Strolling across the magical mountains


Rohtang Pass, Manali, Horses

Horses seen strolling across at Rohtang Pass in Manali

The carelessness of real beauty lies in the imagination of perfection. Such is the breathtaking brilliance of the views you get sometimes in the magical mountains. A minute you’re walking into a fog and the next minute you see a magical snow dwelling peak shining in front of your eyes with the sun giving you a glimpse of his glory. But sometimes, real beauty in the mountains are it’s carefree animals who absolutely have no inkling of what travelers see unto them or the beauty that surrounds them.

It’s the vision of these kinds that makes you walk up to these mountains more often. Sometimes. it’s not just the beautiful peaks, the nature, the landscape or for that matter the weather that you experience. It’s about a beautiful and breathtaking divinity that you visualize within a split second before your shutter could capture that moment. That moment of what you may later on in life realize as an unbound feeling of flawlessness. Something that cannot tether your freedom to express your wilderness, no matter what age you are at. Whenever I travel into the mountains, I always keep an open mind, for I never know what I will literally ‘bump’ into. The bliss of such a feeling is, that it is devoid of any expectations and makes any experience the best experience and sometimes even keeps you wanting more.

And that’s how I felt when I was able to capture this magical moment and delve into my memory of lenses while I had stopped by to have nothing but a bowl full of noodles at the Rohtang Pass! The added element of a surprise capture such as this, just doubled my bowl of happiness!


The Cape of Castaway Islands


Some destinations are just meant to be the ones that define Holidays to a completely different level. Most of the holidays that I plan are for the uniqueness of the destination and what the place has to offer me in perspective to the experience that I usually get. Many a times a vacation is usually to take your time off, unwind and relax to cool your heels off. And then there are others that are clubbed with getting the feel of the local sights and unpack little mysteries and treasures hidden in such a place.

Recently, while I was browsing some such interesting discovered, I came across something on FirstChoice and found it certainly one of the most fascinating locations. The Cape of Castaway Islands, as I’d like to call it,  it’s the Island country Cape Verde!

Interesting find and most certainly a promising destination for it gives you the feel of a vacation destination and also makes for the best cultural and local experiences off the coasts of Western Africa. Interestingly, it is one of the most diverse Island countries you would see considering there are so many things to do out here…

Officially known as The Republic of Cabo Verde it spans across an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean.  Interestingly and not surprisingly, in the 15th Century, Portuguese explorers discovered and colonized the uninhabited islands thus being, the first European settlement in the tropics. Ideally located for the Atlantic slave trade, the islands grew prosperous and often attracted privateers and pirates, among them Sir Francis Drake in the 1580s.

Some very interesting places in this country are one of the most romanticized, yet unknown. Thanks to the 10 tiny islands in the Atlantic being below the radar. And since it’s just off the west coast of Africa, which means sunshine’s a given pretty much year-round. I’d recommend these few destinations to ease off, unwind and soak in the sunshine while you’re here.

Boa Vista

Aptly called Boa Vista, which means ‘Beautiful View,’ this destination is the most easterly island and it’s a strong contender for the best of the bunch. The reason? This 55-kilometre coastline that has everything from small, rocky bays to huge sandy stretches  and you certainly  could have been airlifted from the Caribbean. Out on the water, conditions are perfect for kite and windsurfing. And below the glassy surface, there’s a rainbow of marine life to get to know.


Beach Life at Boa Vista

If you’re tired of Boa Vista, then there’s also the Santa Monica Beach that is popular with everyone. It’s in Curralinho, to the south of the island, which means the water here is really sheltered. And the name? The locals reckon Santa Monica’s 18-kilometre stretch looks a lot like the Californian version. While you’re here, pay a visit to the island’s capital, Sal Rei. Pastel-painted houses, cobbled streets and rickety old shops are the staple ingredients here. Other than that you also have the option to Sail over to the deserted island of Sal Rei,Hop on a boat and go whale-watching, Sip the local wine in Sao Filipe on Fogo Island.


This place is still early doors for this necklace of rocks in the Atlantic. To give you an idea, they’re 2 hours south of the Canaries, just off the west coast of Africa. Thanks to their history and location, you’ll find an exotic mix of African and Portuguese cultures on each island. And wherever you head, you’re guaranteed untouched beaches – there aren’t many people around here to share them with.


The island of Sal – Cape Verde’s most cosmopolitan – is dotted with little towns like Santa Maria, where the cobbled streets are dotted with surf shops, market stalls and rainbow-painted restaurants. There’s also a square packed with al fresco cafés. The white-sand beach is the big star, though. It stretches for 8 kilometres and ticks off beach bars and sand dunes along the way. There are plenty of things that you could do other than these when you’re here in Sal, especially if you want to enjoy something off beat – Learning to fish, Going on a trip to watch sea turtles in a catamaran, enjoying a great lobster dinner or better yet, go Big Game Fishing.

Underwater Worlds

Underwater worlds

If you’re a beach person and love water then Life below the surface is always exciting to see. Here you can do that with a glass-bottomed boat without needing to pull on a snorkel and flippers. Cape Verde has rich, fertile waters off its shores, so as you glide over the waves you’ll get to see schools of fishes, turtles and stingrays, and even a creaking shipwreck.

Viana Desert

Viana Desert

If you’re tired of the beach, then exploring through Viana Desert should be a must do on your list. Deserto de Viana, as it’s popularly called covers about 30 per cent of Boa Vista and is almost entirely uninhabited. Made up of wind-sculptured dunes and red rocks, it’s a playground for quad biking and 4×4 safaris. For the best bounce going, head south – the dunes here reach heights of 50 metres.

Santiago Islands


Cape Verde’s biggest island can count Captain Cook and Sir Francis Drake among its visitors. Nowadays, though, it’s mainly day-trippers heading for the old capital, Cidade Velha. Along with its volcanic beach, you can head for its atmospheric market, National Maritime Museum and church that dates back to 1495.

Islands of Fogo


If you love the beaches, but mountains even better, then this is the destination to head to! The name of this sun-shaped island means ‘fire’ in Portuguese, which gives you a good indication of its volcanic status. Its crowning glory is the 160-metre cone of Pico de Fogo, which last burst into life in 1995. Head to the coast to get the best view of it. And while you’re on the island, stop off at the colonial town of Sao Filipe for a taste of Fogo’s wine.

All in all this place is a must visit if your perfect idea for a vacation is much more than regular lazying across the beaches, shopping, or just tasting the local cuisine. Wonderfully diverse, with a bunch of amazing places, this place is a retreat for all travelers who enjoy fascinating places, experiences and destinations across the world!

Picture Courtesy:

Golven – White Sands of Vengurla

One of the best things about traveling to a beach, even though I’m not so much a beach person is to absolve myself of all worldly existence and let the waves reach out to my ears and see the horizon across the ocean to drive a beautiful point home.

Sunset at Vengurla

Other than that of course is the Sand, Solitude and most importantly the Serenity! That is something I must say was a plentiful when we had an opportunity last weekend, a long one I must say to head out to the pristine, clean and virgin beach of Vengurla! Usually, beaches for people in Mumbai mixed with a long weekend always amounts to a trip to Goa and back. Having been there umpteen number of times, this time around we decided to take a short detour, though not that far away from Goa, yet seculded enough to give us our very own version of a ‘Private Beach’ destination at Golven Beach Resort.

Golven Resort

Beautiful AC Cottages, with great design at Golven Resort

Golven – Solituded De Strand  is aptly named, with all the solitude you can get especially if you are the kind who likes the view of the beach more than actually passing out on the beach, the sound of the waves more than the whiplash of the stirring ocean. Golven in French means ‘White Sand’, White Sand indeed and How! The sand is truly grained, white and a blessing for your feet when you lay your feet down and sink in the surreal view and the magnificence of the simplicity this place offers you.

White Sand Footsteps

White Sands of Vengurla

One of the best things about this place, besides the quiet and serene nature of the surrounding has to be it’s comfortable and cozy cottages laid meticulously across the landscape so as to provide each and every one of them a really good view to the beach. Other than that of course is what one needs the most. The comfort of a nice bed, clean and minimal interiors and a great balcony to sit, ponder, think and get back to your soul, especially when time is aplenty.

Beach View

A great blend of good architecture, by an architect from Pondicherry, as I’m told by Mrs. Pandit, the caretaker and owner’s mother shows a contemporary belief in minimal, modern and blend of both good rustic cottage like ambience, coupled with great glass and steel decor with lamp shades, AC and a remote controlled Fan. I must say we were quite impressed especially when we went in first. Not to mention the local ‘Kokam Sharbat’ for a welcome drink. Yep, Konkan has it’s specialties and Golven Resort too. First impressions, were most suitably the best impressions.

Mrs. Pandit, Golven Resort Owner's Mother

Mrs. Pandit, Golven Resort Owner’s Mother



Besides the beautiful ambience, the nicely cleared pathways, a garden with beautiful flowers and of course hammocks and bean bags staring into the ocean, you realize that you’ve come home to your vacation. Post freshening up, we decided to head to lunch. And might I add, no Konkan lunch is complete, unless you have the most infamous Kokam Kadi.

Malvani Food

Kokam Kadi is to die for…

If you are the romantic type and want to have a dinner date in the evening, the ambiance picks up really well and gets you in the mood for the perfect dinner!

Ambient Lighting after Sunset at the Restaurant

Ambient Lighting after Sunset at the Restaurant

Other than lazying around and vacationing in style, there are a few things you can do to feel relaxed especially when the sun is down. Taking scooty ride across to a nearby village and find some still water to Kayak towards the ocean was a beautiful experience. The ride to this place was full of greenery and it also rained a bit, something that added to the magic of the weekend trip.


Beautiful Lush greenery surrounded with tall trees!


View en route the Lake to go Kayaking!

And of course another interesting thing to do, especially if you want to take a hike is to go to the Lighthouse nearby. Walking about 300 steps amidst a few Mimosa Pudica (Touch Me Not) leaves and some really beautiful plantations to come across to a magical view of the expansive ocean, the Vengurla beach and the breezy feel of nothing but some really encapsulating touch to the whole experience.

Trek to Lighthouse

View from Lighthouse

Special Note: Our trip to Vengurla was possible thanks to the invitation and hospitality extended byGolven Beach Resort.  Situated bang in the center of Bagayati or Vengurla beach, Golven Beach Resorts offer 10 self-contained AC cottages with an open-deck restaurant open air conference hall and provision for beach camping since December 2013. Owing its roots to the French, the resort is named as  a tribute to the white sand beaches in the area. Our accommodation and  food was sponsored by them on this trip. A special mention of their lovely staff for extending their warm hospitality to us. 

The Golven Team

The Golven Team

5 reasons for a weekend getaway @WelcomHeritage, Pench

Weekends for me are great fun if I’m traveling. Even more if the destination is diversely satisfying and more importantly, breaking away from the mundane and regular. Sometimes traveling is more than just about the journey or the destination. It’s a matter of experience. Something that we all hope to live for day in day out. One such experiences I’ve had recently was when we visited WelcomHeritage’s Jungle Home in Pench! Quite a place for folks from Mumbai, Pune, Madhya Pradhesh and Nagpur to head towards especially now that the season for wildlife sightings has begun! In this post I talk about 5 amazing reasons that’ll blow your mind away and urge you to head towards this amazing place.

1. Amazing getaway and beautiful Ambiance.

Comfort in the Jungle

Comfort at it’s best with a wooden Jungle like decor.

Beds Inside Hotel

Comfortable Ambiance to rest after an exhausting, tiring day in the woods!


A cup of coffee with a balcony surrounded by serene view of the woods

Hotel Doorway

The rustic cottage like feeling with great lighting enhancing the soul…

2. Experiencing Art at it’s best in form of Pottery.


The usual sights en route Khawasa village also known as Pottery Village

Cute kids at pottery barn

Beauty of an innocent smile of local kids in the village


Master class Potter, Tukaram Gonde in action!

Potter in Action

Spinning away and demonstrating Art in Pottery!


The finished beautiful artisan experience that the Potter created!

3. Wildlife at it’s best.

Indian Roller

Indian Roller


A Jackal lazing around in the grass!

Oriental Honey Buzzard

The Oriental Honey Buzzard

Monkey and Daughter

Motherly love in the woods!


The Langoor


The Indian Hornbill, a very rare bird and an endangered species.


Sambar grazing in the woods


The Peacock strolling in the woods…

Spotted Deer

A spotted Deer

The Blue Bull

The Blue Bull

Wild Hog

Wild Hog

Tiger Paw

Though we were unfortunate not to see the Tiger, we caught the second best thing! The Tiger Paw!

4. Delicious Food to satiate your taste buds


A variety in your breakfast gives you the perfect start to the day!

Dinner at Pench

Wholesome and tasty lunch at Restaurant Panache

Terrace Food

The nice terrace setting makes for great view while gorging on your food!


Won’t you love to gobble up those Idlis?


The Pakoda Treat. We went behind the scenes to get this shot!

Dinner at Pench

5. Unwinding luxury at it’s best


No matter where you are, comfort and luxury in a rustic style would make you feel at home!

Swimming Pool

Swimming pool with a view like that! Who wouldn’t want that to spruce up your weekend!


A grand @WelcomHeritage experience at Pench

With so many long weekends in October, it’s certainly a great opportunity to buckle up, strap your backpack on and go travel! And if you are living in the vicinity of Mumba, Pune or Nagpur, then I certainly have one of the most amazing places to recommend. If nature and quiet escape over a refreshing visit to the woods is your perfect idea of a long weekend, then you’re certainly in for a treat with this post of mine.

Jungle Home

I had the opportunity to visit WelcomHeritage‘s Jungle Home in Pench, Nagpur some time back. Considering this is a long weekend and the Pench Tiger Reserve will open up, there’s a great chance for you to visit the beautiful place to not only enjoy the beauty of nature, but also surround yourself with some of the most amazing experiences, views and a few activities that completely define the heritage of the beautiful wilderness across the jungle.

Entrance to Jungle Home

Situated across the border of Madhya Pradhesh and Nagpur on the banks of Pench River, this tiger reserve and national park is gloriously famous for it being the original setting of Rudyard Kipling’s most famous work, The Jungle Book. Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and its character Mowgli is based on Pench National Park. While many naturalists and wildlife lovers would like to visit this place for it’s natural beauty, our trip at the Welcom Heritage Jungle Home gave us an opportunity to experience a lot more than just the trip across wilderness.

The almost magical feeling of leaving behind the hustle and bustle and driving into the woods of solitude gives you an enchanting experience of what was to come. With a magical sight of the beautifully rustic and amazingly comfortable feeling of being in a Jungle Home as soon as you reach WelcomHeritage made us realize that we were in for a treat.

The quacking ducks in the yard, ambiance of the cottage like room, comfort and luxury of a great accommodation, the balcony view surrounded by plantations, a great swimming pool view and of course the friendly staff and really delicious food set the precedent for a great long weekend stay to come. We reached the place around noon and after a few hours of rest we were all geared up to start sinking in the feeling of being actually away yet, being connected with ourselves.

Ducks, Pench WelcomHeritage

The quacking ducks going on about themselves in the yard…


A Vintage Car at the entrance of the Hotel.

WelcomHeritage Pench

The rustic Statues welcome you as soon as you enter the hotel lobby


While we waited for our rooms to get arranged, we took a look at a few magazines giving us a sneak peek at what we could expect here.

Swimming Pool

A beautiful pool view as soon as you leave the lobby to head to your room

Hotel Doorway

The ambiance set, just right to start off this experience…

Comfort in the Jungle

Best thing after a long drive to lay down and get absolutely ready for the long weekend ahead.


A balcony view accompanied by a hot cup of tea or coffee should be a perfect idea if you want some fresh air.


A sumptuous Lunch at Panache Restaurant within WelcomHeritage

Terrace Food

Terrace Restaurant surrounded by some amazing view, makes for the best place to enjoy delicious food.

After settling down and relaxing for a few hours, one of the first things that we did was a visit to a Pottery Farm near Khawasa village. Driving up there in a open Gypsy meandering across the highway into a village was quite surreal.


The WelcomHeritage in house Gypsy

Gypsy Hood

We’re all set to head toward Khawasa Village


Away from the comforts of our luxury, the rustic views, cloudy skies and rooftops await us for a magical spectacle.

Off beaten Village roads

Some really good shots if you’re into Rural Exploration of sorts


A first view of the abundant handmade pots within the Pottery Village

Village children

We catch a glimpse of some childhood innocence and happiness as they wave out to our lens

Potter in Action

The Master potter Tukaram Gonde in action!


Carving out some really amazing magic with his expert hands!


Art in Action – Finished Pots

But what was much more than just surreal, was the artistic experience of the Potter who not only showed that Pottery is one of the most beautiful art forms, but also gave us a chance to try some of it hands on. Considering I had an injured finger from an accident earlier that week, my partner and travel blogger of the Feet On the Map fame, decided to give it a shot.

Besides enjoying the art form itself, the fascinating curiosity of how these folks have been doing this for years and the skills they show gave us an understanding of how difficult this art is to master and what kind of practice these guys must have had to come to this state of artisan expertise.

The next day was going to be an early beginning. The fresh cold air in the morning, the quiet and serene feeling of the woods, muddy trails, since it had rained the night before made for a great environment to sink in the true feeling of the woods and what would be even more exciting would be a sight of the Tiger. The good folks at Welcom Heritage arranged for a Safari into the deep woods of the Tiger reserve and we hoped for a sighting of the great wild cat of the Pench Tiger Reserve. But mind you, the Jungle is not just popular for it’s tigers, but also a host of other animals, which will have you really delighted if you’re one of the nature loving and interested in wildlife photography. A satiation for your soul and your lens for sure. They have two Safaris, one in the morning and another in the afternoon where you will be driven into the park with the Hotel gypsy along with an official guide of the park. You can truly experience the wilderness in its true colors. Some of which as you see here.


A Jackal resting in style!

Monkey and Daughter

Some Motherly love in the wild…



Indian Roller

The Indian Roller

Oriental Honey Buzzard

Oriental Honey Buzzard


A Peacock going on about behind some trees.


A pair of Owlet. This was hard to spot, because of the camouflage… But it made for a great candid shot.

Spotted Deer

Spotted Deer! You’ll find quite some herds of these in the Jungle


Sambar grazing on some grass.

The Blue Bull

The Blue Bull

Wild Hog

Wild Hog

There was a kill made a few days ago where one of the Tiger’s had hunted down a Sambar and had been feeding off it along with a couple of it’s tiger cubs. Unfortunately, we weren’t fortunate enough to get a glimpse of the Tiger, while one of the gypsies who went along with us from our Hotel, were lucky enough to spot the Tiger. But we kind of make did with his paw!

Tiger Paw

Tiger Paw

But if you head down to the reserve now, since it’s hot, you might be able to spot it, especially near water bodies. If not for once, maybe a second trip should seal the deal. Still, it was a great run as we spotted quite a lot of animals, the rare bird, Indian Hornbill was quite the sight and some of the beauty lies in the fact that we got to experience the wild in it’s truest sense. That made up for everything for sure!


The Indian Hornbill – A very rare bird, endangered species.

If you have some time to kill in this month full of long weekends and holidays, and if you are a nature lover then this place is certainly something that deserves your attention.

A special Note:  This trip into the wild was possible, on the invitation of WelcomHeritage, a joint venture between ITC Ltd and Jodhana Heritage that represents some of the best traditions of heritage hospitality and tourism in India. It offer’s over 40 exclusive heritage destinations, ranging from grand palaces to traditional havelis and magnificent forts; quiet nature resorts in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh Jammu & Kashmir, West Bengal, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh & Goa. In Pench, we stayed at WelcomHeritage’s Jungle Home.

Have you been to Pench National Park yet? Did you experience anything beyond the wild? If not, do give it a shot and let me know how you found it. What say?

Travel Tips for Visiting London


Travelling to London in this day and age is a lot easier than in yesteryear. However, with any trip there are always variables that you must consider in order to ensure that your trip goes as safely as possible. With flight times approximately 10 hours from Delhi to London, the last thing you want is to face a series of hurdles upon arrival that you are ill prepared for. So, with all that in mind we have devised a comprehensive list of tips and information to help you on your trip.

The list is mainly focused on helping save money for backpackers as London is reported to be the 15th most expensive city in the world to visit as per English newspaper Daily Mail. And if you’re not careful, you too could fall foul of a series of expensive charges that you could have easily avoided if you’d taken the time to research ways to cut costs and adhere to your budget.

Buy tube or bus tickets immediately…

Taxis or cabs around London are scandalously overpriced, so you must avoid them at all costs unless you’re desperate to get somewhere in a short space of time. Using the tube or bus is relatively affordable compared to the cabs. Also, if you use the tube then you will eliminate the terrible traffic that’s in and around London itself.

Use short stay parking if your relatives are picking you up

This is more of a money saver for both you and any relatives or friends you have if they are picking you up from the airport. Like many leading airports, Gatwick one of London’s largest airports, has advanced parking services. Parking4Less states that Gatwick has short stay options, which can come in handy to drivers. This is useful for anyone who needs to pick you up as they can conveniently park their car for a couple of hours at an affordable price. Note: this is especially ideal if your flight is delayed and they have to wait extra hours.

Always use hostels over expensive hotels

There are so many hostels in and around London that you will never be short of options. However, make sure that you always book reservations in advance. Helpful websites such as Agoda can help you find the ideal hostel for you at a relatively cheap price.

Explore London’s museums

There are so many amazing museums in London; you are really spoilt for choice. But the best thing is there are also so many that are free to enter. Time Out recently published an article that gave their readers a run down of the ‘Top 10 Free Museums in London’. The list features Science Museum, Museum of London, British Museum, Natural History Museum and many more.

I know I am only touching the surface with the above list but hopefully this will initiate some other thought provoking ideas to research when you are planning your visit to London. If you have already visited London, however, by all means leave your travel experiences below in our comments section.

Glaciers Galore – Wonders of Himalayas

Hemkund Sahib

One of the most fascinating things about the Himalayas is the cold and firm Glaciers that you encounter on the route. Most cases, these glaciers are broken off, fallen from the top of a pass or covered atop a flowing mass of heavy water! Well, what’s more adventurous is when you actually have to walk the thin lines, no pun intended, and cross the terrains in order to get to where you have to.

Crossing the Glacier en route Valley of Flowers, Western Himalayas

Crossing the Glacier en route Valley of Flowers, Western Himalayas

While getting a real good grip on the glaciers is sometimes quite the challenge, the feeling of the pounding heart to set the right footing ahead gives you an adrenaline rush to make sure that you don’t lose your foot and tumble off into the valley or the water flowing below! A feeling that you cannot imagine anywhere else, even on the world’s toughest and scariest bridges. A glacier covered over a stream of flowing water is no less than one of those bridges themselves!

Water flowing below the glacier en route Valley of Flowers

Water flowing below the glacier en route Valley of Flowers

Another really amazing experience I’ve had was when the glaciers formed a cave at the foothills of Vasudhara waterfalls across the Indo-Tibet border in Western Himalayas. As soon as you stand beneath the glacier, you’d probably feel that you’re in one of those cold storages, minus the smell of the meat! One of the best feelings I’ve had ever was when I dozed off for over an hour after a 10 km trek at the foothills of Vasudhara falls beneath this Glacier cave. Truly spectacular!

Caves formed by Glaciers at Vasudhara Falls

Caves formed by Glaciers at Vasudhara Falls

To top it off, if you find a melting glacier across the mountains, make sure you collect the water from that glacier in your sipper and drink the rejuvenating and fresh cold stream of life as you would imagine. Tastes like no other water you have ever had!

One of the most enchanting feelings about these bodies is how smartly nature works it’s ways and makes sure that there’s enough room against the water body so as to ensure that people or animals can walk by and there’s enough weight, strength and firmness that unless there’s an extreme situation all works out just about right. The mix of the thrill and the adrenaline along with the feeling of refreshing company of the natural wonders make you think about how the universe has subdued itself to blend in to whatever is as natural as it can be. What do you think?