Category Archives: North

Strolling across the magical mountains

 

Rohtang Pass, Manali, Horses

Horses seen strolling across at Rohtang Pass in Manali

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

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

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

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Glaciers Galore – Wonders of Himalayas

Hemkund Sahib

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

Crossing the Glacier en route Valley of Flowers, Western Himalayas

Crossing the Glacier en route Valley of Flowers, Western Himalayas

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

Water flowing below the glacier en route Valley of Flowers

Water flowing below the glacier en route Valley of Flowers

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

Caves formed by Glaciers at Vasudhara Falls

Caves formed by Glaciers at Vasudhara Falls

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

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

Mountains are always calling!

Mountains

The mountains are always calling! Yes, that’s a thing about being an avid lover of the mountains and trying to experience the best of the beauty that a trek offers you.

One of the things that I always keep in mind is to make sure that I take a trip every year to Himalayas to get one thing straight! I Love Mountains! Most importantly Himalayas. Ever since I started trekking to Himalayas about 5 years ago, I’ve enjoyed going there every year, be it a trek, a bike hike, a camp or whatever else is in the offing, there hasn’t been one occasion when my heart told me to go and I haven’t.

One of the reasons why I love hiking, mountaineering and especially in the Himalayas is that it sets your perspective right! Every time I’ve been to the Himalayas, I’ve come back as a different person, more for the better if I must add. A journey across the escapades of snow brings clarity to your mind and soul that no other place can.  Mountaineering or even taking a walk across those serene plateaus or valleys always make you wonder if your life is what you want it to be. And if it isn’t there’s a huge chance that you’ll go back and take charge of what matters most as the clarity you get after each visit makes everything just about right.

Another reason that mountaineering and hiking makes me happy is simply to know that, the feeling of control that we try to surpass each and every day is nothing if you don’t have a specific goal in mind. Hiking those long routes, enduring those steep slopes, climbing those daunting hills make you realize that no goal is impossible to achieve. Your belief in your abilities and more importantly your will increases manifold if you climb one of these steep passes. There was a time when I almost gave up while scaling to 15000 feet at Hemkund Sahib as the climb was utterly steep. But I kept going and when I reached on top, nothing else mattered. The victory and surmounting all odds made the journey joyful! Endurance is a big learning especially on these hikes.

Last, but not least, Mountains always teach you to adapt, adjust and try and make the most of your surroundings. One of the trickiest but important lessons you learn from mountaineering is that no matter what happens, you have always got to ‘LET GO.’ That’s the best trick you’ll ever learn and remember for life as it helps you in all aspects of your journey in life or otherwise. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t ever say no when the Mountains are Calling!

5 Most Beautiful Himalayan Towns

Originally posted on AsiaRooms

No matter how much I write about this beloved destination that I adore, there’ll never be enough to express the awe inspiring, breath taking, 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

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 reigons. 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.

Auli is a famous skiing resort in the Kumaon Himalayas

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 roadtrips 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.

With the view of the Himalayas in the backdrop, Tso Moriri Lake is a magnificent stopover

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.

Take a short hike to Chandertaal Lake before arriving in Kibber, one of the coldest villages in the world

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 views of the 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 ambience 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 theGhoom 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.

Darjeeling was a British hill station that is popular for its tea plantations

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 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 centre 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. Either way, don’t miss Mcleod Ganj, especially if you’re in Manali or New Delhi.

McLeod Ganj is home to the popular Tsuglagkhang Temple, known as the Dalai Lama Temple

Buland Darwaza, Agra, Bharatpur, Jaipur, India, Travel

Magnanimity and Fortitude of Buland Darwaza

Some stories are part of legends and some stories are ‘Legendary.’ While I dawn upon a realization that most journeys have that one story, one place, one person, one experience that gets etched into memories of the travelers, there are stories that remind you that there are places that are etched in History and more importantly a passion that is driven by the stories of our past.

One such story was when I took a journey across Rajasthan and Agra about five years ago and stumbled upon this place via Bharatpur en route Agra. While we were on a traveling spree and covering city after city trying to experience the ruggedness and rustic nature of wonderful structures, cultural heritage and beautiful serenity of the magical monuments across India during the World Heritage Week in 2009 we were blinded by the magnanimous structure of the ‘Buland Darwaza’ on the outskirts of Bharatpur in a place called Fatehpur Sikri on our way to Agra.

‘Fateh’ stands for Victory and ‘Buland’ stands for powerful, stentorian and it is not just mere irony that this Indian Monument from the Mughal era was supposed to be built in this place. This Darwaza (gate/door) was constructed by built by the great Mughal emperor, Akbar in 1601 A.D. at Fatehpur Sikri. As we passed across the beautiful and green road structures on our way to reach the Buland Darwaza, as soon as we witnessed the huge structure, it made for an awe inspiring look on our faces only to realize that the structure had more to it. While you approach it closely and realize the marvel of the sculptures and inscriptions on the gate, you realize that this is sheer art created from a marvel back in the 16th Century. Akbar built the Buland Darwaza to commemorate his victory over Gujarat, there is some folklore which has a lot more to speak about this monument.

The Graves of Salim Chisti's Descendants

The Graves of Salim Chisti’s Descendants

Two things that you will only get to know when you go there. There is a Dargah inside the Buland Darwaza outside of which, you’ll find multiple graves of the Salim Chisti Dyansty. Even today his descendants reside within the complex and Dargah area, and whoever dies will be buried within those confines. It was believed that Salim Chisti already lived in the area where the Buland Darwaza stands today.

Salim Chisti's Dargah

Salim Chisti’s Dargah

Before it was built, it was nothing but barren land in the woods where the holy prophet practiced his religion. The Mughal Emperor Akbar, is believed to have consulted him because his wife was unable to give birth to a child. After which, Akbar’s wife gave birth to a baby boy Nur-ud-din Mohammad Salim, at Fatehpur Sikri. He is also known by his imperial name Jahangir (30 August 1569 – 8 November 1627), was the fourth Mughal Emperor who ruled from 1605 until his death in 1627. And of course, no wonder he was named Salim, after this holy man Salim Chisti.

Another interesting thing about this place is a underground subway, which is now closed, however in those days, it was a direct passageway to Emperror Akbar’s Fort in Agra, now known as the Agra Fort! This was built for a safe passage as well as convenience if ever Akbar wanted to consult with Salim Chisti, who he highly regarded. What marvels of ancient archaeology, I must say.

The entire sight is plain beauty and while you’re there, you must marvel and admire the beauty of the ancient Mughal architecture and of course look around and speak to a few locals who’ll give you some inside stories of this place.  And no wonder it’s called Buland Darwaza, for truly it is sheer Magnanimity and Fortitude in its elements!

Mountains on my mind!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to take the Adventure Survey ™

Chandertal Lake: Trail towards unimaginable bliss

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

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

Chandertal Lake

Chandertal Lake

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

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