The desert mountain valley of Spiti in Himachal Pradesh is as much an ideal destination for adventurers as it is for the solitude seekers. Nestled high up in the Himalayan Mountains, the scenic Spiti Valley presents wonderful opportunities for moderate to difficult trekking expeditions as well as Jeep safaris. However, those who wish to stay away from such adrenaline-pumping activities and spend their time peacefully exploring the region should opt for a homestay experience. This can be done at any of the six villages of Spiti, namely Demul, Langza, Dhankar, Kibber, Lhalung and Komik. On an average, each of this village has up to three homestays with each having one guest bedroom that can accommodate one or two people. These homestays are basically village homes, with one of their portions converted into comfortable guestrooms. These have been developed by the locals to generate an alternative and sustainable source of income for themselves.

In the words of the famous Greek storyteller, Aesop, “Adventure is worthwhile”.
When it comes to holidaying, I guess most of us become a little too mainstream. We go where everybody else is going and do what has already been done by many before. The true adventure is when you take the road not taken; step into the unknown, without having an idea about what might come next.In the book of India, Arunachal Pradesh is a chapter which is skipped by most readers. The north-easternmost state in the country is still a virgin territory, waiting to be discovered by adventurers, who dare to do something new, something different.

Did you know tea drinking in India was prevalent since 750 BC? However, it was not tea per say, but more of a vegetable dish that consisted of tea leaves, oil and garlic. Technically, India was introduced to tea by some officers of the British army, who started tea cultivation here with seeds brought from China. This led to a revolution, and by the end of the 19th century, tea produced in Darjeeling and some parts of Assam were exported to different parts of the world, especially Britain. Slowly and steadily, this revolution spread across the entire Himalayan foothills and other parts of the country.

Ask any 20-something about what they cherish the most and see them talk lovingly about weekends. Yes, weekends are truly the best! From extroverts who love to socialise with just about everyone to introverts who prefer to stay back in the familiar comfort of their home, weekends are fervently awaited by each of us. They are after all the only two days in a week when we can ignore work-related mails and focus on ourselves and our loved ones. It is that magical period of time which makes us feel that we were not born to just work, pay taxes and leave the world without having lived at all. Whatever our idea of a good time may include, a weekend is when we indulge ourselves in what we love.

Don’t know about you, but 2016 was amazing for me. I started the year with a bang, and that’s how it ended. Doesn’t it feel great when everything falls into place and all your dreams are realised just as you wanted them?! I hope it does not sound like I am bragging, but I get excited just thinking about it. Some moments that I had been longing for ever since I can remember, happened in the past few months. Here is an account of things that I checked off my bucket list this year:

What goes in your mind, when you read about someone else’s adventurous trekking expedition, especially in the Himalayas? Do you hear an inner calling? Does your heart and mind tell you that someday, you too should do this? Then, what is stopping you? Every year, thousands of amateur trekkers go on their first expedition into the Himalayas. All that one requires is a basic physical fitness level, necessary trekking equipment, a bit of mental strength and loads of zeal. We have listed down a few trekking trails in the Himalayas that are perfect for beginners like you. Read on to know about them so that you can start planning your impending desire to trek in the Himalayas.

Life is a journey. In this long voyage, you meet people, make acquaintances and then continue on your way. But, some people are such that their memory remains with us forever. The same can be said about places. You visit tens and hundreds of places in your life, if not thousands, but the memory of only a few of those stays. Bhabha Pass in the Spiti Valley is one such place, a trip to which one just wouldn’t forget.

  • Where is Muktinath?

Muktinath overland tour is a thrilling journey that brings one closer to nature as well as God! Muktinath Temple is located in the Annapurna Region in the Mustang District of Nepal and is considered to be of spiritual and religious significance to Hindus as well as Buddhists. This Lord Vishnu Temple is situated at about 12000 feet, and to get here one has to undertake an overland journey by jeep, a 4 KM trek and an ATR ride! It is quite an adventure and ultimately leads one to a spiritual tryst with the Lord!

Muktinath Temple in the snow
Muktinath Temple in the snow

In addition to visiting the temple, this trip also gives one the opportunity to discover and explore the cities of Kathmandu and Pokhara, soaking in the many marvels of these places.

How beautiful would a place be, the name of which translates into the Abode of Clouds?! I am talking about Meghalaya, one of the seven states in Northeast India. The Northeast is arguably the least explored part of the country, and this is perhaps why it is not as chaotic and commercialised, and also as polluted as the rest of India. If you are anything like me, then you would want to stay in such a place, rather than concrete jungles. Now, I know it is a bit exaggerated as it is not possible for us to leave our job and comfort of city life to go live in the middle of nowhere. But, at least we can take a trip to a place like this; just to see how amazing nature looks, undisturbed by human influence.

Rajasthan, the name which translates into the Abode of the Kings is enough to make one think of unmatched royalty and grandeur. You do not need to mention the myriad opulent palaces that dot this state. But even if you do, you can’t just stop with one or two, since there are many and every single one of them is more captivating than the other. From Lake Palace of Udaipur and Umaid Bhawan Palace of Jodhpur to Lalgarh Palace of Bikaner and City Palace of Jaipur, these man-made marvels are located in every nook and corner of the state.

Moreover, these are not the only points of interest to explore; there are numerous others. For instance, if you are in the Pink City, you can spend time exploring Hawa Mahal, Amer Fort, Jantar Mantar or Nahargarh Fort. In case your Rajasthan trip brings you to the City of Lakes – Udaipur, do not miss to visit City Palace, Monsoon Palace, Jag Mandir or Saheliyo Ki Bari. I can go on and on with the other cities of Rajasthan, but that’s no use. All of us know about these attractions, even those, who haven’t been to Rajasthan even once. There’s a lot to see and explore here.

I was shocked when one of my friends told me that he had grown tired of visiting the state. I thought that maybe because he is from Rajasthan, he must have seen everything. But then I found that this wasn’t the case. While conversing, I asked him about his trip to Alwar, and to my surprise, he told me he hadn’t been there. How can anyone claim to have explored the whole of Rajasthan when you haven’t even been to Alwar once? I know it’s not that popular, but it’s a visit-worthy destination.

While talking about the kingdom of Bhutan, nothing much really comes to mind; except for some basic facts like it lies in the Eastern Himalayas and is a landlocked country wedged between India and China. But, most of us don’t have the slightest clue about what this small country actually is. It has been enveloped in mystery for a long time, until the curtain, which has kept it hidden from the eyes of the world, slowly started lifting and the universe got to know that Bhutan is considered the happiest place on earth. Not only that, but it also measures its growth and development by calculating the Gross National Happiness? Yes, that’s true!

Freedom is a feeling, which cannot be expressed in words. I know we have left monarchy far behind, but sometimes I feel like we are still not liberated. The chains of responsibilities have kept us from doing what we love. When these bonds get too heavy, we need to break them off and escape. Live life like a nomad and see the treasures of the world; do something adventurous and feel what it really is to be free. I guess there is no better way to feel free than being on a motorbike trip. They say life is about the journey and not the end, and isn’t that exactly what a motorbike trip is? You pick up your bike, get the tank full, and then see where the path takes you; leaving behind the mundane.

Not only for the youth, but a motorbiking adventure is also for the ones who are young at heart; people who are passionate about riding endlessly. Freedom is what they seek and are ready to travel hundreds of kilometres just to get that feel. Na, I haven’t been on a bike trip yet, but I plan to and which place could be better for it than India – the land of different terrains. Here is a list of some of the best biking routes in the country that are just waiting for the daredevils.

Delhi to Rajasthan: A Ride through the Land of the Kings
Rajasthan is a place that everyone must visit at least once in their lifespan, be it to see the opulent palaces, or estimate the strength of the erstwhile rulers with the mighty forts they got constructed.

A bike ride through the different cities of Rajasthan is a brilliant way to explore the landscape of the state and see its hidden gems. Just make sure you have ample time to enjoy the Rajasthani hospitality to the fullest. After beginning from Delhi halt at the small town of Mandawa, your first step into the Rajasthani heritage. It is a 250 km journey. What follows is a trip through Bikaner, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Pushkar, and finally, Jaipur. The journey will let you explore Junagarh Fort, Mehrangarh Fort, Umaid Bhawan Palace, the City Palace of Udaipur, Monsoon Palace, Saheliyon Ki Bari, Brahma Temple, the City Palace of Jaipur, Hawa Mahal and Amer Fort. The complete venture, ending back in New Delhi, is around 1800-km long.

jodhpur

Guwahati – Tawang – Zemithang – Nameri: A Scenic Trip through Arunachal Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh was hidden from the eyes of the globetrotting crowd for a long, long time. Since its awe-inspiring natural splendour and cultural heritage has been unveiled to the world, it has become a major tourist destination. A bike trip in the state will give you a glimpse of the quintessential Himalayan landscape. Riding on its winding roads, along the gushing rivers and through dense national parks, you will forget about the stress of the city life.  

The 10-day long, 1200-km journey begins from Guwahati and brings you to Tezpur. After which, you can drive for about 325 km over the course of two days to reach the Tawang town, crossing Sela Pass en route. Needless to say, if you are in Tawang, you must visit the namesake monastery and admire its murals. The sojourn also introduces you to the beauty of Zemithang, and Dirang – better known for its hot springs.

arunachal-motorbike-ride

Delhi – Manali – Leh – Kargil – Srinagar – Delhi
I believe it is a sin to not mention a DelhiLadakh trip when talking about the best motorbiking routes in India. A favourite of many is the Leh via Manali segment and then return via Srinagar; hence, completing a full circle. The journey is about 2250 km, but if you add trips to Pangong Tso and Nubra Valley, it rounds at about 2800 km. Now, this is some way to spend two weeks.

Begin the trip with a thrilling 250-km journey from Delhi to Chandigarh, followed by a 310-km road adventure to the hill town of Manali. Between Manali and Leh, there are two pit stops, namely Jispa and Sarchu, where riders can relax after a long day of conquering winding roads. On your way, you will pass numerous passes like Khardung La, Nakee La, Tanglang La, Lachung La and Rohtang La. One of the most thrilling sections of this trip is the Gata Loops – a series of 21 hairpin bends. You will never know what will come your way till you reach the turn.

The majestic Pangong Tso and the ever-beautiful Nubra Valley are only a day’s drive from Leh. Many people choose to return via the same route that they took to get to Leh, but I do not see much fun in that. If you head to Kargil, you can return via Srinagar, and get to drive on a few other high passes like Zoji La and Fotu La.

Ladakh

Kanyakumari – Alleppey – Munnar – Ooty – Gokarna – Goa: Beaches, Backwaters, Hills and More
While thinking of a bike trip in India, only the above-mentioned places come to mind. But why? The southern coast of India is undoubtedly beautiful and who says exploring it on a bike is a bad idea. The journey can be started from the southernmost town of Kanyakumari and you can travel towards Goa from there. There’s a lot to see, do and admire between the two destinations. If you choose to travel with an operator, you get to start your adventure from Bangalore, and reach Madurai before Kanyakumari. The backwaters of Alleppey will win your heart just as much as the sight of snow-capped Himalayas does. A visit to Alleppey will be complete only with a night stay on a houseboat.

Like Alleppey is the realm of scenic backwaters, Munnar is synonymous with misty hills and sprawling tea and spice plantations. One breath in its salubrious environment and you will forget every hardship you might have faced during the excursion. In two days, you can reach Goa, the ultimate party destination in the country.

munnar

Bangalore to Coorg
It is a short scenic drive to unveil the beauty of the Western Ghats. Being dominated by misty, rolling hills, Coorg or Kodagu makes for one of the best weekend getaways from the bustling city of Bangalore. A perfect escape, the 270-km ride takes you through lush forests of teaks and coffee plantations. The district in itself is quite large, precisely 4102 sq km; therefore, there are aplenty points of interest to explore here. Riders can take the adventure a notch higher by visiting the famous Nagarhole National Park. The 643-sq km wildlife park is home to animals like the Bengal tiger, deer, Indian leopard, Indian elephant, gaurs and wild boars.

coorg

Kolkata – Gangtok – Ravangla – Yuksom – Darjeeling – Bagdogra: A Ride in the Eastern Himalayas
You have to come to Sikkim at least once to see the generosity that nature has bestowed upon it. Its mountain peaks inspire you to aim high, and its welcoming people never let you feel uninvited. The route takes you from aromatic tea gardens and peaceful monasteries to quaint hamlets. On this route, you will pass numerous settlements of the Sikkim’s tribal population, like the town of Yuksom. The historical place also holds immense religious significance among locals. The bike excursion should ideally take around 9 to 10 days to complete. Since it takes place in the Himalayas, riders here obviously have brilliant photo opp.

snowedout_route

Salem – Rasipuram – Kolli Hills: A Tryst with 70 Hairpins Bends
If you live in or around Tamil Nadu, you have got to visit the Kolli Hills. The small mountain range, which reaches about 4663 feet at its highest point, is the realm of scenic views. However, if you are a rider, its geographical features and the 12th-century Shiva temple may not lure you as much as the 70 hairpin bends. While here, you can click pictures with Akasa Gangai falls. A sight of this 300-feet landform will definitely leave you speechless. The round trip between Salem and Kolli Hills sums up at around 120 km; a perfect weekend escape with the lads.

Kolli hills

Chennai – Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry – Chidambaram -Rameshwaram – Tuticorin
East Coast Road or State Highway 49 is undoubtedly among the best places in India to go for a long ride. Stretching along the Bay of Bengal, it connects Chennai with Cuddalore, but has extended up to Kanyakumari, making it a riders’ paradise. You can begin your trip from Chennai and travel to Pondicherry via Mahabalipuram. While in the Union Territory, use your time exploring the world-famous Auroville. The quaint town of Rameshwaram will take your breath away with its beauty. It would be a mistake to not to visit the revered Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram. Some sculptures here date back to the 2nd century; how many times do you get to see something that old.  

pondicherry

Thus said, above are the best options to go for an exciting bike trip. Just get your Bullet serviced and embark on the journey.  

“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” – Lord Buddha

We would probably have to read Buddhist scriptures to know exactly what the deity meant with the quote, but one thing is for sure, the sight of flowers has the power to bring an instant smile to our face. You gift somebody even a single flower, and their mood changes at once. Imagine what seeing millions of flowers would do to you. It would not only lift your spirit, but also fill you with love and respect for nature. Flowers make even the bleakest of places colourful, vibrant and great to look at. And, the scent they radiate stimulates our senses like nothing else. Imagining standing in a vast field of flowers has made me want to go to such a place; hence, I have come up with a bucket list of such destinations around the world.

The Everest is undeniably majestic! The world’s highest mountain overlooks the world from an altitude of more than 29000 feet above sea level. This is the highest you can get without your feet leaving the ground. I have been fascinated by it, ever since I saw it first in my general knowledge book, when I was in school. At that time, I didn’t really know the true magnificence of the giant, but over the years, as I have learnt about Everest and the Everest region, I have become more and more intrigued by it.

How many times have we seen birds soar across the sky, and thought to ourselves, “Man, wish I could fly like them.” And, during one such instance of thinking about flying, it struck me…I can actually do it. No, I wasn’t all of a sudden going to sprout wings and fly like a bird. But, what I was going to do was go for paragliding, and that is exactly what I did recently. Now, before I start telling you about my experience, let me just give you an overview of the activity.

Nowadays, we hear people, especially youth, talking about travelling and exploring new places. But, what do most do? They go to places like Ladakh, Goa, Kasol and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, making these places somewhat of a tourist cliché. What I mean is that these places have become so popular that many people visit them and there is almost nothing new left to explore. Whatever there is in such places, the tourist guide books have in their pages. So, what are we really ‘exploring’ by going to places, where already so many have been.

Little did I know that my short adventure trek to Chopta will turn out to be the adventure of a lifetime! I could so much relate to a quote that I read recently by Lin Yutang, “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow”. But for me it was more like an adventure which I survived and at that moment all I wanted to do was to go home and be warm and comfortable!

The only reason that this trek is so close to my heart and I will remember it forever is because I remember how I almost gave up! I gave up on walking further, to save myself from all the pain. It’s good to travel in a group sometimes. If I was on a solo trek I would have been stuck somewhere in the mountains. Not that I mind that, but I would have been surely hopelessly lost!

Some people call it Sagarmatha, while others refer to it as Chomolungma. There was even a time when it was only called Peak XV, and not many people knew about it. However, today the story is altogether different. It is perhaps the most well-known geographical feature on earth. Yes, I am talking about the mighty Everest – the highest point on earth. The pride of Nepal, the mountain peak kisses the sky at 29029 feet. Even 10 Burj Khalifas placed one above the other can’t match that height. Mt. Everest is a part of the Himalayas which didn’t just emerge overnight. It took Mother Nature millions of years to carve the rocky marvel. I guess such spectacular things do take time to form. You’d be fascinated to know that the Himalayas are still rising steadily; about a few millimeters every year.

Southeast Asia is one of the most toured destinations in the world owing to its gorgeous beaches, tropical climate, historical buildings, sacred temples and delicious street food. Another reason for its popularity is its budget friendliness as well as tourist safety. Each of the countries in Southeast Asia has its own charm, which is worth exploring and admiring.

People have all sorts of dreams and fascinations about travelling the world. Then, there must be some, who would like to never get out of their home and for whom travelling could be exhausting. I personally have never encountered one such person in my life, and therefore my conclusion is that most of us love to experience what the world has to offer. Going back to my point that different people have different choice of destination in mind, yet when planning a vacation, most of us come up with names like Goa or Shimla and the likes. Do not get me wrong here, these mainstream holiday destinations are by all means totally worth it. But, the fact is that they are mainstream after all! Most of us have actually been to a few of these locations as kids. Don’t believe me? Just ask your mom and she will take out those huge old photo albums consisting of pictures of you as a toddler, sitting in your parents’ lap against the setting of at least one of those generic holiday destinations. Well, this blog is not written to discourage your grand plans for a memorable break from your routine life, I am just trying to remind you that our incredible country has more than just scenic beauty. The world knows that we as a nation are proud owners of some of the richest wildlife areas found on earth. So, how about ditching the sceneries this time and going off on an adventure with the intriguing fauna of Bandhavgarh? Allow me to elaborate more on this proposition and make you want to arrive at this majestic location by the next flight!