Monthly Archives: February 2012

Bishal Singh – Pride of India!

Indian Army, Pakistan, India Pakistan, Kargil, Border Military, Armed Forces, Border, Air Force

Bishal Singh

It was my first trip ever to Darjeeling. One of the best hillstations of the country, no wonder it’s called ‘The Queen of Hillstations’ After a tiring 36 hours of train ride in one of the worst trains that I ever sat into, my this journey was certainly one of the worst ever if you consider the quality of the travel, the amount of time spent in the train and the worst toilet arrangements. Started from Old Delhi, possibly one of the stinkiest stations in our country to the North East of India towards New Jalpaiguri. Sad to say that, but Old Delhi station did need improvement and has been for ages. To add to that, I was sitting in Mahananda Express. Before I boarded, my fellow passengers who welecomed me with a grin, looking at my backpack and fancying me for a ‘so called adventure traveler’ had already warned me cheekily that this train will reach NJP next year. A couple of them were regular travelers.

But I told them smilingly at that time that it doesn’t matter as long as I reach the destination… And after all I always keep telling everyone now don’t I, ‘It’s all about the journey and not the destination.’ So yes, they were right, being regular travelers and I was wrong this time around… I did more than a few times think about the destination and when we possibly would reach there… Frustrated at times, toilets didn’t have water, food wasn’t that good, a lot of time was spent sitting on top reading or just lazying around…

After arduous and laborious journey of 36 hours, we managed to reach, but we reached at midnight. Which meant, the hopes of the jeep that we had to take from New Jalpaiguri to go to Darjeeling was as thin as ray of light… Maybe even slimmer. So a few of us decided to head to a lodge, split the cost and move next day…

While we didn’t enjoy one bit of our journey and a couple of them were cribbing about the whole problem we went through, there wasn’t much we could do. All we did was enjoy the dinner, which by the way was a saving grace. ‘All you can eat’ for a paltry 40 bucks per plate… We were so impressed that the next day, when we decide to set for Darjeeling we had breakfast there again, though we were disappointed that breakfast wasn’t eat all you can. After all, every day isn’t a Sunday and of course, they also need to do business to serve people like us.

Anyways, now comes the most interesting part of the story. After all the trouble we had gone through I decided to take a jeep to Darjeeling while the fellow passengers headed in another direction taking a bus. I was waiting in the Jeep when I met this lean and atheltic guy. Wearing an olive green, track suit jacket on top of khaki pants he wore green spotted military canvas streakers.. Looking at his outfit I could immediately figure out that he most certainly was from the Army. Yes a lot of times, there are people who wear such outfits or caps for décor, but looking at his spic and span outfit and the way he carried himself, my mind was sure that he was a defense personnel.

While we both waited for the driver to get in more people in the jeep, I started talking to him. He introduced himself to me with a smile on his face. Very down to earth and most certainly looked like someone who was content with his life. He told me his name, Bishal Singh, from Section 2 IC of the Indian Army. He said that with a hint of pride gleaming in his eyes.

“Aap kahaan posted ho?,” Where are you posted I asked him, trying to find out

“Kargil, No Man’s Land near the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir” he said.  One of the dangerous terrains, facing war threats day in and day out. He lived life by the minute, hour and days…

“Now I’m on a leave, going to meet my family in Darjeeling.”

“Nice.” I said with a smile. It must always be a great feeling for soldiers to get such leaves. He had taken a leave after two years and it showed with the smile he had on his face.

“I can’t imagine how difficult it would be.” I said in Hindi…

He just smiled.

Many of you might have seen the ‘Shiachen glacier’ in a national anthem played in one of the theatres in the country. Yes, the Bharatabala productions of national anthem that brings goosebumps to your entire body. Bishal, told me that he was posted there a few years back. He told me about the stories of how they just have to patrol for a few hours, cook their own food, exercise in that biting cold, cook for others, do rounds of the entire area and scout for any dangers if emminent. He also shared with me how hard it is to even find anyone to talk to. How hard it is to even breathe, due to the freezing below 0 degrees centigrades. But now, he was happy that he got time off to visit his parents and his brother in Darjeeling. At the end of the conversation, everything just made sense to me. The problems that we faced were like a miniscule drop of water from the very ice that surrounded his tents for more than 6 months. Suddenly it all made sense to me. I was awe inspired by the amount of overwhelming sense of appreciation I had now for life.

Here I was cribbing about a 36 hour journey and the pitfalls of not having water to clean myself while there was the Pride of the nation, who took great pains to protect us from those very militants who made a difference to my breath and my life… I truly Salute the Soldier who makes our lives worth living each and every moment of the day! Jai Hind! What do you think?

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Murudeshwara – Lord Shiva’s Magnificence at it’s best…

So it had been my desire to visit this place for quite a while now. The last time I was near Murudeshwara was when I had stopped by over a long weekend, a ride taken to visit Gokarna. Too bad, I didn’t realize back then that it was hardly 70 kms from Gokarna. So I had made it a point to ensure that this visit happened this year. And thankfully, it did happen. I had planned a trip in Karnataka, specifically off the locations that had interesting stories with regards to it’s grand mythological and historical references. A seed had been planted in my head, after reading Dr. Devdutt Patnaik’s books on mythology. I was all the more fascinated and had read two books of his on Lord Shiva. A belief doesn’t become stronger unless you have corroborated stories or beautiful understanding about any subject. That’s when I realized that this trip was going to be even better.

Night Train to Murudeshwara

A night’s journey in the Matsyagandha Express was smooth as I traveled sleeping like a log and woke up to realize Murdeshwar had already arrived at 4.30 in the morning. I had anticipated that I’d reach there early in the morning, but had not thought about what I’d do after reaching there so early. Having said that, as always, I tried my luck in the Railway quarters, only to realized there was one room available and there were a middle aged couple along with me who had to visit someone in the town and I decided to go into the waiting room and sleep some more before I headed to the temple.

Fresh early morning cold with beautiful breeze certainly enchanted my mind and made me realize that my week long tour of Karnataka had already begun. After taking a short nap for an hour, I decided to stroll near the station and see what’s around. Silent as a grave, yet serene, the railway station was quite a beauty. I decided to click some snaps of the sunrise which certainly gave solace to the mind.

Sunrise at Murdeshwar Railway Station

Sunrise at Murdeshwar Railway Station

After freshening up, the best thing I could do is get a cup of tea and head towards the temple. But since I didn’t want to carry my backpack, I decided to keep it in the cloak room and come back in the afternoon and collect it. The problem was, my backpack, didn’t have a lock and they wouldn’t accept it. But thankfully, the railway employee suggested that I can keep the bag safe with the canteen guys and collect it later. I picked up my DSLR and my mobile phone with me, after which I didn’t have any valuables and I felt free to keep the bag with him. Nonetheless, the best part about travelling across South India, is that more often than none, you will encounter really amazing people who would help you out at each step of the way.

So there I began towards the temple, it was hardly 3 kms from the railway station and I decided to walk it up enjoying the early morning breath of fresh air…

Amazingly, Murdeshwar is quite unknown and secluded and hadn’t it been for the second largest statue of Lord Shiva constructed by  the R.N Shetty trust, it’d not be as fascinating as it is or attract so much crowd. Yes there is historical significance of this place connected with the Atma Linga story of Ravana and Lord Shiva. Which is probably why it’s more significant and hence someone took the initiative of building something here. Also, just across the Murdeshwar beach are the Nettrani Islands where you can Scuba Dive, which I’d had to save for later as this was a shoestring budget trip 😉

A fascinating game played in the village

A fascinating game played in the village

While I approached the village and I could see the Lord Shiva statue’s head in the distant horizon, I saw a crowd that had gathered nearby. Just near a small tank near another temple, there was a group of onlookers to this interesting game of fetching the bananas. To begin with, there was a pulley on which a bunch of bananas were attached. On the edge of the tank on top of the wall, a group of young boys, decked with flower crowns waited their turn to jump in the air and try to bring down that bunch. While they tried their best to do so, the person who controlled the pulley tried his best to not let them have it. Enjoying this activity with a playful spirit others were cheering for these boys. While I’m sure there must be some significance, symbolic, religious or historic, when I asked around, very few knew what it was. All I got to know was it was a sacred activity performed by boys of the landlord’s family. My best guess is that these boys were entering into adulthood and this is a significant symbol of them trying to fight for the price catch (Metaphorical: A wife, materialistic life, food for themselves, responsibilities) well that was my best guess.

Murdeshwar Beach's Serenity

Murdeshwar Beach’s Serenity

As I walked past the village, and reached closer to the Temple, I could see the Murdeshwar beach in the vicinity and it was truly beautiful. Something that gave joy to my sight and peace of mind to my soul. The next thing was to of course, visit the temple itself and then behind it the Lord Shiva’s Statue…

The Royal Entrance to the Temple -  Rajgopuram

The Royal Entrance to the Temple – Rajgopuram

There is a lift that will take you to the top most floor. All you have to do is pay 10 rupees and wait a bit with other people. But once you go on top, you’ll realize that the wait is worth it… From the top, you can see the Lord Shiva’s Statue, which will give you the top view and that is also very enchanting, with the sea in the backdrop.

Lord Shiva's Statue as seen from the Temple Gopuram

Lord Shiva’s Statue as seen from the Temple Gopuram

Inside, the temple is very serene and there’s ample space for you to just sit and meditate. It’s a blissful experience. But, one of the fascinating things you’ll notice is the Temple’s smaller gopuram has enchanting encryption and engraving which is also gold plated. It contains the entire story of Ravana being tricked by Ganesha with the help of Lord Vishnu in order to protect Lord Shiva’s Atma Linga. (The source of power to immortality.)

After that, to get an up-close and personal view of Lord Shiva himself, I headed to the base of the statue, which has the cave, in which a description of the entire story of how Murudeshwara became a significant place in the context of Ravana, Lord Shiva and the Atma Lingam. They also play an audio clip inside the cave, which tells you the story in Kannada and English if I remember correctly.

Lord Shiva's Statue at the base of the temple

Lord Shiva’s Statue at the base of the temple

The Story of Murudeshwara

Ravana's Mother worshipping Shiva's Linga

Ravana’s Mother worshipping Shiva’s Linga

Ravana’s mom just like Ravana, was a stout devotee of Shiva. Also, she knew about the Atma-Linga of Lord Shiva and the powers it could give his son.  The Hindu gods attained immortality and invincibility by worshipping a divine Lingam called the Atma-Linga. She convinced his son Ravana, to pray to Lord Shiva and attain the Atma Linga.

Ravana Promising his Mother

Ravana Promising his Mother

Ravana promised his mother that he’ll seek out Lord Shiva, pray to him and conduct penance but at whatever cost, he’ll get the Atma-Linga

Ravana Praying to Lord Shiva

Ravana Praying to Lord Shiva

Narada goes to Vishnu

Narada goes to Vishnu

By this time Narada had asked Lord Vishnu to change Ravana’s mind. By this time Narada had asked Lord Vishnu to change Ravana’s mind. As a result of this plot, Ravana asks for Goddess Parvati, and Lord Shiva offers her to him.

Ravana asks for Parvati

Ravana asks for Parvati

On his way back to Lanka Narada tells Ravana that Lord had not given him the real Parvathi and that the real Parvathi was in Pathala who was a King’s daughter in the world below the earth.

Narada talking to Ravana

Narada talking to Ravana

So Ravana frees his companion,goes to Pathala and marries a king’s daughter ,assuming her to be the real Parvathi.

Ravana marrying the King's Daughter

Ravana marrying the King’s Daughter

Ravana's mom asks for the Linga

Ravana’s mom asks for the Linga

He then returns to Lanka, where his mother asks him for the Linga. Ravana then comes to know of the tricks played on him by Lord Vishnu.

Ravana Prays for Forgiveness

Ravana Prays for Forgiveness

He therefore prays to Lord Shiva again, begging for his forgiveness. This time, it’s even more difficult to get Lord Shiva’s attention. He then decides to offer sacrifice by cutting his heads.

Ravana cutting his heads as sacrifice

Ravana cutting his heads as sacrifice

Lord Shiva is moved by this dedication and restores his heads. Also when he appears,  Ravana requests the AtmaLinga as his boon. Lord Shiva agrees to give him the boon with the condition that it should never be placed on the ground. If the AtmaLinga was ever placed on the ground, all the powers would return to Lord Shiva again.

Narada approaches Lord Ganesha

‘ Narada approaches Lord Ganesha

Having obtained his boon, Ravana started back on his journey to Lanka. Sage Narada, who came to know of this incident, realised that with the AtmaLinga, Ravana may obtain immortality and create havoc on earth. He approached the Lord Ganesh and requested him to prevent the AtmaLinga from reaching Lanka.

Lord Ganesh knew that Ravana was a very devoted person who used to perform prayer ritual in the evening every day without fail. He decided to make use of this fact and came up with a plan to confiscate the AtmaLinga from Ravana.
As Ravana was nearing Gokarna, Lord Vishnu blotted out the sun to give the appearance of dusk. Ravana now had to perform his evening rituals but was worried because with the AtmaLinga in his hands, he would not be able to do his rituals. At this time, Lord Ganesh in the disguise of a Brahmin boy accosted him. Ravana requested him to hold the AtmaLinga until he performed his rituals, and asked him not to place it on the ground. Ganesh struck a deal with him saying that he would call Ravana thrice, and if Ravana did not return within that time, he would place the AtmaLinga on the ground.

Ravana giving the Atma Linga to the Bramhin Boy

Ravana giving the Atma Linga to the Bramhin Boy

Ganesha places the Atma Linga on the ground

Ganesha places the Atma Linga on the ground

As predicted, before Ravana could return after completing his rituals, Ganesh had already placed the AtmaLinga on the ground. Ravana got angry and in an enraged state, he hit Ganesha.

Enraged he hit the Bramhin boy (Ganesha)

Enraged he hit the Bramhin boy (Ganesha)

Vishnu then removed his illusion and it was daylight again.  Ravana, realising that he had been tricked, tried to uproot and destroy it.

Ravana uprooting the Atma Linga

Ravana uprooting the Atma Linga

Pieces of the Linga

Pieces of the Linga

Due to the force exerted by Ravana, some pieces were scattered. One such piece from the head of the linga is said to have fallen in present day Surathkal. The famous Sadashiva temple is said to be built around that piece of linga. Then he decided to destroy the covering of the AtmaLinga, and threw the case covering it to a place called Sajjeshwara, 23 miles away. Then he threw the lid of the case to a placed called Guneshwara (now Gunavanthe) and Dhareshwara, 10–12 miles away. Finally, he threw the cloth covering the AtmaLinga to a placed called Mrideshwara in Kanduka-Giri (Kanduka Hill). Mrideshwara has been renamed to Murudeshwara.

Quite enchanting and after having spent more than an entire day in this enchanting place, I returned to collect my backpack and take a bus to Bangalore… From there, my next stop was Sravanabelegola! Another ancient and yet very enchanting place full of beauty and history.

When in Rome…

Off late, I’ve been travelling a lot in South India, I’ve been fascinated by some of the really amazing things I’ve come up on my trips. Especially to do with Ancient technology of the humans. Soon, I’ll be speaking at the BarCampMumbai on ‘Ancient Indian Technology’ and that’s when I found some fascinating facts about India that connected Indians to the Romans. While I’m going to solely focus on Ancient Indian technology there, Rome is something that has also fascinated me in terms of Ancient Technology.

Dig this:

1.  Roman trade with India through the overland caravan routes via Anatolia and Persia, though at a relative trickle compared to later times, antedated the southern trade route via the Red Sea and monsoons which started around the beginning of the Common Era (CE) following the reign of Augustus and his conquest of Egypt in 30 BCE.

2. Roman trade diaspora frequented the ancient Tamil country (present day Southern India) and Sri Lanka, securing trade with the seafaring Tamil states of the Chola, Pandyan and Chera dynasties and establishing trading settlements which remained long after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

3. Prior to Roman expansion, India had established strong maritime trade with other countries. The dramatic increase in Indian ports, however, did not occur until the opening of the Red Sea by the Romans and the attainment of geographical knowledge concerning India’s seasonal monsoons.

4. The Romans learnt the number 0 from Ancient India, through Aryabhatta, however detested it, only to accept it later and of course the entire world did.

So, I haven’t traveled abroad as much… and which is when I thought, one of the first places to  get out of this country, As fascinating as it is, the beauty and the ancient culture of Rome would be certainly amazing for me to study and understand. Coming to think of it, what are the top places I’d like to visit in Rome

So here’s what my Bucket List looks like. And without a doubt, it has to do with Ancient Roman Technology, just as fascinating as Ancient Indian Technology.

1. Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius

Statua Marco Aurelio Musei Capitolini Fronte

Statua Marco Aurelio Musei Capitolini Fronte

The Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius is an ancient Roman statue in the Campidoglio, Rome, Italy. It is made of bronze and stands 3.5 m tall. Although the emperor is mounted, it exhibits many similarities to standing statues of Augustus. The original is on display in the Palazzo Nuovo, with the one now standing in the open air of the Piazza del Campidoglio being a replica made in 1981 when the original was taken down for restoration in the Palazzo.

Although there were many equestrian imperial statues, they rarely survived because it was practice to melt down bronze statues for reuse as coin or new sculptures in the late empire. Statues were also destroyed because medieval Christians thought that they were pagan idols. The statue of Marcus Aurelius was not melted down because in the Middle Ages it was incorrectly thought to portray the first Christian Emperor Constantine. Indeed, it is the only fully surviving bronze statue of a pre-Christian Roman emperor.

2. The Colosseum

Colosseum in Rome Italy

Colosseum in Rome Italy

 

The Colosseum, or the Coliseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre (Latin: Amphitheatrum Flavium, Italian Anfiteatro Flavio or Colosseo), is an elliptical amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire. It is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and Roman engineering. Occupying a site just east of the Roman Forum, its construction started in 72 AD under the emperor Vespasian and was completed in 80 AD under Titus,with further modifications being made during Domitian’s reign (81–96). The name “Amphitheatrum Flavium” derives from both Vespasian’s and Titus’s family name.

3. The Tempietto

The Tempietto (San Pietro in Montorio)

The Tempietto (San Pietro in Montorio)

The Tempietto (San Pietro in Montorio), which is an excellent example of Italian Renaissance architecture.  The church is decorated with artworks by prominent 16th- and 17th-century masters. The first chapel on the right contains Sebastiano del Piombo’s Flagellation and Transfiguration (1516–1524). Michelangelo, who had befriended Sebastiano in Rome, supplied figure drawings that were incorporated into the Flagellation. The second chapel has a fresco by Niccolò Circignani (1654), some Renaissance frescoes from the school of Pinturicchio, and an allegorical sibyl and virtue attributed to Baldassarre Peruzzi.

4. Piazza del Campidoglio

Piazza del Campidoglio

Piazza del Campidoglio

Elliptical courtyard with central figure sculpture. At the top of the “Cordonata” steps, also by Michelangelo. A short walk to the south (starting out south-west) from the Piazza Venezia. The bird’s-eye view of the engraving by Étienne Dupérac shows Michelangelo’s solution to the problems of the space in the Piazza del Campidoglio. Even with their new facades centering them on the new palazzo at the rear, the space was a trapezoid, and the facades did not face each other squarely. Worse still, the whole site sloped (to the left in the engraving). Michelangelo’s solution was radical. The three remodelled palazzi enclose a harmonious trapezoidal space, approached by the ramped staircase called the “Cordonata”. Since no “perfect” forms would work, his apparent oval in the paving is actually egg-shaped, narrower at one end than at the other. The travertine design set into the paving is perfectly level: Around its perimeter, low steps arise and die away into the paving as the slope requires.

Well, these are some of the most interesting and fascinating things that I would be interested to visit in Rome.

Kolkata – City of Joy

After the amazing trek to Sanadkphu-Gurdum, this had to be one place that I needed to visit as I was so near… Luckily for me that opportunity was inadvertent. By the time we had finished our trekking, I was supposed to go back home in the Mahananda Express… but as luck would have it, my tickets never got confirmed. I got to know that in Rimbick, and thankfully I had network in Rimbick and decided to make new travel plans. And what better than to finally visit this city which I had on my list for quite a while now… So quickly I booked my train tickets to Kolkata from New Jalpaiguri and fortunately for me, I got confirmed tickets.  And then I was off… With a couple of days to spend in Kolkata, I knew I had my hands full. So decided to make the most of it. 🙂

I reached early in the morning and as soon as I got out of the railway station, I decided to take an auto and head to a nearest guest house or a cheap hotel to stay in. Works best if you are on a short trip. I wasn’t near Howrah side of Kolkata, which means I’d end up missing Howrah Bridge and also had thought of going to the Eden Gardens just to get the feel of the huge stadium, but since the second Test between India and England was being played there, most tickets would have been sold out and I decided I’d rather tour the parts of the city that I could, near my hotel.

My local cab for sightseeing

My local cab for sightseeing

Kali Ghat, Kolkata

Kali Ghat, Kolkata

First stop was, Kalighat Temple.  Kalighat was a Ghat (landing stage) sacred to Kali on the old course of the Hooghly river (Bhāgirathi) in the city of Calcutta. The name Calcutta is said to have been derived from the word Kalighat. The river over a period of time has moved away from the temple. The temple is now on the banks of a small canal called Adi Ganga which connects to the Hoogly. The Adi Ganga was the original course of the river Hoogly (Ganga). Hence the name Adi.

Mother Teresa Home for Sick & Destitute, Kolkata

Mother Teresa Home for Sick & Destitute

Right next to the Kalighat temple is a Mother Teresa Home for the sick and the destitute… This is not a really great sight, and it’s that part of Kolkata one would want to forget but certainly something one should ponder of especially in this country of ours… Worth doing something about…

Roshogolla

Roshogolla

After visiting the temple, I headed to a nearby food joint to munch on Mishti Dohi and some Roshogolla. YUM is just not the word…

Victoria Memorial, Kolkata

Victoria Memorial

Next stop was Victoria Memorial and the City Museum. Spent a lot of time in the museum, with a great and really amazing collection especially of ancient excavations of prehistoric nature, including fossils and Dinosaur ribs and stuff from that time.

Mahavira Statue from early 10th Century

Mahavira Statue from early 10th Century

Tara from 9th Century

Tara from 9th Century

 

 

Having said that, I’m pretty sure another trip to Kolkata is certainly called for, one thing I’d like to do is visit the Howrah bridge and take some snaps at night. That’s certainly on my list and I guess I’ll have to wait for it… which I think is going to be worth it…

Skiing Galore – My fav picks…

A few months back I happened to go to a really amazing destination in North India, Uttarakhand. It was called Auli. Yes, this was during my visit to the Valley of Flowers. While I did write my experience about the place  I also learned that this is a perfect Skiing destination in India. Since that day, Skiing is something on my mind and I’m pretty sure I’d really enjoy it if I get to do it at least once in my life. So, Auli is certainly a place that I’d love to go to Ski in India.  At an altitude of 2915 mts-3049 mts, this is real joy for those interested in Skiing.

Auli Ropeway

Auli Ropeway

Many of you might not know, but is an important ski destination in the Himalayas of Uttarakhand. Auli is known as ‘Bugyal’ in the regional language which means meadow. In fact some French and Australian experts consider Auli to be one of the best ski resorts in the world. Auli although is a lesser known ski destination than Shimla, Gulmarg or Manali, but from what I heard about the place, I’ve decided, next winters, I’m certainly go skiing here.

Having said that I also decided to look for some more destinations across the world to kind of make my list of favorite destinations to go to for, if I were to take a Skiing Holiday.

Here’s what I found:

1Skiing at Alpe d’Huez (France) 

Alpe d'Huez - France, Skiing

Alpe d'Huez - France

Now this is one of the top destinations, one would want to go to in France if you’d want to Ski. Alpe d’Huez is Europe’s top skiing venues. The resort gained popularity when it hosted the bobsleigh events of the 1968 Winter Olympics. With 249 km of piste and 84 ski lifts, the resort is now one of the world’s largest. Extensive snowmaking facilities help fighting the ski area’s largely south-facing orientation and helped Alpe d’Huez appeal to beginner skiers, with easy slopes.

Ski holidays  in Alpe d’Huez has excellent snow records due to the high altitude, the Sarenne Glacier and over 800 snow cannons. The Pique Blanc summit at 3300m affords breathtaking views across the whole of the Southern Alps and provides a wonderful starting point for the Sarenne descent – one of the longest black runs in the world at fully 16km from top to bottom!

2Skiing at Avoriaz (France) 
Avoriaz - France

Avoriaz - France

Avoriaz is a French mountain resort in the heart of the Portes du Soleil. It is located in the territory of the commune of Morzine. It is easily accessible from either Thonon at Lake Geneva or Cluses junction on the A40 motorway between Geneva and Chamonix. Avoriaz is built on a shelf high above the town of Morzine, which is among the pioneering towns of skiing with its first lifts dating back to the early 1930s. Today Avoriaz is one of the major french skidestinations catering for all standards of living, skiing and ranks among the top snowboarding destinations of the world.

Skiing in Avoriaz offer a purpose built, very snow sure resort, the highest in the huge Portes du Soleil – the world’s largest internationally-linked ski area – appealing to skiers and boarders of all abilities. Being traffic free, Avoriaz also appeals to families. The whole resort is easily accessible whether on skis or on foot, and there is a wide choice of shops, restaurants and bars with a varied selection of nightlife.

3Skiing at Davos (Switzerland) 

Switzerland, Davos

Davos

Skiing in Davos give you access to six fantastic ski areas. The skiing in Davos is superb, giving skiers of all levels a vast area of 320kms of world class skiing to play in. Exhilarating stuff! The first “decelerated” skiing area arises here. Relax and enjoy nature at the sunny side of the ski resort of Davos. Gently sloping hills you reach from the center of Davos Platz with the renovated funicular in just four minutes.

4. Skiing in Alpbach (Austria)

Alpbach

Alpbach

Alpbach is a village in Western Austria in the state of Tyrol. There are more than 30 miles of pistes, including a few black runs, but the skiing is generally pleasurable rather than exciting, while the nightlife is cosy and jolly rather than wild. This is a place for families with pre-teens, for couples who want to keep some reserves of energy for the evening, and for beginners. As well as downhill runs, the resort offers snowboarding and cross-country skiing.

These were some of the destinations that I think I’d want to strike off on my bucket list if I were to go skiing worldwide… Wondering why I left it at an odd number of 4, instead of, maybe 5?? Well, you tell me what’s your favorite pick? Maybe that’d be my 5th and final skiing holiday destination 🙂 What say??

Rimbick Basecamp

After having spent more than a week wandering across mountains of Himalayas, with a hope to witness the beauty of the Kanchenjunga we had hoped for a better ending especially when we had reached Sandakphu. Bearing the freezing cold of Sandakphu at 14000 feet was all worth it and could have been a complete experience, had we witnessed to see the Kanchenjunga peaks up close and personal especially from the top most point of that beautiful location. Nonetheless, we salvaged some of the situation after our alighting to Gurdum was truly enchanted by the stay there. Since we got down sooner than on other days, we had a lot more time to spend in Gurdum and we had made the most of it with the beautiful, serene and silent cottage at that camp.

While we did that, we were really hopeful that there was a lot more to the Himalayan trek than just this… Sadly, the time for the trek was about to come to an end. We were to alight to the final destination on this trek after Gurdum camp. Yes, of course, there would be civilization, local markets, hot water to shower, lesser cold and very little clenching of teeth… But that was all worth it when you come up to these heights. A world of it’s own, you began to be enchanted and somewhere deep in your mind make up a world of your own… Something that you would always want to enjoy without having to let go of the experiences that you underwent. We all had that kind of a feeling. The place was much more relaxed, by this time all of us had began to understand each other a lot more. Some had drifted from their regular group and joined others… We had bonded very well in a span of this week… Once we reach the basecamp, we knew all that was going to be over… With our goodbyes and farewells, we knew we may not be able to spend much time later. So I guess, this was that one last trip as they say… One last shot at making the most of our entire journey.

With that thought in our mind, we set off on a journey towards civilization, a last descend downwards to the chaos of life. One that we all had missed for days, but never complained. Such was this journey and such are treks of these kinds, especially in the Himalayan terrains, terrains where there is peace and redemption.

Himalayas, Sandakphu, Darjeeling
The final journey begins…

We started our last trekking bit on this expedition with a stride in our step and a heavy heart… Nonetheless, we had to make sure that this last journey was going to be full of great memories and beautiful pictures. We were hoping this terrain to be a bit different.

Villager Farmboy
Mhane Chandra

On our way we met Mhane Chandra. He was going up to cut firewood. To him, this sickle is going to be a life, a life full of what his parents told him about… A life full of dreams and a life that will provide him and his family what they need… But who will guarantee that these forests and the trees will last long? A question that I wonder for his future…

 While there was descent, we had to walk through some of these paths, where we had to carefully tread along the sides and worry about not slipping down the cliff…
Norgyal Sherpa Memorial

Norgyal Sherpa Memorial

While alighting, we found a few small villages within the mountains. There we also found this. And this was something which took my breath away and held my head high and hands close to my forehead, to salute the heroism of this small village within the descents of the great eastern Himalayas. This is a great story of a local lad, who gave his life for our Country… It’s a War Memorial in this Sherpa’s name… of the Gorkha regiment… A salute to Norgyal Sherpa.

Srikhola River
Srikhola River

This was one of the popular landmarks on this route. Once you know you’ve reached the Srikhola River, you know you’re 5 kms away from Rimbick.

Bridge over Srikhola River
Bridge over Srikhola River
Nishing Leng
Nishing Leng
Nishing Leng
Nishing Leng

That’s Nishengleng, cute kid… we were walking past her school and she saw my camera.. She said, take my picture… We did and she said Namaste to us… besides the picture, she enjoyed some great candies which we dished out 😉

From then on, it was just a little bit for us to walk to the base camp… And that would mark the end of a journey, beginning of a cherished memoirs something to remember for…