Saying goodbye to 2015 in style!
After the epic wanderings of 2015, when more than 250 days were spent on the road; this was a year in which I moved in a decisive direction about making my travels financially sustainable without compromising on my style of travel. I experimented with a few trips and realised that the ‘doing’ a place in 3 days wasn’t my kind of life and hence graciously opted to say no to offers of travel.
Here, I attempt to embed my social media shares through the year. (Secretly hoping they work!) Ha ha.
This epic experience was published in HT Brunch Magazine.
The year started by attending the Jaipur Literature Festival and thereafter heading to Bundi and around for a slow holiday in this charming little town.
Bundi Café on the street.
After having explored Ladakh in the winters, I was keen on going to Spiti for a similar chilling experience and had a lovely time backpacking in buses and local transport. After my journey ended in March, it was known that I happened to be the only tourist to have made it to Losar village in the winters.
The road to Losar – In the winter.
A bout of craziness meant I walked from Jalori Pass to Shoja in the snow and stayed in Jibhi and attended some local festivals. My family joined in my wanderlust ways too and we headed to Pushkar for the colours of holi.
Rhododendron wine, on my way to the baby trek of Triund in March. #Huffpostgram #myfeatureshoot #indiatravel #incredibleindia #everydayasia #everydayindia #Himachal #nature #travel #wanderlust #traveltherenext #picoftheday #bestoftheday #photooftheday #lovetheworld #shareyournature #enjoythenatural #Himalayas #travelstoke #traveldudes #ig_countryside #lonelyplanetindia #indiapictures #yahootravelexplorers #Himachalpictures #instaHimachal #hippieinhills #_soi #theshootingstar
Rhododendron flowers welcome trekkers on the trail to Triund in March.
My sister had been talking about a solo trip/trek forever and after she ended up going nowhere, the onus on me meant we went to McLeodganj and Triund for her first taste of the Himalaya (On her own.) It was quite nice when the experience turned out to be amazing even as snow flakes fell heavily on our trek.
Khardung La in winter.
The little time I was in Jaipur was beautifully spent watching sunrises at Nahargarh Fort. I was pleasantly surprised to notice that Jaipur shines blue before the sun lights up the earth. It was already summer and brief visits to the hills happened. Orchha had beckoned for long and it was finally time for me to savour a visit to this ruined Kingdom.
Random unplanned travel; that's what it does. Bumping into a guy from the holy city of Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan and then this rendition of a Farsi couplet! #travelgram #shimlalife #streetphotographyindia #Afghanistan #hippieinhills #nothingisordinary #indiaclicks #indiapictures #natgeotravellerindia #lonelyplanetindia #thephotosociety #passionpassport #travelphotography #worldbestgram #igersoftheday #photojournalism #mypixeldiary #vsco #vscocam #vacation #hiking #bbctravel #travellingdiaries #myindiacnn #ig_worldclub #ig_india #travellingdiaries #huffpostgram #incredibleindia
Music transcends boundaries.
The fairytale of Gushaini welcomed me for most of May and I had an unforgettable time trekking in pristine Great Himalayan National Park and bathing in the Tirthan river. A crazy decision meant reaching Mussoorie after travelling for almost 24 hours and Landour provided much needed solace.
For six hundred rupees a day. Small green apples hang from the trees, the only sounds I can hear are of chirpy birds singing and streams gurgling. A hammock swings, someone sings a forgotten song. Happiness. #Huffpostgram #myfeatureshoot #indiatravel #incredibleindia #everydayasia #simplicityeverywhere #Himachal #nothingisordinary #travel #wanderlust #traveltherenext #picoftheday #bestoftheday #photooftheday #lovetheworld #Himalayas #travelstoke #traveldudes #ig_countryside #lonelyplanetindia #indiapictures #storiesofindia #yahootravelexplorers #Himachalpictures #instaHimachal #hippieinhills #indiaclicks #_soi
A homestay in the secret villages of Parvati Valley.
In between, Corbett National Park was visited and it was beautiful to see the clouds signal the onset of monsoon in India. I trekked to Kheerganga in Parvati valley and was disappointed with the crowds and was glad on finding a cute homestay in the hidden villages away from the world. (Haven’t yet managed to write about these places!)
Photography skills in the Himalaya 😛
Heavenly scenes in the remote Pangi Valley.
My favourite month of July brought the air of high Himalaya with it as I spent it on the road backpacking across Saach Pass to the remote Pangi Valley. I felt unparalleled joy after exploring the few villages of Pangi Valley & the even more beautiful Miyar Valley. It was time for another epic adventure in the form of reaching Lahaul and then reaching Ladakh (Changthang) by hitchhiking in a truck. It was pure luck to receive rides, day after day and I ended up hitchhiking my entire time in the Changthang.
The wondrous roads in the ‘land of the lamas’.
Hitchhiking with the Lt. Colonel in Ladakh.
There was an epic failure of a day too, on that journey – when my brain had gone for a holiday. I travelled and walked all day and ended up very close to roughly where I had started. Sane stuff prevailed after this and I salvaged the rest of my trip.
Beauty on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek.
And just when you thought it was enough, it was time to go to Kashmir to try and attempt going to the Great Lakes Trek. The tickets had been booked in a sale, and the tumultuous situation of the Burhani Wani curfew wasn’t enough for me to not go. In the end it turned out to be a life changing journey, fed by the love from strangers.
Kashmir in 4 pictures.
When the Gods summon you – At Amarnath.
Nandkhol Lake on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek.
As much as I tried going to Kerala in the monsoons, the hills kept calling me and I was only happy with all the love in Uttarakhand. Excellent weather also meant it was a good time to see the historical sights of Delhi. A celebration was in order and it came in the form of a Chapslee experience in Shimla. Back home in Rajasthan, numerous trips through the year had me seeing Shekhawati in a different light.
Sunrise on the Ganges in Varanasi.
Wow! Happily surprised with my portrait photography.
An invite from Uttar Pradesh Tourism meant I was in Varanasi for an event and then chose to stay and explore the ancient city on my own too. The experience was extraordinary and so epic that I am still struggling for words to pen it down. My fear of breathing issues was put to rest, I wore a mask and was rewarded with Diwali celebrations in Jaipur.
Spectacular Diwali Lights of Jaipur.
The quirks of Jodhpur, Pali, the Bishnoi Villages, arts, crafts, bedsheets and opium ceremonies happened amidst the demonetisation drama and I barely just managed to scrape through to Jaisalmer. Lack of cash meant I slept at a dhaba at the Sam Sand Dunes and barely survived even though the experiences were fulfilling.
Sunset on the sand dunes amid demonetisation worries.
A 10 rupee note was never spent better when an shared auto ride brought me to the hamlet of Khichan, near Phalodi – chiefly famous for the Khurja (Or demoiselle cranes). While I liked watching the cranes perform their collective antics, the unsung delight of Khichan was an entire lane of timeless havelis, all abandoned.
In the private volvo, college kids on their way to some trance party in Kasol chatted freely and joked late into the night. As a customary thing you do when you see happy people; I had walked back in time and was in the same volvo 8 or 9 years ago. Free and wild, going to an unplanned solo roadtrip to Ladakh. Does the enormity of expectations change us? In our attempt at growing up, the childishness is lost and thereby go the simple pleasures of life. We lose our happiness in becoming too sophisticated. Perhaps it is best to let ourselves be kids again.
Welcome to heaven, in Parvati Valley!
I started working with brands in 2015, and was happy to hear their feedback this year on my engagement on social media, which, according to them is excellent and quite similar to some of the top in the industry. Maybe it was because of the wholly organic following and sharing experiences on the road as they happened and the interactions. I had never thought I could live a dream life.
Landscapes in Autumn —————————————— I had returned to Parvati Valley to seek blessings at Manikaran and a chance phone call had resulted in walking along the serene Parvati river to a cute wooden place in Kasol. My best memory of Kasol is staying in this lovely place by the river, in an apple orchard, with a dog and horse for company. Crisp mornings filled with mist and a big glass of steaming pahadi chai; while afternoons would pass reading a book while hanging on a hammock in the warmth of the sun.
Kasol in November.
Let me tell you it isn’t easy; travel blogging requires hard work and patience as well as quality. The payoffs won’t come in a jiffy and that only means the joy is even more sweeter when things finally start working. Like all good things in life, there is no substitute for hard work.
I want to thank each one of you for reading this. As a traveller and full time professional travel blogger, I prefer to share experiences rather than hanker after followers. After all, rushing at a breakneck speed isn’t really something I am good at.
It would be awesome if you can share your favourite travel posts in the comments 🙂 Always happy to read nice content.