13 reasons, travelers give you to ditch the Valentine’s Day this year…

Feet on the map

japanThe world is always your Valentine! (Picture source: Google Images)

It’s that time of the year again, when the couples are busy expressing their love for each other with strikingly packaged, over-priced red roses, heart shaped boxes of chocolates, tucking gooey Valentine notes in their better half’s lockers or deciding what sized teddy bear would make their better half happy! And the second half of the world, comprising of singles are either cribbing or scowling over “how useless and annoying these couples are!” while secretly walling away in their beds over romantic mushy comedies.

For me, personally it is an awkward day, because I am not single, but I don’t buy the Valentine hype either. As an introvert, it makes me cringe and I wonder if it is too sentimental or just a big fat scam for the commercial world to profit from! While I have nothing against the couples…

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Traversing the Mountains!

One of the most enchanting things in today’s age is the ability to seek unto a divine freedom of the soul!

Many men and women, dream of the clarity that they pursue time after time, especially because they don’t get it in their daily lives. While others, mostly travelers find this aspect of life to be an endless journey. One that is full of clairvoyance, meaning and clarity that others can only imagine.

And what better than the traversing of the mountains, wandering across the horizon to find serenity in nature and introspect, take a peak in your pondering mind. Traveling across the mountains without a clue, without a reason and without connectivity, especially to the rat race that we all take part in on a daily basis. That’s a true reason why I always enjoy hiking, especially in the Himalayas, but even if I’m not in the Himalayas, walking across any mountain range gives me immense pleasure.

One that you can only find when you surrender yourself to the unknown trails, paths, like your destiny that lead you to a mesmerising sunrise, or an enchanting sunset! Traveling across the beauty of organic and natural surroundings without any worldly worries. That’s something that I yearn for, especially when I want to detox, unwind and just completely disappear into the wilderness.

Sometimes I even feel there is a dire need for me to go back into complete dissonance of technology. One that’ll help me attain a nirvana of sorts. I wonder how beautiful every single day would be, with just the nature, a few books, okay maybe a Radio at best to give me company. Imagine the joy of visualising your dreams, settling down and farming on a hilltop, viewing and experiencing the pleasure of sunrise and sunset without having to run for a meeting and or thinking about deadlines!

Someday, that day will arrive soon! Until then, I keep meandering across the world finding the sweet spot, the balance of life between my travels and my work. And it is these mountains that always help me rejuvenate and revive my spirit within, to get back to the grind that will eventually help me get to that ‘Someday’ I’m looking for.

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Rural & Real – Rajasthan at it’s best

Sometimes life has a way of letting you explore some of the best paths in a funniest way possible.

You tend to explore some beautiful rustic paths when you hadn’t even imagined you’d end up doing so. Meandering across the paths of life, some taking you far, some taking you close. Close to your destiny.

I always imagine someday, something’s going to give and I’d be happily dreaming in the mountains, farms and a beautiful life full of enchantments that a traveler, a semi-hippie like me would love to die for!

That’s exactly what my experience with Rural Odyssey was a couple of weeks ago. Some traversing through the wildlife, some experiencing local food, climbing hilltops, and of course a little bit of magic of the forts of Rajasthan! Beauty at it’s best I must say…

We had a really amazing cultural experience in a small village a little away from Jodhpur. A Marwari home, some really down to earth people and boy, should I say some really amazing food! Not to mention an evening musical delight of Rajasthani folk songs, sung by a maestro, a local but internationally acclaimed musician, a certain Sagun Ram!

Add to that was a short visit to Bishnoi village to know an interesting community that laid their lives to protect trees and what principles Bishnoi follow. And of course what better way to experience the wildlife than to get a glimpse of the rich wildlife hidden in desert where we saw a black buck!

Was certainly a good unwind for a long weekend, and most importantly a great start to the new year, with many more trips to come soon hopefully!

Some glimpses of our experience in a short photo essay below!

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Smoking Pure Tobacco like a Bishnoi in a Chillum (Smoking Pipe)

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Camels grazing on cacti in the wild

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The infamous Black Buck, in the wild forests of Bishnoi

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City Dwellers experiencing folk music, dressed like locals! Not the old guy 😉

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Shadows of Music!

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Beauty of Sunset on a hilltop nearby!

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Squirrels Inside Fort Mehrangarh – Goddess Temple

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Fort Mehrangarh as seen from the Fateh Pol view

 

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A glimpse of paradise through the Verandah by the Valley

Mumbai is always on the move! Isn’t it?

At least 90% of Mumbaikars hate the hectic nature of the city!

And most of them certainly admit that if they could, they’d get out of the city at the first chance they’d get.

Every weekend, for folks who want ‘Out’ of the hustle and bustle, are always trying to make a choice on where to go to?

Most places are either filled up with the same crowd, or are far off to do a weekend / long weekend. And have been visited to. That’s when I believe one of the top picks for them and even for folks in Pune for that matter, is Mahabaleshwar, Matheran and Panchgani!

For a change, I decided to take a #midweek break and travel to Panchgani when I was invited to stay over at this beautiful villa, Saffron Stays Verandah By The Valley

Considering it was a midweek break, the travel wasn’t that hectic. To add to that, it was receding monsoon, so the weather up there in Panchgani, was most definitely one to cherish!

Took the early morning bus from Mumbai, and reached Panchgani around noon! That’s how long it’d take for you to travel to this place. That’s the beauty of it!

One of the reasons why I’d decided to visit this place was because of it being a little off beat, surrounded by greenery, vintage yet contemporary and most importantly, the magnificent view that this place had to offer!

 

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The garden with a view!

It’s really delightful especially for a family weekend getaway, or a bunch of friends. I mean, who wouldn’t want to wake up in a  beautiful 2 and a half bedroom villa on the edge of a valley! The first rays of sun  if you’re lucky and don’t have any clouds. Or be it the beauty of the sky to fill your day with brightness.

It’s a quiet location with a rustic yet modern feel to it, especially with the surrounding greenery, the swing to sit on while enjoying a breathtaking view and listening to the sound of the wind whizz past you across the mountains into the valley. A magical experience, certainly helps a city dweller like me to keep my sanity! A must do once every while for sure.

Apart from that the  wooden staircase ascends to a charming mezzanine of dark shiny wood that contrasts with the all white interior. The simplistic interiors speak exude elegance. The colourful throw pillows, bedsheets and flower pots add just the required dash of colour making this villa a very welcoming place.

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Cozy and Comfortable. Just like a second home.

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Perfect place to set your morning cuppa

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Or if you’re sitting with friends/family, this is good too!

The best place to have breakfast in the morning. With the weather that was during the time I stayed there, even if it was a midweek and I had a few things that I had to work on, who wouldn’t want to work out a place like this, sipping on a hot cup of coffee!

A perfect view and a relaxed mind! Nothing more that I could ask for!

Apart from this, the most amazing experience I had at this place was a bonus for me. Especially since I’ve recently took upon the love for organic farming! The local caretaker, Santosh, gave me a tour of the plants/crops he’s already planted in the backyard. But apart from that, he also let me experience farming first hand, much to my delight.

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Caretaker and Farmer Santosh

 

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Some organic red and green chillies already growing in the backyard.

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The farm in the backyard with a drip irrigation set up

The place on it’s own has a magic to it. The garden, the backyard, the experential organic farming bit, the location with a view and most importantly the quiet and peaceful stay! Quite the experience indeed!

Special Note: I was hosted at the Saffron Stays Verandah by the Valley thanks to the guys at Saffron Stays! Apart from the magical experience and the delightful stay, I’ve not got anything in return! In case you want to book the place, you could do it by getting in touch with Saffron Stays. They also have an AirBnB listing, incase you are comfortable booking via AirBnB. 

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The Old Kingdom of Kullu

“A window into the reflection of life, inside my soul lies a deep yearning to climb the peak up above the snow clad mountains of Himalayas! A time will come when I look at that mirror, where I don’t see the reflection at all for I’ll be one with these mountains of glory!”

As we drove past the mountainous reigons of Himachal Pradesh, while most of the mountains, look dry and surrounded by a cold yearning in the beginning of summer, elsewhere in India, it was a pleasant 1-5 degrees centigrades in this quaint little village of Kullu. About 20 odd kms from Manali and the same from Kullu, Naggar, Himachal Pradesh is the quiet little place you would want to visit and if your intention is to just sway away from the crowded places, especially if it’s a long weekend, this is quite the place to be at. It was the capital of Kullu Rajas in 1460! Hence the old kingdom of Kullu, as pointed out by one of my commenters on my previous blog as well. 

Amidst breathtaking forested hills, the Naggar Castle is a magnificent historical edifice. Made of stone and wood, this palace served as the residence of Raja Sidh Singh of Kullu. It was built in AD 1460 in an impressive amalgamation of European and Himalayan architecture. Fireplaces, fitting staircases, and magnificent stone and wood works grace the castle’s interiors.

Here’s some breathtaking pictures from this beautiful place which you can call home, especially if you are in love with the mountains!

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Naggar, Himachal Pradesh, India, Travel Blogger, srinistuff, Srinivas Kulkarni, Himalayan Blogger, Travel Blogger India

Hello Himalayas! Let’s meet again…

It’s been a long wait… And the moment has finally arrived!

After working hard for the last couple of months, especially over almost all the weekends or Saturdays to say the least, this next long weekend is going to be a  much needed break traveling to my favourite destination in the world, eighth year in a row!

While most trips to the mountains are either an escapade across the longwinded journeys of durations beyond 10 days, sometimes, long weekends give that amazing opportunities to just take a glance at the love of your life, give a peck and come back to return to your hustle and bustle of the city life!

Considering the next week is one such long weekend, we thought it would be a great time to say hello to the mountains, spend a few days in the mountains and enjoy the breathtaking views of the snowcapped Himalayas.

This time, we’re off to Naggar, a quaint little village, about 20 odd kilometers from both Kullu and Manali. Considering, it’s also just about the right time where the weather in and around Himachal Pradesh would be pleasant to cold, it’s certainly a good idea to spend some time in here. While, Manali is like a pitstop to most travelers heading to the beautiful locations of either Leh-Ladakh, Spiti Valley or many other sought after destinations in the Northern Himalayas, this village-town was a great find, especially because it’s a little off-beat and also would give us some time to explore Manikaran, which maybe  a little touristy, but right around this time of the year, all the  more beautiful.

So, yeah, come this next week, the plan is to kind of unplug, unwind and settle down with some reading, conversations with friends and pondering over into oblivion while gazing at the snowcapped mountains, spreading grandeur across our lives.

Naggar is a settlement in Kullu district, Himachal Pradesh, India, and it usually falls as a stopover, but is also a great destination because most treks, such as Chandrakheni, Rumsu. Back in the day it was the capital of Kullu Rajas in 1460, the name derived from ‘The Learned Man’

Apart from of course chilling out in Naggar, there are quite a few places, mostly temples which you can visit if you’re interested like Gauri Shankar Temple, Tripura Sundari temple, etc. But a couple of places that are interesting to me are

The Castle, Naggar

Castle Naggar

The Castle in Naggar is of a medieval structure and considered as a prominent tourist spot found nearby Manali. It was constructed in 1460 A.D. by Raja Sidh Singh of Kullu. The castle is of an architecture that is a blend of western and Himalayan style. The castle is strategically located near Beas River and provides 360o view of the surroundings.

The castle houses the Reorich Gallery that exhibits the painting of the well known Russian painter, Nicholas Reorich. Constructed with a blend of stone and wood, the mansion was once the home of the Raja, but was rehabilitated to a rest house in the year 1978.

Naggar Castle was converted into a heritage hotel by Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation that took the charge in late 70’s. This castle turned hotel, offers complete view of Kullu Valley. The castle was constructed of wood and medieval stone with traditional architecture. (Courtesy: Holidayiq.com)

The Roerich Art gallery

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This is a place which is beautifully maintained.A small cottage where the. Ground floor is dedicated for the paintings and the first. Floor displays rooms with the furniture used by the Roerich’s. Takes you back to the old world charm. This place is a must For art and history lovers.

Dagpo Shedrupling Monastery

Dagpo Shedrupling Monastery

This recent addition to the list of attractions in Naggar, was built in 2005 and is home not only to Spirituality and Buddhism but also some of the most breathtaking views and backdrops of the area. The monastery is dedicated to Dalai Lama. (Source: Holidify.com)

Gauri Shankar Temple

Gauri Shankar Temple

This temple, located just below The Castle, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is an important religious center of the town. The historical temple was built in the 11th century and is said to be the last structure of the Gurjara-Pratihara traditions. (Source: Holidify.com)

And of course, if time permits,

Bijli Mahadev near Kullu.

Bijli Mahadev

A good ride for off road seekers and as well trekkers because the way from Naggar to Bijali Mahadev temple leads through cedar, pine forest and goes through top of the ridge of Pirpanjal range. Once you reach in the temple you can have a 360 degree panoramic view of Kullu and Parvati valley.

Hope this turns out to be a really interesting trip!

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Mountains, they’re always, always calling…

  • Every time I look around the corner there’s a new horizon,

  • Every time I look at a peak, my eyes widen!

  • The hope the feeling of surrealism that lasts beyond words we can’t express…

  • One that takes you away, Beyond all that entangled stress!

  • Hope, Dreams, Paradise beyond enchantment!

  • A breath a mile, as we climb this ascent!

Journey to the mountains is always a belief! A belief beyond a shadow of an underdog’s achievement towards glory! A hope, a dream and an experience that we take upon ourselves to feel that exhilarating madness that you derive after you climb the peak and reach the top!

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Snowcapped mountains at Har Ki Dun

Just around this time of the year, I have a strong urge to go back to  these magical, mystical divine creation of nature! A feeling that I cannot, and I do not want to resist as much as I want to! While I took to trekking in the Himalayas about 6 years ago and have been continuing to visit these mountains every year, whether I trek or not, it just feels like yesterday!

Every year, for that little glance, a beautiful peek at the sunrise beyond the mountain or the sunset hovering across the snow capped peaks of the Himalayas, gives me that sense of fulfilment. One that I cannot express in mere words! It’s as if there is another universe in itself and I’m tangled in this undying bond, a delirious and encapsulating feeling of boyhood, a desire to keep playing with a toy!

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Live like a nomad by the rocks, or by the river…

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Magnificence Unexplored!

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Keep your head down and keep walking…

Mountains mean a lot to many, and every one has their story or their connection with the Himalayas! I have many and hope to have some more, each and every year, until I finally decide to be with them forever…

Until then, I’ll keep my head high, hopes to fly and soar by every time they call upon me to pay a visit! Hopefully sometime soon again…