Category Archives: Travelogues, Stories and Life

Short Stories from my Travelogues…

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.

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

Feet on the map

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

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

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

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Traversing the Mountains!

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

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

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

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

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

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

A glimpse of paradise through the Verandah by the Valley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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The garden with a view!

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

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

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

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Cozy and Comfortable. Just like a second home.

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Perfect place to set your morning cuppa

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

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

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

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

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Caretaker and Farmer Santosh

 

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

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The farm in the backyard with a drip irrigation set up

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

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

No one here gets out alive…

“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.” – Jim Morrison

That said, one cannot truly explore horizons of life without a dream larger than that horizon itself.

I’d always been a huge fan of James Douglas Morrison, and when I started following him, listening to his songs, and read the book by the same title as this blog, I had never imagined, I’d have the opportunity to explore what is possibly the mecca for all the fans of , ‘The Legend,’ Jim Morrison!

Jim Morrison, Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France, Europe, Srinivas, Travel Blogger

Here lies the Legend!

For most travellers and tourists, Paris has it’s own charm and yes the Eiffel tower adds to a semblance of nostalgia and the rest of the city carries a feeling of being remarkable in it’s own way. It certainly is an epitome of historical greatness and has a fine taste for food, fashion, flawless culture  and a desire towards perfection of it’s own kind. No wonder it’s the most sought after destination by traveler’s across the world!

I’ve read many a times,

“Paris is always a good idea!”

Yes it is, especially if you can visit a place like the Père Lachaise Cemetery, and experience the aura of the souls of the departed, with a sense of purpose that you never had.

The destination was definitely on my list and I was saving the best for last, after having explored most of the city, spending more than a few days in Paris, @FeetonTheMap and I decided to explore the artisan life on our final day, by spending some time walking across the streets of Paris, visiting the Shakespeare and Company, reading a few lines, many a quotes, playing the Piano and being in the same location which once upon a time (1920’s) was a gathering place for many then-aspiring young writers such as Ernest Hemingway!

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The experience of exploring the almost century old bookstore, which still stands as part of modern art, culture and of course a business that has a repertoire that many would consider beyond what even traditional  sight-seeing locations in Paris would stand for. The quaint little bookshop was the beginning of a path to explore the greatness that we hoped would help end our trip on a high, a spiritual as well as that of self-discovery having, tread the path of the legends in a way, like never before.

While getting to the cemetery isn’t such a big deal, considering the easy access of metro the bigger challenge is to find your way around the cemetery to reach the grave. An ordeal that is truly worth the long walk and the wait, especially if you take the main gate from Gambetta side. Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to take a picture of the cemetery map to navigate grave after grave while we tread the paths of the fall, leaves trailing across our feet, quite literally giving us a feeling of explorers of the dead!

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Walking round and round, around in circles, walking down steps and trying to find your route section by section, getting to ‘Area 48’ is an enjoyment of it’s own kind for sure. It took us probably a good 30-40 minutes, considering we were enjoying the experience, stopping by a few graves as we passed by. The wait was worth it, for I knew, when we got there, the sense of awe was something I’d cherish forever, not just to think of it as a check or a tick mark in my bucket list, but a lot more than that.

And I most certainly wasn’t disappointed! How could I be… I just stood there, for about 15-20 minutes and admired the beauty and the significant and enchanting view, with a sense of nostalgia… It felt like I was thrown back in time, in an alternate world! And that’s when I realized, I knew, it was time for me to leave…

And that’s when I had a smile, a smile on my face, cause in my head I could hear the words of his beautiful ballad, “This is the End.” A song that had a sense of severing ties, ones that left him heartbroken after his break up with his girlfriend, Mary Werbelow!

This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes, again

Until we meet again… Au Revoir

Indonesia, Uluwatu, Bali, Paradise, Beach, Uluwatu temple

Wherever the path takes me…

He called out to the lone ranger walking across the horizon without a sense of time. In a beautiful, yet unknown sense of belonging he felt that there was no need to believe in what he was doing, because he felt completely all right. That is something that they usually call a rhetoric that pleases not only the mind, body but also your soul. A sense of feeling that speaks of the divinity you seek within yourself.

“What are you doing here? Are you lost?” He asked the lone traveler…

“On the contrary, I have found myself, he whispered,” as he spoke with a hint of fatigue in his voice. A voice that spoke of a thousand miles, traversed across a journey that he took with sheer determination albeit without any surmise.

“Great, welcome. Hope you had a great journey…”

“Most certainly, I did. But what’s more important is that it doesn’t stop here…” He had a spark in his eyes, and a belief that spoke of the Grand Voyage, a voyage that he had in mind to embark upon without any qualms, without any fear, only to speak of a reprise of his journey so far.

“So where to now?”

“Wherever the path takes me..” He smiled as he walked away.

Himalayas, India, Travel Blogger, Indian Mountains, Mountaineer, India

To Infinity and Beyond…

I’ve been a mountain lover for the last 6 years and Himalayas have been a yearly thing for me in those past six years. Being an avid lover of mountains and trekking, having hiked miles and miles across North Western, Eastern Himalayas and a bit of Nepal as well, I think I’ve found a yearning for the Himalayas that I believe isn’t something that’ll ever just fade away…

To me, being close to the mountains is being close to reality. For me, ‘Being discovered’ in my truest sense is when there is utmost clarity in my peak senses of not just my mind, body and soul but an inner conscience that sends me on a deep and exploring journey in a space which gives me clarity towards not just what I am doing, what should I be doing, but who I am and who I really want to be.

To me, being close to the mountains probably helps hone the thinking of a wandering thinker and a pondering writer that I truly want to be, unlike the occasional tourist that I am to the divine beauty that lies across the mountain terrain. The huge peaks, the humongous canvas of an all-encompassing ranges of the Himalayas truly admonish me to forget my comfortable and meaningless life that I’m leading to do something, make something, create something more out of the potentially huge aspiration that always drives me to evolve into someone who’ll not just leave a legacy, but also force myself to drive a passion, a purpose that is beyond just regular needs of life.

I don’t yet, know when and how this escapade will start, but I have a strong feeling that it’ll be very soon. And when that happens, my first thought would be to share that with everyone and forever disappear to the love I seek forever and be closer to not just the mountains of Himalayas but a numbing belief that I have within myself, that occasionally has a voice like in the Star Trek series… only saying… ‘To Infinity and Beyond!’