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Posts from the ‘Adventure’ Category

Travel Contest: Win an Epic Trip Through Kashmir and Ladakh!

I tearfully parted ways with Ladakh over a month ago, but I feel like I’ve never really left. A part of me still wanders around the cold mountain desert, gazing at the stark scenery and merrily greeting jullay to the village folk. I might not be going back anytime soon, but I hope TWO of you, my readers, win this once-in-a-lifetime expedition by Ceat Tyres and Mahindra Adventure, and get to experience the immense beauty of the snow-capped Himalayas of Kashmir and Ladakh!

Thiksey monastery Ladakh, Thiksey, Ladakh photos

Thiksey monastery, Ladakh.


A 10-day, all expenses paid road trip adventure worth INR 1,50,000!

The expedition starts in Srinagar, takes you via Kargil to Ladakh, and further through Sarchu and Jispa to Manali, ending off in Delhi. You drive through some of the highest motorable roads in the world, above 10,000 feet, and get a chance to explore the valley of Kashmir and the cold mountain desert of Ladakh.

Leh to Kargil, Leh road trip

The road from Leh to Kargil. Photo by Wolfgang Maehr.


1)   Log on to and begin the contest entry with your personal details.

2)   Describe in 100 words or less what you would do if you were chosen to be part of this expedition, titled Monastery Leg Part II. (Read more about the expedition here)

3)   Add a photo or video from your past travels.

4)   Like Ceat Tyres on Facebook and Twitter.

All contest entries will be open to voting when the contest ends. Ceat Tyres and Mahindra Adventure will pick the winner based on creativity, from among the top 10 most voted entries.

Kargil, Kargil photos

Life in Kargil. Photo by Sajith T S.


As someone who relentlessly takes part in travel contests (and occasionally wins), I’ll let you in on some of my secrets:

1) Creativity matters most. Instead of entering multiple times or begging people to vote for me, my primary strategy is to make my contest entry as creative as possible – so creative that people WANT to vote for me! Think out of the box, think rhymes, think lyrics to a popular song creatively edited, think a photo that easily stands out from every other photo, think a story that leaves people with a curious question whose answer lies in the photo you share… you get the drift.

2) Social media influence counts. In a contest where the brand specifically states that the winner can share the winning trip’s experiences on his/her social media channels, it will certainly help to demonstrate the reach and engagement of your networks. If you have a strong following on your blog, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, show it, and show it creatively.

Dal lake, Srinagar photos

Dal Lake on a misty morning. Photo by Soumyadeep Paul.


  • The last date to enter the contest is July 31st.
  • Voting starts soon after the contest ends.
  • The expedition begins on August 9th in Srinagar and ends on August 18th in Delhi.
Ladakh landscape, Ladakh mountain desert, Ladakh pictures

Open meadows in Shakti village, Ladakh.

 ALL THE BEST. If you win, don’t forget to send me a postcard!

What are you most looking forward to if you win this trip?


Join The Shooting Star on Facebook and Twitter  for more travel stories.

Follow my Travel Contests Board on Pinterest to keep track of upcoming contests!

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Jullay from Leh!

I groggily board the flight to Leh at an unearthly hour. Waking up irritably to the flight attendant’s announcement, the view outside my window quickly changes my mood. We are flying precariously close to the snow-covered Himalayas, and would soon land in the cold mountain desert of Ladakh. Three years after my first solo trip to Spiti, I am back in the trans-Himalayas, still dreamy and wide-eyed, a little nervous, and hoping to find solitude in the mountains. It feels like life has come a full circle. Read more

Kinnaur: Of Mountain Legends, Unknown Trails and Wild Beauty.

For centuries, the valley remained cut off from the rest of India. Legend has it that when a road was finally built and the first car drove up, the locals weren’t sure what to feed it. The driver playfully declared that the car likes chicken and whisky. The locals innocently obliged, and the driver had a feast. They also say that when an elderly woman boarded a bus for the first time, she left her shoes on the road as a sign of respect to the bus. Getting off at her destination, she was shocked that her shoes were gone, no longer outside the bus where she had taken them off. Read more

Sikkim: The Lost Kingdom.

On a late evening, we sat on a steep cliff, drinking the local Sikkimese Beer. Sparse villages and farms lay scattered in the valley below. The River Teesta roared along intensely. The mountains echoed with hypnotic chants from a nearby monastery. We were lost in our thoughts, when the mist slowly rose, and revealed to us in all its snow-capped glory, the mighty Mount Kanchendzonga. Read more

In Photos: Hiking from Darjeeling to Sikkim!

Two weeks ago, I impulsively decided to venture into the remote north-eastern Himalayas of India.  Staying on an organic tea farm an hour’s ride from Darjeeling, I sipped the finest hand-rolled tea, drank the local thomba brewed from fermented millets on chilly nights, got a first hand perspective on the separatist Gorkhaland movement, and reminisced with the hill folk about the times gone by. Then I hiked in the mountains, through dense forests, past charming hill villages, along tea estates that dotted the landscape, and barefoot across the Rangeet River, to Sikkim. Read more

7 Reasons Why Bohol is My Favorite Island in The Philippines.

Years after my brief tryst with the Philippines, I revisited the country in March, hoping to discover its pristine islands. I sampled city life in Manila, rowed into an underground river in Palawan, walked on the edge of Cebu’s tallest building, and went deep sea diving in Negros. But it was with the island of Bohol that I fell in love. This is why: Read more

10 Unforgettable Moments in South Australia.

There are some trips that make you want to give the world a big hug. South Australia was that trip for me. On my long journey back to India two days ago, I couldn’t stop feeling overwhelmed by the pristine beauty of the things I had experienced, the warmth of the people I had met, the softness of the sands I had walked on, and the love that went into every glass of wine I had tasted.

These are moments that will always make me nostalgic about South Australia: Read more

In Photos: The Countryside of Northern Thailand.

There are very few places in the world that feel like home to me, and northern Thailand is one of them. I showed up there with a tired soul, on an impulsive trip that I hoped would rejuvenate me (Read: Going Back to The Places we Love). And what can I say? Thailand gave me the time, space and natural beauty to think, write, and appreciate the little joys of life again. Read more

Offbeat Rajasthan: 11 Awe-inspiring Experiences.

On a mustard farm deep in the interiors of Rajasthan’s Pali district, Pannibai pulls out weeds in the hot afternoon sun. A few meters away, next to a makeshift hut of wood and twigs, her husband and son cook lunch on a small fire. The family has been here almost 6 months, and come March, when the harvest is done, they’ll take their share of the crop and move. To another village, and another makeshift house. It’s the only way of life I know, she tells me; the real nomad, of the Rabari (gypsy) community of Rajasthan.

The villages of Rajasthan are home to hundreds of years of fascinating traditions, many of which will get wiped away with the older generation. Partake of these awe-inspiring travel experiences while you still can: Read more

Island Legends From Seychelles.

I often dream of a time when little of the world had been discovered. No maps, no connectivity; travel was only for people with a heart for real adventure. People set sail without knowing their destination. One day, a lucky bunch of them would end up at a group of pristine, uninhabited islands in the Indian Ocean and decide to stay.

These are their legends. This is a glimpse of Seychelles beyond the beaches. Read more


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