Off late, have you been cancelling your holiday plans because everyone around you is too busy to accompany you on the trips? Then, it is high time that you stop postponing your plans and do what you have only imagined in your thoughts all these years – solo travelling. At first, the whole idea of travelling alone might give you a few jitters, but trust me, as you start thinking more about it, all the doubts and negative thoughts would simply fade away. And, once you clear that stage, you are ready for the adventure called Solo Travel. But before you embark on such a trip, first you need to decide on your destination. So, read on and know about some of the top destinations in India, where you can travel completely on your own.

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.

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.

What comes to your mind, when I say “adventure in the Himalayas”? I am quite sure your answer would include things like trekking, skiing, hiking, mountaineering, river rafting and paragliding. But there is more to excite you in the Himalayas than these; and that is the scintillating road trips, which are undertaken by thousands of people, year after year. There is a certain charm about riding through the Himalayan regions that beckons adventure seekers from across the globe. The challenges that one faces during these road trips are innumerable, but everything gets compensated by the satisfaction of successfully completing it.

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:

  • 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.

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!

“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.

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.

“Surely, of all the wonders of the world, the horizon is the greatest.” ― Freya Stark

This line pretty much sums up the kind of person Freya Stark was. She believed in travelling unimaginable distances, seeing endless possibilities, even when most could see none. For those of you, who don’t know who this wonderful woman was, she was a British-Italian traveller and explorer, renowned for her writings about the Middle East. Her parents are known to have been quite liberal, resulting in her knowing numerous languages as a child, even though she never went to school.

Often, people ask me, “What activities can one try in November?”

November is coming, and I know most of us want an escape from our life since we have been working so hard lately. So, it’s not like we want a break, it is more like we deserve one, or rather need one. It’s been too long since I left work behind and went some place nice and interesting, and met new people who had amazing stories to share. While pondering the thrilling activities that can be undertaken to blow off the boredom in coming November, I came across the following options. Just read through to see if any of these catches your attention. Below, you will also find a few tips to prepare for the activities.

Travelling is one of the purest forms of joy that exists in the world and no matter who you are, going to a new place has an unprecedented thrill, which cannot be matched by many other things in life. Now, people have different choices and ways of travelling, be it in terms of activities, places they go to or what they want to see. One thing that people living in cities do not get to experience is gazing at a night sky full of stars and so full that the scene looks like a painting by Vincent Van Gogh. Thus, the only option left for star-gazing aficionados is to travel to places where pollution is yet to run the discourse and does not interfere with daily proceedings of stars trying to make the sky look stunning. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular places in India where you can go to find a sky so full of stars that it would put city lights to shame.

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”— Anonymous

Life in the 20s is like a fast roller-coaster ride with many unexpected highs and lows, but what brews between these and a decade is something magical, something so beautiful that we crave for it all our lives. Unless, one knows how to time travel! Since that’s unlikely to happen, the best we could do is to make these 10 years so exciting and adventurous that we move to the next phase of our lives with truck loads of wonderful memories. And to create such fantastic memories for a lifetime, nothing can be better than adventure travelling with our best buddies.

Read on and find out about best adventure trips to take in your 20s with your best buddies.

If we consider travelling as life, then probably backpacking is the best way to live it!

Backpacking may not interest all, but those who go on such trips will tell you how much fun and adventure they have. A planned tour is always better, but then at times, you should let your heart lead you. I always wanted to go on a backpacking trip, but was too apprehensive to do so. But that apprehension went away when my friend told me about his plans of backpacking to Goa. I too joined his gang of backpackers, and before I could know, we were on the road, hitch-hiking! Since then, I have been on various backpacking trips and really glad about it. If you too have apprehensions about it, then take my word; let it go because there is nothing wonderful than this. Read on to know about some of the best backpacking destinations in India, where you can plan your first such trip!

Who said skiing is fun? It certainly looks like fun when you see skiers swishing by, snow flying from their skis as they twist and turn majestically. Learning to ski is however, hard work. The boots feel heavy and you can’t bend your ankles, feeling like a clumsy oaf trying to stand up on your skis. You also have to walk around with the skis on your shoulder, you have no idea what to do with your ski poles and if you fall, it’s such a pain getting up on your feet again.

Skiing is fun once you learn the skills!
Skiing is fun once you learn the skills!

Often, the famous places across the globe are known for certain things. But, most of the times, there is more to such places than meets the eye. A classic example of this would be Ladakh. Yes, I know that pictures of Ladakh, the lake shown in movie 3 Idiots and Khardung La, would have popped up in your mind. This is precisely where the problem lies. In our search for diamonds, we disregard the rubies, emeralds and sapphires. What I mean by this metaphor is that many go to Ladakh for the three places, known most to them, but miss out on exploring those places that are not so famous. And, it is in these small and slightly remote places that the true charm of Ladakh lies. With this blog, I hope to tell you about the unexplored places in the region that you must make a point to visit. Let’s discover the alluring offbeat places in Ladakh.

Best off-beat Himalayan Treks

The Scottish-American writer, John Muir once said, “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”

And man, was he right! What could be a better way for people like us to get close to nature than getting lost in the forests! Truthfully, there’s not much of true nature left around us. Humans have gone everywhere; they have taken over nature and established their empire. Today, sky-piercing towers make the skyline, and bustling, over-crowded metropolises, dominate the landscape. Sometimes, it even gets hard to find a lush public park in cities.

To come across the true bounties of nature, I suggest you go on a trek. And, to find nature, you do not even have to go far to any international destination. The Himalayas in the North and Northeast, and the Western Ghats in the South are perfect for trekkers. From easy hikes that are almost like a walk in the park to some demanding ones that require you to utilise every muscle in your body, all kinds of trekking excursions are possible here.

Roopkund, Har Ki Doon, Goecha La, Beas Kund and Nag Tibba are some of the most taken trekking trails in India. However, if you are one of those, who like to, as our favourite Star Trek character, Captain Kirk, says, “Boldly go where no man has gone before”, then the following are some treks you can consider for your next excursion. I suggest that you try at least a few of these in 2016 itself! Life is too short to be delaying such amazing experiences for the future.

We are crazy about records! And I’d even go to the extent of saying that a thing is special only if it’s got a record to distinguish itself from the millions of other things in the same category. Sachin Tendulkar has got fans all over the world, but why? If somebody asks us why we love him, we all would probably start listing all the accolades he’s won. That’s what makes him special! That’s what sets him apart from the hundreds of thousands of cricketers all over the world. It’s something to flaunt.

Well, I am not here to talk about cricket; I am here to talk about travelling. So, I would be talking about the highest places in India which you can visit. Recently, one of my friends went on a trekking expedition in Kerala, and I remember as soon as he returned, how he started bragging about conquering the highest mountain peak in South India – Anamudi, and how he plans to climb Mount Everest next!

Well, to be honest with you, I don’t think my fitness would allow me to climb that behemoth. I have done some trekking, but mountaineering is something I haven’t been lucky enough to try extensively. So, I went online and checked out places I could visit to brag about. I may not be able to visit the highest mountain, but I am definitely going to be visiting some other highest places in India. Here are some places on my bucket list that I am sharing with you.

The reflection of the barren mountains and a clear blue sky on the placid waters of Pangong Tso Lake is one sight that will remain etched in my mind forever!

It was the month of June, a year back, when the opportunity to travel to Ladakh came my way; all thanks to a friend of mine who loves heading to the Himalayas whenever he can. We were joined by a few more of his adventurous friends in Delhi. Initially, the group had planned a bike trip to the Ladakh region, but for some reason decided against it later. And so we ended up taking a flight to Leh Airport, which by the way, is among the highest airports in the world. The first couple of days of the trip were spent in local sightseeing; we decided that we should acclimatise to the local weather before heading to Pangong Tso. During these two days, I found some really interesting things about this lake by talking to the locals, and by reading a few geography journals and travel experiences on the internet. So, read on to know about these interesting things about Pangong Tso and how amazing my trip was!

The Movie Affair
The movie 3 Idiots, which released in 2009, made everyone sit up and take notice of the beauty of Pangong Tso; the way it was captured in movie’s climax scene. I am sure, you remember it! However, for Pangong, its tryst with the celluloid screen began in 1998 with the song “Satrangi Re” from the movie – Dil Se. This song was shot in the winters; hence, you will see the lake all frozen up. Next, it featured in an animated English movie called The Fall and a Hindi movie Heroes in 2006 and 2008, respectively.

Nepal houses the highest peak in the world, and this is one of the reasons Nepal is always crowded with trekkers. Nepal opened its gate to the outside world in 1949 when a British climber, Bill Tilman got permission from the king to trek in regions like Kali Gandaki, Helambu, and Everest. Colonel Jimmy Roberts was the first person to introduce trekking, the way we know it today, to the world. And within 8 years, 10 of the 14 peaks had been climbed. The first peak to be climbed was Annapurna in 1950, followed by Everest in 1953 by Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Edmund Hillary, and the third was Nanga Parbat. Traditionally, Sherpas believed that some mountains were God’s abode and must not be intruded upon. And so for generations they never attempted to climb Mount Everest, until a steady stream of climbers from West made mountaineering a profitable enterprise. By now Sherpas had already established a reputation as an important part of trekking in the Nepal Himalayas.

With many peaks to climb, some of them get the reputation of being exceptionally beautiful and mystical. Everest and Annapurna Peaks have been on the top of the list of the most popular treks for many years but some other treks in Nepal are worth the effort! Not only will they mesmerise with their beauty, but also get you closer to the unique culture of Nepal. After the earthquake in April 2015, Nepal has opened its gate again for trekkers, and it has regained its tourism and now it is safe to go for a trek in the region.

It’s hard to choose a trekking destination in Nepal when you have so many to pick from. We have listed some of the most popular treks in Nepal which define the beauty of the Himalayas!