A Lifetime Trip

…creating colorful memories


Leave a comment

My Essential guide to Kaas Plateau

My Essential guide to Kaas Plateau

Kaas plateau, locally known as Kaas Patthar is located in the Satara district of Maharashtra.  It is a hotspot of the Western Ghats. Kaas plateau is known as the valley of flowers of Maharashtra and has wide varieties of flora. It is estimated that 70% of Maharashtra’s flower are found here. It is stated as world’s heritage site by the UNESCO. Kaas plateau is the home for many endemic species. The bright colourful flowers among the lush green grasses look horribly beautiful. The dry, nude trees too look so green in the valley. The beautiful, unique butterflies and other insects are very adorable. The caterpillars too look colourful and pretty.

How to travel to Kaas plateau?

It is advised to go to Kaas plateau in a private car or group of travel buses. There are local buses, but the frequencies of those buses are slow and hence, it would be better if you would go by vehicles arranged by yourself. Suppose you start your journey from Satara then the auto-rickshaws are available. One can reach Kaas plateau easily by an auto.

When is the best time to visit Kaas plateau?

Kaas plateau will be officially opened for the public to visit and enjoy the beauty usually from the month of August. There are specific times for the public to visit the place. In order to protect the flora, from this year onwards i.e. from 2016 only 3000 people will be allowed to visit Kaas plateau. Kaas plateau looks different at different times. You will experience different faces of the valley during the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the season. There are some flowers which bloom once in few years. So it would be difficult to visit at that particular time. Therefore, you need to research and plan when to visit the place. People who wish to see purple flowers all over the place can plan their trip anytime in between the months of August and September.

Where to stay?

There are only very few hotels and resorts to stay. So it is recommended to book the rooms well in advance. There are hotels in Satara which requires you to travel for 45 minutes. Some of the resorts and hotels are Kaa pathar village resort and hotel, Nature Plateau Paradise, Hotel Kaas Pathar Lake View, Hotel Sahyadri Pushpa and Kaas Holiday resort.

Food available:

The hotels near Kaas plateau provide dishes like mutton biriyani, Bharli Vangi, and many other local dishes. You can view the lake, sit there and have your food. It gives a different experience. In the plateau, you will not find any restaurants but if you get down the parking place, you will find few local hotels and restaurant.

Few more basic tips:

Carry a lot of water bottles with you. The plateau is isolated and does not have any shops nearby. Also, you will be prone to get tired very soon. Therefore, carry lots of water when to visit the valley of flowers of Maharashtra.

Do as much of research on the place before you plan for the visit. Get to know about different varieties of flowers. Try to identify the flowers and their differentiating characteristics. This will add on beautiful memories. Going with someone who knows a lot of flora and fauna would be good. Otherwise, it is recommended to buy a book at the ticket counter.

Do online bookings as fast as possible as there are only limited number of people to enter into the plateau. The entrance fee is Rs. 100 on the weekends and government holidays. It is Rs. 50 on the working days.

It is advised to carry an umbrella or a raincoat since Kaas plateau will be opened for public to visit in the monsoon. Rain is very common in the plateau and also takes waterproof covers for your mobile phones and camera. Also, make sure you don’t wear expensive clothes and shoes. They might get dirty and become useless after the trip.

There are various charges if you want to visit Kaas plateau. So you better carry money along with you. There are entry fees. The fees differ according to the age. Then, you need to pay for parking the vehicles and carrying cameras. Even you need to pay for the guide who takes you and introduces to each and every flower in the plateau.

To conclude, visiting Kaas plateau is like visiting a magic world. The plateau has infinite varieties of flowers which will add colour to the eyes. One should always book his tickets before in hand; carry water bottles, umbrella, camera, and other necessary things. Also, dress accordingly as the plateau will be open for public during the monsoon seasons. It the best time to visit, travel and have memories.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

5 Spookiest places around the world that’ll send a chill down your spine!

5 Spookiest places around the world that’ll send a chill down your spine!
Have you had enough of traveling to pristine white beaches, scenic mountains and famous monuments, which seem to be thronged by crowds, jostling to get that ‘perfect shot’! The earlier ‘exotic’ holiday destinations suddenly seem so commonplace now.
How about adding a twist to your next travel plans?… One that sends chills down the spine and gives you exciting thrills!  How about walking with the dead?…
The world has some of the darkest and dingiest places that attract many ghost-seekers. These places hold deep dark secrets that only the brazen bold can dare to unveil!
If you are you one of them, here are some places from around the world, sure to give you hair-raising experiences!
• Bhangarh Fort –Rajasthan
Freaky background
The Bhangarh Fort, located near Alwar in Rajasthan, is believed to have been cursed by a black magic wizard.  As per the curse, its inhabitants would die and their spirits would ‘live’ to haunt the area forever. The fort has an eerie feel to it, surrounded by houses without roofs, since it is said that anyone living in a covered house is bound to meet his end as the house will collapse on him!

People narrate chilling experiences of witnessing ghosts and spirits around the fort. No one is allowed by government’s orders to go near the fort at night! Would you dare to set foot there?

• The Island of Dolls, Mexico
Whacky to the core

Here, trees are said to grow naturally with dolls’ heads on them! Not sweet princess type dolls, but those with ghastly faces that will spook you out! Legend says that a little girl had died on the island, and her body was found in a canal. Her spirit is said to haunt the island and make doll heads grow out from trees. Even if a tree is cut to remove these dolls, the new pruned tree grows them right back! These hanging dolls have empty eyes, frizzled hair and jarred skin, with amputated body parts. Scary, isn’t it?

• The Riddle House, Florida
Gory past

Joseph, who worked here, is said to have committed suicide by hanging himself. It is said that he hated men. His ghost still seems to attack men who enter the attic. One man was hit by a lid arriving out of nowhere in the attic! The house is fully haunted, with furniture changing positions by itself, and angry ghosts heard shouting inside the premises. The house was shifted across town in the 1980’s to ward off spirits, but the ghosts went with it! Ample reason to give visitors some creeps, eh?

• The Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Bloody bath

The castle is beautiful and haunted at the same time. Many visitors throng it for its rich history and architecture. But behind the obvious, within its folds, lie stories of bloody battles and sites of torture, and many tourists and staff have felt strange and unexplainable phenomena here. A feeling of being watched by someone, touched or pulled by invisible hands, as well as sightings of apparitions, including that of an old man, a headless drummer and a piper. People have seen shadows, strange sounds, sudden mists and drops in temperature, causing a feeling of sadness and despair. Tingling your nerves already?

• Humberstone and LaNoria, Chile
Terrors of the past

These are two abandoned towns had been inhabited by miners and their labourers. When business plummeted, these towns were left to fall to ruins. It is believed that ghosts from a nearby cemetery rise up to roam the streets of La Noria. In Humberstone, the ghostly snapshots are visible on photographs. Residents who never left these towns, died and wasted away due to poverty. It is said that their children can still be seen playing in the streets. The cemetery has open exposed graves! Why indeed?

So, if you dare, go ahead and pay the ghouls of the past a visit on your next trip. Who knows, you may be able to unravel the mysteries behind one of them! Maybe you can capture some sinister paranormal activity in your camera to scare the living daylights out of your friends back home!


1 Comment

India – The epicenter of Yoga

India – The epicenter of Yoga

Yoga is a spiritual practice through breathing techniques, asanas (postures), and practice that inculcates stillness in your life. In this stressful life that is heralded with intense competition you will learn coping mechanisms when you start the practice of yoga. Yoga practice deals with the spirit within the body. You will be acquainted with the process of self awareness and self realization when you start practicing yoga.

Yoga has originated in India, and has been a Vedic practice started in pre Vedic period of 5th and 7th BCE. It also prevents many chronic diseases in the body.

Here are some places in India where you can soak into the power of Yoga and benefit in a holistic manner by adopting it as part of your daily life:

  • Isha Yoga Center, Tamil Nadu

Founded by Sadhguru, Jaggi Vasudev, Isha is a nonprofit and non religious organization that has attracted visitors from all over the world. Located 18kms away from Coimbatore in the Velliangiri Mountains, Isha has programs to teach intensive yoga and wellness programs for its visitors. This yoga center teaches yoga that leads to knowledge, action, energy, and devotion. This yoga centre has a DhyanaLinga, one of the most powerful Lingas of Lord Shiva that removes all the negativity and energy blockages when you sit and meditate in this place. There is accommodation available for families to stay and enroll into various yoga and wellness programs. You will get a complete holistic healing through these programs at this yoga center. Sadhguru is a mystic and a spiritual leader in our modern times, who provides discourses that embed satire and humor.

He uses scientific approach and blends them with spiritual methods to create life transforming programs. Yoga programs taught in this center do not follow any traditional customs or rituals. Sadhguru has been a spokesperson at most of the international meets and forums. You can visit the Aumkar Diksha and strength your mind, body, and the spirit within. You can also participate in celebrations and volunteer and provide your services for different programs at this yoga center. You will in tune with your inner self when you take up any of the yoga and wellness programs at this center.

Pic Credits: holisticsutra.com

  • Paramarth Niketan in Rishikesh

Paramarth Niketan in Rishikesh is one of the best yoga centers in India that is open to teaching yoga for beginners and also advanced practitioners. There are different types of yoga taught in this place. Right from bhakti yoga, kriya yoga, to an intense level of yoga, many yoga practices are taught at this place. All these programs are available throughout the year and you can contact the yoga center to get an admission into a course of your choice.  You can also find a yoga center that is close to your city and get a spiritual retreat over the weekend. Regardless of your religion, caste, and nationality, you can visit this yoga centre and get a complete rejuvenation for your life. Under the guidance of Swami Chidanand Saraswati, these programs are designed to provide complete healing and transformation to individuals.

Apart from daily satsang, kirtan, Ganga Aarti is performed in the evenings. This center is located on the bank of sacred river, Ganga. Hatha yoga, Vinyāsa yoga, and yoga nidra are the special kinds of yoga taught at this place. Vinyasa yoga helps placing subtle energies in the right place inside the body and removes energy blockages. There are also various camps conducted at this center to teach pranayam, reiki healing, acupressure, and ayurveda.

Pic Credits: wikirecent.in

  • Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Institute in Dharamshala

You could take a yoga retreat to the Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Institute in Dharamshala. Seated in the best of beauty of nature, this natural habitat to learn yoga has been one of the best places to learn and get into a spiritual practice of yoga. You will get an intensive course in healing and spiritual awareness. No matter what is your health problem, there is a solution for most of the treatable health ailments in these yoga retreats. An individual program is designed to help find the patient relief from their health ailments. You will be able to release all the internal blockages when you take this program.

This center is open from April to October every year. Special yoga to raise the consciousness and clear the energy blockages in seven chakras of human body are taught here. Also, pranic healing programs are also available at this center. You will get complete holistic healing when you visit this place that is amidst Himalayas.

  • Osho Meditation Resort, Pune

There are many personal growth and mediation programs that are available here. There are different kinds of meditations that you can learn here, right from kundalini meditation, nataraja meditation, chakra meditation, and many other potent forms of meditation that are meant to activate the subtle energies inside the body and help you get acquainted with stillness. Most of these exercises and meditation techniques are practiced for 15 to 20 minutes. You will learn how to gain inner tranquility when you choose from a variety of programs at this centre. Also, available are meditation programs for working people. The chakra meditation is performed in two stages. The first stage lasts for 45 minutes and the second stage for 15 minutes. When you meditate on the chakra music, you will feel the subtle energy travelling from the base of the spine into higher levels of energy inside the body. This chakra meditation is done to clear energies and bring in new energies at different levels of chakras inside the body.

Pic Credits: Osho.com

So bring out your Yoga mats and gear and set off to one of these places to not just learn Yoga, but let it heal your life in more ways than one!

 

 


Leave a comment

Top 10 Indian festivals

Top 10 Indian festivals

Who doesn’t like celebrating small and big occasions all across the world? Festivals give people a reason to rejoice, get together with the family, and catch up with their near and dear ones. How can one forget savoring the special delicacies made especially during festivals?

Festivals are an inherent part of every culture and India is no exception. In fact, since it is a unique land with many diverse cultures, languages and religions, it has probably the highest number of festivals in the world. There is a general belief that in India, everyday there is a festival being celebrated in some part of the country!

Here is a peek into top 10 festivals that are celebrated with fervor here, listed down month-wise:

January

Since we are primarily an agricultural nation, the harvest of a good crop is a joyous occasion! January sees people celebrating the harvesting festival in India. Each region celebrates the same festival with a different name. In southern India, it is celebrated asPongal / Sankranti. It marks the beginning of the Indian New Year for many, and hence has religious significance as well. Making offerings to the Gods to express gratitude for a good crop and wishing for a prosperous year ahead is the basic aim of this celebration. North India calls it the Lohri festival, in which a bonfire is lit and munchies are eaten, along with a lot of song and dance!

Lohri

March/April

Holi, the festival of colors is celebrated throughout India with great enthusiasm. Everyone, irrespective of age, caste, race or creed loves to play with colors. The colors used are either dry in powder form or it is mixed with water to get liquefied colors that can be smeared or sprayed or used in small water balloons, the size of table-tennis balls, to hit your friends with, just for fun! One has to play Holi to fully experience the fun and frolic! The color filled (literally!) faces, the goofy grins of people just letting go of inhibitions in exchange for pure fun, is something that can only be experienced rather than effectively written about! In fact many foreigners visit India to take part in the gaiety. So much so that the West World is now inspired to hold their own adaptations of the colorful Holi in their own countries!

April

In northern regions, yet another harvesting season is celebrated as Baisakhi. It is celebrated on 13th/14th April. The festival is celebrated with great joy and fervor especially in Punjab. People show their joy by dancing the world famous “Bhangra” and singing lively folksongs. What an energetic and colorful sight it is to behold! The atmosphere is electrically charged with enthusiasm. Many localities organize community fairs to mark this festival that are attended by families for exciting shopping, fun rides and yummy food!

Pic Credits: publishyourarticles.net

August/September

Time to celebrate the unbreakable sibling bond – the festival of Raksha Bandhan! The goal is strengthen the bond between brothers and sisters. Raksha Bandhan is celebrated by one and all in India, irrespective of their religion. Girls tie colored decorative threads on their brothers’ wrists as a reminder of the promise of the sisters’ protection by their brothers and the latter need to reward them with gifts. Oh boy, guys have to bat hard to please their sisters!

August / September:

Moving to the Southern coasts – Onam is celebrated mainly by Keralites or Malayalees (as the people of Kerala state are called). A pyramid of flowers is decorated and prayers are offered for good health and prosperity. A unique ritual is the boat race held in Kerala on river Pampa annually during Onam. It has to be experienced at least once in a lifetime! The boats are long and colorful, have large number of oarsmen at their oars, rowing together in synchronized fluid movements. Wow, what a sight it is! It is a rich blend of tradition and the spirt of healthy competition.

Pic Credits: gstv.in

Mid-august to September

Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the important festivals celebrated over a period of 10 days. According to Hindu mythology, the elephant-headed God, Ganesha, was manifested on the first day. He is worshipped as the remover of obstacles in any venture. Colorful idols of Ganesha are installed and worshipped at homes and temples for 10 days. He is then bid good bye on the 10th day by immersing the idols in nearby water-bodies like lakes, ponds, tanks or rivers, led by fanfare and dancing processions. The vehicle of this god is a rat, which has a field day (pun intended) during these 10 days as people offer the rodent a lot of tasty treats!

Pic Credit: Flickr

September/October

Durga Pooja or Navratris is also a 10-day festival, culminating in Dussehra in the tenth day. It symbolizes the power of women (worship of goddesses) and the victory of good over evil. This festival is celebrated with great religious fervor by Hindus all over the country of India. Fairs are organized and everyone celebrates across all nine days.Dandiya or dances with sticks are performed in local gatherings as people swing to old and new tunes, decked in the finest of traditional extravaganza!

The epic Ramayan known as “Ram Leela” is enacted on stage at various places for the duration of the festival. It is quite an elaborate and dramatic performance enjoyed by one and all. On the 10th day, the effigies of demons Ravana, Meghnath and Kumbhkaran are burnt with arrows made of flames. The effigies are made of firecrackers and covered with costume like papers. The grand finale is a colorful display of firecrackers in the sky as the effigies burn to ashes, symbolizing the end of evil!

Pic Credit: Flickr

October/November

Diwali is the festival of lights. Although it has its roots in Hinduism and is upheld by Sikhism, nowadays the colorful festival has caught the fancy of people of all faiths. Markets are decorated and this is the best time for the most lucrative deals of the year!

For Hindus, it is a religious and pious occasion. Lord Ganesh and Goddess Lakshmi are offered prayers on Diwali to get blessings. It is believed they will bring prosperity in all the business ventures that will be started during the year. In the evening, all homes are decorated with lighted oil lamps. Now comes the fun part of the evening for anyone who is firecracker crazy – firecrackers are burst and sweets are distributed amongst all. The louder and fancier your firecracker, the more attention and admiration you will garner! Having pure fun while observing fire safety is the name of the game!

Pic Credits: inonit.in

December

India is home to a number of Christians. Their most important festival, Christmas, is celebrated on 25th December all over the world. India rejoices the spirit of Christmas with pride. It is a season of cakes and cards, carols and Santa Claus, donations and decorations. The markets come alive once again with beautiful decorations, trees and irresistible gifts. People of all faiths like to bring the joy into their homes, especially the families with children! Since it coincides with the onset of winter vacation in schools across many parts of India, it is a fun-time for shopping and exchanging gifts, attending parties and just having a grand time, which runs up to the New Year!

Pic Credits: yellowpages

Eid-ul-Fitr– the festival that cannot be tapped into a specific time-period!

It is the main festival for Muslims. Ramzan is a holy month for them where they fast from dawn-to-dusk without single sip of water. The fasting is quite rigorous and considered to cleanse both body and soul. Even a 7 year old is encouraged to keep the fast. At the end of a month of fasting, Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated with great enthusiasm. Everyone is greeted with hugs and wishes of “Eid Mubarak’.  A special prayer calledNamaz is offered to Allah, new clothes are worn and special food is made. Which child does not love getting some money for fun spending? Adults give a small amount of money as a token of their blessings to young people on this day. This is called “Eidi”.

This is a festival of good will and peace. The festival and fasting is according to Islam calendar, so there is no fixed time of the year in Grecian calendar that it follows!

This list offers a comprehensive glance at some of the most important festivals in India. Each has it its own unique flavor and mythological legends behind the celebrations. Sure enough, Indians need just a pretext to celebrate, magnanimous and joyful that we are! Any chance to display our rich and colorful heritage and culture, dances and music, with religious and spiritual backdrops, is lapped up promptly here!

50 Reasons to Love INDIA

10 Backpacking trips across India one cannot miss in a lifetime

Terrorism dampening the spirits of tourist worldwide

A day well spent at Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi

Why I lost my heart at Taj Mahal


Leave a comment

12 destinations you must visit in 2016

12 destinations you must visit in 2016!
With every New year come new resolutions and for those of you who are avid travelers, what better than planning 12 whole getaways across India …..1 for every month of the year!
Here are some of the places you could consider exploring in 2016:

1.   January: Gujarat – Rann Utsav

What better way to start the New Year than an Utsav (celebration)! The Rann Utsav is a celebration of life in the Great Rann of Kutch, the largest salt marsh in the world. The event is conducted every year from December to February however it peaks during full moon nights and during Sankranti or the kite flying festival.

On a full moon night, the marshes blazes and appears like another world. The Full moon can be experienced on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th January which is the best time to be a part of the Rann Utsav. The government organizes special carnivals with several activities like camel safaris, dances, adventure activities and more. You should not miss the Kala Dungar, the highest point in Kutch, which is a beautiful place to see the sunset and view the entire Rann. You can also visit the Aina Mahal, Vijay Vilas Palace, Mandvi Beach and the Swaminarayan Temple in the nearby region.
The accommodation is available at Dhorado which is about 80KM from Bhuj which is in tents.

2.      February: Kerala – Backwater, Hills & Beaches

With its beaches, hill stations and backwaters every season is great to visit Kerala however February is a perfect time to visit because it lies in the dry season and the best for sightseeing. Alleppey or Alappuzha is the place to see the backwaters, you can stay on a houseboat and cruise along the canals and enjoy fresh seafood!

You can then head to Munnar, the most popular hill station of Kerala and sight the Nilgiri Tahr in the verdant Nilgiri mountains or enjoy a good trek. After that you can head to Cochin to enjoy the beach and also visit the old Jewish synagogue or enthrall in the ancient fishing nets or pay history a visit at the Kochi Fort.

3.      March : Varanasi – Ghats & Shrines

The holy city of Hindus, Benares, is where devotees come to wash their life’s sins in the Ganges. It is said that those who are lucky enough to spend their last moments in Varanasi attain salvation or moksha. The morbidity of death aside, Varanasi is the place to attain peace and be one with your soul.

It is famous for its bathing ghats on the river Ganga, Manikarnika Ghat, Dashaswamedha Ghat, Panchaganga Ghat and harischandra Ghat are the well known ghats. Apart from the ghats are the scores of temples along which the most revered is the Kashi Vishwanath temple. You must visit this city to have experienced the aura of one of the world’s oldest inhabited cities.

4.      April: Kashmir – A Rejuvenated Paradise

Kashmir, the crown jewel of India, is one of the most conflict ridden places in India and also the most picturesque. In recent times it has regained its glory and the government is taking efforts to promote tourism. You must visit Kashmir in April when the pleasant summer starts and you can enjoy the green valleys, gurgling rivers and the immense expanse of meadows.

You must being your trip in Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, enjoy the shikhara ride in the Dal Lake before moving on to Pahalgam. It is from this place that devotees visit the Amarnath Cave, however it is only at the end of summer that the cave opens for public.

Kashmir is endowed with snow clad mountains and pristine lakes and rivers and you can enjoy this in places like Yousmarg, Sonmarg, Tangmarg, Verinag, Aru and Aharbal.

5.   May: Sikkim – Landlocked in Himalayas

If you are not a snow person, the best time to visit the Himalayas is in the summer when the mountains come to life after a cold winter. The snow melts to reveal the rich forests and gushing streams and the distant snow peaks make a very pretty picture and you can experience this is Sikkim.

The second smallest state in India, Sikkim is home to the mighty Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world. It is very popular as a trekking destination as it covers a variety of terrains. You can go on a sightseeing tour across the capital city Gangtok especially the Rumtek Monastery, Buddhism is widely followed in Sikkim and you will colorful flags all across the state. You can then head to Yuksom, the ancient capital city of Sikkim and on to Pelling to catch a glimpse of the mighty Kanchenjunga.

6.      June: Karnataka – Coorg, Mysore & Hampi

Karnataka is a state with the maximum diversity of geography with a beautiful coastline, tropical Western ghats and the fertile plains. A great road trip would be to explore Coorg, Mysore and Hampi, the magical feathers in Karnataka’s cap!

Coorg also known as the Scotland of India has coffee plantations and natural forest alike, with rivers and waterfalls abound it is a great place to cool your heels. Mysore is about 100KM from Coorg and the stately city is one of the cleanest cities in India. Mysore Palace is the place to visit, the grandeur and magnificence of the palace cannot be missed! From Mysore you can head on to Hampi at a distance of 400 KM where the ancient ruins of the erstwhile city are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was the seat of the Vijayanagara Kingdom and the architecture of the buildings and temples is unmatchable.

Pic Credits: Flickr

7.       July: Ladakh – Unlimited Offbeat

Unending mountains, clear blue skies, and translucent lakes and winding roads, this is the picture that comes to my mind when you think of Ladakh.

Ladakh is a region with the state of Jammu & Kashmir and Leh is the major city. A very strong Buddhist culture is followed in Ladakh and it is home to several monasteries like Thiksey and Hemis Monastery. One of the best ways to explore Ladakh is by motorcycle and you can rent Motorcycles from Manali. Other popular ways are to cycle or trek, however these are for active people as the high altitude can make any activity strenuous!

July is the best time to visit Ladakh as the snow would have completely melted showcasing the exotic. You can visit the Shanti Stupa, Leh Palace, Hemis Gompha, Stok palace, Pangong Lake, Magnetic Hill and Tsomoriri Lake on your trip here.

8.      August: Zanskar Trek – Virgin Mountains

Many epic journeys are done by foot and you can go on one such unique trek to the Zanskar Valley in the Kargil district in Jammu & Kashmir! The highest mountains of Himachal are found in Zanskar where the average elevation is about 6000m.

August is the best time to trek here when the weather is moderate and not too cold. With not a soul in sight and the mountains in attention all around you, this trek will make you appreciate the beauty that Zanskar is! You will cross valleys, mountain passes, ice cold rivers and Buddhist sculptures and gompas on this trek.

9.       September: Lahaul & Spiti – Unexplored Himachal

One of the most overlooked destinations in the Himalayas is Lahaul & Spiti, the largest district in Himachal Pradesh. The district headquarters Keylong is a stopover on the way to Leh from Manali and yet remains quite unexplored by travelers.

One of the highest motorable passes at 4550 M is the Kunzum Pass where one can enter the Spiti Valley from Lahaul. From Kunzum at a distance of 20KM is the Chandrataal Lake. The blue lake waters are so tranquil and the surroundings so serene that the reflection of the mountains on the lake make a surreal image. It is a must visit place on this trip. The other places to visit are Kibber, the highest village in the world with its own morotable road, Kaza, Pin Valley and the ancient village of Tabo.

Pic Credits: Flickr

10.  October: Andaman – Adorable Havelock & Mystic Baratang Islands

The end of monsoons opens up the Andaman Islands for travelers to explore the magical paradise. Havelock Island and Baratang Island are the two islands that truly represent the splendor of the Andamans. With white sand beaches, coconut trees and clear waters Havelock is the destination for beach lovers. You can take part in water activities like snorkeling, sea walking and diving to explore the corals.

Baratang is lesser explored but has the most unique attractions like the Mud volcano, Mangrove forests, Limsetone caves and also the Parrot Island where parrots come to roost in thousands every evening!

11.  November: Rajasthan – Sun, Sand & Glory

Rajasthan, a place fit for the kings! Royalty, breathtaking palaces and forts, fascinating history, captivating desert, sumptuous food, Rajasthan has it all.

You must visit Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur for the forts and palaces, and go on a desert safari in Jaisalmer. Then head to the Aravallis hills to Mount Abu, the only hill station in Rajasthan, then onto catching sight of the Tiger in Ranthambore National Park. Winters are the best time to visit with pleasant weather and perfect time to experience the desert state!

12.  December: Goa – Time to bid adieu in fashion

All that travel would have exhausted you and it’s time to let your hair down, and time for Goa!! The most happening destination in the country come December is Goa, with the celebration of Christmas and the revelry of New Year.

A lot of music festivals like Sunburn and other concerts take place in Goa during the year end and you should definitely attend one. Check out the Christmas carnival and parade in Panji before digging into the sumptuous Christmas meal in Goan style. Beach hop across the stunning beaches of Vagator, Anjuna, Baga, Calangute and Cavelossim and relax and recoup before facing the New Year!

So what are you waiting for?….Pull out the calendar for 2016, pick the dates for your monthly getaways and breeze through the year fresh and rejuvenated!…

#newyear #2016 #2016travel #2016India #rannutsav #gujarat #kerala #munnar #cochin #backwaters #varanasi #benares #kashmir #srinagar #sikkim #karnataka #coorg #hampi #zanskar #zanskartrek #lahaul #spiti #havelock #baratang #rajasthan #goa

50 Reasons to Love INDIA

10 Backpacking trips across India one cannot miss in a lifetime

Terrorism dampening the spirits of tourist worldwide

A day well spent at Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi

Why I lost my heart at Taj Mahal


3 Comments

50 Reasons to Love INDIA

50 Reasons to Love INDIA

Each person has his/her favourite place that holds cherished secrets and unique facets. Few places have however an appeal that can touch the hearts of many. India is one such place.
There are many reasons to love a country as diverse and as big as India. Here’s an attempt to compile 50 of those. The list is not exhaustive, as the reasons could be many, but nevertheless the more interesting ones are included:

1. India is the birthplace of ancient Yoga, the intriguing science of controlling mind, body and spirit. Care to learn?

2. India is also the home where Ayurveda was born with its miraculous cures and wondrous healing. Want to experience it?

3. There are so many languages, religions and cultures in India that a lifetime devoted to learning them will be proven short. Amazing, isn’t it?

4. The regional dresses of India are so varied. It is mind-boggling how a single country can have so many traditional dress forms.How can one forget the gorgeous and graceful sari?

5.This one deserves a special mention – the ultimate love symbol in the whole world – the Taj Mahal!

6. Where else will you find superstars of movies and cricketers being worshipped? People make temples of these living legends and pray to them!

7. Where else will you find a paradise on earth – a place and people as lovely as Kashmir?

8. The pristine beaches of Goa are India’s very own Hawaii!

9. The tea, aka the chai we get here in kulhads or earthen mugs cannot be obtained anywhere else. The heavenly taste cannot be matched by the finest china mugs elsewhere in the world!

Pic Credits: Flickr

10. The mango, the king of fruits,is abundant here. Whoever tastes it is hooked for life. Are you one of them?

11. The melodious Indian classical music – Hindustani and Carnatic is ancient and deep, unrivalled by any music from the rest of the world.

Pic Credits: Flickr

12. There are 8 listed classical forms of dances in India. Each one as different from the other and just as fascinating and graceful.

13. The food of India – lip smacking? Indian food is divine with its variety and flavors, a host of options as varied as its languages.

14. The country that has been living on the wonders of vegan food since times immemorial, which the rest of the world is now waking up to.

15. The home of innumerable masalas, spices to add irresistible aromas to food, and having medicinal scientific benefits as well!

16. Is there another country in the world where there are as many festivals and reasons to celebrate as we do here? In fact, if we have a holiday for each celebration and festival, we will work in between holidays instead of the other way round!

17. Street food is simply irresistible and dirt cheap… where else will you be able to eat regional cuisines for 2 under Rs. 100?

18. Temples, mosques, churches and all religious places you can think of co-exist beside each other.

19. The privileged unique part of the world which enjoys 5 seasons instead of 4 – our glorious monsoons that make everything green and full of gaiety!

20. India and Bollywood are inseparable. You can see its influence everywhere here and it binds all classes and religions!

21. Foreign food,desi style! You can’t be in this country and not eat the localized version of almost every type of international food. Be it Chindian noodles or chicken tikka pizza!

22. Our history is as colorful and vibrant as the country. Each place in India has its own past – learn the myriad stories of how it came to be as it is today!

23. Our weddings, oh so grand! Just the word itself brings a glow and smile to most faces – famous for their pomp, show and glamour.

Pic Credit: thebigfatindianwedding.com

24. Have you every enjoyed the three-wheeler‘auto’ ride? How about the rickety and lovely cycle- rickshaw? Unbeatable experience!

25. Oil massage or telmaalish to open up your muscles for measly Rs. 50!

26. The unforgettable meethapaan! The tantalising, sweet, tangy, spicy taste – tickling and enticing your taste buds after a sumptuous meal!

27. Our love of movie songs is unmatched. Want to check it out? Join in for some fun anytime anywhere with the perfect ice-breaker – our rally of songs – that’s right – the game of Anthakshari that every Indian seems to be a master of!

Pic Credit: Flickr

28. Domestic help available for everything – right from washing, cooking to ironing, driving massaging!

Pic Credit: youthkiawaz.com

29. There is a name for every relation imaginable that you may encounter in your family instead of plain aunt, uncle and cousin!

30. We are never short of festivals, parties or celebrations. If we don’t have one, don’t worry, we will create one!

Pic Credits: Payalkumar.com

31. The democracy or freedom to live life as you like (as long as you don’t pester your neighbours too much)!

 

32. India is a like a slice of heaven for photographers for its variety in almost everything from people, lifestyle to food, clothes to temples!

 

33. Varied and diverse landscapes power packed into one – snow-peaked Himalayas to mesmerizing sand dunes of deserts to enchanting coastlines!

34. For the pleasures of bargaining while shopping!Even when the board in the shop proclaims “Fixed Prices”!

35. The topography of India is such that you are never far from a weekend get-away from any given location in India. Wow!

 

36. You can live on Rs. 100,000 a month as well as on Rs.10,000 here, as you wish to choose. You don’t get that everywhere.

 

37. The Indian hospitality, where we welcome strangers into our homes and our lives with open arms!

 

38. Indian railways are unmatchable! A journey on rails is an unforgettable experience. Not to forget they are the largest rail network in the world!

39. The wildlife sanctuaries here have some rare species of animals (tigers, lions etc.) and birds.

40. Tailor made dresses are a way of life here. This happens to be quite expensive in many other nations.

41. Where else will you see cattle and sheep along with vehicles on a road? We believe in co-existing with animals, and love the chaos!

42. There is nowhere in the where you will encounter a small temple in almost every street as in India. We are God-fearing!

43. In every state, there are so many brilliantly architected forts, symbols of ourrich history and glory.

44. Adorable cute children and frisky youngsters greeting their elders by touching the elders’ feet whenever they meet.

45. The seat of ancient knowledge – you can find all modern scientific concepts explained in detail in ancient Sanskrit literature, the world is ‘re-discovering’ what our ancestors had already decoded!

46. Holidays still mean spending time with your family and friends. Where else do you get that?

47. The awesome soap operas which try very unsuccessfully to make you cry with lots of sentiments and emotions thrown in! We love our sari clad, layered make-up caked ladies here!

48. Being social is a way of life here as many of us are brought up in joint-family atmosphere!

49. The origin of Buddhism and Jainism, and the oldest religion known to humanity – Hinduism!

50. Last but not the least, is the love and tolerance and compassion of Indians towards everyone.

Pic credits: cnn.com

To experience even a few of the things listed above is blissful enough. India is truly unique and unlike any other nation in the world. Since there are endless facets to explore about India, you can never get enough of this beautiful country!


1 Comment

10 Backpacking trips across India one cannot miss in a lifetime

India is known for its rich heritage and natural beauty. It is probably the only country in the world where every state has its unique culture, traditions and cuisine, offering a rich experience to tourists. No wonder it is on every tourists ‘must-visit’ list, backpackers in particular, since it is a relatively inexpensive tourism destination.

This article summarizes some backpacking tours suiting the taste buds of avid travelers of all age groups.

1)    Riding heights

For real adventure and thrill, go for backpacking on a motor bike at the picturesque Ladakh-Leh highway. Situated on high altitude, the pristine beauty of Ladakh leaves one spell bound. Pack the bags with handy food items, warm woolens and drive while enjoying and connecting to the simplicity of life in this area. Enjoy the high passes, Buddhist monasteries, tiny hamlets, sapphire lakes, sumptuous Ladakhi eateries on your way!

2)    Panoramic Himalayan Views

Situated near the hill station of Mussoorie on the Chamba Road, Dhanaulti is a paradise for people wanting to enjoy peace amidst the serene surroundings of snowcapped mountains.  Unlike a crowded hill station, the place is very quiet and one can soak in the tranquility amongst the alpine forests of Deodar, Rhododendron and Oak.

Dhanaulti

Pic Credits: Flickr

Several nature trails,treks and eco-parksin the region keep the walkers busy. Don’t forget to capture the scenic views of Gangotri-Yamunotri glaciers in your camera!

3)    Pilgrimage

A short tour across Mathura-Vrindavan, just about 2-2.5 hours from Delhi will prove to be a spiritually healing one. The devotional songs,ringing bells of temples,prayers and the holiness of place is enchanting. The mythological stories associated with these places are equally captivating.

Pic Credits: Flickr

4)    Heritage

The state of Rajasthan has numerous palaces and monuments related to Rajput and other Hindu rulers.One is amazed to see the finesse in art and architecture, natural ventilation and lightning of these magnificent structures which challenges the architects of today.

Winter is the perfect weather to enjoy this place. Plan a tour covering Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur and Bikaner.Visit the royal museums and enjoy camel rides and desert safari on the undulating sand dunes.

A visit to the local markets for kundanand lac jewelry and rajasthani ‘bandini’ and ‘lehriya’ sarees as well as inticately carved handicraft items is a must.

5)      Rock and fall

Plan a tour to central part of India where Jabalpur and nearby places make for ideal backpacking destinations. The Dhuandhar falls at Jabalpur are a must-visit. The beauty of falls and the surrounding mist all over is mesmerizing. Enjoy the boat ride on the Narmada river cutting its way through the marble rocks at Bhedaghat. The place is a favourite with photographers and if you are lucky then you could be part of a movie shoot!


Pic Credits: Pinterest

 6)      Touching the shore

Drive along the Konkan coast and revelin the beauty of the beaches, waterfalls, mountains, creeks, forts, harbors and temples. The lush palm groves, mango trees and cashew trees planted in the agricultural fields make the place a green heaven. The rain gods are kind to this place, so carry along umbrellas if you are travelling from June to September.

7)      Time for a jungle safari

The road trip from Bangalore to Ooty via Bandipur sanctuary is a captivating experience. Be ready with your lenses and catch the sauntering deer, elephants, monkeys, sambhar and a lot more on the way!

Take a break in the lodges at Bandipur sanctuary to enjoy the treasure of flora and faunaspread amidst the beauty of the Nilgiris and relish the lush greenery dotted with tea plantations, canopy of tall trees. It’s also the perfect opportunity to boost your Ayurveda knowledge while learning the therapeuticvalueof medicinal plants.

 Don’t forget to grab some home-made chocolates at Ooty!

 8)    Fanatic Goa

Famous for friendship, football, fish, feni and its pristine beaches, Goa is an ideal backpacking hotspot for enthusiastic vacationers. Top it up with glorious churches, magnificent forts and temples a complete experience.

The central Goa witnesses a rich culture and history. The leisurely walk across river Mandovi is an experience to vouch for.Be prepared to immerse yourself in the gamut of water sports at Goan coast which include  windsurfing, dinghy sailing, scuba diving, water skiing, angling, parasailing, water scooter and offcourse swimming. The beach shacks make for an ideal place to stay, live like the locals and save money.

While packing your bags off this place, do not forget to buy the umpteen varieties of cashewnuts!

 9)      South ‘sangam’

Kanyakumari, the southern-most tip of India, is famous for its majestic hills, virgin beaches, rivers and meandering streams.The place is known for its breathtaking memorials and temples.Watching the ‘sangam’ of three oceans is an life experience in itself!

Shop for some shell artifacts and beautifully carved wooden handicraft items in the area!

10)      Eastern beauty

Behold the beautiful lakes, waterfalls, pine forests spread over the green Khasi hills in Shillong.The trekking trails among-st the bamboo plants and orchids are a boon for the walkers. Golf lovers too will find a paradise in one of the world’s oldest and best natural golf courses situated in the city.

Better still, walk your way to Shillong Peak and admire the glimmering lights of the town below appearing like a star studded veilin the evening.

You can also drive to Cherrapunji, the second wettest place on planet and see how the surroundings have adapted to the god’s bounty.  Be sure to walk your way on the ‘living root bridges.

 

So go…..soak in the many facets of India!