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Blog | Photography

24 October 2017

KANDASSANKADAVU: Boat Race | Photo Series By Binto P Anto

The Kandassankadavu Boat Race is a kind of the popular traditional boat race in Kerala, called Vallam Kali. It is held in the Enamakkal Lake and Conolly Canal in Kandassankadavu of Thrissur District, Kerala, India. The race is conducted on the Thiruvonam day of the Onam festival followed by a 10- day festival. The trophy is known as Chief Minister’s ever-rolling Trophy.
Competitions are held for a few specific types of boat categories, namely the Iruttukuthi and Churulan boats. The tradition started in 1955 when the state of Kerala was formed. Due to fiscal problems, the boat race was discontinued by the organisers for a long time. In 2011, with the support of Government of Kerala, Thrissur istrict Tourism Promotion and Manalur Grama Panchayat the race was allowed to commence again. This popular boat race is an absolute delight.
Shot on: Nikon D750 + Tokina 16-28 mm | Tamron 70 – 200 mm.

 

Photos & Words by Binto P Anto

 

Check out his full feature in July’17 Edition of Inspiro India Magazine issue#40 – Download Free.

 

 

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Blog | Travel

21 October 2017

Chandernahan Trek: A Hidden Paradise in Himachal Pradesh

Intrigued by an Instagram post on Chandernahan trek, our adventurous traveller friend Harish Sharma was fast to elope into the throes of beauty at Chandernahan. With backpacks, a childhood friend and a cooked up story about leaving for a friend’s sister’s wedding to convince his parents,  Harish left home with quite an itch in his feet.

 

He boarded an HRTC bus from Shimla to Rohru and the journey was filled with bumpy rides, unplanned night stays, the random surprise of a new company, and unknown paths.

After a bus to Rohru, then Rohru to Chirgaon followed with another two-hour journey from Chirgaon to Tagnu village, they commenced walking to a nearby village called Janglikh. That is where they had to start trekking for Chandernahan via Dyara Thach and Litham.

 

It hadn’t been a smooth journey as it is, with collapsed bridges, long walks, heavy rainfall and unplanned delays. It had already been half-past five in the evening and the villagers recommended that they stay the night there as they can’t reach Dyara Thach the same night. Being the rebels they are, Harish and his entourage started trekking right away and they were glad to have done so as the trek up was lush with greenery and the beautiful landscape enveloped them with magnanimous streams of water flowing down the mammoth mountains. The dense forest with deodar trees and the green meadows were worth the trouble.

Finally, they reached Dyara Thach around 8 pm and set camp with packed paranthas from Chirgaon and a sky full of stars. That’s everything they needed to devour!

After a well-deserved slumber night, they started out early the next day to reach Litham and yet again, everything around left them spellbound. It was no less than the landscapes they see in the movies, except it was even better to experience the cool breeze and the raw beauty of nature, in reality, the trek seemed easy and upon reaching Litham within two hours, they got into a conversation with an amiable Shepherd with interesting stories to tell. He guided them further to reach Chandernahan. That 2 km trek was a steep climb up the mountains and took them about an hour.

 

 

Finally, Harish and his friends reached Chandernahan and what they saw from up there can’t be put into words, they say. At an altitude of 4000 metres, they were surrounded with snow in the month of June. Except for beautiful brooks flowing with a delicate magnanimity, there was nothing to touch their own sweet solitude.

 

There are seven lakes in Chandernahan and mostly, the people of the valley walk on the frozen lakes barefoot and never go beyond three lakes because of a religious belief that all their Gods originated from these lakes. When Harish and his friends went to the frozen lakes, there was nobody to see if they went without shoes but they decided to respect the beliefs and launched into the lakes bare feet.

They were like kids running and chasing each other on the glacier with feet all bare and well, it was indeed fun and adventurous.

 

By noon that day, they had found and enjoyed all the lakes, breathed in the stupendous view, filled their lungs with air as pure as it gets and finally, decided to head back.

 

The journey back was as eventful and tiring as before, or even more. But this time these boys were taking back what they had come for. An experience where they followed their heart, treated their eyes with everything heavenly and satisfied their souls.

Words by Aishwarya Choudhary | Photos by Harish Sharma

 

Check out his full feature in July’17 Edition of Inspiro India Magazine issue#40 – Download Free.

 

 

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Blog | Photography

20 October 2017

Creative Head of the week: Roshan Ravindra Mandavkar

Roshan Mandavkar is a 20-year-old professional photographer who captures portraits, people in situations and real life events in an artistic manner. Roshan owes his inspiration to his friend with exceptional photo skills when he was in grade 9!

Sumedh Sawant is one of those persons who inspire him because of his will, determination, perseverance and the willingness to never stop learning.

 

As a kid, Mandavkar was very fond of painting which is art and very similar to photography, he says. During this time he came with an idea to click first and paint the same picture later. This is when he realised there is a lot more to than just taking a photo.

He believes photography is not only about creativity and clicking photos, basics are to be known. Roshan joined a photography institute to acquire the fundamentals of photography, he also got to meet people who were creative, had amazing vision, were willing to share and always willing to learn.

 

Roshan started out with a Canon 600D enough for his amateur days as a photographer graduating to a Canon 5D Mark III. He uses Adobe Photoshop CS6 for post-processing his works.

The young lensman imagines how a picture would look before clicking a photo. He then decides on the background, foreground, his subject and lastly the exposure.

He then compares the picture taken to his actual visualisation, if the picture is the way he had imagined he goes ahead otherwise he keeps clicking till he achieves the point.

 

Photos by ©Roshan Ravindra Mandavkar

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Blog | Travel

16 October 2017

Traveller of the Week : Akhtar Shaikh

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

 

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

 

Akhtar Shaikh

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

Words by Harpreet
Images by ©Akhtar Shaikh

 

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Blog | Travel

14 October 2017

Jageshwar Temple: An engineering marvel of 8th century

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

 

 

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

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

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

Photos & Words by Amit Kakkar

 

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Blog | Inspiration | Travel

10 July 2017

Traveller of the Week : Archana Singh

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

 

Archana Singh

 

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

Japan – for a unique mix of culture and modernity

USA: for the diversity and immenseness of a great nation

Philippines: for the unspoiled beaches and super friendly people

New Zealand: for the epic landscapes and adrenaline rush

Finland: for the winter wonderland and Northern Lights

 

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

 

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

 

California

Taos Pueblo, New Mexico

Scottsdale, Arizona

Great Camps, Lake Placid, New York, USA

Grand canyon raod

North Arizona, USA

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

Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Taos Pueblo, New Mexico

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

Words by Arvind Vairavan
Images by ©Archana Singh

 

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20 May 2017

The majestic Dal Lake

The Dal Lake – There is a famous saying for Srinagar – ‘If there is heaven on Earth, then it is definitely in Srinagar.’

It has a charismatic aura as it is surrounded by the enormous and peaceful Himalayan ranges on all sides , which is the lifeline of Srinagar. Experience nature when its awakened by the beautiful sunrise or watch the amazing sunset. As the sun goes down, the sky turns saffron and becomes a complete visual treat for the spectators. The colour of the lake keeps changing throughout the day. The Summer Capital of the Northern most Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, Dal Lake is connected to other Lakes of the Kashmir Valley. Covering an area of 18 sq. kms, the Dal Lake is a huge one. It’s quiet and peaceful which is located away from the city noise. Houseboats and the Dal Lake are widely associated with Srinagar and are nicknamed “floating palaces”. All gardens in the lake periphery and houseboats anchored in the lake are approachable through shikaras. The boats are often navigated by two boatmen dressed in “Phiron” (traditional dress) and carry ‘Kangris’ or portable heaters on the boat.

 

 

The shikara ride is worth it. Especially, when shikara wala may just hum a kashmiri tune as it turns a little dark and one could feel completely spell bound by the beauty of the moonlight. The lake is amazing with its clear waters and breathtaking mountains in the background giving an exhilarating experience. The floating restaurant, floating market and vegetable gardens are a treat to watch. Shopping shikaras that glide along your shikara like costume jewellry, paperier mache artifacts, local vegetables like nadru, shalgam saag which are the most fresh I have ever seen- a must see place for anyone coming to Srinagar. I would recommend two shikara rides on the Dal, one at sunrise and the other at sunset to experience the aa moods of the Dal. Pleasant sounds of rolling waters, mist filled mornings, sunny afternoons and calm and serene evenings are some of the beautiful moments that can be enjoyed . The splash of the oar caressing through the water was absolute music to the ears. It is peaceful sound that you could listen to it forever. It’s a birder’s paradise as well. A land with natural landscapes, exotic mountain valleys, picturesque villages and comfortable houseboats, Kashmir has been rightly pronounced as the Paradise on Earth which made feel blessed.

 

Photos & Words by ©Jagjit Singh

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27 February 2017

Traveller of the Week : Ravinder Singh

Meet Ravinder Singh, once a lawyer who devoted his time to working for NGOs in the past is now a full-time traveller. The 29-year-old travels the country without money, his first trip being around 12 years back when he drove from Delhi to Mussoorie on his birthday in a Maruti 800. He loved the air and the people, the excitement behind travelling motivated him to travel even more says Ravinder. His mother initially being hesitant behind the whole idea now understands and accommodates his being.

Ravinder Singh

 

Ravinder travels solo and also with friends. A spontaneous traveller by heart, Singh chooses to plan his travels well in advance for his photography shots.

He also loves making people, he says ‘I’ve always believed people make places so when I meet them I can see where they are coming from and you can learn so much from them’.

To our amazement, Ravinder has visited every state in the homeland! He says he never travelled abroad because he wanted to see India first. Ticking off all the states on his bucket list, he now plans to travel to Nepal and Bhutan by walking.

Lok Tak Lake, Pangong Tso, Pondicherry, Goa and Jaisalmer make on top of his 5 must visit locations’ list!

 

 

 

The wanderlust soul advises to carry a sleeping bag, camera (any camera for that matter), a good pair of slippers, a sturdy backpack and a good pair of earphones for travelling and staying outdoors.

One lesson Singh has learnt from his travelling expeditions is to not panic and to stay stress-free. Some things are out of control says Ravinder, he has experienced an earthquake in Manipur and was also stuck in Chennai flood. He has also spent days with the Maharashtra drought affected farmers.

The vagabond’s stories don’t end here, he has also been invited by the Tripura’s royal family for dinner when his roommate along with a girl who joined them for dosa, posted a selfie on facebook regarding Ravinder’s moneyless travels. The girl happened to be the sister of the inviter!

 

Images by ©Ravinder Singh

 

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6 February 2017

Traveller of the Week : Radhika Sharma

Meet Radhika Sharma, a 23-year-old commerce graduate from Delhi University and our ‘Traveller of the Week’. Radhika was born in Amritsar but brought up in Delhi and now works as a Business Analyst. She likes investing money in her travels rather than saving in bank accounts. All in all, she has taken 16 trips in the year ‘2016’ out of which one was a solo trip and the other one was her very first international trip.

Radhika Sharma

 

 

Inspiro India: What motivated you to travel and tell us about your first trip?

– I’m from a family which worries a lot about their girls. Hence, half of my life was spent within the four walls of the room, with them I worried about it too.

Until I decided to step out with my friends on the New Years of 2015 to Corbett. I remember it was early in the morning and extremely cold, we took a jeep to spot tigers, our expectations were set but chances were we might not be able to see even a single tiger except deers and monkeys, but to our luck we spotted dancing elephants, four tigers in a row and a perfect surrounding due to mist. This is how it all began.

Inspiro India: How do you prefer to travel, solo or group?

– Nothing specific as such, if I have my friends or family to tag along they join me, else I plan to travel solo. I have done extensive travelling with my best friend. She stays in Hyderabad. So when I visit her we travel around Southern India and when she comes back to Delhi, we travel the North.

 

Kedarkantha Trek

 

Inspiro India: Are you a full-time traveller? If yes, did you face any problems in terms of travelling or even with family?

– Well, I don’t know if travelling every weekend counts as a full time travelling. In September, I went on a back-to-back trip for three weeks. The challenges I usually face are extreme tiredness which was accompanied by the evil eyes of my parents. Although they do support me in the end because they’ve seen how happy I am when I travel.

 

Inspiro India: Are you a planned traveller or more into spontaneous trips?

– Both I would say since I am a budget planner, I try to find the cheapest possible accommodations and commute. But last year, I remember travelling to Mussorie without any gadgets or backpack or cash (due to demonetization). I had my cell phone and power bank and no plans or idea of where to go.

 

Kedarkantha Trek
Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

 

Inspiro India: How many states have you covered in India? Any International trips you’d like to mention?

– Last year was my very first International trip I took to Malaysia. It’s a really beautiful country with amazing people. This year I plan to go to Indonesia (booked), Italy (booked) and Bhutan.

As far as the states of India, I have covered fourteen states spread across North, South, East and West.

 

Inspiro India: 5 must visit destinations to travel according to you and why?

– 1   Sikkim: This will always stay close to my heart as this was my first Solo travel. Sikkim is so beautiful and peaceful. I went to Zuluk which is again close to my heart because of its serenity especially the Zig-Zag route. You would not get any networks here and no hotels, only homestays.

2   Horsley Hills: Horsley Hills a small, not so famous place with viewpoints. the view is breathtaking. The wind blows at these viewpoints all the time.

3    Kedarkantha: This was my first Summit and first snow experiences where the temperature dropped down to -7 degrees celsius. We camped in snow, set bonfire, ate maggie noodles and sledged in the snow. It was amazing.

4   Triund: Triund is another place close to my heart. There were shooting stars and galaxies and camping and amazing sunset and even more beautiful sunrise.

5   Kasauli Hills: Kasauli is a really quite place and the best attraction here is Gilbert’s Trail where the sun appears all orange and disappears all at once.

 

Udaipur, Rajasthan

Kasol, Parvati Valley

 

Inspiro India: 5 must haves for travelling and stay outdoors?

–  1   Power Bank

2   Cash (Many places do not have ATMs. Some ATMs run out of money or might be out of order.)

3   Water

4   Cellphone

5   Hand Sanitizer

 

Inspiro India: What do you enjoy most when travelling?

– It will definitely be the nature and escape from the city life. The cherry on the cake in travelling is meeting amazing and kind people. I feel so happy when someone in an unknown place helps you out of kindness. This is the most surreal and beautiful thing.

 

Prashar Lake, Himachal

Prashar Lake, Himachal

 

Inspiro India: One life lesson you learned from travelling?

– Honestly, I haven’t pondered over it but I believe what we see and learn from our 9 to 5 jobs and getting accustomed to a routine or limiting our horizons will never be bigger than the life experiences someone gains through travel. You realise how limited you have kept yourself and in what conditions you have lived your life till now. You discover a bit of yourself, you realise your weaknesses and strengths, your bonds with other people grows, you become more confident and after all this, you realise, that the small petty issues of life are not really issues, in the end, life is bigger than that.

 

 

Images by ©Radhika Sharma

 

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