Author Archives: Srinivas Kulkarni

About Srinivas Kulkarni

Wandering Thinker, Pondering Writer, Communications Professional, Aspiring Author. Travelogues @ http://srinistuff.com, Personal Blog @ http://srinistuff.in

Mountains on my mind!

Himalayas, India, Adventure, Travel, Indian Mountains, Mountaineers, Trekking

This weekend watched Eight Below! Again! As fabulous as the story and the movie is, I always fall in love with the majestic mountains, snow and beauty that encapsulates these terrains. From the time the Himalayan bug has bit me, I always think of spinning my heels and look for an opportune moment to climb various mountains across the Himalayan terrain. Of course, other than that I would always love to explore mountains across the world. Considering that we’re planning a trip to Japan this year, Mt. Fiji certainly is on my mind for that trip. But yes, Himalayas can’t be ever forgotten, no matter what. Despite the crazy mad schedules I’ll have this year, working on a lot of things besides just writing, I intent to climb a few mountains across the country and the world!

It’s been around 5 years that I’ve been enjoying my escapades into the virility of the beauty of the snow, the magnificence of the young peaks across the country’s finest and most enjoyable views. Mountains and adventure in the mountains is something I cannot miss, come what may! Adventure is something I always seek to find. The pleasure of scaling great heights, the view encapsulating a different world across a different horizon, waking up in the valley of wilderness and listening to the sky whisper so close to your ears every time you’re out there cannot be matched with absolutely anything. Having said that, one of the best things about mountaineering is the absolutely close connection you have with a place that’s not only close to your heart but also very strongly attached to your soul. I feel that if there was a higher purpose to my life, (pun intended)  it has something to do with the madness these mountains offer to the enchanting, aching soul of mine.

No matter what, every time I’m out in these mountains, they speak to me in minuscule whispers, they talk to me about their mysterious existence and they connect with me on a different level in each and every different place that I go to. They have a different language for each and every person they meet and no matter what their message is, it always gets you right in your heart. Touches you deep down in the bottom of your delirious happy place that you probably go back to being that child you were when you knew nothing but joy and sweet happiness. Now that the summer has come, most places in the Himalayas will soon open up and a lot of enthusiastic mountaineers will pack their gear and head out to meet their respective mountains. I don’t know if I will be going to Himalayas anytime soon this year, but I certainly know that destiny will bring me close to the place I call second home. While I wait for that call, I’ll certainly look towards reliving some treasured memories in this terrain through some of my old blogs about Himalayas

P.S: Speaking of the mountains, I’d like to plug in something interesting for adventure lovers. One of my good friends, Debolin Sen is a High Altitude Himalayan Traveler and has been walking and climbing the Himalayas for over 10 years. In fact this year, he was at the Everest Summit too. Just like me, in fact, more than me,  he loves his mountains and is heavily addicted to adventure. He’s doing something to understand the mindsets which drives participation in the adventure industry in India.

He’s running the Adventure Survey ™, possibly India’s first to find out your views and take on Adventure. Would love it if you guys can take this survey by clicking on the link below. Would be of great help to my friend. Thanks guys and stay tuned for more travel travails across the world.

Click here to take the Adventure Survey ™

You Only Live Once – Why Families Should Choose Fun-Loving Florida

Florida has long been a favorite vacation destination for families around the world. Every summer, thousands of fun-and-sun-seeking families  book flights to Florida to enjoy the best of the state. What brings them to the Sunshine State?

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Here are just a few reasons why Florida is the place to be this summer.

Welcome to the Sunny State

Warm and welcoming, the climate in Florida is very agreeable to lots of people. They don’t call it the Sunshine State for no reason! Yes, there’s always the chance of rain, of course, but visitors will be pleasantly surprised about how good the weather can be over there.

Bring All Your Family!

We all agree that family is important. It’s also very important in Florida, where thousands of family-oriented activities and attractions have been created to appeal to children (and adults) of all ages. From the educational, such as the exhibits at SeaWorld in Orlando, to hair-raising fun of the many rides and attractions at places such as Universal Studios, no family member will prefer to just stand and watch everyone else have all the fun. Florida has something for everyone.

Life’s a Beach (and a few Everglades!)

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While a lot of the fun in Florida is undoubtedly man-made, the state’s more natural attractions also hold a lot of appeal. The weather in Florida is so good that it’s given birth to a huge beach culture. The world’s tanning addicts and sun worshipers can also be found each day lounging on Florida’s coastline, including on the South Beach in Miami. It’s not just the beaches that offer visitors somewhere to look around, but also the seas surrounding Florida. Families will be spoilt for choice as whether to pick the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico to explore. Who knows, they may even find some buried treasure in one of the shipwrecks that can be found just off the coast of Florida.

Elsewhere, the Everglades is home to wildlife and local plants , and visitors can choose to explore the untouched side of Florida’s swamp lands, where they’ll also encounter different species of turtle and exotic birds — but watch out for those alligators! You can book day trips via an air-boat tour company to the Everglades.

There’s so much to do on holiday in Florida, so don’t just while away your days there on the beach, relaxing as this may be. Check out what you and your children can do during your time in the state and see what you can discover.

Top things to do in Italy

Truth be told, a short description of Italy probably isn’t necessary for you. For one thing, Italy is too big and varied to accurately describe it in a few sentences. Plus, chances are you’ve already got a good idea of the country’s wonders else you won’t be here on this travel blog. So if you are thinking about a holiday to Italy, here are some must see destinations, from the well-known to what’s off the beaten track.

Colosseum

When in Rome

The capital of Italy is so filled with activities and sites, it can be a bit overwhelming. There is of course the Coliseum, where gladiators and slaves battled thousands of years ago. It’s both a magnificent display of architecture and a reminder of the depths of human behaviour. Another site well worth a visit is the Vatican. While you’re probably not going to meet the pope, you can still see the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo’s frescoes or wander through St. Peter’s Basilica. Of course, you could always just gorge yourself on some world famous gelato, with vendors lining seemingly every street.

The countryside of Umbria

Situated in the centre of Italy, Umbria is the only region that does not border a coastline or a surrounding country. Relatively unknown to tourists, what separates this region from its peers is the pure, unadulterated beauty of its landscapes. The countryside views are scenes straight from a postcard; the type of scenery that makes you sit back and reflect on how blessed you are to be able to experience it first-hand.

See the Amalfi Coast

Stretching along the Sorrentine Peninsula, the Amalfi Coast is an extraordinarily scenic coastline in Southern Italy. A bus ride through this 50 km stretch will offer some of the most breath-taking views you’ve ever seen. Be prepared for an adrenaline rush, as a 150 meter drop into the sparkling blue ocean awaits the inattentive driver. Along the way are charming little towns, but be aware that these are usually overrun with tourists. The real thrill is the drive along the coast.

Traveling and accommodation tips

Lodging prices vary sensibly depending on the area and quality. You shouldn’t expect to pay less than 30 euros per night, with hotels in high tourist areas usually more expensive than that. If you do decide to look for hotels in Rome, you’ll have a better chance of getting a deal because of the high amount of lodging around the area.

As far as traveling goes, Italy has an efficient public transportation system. Getting from city to city is easy, whether by train or bus. Buses will be the cheapest, but they’ll also be the most uncomfortable and take the longest. Trains on the other hand are much more comfortable. The fastest, their Eurostar line, will cost 40 to 100 euros. The best deal is a slower regional train, which will set you back anywhere between 5 and 10 euros. So now, the question is, what are you going to go see?

Gokarna Galore, A trip to remember!

While a journey can never be forgotten if there is no adventure, what makes a best memory is the company you keep and the way you enjoy your trails. Of course, I’ve ridden the paths across the wild and awesome route of Goa to Gokarna the trip I took a few months ago in December, a week before I got hitched was one crazy ride altogether.  Especially when I also had with me the power of a Thunderous Avenger!

This was a journey I took along with my cousin who had come all the way from NY. We had been to Goa the last time he was here, so this time I decided to bring in some more adventure and take a bike ride all the way to Gokarna from Goa.  The journey was something to look forward to and most certainly everything seemed like an amazing adventure trip about to begin.  We wasted no time and booked our tickets as soon as we thought of the destination through Wego.  Since our trip was only a 3 day long trip with at least ten hours spent on the road, we had to make up for the remaining time  by booking our Jet Airways flight which would give us enough time to spend on the pristine and very famous Om beach of Gokarna!

Usually December is a peak season in Goa and Gokarna both. So I didn’t have the liberty of going there and then looking for a place to stay at. Thankfully cheap accommodation is not a problem in Goa and Gokarna, however it’s always a safe bet to book online and or call them up and tell them to hold a place for you. Especially at Om Beach and Namaste Cafe. With all the things sorted before we reached, we had little to worry than the beautiful weather, the highway and the most amazing stretch of beautiful road alongside the coastal reigon that cross into Karwar across the Karnataka border and into Gokarna. One of the most fascinating things about this journey is that on most occasions you’ll end up seeing nothing but the wide horizon with clear blue skies and by the time you step your feet onto the wider horizon of the Om Beach in Gokarna, you’ll be so mesmerized by it’s beauty that you’ll stop looking around you and just stare into that blue sky which turns orange at Sunset and disappears in a shade of dark with a tinge of golden smiles across your face.

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The most amazing thing to do in Gokarna, is to go take a ferry and visit the Dolphins. You’d be lucky if you’re in a huge group and that’d give you good room to negotiate with the guys. But it’s certainly a thing you could do. If you’re a fan of Seafood, then this place is paradise for you. We decided to spend most of our time drinking beer, chilling out at the beach and I even did a bit of running on the beach early in the morning and soaking in the sun with a few dips in the sea. But the most beautiful experience at Om beach is the view of the sky from the top and that is something I couldn’t miss out on at any cost. And of course the beauty of the boats by the bay especially after the boat riders or the fishermen are done for the day. With a serene silence the boats sway to the shore across the waves of the elegant sea and you can just be tranquil, especially with your eyes on it.

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Gokarna certainly had an aura about it when I visited it the first time, but the second time was even better and if I get another chance, I’d just jump at it and follow my footsteps back into the beach without second thoughts… For sure!

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Chandertal Lake: Trail towards unimaginable bliss

Ever imagined yourself distraught to a level where imagining beauty has become a real despair? Ever thought of getting out of your seat and just taking the high road on the routes of the unknown? Think about all the thoughts that keep attaching you with the worldly pleasure and the ‘things’ that you want to always let go of?

Imagine a world where you find nothing but meandering thoughts about what you have gone through or what you have never wanted to worry about. Imagine a palace of the open and free skies that shall take you to your inseparable connection with this beautiful nature that you were part of. Imagine a world which sets you scot free, free of the things, people, places, troubles and all the baggage that you keep carrying with you day in day out. Imagine what a sip of fresh water down your throat can do to your soul, imagine what the touch of that very cold water on your face can do to your mind, imagine stretching your eyes across the mind numbing cold horizons of the mountains that keep staring you in your eye with the crazy stark contrast of your emotions that you really want to etch a painting that shall last long enough to impact your heart, mind, soul forever…

Chandertal Lake

Chandertal Lake

Such is the beauty of this incomprehensible stretch of wilderness that goes across the beautiful borders of your mind. Chandertal Lake, is probably the most serene and quiet stretch of open space I’ve encountered probably after Tso Moriri in Ladakh. I’m sure North East, Himalayas, Kashmir and many other places in India have similar experiences in the offing, but this place has a special memory in my mind. From the time you begin the trail to go towards the lake from the ‘No Vehicle’ zone, your eyes in congruence with your heart and soul start scanning and searching for the lake with an eagerness of a four year old! You start feeling the fresh air and the cold breeze with a chill that cuts your face with a remarkable sting, that you realize that you’re near this heavenly place and can’t wait to get there. One of the most amazing things about this trek is that at the back of your head you realize there’s snow clad mountains and in front of you, you see green pastures that eventually lead to a canvas of a well painted landscape full of water that you just want to stop thinking about everything that you have ever worried about and just go out there to enjoy the enchanting weather, the breeze, the beautiful sight of still water that you feel that you’re reborn. The quiet and the simple nature of the surroundings make you just take a nap and realize that searching your soul, your mind or sifting through leaves of your brains and heart is pointless for you feel numb, numb to a point that you’re almost empty! Empty that you experience bliss, first hand…

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Journey into the forbidden valley of Lahaul Spiti

Life isn’t what you really think it to be. The journey you share among the paths you take aren’t always meant to be full of what you crave for. A level of uncertainty brings with itself a whole new world that you might want to always cherish rather than crib about. Travelling on the spur of the moment or travelling with a plan, each have their own trodden paths which you might not want to compare, but when you take the roads unknown and imagine the world without your lens or without the lenses of others, you will find that beauty lies within the experience and not just the photos you click or the videos you make. Sometimes you just have to be in the moment, and accept what’s dished out and move on with your stories to enchant your vivid imagination while experiencing the best travel you could ever. Such was the breathtaking journey into the forbidden valley of Lahaul and Spiti… And I wouldn’t disagree to the fact that there is a reason why this place is the forbidden valley and what makes the entire experience worthwhile.

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Yes, the challenges of the battling conditions, the crazy flowing river by your side ready to engulf you the moment you take your eye off it, the paagal naalas (crazy waterfalls) giving you a quick whiff of what to expect in these landslide trodden areas. But the most beautiful and never to forget experience within this journey has to be the smell of fresh air, the breath of beauty across the Himalayas, the frozen ponds you get to view and the soul searching you end up doing across the pagodas, temples and monasteries even if you don’t believe in the concept of God. Of course, your own journey is sacred. Your own experience is sacrosanct and what you view, dream, believe in is what you get to experience in this journey across the forbidden valley. Riding or driving, both options will churn your body like an urn. While you may find comfort in the luxury SUVs, the ground clearance or for that matter the bumpy twists and turns you experience will add to the memories that are etched out if you’re on a bike or low comfort 4*4s or simpler SUVs like a Tata Sumo.

Rohtang, Manali, North India, Spiti

Foggy Terrain enroute Rohtang pass

The journey from Manali to Kaza epitomizes the beauty of Rohtang Pass and as much as you would like to stay still and explore the vast horizon of the landscape, you know, that there’s a lot more of it where it begins and you keep going on a journey that you feel hungry for.

Rohtang Pass, Manali, Spiti

Horses at Rohtang Pass

Especially if you have travelled into the wilderness of Ladakh, you would know what the Spiti Valley beckons. You would want to get there as soon as possible and explore the beauty of the supreme mountains and the surroundings that shall be part of your memories for your entire life. Add to that, the entire escapade brought in an amazing adventure, thanks to the narratives of our local driver arranged by Amit from HimalayanYatra. It added to our experience and made the journey more exciting, especially his amazing driving and some really off the edge experiences where we were saved by a whisker, not to forget the crazy landslide which we fortunately and thankfully missed by a whiff. 

One of the most enchanting and serene things about Spiti is the terrain and the experience the entire landscape offers you, no matter which part you end up going to. Whether it’s the route to the maddening cold village of Ki-Kibber, or the breathtaking and deeply glorious and spiritual Dhankar monastery, it is full of stories and tales that will cross your paths at the mere view of the place, even if it were through a corner of your eye. Hopefully I shall be telling many such stories in the series of blogs that I plan to write about this crazy place… For now, here’s an encapsulated look at our journey in a simple, yet mind blowing photo essay of sorts… Hope you find the beauty captured in the lenses worth your imagination…

The cold desert enroute Spiti Valley

The cold desert enroute Spiti Valley

The road to Spiti isn't just about barren terrains

The road to Spiti isn’t just about barren terrains

The bridge near a small military camp at Lossar

The bridge near a small military camp at Lossar

Beautiful Terrain as we approach Kaza

Beautiful Terrain as we approach Kaza

Tibetian flags across the mountain

Tibetian flags across the mountain enroute Ki-Kibber

Spiti, Ki-Kibber, Spiti Valley, North India

Beautiful Ki-Kibber village – One of the coldest villages in Asia

A mountain deer on our way to Kibber

A mountain deer we spotted on our way to Kibber

Dhanskar Monastery

Dhankar Village and Monastery

Entrance to Dhankar Monastery

Entrance to Dhankar Monastery

A tower atop the Monastery

A tower atop the Monastery

Local women outside the monastery

Local women outside the monastery

The most relaxed terrace atop the monastery

The most relaxed terrace atop the monastery

Hanging out with the local kids

Hanging out with the local kids

The Golden Buddha viewing the Mountains

The Golden Buddha viewing the Mountains

Chandertaal Lake - The most amazing view in Spiti

Chandertaal Lake – The most amazing view in Spiti

Off to the Forbidden Valley – Lahaul Spiti

Entrance of Spiti Valley - Losar

Entrance to the Spiti Valley – Losar

The mountain’s call has been finally answered! The year long wait to endure is too much to ask for me, especially since the beauty of the Himalayas just cannot escape my mind especially when the season to visit the Himalayas begins. Yes, I’m probably a tad too late, considering I missed my Hampta Pass trek due to sickness! Nonetheless, I am hoping to make up for a journey that I lost out a couple of months ago. A visit to the Chandratal lake was due then and is even today, with sordid hopes and gut wrenching travails I shall keep my fingers crossed in lieu of meeting my beloved Himalayas and visiting the Chandratal lake to enjoy its serenity forever… Time may be less, but I hope for making the most out of it and hope the trip is worth it completely. Thanks to Harshil my colleague, who hooked us up with a really great guy, called Amit, who’s part of http://www.himalyanyatra.com/ but a true adventurer at heart! He’s fixed our journey and the ride into Spiti! Hopefully it should be great fun and the experience worth the wait!

For those who don’t know about it, The Spiti Valley is a desert mountain valley located high in the Himalaya mountains in the north-eastern part of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The name “Spiti” means “The Middle Land”, i.e. the land between Tibet and India

Not much for now, but would certainly be back with my tales and sojourns to hopefully enchant all of you and give you a visual delight in the beauty of the landscape as well as the stories that this forbidden valley has in its depth…

Until then, you guys have a good one.

Cheers

@srinistuff