India is infamous throughout the world for its sweltering summer heat, which I, for one, am sick and tired of. The real winters come in late December, and before you know it, it is summers already. Just as March ends, the temperature starts rising to the point, where you feel the ground burning, even if you are wearing shoes. Yeah, we can switch on the AC to get some respite and hike up our electricity bill, but I want something more. Call me demanding if you will, but I feel that a technologically fabricated environment can never match the feeling of being in the relatively cool places on Earth.

What you can do in such a case is head to the mountains of the North…the mighty Himalayas. Within the chain, there are places, mostly above the altitude of 6000 feet that are cool even during the strongest and most pathetic of summers. But, mind you, even there the temperature can touch 30 degree Celsius. The alternative obviously is going even higher, say 10-15000 feet? Whatever havoc the summers are laying in the rest of the country, such places always remain cool. For ages, I have wanted to visit the Valley of Flowers, located in the state of Uttarakhand! So, I went to the internet, wanting to know everything I could before I plan to go. Below, I share with you the treasure of knowledge that I found about this “heavenly” place.

Nepal ranks among the most peaceful nations in the world, be it in terms of the culture, people, landscape or the social setup. Home to the great Mount Everest and nestled in the magnificent Himalayan Mountain Range, Nepal’s economy thrives on tourism and it sees an influx of thousands of tourists from across the globe. Having the highest peak in the world certainly helps boost tourism in the country, but Nepal contains several other sights and gems, which are worth visiting for adventure aficionados. From time to time, there are things one needs to do that are not in synchronisation with convention, thereby making it all the more exciting and intriguing. A trek to the Annapurna Range could aptly be characterised as one such activity, which a lot of people do not undertake out of fear, but should definitely try.

As confessed by French mountaineer, Maurice Herzog, “Annapurna, to which we had gone emptyhanded, was a treasure on which we should live the rest of our days. With this realization we turn the page: a new life begins. There are other Annapurnas in the lives of men.”

“Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

Life seems like a never-ending beautiful dream when you are in college. Fun-filled friends, first-day movies, adventure trips and educational excursions, the university time was all about boundless fun and learning at the same time; except during the annual exams when most of us would mug up the book. The real trouble starts, when you enter into your first job and realise that you are not cut out for this stuff. And before you know, the inevitable happens – you too like many others give up on your real passions and get stuck in the vicious cycle of a 9 to 5 job. This used to be my story till 4 years ago, when I finally decided to bid adieu to my hectic (target oriented, to be more precise) corporate job and do what I always wanted to do – travel and write. With time, both my passions merged and paved the way for my travel writing career; something which I dearly love today!

My work takes me around the world, and in the process, I meet a lot of people. And one common question I usually get from them is – what is it like to be a travel writer? And if you too are wondering about the same, then read on and find out.

Gorging on New Dishes
If you ask me what is the best part about my job, then my answer to you would be “the chance to taste different dishes”. I am an exceptionally big foodie and the mere mention of the word ‘food’ is enough to get me excited. There have been instances when I have travelled to a place, just for food. One instance that I can recall at this moment is my trip to Hyderabad to taste the authentic Hyderabad Biryani. I had to travel for straight 20 hours to reach the city, and my next 12 hours in the city were spent having Biryani (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and other Hyderabad delicacies. By midnight, I was on the train returning to my hometown. Once back, I wrote a piece about my experience on my blog; and guess what, I received some wonderful comments from my readers. This piece on my Hyderabad experience was picked by a leading newspaper, a few days later; it was like icing on the cake! Another one of my absolute favorite foods is Delhi Samosa, and I never leave a chance to gorge on it!

Some memories are etched in our minds so deep that they remain with us for the lifetime! And one such wonderful memory of mine is that of my journey along the Hindustan Tibet Road with my favourite group of friends. It was my friend’s idea to take this road trip. Initially, we all were a bit apprehensive, but finally all of us agreed; glad that we did!

Constructed in 1850, the Hindustan-Tibet road or National Highway 22 is probably one of the most impressive feats of human endeavour, and one needs to drive through it to actually understand it. This road starts from Ambala in Haryana and passes through Chandigarh, Shimla and Spiti Valley, before finally winding down at the village of Khab on the border with Tibet. This road, especially as one drives high into the mountains, is probably one of the most treacherous ones in the world.

“The gladdest moment in human life, methinks, is a departure into unknown lands.” – Sir Richard Burton

A recent phone conversation with a long-time friend had me wondering about travelling as a lifestyle. This friend of mine has turned into an avid traveller and I am not surprised; he always had that adventurous inclination. What surprised me was the fact that he is still a student and his parents do not financially support his passion. Surely, the question that how do some people travel all year round without holding a permanent job must arise in your mind too. The answer lies in what my friend said when I enquired about it. He plainly said, “I work while I travel”. Upon a bit of research, I found out that to make money while travelling has been gaining immense popularity, as I write this and you read it. Travelling is unarguably the latest form of soul-searching. Travelling, as a way of seeking peace, contentment and growth, is turning into a passion for our generation.

If you ever happened to bump into me at my house, you would probably find me watching TLC, NDTV Good Times or any other travel-related channel or programme on the TV. The reason being, I just love to travel. I utilise the smallest little break I get from work, and head out. I was lucky enough to go to a school, which organised trips and outings regularly, and I took many of these opportunities to go places I had never been to. And believe me; it was worth it every time. I haven’t been to any international destination yet, but who needs such places when your own country has so much. Mountains, forests, sea, lakes, rivers, desert…what can you not find here?

And I don’t really need to dwell on the fact that the diversity of people you see here is mind boggling. New places, new scenes, new people and new experiences make me want to go out again, the moment I return from a trip. So, “Don’t wait for the grass to grow”, plan a trip and “Just do it.” When you come back, be sure to share your stories and of course, pictures! Now, enjoying your tour is obviously the most important thing, but so is to stay fit while travelling. Many people, who travel a lot, either fall sick often or gain weight, due to change in climate and place, and different eating habits and patterns.

Remember the famous quote by Saint Augustine, “The world is a book, and those, who don’t travel, read only a page”? Man, was he right?

For most of us, what we have seen around us is our world. And that includes all the things we have seen on TV, read about in magazines or newspapers, or heard from others. Though, most of them try to give us as true a picture as possible, something always seems missing. It is the experience that these informative pieces fail to deliver. And, why would they not? We cannot feel through words (it is possible only in romantic poems or movies). For example, if someone were to tell you, “I could feel the wind on my face”, would you be able to feel it? No. Right?

For a first-hand experience, you have to get off your seat, and TRAVEL. Stop whining; stop complaining that planning a tour is painstaking or that you are too lazy to do it. Got a laptop, mobile or desktop with a working internet connecting? USE IT. Do a bit of research, read a few blogs and plan a trip… Just try not making the following travelling mistakes that most people do, and you will be just fine. Or we may say just follow the 10 Commandments of Travelling, and that’s all.