All posts tagged: Stories from the road

Kamakhya Temple: All A Little Less Sombre Than A Stock Market

It was six in the morning, too early for the rest of the city to wake up and resume their daily chores. But those who came to visit the temple seemed all dedicated and staunched. Rising early and reserving a good place in its long, never-ending queues was the only solution to pay the ‘goddess of Desire’ a visit. The many souvenir and prasad shops, spread as far as 400 meters outside its premises, were already up and running – bidding hard for yet another business day. Inside, many devotees indulged in their challenging gamut with pujaris, trying to negotiate a price for a personalised puja. Once they’re done with it, what awaits is yet another task of buying an express entry ticket which guarantees a quick tour inside Kamakhya Temple – one of India’s most sacred sites.   This is how I found Kamakhya Temple – dedicatedly staring into a financial abyss, experimenting with the country’s admirable religious tolerance every minute. And yet it lures the devotees from as far afield as southern India or the …

Hitchhiking From Leh To Srinagar

Hitchhiking has always remained an intriguing travel option to me. This is because of two fair reasons: one, it makes your journeys cheaper; second, it opens the possibilities to meet all the interesting people out there whom you otherwise miss by travelling in a bus, or far worse, in a private car. I’ve hitchhiked almost everywhere I’ve traveled in the world –  from Indian Himalayan roads to Bangkok’s highways. And no, I don’t find it risky. In my belief, the fact that hitchhiking is dangerous has only been overplayed by the fear-mongering society. So let’s not even go there! The idea to hitchhike all the way from Leh to Srinagar – a 420 km long and isolated road with some of the most popular towns in between, including Kargil and Dras (second coldest inhabited place on earth) – initiated when I met David and Marion on a chilly evening in Leh. And we teamed up to see if that’s even possible. Our shabby and hopeless scheme – as it seemed at first – started in Leh, and …

Why Are We Always So Uninterested To See Our Own Country?

If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with” Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz Their names have escaped me now but I vividly remember that interesting and equally memorable conversation I had with a young Indian couple from the south of India. I was waiting for my appointment with an immigration officer in Thimpu — to extend my tourist permit in Bhutan when all of a sudden this distinguishably affable couple appeared in front of me. It (the conversation) started with one of those moments when you meet another traveller from your home country and you find yourself forced to exchange the usual banalities about how amazing this place is, followed by the ubiquitous gamut of ‘where are you from in India’ and ‘where you’re going next’. As we finished the small talk, I enquired them about their favorite places in south India. I had a long desired to travel south of India. [Update Oct’16: But …

What The World’s Second Largest Monastery Taught Me

Tawang valley in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh is wrapped with a hulking mountain range which always seems to cast special magic on the mind of travelers. The entire valley is a patchwork of stunning mountain ridges and vast fields – so beautiful that every moment you find yourself awestruck. And when you are not being enthralled with its natural beauty, you are captivated with the Buddhist prayer wheels of Monpa pilgrims wearing a traditional black-yak-wool overcoat. Well, there are many reasons to visit Tawang, but the prime reason why it stands above the crowd is that it is home to the world’s second largest monastery – something that makes Tawang exclusive, and culturally rich. Located at 10,000 feet with a commanding view of Tawang River, Tawang monastery is one small city in itself. It is an ideal epitome to some 500 monks, many of whom are small children. Their sole place of refuge in the monastery premises where they learn and follow Buddhism. During my visit to this monastery and a small conversation …

In Search Of Happiness

I found Bhutan a rather charming and fascinating place. No matter how worldly and materialistic your approach towards life is, if you travel Bhutan with an open mind, their philosophical and idealistic culture would force you to contemplate, and contemplate twice, on some of the most confusing questions concerning human existence. During my visit to Bhutan, I happened to spend a chilly evening with a couple of friends I met in the capital city Thimpu. They shared with me some crazy ideas about their culture and a unique Bhutanese philosophy that left me spilling my guts out. These young men had no decent excuse to ponder or even believe in such crazy ideologies – and their firm belief left me startled. “There’s a very simple solution to be happy in your life,” said one of them “Just think about death few times every day.” The entire conversation around such a cheesy topic started when – during our philosophical conversation – they happened to ask me about that one thing I want from my life. “To be …