Over the years, I’ve travelled to and stayed in many amazing places, in many countries across the globe. Even with such high expectations, sometimes a place comes along that completely takes me by surprise. A place that makes me appreciate my life as a travel blogger. A place that I know I won’t forget for a long time. Lakshman Sagar, in the Pali district of Rajasthan, was one such place.
This was long coming. I’ve been planning and un-planning, thinking and re-thinking, and I’m finally going to do it. I’ve given up my apartment in Delhi, I’ve sold / given away most of my possessions, I’m leaving some clothes at an aunt’s place and some in the boot of a friend’s car, and I’m hitting the road. Indefinitely.
My drowsy eyes prick open at the sight of a massive fort, a short drive away from Jaisalmer city. Its rustic brown façade merges with the stark wilderness of the desert, and the sheer grandeur of India’s bygone royal era calls out to me. Khamaghani. Welcome to Suryagarh.
I think I’ve finally come to love the monsoon season in India. I’m mesmerized by the way the rains paint the mountains an emerald green, and provide relief to the parched desert. The way the clouds playfully flirt with the moon at night. The way the monsoon mist descends on lakes and waterfalls. The cool breeze, the raindrops on my skin, the smell of the earth, they are all subtle reminders of how travelling makes me feel – liberated.
I’m no monsoon chaser. In fact, I’ve spent most monsoons running away from the rains. But when the luxury boutique hotel Suryagarh invited me for a bloggers’ getaway in the desert of Jaisalmer, on the pretext of experiencing its monsoon magic, I got curious. I had never, until then, imagined that the vast wilderness of the Thar Desert could be covered in green pastures and small oases, or that the clear blue desert sky could be engulfed with grey clouds on a terrain so flat, you could literally see them burst into rain at the far end of the desert. The rains in Rajasthan were magical alright, but you shouldn’t believe me until you get a glimpse yourself:
It was a sad day when I stood at the door of Cafe Zaffiro, sometime in May, and realized it had shut down. A cosy, quiet cafe with the most awesome food, fast wifi and friendly staff, it was one of my favorite places to work out of in Delhi. That day I decided to start a fresh search for the best new cafes with free Wifi in South Delhi (Read: 5 Best ‘Work From Home’ Cafes in South Delhi).
Two weeks ago, I rekindled my love affair with Kumaon. From my attic at Te Aroha (Read: Te Aroha: Under The Yellow Rooftops), in the charming little village of Dhanachuli, I witnessed the majesty of the Himalayas. And so did some of you, through my blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You said you couldn’t wait to stay here yourself, so I managed to score it for you! Here’s your chance to win a stay at Te Aroha, and experience its poetic love in person.
This post was initially intended to be a rant, about how my life as a travel blogger isn’t as perfect as it can seem, how everyone’s always asking for free content, and how ‘knowing people’ can have more value than good work. I’ll be honest; July has been a pretty terrible month. Having reached a point where I really needed to focus on earning some money, I decided to put all my travel plans on hold this month and work with a vengeance (Read: How I Afford My Travels and How You Can Too). Let’s just say I didn’t meet my financial goal, but that wasn’t the disappointing part. The disappointing part was that karma, and I dare say life, bitch-slapped me in so many ways this month. In the midst of penning this rant, I started to recount how amazing the first half of my year had been – I got my first taste of the Middle East in Bahrain, stumbled upon hidden beaches in Thailand, journeyed from coast to coast in Canada, reveled …