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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

Sunday, March 18, 2018

5 Places To Enjoy Local Street Shopping In Himachal Pradesh During Family Vacation

Manu Khandelwal
Pic Credits:
Nestled in the foothills of the mighty Himalayas, Himachal Pradesh is widely distinguished for its plunging river valleys, snowy mountain peaks and picturesque locales. As you make your way through the many cherished attractions this state has to offer, you simply cannot miss the unique opportunity to shop at the popular Himachal shopping arcades where state wares are on display.

A true shopper's paradise, the vast marketplaces here have handicrafts, wooden works, woollen garments, silky smooth shawls, and fresh fruits and vegetables up for sale. As you meander down the winding roads, you will find yourself transported back to a simpler time, and you will find yourself truly moved by the unique culture of the state, making it the perfect location for family vacations.

Since you're planning a trip to Himachal with your family, it would be a good idea to visit these splendid shopping locales where you may find some fabulous souvenirs of this heart rendering holiday.

You can begin your Himachal trip at the Tibetan Market in Kullu. This cluster of shops offers tourists handicrafts, imported goods, woollen apparels, musical instruments, hand-woven carpets, and intricately designed rugs. Take your pick from the famous Kullu shawls, or gain some insight into Tibetan culture as you look through the shops that have authentic Tibetan souvenirs on sale.

You can also devoutly explore the Lower Bazaar in Shimla, which is constantly buzzing with tourists and locals alike. This endless maze of lanes is littered with small shops that offer everything from gorgeously woven clothing to fresh fruits and vegetables. If you're feeling a bit hungry, you can feast on the delectable street food of momos and chaat – delicacies that are sure to satiate your taste buds. Also, you can taste amazing local cuisine at the restaurant in Manali resort along with international speciality.

Another prominent market, which you can include in your Himachal tourism itinerary, is the famous Lakkar Bazaar in Shimla. Also known as the Wood Bazaar, it can be found on a narrow road where shops are absolutely bursting with exquisite wooden handicrafts, everyday items, decorative pieces, and wooden souvenirs. The best part is that all these lovely gift items are very affordable.

The Chail Bazaar is another busy market that you absolutely need to visit. It presents an attractive display of handicrafts, woollen shawls, groceries, souvenirs, and grocery items. The market’s old-world charm coupled with its lively aura makes shopping a refreshing experience.

Of course, the Gandhi Chowk Shopping Plaza in Dalhousie deserves a place on your shopping list. Here, you will find exquisite jewellery, shoes, clothes and warm woollens. Between the shops, you'll find quaint bistros and delightful restaurants to keep your hunger pangs at bay.

To ensure that you have a great place to stay after all your shopping is done; you can book one of our Club Mahindra resorts in Himachal. Our quiet and comfortable rooms offer some of the best views of the fabulous mountains all around. With our holiday activities and comfortable rooms, your family will be in for a truly memorable vacation. Read more positive Club Mahindra Resort Reviews by our happy members about how they enjoyed their holidays with family. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Seek the Divine Blessings of Goddess Sati at Surkanda Devi Temple in Uttarakhand with Family

Manu Khandelwal
Surkanda Devi Temple - Pic Credits:
Surkanda Devi Temple is situated close to the charming town of Dhanaulti, atop a hill at the height of about 3,000m. It is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas found all across the country. The temple venerates Goddess Sati, who is revered as a symbol of feminine power. Add a visit to this sacred site to the itinerary of your family vacation in Kanatal.

Most religious places in India are associated with fascinating legends and mythology; so is Surkanda Devi Temple. It is believed that Lord Shiva wasn’t invited to the Yajna held by Goddess Sati’s father and Lord Shiva’s father-in-law, Daksha. Embarrassed by this, Sati sacrificed her life in the Yajna’s holy fire. Upon his wife dying, an enraged Lord Shiva performed Tandava all over the region with Sati’s corpse hung in his Trishul. Goddess Sati’s body parts fell over the Indian subcontinent and wherever these places fell are now called Shakti Peethas. The legend says that Surkanda Devi Temple is situated where the goddess’s head fell.

It is also believed that once the demons or Asuras vanquished gods to usurp heaven. The gods then prayed to the goddess of Surkanda Devi Temple for their kingdom and their wishes were granted, thereby making Surkanda Devi Temple one of the most important temples for followers of Hinduism. Your kids will be fascinated by the legend about this unique place to visit in Uttarakhand and you may seek blessings from the goddess for your whole family.

How to reach

If you are planning to add Surkanda Devi Temple among the places to visit in Kanatal, you may choose to travel by air, rail, or road. If you are already holidaying in Kanatal, taking a short 20-minute taxi drive from here to the base of the hill on which the temple is situated is the best option. Once you reach the base, you get to trek for about 1.5km to the top and be rewarded with the astounding views and fresh mountain air along with the famous temple. If you choose to travel by air, the closest airport from here is in Dehradun. The almost 100km distance between Dehradun and the temple via Mussoorie may be covered by a taxi. Even the closest railway station is found in Dehradun at over 65km from the base of Surkanda Devi Temple.

Where to stay

All your concerns about finding a family-friendly resort, especially for your kids, are put to rest by Club Mahindra Kanatal resort. Apart from the popular tourist places in Kanatal, with Club Mahindra, you get to explore many other heritage sites. Considering that the rooms here are appointed with an array of modern amenities, it goes without saying that your comfort is ensured. Kids will have a great time here at the in-house activity center, where they may enjoy indoor games or get immersed in a book. You may also indulge in other activities like nature walk, rock climbing, and village tour with Club Mahindra resort in Kanatal and create memories for life. Plan a vacation with Club Mahindra today & have a comfortable and memorable stay at Kanatal resort in Uttarakhand with family with the spellbinding views of Everest!

Book a holiday soon and let nature’s grandeur and the rich heritage of the mountains fill you with wonder at Kanatal! Also, read through these Club Mahindra reviews of Kanatal resort & get a sneak peek of how our delighted members are spending their family vacations.

Friday, February 9, 2018

A Short Trek to Binsar Zero Point near Almora with Family

Manu Khandelwal
View from Binsar Zero Point
Binsar Zero Point

The highest point found within the lush landscape of the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary is the Binsar Zero Point. It is one of the fascinating places to visit near Almora and serves as an excellent vantage point to enjoy the Himalayan sceneries. From the top of it, an unobstructed view of the Himalayan Ranges, including Nanda Devi and Kedarnath peaks, may be enjoyed.

A manmade watchtower at Binsar Zero Point was built in the center of Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary for the sole purpose of providing visitors an opportunity to experience the grandeur of the majestic Himalayas. You, along with your family, may plan to trek about 2km to reach this popular point. Trekking on a scenic trail is a wonderful experience. But on this route, you will get to enjoy much more than just trekking. Hire a local guide to help you spot the fascinating bird species that are found here. The guide will also help you and your kids recognize the many trees found in these woods including oak, rhododendron, and deodar.

Mother Nature has ensured that there is no dearth of places to visit in Uttarakhand. The whole region is so scenic that everything you see here is a sight to behold. Apart from Binsar Zero Point, you may also take your family to Chaukori and Binsar Hill. Your children will love to click the different hues of nature here.

How to reach

Out of the countless tourist places in Uttarakhand that you may tour with your family, Binsar Zero Point should definitely make it to the list. Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary is located at 30km from Almora. If you want to reach there by road, you may take a 395km trip from Delhi to Binsar via Moradabad and Haldwani. The road distance from Nainital is 96km. The nearest railway station is in Kathgodam. If you are flying to reach here, the nearest airport is in Pantnagar. 

Best time to visit

The ideal time to include Binsar Zero Point in your family vacation plans would be in the months of October and November. Winters here are chilly, but the view is stupendous; so make sure that you carry ample warm clothing.

Where to stay

When looking for resorts in Uttarakhand, look no further than Club Mahindra Binsar Valley resort. This gorgeous resort is a treat to the eyes. Staying here is downright memorable. The rooms here are spacious and equipped with the latest amenities to ensure you and your loved ones have a comfortable stay. The in-house restaurant will satiate your desire of trying out the local cuisine. The resort’s hospitable staff will help you plan fun holiday activities with your family for a complete Himalayan holiday experience. Plan a vacation with Club Mahindra and have a pleasant & memorable stay at Club Mahindra Binsar Valley resort in Uttarakhand.

Also, read through these Club Mahindra reviews of Binsar Valley resort & get a sneak peek of how our happy members are spending their family vacation

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Hampta Pass Trek - A Trek Full of Scenic Landscapes

Manu Khandelwal
a view of hampta pass trek
Hampta Pass Trek
So it all started with the Dussehra long weekend. Nowadays, people deadly wait for long weekends, so that they can leave their mundane workplace and venture out somewhere. Although my work life is quite flexible unlike other people (IT Industry beings) but I also heed for long weekends to go on longer duration treks/trips. This time I planned for Hampta Pass Trek on this long weekend. Hampta Pass was on the top of my bucket list and I was waiting to do this trek since a long time. So I was very much excited for this trek. πŸ˜ƒ

About Hampta Pass:

Hampta Pass is an excellent crossover trek in Himachal Pradesh. The trek duration is 5 days and the difficulty level is moderate. Novice trekkers having good physical fitness can also go for this trek. The trek offers ultimate views of the valley and lofty peaks. One can easily notice the change in landscapes on the trek. Hampta Pass is situated at an altitude of 4277 meters (14035 feet) above the sea level and it connects the Kullu valley to the Lahaul & Spiti Valley.

So here my journey starts…

Day 0: 

Boarded the bus to Manali, as the starting point of the trek was Jobri, which was an hour journey from Manali. The journey was a bit long. It took around 15 hours to reach the prominent hill station.

Day 1: 

Reached Manali at around 9 AM and had breakfast of Aloo Parantha near the ISBT. In just another hour, I met my trek mates and then started the journey towards Hampta Pass. We drove towards Prini village and there we left the taxi and walked through the village to follow a ritual. It was a short walk of around 10 minutes and we boarded the same taxi again for our further drive. The drive was scenic. We could see the town of Manali from the road and the mountain ranges of Kullu Valley.

Finally, we reached Jobri, which was also the road end. We took our rucksacks, tightened our laces, filled the water bottles and began the trek. The distance that we had to cover on the first day was 4 km. We entered the forest and there was no sunlight in spite of being the sunny weather as the forest was quite dense. The trail was mostly flat and uphill at few stretches.  We walked for about an hour through the forest and then arrived at an open green pasture of land. We continued our walk for few meters and then saw a vast valley in the rectangular shape. The valley was amazingly beautiful. There was also a river named Rani, flowing through the middle of the valley and enhancing the beauty of it. Took our first stop at a shop and had chocolates there. 

starting the trek from Jobri
starting the trek from Jobri

proceeding towards valley
proceeding towards valley

trekking towards chika
trekking towards chika

Rani river flowing through the valley
Rani river flowing through the valley

Relaxing at a shop
Relaxing at a shop
We then resumed our trek by taking a downhill path into the valley and then crossed a bridge over the river. Now we were on the left side of the valley and could continuously hear the sound of the river. The weather was sunny and we were enjoying the trek. The further trail was through the valley and we had to reach the end of it. The trail was mostly flat and full of boulders. The advantage of having too many boulders on the trail is that you don’t need to find a location to sit and rest. J

crossing a bridge over the rani river
crossing a bridge over the rani river

scenic valley
scenic valley

We reached our campsite at 4 PM and saw that the kitchen tent was already pitched. The campsite was near the river and the views were alluring. We did not get tired much. As it was already 4 on our watch, the weather started changing. So we opened our sacks and put on some thermal layers on our body. With the weather, views also started changing and were getting more scenic. Our camps were pitched near the Rani River and we could hear the soothing sound of the river. Then we had delicious soup by late evening and slept after having dinner.

Our campsite at Chika
Our campsite at Chika

River Rani flowing near the campsite
River Rani flowing near the campsite

Kitchen tent crew

Day 2: 

I woke up a bit early to capture a time-lapse video of sunrise. I took my GoPro and went to the nearby hill, slightly above the campsite to get a perfect frame. After fixing the GoPro, I waited for around 45 minutes but the sun didn’t come up. I could see only the rays. The sun was hiding behind the lofty peaks. After around 50 minutes, the battery of GoPro got drained and I had to come back into my tent. I got inside, took off my shoes and suddenly I saw that the sun was rising. The only thing I could do at that time was capturing with my camera and I took a shot.

Then we got ready, had breakfast and commenced our 2nd day trek towards Balu Ka Gera. The initial trek was along the Rani River and was mild uphill passing through the big boulders. After covering half an hour of the stretch, we reached a point where we had to negotiate a big rock by climbing on it. The stretch was a bit tricky but we crossed it without any difficulty. Then we arrived on a big paddock and we could see Mt. Indrasan right in front of us. The entire valley was U-shaped and we could clearly notice a change in the landscape. Now there were no more trees and grassy patches further from that point.

Moving towards Balu ka Gera from Chika
Moving towards Balu ka Gera from Chika

Passing through a tricky stretch
Passing through a tricky stretch

We continued our walk and saw a huge herd of sheeps. It seemed like we entered into a world of sheeps. We walked through that flat trail and then arrived at a point where we again had to show our strength. This was something that we had never tried and were going to do for the first time. We had to cross a river with barefoot because there was no bridge. Although the river was short but the flow was strong and the water was bitterly cold. We quickly took off our shoes, folded our pants and started crossing it. Initially, we didn’t feel the flow much but it was quite strong in the center. We were continuously crossing by holding each other’s hands and finally, we reached the shore. Our feet got completely numbed so we started warming up to make them normal. It took us 15 minutes and then we resumed our trek. The further trek was through the U-shaped valley and was a level walk. The surface was covered with sand and stones and that is why the name of the site was Balu ka Gera.

U-shaped valley having Mt. Indrasan in the backdrop
U-shaped valley having Mt. Indrasan in the backdrop

We reached our campsite at around 3:30 PM and the weather already turned cloudy by that time. We took rest for a couple of minutes and then had Maggi. While we were having Maggi inside the kitchen tent suddenly we started hearing a dropping sound on the tent. I opened the zip, went out and found that it was snowing. It was an unexpected snowfall. Though it lasted for half an hour but we enjoyed. Later in the evening, we had dinner and the temperature dipped gradually during the night. The night was starry and frigid. I decided to capture the stars. Everyone was inside the tents and I was standing outside as I had set the long exposure shot of 30 seconds. It was completely dark and I couldn't see a single thing, not even my hands. While I was waiting for the shot to be clicked suddenly I felt something besides my both legs. I tried to find out the thing with my hands and it seemed like an animal. I got really scared for a moment. I thought it was a bear but later found after turning on the torch that they were dogs. Captured 2-3 shots and then got inside and slept. The next day was most important for all of us as we had to cross the “Hampta Pass”.

View from Balu ka Gera campsite
View from Balu ka Gera campsite

starry night at Balu ka Gera
starry night at Balu ka Gera

Hampta Pass Trek - Part 2

Thursday, December 14, 2017

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

Manu Khandelwal
Pic Source:
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:
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.


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:
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:
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) πŸ˜›.

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.πŸ˜› 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 😊

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