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Posts from the ‘Photo Essays’ Category

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.

I’ll let the pictures tell you that story.

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1. STARTING THE WALK ALONG THE TEA ESTATES OF DARJEELING
organized by my hosts at Tathgata Farm. Carpets of green stretched into the horizon, as far as the eyes could see.

Darjeeling tea estates, Darjeeling photos

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2. FOLLOWING TEA PLUCKERS AS THEY START THEIR DAY 
plucking the finest tea in India with their nimble fingers.

Darjeeling tea estates, Darjeeling photos

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3. PASSING BY CHARMING HILL VILLAGES
precariously perched, and often isolated on hill slopes far from the nearest road. The adults and kids both walk long hours to work and school, on hill terrain that can tire any experienced walker.

Eastern Himalayas, Darjeeling villages

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4. BEING LED THROUGH NARROW, SIGNLESS PATHS
in the mountains by our local guide Dhuraj, who grew up in these mountains and knows them like the back of his hand.

Indian Himalayas, Darjeeling to Sikkim

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5. SPOTTING A MAN SMUGGLING LOCAL BEER FROM SIKKIM
which isn’t permitted to be sold elsewhere in India. I would soon find out that the Sikkimese Hit Beer, made in Danny Denzongpa’s brewery, is possibly India’s finest beer. It’s a pity that his lobbying with the government isn’t as powerful as Vijay Mallya’s, so the rest of the country is deprived of such high quality (and cheap, at 60 rupees a bottle) beer.

Darjeeling to Sikkim, Himalayas walks

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6. PLEASURES OF THE WILD – A JUNGLE TATTOO 
on my arm, textured from the leaves of a wild plant.

India villages, India tatoo, Himalayas

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7. WALKING ALONG THE BAMBOO FOREST
our feet making music on fallen dried leaves and bamboo branches.

Darjeeling to Sikkim, Indian himalayas

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8. COOLING OFF IN THE RANGEET RIVER
four hours into the walk; the cool pure water a balm for my tired feet.

Rangeet river, Darjeeling to Sikkim

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9. CROSSING THE SHALLOW RIVER BED BAREFEET
from the base of one mountain to another, feeling the rocks, soft sands and cool water on our feet, and watching boys trying to catch fish with their bare hands!

Darjeeling river, Darjeeling pictures

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10. THE FIRST GLIMPSE OF SIKKIM
after 5 hours of walking – the southern industrial village of Majhitar, which has more immigrant workers from Bihar than Sikkimese people, and more alcohol shops than I could have imagined.

Majhitar Sikkim, Darjeeling to sikkim

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11. A RICKETY SUSPENSION BRIDGE THAT CONNECTS DARJEELING TO SIKKIM
over the Rangeet River, with wooden planks on the base, some of which have already fallen off! It feels more like crossing into another country.

Rangeet river, Darjeeling to Sikkim

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12. THE FIRST TASTE OF MOMOS AND THE LOCAL HIT BEER IN SIKKIM
which made the 5 hours of hiking totally worthwhile! The beer was downed before I could take a picture ;)

Sikkim momos

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Have you ever hiked from one state in India to another? 

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Any contributions to my travel fund (in kind or otherwise) will be highly appreciated!

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ALSO SEE:

In Photos: Majuli Island, Assam
In Photos: Jaisalmer in The Monsoons
In Photos: Bhap Village, Rajasthan

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In Photos: Road Tripping in Rural Maharashtra!

I am transiting through Singapore on my way to South Australia as I pen this. Amid the lavish hospitality of the Singapore Airlines’ SilverKris Lounge and the excitement of visiting the land down under, I find myself looking back fondly at the last week, which I spent road tripping through rural Maharashtra. Just 2.5 hours away from Bombay, the state revealed many hidden surprises! We drove along pristine lakes, stayed at a work-in-progress art village just off Panchgani, and lazed in the warm afternoon sun on virgin beaches along the Konkan coast. 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

2013: The World Through My Lens.

Looking back at my travels in 2013 has left me filled with nostalgia. One minute, I’m hitchhiking in Bahrain, the next, walking on a glacier in Canada. I’m going down memory lane in Singapore, and joining the Fallas street parade in Spain. I’m indulging in the most delicious Thai food in Chiang Rai, overdosing on hoppers in Sri Lanka, and sipping gluhwein in Germany. What a year it’s been! Read more

My 13 “Incredible India” Moments in 2013.

It’s hard to believe that 2013 is coming to an end. This is the year I truly, madly fell in love with the sheer beauty of India, despite the challenges that travelling here is laced with (Read: 120 Days on The Road). I experienced the “other” side of the Himalayas and the Thar Desert, ventured deep in the interiors of Assam and Rajasthan, and developed an unexpected fascination for life in the wild. In search of an India Untravelled, I met incredible people dedicated to preserving the country’s beauty, ecology, heritage and traditions.

These are 13 moments from 2013 that make me all mushy about how much I love this crazy country. Read more

Call of The Wild: Tadoba Tiger Reserve!

Between my recent trips to sunny Seychelles and festive Germany, I was drawn by the call of the wild to Svasara Jungle Lodge at the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra. My jungle adventures in Madhya Pradesh earlier this year made me a wildlife tourism enthusiast (Read: Wildlife Tourism: Are We Saving The Tiger?), but Tadoba left me intoxicated. I can’t stop dreaming of forests brimming with unravelled mysteries. Or the sheer beauty and intricacy of their ecosystems.

This is a glimpse of that world beyond ours. Read more

In Photos: German Christmas Markets.

I’ve forever romanticized about a white winter in Europe. The kind where I would watch snowflakes gently descend upon cobbled streets, and look poetically at the gloomy skies for a ray of sunshine. On this whirlwind trip across Germany with Lufthansa and German Tourism, I did just that. I sipped my first of many cups of gluhwein in Frankfurt, found myself in a time warp with Rothenburg’s medieval era festivities, fell in love with the colorful celebrations in Cologne and Berlin in the backdrop of quaint old churches, and revisited Dresden with much nostalgia. Read more

Panna National Park: The Most Beautiful in India?

Old forests of teak and acacia lay bathed in the warm glow of the morning sun. We drove along the vast expanse of the Ken River strewn with little islands, climbed up a plateau dotted with colorful igneous rocks, crossed bubbling streams and grasslands in shades of autumn, and arrived at the most picturesque sight – a 200 meter high gorge, with two majestic waterfalls, surrounded by dense greenery, and a stream winding in the valley below. Sitting on the rocks, we had tea and biscuits while watching vultures fly around the steep gorge! Read more

In Photos: Goa in The Monsoons.

A few days ago, I reluctantly bid adieu to Goa, and followed my heart to Kumaon. As I snuggle up in a cosy room in what was once a hippie town near Binsar, I reminisce about my time in the hinterlands of Goa. Whizzing around the lush green landscapes of Aldona, the cool breeze in my hair, a light drizzle splashing off my face, the salty aroma of the sea breeze, Goa made me feel a sense of liberation that I’ve tried to capture in this photo essay. Read more

In Photos: Life in Hampi, Karnataka.

Nothing could have prepared me for the boulder-strewn landscapes, majestic ruins, pristine lakes, and lush greenery that surrounds Hampi. Staying in a community-run retreat in the village of Anegundi, on the other side of the Tungabhadra River, we rode in coracle boats, swum in village lakes, and drove amid the remains of the 14th century Vijaynagar empire. Luckily for us, we beat the crowds, witnessed the monsoons, and captured a glimpse of real village life in and around Hampi: Read more

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