Sharing our very own Tales as we meander through the Indian Himalayan states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand & Arunachal Pradesh as well as our dicovery across many an Indian states.
Roopkund - Our Trek to the Elusive Himalayan Lake
The welcoming fragrance of the lush pine grooves, the enchanting narrow trail through the oak & deodar forest from Lohajung onwards, the elusive Neel Ganga, the blooming rhododendrons in pinkish-white and blood-red, the occasional bird-call breaking the absolute silence of the mountains, the miles-long green alpine meadows of Ali & Bedni Bugiyals, the bleating sheep herds in their hundreds always on the run in search of the next pasture, the lonesome wild stallion grazing along, the omnipresent Trishul peak, the shy Nandaghunti, the whizzing Himalayan icy winds brushing across our faces, the stone-shrine of the revered Kalu Vinayak amidst a carpet of snow - an amphitheatre to view countless snow-peaks up close and personal, were all part of my imagination, which, did come true as we trekked our way into this awesome Himalayan trail also known as the "Curzon Trail" seeking to view that jinxed high-altitude Roopkund Lake.
Magical Kumaon: Serene Ranikhet & Scenic Mukteshwar
Similar to our travel plans as always, destined to happen at the very last moment, this time too was no exception to this golden unwritten rule. Winter was gradually setting in. However, Mumbai and Winters are perhaps not synonymous.
The last 10 years, living and grinding within the corporate whirlpool of this sleepless city, we never recall wearing a sweater; well, well, may be a sweat-shirt or at the most a half-jacket in late December is the ultimate winter gear. The long jackets & pullovers hanging along in the wardrobe as if shriek out loud, "wear us also" and to wear them, where better than to walk in the Himalayas.
Re-discovering Goa: Beyond the Usual Booze & Babes...
Platform no 5 of the station was fully crowded as we slowly elbowed our way forward pulling along our suitcase. The time was 8.30 pm. It was humid and hoards of people were scampering across the platform, anxiously waiting for the next train, while a few hungry souls simply munching along hot snacks at an all-side open snack bar. Space being a a luxury commodity in Mumbai is perhaps best amplified here. Everywhere there were people of all shades and hues. Being the eve of the festive Maharashtrain Ganpati festival, everyone seems to be heading home bag & baggage.
Sleepy Coorg: Off Coffee, Cardamom, Pepper & Pork
"Hey, we are in the last week of 2011, don't you think we should go for a short year-end trip somewhere, to come back rejuvenated for a long year of work ahead?" I asked my wife Mitali over the dinner table, adding "I have a pending casual leave along with three official holidays to end the year."
"Yeah, I also think we should go out, since I too wish to utilize the three pending casual leaves that I have, which otherwise would get lapsed," she replied adding, "but why do we every-time decide to go on a holiday at such a short notice? Being the peak holiday season do you think we would get any accommodation and importantly, confirmed tickets and hotel bookings. It is understood that everywhere prices would be unnecessarily jacked up."
Blue Seas, Golden Sunsets & Mile-long Beaches of Konkan
Diwali 2011 was an unusually quiet affair. With none of our usual last-minute travel plans falling into place this year, we decided to stay home and while-away our holidays. Adhering ourselves to the umpteen requests coming in from all possible quarters for a noise-free, eco-friendly celebrations, we too limited ourselves to a few sparklers and lesser crackers. Like any holidays - the anticipation of which perhaps gives one more pleasure than the actual holiday itself - this one too came and gone away quickly. We realized it only when we were back to the same mundane home-office-office-home grind.
A hectic week followed, and, by Friday evening we both (Mitali & Myself) were like two restless fishes out of water gasping for some fresh air - to breathe, to live.
Picturesque Chitkul: The Last Indian Frontier Village
A dusty signboard read Chitkul, Population: 610. This was the first sight that caught our eyes as we entered picture-postcard Chitkul. Perched at a dizzying height of 3600 meters, Chitkul is the last Indian habitation beyond which lay sheer wilderness towards the Indo-Tibet borders.
Chatru: Green Paradise in Barren Spiti
Tucked away hidden in the vast expenses of the rugged Himalayas, a tiny little hamlet Chatru stands out like an oasis in the middle of this "high altitude cold desert" of Spiti in Himachal Pradesh. As we moved ahead in our Himalayan odyssey, snaking through the high mountain roads, from Keylong the District Headquarter of Lahaul, that fateful morning, through barren landscapes and scaling peaks, little did we expect to see something “green” in this literal moonscape.
See As we Saw: "Mummy Lama" of Spiti Lives on…
Ever since I read a captivating news report about a 500-year-old mummy, believed to be of a holy lama, discovered deep within the cold desert of Spiti in Himachal Pradesh, it had been my earnest desire to see it firsthand. As we planned our jeep safari across the high roads of Lahaul & Spiti region, we kept pondering whether or not we would be able to reach out to this Himalayan remoteness.
A Trek to Pindari Glacier & Kafni Glacier - Part I
Imagine a tranquil paradise - serene, grandeur and breathtakingly scenic. Soaring snow-clad peaks playing hide-and-seek with each passing clouds, gushing streams, cascading waterfalls, colorful butterflies, chirping birds, green meadows, turquoise-blue waters of the sacred Pindari & Kafni rivers were all part of my imagination. It was as if I could smell in the aromas and soak in the captivating views, as I was researching this trek.
A Trek to Pindari & Kafni Glacier - Part II
After our sweet success to Pindari Glacier our destination next was the Kafni Glacier. We started back from Phurkiya to Dwali and from Dwali diverted leftwards following the Kafni River towards Khatia and finally making it to Kafni Glacier the next day.
Misty Dhanaulti: Clouds, Mountains & Deodars
Situated just 66 kms from Dehradun, at a height of 2286 meters, Dhanaulti is fast emerging as a leisure destination for those seeking a quiet weekend away from the maddening crowds of Mussourie. Set within lush alpine forests of Pine, Deodar, Rhododendron and Oak we felt totally relaxed at Dhanaulti's peaceful laid-back environment.
Munsiyari: Hidden Gem in Kumaon Himalayas
Lush Alpine Meadows amidst snow-capped Panchachuli Himalayas as we trekked to the Khalia Peak situated in the tri-borders of India, Nepal & Tibet.
See As We Saw - Kullu Valley - Part I
Memories captured in our lens as we sojourned on a 14-day-long Jeep Safari meandering through the sacred Himalayas in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Part I of this photo essay covers our travels starting from Sundernagar, our 1st halt, via Mandi, Kullu, Manali, Rohtang Pass, Koksar till Keylong, where we halted for the 2nd night.
See As We Saw - Pattan Valley - Part II
Part II of this photo essay covers our travel from Keylong onwards. After spending the night at Keylong, we ventured into the barren yet scenic Pattan Valley - the combined valley of Chandra and Bhaga rivers - making our way to the remoteness of Trilokinath and Udaipur.
See As We Saw - Lahaul Valley - Part III
Part III of this photo essay covers our travel through the scenic Lahaul Valley. After getting our stay permit for our stay at Chatru PWD Rest House, from the PWD offiicer at Koksar, we started off from Koksar.
See as We Saw - Spiti Valley I - Part IV
Part IV of this photo essay covers our drive through the mesmerizing Spiti Valley. Crossing over the mighty Kunzum La pass situated at a height of 4452 meters and paying our obeisance to the revered Kunzum Mata Shrine, we gradually drove into the awesome Spiti Valley. Situated near the borders of Tibet, Spiti is basically a cold desert mountain valley located high amidst the Himalaya mountains in the north-eastern part of Himachal Pradesh. The name "Spiti" signifies "The Middle Land", i.e. the land between India and Tibet.
See As We Saw - Pin Valley - Part V
Part V of this photo essay covers our drive through the remote and heavenly Pin Valley in the cold desert area of the Spiti Valley. Starting off in the morning from Kaza en-route we visited the Kungri Monastery and thereafter went on to visit the Dhankar Monastery and finally drove till Tabo.
See As we Saw - Spiti Valley II - Part VI
Part VI of this photo essay covers our drive towards the Dhangkar Monastery after exploring through the scenic landscape of Pin Valley that I've described in the Part IV of this photo essay.
Dhankar (also Drangkhar or Dhangkar Gompa; Brang-mkhar or Grang-mkhar) is a Gompa, a Buddhist temple in the district of Lahaul and Spiti of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Situated approximately at an elevation of 3,894 meters (12,774 feet) in the Spiti Valley, Dhangkar Gompa lies between the towns of Kaza and Tabo.
Walking the "Land of Gods"
As the Pachim Express chugged out from the Bandra Terminus that fateful September 2008 morning, just could not believe that our 2nd odyssey to the “Land of the Gods” - Dev Bhumi – Himachal Pradesh, was truly unfolding. I pinched myself to feel it for real, as Mitali made herself comfortable, reclining her body in the lower berth of the AC compartment.
Tawang: Suspended Amidst the Clouds
It was a mystical journey to a destination far too divine to describe in words. Perhaps it's a paradise on this very earth itself. As we soared high up into the mountains on a three-day-long sojourn, it was as if our very souls were uplifted to make us feel heavenly and pure. The journey began in the plains of Dibrugarh, situated in the eastern fringes of the state of Assam in India's North East province.
Himachal Calling: Climbing the Land of the Mountain Gods
As the Pachim Express chugged out of the Bandra Terminus, excitement was clearly beaming in our faces. Our sojourn was to - the Land of the Devas – Himachal Pradesh, nested amidst the majestic snow clad Himalayas.