Month: October 2013

shivya nath, travel blogger india, indian travel blogger

2 Months on The Road: Highs and Lows.

Notes on my way to becoming a digital nomad. I sit 30,000 feet high, writing this as the sun sets above cotton-shaped clouds. The last two months have been a roller coaster ride, along the beaches of Karnataka, the backwaters of Goa, the terraced valleys of Kumaon, the forests of Madhya Pradesh, on trains and buses, and now, on my Indigo flight, headed to where it all began, Bangalore.  It’s been two months since I packed up my life from Delhi and went location independent (Read: I’m Hitting The Road, Indefinitely). I’m euphoric on most days and nervous on some. I’m introspective on some days and carefree on others. As Shams of Tabriz once said, with a home nowhere, I have everywhere to go. Here’s an honest look at the things I’m loving, and the ones I’m still learning to deal with: Becoming a digital nomad: HIGHS Slow travel  The single best thing that’s happened to me in the last two months is my introduction to slow travel. Despite travelling off and on for the …

kanha national park, Kanha madhya pradesh

Wildlife Tourism: Are We Saving The Tiger?

Our jeep comes to a screeching halt. In the distance, two low-lying eyes gaze upon us with a look so cunning, I still can’t get it out of my head. Our naturalist raises his binoculars, and confirms what we suspect. A leopard. It gently raises its spotted body, gives us a defiant last look, and disappears in the bushes. We are left gaping at the empty path, with goosebumps. When Pugdundee Safaris first invited me on a week-long wildlife trip in Madhya Pradesh, I must admit I was a bit apprehensive. My past trips to national parks in Corbett and Sri Lanka had left me with the impression that wildlife tourism, jeep safaris in particular, are terrible for wild animals. Paved roads in the middle of the forest, racing jeeps, the constant pressure from people to see a tiger; it clearly seemed destructive of their natural habitat. That impression is gradually changing, and not because of the bone-chilling encounter with a leopard. Bejoy, the naturalist at Ken River Lodge, linked the argument to economics; it makes …

Panna National Park Near Khajuraho: India’s Most Beautiful Forest?

On why I fell in love with Panna National Park – often called Khajuraho National Park due to its proximity to the Khajuraho temples in Madhya Pradesh. 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! Panna Tiger Reserve (aka Khajuraho National Park) has broken my association of wildlife parks with wildlife alone. I hope these pictures, taken with my Sony Cybershot, will do the same for you! FOREST RIVER ISLANDS IN PANNA NATIONAL PARK  which look particularly lush just when the park opens on October 15th, after the monsoon …

Khajuraho temple, Khajuraho temple photos, Khajuraho India

Khajuraho: Love in The Time of Chandelas.

The faint outline of a waning moon appears in the sky, as the sun slowly descends beyond the magnificent temples, and times, of the moon-worshipping Chandela dynasty. In the distance, a guide solemnly explains to an Indian family the sculpture of a foursome on the wall – this aasan (pose) depicts a man “satisfying” three women, the pose helps improve blood circulation in the entire body, he says. I gape in awe, first at the intricacy of the stone carvings, then at the nonchalant reaction of the family. Chances are, the same adults will condemn their daughters from dating men of their choice, label sexual references as taboo in another (non-holy) setting, and scorn at pre-marital sex, all in the name of Indian culture. Erotic sculptures are all over the walls, but Khajuraho isn’t just about erotica; it’s about the depiction of life in an era when sex was considered as normal as men going to work, women doing household chores, kings preparing for war and such. An era when men and women were as …

aurus juhu, aurus bombay

How to Pamper Yourself for Just One Day in Mumbai.

Got just one day in Mumbai? All the fancy indulgences – food, cocktails, bars and seaside spots – that await you over 24 hours in Mumbai. Back when I was a Delhi-dweller, I always felt a tad bit jealous of the way people in Bombay talked about the city. The je ne sais quoi, the laid back attitude, the cosmopolitan food. Every time an opportunity took me to Bombay, I indulged in the city. I talked to street vendors peddling their wares, baristas in coffee shops, the cabbies I rode with, and every time, the chalta hai way of life in the “city of dreams” shone through. One day in Mumbai might be too short to experience that spirit of Bombay, but it can certainly give you a flavor of the city, literally and figuratively. These luxury travel recommendations are compiled from my various trips, and focus on the western suburbs of the city: WHERE TO STAY JW Marriott, Juhu Facing the waters of the Arabian Sea, JW Marriott is pure indulgence. Unlike most luxury hotels …

Goa is a State of Mind.

A poem on green Goa, dedicated to the Goa state of mind <3 Every monsoon, when most tourists leave, I try to find my way to Goa. The lush rice paddies, the stormy Arabian Sea, old abandoned Portuguese houses and that distinct Goa in the monsoon feeling beckons. I’ve put together an alternative travel guide to Goa, highlighting incredible responsible travel experiences to discover Goa beyond the beaches and crowds. I’ve written about mindblowing experiences in offbeat Goa for those who really want to get off the beaten track. I’ve even traversed back-lanes and obscure neighborhoods in search of the most authentic Goan food in North Goa. But the Goa state of mind isn’t easy to describe or capture in words. In this little poem on green Goa, I give it a humble try: A poem on green Goa Every summer, Goans moved base to Calangute Beach Four times its current size, in days of no electricity No beach shacks, no sunbathers, this was the era of hippies The music and culture, still very Portuguese. …

A Visual Journey Through Goa in The Monsoon.

Goa in the monsoon is a whole other tropical universe – lush paddies, deserted beaches, flowing backwaters, so much to love. 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 a Goan village, the cool breeze in my hair, a light drizzle splashing off my face and the salty aroma of the sea breeze. Goa in the monsoon made me feel a sense of liberation that I’ve tried to capture in this photo essay: WHIZZING AROUND GOA ON MY BIKE  With the wind in my hair, and lush green fields swaying in the backdrop. SOAKING IN THE SERENITY OF GOA’s BACKWATERS watching men fish, smoke and socialize. CRUISING THROUGH GOA’S RIVERINE BACKWATERS  with my host from Cancio’s House, on a speed boat. Definitely Goa’s best kept secret. GOA IN THE MONSOON SPECIAL: MR CROC, …