Tag Archives: traveller

By

Inspiro India Official

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.

 

Check out latest edition of Inspiro India magazine – Download Free.

 

 

Submit your work for upcoming issue of Inspiro India Magazine
By

Inspiro India Official

Blog

16 December 2017

Tour-de-Thar Itinerary: 6 days of exploration in the vicinity of Rajasthan with Western Motorsports and MotoVarnan

What if someone offered you an opportunity to spend the last few days of this year with friends, old and new, riding across the beautiful back roads in the day, sitting across a warm campfire in the wilderness, singing and dancing the night away, hard to say NO! Right? Here’s the itinerary:

 

Day 1: Sunday, 24th December, Jaipur-Jodhpur 414 km.

The Day of the Living Gods. This day will see us explore the stories of the Living Gods of Rajasthan. A temple dedicated to a man and his motorcycle, a temple for a lady who jumped into her husband’s pyre and a memorial built for conservationists, all are in store. We will be staying at a Hut Resort in a village near Jodhpur.

 

Day 2: Monday, 25th December, Jodhpur Local

The Day of The Maharaja. After breakfast, we head out to explore the iconic monuments including Mehrangarh Fort, Umaid Bhawan Palace and Jaswant Thada. A casual stroll around the markets exploring the local delicacies and the day ends with a relaxed evening around a bonfire. We will be staying at a Hut Resort in a village near Jodhpur.

 

Day 3: Tuesday, 26th December, Jodhpur-WMsar 334 km.

A Million Star Day. An early morning departure to visit Mandore, a city of historical and mythological importance. Later things get spiced up as we find our way to the world famous Mathaniya chilly plantations. After a relaxed lunch, we take a 2 km offroad detour to reach WMsar a lake in midst of the Desert and our stay for the night. Stay at a Million Star accommodation and Cookout in the wild. Enjoy bonfire, photography and a wonderful company.

 

Day 4: Wednesday, 27th December, WMsar-Sam 300 km.

The Day of the Sand. Taking the lonely backroads today we enter deep into the desert till the borders stop us. After a visit to Tanot and Longewala border posts, we keep riding/driving along the International border to reach Ghotaru. Having a historic and military importance, Ghotaru Fort is a hidden gem in the vast Thar Desert. We leave our vehicles and take the camels to travel further in the desert. A campsite specially erected for us in the middle of the desert will be our stay for the night.

 

Photos by Western Motorsport

 

Day 5: Thursday, 28th December, Sam-Osian 290 km.

The Jurassic Day. We bypass the Jaisalmer city to reach Akal Wood Fossil Park to get acquainted with the Jurassic era. We take the back roads to reach the last destination of Tour de Thar, Osian. Another Million Star accommodation. We stay in a camp and share our experiences around a bonfire along with some local lip-smacking dishes. Later we sing and dance the night away to end this epic Adventure.

 

Day 6: Friday, 29th December, Osian-Jaipur 385 km.

Dasvidaniya. We say our Goodbyes and head to our respective destinations.

 

For more details, please write to asrbhagwanpura@gmail.com or
Call/WhatsApp at +91 9001012786

 

Western Motorsports & MotoVarnan

 

Also Check 5 days of exploration in the vicinity of Rajasthan with Tour-de-Thar

 

Check out latest edition of Inspiro India magazine – Download Free.

 

 

Submit your work for upcoming issue of Inspiro India Magazine
By

Inspiro India Official

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

 

Follow Tanya:  Instagram | Youtube

Check out latest edition of Inspiro India magazine – here

Submit your work for upcoming issue of Inspiro India Magazine
By

Inspiro India Official

Blog | Travel

9 December 2017

5 days of exploration in the vicinity of Rajasthan with Tour-de-Thar

What if someone offered you an opportunity to spend the last few days of this year with friends, old and new, riding across the beautiful back roads in the day, sitting across a warm campfire in the wilderness, singing and dancing the night away, hard to say NO! Right?

 

Every year Tour-de-Thar lets you escape from the civilization, teaches you not to worry about anything else but the road ahead. Five days, your riding friends become your family and the wild becomes your home.

 

Tour-de-Thar every year has much more going, much exciting as you would be exploring a new side of the Thar. Tour-de-Thar routes are unconventional, untouched and riding on county back roads. All this lined up in the spirit of Tour-de-Thar to understand the artistic culture along with a host of new and exciting experiences.

A major highlight of Tour-de-Thar is the food. Instead of cooking our own food or sourcing it, we arrange for local cooks. These cooks reach the camping location ahead of us, cook and serve hot food on your arrival! Local recipes, cooked by local cooks, served in the wilderness, especially for you is pure bliss. This is the best food experience one can ask for. We have always believed in simple, rustic and authentic experiences, this is one great example of it.

A cake without icing doesn’t look appetizing. So is Tour-de-Thar, on the last night of the ride, a local band is called out. With soulful tunes being played, you start dancing to the lovely Rajasthani tunes.

 

Photo by Western Motorsport

 

Let’s sum it up for you, end of the year, five days of riding, you forget the world, a peek into the artistic world, camping, local recipe and you dance to soulful Rajasthani music.  A good way to end the year. A year, you toiled all along.

 

Come join us with Western Motorsport on Tour-de-Thar for a year ending experience of a lifetime!
Click Here for Full Details Of the Event

 

Check out latest edition of Inspiro India magazine – Download Free.

 

 

Submit your work for upcoming issue of Inspiro India Magazine
By

Inspiro India Official

Blog | Travel

4 December 2017

Traveller of the Week: Arvind Patwal

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

 

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

 

Arvind Patwal

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Jama Masjid, Delhi

Hola Mohalla, Anandpur Sahib, Punjab

Dev Deepawali, Varanasi

Jodhpur, Rajasthan

Kolkata Railway Station, West Bengal

Nigambodh Ghat, New Delhi

Pushkar, Rajasthan

Ganga Aarti, Varanasi

Varanasi

 

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

Words by Harpreet
Images by ©Arvind Patwal

 

Follow Arvind:  Instagram | Facebook

Check out latest edition of Inspiro India magazine – here

Submit your work for upcoming issue of Inspiro India Magazine
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

Submit your work for upcoming issue of Inspiro India Magazine
By

Inspiro India Official

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

 

Follow Neer:  Instagram | Facebook

Check out latest edition of Inspiro India magazine – here

Submit your work for upcoming issue of Inspiro India Magazine
By

Inspiro India Official

Blog | Travel

20 November 2017

Traveller of the Week: Prakriti Varshney

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

 

Prakriti Varshney

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Chandertaal Lake

Bir Billing, Himachal

Chandrashila Top, Uttrakhand

Kanyakumari

Langza, Spiti Valley

Last light, Kanyakumari

Mane, Spiti Valley

Mt. Dronagiri, Uttrakhand

Spiti Valley

Trekking in Himachal

 

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

Words by Laveena Behl
Images by ©Prakriti Varshney

 

Follow Prakriti:  Instagram | Youtube | Facebook

Check out latest edition of Inspiro India magazine – here

Submit your work for upcoming issue of Inspiro India Magazine
By

Inspiro India Official

Blog | Travel

4 November 2017

Travel Photo Story: Dondi – Penance For Prosperity by Ritesh Ghosh

West Bengal is renowned for its various rites and rituals and is one such ritual among the many. Every year during April this event is executed on the occasion of Shitala Puja. The devotees, particularly women, go through this rigorously self-punishing task to offer their gratitude to the Goddess for keeping them guarded against ill health.
The Goddess is also believed to bless her devotees and help the newlywed women to conceive. Thus infants and children are often seen to accompany their mothers during the course of the ritual.
Kalighat is one such place in Kolkata where you get to witness this event every year. It begins with the devotees taking a dip in the Holy Ganges before taking a mile long walk to the temple of Goddess Shitala. En route, they lie flat face down on the burning hot streets and repeat this several times till they reach the temple premises. The local volunteers pour buckets of cold water on them to prevent the women and children from getting burnt by the hot asphalt.
The event culminates at the temple where the devotees perform a fire ritual by balancing burning clay pots on their heads and hands. It is undoubtedly one of the toughest rituals one can fathom.
I’d like to share some exhilarating and breathtaking moments for your visual understanding.

 

 

Photo Series by Ritesh Ghosh

 

Check out his full feature in June’17 Edition of Inspiro India Magazine issue#39 – Download Free.

 

 

Submit your work for upcoming issue of Inspiro India Magazine
By

Inspiro India Official

Blog | Interviews | Photography

2 November 2017

Interview with Photographer: Tabeenah Anjum Qureshi

Dr. Tabeenah, a senior journalist, is presently the Bureau Head of Deccan Herald in Rajasthan apart from being a vivid photographer. Born and brought up in the valley of Kashmir, Qureshi pursued her master’s and Ph.D. in Jaipur, Rajasthan, which she now calls her second home.
She chased her passion for photography diligently and went on to win the National Award in Photography conferred by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt of India. Dr. Tabeenah Anjum Qureshi is the first woman photographer from Rajasthan and Kashmir to bag the imminent award.
Camera for her is a co-traveller as she ventures out to click some of the most stupendous photographs. Her usual style follows the monochrome school of thought. Her work on Kashmir Floods was displayed in APPRA international conference in Kathmandu, in 2015. After completion of her doctorate degree, she was venerated with the prestigious UNICEF Media fellowship under which she researched on ‘Impact of Swachh Bharat Campaign in Tribal areas of Rajasthan’.

Tabeenah Anjum Qureshi

 

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

– I call it the experiences of ‘a mountain girl wandering in the desert’. I won’t call it matter of chance but I owe a lot to Jaipur, my current residential city for pursuing the hidden passion of Photography. In the second year of my course, 2009, I participated in a three-week photojournalism workshop and that’s how the journey started. That time I did not have a camera to use, so I captured the photographs with the borrowed camera of my teacher Prof, Sanjeev Bhanawat, Head Centre for Mass Communication. It was my first exploration of Jaipur city with a camera. I started seeing new things. I would stop and observe. Looking through the viewfinder was an entirely different experience. When I returned to Kashmir in summer vacations, after seeing some prints of the photographs from the workshop that were later displayed in the exhibition, my parents gifted me a canon digital camera. I would roam around the city, into unknown lanes, revisit places, with my cotraveller. It was like revisiting my birthplace. So all through my vacations I would keep a camera in my bag and photograph everything. Then there was no stopping it. The camera became an ornament for me. I would wear it around my neck and feel proud.

 

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

– Since photography is not just my profession but a fulfilling hobby and passion. It is a form of expression for me. I teach photography and photojournalism in colleges, university, and schools. It is always good to strike a conversation with new entrants, it feels as if one is revisiting her beginning days.

 

 

Inspiro India: Can you talk about your photo documentaries and ways of working?

– My style is both Documentary and Photojournalistic. Since I am a journalist and end up working on news stories, so gradually it has taken a form in the style of my photography. I love to capture people, subjects from the street, issues and of course, there are traces of abstract photography too in most of my work. For first three years I would capture everything randomly but with time I realized that there should be a body of work.
One major difference between Rajasthan and Kashmir is that the desert is more colourful. In the last 7 years I have travelled to most places in Rajasthan and being a woman photojournalist has helped me in terms of getting lovely portraits of women who otherwise get conscious in the presence of men.
I love black and white photographs. I believe they make our subjects more powerful. But sometimes colours too are important.

 

Inspiro India: How would you describe your photography style?

– Mine is a freestyle photography work. I love to capture emotions, geometry and off course every photograph has a story behind it. Autumn is my favourite month and I have captured it the most, especially crimson chinars in Kashmir. Besides this, I love to capture the bond between generations, women through veils, and practices of faith through photographs.

 

Inspiro India: If not this, What would have Tabeenah been doing? What did you aspire to be as a child?

– Well, I think that even in an imaginary world I would be doing exactly what I am doing right now! I say this because recently a friend of mine in Kashmir shared a page of a slam book with me. It mentions that when I had filled that, I was in class 7th. Interestingly, There is a question which says 1. What do you want to become in your life? And my answer which I had completely forgotten was ‘ Journalist, Teacher or a Doctor’. I am blessed that I am all three.
Recently I’ve earned a doctorate degree as well. My thesis was on Social Media. My inspiration to be a teacher came from my mother, the aim to become a doctor comes after seeing my grandfather who was a doctor treating patients, and I wanted to be a journalist because my hometown was always a center of attraction.

 

Inspiro India: Describe your post-processing workflow? What camera/s do you shoot with? And your favourite lenses and other equipment that you use?

– To be honest, I don’t do much post-processing. The only bit of contrast and conversion into Black and white. I stick to the basic principles of editing that was allowed in darkroom editing. I use canon 600D, and two lenses 40 mm and 18-135 mm. I bought it in 2013 and have not changed my kit since then. I believe more than the gadget one needs to learn and adapt the art of seeing. Gadgets are important and compositions are important as well. Also, I believe that a creative mentor is important to polish your skills, and for that, I am thankful to my friend and mentor Mr. Himanshu Vyas for being there.

 

Inspiro India: You are the recipient of prestigious 4th National Award in Photography (Amateur category), Conferred by I &B Ministry, Govt of India. Do you believe Awards and recognitions make any difference?

– Yes, that way I have been lucky enough. To some extent, they do make a difference. I believe that one should participate in as many competitions as he/she can. This way your photographic work gets reviewed as well. Otherwise, they just remain confined to our laptops and hard drives.

 

Inspiro India: Your favourite series and story behind it?

– One of my favourite series is on Kashmir flood – ‘Resilience- Kashmir Floods’. A photo story of 24 photographs which were displayed at APPRA international conference in Kathmandu in 2015. I have captured them in the autumn of 2014 when Jhelum breached its banks and swamped not only the golden Chinar leaves that were still falling in Kashmir but just about everything. People, cows, houses, trees…all were swept away by the river, flooded with incessant rains. The strong wooden pillars of Kashmiri homes that were inundated, weakened and worn off.
The photo exhibition was a depiction of life just after floods in a resilient valley. The strength and grace with which the people of Kashmir faced their fate are palpable. Photos show quiet and calm on hurt faces just as there was warm coming together of families and extended relatives. There was a struggle of migration but there’s also peace and surrender manifest at the doors of the shrines.
A year after the valley took one of its worst disasters in its stride; the social, economic and political impact of the floods are now woven into its fabric with some permanence. With a greater degree of permanence, autumn’s ripe in the valley again. As the golden Chinar leaves glide through nippy October air, lotus blooms are smugly afloat, canoes are ferrying & nadru, across and people are patiently rebuilding their lives amidst many rounds of Kahwa. Jhelum is flowing in its familiar rhythm.

 

Inspiro India: You are a journalist and working with a national newspaper, how does your passion help you in your career?

– Well, nowadays, it’s important for a journalist to have knowledge of all fields. It gives me an extra mileage as I can capture photographs from the story I am doing in my newspaper. It is always good if you know both the arts.

 

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

– There are many. Most of them are from the month of Autumn and by the sides of river Jhelum, in Srinagar, one of my favourite and only places to hang out in Kashmir. One photograph has the reflection of houseboats and chinars floating over the river. Then there is one of my initial photographs, a chinar in midair. Also, a frame with chinar on the mouth of Verinag, the source of river Jhelum.

 

 

favourite photograph

Resilience – Kashmir Floods – Photo Series by ©Dr. Tabeenah Anjum Qureshi

 

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

– There is just one advice, keep clicking and ‘practice patience’. Don’t just treat your subjects merely as elements in your pictures. Try to be friendly with them. Also, I believe that Photography is an art, a photo might take seconds to form but a real good photograph takes sense and a mind of the photographer. Discuss your photographs, with your fellow photographers, friends, and parents. Discuss.

 

Check out his full feature in May’17 Edition of Inspiro India Magazine issue#38 – Download Free.

 

 

Submit your work for upcoming issue of Inspiro India Magazine
By

Inspiro India Official

Blog | Photography

31 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.

 

 

Submit your work for upcoming issue of Inspiro India Magazine