Khardung La in Winter : Part 2

I had never known North Pullu to be like this : The entire landscape was shrouded in a pall of white and a deathly silence prevailed. Maybe the army wouldn’t have let me ago if only they had seen me. The gentleman giving me the ride stopped for a breather, after all even the snowfall Gods…

Khardung La in Winter : Part 1

Although the lure of becoming the first official tourist to explore the other side of Nubra Valley was immense, murky skies had necessitated that I take a logical decision and go back to Leh. We were only allowed till Ensa Gompa earlier on the Panamik and Sumur side, the district administration in Diskit informed me that…

Waltzing to Happiness on a Houseboat in Srinagar

I had spent the night gazing at the framed views of Nun-Kun peaks from a little village in Suru Valley called Parkachik. While hitchhiking in a truck from Padum to Rangdum, the lunch break had enabled me to speak to a lady from New Zealand who promptly offered me a seat in the cab that she was…

Solo travelling to the last frontier of Sach Pass

July has the distinction of being one of my favourite months. Even when I worked in the family business, the arrival of rains in July signalled that I could head out for long solo sojourns. In the last week of June, I randomly booked tickets from Jaipur to Pathankot in Pooja Express. I was hoping to…

Doing the unthinkable – Solo Trekking to Zanskar

My Lahauli friends chide me for being too upbeat about trekking to Zanskar, all by myself. ‘Even we locals don’t go alone’, they say. The trek path begins from Darcha on the Manali-Leh route, just an hour’s drive away from the district headquarters of Keylong. Cloudy weather has caused the atm machine to not work for…

Reminiscences from a two day snowfall

Much ado has been made about having a ‘bucket list.’ The moment you tell someone about a lovely experience you had on your unplanned holiday, it goes straight into their bucket list. Let me tell you very frankly, as human beings our greatest memories are not of places, but rather of the time we had, the happiness…

Why Triund could be the perfect first Himalayan trek?

My sister had been dreaming of going on a ‘Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani’ kind of trek ever since the movie came out. I tried pepping her up for a solo trip to anywhere and gave her the usual tips for solo travel in India. In between someone who came home had this epic statement to make…

Walking into the past along the frozen Indus in Ladakh

I had read passing references about the Brokpa community, most of them were rumours of German women coming in search of pure Aryan men. The people living in ‘four Aryan villages’ had remained culturally secluded and were different from the rest of the Ladakhis. Huff Post interviewed me about this, here. Read : Into Unknown Ladakh I…

Encounters at the end of the world in Himachal Pradesh

It was an impossible task to reach even Bharmour. The three hour bus journey from Chamba had proved to be a topsy turvy ride, especially when the broad track gave way to a serpentine mountainous road. Some of it had been swept away in the rain. This was the land of the Gaddis and Bharmour was…

First impressions of Sikkim

Sikkim is the second smallest state of our country and arguably the most visited on the Eastern side of India. From one of the highest mountain peaks in the world, the towering Kanchendzonga (Kanchenjunga), to virgin tropical forests and sanctuaries, from alpine meadows to rushing streams, rivers and waterfalls – Sikkim had me hooked at first…

Musings from the one home village of Yurutse at 4200m

Yurutse: A ‘one home’ Ladakhi village in Markha Valley A local has been kind enough to walk with me to Rumbak, I have been warned against venturing out alone. It is January cold and a woman has recently been mauled by dogs on the same trail. The cloudy skies give way and it is snowing…

A glimpse of Spiti in winter

‘You will die in the cold’, say my friends. With temperatures falling to -40 degrees celsius, winter travel to Spiti is unheard of! There are no flights and hence no escape route, in case something goes wrong. It is hard enough in the summers; I know after my various long sojourns to this ‘middle land.’…