Tag Archives: North India

Journey into the forbidden valley of Lahaul Spiti

Life isn’t what you really think it to be. The journey you share among the paths you take aren’t always meant to be full of what you crave for. A level of uncertainty brings with itself a whole new world that you might want to always cherish rather than crib about. Travelling on the spur of the moment or travelling with a plan, each have their own trodden paths which you might not want to compare, but when you take the roads unknown and imagine the world without your lens or without the lenses of others, you will find that beauty lies within the experience and not just the photos you click or the videos you make. Sometimes you just have to be in the moment, and accept what’s dished out and move on with your stories to enchant your vivid imagination while experiencing the best travel you could ever. Such was the breathtaking journey into the forbidden valley of Lahaul and Spiti… And I wouldn’t disagree to the fact that there is a reason why this place is the forbidden valley and what makes the entire experience worthwhile.

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Yes, the challenges of the battling conditions, the crazy flowing river by your side ready to engulf you the moment you take your eye off it, the paagal naalas (crazy waterfalls) giving you a quick whiff of what to expect in these landslide trodden areas. But the most beautiful and never to forget experience within this journey has to be the smell of fresh air, the breath of beauty across the Himalayas, the frozen ponds you get to view and the soul searching you end up doing across the pagodas, temples and monasteries even if you don’t believe in the concept of God. Of course, your own journey is sacred. Your own experience is sacrosanct and what you view, dream, believe in is what you get to experience in this journey across the forbidden valley. Riding or driving, both options will churn your body like an urn. While you may find comfort in the luxury SUVs, the ground clearance or for that matter the bumpy twists and turns you experience will add to the memories that are etched out if you’re on a bike or low comfort 4*4s or simpler SUVs like a Tata Sumo.

Rohtang, Manali, North India, Spiti

Foggy Terrain enroute Rohtang pass

The journey from Manali to Kaza epitomizes the beauty of Rohtang Pass and as much as you would like to stay still and explore the vast horizon of the landscape, you know, that there’s a lot more of it where it begins and you keep going on a journey that you feel hungry for.

Rohtang Pass, Manali, Spiti

Horses at Rohtang Pass

Especially if you have travelled into the wilderness of Ladakh, you would know what the Spiti Valley beckons. You would want to get there as soon as possible and explore the beauty of the supreme mountains and the surroundings that shall be part of your memories for your entire life. Add to that, the entire escapade brought in an amazing adventure, thanks to the narratives of our local driver arranged by Amit from HimalayanYatra. It added to our experience and made the journey more exciting, especially his amazing driving and some really off the edge experiences where we were saved by a whisker, not to forget the crazy landslide which we fortunately and thankfully missed by a whiff. 

One of the most enchanting and serene things about Spiti is the terrain and the experience the entire landscape offers you, no matter which part you end up going to. Whether it’s the route to the maddening cold village of Ki-Kibber, or the breathtaking and deeply glorious and spiritual Dhankar monastery, it is full of stories and tales that will cross your paths at the mere view of the place, even if it were through a corner of your eye. Hopefully I shall be telling many such stories in the series of blogs that I plan to write about this crazy place… For now, here’s an encapsulated look at our journey in a simple, yet mind blowing photo essay of sorts… Hope you find the beauty captured in the lenses worth your imagination…

The cold desert enroute Spiti Valley

The cold desert enroute Spiti Valley

The road to Spiti isn't just about barren terrains

The road to Spiti isn’t just about barren terrains

The bridge near a small military camp at Lossar

The bridge near a small military camp at Lossar

Beautiful Terrain as we approach Kaza

Beautiful Terrain as we approach Kaza

Tibetian flags across the mountain

Tibetian flags across the mountain enroute Ki-Kibber

Spiti, Ki-Kibber, Spiti Valley, North India

Beautiful Ki-Kibber village – One of the coldest villages in Asia

A mountain deer on our way to Kibber

A mountain deer we spotted on our way to Kibber

Dhanskar Monastery

Dhankar Village and Monastery

Entrance to Dhankar Monastery

Entrance to Dhankar Monastery

A tower atop the Monastery

A tower atop the Monastery

Local women outside the monastery

Local women outside the monastery

The most relaxed terrace atop the monastery

The most relaxed terrace atop the monastery

Hanging out with the local kids

Hanging out with the local kids

The Golden Buddha viewing the Mountains

The Golden Buddha viewing the Mountains

Chandertaal Lake - The most amazing view in Spiti

Chandertaal Lake – The most amazing view in Spiti

Enchanting Valley of Flowers

Yes this is the same beautiful place which probably is not accessible to many because of the devastation in Uttarakhand. Truly a sad state currently, with probably the entire village of Govindghat below the Valley of Flowers existed. We still see pictures sometimes across news feeds showcasing the heavy water flowing across Govindghat and taking down the entire roads along with it, and some of the mountains being washed away due to do the downpour and devastation of the mighty force of the river.

The memories of us being in this beautiful national park, still remain strong and hope that this place is soon rebuilt so that people can actually get access to the beauty that they should visit, at least once in their lifetime. This is the enchanting valley, the valley of flowers. Some of the pictures from that trek.

The Flowers

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The Landscapes 

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As I said… Once in a lifetime experience for sure!!!

Mountains Calling

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The time to wander off in the valley is here. Every year, around this time there is a deep calling that rakes within my heart and reaches out to me saying, it’s time. I have a strong feeling to always go with the flow and decide to challenge myself to walk those huge mountainous paths and whisper to myself in an enchanting manner, “How I wish I’d always live here and never go back to the buzz of the world.” It’s time that I listened to my heart and gave in to the beauty of the wondrous Himalayas.

Somehow, for the last four years, I’ve always been pulled into it’s gazing destiny and hope to keep getting attracted time and again, for the fascination will never end. An amazing amount of solace and brilliance is always breathtaking in a literal sense, that I cannot forgo that attraction and cannot choose to ignore it. So, whenever the mountains call me, I’m there… I have to find my way, fix myself a ticket to go up north in India and take the same old routes across these mountains with my backpack treading towards what I’d like to call an eternal ritual towards redemption from the routine.

I’ve been thinking of doing the Himachal this year, hoping to get a break maybe sometime soon. Hopefully if I do, you’ll certainly get to read about my plans and once I come back, about the escapade that I encountered. In the meantime, here are some fantabulous pictures of my earlier treks.

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Is India a good travel destination?

Answer by Srinivas Kulkarni:

Yes! Yes and Yes!

Before I begin the answer from a travel enthusiast perspective, just some insights to share about Asia and India in general, might give you some perspective pertaining to the question you have asked.

Travel Facts – Asia & India

Some interesting facts about the travel Industry in India & Asia in general.

Over the next few years, Asia — mostly China and India — and Latin America will drive world economic growth, contributing up to 75% of global GDP from 2010 to 2012.

The 2012 outlook for Asian outbound travel is positive.  6 to 8% increase in this year’s expected 14% growth.

In particular India appears to be set for strong growth with 43% planning more outbound travel next year. IPK’s travel confidence of India is at a high 113 points.

Incredible India – Travel Galore

I began exploring India truly about five years ago and I’d say despite traveling to a lot of parts, I hae hardly touched 1/4th of the country so far. An endeavor that makes me want to go on and on till I have set foot across each and every state at least. One of the reasons why I enjoy doing so is cause of it’s geographical and cultural diversity with of course significant historic and mythical relevance to various places. Adds to it’s mystery in its own way. To such an extent that every different place that you travel to within India is a completely different landscape and a cultural expose of sorts. There is a great sense of encompassing travel experience that yuo get when you explore various parts of India. From the beautiful mountains in the Himalayas to the amazing temples and the beaches down south. From the most diverse religious and cultural places across the four corners of the country to the much modern and very well built cities in various metropolis. From the multiple Indian languages spoken in different parts to the very familiar tour guides or audio guidebooks that you’ll get at various heritage sites to help understanding places in the country much better for yourself. India has it all. If you are the type who loves adventure and mountain climbing then you can explore various destinations across the Himalayas which span across the Indo-Nepal-Tibet and Pakistan border you’d love every bit of it. There are practically every kind of geographically diverse landscapes in Leh and Ladakh. If you are interested in culture and meeting new people of ethnic and traditional origin then a trip to Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and some remote villages in Harayana, Punjab and some parts of South India would do the trick.  Archaeology fans might really enjoy The Ruins of Hampi, various parts of Gujarat and some across India-Pakistan border where Indus valley civilization ruins exist and of course Madhya Pradesh for it’s beautiful terrain and charismatic caves depicting ancient lore of Kama Sutra and love in Khajurao. Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore are the metropolis you might want to go to, best serve as connectivity to various different parts and mostly flights to any place in the world or other part of the country are available here. South India give s you a lot of insight on the Hindu cwith it’s various temples and also a great escapade towards nature in God’s own country Kerala will enchant you with it’s beauty. The North East has it’s own charm with various landscapic mountains, monasteries, Buddhist culture and an eye awakening spirituality towards nature and this planet. Then there are the beautiful islands of Lakshwadeep and Andaman and Nicobar which are a place in itself. Secluded from most parts of India they lie within the terrains of water a world within their own these places must not be missed. And last but not least, there’s no place like Goa! If you come to India, Goa is a must visit for….

Of course there are pitfalls when it comes to hygiene, beggars, lots of crowd, the  problem of communication at times in certain parts. The potential risk of being duped by locals or overpriced at various destinations are certainly there… But if you are aware and well educated about your destination with some planning and research, yo can get along well with any of those situations. Plus that in itself is an experience for you so to speak. Overall, India tourism is trying to create infrastructure and overall awareness for its tourists and travelers. You’ll find a lot of information on this website and also if you carry the India Travel Guide book, which most tourists and travelers from the world carry with themselves you should be good to go. In most places local authorities, police are quite helpful, sometimes you may have issues with the bureaucratic ways of the cops and local authorities, but if all your paper work is good then mostly there are no worries.

So overall I’d say, India is certainly a good travel destination. One thing I’d recommend to watch before you start your journey to India is an interesting six part documentary series by BBC and Micheal Wood called ‘The Story of India.’

You can also check out my Travel Blogs to give you some idea of what places to visit across India Travel Tales… (srinistuff.com) & Tumblelog Travelogue (tumblr.com)

Lastly here are some of the places that I’ve visited and shortlisting them for you to show you what I really mean when I wrote this answer. For the detailed answer refer to this:  What are the must-see travel destinations in India? (qr.ae) Would give you quite an answer to your question and my explanation to why India is a good travel destination 🙂

P.S If nothing else, there’s the Taj Mahal to come to India for! 😉

What are the Places to travel to?

Trek towards Valley of Flowers and  Hemkund Saheb (Glacier may not be always there…)

Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand HImalayas

Paragliding in the Solang Valley

Spiritual Quest at the Dalai Lama Temple in Dharamsala/McLeodganj

Shey Palace in Ladakh

Shanti Stupa in Ladakh

Leh Palace in Leh, Ladakh

Nubra Valley in Ladakh

Disket Temple in Nubra Valley in Ladakh

Ride a Bullet to Khardung La in Ladakh *Highest Motorable road 18380 ft

Alchi Gompa – Oldest Monastery in Leh, Ladakh

Indus River Valley in Ladakh

Pangong Tso Lake across Ladakh and China Border

The serene Om beach in Gokarna

Rameshwaram Temple and it’s 1000 Pillars

Chinese Fishing Nets in Fort. Kochi

Boat to Allepy from Kottayam in Kerala

Buland Darwaaza of Fatehpur Sikri

Hawa Mahal in Jaipur

Jain temples of Jaisalmer

The Vintage car museum in Udaipur

Matri Mandir in Auroville

Pondicherry & Auoroville Beach

The Garden City – Bangalore

Visit the Ruins of Hampi – A must visit if you are a fan of archaeology and historic ancient culture.

Stone Chariot in the Vittala Temple

Hazara Rama Temple – Carvings from 10th-13th century of Rama

Lakshmi Narsimha statue

Krishna Temple

Lotus Mahal in Zennana Enclosure… Ancient air conditioned palace

Monolithic Bull, carved out of one Stone

Mythical Lions called Yalli inside Krishna Temple

View the Marina Beach Sunrise in Chennai

Conquer the Mahuli fort during rains in Maharashtra – The Sahayadaris

Charminar in Hyderabad

The Buddha Statue in Lumbini Park in Hyderabad on the Husain Sagar lake

Be part of the Kala Ghoda Festival in Mumbai

Lenayadri Hills in Maharashtra – One of the Ashtavinayaka Temples

Ajanta Ellora Caves in Aurangabad

Badrinath Temple in Uttarakhand

Mana Village and Vasudhara Waterfalls – The last indian Village on Indo Tibet Border

Haridwar for it’s cultural and spiritual expose.

Lakshman Jhoola and the Parmarth Temple in Rishikesh

View Answer on Quora

Leh Ladakh – Pride of India

Every traveler has a different story of Ladakh! Every traveler has a vision that is different from others, when he is in Ladakh. Every traveler has an experience of his own when he is in  Ladakh! Ladakh, the most enchanting destination in India for world & Indian travelers was on my list for a long time. Yes, I knew that there was a hype about this place and it had its own set of expectations. When I decided that this is the year that I’d go ahead and fulfill my dream of being in this land of the lost bring my sojourns from an experience that I, like any other traveler would have  a different story, a different vision and a different experience to enchant others with, little did I know that all the hype that surrounded Ladakh, was certainly something that we lived up to!

One keeps wondering what’s so different about this beautiful place and why it’s called the Pride of India! Well there are many stories to it and certainly the ever so different and huge landscapes of various geographical terrains are a testament to it. But what’s so different from this place is the amazing culture and the most diverse and the most beautiful landscape it has to offer. Such that many who have traveled the world would find it a notch above their experiences. Add to it, the Himalayan terrain being infamous for its harsh and cold weather when the landscapes are inaccessible to the common people. There’s something mystic about the place especially with its lineage of Buddhism, its tibetian history and most importantly the nomadic culture that most people live by. A perfect destination for a wanderer, a nomad and many a travelers, Ladakh has its own sense of attachment, a bond that builds around various kinds of people.

We started our journey by flying into Leh directly from Mumbai… Yeah, we flew in, unlike most folks who generally do a ride / drive from either Manali or Srinagar mostly… Maybe that’s one thing that’ll be on my list for the next time around… But yeah, usually when you fly in, one day just goes into acclimatization, which could be a good thing in a way… It was a 10 day trip, so we did have a lot of buffer time for ourselves. So yeah, it was good in a way.. And those 10 days were certainly quite enchanting and our journey was certainly something we’d cherish for quite some time. This is how our journey went and here’s a little bit of a photo essay that tells you all

A view of Leh, Ladakh while flying down...

A view of Leh, Ladakh while flying down…

A picture of Leh palace clicked from a restaurant

A picture of Leh palace clicked from a restaurant

We went to this rooftop restaurant as soon as we freshened up in the hotel room. This was the first view of something really enchanting in Leh, Ladakh and it had to be clicked!

A small prayer bell near our hotel room

A small prayer bell near our hotel room

Sangam - Confluence of Indus and Zanskar Rivers…

Sangam – Confluence of Indus and Zanskar Rivers…

The next day was reserved for local sight seeing… Our first destination on that trip was this place where we saw a confluence of Indus and Zanskar river.

Alchi Gompa - The oldest monastery in Ladakh

Alchi Gompa – The oldest monastery in Ladakh

Scenic Landscapes of Ladakh

Scenic Landscapes of Ladakh

The Indus Valley...

The Indus Valley…

Shey Palace

Shey Palace

Shanti Stupa

Shanti Stupa

Tso Moriri Lake

Tso Moriri Lake

Our next day visit was to the Tso Moriri, or Lake Moriri. They had told us that there was a landslide in the Pangong Tso area and that the route to that lake had closed down. So we were recommended this place and it took us an entire day to reach there and we stayed there overnight… But truly, it was worth it. Tsomoriri or Lake Moriri in the Changthang area, is a High Altitude Lake (HAL) with an altitude of 4,595 m (15,075 ft) in Ladakh, India and is the largest of the High Altitude Lakes in the Trans-Himalayan biogeographic region, entirely within India. It is hemmed between Ladakh in the North and Tibet in the east and Zanskar in the west; the Changthang plateau is the geographical setting with snow peaks that provides the source of water for the Lake. (Wikipedia)

Bullet to Khardung la

Bullet to Khardung la

And of course, what good is a visit to Ladakh, if you don’t take the ride to Khardung La… Although we didn’t do the dream ride or ride on an Enfield all the way from Delhi/Manali or Srinagar, this was the least we could do… Something to satisfy our amicable souls… 🙂

Enroute Khardung La

Enroute Khardung La

Snow capped mountains atop Khardung La

Snow capped mountains atop Khardung La

Atop Khardung La - Worlds Higest Motorable Road

Atop Khardung La – Worlds Higest Motorable Road

Nubra Valley

Nubra Valley

Entrance to the Disket Temple

Entrance to the Disket Temple

Scenic Nubra Landscape

Scenic Nubra Landscape

Ancient Ladakhi stone with inscriptions

Ancient Ladakhi stone with inscriptions

Statue of the Future Buddha

Statue of the Future Buddha

Pangong Tso Lake

Pangong Tso Lake