Tag Archives: ⁠⁠⁠Traveller of the week

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Inspiro India Official

Blog | Travel

19 February 2018

Love for nature has been a prime driving force to venture out for this week’s | Traveller of the Week: Suyash Pandey

Suyash Pandey is a 28-year-old Data Scientist born and brought up in Delhi who now works in developing and running statistical algorithms for his clients in the US.

The weekdays are spent on the computer running codes and building dashboards, he travels as frequently as he can! A lover of mountains over beaches and trains over aeroplanes, during his college days in Chennai, he got many opportunities to travel which he instantly grabbed.

 

Suyash Pandey

 

 

Chadar, Zanskar region, Ladakh

Golden Temple, Amritsar

Batal, Spiti

Hampta Pass, Himachal Pradesh

Churdhar, Himachal Pradesh

Mt. Kanchenjunga, Sandakphu, Darjeeling

Leh, Jammu and Kashmir

Chandratal, Spiti

Hampta Pass, Himachal Pradesh

Churdhar Sanctuary, Himachal Pradesh

 

Suyash has completed 8 treks in the Himalayas in 2017 as he has many look weekends to make use of, most of them were solo while the remaining were planned and executed with a close group of friends. “My most recent solo trek was the Sandakphu circuit, in West Bengal, where I did 85 km in 5 days. This trek allows for a good view of the 4 highest mountain peaks in the world including Mt. Everest”, says the traveller. Living down South, he was able to explore the western ghats as well.

 

Right from school days, the part-time traveller’s folks were very supportive of him. Trying out new activities, his folks had no objections to attending summer camps as well as rafting expeditions. “I’ve done week long rafting expeditions for 6 years straight, the longest stint being from Srinagar (Uttarakhand) on the Alaknanda river, crossing Dev Prayag Sangam and drifting down the Ganga to Rishikesh in 4-5 days”, he says.

 

Apart from treks, he likes to travel to different cities and explore different cultures and societies. It’s a blessing to live in India where there is so much diversity, he says. “What else does one want – Cheap buses, local street chai, welcoming families and a burning desire to explore”, says Pandey.

 

“Love for nature has been a prime driving force to venture out”, says Suyash. The support from his family has instilled a sense of confidence to do what he does now, travelling! Not really fond of the urban landscape, he’d rather be under a moonlit night sky than under a flashing ball of neon light in the sky. Animals are adored by this traveller, irrespective of their size. “So anything nature, and I would love to get involved”, he adds.

 

Personally, the traveller likes travelling solo or with a maximum of 2-3 of his close friends. Travelling solo gives him bandwidth to explore things the way he wants to. “When I’m solo, I go with the flow. Follow my heart. No social commitments”, says the explorer. A well bonded and like-minded group is a great company to travel with nonetheless!

 

Suyash Pandey plans all the important things in advance, rest everything can surprise him along the way. He doesn’t micro strategise at an hourly level, not having everything planned in advance allows for conversations with the locals. “I like to leave big room for spontaneity in a planned travel itinerary”, says Suyash.

 

Suyash has travelled to Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Delhi, Chandigarh, Daman and Diu, last but not the least, Pondicherry! 19 States and 4 Union Territories out of a total of 29 States and 7 UTs, he says there is a lot more to see!

His 5 must-visit destinations to travel are Leh-Ladakh, Spiti Valley, Kaziranga-Shillong-Cherapunjee, Munnar in Kerala and Mahabalipuram-Pondicherry.

 

A few things a traveller should keep in mind are the will to explore, sense of belief in oneself and the alertness! A water bottle and a torch or headlamp are the other must-haves one should carry while travelling according to Pandey.

 

Suyash loves every aspect of travelling. Right from planning a trip to the final completion. Interacting with the locals and understanding how they go about their lives, a chat with a local elderly teaches him more than a lifetime of surfing the web. Those real-life anecdotes in a village somewhere hold more power to change hearts and habits and that’s what the traveller enjoys the most when it comes to travelling!

 

Better management and decision making is what Suyash has learnt on the trail. The need to make decisions which are justifiable, viable and practical decisions, in the end, is what he has learnt from his travels.

 

One such interesting story is set in the Chadar Trek. In the traveller’s own words here- “We are back from the trek and we’re waiting in Chilling, for the pickup vehicles to come from Leh. We’ve been waiting for 3 hours and there is no sign of the vehicle. I am there with 3 friends. And an entire extended group that is there with the trek company. While we’re waiting it’s already 4 in the afternoon and the drive to Leh is about 3 hours from Chilling.

 

While everyone is sulking over the fact that there is a delay in pickup, I notice the porters are leaving on a pickup truck, more like the open Boleros with seating for 3 people in the front and an open trailer at the back for carrying goods. I approach the driver. Ask him if he can take us to Leh. He tells me there’s no place. And plus I have 3 other friends, so it wouldn’t be possible to accommodate us all. I insist and tell him that we’ll hitchhike on the back, in the trailer. He reluctantly agrees. And what follows is the best mountain ride of our lives. We are 4 friends with a few other locals at the back while the porters sit in the front. The entire landscape is covered in snow while the cold, slushy Zanskar River flows adjacent to the road, below in the valley. The view is so grand that its difficult to sit down. We all stand and just gaze out at the landscape while cold minus 20-degree winds hit our face as the vehicle carefully moves on the snowed out road. We reach Leh half frozen but doubly smiling”.

Words by Harpreet
Images by ©Suyash Pandey

 

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Blog | Travel

12 February 2018

Travelling isn’t killing time, it is self exploration says this week’s | Traveller of the Week: Niharika Arora

Niharika Arora is a 23-year old traveller who tries to squeeze in a travel whenever she gets the chance to escape from her studies of architecture. She considers herself to be a generally confused soul who is still trying to figure out what life is all about, and that’s how she chose her social media handles, ‘the_iffy_explorer’. She loves travelling through the mesh of self-exploration, where she plays the role of an architect who loves to write poetry, take photographs and travel.

 

Niharika Arora

 

 

Chhitkul, Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh

Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal

Rann of Kutch, Gujarat

Kochi, Kerala

Bhaktapur, Nepal

Bandra-Worli Sea Link, Mumbai

Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa

Mumbai, Maharashtra

Cape Town, South Africa

 

She has come a long way from when the travel bug first bit her, back when she went for a family holiday to Cape Town in South Africa. It was only after that she began to love travelling and saw it as something more than killing time or vacationing. Though her time in Cape Town was very different from how she lives to travel now, it was the trip that ignited the desire within her to explore the world. “It will always be an unforgettable trip for me since it was here that I became aware of my dream to travel.”

 

Niharika’s top 5 travel destinations are Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh, an underrated paradise; Pokhara in Nepal, a mind soothing place; Alleppey in Kerala, a place that gives the full tropical experience; Cape Town in South Africa, the beautiful city where she fell in love with traveling, and Gangtok, a gem in the north-east. These are just a few places across Niharika’s endless list. She has travelled to over 15 states in India, but insists she has many more cities to cover!

 

While travelling Niharika recommends one to invest in a good backpack, a tent, some good travel apps, a hardy toilet kit, a notebook and camera to record our unforgettable experiences! One such experience for her was in Chhitkul, Himachal Pradesh. She was on the most dangerous road in the world. While finding her way around, she reached a steep cliff and another time a graveyard. After driving for 3 hours, she finally reaches 6 am but had to sleep inside her car as it was freezing outside. She remembers falling asleep while hoping she wouldn’t wake up due to hypothermia!

 

“I’m at the stage where I would love to be a full-time traveller”, said Niharika. What she loves about travelling is that it is self-exploratory for her. It makes her aware of her own actions and desires, one of the reasons she loves travelling alone, plus, the only person’s tantrums who you must handle are your own! Niharika confesses she is more of a planned traveller, especially it’s a non-touristy place, just to get a lay of the land. But once she’s there, she spends her time as she pleases. Since she’s an aspiring architect, Niharika loves learning about various vernacular techniques of different regions. This helps her understand an area better. She especially loves travelling to places that are people-oriented. “It gives me way more satisfaction, it gives me more memories to cherish”, she says.

 

A trip that has had a lasting impact and taught her something extraordinary was at a time when she was watching a beautiful sunrise at Sarankot in Pokhara, Nepal. As she sat watching the sun dip lower, and as the rays danced on the tips of her skin, she felt an overwhelming sense of care for everything around her – the people, places, sounds. She remembers feeling like a soggy piece of paper that let the water sieve through it and got drenched in the process. The traveller was mesmerized by the beauty of the sunrise, could not believe something so beautiful happened every single day.

Words by Nitya Kuthiala
Images by ©Niharika Arora

 

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Blog | Travel

5 February 2018

Explore and live through travelling says this week’s | Traveller of the Week: Garima Manocha

Garima Manocha is a 24-year-old storyteller based in Delhi. She divides her time between her love for Photography and is currently pursuing Chartered Accountancy.  She has pursued a certified course in Advanced Photography under Dr O.P Sharma at Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi. Her oeuvre of work is composed of Travel and Street Photography. “I firmly believe that every photograph you take is a masterpiece if it gives the viewer questions to think upon”, she says.

 

Garima Manocha

 

Her motivation to travel is her fascination with the rich heritage and culture our country has in abundance. It is a diverse land, to begin with. Every few kilometres, one is exposed to a different culture, custom, language and lifestyle. Her journey began with the vibrant city of Delhi and she has been travelling since. Her first trip was to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab. She was overwhelmed with serenity she felt in the abode of God. For that moment, she let go of the photographer in her and absorbed every ounce of positive aura around.

 

She has no particular preference when it comes to choosing between travelling solo or with a group. Owing to her full-time job as a CA, it is not possible for her to become a full-time traveller. However, she makes sure to manage ample amount of time to travel and click to her satisfaction. Her family has been very supportive and they have contributed immensely to her journey of following her passion for photography.

 

She is a well-planned traveller. She is keen to chart down all the available options and explores through books before she sets her foot for a journey. It’s always appropriate to be prepared for the journey so that you are thorough with all the aspects to be noted. Rajasthan, Kerala, Pondicherry, Amritsar, Leh and Ladakh are 5 must-visit places according to Garima!

 

As an ardent and experienced traveller, she believes the five must-haves when one is travelling are a first aid kit, a camera with spare batteries and memory cards for additional data storage, a sturdy backpack, physical fitness and a mobile network connection.

 

She loves travelling because it helps her break the monotony of life and liberates her soul. Travelling makes her experience the essence of the place she visits, the people she meets there and the stories she gets to hear from them.

 

She has covered 10 states of the country by now and feels a lot is left to explore and live through travelling! All her expeditions have taught her the most important lesson of life, which is to live life to the fullest while it lasts!

Words by Laveena Behl
Images by ©Garima Manocha

 

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29 January 2018

To travel is to to discover one’s inner self for this week’s. | Traveller of the Week: Gursimran Basra

Gursimran Basra is a full-time Senior Business Analyst working with EXL Service in Noida for 3 years now. He has a passion for travelling and clicking photographs which he believes will eventually become his memories in the future.

 

During his post graduation at BIT Mesra in Ranchi, a turning point in his life which opened his eyes which ultimately motivated him to travel. ‘The beauty of the campus aroused the creative side of mine which ultimately turned into travelling’, he says.

It led to frequent trips to Kolkata from which is about 9 hours of journey from Ranchi.

 

Gursimran prefers to travel solo. He has done a number of trips which include his latest trip to Bhutan in December for 6 days.

 

Gursimran Basra

 

He does not despise group travels. Meeting new people is interesting as well as a helps in learning a lot about life Basra says.

 

A part-time traveller, he works full-time for Healthcare Insurance Domain which ultimately makes him a planned traveller. He says a lot of planning is involved!

 

 

According to Gursimran, his 5 must-visit places are Kolkata, Kerala, Banaras, Pushkar and Darjeeling which are quite accessible to people looking for travelling in the country itself.

 

His 4 must-haves are to be well noted as well which includes a power bank, a good camera phone, earphones or headphones and slippers for comfortable travels.

 

Time devoted to his heart is what Gursimran Basra enjoys the most whilst travelling! He loves indulging in the surroundings, loves to explore the culture as well as the people and others places at the location.

 

The travel lover has travelled to 14 states so far and 3 countries which include Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Singapore. Sri Lanka to be the most loved out of the three!

 

 

 

A story from Pushkar, Rajasthan is where this incident happened at. Gursimran met a boy named Sangeet who belongs to a family who travels to Pushkar every year during the ‘mela’ to sell their Camels. The traveller adds, he is still in touch with Sangeet for 3 years now! To see him grow up is a wonderful feeling to the traveller. He says, the boy is like family now!

 

One life lesson the traveller has learnt till now is that, ‘That you belong to yourself. All you do is for your heart.’

No matter one does in life, one should always get time for oneself to identify one’s inner self and understand one’s, own heart!

Words by Harpreet
Images by ©Gursimran Basra

 

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22 January 2018

Travel is liberating for his soul, discovering himself one travel at a time. | Traveller of the Week: Siddharth Soni

Siddharth Soni is a Delhi based architect who tries to juggle his life between a full-time corporate job and his passion for photography along with exploring the Himalayas. A trekking and mountain climbing enthusiast, he finds himself at ease in crowded streets, documenting lives and different cultures around him. A graduate of Cornell University, USA, he has been a passionate architect practising for years now. He also reckons photography, travel explorations and documentaries to be his true calling!

 

Travelling started quite unexpectedly for this one. Back in 2002 when he had just started college, his father pushed him to get out of his comfort zone and persuaded him to go on a Himalayan Trek, ‘The Valley of Flowers’. With no knowledge about trekking, it also happened to be his first solo trip! “I had little idea about what to expect. I did make some really good friends though and in a way, found myself in the middle of nowhere. Where I least expected it. A spark was lit and I promptly returned the next year, and it soon developed into a passion”, he says.

 

Siddharth Soni

 

The now well-versed traveller is comfortable with both group and solo travel expeditions. It started out with travelling with a group of 2-3 very close friends but he also believes solo trips to be great. “Most people never take the risk of solo and play it safe by going in a group. But then they don’t know what they are missing out on!”, says the traveller.

 

A part-time globe-trotter, he travels and tries to balance his full-time corporate job which often requires working overtime as well as tight deadlines. Notorious for convincing people to go on road trips, treks and to even quit their jobs to travel, Siddharth wants people around him to explore more and get out of the conventional city life.

 

The traveller is has been to every state in the country except for the North East, Bengal and Kerala. His 5 must-visit destinations include Ladakh, Rajasthan, Bolivia, Italy and Nepal. The landscape, heritage and cultural diversity at these places is like nowhere else on the planet.

A methodical planner, he often reads thoroughly about the places he intends to visit and does background research in order to not waste time figuring things out later. He draws his own maps, itineraries which often helps him manage his time. Spontaneous trips have often led him to waste time figuring things as well as bad experiences.

 

The Summit Ascent – Altitude 5200m, Stok Kangri Expedition

Varanasi

Annapurna Base Camp, Nepal – Main Summit

Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir

Nahargarh Fort, Jaipur

Pangong Tso Lake

Barren mountains as seen from Shanti Stupa, Leh

Trishul Summit, Roopkund Trek

Crumbling Facades, Mumbai

Markha Valley, Stok Kangri Expedition

Varanasi

 

Soni believes, attitude and mindset to travel are what counts for one’s own betterment. ‘To try and push yourself and explore your own limitations. To talk to people and share stories and experiences’, he says. He travels with his DSLR camera, GoPro, hiking boots and his shorts, everything else being flexible!

 

Siddarth enjoys the quest to explore, observe and absorb. Wherever he goes, he tries to become a local to explore things like a local. Travelling is liberating for this traveller soul, to be a traveller and not a tourist is what is more important to him. He discovers himself whilst travelling. He says, “It has made me comfortable in all sorts of environments more sensitive towards, people and different cultures. Besides, there is no right or wrong way to travel. It is a means of personal expression and experience, unique for each person.”

 

One life lesson he has learnt is, “The small and temporal nature of our lives and problems in the larger scheme of things in life. To live in the moment and thoroughly cherish each moment for what it is”.

Words by Harpreet
Images by ©Siddharth Soni

 

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Blog | Travel

15 January 2018

Know how travel works as a therapy for this week’s | Traveller of the Week: Tushar Panchal

Tushar Panchal, a 24-year-old is a Digital Account Manager at The Minimalist. An engineering dropout, the emotional sense of freedom and curiosity to capture untrodden places became his motivation to travel. His initial excursions were not initiated by passion but work. His first trip was to Hampi, a trip to Bellary for a client meeting, He wrapped up is work as soon as he could and went to Hospet bus station. At a public toilet, he went through a quick change of clothes and started his journey to Hampi.

He then covered the entire Hampi ruins and heritage sites within a duration of 6 hours. This is how he successfully completed his first trip with a second-hand DSLR he bought on OLX.

 

Tushar Panchal

 

Panchal has no specific preference when it comes to travelling, he can travel solo or in a group which entirely depends on the destination and the travel budget for the same. Not a full-time traveller, he has a full-time job and at times it gets tedious to take out time for travelling. He has sacrificed three jobs to fulfil his zeal to travel. His family doesn’t find his travelling agreeable because they are aloof from this field, and at times they are completely unaware of the places he travels to. This at times, causes friction, but nonetheless, doesn’t stop him from continuing on this path.

 

He has covered almost 13-14 states and 2 Union territories (Daman and New Delhi) but has yet to explore places outside India. His favourite travel destinations within India are- Spiti Valley, Hampi, Varanasi (which he plans to visit soon), Srinagar, Ladakh and Gokarna, which can be called “Corsica of India”. His favourite international destinations include Banff National Park, Norway, Iceland, Patagonia and Alaska.

According to him, the five must-haves on every trip are good shoes, sufficient amount of water, a camera kit and a Swiss knife.

 

The freedom to savour any natural landscape in its most raw form is what Tushar feels every traveller enjoys the most. Apart from that, every excursion is an escape from the bubbling social life we all live in urban spaces. For a person like him who lives in Mumbai, travelling becomes a therapy. Instead of going to a psychiatrist or counsellor and venting out your anxieties, Tushar feels, he visits different destinations and talks to them. It’s a conversational bond he develops with the destinations he visits; the thought might sound hippie but in this case, it is true! His upbringing amidst the chaotic life of Mumbai instigated an itch to document the serenity of calm spaces.

 

 

The plethora of experiences he has had while travelling has gained him multiple experiences which cannot be squeezed into a text. To roughly sum it up, he shares two quotes from “Into the Wild”, the first goes like this, “It is important in life not to be strong but to feel strong. At least once you need to measure yourself in the very ancient of human conditions”, and the second says, “If you admit that human life can be ruled by a reason, the possibility of life is destroyed”.

Words by Laveena Behl
Images by ©Tushar Panchal

 

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8 January 2018

The traveller who has visited 80 countries and gives everyone some serious travel goals. | Traveller of the Week: Abhilash Surendran

Abhilash Surendran hails from Kozhikode district in Kerala right next to a former French colony called Mahe, he calls them both home! Abhilash has quit his corporate job twice to become a full-time traveller and travel blogger. Having failed the first time, the second trial seems to be going good, he says, ‘I had not strategized properly on the pitfalls of travel blogging’.

 

Surendran considers himself to be a mix of an orthodox and offbeat traveller. He enjoys visiting tourist places as well as places unexplored by the crowd. ‘After visiting 80 countries around the world, and almost every part of India, I think every place however touristy, crowded, dirty or polluted it is – has its own charm. It’s always up to the visitor to figure it out’, he says giving everyone some serious travel goals.

 

Abhilash Surendran

 

In 2008, the now travel junkie went on his first solo trip. While working in an MNC in Chennai, he was asked to move to their office in Manila, Philippines. A scary prospect at first, he accepted. ‘Living in the Philippines ended up changing my life!

After the Philippines, I was hooked. I started backpacking to other parts of South East Asia, came back to India to do road trips around my own country, went discovering Europe, Oceania and the Americas. And I don’t think I am stopping anytime soon’, he says.

 

Abhilash loves travelling solo and makes friends in places he visits and does short travels with them as a group to nearby places, a much better way to get to know the places from the eyes of a local rarely on the tourist trail.

 

The biggest challenge for Abhilash is family! He left a well-paying job in Singapore before he changed his profession of becoming a traveller. His family was definitely not happy with his career choice. They are now fully convinced and supportive of the idea.

 

For International trips, the traveller makes it a point to have a general plan in advance for cheaper flight tickets. ‘Like, I will spend 3 weeks in Germany. But what I do in those 3 weeks, is quite flexible’, mentions the travel blogger.

In India, he travels on his motorbike, riding solo around the country which also means he can go with the flow and do a little bit of research about the offbeat places he’d like to visit and save it to google maps. Whenever he is in the area, he makes it a point to visit the pinned locations!

 

The traveller’s 5 must-visit locations would be, firstly, Eastern Arunachal Pradesh. Lohit, Anjaw and Changlang Districts are untouched and have amazing natural beauty!

Outside India, Jordan. The Bedouin culture and hospitality is amazing. Also, sights like Petra, Wadi Rum, Jerash etcetera are not only historic but also out of this world. Serbia, one of his favourite countries in the Balkan region is full of delightful people, amazing food and easy to travel or hitchhike. Next is Timor Leste, the untouched and the latest country of ASEAN, the country gets only 10,000 visitors every year. A complete adventure to travel to, he was surprised to visit villages where he was the first tourist they had ever seen!

Last but not the least, San Marino. A country surrounded by Italy, it is the only country in the world where there are more people than vehicles. The pristine city views are straight out of a renaissance movie set.

Now, on to his 5 must-haves for travelling and staying outdoors.

In India, he prefers to travel only on his motorbike as it makes any place accessible. Second would be, a sturdy and multi-purpose backpack. Not to forget, offline maps, he suggests an application called maps.me! A sleeping bag, if one is into camping outside.  Finally, a will to be flexible and adapt to situations is a must! The ability to accept different cultures, mindsets, people and the ability to get along with them makes the journey much more fulfilling.

 

The traveller loves meeting the locals on his expeditions. He does admit places, monuments and nature are great for photographs but one can only learn about the place through the eyes and the mouths of a local.

Abhilash prefers to listen to the natives and explore the not so ordinary sites, he remembers his earlier days of chasing the touristy spots, unlike today.

 

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Andorra, Europe

Brahmaputra, Guwahati

Cairo, Egypt

Istanbul, Turkey

Seria, Brunei

Varanasi, India

 

Surendran has covered all states except Mizoram, Tripura and Himachal Pradesh. Outside India, his travelling has been in circuits as he usually travels for longer durations. ‘I started with the Banana pancake trail of South East Asia, which covers countries like Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Then there is the Indonesia island circuit, taking you through the islands of Java and Borneo’, he adds. In Europe, time was mostly spent doing the Baltic trail (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) or the Balkans stretch (Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, etc).

 

 

One life lesson he has learnt through travelling – ‘That the world is not what you read about in a magazine or newspaper. I am not going to lie, I had many of my biases shattered in different places that I have visited around the world. These biases were formed by media, or opinions of friends, over the years, and only when I visited the place did I know how wrong my understanding was’.

For example, he says before visiting North East India, he perceived the tribes to be orthodox and not set in present times. But once he actually arrived, he was greeted with friendliness and generosity! A much more modern mindset than the rest of India, he says the entire country can learn a thing or two.

Also, media often portrays the Islamic countries around the world as orthodox and conventional. Whilst travelling to Bangladesh, Brunei and the Middle-East, the traveller made a note to wear decent clothes hiding his tattoos as not to offend anyone. He was blown away instantly by attending the craziest house party in Dhaka! The youth did have fun but unfortunately, the media portrays most of the countries in a much different light than usual which shouldn’t stop one from exploring and travelling all the countries out there!

Words by Harpreet
Images by ©Abhilash Surendran

 

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Blog | Travel

1 January 2018

A local weekend traveller on a mission to explore Himachal. | Traveller of the Week: Neha Ralli

Neha Ralli is a weekend traveller and a hobby photographer. She was born and brought up in Kullu (Himachal Pradesh) and loves star gazing, talking about extra-terrestrial lives and its possibilities. She likes to write poetry when she is in the right mood.

Neha feels that curiosity to see something new, meet new people and know more about fellow human beings and this wonderful creation called Earth is what led her to choose this path. She says, “My first trip was my school trip to a place called ‘Dyar’ in Kullu. We trekked a little and reached this beautiful place surrounded by Deodar Trees’, she was awestruck. At the young age, she had no words to describe what she felt. Now when she thinks of it, it makes her calm and happy.

Neha Ralli

 

She likes to travel with her family and friends but believes that solo travelling is also a unique experience. However, mostly she prefers company while travelling. Being a working woman, Neha manages to take out time for her hobbies as she works in Himachal Pradesh itself. Time had become an issue while she was working in Chandigarh and this prompted her to shift back and live close to nature for mental peace and to be closer to her family.

She loves to go on spontaneous trips and rarely plans her trips as she feels that spontaneous trips have always been the best for her. Currently located in Himachal, she is trying to see it extensively. The idea of not being well versed in her own land has bothered her for a long time and therefore she usually travels in Himachal itself. According to her, a person should visit these 5 places for a unique experience, Kareri Lake (Dharamshala), Kaisdhar (Kullu),  Lahaul, Bhrigu Lake (Kullu) and  Prashar Rishi (Mandi).

Ralli also lists down 5 essentials for travelling and staying outdoors:

  1. One should be acclimated to the high altitudes
  2. Weather on mountains changes drastically, so one should always keep warmers and raincoats in the bag pack in case there’s a plan to camp.
  3. It’s very dry on the mountaintop and therefore one must keep moisturizer or Chap Stick as skin gets dry in the extreme weather conditions.
  4. Keep a swiss knife for multipurpose use and a lighter to start a bonfire.
  5. Always wear sunscreen to avoid skin burn. Try and keep the bag as light as possible. Do not take things you will not use on your trek. Always remember “Keep it Light”.

In addition to this, she talks about things that one should not do when in outdoors:

  1. One should always carry a litter bag along and not throw wrappers and bottles on mountains.
  2. Noise or use of loudspeakers while camping should be avoided because it attracts wild animals and disturbs the environment.
  3. One should not do anything that hurts the sentiments of the locals.
  4. It is important to put out the fire before you leave or sleep.

 

According to her, the best thing about trekking is that one can forget all the worldly chaos which has been left behind. One keeps climbing because there’s simply more to see in life. The curiosity to see what’s next after a turn, the feeling of knowing that the mind is finally at halt of random thoughts bothering you is something that drives her. She aims to visit various places in Himachal and learn everything she can about the divine land know as Himachal Pradesh.

 

Dharamshala

Palampur

Pong Dam, Kangra

Tattapani, Shimla

Triund, Dharamshala

Gulaba, Manali

Kasol

Triund, Dharamshala

 

Travelling has taught her that humans are quite vulnerable. “We keep fighting on trivial things and issues. We keep grudges against each other. We keep focusing on things that make us less human. We won’t get many chances to live. So why not make the most of it. I got my second chance, and I’m living it in the best way possible,” she said. Sharing a personal experience, she said, “Once I reached on top of a mountain and saw the vast city land, so small and nonexistent human life. No noise, not even birds chirping. At that time, I realized that the issues we all are fighting for, why are they even there? We are all humans in the end. We all have to die one day. I am sure we can all get along if we keep in mind that we all have to live together like a big family in our home called Earth.”

Words by Laveena Behl
Images by ©Neha Ralli

 

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Blog | Travel

11 December 2017

Traveller of the Week: Tanya Khanijow

Tanya Khanijow started travelling and learning photography in 2016, she started off by expressing herself through her content on social media one frame at a time.

A traveller, blogger, vlogger and content creator, she loves to travel and find her self in different places every now and then. ‘What really drives me and encourages me to keep going is a never-ending need to explore and see the world’, says Tanya.

Tanya Khanijow

 

Tanya has always liked travelling from early childhood from the time her dad got posted to a new location, courtesy Indian Army.

Through the Indian Army, she has had the opportunity to stay at some of the most pristine locations in India. ‘I’ve changed as many as nine schools. And to be honest, I loved it. It provided me with a new perspective on a place, and people when I was as young as 3-4 years. I learned early on in life, the value of travelling and change’, she says.

 

During her college days, Tanya would find herself making plans on the spur of the moment to travel to different places. She would save her monthly allowance and hustle to travel. She has travelled in local trains, public buses, rickety mountain vehicles,  the list is endless.

 

Tanya has always loved the natural environment more than the comfort and education imbibed in a classroom. With that started her tryst with travel.

Not a full-time traveller yet, she spent 2017 working as well as travelling, intending to travel full time from next year.

Also a spontaneous traveller, she doesn’t plan the destination or things to do in advance. If she sees there is free time available on her calendar, she takes seconds to decide the best place for the time and plans economically by booking cheap flight tickets, she then skims through blogs and web resources for a brief basic idea of the culture, geography and differentiating factors of the place.

5 must-visit locations according to Tanya would be, Alappuzha in Kerala. The backwaters of Kerala are beyond beautiful and one must experience village life and a little by the water lanes. ‘Try living with locals and riding on a slow-paced boat instead of a motorboat. And don’t opt for a houseboat. Houseboats are large and can only traverse in broad canals. You’ll miss out on the village life experience’, stresses the travel junkie! Her next pick would be ‘The Himalayas’, right from North to West to the East, the entire stretch of the Himalayas is beautiful and unique, she personally feels, people who have not experienced it have missed out on something so far. Right from Uttrakhand to Valley of Flowers, Roopkund Trek, treks like Kareri lake, Bhrigu lake, Parashar lake in Himachal and recently the eastern side of Himalayas in Sikkim, it has always left her awe-inspired. Next is the white salt desert of Runn of Kutch – ‘One word, WOW! It’s beautiful, unlike anything. Especially the sight of a full moon during the night against the white sand’, she says.

 

Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

enroute Udiapur

Pondicherry

Alleppey, Kerala

Manali, Himachal Pradesh

Bhrigu Lake, Himachal Pradesh

Udaipur, Rajasthan

Vashisht, Himachal Pradesh

 

Khanijow travels with a lot of camera equipment and instils everyone to have a dedicated space or compartment for everything whilst travelling. Sunscreen, mosquito repellent, paper soap, sanitizer and tissue paper are must-haves.

Battery pack, tripod, selfie stick – very useful commodities for travelling solo, especially if one is worried about running out of battery without a source of power for hours.

 

A big fan of chasing after sunrises and sunsets, she really enjoys waking up early and catching the morning action. It goes without saying, she loves travel photography and also her new found love for making videos.

 

A pretty impressive figure, 18 states have been covered by Khanijow along with a few international trips to countries such as China, USA, London, Aruba and Bhutan.

 

‘I think every lesson that I’ve learnt while travelling has been life-changing. But if I’ve to pinpoint one if you travel, you will change your life forever, for good’, is one life lesson she has learnt whilst travelling.

Words by Harpreet
Images by ©Tanya Khanijow

 

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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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Blog | Travel

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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