Tag Archives: ⁠⁠⁠Traveller of the week

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Inspiro India Official

Blog | Travel

4 December 2017

Traveller of the Week: Arvind Patwal

Arvind Patwal belongs to Uttarakhand and is currently living in Delhi to pursue his graduation from Delhi University. A master at street photography, he currently works as a freelance photographer.

 

Arvind loves to research different places before starting his journey. He reminisces his first trip to Barsana at the time of the Holi festival. Excited to capture amazing colourful photography, he ultimately won.

 

Arvind Patwal

 

A group traveller by heart, he does like to travel solo depending on the situation. Though not a full-time traveller, travelling has always been a passion for him, a custom he wishes to follow.

 

A must visit for all the travel lovers out there, Arvind shares his favourite destinations with us. Anandpur Sahib during ‘Holla Mohalla’, Barsana during ‘Holi’, Varanasi during ‘Dev Dipawali’, streets of Kolkata, Deserts of Jaisalmer and Varanasi to be his favourite.

 

A planned traveller, his 5 must-haves for travelling include power bank, torch, blanket, dry fruits and a swiss knife. A lover of photography, the most interesting part for the young traveller is nonetheless, clicking pictures.
Covering states such as Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and cities like Kolkata, one life lesson he has learnt through travelling is to take care of oneself and never get involved in drug addiction.

 

Jama Masjid, Delhi

Hola Mohalla, Anandpur Sahib, Punjab

Dev Deepawali, Varanasi

Jodhpur, Rajasthan

Kolkata Railway Station, West Bengal

Nigambodh Ghat, New Delhi

Pushkar, Rajasthan

Ganga Aarti, Varanasi

Varanasi

 

An interesting fragment from the street photographer’s life involves around going to Anandpur Sahib for ‘Holla Mohalla’ with a few friends. He spent 4 nights in a car and enjoyed a lot while clicking pictures on the ground, says Arvind Patwal.

Words by Harpreet
Images by ©Arvind Patwal

 

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27 November 2017

Traveller of the Week: Neer Patra

Neer Patra has always been on a travelling spree, right from his school days in Varanasi to his graduation from Allahabad and then pursuing an MBA from IBS Hyderabad.

Originally from Odisha, Neer is an Investment Banker living in Delhi for the past 6 years. He has always wanted to visit as many places as possible in his lifetime which also happens to be his goal for now.

 

Neer Patra

 

Neer also wants other people to travel and explore our beautiful city, a reason why he started sharing images from his travels on social media. He also admits not everyone can visit every place, so he makes it a point to showcase them through photography. He doesn’t mention or portray himself to be a traveller or a photographer. He hardly takes his camera out when visiting a town and steers away from mentioning anything in his social media bio.

 

‘I think leaving for one place and then reaching another, where everything, people, culture, food everything is different from your last visited place and that’s motivation enough for anyone to go to new places and explore more’, says the explorer.

 

The cycle continues, it is deep-rooted in him since childhood which is why he can never stop exploring new places in the world. A thought vested in him during the times he’d visit his hometown twice a year whilst his father was posted in Varanasi, the entire 24-hour train journey passed through 3 different states. A long 6-7 hour road journey by bus crossed multiple villages. The constant travels to his hometown and his very first trip as a student to Chittaranjan, a small city in Bihar is where his love for travel was born! ‘If you talk about my very first trek or encounter with mountains, it was my schools days of grade 9 when I was NCC cadet and went to Dhanlauti in Uttarakhand for 11 days of trekking and camping’, he says.

 

Though not a full-time traveller, Patra loves his job and makes it a point to travel twice a month. Not so fond of travelling in big groups, hiring a travelling or trekking agency for his expeditions is a strict no-no. He loves travelling solo or with 1-2 people only if need be which is a personal choice as well.

He does admit travelling with a group to be good fun,  as one meets like-minded people which also helps in minimizing travelling expenses. ‘But I feel like going solo gives me a lot of confidence and helps me to believe in my own ability to make decisions. It makes me feel more independent’, says Neer Patra.

 

‘I always believe a well-planned travel cannot go haywire especially when you keep going to mountains, you have to have A or B plan ready’, says Neer. It makes a person mentally and physically strong to take on the challenges to be faced in the mountains. Sometimes a spontaneous trip may end up in emptying one’s pockets, where a planned trip is more budget friendly.

 

The traveller shoots with a Nikon D810 with a wide angle lens of 14-24 mm. He also likes to use his 85 mm lens which makes a part of his must-haves for travelling. A medicine kit, headlamps, GPS, some dry fruits and vitamin bars are a few essentials to carry along!

 

Patra loves trying local delicacies, learning their language and the culture and story associated with the place.

He has travelled to more than 20 states of the country and wishes to explore the northeast region of India. He is travelling to Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh next month, ticking off two states from the northeast!

He also deems Kerala and the ‘Seven Sisters of India’ to be a must visit for all the travellers out there, not to forget, Norway and Greenland if you’re planning an international trip!

 

Taj Mahal, Agra

Varanasi

Zanskar River

Nubra Valley

Chadar Trek

Key Monastery, Spiti

Stok Kangri

Varanasi Assi Ghat

Chadar Trek

 

One of many interesting stories during his travel was during his recent expedition to ‘Stok Kangari’. Not sure if he’d be able to reach the top, he was told by many locals that he’d be the first one in this year to climb in the month of May. Where half of the climbers returned half way from the incredibly tough trek as said by the locals, he kept going only because he was travelling solo with a local guide and porter-cum-cook!

‘It wouldn’t have been possible if we had come here with a group because in the mountains, most of the time you end giving up only because the fellow trekker has given up’, said the local guide to Patra once they were on the top!

 

Last but not the least, ‘The world is beautiful and you cannot see everything in your one life’, is what Neer Patra has learnt from his years travelling around the country.

Words by Harpreet
Images by ©Neer Patra

 

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20 November 2017

Traveller of the Week: Prakriti Varshney

Prakriti Varshney is a 22-year-old adventurer whose physical state resides in the Delhi plains but her soul lingers throughout the Himalayas. According to her father’s retellings, she has always been the one with the fiery adventure streak. Brought up against the typical feminine norms, her father acknowledged the latent strength in her in the early years itself. He moulded her into a self-sufficient human, and she owes a lot to him for this.

 

Prakriti Varshney

 

A graduate in Fashion and Apparel Designing, Prakriti realized during her very first work experience with a start-up that this is not her cup of tea! Living a life with a mundane, robotic routine is not what she desires. There was sufficient money but always a restless mind. Overworked, she was in a perpetual dilemma “What am I grinding myself for?” and she couldn’t find a suitable answer. That’s the day she quit a life with a routine to start a journey without a specific road-map.

 

Adventure and Exploration are the two terms that drive her to do things-let it be about trying a new cuisine or learn about a new form of art.  Her first solo trip was to Spiti Valley on a shoestring budget. The trip covered a span of 8 days on a budget of mere 4000 rupees. She carried along certain essentials like a tent and a sleeping bag, commuted in roadways, hitchhiked from one village to the other and interacted with new people around. It was a phenomenal experience for her.

Her next planned trip is to North East for a month starting next week, followed by two months, January and February in Leh and Ladakh. She prefers travelling solo because then you’re all about your own self and at your own ease.  She loves solo trips because she can have her own plan of action and there is no room for friction due to disagreements. It is certainly risky to travel alone, but the liberating experience is worth the risk.

 

Prakriti is a full-time traveller. On being asked about her first and foremost confrontation with her family regarding her profession, she did reveal that apart from her survival in harsh climatic conditions, her parents were worried about her safety when she planned her very first expedition, to which she agrees to some extent. Being a girl, one has to face some sort of unnerving experiences every day, and hers was a decision to travel thousands of kilometres away from home.  Her priority is not to tick off the places on her bucket list but to travel to learn, grow and absorb whatever is out there. She is open to change and doesn’t necessarily follow a schedule during her travels. She mentions, “If I like a place more than the others, I might decide to stay for a longer period to satisfy my soul than to keep following the itinerary.”

She lists down some of her favourite destinations from India: Spiti Valley – Closest to heart, this land has everything to offer, from larger than life landscapes to exquisite art to never dying culture to the sweetest and kindest people.  Even after 6 rounds in the same year, it always feels like something more to explore. Auroville – A place where in the middle of chaos, you will find calm. If you seek serenity and fun together, this place is a must. Ride a bicycle, do meditation sessions, chase butterflies in the botanical garden, try different cuisines, grab some eateries & head to the beach to witness the spellbinding sunset.

Uttrakhand – The state is a wholesome package for travellers. It is famously termed “Devbhoomi” (the abode of Gods), for Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath maintain that chaste aura. Whitewater rafting and Yoga in Rishikesh, legendary Ramjhula and Lakshmanjhula, serene blue lakes in Nainital, presence of wild animals in Jim Corbett National Park, around 500 species of flowers in Valley of Flowers, and land of some of the highest mountain peaks in the world – Nanda Devi, Kamet, Hardeol, Chaukhamba, Trishul- in short, a pit stop for most of the adventures you seek.

Kanyakumari – The southernmost point of India surrounded by sea on three sides, the place offers one of the most scenic sunset and sunrise views.

Bir Billing, Himachal Pradesh – It is a spot known as the highest paragliding site one would never regret having a bird’s eye view.   Her travel essentials include her LifeStraw (not when travelling in the Himalayas), a diary and a pen to journal her excursions, sunscreen lotion, a waterproof bag, and of course her camera and earphones. Prakriti enjoys the most her moments of solace. She could sit in a corner of the road for hours and observe everything that is around her. She is also fond of meeting strangers in unknown places, with a myriad of stories and experiences.  She hasn’t travelled around a single state in an exhaustive manner as of now but has covered certain towns, cities and even villages in around 17 states so far. She has planned to cover two more in the next two months. She feels it is essential to roam about every niche of a state to be thorough with it, and not just pay a visit to certain famous tourist spots. Although she has been to Dubai and Oman in her teenage years, she has decided to take up international travelling only after she has explored sufficient amount of her own country.

 

Travelling has transformed Prakriti’s core as a whole. According to her, it is an essential method or resource for learning which teaches you what you cannot grab through books. Bonding with strangers, having faith in your instincts to trust, give in to the universe, and never give up even when you fall apart. A lesson she abides to is “We can go way beyond our limits.” She recounts an anecdote of her visit to Shrikhand Mahadev, one of the toughest pilgrimages in India. During the initial phase, she made her mind to give up due to incessant exertion and injury in her knee, but she was determined to complete her journey. The sight of the 72 feet tall Shivling after the commencement of a tedious journey was definitely something to vouch for!

 

Chandertaal Lake

Bir Billing, Himachal

Chandrashila Top, Uttrakhand

Kanyakumari

Langza, Spiti Valley

Last light, Kanyakumari

Mane, Spiti Valley

Mt. Dronagiri, Uttrakhand

Spiti Valley

Trekking in Himachal

 

Varshney shares an interesting tale from one of her travel adventures.  “While I was in Spiti Valley for two months, August-September, I decided to hike to Key Monastery which was about 14 km from Kaza. After walking for about 6 km, I witnessed a splendid view at the turn of a road. I remained frozen to that spot for almost two and a half hours. I was unaware of the curiosity I created among passers-by, until a couple passing by on a motorbike decided to halt. They too were on the way to Key Monastery. At first, they thought that I might be taking a break due to exhaustion, but they saw me sitting at the same spot while returning hence they stopped by and asked.  I burst out laughing and had no answer to their query! They even offered a ride back to Kaza but I was completely embarrassed by now.”

Words by Laveena Behl
Images by ©Prakriti Varshney

 

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30 October 2017

Traveller of the Week : Kamya

Kamya is a 25-year-old travelling hippie who has been on the road for 2 years. She studied economics and has a strong interest in development economics, which she wants to combine with her love for travelling to make a difference in society. She is interested in issues of waste management and environmental awareness. She has always been a traveller, “From a young age, I used to walk off into the forests and explore new places, coming home late to a scolding from my parents,” she says. Though she is Indian by origin, she was born and brought up in the UK, and now considers herself a universal being.

 

Kamya

 

Travelling over the long-term has allowed her to explore herself and forge her direction in life. After studying economics at Warwick University, she decided to take a break to give some time to herself and that’s when she started off with her first trip to South East Asia. Now, travelling has become her way of living.

 

Kamya has been mostly travelling solo for the past two years and prefers it to travelling in groups because it allows her to expand as a person. A full-time traveller, she sustains herself by online tutoring and working in the places she travels to. The traveller partly attributes her nomadic nature to her parents, who moved house every year or two when she was a child. She hasn’t faced any objections when it comes to her lifestyle.

 

Travelling for Kamya goes both ways, planned and spontaneous. She does a meticulous research about the place she wants to visit and prepares an Excel sheet which helps her book things in advance and save money. Once she is in the place, she is open to changes, “I’ll spontaneously change my itinerary depending on what feels right, but it’s good to know a lot about the place to be able to make informed decisions and go beyond commonly traversed routes,” she claims.

 

 

Out of all the places she has travelled too, she suggested these give as those which were most memorable:
Spiti And Kinnaur: “Travelling through Spiti and Kinnaur is no easy task; the roads are some of the most dangerous, but the scenery is mind-blowing,” she says. Travelling here has made her fearless, stronger and humble towards nature.

 

East Java: Indonesia has everything: vast jungles, gigantic waterfalls, and volcanic craters. Mount Bromo and ljen Crater were places that she found particularly unique.
Switzerland: “This is probably my favourite country on earth,” she says. It’s so small which makes it easy to get around, and has tons of hikes, lakes, and mountains.

 

Tuscany: She fell in love with the rolling hills, soft sunrises and vast fields of grapevines. “The wine here is the best I’ve had,” she says. It’s a scenic place with clean energy.

 

Khao Sok National Park: This is a huge national park which is only accessible by boat. Here you can stay in wooden huts in the middle of the lake, hike in the jungles, and rent a kayak.

 

For Kamya, 5 must-haves whilst travelling include her tea bottle, her waterproof bag, extra debit cards, her Sennheiser HD25 headphones, and camera. She shoots with the Sony A6000 and the 16-50mm standard lens that comes with it. “It’s a good idea to carry two or three cards with you in case you are stuck, because getting money in a foreign country is extremely difficult,” she says.

 

Kamya lived in Banglore for two years and has covered a lot of South India during that time. Her favourite place in India is Himachal. She likes to spend a lot of time in one region to explore it fully rather than trying to cover as many places as possible. Internationally, she has travelled mostly around South East Asia and Europe.

 

Atrani, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Dolomites, Italy

Grimsel Pass, Switzerland

Ijen Crater, Indonesia

Kinnaur, India

Koh Phangan, Thailand

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

Dolomites, Italy

Luang Prabang, Laos

North Bali, Indonesia

 

Travelling has transformed Kamya in a lot of ways and one of the most important things that she has learnt is to forgive, forget, and let go of things. “We often get caught up in unfulfilling activities, people, and ideas about ourself. Always being on the move means there’s no space to hold onto things which don’t serve you.” She says that long-term travel has taught her to be herself and not worry about other people. “It has taught me that I have everything inside me and that I am completely in charge of my experience of life.”

 

For now, Kamya is planning to stay in Himachal during the summers to work a campsite and a waste management system for the villagers and to work abroad for the remaining time.

Words by Swati George
Images by ©Kamya

 

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16 October 2017

Traveller of the Week : Akhtar Shaikh

Akhtar Shaikh, a simple human being who seeks happiness in the little things in life, loves to see the smiling faces of people when they see him like a twinkle in the children’s eye when he holds their little hands! ‘Connecting with nature, open skies, green boulevards and streams of water, birds chirping, colours of the mountain and the diversity in the culture of this country attracts me’, says the traveller.

 

A creative thinker, Akhtar loves to ride his Royal Enfield Classic motorcycle and has been an enthusiastic biker for 10 years now. A lover of creative forms of art, music, travelling and riding his motorcycle, he says, ‘I put my mind and soul into exploring new places and meeting new people and witness new culture, their living, food, personalities and all that while I ride to these places’.

 

Akhtar Shaikh

 

Riding solo is not only a sense of freedom for the happy traveller, it also helps in self-healing and self-development. Riding has not only been a hobby or a source of transport to move from one place to the other, it has also developed into a passion over time. Riding his 535 cc Royal Enfield Classic changes his interpretation of being a just a biker!

 

The traveller prefers travelling solo, group travel prevents him from self-reflecting which is vital in improving himself.

Riding solo is not only a sense of freedom for the happy traveller, it also helps in self-healing and self-development. ‘There’s a certain beauty in riding alone and engaging into your possibilities are limitless’, says the rider.

 

Travelling wasn’t full-time spree, ‘Initially, I used to travel on weekends or 1-2 days for an extended weekend and complete my rides. However, now I am fortunate and have the liberty to plan and travel as much as I can and whenever I can’ adds the solo rider. His family has been an immense source of inspiration and believe in him more than he himself would. A great support system and understanding from the domestic front have actually allowed him to perceive his passion and endure his dreams!

 

My family has been the most important source of inspiration and their Belief in me is more than myself and in fact that their complete support and understanding has actually allowed me to perceive my passion and endure throughout.

 

A planned traveller, everything ranging from servicing his bike, finalising the route and booking accommodation is a must. A checklist helps to minimize any breakdown and helps in a hassle-free trip. The traveller does believe impromptu trips to be a challenge for oneself and thrilling as well. Offroading into most of the hilly terrain of Maharashtra, Goa and Bidar come under the spontaneous trip category for Shaikh!

 

Akhtar has covered Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Telangana, Goa, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Kerala.

Topmost locations worth every traveller’s while according to Akhtar are Leh, Spiti, Jammu, Rann of Kutch, Uttarakhand, Old Goa and Rajasthan.

 

 

The motorcycle traveller also directs in investing in a riding jacket if one’s a rider or a nice weatherproof jacket to keep oneself warm and cosy along with cash, camping equipment including a tent, good sleeping bag, water bottle, outdoor chair, a stove, kettle and maggi. Not to forget a good mobile phone for photography and videos, a GoPro or DSLR will do too!

 

‘Never ever give up and keep trying’ advises the rider! A lesson he has learnt during years of motorcycle trips, he also believes ‘Happiness is only real when it is shared’, a very famous quote by Christopher McCandless.

Words by Harpreet
Images by ©Akhtar Shaikh

 

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14 October 2017

Jageshwar Temple: An engineering marvel of 8th century

It’s never enough for the heart to just be able to travel, it seeks the will to do it. To be able to walk, run, fly, explore and discover!
And that is exactly what I felt as my cotraveller Kamlesh drove us amidst the dense forests of tall Deodars almost touching the clouds, amazing weather & majestic landscapes. Intrigued by the beauty around, I almost went into a trance, searching deep within myself. I was abruptly brought back as the car took a sharp curve and a huge architectural marvel appeared out of nowhere. The moment my eyes landed on the beautiful creation in front of my eyes, rain god Indra welcomed us with a loud, heart shaking clap of thunder. I was awestruck after looking at this majestic feat of design, but to my surprise, there was a sign board that said: ‘Temple ahead’. The thought that an even grander building lay ahead thrilled and elated me as I wondered about the magnificence of the main building.
We drove down the enticing curves of the valley for around 2 more km and emerged in a small village with tiny houses and shops. As we passed them all we found ourselves right in front of a marvellous wonder of medieval engineering.
The famous Hindu pilgrimage, Jageshwar is the 8th among the 12 Jyotirlingas which are stated to exist in the forest of Deodar and Daruka. It is believed that Lord Shiva resides there. The temple consists of 124 large and small stone temples dating from 8th to 13th century. Many of them are preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India. The oldest Shrine is Mrityunjaya Temple and while the biggest one is Dandeshwar temple.
The main temple has two Dwarpalas (door guardians) in the form of Nandi and Skandi. In the west facing temple of Lord Shiva, he is worshipped in the form of Nagesh or Jageshwar. While in the Santorum of the temple, the Shivalinga is divided into two parts – the larger one which depicts Shiva and the smaller one for his consort Parvati. An immortal flame (called akhand jyoti) burns in the temple that illuminates the whereabouts with its glow.
The huge mega structures of the temple amidst tall deodar trees are living proofs to our medieval engineering and the supremacy of nature in life.
Jageshwar is located at 1870 meters above sea level on the banks of Jataganga river and is around 35kms from Almora.

 

 

The Jageshwar monsoon festival takes place from 15th July to 15th Aug which is the month of ‘Shravan’ according to the Hindu calendar. The annual Mahashivratri mela
takes place during spring and is an important event for Hindus and the people of Kumaon region.
History says that the Katyuri kings donated villages to temple priests for better renovations, while the Chand kings of Kumaon were also the patrons of the temple. Two Ashtdhaatu statues of Chand Kings Deepchand and Tripalchand are established in the standing posture behind the Shivlinga. It is also believed that Adi Guru Shankaracharya visited Jageshwar and renovated as well as re-established many temples before leaving for Kedarnath.

Jageshwar is open for visitors throughout the year. One can make this soulful journey via roads as well rail. There are plenty of staying options at Jageshwar. One can easily stay in Almora and enjoy a scenic drive to visit the temple. Kathgodam, the next big city, is about 125 km from Jageshwar.

One must make a visit to Jageshwar even if devoid of religious sentiments for the sheer beauty and sublimity of the place.

Photos & Words by Amit Kakkar

 

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9 October 2017

Traveller of the Week : Jade Dsa

Jade has D’sa spent most of her time in Goa where she was born and brought up and then ultimately moved to Mumbai for an MBA degree, earning her a job in Business Development. ‘That Goan Girl’ was started when she couldn’t find a creative outlet in working 9 to 5 anymore!

She began documenting her travels and new restaurants incorporating her thoughts and opinions. An ambitious woman, Jade does not give up easily and also cannot be stopped easily from doing whatever she sets her eyes on.

 

Jade D’sa

 

Travelling has been a lifelong passion, she remembers reading adventure books as a child and watching movies. “I used to dream that someday I would also get the chance to explore the pyramids in Egypt, to touch the soft white sand on deserted islands of the Philippines, to try some street food in Thailand, to see Manhattan from one of its rooftops and ride in a hot air balloon over Cappadocia”, says D’Sa.

While she has been travelling between countries since she was practically a baby, her first real trip happened in Grade 9 to the historically beautiful Hampi in Karnataka.

 

Trying local food, visiting museums, experiencing the nightlife, and shopping requires her to travel solo since travelling with a group of people will only make it uneasy in terms of preferences. For her to travel with someone other than herself, the ability to vibe together matters a lot, says Jade.

 

Jade is a full-time traveller and a freelance digital marketer by profession. She tries to finish her face to face commitments at one time and then continues to travel on road. Her family has come to accept her unconventional work style.

 

D’sa plans her trips when and where required such as experiencing Diwali in Varanasi but when it comes to exploring rural Maharashtra or Rajasthan, she’s ready to leave in half an hour. ‘That has happened on several occasions!’, adds Jade.

The Northern Lights, Greece, Russia, Turkey and North India are her top must-visit locations.

Her five must-haves for travelling outdoors are comfortable clothes, sunscreen, bug spray, a light scarf, and water!

 

Jade loves every bit of travelling right from planning where to go, which mode of transport to get and also the feeling to get back home once the trip is over! She also loves to learn and loves the diversity of culture, food and the way of life truly fascinating.

‘Travel constantly challenges you by throwing you into unknown situations and that gives me a thrill’, says the experience junkie.

Jade D’sa has travelled to Karnataka, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Sikkim, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Gujarat. She has also travelled internationally to Kuwait, Singapore, Malaysia and Canada.

 

Travelling also comes with some life lessons which has taught Jade to trust her instincts over the time. It has also taught her to reinforce what she already knows but tends to forget.

‘Life is short and there’s no need to wait around to do something that makes you happy. If travelling makes you happy, then do it now and experience whatever you can, while you can’ says the traveller.

 

 

Whilst being invited to review a domestic airline’s new in-flight entertainment system, she was flown to Delhi for a few hours. Finding nothing to do at the Delhi airport, not wanting to kill time at a coffee shop like a normal human being, Jade decided to call a friend and ended up soaking Delhi in just a few hours. From trying Keema Parantha to taking in the sights at Connaught Place, saw the Red Fort and Jama Masjid and lastly, headed to Old Delhi where she tasted some fabulous Jalebi-Rabdi at Chandni Chowk, a good hour away from the airport while still catching the flight back to Mumbai at the nick of time!

Words by Harpreet
Images by ©Jade D’sa

 

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10 July 2017

Traveller of the Week : Archana Singh

Archana Singh is a Brand Strategist by profession and a travel journalist by passion, who wants to travel around the world in search of untold human stories. She believes travel came naturally to her, thanks to her army background and army life, She hardly remembers when she started traveling, perhaps since the time she was born. However, her first solo travel out of India was in 2009 where she explored UK and Europe all by herself. Archana is a very adaptable traveler who can travel as the need arises and she enjoys Solo Travel the most as she gets to interact with locals and strangers more than when she is with a group.

 

Archana Singh

 

Currently as a full-time traveler, Archana hasn’t faced any problems as such because she had planned well in advance before quitting her job. Her family and office were very supportive of her decision. She is a mix of both a planned traveler and the one who makes spontaneous trips. While that’s limited to booking her flights and following a rough itinerary, she keeps her plans fluid and loves to go with the flow. Archana suggests the following places as the must go-to destinations:

Japan – for a unique mix of culture and modernity

USA: for the diversity and immenseness of a great nation

Philippines: for the unspoiled beaches and super friendly people

New Zealand: for the epic landscapes and adrenaline rush

Finland: for the winter wonderland and Northern Lights

 

Zipper hiking pants, comfortable pair of shoes, camera, curious eyes equipped with offline navigation app and an open but vigilant mind are the 5 must haves for traveling and stay outdoors according to Archana. She enjoys the most talking to strangers during her travel. Unplanned conversations have often lead her to serendipity. Her most endearing travel stories have come from impromptu conversations with strangers. And if there’s no one to talk to then she loves to read.

 

Archana has covered 23 states in India and visited over 40 countries across the globe. Travel has been a constant in her life from the time she was born. She states that her favourite lesson was shared by Chris McCandles, “Happiness is real only when shared.”  She absolutely believes in what he said and that there’s so much negativity in this world. And according to Archana, the only way to defeat that is by spreading happiness and positivity. Therefore, she always makes it a point to share the happy memories from her travels with everyone. Archana believes that Inspiro India is a great platform to share inspiring stories about people from different fields.

 

California

Taos Pueblo, New Mexico

Scottsdale, Arizona

Great Camps, Lake Placid, New York, USA

Grand canyon raod

North Arizona, USA

Mt. Fuji at Kawaguchiko Lake, Japan (1 of 1)

Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Taos Pueblo, New Mexico

Archana has just returned from a two months Solo Trip to the USA and during that period she states that she had some amazing experiences. And she narrates, ‘I was watching the gorgeous sunset at La Fonde Bell Tower in Santa Fe, New Mexico for which the heritage hotel is known for. After the dinner, I started walking back to my hotel. As I was passing through the lobby I heard Jazz music playing in the nearby bar. To my surprise, I saw three women in their seventies dancing freely in the lobby of the hotel (not bar) without caring if anybody was watching them or if they were not at the right place wearing the right clothes doing the right thing. All they cared about was having a good time together. To me that was the real essence of travel – travel without inhibitions. Travel like there’s no tomorrow.’

Words by Arvind Vairavan
Images by ©Archana Singh

 

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Blog | Travel

26 June 2017

Traveller of the Week : Shubham Mansingka

What happens when a usual guy who does all the normal things in his mundane life decides to let go of all his troubles and travel as a way of living? He graduates from being a usual guy to a happy one! Well, such is the story of our Traveller of the Week – Shubham Mansingka. He has given up his aforementioned old life and is now dedicated to blogging about his journeys, alongside freelancing as a travel writer, photographer and social media influencer for a living.

 

Shubham Mansingka

 

Shubham inherited the travel bug from his parents and he is proud of that. He vividly recalls his childhood trips with his parents who were avid travellers themselves. Having been introduced to the ideas, challenges and liberties of being on the go, he was quite used to it when he had his first solo trip to Ladakh. News claimed that we had a road that was higher than the mountains of Europe and that was motivation enough for him to start on a sojourn that was initially planned with friends but ended up being the start of his solitary journeys.

Once these ventures had begun, h never looked back. Over the years he became most comfortable travelling solo but has recently realised that travelling with other like-minded people in a company of 3-4 folks is quite interesting and insightful.

Shubham is one for spontaneous trips that do not necessarily involve ticking places off a list just for the sake of it. With a penchant for slow travel, he prefers to spend more time in a place learning about the local culture, food, customs and traditions of that vicinity. When he travels with other people and limited time, he then chalks out a rough plan but with a flexibility that considers changes according to the mood, weather and inevitable situations.

He believes that every destination has its own charm and the world is too big to make a concise list of just a selected favourites. But from all that he has seen the few places that left him asking for more, even though the list keeps changing, are – Zanskar & Ladakh, Kashmir, Goa, Rajasthan and Meghalaya. While he is out on these trails he never forgets to carry his must-haves that comprise of sturdy sports shoes, a lip balm, a warm hat to protect from the cold winds, a comfortably light backpack and most importantly, the never dying spirit of adventure! He would go on to mention a portable tent too but he prefers homestays more than anything else. With such zest and zeal, he has covered about 20 states in India and travelled to 3 South-east Asian countries. This being said, he is not a big fan of keeping counts and believes in meaningful trips.

 

 

Shubham’s life-enlightening travel journeys have transformed him into a full-time traveller. He, now, works from the road even though it has its own share of troubles much like life. But he doesn’t want it to be perfect either. Instead, he is of the opinion that that’s where the fun lies – to be able to take care of problems as they come and solve them to the best of his ability. Travel has made Shubham realise that if he works hard and remains true to himself, the whole universe will indeed conspire towards making things happen for him. It has taught him that life is not as rosy as it seems but if the road is one’s best friend, then everything is worth it. He has learnt a great deal not only about focussing on his work and not falling prey to petty shortcuts, but also living responsibly by helping communities and the desolates. It has made him a better human, he feels and is content with it. Ultimately it is about how wonderful the world is with all its goodness. From natural beauty to culture, local food of the people, folklores and traditional art forms, architecture and especially warm hearts are the best stories to live. He has faith in ‘the goodness of strangers’ which allows him to live in the moment and not worry about what’s about to come next. Travelling makes him seize the day!

An interesting story that Shubham would like to share with us is a heart-touching co-incidence. In 2015 when he had just spontaneously ended up in Turtuk and had no place to stay, a local named Obaidullah who had no mattress or blanket to share let him sleep under his roof with warm eyes. He had no bed to share for himself but he did borrow a mattress and a blanket for Shubham so he could sleep peacefully. A year later when Shubham visited the place again he resided in a newly built homestay. In a conversation with the owner of the property, he expressed his desire to meet Obaidullah again and thank him for his generosity. A cosmic fire of love was lit inside his heart as the owner went on to say “You know who was the person who gave the mattress to Obaid? Me.”

Such are the wonders of being on the road and exploring beyond the obvious!

Words by Aishwarya Choudhary
Images by ©Shubham Mansingka

 

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19 June 2017

Traveller of the Week : Divyakshi Gupta

Born in Punjab and brought up in Mumbai, Divyakshi has spent all her summer vacations in a tiny town, nestled in the hills of Himachal.

Divyakshi Gupta, our Traveller of the Week, is a self-confessed door lover, who has a penchant for architecture, loves long road trips and travels to off beat places to explore different cultures, and discover stories outside and within.

 

Divyakshi Gupta

 

Travel runs in her blood. Her grandfather loved nature, her mother is always game for road trips and her father has sailed around the world. Growing up in a family that inherits the idea of travelling inspired her at a very young age when she fell in love with nature. Divyakshi has no memory of her first trip but she vividly remembers walking on a riverbank with pebbles, making paper boats and trying to reach out to the ripest mangoes to pluck. Spending time amidst the scenic beauty of the mountains, taking long walks by the river and reading books that complement such natural elegance has made her the itchy-feet nature lover she is today.  From starting her career as a strategic planner in advertising she has now happily resorted to being a freelance travel writer and a blogger who narrates her stories. One can read about her ventures on www.quirkywanderer.com and consult her for likewise social media campaigns. That being said, she has already done about 12 travel trips in the first six months of 2017.

Not only does she love to travel but also likes the company of like-minded people. Nature lovers, wildlife enthusiasts or bird watchers, irrespective of their age or location, they all have something to teach and inspire, she feels. With companions like these, the idea of travelling becomes enriching. She has her solo moments too even when she is in a group. Her favourite travel companion is her mother who she can beautifully enjoy silence with.

Divyakshi is of the opinion that coming back home is as dear to her as travelling. She questions the idea of ‘full-time travelling’ and wonders what that really means – is it being nomadic eternally or travelling non-stop?

The feeling of a homecoming for her is realised and valued even more when one’s continuously on the go. Travelling gives value to everything we take for granted in life otherwise and thus, returning home is the acknowledgement of that newly found realisation.

Travel plans for her can work both ways – planned or spontaneous. Sometimes planned trips go awry whilst instinctive detours can lead to remarkable learnings. Spontaneity leads to discoveries that become the highlight of one’s trip and provide opportunities for storytelling while planned trips ease out glitches, reduce risks and are economical.

 

Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim

Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh

Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh,

Myanmar

Kinner Kailash view

Valparai tea gardens

Venice

 

Divyakshi has a list of destinations that are her absolute favourite. She talks about them fondly with us.

  1. Kinnaur:

With its magnificent mountains, idyllic villages, warm people, great food, pristine rivers, and delightful orchards that place is next to a home for her.

 

  1. Rajasthan:  For its stunning architecture, vibrant colours, impeccable hospitality and the ability to make her travel back in time is close to her heart.

 

  1. Andamans:  This place for her is like paradise, she feels. The beaches are beyond beautiful, the forests are spectacular and the islands are mesmerising. She feels that it is highly underrated but is the perfect destination for her to unwind.

 

  1. North Sikkim, she feels, evokes the poet in her. The landscapes are surreal and the paucity of

oxygen makes it a little difficult but all the effort is worth it.  She can’t get enough of the tiny Himalayan villages and diverse forests with stunning lakes. Divyakshi expresses that North Sikkim is nature’s own painting.

 

  1. Offbeat forests near Coimbatore are a perfect detox. The thick tree canopies remind her of Amazonian rainforests where the sun doesn’t reach the forest floor. There isn’t any network there and she really doesn’t mind it. Forests of Annamalai, Parambikulam do that to her.

When Divyakshi is off to these places she never forgets her must-haves. Her list is quite interesting and enlightening as it talks not about material needs as much as it calls for a sound perspective. As told by her, her list comprises of an open mind, sensitivity towards surroundings, appreciation for local culture, a pepper spray to be her own hero, the ability to trust her gut, and well, her eyes as the best equipment.

Having travelled extensively in various parts of India like Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Uttaranchal, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Pondicherry, Andamans and Sikkim, she has had memorable trips internationally to Italy, Bhutan and Myanmar too.

Travel for her was an escape initially but eventually, it became her best teacher. Divyakshi feels that it is an exchange, between places, people, stories and her. It has made her open up, let go of her inhibitions, accept the world with open arms and most of all, it has bettered her as a human being, she feels. The biggest lesson Divyakshi has learnt from travelling is that we are all different and yet the same.

Words by Aishwarya Choudhary
Images by ©Divyakshi Gupta

 

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12 June 2017

Traveller of the Week : Dev

 

How many of us have been unsatisfied with our corporate lifestyle? How many of us have dreamed of leaving behind the monotony of life which has become a rut, to explore the world? How many of us have actually managed to do it? Well, our traveller of the week certainly has! He calls himself Footloose Dev, where Dev is his name and footloose is his way of life.

 

Dev

 

Two and half years ago, Dev was a shy corporate writer in Delhi. He loved his profession but not his job, so he tried switching jobs by running after the highly paid ones. But he always felt like something was amiss. Little did he know at that time that his growing discontentment was paving way for his new life. Dev could not conform to the society’s norm of taking life as it comes and eventually quit his job to embark on his first solo backpacking trip to Bhutan and North-eastern India, thus covering places in Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. This trip gave him many firsts such as his first taste of sweet freedom and his first experience of living with a local family who extended the invitation after meeting him at a restaurant. After this adventurous jaunt of two and a half months, Dev was spoilt for life. He quotes Mary Anne Radmacher saying “I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”

From this point, the only direction to move in was upwards, figuratively and literally, as Dev proceeded to travel across almost all the Northern states of India by transitioning into a full-time travel blogger. He has performed everything from snowboarding in Himachal Pradesh to scuba diving in Goa.He has eaten everything from the traditional thalis in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu to raw uncooked meat with blood dripping out of it, in Uttarakhand. Dev likes experimenting with his food. He has also sampled the exotic dish of jadoh in Meghalaya which is basically pig brain and intestine served with rice cooked in pig’s blood.

Apart from giving him memories that Dev will cherish for life, he feels that travelling has had an extremely positive impact on his personality. He finds himself to have become much more presentable and capable of being able to fend for himself. After having encountered so many different people on his long journey, he is more open to new ideas and philosophies. He describes his journey so far as pretty much hassle free except for the small mishap that occurred while backpacking across Europe. Dev was on his way back to the hotel after capturing the Bratislavian nightlife on his camera when he ran into 3 people who claimed to be Slovaks. They feigned curiosity about India and invited him to a bar which was pretty crowded. Unsuspecting Dev was engaged in a conversation by two of them, while the third person fled with his camera. Once Dev realised the same, he tried seeking out help but to no avail. He got in touch with the local newspapers who published this story which had left a bitter taste in his mouth. He even updated his Facebook followers about this experience. But what happened next restored Dev’s faith in humanity. Many people from Slovakia started contacting him on Facebook. They told him about how upset they were because of the incident and they offered to sponsor his stay the next time he visited Slovakia. They even donated money so Dev could buy a new camera and a guy called Peter gave Dev his Nikon D200 out of sheer kindness.

 

 

 

Dev definitely maybe a little more cautious now but the theft incident has done nothing to diffuse his enthusiasm or love for travelling. In fact, he is of the opinion that everyone should travel solo at least once in their lives and look for experiences beyond the guide book.  Since he prefers peaceful places, his top five must-visit destinations are:

Village of Nongriat, Meghalaya

The town of Basle, Switzerland

Lesser known beaches of Goa

Rome, Italy

Ljubljana, Slovenia

 

When it comes to travelling essentials, he cannot do without:

A headlamp

A dry sack

A first aid kid

Snack bars

A book

Footloose Dev, who is now a fearless and optimistic guy is definitely living the life of his dreams. He continues his cultural escapades as he finds it difficult to part with this kind of freedom which is like a drug. Here’s to hoping that this article inspires a few of the readers to follow his footsteps or carve their own.

Words by Khyati Bhuva
Images by ©Footloose Dev

 

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