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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

A traveller’s guide to make the best of the Dussehra Week!

Dussehra, also known as Vijayadashami, is a major Hindu festival that marks the end of Navratri.This festive week is celebrated in various forms, with varied names, across the country! Each celebration has its own unique beautiful aspect and is sure to make every curious traveller fall in love with the glorious cultures of India! Here are a few remarkable ways for every traveller to explore the Dussehra week, this year!

  1. Mysore Dasara festival:

In Karnataka, Dasara is observed as the State festival – Nadahabba, because the celebration of the festival is steered by the Royal Family of Mysore. During Dasara, the entire City is gaily decorated and illuminated. The Palace and other important buildings are illuminated. Cultural programmes by famous artists are arranged in the Palace along with Sports, Wrestling, Poet’s meet, Food Festival, Film Festival witnessed by a large number of people. The Jambu Savari or the Elephant procession is one of the most prominent events of this festival. During this procession, 12 trained elephants adorned with colourful attire are taken around the streets. Performances like traditional dances, musicals, and displays of swordsmanship can be witnessed throughout the procession – indeed a sight to behold. As it travels through the city streets, it spreads zeal and joy throughout the city.

2. Durga puja in Kolkata:

Durga Puja in Kolkata is the grandest of all festivals celebrated in the capital city in honour of Goddess Durga during the period of Navaratri. While the festival of Durga Pujo is without a doubt celebrated across the world, in Kolkata, the vigour with which it is celebrated is second to none.This grand social event of Durga Puja showcases the beautiful culture of the Bengalis in India.  It is celebrated for 10 days, starting from the sixth day until the ninth day, the Pandals with grand idols of Goddess Durga are open for visitors. The tenth day, also known as Dashami marks the Visarjan (immersion in water) of the idol with grand celebrations and processions. Women, especially married women initiate the procession by first applying red sindoor or vermillion powder on the Goddess and then to each other. Food is a major feature of the Kolkata Durga Puja festival and Kolkata is reputed to be a foodie’s paradise. Kolkata Durga Puja special themed Bhog meals that have a little of everything. 

3. Kulasekarapattinam dasara in Tamil nadu:

Thisis a different way of celebrating Dussehra in Tamil Nadu state of India. The festival is celebrated for 10 days around the Mutharamman Temple, which is a hotspot of music, dance and drama and showcases an amazing range of vibrant costumes. An exclusive aspect of this festival is a trance dance in which people swing in unique costumes on the lively beats of thara thappattam.

This gives travellers a different outlook of the festival and is a one of a kind experience.

4. Ravan dahan in North India (mainly Uttar Pradesh):

There are many places in Uttar Pradesh state of India where Dussehra is celebrated by setting the statue of Ravana on fire by Lord Rama. It depicts the victory of good over evil. At cities like Varanasi, Lucknow and Kanpur, Ram Leela is performed on a grand level at prime locations of the city. Actors in the attire of Lord Ram, Lakshman and Hanuman perform the epic saga using audio visual devices and the audience is thrilled to see them while assassinating the idols of Ravana, Kumbhakaran and Meghnath.

This is a very interesting sight for tourists and gives goosebumps, taking every traveller down to its Indian mythological roots.

5. Kullu dussehra:

This is one of the much-awaited festivals not only for Indians but for people outside the country too.

The centre of this festival is the Dhalpur Maidan. The festival starts with the pooja of Lord Raghunath. Then all the deities across the town are carried on a rath by the Worshipper’s to the Maidan. On the 5th or 6th day of Dussehra celebration, a gathering of all the village devtas takes place. On the last day, a huge bonfire is lit in which a lamb, a rooster, a fish, a crab and a buffalo are sacrificed.

The Kullu Dussehra celebration is different from Dussehra celebrations anywhere else and thus is to be a must witnessed event by every avid traveller!

#LiveLikeALocal Let our network of handpicked, verified local experts make sure that you get the real taste of the place you are visiting. Get to know the people who are hosting you, taste their food, celebrate their festivals, get to know about the latest hot spots and more.

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Trips & Tricks

Iconic places for foodies

India is one of the richest countries in terms of culture and of course, FOOD! Here are the most popular and mouth watering dishes from across the country which you gotta add on your food travel bucket List right away!

Even international tourists do not miss visiting these super famous eateries!

  1. Paranthe wali gali, Delhi:

The paranthas at Gali Paranthe Wali are a mix of the traditional Punjabi paratha and the Bedmi poori (deep-fried stuffed Indian bread), which is cooked not on the Tawa but deep-fried in a kadhai.. It is served with spicy potato sabzi or curry and tamarind-banana chutney. You just cannot miss this one when in Delhi!

2. MTR, Bangalore:

Mavalli Tiffin Rooms, known more popularly as MTR, was established in 1924 and is one of Bangalore’s oldest and most well known restaurants. It serves one of the best Dosas and Idlis in Bangalore along with a generous amount of chutney and ghee!

Not even a fitness freak can resist this one!

3. Deena chat bhandar, Varanasi:

Varanasi is a paradise for North Indian food lovers. When it comes to street food, Deena Chat Bhandar tops every must-go-to list. You’ll get to savour a myriad of chaats here, but its most famous offering is the tamatar chaat. It has two outlets, both situated in Varanasi’s food hotspots – Dashashwamedh Ghat and Chowk. Deena Chat Bhandar has been wowing people for 5 decades and things haven’t changed a bit.

4. Dastarkhwan, Lucknow:

The Mughal’s Dastarkhwan in Hazratganj is the right place to sample authentic Mughlai fare from Awadh. From lip-smacking galawat kebab and mutton rogan josh to chicken biryani and shami kabab, this restaurant is a carnivore’s delight. A hub for Mughlai food lovers, the restaurant is frequently listed as one of the best places for Mughlai cuisine in Lucknow. You can enjoy a wide array of non-vegetarian dishes at a pocket-friendly rate.

You’re guaranteed to walk out with a wide smile and satisfied stomach.

5. masala chowk, Jaipur:

Jaipur Masala Chowk is an open-air food court in Ram Niwas Garden to enjoy the local flavors of Jaipur! Masala means spice and chowk means public square or an open area. The word hints at a place with a variety of shops and kiosks serving street food.

Must try : Pyaaz Kachori, Kulfi Falooda, Dal Baati Churma, Aloo Cholle Tikki, etc.

6. Ashok vada pao stall, Mumbai:

The vada pav is iconic to Mumbai, and Ashok Vada Pav at Prabhadevi has time and again been declared as the best in the city. This place has been serving vada pav for over two decades now and is truly the favourite of every Mumbaikar. India takes pride in Vada Pav as a street food, and as a tourist, you just cannot miss this one!

7. Joshi dahi bada house, Indore:

If you are in Indore, not seeing Joshi Ji swirling Dahi vada would be a big miss. The local people love Joshi Ji who is the owner of this eatery, for throwing Dahi vada in the air and catching it like a pro! Joshi Ji is one talented man! It’s something that every foodie should definitely try at least once. Eat this flying Dahi Vada, bite on the lip-smacking bhutte ka kees, sip Kadak Chai, and get lost in the amazing taste and conversations with the numerous  foodies who visit this place everyday!

8. Dindigul thalappakatti, Chennai:

The Thalappakatti Biriyani Hotel’s roots can be traced all the way back to 1957. The Rs 200-crore biriyani brand now has 40 branches across the world and is cooking up other plans of expansion. Dindigul Thalappakatti Biriyani’s core offering is the Mutton Biryani, chicken and minced meat biryani. Varieties like Chicken 65 Biryani, Paneer Biryani and Mushroom Biryani,among other options, are also available. The menu also has barbecues and other South Indian delicacies like Mutton Sukka and Karandi Omelette.

No non veg foodie traveller can miss this!

9. Hot stimulating cafe, Darjeeling (momos):

Darjeeling takes pride in this tiny, cozy place called Hot Stimulating Cafe, for serving one of the best Momos in town! Super popular amongst tourists, it’s a small place serving mainly vegetarian delicacies and also famous homemade root beer, served in bamboo glass. This is offered only to tourists and not to the localites. Thukpa is a must try here as well!

There, we just gave you 9 reasons to travel if you are a food lover. Even if you are not, make sure to include such local hot spots on your next trip to your favorite locations. Locals can give you the best recommendations and this will make you feel like a local #TravelLikeaLocal

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Travel Tales

Why travel solo?

Every once in a while, i feel like getting away from the chaos. Chaos can be different for everyone- for me its my household responsibilities. I feel like getting away from all this, only once in a while

I am otherwise a very well read and educated girl who was working in the IT sector for 5 years before i married the love of my life and decided to focus on the house part of the ecosystem.

Not that is was a one sided decision or my hubby suggested it or anything, its just me that thought about taking a break and being the engine of the new ecosystem we had built. Now i wish to take a break from this “break”.

My first solo travel was not very hard to conceive as my husband is a very free minded person himself and was in the least happy about me doing something new in life for myself. I decided to go to a quaint home-stay in Kerala and read a couple of books. I took along Tuesdays with Morrie and The three sisters. One of these was a re-read, you can guess which one

While i was arranging my logistics and the household’s logistics while i would be away- i read up about this Belgian yogi who was travelling throughout India at that time. It fascinated me how this woman from a society at least 30 years ahead of our’s, was so interested in bought-in in the yogi lifestyle that she embraced it full-time. She had been travelling across the world and practicing and teaching yoga for over 7 years now, so it couldn’t have been infatuation- I had to try it out!

I contacted her through her blog and enrolled for a 4 days yoga-essence lesson. Yay! my vacation had a purpose now.

To be honest it was a lot of work to make this trip happen, book the home-stay, find out and arrange for a transport from the airport till the home-stay, things to carry, chargers, books, clothes, yoga clothes, non-yoga clothes, find out other things to do, buy a lonely planet, pretend to read it, so on and so forth. It did not matter though, I was doing it all for MYSELF.

On the day of the flight, i felt quite free even before i embarked on it! funny!, but i thought to myself, when was the last time i did anything for myself. I have done huge projects for the company, not so huge but equally tedious ones for the house, never ever have I done anything JUST FOR MYSELF. as if everything else vanished from my equation- the house, the husband, the responsibilities, the pressure, the DULLNESS of life in general. I felt happy.

The home-stay was really sweet and small, it had 4 rooms and a very large central veranda. It was quite a bit from the airport but the taxi was comfortable and the location was nestled between coconut trees and I could faintly hear the waves crash- so I knew it was close to the beach. I was rather glad that it was not on the beach, because usually that is such a farce. You can do hardly anything on the beach at the night but have to constantly bear the loud waves crashing, i have never liked it.

The host was just enough involved and detached at the same time that i still felt alone. That is what i wanted !

I read up both my books during the 4 days and the yogi was fantastic. I have to admit it was funny learning yoga from a non-Indian, to endure the life lessons in that acquired English accent- god it took me a while to not smirk. But the feeling of being alone, all by myself and surrounded by these girls who were also looking for a similar freedom i suppose, was really a multiplying factor. None of us really talked much to each other besides pleasantries. Few of the girls really got together on their interest of photography.

The whole environment felt something like it would in an Osho ashram i suppose. Never been to one, but i suppose a place where everyone is for the common goal but do not get into chitter-chatter about other worldly things and just remain focused.

The 4 days DID NOT go through in a breeze and i am glad they didn’t. I could soak in the fact that here I was, at a wonder place, doing what id rather do everyday and learning a new thing which Id have never done otherwise. It was a truly fruitful trip.

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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.

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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

all girls tripgirls groupgirls onlyweekend getawaywomens only AdventureAll girls tripBeachHolidayScubaSolo womenSpaSurfingTrekkingUncategorizedVacationWellnessYoga

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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!!