Birhadeeswara Temple, Thanjavur

Enchanting Mysteries of South India

“To traverse beyond the limitations of my mind, I travel to look upon the journey within myself.” With these thoughts, I set off on an adventure of a lifetime. A voyage to the mysterious beauties that unravel the most amazing parts of my country. A travelogue to capture the ‘Incredible India’ down South.

My visit to Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry and Kerala had begun. I had heard from my friends, people didn’t speak anything else but their local languages out there. That made me equally foreign to these lands as anyone else who came from any other country.  To me, this was a challenge and a trip that would be monumental after I had completed it. With solitude on my side, I had decided to explore over 17 superb locations in 15 days. Most importantly, I was going to discover the beautiful culture South India had to offer and document each and every location as a journal on my blog. With a Vernian, inspiration l had to ensure this journey went down in my books as the best one!

It all started with Chennai. From my helpful twitter friends to the conductors and everyone else warmly responding to my requests, helping me out wherever I went in little or broken English they spoke in. Yet always willfully extending their support without any intent but to help me out. With a sultry atmosphere, one I hadn’t anticipated, I started my journey by heading off to Marina Beach. The warm, humid air in Chennai bore a resemblance to the weather that I was used to during the summers in Mumbai. But, in winter, this humidity came to me as a surprise particularly when it was about 20-22 degrees centigrade back home… Nonetheless, my objective was to start off with a beautiful array of sunrise shots to tell a story of this marvel in Chennai! The experience of going to Marina beach, traveling amongst the locals on the train was something I could relate to. Very similar to our Mumbai Locals… Gave me content in the fact that our cities, despite the cultural difference, had a lot in common.

The Marina Beach, Chennai

The rest of Tamil Nadu was a quest for my spiritual journey across the fortresses and temples of the most majestic kinds in the country! From a  mysterious yet wonderful experience in Kancheepuram to satisfying and peaceful tryst with Lord Shiva in Thrichy, every temple had a story of its own. The most appealing temple was, of course, Thanjavur, unique in its own way and its rustic feel gave a  nice ambiance to the story it had to showcase. Different from all the other temples in the state, it had a charm on its own. Ruled by various dynasties from the Cholas to the Nayakas and the Marathas, it gave a completely versatile feel to itself. The grandeur it had was read between the brightness it shone despite the sun setting down upon its face.  Abode to one of the biggest Nandi Statues, the  Brihadeeswara Temple was an enchanting destination.

Birhadeeswara Temple, Thanjavur

                                                  Birhadeeswara Temple, Thanjavur

Then there was Rameshwaram. The same island where existed the famous temple of Lord Rama, the mighty king from Ramayana. This was the same location where an army of millions of apes (vanar-sena) built a bridge made out of floating stones engraved with Lord Rama’s name itself. This bridge built to take the army across the borders of India to the Golden Empire of Lanka and wage an epic battle of great proportions upon the demons of this kingdom.

Inside Rameshwaram Temple

Something you can’t forget in Hindu mythology. A battle that spoke to us of the triumph of good over evil! A battle that till today is considered as a conquest of moral right over plain wrong. It was quite an experience, one that I would never forget.

While Tamil Nadu has its own share of spirituality I also enjoyed the beauty, nature, and wildlife at the most amazing waterfalls ever… I sat in a small canoe or sort of a paddle boat to take the streams of Hogennakalu Waterfalls. A noteworthy place with perennially flowing streams of waterfalls. Off the border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, one can easily reach this place from Salem by bus and literally take a boat towards the Karnataka border on the disputed Cauvery river. With an aquarium and a crocodile rehabilitation center to its attraction, this place certainly is thronged by children, youngsters and elders alike.

Hogennakal Waterfalls

Finally, Tamil Nadu ended with a short visit to the mystical land of Kanyakumari, popularly known for Triveni Sangam, meeting point of the three oceans that surround the peninsular region of our Incredible India. One that envisages the true feeling of being in touch with the spiritual side of yourself. Known for The Swami Vivekananda memorial rock. A place where the great leader attained enlightenment of sort and found bliss within himself. Visiting the most beautiful temples in our country to being overwhelmed by a sense of spirituality my journey across the state of Tamil Nadu truly gave me an understanding of oneness to myself.

Tamil Nadu certainly took a lot of my time and energy due to constant traveling in state transport buses in this rugged sojourn of mine. Whereas, my stay in Pondicherry was one of great relaxation and unwind. A visit that made me realize how time stood still and made me feel like a recluse of sorts in a land of the unknown.

Pondicherry Beach

The highlight of Pondicherry was tasting delicious food of various cultures dished out at the most amazing restaurants in town. From Chettinad food at the Apache Restaurant to French delicacies at the Le Café, Pondicherry was all about living life with the luxury similar to the tastes of most of the Europeans around. Spending three magical days exploring various parts of Pondicherry on a rented motorbike, places like the French Colony, the museum, Auroville and a lot of shopping streets across various parts of the town gave me the feeling of belongingness to that place. Sipping a beer at the beach restaurant at night, listening to the roaring waves in a calm that gave most frenzied thoughts a form of tranquil made me realize what we miss in our caught-in-a-rut kind of life.

Chettinad Food at Apache

Lastly, being in Kerala, God’s own country was like being in heaven itself. A boat ride in the backwaters of Kerala got me close to nature and made me believe in what their lifestyle stood for… Very quiet, peaceful and serene… The melodious sound of birds chirping in the background and a real feeling of standstill told me a lot about how people loved and lived life in this paradise.

Kerala Backwaters

One of the most memorable trips within Kerala would be my infamous boat ride from Kottayam to Alaphuzza. It’s listed as one of the recommended things to do by Lonely Planet Magazine. From the start, it was memorable especially after gorging on the sumptuous Malabari Parota with Kadala Curry.

Malabari Parota & Kadala Curry

What a way to start off a journey across the Venice of Kerala. Going to Venice has always been my dream… Until I get there, I have to make do with this one! A notable thing we did on our way back was to stop by at the very famous RBLOCK Island. We ate some good food and had local coconut palm beer, also known as Toddy… This Island was manmade by over 5000 villagers led by Mr. Baker. This was done in order to get more land to cultivate paddy… A fantastic place for you to take a pitstop and eat some delicious food.

Lastly, I couldn’t ask for anything better than finishing my trip with a visit to Fort Kochi, a place that will be etched in my memories for its diversity and remarkable beauty, especially with its blend of cultures and religions. The Jew Street and the Paradesi Jewish Synagogue… gave me a mesmerizing feel of being in a place of some rarity. You will find a very different setting out here and experience a different feeling while walking on this street. The Paradesi Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations. Then there are the Chinese Fishing Nets, with magnificent fixed installations for an unusual form of fishing makes for great photographs.

Chinese Fishing Nets

The end of my expedition. Traveling around, wandering like a nomad for 15 days. A feeling of bittersweet told me that my journey was over, just like the setting sun when I left Fort Kochi. Indeed at the end of that 15th day, I felt like Phileas Fogg, whose surmounting adventure had successfully come to a fulfilling end. One that I will cherish forever until I come back to soak it in yet again…

P.S This is my writing sample to Glimpse‘s ‘Correspondent Program for Fall 2011‘, Also the shortened version of it is my submission to WorldNomads Travel Writing Scholarship for 2011 which can be read here

Sandakphu: Across the Indo-Nepal Himalayas

One of the most brilliant sights across any landscape is the sight of Mountains reaching out to great heights across clouds! While I’m an avid mountaineer, trekker and have great aspirations one day to reach out to many mountains across the world, especially Everest Base camp and with Nepal’s Namche Bazaar being on my bucket list for certain, I’m yet to explore Nepal to the fullest. However, my first experience of Nepal was a mere glimpse of the beautiful and chivalrous mountains across the Indo-Nepal border on my Sandakphu trek in Darjeeling.

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Yes, I can say that ‘technically’ I’ve been to Nepal, and boy, it has been quite a brilliant expose so far. This was back in November 2011, when I decided to take a trek with Youth Hostels Association of India into Sandakphu, the route to which was interspersed with entry and exit points across a few villages up the hills in Nepal. Specifically Jaobari and Kalipokhari. And while one may say, that’s hardly any experience in Nepal, I might beg to differ and have a completely amazing experience of the beauty those desolate places had to offer me. One thing that this trek offered, when you reach the topmost point in Sandakphu, was a glimpse of Mt. Everest and a closer view of Kanchenjunga.

Our first stop at a point where we entered into Nepal was at a small pit-stop in Tumling. Though not proper Nepal, this region was quite a charm when it came to serenity and the most amazing food they served here. The evening was quite chilly and fog set in even as we reached there in the evening. But that did not deter us from going out for a short walk and exploring a bit of Tumling. Once we did that, we had amazing dinner prepared by Neela Di, the camp leader, a glorious entrepreneur who ran the camp lodge all by herself. This is a common sight you get to see in North East, Himalayas and Nepal regions. Most of the setups are managed very efficiently by the women of the house while husbands are mostly Sherpas. After dinner, we were joined by a couple of guides one of whom was really good at playing the guitar and he played some amazing Nepali songs while we hummed along.

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What was even more wonderful was the glimpse of a very early sunrise at 5.30 AM. Though the clouds and the mountains tried their best to hide the sun, the tinge of a yellowish orange sky made for one of the best views I’d ever seen across these mountains.  A much-needed refresher for the journey up ahead on Day 2. That was the time when we had to scale a daunting climb, to take us into Kalipokhari. While there is a lot of effort you might need to take as soon as you move beyond Jaobari, another small village across Indo-Nepal border, you’ll realize that the most amazing landscapes of the young mountains will give you a sense of serenity that you would not really experience anywhere else. On your way, the Jaobari monastery is quite a small and melancholy stop, which will get you to think, how peaceful this region is.

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After trekking for 4-5 hours, when we reached a pit-stop, we decided to stop over at a small place, which served amazing food and great mint tea. While I’m not a big fan of mint tea or tea as much, I decided to try out the Nepalese instant noodles. This was their answer to Maggi. ‘Rum Pum’ as it’s called.

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That was our last stop before we actually reached the Black Lake a.k.a Kalipokhri! It is believed that Nepalese villagers worship the black lake and no one is allowed to take a swim or a dip in this lake. The temperature was freezing and it was already evening as we approached this village.

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Once we settled down, we sat by the fire inside the kitchen and started mingling with the locals. So much so, that we even had a chance to listen to Nepalese radio channel, Koshi FM. Some were Hindi songs, and some Nepalese! Was fun tuning into the radio as we had our grub.

There was an interesting structure is like an indication of the Indo-Nepal border, with the right side being Nepal and the Left being India. This was at the entrance to our camp in Kalipokhari. The weather in Kalipokhri gave quite the chills. Freezing as it was, we certainly felt the pinch even when we had to step out of our wooden cottages to go have dinner in the hall. Our saving grace was that we didn’t have to wash our hands with cold water. There was provision for warm water and that was something all of us desperately desired for, after having dinner.

After a tiring hike and extremely fatigued run of this last stretch of uphill mountains one could only feel joy and glory when we saw that flag flying high. We knew we had reached Sandakphu. Post lunch we explored a couple of places on the Nepal side of Sandakphu. A Buddhist Monastery near a Shiva Temple and a small pond of water.

One that never dries. This is near the Buddhist monastery of Nepal part of Sandakhpu. This is apparently the head of the river Maahi, a very famous river of Nepal that never dries. This well or a small pond as they’d call it is perennial.  Once we were done visiting these places, we headed towards the top and after a short walk, and a bit of rock climbing we moved to the top where the beautiful view of both the mountain ranges awaited us. Unfortunately, the mist and fog didn’t allow for that to happen and we were a tad disappointed. However, our walk across the trails within some really amazing landscapes across the border into Nepal was a journey I’ll never forget. Walking across the silent hills within the woods, gave an enchanting feeling of bliss amidst the fresh air with dry leaves crunching beneath your feet to indicate your beautiful journey across the path.

Post lunch we went to the highest point in Sandakphu, another 1 or 2 Kms walk where the beautiful view of both the mountain ranges awaited us. Unfortunately, the mist and fog didn’t allow for that to happen and we were a tad disappointed. However, our walk across the trails within some really amazing landscapes across the border into Nepal was a journey I’ll never forget. Walking across the silent hills within the woods, gave an enchanting feeling of bliss amidst the fresh air with dry leaves crunching beneath your feet to indicate your beautiful journey across the path.

Sandakphu

Even though it was foggy, the beauty of it was in the amazing feeling we got there on top. That’s the spot, the highest peak on Sandakphu. 3600 Meters around 14000 feet! Our trek is finally complete. Well, at least the climbing. After which was mostly going back to Darjeeling, and downhill.

Overall from whatever experience I had had of the glimpses of Nepal so far, one thing I felt was most certainly a feeling of utmost magic, something that I had never experienced so far. A beautifully fulfilling experience if anything I may add. I can only imagine what other parts of Nepal may have to offer, if the glorious mountains across Sandakphu, Kalipokhari and Jaobari were this beautiful.

5 Himalayan Destinations to Retire to

One of my goals obviously is to one day, live in the land of the lama, the Himalayan Odyssey and probably start my own farm and have a BnB along with @feetonthemapto host world travelers! And host trekkers to some of the most amazing treks in the Himalayas.

No matter how much I write about this beloved destination that I adore, there’ll never be enough to express the awe-inspiring, breathtaking, beautiful wonders that the Himalayan Mountain Range brings to all!

While trekking within the Himalayas during the summer is quite a popular thing to do, there are many other ways to enjoy the magical spirit of the mountains – especially if you aren’t an ardent mountaineer, a huge trekking enthusiast or an avid lover of walking across the mountains.

For starters, you could try experiencing the beautiful serene towns that lie at the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains, and these five are my recommended.

1. Joshimath, Uttarakhand

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Joshimath – Very close to scenic northwest Himalayan destinations such as Chopta, Valley of Flowers, Vasudhara falls, Auli, Rudraprayag.

The city of Joshimath serves as a good base to explore the mountains and smaller towns across the North Western Himalayas in the Garwhal and Kumaon regions. If you drive 250km southwest, you will get to the holy town of Rishikesh and Haridwar, a glimpse of the beautiful escapades in the Uttarakhand Himalayas. From this place, you can drive up to Govind Ghat, which is the base for the trek to the Valley of Flowers National Park. 20km away is also the beautiful skiing resort in Auli. Auli is known to be a skiing paradise in the Kumaon Himalayas. If not for skiing in the winters, this place makes for spectacular views and a ride on the cable car ropeway is quite fun even during summers. With a sneak peek towards many beautiful regions within North-Western Himalayas, this is the perfect spot to snuggle up and relax if you want a peaceful retreat away from the madness of cities.

 

2. Leh, Jammu, and Kashmir

Leh was the capital of the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh. It now forms part of the Leh district in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir. Though this is a huge stretch and has beauty varied with geographical diversities, it is more popular for its road trips on high altitudes, and the view of the expansive and different landscapes it has to offer. More importantly, the lakes and waters of this place make for magnificent viewings. On one side, there’s Tso Moriri and on the other side by the India-China border is Pangong Tso Lake. If it were up to me, I’d just go and settle down in this beautiful haven. With beautiful monasteries, the highest motorable road and the cold deserts of the Nubra Valley, Leh has a lot to offer and makes for a great stay especially during the months of July to October. What’s more, there are direct flights to Leh from Delhi, making the commute a lot easier.

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A view from Khardungla Pass. One of the highest 

 

3. Kaza, Himachal Pradesh

Situated in the Western Himalayas, Kaza is the gateway to the forbidden valley of the Great Western Himalayan Kingdom, known as the Spiti Valley. While getting there is an arduous task without any direct flights and the roads being one of the most dangerous in the world, once you’re there, the experience makes up for all the bumps and backaches you’ll incur on your journey there. Check out the views across Rohtang Pass and the short hike to Chandertaal Lake, and yes, once you’re there, the opportunity to visit one of the coldest villages in the world, Kibber, at 14,200 feet is the most blissful experience you’ll ever discover. One of the most spectacular views is of a gorgeous tall statue of Buddha sitting in the middle of nowhere, looking out onto the majestic mountains. The feeling you get out there is nothing short of magical.

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The entrance of Spiti Valley – Losar

 

4. Darjeeling, West Bengal

Known as the Queen of Hill Stations, Darjeeling is one of the prettiest towns in the North East Himalayas. As soon as you near the town, you’ll start to see the views of Kanchenjunga Peak. But there’s more to this place than just that view which almost sits in the background no matter which part of town you’re in. Darjeeling has some amazing restaurants, beautiful vantage points and a splendid ambiance with its rustic Victorian legacy having served as a British hill station in the past. Wake up early at 4am for a visit to Tiger Point for a stupendous view of the sunrise. On your way back down, you can visit the Ghoom Monastery, Japanese Pagoda which has some really amazing statues of Buddha in different poses.  Darjeeling is also famous for its teas, so stop by for a cup of Darjeeling tea as you view the sunset on the terrace of the century-old Keventer’s Café.

 

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The misty mountains and a Hot cup of Darjeeling Tea: Retirement 101

5. Mcleod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh

If you want to experience cool weather all year round, complete with chilly breezes, magical misty roads, and some serious time and space to think about the meaning of life, then you’d want to head to Mcleod Ganj. Located in the suburb of Dharamshala, it is also home to the Dalai Lama’s Temple known as Tsuglagkhang Temple. The town is also nicknamed “Little Lhasa” due to the large population of Tibetans living there. For me, a visit to the temple during prayer times was an enchanting experience. Whether you believe in any form of God or not, the spiritual journey is something that you’ll cherish for quite a while. The town center gets crowded due to the hoards of tourists that come from all over the world to catch a glimpse of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, but you can quietly slip away to a small part of town called Naddi. It’s quiet, beautiful and serene here.

The ever foggy McLeodganj…

The ever foggy McLeodganj…

 

 

Seeking solace beyond the wilderness

One of the beauties of the Mountains is they don’t ask you a thousand questions! For someone who seeks solace, the right place to do so is beyond the wilderness!

One can easily get lost in the sheer pleasure beyond any boundaries, closer to nature and to an ambitious height one can see without having to soar the skies. That is what the mountains do to me, more often than none. Hopefully soon, would want to go into this wilderness without any worries. And that’s probably when I’ll rekindle my first love, for writing, hopefully, catch up on some sojourns and lost time… Until then, here’s what I am thinking of today…

For the joy in traversing these mountains,

Sometimes I take pride in scaling them, the other time

I wander into the clouds where no one sees the sunshine!

It’s maybe here that I find my solace

Sometimes in Joy

Sometimes in sadness

Mountains never seem to disappoint

The adrenaline rush is sheer madness!

 

 

The luxurious travails of the Queen of Hills

“The best thing about travel plans is when they don’t work out” The Sleeping Buddha

This is not the first time that travelers like me have been stranded, lost or changed plans cause of reasons unforseen.

There was this time when we were coming back from Lahaul Spiti, and got caught in a landslide, resulting in us camping out for 3 days across the banks of River Beas!

Or the other time when we expected a trek to be over and done within 4-5 hrs, but all thanks to the rain gods, it took us 7 hrs to reach to the top and we had to sleep at night in a cave amidst squealing rats and ice cold weather.

Compared to these situations, what we got this time around when we visited Darjeeling and Kalimpong was a breeze… And interestingly, this trip to Darjeeling was also because of a plan that got changed last minute. You might have read my earlier post about an escapade to the land of Monpa people, unfortunately cause @feetonthemap getting sick, we avoided going to the altitudes of enchanting divinity and settled for the ‘Queen of Hills’

The last time I’d been to Darjeeling in the beautiful clear and magnificent backdrop of an insanely clear sky, we could see The Sleeping Buddha. Hoping for the same, and our undying love for the Himalayas, we thought this was the best and the closest location, considering our flights to Guwahati had been already booked.

What we didn’t anticipate, rather the country even, was things were going down real bad in West Bengal, especially Darjeeling and Kalimpong due to the political unrest between WB government and local Gorkhaland administration.

Even as we drove from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling, we saw huge posters welcoming Mamta Banerjee, CM of West Bengal, who was in town for a commemorative function.

The landscape was much different now than the last time I was there in the early winter of 2011! The clear sky was replaced by the brimming clouds kissing mountain tops and engulfing The Sleeping Buddha in its enchanting glory.

The plans to take a walk in the town, sipping coffee over breakfast atop terrace cage Keventers viewing Kanchengunga were replaced with sipping coffee at the Rodhi Resort viewing the monsoon clouds of the Queen.

Instead of walking in the town and the crowds, we were fortunate to take a stroll across the magnanimous landscapes with backdrops such as this.

Being in a destination, staying in the hotel room is itself an experience of its own. A staycation replaced by a vacation all thanks to circumstances.

Beyond Darjeeling and a couple of days of such magnificent views, we were in for another treat when we moved on to Kalimpong… Even though getting there was as scary as being in a climactic scene in a thriller. Driving in the rains at midnight to get to The Sinclair’s Resort in Kalimpong was a hellish but needed experience.

And then of course, we were in for a treat!

With great views, amazing food, luxurious and spacious rooms with little connectivity to the world, we had all the time to ourselves, mostly relaxing enjoying views like these, spending some time watching movies together, reading books, writing some and of course sleeping, a whole lot.

For those who live luxury, and are in Darjeeling or Kalimpong Sinclair’s is the perfect getaway! One of the best to indulge in especially if you are crave for utmost comfort. Not to mention the other activities you may indulge in such as swimming, fitness and spa!

All in all it was a great staycation outside the hustle and bustle of Mumbai, one that I wouldn’t mind taking up again.

Tawang: Land of the Monpa People

In a couple of weeks, we’ll be off to explore another magnanimous Himalayan destination. Tawang, in Arunachal Pradesh.

This destination has been on my list ever since I kindled my love for the rustic parts of the Himalayas! One of the most interesting things about the beauty of these mountains is, no matter how many times one visits the magical paradise, no matter how much time you spend there, you are bound to seek out more. The thirst for exploring wilderness amidst these peeks is never quenched.

It’s not an easy task, mind you, whether you’re trekking the high altitude snow tops or for that matter driving or moving around on the slithery roads of the highest motorable roads in the world the adrenaline rush is one that compounds the thrill of being in the company of enchantment.

That’s what I’m looking out for when my travel partner Feet on the Map and I will head out in a couple of weeks to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh! Thanks to Ride And Climb Adventure, we’re hoping to get an experience of a lifetime.

From what I’ve heard so far, Tawang certainly seems to be one of the popular yet less explored and so called off-beat locations! One where you’d ideally visit ‘luxuriously’ with whatever little luxury you can afford in such high altitudinal locations.

Not that you don’t get material comfort, but I never was the one that seeks that, Tawang is a land known for it’s Tibetian heritage, Buddhist monasteries and of course the beautiful lakes and majestic mountains!

Tawang was historically part of Tibet inhabited by the Monpa people. The Tawang Monastery was founded by the Merak Lama Lodre Gyatso in 1681 in accordance with the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, and has an interesting legend surrounding its name, which means “Chosen by Horse”.

The sixth Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyatso, was born in Tawang. In fact, when the 14th Dalai Lama fled from Tibet to escape from Chinese army, he crossed into India in 1959 and spent some days at the Tawang Monastery before reaching Tezpur in Assam… I realized this when I’d watched a beautiful movie called Kundun on His Holiness!

A good destination like this must have a great itinerary and interesting places to visit. While we’d be visiting most places, and be off the grid for a whole week. While there are plenty a places that we’ll visit and pass through, I’ve already made up my mind on what places are going to entice me spiritually and of course scratch the traveler’s itch within me.

Tawang Monastery: A Tibetan Buddhist Monastery of the Gelugpa sect – constructed in 1681. It was the birth place of the celebrated 6th Dalai Lama, and is home to more than 500 lamas.

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Tawang Monastery

Bum La: The Bum La Pass is located about 37 km away from Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, at the Indo-China border above 16,500 ft above sea level. This is an old traders road went from Tawang via Milakatong La Pass (La in Tibetan is pass) to Bum La Pass and finally to Tsona Dzong in Tibet province of China. This area is heavily guarded by Indian Army and one need to obtain Protected Area Permit (PAP) to visit this place. PAP can easily be obtained with the help of travel agents in Tawang.

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Indo-China border at the Bumla Pass

P.T.Tso Lake: This lake is situated above Tawang and is frozen for about 4-5 months of a year. One can hire a local vehicle and go to this lake. The lake itself is splendid as well as the views from the lake are also unbelievable.

Nuranang Falls: About 100 metres high, these falls are located in the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh, India. It is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in this part of the country, yet is unknown to many travelers. It lies some 2 kilometres away from the town of Jang on the road connecting Tawang and Bomdila, so it is also known as the Jang Falls. There is a small hydel plant located near the base that generates electricity for local use. The Nuranang river originates from the Northern slopes of the Sela Pass. Just below the waterfall it falls into the Tawang river.

Jang Falls, Arunachal Pradesh, Tawang

Bomdila Monastery: And of course on our way back to Guwahati, the visit to Bomdila monastery is a must. A home to Buddhist Lamas and monks at Bomdila in the west Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh. The colorful land of Bomdila, which lies amidst the graceful Himalayan ranges at a height of 8500 feet above the sea level, is the headquarter of the western Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh.

The small and beautiful land of Bomdila is an attractive destination for the tourists from all across the globe, who come here to get themselves pampered by the mother nature and have a closer look of Indian culture, Buddhist tradition and hospitable locales of the north eastern India. An ideal place for trekking, the land of Bomdila and its culture is under a strong Tibetan cultural and traditional influence, and therefore, also nests many Gompas or monasteries.

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Now begins the 2 week wait and hopefully ends in an eagerly awaiting trip to the land of the Monpa People! And of course, once the journey’s over, hopefully I’ll have many a stories to tell…

Oriental Delight – Hong Kong’s finest chow!

Best of All, it’s in Hong Kong!

Indeed it is, especially when it comes to its cuisine, especially during your family vacation. Hong Kong truly is a place where all foodies can gorge on something or the other to their liking.

No matter which country you live in, if you’re traveling abroad with your family, then a dinner table or a breakfast table is where we all come together for delicacies galore. A large family meal whether it’s at a large table at a dim sum restaurant on a weekend morning or enjoying dinner in a local restaurant it’s always an hour spent in togetherness. Be it grandparents, parents, children and even kids, everyone loves food in Hong Kong.

While I may not yet have taken a journey across the “Pearl of the Orient”, I’ve heard many a tales of a place, which reflects the impressive nightscape of the city’s light decorations on the skyscrapers along both sides of the Victoria Harbor.

One to beautifully enjoy, sitting in one of the finest dining places across Asia’s world city. The closest I could come to eating Hong Kong cuisine was in Lau Pa Sat, somewhere in Singapore where you’ll find a bunch of cuisines across South East Asia, come together under one roof.

That’s when I realized the chow in Hong Kong must be tried after all! So here’s a list of cuisine that I would call a mighty delight, especially when one’s down in Hong Kong!

The famous Tai Cheong Bakery

Tai Cheong Bakery Hong Kong

If you’re into baked food and particularly fond of egg tarts, then this is the place, even though there’s going to be quite the crowd here, the egg tarts here are worth the queue! Tai Cheong Bakery located around Lyndhurst Terrace in Central, is a must visit for all its baked delicacies. Not to forget for its very eggy-flavoured custard.

Deliciously notorious Pineapple bun of the Kam Wah Café

Kam Wah Cafe

Although the cafe is small, just like any typical char chan tengs in Hong Kong so do not be taken aback by the cramped surroundings and the need to share a table. Cause the food here according to many is worth everything.

Traditionally, a pineapple bun contained no pineapple and earned its name because its chequered top resembles the skin of a pineapple. The top half of the bun is made from cookie-type dough, while the bottom is made from Chinese-style bread dough, which tends to be softer and sweeter than Western bread. To eat it like a local, make a slit in the middle and insert a thick slice of cold butter for instant guilty pleasure. This is known as ‘bo lo yau’ (‘pineapple oil’). Kam Wah Café, churns out a batch every 10 minutes in the morning — a testament to their popularity. It’s located in Bute Street, close to Prince Edward MTR station, Kowloon.

Fishballs for the Sea Food lover in you

Fishballs Hong Kong

Whether it’s late night street food or great restaurants, delicious food is never hard to find in Hong Kong. But some places in Hong Kong, are only known for their special kind of cuisine especially better than fancy restaurants, from what I hear. One such eating spot in Hong Kong is Tai Po. It is located in the New Territories, around 40 minutes by MTR from Central, but it is well worth the visit because it has some of the most delicious food in Hong Kong from what I’ve read.

Almost every one in Hong Kong has a favorite fish ball vendor. Bouncy and fluffy, the best Hong Kong-style fish balls are made with freshly ground fish paste, hand-beaten and slammed to springy perfection. Best enjoyed on a stick with spicy curry sauce, or over rice noodle soup in a specialty restaurant. Hong Kee and Yum Kee, both of which have over 40 years’ history, with fish ball noodles being the only item on their menu. Closest to Tai Po, Market station on the MTR.

Delicious Dim Sums to melt your heart away.

A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, they say. This dish literally does!

A popular family get-together meal, dim sum means ‘touch your heart’ and with as many as 150 items on a restaurant menu, and 2,000 in the entire range, it is a challenge to not find something you love.

There are snack-sized portions of pan-fried, deep-fried, and baked foods served in bamboo containers designed to be eaten communally and washed down with tea. Hence, going for dim sum is known as yum cha, which literally means ‘drinking tea’.

Dim Sums Hong Kong

The unique culinary art dim sum originated with the Cantonese in southern China, who over the centuries transformed yum cha from a relaxing respite to a loud and happy dining experience. In Hong Kong, and in most cities and towns in Guangdong province, many restaurants start serving dim sum as early as five in the morning. It is a tradition for the elderly to gather to eat dim sum after morning exercises. For many in southern China, yum cha is treated as a weekend family day. More traditional dim sum restaurants typically serve dim sum until mid-afternoon. However, in modern society, it has become commonplace for restaurants to serve dim sum at dinner; various dim sum items are even sold as take-out for students and office workers on the go.

If you’re in Hong Kong then, one must visit Lin Heung Tea House, a century-old joint that’s among the few left that still uses dim sum trolleys. Closer to Wellington Street, it’s again located in Central, Hong Kong Island.

Nothing beats Pizza with a view, especially with your family!

So of course, if you are out of India, with your family, then there’s always that moment when you want to try something closer to home. Okay, maybe not Indian food, but we always try to get something that your taste buds are generally used to. For a lot of us in the family, a Pizza always does the trick! And it’s a hassle free ordeal for the vegetarians in the family. So what if you could top it off with a beautiful view of the harbor?

Harbour View Hong Kong.png

Yeah, Pizza Express near the Ocean Terminal on Canton Road is your place to go to for sure. Decent pizza, great view, amazing food, what more do you want? If you go in the evening, then make sure you grab a window seat for yourself around 7.00 PM to catch the light show up close. And more importantly, the kids will love this place especially the desserts!

Oh and not to mention, this summer, Hong Kong celebrates 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and to celebrate this special offers are available to all Hong Kong visitors from 1st April, 2017 onwards. I guess, that’s why they say, this summer, Best of All, it’s in Hong Kong! 😉

Have you been to Hong Kong yet? Have you tried their cuisine yet? Any other items, a must eat? Tell me in comments! 

Disclaimer: This post has been written in collaboration with Hong Kong Tourism Board.