Mountains

Inspiration: Travel is thy name!

One of the best things that travel gives me is a soul searching ability towards looking within. Within my heart and my soul to imagine a world that exists in a transcendental boundary on a journey that knows no horizon.

I look back upon this journey of mine and ask myself sometimes. Why do I do this? Why did I start traveling when I did? What drove me, what was my inspiration? The answer to which is very easy to find if you really want to  truly answer that from the bottom of your heart.

I don’t need a reason, I don’t need an inspiration! I just need to go!

Traveling for me is a  means to life. It’s a purpose. It may not be a means to an end or for that matter a journey in itself. I may or may not explore the entire world, but today as I live, I know I have that passion, that zest, that love for the long roads, the mighty mountains, the beautiful stories and the interesting people that I meet on my sojourns. If anything defines me today it’s my insatiable hunger for the road less traveled. Today I am, therefore tomorrow I move forward. I look at myself and imagine a future where I look back upon this journey, like I did about seven years ago, when I told myself.

“I have to leave a legacy that speaks miles about my journey taken, roads traveled, mysteries of this amazing world explored.” Needless to say, my blogging has helped me document this journey of life, of an exploring and meandering soul searching traversing across many destinations. To me, that simple hunger, that thirst, that endless desire to keep pushing myself forward is my sole inspiration.

Hence, I always say to myself, “The world is waiting for me and I must go! Go seek out the passion within the beautiful boundaries of this amazing creation!”

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Meandering across the horizon in search of spirituality

Over 5000 years the quest to spirituality has been a constant rouse for explorers across the world when they happened to arrive to India! That has always been a very important phenomenon of the Indian culture.

Despite that more recently, there has been a troubling side of it, being the repressive rules, the hypocritical approach of many folks irrespective of gender. The lack of awareness to global etiquette while interacting with travelers across the world has been a huge challenge, even so to provoke those tourism ads to educate Indians. While India always has brought a spiritual quest to many travelers and explorers there always are political considerations and factors in play in. Those that aspire towards a more fundamental leaning towards agendas that are meant to control chaos and simply construed as against ‘our Indian culture.’ This is simply a fact that many fail to address or simply choose to ignore!

But as a traveler, a travel blogger and most importantly an Indian, I’d like to say, that no matter what you do there are always two sides to this coin! And the change that is happening, is largely driven by an undercurrent of changing global economy, as well as cultural shift in the paradigm of the world. In light of that, there are some interesting aspects of India, that I’ve found amusing as always, as a traveler. While I’d relate to the thought and reasoning behind these small things, it’s ironic that while you go out there in the world probably imposing endless restrictions upon citizens. Restrictions on matters that are as trivial as what we should eat, what we should watch or many such things. There is a plethora of two faced approach where, in the name of religion anything goes.

Spirituality for us is not significant in the blindness that conquers the rationale of our country, but opens our eyes towards progression and a far larger understanding of what we should be as human beings. As always, religion world over has been an instrument used by people in their quest to power conveniently cite, unless they find value in people who are willing to apostatize their beliefs for their convenience.

To me, travel has certainly broadened my horizon to a greater extent. Travel has given me a perspective that is far wider and different. Especially if you were to compare it to a reason of meaning and belief that exists in your heart. Having said that, there has been the element of tolerance and contempt that conflict my thoughts every time I put on my backpack when I traverse the country.

Every different situation in different regions of the country either inspire me or bring me to a new low that I have probably never imagined. On most trips, I’m either enlightened or completely thrown back into stone age. But no matter what I do, where I go, there is one strong belief that I have which enriches everything about my travel experience. It’s the meandering quest towards a sense of calm and invigorating tryst towards experiencing spirituality despite not knowing the inclination towards it’s religious associations. There are no boundaries when it comes to spirituality especially when you are traversing not just across locations but beliefs that hold true to achieving a greater high, which is far more important than trivial matters of existence.

Travel reaches out to your spiritual roots to find art, imagination, a sense of purpose within history, heritage,nature, food, people,  and magical souls that gives you that wider horizon of reality that exists out there in the world. Here are a few pictures that have captured my imagination leaning towards a spiritual belief of a simple admonishing fact that everything aside, Travel is that dose of medicine, that spiritual reality of my existence, that purpose of my life in this world that is constantly exclaiming to crave for more of such experiences across the beautiful country of ours! It is that singular belief, which, when, all said and done reaffirms and assures me that there is still hope…

Freedom of Life through the roamers of nature

A herd of horses taking a stroll at their whim at Rohtang Pass

Himalayas, Ladakh, Mountains, Snow

The Magical Mountains of the Himalayas

 

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The Golden Buddha viewing the Mountains

Statue of the Future Buddha

Statue of the Future Buddha

Queen of the HImalayas - Blue Poppy

Queen of the HImalayas – Blue Poppy

View of Hampi from Anjaneya

View of Hampi from Anjaneya

A 61 year old Tibetian refugee manufacturing & selling handicraft since 1972.

A 61 year old Tibetian refugee manufacturing & selling handicraft since 1972.

Shing Theng - A saleswomans kid outside the monastery

Shing Theng – A saleswomans kid outside the monastery

Lamani Woman with her kid near the Lakshmi Temple

Lamani Woman with her kid near the Lakshmi Temple

Idranna a local kid at the Lakshmi Temple

Idranna a local kid at the Lakshmi Temple

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A Tiger Paw on our trip to Pench

A Tiger Paw on our trip to Pench

Thai Monastery in Bodh Gaya

Thai Monastery in Bodh Gaya

The Bodhi Tree

The Bodhi Tree

Kerala Backwaters

Kerala Backwaters

Fort Kochi - Chinese Fishing Nets

Fort Kochi – Chinese Fishing Nets

Sunset by the Bridge

Sunset by the Bridge

Sunrise Enroute Trichy

Sunrise Enroute Trichy

Sunrise at Kanyakumari

Sunrise at Kanyakumari

Kanchenjunga Peak

Kanchenjunga Peak

India Gate

India Gate

Hut @ Pondicherry Beach

Hut @ Pondicherry Beach

Himalayas

Walk across the silent trails towards Vasudhara Waterfalls in Himalayas

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Rajasthan: Land of the Kings

A view of the Mahuli Fort in the rains

A view of the Mahuli Fort in the rains

This one's playing around inside... :)

This little squirrel found playing around inside the Red Fort…

Stone Chariot at Vittala Temple

Stone Chariot at Vittala Temple

View of Hampi

View of Hampi

 

 

Potter in Action

Of Pottery and delightful people…

“Art is the craving of the hungry travelling soul!”

While on my travails, I’m always on the look out for something interesting, something off beat, something that doesn’t come to you often when you walk around in familiar environments! If you are the one with a penchant for newer experiences, you always have that sheer urge of falling in love with a lot more than the surroundings or a gleaming opportunity to see newer places and log them in your diary of an encompassing journey that you’ll leave behind as your own legacy.

Sometimes, I even dare to imagine to look beyond just the ordinary, beyond what is seen or talked about, and many a times, I feel inspired by small joys of travel and the simple things that it teaches you and how it broadens your horizon. I have spoken about this often, maybe not enough, but certainly enough number of times where I have talked about the interesting people I meet on my travels. And being a Wandering Thinker, Pondering Writer that I am, I always wonder, how is it that I get to meet these interesting people or why I bump into them so very often. The answer to that is very simple I believe.

It is  because of a connection that we all humans share. No matter what levels or degrees of separation are among us, all of us have a desire to know and connect in some little way or the other. For me, one such thing is Art! Being an aspiring writer, I always try to look for experiences that drive the philosophy of ‘Art imitating life.’ I seek out to look beyond the ordinary, only for that very simplistic, yet resonating belief and feel it is always inherent within most explorers.

One such experience was connecting with the artisans of Khawasa village at Pench, Madhya Pradhesh! While the wildlife was one amazing experience in it’s own, I couldn’t help but forget the beautiful and brief interaction with one of the potters at that village. Tukaram Gonde, who is an ancestral potter and makes his living through crafting one of the best artworks, it is sad, to see very little appreciation as a whole for people in this village. To me, that experience was more than just enriching, it was something that told me a lot about how this trade has become what it has. It is something that we always tend to overlook, while we buy these products for our festivals and daily use maybe, there’s a lot more than just the mold, the earthen flair and the technique that these amazing folks use.

To me, this travel experience gave an insight on a story that is beyond just pottery, art and craft of the trade. It is more than just a story about his life, his words, his family. It is something that he understands as a philosophy as an ingrained belief, as an experience that has transcended upon him in a form of that art. The same art that, maybe his father, his grandfather or forefathers cherished and groomed him for. This story is more about that deep rooted belief in what he did. He had an uncanny smile, a belief that told us how he was the master of his fate and captain of his destiny, in the great words of none other than Madiba.

While the experience wasn’t for many hours or even for that matter, it was something we cherished because of the quality of the craft and the beauty of the handiwork we saw within those minutes and closely observed a level of concentration, ease and amazing tendency to be a professional who doesn’t just work because he has to, but loves what he does. An experience that gave us an insight on how the rugged and unkempt life brought out the true artist within these folks. How, their life, despite it’s simplicity had a complex aura to a brilliant mind of sorts. One that you don’t often get to see in the life that we choose to live in.

Watch the Video of him indulging us with his artwork

Tukaram at his masterful best

Tukaram Potter at work Art at it's best

 

Pots

Tashi Tagey, Tadong, Gangktok, HomeStay, Sikkim

Dorjee Nyima of Tashi Tagey

Why do I travel you ask? To tell stories that very few have heard I reply! The best part about travel for me is not just the beautiful views I get to see, not the amazing experiences of climbing mountains in the Himalayas or for that matter the most delicious food I eat no matter what corner of the world I am in. To me it’s the singular experience of meeting some of the most beautiful people, who make me challenge the way we live our lives. It is in the question that they ask me subtly, without even hinting at how their life is different than ours. It is in the humility that begs to ask myself a simple yet profound question! What have you done with your life?

And then, I feel great that I have a lifetime ahead of me to go ahead and pursue that goal of whatever it is that I want to without the fear of forgetting the soul purpose of my life. Travel, tell stories, make magic and help more people believe in the mere existence of a world larger than the sort of bubble we live in. All of that isn’t possible without having experiences that broaden our horizon. One such experience was when we recently visited Sikkim.

We were in Sikkim for about 10 days and most of our trip was North Sikkim and a little bit of Gangtok. And interestingly we met a couple of folks who were fellow travelers who recommended an quaint little place a few miles away from the main area of Gangtok, a little far from the local taxi stand of Deorali called Tadong. On the road, right next to the Baker’s Cafe stood a small but submissively enchanting home stay called Tashi Tagey. Not unexpectedly it’s a name taken from Tibetan Buddhism meaning eight lucky signs. Something you’ll find a description of in the Museum next to Do Drul Stupa in Gangktok.

You wouldn’t ordinarily find such warmth in a place that is unusual and unfamiliar considering you’re miles away from your subtle comforts of the place you call home, but this isn’t the first time that I have experienced something like this before. Earlier, when I talked about meeting real people on your journeys, I shared anecdotal references of people who have a certain aura within themselves that the minute you meet them or come across them, you tend to realize that your connection with them is more than a faint memory and something that’ll be etched into your travelogues that you leave behind. Such was our experience at this beautiful little traveler’s abode!

From the time you enter the lobby of this quiet and well furnished home-stay, you realize you’re in good company! A company meant for world travelers! A nice couch, a lounge like feeling with an archive of TIME magazines, a photograph of His Holiness, The Dalai Lama and an adorned wall full of beautiful pictures, paintings and a decor that’ll quickly make you fall in love and fondly so, with this enchanting place. But, wait, that’s just the beginning.

The beautiful couple and our very good friends Dorjee and Nyima are quite the couple and have spent over 30 years serving travelers and being part of helping the community as well as pursuing their own goals and aspirations, that they’re someone who would be truly an inspiration for many souls who wander off and bump into them. We have seen and heard of heaps of compliments because of their wonderful home stay and their impeccable service to all. Nyima aunty, as we call her, is more than just a home stay owner. She has an extensive passion for knitting, painting, gardening and their home stay has a diverse collection of her art. In fact, one travelling couple from Italy have even named their daughter after her. Now, that is nothing short of what we call ‘mighty respect.’

With that I leave you a few memories from our journey of the Kingdom of Paradise, Sikkim and the warm, homely stay at Tashi Tagey, Tadong!

Tibetan Thukpa and Momos

Home Made Tibetan Thukpa and Momos, courtesy Nyima Aunty

Sculptures

Beautiful Sculptures in the corridor outside our room

Painting by Nyima Aunty

One of the beautiful Paintings made by Nyima Aunty

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View of Gangtok from the Terrace at Night!

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A Heritage, Tibetan Monk’s Statue in the Lobby

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Walls of Tashi Tagey, adorned by artistic expose

Gangtok View from Tadong

Gangtok View from Tadong in the Day!

Early Morning Bird

A bird we spotted early in the morning on the terrace garden

Bonsai Tree on Terrace

Bonsai Tree maintained by Nyima Aunty

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#DiscoveringMurud the @GSBeachResort way…

“Great travel experiences are the ones which you remember because of the people you met, the things you saw and the food you ate!”

In this case, I had each and every bit of it, considering the amazing time and place that I chose to visit. About a month ago, when the weather was certainly at its pleasant best in Mumbai, Feet On the Map and I decided to take up the Golden Swan Beach Resort, Murud on their offer to host a few travel bloggers at their amazing Beach Resort with a fantastic view over a weekend.

My tryst with the beautiful location, Murud has been continuing over 10 years. Even before I started travel blogging, I’ve had a penchant for this amazing beach location and have taken bike rides over many weekends to this place. Most of the times, with friends, a couple of times alone and on other occasions with family. I’ve written about this place from my last trip about a year or so ago when we visited Murud in the scorching heat of May. But this time around, it was quite a different experience considering that we were going there in January and the weather was going to be really beautiful and the experience more luxurious, thanks to Golden Swan Beach Resort’s Beach facing Villa! That’s where we were hosted. And this time around, the trip was a little more than just the beach, or the Murud Janjira fort. It was also an opportunity where we were literally #DiscoveringMurud from a different lens!

While, the place, the people, the location in itself wasn’t something new, the interesting activities we did, thanks to the amazing staff at the resort, I found out some really enchanting travel tales to talk about on this visit of ours. Here are some of the things, that I’d recommend for you to try out, especially if you are here at their resort.

Tantalize your Malvani Tastebuds

While Murud may not be the closest destination for people from Mumbai, Pune when it comes to the Maharashtrian, coastal or Malvani cuisine, it certainly has a penchant for being one of the tastiest around this trail. We had an opportunity to try out a live kitchen on the beach and do some really interesting food tasting session where the head chef, who made a variety of dishes to soak in the Malvani taste on to our tongues and get a real-time understanding of the various spices, the preparations and the pre-preparations that the cuisine requires. With the breezy evening wind blowing from the coast and the amazing view at our behest, we literally felt like we were at an exotic destination beach resort with the best food in our plates!

Golden Swan Resort, Murud, KAshid, Beach, Alibag, Murud Janjira

A dash of Malvani Spices

Golden Swan Resort, Murud, KAshid, Beach, Alibag, Murud Janjira

Malvani Fish Fry, Golden Swan Style!

Golden Swan Resort, Murud, KAshid, Beach, Alibag, Murud Janjira

The Chef dishing out a Potato Fry, Malvani way!

Malvani Bhindi Fry and Potatoe Vegetable

A Vegetarian’s Delight

Villa View by the Beach

Another interesting thing I recommend if you’re planning to come here, is to ask for the Villas, especially number 3, and number 4 as they’re beach facing and secluded so if you come as a group of 4 to 6 or a family, you can always camp there with a yard to yourself and recliners with a view that is mesmerizing to your eyes. And if you do decide to head to the beach, it’s just a 5 minute walk and in the night, you can hear the waves clashing as the sea hums it’s way into your mind and your thoughts.

Golden Swan Resort Villa

The Villas by the Beach!

 

Beach View from the Villa of Golden Swan Resort

Beach View from the Villa!

Recliners beside the resort for the best view to the beach

Recliners beside the resort for the best view to the beach

 A view of Murud from the Hill top

One of the things I mostly do during my travels is find a hill view spot to get  a perspective of the city or the destinations that I visit. Mostly a huge encompassing view of the destination gives you a bird eye’s view of the heritage, the enchanting serenity that the place brings to your travel experience. If you can do that at Sunset, even better! One such opportunity for you is to go to the hill top near the Maruti temple in Murud. You can ask the locals, the route to that place or you can also take one of the staff from the resort. They’d be happy to oblige I’m sure. One of the best views, of Murud, can be seen from here, including a breathtaking view of the lesser known, abandoned, Padmadurg fort, also known as Kasa fort, built by the great Maratha ruler King Shivaji to the northwest of the fort Janjira.

Sunset from the Murud Hill top

Sunset from the Murud Hill top

Murud Janjira, Golden Swan, Hill Top, Murud

Beautiful View of Murud at Sunset

Maruti Temple atop the Hill

Maruti Temple atop the Hill

Friday Prayer Place

A 40 year old structure constructed as a spot for Friday Namaz offerings

 

Mingling with the folks on the way to Janjira

While the relaxation around the beach and the Malvani cuisine added the flair to our visit, nothing could be an icing on the cake than a visit to the Historic Murud Janjira Fort. Thanks to the team at Golden Swan Beach resort, for the first time, I got a little more perspective from our visit, as they arranged for a local guide to share the chronicles of the ancient and the unconquered fort of Murud Janjira. And of course, your visit to this place is enchanting in itself, when you go on to a small sailboat along with a bunch of other locals, talk to them, get sights of interesting things, people and a lot more especially when you are glaring upon the magnificent ruins of the fort while you slowly arrive at the fort in your sail boat.

Local Fisherwomen selling dried fish

Local Fisherwomen selling dried fish

Sail Boat to Janjira Fort

Sail Boat to Janjira Fort

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A grand view of the fort as you approach it in your boat

 

 

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A view of the sail boats from inside the fort!

The Cannons of Janjira Fort

The Cannons of Janjira Fort

Bonfire by the beach over dinner

This I must say was one of the most memorable moments of our trip. A breezy evening, overhearing the waves of the sea, and a few travel enthusiasts sharing our travel experiences and engaging in really meaningful conversations about travel. Most certainly it was a great time for us to know a little more about ourselves and sharing interesting anecdotes from our travel travails. If you really want to unwind over food and conversations, then this is certainly a meaningful way to do this and one of the best experiences from this trip.

Bonfire by the beach over dinner
All in all, this place certainly has to be on your list especially if you want to spend that weekend away from the hustle and bustle of the city of Mumbai. And in fact, rather than driving down here, an interesting option for you would be to take a ferry from Gateway of India, early in the morning and soak in the sea alongside the flying birds to accompany you on the hour long journey! Do let me know if you’ve visited this place and what your experience was like!

Gateway of India

View at Gateway

Birds accompanying you on the ferry1

P.S: This was a complementary trip, thanks to the Hospitality of the Golden Swan Beach Resort, Murud and was certainly a great experience for both me and my travel partner Feet on the Map, who took most of the lovely photos you see on this blog. Also a mention to the two amazing travel bloggers we met on this trip. Was lovely meeting and interacting with you Renuka and Harsh! You can read their blogs at here: Voyager for Life  | Travel Byts