I Checked these Places off my Bucketlist in 2016
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Don’t know about you, but 2016 was amazing for me. I started the year with a bang, and that’s how it ended. Doesn’t it feel great when everything falls into place and all your dreams are realised just as you wanted them?! I hope it does not sound like I am bragging, but I get excited just thinking about it. Some moments that I had been longing for ever since I can remember, happened in the past few months. Here is an account of things that I checked off my bucket list this year:
Auli in January
For a long time, doing this had been on my mind, and Auli scored over other ski resorts because of its altitude of around 10000 feet above sea level. Although I wanted to ski, but had never done it till then. I decided to take a course first in Auli itself. I could have driven to there from Haridwar, but I wanted to ride the cable car from Joshimath, which I did. On reaching Auli, I was blessed with the sight of snow-capped slopes with fir trees also glowing in white. After enrolling in the training programme, I was given the ski gear and taken for my first lesson. My trainer told me it is best to ski at noon when the overhead sun makes the snow soft, minimising the injuries should you fall.
As I was new, I fell and sometimes hit trees as well, but all was worth it because by the time the lesson ended, I was able to gain considerable control. I learned to turn, slide and check my speed. After I was confident of my skills, I started twisting right and left around fir trees, when given the chance to ski on my own. I am now looking forward to hone my skills so I can jump off cliffs like professional skiers.
Tawang Monastery in April
I don’t consider myself religious, but I am spiritual. I believe there is someone looking over all of us; the one, who created this world and can end it. This principle makes me respect all religions, but I admit that I have a certain inclination towards Buddhism. How the Buddhist people lead such simple lives, unattached from all the worldly possessions, is truly a source of fascination for me. Therefore, to learn more about the religion, I always wanted to visit a monastery, and what better than Tawang gompa, one of the largest gompas (gompa is Tibetan for monastery) in the country. Arunachal Pradesh is blessed with amazing trekking options.
What happened was, one day, staying late at work, I was just unwinding with my colleagues, and one of them told me that he was going to his home state, Arunachal Pradesh, for a few days. As soon as I told him how fascinated I was by Buddhism and wished to visit Tawang, he offered me to tag along and cross it off my bucket list. Being the thrill seeker that I am, I quickly took on the offer and started preparing for the trip.
Founded by Merak Lama Lodre Gyatso in 1680, Tawang Monastery can accommodate up to 700 monks. The huge doors of the monastery make you feel dwarfed, almost as if they are reminding us of the small position we have in the universe. The walls of the gompa never seemed to end, just like the universe which has no boundaries. My time here gave me a chance to interact with Buddhist monks and observe them as they followed their daily religious routine.
Valley of Flowers in June
Just two months after I got spiritual peace in the mountains of Arunachal, I got the chance to admire nature in North India. If you haven’t heard of the Valley of Flowers, then I urge you to Google it and see your computer screen light up with images of enchanting sceneries. Though I didn’t get to spend as much time there as I wanted since I was only there for a couple of days, every second I spent was bliss.
The Valley of Flowers lies in the state of Uttarakhand, about 20 km from Joshimath. It sprawls for about 87 sq km, and the backdrop of the snow-clad peaks of the Zanskar Range acts as the cherry on the cake. The awe-inspiring sceneries you witness on the way to the valley keep you wishing that the drive does not end. Those, who are nature lovers and adventure freaks at the same time, must go on this thrilling road trip.
In case you love flowers and the sight of one instantly fills your heart with joy, then you, my friend, are missing out on so much if you haven’t been here. During the winter season, which usually lasts till March or April, the entire landscape is hidden under snow. But, as soon as summers arrive, ice melts and the region glows with a new life. The valley is adorned with rare flowers of all colours, shapes and sizes between June and October.
That’s not all as some of the rarest animals in the world can be seen going about their daily routine here. From Asiatic black bears to snow leopards, brown bears and blue sheep, this list includes many names. Living or not, different sides of nature are at its zenith here, and after my visit, I have got a newfound respect for it.
Rann of Kutch in November
While discussing different landscapes of India, people mention the sky-piercing mountains, picture-perfect beaches, shimmering lagoons and golden desert, but they seldom talk about the unique white beauty that adorns the westernmost part of the country. You must have guessed it already; I am talking about the wonder, called the Rann of Kutch. The intriguing topography of the region is enough to lure anyone, but what swept me off my feet was the culture of the local population. When I got to know that a carnival is held in the Rann of Kutch every year, where the culture of the region is put on exhibition, I knew I had to go there. This long-awaited trip happened this past November, just out of the blue. During this festival, artisans from different parts of Gujarat come here to showcase their talent, and believe me, there is loads of it.
With an expanse of thousands of square kilometres, the Rann of Kutch is truly a gem in the crown of India. The region, which gets scorched during the day, gets freezing cold as soon as the sun goes down. You can compare the Rann Utsav to an orchestra. The festival is an ensemble, which has something for everyone. Be it the wildlife of the region, traditions, customs, or art, every single aspect is celebrated here. Moreover, there are also tons of offerings for thrill seekers; a plethora of adventure sports are organised here. Horse riding is something that I really enjoyed. I also heard that many people were heading for a birdwatching session, but since I didn’t have time for it, I couldn’t. ATV riding, archery, paramotoring and camel safaris are also offered here.
Goa in December
This is the way my 2016 ended; partying the year away with my closest friends. How visiting the enchanting state came about is that one of my friends was getting married, and we all decided to throw him a big bachelor party. Goa had been on my bucket list ever since my college days, but I couldn’t go because like most college kids, budget issues were restraining me. But, since now I am earning as are my friends, we could afford to go there and party.
Goa, the name itself makes you think of pristine beaches and old churches, and that’s exactly what it is. Some of the best seafronts in the country are located here. No matter where you go, whether North or South Goa, you will find scenic beaches. As you lie in the shade of a palm tree, the crisp air of the Indian Ocean, accompanied by the shinning sun, makes you forget about everything back at home. If you come to Goa, do not miss the chance to go scuba diving, especially if you haven’t done it before. There is a whole different world of vivid beings, hiding just steps away from the shores, just sitting there, waiting to be discovered. One of the best off-beat experiences I had was Hot Air Ballooning in Goa! Once in a lifetime experience. if you
Another thing that makes Goa the spectacle it is, is its colonial heritage. Most people come here, spend a few days on its beaches and go back, never realising that they missed out on half the amazement. The centuries-old churches that dot the state are a step into the era, when the Portuguese and the Dutch controlled it. These may be old, but they still have every bit of splendour they did in the past. I was lucky enough that I got time to explore these during my holiday.
This year was unarguably one of the most eventful in my life. However, I don’t plan on putting a break on the adventurous roller-coaster ride I am on. Let’s see what 2017 has to offer.