McLeodganj : A Dreamy Little Hill Town

McLeodganj Lanes

Up in the Kangra hills lies this little town of Dharamshala, also known as Little Lhasa because of the large Tibetan population. The Tibetan Government -In – Exile is based out of Dharamshala-McLeodganj. (McLeodganj is a suburb of Dharamshala.) McLedoganj lies in the Kangra District which was annexed by the British from the Sikh empire … Read more McLeodganj : A Dreamy Little Hill Town

An Unplanned Visit To Sidhpur, Himachal Pradesh

Our original idea was to visit Anandpur Sahib, with no further plans made. Not having found any place to stay there, we accepted the invite to a friend’s farm in Una, Himachal Pradesh and spent a good 4-5 days there, commuting to Anandpur Sahib everyday. The friends are beginning a new chapter in life at … Read more An Unplanned Visit To Sidhpur, Himachal Pradesh

Chikmagalur : A Dreamy Misty Coffee Heaven

Misty trails in Chikmagalur

I never thought, for some reason, that I would like Chikmagalur, having been to Madikeri earlier. And I was more than happy to be proven wrong. Located in the foothills of the Mullayanagiri Hills, Chikmagalur has a mild climate suitable for coffee plantations. Nestled amongst the hills and valleys of the fabulous Western Ghats, Chikmagalur … Read more Chikmagalur : A Dreamy Misty Coffee Heaven

Narrow Gauge Inn : Where To Stay In Yosemite

Perhaps one of the world’s best known Parks, Yosemite National Park is part of the beautiful Sierra Nevada Range in California. A visit to this natural preserve is highly recommended. And like any other travel, where you accomodation is crucial. So here is our little guide on where to stay while visiting Yosemite National Park.

The best place to stay, if you want to experience the Park from up-close, morning till next morning, is of course inside the park. Inside Yosemite are 13 campgrounds, some are reservable in advance, some available on a first come first served basis.

For a premium luxury stay, try The Majestic Yosemite Hotel, built in a building from the 1920s. Then there is the Yosemite Valley Lodge (near Yosemite Falls), The Big Tree Lodge sporting authentic Victorian architecture with charming verandahs and lush environs, White Wolf Lodge which is a rustic central lodge along with canvas tents set in a wildlfower field but 30 miles from Yosemite Valley, the canvas tent cabins at Half Dome Village, Housekeeping Camp (three sided concrete walls, canvas roof and privacy curtain), Glacier Point Ski Huts, Tuolumne Meadows tent cabins, High Sierra Camps, and 13 other sites with campgrounds and RV parking. These can all be accessed via the National Park Service website. Be sure to check weather reports before travelling and book well in advance to avoid disappointment.

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Sangla Valley : Surrendering To The Himalayan Magic

Sangla Valley

Early next morning, the rays of sun unveiled the mountain peaks with scanty snow, as we started our journey to Sangla Valley. We retreated downhill from Sarahan back to NH 22 and stopped at the first dhaba we saw for hot breakfast, next to the Satluj riverbed. The early morning sun was on the opposite side of the river, leaving us shivering in the shadowy part with morning chills. We were now at around 2300 metres, and could see sharp drops below, as we drove on the roads built by thinly slicing the rocky mountains. From a distance the roads looked like thin ribbons, and unbelievable that we were actually driving past them without a boulder or a rock falling on our head. We stopped for a brief ‘soaking the sun break’ and interestingly spotted Kashmir Rock Agama (Laudakia tuberculata), basking in the sun too, and heavily camouflaged.

Village Gate Tibetan Style
Beautiful welcome gates to local villages…
Kashmir Rock Agama (Laudakia tuberculata),
Kashmir Rock Agama (Laudakia tuberculata),
Tibetan Prayer Flags
Tibetan Prayer Flags on the road
Sangla Valley Road
Winding roads like these took us to the Baspa River Valley

Without much breaks, we reached Sangla Valley just a little after noon time. The valley was dotted with autumn yellows and dried up greens, heralding the winters. We arrived at Apple Orchard Camps, and were overjoyed to see Green apple trees all round us. We were greeted with a glass of fresh apple juice and light vegetarian lunch. We then decided to take a walk by the river bed. As the tiny trail that we followed touched the banks of Baspa river, we saw piles of smashed stones, and floating dust as a dam was under construction, another disturbing site of human interference. We decided to walk away and into the forests. As we neared wilderness, we were arrested by the beauty of the white river bed and pristine Baspa flowing in turquoise blue.

green apples
There were green apples everywhere.

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Sarahan: Because travel is all about the journey…

The thrill of journeys begin when it is all dark outside and you hit the road at the brink of dawn, waiting for the celestial body to rise like a crimson ball in the sky. And so we left Chandigarh before sunrise, en route to Sangla Valley, which according to many travel bloggers was achievable … Read more Sarahan: Because travel is all about the journey…

Mumbai to Spiti Valley : A 5500 km Roadtrip

A close couple came with the idea of travelling somewhere with 9 days of leave that were possible on a particular week at the end of October, 2016. We tossed out a couple of ideas, and froze on Spiti Valley. It would be just perfect, very cold, but not snowed shut. They would be able to … Read more Mumbai to Spiti Valley : A 5500 km Roadtrip

Bir – Billing, Himachal Pradesh : Away From The Maddening Crowds

After a hectic recce in Kullu, our shoot got postponed. Therefor, we had the option of going to Delhi and wait out for further information or explore somewhere in Himachal. Just then, a team member suggested Bir-Billing and we jumped on it.

Bir – Billing are two different but closely linked places. Bir is a tiny village town, which has scenic meadows, farms, forests and is also a Buddhist settlement. As such, it has many monasteries and a stupa as well. Bir is a quiet, sleepy little village, yet not big on the tourism map, which is what makes it all the more attractive. Once in Bir, we stayed at the Namlang Himal Resort, a beautiful tucked away resort amidst trees and meadows, made of tiny independent cottages, each named after a town/village of Himachal. The rooms are basic, there is no room service, which we didn’t mind at all, and the food served at their dining area is excellent. The only thing that made me sad about Namlang Himal was a poor imprisoned Alexandrine Parakeet. Upon asking I was told she had a damaged wing and was unable to fly. I tried to connect with some local wildlife groups to rehabilitate the parakeet, but haven’t heard more on the issue. If you do visit Namlang Himal, do check on the parakeet.

There isn’t much to do in Bir apart from long walks through the village and meadows, and visits to the monasteries. This makes Bir an excellent place to unwind. There are plenty of treks around as well.

Billing is the paragliding hotspot of the world!

Billing is a meadow in the forests, a 7km hike (or drive) away at an altitude of 2400 metres above sea level. It’s weather and wind makes it one of the best destinations in the world for paragliding. September to October are supposed to be the best times for flying, though when we visited in end May, lots of people were still flying.

The para-gliders land at the meadow of the village Chaugan, at a place conveniently named ‘Landing’. It’s a pretty little meadow with a lone tea-shop (tapri) under a tree, which sells chai, cigarettes, instant noodles etc to visitors. Every evening at Landing is like a little festival with gliders landing, local people out for a walk, and an excellent sunset in the cool Himachal breeze. Chaugan is the village which has the most number of tourist accomodations, bicycle rental and sale shops, and plenty of eateries. The food here is yet unspoilt and still tastes of home made fare.

This year in October (2015), Billing is set to host a World Championship of Paragliding. The tiny village town is gearing up with plenty of construction and new shops are opening almost every day.

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The path leading to Namlang Himal Resort.

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Kannur to Kotagiri : A Beautiful Drive

On our way to Kochi from Goa, part of the Mumbai – Coonoor road trip, we decided to stay overnight at Kannur, which had fairly warm weather for December. We were attracted towards the hills and cooler weather of Coonoor, so early next morning, we drove towards Kotugiri.

This is the route we took, about 7 hours with constant breaks, and we loved it! We recommend it to anyone looking for a great drive, awesome food, and wonderful roads with almost no traffic. We also spotted a Nilgiri Langur (Trachypithecus johnii) and an Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica) on the way.

From Kannur  – Putukaramba – Kannavam – Needumpoyil – Mananthawadi – Panamaram – Sulthan Batheri – Gudalur – Ooty – Dodabetta – Kotagiri.

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The road is smooth and well paved, full of beautiful curves.
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On either side, almost throughout the journey, you have rolling tea gardens.

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Staying in a tree house in Katrain, Himachal Pradesh

Over the years Manali has become too commercial with over-development, and honestly, parts of Manali seem as polluted, dusty and congested as certain parts of Mumbai. While on a trip to Kulu Manali, we desperately looked for a quaint escape. We found Katrain. A small village of apple orchards. And we found our stay in … Read more Staying in a tree house in Katrain, Himachal Pradesh

Birding at Malshej Ghat, Maharashtra

Malshej Ghat is one of those destinations you can quickly go to and not regret, when you don’t have the time to drive too far. There is a large reservoir next to Malshej Ghat called Pimpalgaon Joga. It is a delight for birds in the winters. A walk down to the lake in winters can … Read more Birding at Malshej Ghat, Maharashtra

Mumbai to Coorg by Road

The retreating rains call for one last time to cavort under the cloudy skies and misty winds. Just the right time when we decided to road trip to south of India, to Coorg, in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. The first stop of our journey was Belgaum as we wanted to drive through the Anshi National … Read more Mumbai to Coorg by Road