Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Tibetan side of Dehradun

Did you know there is a small but significant Tibetan population that lives in Dehradun? I had absolutely no clue until my last visit to the capital town of Uttarakhand last weekend. And what a beautiful discovery it turned out to be!

Mindrolling Monastery, Clement Town, Dehradun

Before it became the capital of the new state, Dehradun was a sleepy town that people would flock to for a peaceful stay after retirement. It wasn’t very crowded and had a colonial history. Many of the structures from the British time can still be seen, although most places are now highly commercialized or in dire need of upkeep.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

How I travelled for a full year without a job

One Year of Epic Travel Memories

The evening of 31st October 2016 was when I bid goodbye to everyone, punched myself out of my workplace for the final time and headed home. The plan was to travel for the entire month of November, travel internationally before 2016 ended, celebrate my birthday after 10 years at home in December, move back to Mumbai by the end of the year and take up freelance video work or look for another corporate job.

Everything went as per plan except the last bit. I did return to Mumbai but only to pack up, leave my rented accommodation and head home. It was full-time travel blogging, freelance work from home (not much materialized though) and my head was excited at finally getting a chance to try leading group trips. If I could, this is all I would want to do.

I got inspired by youtube and tried travel vlogging, got my film screened at an international film festival and my story got published in an international travel book as one of 80 most inspirational travel stories. A few more things that were awesome were to happen, but didn’t.

Monday, October 30, 2017

What’s the fuss about Goa?

‘You came to Goa for the first time just two months ago? Seriously?’ my friend was surprised when I told him during my second trip to Goa in January 2017.

‘Yes!’ I replied.

I never understood the reason for the popularity of Goa. It had somehow never figured in my travel list unlike my friends and the world in general.

Are the beaches in Goa so beautiful? Why do people go there to simply party? Is it because alcohol is cheap? What is it about Goa that attracts millions of youngsters every month? I kept wondering.

Until one day a year ago in November when I was headed there with my friends from college.

A peaceful low-tide afternoon at Vagator Beach, North Goa, November 2016

Friday, October 27, 2017

Delhi’s Heartening Efforts for a Super Life #CelebratingSuper

“Are you able to breathe?” came the first question from my friends when they saw my Instagram story of arrival in Delhi just 10 days after Diwali last year in November.

“Yes! The air doesn’t seem as bad as the news showed it,” I replied surprised as I emerged from the underground metro station at Aerocity.

“It was quite bad in the 2-3 days immediately after Diwali; completely smoky and posing difficulty in breathing,” my aunt told me minutes later as I reached their house.

Over the next week of my stay I realized Delhi was already quite cold for this time of the year. There was smog in the air like there usually is at the end of December and the sunlight wasn’t much. I never had any breathing or health issues but I have never really been fond of Delhi’s ‘no sunlight and smoggy days’ since my college days- it made me feel sick and de-energised.

Delhi as seen during a take-off from the IGI Airport, June 2017

No wonder right now the capital was being touted as the most polluted city in the world. For someone who has always loved the city, hearing this felt bad. What felt good at the same time was the understanding that Delhiites showed towards this serious matter. Enlisting below a few heartening steps that I have seen being taken over the last couple of years by the government, MNCs and mostly, the common man of Delhi, for a brighter tomorrow and super life. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Top 5 Things to do at Bir-Billing, Himachal Pradesh

Bir is a tiny town in the Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh that we explored during the Gandhi Jayanti long weekend. As we drove there, we crossed several ‘popular’ hill stations on our way including Palampur and Kangra Valley. I wasn’t expecting Bir to be the way we found it. Honestly, I am glad we visited and spent 3 days there.

At first reaching there one might wonder if the place has anything at all to offer since it is hardly commercialised. Here are top 5 things to do if you are visiting Bir-Billing in Himachal Pradesh:

1. Paragliding

Bir-Billing is considered the 2nd best place in the world for paragliding. (I Googled for the 1st, there seem to be a conflict between places in France and New Zealand) The 2015 paragliding world cup was held in Bir-Billing, yet the place remains unknown to larger sections of the Indian population.

This, perhaps, is the biggest reason why one would want to visit this hilly town. Register with one of the adventure companies in Bir or talk to your hotel manager to arrange it. You would be taken from Bir to Billing, a distance of about 15 kms, in about 45 minutes in a jeep. On reaching Billing, you would paraglide to reach the landing site in Bir anywhere between 10 to 25 minutes depending on wind conditions and your willingness to stay in air. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

How I got published in a travel book

Getting one’s story published in a newspaper or magazine is one thing, but it getting published in an international book is something of a different level altogether. I have been published in several newspapers, but the joy right now of holding a real book with my story in it is impeccable. Here is the short backstory of how this happened.

One December 2016 night, I found an online travel story writing contest by a Portuguese company called Navigator Paper. I was high on my recent 'Returning from Bhutan-but cancelled flight tickets-went to Darjeeling' story (Read here) Without much thought, I squeezed the episode into under 2500 characters and submitted it for the contest and forgot all about it. Nothing really ever comes out of these random online international contests. How wrong I was.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Ladakh- Tortured Twice in Two Months

Oh, I love Ladakh. Let the title not misguide you.

When I went to Ladakh for the first time in June this year, I was awestruck by the insane natural beauty of the place. Brown mountains with ice capped peaks all around a desert with sand dunes, a perennial blue lake with no vegetation or plantation anywhere close to it till as far as the eye could see, an ancient town with yellow buildings falling apart in most places- it was beautiful. During the 11 day trip I realized a very important thing- Ladakh’s beauty was in all the road journeys we took and not just in the destination we arrived at. If one can appreciate these changing landscapes within a few kilometers, only then can they appreciate the beauty of this cold desert and that of life sustaining at such a remote place. Apart from this there is little to see there.

At K-Top, Khardungla in June 2017 when it was still snow covered due to a late summer

Friday, August 04, 2017

5 Must Haves in Your Travel Gear

I have been asked a few times in the last many months about the backpack, camera and other things I carry during my travels. I thought I would put them all together in a post here with recommendations so you know what to look for while making a purchase for your travel gear.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

An Afternoon at the Kargil War Memorial, Drass

If there was one thing I knew I didn’t want to miss on the Srinagar-Leh highway, it was the Kargil War Memorial at Drass. Having seen it so many times on TV over the years, I just had to pay a visit to this place.

The Kargil War Memorial is located 5 kms from Drass town, the second coldest inhabited place in the world, towards Kargil. We had been enchanted with the changing scenery on the highway since the morning that day and when we entered the Memorial, suddenly it was taken over by an unexplained feeling of patriotism. Such is the vibe of the place that stands in the shadow of the mountains that saw the 1999 Kargil War.
The Flag that measures 37 ft x 25 ft is hoisted on a pole 100 ft tall, Kargil War Memorial, Drass

As we were crossing Drass earlier, we spotted a long and high stone wall along the road. “It was constructed overnight during the war, so as to safeguard the highway which was under attack from enemy fire,” our driver had told us. We observed that the wall was crumbling at several places, having taken all the firing in order to not cut off the Ladakh region from the rest of Kashmir and in extension, India. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

10 Awesome Reasons You Should Join This Trip to Ladakh

So much has been said about it, so much has been written about it, so many pictures have been shared on social media from the place, but roadtripping through Ladakh is an experience incomparable to any other. It’s an experience you have to live at least once in your lifetime.

As you see the landscape change from lush green to rustic brown, from green trees to barren icy mountains, the blueness of the lakes to monasteries perched on top of cliffs, none of the pictures you have seen will do justice to the beauty right in front of you.

Join us this August and let the colourful Gompas and Buddhist prayer flags enchant you as we, a group of young travelers, head on a 10 day road trip to explore Ladakh, the land of high mountain passes, and India’s only high altitude cold desert. 
Copyright © on second thoughts... | Powered by Blogger
Design by SimpleWpThemes | Blogger Theme by