Tag Archives: Himachal

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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

 

Follow Suyash:  Instagram

 

Check out latest edition of Inspiro India magazine – here

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Inspiro India Official

Best of January’18 | #inspiroindia

Greetings,

We’d like you to know that Inspiro India is receiving immense love and support from you ‘Creative Heads’ out there.

In the wake of the phenomenal usage of the ‘Inspiro India’ hashtag, we have a created a new section, ‘Best Pictures of the Month’.

Here are the Best Pictures from the month of January!

(The pictures are not in any supposed order. To get featured in the next month, use hashtag #inspiroindia)

~ Follow us on Instagram @inspiroindia and use hashtag #inspiroindia or write to us at info@inspiroindia.com ~

 

©Mihir Thakkar

 

 

©Joshi Daniel

 

©Harshit Doshi
©APrampar
©Namrata Vedi

 

 

©Shivam
©Piyush Tanpure

 

 

©Fazil
©Sunny Gala

 

 

©Anshul Mehta
©Manpreet Kaur

 

 

©Upasana
©Shevanee

 

 

©Shivam
©Sachin Chauhan

 

©Anunay Sood
©Mayuresh M. Warang

 

 

©Somia Mallick
©Shardul Umesh Kadam

 

©Manjima
©Rupesh Dev

 

 

©Ankit
©Sakshi Parikh

 

 

©Arfan Abdulazeez
©Harshal

 

 

©Shagun Chawla
©Aryan

 

 

©Manish Deo
©Anshuman

 

 

©Swapnanil Roy

 

Check out our previous series of inspiring images here – iidailyinspiration#149

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Blog | Interviews | Photography

15 February 2018

Interview with Photographer: Siddhartha Joshi

Meet Siddhartha, an Industrial Designer by profession and a full-time traveller and photographer. 

Siddhartha Joshi

 

Inspiro India: Tell us something about yourself and how did you start creating?

Siddhartha Joshi: I am an Industrial Designer, travel blogger and a photographer, pretty much in that order. I guess I started my creative journey from the time I started my master’s education in Design from NID, and have since expanded beyond products to many other things like writing, visual storytelling and so on.

 

Inspiro India: Can you talk a bit about your travel shots and way of working?

SJ: I rarely plan for my shots, and depend on a lot of spontaneity. This doesn’t always work, but I enjoy working this way more. I rarely, if ever, take stress while taking pictures, and if they don’t work out as I would like them to, I focus on other aspects of travel – interviewing people, explore hidden experiences and so on.

 

Tram in Helsinki

 

Inspiro India: Did you face any problem while pursuing this field? How satisfied do you feel after working in this field?

SJ: The only problem I face is the lack of time. There is way more work available than what I can possibly take up, especially with a full-time design job.

 

Inspiro India: Which genre of photography interests you the most and why? What are your top three favourite photography locations?

SJ: I like street photography the most, followed closely by travel photography. I love clicking people in their natural states, so both these styles work well for me.

 

Favourite locations – streets of any town or city, Kashmir and street processions.

 

Inspiro India: If not this, what would have Siddhartha been doing?

SJ: I guess I would pursue some other creative field, maybe write full time.

.

 

Inspiro India: How would you describe your photography style?

SJ: I think it’s very mixed, I try and expand my area of interest all the time. Especially when you travel, there is always a need to learn something new and I really like that.

 

Inspiro India: What did you want to become as a child? What dream is still on your bucket list?

SJ: I wanted to be a scientist as a kid, a physicist to be precise. It’s no longer my dream but I would like to take up research projects in future.

 

Inspiro India: Out of all the photographs you have ever taken, which is your favourite and why?

SJ: I am yet to take a picture that I can call my all time favourite. I think I am still a few years away from it.

 

 

Inspiro India: Describe your post-processing workflow? What camera do you shoot with? Your favourite lenses or any other equipment, if any?

SJ: I shoot with Canon 6D, and sometimes a GoPro Hero 4, and my favourite lens is a 50mm prime lens. I also use a 24-105mm lens, especially for travel photography.

 

As for post-processing, I don’t really have a standard workflow. I don’t use Lightroom (yet) and edit with Camera Raw and a bit on photoshop.

Lapland in Finland

Bikaner streets

Ahmedabad

A migrant in Dubai

Dera market Dubai

Burj Khalifa

Porvoo village in Finland

Photos by ©Siddhartha Joshi

 

Inspiro India: What advice would the photographer inside you like to pass on to our readers?

SJ: Click, observe, click, observe and repeat. Also, identify what is it that you like in the pictures that you like.

 

Follow Siddhartha: Instagram | Website

 

Check out latest edition of Inspiro India magazine – here

 

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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

 

Follow Garima:  Instagram

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Blog | Interviews | Photography

1 February 2018

Interview with Photographer: Navaneeth Unnikrishnan

Meet Navaneeth, an astrophotographer who captures the past by clicking the star systems. 

Navaneeth Unnikrishnan

 

Inspiro India: Tell us something about yourself and how did you start creating?

Navaneeth Unnikrishnan: I’m an astrophotographer from Kerala, but currently living in Manipal where I am pursuing media studies.

 

Inspiro India: Can you talk a bit about your amazing night sky shots and way of working?

NU: Most of my night sky images are shot either using a wide angle lens or telescopes at high focal length. Images shot using telescopes require multiple exposures to gain data from distant objects. Depending on the brightness of the object, the amount of time required to capture increases or decreases.

 

Andromeda Galaxy

 

Inspiro India: Did you face any problems while pursuing this field? How satisfied do you feel after working in this field?

NU: I have been lucky enough not to face any problems and I’m pretty happy with what I do.

 

Inspiro India: What is it about astrophotography that interests you the most? What are your top three favourite photography locations and why?

NU: The thing about astrophotography that fascinates me is that you’re actually capturing the past, in the sense that the light captured by the sensor is emitted millions of years ago from the star system, but because of its distance from here, the light reaches now.

I like shooting from Spiti Valley, Ladakh and the Western Ghats because of lesser light pollution.

 

Inspiro India: If not this, what would have Navaneeth been doing?

NU: A desk job.

 

Inspiro India: What is typically in your camera bag while travelling?

NU: Canon 6D, Rokinon 14mm, Canon 50mm 1.8, Tamron 70-200mm and a Manfrotto tripod.

 

Inspiro India: Could you tell our readers how to reach such excellent results in astrophotography? What are you looking forward to purchasing next?

NU: Passion and practice. A Canon 85mm 1.2 lens.

 

Inspiro India: What did you want to become during childhood? What dream is still on your bucket list?

NU: As a kid, I wanted to grow up and be a pilot. To work for National Geographic magazine is still on my bucket list.

 

 

Inspiro India: Describe your post-processing workflow and the equipment that you use?

NU: For images shot using telescopes, it is first stacked using softwares such as Pixinsight or Deep Sky Stacker. The result from that is imported to Photoshop and further worked on. For wide angle images, they are usually processed using Lightroom or Photoshop. I use a Canon 6D and Canon 1100D (IR modded), Rokinon 14mm, Canon 50mm 1.8, Tamron 70-200mm, Manfrotto tripod, Canon 24mm, Canon 100-400mm, Nexstar 8se telescope and Skywatcher HEQ5 Pro Mount.

Jupiter

Milkyway and Key Monastery, Spiti Valley

Milkyway and antares region – Kaza, Himachal Pradesh

Moon

Milkyway detailed Panorama – Kaza, Himachal Pradesh

Milkyway – Mahe

Orion Nebula and Running Man Nebula

Pleiades

Sadr Region

Photos by ©Navaneeth Unnikrishnan

 

Inspiro India: What advice would the artist inside you like to pass on to our readers?

NU: Follow your passion and do what your heart tells you to do.

 

Follow Navaneeth: Instagram | Facebook

 

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Blog | Travel

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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Blog | Travel

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

 

Follow Siddharth:  Instagram | Website

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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 | Inspiration | Travel

16 December 2017

Cancer survivor takes on an unprecedented pilgrimage to Mount Everest

The Unprecedented Pilgrimage to Mt Everest

 

Why do humans climb mountains, I have often questioned myself and have always struggled to find a reason for why one would romanticize mountains, why climb again and again and why have one on one with ‘Death Gods’?

 

It’s because the mountains never question or beg for answers.

You don’t need to prove yourself nor do you need any validation.

They are always there, standing mighty! Breathing, protecting and killing, accepting and what not!

And in ways, most of us can’t comprehend…

 

‘Listening’

 

Some would say passion takes you there, some say it’s their dream, some take it as an adventure sport.

 

Any reason is a reason valid enough for you to want to climb the tallest mountain in the world. I get asked the same question when I tell people about my journey. I still think I don’t have an answer to that. Everything just happened so fast that I still haven’t figured it out.

 

 

So let’s start from the very beginning!

A normal doctor, working in a private hospital in Delhi.

What made her climb a mountain?

 

It all started with my love for mountains when I got work in Shimla. Having survived blood cancer and chemotherapy for one year, I was completely lagging behind in my career. I had it all planned to go and work in the US and then cancer struck.

It was the worst phase of my life, bedridden for months, total loss of control and of course the brunt of treatment.

I survived it because my family was there. It’s was our fight.

And today I say it proudly, I survived what would have killed others.

 

 

I was an avid biker. Classic 350cc, the love of my life, independent brat, a rebellious kid I was all through, but soon after cancer treatment I met with a near-death accident due to my bones being weak. I almost fractured all the major bones of my body and today I carry three titanium rods from that event.

After two back to back life-changing events, what does one do to get back on track?

 

I was clueless, no plan worked out.

Shimla was the first place where I fell for the hills. Just pastime trekking helped me heal myself mentally.

Then came Leh and the opportunity to climb Mt Everest. I said ‘no’ at first go because I knew I was not physically fit to climb mountains.

Discussing over and over with colleagues they convinced me to go for the expedition to Mt Stok Kangri which is considered as the easiest peak to scale.

I was not trained in mountaineering at all and went stupidly for this. During the course, I fell sick and had to come back. But later, I was determined to climb and experience how it feels to be on the top of a mountain and to this day it’s one feeling I have not forgotten even after climbing Everest.

People usually say that how can you describe a feeling or a moment to anyone who is not there. I say you cannot describe it by words but by sharing the passion.

After this, the love affair with mountains became more strong. It’s like an addiction now.

I trained at HIM for the basics and did the advance from AMI.

After that, we went for Mt Mamostong Kangri in the Ladakh region, 6153 m. That peak was such a beauty that it just lets you go into a trance while climbing.

Next was Mt Saser Kangri 7672m and Mt Nun 7135m, both extremely challenging peaks. During these expeditions, I realised that I am a very slow CLIMBER and slow acclimatizer. I got to know how my body behaved with height and low temperatures. But is this enough for Everest I asked myself?

Being a doctor I was also responsible for the team, and being a climber I have to be responsible for myself too.

 

Until January 2017, I was not convinced with my physical fitness at all. Over a period of two months, I pushed my body, running 10 to 12 km in Leh in the winter mornings. Let me tell you not easy at all, but that was the only thing that kept me fit.  Of course a healthy high protein diet too.

Finally, the day came whence we flew to Kathmandu and that city was full of climbers from all parts of the world. And then the flight to Lukla, the most exciting flight ever. The plane actually nosedives. And then you get to see the first view of the mighty Goddess, what a feeling to see her!

 

From Lukla, it’s a 9-day trek to the base camp situated at a height of 17700 ft. 42 km of upslope and a little bit of down slope, adventurous suspension bridges, a crowd of fellow climbers, the hustle and bustle, the yaks and sherpas doing load ferrying is still fresh in my mind. Gradually you gain height and acclimatise which is getting very important. Plus you carry your own load of 20 kg all through the trek. By the time we reached Tengbouche my legs had already given up and I was seriously contemplating on quitting, but my team motivated me so much that today I am thankful to them for I wouldn’t have done the summit without them.

On reaching base camp one would find so many colourful canopies of tents that it doesn’t feel like that you are on an expedition. You interact with so many teams and climbers that they become your family for the next two months. It was an honour to meet the famous Swiss climber Ueli Stack who attained his peaceful end in the work he loved to do.

Then over next two weeks, we went for height gaining exercises to Kala Patthar and Pumori base camp, taking three steps at that height was a pain indeed.  I used to get breathless at night while sleeping and get up at 3 am to go out of the tent. One night I just saw a trail of lights in Khumbu icefall and it was just so mesmerizing that I forgot I am actually out in cold.

So first time when you cross the notorious Khumbu icefall it’s like an endless maze of walls of ice, I literally took 12 hours to cross that monster but I knew I have to cross it again and again. So there is a team called ‘Icefall Doctors’ who fix the rope and ladders across Khumbu and they are the reason one crosses Khumbu safely.

 

Base Camp, Mt. Everest

Crossing snake bend on Khumbu icefall

Climbing icefall to camp 1

Climbing Lhotse face

Camp 2, Mt. Everest

Camp 2 to Camp 3, Mt. Everest

Camp 3, Mt. Everest

Climbing Lhotse face en route Camp 3 to Camp 4, Mt. Everest

From Camp 3 to Camp 4, Mt. Everest

Camp 4, Mt. Everest

Enroute Summit, Mount Everest

So you do two to three cycles of height gain till camp 4 to adjust your body to the height and rarefied atmosphere. The cycle where I spent a night at Camp 2 at 21000 ft, I realised how hard it’s going to be. Camp 2 is like an advance base camp and in a flat space that it’s called a football ground or the silent valley.  After that, you ascend to camp 3 to 24000 ft facing a 75-degree climb and strong winds of almost 60 to 100 mph. The night at Camp 3 was sleepless. The swishing sound of oxygen cylinders the wind and the height, restlessness is all you feel. It’s painful to be at that height where you can’t even pee without being killed.

 

Camp 4 at 26000 ft is known as the death zone, it was creepy.  We faced the mighty Lhotse incline, I was facing health problems already and was sitting down at every three step using more of my oxygen. Then suddenly out of nowhere, an oxygen cylinder comes rolling down and hits one of our Sherpas in the leg and we had to bring him down with a broken leg. Such mistakes which cost you. Once you reach camp 4 and realize why it’s called death zone, you can actually feel death in the air. Bodies all black and blue with climbing gear are lying behind rocks, no one cares like it’s a common sight to see. No humanity no emotion and no respect for them. Climbers crossing over them and then leaving behind the ones dying is something haunts you for long and scares you to the core.

After coming back to base camp there was a moment I thought for what if something happens to me, will I also be a reference point for others in future just lying out there.  But then I thought I will die doing something I liked and wanted to. So why regret?

After this we did two more cycles and before final summit window had a total rest and recoup. Prayers were done to evoke the ‘Sagarmatha Goddess’ for her blessings before the climb. It was all getting surreal now.

But the weather Gods were merciless and it was the worst climbing season ever. No ropes were fixed till summit and all were getting anxious over a failed season this time. Our team left in wee hours of May 17 morning halting at Camp 2 directly. Next day we left for camp 3 and the weather got bad, 100 mph blizzard and we were stuck, but after the blizzard died out we moved on to the next camp. Ideally, camp 4 is a stopover for 6 hrs and then you leave for the summit, but again the blizzard started and we were stuck there for two days without food and depleting oxygen. Few cylinders were stolen and then half of our team had to go down and it was decided only the strongest will climb. I was a weak member but then I went against team leaders’ decision to go for it for I knew I came so far and either I die here or go back after summoning. I was foolish I think now, such impulsive decisions can cost your team members lives too, that is what I learnt. So on the night of 20th May, a team of 8 left and it was one of the hardest things I have done till now. I felt jumping off planes is easier.

 

Then after crossing the famous Hilary step, the dangerous rocky patch where an inch here or there and you freefall to darkness. I started hallucinating I thought a fellow climber wants to cross over and I let off my safety anchor and suddenly my sherpa holds my backpack and shakes me asking what the hell am I doing? I was like oh my gosh! that was so real and a slight wind would have grown me into Nepal or Tibet dead. At t50 m from the summit, I could see what I was training for all this while. It’s just there now in front of you and it took me 50 minutes to reach on top and I was blank when I got on top. There was no thought, no chattering in my brain. Complete emptiness. Then I felt the wind saying you did it and am not making it up, it really did. Then I dropped to my knees and knelt before the Goddess,  thanking her for considering me worthy of this view. Tears roll down my cheeks and freeze. I asked myself is this what you wanted? I sit there for 20 minutes looking at the 360 view and vast expanse of clouds and other peaks. It was a sight imprinted. I make a call to the base camp at 8 am exactly 13 hrs later that we have done it, feeling a relief!

A few minutes later after clicking necessary proof pictures, we start descending. The most difficult part.

 

As the descent starts, we reach camp 4 and two of my team members became snow blind and one started having frostbite in his fingers. We hardly managed to reach camp 3 as everyone was so tired that we could hardly walk. I being the leader had to make them reach safely even though I did not have one percent energy left. 72 hrs without food crushed your body, it was like walking in the desert but of snow and during daytime it’s as hit as 40 degrees. Somehow we dragged ourselves to camp 3 and had to spend another night without food. Next morning we made our slow descent to camp 2, the condition of patients was worsening and I was worried that one might lose all his fingers. I also started having frostbite in both my feet and when I took off the shoes the whole skin peeled off. Finally, a call was made to evacuate three patients and me from camp 2 to base camp by chopper. It cost me 8000 USD to sort and if it’s from camp 3 then 24000 USD which is more than the whole expedition cost for a 5 member team. Meanwhile, we heard the sad news of Indian climber passing away. All through expedition we saw dead people dying and sherpas leaving them back. So now all these bodies have become reference points. Camp 3 and camp 4 are full of human shit and pee. We have to take care of this peak before it becomes a tourist centre. I mean we are climbing to worship a Goddess but this is what we humans do there.

 

Reaching base camp was the time I realised that I am back alive with the whole team safe and no major medical problems. The three patients were sent to Delhi and rest of the team trekked back and finally, we flew to our home country.

As soon as I landed in India there was this sudden withdrawal or sadness that what now?

Even though I was busy with presentations, I was sad. I felt like I left a part of me there.

 

Understanding that it is a mountain withdrawal, I was diagnosed with anxiety and that my cancer was back in stage 1. But I was not sad about it because I felt that I did something which I would have never even dreamt of.

People often ask me how was your experience? What did you feel? How was it like on top of the world?

I am often left speechless because of that, I was at the top.

What is the point of sharing my story? Even though you have been through hell in your life you should never think that you can’t do it, it’s not about Everest, it is about your ‘mind’.

Whatever adventure you do, find a connection to it, don’t do it just because you have the time and money for it. Relate to it. Feel connected to it. I see a lot of youngsters who go for trekking without training just to get good pictures. Get educated and train well before you go for it. Any mountain can turn on you!

Summit, Mount Everest

Photos by drmkaur_

 

What did I learn from climbing?

Mountains have the magical power to heal you. I have had chronic depression and climbing mountains have been of great help. If you go into mountains and don’t come back changed then you never connected to that mountain. They are a form of God on earth and always respect them. Don’t have any ego while climbing. Respect the traditions of culture followed there.

After recovering from cancer I got addicted to adventure, I jump out of planes, I climb mountains but still am scared of water. After my accident till now, I have not ridden a bike or a car. We all have our fears to conquer. We all have the guts to do it and that’s what I do and want everyone to do it.

 

That nothing is impossible. To make your dreams reality you have to take that first step out of your comfort zone. Nothing comes easy, but then you alone have to take that step and you alone have to make that journey to live your dream. There will be many hiccups. But there will always be a way out for that.

Take chances, make mistakes, let go of the pain, that’s how you grow. Be not scared of failures. You have to fail in order to practice being brave. It’s your journey, you might get lost in the way, but you will reach your destination if you have the will. There will be the hell lot of problems in your life, how you handle them and come out alive makes you your own superhero. Climb your own Everest. Be your own Superhero!

 

As my favourite quote says, ‘A valliant coeur, rien d’impossible!’ which means, ‘For a brave heart, nothing is impossible!’

Excerpts by team member.

 

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By

Inspiro India Official

Blog | Travel

2 December 2017

Exotic visual tour of Indian marvels | India in Pictures #002

India is a country where various dynasties have conquered and vanished through the centuries, but the beauty still remains in the form of architecture, food and people themselves!

Cultures, traditions, celebrations and manifolds of landscapes make every corner turn into a new discovery, be it a local or visitor!

Here is a series of visuals by Creative Heads from all over the country.

 

Banke Bihari Temple, Vrindavan // ©Ankit Kumar

 

Nandgaon, Uttar Pradesh // ©Mohit Tejpal

 

Dal Lake, Srinagar // ©Nissar Rafiquee

 

CST, Mumbai // ©Yash Sheth

 

Sam Dunes Jaisalmer // ©Tanvi Sharma

 

Pahalgam, Jammu & Kashmir // ©Manali Jain

 

Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh  // ©Abhishek Kumar Singh

 

Bhabha Valley, Kinnaur // ©Ashish

 

Kochi // ©Ravinder Singh

 

Munnar, Kerala // ©Rejish

 

 

Featuring series of inspiring images by Creative Heads from all over the country as ‘India in Pictures’.

 

Rules to submit for ‘India in Pictures’ here .

 

Check out our previous series of inspiring images here – iidailyinspiration#147

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