All posts filed under: Uttarakhand


6 Long Weekend Getaways From Delhi to Rejuvenate You.

I think I’ve finally come to love the monsoon season in India. I’m mesmerized by the way the rains paint the mountains an emerald green, and provide relief to the parched desert. The way the clouds playfully flirt with the moon at night. The way the monsoon mist descends on lakes and waterfalls. The cool breeze, the raindrops on my skin, the smell of the earth, they are all subtle reminders of how travelling makes me feel – liberated. Shivya NathWelcome to my blog, The Shooting Star. I’ve been called a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, “sustainability influencer,” social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan, sustainable tourism consultant and environmentalist. But in my heart, I’m just a girl who believes that travel – if done right – has the power to change us and the world we live in.

Te Aroha Dhanachuli, hill station in Uttarakhand, Delhi weekend getaways

Te Aroha Dhanachuli: Under The Yellow Rooftops.

In the Kumaon Himalayas, my experience at Te Aroha Dhanachuli – a unique boutique hotel in Uttarakhand. Every stone in Kumaon has a story. It speaks of the fierce spirit of the Kumaoni people during India’s freedom struggle. It carries the whiff of tea gardens that once flourished on this land. It looks humbly upon mighty Himalayan peaks that sit in the distance. This is the story of some such stones, erected by Sumant Batra back in the nineties. Stones that became my abode for a rainy July weekend. His love affair with travel started while he was still a child. Much like anyone who’s travelled in Kumaon, he was captivated by the charm of the lower Himalayas of Uttarakhand. In his late twenties, he fell in love with the small, obscure village of Dhanachuli. There were terraced valleys here. Verdant mountain slopes covered with apple orchards, forests of pine and rhododendron, gushing rivers, small streams and waterfalls, and no development or tourism infrastructure to speak of. The locals were friendly, nay, full of warmth, …

Bhimtal pictures, Bhimtal, India village life

An Eco-Friendly Homestay in Bhimtal and Other Hidden Treasures

Away from the crowds, The Retreat Bhimtal – a unique, eco-friendly homestay in Bhimtal – introduced me to some hidden treasures. I’ve crossed Bhimtal several times while making my way into the higher reaches of Kumaon. Most of these times, I’ve looked away from the Bhimtal Lake. Though surrounded by colorful trees, it looks only as clean as you can expect an easily accessible lake in India to be. At the start of Bhimtal town, ugly concrete construction lines the hill slopes. Vegetation looks sparse, and cars, fruit sellers and people are aplenty. Most of these times, I’ve been glad to leave behind what seems like an unsightly town. Also read: Responsible Travel Tips for Authentic, Meaningful Experiences on the Road Stumbling upon a rather unique homestay in Bhimtal during my research though, convinced me otherwise. The Retreat Bhimtal was described as a rambling estate in the midst of pine forests, far from the madding crowds I always imagined Bhimtal to have. I had to see it to believe it. The paved roads at the …

Ganga, Ganges, Rishikesh, aarti, prayers, ecology, sadhu, holy man

A Love-Hate Relationship With The Ganga in Rishikesh.

While the Ganga River Rishikesh continues to be a timeless beauty, it’s hard to say how long it can sustain our ‘religious’ offerings. We Indians have a strange way of showing our respect to the things (places) we worship. In the name of religion, we build cemented structures in our rivers to install large idols of gods and goddesses. In the name of devotion, we clean our feet, dispose off ashes and run mechanized boats in the same water that we regard as the purest to drink.  Such is our relationship with the Ganga River Rishikesh. While the river continues to be a timeless beauty, it’s hard to say how long it can sustain our ‘religious’ offerings. From an evening spent in the land that I remember to be almost magical 12 years ago, a photo essay on how our prayers show both love and hate for this magnanimous river. *** She meanders down from the Himalayas of the west With her icy cool touch and golden hues at sunset. In large numbers we gather, we …

Peora, traditional village hut, Kumaon, Uttarakhand, Kumaoni villages, offbeat travel, Indian villages, Himalayan villages, countryside

Conversations on Love in Rural India from Peora Uttarakhand.

In Peora Uttarakhand and at the Dak Bungalow Peora, amid the scenic Kumaon Himalayas, my introduction to life or something like it. Loud Hindi music blares through the silence of the valley, the wind scarred with it. Women dressed in jazzy saris walk down the path to a village hut below, big smiles pasted on their faces. Their eyes fixed on their toddlers who keep running faster than their heels can take them. This is not your usual day in Peora Uttarakhand – a small village quietly tucked away in the Kumaon Himalayas. It’s the day before a wedding. The entire village seems to be rejoicing, dressing up, laughing, singing, dancing, feasting and celebrating. I arrived in Peora this morning, in an attempt to ‘disconnect’ from my online addictions. We drove from the Kathgodam train station past the lake of Bhimtal, along slopes dotted with pretty green pine trees. Through python-like winding roads, amid dense coniferous forests. I knew even then that I was going to the right place. As we went higher, the air felt …

India, offbeat travel, off the beaten path, travel blog, jungle getaway

Hair-raising Adventures in a Sattal Camp in the Jungles of Uttarakhand.

Footsteps, shuffling sounds and an eye. The story of the night we survived in a Sattal camp while camping in Uttarakhand forests. The coals are slowly burning out, making the stars glow brighter. “We live in the mountains,” he conclusively says, “we can’t not believe.” We are just ending a session of spooky, even gruesome stories about the creatures of the wild and those beyond the natural world. Tales of leopards picking up dogs in the vicinity of where we are. White carcasses haunting the jungle path we trekked up in the dark a few hours ago. Some real experiences, some figments of imagination. As our newfound friend at Getaway, a Sattal camp says, living in this jungle for the last 20 years, he has seen everything and nothing at all. The jungle is eerily silent tonight. Just after it turned dark, we could hear the calls of the flying squirrels. We grabbed our torches and set out to see the jungle on a night trek. But sitting on a plateau in the middle of …