The binding cost 4000 and the snowboard boots — another 5000. With a helmet costing 1800 Rupees, I was ready with all the necessary and safety snowboarding equipment in under 20,000 Rupees.

[Disclaimer: I wasn’t paid for writing a review for Decathlon, which may otherwise feel after reading this article. All recommendations and experiences are solely personal]

Learning Snowboarding In India, In A Budget

Learning snowboarding isn’t tough at all and requires only a few hours of coaching. Once you know the basics (that you can learn to watch youtube vids too) all you need is practice and self-confidence. Though a proper certification will of course help you get a hang of it, more quickly and efficiently, even if not, you can learn snowboarding by yourself.

When I initially bought my snowboard a few weeks ago, I considered visiting Gulmarg — for Gulmarg is believed to have some of the best ski slopes in India. But given the high accommodation prices during winter in Gulmarg and an expensive chairlift, I gave up the idea. According to my calculation, I was bleeding nearly 20,000 Rupees in about 10 days for staying and using the chairlift in Gulmarg, on top of an additional 5k as the airfare. When all that seemed a bit too much for me as a beginner, I decided to head to my usual snowboarding slopes in Pir Panjal in Sethan, Himachal Pradesh.

Popular for backcountry snowboarding Sethan offers budget accommodation options, costing less than 700 Rupees a day (including all meals) if you are staying for a longer time — say a week, or 10 days. I stayed in Sethan for over 10 days and ended up spending just a little over 6000 Rupees, in addition to 3000 Rupees for transportation to and from Delhi.

So after more than 10 days in Sethan, and qualifying myself from a no-snowboarder to a beginner level snowboarder, I spent a total of 20,000 + 9,000 < 30,000 Rupees. In under 30,000 Rupees, I learned snowboarding and ended up having my own snowboarding equipment for life. Pretty sweet, eh?

Further Reading:  Backcountry Snowboarding In The Himalayas

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backcountry snowboarding india

Where To Backcountry Snowboard In The Himalayas

Before anything, let me be clear… I am not a snowboard or a ski expert. I haven’t cleared any professional certifications, and neither have I been practising the sport since years. I am, in fact, so new to snowboarding that anyone would only call me a beginner. But mastering a sport is one thing, and knowing where to best do it, is the other — and speaking of backcountry snowboarding in the Himalayas, the Pir Panjal range near Sethan is perhaps one of the best options.

I first visited Sethan, during the winter of 2017 where I met a group of North Americans who just wouldn’t stop bragging about the nearby ski-slopes. It was their third consecutive winter there. During the entire week I stayed in Sethan, and between all those chilling winter nights conversations, I found them constantly boasting about how exciting the slopes in Pir Panjal can be. “The thrill in snowboarding in the wilderness of the Himalayas is unparalleled, and this place is just so perfect,” one would repeat every two hours. Backcountry snowboarding — the term, back then, felt just as newfound and fascinating as a perfectly rhymed poem does to a kid.

Mesmerized by the idea of sliding down a ridge, I rented a snowboard and learned as much of snowboarding as I could in a week, only to return with my own snowboarding eqipment the next year.

[Further Reading: Learning Snowboarding & Buying Your Own Equipment In India In Just 30,000 Rupees]

Snowboarding In The Himalayan Range of Pir Panjal

Located only 25 km from the popular town of Manali, in Himachal Pradesh, the Pir Panjal range around Sethan offers some of the best slopes in the world for backcountry snowboarding and skiing. According to an Australia based ski expert and the author, C.R. Spooner, who had spent years exploring different valleys in Pir Panjal (and published a book called Ski Touring in India’s Kullu Valley) Pir Panjal mountains near Manali and Sethan is the Mecca backcountry skiing/boarding locale in the Indian Himalayas.

Those who don’t know already, the Pir Panjal range is a group of mountains in the Inner Himalayan region, running from west-northwest in the Himalayan state of Jammu & Kashmir to east-southeast in the Himachal Pradesh, with the average elevation varying from 1,400 m to 4,100 m. Pir Panjal is the largest range of the lower Himalayas, thus offering quick land transportation from big cities like Delhi and Chandigarh and Amritsar, among others.

Unlike in other popular places of snowboarding (or skiing) in India, where you have the luxury of using a chairlift up to the top of the mountain and catch a peak, in Sethan — as we are talking about the REEEEAL backcountry snowboarding — you’re required to snow hike, reach a mountaintop, and then sledge down, while safeguarding yourself from trees and other obstacles on the way, making the entire experience feel a bit more real and exciting.

Revisiting Sethan: A Week Snowboarding Around

Compared to the last year, 2018 saw slightly less snowfall in the Indian side of the Himalayas, yet enough to reveal snow covered peaks in every direction. Over 20 inches of snow had fallen in the previous two days, as I reached Sethan during the last weekend in December. The snowcapped Pir Panjal mountains were constantly teasing me for the past one year. It had been a long year since my previous snowboarding adventure.

TIP: To reach Sethan, you’re required to hire a taxi from Manali that can cost around 2000 Rupees per trip. The journey takes nearly 45-minutes with a steep uphill bypassing over 40 hair-pin bends

As I reached Sethan, and snow hiked for a couple of hours the very first day I arrived there, I realised that the sheer amount of terrain to explore there is difficult to grasp. Where Sethan is located at 3200m above the sea level, on some days I hiked as high as 4800m — a week well spent riding through high ridges and bowls.

I understood why the group of Americans I met the last season were returning every year. The thought of spending all winter in the Himalayas here, and snowboarding, was tempting. Floating through trees in deep powder, speeding down fast groomers, dropping into open bowls, or launching over small cliffs — the Himalayan Pir Panjal peaks around Sethan has everything you could possibly want. I couldn’t believe the type of runs the mountains offered here. Steep chutes and heavenly bowls all around.

Sethan Village

Located approximately an hour’s drive from Manali, Sethan is definitely a place for slow travellers – at least during winters, when the snow claims the ground and any movement beyond this tiny Buddhist town, is pretty much impossible. Between the month of December and March, the mercury falls beyond zero for the most of the hours in a day. Little flakes of snow can be found everywhere.

Weather conditions in Sethan may feel deceiving in winter. While it may appear dark & gloomy in the valley, once you rise above the clouds it might be a perfect blue-bird day. You never really know until you see for yourself. Right across the valley, the towering Dhauladhar range feels beckoning as always, with the river Beas flowing right in between.

[Further Reading: The Town Of Sethan In Himachal Pradesh

Accommodation & Renting Snow Equipment

While there are a few options available, my recommendation goes to The Himalayan Lounge (located at the 36th hairpin bend) right outside the town of Sethan. Run by a friend named Vinod, you can also find all ski equipment to rent at his place — from snowboards to snow rackets to snow jackets, and everything else in between.

Other Activities

Along with skiing and snowboarding, Sethan is also a great place for trekking. It is from Sethan that the popular Hamta Pass trek starts. One can also enjoy camping and other adventure activities like mountain biking and rock climbing.

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snowboarding india

Backcountry Snowboarding In The Himalayas

Located only 25 km from the town of Manali, in the Himalayan Pir Panjal range, Sethan offers some of the best slopes in the world for backcountry snowboarding/skiing. According to an Australia based ski expert and the author of many books, C.R. Spooner, Pir Panjal is the Mecca backcountry skiing/boarding locale in the Indian Himalayas.

I happened to visit Sethan during the winter months of 2017 and was flabbergasted by seeing how much it actually snowed there. Always wanting to return, as winter hit in 2018, I bought my own snowboard from Delhi and made my way to Manali, and further to Sethan. Bringing to you my week-long backcountry snowboarding adventure in Sethan, here’s a quick 3-minute video:

You can also read more about My First Snowboarding Experience In Sethan last year.

Subscribe to my Youtube channel, for more travel videos.

travel solo

Why Solo Travelling Is The Best Self-Development Tool

With the internet and our daily life, being swarmed by material on self-development, teaching us different ways to become a more superior self, one thing is clear — we all want a better version of ourselves and become more efficient than we are today. If we run fast, we want to run faster. If we speak one language, we want to speak many. If we already have an impressive personality, we still want to go one step further, defying all laws of our existence and become undeniably impressive… and the quest never ends.

The problem is, however, we just know how, or we don’t have the time to work for it. Our little lives, bounded by schedules and responsibilities offer no scope for creativity, and with that, for any self-development. We are still repeating the same thing that we were, three years ago. One day turns into the next and all those things that we desired to do, combined with all the personality traits we wanted to gain, keep piling up until we eventually lose grip on life.

So what to do? My advice…

Try Solo Travelling

Over the years, I’ve thought about losing grip on my life too. When I was working in England (after completing my post-graduation) I was being paid more than I ever could in India, particularly during the early years of my career. Yet I wasn’t content. So after a year and a half of a constant mind-fuck, I moved back to India, hoping for a positive shift in life. I thought by staying closer to the people I knew, the world would change. But nothing happened. I was still constantly regretting about where my monotonous life was heading.

Then one day, I quit the job to travel, sold all my belongings and decided to follow the road for as long as my heart desired — and I couldn’t go back. Why? Because when I was travelling A Constant Change Was Guaranteed. I was busy exploring new places and meeting new people, and between all that, gaining new experiences every day.

Solo Travelling Brings About A Slow But A Constant Change

After two years of uninterrupted solo travelling, when I meet friends whom I have not seen in years, they inquire about the ‘remarkable change’ in me. And all I’ve to say to them is: while there were moments that were more precious and comparatively more educating, moments that owe to the highs and lows, there is no single incident that I can point to and say, “that moment turned me from a hopeless introvert to a fearless nomad”.

My transformation from someone who always preferred the security of four-walls and staying close to his family and friends to someone who now carelessly wanders across cities finds his own way, and turn strangers into friends was a slow and a steady process. It happened constantly over time.

Solo travelling forced me out of my routine. Helped me become more independent, take risks, and accept the change. The whole idea of versatility is what’s adding to the new me.

Solo Travelling: A Self-Development Tool

What do you do when you end up in a new country, with no one coming to receive you at the airport. And to top it off, you don’t speak the local language either. You think hard, try a dozen sign-languages and find a way around. And in the process, develop a more superior self than you were, before landing in the country.

I remember when I planned my first ever cross-continent trip to South East Asia I was scared more than ever. I didn’t speak Thai or Cambodian, and to make it tougher, I had no one receiving me at the Bangkok airport. Now, under a tight and a limited budget, I had to navigate my way, ask people the most cost-efficient way to get to the city centre, try different sign languages, and make sure no one rips me off because I behaved like a hopeless tourist. Later, after reaching the hostel, new challenges appeared — of making friends in the dormitory and getting around and sightseeing the city.

By the time I left Bangkok, after a few weeks of hopeless wandering, I improved communicating in situations where I didn’t know the local language, learned how to turn strangers into friends, fill my stomach when I didn’t understand the food, and solve a slew of problems that came up during my stay.

In just one trip, I got better at communication, problem-solving, patience, speaking sign languages, and being more confident about situations I wasn’t ready for. Why? Because I had no option. It was all needed for the survival.

Take A Break. Go. Explore!

I always suggest people take a break from their tiresome lives and travel. Take a year off, or a few months, a sabbatical — whatever you can afford — and explore the world on your own.

I am not saying that travelling is some kind of panacea, and there is definitely no place far enough to escape your problems, but what travelling does to you is it gives you that space to be someone else and improve your life. As you travel and face new challenges, you adopt a new personality and start thinking “What the new me would do here.” You end up putting yourself in different situations, and in the process, improve yourself without even noticing.

So as the year of 2018 slowly passes by, let’s forget all those new year resolutions that we have already lost our bet with. Let’s just stick to one thing — and I assure that the rest will follow — of travelling alone a little more.

Because as far as I’ve learned, solo travelling is the ultimate tool of becoming a better, a more confident you!

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Hallan Valley

Hallan Valley: Himachal Pradesh’s Another Best Kept Secret

There are some places in the world that keep a piece of you, places that time and again feel irresistible, regardless of your frequent visits there. Hallan Valley in Himachal Pradesh is one such place for me. And its tranquil locale, a friendly atmosphere, and an away-from-the-tourist-trail charm are in fact, the reasons.

The first time I happened to visit Hallan Valley, it was a year and a half ago. I was returning from a solo motorbiking trip in Spiti Valley. But as I left Manali for Delhi, and rode about ten or twelve kilometres, towards Kullu (on old Manali-Kullu highway) I came across a dull looking signboard on the left. “Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna“ it read, and pointed toward uphill, with a bit more information about the road length and other mechanical gibberish. I can’t remember what else it said, but the term “Gram Sadak”, that translates to ‘village road’ in English, felt quite assuring.

At 10 in the morning, the weather looked perfect to be riding on the Hallan Road (Google for where I’m talking about). At a winding pace, thanks to a smooth road, the continuous steep uphill didn’t bother much. With every kilometre, the valley widened a few more meters. A few tiny villages also fell on the way before disappearing with every quick turn. After about 5 or 6 km of a steady uphill, the road concluded in a village (call it the last village on the Hallan Road) and that was it — in less than 15 minutes I explored Hallan Valley from its one end to the other.

Hallan Valley: One Of The Tiniest Valleys In Himachal

Perhaps one of the smallest valleys to explore, Hallan Valley comprises of no more than a dozen villages on its either side and stretches for about 6 km with a connected motorable road, before coming to an end.

There are literally no eating joints or any fully-functioning guest house in the entire valley at the moment, and the only option for anyone wanting to stay in Hallan Valley — as I always end up doing — is a basic homestay located in the village of Charanag (the second last village from its top end) with a shared bedroom at your disposal, offering a maximum occupancy of 4 people.

There’s also not much to see and do here for a regular tourist, except for just relaxing and soaking in a laidback Himachali life.

So Why Even Bother Visiting The Hallan Valley?

Popular for its apple and red-rice farming Hallan Valley offers a rustic village experience, away from any hustle and bustle of a popular tourist place like Manali or Solang.

Here you can spend your holidays blissfully, in solitude, or while interacting with happy villagers. Lacking any modern-day facility (even not matching with that of what you may find in the most offbeat corners of Parvati Valley or someplace else near Manali) Hallan Valley is a moreover only meant for travellers not interested in visiting places but experiencing a different way of life.

Hallan Valley, indeed, is a place for slow travellers.

I visit Hallan Valley almost every two months (especially when I’m not travelling) and it feels more home to me than New Delhi does. I know more people in the village of Charanag than I do in my own neighbourhood.

Speaking of my typical day in Charanag, when I’m there, all I end up doing is accompanying the locals to their fields, crafting my own trek-of-the-day and exploring the nearby villages, playing with local kids after school, dining (and often getting drunk) in local families’ house, eating fresh apples from the fields, or relaxing and soaking up the fresh views from my homestay in Charanag.

[Further Reading About: The Town Of Charanag]

Those looking for a more practical reason to travel to Hallan Valley, however, can visit a few centuries old temples, with Vasuki Naag Temple being the most popular. Hallan Valley is also a great place for camping, with magical views of the adjoining Kullu Valley down below.

A few offbeat treks including the popular-among-locals trek of ‘Foota Saur’ — a place considered auspicious for its green-water late.

[Also Read about Sethan In Himachal Pradesh — Another Offbeat Place Manali]

Getting There

Though an unheard of place, Hallan Valley is well listed in Google Maps. Just Google Hallan Valley, or Hallan Road and that’s it, you won’t have any problem arriving in Hallan even if you’re a first-time visitor. Also remember, you do not need to drive all the way to Manali (if coming from Kullu). Take the old-Kullu Manali highway from Kullu and you will come to the town of Naggar. At about 3 km from Naggar (towards Manali) the road to Hallan will come on your right.

Those coming from Delhi or Chandigarh in a public bus can take a local bus to Naggar, from Kullu (so book your bus only until Kullu, and not Manali). From Naggar, a taxi will drop you anywhere in Hallan in under 300 Rupees. From Manali, taxis take around 500 Rupees.

  • Please note that there are two Hallan (Hallan 1 and Hallan 2) and we are talking about Hallan 1 here.
  • Also, note that there are no cash points in Hallan Valley, so get all the cash you may need before you get there.

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