Tag Archives: Jammu and Kashmir

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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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By

Inspiro India Official

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

 

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By

Inspiro India Official

Blog | Travel

17 June 2017

A trek to remember – Chadar Trek on the frozen river of Zanskar

Situated in spectacularly jagged, arid mountains of Ladakh is India’s coldest river Zanskar. And come the winters, this incredible body of water transforms itself into a carpet of thick ice, locally referred to as Chadar.

Over the years, this frozen wonder has been attracting countless adventure-seeking enthusiasts for what we now know as the Chadar Trek. Named in Lonely Planet’s list of the world’s top 10 treks, it is one of the most thrilling experiences in the Himalayas. To complete this trek means to be able to claim to have walked for over 150 kilometres in temperatures dipping 35 below 0.

The only way to reach here is by air, followed by a 4-hour journey from the city of Leh. Once you are at the starting point, a small village called Chilling, you are on your own to brave nature’s amazing and extreme form. Not for the faint-hearted, it is a full-scale winter expedition that will test you at all twists and turns and the occasional thin sheet of ice. Never having walked on ice before, the first couple of days will ensure you develop a strong resistance to falling with a loud thud. And when finally you get used to walking, you can start appreciating the impressive white landscape all around you. It is something you will have never seen before.

The full-scale trek is 15 days long and will make you stop at three villages over the entire journey. Each village is different from the other, and the warmth of the people is in stark contrast to the weather you will face every day. You will bunk at village guesthouses, at caves, tents where the luxury of a cave is not available and learn to admire the things often forgotten with the fast-paced metro life. Never will you get a chance to see so many stars amidst the sweet music of a flowing river and crackling bonfire.

The guide and the helpers are all excellent cooks, so be ready to enjoy a sumptuous hot meal every day. With their piping hot black tea to the sour and warm butter tea and the quintessential Maggi, you are always left asking for more. Those get even better at guesthouses, where you meet other trekkers and share stories of your life and times. The villages on the way are Nrerak, Lingshed and Padum. Each has its own monastery situated on the hills above. The Karsha monastery, a couple hours away from the village of Padum, which is the last stop of the trek before you start the journey back, is one of the biggest monasteries in the Zanskar valley.

 

 

 

Not only the monasteries, but the spectacles of huge frozen waterfalls greet you at every other turn. You can only look in amazement as to how something so utterly majestic is waiting to welcome you.

Along the way, you will encounter really thin sheets of ice, and that is where the experience of your guide will be a making or a breaking factor. There are certain parts where there is no ice at all, and you have to negotiate such a sector going around the mountains.

Be it the snow-clad hills on your way to Lingshed, or having warm lugdi (local alcohol) to keep you from freezing, every day has something new to offer and you are left wondering as to how this simple frozen carpet of ice finds something different every day to fascinate you.

You can call your loved ones from the village of Padum, but by the time you reach there, this surreal path has you enchanted enough that you forget about the world you left behind. And by the time you are back, having walked more than what you manage in a city in 6 months, you cannot help but have become so fond of the place that saying goodbye brings tears to your eyes.

For anyone who is trying to find something that will give them a sense of fulfilment, a huge adrenaline rush, and a chance to experience winter like you never have before, your search ends, and the Chadar Trek begins.

Words by Nisarg Malde

 

Photos by Bharat Baswani

 

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