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Trips & Tricks

Winter destinations in India

Don’t we all love the winter season? A perfect hot cup of coffee by the fire or having some warm baked muffins while snuggling into your blanket, sounds like a perfect date with self.

While this is applicable for one category of people, here are we, the latter, who love to explore the beauty of Winters! From trekking in the snow of Kullu Manali to enjoying hot kachoris in the streets of Rajasthan, winter is an absolute paradise for wanderlusts.

As “Winter is coming” in India, here are a few shortlisted travel destinations for winter travelling, so read on and get ready to back your warmest sweaters!

  1. Manali-

In frame : Hidimba Devi Temple, Manali

Best time to Visit : October to February

Places to visit : Rohtang Pass, Mall road, Solang Valley, Jogini Waterfalls, Van Vihar, Hidimba Devi Temple, etc.

We’ve all added Manali to our bucket lists after watching Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, haven’t we?

Mesmerizing views across this hill station are sure to make you never want to return back home. Numerous trekking options in and around Manali, river rafting in river Beas, paragliding over the snow capped hills, resting your eyes on the beauty of the Rohtang pass, you sure don’t want to miss this one, this winter. Don’t forget the small eateries which provide free wi-fi as well as a great ambience to give you the best relaxing vibes you’ll ever need.

2. Goa-

In frame : Calangute Beach, Goa

Best time to visit : Mid November – Mid February ( winter season )

Places to visit : Tito’s Street, Calangute Beach, Baga beach, Dudhsagar falls, Casino Cruise, The Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, Fort Aguada, etc.

There’s no “best” time to visit the party capital of India, GOA, but for the winter lovers, it’s time to start packing by November! What’s more serene than laying on the cool beach sand with a fantastic vibe of the city that never stops partying? Want a relaxing trip? Goa! Want an adventurous trip? Goa! Experience the beauty of coastal India in winters as you visit old forts, churches  and monuments by sunrise, and take a stroll at the beaches with water splashing at your feet by sunset. Hippie shopping, going high yet carefree, jet skiing, many bucket List items are gonna get ticked here, this winter!

3. Udaipur-

In frame : Udaipur City Palace

Best time to visit : September – March ( Peak winter : November – February )

Places to visit : Lake Pichola, City Palace, Sajjangarh Palace, Eklingji Temple, Haldighati, Jag Mandir Palace, Saheliyon-ki-Bari, Shilpgram, Ambrai Ghat, etc.

Udaipur is a beautiful city in Rajasthan and is great to experience royalty, luxury and novel comfort on a budget! Beautiful architecture and lightings, this city is one of a kind. For all those who love heritage sites, this city will be a treat to the eyes. Don’t forget to have hot kachoris as your body soaks in the cold weather. Shop traditional Rajasthani items at Bada Bazaar and have a relaxing sunset view by the Fateh Sagar Lake. Pack your fanciest yet warmest clothes to visit Udaipur, this winter!

4. Gulmarg-

In frame : Alpather Lake

Best time to visit : October to February ( for winter & snow lovers )

                                March to June ( for a greener sight )

Places to visit/ things to do : Gulmarg Gondola, Alpather Lake, Ningle Nallah, children’s park, Strawberry valley, Seven springs, etc.

Heaven on earth, Kashmir is a must visit for every Indian. Experience the second longest and second-highest cable car in the world at the Gulmarg Gondola and don’t forget to trek across the scenic Alpather Lake. Skiing in the valleys of Gulmarg has been an ever loved activity for tourists and can never get boring for anyone! Although the peak season is from March to June when the weather is pleasant, it is an adventure to visit this place during the winters after the snowfall season in January/ February, to see thick layers of snow sheets everywhere. Get ready to have the best snow fight fun in Gulmarg, this winter!

5. Kodaikanal-

In frame : Kodaikanal Pine Forest

Best time to visit : Throughout the year! ( Peak winter : November – February )

Places to visit : Bryant Park, Coaker’s walk, Kodaikanal Lake, Silver Cascade Falls, Pine Forest, etc.

Kodaikanal, known as the princess of hill stations is a winsome treat to the eyes. One of the most beautiful hill stations of South India, this one’s a scenic trip and you’re sure to get loads of amazing pictures captured, because literally, this has been the shooting spot for numerous bollywood films!

Cycle around the Kodaikanal Lake ( you get cycles for rent right there ) and visit the Pine Forest for an enchanting view of the trees. The cool breeze and the aroma of the pine trees makes it an exquisite experience. Relaxing, beautiful and wholesome, this one’s a must this winter!

6. Auli-

In frame : Auli Artificial Lake

Best time to visit : December to February

Places to visit : Auli ropeway, Auli Artificial Lake, Gorson Bugyal, Chattrakund, Kwani Bugyal, Joshimath, Chenab Lake, Nanda Devi peak, etc.

India’s premier Ski resort destination is Auli, a small yet picture perfect town. A beautiful winter getaway, this place is a must visit for all the winter lovers during December as this place receives heavy snowfall, which is very hard to find in India. The slopes here that are as high as 9000 feet above sea level offer stunning views of the surrounding Himalayan peaks; like that of Nanda Devi, Kamet, Dunagiri and Mana Parvat. There are a number of attractions here at the hill station. The most famous one amongst tourists is the ropeway. Don’t forget to trek your way across the magnificent lakes, to the scenic Bugyals, this winter!

7. Kanyakumari-

In frame : Thiruvalluvar Statue

Best time to visit : October – March ( mild winters )

Places to visit : Vivekananda Rock Memorial, Thiruvalluvar Statue, Our Lady of Ransom Church, Kanyakumari Beach, Mathoor Aqueduct, Triveni Sangam, Padmanabhapuram Palace, etc.

The southern tip of India, Kanyakumari, is the house to the Triveni Sangam, where the waters of the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal & Arabian Sea confluence. Miraculously, here you can see that the water of three seas does not mix, you can distinguish between the turquoise blue, deep blue, and sea green waters of the three seas, though the colors keep changing with the season and the day’s weather. Isn’t that so interesting and make you want to visit it even more? 

The beautiful architecture of the temples, the scenic sunsets at the beaches, gives Kanyakumari a beautiful mix of spiritual as well as adventurous trips and cannot be missed this winter!

8. Kutch-

In frame : Rann of Katch

Best time to visit : October – March

Places to visit : Rann of Katch, Dholavira, Gandhidham, Mandvi, Bhuj

One of the most out of the box experiences is visiting the salt marshes of Kutch, aka, the great Rann of Kutch. Do not miss the kutch festivals where hundreds of local artisans bring out the best culture of Gujarat and make it an exquisite experience for shopping, fun and memories! Winters make it very comfortable to enjoy and have a complete soaking experience of traditional Gujarati culture and food here. Empty your tummies, pack on the best traditional outfits, to visit the beautiful Kutch this winter!

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Travel Tales

My first trip

When I announced my most awaited Kovalam trip to my friends and family, I almost got a synchronized reaction from all, “Who are you going with?”  I proudly replied, “I am going on my own, by myself!”  My statement resulted in a loud discouraging voices “Wow that is very brave of you!” “Aren’t you scared?” “Will it be safe?” “Alone? I could never do that.”

It’s 2016. Women have made strides in all walks of life. But even the friends,

whom I considered to be modern and forward-thinking, questioned my decision to travel alone.

As a single 26-year-old living in in a metro, I was almost tired of seeing my friends with their significant others post photos of their incredible journeys together. Every time tried to get a group together for a trip, I failed, for the dates didn’t match or spending capabilities were starkly different. My well settled happy couple friends almost felt bad for me for I had no one to travel with.

I’ve been quite independent all throughout and would often go for movies by myself or ended up in some or the other weekend class.  I somehow mustered up the courage and extended my weekend one hour yoga class to a four day yoga retreat. I have to admit, it was daunting once I landed there and had my inhibitions in spending four days with complete strangers. After all what would I be doing all alone?

Travelling Solo does not mean you are travelling alone, Yoga or any other activity, brings together a set of like-minded people and that’s the first filter for a trip! Isn’t it?  Activities are more than star signs, you instantly connect and bond. My fears vanished somewhere in the dark alleys of the society.

I met travelers from all over the world, we sang, danced, had the best wine, shared our stories, shopped and above all had the most soulful experience while we started our day with a YOGA session on the beach. I made new friends, some soul sisters perhaps. I felt empowered like never before and I was not alone.

To all the ladies who often face the same dilemma as I did in the beginning, my advice to you is to take the plunge. I channelize the Zen from my trip whenever I feel stressed out. It’s true, wanderlust is indeed contagious. I’ve already booked my next trip.

Categories
Trips & Tricks

Items to carry on solo trips

What items to carry and what could be left behind was one of the most important, critical yet frustrating experience for me. So after my 5th solo trip, i created a list of my own. It used to have a lot more items in the beginning, but eventually i trimmed it to the bare essentials, rest I could manage during the trip from time to time.

I have carried some very funny stuff in the beginning,

like one time i thought a hair dryer was worth carrying along, or a travel iron for that matter

Keep a designated day bag or a carry on for everyday- This is the one you will carry along locally after reaching your destination also-

  1. Passport
  2. Transit tickets and passes (air, rail, road)
  3. Your ID card
  4. Your medical card with emergency contact number
  5. Extra photographs (There are a lot of forms which could be filled out there)
  6. Your cash and prepaid cards
  7. Your field notebook with research
  8. Emergency phone numbers for local authorities- The nearest police station and its contact number, the nearest hospital and its contact number.
  9. Travel money belt
  10. Medical kit

This will be a series of articles, next up I will list out the essential clothing items to carried along according to me.

Categories
Trips & Tricks

Medical kit for travels

So I started on lists but I feel this one deserves a separate list-

Medical emergencies or irritants can be the biggest spoiler in a trip and since you are traveling alone, you do not want any irritant to spoil your trip even a tiny bit. Assuming you are not a health hazard to yourself and to the society, these are all the items you might need to protect yourself from unnecessary illness and keep you going on enjoying your solo time.

  1. Pain Killer: For any untoward pain or a tiny injury that might happen while getting off the train or flight or hauling your luggage across the pathway of a dream villa. You don’t want any tiny injury or pain to spoil your trip.
  2. Balm: For any muscle pain that might irritate you.
  3. Antibiotics and anti-allergens: In case you get an infection from any water source or from something you eat.
  4. Band-aids: for the unavoidable bruises if any. Somehow i always end up getting bruised on my treks and camping trips.
  5. Metrogyl: for the stomach cures J
  6. Soframycyn: Skin cream

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Categories
Trips & Tricks

How to choose where to go?

How to choose the next vacation’s destination?

That is how my mind runs when I am thinking about my next destination…

I usually have the most confusion and trouble getting through this part of my trips.

I am always fighting between the famous places where I want my friends and family to see I went and the places which are quaint, 

not so glamorous, but have that epic activity which I would love to do- like scuba diving. I fell in love with scuba diving on my trip to the Andaman Islands 4 years ago.

It was difficult mentally to strap on that BCD and think that it would be fine meandering through the water with all that weight around me. It was a huge mental block to ignore that fact that down underwater 10-15 Mtrs, I will have only the pipe attached to mouth to keep me alive.

But thankfully the 1 day of practicing inside a pool really takes out the fear of it and makes you much more comfortable knowing that there is a backup mouth piece and also an instructor.

But it is AMAZING, the feeling as soon as you get deeper than 10 Mtrs cannot be put in words. You feel different. The world is gone! It is just you your partners and this new totally different world out there. You hardly get the time to think about other things when you are scouring for the next thing to see down there.  Anyways, scuba diving will take another piece from me.

So it was quite some time ago when I decided I will travel according to my interests rather than what other people found pretty or astonishing. It was a way of making my vacation even more MY OWN. On my first trip I chose Yoga and learned the basics for 3 days. It was amazing. I returned a YOGI from that vacation

Likewise, I returned a Surfer from my second solo trip.

Now I travel according to the activity I want to do, subsequently I have done 3 more yoga trips. It doesn’t have to be a new thing every time for me. This one time I combined guitar lessons with Yoga on the Beach trip. It was the most eventful trip I have to say. I was pretty comfortable doing yoga by now and I chose this group of 15 women who practice yoga at the beach in Goa. Since one is in Goa, I decided I wanted to look for a guitar class in Goa, I am a basic strummer and can make the difference between a A-minor and a C-sharp

I enrolled for a guitar lesson by the beach for 3 days- twice daily and ended up playing a pretty decent version of smoke on the water.

Long story short- Choose who you want to be for the 5 days- a yogi, a guitarist, a scuba diver, a camper and choose the best place which gives you this opportunity to become a new version of yourself for the 4/5 days that you are there.

Choose a place which is inherently safe, usually the south of India and the North east and North Hills are the most safe in terms of statistics.

  1. Choose the activity that interests you- scuba, surfing, trekking, camping, yoga
  2. Choose the inherently safest place where this activity is undertaken
  3. Book your transport to the place in advance
  4. Find out the vendors facilitating these activities
  5. Find out about their reputation and past experiences of people if any
  6. Contact the vendor and ask for classes’dates and prices
  7. Find out if they take individual participants or have a batch requirements
  8. Usually they will ask you to come in a group so find out a few friends who are interested
  9. In case no one can make the time when you want to go then request them for adjusting you in a batch which already has a good number of people in it.
  10. Book and GO BE THAT DIFFERENT PERSON for a week!!