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Snow Trek To Nag Tibba
Whenever I hear the word “winter”, the first word that strikes my mind is “Snow”.
Feb 2017
Kodaikanal Munnar Winter Trekking Expedition
As we all know that North India is famous for trekking. Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand provides best and tough trekking routes
June 2015
Har Ki Dun Trekking Expedition
The state Uttarakhand has a long list of trekking trails. Some are easy, some are moderate, some are difficult and some are strenuous.
August 2015
Ilaqa Pass Trekking Expedition
We were planning this trip since February 2016 and every time our plan got cancelled due to reasons such as college placements, project presentations, sessionals, etc.
August 2016

Thursday, December 14, 2017

New Work in New York? 3 Reasons to Make Lake Placid Your First Choice for Conferences

Manu Khandelwal
Pic Source: www.traveldigg.com
Lake Placid is a venue that manages to tick a lot of boxes in terms of not just how photogenic the area is but what it has to offer visitors when it comes to amenities, recreational, and entertainment options.

This is why it is a great place to host a conference.

Here are three compelling reasons why Lake Placid should be at the top of your list of suitable conference venues.

Dedicated to events

What you will soon discover is that Lake Placid is a place that is geared up toward looking after its visitors in the best possible way and it is a town that is particularly dedicated to events.

The area has a long history of hosting some prestigious events, such as being one of the few two-time Olympic host cities, plus some major organizations choose Lake Placid for its annual conference each year.

One of the reasons why it enjoys such popularity amongst conference organizers is that the attendance rate is so high because delegates know they are going to have a great time when they come, not just at the conference but with all the social and recreational activities that are part of the Lake Placid experience.

Good accommodation options are a feature of the area, such as the Courtyard Lake Placid, for instance, and the conference center itself is ideally located in the village, giving you easy access to the Main Street with all its shops and restaurants.

Plenty of great dining options

It is not hard to see why there is such a high attendance rate when Lake Placid is the chosen as the host venue for a conference event as previous attendees will tell you that this is a place that offers plenty of culinary experiences.

There is a burgeoning cuisine scene going on in the mountains here and what you get with Lake Placid is a plethora of dining options to suit all tastes and budgets.

You can enjoy high-end dining with some polished gourmet residences ready to challenge your taste buds to their fullest extent but if you want comfort food or nostalgic dining, these are also within a short distance of the conference center.

There are more dining establishments opening each year so you will always be able to try out some new tastes if you are a returning delegate to Lake Placid.

Plenty to see and do

One of the main assets associated with a great conference venue is the ability to offer delegates plenty of leisure and entertainment options away from the main event, and Lake Placid provides plenty of those options. 

Adding a few days onto your visit is a popular thing to do so that you can enjoy the opportunity to enjoy attractions like Whiteface Mountain, Adirondack Park, and take in the incredible scenery around Mirror Lake.

There is even the chance to enjoy an Olympic bobsled ride if you are looking for thrills and spills alongside great viewing and eating options in the area.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Top Things To Do in Breckenridge, Colorado besides Skiing

Manu Khandelwal
Pic Credits: www.cdn.dewtour.com/
Often called as “Breck” by locals, the friendly mining town of Breckenridge is the largest historic district of Colorado. The town hosts many historic masterpieces and architectures which reflect its history. Breckenridge is girded by scenic Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

The town is mainly known for skiing. It is considered one of the best skiing destinations in the United States of America and that is why most of the tourists visit here for the experience of world-class skiing at Breckenridge Ski Resort. The resort has made the town a prominent hotspot for skiers. Summer season entices adventure enthusiasts and offers them trekking trails, mountain biking, kayaking, fly fishing in the blue river, boating in the nearby lake Dilon, etc.

Apart from skiing, there are so many other things that one can do while exploring the town of Breckenridge such as shopping, sightseeing, historical tours and other adventure sports. Due to the vast variety of activities available, the town is visited by thousands of tourists. So a plethora of options to stay are available including resorts, hotels, and cabins in Breckenridge. Below are some top things to do during your visit to Breckenridge in Colorado.

Snowshoeing

Breckenridge has a lot to offer if you are an adventure buff. One such activity is snowshoeing. If you are a novice then you will have to visit one of the two Nordic Centers situated in the vicinity. These centers have different types of trails suitable for beginners as well as experienced ones. One can also take atlas or crescent moon snowshoes on rent and few are available for purchase also. The cost of these shoes varies according to sizes and style. One can also opt for a guided tour if having a problem in doing on its own. The tour begins at 11 AM and reservation in advance is required. There are several trails available and all are interconnecting to each other. These trails lead to some beautiful locations which provide great photo opportunities. So don’t forget to bring your camera if you are heading out for this one.

Walking Tour on the Main Street

If you are not seeking any adventure and looking for something that doesn’t create a hole in your pocket, then taking a historic tour on the Main Street of Breckenridge would be the thing. Take a stroll through the store district of Breckenridge, which is known for its vast and interesting history and hear thrilling stories of legends who live more than 100 years in the past. A complete tour usually takes 90 minutes and costs a very nominal fee. The tickets of the tour can be purchased at the welcome center situated on the Main Street.

Sledding and Tubing in Breckenridge

If you are looking to attempt sledding then you will have to go to outskirts of the town. Sledding is forbidden inside the town and one can get fined if trying to attempt. There are some ideal places situated near the park at Lake Dillon which offer great opportunities for sledding and tubing. A short drive from the town and the Frisco Nordic Centers take you to the place where you can attempt sledding and have a great experience. Apart from this, one can opt any of the sledding companies available there. They charge usually around USD 30 per person for one hour. Such companies are Breckenridge resort tubing, Frisco Adventure Park, Copper mountain resort, Keystone resort tubing, etc.

The Breckenridge Snow Sculpture Championship

Alike the World Championship of Sand Sculpturing or Sand Arts, the championship of Snow Sculptures takes place every year in the town of Breckenridge. During the end of January, people from all over the world visit here to take part in the championship and create beautiful and amazing sculptures. So if you are planning to visit here in January and want to see the amusing work of people then make sure your trip synchronizes with the dates of the championship. It is a must-see event and also one of the recommended things to do during the winter season.  

Dog Sledding

Pic Credits: www.summitdaily.com
Well, you must have seen Dog Sledding in most of the movies and it seems quite interesting. This interesting thing can be done in the Breckenridge. The town offers many dog sledding experience in which you will be racing on the snow with barking dogs who will be leading the trail. This activity will definitely pump up your adrenaline. It is one of the activities that should not be missed anyhow as it is once in a lifetime experience. The dog sledding tour contains several scheduled breaks on the way. The duration of the trips varies from short excursions to overnight adventures. This activity can be experienced by solo adventurers as well as family groups. Some organizations that offer the activity are Alpine Adventures, Good Time Adventures, etc.

Continental Divide Winery

In love with wines? If yes, then this is the place for you. The Continental Divide Winery is an interesting place that offers an opportunity to taste different types of wines and one can also have a wine blending experience. After visiting this amazing place, you can proudly call yourself a "winemaker". The best thing about this place that you can take home a custom crafted wine bottle that you blend. Situated on the Main Street, the Winery was opened in December 2016. Don’t forget to make your reservation in advance as the place remains in high demand.

Fun Park

The park gets opened only during the summer season and it offers exhilarating activities such as downhill sliding, bike riding and also a roller coaster which is the main attraction of this park. The roller coaster lets you zipping on a track which is 2500 feet long. Other than this, there are so many activities available that it will take you a couple of days to try all of them. There is one 2600 feet Alpine Super Slide that takes you down the mountain and offers a breathtaking view of the valley below. The park is one of the most entertaining places in the town.

Shopping in Breckenridge

Pic Credits: www.blog.gobreck.com
Last but not the least, “Shopping”. It is not possible and also not recommended that you go to any place and don’t buy a thing that belongs or which is a specialty of that place. Breckenridge dwells plethora of storefronts that showcase jewelry, antiques, books, souvenirs, etc. One can also purchase some alluring arts made by local artists to decorate your room walls. So a short walk through the markets of Breckenridge is must to make your trip experience better.


Friday, November 17, 2017

First Time Travelling? 5 Reasons Why You Should Visit India

Manu Khandelwal


People often travel to see a completely different way of life and you’ll definitely get that in India. Beautiful scenery, tasty food and friendly people are just some of the reasons your trip will be unforgettable, so why not make this diverse country your first destination?

The scenery

From the awe-inspiring peaks of the Himalayas to the quiet beauty of the national parks and the bustling city streets, there’s something to see at every turn (and we haven’t even mentioned the beaches, deserts, and tribal villages yet…). India has it all, so keep your camera handy and give yourself time to take everything in.

If you only see one thing… Ranthambore in Rajasthan is a wild jungle of a national park with a fort right in the middle, best explored via one of the safaris offered between October and June each year. 

Photo by Syna Tiger Resort on Unsplash

The wildlife

India is home to lots of wildlife, including rare and exotic species like Indian rhinos, Asiatic lions, snow leopards, and Bengal tigers. It’s worth booking a safari or tour to see these beautiful, endangered animals in their natural habitat, plus you’ll benefit from the knowledge of your guide. You may also spot elephants, crocodiles, and some of the hundreds of different species of bird, including Indian spotted eagles.

If you only spot one animal… it’s got to be the tiger. These powerful big cats have roars which can be heard over a mile away.

The food

Think you know Indian food? Think again — there’s nothing quite like the real thing. Take your pick from flavoursome curries made from meats, vegetables, chickpeas and spices, hearty lentil dals, freshly baked breads, and snacks like samosas and aloo tikki (crispy potato pancakes). Don’t forget to check out the street food stalls, making sure you head where the locals go for the best deals.

If you only eat one thingGujarati thali is a vegetarian platter with lots different dishes, including curries, salads and chutneys, so you can try as much as possible.



The history

India’s history goes way back in time, which means there’s incredible architecture (and interesting stories behind each building) at every turn. The most famous attraction in India is the Taj Mahal, but it’s also worth seeking out lesser-known sites like the Agra Fort, which has a whole host of other structures inside it (including mosques, palaces and courtyards), and the ghost town of Fatehpur Sikri.

If you only visit one place… it has to be the Taj Mahal. One of the Seven Wonders of the World, this enormous ivory-white mausoleum was built for Mumtaz Mahal, wife of Shah Jahan, in the 1600s. 

The hospitality

Curious and friendly, Indian people are generally very welcoming towards guests and are honoured to host them. Inquisitive by nature, they ask a lot of questions because they’re genuinely interested in hearing your stories.

If you only stay in one place… make it a homestay instead of a hostel or hotel. It’s similar to a B&B, in that you stay in a room in family-run accommodation. You can spend as much or as little time with your host family as you like, but often people find themselves talking to their hosts for hours. You’ll learn all about Indian culture and their way of life, and gain plenty of local knowledge that will enhance your trip.

* This is a guest collaboration written by Lianne.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

A Failed Trip to Deoriatal Chopta

Manu Khandelwal


What if your trip gets canceled due to bad weather or you stuck in the midway and cannot reach the destination? Well, for a traveler like me, it would be the worst thing.

As the saying goes, "it's not about the destination, it's about the journey that matters" and it exactly happened that way on my trip to Deoriatal Chandrashila during the Holi weekend. Sometimes uncertain things give you much pleasure and fun. So technically, it was a failed trip but also one of the best trips I have ever had.

We were 6 strangers, met at Akshardham metro station for the first time and from there we started our journey. The trippers included me, Gaurav, Himanshu, Swati, Akansha, and Shweta. Had an introduction and got ready to board the taxi. Apart from all of us, there was one more person who played a major role in making our trip memorable and adventurous and the person was the driver (Sardar Ji) 😛.

Our original itinerary was

Day 0: Drive to Sari village
Day 1: Reach Sari and Trek to Deoriatal
Day 2: Trek down to Sari and drive to Ukhimath
Day 3: Drive to Chopta and trek to Chandrashila and drive back to Ukhimath
Day 4: Drive back to Delhi

At Akshardham metro station, we had a discussion and altered the itinerary a bit.

Day 0: Same
Day 1: Same
Day 2: Trek from Deoriatal to Chopta
Day 3: Trek to Chandrashila and drive back to Ukhimath
Day 4: Same

Now let’s see which itinerary we actually followed 

We started our drive towards Rishikesh at around 10 PM. Initially, we were little hesitant to interact with each other but thanks to all the girls, who turned the atmosphere friendly. In just one hour, we were feeling quite comfortable and having fun in the car. We had our dinner near Modinagar and just after that, we got the first dose of adventure. The driver was feeling sleepy and he was continuously driving. I already asked him to inform me if he feels sleepy, but he didn't tell. Unfortunately, he got a gust of sleep and the car went off-road by hitting a big stone on the way. The good thing was that everyone and the car were okay. We all got little scared after this incident so decided not to sleep. Then it happened again and this time our car was about to hit a divider but fortunately, it didn’t happen.

After all this, I forcibly asked the driver to pull over the car immediately. He took the rest for about 1 hour and then we resumed our journey. The weather was also not clear and soon it started raining heavily. It rained only for some time and we reached Muni Ki Reti situated just after Rishikesh where we had tea and some refreshments. The further drive was throughout the mountains and the weather was still not clear. We were driving towards Devprayag and saw a landslide amidst the way. That time we got a surety that the weather is not good to go but we decided not to abort our journey as we all were super excited.

We reached Devprayag and had a small photoshoot at the confluence of rivers Alaknanda and Bhagirathi. We then resumed our drive towards Rudraprayag and our car got punctured and that was a usual thing in the journey. But the unusual thing was that driver didn’t even know how to bolt out the Stepney from the car. We were in the middle of the trip and we couldn’t do anything so we asked help from other drivers. Finally, one person helped us and we successfully fixed the Stepney tire. We already wasted so much time due to all this so we decided to drive continuously until we reach the Sari village.

As we crossed Rudraprayag and moved towards Sari, we started seeing the mountains having snow on their top. Our excitement reached its peak that time. We just wanted to say to the driver that get us to our destination as soon as possible but we did not say, as this could be lethal for us.😛 We reached Sari village by 3 PM, quickly had our lunch and started our trek to Deoriatal. The trek to Deoriatal is just 2.5 km long from the village.

 As we began, it started snowing and we were literally enjoying the trek. The trek was easy and the trail was mild uphill and totally paved. It did not make us tired. Just after half an hour of walking, we got amazed with Rhododendrons. The route was giving a view of a scenery. The trail was partially covered with snow and trees on both the sides having Rhododendrons. We also played with snow and had a great time on the trek. Reached the lake when the sun was about to set down. The lake and the surroundings were covered with the white blanket of snow. We hadn’t expected this much of snow. The night was too cold and the snowfall continued until the dawn. In spite of having shade, our tents got covered with a thick layer of snow till the morning.

Rhododendrons covered with snow

Deoriatal lake

Chaukhamba Massif seen from Deoriatal





We woke up and saw that the weather was clear. We had our breakfast and spend some time near the lake. We asked the guide about the trek route to Chopta and he turned us down. Due to heavy snowfall, the route got blocked and it was next to impossible thing to trek through the same. He also added that Chandrashila summit would not be possible due to snow. It was a sad moment for us but we quickly changed our mood and decided to enjoy that place and visit the place which was feasible for us. We discussed and took a call to trek down to Sari and drive to Chopta. It took us hardly 1 hour 30 minutes and we reached the village.

Snow covered Chandrashila peak seen from Deoriatal trail

We looked out for our car and found what that the driver was one bottle down and sleeping. It took us half an hour to wake him up and finally, we started our drive towards Chopta. The worst thing with our driver was in spite of having bad skills of driving, he was not at all serious in it. Whenever we used to offer him something to eat, he just left the steering and started taking it without noticing about the car direction. Seriously, it was quite risky to travel with him but we did not have another option.

When we were moving towards Chopta, we started seeing snow on the road. People told us that we could go up to Duggalbitta, which is 10 km before from Chopta. We decided to park our car at that place and walk all the way to Chopta from there. After that point, the road was fully covered with snow and it was impossible to drive on it. The road got too slippery, so we asked the driver to wait for us there and we started walking towards Chopta. The view was amazing there. The roads, trees, huts, milestones, everything was covered with snow. As we were approaching, the depth of snow was increasing and it was getting a bit tough to walk. We walked around 4 km and decided to turn back and started moving towards our car. We then drove back to Sari village and did our night stay there.

On the way to Chopta



Now we were left with one day and had nothing to do as every place was blocked with snow. So we again had a discussion and decided to drive back to Rishikesh and do rafting there. We had a good dinner, packed our bags and slept.

Next day, we woke up and asked the driver to get ready in an hour but we got late due to his laziness. We started our drive by 7 instead of 6 AM. It took us around 6 hours and we reached our campsite in Shivpuri, Rishikesh. Our rafting was scheduled in the evening and I was super excited as it was the first time I was going to do rafting. We did the 17 km long rafting from Shivpuri to NIM Beach. The experience of Rafting was exhilarating. It was a real adventure for me as I had never been to any water park and also I did not know swimming. In the end, we also did Water Surfing and Cliff Jumping and later boarded the taxi to get back to the campsite.



The taxi dropped us at the main road and from there we had to walk around 2 km along a river stream to reach the campsite. We were totally wet, looking for our campsite and we got lost due to the confusing trail. It was totally dark and we did not even have phones with us. By somehow, we contacted the guy in the campsite and asked the correct way. After all this, we did bonfire with delectable dinner and called it a day. Next morning, we departed for Delhi and reached there by evening.

Though there were so many glitches in the trip and everything was unplanned and uncertain but only because of all this we all had really a great time and enjoyed a lot. It was one of my best trips ever.



Cheers to all and Sardar Ji 😊


Monday, October 30, 2017

Top Winter Treks in India

Manu Khandelwal



Winter is here! And if you were always on the lookout for some snow laden treks then this is the best time to explore any of these amazing winter treks nestled in the northern Himalayas.

Nag Tibba


A trek that can be done in 3 days from Delhi and covered with snow all around. Too good to be true right! But Nag Tibba is truly an ideal weekend trek that can be done throughout the winter season when most of the treks in higher Himalayan ranges are closed. The trek offers some of the best camping locations. The route goes through thick deodar forest and with only a day into the trek one reaches to a very remote region with almost no habitation. A great refresher and trailer for new trekkers who are yet to see the full movie of a long trek.

Kedarkantha


Situated in Govind National Park of Western Garhwal, Uttrakhand, it is an easy graded trek highly recommended for beginners. Though it is open for the entire year, the ideal season to do this trek is from December end to March when the trail is completely covered with snow. Camping over snow by the lake, 360-degree view of some of the highest peaks like Bandarpoonch, Swargarohini, Black Peak are some of the major attractions of Kedarkantha.

Kuari pass


Kuari pass means “Doorway” and it is also called Curzon trail, named after Lord Curzon who first discovered this trail. Here you would walk through the rhododendron, oak and deodar forest covered with fresh snow and witness the amazing view of the eastern peaks of Garhwal Himalayas, the twin peaks of Nanda Devi, Kamet, Dronagiri, Trishul, Bertholi, Hathi Ghodi Parvat, Mana, and Neelkanth peaks. A lot to see, right?

Brahmtal


You must have heard about the famous Roopkund trek but have you ever wondered what’s there on its opposite side! It’s Brahmtal, a lake where Lord Brahma is said to have meditated as per mythology and it is one of the few treks which are possible in the months of winter when most of the trekking routes are closed. And if you were always in the awe of Roopkund then here is the good news, most of the trail of Roopkund trek can also be seen from this trek, including views of Ali Bugyal, Bedni Bugyal & junargali.

Chadar trek


Here comes the most amazing trek that could be done only in winters. Chadar Trek, a winter-trail on Zanskar river in Ladakh, the Winterfell of India. The river gets very little sunlight because of the high gorge so when the temperature falls down to -25/30 degree it leads to the formation of ice sheet which covers Zanskar like a blanket hence the name Chadar. This trek is indeed once in a lifetime adventure and surely can’t be missed this winter.

Prashar Lake Hike


Here fulfill your fantasy of hiking to a frozen lake. Surrounded by the Dhauladhar ranges in Kullu valley, Prashar is beautiful lake believed to be discovered by Pandavas. To see this frozen beauty, you don’t need to face the stare of your boss as it’s only a 2 days trek, could be done in a weekend. So, no leave form office hassle.

Har Ki Dun Trek


One of the most famous treks in the Garhwal is also known as the Valley of Gods. Surrounded by dense and owing to its isolation, the area is a paradise for bird watchers and nature lovers. You can also see Swargarohini and Jaundhar Glacier in the south-east of this trek. Towards the west, you can see Bandar Punch peak. Given to its breath-taking beauty & moderate difficulty level, this is an ideal trek for experienced as well as beginners.

Goechala


The most famous trek of the northeast, Goechala is also a base camp for Mt. Kanchenjunga, the world's third highest mountain. But it is not famous for only this, be ready to see the heart -wrenching beautiful trails with vibrant flora and fauna, the majestic view of Mt Pandim and Mt Kanchenjunga and other big mountains, with the best sunrises and sunsets. Opportunity to explore the ancient and hilly culture of Sikkim is a bonus.

That was all about the Trekking in Winters Extravaganza. Now go & explore any of these winter wonders of India.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Trek to Parashar Lake - Part 2

Manu Khandelwal

Day 1: Trek from Baggi to Parashar Lake

We hailed “Jai Mata Di” and began our trek. This time we were accompanied by a local guide so we did not have any tension related to the route. We walked casually for about 100 meters through the village, passed a local liquor shop but did not buy any because we already had our stock. Soon we reached a valley full of boulders and tiny river streams (locals call it Nalah). 

Our guide told us that some years before there was a road which used to go through this way but it got demolished after a severe flood and now there are only boulders. We negotiated those boulders and reached the no-road head. It was plain but mild steep and was working as a warm up for our body. After walking for 20 minutes, we reached a point from where the forest starts. We took the right turn and entered the forest. 

As we entered the forest, there were some other beings who were eagerly waiting to accompany us during the trek and make our trek more adventurous. Yes there were leeches… so many leeches. As we took the first step in the forest leeches started attacking us. Initially, we were little scared of leeches but after some time we got used to. Now we knew that there would be no pain and how to defend us from them.

We just followed one thing to defend us from the leeches that “try not to stop at one place, continue walking and if you want to stop then only do it on a stone”




After around 2 hours of trekking with leeches, we reached a meadow and got a good news from the guide. He told us that further from this point we won’t find any leeches. Now we could trek freely. It is due to the fact that Leeches don’t survive at altitudes higher than 7000 feet. We had our lunch at the meadow itself and then continued our trek. We crossed 2 meadows and again entered into the forest. This forest part was small as compared to previous one and after trekking for around 40 minutes we reached a hut on a meadow. We crossed that place full of cow dung and continued our trek towards the lake. Now we could see the boundary wall of Parashar Lake. The lake was just 15 minutes far from us. We did not stop and entered into the vicinity of the lake. 


As we were hungry, we ordered a maggi and tea at a shop near the lake. Then we started exploring the place and the temple. The architecture of the temple was great. The lake was not much vast but the views were breathtaking. We spent around 1.5 hours there and moved towards our campsite. The campsite was situated at a walking distance of 2 km from the lake. When we reached the campsite we found our camps were already pitched there. We put our rucksacks into our respective tents and relaxed there. Later we did bonfire followed by ghost stories session. Also played antakshri with other groups.







Then we had dinner and all went to sleep except us. We were not feeling sleepy so we decided to venture out into the forest during midnight and add some extra adventure into our trip. We 4 took the torch, started the video recording and began walking. The night was totally dark and silent. We could only hear the creepy sounds of insects. After walking for 10 minutes, we reached a point where we saw a white color thing. Later we found that it was a skeleton of an animal. That moment our heart beat got increased gradually and we started getting goosebumps. We decided not to move further and turned back towards our camps. Though we got scared, but it was fun.

Day 2: Trek from Parashar Lake to Baggi

Woke up with a fresh and cool morning. It was a wonderful camping experience. I just unzipped the tent and experienced the cool mountain breeze, chirping of birds, lush green trees all around and the smell of mountains. We quickly freshened up and got ready for the breakfast. The breakfast was delicious and my favourite. 



After all this, we wrapped up all our things and started our return trek towards Baggi village. The downhill route was the same as the uphill route. 



It was overall easy for us to descend. I always find descent easy as compared to ascent. It took us around 3 hours and we reached the village. We fell several times due to slippery terrain but the good thing was no one got injured. Later we had a mango shake at Krishna Bhaiya’s Café and then departed for Delhi. The return journey was little low as usual because we were returning back to our mundane work life from the mountains. However, we also had hope and excitement for our next trip.

Alike Ilaqa Pass, Parashar lake trek was also a successful trek and we enjoyed a lot. We added one more memorable trip in our list.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Trek to Parashar Lake - Part 1

Manu Khandelwal
Parashar Lake
I have been trekking since 2014 and have trekked a lot till now. Have done trekking with unknown groups, friends, and solo as well and every time I had a unique and wonderful experience. If I compare all my trips in terms of how much I enjoy then I would always go for trekking with my friends. Yes, trekking with your close friends has its own fun especially when you all are engineers 😃 You can do weird things that you cannot do with strangers, you don’t give a fuck what others think, you just enjoy and remain in your own zone.

Last year, I went on a trek to Ilaqa Pass in Mcleodganj with my 2 niggas (Vini & Donald) and it was a hell experience. We had a ball on that trek. After that trek, all got busy in their jobs and we didn’t get time to go on any other adventure trip again. Now after 1 year, we made a plan for a trek when we all were available and it was exactly the same date on which we did our first trek in the previous year. So technically, it was our trek anniversary. The trek we decided to go was Parashar Lake trek.

About the trek:

Parashar Lake trek is a prominent weekend trek near the Mandi city in Himachal Pradesh. The trek starts from a small village called Baggi, which is around 2 hours from the city. The overall difficulty level of the trek is easy, however, the terrain is steeper and tougher than other weekend treks such as Nag Tibba and Triund. The trek passes through dense forest and offers beautiful panoramic views of snowcapped peaks of Himachal Pradesh. The lake is pristine and is surrounded by scenic meadows and a temple.

The interesting thing about this lake is that there is no water source to it. In spite of this, the level of water is constant since centuries and according to locals, it will remain the same. There is also an island in the lake which keeps floating and changing its position. It is said that locals can predict the weather with the help of the position of the island. There is also a temple called Parashar temple situated beside the lake and it is believed that the temple is constructed of the wood of just one tree. It is made in a Pagoda type structure.

Day 0: Journey from Delhi to Baggi Village via Mandi


So we were in a group of 5 and decided to travel by taxi. Before this, we arranged some essential stuff which was required on the trip and then started our journey. As usual, I occupied the front seat as I am always the DJ in my group, so I was supposed to play songs during the road journey. After crawling for about one hour on the roads of Delhi, somehow we got able to exit the capital and reached the highway. Took our first stop at Murthal and had the official dish of this place, Paranthas at Gulshan dhaba. Then bought some chewing gums because we knew that it would be quite difficult for us to remain awake after this heavy dinner. Soon we crossed, Karnal and we were on the way to Ambala. As the time was passing, our energy was getting low and the genre of songs was also changing. The only thing which remained us awake was our excitement of the trip. We took our second stop after crossing Chandigarh and had a yummy kulfi at a dhaba situated at Kharar bypass. Our energy got boosted when we entered in the mountains. The genre of songs altered to rock music and we were enjoying the journey completely. 

We reached Mandi at 8 AM and had a piping hot tea. The weather was very pleasant. Resumed our journey to reach the Baggi village, which is around 30 km from Mandi and is the starting point of trek to Parashar Lake. The drive to Baggi village was scenic and we were driving along the Beas River. Amidst the way, we found a point from where we could descend down into the river. So we stopped our car and went on the river shore and had fun. After all this, we continued our drive and reached the village in another hour. There we had our breakfast and then started our trek after relaxing for half an hour.

Chilling on the way to Baggi from Mandi

Baggi Village


Part 1

Part 2

Sunday, September 10, 2017

An Informative Guide to Valley of Flowers & Hemkund Sahib Trek

Manu Khandelwal
Valley of Flowers National Park
Firstly, let me tell you that this account is not an experience. It consists of almost all the information related to Valley of Flowers Trek.

For my experience, check out A Trek to Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib

Let’s get started with this..

Valley of Flowers is one such place that is on almost every traveler’s list. The valley is quite prominent and it attracts visitors from all over the world. It can be reached by a moderate trek of 16 km. If one wants to go on this trek then he/she can book a trekking package from any adventure travel company which will cost around INR 10,000 (Haridwar to Haridwar). In case one wants to travel cheaper then the only option is by doing the trek on your own. If we talk about other treks, there is no connectivity, no food, no stay, so buying a package for a long duration trek can be a wise option unless you are not in a mood of an alpine trek. The good thing about Valley of Flowers trek is that you don’t need a guide to show you way, a tent to stay and a cook for food.

About Valley of Flowers:

It is a huge valley full of flowers and is expanded across a large area of 87.5 sq. km. The valley is situated in the region of Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. The valley consists of several rare species of flowers which bloom during the monsoon season. These flowers are used in making important medicines and scents.

Preparation before leaving:

If you are planning to do this trek independent then the first thing you should do is that you book a room at Ghangaria village because monsoon season is the main season to visit valley of flowers, hence a large number of people visit the valley during the same season. So booking rooms in advance is a better option and you can trek tension free.

The difficulty level of the trek varies from easy to moderate and the trail is well paved throughout the whole trek. If you have done treks before then its great otherwise beginners can also do it.

For packing list, you can refer any of the lists that is available on the internet. Make sure you carry a poncho or a raincoat because there is a high probability that you find the rain. In case you don’t get the room at Ghangaria then you can take rented tents with you to stay. If you are carrying tents then you need to find a right place at Ghangaria to pitch your tents. For some places, you are required to take permission and pay some amount to Forest Department. You can consider the area of GMVN, just talk to the manager and he will ask a nominal charge and allow you.


How to reach the starting point of the trek?

The starting point of the trek is Govindghat. Govindghat is a small village situated on the Rishikesh Badrinath highway. The village acts a base camp for the treks to Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib. The village is also the confluence point of rivers Bhyundar and Alaknanda. If one doesn’t want to trek till Ghangaria, then he/she can opt for Helicopter service from Govindghat to Ghangaria. The cost for dropping is INR 3150.

Govindghat can be reached by taking a road transport only. Govindghat is 275 km far from the city of Rishikesh. Rishikesh or its nearby city Haridwar can be reached by Road as well as Rail. From Haridwar/Rishikesh, one can opt for a bus (government or private) or taxi (shared or private) to travel to Govindghat. You can board any bus or taxi going to Badrinath, which will drop you at Govindghat. You can find buses at a private bus stand just adjacent to the ISBT Rishikesh. Either Nanda Devi or GMOU is written on the bus. At Haridwar, you will find buses at the bus stand itself. Choose your conveyance wisely as it is a long hectic 12 hours mountain journey and roads are also not good. The buses and taxis run only in the morning, so make sure you reach Rishikesh/Haridwar by 4 AM or AM.

  • Fare for Private bus to Govindghat - INR 400
  • Fare for Government Bus to Govindghat - INR 560
  • Fare for Shared taxi to Govindghat - INR 500
  • Fare for Private taxi to Govindghat - INR 6500

Itinerary:

Day 1: 

Reach Rishikesh/Haridwar and then proceed with your onwards journey. The taxi takes bit lesser time than the bus but it would be more hectic (according to me). The traveling time from Rishikesh to Govindghat is around 12 hours. The complete journey is through mountain roads. The road passes through the towns of Devprayag, Srinagar, Rudraprayag, Karnaprayag, Chamoli, and Joshimath. You will reach the Govindghat village by evening. This day you have to stay at Govindghat. There are several hotels and guesthouses available at the village and the good thing is that they remain available. You can try in Hotel Shubham.

Fare for room: INR 600 – INR 1000

Govindghat Village

Day 2: 

Begin your trekking journey to Ghangaria in the morning. The distance from Govindghat to Ghangaria is 13 km, 3 km motorable and 10 km trekkable. Take the downwards route going through the market and Police Station. Walk for 800 meters and you will come across a bridge where several taxis are on standby. Register yourself at a window near the bridge. Now there are two options to cover the distance of 3 km till Pulna village, either by taxi or by trekking. I would suggest that you take a taxi. If you go by doing trek then you will get tired very soon. The shared taxi will take around half an hour to reach the starting point of the trek.

Fare for taxi to Pulna: INR 35

Deboard the taxi and start your trek. From here, Ghangaria is 10 km far. The route is well paved all the way and the trail is a blend of uphill and downhill. You will find several villages amidst the way where you can have refreshments. All the time, you will be trekking along the Bhyundar river. The trek is scenic. You will encounter several waterfalls and will be passing through the forest. It will take you around 6 hours to reach the village. After reaching Ghangaria, relax and explore the village. If you are not tired enough then you can watch a documentary based on Valley of Flowers at the campus of Eco Development Council (NGO). It is better to watch the documentary. The half an hour movie will give you all the necessary information related to the Valley of Flowers.

Charges for Documentary: INR 30.

A bridge near Bhyundar Village

Ghangaria Village

What and where to eat:

There are several restaurants available in Ghangaria. You can find north Indian as well as south Indian food. The good thing is that rates are same in all the restaurants. Only taste differs. You can also try the food at GMVN restaurant.

Some restaurants and hotels in Ghangaria
Hotel Kuber
Hotel Nanda Lokpal
Hotel Priya
Hotel Gangotri

Day 3: 

It is advisable that you start your trek in the early morning so that you will have more time to explore the valley and you will enjoy its beauty to the fullest. The valley is 3 km far from the village of Ghangaria. Take the upwards route from Ghangaria and take a left turn from the check post after walking for 800 meters around. The trail to Valley of Flowers is also paved. It is mild uphill till the bridge over the Bhyundar river and steep after the bridge. The valley is mesmerizingly beautiful. Experience the infinite beauty of the place. You can go to the grave of John Margaret and also up to river belt. Start descending towards the village before 4 PM so that you reach back during day light. 
After coming back, relax and get prepared for your next day trek to Hemkund Sahib.

Entry Fees to Valley of Flowers: INR 150 per person

A majority of people do Hemkund Sahib and Valley of Flowers Trek together. Trek to Hemkund Sahib takes only one day for ascent as well as descent. However, if you don’t want to do Hemkund Sahib Trek then you can leave for Govindghat on this day.

Checkpost of Valley of Flowers National Park

Valley of Flowers

Valley of Flowers

Day 4: 

Start your trek in the early morning with the same initial route. The Gurudwara is 8 km from the Ghangaria village. The trek to Hemkund Sahib is difficult as compared to Valley of Flowers Trek. The trail is paved but steep all the way. It will take you around 5-6 hours to reach the Gurudwara. After reaching there, explore the place and have the world’s highest langar. Later descend back to Ghangaria village.

Starting of Hemkund Sahib Trek

Reaching Hemkund Sahib

Hemkund Sahib: Highest Gurudwara in the world

Day 5: 

If you want to leave for Rishikesh/Haridwar on the same day then you have to leave early morning by 5 AM.  The buses which go to Rishikesh/Haridwar, start from Badrinath in the morning and pass through Govindghat. So If you want to catch the bus then you have to leave early from Ghangaria. In case if you don’t get a bus, you can try for a taxi as well or you can also break your journey by traveling to Joshimath, then to Chamoli and then to Rishikesh/Haridwar. In case you don’t want to go back and extend your journey then you can also visit Badrinath and Mana village on this day. Badrinath is just 25 km from the village of Govindghat.

Start early from Ghangaria and take the same route and descend all the way. Reach Pulna and take the taxi to Govindghat. Trek ends here.

Day 6: 

Buffer Day or for returning back to Rishikesh/Haridwar

So this is the whole plan that you can follow to do the Valley of Flowers Trek. By following the plan, you can do this trek in around INR 6000 (Delhi to Delhi). So pack your bags and move your ass :)

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