That time of the year when the colours around you are vibrant, and the weather is just perfect for everything you wish to do, you know it’s Autumn. Autumn is indeed the perfect weather for trekking.  The tree leaves turn orange, and the views are splendid in November. So if you plan on going trekking in November, fret not! We have amassed the perfect curation of treks for you.

10 Best Himalayan Treks in November

1. Everest Base Camp Trek

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If you love challenges and are looking for breathtaking views of the highest peak in the world Mount Everest, then this trek is perfect for you! You will be trekking in the trails of the footsteps of legendary adventurers like Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. Everest Base Camp Trek entails trekking at extremely high altitudes and tough terrains. Mesmerizing views of snow-capped mountain peaks is an icing on the cake. You will pass beautiful quaint villages, scenic glaciers and gorgeous valleys. You can start your trek from Lukla in Nepal and trek all the way to Kala Patthar at 18192 feet which is above South Base Camp.

Explore Everest Base Camp Trek

2. Annapurna Base Camp Trek

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Annapurna is one of the most difficult mountains to scale, so trekking to the Annapurna Base Camp is also quite an achievement. The Himalayas is a collection of more than 14 mountains that are more than 8000 ft high, which are also known as eight-thousanders. Annapurna was the first mountain of eight-thousanders to be scaled. On this trek you can glance at the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges and also get a close-up look at the massive mystic peaks of the eight-thousanders (Machapuchare, Annapurna South and Hiunchuli). You can start your trek from Pokhara, following which you will encounter lush forests filled with oak, pine, rhododendron, fern, bamboo trees and rice fields. The trails are long and tricky, but the sights are unimaginable. You will be crossing beautiful small villages like Sinuwa, Chomrung, Dovan. Nepalese culture is quite warm, you are sure to take back many pictures and memories.

Explore Annapurna Base Camp Trek

3. Har Ki Dun Trek

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A part of the Garwah Himalayas, Har ki Dun lies closer to the border between Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. The trek is beginner-friendly, so if you are new at trekking, this could be perfect for you. Enroute, you get an opportunity to soak in the beauty of Sankri, Taluka, Osla and Jaundhar Glacier. Enjoy splendid sights of snow-capped mountains at Jaundhar Glacier, witness exotic flora and fauna at Govind Wildlife Sanctuary, and right vegetation at Osla with Himalayan backdrops. Har ki Dun is a trek popular among many trekkers, for its moderate level of difficulty and scenic vistas.

Explore Har Ki Dun Trek

4. Kedarkantha Trek

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Explore the beauty of Uttarakhand on the Kedarkantha Trek. The trek starts from Dehradun and takes you to the beautiful quaint village of Sankri, which is inside Govind Wildlife Sanctuary and boasts of exotic flora and fauna. You will then cross Saud Village, where the people live without any modern equipment and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Continue your trek to reach the beautiful Juda Ka Talab, a splendid pond surrounded by lush pastures, maple, oak and Morinda trees. Kedarkantha is considered o be one of the best summits for beginners and has a mesmerizing view during the month of November. Snow-Capped mountain peaks, splendid meadows and beautiful forests are a treat to the eyes. Enjoy gorgeous views of sunsets with your family.

Explore Kedarkantha Trek

5. Sandakphu Trek

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Sandakphu Trek is situated in the northern part of West Bengal. The trek starts from the beautiful village of Chitrey, from where you can glance at Kanchenjunga before starting your expedition. As you continue you’re to reach Tumling, you wish cross forests full of oak, pindrow firs and morinda spruces, followed by an alpine meadow with splendid views. This trek is perfect for beginners and is moderate difficulty. It is one of the easiest treks one could take in this region. The views are mesmerizing and the feeling is beyond description. You will also enter Nepal and come back to India on the winding trail, while on the trek.

Explore Sandakphu Trek

6. Buran Ghati Trek

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Buran Ghati Trek is a thrilling pass that lies at a high altitude of 15,000 feet in Himachal Pradesh. Experience lush green meadows, apple orchards, snow-clad mountain peaks, gushing streams, and warm Himachali localities. The trek tarts from the ancient village of Janglik, which is untouched by modernization. As you proceed further, you will cross a forest and reach Dayara meadows which is a sight to behold. You can spot sheeps grazing and enjoy marvelous beauty all around you. Further on, you will catch a glimpse of the mystic Dhauladhar range. Explore the beautiful and calm Chandranahan Lake and breath taking views of Buran Ghati at Dunda. In case of snow, you will also get a chance to rappel which is exciting, thrilling and challenging. This trek will surely not disappoint you.

7. Brahmatal Trek

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Brahmatal Trek is one of the most perfect treks for the month of November. It offers the most splendid views of Mt. Trishul and Mt. Nanda Ghunti. This is a snowy trek, with views of lush forests full of ancient oaks and rhododendrons, two beautiful lakes and one meadow. On your way, you will come across a white wall of the Trishul massif. As you reach Jhandi top, you will have the massive Mt Trishul on your right and Mt Nanda Ghunti to your left. At the highest point of the Brahmatal trek, you will also catch a glimpse of Mt Chaukhamba, Mt Neelkanth, and Mt Hathi Ghoda. You can also camp beside the frozen shore of Bekaltal and take back a lifetime of memories.

Explore Brahmatal Trek

8. Dayara Bugyal Trek

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Dayara Bugyal is a perfect trek for beginners and has the best views to offer. You can experience beautiful alpine meadows and lush green forests. The trek starts from the beautiful village of Raithal, which takes you to a lush forest followed by the splendid Dayara meadows. You can also see striking views of the Gangotri range with Bandarpoonch. The entire trail is a pleasant walk with meadows, villages, temples and majestic views. This trek is definitely one to be added to your bucket list.

Explore Dayara Bugyal Trek

9. Nag Tibba Trek

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Want to go on a trek over the weekend and experience a summit climb like a trek with splendid views? Nag Tibba Trek is the perfect one for you. The trail will take you through dense forests, ridge walks and mesmerizing views. Resting at 9,915 ft., you can catch the view of snow-capped Himalayan ranges such as Srikantha, Kala Nag, Swargrohini, Bandarpoonch and Gangotri. A short weekend trek from Mussoorie, this trek is great for beginners and trekkers looking for a short weekend trip.

Explore Nag Tibba Trek

10. Kareri Lake Trek

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Kareri Lake Trek is situated at an elevation of about 2,950 meters in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh.On your trail, experience lush green forests filled with chir and chilgoza pines and great views. The trek starts from Dharamkot which is close to Mcleodganj. You will also get a chance to cross the Liund stream by boulders and temporary bridges, which is quite thrilling. It is a short and beginner-friendly trek.

Explore Kareri Lake Trek

We hope you’ve added some of the above treks to your bucket list for this autumn.

Happy Exploring!

Trekking poles are important equipment for an efficient and seamless trekking experience. Many times, the purpose of it is underestimated and people shy to use it, not knowing the actual purpose and the gains of it. This article will help you to understand the purpose and benefits of using trekking poles, understand the different parts of a pole and the best practice of using it to your benefit.

Benefits of Using Trekking Pole

  1. It makes walking much easier and seamless, assists you to balance better in those uneven terrains, with better stability and grip. Having poles on each hand brings in four touchpoints on the ground giving you more confidence and support.
  2. Trekking Poles help reduce the stress and fatigue developed on the knee joints and muscles, developed during the uphill and downhill trek.
  3. It can come very handy is crossing streams and wading water
  4. It is a proven fact that by using trekking poles your upper body muscles get worked out including biceps and triceps beyond the aerobic activity of trekking itself
  5. Last but not the least, it can also be used to build shelters or support your tent as a pole.

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Different Types & Features of A Trekking Pole

Trekking poles come in different built types with varied features, most common types are adjustable, non-adjustable and foldable. Depending upon your usage, brand and type you select, the poles come with interesting features like shock absorbers and camera mounts. One thing to keep in mind is every additional feature comes with a weight and price added to it.

Adjustable

The height of the pole can be adjusted to enhance stability and balance in different terrains. Generally, pole length is shortened when going uphill and extended when going downhill.

Non-Adjustable

These are usually the lightest type, as the length of the pole is fixed, and it cannot be adjusted. This type of trekking pole comes handy for those people who indulge in activities that need a constant height throughout the activity. 

Foldable

These are not like the adjustable poles, which slide into themselves; these function similar to that of tent poles and are best for packing light. It’s a favourite for ultra-marathon runners.

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Parts of a Trekking Pole

Strap

The strap is a loop which helps you in securely holding the grip. Depending upon the brand and quality of the pole, it comes with and without padding. A strap with padding supports your wrist far better and gives you good comfort. 

Grip

The grip is the place where you hold the trekking pole. It is usually made of plastic, foam, rubber and cork. The grips also come in many shapes and sizes to fit different hand types. It is better to try the grip before you purchase for better comfort. Cork & foam gives better grip as it does not slip once your hands are wet or sweating, it also costs comparatively higher than all the other materials. Plastic is the most economical grip but it does not meet the complete purpose. A grip made of a combination of cork and rubber would be a good choice for an all-season trekking pole.

Shaft 

Shaft makes up the major portion of a trekking pole and contributes the maximum weight. Shafts are usually made of either aluminium or composite materials of carbon. Aluminium poles are more durable and economical on the other hand the carbon fibre poles are expensive and super light. The carbon fibre made poles are more susceptible to breakage than aluminium poles under high stress. 

Basket

The trekking poles usually come with a small trekking basket which is removable. It can be substituted with a larger basket for walking on powder snow or muddy terrain.

Tip

This is the portion that interacts with the ground. It usually comes with a plastic body and a metal point. The metal points are typically made of hardened steel or carbide, both are harder than the rock which allows the pole to bite better on a rock or icy patch giving extra stability. The tips come with a removable rubber cap that covers the sharp metal tip, this can come handy while carrying the poles in a backpack or when the poles are used in pavements and indoors to protect the surface from scars.

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Locking Mechanisms of a Trekking Pole

Every trekking pole comes with a locking mechanism irrespective of whether it’s an adjustable one or not, to keep the pole from snapping its length while on a trek. However, the locking system in adjustable poles also helps in adjusting the length of the pole as per the need. Different types of locking mechanisms are internal, external, push-button and combination lock.

Internal / Twist Locking 

This system uses a screw set up to expand or shorten the shaft segments. This system is comparatively stronger and durable.

External Lever Locking

This type of locking comes with an external lever like a clamp to lock the segments of shafts. When using the pole wearing gloves, this locking system comes much handy and easier.

Push Button Locking

In this mechanism, the button gets snapped in a socket and locks itself. To unlock the button needs to be pushed and the shaft segment needs to slide in or out to snap the button in the next socket.  This kind of mechanism may be challenging to operate with gloves on.

Combination Locking

In this type, the pole may come with a combination of different locking mechanisms to improve the strength and efficiency. For example, a particular pole may have a lever lock on the upper shaft and twist-lock in the lower segments of shafts.

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Right Usage of Trekking Pole

Single or Double?

It is a proven fact that using a pair of trekking poles is much more beneficial than using just one trekking staff (It’s called “Trekking Staff” when a single trekking pole is used). A trekking staff can be conveniently used when the trek is on a relatively flat surface with very little luggage. It is strongly recommended to use a pair of trekking poles when trekking on uneven terrain with heavy backpacks.

Using The strap

The strap needs to be used properly for a comfortable trekking experience. First, adjust the loop for the hand to be put through the strap from below and bring it down to run between the thumb and the fingers and back of the hand.

Right Height

While trekking on the flat terrain the height of the trekking pole should be such that, when holding it the elbow must be bent at a right angle. When going uphill reduce the height by about 5 to 10cms and going downhill reduces the height by 5 to 10cms. 

Conclusion

Trekking poles are going to be useful and handy gear which can make your trekking trip more comfortable. Choosing the right one hugely depends on your budget and usage. 

The unexplored, mysterious & gorgeous states of North-east India are worth venturing to. The Seven Sisters, i.e. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, and one brother state of Sikkim are the least explored, most mysterious and arguably the most beautiful region of India. They are connected to the rest of the country by a narrow stretch of land between Bhutan and Bangladesh. They are arguably the least visited destinations in India due to remoteness, permit requirements, and the ethnic tension.

Must Read: 7 Travel Experiences in Northeast India

History of North-East India

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Until the 1960s, the entire north east comprised of two parts – The north east frontier agency which is now known as Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. But later on, it was further divided into 7 states and now officially Sikkim as well which makes a total of 8 states.

Must Read: Northeast India– A True Explorers’ Delight

About the 7 Sisters & 1 Brother

1. Assam

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Assam is famous for its tea plantations, rich flora & fauna, and one of the greatest UNESCO World Heritage Sites- Kaziranga National Park. Encountering the one-horned rhino is most popular among the tourists, along with boating in the splendid Dawki River near the Indo-Bangladesh border. Majuli in Assam is the largest river island in the world. Nestled on the banks of Brahmaputra, the place offers a rich blend of soothing landscapes, tea gardens, mystic mountain ranges paddy fields, rustic countryside, wooden boats & houses, and vibrant plus colourful culture & traditions.

Capital City: Guwahati

Must visit: Kamakhya Temple, Manas National Park, Assam State Zoo & Botanical Garden, Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Molai forest, Phatobihu, Faato Bihu – Mohghuli Chapori

Must do: Brahmaputra river cruise, shopping at Jorhat, Wildlife safari at Manas National Park, experience the ecotourism of Majuli, Kamalabari Satra, and Dakhinpat Satra, Tengapania.

Must Read: 9 Reasons that Make Assam a Great Travel Destination

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2. Meghalaya

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Known as the Scotland of East India, Meghalaya boasts of extreme beauty. It is famous for being home to Asia’s cleanest village It is also well known for one of the wettest places on earth, i.e. Cherrapunjee. The living root bridges, beautiful waterfalls, and some of the longest caves in India make Meghalaya an extremely alluring destination.

Capital City: Shillong

Must Visit: Mawlynnong, Laitlum Canyon, Double Decker Living Root Bridge, Balpakram National Park, Umiam Lake

Must Do: Trekking on David Scott trail, rafting in Barapani Lake, kayaking on Kynshi River, camp on Khasi hills

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3. Arunachal Pradesh

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One of the most remote states, the people of Arunachal Pradesh are mainly of Tibetan origin. The Buddhist monastery of Tawang, Perched at 10,000 feet above sea level, overlooks the Tawang valley near Bhutan is the most popular attraction in Arunachal Pradesh. It has a great collection of Thangkas (Tibetan Paintings). Festivals namely Torgya festival, Dree Festival, Myoko, Ziro, or Tawang festival bring the place to life.

Capital City: Itanagar

Must Visit: Tawang Monastery, Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary, Namdapha National Park, Dirang, Parasuram Kund, Daporijo

Must Do: Enjoy the Ziro Music Festival, trek to Ziro, Trek to Sella Pass, Check out Thangkas at Tawang Monastery, visit scenic and exotic Mechuka.

Explore Tawang Motorbike Trip

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4. Nagaland

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Home to 14 different tribal groups, Nagaland is probably one of the liveliest of the seven sisters. Tourists also prefer visiting the heritage village of Longwa to see the famous skull exhibits. You can view Burmese territory from this village.

Capital City: Kohima

Must Visit: Mon, Longwa, Veda Peak, The war cemetery, Kohima Museum, Triple Falls, Tuphema Village, Kachari Ruins.

Must Do: Trekking in Dzoukou valley, soaking in peace at Khonoma, wildlife safari at Intanki Wildlife Sanctuary, hiking at Japfu Peak.

Explore Hornbill Festival Nagaland with Dzukou Valley Trek

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5. Mizoram

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Mizoram has the highest literacy rates in India and is predominantly Christian. The landscape of this location is quite scenic with lush paddy fields, bamboo trees, and deep jungles. The Chapchar Kut festival is one of the most popular festivals of Mizoram. The Blue Mountain National Park in Mizoram is famous for orchids and rhododendrons overlooking the Chhimtuipui River. Mizoram is situated Eleven thousand feet above sea level and the view is spectacular.

Capital City: Aizawl

Must Visit: Phawngpui Hills, Murlen National Park, Dampa Tiger Reserve, Vantawng Falls.

Must Do: Trekking in the Blue Mountain National Park, Visiting the Palak Lake, mountain biking in the Hmuifang Hills.

6. Manipur

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Probably one of the least visited places in north-east India, it is known as the Jewel of the east because of its splendid landscapes. Lemon Festival which is held every January in Kachai and the Kang Chingba Festival are quite popular and vibrant.

Capital City: Imphal

Must Visit: Shri Govindajee Temple, Keibul Lamjao National Park, War cemetery, Sendra Island.

Must Do: Boating in Loktak Lake, explore the ancient Andro village, chariot ride in Moreh near the border.

7. Tripura

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Tripura is known for its majestic temples and beautiful palaces. The Ujjayanta place is quite popular among tourists for its rich history.

Capital City: Agartala

Must Visit: Neermahal, Gumti Wildlife Sanctuary, Unakoti, Jagannath Bari, Tripura Government Museum, Rowa Wildlife Sanctuary.

Must Do: Visit Trishna Wildlife Sanctuary, Hike to Jampui Hills, shop the popular bamboo and cane artifacts, enjoy boating in Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary.

8. Sikkim

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Known as the brother to the seven sisters, Sikkim is home to the popular Pemayangtse Monastery and the highest motorable roads of Nathula Pass. Sikkim offers great adventure activities along with leisure activities.

Capital City: Gangtok

Must Visit: Lake Tsomgo, Gurudongmar Lake, Rumtek Monastery, Pemayangtse Monastery, Zemu Glacier.

Must Do: Backpacking through the Yumthang Valley of Flowers, Check out the Singalila National Park, camp at Goecha La Pass.

Explore: Sikkim Motorbike Expedition

Food of North-East India

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The food in the entire North-east is fairly mild, due to lack of spices or masalas growing in the area. An exception to this fact is the bhut jolokia also known as the king chilli, which is among the hottest in the world, which is used liberally in most of the states. Some other popular dishes of the north-east are Tibetan momos, Thupkas, Rice which is their staple food, xaag (leaf vegetables), fish tenga (a souring agent), pitika (a vegetable mash) khorika (meat on a skewer), doh neiiong (pork with black sesame seeds), jadoh (rice cooked in meat stock with pork), churpi (fermented rock-hard yak’s cheese), lai patta (mustard spinach) dried river fish, anishi (dry yam leaves) akhuni (fermented soybean), singju (raw papaya and chickpea salad) iromba (fish and veg chutney) and many more interesting dishes.

Must Read: North-East India’s Most Scenic Villages

The north-east is diverse and vibrant in many ways. It is one of the must-visit locations for everyone! So add it to your bucket list and thank us later for such great info!

Happy Exploring!

Do you believe that God is an artist, and earth is his canvas? If you don’t, then this post will definitely make you believe so. The man-made creations are indeed beautiful, but the natural landscapes that you will stumble upon are unbelievably splendid. Take a list at the below natural beauties that you must add to your bucket list.

Most Beautiful Natural Landscapes in India

1. Valley of flowers

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Valley of Flowers, located in a national park in Uttarakhand is well known for its splendid variety of blooming flora. The scent of the entire valley is heavily floral. The flowers bloom as per seasons, and you can come across some beautiful flowers like Meadow Geranium, Snake Foil, Hooked Stick Seed, Himalayan Rose, Blue Poppy, River Anemone, White Leaf Hog Foot and Dog Flower. The snow-clad mountain peaks, Pushpvati River flowing through the middle of the valley, and the vibrant flowers make the entire location a scenic place.

Explore Valley of Flowers Trek in Uttarakhand

2. Belum Caves, Andhra Pradesh

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Located near Kurnool, Belum caves are the second-longest caves in India. Remains from prehistoric times of 4500 BC have been found here, and also relics from the time when the Jain and Buddhist monks meditated in this cave, along with the vessels used by them. Discovered in the 1880s but unmapped and unexplored till the 1980s, this cave has a very interesting formation of tunnels that will intrigue you for sure.

3. St Mary’s Island, Karnataka

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St. Mary’s Islands, also known as Coconut Island, North Island, Darya Bahadurgarh Island and South Island are a set of four beautiful small islands in the Arabian Sea in Udupi, Karnataka. It is listed as one of the geological monuments of Karnataka and India. This is the land where Vasco De Gama set his first foot. The shoreline is full of crystalline rocks that were created at the time Madagascar Island got separated from India, which is some million years ago. According to scientific records, rock formations in St.Mary’s Island are similar to the rock formations at Madagascar in Africa. The separation occurred due to sub-volcanic activity. Standing at these rocks and viewing the sunset is indeed a mind-blowing experience.

4. Borra Guhalu

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An architectural marvel, Borra Caves are considered to be one of the longest caves in India, extending up to 80m. Water penetrates from the roof of the caves and reacts with minerals in the rocks forming unique structures on the ground called stalagmites and hanging from the roof called stalactites. A natural Shivling is also formed inside the cave, which tribal and locals worship. Remains from more than 50,000 years ago have been found in this cave.

5. Barren Island

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Barren Island situated in the Andaman Sea, northeast of Port Blair. It is the only active volcano in India, and it erupted recently in 2018. People from around the world are coming to Andaman to witness this phenomenon. The waters surrounding Barren Island are one of the world’s top scuba diving Apart from that, the area around Barren island is famous for crystal clear water, Manta Rays, splendid basalt formations, the topography of past lava flows and beautiful coral gardens. This dive destination is remote but can be accessed by ship from Havelock Island.

6. Reverse Waterfall at Sinhagad

Also known as Maharashtra’s Grand Canyon, only during the monsoons, due to high wind pressure, the water starts to flow back upwards. You can stand on the top of the waterfall behind the railing and enjoy the splash of cold water on yourself. The view is splendid, and you can enjoy this gravity-defying phenomenon with hot Chai and Bhajjis.

7. Double Decker Living Root Bridge, Cherrapunji

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Living root bridges are situated in one of the world’s wettest places, Cherrapunji in Meghalaya. They are certainly awe-inspiring and mysterious. The bridges are living and ever-growing, as they are made of roots of Ficus Elastic, which make them extremely strong and sturdy. They take nearly 15 years to develop fully. Some of the bridges are more than 500 years old. Isn’t this truly marvelous?

Explore Cherrapunji Living Root Bridge Trek

8. Yana Rocks, Karnataka

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Yana Rocks, of Yana village, lie in the jungles and majestic hills of Karnataka’s Uttara Kannada district. They are made of crystalline Karst limestone. The formation has two peculiar rock shapes (known as Bhairaveshwara Shikhara and Mohini Shikhara). A temple inside a cave also lies at the bottom of these rocks, which hosts a splendid festival during Maha Shivratri.

9. Magnetic Hill, Ladakh

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Magnetic Hill is one of the most popular destinations in Ladakh. It is situated near Leh and here illusion seems to defy the rules of gravity. Commonly known as the ‘Gravity Hill’, this place pulls vehicles in an upward direction, creating an optical illusion. The layout of the area and the surroundings, create an illusion of a hill. The road is actually a downhill road, but it appears like vehicles are rolling upwards in defiance of gravity. Truly splendid.

Explore Leh Ladakh Motorcycle Trip

10. Marble Rocks of Bhedaghat

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3kms in length and situated on the Narmada river, Marble rocks of Bhedaghat in Jabalpur and truly a mesmerizing sight. The gushing Dhuandhar waterfalls along with the Marble rocks is a gorgeous creation of nature. The entire scenery will make you fall in love with nature.

11. Lonar Lake

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Lonar Lake is situated outside the Lonar town in Maharashtra. It was formed when a meteor crashed on Earth more than 50,000 years ago. It is also known as the world’s third-largest crater. The water of this lake is both saline and alkaline in nature and looks green in colour from afar. This lake is mentioned in ancient scripts like Skanda Puran, the Padma Puran, and Aaina-i-Akbari.

Explore Lonar Crater Lake Trip

So we are sure you are already in awe of these gorgeous natural sights. Ensure to check them out all and strike them off your bucket list. Happy Exploring!

So what happens when you’ve been to Leh numerous times? Bored with the Taj? Stayed in a house boat on the Dal Lake and explored the backwaters of Kerala? Then the quote ‘Been there, done that’ comes to mind. But Wait! This is not all India has to offer. We bet you’ve not even heard of some exquisite places that you could travel to and explore. India is a massive land, and there is more to explore than you could dream of. Read on to explore a little about offbeat destinations in India that could surely tickle your fancy. Here the crowds are less, but the beauty is in no term less than the popular over hyped spots.

7 Offbeat Locations in India

1. Gokarna

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Literally translated as ‘cow’s ear’, Gokarna is a small temple town on the western coast of India in the Kumtataluk of Uttara Kannada district of the state of Karnataka. It is considered to be one of the pilgrimage sites in India. As per mythology, Lord Shiva emerged from the incarnation of Mother Earth in the form of a cow in Gokarna. The white pristine beaches, waterfalls, and the rustic vibe will make you fall in love with the place. Some popular beaches, named after their appearances are the Om beach, Half moon beach & the Paradise beach. Hippies have discovered the beauty of Gokarna and now are preferring visit here instead of the usual beaches of Goa or Kerala.

Explore Gokarna Beach Trek

2. Meghalaya

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When it comes to the ‘Seven sisters’ Meghalaya is perhaps the most intriguing. Also known as the wettest place on earth, the hills of Meghalaya are full of colorful quaint little tribal villages. The bridges in this place are said to be living as they are made of roots of jungle trees. You would find localities in tartan shawls and banana piths which are turtle-shaped, to protect themselves from the rains. Explore the living bridges, gushing mystic waterfalls & limestone caves of Cherrapunji, also known as the ‘Jewel Crest Of India’.

3. Kannur

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Also known as the land of looms and lores, and also Cannanore is a beautiful city on the northern side of Kerala. Kannur is also called the Manchester of India. Kannur is extremely popular for handlooms, cashews, theyyam rituals, temple festivals, and golden clean beaches unswamped by tourists.

4. Majuli Island, Assam

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Majuli island also known as Majoli, is the first island to be considered a district. It lies in the Brahmaputra River, and is considered to be the world’s largest river island as per the Guinness book of world’s records. It is a rich blend of soothing landscapes, tea gardens, mystic mountain ranges paddy fields, rustic countryside, wooden boats & houses and vibrant plus colourful culture & traditions. Majuli the cultural and art hotspot of Assamese Vaishnavite philosophy. The spiritual vibe, untouched by humankind natural beauty, and warm local people make this place quite alluring. Unfortunately, due to soil erosion and floods, the island land is reducing drastically. It is said that the island will be completely lost to water in the next 15-20 years. Ensure to visit this beauty before then.

5. Mechuka, Arunachal Pradesh

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Mechuka considered to be the hidden gem of Arunachal Pradesh, is situated in the west Siang district. This place which is quickly gaining popularity among the tourists is famous for its hanging bridges, wild berries which can be plucked from the grass & eaten, herds of beautiful stray horses, wooden houses, Tibetan culture, Butter Tea, Millet Beer & the hike to Mechuka La Hill. The beauty of this place will not disappoint you.

6. Bijapur & Bidar, Karnataka

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Bijapur also is known as Vijaypura is famous for Islamic style architecture. Gol Gumbaz which is the largest dome in India, and the second-largest in the world is situated in Bijapur. Bidar which is a hill top city in the north-east of Karnataka is popular for its ancient ruins & monuments and is the least westernized parts of Karnataka. You can explore the real rich culture around you. The place is full of niqab-wearing women and turbaned Sikhs. It is also considered as the coldest and wettest place of north Karnataka. It doesn’t draw much tourists, which makes it more alluring and natural.

7. Kalna, West Bengal

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Kalna, the terracotta town, also known as the town of temples lies towards the north of Kolkata along the western bank of River Bhagirathi Hooghly. Kalna boasts of the most beautiful temples with terracotta ornamentations. The splendour and artistic excellence is worth appreciating. Episodes from the Ramayana,the Mahabharata, erotica and hunting scenes are depicted on the walls of the temples. Saraswati Puja, Kali Puja and Durga Puja are the three festivals you must attend at Kalna. The city bursts of colour sound and fun during these festivals.

So if you are now seeking a location which is not swamped by tourists and is at its natural untouched beauty, pick one from the list above. Go explore them before they turn into popular spots drawing large crowds.

Happy Adventuring Off the beaten path!

Routine can get too boring at times. And when it does, you must just pack a few essentials and set out to explore! This is what the hippies did in the 1950s and 1960s and travelled on a path that many ended up vagabonding on in the future. That path came to be known as the ‘Hippie Trail’. Subsequently, the Gringo trail followed in Latin America and now the ‘Banana Pancake Trail’ is the modern rendition of the same.

Banana Pancake trail is more of a fuzzy idea in the head of the travellers than an official route. It is particularly popular routes the backpackers end up visiting. The aim of these wanderers is to explore the local culture, traditions, meet new people, enjoy the local music & food, get adventurous, all on a budget. Travelers don’t follow the same route, but most of them end up meeting each other at some place or the other.

Why the name Banana Pancake Trail?

Tourism reign in the places frequented by foreigners. The local entrepreneurs were smart to sense the demand and started offering what the nomads were looking for – i.e. clean affordable bedding, local themed cafes, and good breakfast. Sensing banana pancakes was a popular breakfast in the west, local hotels and streetside vendors started offering Banana Pancakes to cater to the travellers. Hence the name came to be!

The Beginning

Bangkok’s Khao San Road, Kuta in Bali, and Chiang Mai in Thailand were three of the earliest and the most popular stops on the trail.  Back then when there was no internet, word of mouth was the only way that tourists could gather info on places of their interests. Right then, Lonely Planet published two books Across Asia on the Cheap (1973) and Southeast Asia on a Shoestring (1975) and both became classics. The stops mentioned in these books became a part of the trail. Since then the trail has grown wider due to the Internet, and travellers keep adding and talking about their newly discovered stops.

Let’s read on to find some of the places in India on the ‘Banana Pancake Trail’. Most of these spots are also on the ‘Hummus Trail’, which is a popular trail that Israelis follow post their military service.

1. Malana

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Malana is an ancient village to the north-east of Kullu valley. Malana has stayed secluded for many years, due to its geographic location. It is a formidable task to reach the location in the winters due to snow, slush, rock falls, and loose boulders. It is not a secret that it grows the finest quality of weed in India, and is insanely popular for ‘Malana cream’ which is the most expensive hashish in an Amsterdam Cafe Menu. Tourists flock here for the Kath Kuni buildings, temples, and a hip-hop vibe.

Explore Malana Village Trek

2. Old Manali

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Just across the Manalsu river, starts Old Manali. It is a charming and laid-back place with lots of themed cafes, apple orchards, beautiful mountain trails, and tons of backpackers seeking tranquility.

Explore Scenic Treks in Manali

3. Mcleodganj

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A hill station near Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh, it is popular for its scenic views, lush greenery, Tibetan culture, British-era structures, and Dalai Lama monastery. The place has a spiritual feel to it, which makes it all the more charming. The trek to Triund is very popular here and offers majestic landscape views.

Explore Popular Treks in Dharamshala

4. Kasol

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Also known as Mini Israel, Kasol is a hamlet in the Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh. Also commonly known as ‘the Amsterdam of India’, this quaint little village is based on the banks of Parvati River has the best of views to offer. It is a popular destination for backpackers, nature lovers and trekkers.

Explore Kasol to Kheerganga Trek

5. Rishikesh

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Did you know that the Beatles spent the late 1960’s writing 48 songs, mostly on the White Album in Rishikesh? Rishikesh has two parts, one which is flocked with families and couples who come here with a spiritual motive, and the other which is a hippie land. Both the sections are on either side of Laksham Jhula. Travellers immerse themselves here in meditation, yoga, good food & music, and lots of self-pampering which include crystal therapy, reflexology, light-healing therapy, and massages.

Explore River Rafting in Rishikesh

6. Goa

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One of the most popular stops for vagabonds. At the end of the 60th century, tourists from the west started visiting Goa and stayed on the beaches of Anjuna, vagator & baga. Goa is the ultimate party haven for fun lovers. It offers a mix of noise & serenity/tranquility. Arambol is one of the most popular stops on the Banana Pancake Trail.

7. Kalga, Tulga & Pulga

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Probably not as commercialized as Kasol or other similar places, the trio village Kalga, Tulga & Pulga lie in the Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh. The houses here are small & old, giving the place a charming ancient look. Nomads visit here to explore the Himalachi themed cafes, gigantic pine trees in the Fairy Forest, charming waterfalls & the warm localites.

The Future

While some argue that the original culture is lost on the trail as the entrepreneurs have adapted too much to suit the western traveller’s comforts, some say that it is a safe way to meet new people in a new country, and visit places that have been vetted and approved of by numerous other nomads.

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As the internet grows and so does tourism, these travellers do help the economy of these places by generating revenue but the entire process also results in culture mutation. Whatever your stance, you must give the Banana Pancake Trail a shot to know for yourself!

Happy Exploring!

If you are an avid biker, and can’t wait for the lockdown to get over to ride your bike again, we feel you. We can’t take out our bikes right now, but we can read about beautiful biking routes in India & dream about crossing them off our lists after COVID-19 is over. For wanderers and dreamers, India has the most perfect routes. The joy of experiencing new cultures, new mystic lands on your two wheels is unparalleled with any other joy in this world. The prospect of biking on an endless road entices the kid in you to just to set forth on a journey of self-exploration.

We Ride- To Love, To Heal, To Communicate, To Touch, To Feel, To Breathe, To Live, To Fly.

While you may have seen endless bikers chose Leh Ladakh as their biking destination, it indeed is spectacular, but there are many more mesmerizing motorbiking trips in India worth exploring.

Take a look at the most loved and most scenic motorbiking routes in India, in no particular order-

1. Delhi To Leh Through Manali – Leh And Leh – Srinagar Highway

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Hands down, the most popular route in India. This is the dream ride of many, the views in this route will leave you speechless. You will come across cobalt blue skies, bright rainbows and glistening lakes as pure as magic, this route entirely is magical and will leave you spellbound. Beauty & More Beauty. You will cross Chandigarh, Manali and reach the beautiful Jispa. This route will throw everything one can wish in a motorbiking adventure tour, from long plain highways to tricky mountain passes to river crossings. You get to cross the mighty passes like Rohtang La, Baralacha La, Tanglang La, Chang La, Zoji La and the mighty Khardung La which is considered to be the highest motorable pass in the world along with many other low and high passes of interest. This exceptional motorbiking adventure will take you through some dream locations like Manali, Pangong Tso, Nubra Valley, Leh, Kargil, Dras and Srinagar. Your entire journey will be filled with beauty every single minute of it.

Explore Leh Ladakh Motorbiking Expedition

2. Cliffhanger Route-Sach Pass

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If you love extreme adventure, then this one is for you! Sach Pass is a high altitude pass in the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. It’s located at an altitude of 4,420 meters and connects Chamba valley to Pangi valley. The pass is open from June or early July to mid-October. The roads are narrow and unmetalled. The terrain is pretty rough, the road is quite uneven and the weather is quite unpredictable. It is the gateway to the Pangi Valley. You can enter this route either from Kishtwar in Kashmir, Chamba or Manali in Himachal Pradesh. Due to the extreme riding conditions and scary cliffs, the route is fondly known as the “Cliffhanger Route”. If you want to travel the off-beaten route, with a majority of the ride being dirt and mud track then Sach is a great choice.

Explore Cliffhanger Route-Sach Pass Motorbike Expedition

3. Spiti And Lahaul in Himachal Pradesh

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Spiti is a desert mountain valley that lies in the north-eastern part of Himachal Pradesh in India. This mountainous cold desert with mesmerizing valleys, beautiful landscapes, wide snowfields, the sun-kissed snow peaks, and gorgeous glaciers is often compared with Ladakh. The entire route will leave you spellbound, the access to the valley is usually from Shimla via Rampur and Pooh or from Manali crossing the Rohtang Pass and Kunzum Pass. The Shimla access is open throughout the year and is a favourite route for extreme snow rides. The access from Manali is closed in winters due to the heavy snowfall on the high passes. It has fewer travellers than Leh and is relatively less crowded, which is a plus. The scattered villages in Spiti come along in your way while the pristine stream of the Spiti River is your near-constant companion. The entire route is scenically spectacular.

Explore Spiti Valley Motorbike Trip

4. Guwahati in Assam to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh

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Tawang also is known as Dawang, will flatter you with utmost natural beauty wrapped in spirituality. The ride from Guwahati to Tawang will expose you to breathtaking views, the ride in Assam until entering Arunachal Pradesh is scenic plain farmlands and forests. Winding mountainous roads with hairpin bends start marks the entry into India’s northeastern-most state. 80 % of Arunachal Pradesh is covered with forest and mountains, which will give you a raw and untouched by humankind feel.Connected to the rest of India via the Sela Pass, Tawang, also known as the ‘land of Monpas’, is a historically well-known town, forming an important part of the Silk Route and also a reminder of the sacrifices of the men guarding our nation in the borders. The natural beauty and solitude of Gudpi and Chong-Chugmi ranges, Tawang chu River and Tawang valley are spectacular.

Explore Tawang Motorbike Trip

5. Sikkim

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Super clean, full of greenery and ‘all organic’ since 2016, Sikkim entails plunging, super-steep valleys loaded with lush trees, rising in the north to the spectacular snow-laden eastern Himalayan peaks. Sikkim is also home to the world’s third-highest mountain, Khangchendzonga (8598m).

Feel the cool mountain breeze on your face as you head towards scenic Gangtok and then to the North Sikkim Plateau where you will be left speechless to see Gurudongmar Tso Lake. Gurudongmar Lake is one of the highest lakes in the world and in India, located at an altitude of 5,425 m (17,800 ft). Unveil hidden gems as you ride towards Yumthang Zero Point, where you will come across lots of snow, crooked pathways and probably a frozen river. The entire route is scenic and consists of Emerald alpine valleys and mystic waterfalls. The entire place is bursting of colours, from the monasteries, temples, to the sky and also the warm-hearted people.

Explore Sikkim Motorbike Trip

6. Bhutan

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Bhutan is no ordinary place. Also known as Druk Yul, meaning “Land of the Thunder Dragon”. Bhutan is home to the pristine eastern Himalayan landscape, where snow-capped peaks sit tall above lush forests and lovely small villages. The villages are full of majestic dream-like fortress-like dzongs and monasteries, many of which host spectacular tsechus (dance festivals). Ride along Bhutan’s west-east highway which is as challenging and thrilling. The entire road trip is dotted with winding roads that go up and down thousands of feet, which will keep your adrenaline rushing. Some of the dream locations a rider can’t miss riding through in Bhutan are Phuentsholing, followed by Paro, Thimpu, Punakha, the beautiful Phobijkha Valley. You will come across spectacular valleys, ridges and quaint villages. The chanting of monks and clinking of chimes in the monasteries will surely put you in a trance-like a state!

Explore Bhutan Motorbike Tour

7. Bangalore To Kerala & Tamil Nadu

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This road trip will be full of different flavours. Start with your ride to the city of beautiful and clean beaches, Pondicherry. Explore the beautiful French colonies and its architecture. Head towards Thanjavur, which is famous for art, painting, and architecture. Then ride to Rameshwaram, which is famous for beaches, temples and is known as a revered site for Hindus in India; a part of the Char Dham pilgrimage. Then ride out to Madurai, Munnar, and The beautiful Ooty. Savour all the different flavours that come across in your route. Enjoy the lush green trees with tea plantations and the backwaters and paddy fields. The entire route will leave you mesmerised. Kerala is rightly known as God’s own country.

Explore Bangalore to Kerala Motorcycle Tour

9. Rajasthan Circuit

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Rajasthan Motorbike Tour is the perfect dose of adventure. Start your riding trip from Mandawa – a quaint 18th-century town which is popular for its spectacular haveli architecture. Explore the magnificent view of the “Blue City” from the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur.  You will also come across the stunning City of Lakes – Udaipur. The sunsets here are truly mesmerizing. Ride to the sacred land of Pushkar which is famous for its Brahma Temple. End your trip in the colourful city of Jaipur, also known as the “Pink City”. Your trip will be full of royal forts, castles, palaces, vibrant markets, desert villages and warm people.

Explore Rajasthan Motorcycle Tour

10. Uttarakhand

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For travel lovers, nothing could be better than exploring the Himalayas from your two wheels. Devbhoomi, meaning Land of Gods encompasses raw nature and the scenic Himalayas. It is also home to several glaciers including the Ganges. In this route, you will ride from Delhi to the beautiful land of Rishikesh, followed by Chopta, where you can undertake the Chopta Chandrashila trek. You can then proceed towards Joshimath and Auli which is a Himalayan ski resort and hill station. You will come across coniferous and oak forests, along with the Nanda Devi and Nar Parvat mountains. HEad towards Kausani and soak in the panoramic view of Nanda Devi, Trishul and Panchchuli peaks. When you reach Binsar, wildlife will truly amaze you. You can then ride to Jim Corbett with your cameras ready (not while riding) and then back to Delhi with beautiful memories.

Explore Uttarakhand Motorcycle Tour

So, while you are locked in and reading this on your couch probably, feel free to wander off to one of your favourite routes in your thoughts.

Four wheels move the body, and two wheels move the soul.

Manali situated in the northern end of Kullu, Himachal Pradesh is a beautiful hill station with snow-capped mountain peaks, cool weather, and eye-pleasing surroundings. It is situated at a height of 2050 m in the Himalayas and is nestled in the scenic Beas valley. It is a very popular destination for adventure sport lovers. Manali is a perfect mix of tranquility & fun activities. A lot of tourists engage in activities like paragliding, river rafting, trekking & mountain biking. The localites in colourful puttoos, Tibetan ladies donning ankle-length multi-colour striped pinafores, Buddhist monks, and men in woolen gonchas make Manali a lively place.

Explore Popular Treks in Manali & Manali Leh Manali Motorbike Trip

Read on to know the top 5 destinations one must not miss while visiting Manali:

1. Hidimba Devi Temple

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Also known as Dhungari temple, or Hadimba Temple is an ancient cave temple dedicated to Hidimbi Devi, wife of Bhima, a popular figure in the Indian epic Mahābhārata. The temple is enclosed by a cedar forest called Dhungiri Van Vihar at the foot of the Himālayas. There is an interesting story behind this temple. The temple is built around a cave where Devi Hidimba performed meditation. Hidimbi supposedly lived there with her sibling Hidimb, who was said to be quite brave and fearless. Born into a Rakshasa family, Hidimba wished to marry the one who would defeat her brother Hidimb. During the Pandava’s exile, Bhima, one of the five Pandavas, defeated Hidimb while in Manali. Subsequently, Hidimba married Bhima and gave birth to their son Ghatotkacha. Nestled away in the snow-capped mountains, this temple has a unique exterior with wooden doors and attracts tourists from all of the place for its history and beauty of the surroundings.

Explore Skiing in Manali

2. Naggar Village & Castle

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The splendid village of Naggar is situated at stone throw distance from Manali, along the left bank of river Beas. It is an ancient town in the Kullu district and was once the capital of the Kullu kingdom. This place has a charm of its own. It is usually not swamped by tourists which makes it all the more alluring. Naggar Castle (now a heritage hotel) is the most popular attraction of Naggar. This castle was built by Raja Bhosal more than 500 years ago. The castle survived the earthquake of 1905. While most of the houses in the surrounding were completely ruined, the castle’s use of earthquake-proof techniques helped it sustain despite the calamity. In 1978, the castle was converted into a rest house and subsequently a heritage hotel run by HPTDC. The castle is an extremely scenic property. There is a sacred slab of stone called Jagti Patt in the castle. Being the only surviving castle in Kullu district, it is believed by the localites that this Jagti Patt stone protects everyone against the ill eye. The museum in this castle is also quite popular among the tourists.

Expolre Naggar to Manali Snow Trek

3. Solang Valley

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Situated 14 km to the northwest of Manali, Solang valley is one of the most loved destinations. A favourite among adventure lovers, there are options to paraglide, horse-ride, and drive open jeeps in the beautiful mesmerizing valley. In winter, when it is covered with snow, skiing is the trend. Once the snow begins to melt, zorbing comes into the picture. You can see people in huge transparent balls rolling up and down inside the ball shrieking with joy and excitement. If you are new to skiing, you can also avail of the classes from ski institutes at this location. Solang Valley is also quite popular for its tea and many tourists like to carry back tea leaves with them. You could also hop onto the rope-way cable car and soak in the splendid view of glaciers and snowy mountains.

4. Jogini Waterfall

Jogini falls also known as Jogni, is one of the most popular trekking destinations. Situated near the Vashishth Village, the Falls are merged into the Beas River. You can start the trek from Vashishth Temple, where you can enjoy the hot springs known for its therapeutic effects. At the base of the fall, you can plunge into the small pool of cold water and make lifetime memories. Post that, you can also visit Jogini Mata Temple. Overall, the trek is a beginner-friendly trek and has scenic views with apple orchards and pine trees. If you love mild adventure and nature, then this is the perfect destination for you.

Explore Beas Kund Trek in Manali

5. Old Manali

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Ever heard of the ‘Banana Pancake Trail’? It is the name given to growing routes around Southeast Asia travelled by backpackers and other tourists. The Trail has no clear geographical definition but is used as a metaphor for places that are popular among Western tourists. Old Manali is a part of the Banana Pancake Trail. To enter this hippie land, just cross over to the Manalsu River. If you don’t like huge crowds, then this is for you. Lined up with great restaurants & themed cafes, fresh pure air, drinking water that comes from waterfalls, foreigners all around, amazing trekking trails, old Manali has a lot to offer. There are great music festivals organized in this place. Not the ideal location for families or honeymooners, old Manali is preferred by younger people for its hip vibe. Some of the places will give you a retro feel. Visit old Manali and soak in the majestic views with lesser crowds around.

So these 5 spots were difficult for us to shortlist, but if you are pressed on time make sure to visit these 5 for sure. With something for everyone, Manali will definitely please you!

You’ve often heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. As a photographer, it’s your job to convey those words through your picture! It’s important to use emotion and freeze moments to click great pictures! When you summit the top of the mountain and click that incredible view, the photo should be great enough to gush back all the memories even when you look at the picture years later. Not just that beautiful view you captured, but probably the snowy rocks you crossed on the way, the cold wind splashing water on your face from a nearby waterfall, the gorgeous pine trees, the memories you had with your squad. The photo is powerful enough to tell a story.

You don’t take a photograph, you make it’ –  Ansel Adams

So read on to know some basic tips to capture great pictures!

1. The early bird gets the worm

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Yes, you read that right! If you want to capture that amazing unique shot, you better get there before the place is swamped by tourists. The best pictures are captured early in the morning and around sunset. The light is just right to give your pictures the right glow and warmth. Sunsets are also great for photography as the lights are quite eye-pleasing, and the lights around are beginning to turn on. Shooting pictures at noon on a bright sunny day is an absolute NO. Take that time to trek, rest, explore. Leave travel photography for mornings & evenings.

2. Rule of Thirds

This is probably one of the most important tips in mastering travel Photography. This can be easily done by using the grid feature on your camera. Once you turn that on, your screen will break up into thirds, horizontally & vertically. It is important to place the focused object on the grid lines, instead of the plain old boring centre. This will bring life to the image & make the photo interesting. Also, always remember to keep the horizons straight. Never click pictures while you are moving.

3. Lightweight Travel Tripod

This is more important than you can imagine! A Tripod is perfect for those sunrise/sunset shots, low light photography, gushing waterfalls, and panoramic landscapes. With the tripod, you can easily shoot slower shutter speeds and concentrate on the composition of the image rather than worrying about the handshake & blurry images.

4. Experiment with Composition

Never be satisfied with your first idea of a click. Experiment in various ways and then settle with the best output. Try shooting from different angles, but also from different distances. Take that shot standing and the second one may be lying down. Wherever possible, try to include a powerful foreground, midground, and background elements. This gives the viewer a 3D experience.

Take a look at the below picture:

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Photo Credit – @arindam_10 (Instagram)

Your attention will be first drawn to the rocks (foreground), the river then (the midground), and then the distant mountain (the background). This makes a normal image exceptional.

5. Human Element is powerful

Do you remember how viral were Murad Osman’s Follow Me Pictures? Reason? Human element. A human element always makes a picture personal. The viewer should be able to relate to that element and think of it as himself. How do you do that? Show the back of the human element, or maybe a silhouette. Or just have the face looking somewhere else. How to make a picture powerful depends on your decisions while clicking.

6. Patience, patience & patience

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Dear photographer, always remembers that the secret to great photography is patience. Have you seen the pictures of the northern lights? You can’t even imagine how much the photographer waited to capture that mesmerizing shot. Wait and think before you click that shutter. Are the clouds really in the eye-pleasing position? Will this shot look better if someone passes the road? Will the sunset look better in the next 10 minutes? Photography requires dedication and waiting for the right moment to capture.

7. Use of Colour

Colours opposite on the wheels generally looks amazing together. Thinks sunflowers and blue skies, arid brown mountains and azure water. The combination is important. Colours don’t need to be balanced. Great shots mainly have one colour in the majority and the other supporting colour in minority.

8. Use the manual mode

Modern cameras may be great, but the manual mode is always better. If you adjust aperture manually, you have more control over the depth of field of your picture. When you manually control shutter speed, you are able to capture motion in better and creative ways. When you manually control ISO, you can reduce the noise of your pictures and also handle low lights or tricky lighting situations.

9. Get lost on purpose

You may capture the sunset like everyone else usually does! But that’s not what makes an exceptional picture. Discover new places only if you make an effort to take the route less travelled. Chances are you will stumble upon a splendid view. Always carry a camera with you! Even if you are just stepping out of your hotel for lunch!

10. Location Scouting

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Always do your research before you go to the location. You may discover so many hidden places by Instagram photos or your basic google search. Find out all the iconic locations beforehand. You should know what time does a particular attraction opens, what time is the best time to avoid tourists, how to get to a vantage point, and what time is the best view. You can maximize your time by doing some basic research about your location in advance.

Start practicing today to hone your photography skills so your pictures can be powerful & speak a story.

Don’t shoot what it looks like, shoot what it feels like!

Leh needs no introduction. Its utmost soundlessness, glistening azure skies, pristine snow-capped mountain peaks, shining lakes and the entire panoramic landscape will leave you at a loss for words.

Leh lies between Xinjiang, Pakistan, Kashmir and Tibet – more than 3,000 metres high at its lowest point. It is also called as “land of high passes”. Leh is encircled with the Himalayas, the Zanskar, the Ladakh and the Karakoram ranges. Three untamed and sparkling rivers, the Shyok, the Indus and the Zanskar flow between these ranges.

Explore Exciting Leh Ladakh Bike Trip

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There is so much to do in Leh. You can soak in the majestic beauty while hearing the birds chirping and admiring the colorful flags, go camping, experience the breathtaking sights from the top of the Khardungla Pass, defy earth’s gravity at the magnetic hill, find peace within yourself at Shanti Stupa, enjoy the freezing cold at Drass, or pray for the war heroes at Kargil.

If you are pressed for time, read on to know the Top 5 Must Visit Places in Leh:

1. Zanskar & Suru Valley

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Zanskar Valley

These valleys are named after Zanskar & Suru Rivers, which are two powerful tributaries of the Indus River. Suru valley lies in Kargil and is full of mesmerising beauty. It is famous for the Nun and Kun peaks. Suru Valley includes Sanku, Panikhar, Rangdum and all three are beautiful in their own ways. The entire place is a mix of Turkish and Tibetan architecture and the quaint houses are reminiscent of that. Panikhar is a popular destination for adventure enthusiasts. Zanskar Valley is as enchanting as Suru valley, but probably a little more well heard of. It is known for its awe-inspiring views, snow-capped mountain peaks, rugged terrain, daunting trails, cave monasteries and azure waters gushing down the valleys. It is also famous for trekking, paragliding and water rafting. Some popular treks are Lamayuru to Darcha, Lamayuru – Padum trek. This valleyis inaccessible for more than 9 months in a year because of heavy snowfall in the region, which makes it all the more luring to tourists. Trekking in this region can be nerve racking experience, hence one needs to be fit, physically as well as mentally to undertake a trek. Overall, it is a magical place with splendid views.

Explore Chadar Trek over the frozen river of Zanskar

2. Nubra Valley

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Nubra Valley

The Nubra Valley was once on the trading route that connected eastern Tibet with Turkistan via the famous Karakoram Pass. It has been recently opened for tourists. Nubra lies north of Leh, cradeled by rugged terrains & mighty mountains. Since Nubra valley is quite near the LOC, you require an Inner Line Permit to visit Nubra Valley, both as an Indian and foreigner. One of the most popular attarctions in Nubra is the Khardung La Pass.  It has been considered the highest motorable pass in the world, however it is a debatable topic. It is situated at an altitude of 18,379 ft. above the sea level. In Nubra valley, you can explore the Diskit district which is an oasis of tranquility. Enjoy a warm ladakhi meal with the amazing hospitality of the localites and soak in the splendid view.

Must Read: Offbeat Places in Ladakh You Probably Haven’t Heard About

3. Pangong Tso Lake

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Pangong Tso Lake

This lake needs no introduction. If you have seen the movie 3 Idiots, you probably remember this picturesque lake. The Word Pangong is derived from a Tibetan word Banggong Co which means “long, narrow, enchanted lake”. It is an endorheic lake in the Himalayas situated at a height of about 4,350 m (14,270 ft). Pangong Tso is geographically situated in a disputed territory, claimed both by India and China. The colour of the lake is bluest of blue. It looks magnificent against the arid mountains. The lake is however said to change colours throughout the day. It could be blue, green or even red. Words or even picture don’t do justice to this place. Visit it yourself and absorb in the splendour.

Must Read: Pangong Tso – Things You Probably Didn’t Know!

4. Tso Moriri Lake

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Tso Moriri Lake

Tso Moriri, also known as Lake Moriri or Mountain Lake, is at an altitude of 4,522 m (14,836 ft). It is the largest of the high altitude lakes in India. The blue pure river is about 7 km wide at its broadest point and about 19 km long. It is a part of the wetland reserve under the Ramsar site, and that prohibits you from camping or staying anywhere near the lake. This scenic lake attracts a range of wildlife, including migratory birds, marmots and even the Tibetan wolves once in a while. The landscape offers a splendid view with multi shades of blue color. This place can be extremely harsh in winters to visit. In January to March, the lake remains mostly frozen, extremely cold conditions with no options to stay around the lake. Around April, the snow starts to melt and starts transforming into the beautiful multi shades of blue colors.

Must Read: The Great Himalayan Lakes

5. Shey, Thiksay & Hemis Monasteries

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Thiksey Monastery

Monasteries are an integral part of Leh. They are all around you, but if you are short on time, you must definitely visit Shey, Thiksay & Hemis. Shey monastery was built in 16th Century AD on a hillock in Shey, 15 kms to the south of Leh. In the past, Shey was the summer capital of Ladakh. The monastery enshrines the Du-Khang with an almost 10 meter high copper statue of Lord Buddha. Thiksey Monastery was built in 1430 AD and it belongs to the Gelukpa Order of Buddhism. A very popular sacred mask dance ritual festival is organised at Thiksey Monsatery from 17-19 Spetember. The Maitreya Buddha statue here is probably the most photographed statue of the Buddha. The 15 m (49 ft) splendid high statue took over 4 years to craft. The Hemis Monastery is the biggest and quite richly endowed monastery of Ladakh. It was built in 1630. It is different from the other important monasteries of Ladakh and is decorated all around by colourful prayer flags which flutter in the breeze and send prayers to Lord Buddha. One of the largest Thangkas (Tibetan Buddhist Painting) is displayed every 12 years during the Hemis Festival, which is held for two days in June-July. The annual festival, celebrating the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava makes the monastery burst with life & colours. The festival, where good triumphs over evil in a colourful pageant, also holds a ‘bazaar’ where localities buy and sell wares. Various rituals and mask dances are performed during this time.

Must Read: I found my road to happiness on the way to Ladakh! and Ladakh – The Land of High Passes

Shanti Stupa
Shanti Stupa

These 5 spots were very difficult to pick for us, as Leh is full of splendid places. So bookmark this page and take note of these locations to make your next trip remarkable.

Spiti which literally translates to ‘The Middle Land’, is a cold desert located high in the Himalayas in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The place derives its name from the geographical location in between the Indian peninsular mass and the Tibetan plateau. The barren and beautiful land is a part of the Lahul and Spiti district and is often cut off from the rest of the country for as long as six months a year due to heavy snowfall at the high altitude passes. The villages in the valley are some of the highest inhabited places on Earth and that’s why acclimatization becomes extremely important for travellers. The valley’s otherworldly landscape is characterized by barren mountains, treacherous passes, shimmering blue lakes and serpentine rivers.

Over the last decade, tourism has finally caught up in Spiti and travellers from all over the world visit the valley for its surreal moonscapes and the cultural experiences. Apart from seeing the stunning remote landscape, people also visit the place to indulge in some outdoor adventure activities such as motorcycling, trekking, white water rafting and camping etc. Being a relatively small land area, one should try to explore all parts of the valley but for someone who is a little short on time, below mentioned are the five places in the valley which are absolutely not to be missed.

Expolre: Spiti Valley Bike Trip and Popular Treks in Spiti Valley

Kaza

Located at an altitude of 3,650mt (11,960ft), Kaza operates as the sub divisional headquarters of the valley. Although, it is the biggest town in the valley but the population is a mere thirty two hundred. Located on the east bank of the Spiti River, the town is the central point for travellers entering the valley from both Shimla and Manali. It is surrounded by high mountain ridges on all sides and is one of the coldest towns in India. Known for its colourful festivals and the Buddhist architecture, the town is also home to the ancient Sakya Tangyud Monastery. Being in the centre of the valley, a few monasteries and remote villages including Hikkim and Komik can be accessed from the town. The tourist infrastructure is rather minimal including a tiny market, a few basic hotels and a couple of cafes. The primary mode of accommodation is the home stays run by the locals, providing basic amenities but offering absolute value for money.

Must Read: Travel to Spiti Valley to find Love, Peace and Harmony

Key Monastery near Kaza
Key Monastery near Kaza

Kibber

Kibber, also known as Kyibar, is located 19km northwest of Kaza. Situated at an altitude of 4,270mt, it is one of the highest inhabited villages in India. The village lies in a narrow valley and all the houses are located on the summit of a limestone rock from where one gets interrupted mesmerising views of the lush green fields against the backdrop of naked mountains. Only six km to the south of the village, perched on a hill, is the popular Key Monastery. Offering staggering views of the Spiti River, the monastery is the largest in Spiti and serves as a religious centre for Lamas. The village is also home to The Kibber Sanctuary which spreads across 1400 sq. km and is a habitat for blue sheep and snow leopards. A lot of the high altitude treks in the valley also start from Kibber. Accommodation in the village is limited to the quaint home stays run by the villagers.

Must Read: My Fantastic Journey along the Hindustan Tibet Road

Kibber Village
Kibber Village

Pin Valley National Park

Located within the Cold Desert Biosphere Reserve in the valley, Pin Valley is one of the highest national parks in the world. The valley shelters over a dozen endangered species of wildlife animals and birds including the snow leopard, Ibex, Red fox, Bearded Vulture, Golden Eagle, Griffon and the Himalayan Chough Weasel. The national park, located near the Tibetan border, spreads south of the Dhankar Monastery between the towns of Kaza and Tabo. The altitude of the park ranges from around 3,500mt to 6,000mt which makes it an ideal destination for trekking. The most popular trek that operates in the valley is the Pin Parvati Pass Trek. Two significant trails go through the park, one gets you to the Kullu Valley and the other one enters Kinnaur through Bhaba Valley.

Must Read: Why Bhabha Pass Trek Should Be On Your Bucket List

 Trekking at Pin Valley National Park
Trekking at Pin Valley National Park

Langza

Although nestled between the mountains, Langza village is visible from many a mile because of the towering Buddha statue that’s present in the village.  The mammoth golden statue is believed to be around 1000 years old and all the mud houses in the village are built below the statue for auspiciousness. Located at an altitude of 4,420mt, this is considered to be the highest motorable village in the world. The primary reason this village attracts a large no of travellers is the million years old fossils of marine creatures, that are found here under the sedimentary rocks. For serious trekkers, the village offers the gateway to two high altitude lakes known as Tsonyeti and Chumo Tso.

Must Read: Experience of a Lifetime at the Homestays in Spiti Valley

Buddha Statue in Langza
Buddha Statue in Langza

Chandratal Lake

Chandratal i.e. lake of the moon, derives its name from its crescent shape. The shimmering blue water lake, situated on the Samudra Tapu plateau overlooking the Chandra River, is situated at an altitude of 4,300mt. Over the last few years, the lake, located north of Kunzum Pass, has become a paramount tourist hotspot. One of the most significant reasons of its popularity is its proximity to the popular tourist town of Manali. Travelling by road via Kunzum Pass, it usually takes around six hours to reach the last motor able point near the lake. One also has an option of hiking to the lake from Kunzum, which takes around a couple hours and is an experience in itself. Camping near the lake has also become an enticing attraction amongst the tourists.

Chandratal Lake
Chandratal Lake

You can also explore Chandratal lake with Chandratal Lake Trek or Hampta Pass Trek with Chandratal Lake

Must Read: Chandratal – All You Need to Know

 

“You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.”― Edwin Louis Cole

When we venture out into the wilderness for our biggest adventures, we should also keep in mind that it involves a certain amount of risk. Some serious risk which can even put you in crazy emergencies. But that is what an adventure is all about, right? These emergencies can be handled, if we are well prepared for such uncertainties both mentally, physically and with good knowledge.

Here in this article, I am going to share a few basics which you have to be aware of in case you get into any kind of emergency. In recent times, adventure and venturing into the outdoors have become a lifestyle for many in this part of the world. In every way getting closer to nature and loving adventure is one of the best and nurturing habits one can develop. At the same time, there is much news of lots of accidents and incidents which could have easily been avoided with better preparedness.

Must Read: 7 Principles to Follow for Environment-friendly Adventure

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So let’s dive into some tips to handle emergencies!

In case you get into a tricky situation while you were exploring the great outdoors, the first thing you got to do is S.T.O.P

S Stop wherever you are or whatever you are doing. If safe enough best is to Sit and take a deep breath

T Think, what actually happened, where you came from, what you were doing, where or which direction you were destined to go and any important instruction given by the guide which can come useful here in this situation. Having a healthy mind and positive thought process is the most important trait for a successful survivor.

O Observe your surroundings, check for any imminent danger if any, look out for anything favourable or for anything that can be of any help. Observe carefully if you are injured and anything or everything you have with you that can help.

P Plan an efficient strategy for survival in case help doesn’t come immediately. The strategy should be simple and effective, it should be planned in a way that will not have to overexert yourself more than what you can.

After S.T.O.P., Time To Execute The Plan

A normal human in an outdoor setting can generally survive for

03 Minutes without Air

03 Hours without Shelter

03 Days without Water

30 Days without Food

That means, soon after the STOP you need to start action keeping the above points in priority. considering you can breathe easily and plenty of air is available, let’s focus on the next immediate requirements. It is a good practice to leave some kind of traces on the way of your movement, this will help the search and rescue to find you faster and efficiently.

Must Read: Lessons of Survival from a Storm on Mount Everest

Shelter

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In simple language, shelter is to protect you from the harsh elements of nature or imminent dangers which may include but not limited to, sun, heat, cold, rain, snow, wild animals, insects, etc. Strong direct sun with high temperatures can give heat strokes and severe dehydration, the same way very low temperature mixed with wind rain or snow can lead to severe hypothermia in no time.  

The first part of the shelter is your clothing or what you are wearing, do you have a good hat to protect you from direct sunlight? Are you wearing enough layers of clothing to protect from cold and wind? Good shoes to protect your feet from uneven terrain. Once sure about the clothing, it’s time to find a good place to camp or spend the night. If it’s too sunny and you are in an open place then you need to find shade immediately. A good campsite would have easy accessibility to water, it would be a safe place from dangers like a landslide, flash floods, avalanche, or even wildlife. It should also be in such a place that search and rescue can easily identify and reach. It may not be practically easy or possible to find the ideal campsite in a survival scenario, but finding the best possible improves your chances of survival multi-folds.

Fire-Fire has many uses, it can act as a shelter, protection from wildlife and it can also help you in cooking food or purifying water by boiling it. It also gives you warmth in cold conditions and helps you in drying your wet clothing or shoes. Fire is an integral part of survival, the smoke from the fire can also be used to signal the search and rescue. You can make fire using the fire pack in your emergency kit.

Water

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Now, water is a tricky part, you have to continuously drink water at regular intervals to keep dehydration at bay. Water must be treated well before consumption, waterborne infections can be fatal in survival conditions. Water can be treated using the chlorine and iodine water purification tablets in your emergency kit or filter it with a clean cloth and boil it. There is no better way than boiling water to purify. It kills all three microbes like bacteria, viruses, and protozoa, which usually causes diseases. If you are at an altitude above 2000 meter then water needs to boil for a minimum of 3 minutes and 1 minute for lower altitudes.

Food

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There are many edible plants, fruits, and roots which can be eaten in the wilderness, you should always read and understand about those plants in the particular area, before venturing into an adventure. Hunt down your food using traps or other hunting methods if you feel it’s achievable. You can even make a makeshift fishing hook using the safety pins from the emergency kit and try your luck. The easiest way to have food in the initial days of your survival until the help arrives or you find an alternate method of getting food, is to utilize the emergency food reserve brought with you.  Whatever, the method you are using to find food, the important thing to keep in mind is always eating judiciously and keeping in mind, that the particular food should not make you sick.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that survival conditions are very much demanding both mentally and physically. It is always the mental strength that keeps you going even when your body gives up. Being optimistic and thinking about the happy moments you are going to have soon after surviving this condition, is what can keep you running. Once the above things are in place and you know you are safe, start finding ways to reach out for help. Very soon you will be in safety and back to civilization.

Mountaineering has always been an integral part of the Nepalese tourism industry. The small Himalayan nation in the Indian Subcontinent has been hosting thousands of trekkers from all over the globe, over the last few decades. Eight of the fourteen Eight-Thousanders Mountains are located in the country and summiting these peaks obviously requires a certain level of skill set and a few years of mountaineering experience. For people who are not trained mountaineers but have the desire to see those majestic peaks, there are the base camp treks. Although all the base camp treks offer a unique trekking experience but the two most popular of them are the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) Trek and the Everest Base Camp (EBC) Trek.

Annapurna is considered to be one of the most difficult peaks to summit in the entire world, and surely a trek to its base camp is also no mean feat. ABC is located at an altitude of 13,550ft and is a part of the Annapurna Sanctuary, nestled in the Annapurna Range of Himalayas.  The sanctuary is inhabited by a mixed demographic of people following different beliefs such as Buddhism and Hinduism.  In the lower regions, you will also find small communities of small farming communities of Brahmin and Chhetri people. The trek commences from Nayapul, located 40km northeast of Pokhara and is open almost throughout the year.

Standard Routing: Kathmandu-Pokhara-Nayapul-Ghandruk-Sinuwa-Deurali-ABC-Bamboo-Jhinu-Nayapul-Pokhara-Kathmandu

Must Read: Annapurna Base Camp Trek – A Backpacker’s Guide

annapurna

 

Mount Everest, named after Sir George Everest, is the highest mountain on the planet and attracts hundreds of thousands of people from across the globe every year. Climbing on top of the world is obviously something only a handful of people manage to achieve but even trekking to its base camp is considered an accomplishment in itself. The southern base camp of Everest is located at an altitude of 17,598ft and is a part of the Sagarmatha National Park located in northeast Nepal. The Khumbu (Everest) region is home to the extra ordinary Sherpa people known for their endurance. The trek commences from the north-eastern town of Lukla and can be reached by taking an adventurous forty minute flight from Kathmandu.

Standard Routing: Kathmandu-Lukla-Phakding-Namche Bazaar-Tengboche-Dingboche-Lobuche-Gorak Shep-EBC-Gorak Shep- Kala Patthar-Panboche-Namche-Lukla-Kathmandu

Must Read: Lifesaver Tips: Planning Your Everest Base Camp(EBC) Trek

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 Which one to choose: ABC or EBC

As cliché as it may sound, these two treks should not be compared together. As a matter of fact, no two treks should be compared with each other. Still, a comparison, basis various important factors, is done below that might help someone who is contemplating to choose one of these two.

 Accessibility and Season

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People travelling from outside of Nepal may take a connecting flight to Pokhara and then drive to Nayapul. One also has an option of driving from Kathmandu to Pokhara which generally takes around seven hours. Although the trek is doable throughout the year, the summers/monsoons are considered not ideal as the region receives a lot of rainfall and the trail becomes dangerous. Someone looking for a considerably challenging experience should travel during the winters. Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, is the generally the point of origin from people coming from abroad. From Kathmandu, an early morning flight is to be taken to reach Lukla from where the trekking starts. There are primarily two season to do the trek: March to May and Sep to Nov. Although there are some trekkers who embark on this journey during the winters (Dec to Feb) as well, but they have to be prepared for some delays as sometimes a few high passes are closed due to heavy snow and bad weather.

 

Acclimatization

ABC EBC
Getting acclimatized is probably one of the most important factors while trekking to a high altitude area. The acclimatization process is much easier on this trek as the trail offers a unique pattern of ascends and descends on the initial days of trekking, thus making it more comfortable for one to adjust. The average altitude gain per day on this trek is around 1500ft which is manageable and that’s why a rest/acclimatization day is not required. Overall, Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) does not pose a major threat here. Getting acclimatized in the Everest region is the most difficult part of the trek as there is a consistent gain in altitude throughout. Starting from an altitude gain of around 4500ft in a span of forty minutes during the Kathmandu-Lukla flight, the average altitude gain per day on this trek is rather substantial. That is why one needs to spend a couple of days as rest/acclimatization days to avoid getting hit by the Acute Mountain Sickness. Usually, these acclimatization days are spent in the popular villages of Namche Bazaar (11,290ft) and Dingboche (14,300ft).

How to prepare for high altitude trek

Terrain and Infrastructure

ABC EBC
Located in the lower regions of the Himalayas, the trek offers jaw dropping landscapes throughout the trek along with spectacular views of various peaks. Initially you hike along the Burungdi River and Modi River and then you enter the dense Rhododendron trail and Bamboo forests. The trail includes several staircases which are relatively steep but they lead to suspension bridges which makes it totally worth the effort. The trail from Deurali to the base camp is an avalanche prone area so you may have to cross the Modi River which could turn out to be time consuming.

The travel infrastructure on the trek is considerably decent with enough accommodation/food options available easily throughout. In case of medical emergencies, a helicopter evacuation facility is available so the correct adventure insurance must be taken if you want financial safety.

The terrain and landscape is quite different on this trek. Initially, you climb along the Dudh Koshi River from Lukla to Phakding/Namche. There are relatively steep climbs to reach Namche and there are a few long suspension bridges as well which provide a fun adventure. After Namche, you hike into the Rhododendron trail and can spot some Himalayan wildlife including Musk deer and the Himalayan Thar. The higher region of Everest is cold and dry and there is not much greenery visible after crossing Tengboche. The trail is easy to walk on but you are almost always ascending.

Being a popular trek, the travel infrastructure is rather good. There are plenty of accommodation/food options available easily throughout. In case of medical emergencies, a helicopter evacuation facility is available so the correct adventure insurance must be taken if you want financial safety.

 

Level of Difficulty

ABC EBC
ABC is considered to be a moderate trek. The trail is not treacherous and the average no. of trekking hours per day is around six to seven. The altitude gain per day is not substantial which makes it easy to acclimatize. Anyone from a novice trekker to someone, who has done a couple of easy to moderate Himalayan treks, can attempt this trek. First timers are advised to prepare for at least a couple of months and should avoid travelling in the winters to make it more comfortable for them. EBC falls under the moderate to difficult category. The trail does not require any technical skill set but there are several steep climbs throughout the trek including a few staircases. A considerable amount of altitude gain every day and the lack of oxygen at high altitude areas make it more challenging. Ideally one should go on at least two moderate Himalayan treks before planning for EBC but there are plenty of first timers as well that have completed this trek. Although a three month preparation time is a must.

abc

Highlights

Basis ABC EBC
Maximum Altitude 4,130mt / 13,550ft 5,643mt / 18,513ft
Origin KTM/Pokhara Kathmandu
Starting Point Nayapul Lukla
Grade Moderate Moderate to Difficult
Open Season Mar-May / Sep-Nov Mar-May / Sep-Nov
Duration ex KTM 10N/11D 13N/14D
On Trek Acco. Tea houses Tea houses
Food Availability on the trek Available in tea houses Available in tea houses
Permit required Yes (ACAP & TIMS) Yes (SCAP & TIMS)
                              Major Summits visible on the trek Annapurna South (7279mt), Fang Annapurna I (8091mt) Ganagapurna (7485mt) Annapurna III (7855mt) Mt Everest (8848mt) Mt Lhotse (8516mt) Mt Makalu (8485mt) Cho-Oyu (8,201mt)

ebc

 

Every trail that you walk, will take you through a different pass, a distinct river crossing, a unique village, a contra distinct sunset viewpoint and an individual feeling of emotions. ABC offers you viridescent trails and hot water springs whereas EBC offers you the awfully adventurous Lukla flight and the centuries old monasteries. ABC presents a variety of unique cultures to learn and a prospect to catch a glimpse of one of the most difficult peaks to climb whereas EBC provides an opportunity to get acquainted with the remarkable Sherpas and gaze at the top of the world.

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Ideally, a trekker should have both of these astounding experiences but if one has to choose one, it really comes down to the extreme basics. If you have around ten days time and are a little short on funds, go for ABC but if you can spare a couple of weeks and can afford to shell out a little more money, it should be EBC all the way.


“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” – Beverly Sills

Trekking is one of the most popular outdoor activities in the world. In India, the number of people trekking to the Himalayas is increasing year after year. There are many new exciting routes getting opened every year, as the popular trails are getting more and more crowded. It is one such activity which can be mastered quickly and every time you go to those mountains you starve for more.

There are few mistakes which most of the people take lightly in their treks and learn them in a very hard way, most of the time even hurting or injuring themselves. Here in this guide, we will discuss those simple mistakes and how to avoid them easily to have a wonderful trekking experience every time you go to the mountains.

Explore: Popular Treks in India

climbing-mistakes

1. Underestimating Altitude

Yes, altitude and the problems related to it are real. The biggest mistake we make is we underestimate this hidden danger. Also most of the time the confusion is how much altitude is high altitude? The end result of this confusion and underestimation is usually ending up to AMS which completely ruins the overall trekking experience and sometimes even aggravates fatal situations like HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema) or HACE(High Altitude Cerebral Edema).

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How to Avoid?

Many people show symptoms of AMS even at 1200m/3960ft, and many get acclimatised very fast even at 3500m/11550ft. Acclimatization is completely dependent on person to person and the physical wellness of an individual at a particular point in time. Few simple practices which can avoid AMS, in case you are directly flying into a high altitude place, like Leh in India, Lhasa in Tibet or even Bogota in Columbia, are taking complete rest for 24 to 48 hrs and drinking lots of fluids. An ideal height gain while trekking above 3000m/10000ft is 300m/1000ft of sleeping altitude in a day and a rest day every third day. As a rule of thumb climb high and sleep low for better acclimatization. 

Altitude scale:
High altitude: 2438m/8000ft – 3658m/12000ft
Very high altitude: 3658m/12000ft – 5487m/18000ft
Extremely high altitude: 5500m+ m /18000ft+ ft

Must Read: What are the important steps to take to Acclimatize better?

 

2. Hypothermia & Frostbite

It doesn’t need to be a winter trek to worry about the cold weather and the risks associated with it. Depending on where you are trekking, it can be cold throughout the year, which can make you feel colder, uncomfortable and give you serious illness associated with it. To top it up the mountain weather can be very unpredictable and risky.

How to avoid?

Proper clothing in the proper way combined with the right food and hydration is the success mantra to keep hypothermia and frostbite away. When I accurately say proper clothing, I mean a three-part layering system. A base layer with good wicking properties to wick perspiration away from your skin, a mid-layer that insulates you from cold and an outer shell layer to protect from rain and wind. By layering, you can be comfortable throughout the trek by removing and adding the layers to avoid overheating or getting colder. The layers have to be loose and comfortable by avoiding very tight dresses. Cotton must be strictly avoided and has to be replaced by synthetic or wool. Cotton has the lowest wicking properties and takes the longest time to dry in case of getting wet.

Extremities of the body like ear, nose, cheeks, fingers, and toes are more prone to frostbite when exposed to sub-zero temperatures and cold wind. Protect your hand by wearing fleece gloves as inner and waterproof/windproof shell gloves as outer layer, neck, nose, and cheek by neck gaiters, ears using a headband or a balaclava. Protect your feet by a good quality worn in shoes along with synthetic or woollen socks inside. It’s a good practice to take care of your feet every day after the hike, back in the camp by cleaning, drying and changing wet socks. 

Your body needs more energy to fight against the cold, so it’s equally important to nourish your body with healthy food and fluids. You may not feel like eating or drinking in cold conditions, so it’s a good practice to keep some energy giving munchies and water within reach to keep nibbling and sipping regularly throughout the day.

Must Read: How to Prepare for a High Altitude Trek


3. Wearing Improper Dress

Many trekkers tend to wear too much cotton or denim. I have seen trekkers struggling to complete a trek in tight jeans, fully wet after a river crossing. Some even dare the extreme cold with thick leather jackets.

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How to avoid?

There is a misconception that jeans are warm since it is a thick material. The basic thing to understand is denim is mostly 100% cotton. A jeanswear once wet will never dry properly during the entire trek which can lead to hypothermic situations. Also changing jeans is not easy and quick, as it is for trekking pants. Jeans are a complete no when it comes to outdoors, it can be a killer dress, as it also restricts movement compared to a good synthetic trekking pant. 

A leather jacket cannot be an alternative for a down jacket or an insulating layer. It can come handy as a windcheater but considering the weight of the material, it’s better to avoid it and have a proper breathable wind/rain cheater for trekking. It’s always layering, one single layer of the jacket will not protect you from the bone-chilling cold in the mountains.


4. Blisters or Shoe Bite

Blisters are one of the most common problems seen while trekking, a few hours down the trek and you’re already suffering to walk due to blisters and shoe bite. 

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How to avoid?

Major reasons behind blisters are wearing new shoes before the break-in, shoes of not the right fit or size, socks with low or no wicking properties. When you walk for long hours your feet start to swell and sweat, the sweat makes the socks wet and stick to the skin which in turn starts to rub against the inside of your shoes to create blisters.

As a rule of thumb, never wear a new pair of shoes for the first time on a trek. In case you need new boots for the upcoming trek, ensure to plan and buy it well in advance to break in properly before the actual trek. Always choose shoes of the correct size and fit, wear shoes and do trail inside the store itself to self check the comfortability before buying. Try to keep your feet as dry as possible and wear good quality socks with wicking properties like woollen or synthetic so that it wicks the sweat away from your skin.


5. Cramps & Fatigue

Cramps, feeling tired, dizziness and fatigue is not an unusual thing while trekking. Many even have to discontinue the trek or become impossible to enjoy the whole experience due to this. Most of the time the reason behind this is dehydration and losing too many minerals.

How to avoid?

A person is said to be dehydrated when the fluid loss from the body is more than the intake. During a trek depending upon the place and difficulty fluid loss happens through your breathing, urination, and sweating. In colder places with high elevation, every time you breathe or sweat the dry air absorbs more moisture from it. The more you sweat and urinate, the more you lose fluids and minerals along with it, eventually leaving you dehydrated.

A wide-mouth water bottle or a hydration bladder is a must for any trek. Hydration system may get a little cranky in cold conditions but is a great alternative for bottles. Continuous supply of water is the mantra, a healthy human will need approximately half a litre of water for every hour of moderate trekking. Mixing water with little rehydration salts (electrolytes) or by nibbling some healthy snacks in between along with water will compensate your mineral and fluid loss from the body. A well-hydrated body copes well with tiredness, muscle fatigue and acclimated much better and faster. Keep a close watch on your urine colour it should be always pale, if not that means you are not hydrating well.


6. Packing Too Much – Heavy Backpack

In every group of trekkers, you can see a few struggling to even carry their own backpacks because of being too heavy. Few struggles just because it’s not packed well or the backpack is not the right one for the particular trek. The funny part is, after all this struggle by the end of the trek they realise they have not used even 10% of what they have packed.

How to avoid?

Carry only what is most necessary, the pair of dress you are wearing plus 1 spare t-Shirt and a lower is enough to handle a 2-week long trek. Pack only the most essentials needed, to layer yourself, you seldom need an extra pair.  Purchase a backpack specially designed for trekking, other normal ones do not serve the purpose well. A 50L trekking backpack is enough to pack everything needed, including the sleeping bag for a person on a 2-week trek. Carrying a light backpack will help you to enjoy the trek more efficiently and comfortably.


7. Avoiding Trekking Poles

Many consider trekking poles as an additional burden and underestimates its purpose. Few feel using a trekking pole can affect their style status and others may think them to be inferior.

How to avoid?

In fact, a trekking pole serves a lot of purposes and can be a life saviour by providing stability in rough and tough terrains. It acts as a third leg and reduces the stress on your knees significantly. It can be a trusted buddy in the tricky river crossings and daunting downhills. Having a trekking pole makes your trekking experience very much enjoyable and less tiring.


8. Packing Too Many Toiletries

Wet wipes that can last a lifetime, a complete makeup kit, deodorant, big shampoo bottles, hair conditioners, complete shaving kit, and a big tube of toothpaste; just to name a few contents in a rookie trekkers kit of toiletries. They mostly have very urban reasonings for packing all this, not realising the fact that they would rarely be using any of this during the trek.

How to avoid?

The fact is, you do not need a large number of toiletries on a trek. A small tube of soap, a similar quantity of toothpaste, a small sunscreen lotion, a toothbrush and a toilet roll is all you want to survive a trek. Every other material would just increase the unwanted weight of your backpack. Wet wipes are not biodegradable and are very heavy, they are strictly not to be used on a trek. Above everything, these non-essential things just increase the weight of your backpack and eat up the much-required space for the essential items. 


9.Starting Late And Speeding The Pace

One thing you notice in the trekking group is that the morning starts always gets late. You can see a few already ready with the backpack to start the trek and few still packing the bags or having breakfast. After a late start, it is a race to reach the destination on time.

How to avoid?

In the mountains, the valleys get dark earlier than in the plains as the Sun goes behind the mountains much before the actual sunset. Leaving late in the morning means you have already lost a fair amount of daylight, which means you will have to speed up your paces unwantedly just to reach the campsite before dark. Trekking in darkness is no fun and it gets very cold as soon as the Sun goes behind the mountains. 

It is ideal to pack and leave the camp as early as possible so that you have enough time to trek in the daytime. This will help you to walk at your comfortable pace with enough rest and time to appreciate nature. For a good trekking experience, it is advised to walk at a comfortable steady pace by avoiding unwanted speeding up or running, which can get you tired and worn out very fast.


10. Not Using Sunscreen And Sunglasses

A common habit noticed in many trekkers is that they shy out to use sunscreen and sunglasses. There is an ignorant thought process that the dark skins do not need sunscreens, the result is sunburns and skin irritations. In snow and icy conditions not using sunglasses can even bring temporary loss of vision called snow blindness.

How to avoid?

The UV rays are very strong up in the mountains and unfortunately, they don’t know to distinguish white skin from the dark. UV rays directly on the skin can create severe irritations and burns. It is advised to use sunscreen generously on every place where the skin is exposed. Also for effective protection, it is good to reapply whenever the cream gets visibly worn away from the skin.

Nobody wants to get blind in the middle of an interesting and challenging trek. Snow blindness can be very painful and burning with red eyes, in other words, it’s just sunburned eyes. Snow reflects more than 80% of the UV rays and in high altitudes, the sun’s UV rays are stronger than in lower places. It is very important and mandatory to wear good quality dark coloured sunglasses, covering the complete eyes, every time you are in the mountains during daylight.


11. Forgetting The Essential Medicine and Menstrual  Products

first-aid-2553789_960_720

I have seen trekkers reaching the remote villages high up in the mountains and realising that they have left their medicines back in the home. 

In the middle of the trek, a lady comes up to the guide and asks help to arrange a sanitary pad for her friend as they never expected the periods during the trek.

How to avoid

Understand most of your prescription medicines, especially the specific brands may not be easily available outside your own city. The remote mountain towns would rarely have a pharmacist who keeps all kinds of medicines. Even if you find one, it is near impossible for him to procure the medicine, as per your need, before you leave for your trek. It is imperative that you have all your prescription medicines carried with you from your home. Always carry a little extra, so that in case your trip gets delayed due to any unforeseen circumstances you are not running out of your much-needed medicines. It is also a good habit to carry a small simple personal first aid kit, always while on the trek. 

As a rule of thumb, always expect to get your periods while on the trek. Keeping this in mind, make it a practice to carry menstrual products which may also include the medications if any, to be taken with on every trek. Even if you do not get your periods on the trek, it’s good to have, as you can always share it with the person in need.


Conclusion

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

5

There are many simple mistakes like the few topics mentioned above, which people make in treks mostly due to ignorance or because of lack of guidance. In the mountains even simple mistakes can be fatal, it is important that you read a lot, understand and discuss with experts, to prepare yourself well before venturing out or signing up for adventures. That will ensure a safe, enjoyable and memorable experience.

Rather than love, than money, than faith, than fame, than fairness… give me the truth

The core of mans’ spirit comes from new experiences.

When you forgive, you love. And when you love, God’s light shines on you.

These are some of my favourite quotes from the very powerful movie ‘ Into the Wild’. I could watch this move over and over again. The power of a good movie is that it inspires you to bring our the best in you and also takes you to beautiful places around the world from the comfort of your couch.

Must Read: 12 Books to Give you some serious Wanderlust

Below is a curation of great travel/adventure movies that will get you googling the locations and make you want to visit that place after COVID is over.

  1. Into the Wild (2007): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7ArZ7VD-QQ

into-the-wwild

If you watch only one movie from this list, make it this one. Christopher McCandless, a young graduate, decides to renounce all his possessions and hitchhike across America. During his journey, he encounters several situations that change him as a person.

IMDB Rating – 8.1/10

 

  1. Everest 2015 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBLP–JVXk4

everest

On the morning of May 10, 1996, climbers (Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin) from two expeditions start their final ascent toward the summit of Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. With little warning, a violent storm strikes the mountain, engulfing the adventurers in one of the fiercest blizzards ever encountered by man. Challenged by the harshest conditions imaginable, the teams must endure blistering winds and freezing temperatures in an epic battle to survive against nearly impossible odds.

IMDB Rating – 7.1/10

 

  1. Meru 2015 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weunwz1jZVo

meru

Three elite climbers fight through feelings of obsession and loss as they struggle to climb Mount Meru.

IMDB Rating – 7.7/10

 

  1. Maiden Trip 2014 –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4s8iob7FBY

maientrip

Laura Dekker, a 14-year-old sailor, sets out on a two-year voyage to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone.

IMDB Rating – 7.5/10

 

  1. Zindagi Na Milegi Dubara 2011 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQR_bxragHk

zindagui-na-milegi-dobara

Friends Kabir, Imran and Arjun take a vacation in Spain before Kabir’s marriage. The trip turns into an opportunity to mend fences, heal wounds, fall in love with life and combat their worst fears.

IMDB Rating – 8.1/10

 

  1. Wild 2016 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfMvJi6fouA

wild

After an encounter with a wolf, a young woman (Lilith Stangenberg) casts off societal conventions to live a life free of hypocrisy.

IMDB Rating – 6.5/10

 

  1. Touching The Void 2013- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtnqVZEktyg

touching-the-void

The movie concerns Joe Simpson and Simon Yates’s disastrous and near-fatal climb of Siula Grande in the Cordillera Huayhuash in the Peruvian Andes, in 1985. It is based on Simpson’s 1988 book of the same name.

IMDB Rating – 8/10

 

  1. The Motorcycle Diaries 2004 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2okWfJziwY

motorcycle-diaris

Ernesto ‘Fuser’ Guevara, a medical student, finds his calling in life when he sets out on a motorcycle road trip across South America with his friend, Alberto Granado, a biochemist.

IMDB Rating – 7.8/10

 

  1. The Darjeeling Limited 2007- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayyZ3assvhg

darjelling

After the death of their father, three brothers set out on a train journey across India, in an attempt to rediscover their lost bond. The experiences that they have to force them to introspect.

IMDB Rating – 7.2/10

 

  1. Captain Fantastic 2016 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_zDRjAoZdQ

captain-fantastic

Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen), his wife Leslie and their six children live deep in the wilderness of Washington state. Isolated from society, Ben and Leslie devote their existence to raising their kids — educating them to think critically, training them to be physically fit and athletic, guiding them in the wild without technology and demonstrating the beauty of co-existing with nature. When Leslie dies suddenly, Ben must take his sheltered offspring into the outside world for the first time.

IMDB Rating – 7.9/10

So go ahead and watch these inspirational movies this quarantine season and give yourself some great wanderlust.

The Himalayas, which translates to the abode of the snow, has been home to some of the most popular tourist destinations in India. For decades, a flock of tourists has been visiting places such as Shimla, Manali, and Kashmir Valley, etc. during the busy summer season. But over the last decade, there has been a gradual shift towards less explored areas in the northern Himalayas, especially among the relatively young travellers.

Out of all the relatively new tourist destinations, Ladakh has become the most visited over the last decade. It is usually the first destination on everyone’s travel bucket list. Although people visit Ladakh for various reasons the primary one of them is to get away from the usual busy tourist towns and explore something remote and unique. Historically, our country has not been very big on long road trips but that has completely changed over the last few years. Travelling to Ladakh by road has become one of the most sought after road trips in the country. That has probably been the biggest factor in the growth that Ladakh has seen in the number of travellers over the past few years.

Must Read: Why is Spiti Valley a distant cousin of Leh Ladakh?

Morreh Plains in Ladakh
Morreh Plains in Ladakh

Meanwhile, Spiti has also been creeping up into the same category as Ladakh but has always remained a distant runner-up. As beautiful as the place may be, it hasn’t lived up to its true potential as a commercial tourist destination and has only remained a niche place to visit. Having said that, people who have travelled to Spiti will swear by it as the most beautiful place they have ever seen. The landscape of the valley is truly similar to no other place in the country.

Read: Lahaul Spiti – The Enigmatic Valley

ki-monastery
Key Monastery in Spiti

While both Ladakh and Spiti are located in the same region and offer quite similar landscapes, the resemblance is only visible on the outer layer. Beyond the landscape, both these places have so many unique things to offer to someone looking for an authentic Himalayan experience. Now let’s address the million-dollar question; Ladakh or Spiti. Ideally, one should explore both of these places but if one has to choose one, it comes down to their personal choice. Still, a comparison based on different factors is done below, which may help you decide.

Accessibility

Ladakh Spiti
  • Ladakh is well connected to all the major cities through air transport with frequent flights throughout the day to Leh. If travelling by road, then the most common route is the Manali Leh Highway. Manali to Leh generally takes three days including two overnight halts which helps in acclimatizing. One may also start from Srinagar and reach Leh via Kargil.
  • Spiti can only be directly accessed by road as there’s no airport in the valley. Nearest airports are Shimla and Kullu but both are not well connected. The two most common points to enter the valley by road are Shimla and Manali. From Shimla, it generally takes three days to reach the valley and two days if you enter from Manali.

 

Tourist Season

Ladakh Spiti
  • Ladakh is open throughout the year as one can directly fly to Leh and explore the surrounding areas. Although, Ladakh is primarily a road trip destination and the roads to Leh, from Manali and Srinagar, generally remain open between June and early October.
  • Spiti does not have an airport nearby, yet it is accessible pretty much throughout the year by road if you enter from Shimla. Although there may be several roadblocks during the winter season so the ideal season to explore the valley is similar to that of Ladakh i.e. June to Oct.

 

Altitude And Weather   

Ladakh Spiti
  • The altitudes in Ladakh vary a lot in different places. The city of Leh is located at a moderate 3500m but the mighty Khardung La stands at 5,359m which generally happens to be the highest point in a road trip to Ladakh.
  • The temperature in Summers:- 0 to 25 degrees
  • The temperature in Winters:- -30 to 5 degrees
  • The average altitude in Spiti remains slightly higher around 4000m. The highest motorable in the valley is Kunzum Pass situated at an altitude of 4,551m.
  • The temperature in Summers:- 0 to 20 degrees
  • The temperature in Summers:- -20 to 5 degrees


Travel Infrastructure

Ladakh Spiti
  • Over the years, Ladakh has rapidly developed as a major tourist destination, thus the infrastructure is also well developed. The roads inside the region are mostly tarmac and easy to access. Accommodation is also easily available throughout the region. One has the option of choosing from upscale hotels to basis guesthouses and homestays to backpacker hostels. There are plenty of eating joints throughout the entire region with Leh having a few upscale restaurants as well. Cell reception is available in major towns with internet cafes in Leh. Public transport is minimal.
  • The tourist infrastructure in Spiti is minimal at best when compared to Ladakh. The roads aren’t in particularly great shape. The valley receives fewer people thus the lack of funding from the authorities.  Accommodation in Spiti is easily available but one has to choose between a basic hotel and a homestay. Although, a couple of backpacker hostels have opened up recently. There are a few cafes that serve different cuisines in the valley but one mostly has to manage with the local Dhaba style food. Basic cell reception is available in major towns. Public transport is minimal.

 

Leh-Castle-and-Kibber Village
Leh Castle and Kibber Village

Things To Do/Attractions

Ladakh Spiti
  • Incomparable landscape from vast plateaus to shimmering blue lakes.
  • Biking at a few of the highest motorable passes in the world.
  • Ancient monasteries.
  • Trekking and Camping.
  • White water rafting.
  • Indulge in Ladakhi/Zanskari food.
  • Popular Places: Nubra Valley, Pangong Lake, Tso Moriri Lake, Hanle, Sarchu, Khardung La, Chang La.
  • Picturesque landscapes from vast barren lands to beautiful lakes.
  • Ideal for road trips.
  • A few of the oldest monasteries in the world.
  • National Wildlife sanctuaries.
  • Trekking and Camping.
  • White water rafting.
  • Indulge in Tibetan food.
  • Popular Places: Kaza, Kalpa, Chitkul, Chandratal Lake, Dhankar Lake, Kunzum Pass, Rohtang Pass.

 

khardungla-and-chandratal
Khardung La Top and Chandratal Lake

Adventure Offerings

Ladakh Spiti
  • Every year, Ladakh attracts thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts from all over the globe. Getting a picture clicked on a motorcycle with Pangong Lake as the backdrop has become an adventure certificate in itself. Apart from Ladakh motorcycle trips, Ladakh is home to some of the very popular treks such as Stok Kangri and Markha Valley. In winters, the Chadar Trek is operational which happens to be the only frozen river trek in India.
  • As the landscape in Spiti is quite similar to Ladakh, it automatically becomes a great place to go for a motorcycle trip. Although, trekking and backpacking are more popular in the valley. The most popular treks in the valley are the Pin Bhaba Trek and the Kanamo Peak Trek. It is also home to some of the most beautiful wildlife sanctuaries such as the Pin valley National park wherein you can spot the endangered species of the stunningly beautiful snow leopard.

 

 Biking at Pangong Trekking at Pin Bhaba
Biking at Pangong and Trekking at Pin Bhaba

Both of these places have more resemblances than differences because of the similar kind of landscape and cultural demographic. Thus, it becomes extremely difficult to choose one over another. It eventually comes down to the fact that what kind of experience are you looking for. If your idea of travelling is to have a tonne of adventure and see some of the most picturesque landscapes in the world, then Ladakh is the place for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for more immersive travel experience and wish to indulge more in cultural things, then head to Spiti. Ladakh being a popular destination is quite crowded during the season so it becomes the perfect place to meet from all over the world. Spiti, on the opposite, is ideal for solo travellers who are looking to spend some quality time with nature.

‘Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find our treasure’ – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

This is one of my ever favourite quotes from one of my all-time reads- The Alchemist. While I was re-reading this book for the umpteenth time, I realized I should collate all my favourite travel/adventure books. When would be a better time if not now to tickle the bookworm in you? Let’s all come out of this quarantine season a reader. Reading travel or an adventure book can be as transformative as the journey itself.

If you’re looking for some inspirational reads, here is my current list of the best travel books to inspire you to travel far-off lands after the COVID is over:

  1. Wind Sand and Stars by Antoine De Saint – Exupery (1939)

8837
Wind, Sand and Stars is a memoir by the French aristocrat aviator-writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and a winner of several literary awards. Its exciting account of air adventure, combined with lyrical prose and the spirit of a philosopher, makes it one of the most popular works ever written about flying. It deals with themes such as friendship, death, heroism, and solidarity among colleagues, and illustrates the author’s opinions of what makes life worth living.

Originally published: February 1939
Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Original language: French
Genres: Biography, Memoir
Good Reads Rating – 4.2/5

 

  1. Endurance – An Epic of Polar Adventure by Frank Worsley (1931)

endurance
The legendary tale of Ernest Shackleton’s grueling Antarctic expedition recounted in riveting first-person detail by the captain of HMS Endurance. Endurance tells the full story of that doomed expedition and incredible rescue, as well as relating Frank Worsley’s further adventures fighting U-boats in the Great War, sailing the equally treacherous waters of the Arctic, and making one final (and successful) assault on the South Role with Shackleton. It is a tale of unrelenting high adventure and a tribute to one of the most inspiring and courageous leaders of men in the entire history of exploration

Originally published: 1931
Author: Frank Worsley
Genre: Biography
Goodreads Rating: 4.5/5

 

  1. The Snow Leopard by Peter Mathiessen (1978)

snow-leopard
The Snow Leopard is a 1978 book by Peter Matthiessen. It give a detailed account about the conditions of Himalayas from the rugged terrain to the unpredictable weather, in his two-month search for the snow leopard with naturalist George Schaller in the Dolpo region on the Tibetan Plateau in the Himalayas. Mathiessen sees the trip as one of the personal and religious enlightenment which is very well captured in the book.

Originally published: 1978
Author: Peter Matthiessen
Publisher: Viking Press
Country: Nepal
Genre: Biography
Goodreads Rating: 4.1/5

 

  1. The Kon-Tiki Expedition: By Raft Across the South Seas by Thor Heyerdahl (1948)

the-expedition-kon-tiki

The Kon-Tiki Expedition: By Raft Across the South Seas is a 1948 book by the Norwegian writer Thor Heyerdahl. It recounts Heyerdahl’s experiences with the Kon-Tiki expedition, where he sailed across the Pacific Ocean with his five companions on a balsa tree raft for 101days over 6900km.

Originally published: 1948
Author: Thor Heyerdahl
Original title: Kon-Tiki Ekspedisjone
Country: Norway
Genres: Biography, Travel literature
Goodreads Rating: 4.2/5

 

  1. The Grass Beyond the Mountains by Richmond P Hobson Jr. (1951)

grass-beyond-the-moment

The author describes how in the 1930s he and two other cowhands crossed the mountains to start a huge cattle empire in Northern British Columbia. It is a story of endurance and discovery of three cowboys, described with cowboy humor.

Originally published: 1951
Author: Richmond P. Hobson Jr.
Genre: Biography
Goodreads Rating: 4.3/5

 

  1. Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum (1900)

sailing-alone

Sailing Alone Around the World is a sailing memoir by Joshua Slocum in 1900 about his single-handed global circumnavigation aboard the sloop Spray. Slocum was the first person to sail around the world alone. The book was an immediate success and highly influential in inspiring later travelers.

Originally published: 1900
Author: Joshua Slocum
Editor: Joshua Slocum
Genres: Biography, Autobiography, Travel literature
Goodreads Rating: 4.1/5

 

  1. The World Beneath Their Feet by Scott Ellsworth (2020)

world-beneath

A saga of survival, technological innovation, and breathtaking human physical achievement — all set against the backdrop of a world headed toward war — that became one of the most compelling international dramas of the 20th century. It talks about the mountaineering, madness and the deadly race to summit the Himalayas.

Originally published: 18 February 2020
Author: Scott Ellsworth
Genre: Biography
Goodreads Rating – 4.4/5

 

  1. Wild: From Lost To Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (2012)

wild-journey

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail is a 2012 memoir by American author Cheryl Strayed, describing her 1,100-mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail in 1995 as a journey of self-discovery.

Originally published: 20 March 2012

Author: Cheryl Strayed
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Adaptations: Wild (2014)
Genres: Biography, Autobiography, Travel literature
Goodreads Rating: 4/5

 

  1. The Way Home: Tales from a Life Without Technology by Mark Boyle (2019)

the-way-home-tales-from-a-life-without-technology-by-mark-boyle

No running water, no car, no electricity or any of the things it powers: the internet, phone, washing machine, radio or light bulb. Just a wooden cabin, on a smallholding, by the edge of a stand of spruce.

In this honest and lyrical account of a remarkable life without modern technology, Mark Boyle, author of The Moneyless Man, explores the hard-won joys of building a home with his bare hands, learning to make fire, collecting water from the stream, foraging, and fishing.

Originally published: 4 April 2019
Author: Mark Boyle
Genres: Biography, Nature writing
Goodreads Rating: 4/5

 

  1. Running The Amazon by Joe Kane (1989)

running-thee-amazon

In 1986 a party of 12 explorers attempted to travel the full length of the Amazon. Joe Kane’s original role was as a writer and observer but he ended up as one of the only two members of the original group to complete the entire journey, the first people to travel the Amazon from source to sea.

Originally published: 1989
Author: Joe Kane
Genres: Guidebook, Travel literature
Goodreads Rating – 3.9/5

 

  1. The Call of the Wild By Jack London (1903)

call-of-the-wild

The Call of the Wild is a short adventure novel by Jack London, published in 1903 and set in Yukon, Canada, during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush, when strong sled dogs were in high demand. The central character of the novel is a dog named Buck.

Originally published: 1903
Author: Jack London
Goodreads Rating – 3.9/5

 

  1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (1988)

alchemist 

This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and soul-stirring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried near the Pyramids.

Originally published: 1988
Author: Paulo Coelho
Genres: Novel, Drama, Fantasy, Quest, Fantasy Fiction, Adventure fiction
Goodreads Rating – 3.9/5

As I finish off this list, I’ll look for some more inspirational travel books. As we are all locked inside and cannot travel, there is no restriction of travelling in your dreams to far away places.

‘Keep reading! It’s one of the most marvelous adventure one can have’ – Llyod Alexandar

Have you dreamt of trekking in the Himalayas? Want to scale those mystic peaks of the Kedarkantha trek? Want to set foot on Mt. Kilimanjaro or the Everest Base Camp? High Altitude trekking is more than just an experience. The wonderful feeling of being surrounded by majestic mountains on great heights, trekking some of the most inaccessible places in the world, discovering the mysteries hidden in the snowy capped peaks of some of the most formidable mountains is not just an expedition.

A high-altitude trek is a spectacular experience — and, for many of us, the chance of a lifetime to see some of the world’s most awe-inspiring peaks. It has its own charm, but is equally demanding. Preparation for a high altitude trek is very crucial. It is important to understand the terrain, extreme conditions and medical hazards which you will face at high altitude. You need to prepare well physically and mentally before you venture into the high altitude.

You ask what really is a high altitude trek?

8000 ft – 12000 ft: High Altitude
12000 ft – 18000 ft: Very High Altitude
18000 ft and above: Extremely High Altitude
26000 ft and above: Death Zone

hike-high

Above 8000 feet of elevation, atmospheric pressure decreases and the number of oxygen molecules in the air becomes less. For people who are used to living at sea levels or at an altitude less than 8000 feet this becomes a problem because the vital organs are now getting less oxygen than they are used to. So the body starts responding to that change in the environment by increasing the breathing and the heart rate. After a while the body starts producing more red blood cells so as to have more oxygen in the blood. But this does not happen in the blink of an eye. It takes quite a lot of time, which can literally translate to days and weeks, for the body to get adapted to the new environment. Ignoring to acclimatize yourself could end up with a medical condition called Altitude Sickness also known as Acute Mountain Sickness or AMS. AMS could also towards HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema) or HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Oedema) which is fatal.

On a high altitude trek the chances of a medical facility being in proximity are quite slim. So it is really important to understand acclimatization and help your body to adapt with the changes in the environment in high altitudes.

You also need to prepare yourself months before your dream trek. Here are a few steps you can take to prepare yourself for a high altitude trek.

 

1. Amp up your willpower

Amp up your willpower

 Mental Toughness & Stamina is a quality of the mind that is shattered by fatigue – Len Smith

Your mental endurance is a part of your ‘self-motivation’ system and conscious mental training. Speak to experienced trekker to gain more insights and knowledge about high altitude trekking. It is all about how mentally prepared and strong you are before taking this trek. Do not underestimate the power of your mental endurance as compared to physical endurance. It is equally important as being physically fit. Remember, winners and champions arent made in the gym. They are made by what’s deep inside them.

2. Amp up yourself physically

It takes both Physical & Mental Stamina to reach new heights – Michael Dauelerio

You can enhance your physical endurance by training yourself before heading to the high altitude for trek. This training program should start way ahead of your scheduled trek departure. The earlier the better. You may start your preparation by below mentioned guidelines and take it forward by intensifying keeping your goal in mind. You must focus on your cardio-vascular health and strength training. Start by planning out your exercise regime. Long walks are ideal, but be sure to increase the time every day. If you have a desk job, ensure to take the stairs instead of the elevator and walk around the office often. This will help you build your cardiovascular strength. It is also important to have an ideal body weight. If you are overweight, try eating healthy by cutting sugar in your diet and introducing lot of proteins. This will help with your stamina.

Physical Fitness

Interval training is one crucial part of getting physically fit. It entails getting the heart to beater really fast and then slowing down a little. For example, you may run to push your heart rate, then walk to allow it to calm down before starting to sprint again. Do not overload, but try to increase the intensity every day. Always remember to warm up your muscles before exercising and cooling it down with stretches post training. 

The correct way of breathing will also help you reach that height easily. It will make your trek simpler. Practice taking deep breaths and holding it.  If you go to the gym, then try walking on a treadmill on the incline elevated mode. You can also prepare yourself by climbing stairs with some weight, doing squats, training your calves, doing push-ups and planks to increase your core muscle strength. Increase the intensity every day.

3. Prepare for the unexpected

Prepare yourself for extreme cold and weather conditions. You need to be prepared mentally and physically in terms on things to carry with you. Also, you need to check the altitude of the area you are trekking through, so you are aware of the terrain and the challenges of hiking there. You must also check that your insurance policy covers high-altitude trekking because many standard policies treat it as an exclusion. A specialist insurance policy may be required.

4. Book an appointment to see your doctor

It is important to get a checkup before you leave. This includes a check of your blood pressure and general fitness. Females should get their hemoglobin checked as it may be low from menstruation. People with existing medical conditions such as asthma or diabetes should get checked out to ensure the medication is controlling the disorder effectively; a certification of fitness to travel might be required for some treks. You can also check with a doctor if you need to carry some medicines to cope with high altitude sickness (HAS).

5. Staying hydrated is key

drink

The thin air at high altitude causes a high loss of fluids through breathing and sweating. It is crucial to stay hydrated while exercising and walking at high altitude. Ensure to drink water often when exercising. Dehydration can lead to lethargy, accidents, and even death at higher elevations, so keep your fluids up when exercising. When trekking at altitude, keeping your hands clean and avoiding illness is vital because illness will dehydrate you further and weaken you when walking. This is particularly important if you are camping, so wash your hands and use hand gel frequently.

6. Acclimate as much as you can

Acclimatization

This is the most important step to prevent high altitude sickness. The rate of ascent is the most crucial factor in deciding who gets sick and who doesn’t. Acclimating to the oxygen levels slowly is important. Avoid climbing more than 1,000 feet per day and keep yourself hydrated. When traveling from low to high altitude, prepare to drive or go on foot rather than fly — the longer trip will give your body time to acclimate. If you must fly, spend at least 24 hours doing absolutely nothing — sleep a lot and don’t tire yourself out.

Read: What are the important steps to take to Acclimatize better?

7. Invest in the right gear

Right Gear

While you might not think this directly contributes to the effects of altitude sickness, but being comfortable and having the right gear is extremely important. The stress of not having the proper equipment will stress you out.

Hiking boots are the first thing you must buy when you decide to go on a high altitude trek and they must be broken in before you go to avoid blisters and sores.

Because you will be so close to the sun at great heights, you need good UV Sunglasses and good quality sunscreen to avoid burning yourself out.

A good sturdy water bottle, a basic medical kit, and the correct clothing. Carry a lot of layers, fleeces, and waterproof gear.

8. Read about altitude sickness and prepare to combat it

Everyone with altitude sickness will behave differently, but there are a few symptoms that are pretty much common. It’s crucial to recognise the signs of altitude sickness.

9. Prepare to stay unconnected

You will not have any kind of internet or phone connection with the outside world. Inform your loved ones in advance about your expedition so they don’t worry. You could take this time to meditate and think more clearly which is usually not possible back at home with many distractions around us.

Go ahead do your research, and prepare well for your high altitude trek. The feeling when you reach the top is undefinable. Work hard for it, it will be worth it.

 ‘The best view comes after the hardest climb’.

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Bhutanese call their homeland “Druk Yul” which translates to the Land of the dragons due to the mighty storms in the Himalayas and can be heard in Bhutan. The Kingdom Of Bhutan is a landlocked country located in Eastern Himalayas in Southeast Asia. Bhutan is a hidden jewel, with some mind-blowing facts. When I read about them, I was intrigued to know more and pay the visit a place. I bet you wouldn’t know these amazing facts about Bhutan-

  1. Bhutan is the only Carbon Negative Country in the World.
  2. Bhutan was isolated from the World until the 1970s
  3. There are no Traffic Lights in Bhutan
  4. The King Abdicated the Throne for Democracy
  5. Happiness Prevails Over GDP
  6. Bhutan Says NO To Plastic
  7. Only few Pilots are qualified to fly to Paro Airport
  8. No Smoking in Public Places is permitted in Bhutan.
  9. Birthdays are celebrated on New Year. No one will ever forget anyone’s birthday in Bhutan!
  10. Bhutan has the Highest Unclimbed Peak in the World.
  11. Bhutan Was the Last Country to Introduce TV in 1999.
  12. Education and Healthcare is Free for All Citizens
  13. The National Sport is Archery in Bhutan.
  14. Bhutanese Still Believe in the Existence of Yeti
  15. Women are the higher authority in Bhutan. Men move to women’s houses after marriage.
  16. Marriage Laws are Unique in Bhutan. Polygamy is allowed in Bhutan.
  17. It is Mandatory to Wear the National Dress, it is their way of preserving tradition.

These facts are sure to intrigue anyone to visit Bhutan. So I decided to check out the place for myself.

Explore this amazing Bhutan Bike Trip.

Getting there:

Bagdogra (Siliguri), West Bengal is the nearest airport where you can fly to if you intend to take a road entry to Bhutan. Siliguri to Border town of Jaigaon / Phuentsholing is about 150 Kms or so and takes about 4-5 hours of leisurely drive. If you choose to fly to Bhutan, then you can do so from Delhi / Calcutta to Paro International airport. Paro is 55 Kms from capital Thimphu and an hour’s drive. Paro is also an important tourist destination in Bhutan.

You don’t need a permit to travel inside Phuentsholing from the Indian side. The Passage is free and no hindrance or checking or stoppage. You can even stay at Phuentsholing if you feel like instead of Jaigaon. Bhutan time is 30 minutes ahead of Indian time. So it is prudent to reset your watch 30 minutes ahead as you enter phuentsholing so as to keep yourself in Bhutan time.

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Bhutanese currency is Ngultrum which is equivalent in value to Indian Rupee. That is 100 Ngultrum is equal to Indian Rs. 100.

Hindi is spoken widely in Bhutan and Indian currency is accepted everywhere. So currency and transaction there are no issues.

Important Names:

Llakhang: Temple or place of worship.

Dzong: Fort like structures which are seat of power (Govt offices) or monasteries where children are taught the Buddhist way of life. Festivals are held here at regular intervals.

Chorten: These are Stupas or small rectangular colorful religious structures that you find everywhere including highways, hilltops, valleys and even remote areas. Chorten or Stupas are the oldest Buddhist religious monuments. There are 8 different kinds of Chortens in Buddhism each referring to major events in the life of Buddha. It is rare to see all the 8 Chortens together. One is in Wangduephodrong near the bridge. 8 Different types of Stupas or Chortens are The Lotus Blossom Chorten, The Chorten of enlightenment, Chorten of many doors, Chorten of descent from God Realm, Chorten of miracles, Chorten of reconciliation, Chorten of Victory, and Chorten of Nirvana.

Read: Bhutan Bike Tour – What to Know Before you Go

Places to Visit in Bhutan

  1. Buddha Point (largest Buddha statue in the world known as Kuensel Phodrang or Buddha Dordenma is about 8 kms from Thimphu City on a hill. The large 160+ feet (52 Mtrs) tall Buddha statue is visible from Thimphu city.shutterstock_1117306004_bhutan-buddha-temple
  2. Taikin Reserve – The Bhutan National animal is Ta-Kin, a goat antelope. It is a protected animal.
  3. Changanga Llakhang close to the Takin Preserve. Llakhang means Temple in Bhutanese.
  4. Thimpu Dzong – It is a magnificent 350 year old structure also known as Tashichho Dzong. It’s near the seat of power (King’s palace) and is open only from.5:30 to 6:30 pm in the evening. Dzongs are seat of festivals in Bhutan and these festivals are area wise and seasonal. Check out if any festival is happening during your time of visit and plan accordingly. These festivals are absolutely magnificent to watch.
  5. Norzim Lam: The main road of Thimphu with many hotels, important government buildings, and some interesting shops for shopping and exploring the Bhutanese culture.
  6. The Clock Tower: At the beginning of the Norzim Lam (Lam means road) on your right side is an Old Classic Clock Tower with an open amphitheater-like space for strolling and relaxing. The clock tower is an important landmark of Thimphu city. There is a beautiful Llakhang (temple) near the clock tower and colorful prayer wheels too.
  7. National Memorial Chorten (Stupa): it is extremely popular and is located about 1 km from Thimphu Bus stand.memorial
  8. Coronation Park: it is a huge park about 6 acres on Chhogyal Lam (road) on the bank of river Thimphu Chu (Chu means river). There is a huge Buddha statue in the centre of the park it is a Govt park and entry is free.
  9. Changlimithang statium: It is the only stadium in Thimphu and located near bus stand and the coronation park.
  10. Weekly market / Centenary Market: It is located on Chhogyel Lam and half a km from the coronation park.
  11. Dechencholing Palace: It is in the far north of Thimphu city and about 4 kms from Tashichcho Dzong and was the King’s former palace. Entry is not allowed and it is strictly guarded property. The present King stays at another palace known as Samteling Palace or Royal Cottage close to the Tashichcho Dzong. The present palace is not visible to visitors and is camouflaged by a thick bush of trees and is heavily guarded and off-limits to tourists.
  12. Dechen Phodrang Llakhang: it is a beautiful monastery situated at the end of Gaden Lam (road). This is at a height on a mountain but approachable by road. It is about 4 kms from city centre.
  13. Zilukha Nunnery (Thangtong Dewachen Dupthop Nunnery): There is a beautiful Llakhang here and it is a school for girls who are studying to be nuns. It is usually busy with prayers and religious activities and studies.

Bhutanese Food

Bhutanese Cuisine is different from India. Their staple food is Red rice which is different from our rice and a must try.

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Their daily home food is National Dish – Ema Datshi (Tomato, Cheese, Chillies), Keva Datshi (Potato, cheese, Chilies), Sumo Datshi (Mushroom, Cheese, chillies), Jasha Maru (Chicken spicy), Fish Maru and Fish Paa to name a few. Momos are also common here. Local Drink Ara (arag) is also something to try. Also don’t fail to try the local drink SUJA, made of Yak milk and tastes salty.

Read: Happiness and Joy in the Bhutan Himalayas

Best Time to Visit Bhutan
I rode to Bhutan in July, which was a rainy season. Rains are not heavy and it’s more of drizzle for a few minutes.

However, the best time to visit Bhutan is from September to December. Bhoomthang is said to be the most beautiful place in Bhutan and between September to December, it is virtually a replica of Switzerland with lush meadows and flowers blooming all over. March to May is a bit sunny. Hotels are relatively cheaper in the monsoon season though.

Also please remember, Men need to wear full sleeve shirt to enter a Dzong and women have to dress conservatively. The authorities can deny you entry into dzong if you are wearing a short-sleeve shirt.

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Bhutan is a country like no other. It will surprise you in ways more than you will anticipate. It must be surely explored once in a lifetime.

Any individual suspected of having coronavirus (COVID-19) can be tested in over 50 laboratories in India, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research

DELHI
All India Institute Medical Sciences (AIIMS)
National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)

MAHARASHTRA
Indira Gandhi Government Medical College, Nagpur
Kasturba Hospital for Infectious Diseases, Mumbai

RAJASTHAN
Sawai Man Singh, Jaipur
Dr. S.N Medical College, Jodhpur
Jhalawar Medical College, Jhalawar
SP Med. College, Bikaner

TAMIL NADU
King’s Institute of Preventive Medicine & Research, Chennai
Government Medical College, Theni

UTTAR PRADESH
King’s George Medical University, Lucknow
Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi
Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Aligarh

UTTARAKHAND
Government Medical College, Haldwani

WEST BENGAL
National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases, Kolkata
IPGMER, Kolkata

MADHYA PRADESH
All India Institute Medical Sciences, Bhopal
National Institute of Research in Tribal Health (NIRTH), Jabalpur

KERALA
National Institute of Virology Field Unit
Govt. Medical College, Thriuvananthapuram
Govt. Medical College, Kozhikhode

KARNATAKA
Bangalore Medical College & Research Institute, Bangalore
National Institute of Virology Field Unit Bangalore
Mysore Medical College & Research Institute, Mysore
Hassan Inst. of Med. Sciences, Hassan
Shimoga Inst. of Med. Sciences, Shivamogga

GUJARAT
BJ Medical College, Ahmedabad
M.P.Shah Government Medical College, Jamnagar

HARYANA
BPS Govt Medical College, Sonipat
Pt. B.D. Sharma Post Graduate Inst. of Med. Sciences, Rohtak

HIMACHAL PRADESH
Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
Dr. Rajendra Prasad Govt. Med. College, Kangra, Tanda

JAMMU AND KASHMIR
Sher-e- Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Srinagar
Government Medical College, Jammu

JHARKHAND
MGM Medical College, Jamshedpur

MEGHALAYA
NEIGRI of Health and Medical Sciences, Shillong

MANIPUR
J N Inst. of Med. Sciences Hospital, Imphal-East, Manipur

ODISHA
Regional Medical Research Center, Bhubaneswar

PUNJAB
Government Medical College, Patiala
Government Medical College, Amritsar

PUDUCHERRY
Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research, Puducherry

TELANGANA
Gandhi Medical College, Secunderabad

TRIPURA
Government Medical College, Agartala

BIHAR
Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna

CHANDIGARH
Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh

CHHATTISGARH
All India Institute Medical Sciences, Raipur

ANDAMAN and NICOBAR ISLANDS
Regional Medical Research Centre, Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar

ANDHRA PRADESH
Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences, Tirupati
Andhra Medical College, Visakhapatnam
GMC, Anantapur

ASSAM
Gauhati Medical College, Guwahati
Regional Medical Research Center, Dibrugarh