Year: 2013

Learning to Walk Away.

By the time you’re reading this, I’ll be flying over the Indian Ocean to the exotic Seychelles islands. I haven’t stopped dreaming about the pristine beaches and turquoise waters since my trip to Mauritius last year (Read: What a Fisherman Taught Me About Paradise). I didn’t think the seagulls would call me back so soon. In fact, I didn’t think I’d be travelling internationally for a while. And there’s only one reason. I’m learning to walk away. Shivya NathI’m the founder of this award-winning travel blog about offbeat and sustainable travel, and author of the bestselling travel memoir, The Shooting Star. In 2011, I quit my full-time job, and gradually gave up my home, sold most of my possessions, stored some in the boot of a friend’s car and embraced a nomadic life. Connect with me on Instagram to hear more about my adventures and personal journey.

Auroville matrimandir

A Guide to Auroville: Slow Life, Volunteering and Organic Food.

There’s more to Auroville than Matrimandir and Auro Beach. Over a month, I found that visiting Auroville can be more meaningful. Featured image by Okramesh (CC). Post updated 2020. Back in 2011, when I quit my corporate job to follow my dream to travel the world, I didn’t imagine I would one day land up in a township dedicated to the same ideology. That township is Auroville. A place where people come to live their dreams. I’ve come across countless stories. A market researcher turned organic farmer. A policeman turned village school headmaster. A corporate honcho turned teacher. A teacher turned mechanic. This is a place to ditch the life you’ve lived, and live the life you’ve always wanted, even if for a few days. Here your conviction to follow your passion holds more value than your salary or title. Visiting Auroville on a day trip from Pondicherry is a bad idea. It is a place to stay and soak in the spirit of doing the things you really love. Take my guide and stay …

Indian travel blogger, Indian female traveller

Contest: Win a Flight to Europe With Lufthansa!

Back in 2011, when I took my first trip to Europe, I wasn’t a travel blogger. I was just a girl with a dream to see the world. I was bound to a cubicle, with a 9 to 5 schedule that I couldn’t wait to break out of. And then it happened. I took part in a travel contest on Facebook, and unexpectedly won two return flights to Paris! I decided to make a full-blown Euro Trip out of it, started blogging about travel, and the rest as they say, is history (Read: The Story of How I Quit My Job to Travel). Shivya NathI’m the founder of this award-winning travel blog about offbeat and sustainable travel, and author of the bestselling travel memoir, The Shooting Star. In 2011, I quit my full-time job, and gradually gave up my home, sold most of my possessions, stored some in the boot of a friend’s car and embraced a nomadic life. Connect with me on Instagram to hear more about my adventures and personal journey.

Auroville: Utopia or Something Like It.

I’m not oblivious to the contradictions in the “Auroville utopia”. But where else in India can you live with values of sustainability and no judgement? I lie across a ledge on the open terrace of Auroville’s Solar Kitchen. Inspiring my words are the soothing melodies of an aged man’s flute. His music attracts chirping birds to the lotus pond below, from their hiding spaces in the surrounding forest. I feel a sense of déjà vu, like I’ve seen this place before, maybe in a story I once read. I come here on some evenings to read Thoreau in the fading light of dusk. And he to play his flute. We haven’t felt the need to exchange words yet. This is Auroville: a bit like entering a dream, a bit like waking up from one. Also read: A Guide to Auroville: Slow Life, Volunteering and Organic Food As the sun sets, the night slowly engulfs the shimmering solar bowl. On sunny days, this is literally the food bowl of Auroville. Solar Kitchen below serves organic food …

spotted owlet, Kanha wildlife, Kanha national park

Kanha National Park: Stories From The Wild in Madhya Pradesh.

Beyond the tiger chase, these stories from Kanha National Park / Kanha Tiger Reserve triggered my love for the forests of Madhya Pradesh. There is a whole world out there, in the dense Sal forests of Kanha National Park. A world far removed from you and me. Fascinating stories dwell here just like in the human world. Wildlife and nature peacefully co-exist, and mankind meddles. For better and for worse. These snippets attempt to look beyond what we witness on jungle safaris, and try to capture the essence of life in the wild: I will follow you into the dark When we spot a pair of jackals run off into the fields of Kanha Tiger Reserve, our naturalist can’t help but speak of their love. Jackals lead monogamous lives, and once they find a mate, it’s till death do them apart. In a jungle like Kanha, with predators as fierce as the tiger and as illusive as the leopard, life is tough. Yet if a mate dies, the survivor refuses to take on another mate, …

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 …