Tag Archives: Travel

Image Credits: Creative Commons, Wikipedia uploaded by user Metanish

A trail to the Valley of Heaven!

One of the most exciting things for a traveler is always the beginning of a journey. The sheer joy you get when you are headed for a new trail is something which you can’t imagine without actually going through that experience, which I’m sure all of us would have. But it’s a notch above the rest, when that journey is to Himalayas.

Especially when the meandering trails happen to be as lovely as this. Tomorrow is the start of an all new journey after quite a while, since I actually went hiking in the Himalayas. While 6 months ago, the trip to Sikkim gave us the boost we needed to rekindle our love with the Himalayas, Feetonthemap and I made it a point that the next trip to Himalayas was going to be an amazing trek, something like this. And here we are today, with excitement galore, just one day to go and all set to drive into a wandering melancholy and figure out our journey as we go.

We’ll be trekking for at least 6 days, beyond wilderness that I just hope will have some enchanting snow caped mountains and lush green sights like the one above, even as we are at the onset of monsoon.

One of the things this journey is going to be about for me personally, is to seek a gateway towards exploration. To be one with nature in it’s true self. To learn some more from stories that it tells me. Obviously, since there isn’t going to be any connectivity, we’d most certainly enjoy a lot of time closer to nature, and that is only the beginning…

And the only thing I can do right now is hum my favorite song…

“All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go…”

Backpack Srinistuff

Hopefully I’ll share some stories as soon as I’m back. To find out on the go stories follow my Tumbleogue @ srinistuff.tumblr.com

The Sheer Joy of traversing through Himalayas

Sometimes a distant memory of the past is the lost enchantment that you imagined on the road you traveled upon without having to wonder if you’d ever want to come back to your regular life…

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Sometimes a simple thing such as living in your backpack and wandering away the melancholia of your mundane life is what sets you apart from the beauty of the life lived upon a treading path of glory.

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Sometimes the sheer madness of the breathtaking view on your journey let’s you imagine a world of fantasy that you always tell yourself of the wonderful stories that last longer than eternal sights of nature to make you want to go back to the ‘Kingdom of Narnia’ again and again…

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Sometimes you just meet someone so interesting that it makes you realize  many things about yourself, and you strive harder to look for inspiration that is so close to your life, yet so far, you have to  seek out these journeys to eventually get there…

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Sometimes the best part about your travels is nothing but the amazing cuisine you enjoy, without having to worry about the calories you count or for that matter the taste… They’re just simply awesome and you like it that way…

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Sometimes you look around yourself, and you realize that you have woken up in a land unknown and a place that you are about to fall in love with, knowing that the view is so magnanimous that you’ll just have to try to let go of it after a few days with a heavy heart…

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Sometimes it’s the beauty of nature, the animals, the interesting folks, the enchanting culture and the divine spirituality that surrounds you, nothing can beat the simple joy of traversing through these enchanting Himalayas…

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Inspiration: Travel is thy name!

One of the best things that travel gives me is a soul searching ability towards looking within. Within my heart and my soul to imagine a world that exists in a transcendental boundary on a journey that knows no horizon.

I look back upon this journey of mine and ask myself sometimes. Why do I do this? Why did I start traveling when I did? What drove me, what was my inspiration? The answer to which is very easy to find if you really want to  truly answer that from the bottom of your heart.

I don’t need a reason, I don’t need an inspiration! I just need to go!

Traveling for me is a  means to life. It’s a purpose. It may not be a means to an end or for that matter a journey in itself. I may or may not explore the entire world, but today as I live, I know I have that passion, that zest, that love for the long roads, the mighty mountains, the beautiful stories and the interesting people that I meet on my sojourns. If anything defines me today it’s my insatiable hunger for the road less traveled. Today I am, therefore tomorrow I move forward. I look at myself and imagine a future where I look back upon this journey, like I did about seven years ago, when I told myself.

“I have to leave a legacy that speaks miles about my journey taken, roads traveled, mysteries of this amazing world explored.” Needless to say, my blogging has helped me document this journey of life, of an exploring and meandering soul searching traversing across many destinations. To me, that simple hunger, that thirst, that endless desire to keep pushing myself forward is my sole inspiration.

Hence, I always say to myself, “The world is waiting for me and I must go! Go seek out the passion within the beautiful boundaries of this amazing creation!”

Meandering across the horizon in search of spirituality

Over 5000 years the quest to spirituality has been a constant rouse for explorers across the world when they happened to arrive to India! That has always been a very important phenomenon of the Indian culture.

Despite that more recently, there has been a troubling side of it, being the repressive rules, the hypocritical approach of many folks irrespective of gender. The lack of awareness to global etiquette while interacting with travelers across the world has been a huge challenge, even so to provoke those tourism ads to educate Indians. While India always has brought a spiritual quest to many travelers and explorers there always are political considerations and factors in play in. Those that aspire towards a more fundamental leaning towards agendas that are meant to control chaos and simply construed as against ‘our Indian culture.’ This is simply a fact that many fail to address or simply choose to ignore!

But as a traveler, a travel blogger and most importantly an Indian, I’d like to say, that no matter what you do there are always two sides to this coin! And the change that is happening, is largely driven by an undercurrent of changing global economy, as well as cultural shift in the paradigm of the world. In light of that, there are some interesting aspects of India, that I’ve found amusing as always, as a traveler. While I’d relate to the thought and reasoning behind these small things, it’s ironic that while you go out there in the world probably imposing endless restrictions upon citizens. Restrictions on matters that are as trivial as what we should eat, what we should watch or many such things. There is a plethora of two faced approach where, in the name of religion anything goes.

Spirituality for us is not significant in the blindness that conquers the rationale of our country, but opens our eyes towards progression and a far larger understanding of what we should be as human beings. As always, religion world over has been an instrument used by people in their quest to power conveniently cite, unless they find value in people who are willing to apostatize their beliefs for their convenience.

To me, travel has certainly broadened my horizon to a greater extent. Travel has given me a perspective that is far wider and different. Especially if you were to compare it to a reason of meaning and belief that exists in your heart. Having said that, there has been the element of tolerance and contempt that conflict my thoughts every time I put on my backpack when I traverse the country.

Every different situation in different regions of the country either inspire me or bring me to a new low that I have probably never imagined. On most trips, I’m either enlightened or completely thrown back into stone age. But no matter what I do, where I go, there is one strong belief that I have which enriches everything about my travel experience. It’s the meandering quest towards a sense of calm and invigorating tryst towards experiencing spirituality despite not knowing the inclination towards it’s religious associations. There are no boundaries when it comes to spirituality especially when you are traversing not just across locations but beliefs that hold true to achieving a greater high, which is far more important than trivial matters of existence.

Travel reaches out to your spiritual roots to find art, imagination, a sense of purpose within history, heritage,nature, food, people,  and magical souls that gives you that wider horizon of reality that exists out there in the world. Here are a few pictures that have captured my imagination leaning towards a spiritual belief of a simple admonishing fact that everything aside, Travel is that dose of medicine, that spiritual reality of my existence, that purpose of my life in this world that is constantly exclaiming to crave for more of such experiences across the beautiful country of ours! It is that singular belief, which, when, all said and done reaffirms and assures me that there is still hope…

Freedom of Life through the roamers of nature

A herd of horses taking a stroll at their whim at Rohtang Pass

Himalayas, Ladakh, Mountains, Snow

The Magical Mountains of the Himalayas

 

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The Golden Buddha viewing the Mountains

Statue of the Future Buddha

Statue of the Future Buddha

Queen of the HImalayas - Blue Poppy

Queen of the HImalayas – Blue Poppy

View of Hampi from Anjaneya

View of Hampi from Anjaneya

A 61 year old Tibetian refugee manufacturing & selling handicraft since 1972.

A 61 year old Tibetian refugee manufacturing & selling handicraft since 1972.

Shing Theng - A saleswomans kid outside the monastery

Shing Theng – A saleswomans kid outside the monastery

Lamani Woman with her kid near the Lakshmi Temple

Lamani Woman with her kid near the Lakshmi Temple

Idranna a local kid at the Lakshmi Temple

Idranna a local kid at the Lakshmi Temple

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A Tiger Paw on our trip to Pench

A Tiger Paw on our trip to Pench

Thai Monastery in Bodh Gaya

Thai Monastery in Bodh Gaya

The Bodhi Tree

The Bodhi Tree

Kerala Backwaters

Kerala Backwaters

Fort Kochi - Chinese Fishing Nets

Fort Kochi – Chinese Fishing Nets

Sunset by the Bridge

Sunset by the Bridge

Sunrise Enroute Trichy

Sunrise Enroute Trichy

Sunrise at Kanyakumari

Sunrise at Kanyakumari

Kanchenjunga Peak

Kanchenjunga Peak

India Gate

India Gate

Hut @ Pondicherry Beach

Hut @ Pondicherry Beach

Himalayas

Walk across the silent trails towards Vasudhara Waterfalls in Himalayas

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Rajasthan: Land of the Kings

A view of the Mahuli Fort in the rains

A view of the Mahuli Fort in the rains

This one's playing around inside... :)

This little squirrel found playing around inside the Red Fort…

Stone Chariot at Vittala Temple

Stone Chariot at Vittala Temple

View of Hampi

View of Hampi

 

 

Of Pottery and delightful people…

“Art is the craving of the hungry travelling soul!”

While on my travails, I’m always on the look out for something interesting, something off beat, something that doesn’t come to you often when you walk around in familiar environments! If you are the one with a penchant for newer experiences, you always have that sheer urge of falling in love with a lot more than the surroundings or a gleaming opportunity to see newer places and log them in your diary of an encompassing journey that you’ll leave behind as your own legacy.

Sometimes, I even dare to imagine to look beyond just the ordinary, beyond what is seen or talked about, and many a times, I feel inspired by small joys of travel and the simple things that it teaches you and how it broadens your horizon. I have spoken about this often, maybe not enough, but certainly enough number of times where I have talked about the interesting people I meet on my travels. And being a Wandering Thinker, Pondering Writer that I am, I always wonder, how is it that I get to meet these interesting people or why I bump into them so very often. The answer to that is very simple I believe.

It is  because of a connection that we all humans share. No matter what levels or degrees of separation are among us, all of us have a desire to know and connect in some little way or the other. For me, one such thing is Art! Being an aspiring writer, I always try to look for experiences that drive the philosophy of ‘Art imitating life.’ I seek out to look beyond the ordinary, only for that very simplistic, yet resonating belief and feel it is always inherent within most explorers.

One such experience was connecting with the artisans of Khawasa village at Pench, Madhya Pradhesh! While the wildlife was one amazing experience in it’s own, I couldn’t help but forget the beautiful and brief interaction with one of the potters at that village. Tukaram Gonde, who is an ancestral potter and makes his living through crafting one of the best artworks, it is sad, to see very little appreciation as a whole for people in this village. To me, that experience was more than just enriching, it was something that told me a lot about how this trade has become what it has. It is something that we always tend to overlook, while we buy these products for our festivals and daily use maybe, there’s a lot more than just the mold, the earthen flair and the technique that these amazing folks use.

To me, this travel experience gave an insight on a story that is beyond just pottery, art and craft of the trade. It is more than just a story about his life, his words, his family. It is something that he understands as a philosophy as an ingrained belief, as an experience that has transcended upon him in a form of that art. The same art that, maybe his father, his grandfather or forefathers cherished and groomed him for. This story is more about that deep rooted belief in what he did. He had an uncanny smile, a belief that told us how he was the master of his fate and captain of his destiny, in the great words of none other than Madiba.

While the experience wasn’t for many hours or even for that matter, it was something we cherished because of the quality of the craft and the beauty of the handiwork we saw within those minutes and closely observed a level of concentration, ease and amazing tendency to be a professional who doesn’t just work because he has to, but loves what he does. An experience that gave us an insight on how the rugged and unkempt life brought out the true artist within these folks. How, their life, despite it’s simplicity had a complex aura to a brilliant mind of sorts. One that you don’t often get to see in the life that we choose to live in.

Watch the Video of him indulging us with his artwork

Tukaram at his masterful best

Tukaram Potter at work Art at it's best

 

Pots

Tashi Tagey, Tadong, Gangktok, HomeStay, Sikkim

Dorjee Nyima of Tashi Tagey

Why do I travel you ask? To tell stories that very few have heard I reply! The best part about travel for me is not just the beautiful views I get to see, not the amazing experiences of climbing mountains in the Himalayas or for that matter the most delicious food I eat no matter what corner of the world I am in. To me it’s the singular experience of meeting some of the most beautiful people, who make me challenge the way we live our lives. It is in the question that they ask me subtly, without even hinting at how their life is different than ours. It is in the humility that begs to ask myself a simple yet profound question! What have you done with your life?

And then, I feel great that I have a lifetime ahead of me to go ahead and pursue that goal of whatever it is that I want to without the fear of forgetting the soul purpose of my life. Travel, tell stories, make magic and help more people believe in the mere existence of a world larger than the sort of bubble we live in. All of that isn’t possible without having experiences that broaden our horizon. One such experience was when we recently visited Sikkim.

We were in Sikkim for about 10 days and most of our trip was North Sikkim and a little bit of Gangtok. And interestingly we met a couple of folks who were fellow travelers who recommended an quaint little place a few miles away from the main area of Gangtok, a little far from the local taxi stand of Deorali called Tadong. On the road, right next to the Baker’s Cafe stood a small but submissively enchanting home stay called Tashi Tagey. Not unexpectedly it’s a name taken from Tibetan Buddhism meaning eight lucky signs. Something you’ll find a description of in the Museum next to Do Drul Stupa in Gangktok.

You wouldn’t ordinarily find such warmth in a place that is unusual and unfamiliar considering you’re miles away from your subtle comforts of the place you call home, but this isn’t the first time that I have experienced something like this before. Earlier, when I talked about meeting real people on your journeys, I shared anecdotal references of people who have a certain aura within themselves that the minute you meet them or come across them, you tend to realize that your connection with them is more than a faint memory and something that’ll be etched into your travelogues that you leave behind. Such was our experience at this beautiful little traveler’s abode!

From the time you enter the lobby of this quiet and well furnished home-stay, you realize you’re in good company! A company meant for world travelers! A nice couch, a lounge like feeling with an archive of TIME magazines, a photograph of His Holiness, The Dalai Lama and an adorned wall full of beautiful pictures, paintings and a decor that’ll quickly make you fall in love and fondly so, with this enchanting place. But, wait, that’s just the beginning.

The beautiful couple and our very good friends Dorjee and Nyima are quite the couple and have spent over 30 years serving travelers and being part of helping the community as well as pursuing their own goals and aspirations, that they’re someone who would be truly an inspiration for many souls who wander off and bump into them. We have seen and heard of heaps of compliments because of their wonderful home stay and their impeccable service to all. Nyima aunty, as we call her, is more than just a home stay owner. She has an extensive passion for knitting, painting, gardening and their home stay has a diverse collection of her art. In fact, one travelling couple from Italy have even named their daughter after her. Now, that is nothing short of what we call ‘mighty respect.’

With that I leave you a few memories from our journey of the Kingdom of Paradise, Sikkim and the warm, homely stay at Tashi Tagey, Tadong!

Tibetan Thukpa and Momos

Home Made Tibetan Thukpa and Momos, courtesy Nyima Aunty

Sculptures

Beautiful Sculptures in the corridor outside our room

Painting by Nyima Aunty

One of the beautiful Paintings made by Nyima Aunty

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View of Gangtok from the Terrace at Night!

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A Heritage, Tibetan Monk’s Statue in the Lobby

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Walls of Tashi Tagey, adorned by artistic expose

Gangtok View from Tadong

Gangtok View from Tadong in the Day!

Early Morning Bird

A bird we spotted early in the morning on the terrace garden

Bonsai Tree on Terrace

Bonsai Tree maintained by Nyima Aunty

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!

Golven – White Sands of Vengurla

One of the best things about traveling to a beach, even though I’m not so much a beach person is to absolve myself of all worldly existence and let the waves reach out to my ears and see the horizon across the ocean to drive a beautiful point home.

Sunset at Vengurla

Other than that of course is the Sand, Solitude and most importantly the Serenity! That is something I must say was a plentiful when we had an opportunity last weekend, a long one I must say to head out to the pristine, clean and virgin beach of Vengurla! Usually, beaches for people in Mumbai mixed with a long weekend always amounts to a trip to Goa and back. Having been there umpteen number of times, this time around we decided to take a short detour, though not that far away from Goa, yet seculded enough to give us our very own version of a ‘Private Beach’ destination at Golven Beach Resort.

Golven Resort

Beautiful AC Cottages, with great design at Golven Resort

Golven – Solituded De Strand  is aptly named, with all the solitude you can get especially if you are the kind who likes the view of the beach more than actually passing out on the beach, the sound of the waves more than the whiplash of the stirring ocean. Golven in French means ‘White Sand’, White Sand indeed and How! The sand is truly grained, white and a blessing for your feet when you lay your feet down and sink in the surreal view and the magnificence of the simplicity this place offers you.

White Sand Footsteps

White Sands of Vengurla

One of the best things about this place, besides the quiet and serene nature of the surrounding has to be it’s comfortable and cozy cottages laid meticulously across the landscape so as to provide each and every one of them a really good view to the beach. Other than that of course is what one needs the most. The comfort of a nice bed, clean and minimal interiors and a great balcony to sit, ponder, think and get back to your soul, especially when time is aplenty.

Beach View

A great blend of good architecture, by an architect from Pondicherry, as I’m told by Mrs. Pandit, the caretaker and owner’s mother shows a contemporary belief in minimal, modern and blend of both good rustic cottage like ambience, coupled with great glass and steel decor with lamp shades, AC and a remote controlled Fan. I must say we were quite impressed especially when we went in first. Not to mention the local ‘Kokam Sharbat’ for a welcome drink. Yep, Konkan has it’s specialties and Golven Resort too. First impressions, were most suitably the best impressions.

Mrs. Pandit, Golven Resort Owner's Mother

Mrs. Pandit, Golven Resort Owner’s Mother

Interior

Kokam

Besides the beautiful ambience, the nicely cleared pathways, a garden with beautiful flowers and of course hammocks and bean bags staring into the ocean, you realize that you’ve come home to your vacation. Post freshening up, we decided to head to lunch. And might I add, no Konkan lunch is complete, unless you have the most infamous Kokam Kadi.

Malvani Food

Kokam Kadi is to die for…

If you are the romantic type and want to have a dinner date in the evening, the ambiance picks up really well and gets you in the mood for the perfect dinner!

Ambient Lighting after Sunset at the Restaurant

Ambient Lighting after Sunset at the Restaurant

Other than lazying around and vacationing in style, there are a few things you can do to feel relaxed especially when the sun is down. Taking scooty ride across to a nearby village and find some still water to Kayak towards the ocean was a beautiful experience. The ride to this place was full of greenery and it also rained a bit, something that added to the magic of the weekend trip.

Greenery

Beautiful Lush greenery surrounded with tall trees!

Boat

View en route the Lake to go Kayaking!

And of course another interesting thing to do, especially if you want to take a hike is to go to the Lighthouse nearby. Walking about 300 steps amidst a few Mimosa Pudica (Touch Me Not) leaves and some really beautiful plantations to come across to a magical view of the expansive ocean, the Vengurla beach and the breezy feel of nothing but some really encapsulating touch to the whole experience.

Trek to Lighthouse

View from Lighthouse

Special Note: Our trip to Vengurla was possible thanks to the invitation and hospitality extended byGolven Beach Resort.  Situated bang in the center of Bagayati or Vengurla beach, Golven Beach Resorts offer 10 self-contained AC cottages with an open-deck restaurant open air conference hall and provision for beach camping since December 2013. Owing its roots to the French, the resort is named as  a tribute to the white sand beaches in the area. Our accommodation and  food was sponsored by them on this trip. A special mention of their lovely staff for extending their warm hospitality to us. 

The Golven Team

The Golven Team