All posts filed under: India

Everything about my home country & my travels in India.

tsermang camp ladakh, ladakh where to stay

Simple Ways to Travel More Responsibly in Ladakh.

Exactly one year ago, I was lost amid the dramatic, barren, snow-capped Himalayas of Ladakh. I acclimatized myself to the high altitude at an eco-luxury camp on the shores of the mighty Indus, hitch-hiked along remote villages in western Ladakh, introspected at a nunnery, witnessed a grand traditional welcome for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, hiked through surreal landscapes, met a tight work deadline on the steps of a monastery (the only place I could find 2G internet!), rode in rickety buses, and partook in the wisdom of Buddhist monks. So much has happened since – from discovering the secret lives of chocolate farmers in Costa Rica to hitch-hiking through soulful villages in northern Romania – that I almost forgot why traveling in Ladakh broke my heart. On a rainy day, I lay channel surfing in my Goan abode, when a glimpse of Pangong Lake on the Fox Life show Life Mein Ek Baar caught my eye. Watching the show’s hosts bike along the highest motorable roads in Ladakh and bond with the semi-nomadic Changpa tribe brought back many memories. I could suddenly hear the call …

mopin festival, galo tribe

The Mystical Ways of Arunchal Pradesh’s Galo Tribe.

I will never forget that moment. In the house of the village pradhan, I sat with the who’s who of Arunachal Pradesh, sipping apong from a bamboo stem. My empty tummy grumbled as our gorgeous hostess appeared with a tray of starters. At first glimpse, the food looked gray, finely chopped, hairy. What is it? our troop asked in unison, all seven of us curious visitors, here to celebrate the biggest festival of the Galo tribe – the Mopin. RATS. My jaw dropped. Someone spilled their apong. Rats? RATS? Mopin is a time of delicacies, so rats were followed by flying squirrels, pig blood barbecued in a bamboo stem, and finally bear meat. I was glad my vegetarian taste buds had consumed enough apong, a mildly potent homemade rice brew, and were too intoxicated to react to the surprising menu. Also Read: In Photos: Hiking from Darjeeling to Sikkim Arunachal Pradesh, tucked away remotely in the northeastern Himalayas of India, surprised me in unfathomable ways. From the moment we crossed the mighty Brahmaputra on a ferry and drove across the nameless border from Assam into Arunachal, a raw, …

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Wandering in the Wild with Taj Safaris.

I woke up to a distant roar, and felt a chill run down my spine. Sitting up, I slowly moved the curtain behind me, half expecting two fierce eyes staring back. Much to my relief, the only glow in the pitch black night was from the million stars twinkling above. A cool breeze tingled my face, and the stillness of the surrounding forest washed over me. I oriented myself in the dim light of a lantern, reminding myself that I was sleeping in a machan in the buffer zone of Pench National Park. My love affair with Central India’s forests began a couple of years ago, when I lost myself in their wild ecosystem, and discovered why encroaching on tiger territory on safari may not necessarily environmentally irresponsible (Read: Wildlife Tourism: Are We Saving the Tiger?). So when Taj Safaris‘ invitation to experience the dramatic forests of Pench landed in my inbox while I was away in Central America, it went right to the top of my India cravings. Now, with a friend in tow, I was tucking back into the comfy machan of our hut at Baghvan – a …

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Travel Contest: Win a Stay at My Favorite Places in India!

BIG NEWS: I hit 10,000 likes on my Facebook page, and 12,000 followers on Twitter – both in the same week! Right from the days when I was a vulnerable little fish in the big travel blogging ocean (which I still am, but just a little less vulnerable), my community of readers, travellers and dreamers – aka YOU – have been my backbone. It is to you that I turn to in happy days and not-so-happy ones, and for that I thank you! Now it’s time for me to give you a little something back. So I reached out to my favorite eco-luxury lodges in India and partnered with them to offer you a chance to win two unforgettable stays. Ready to hit the road? WHAT YOU COULD WIN 1) 3 days – 2 nights stay with meals for two at LAKSHMAN SAGAR, Rajasthan. Once a 19th century hunting lodge, Lakshman Sagar is perhaps India’s most creative expression of eco-luxury. Live like royalty on Rajathan’s untouched countryside, surrounded by the Aravalis; a bucket list experience. Read about my stay at Lakshman Sagar here. 2) …

traveling abroad, travel abroad advice

Traveling Abroad First Time? 10 Questions on Your Mind.

In retrospect, I consider myself incredibly lucky for the opportunity to study and live abroad at the age of 17. I grew up in a protective middle class family in the small bubble town of Dehradun. In search of my independence, I applied to and got accepted in a university abroad, and flew away with a big study loan and bigger dreams. I remember being extremely nervous about traveling out of the country all by myself. There are too many myths circulated among Indian families, and after years of traveling, I hope to simplify it for you: 1) How to choose your first foreign destination?  My advice: Don’t follow the crowds. I’ve met many travelers who swarm to museums abroad just because everyone else does, even though they don’t particularly enjoy art or history. Choose a destination based on your personal interests, check the weather during your travel dates, research the visa process for Indian citizens, and find someplace within your budget. It’s okay to miss popular attractions if they don’t appeal to you; find your bliss and don’t feel judged. Remember …

Goa monsoon, Goa rains

Offbeat Goa: 12 Mind-Blowing Experiences.

On a rainy Goan afternoon, wrapped up in my blue poncho, I drive my bike past verdant rice paddies, abandoned railway tracks and sleepy hamlets, to cross over to little-known islands in the interiors of Goa. On the empty ferry, the surprised driver asks me why I’m going there. Why? Because these islands are covered in mangroves and mist-laden meadows, adorned with old Portuguese homes, and home to large populations of colourful migratory birds and tiny populations of people who, far from the beaches and revellers of Goa, exemplify the susagade (content) way of life.

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 a 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!

Ladakh nuns, Ladakh people

Heartwarming & Heartbreaking: Living With The Nuns of Ladakh.

On a sunny afternoon, I sit on the steps outside my room, gazing at the bare, brown mountains and their snow-clad peaks. I’m lost in thought when four kids, wearing maroon sweaters and warm stockings, their heads shaved off, come and sit next to me. Word has gotten around that I speak Hindi, and the curious ones have come to check for themselves. On first glance they look like young boys from the village, so I ask Aap sab bhai hain? (Are you brothers?). They solemnly nod no, point towards the nunnery, and tell me they are nuns.