Saptarishi, A Happy, tranquil and magical escape

The morning sunrise

Saptarishi is a small forest reserve, just about 60 kms from the Capital of Odisha, Bhubaneshwar. Situated in the district of Dhenkanal, it is one of those places that took my breath away. It felt like a magical places that can put you in a very happy bubble.

My friend and I were planning a little ride to someplace. As we desperately looked around the map, I located some interesting pictures at a spot. We decided to take a scooter , which I would ride, and set out on that unknown adventure.

Scooter ride!!!

We had no idea about the roads or the way. So, what’s the worst that could happen? We would return back, or the scooter could get break down. Armed with water and my favorite snack of peanuts, we set out early in the morning, around 6 am .

The past few days had been blazing hot, we feared the day would be same too… but nope… we had appeased some god for the day. It was cloudy, the air was crisp, nippy and just perfect.

The roads were just magic!

We planned to get to two spots in the range, one was a temple and the other was an unknown waterfall. Everything was fairly unknown, so we just decided to have some roadside cookies and chai and do some “planning”. Which didn’t happen, of course. We stared at passersby and chatted with the shop owner. This was around Athgarh, which is on the way. That’s when we saw IT. Them. A group of bikers, with the grandest superbikes I have seen in awhile. Both of us has hearts in our eyes. But, then, reality struck and we mounted our Scooter and sped away .

It was like entering a magical realm.The color of greenery turned darker. Parrots and kingfishers were hovering around. Wildflowers in bloom and tiny little ponds started smiling (or so it felt). A blissful tranquility enters your heart. I slowed down the scooter to just take it all in.

The pathway for about a kilometer

We got to a place, where you can park your vehicle and go to the temple. As we parked, monkeys gathered around us , looking hopeful (peanuts were gone by then). We started climbing up. It was a short hike of about 15 mins and we reached the temple. We offered some Prasad and scattered it for the monekeys and birds, and just sat at the steps absolutely speechless. Both were so deeply effected by that place . Then it struck me, I have been here before!! It was about 8 years ago, when i had made a visit here for a project. Strange, small world

Our hiking route

We sat there for a while, spoke to the pujari and then moved on to the next spot. About 15 kms away was a secret little waterfall.

The gorgeous waterfall

It was a bit of an off roading session, we parked about 2.5 kms away and started walking . Google maps gave up and the local villagers helped us find the spot

It was love at first sight. Tiny, quaint, picturesque and set deep inside a dense forest. I felt humbled and happy…. and very lucky.

Just so happy to be here

We had the cross the stream many times. Shoes were wet, scratched on the palms and knees, checking for leeches and so so happy. Didn’t feel like saying goodbye to the place. I hope to get there soon, again.

Everything felt like magic!

We got back by 2 pm, tired, happy, blissfull and so satisfied. The meal tasted better and everything felt like a blessing the whole day.

I tried!!!! Stop judging

Would you like to visit this place?

Travel to the inspiring and beautiful Tapang in Odisha

Nijigarh, Tapang

Odisha has many beautiful and hidden gems. One of the most unexplored regions of India, it holds fantasies beyond imagination. Virgin terrains and unique flora and fauna render the place inexplicably amazing. One of such places is Tapang mine lake that became a fabulous muse . It’s half a day trip and trust me, it is more than worth it

Just 40 odd kilometers from the capital city of Bhubaneswar, Nijigarh, Tapang is one of the trending tourist destinations in this dreaded lockdown. It is on the way to Khurda and is easily traceable via Google maps. You can easily hire a cab to go there with your family. The best way though, in my opinion would be on a two wheeler. The last 2 kilometers are little hectic and needs a bit of off-roading skills.

It’s an open and bare place, so be sure to pack some snacks and enough water. Do be prepared with a sunblock and perhaps an umbrella if you tend to get dizzy in yhe heat . Describing Tapang would be a very difficult as it has an extremely interesting vibe and beauty .

Interresting mini spots around

The blue water, almost azure, insure to catch your wildest attention and the whole space and scape is just alien. The pictures you see doesnt capture the expanse of the space. The lake is huge and the hills around it almost look eerie.

The fact that it is so deserted, will probably soon change when tourism opens up, but essentially it is a mining spot that has been dig up and has become filled with rainwater. Perhaps the minerals in the area give the unique coloration to the water. If you catch the view during sunset, it will be a spellbinding experience.

The jutting hills, the tall grass, broken boulders and the reflections of the Tapang lake are simply breathtaking. The best thing is that you can view it from a high point as well as get close to the water. It is a bit of a walk, but hey, that’s okay for an adventure, right?

There are various spots in and around the place that make for some stunning photographs. A wide angle camera is your best bet when it comes to doing justice to the pictures.

It looks like a place unlike anything I have ever seen in Odisha and Tapang ‘s scape is just awe inspiring . So, on your next trip to Odisha make sure you check this off your list.

That will be me, hello

This too shall pass

Impermanence is the ultimate truth

Changes are scary yet beautiful
Probably the only thing that never changes is the fact that everything changes . Sometimes it take a few moments and at times years, but everything changes
Of late though, we have been pushed into a situation that was too abrupt, too alien and too uncomfortable #covid19 has changed so many things on our lives. I remember how scary the first few week were.
Being a freelancer, I was immediately out of work… and as a #traveller and a gypsy soul, the #pandemic snatched away something that was very dear to me. Even till date, I sorely miss travel ans dream about winding roads and snow capped mountains almost every night.
But…. it is what it is and we got to adapt. In my humble opinion, there are 3 simple ways to do that

Learning to balance
  1. Learn and empathize
    Forget what “has been” and prepare for the new, access your strengths, see what can you really carve a niche in… where do you really shine, even if it is …. shining shoes. When you empathize with people, you learn more, faster and adapt beautifully. You also learn how to make your skill, knowledge and experience relevant and useful.
  2. Keep communicating
    I cant stress enough on this aspect. It is becoming so easy to lose grasp of reality and become lost in lonely depressive thoughts. Keep those friends around, sympathize, listen to them and genuinely try to be there for them and appreciate it when they return the favour. Human connections and constructs are what keeps us grounded and humane… and sane.
  3. Celebrate yourself
    Know yourself, look within and recognize how awesome you are. Learn to love yourself, enjoy your aloneness and know that everything changes. Build your power that will fight all self doubts, lurking irrational fears and anxiety due do this situation we are in.
Starting new

Have courage and trust that balance will be soon restored. Stay positive and learn to Adapt .

Your life has so many choices, let’s take a step back and make the ones that really adds value to you’re life, makes you peaceful and helps you stay happy.

Reconnect with the child In you

Instagram of memories

Many of us love posting on instagram… We all may not be influencers. …. But some validation now and then doesn’t hurt. The millenials at times feed themselves by it… Literally and emotionally.

Narendra lake at Puri

The major segment of posts are travel pictures, architechture, memes and cute animals. The first two are under a lockdown. The influencers aren’t travelling, the followers are seeing old content and even original photographers have resorted to reposting. While, all of it is OKay, the question is what is the way forward?

Will things change, will there be some other kind of travel mode, will virtual travel become a thing and will it be #trending ? Also… What about digital nomads? And wildlife photographers. Of course, one day all that might open up…. But what do we do to fill up that void?

Personally, I travel because it’s great… Fills me up with unknown emotions, inspires me to do things, pushes me to work well and has made me empathetic. Travelling Imho is a profound experience, and for a gypsy soul like me, it’s like an intoxication. I know for a fact how people are craving to travel to great places… But *sigh*

Enjoying little moments in life

After speaking to a few people (about 18), mostly travellers, agents, influencers, friends who love travel… Etc, I figured there is a segment who feel they need to be relevant, after all… their livelihood depends on it. The entire travel industry is crashing. And it doesn’t seem to be of much benefit… Except there is way less carbon footprints. The choices that people are making are a product of fear , arrogance, suspicion, caution… But end of the day economy is suffering.

I would like to talk about how did I cope and going forward what do I plan. I was never a mindless traveller and now I am even more aware. I realized that sometimes reading travel books can keep me happy for a few days, walks and long cycling sessions into unknown spaces of my town is something to look forward to. While I loved observing cultures of different people, I park myself in a balcony and watch people and scribble things.

Musings and animated conversations

These things make you happy and is a travel in its own way. Honestly, it can give you enough material to post as well. There is always good photography trick and techniques that you can try with family and friends. I urge you to tell stories. I can’t emphasise enough… TELL. STORIES.

Celebrating the routine.

I am not talking about silly insta stories…. But about what you saw, felt, spoke, did…. About yourself, about the others…. Being more real will get you off that validation addiction too. We are now in an space when talking to people and human interactions are becoming less and less feasible. Social media is now becoming the new connect and context. So when building on it… Build well, build real, build strong. Don’t wait to travel as soon as this nightmare is over… It would drive you crazy and desperate. Start travelling into other spaces… Into yourself, psyche of others, little nooks and corners of the city. Let’s build an appreciation and gratitude of everything there is.

Capturing these little moments of happiness @home

The idea is to explore other aspects of travel. Change the perspective and become fluid and ever adapting. Why? Because it is BEAUTIFUL.

Gokarna, the chill getaway from Bangalore

#weekendgetaway from Bengaluru.

Another gem of an option for a weekend holiday.

Best way to get to #gokarna

By foot: hahhaha… Just kidding

By Air: this place is like 140 kms from Goa and the roads are pretty okay. You can get a cab from Goa or a bus to get here. You could also get a flight to Mangalore(230 kms) or Bangalore(450 kms). Basically loads of airports around.

By Train: The nearest station is Ankola (about 20 kms from Gokarna). You get ample taxis to get you to Om, Kudle or any location.

By Bus: If you’re from Bangalore, and on a budget, then opt for busses. There are busses from Goa, Managlore and other locations to. Check out KSRTC SERVICES to get a better idea. There are numerous private busses with sleeper seats available… If you prefer that.

By Car or bike: This is a great terrain for driving. You could take the Chitradurga(visit the fort if it isn’t too hot), Davangere(food place) and Haveri route. After Sirsi, the Ghats begin, so, pretty views would be your friend. This route is smooth(ish) and is a nice highway road. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try out the Shivamoga and Honnavar route. The route from Honnavar to Gokarna is really really pretty. You can take short detours to the pristine beaches (Dhareshwar, Shiva, Brahma, Saraswati beach) and then take the Kumta route and get to Gokarna.

There are some amazing places enroute. There is Yellapur and Yanna caves. They are these “off the route” spots which can really amaze you.

About Gokarna

Gokarna is a small village named after a famous and highly revered Shiva temple.

The story:

As legend goes, Ravana(villain of the epic Ramayan), who was a great devotee of Shiva went to Kailash to request Shiva for the Atmalinga, at the wish of his mother who wishes to pray to that specific Linga. Pleased with his tapa, Shiva granted that to him, on one condition that he would not put it down anywhere else. Ravana… walked back extremely happy. He knew, that praying to this Linga, would make him even more powerfull and awesome. Vishnu, on realizing this, figured that it would be quite a menace. So he calls Ganesh and asks for help.

Ganesh, in the guise of a Brahmin boy appeared before Ravan, Vishnu covered the sun, so it looked like the evening. Every Brahman needs to perform the evening Puja, so Ravana enlists the help of a brahmin boy hanging around and specifically asks him to not put it on the ground. The lil Brahman says… “all right, but if it starts hurting my arms, then I’ll call you thrice and if you don’t come by then, I’ll put it down”. They shook hands on it and Ravana went about his Puja. You can guess the rest. Ganesha put the linga down and vanished. Ravana realizes that he has been tricked and tries to uproot the Linga, but too bad… What’s done is done. He dishapes the linga a bit and bits of it fall in surrounding areas(which eventually become famous temples on their own). This spot is called Gokarna. Some people say its called Gokarna coz the linga is shaped like a cows ear, but its not so. Gokarna is located between the Gangavali and Agnashini river mouth and it is named after the ear-shaped confluence of two rivers. Devotees believe that Gokarna derives its name from the legend in which Lord Shiva emerged from the ear of a cow.

Thats the story, but the temple is not the only awesome thing about this place… Its the Goa-like vibe of the beaches. Much more chilled out, calmer and more relaxed that Goa and has an awesome mood of its own. You can pick great resorts or shady beachside Shacks(please carry all sorts of sheets and disinfectant in case of later)… And it would still be awesome. One can trek from Kudle Beach to Om beach to Half moon beach to Paradise beach.. And if you have more life left in you then trek more. There are some amazing places to explore enroute. Ask locals about it and you would know. This trek is an absolute delight. You can spot bioluminescent planktons at night too (if you’re lucky).

You can cover these beaches by boat too, and with luck, you may spot Dolphins!!!!

The best part though… Is the food. Delicious and absolutely heavenly…. You could eat all day and wake up next day and eat again. You get it all.. Pizzas, pies, smoothies, Israeli cuisine , all in addition to the local food. Must try the fish and other sea creatures, if you’re into that.

If you’re travelling solo, try the Zostel. It’s a good spot, has cost effective dorm rooms and it’s got all that you need. You can meet some fellow travelers from all continents and do local trips with them!

Also, I must tell you this thing that happened. Story time! .So, the first time we got there, three of my friends and I stayed at a shack on the Om beach. We met this really friendly and fun guy called John. We spoke a bit and then he told us that he is a tarrot reader! How cool!! . Cusiosity piqued, we asked him to read for us. He said he would do that in the evening post sunset at a place which was a bit of a trek up and secluded so that he can “connect with the divine”. So my friend went first and came back after a long long time, completely mum and upset. I went after her and the sight was… Well, interesting. Candles were lit.. And some paraphernalia was spread around… You get the whiff, weird stuff. So… He takes a puff of a smoke (not cigarette, wink wink) and blows it on to the cards. Now him and the cards… Are happy… Soooo happy…. and they begin. In 15 mins, I have really good career, but no money… Marriage could happen any moment now … And i might die while engaging in some sport. I was advised against sky diving. I came back and got to know that my friend was’nt upset, but psyched! All he saw was deaaathhh, And poverty and sad stuff and bizzare future(none is true, it’s been a while). Wonder what he was high on! Hahaha. Looking back, that was fun.

The next time we were there, we(4 of us this time) reached really late and got lost and had to take some weird route that brought us out from behind a shack in Kudle. I was like…. Carefully treading… One step at a time and being super mindful, holding on to the rock walls of the shack (did I mention that it was dark?). Suddenly i feel a prick on my palm, just as we are about to emerge on the beach. I get to light and I see catterpillar (or something similar) hair stuck to my entire palm, like a straight line … Diagonally. Black and brown in color and hurt quite a bit. Because, I happen to be cool and composed(my friends might say otherwise, don’t listen to them), I silently started picking them. A guy walked up and says brush it along you hair, it would get out. It did, quite a bit. My palm hurt quite a bit and itched like crazy. In about two days skin started peeling and it got weird. But then it got okay,obviouly, and I lived to tell the tale. The end

Once you’re done with routine life, and it’s the time to leave… Get some courage, apply for that long leave, or just put down your papers and head to Gokarna… Hehehhe. Or don’t listen to me and go back to your boring desks(sigh) and earn the money for your next trip.

Chadar trek : fading memories of being Dolma

The view near Tso mo waterfall

Isn’t it hearbreaking…. Isnt it all so human, the way some moments stay etched in your mind and some just fade away. Surprisingly, the ones that felt very important just faded away and the ones that felt fleeting are stuck as strong human moments. Much like all the porters on the Chadar Trek.  Their smiles, their willingness to do all it takes to make us comfortable, and those amazing smiles that rose from their hearts and crinkled up their eyes.

KD, our organizer

I remember so many of our guides, porters and also the horses and mules.
Humility and kindness is contagious , all of them helped all of us step up,  forgive, get over our disspointments and understand the humanity in those inhuman cold valleys of Zanskar. The way they would hold your hand, the way they would guide your footstep, warm up your boots on a cold cold night…. Local songs and hymns made us all smile and forget all of our worlds. In so many ways, this trek is about them and their life. We are just little thrill seekers unable grasp the enormity of whats around us, but they understand, they absorb our pettiness and offer a little glimpse of their intense world.
So much love and happiness can exist in those cold barren lands… and such confusing simplicity. All the songs and stories, all those numerous “Julley” and “bas 5 min aur madam” with that smile, to push you a little ahead, to help you discover a little more and not give up, just makes up the memories that I will keep in my heart for ever and fish them out when am hurt the most, when I am not up for the world anymore.
While I came to discover and see sights that will last me a lifetime(which is true), I am going back a little better as a human being with a lot more trust on humanity and what it means to be assuring and kind without fear or caution.

The 1st basecamp with hospital tents and a satelite phone

Chadar trek…..

Of dazzling dissapointments and strange discoveries…


This little story is all about some very interesting coincidences and many twists and turns. The fact that our group did not complete the trek, was, in itself a very interesting aspect of the story. While the dissapointment cant really be expressed, the story can still be objectively told. 
The cold, when you land in Leh, is dealthly. It chills you to the bones and no amount of preparation can ever be enough.  The Chadar Trek tests everything you have, patience, love, will and strength, though with good reasons. As and when the views unfold, your journey within yourself starts. People begin to change and morph into different personalities, your priorities and choices take a back seat as you question a lot of the realities of your own life.

Some unbelievable moments.

People have used words like “beautiful”, “breathtaking” “mesmerizing” etc to describe the beauty. Would you find destruction beautiful, can intimidating terrains be breathtaking,  could unforgiving conditions be mesmerizing? I think at some point everyone must have questioned their sanity for undertaking this bizarre trek. Why would you take so much risk and do this to yourself?  To put it together for you,  the temperature drops to less that -30 , hand and feet are perenially cold,  you would think multiple times before using the toilet and don’t even get me started on the ‘toilets’. Slipping and falling is a way of life and the ice sheet cracking, and the trekker falling into the chilly waters of Zanskar is a real possibility. Small missteps can lead to major accidents and everything…. 

The drama when the sun is setting

Literally everything is a luxury. The shiver, that rises from your spine and lasts the whole night as you stare at the insides of your tent icing up… Touching any surface gives you a cold shock. In many ways, the Chadar Trek really does have a humour, a little dark though. 

The gang 🙂

When we landed there,  we got to know that a few people were stuck at Neyrak due to the chadar breaking(ice sheet on zanskar river). Our trip was on hold, there were assurances, but no absolute facts. After the tourists were rescued, we could begin and it was meant to be only till about half the distance. The climbs, the slips, the warmees(life saving, btw), the feeling of dunking your hands in hot food, wanting to keep wearing those uncomfortable boots.. they have become less of facts and more of feelings. The smiles are now memories, getting scolded by the guide is a such a happy memory. Sliding around in a sledge in the midst of all that ice is such a happy thought now. Being surrounded by such strong, beautiful people in the midst of all that beauty….. Is the stuff that makes me want to write, live on and always be more .

Our humble little tents.

Continue reading “Chadar trek : fading memories of being Dolma”

Rishikesh …. An ode to Ganga

Hymns ringing in your ears, the smell of insense and camphor overpowering all thoughts and the visuals that seem surreal but still manage to make you sentimental. The Ganga Aarti, especially in the winter, at Rishikesh, is a simple yet powerful respect paid to the Ganga river.

If Rishikesh has a story, then I am sure Ganga has been telling it. For centuries. While this place did remind me of Hampi and Gokarna … But the always present river at your side made all the difference.

Way too many temples and holy institutions flank the streets and lanes of Rishikesh. Boards screaming about Yoga things and Yoga that. Interesting cafes that one might choose over the humble nukkad ka paratha. Rishikesh has changed to accomodate all those who come here to find themselves or to just have fun.

Let’s not forget about all the exciting adventures one might have here, like Bungee jumping, rafting etc. Super exciting stuff for the senses. If you would like to check things off a list, then do all this too.

Or… stay, feel, breathe, watch, learn and understand where you’re standing. Believe what doesn’t make sense to the logic and open your mind to that intense energy that flows every moment here . Ask this very simple question…. Why is a river given so much respect and love? There are so many others around. The Himalayas are just another range of mountains that is home to this bustling little town, which is now trying to fit in with the world. I was at Rishikesh for a few days, but just being there, watching people, their struggles and all their little stories, seemed so valuable… as if all this belonged to me as it all belongs to her, Ganga.

All that aside, it was so great to see such a beautiful mix of people from all over the world. Staying at a backpackers hostel is always such a special experience to me, even if I do not interact at times and mope in a corner. Its great to watch and see people suddenly connect. It’s like sparks flying suddenly at some points. One just needs to be aware. Plus, Rishikesh had so much to offer, beautiful treks, awesome terrains, adventures, waterfalls and so much more. It’s proximity to Delhi makes it pretty crowded and unexclusive at times, but then I do believe that this place does deserve a few days of your life.

Places to visit

The Ram Jhula and Laxman Jhula : offers great views of the mighty river and the mountains. It lights up at night, making it a pretty view.

Ganga Aarti at Triveni ghat : while this one is not as elaborate as the ones in Haridwar and Banaras, this seemed very beautiful and personal. The setting sun creates a grand sense of drama to the whole setting.

Temples and Math(मठ): There are quite a few to be explored, the most visited ones are Trayambakeshwar temple, Beatles aashram, Marmath Math among few more. Visit this link, this is all the sights info: https://traveltriangle.com/blog/temples-in-rishikesh/

Waterfalls and treks : Patna and Himshail waterfalls are very close to Rishikesh, within 10 kms of Laxman jhoola. There are of course many others like Neergarh and Garudchatti, that can make for lovely outings.

Cafes: Ganga view cafe, Om Freedom cafe, Pure soul cafe would be my personal picks. I also had a amazing Apple Crumble at German Bakery. There are many great places with good views, vibes and food. Take your pick 😊

There are amazing sunrise points and sunset spots. This place has something to offer to everyone. Plus it’s quite easy to get here.

How to get there?

1) Hire a cab if you have the money or very little time. Good road connectivity in all seasons.

2) Train from Delhi to Haridwar, then a bus to Rishikesh. Takes about an hour to get there.

3) Direct buses to Rishikesh provided by Uttarakhand road transport and Uttar Pradesh Road Transport. ISBT in delhi would be a good starting point for people traveling from Delhi.

4) Dehradun, Chandigarh and Delhi are the closest airports to the Rishikesh.

In all, it’s a great location for shoestring Travellers like me, Backpackers can pick from good hostels like Zostel and Blue Jay. You could plan days with fellow travelers, talk to mendicants, try some yum parathas and pakodas. You could attend yoga sessions, take a course with many instititions there or become a certified teacher. Take your pick and enjoy your stay.

Intagram connect : rachitarath

Coorg … The heaven of karnataka

Coorg is the weekend happiness heaven for Bangaloreans. It’s easy to get there, the location is divine, crossing Nagarhole can be super exciting and the beauty of the place is unparallel. Having been to this place 20 odd times, I would like to share all my experiences with you.

How to get there.

Nearest airport : Mysore (Coorg is just about 120 kms or like two hours )

Bus stand: The main bus stand is at Madikeri from where you can get local busses for other locations. Please find out the details beforehand from your hotel, homestay or resort.

Getting there from Namma Bengaluru: Simple… Drive if you have a car. Or get a bus from Majestic bus stand. There are numerous KSRTC(Karnataka Road Transport) busses going to Madikere every two hours. There is option of volvo, ac and non ac good busses. It may be a bit inconvinient, but my best ever travel experiences have been when I have taken the bus. Or may be its just me….. Hmmmmm.

There are two routes if you’re heading by car. One via Shravanabelagola and other via Mysore(bypass). Both there great routes in their own way and have their plus points

Going via Mysore (highway 150A): People who want to get there fast, have ample amenities all through the road and great roads, take this route. Another awesome thing about this route is that you will cross Nagarhole National Park and who knows, you may spot a tiger(I did, Yayyyyy…… IN YOUR FACE pro photographer!!!) or a herd of elephants. You would definately spot deers. You can take a short detour to visit Bylakuppe for an amazing experience and a bowl of soul food Thukpa.

Please note: This is the best route if you’re headed to Kutta side or Wayanad. Attempting the other route …. Could be, well…. adventurous.

Going Via Shravanabelagola (highway 75) – This route connects you to Gonikoppa and Virajpet. Bylakuppe(near Kushalnagar) is now enroute. You wouldn’t cross any wildlife sanctuary but you can visit the Famous Shravanabelagola for the massive Mahavir Jain Statue on the way. This way is a bit long and sans great roads but it’s scenic and fun. Plus you can travel this way at night (Nagarhole opens at 6 am and shuts at 6 pm).

You can cross this amazing place called Dubare elephant camp. You could spend a day here… Wash the elephants, feed them and frolic in the river and take jungle walks. Do check it out.

You would be travelling by the river and could stop in places and have some fun.

For any other info, please feel free to ask!

I have travelled to Coorg with friends, Solo, Patner, colleague… And everytime I have had a great experience. The dark green of the coffee plantation would be so beautiful. The air is fresh and crisp… And the food…. OMG! C’est dèlicieux …. Even for a vegetarian like me. In all my experiences, staying at homestays are the best. The people are the most accommodating, kind and hospitable. Just please make sure you’re an understanding and graceful guest. Peace loving people in a peaceful place.

There are a few places to see, like the Rajahs seat, Irpu water fall, few other falls and likes. Check out this link to know more.

I have stayed in a home stay called Brain hunt… (like why!!!). Cant say it was a great stay as they are not very accomodating. A place of mention is Honey valley Homestay. They also have a resort called Chingara around the same area. They are really really great locations and properties. If you’re lucky you would meet Shiva and Lily(they usually go to the hills for romantic dates). Oh, they are the cutest donkeys you would have ever met!!. They have a waterfall very close to their property. The way up is a bit tricky. You could trek up or take a jeep. Visit their site here for more info. Oh.. And buy honey from there. Yum yum.

There are some fantastic places and stay options in Coorg. Try Amanvana spa resorts or Ambatty greens or the likes if your budget allows for it. They are great resorts and would make you silly happy with their hospitality.

Grab a great book or companion and just enjoy your time… Its a gorgeous place to unwind, relax and rejuvenate with COFFEE.

“Coorg is my favorites place in the whole of Karnataka”- me

Wait… I really like Gokarna too… Omg, did i forget Chikmaglur… Oh oh and Sakleshpur… Hmmmmm… There is Hampi too (what was I thinking). Never mind… “Me” quote is under observation.

Trip to Tawang

The trip to Tawang was one of the most spiritual experiences that I have ever had till date. While these trips do open up ones mind to the infinite trait of our Mother Nature, it gives us a fantastic opportunity to travel within ourselves and find that being that we truly are.

This Trip is courtesy Appooppanthadi women only travel organization lead by a very talented and immaculate leader Sajina. Not only is she an avid traveler, but someone who enables these trips for women of all age groups and facets of life. While, I usually prefer to travel alone, this one trip was memorable because a bunch of amazing women came together.

Getting to the specifics… how to get there…

By Flight: The closest airports are at Guwahati (about 530 km via Tezpur) and Tezpur (about 330 kms) from Tawang. While a lot of cities and towns are connected to Guwahati, Tezpur is mostly connected to Guwahati and Kolkatta.

You can avail a helicopter to directly get you to Tawang. Tawang helicopter service check this link, if you’re interested in that.

IMHO, the best way to experience it is by road. You keep playing Peek-a-boo with the river Kameng and would be able to truly experience Arunachal Pradesh. If like me, you’re a first timer to Arunachal Pradesh, be prepared some amazing views and breathtaking stories. The Route? Guwahai to Tezpur to Bhalukpong to Bomdilla to Tawang. (At max you can skip bhalukpong and Tezpur if you’re in a hurry but Bomdilla is a definate overnight stopage). You can hire a cab straight from Guwahati or Tezpur or take the shared cabs uptill Bomdilla. You would need a permit (ILP) to travel in Arunachal Pradesh, which one can easily obtain one online from Arunachal Pradesh IL

For a few moments, read the words and try to experience what I felt. I would feel great joy if anyone could feel even a percent of that feeling.

In short, it felt free, my certain self melted away and became a part of those roads, those streams and even a tiny leaf.

I could breathe from every pore in my skin. This amazing sentiment was seen on each and every individual who was present there. You know, it’s so easy for the mind to chatter non stop and take you away from the present….. But here…. Oh no no no… The mind tries hard, but the divinity within takes over. You become a part of the God that made you. I understand that this may sound too abstract but saying that the sights took my breath away isn’t even true anymore. Philosophically speaking, I took in the life in the air that filled me.. Somehow becoming a part of me and drenching me with its wild affection that one simply cannot explain.

I would like to share a little story with you. More of a situation. The morning, we were to leave Bomdila and head towards Tawang, the group waited at the reception of the hotel to pack into our vans. By now, you all know what a hungry soul I am, so I would invaribaly reach tje dining hall before everyone and chat with an old lady(the hotel belongs to her). We would share stories and laugh hard till someone else comes in. Before i left, she pulled me aside and told me in a whisper. “you have buck teeth, you are going to have a good looking Hasband!” and we laughed some more. She promised to get me their traditional skirt when i arrive next and hugged me tight. The moment melts and i felt my grandmother , now no more, was hugging me. It felt I can pass a lifetime in the bliss of the moment. That somehow my soul within felt the presence of so much love. It may not sound much, but for that moment i felt grateful, happy and truly humble.

The madhuri lake, jung falls, many other sights are amazing. They would give you memories for a lifetime. But being there, that would become a lifetime. It did become so for me. In strange ways, I felt my intuition was deeply heightened too… I knew i was safe in perilous situations and i knew this route would delay the entire thing and so much more. I am yet to detangle all the knots this place presented before me. Until then, I look forward to hearing about your experiences.

The princess who transcended outer beauty

Long long ago, that was a princess in the kingdom of Bhutan. The usual call is to go on about how beautiful she was, but the story here is a bit different. She was covered in warts and ugly scars. Her face had uneven,rough skin and she had a moon shaped dark birth mark on her neck. The queen, hid her in the palace quaters out of shame. She saw neither sunlight nor friends. She too, grew to resent herself and her ugliness and wished for beauty and youthful glow. The king was kind to her, but he too was embarrassed and did not approach any prince for her marriage. Doomed to be alone for her life, the princess wore a gloomy demeanour and grew quite depressed.

One day, a wise man from Sikkim appoached the king and told him about this twin soul mountains between which an eternal stream made its path. Beyond the mountains, were 3 magical streams which emptied into a large lake. That lake held healing powers and could fulfill all wishes made by a true heart. The king dismissed the idea with a laugh and thinking of it as a myth. The princess’s handmaiden was crossing by and having heard the whole tale rushed to the princess and told her what she had heard.

The princess, seeing a ray of hope, wanted to immediately start for this place, but embarassed of coming out in the open and horrified of meeting others, she tiptoed across the halls, crawled under the pearl curtains, moved briskly around the silk tapestery and escaped from her palace.

Months went by, and she walked on with her veil on. She begged for food and the kind villagers helped her on her journey. Her fine slippers frayed away aand she started walking barefeet. Her feet were now covered with blisters and bled.

Finally, on a full moon night, she reached the mountain. The villagers of Lachung warned her of the treacherous climb and requested her to wait till the morning. Such was her eagerness that she paid no heed to the people and started carefully climbing. Soon she reached the peak and saw the heavenly sight of the lake and the streams. She hurried towards the lake and started climbing down. Suddenly, her feet slipped and she fell into the water, where she hit her head and lost consciousness and seemingly drowned.

The next morning, people started towards the lake searching for the princess. They reached the place, but instead of the ugly princess, saw a beautiful maiden washed up at the edge of the lake. She had skin like milk with the essense of rose and lips like lotus petals. Her closed eyes looks like that of a doe’s. So great was her beauty that people thronged to see her from far and beyond. The medicinal water of the lake preserved the body and it looked like she was just sleeping.

The king and queen of Bhutan travelled looking for their daughter. Hearing of this story, they came to see the girl too. “We wish she was, but this isn’t our daughter”.saying so, they went back dejected.

That night, the warm stream gently lifted the body and carried her upstream to the realm of fairies and nympths. The queen fairy was enchanated by her beauty and wanted to see how she would look if she smiled. Thinking so, she breathed life into her.

The princess woke up, fluttered her eyelids and sat up. Seeing the view around, she smiled. They say, the world stood still at that. The singing birds stopped, the gurgling water froze and the wind stopped swaying, as if their hearts had just skipped a beat. The queen was mesmerized and said this is all the inner beauty, her purity of thought and kind heart is what was brought out by the lake. She granted the princess eternal life and a place in her heaven. She lives there, till date… Still as beautiful and as the princess that she was.