Once upon a time Shimla-Manali were the go to destinations for all hill lovers. It offered serenity of mountain, small town charm, wonderful weather and lot of souvenirs to take home. Today there are too many places we know of, some are more commercialized and some are so secluded that reaching there itself is a task. But if I have to pick a place that has replaced Shimla/Manali of olden times that would be Dharmshala/Mcleodganj. I don’t know many people who has been to Himalaya in recent times and hasn’t been to Dharamshala ever. And so for me it was more of a tick box item to go there and see what the fuss is.
I planned my trip in March, when it was still cold enough to chill and not too cold either, and decided to stay at McleodGanj, which is also referred to as upper Dharamshala. I reached McleodGanj on a Tuesday noon and settled there for next few days exploring nearby attractions and devouring food. If you love hills for its raw beauty, Mcleodganj might not be your choice of destination. The place is very touristy with its sightseeing list, souvenir shops and fancy restaurants. And it probably represent a Tibetan town more than a hill station. During my stay I tried doing the regular sightseeing as per my lazy mind would permit, which means I missed out a few… maybe I missed out more than a few. But I definitely tried a lot of restaurants and found many great options. I will talk about both in this blog.complete article
I am a beach lover who happened to live in Mumbai, just an overnight train journey away from Goa. So naturally I keep heading to one of the many beautiful beaches of Goa every year. But even if you have found your perfect vacation spot, your heart keeps wondering what else is out there. So I jump at the mention of any new beaches nearby and if I hear good reviews about the place I am already packing my bag already.
Varkala was one of such names that I started hearing about since a few years back. I heard people ditching Kovalam and Goa for Varkala, I heard it being compared to Gokarna, I heard about its beauty and charm. And to top it all, I had this sudden realization that this could be a place which is mix of Goa and Kerala – how great would the food be there! Or how the hospitality of Kerala would find harmony with the swag of Goa. Interesting, right? That’s what I thought when I planned my Varkala trip in March this year.complete article
Kasol village had come and gone with little to no impression. The narrow streets crowded with tourists, cafes and souvenir shops lining the road, numerous hotels standing upright between the road and the river – it could have been any hill station. But we were heading towards a different destination. So we went ahead on the meandering road enjoying the tall pine trees and the soothing river down below.
Then came Manikaran. A small pilgrim village famous for its hot water springs. The water is used for pious bath and apparently for boiling rice for the temple as well. For a small patch, the river was lined with houses and hotels on both sides surrounding the Gurudwara. We passed by quickly and stopped a little ahead where the road goes lower and crosses the river by a bridge. The water was cold and the landscape was charming. But we had farther to go.complete article
It was 2007 when I first visited Pondicherry. I was still in college and it was my first trip with friends. We started early in the morning from Chennai with very little money in pocket and a heart full of enthusiasm, travelled for four hours in a crowded bus, roamed around the streets of Pondicherry under a hot sun and retuned back exhausted long after the sunset. Actually it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. Probably because I didn’t know that it could be better. The highlight of my trip was the French colony of Pondicherry – I loved the beautiful streets lined with colourful houses and cafes. Neither of which I could enjoy to the full extent.complete article
If you are a wildlife enthusiast you may have heard of Bhitarkanika National Park. Or if you live in some specific cities of Odisha, you may have known of it as a weekend gateway. But mostly Bhitarkanika is not a popular name amongst tourists. I had stumbled upon it only due to my connection to East and even then getting all information about the place wasn’t easy. In fact I was only half-prepared when I made my trip and eventually it turned out to be the worst planning of my life. In fact, I wasn’t able to reach Bhitarkanika. So technically I have never been there. But you can learn a lot from a failed attempt as well and that is the knowledge I would like to share here today.complete article
Finally my north-east trip was over and it was time for me to head home, or in this case travel to Kolkata. The journey was quite straightforward and uneventful. But still in order to give closure to the whole series I decided to write this piece. Even though the journey took me little over two days, I will try to keep it short. So here it goes…complete article
I reached Kohima late at night, at least late as per Kohima winter standard. First view of the city for me was from across the valley while seating in the back seat of a car driving towards the city itself. The hills were illuminated by the lights from the streets and houses. Even through darkness of night I could make out the outlines of the hills as it waved over the community of lights making a sort of roofing on top of them. Looking at the vastness of it one could tell that this was not a hill station, but a city built on a hill. And that fit perfectly with the agenda I had in my mind.complete article