All posts filed under: India

5 Unintentional Discoveries in Kutch

At one point in my life, I loved planning my trips to a T, but I have come to realise that a strict itinerary leaves very little room for spontaneity. There have been times when I have come back home feeling underwhelmed with my travels, largely due to excessive research and having a feeling of “seen it before”. So, sometime last year, I decided that whenever I traveled, I would keep certain aspects like transport and stay finalized before the trip. I could add an odd experience that may be harder to book on the spot. And I would leave the rest to be figured out once there. Interestingly, this has led to some amazing experiences that wouldn’t have happened if I was too caught up in “living my plan”. The internet is a great tool to find information and build your own travel plan yourself. But sometimes, knowing too much and trying to fit it all in takes away from the spirit of exploration and impulse. In Kutch, the top 2 things on my …

The Artists of Kutch

After the spectacular Rann of Kutch, the agenda was to station ourselves in Bhuj over a couple of days, explore the town as well as the artistic villages of Kutch. Our first stop was Nirona, made famous by PM Modi after he gifted a Rogan art painting created in this village, to then President Barrack Obama during his US visit in 2014. As we got down from the car, a swarm of school children, seemingly underwhelmed with new faces, walked past, waving and smiling. We decided to follow the crowd that had descended from a bus full of tourists, crossing a few narrow alleys and brightly painted doors framed with bougainvillea, and we ended up reaching the Khatri household, master craftsmen of the Rogan art. The art form is intriguing to observe, and the Khatri’s willingly give a live demo. We quickly seat ourselves on the plastic chairs and charpoy in the courtyard. Out comes a piece of fabric, and a round tray with many bowls holding the different colours of the paint, which is …

Setting foot on the Great Rann of Kutch

I looked outside the aircraft window, feeling optimistic and excited about the next few days. There were many things that still remained unfigured on my itinerary, but information online wasn’t extensive, and I had been too tied up this time to plan better. What resulted was an itinerary that left a lot of room for spontaneity, but I had a good feeling that it would all work out. Mainly because the part I was most interested in was already chalked out. And I wasn’t thinking of much else. Other than the Rann of Kutch. I landed in Ahmedabad, checked into the hotel and met up with the others in the group. For dinner, we decided to eat at the New Irani Restaurant in old city. It was fantastic food for the meat eaters with the lamb curry, mincemeat kebabs and biryani, not so much for the only vegetarian in the group who had to do with Rotis and Egg Bhurji. It was an uneventful evening and we decided to call it a night as the …

The pain of visiting an Indian hill station on a long weekend – experiences from Kasauli

The walk to town wasn’t a hard one, but it was different this time, and not in a positive way. My dream of enjoying a long, peaceful stroll in the hills was shattered with the constant blaring of horns and the long line of cars, leaving very little space for a pedestrian. Suddenly in the standstill traffic, I see a window roll down and out comes a hand throwing a plastic bag down the hilly slopes. I approached the mall road and the situation was worse. There were too many cars and not enough parking spots. The police tried to turn back the cars, but I saw that many drivers were unwilling to listen hence creating a bottleneck. I walked further to visit the shops I always do and get my supplies, but there was barely any space to walk around without getting jostled. A lot more restaurants had opened up. The shops were all full. Business was booming it seemed. The street was littered with plastic bottles, wrappers, cans and empty packets of chips. …

A perfect homestay at Naukuchiatal

It feels almost unreal that we are halfway into February, 2016 is moving a bit too fast, isn’t it? I had a wonderfully slow start to the year though, in the serene hills of Nainital, surrounded by friends, in a cozy hill cottage overlooking Naukuchiatal Lake. It was a New Year getaway but let me confess that I am not a big fan of celebrating the onset of another year. I find the whole thing overrated, especially in the cities, who you pay thousands for going to an overcrowded party, where the food and drinks suck big time, the service is disappointing, and you are likely surrounded by college kids getting hysterically drunk and throwing up before the clock strikes twelve. So, predictably, over the past few years, I have completely abstained from the whole Delhi party scene on NYE, preferring getting together at a friend’s place, or even better, going out of town if it’s a long weekend. This year, we found a cozy lake facing cottage in Naukuchiatal which seemed perfect for our …

A rustic retreat at Himalayan Village, Sonapani

I was weary with work, frustrated with the hustle of city life and craving some quiet time last week. And the soaring temperatures in Delhi were adding to my woes. All I wanted was to get away to somewhere, nowhere and just do nothing at all. Recharge my drained batteries. And what better way to do this than to retreat to the hills with my partner in crime, my sister 😛 Himalayan Village, Sonapani in Uttarakhand has been on my mind for some time, having heard wonderful reviews from many but somehow, it never materialized until now! So we packed our bags, took the train from Delhi to Kathgodam, and a two and a half hour (very snaky)cab ride later, we were at our destination. Himalayan Village I don’t really know how to define this place, it is not a hotel or a resort but more like a homestay. The owners Ashish and Deepa stay on the property, along with their two children Aru and Vanya, and a big mountain dog called Jhumroo(who I found mostly …

Hotel Review – The Asian Confluence, Shillong

I had a lot of expectations from Meghalaya before my visit this October and like I shared earlier, it turned out to be a mixed bag of sorts with some great experiences, some disastrous and a few borderline average. Anyway, our plan involved staying in Shillong and using it as a base to explore the Living Roots Bridges, Cherrapunji, Barapani and the likes. Every single review I read online mentioned staying in Police Bazaar where apparently all the action was. It was peak time and since we did not find any available hotel in this location, we booked ourselves in the relatively unknown (to the online world) Polo Bazaar. I thought, what the heck, how bad could it be? To put things bluntly, I hated it! The hotel in itself was okay but the view was horrible, noisy and far from what I had imagined. It seemed like such a waste to come this far and stay in such an uninspiring place. We decided to head out and try our luck at Police Bazaar again, and all I will …

A Unique Trek to the Long Living Roots Bridge, Cherrapunji

I had read many travelers rave about the fascinating “living roots” bridges in Meghalaya, grown naturally by the Khasi tribe from the roots of the Ficus Elastica tree. These bridges take decades to grow and are extremely strong and one of a kind in the world. This was enough to get me excited and go see what the fuss is all about 😉 So on a beautiful October afternoon in Meghalaya, me and my friends see out on this exploration. We had an option to choose between the Double Decker Living Roots bridge and the Long Living Roots Bridge – as the name suggests the Double Decker bridge is two bridges, one underneath the other and approximately 3200 steps one way from the starting point. The Long Bridge is a single bridge, about 1600 steps one way from the starting point and takes about two to three hours to complete. It was already afternoon, coming back in the dark seemed tough, and since everyone wasn’t in the mood for an extended trek, we decided to check out the Long Bridge. Truth …

Travel tales from Meghalaya

Meghalaya can be welcoming and dissuading, charming and ordinary, exciting and dull, all in a single breath. In a way, it’s seems like a mirror to life itself – neither black, nor white, somewhat grey, in varying degrees. This experience may leave you with no specific aftertaste, an opinion not strong enough to qualify as one, and you will be left a little bemused on how best to define it. I guess some things are just meant to be left at that… Intriguing facts about Meghalaya Meghalaya is a Sanskrit word which means ‘Abode of Clouds’, signifying the vast amount of rain this region receives. Ironically, in my three days here, I witnessed not even a single drop 🙂 Meghalaya is home to three major tribal communities, the Khasis, Garos and Jaintias. The Khasi tribe is a matrilineal society which means that the mother is the head of family, the youngest daughter owns all the property and the mothers surname is passed on to the children. Our driver and guide for the trip told us that women enjoy a lot of power …

A tea garden experience in Assam – Wild Mahseer Homestay

With Assam being the largest tea producing region in India, a trip to this part of the world would definitely be incomplete without a tea garden experience. While plantations are aplenty, only a few offer homestays – unless of course you know someone personally at a tea estate and they are kind enough to let you stay for a day or two 🙂 We chanced upon Wild Mahseer through a friend’s recommendation – and it sounded just right because of its proximity to Kaziranga National Park(though the park is shut till November, we were told to check on the situation a day before we reached, in case a safari could be accommodated, but unfortunately for us it didn’t happen). Wild Mahseer is about a 20 minute drive from Tezpur, in the midst of the Balipara division of Addabarie Tea Estate.  This experience is your cup of tea if – You like peace and quiet, and can survive a slow pace of life You enjoy nature You enjoy having nothing to do (at least once in a while) You can survive without Wi-Fi and TV You are okay …