Trek to Chandranahan Lake and Buran Ghati Pass

trek in Chandranahan Lake and Buran Ghati Pass in Shimla

“May your dreams be larger than mountains, and may you have the courage to scale their summits.  

– Harley King

Trekking is perhaps the only activity that gives you a glimpse of a world full of surprises. An adventure sport is as good for your soul as it is for the body. The trails that pass through the different sections of some regions are mostly beautiful, but some parts grudgingly admit the imperfections. However, the shepherd trail of Chandranahan Lake and Buran Ghati Pass trek is hard to spot a moment where you are disappointed. It seems as if the best parts of the Himalayan treks entwine to make them a perfect trail. The experience is hard to define in words, barely in terms of memories and leisure time.

the shepherd trail of Chandranahan Lake

The purpose of visiting Himachal Pradesh was for the expedition engulfed by thrill, adventure and mystery. A few days break at Shimla with refreshing local sights recharged me for the new challenge. I solicited to explore the offbeat expedition with Hike in Himalaya. The routine arrangement for the route with a well-known guide to take you through the trail will make it memorable. The alpine zones have vast meadows, a high altitude lake and finally, one of the difficult passes in India. The emotions on the trail enlightened me about the absolute mystery of the mountains and weather. So less to talk about trekking, I try my best to explain the magic makes it a whole different adventure. 

About the Trek

an alpine lake is at an altitude of around 14,000 feet in the Pabbar valley

Chandranahan, an alpine lake flanked by high snow peaks, is a holy place for local people. It is at an altitude of around 14,000 feet in the Pabbar valley region of Himachal Pradesh. The lake is the source of the Pabbar River which later merges with the Yamuna. The expedition starts from the ancient village and bursts into the Dayara meadows on the southeastern slopes of the Himalayas. The track to the lake feels like magic, almost being part of a delightfully deep forest, which further leads to the Buran Ghati Pass. The trek is about 42kms from the snout, but every step is like an expedition as it is an arduous route. 

Trek type: Moderate to Difficult
Duration: 7 days (with a buffer day)

Winding in the Trails of Chandranahan Lake and Buran Ghati Pass

Himachal_Pradesh_Devbhoomi

The beauty of the Himalayas had already enchanted me, and the mountains reminded me of the expedition that engrossed me to Himachal Pradesh. The big day was here- a cab was waiting for me at Shimla with my other teammates for the trek. We left early in the morning for our Base Camp at Janglik village. The road was smooth till Rohru, but soon we were on the dirt road. The apple orchids cover the entire valley, and we learned a lot from our driver.

Winding in the Trails of Chandranahan Lake and Buran Ghati Pass

We reached the quaint village, inhabitant of the shepherds that boasts carpeted wildflowers, alpine forests and verdant grasslands. A lesser traversed trail for the adventurers to walk over high passes through Pabbar valley, frequently visited by local shepherds. Our team had 14 members guided by Hike in Himalaya and its associates.

Distance: 120km from Shimla to Jhanklik Village
Time: 8 hours

Day 01: Buffer Day at Janglik village

Jhanklik Village of Chandranahan Lake

The first day at Janglik village started with the glimpse of a beautiful sunrise, gradually covering the glares around the valley. Our teammates decided to take a buffer day before the expedition. So far, the journey was rough on the dirt road, reasonable to take a break at the village reminiscent of old, untouched by prelation. We utilised the day to bond among ourselves, sharing our previous trekking experiences.

trail to glimpse an ancient temple

We went through a narrow trail to glimpse an ancient temple, greeting locals with Namaste and trying a few fresh apples from their orchard. The beautiful huts with stone roofs surrounded by the backdrop of great Himalayan mountains make the entire place the fable. Shortly, we returned to the beautiful homestay for lunch and spent the remaining quality time walking around the village. 

Altitude: 9,400 feet

Day 02: Janglik Village to Dayara Thatch

Day 02: Jhanklik Village to Dayara Thatch

The whistle of our team leader indicated for us to be prepared and pack our belongings. We assembled in a circle introducing ourselves with a positive note of team leader. The most magnificent trail came alive by seducing eyes with wonders building our dreams. One can notice- the rapidly changing scenery after leaving the village as the trail climbs into an oak and pine forest. The walk into the dark, moist earth with a brown carpet of leaves takes time to soak the moment.

Almost an hour later, the view of the climbing meadows

Almost an hour later, the view of the climbing meadows and the dark shadowy tree line of the pines descends gradually with a pure blend of picturesque snow-capped mountains opposite the Pabbar valley complementing the view. We reached our tents to keep our rucksacks and roll around the beautiful Dayara Thatch.

Time: 5 hours
Altitude: 11,100 ft
Distance: 6 km
Trek type: Moderate

Day 03: Dayara Thatch to Litham

Dayara Thatch to Litham

A beautiful night with endless glittering stars was a wonderful feeling of the magic of being so calm and peaceful. Slowly, I moved inside my shelter and pulled up my sleeping bag to take a rest. Soon it was morning though the sun was yet to rise in the meadows. I moved out to witness the glamour as it soaks up the golden glow of the morning sun. After having breakfast as a great saviour, we gently ascended the trail, entering another clump of pine forest.

entering another clump of pine forest.

Across leaping the stream, we moved out of the pine forest and passed a curve to regain the sight of the snow-capped mountains of the Dhauladhar range and Gunas Pass. The scenery of the grasslands leading down from the trail folded to the first clear view of Litham. The trail dips to cross Chandranahan Lake stream before reaching the campsite worthwhile to settle down for the days.

Time: 4 hours
Altitude: 11,800 ft
Distance: 5 km
Trek type: Easy

Day 04: Excursion to Chandranahan Lake

Excursion to Chandranahan Lake

My heart was fluttering in anticipation of the great adventure of trekking to the lake and feel like being part of a big climbing expedition. Hike in Himalaya had already arranged breakfast before leaving the campsite. Chandranahan lake is a glacier tarn deep inside the alpine valley surrounded by snow flanked mountains. We continued upstream on a shepherd’s trail marked by stone cairns from where the stream emerges.

Chandranahan lake is a glacier tarn deep inside the alpine valley

It is a high moment for many trekkers to climb the top of the towering Pabbar waterfalls to get at the snout. We crossed almost five other alpine lakes that took about two hours to get to the final Chandranahan lake. The turns are arduous when you need to traverse loose boulders and muddy terrain that you trek most of this journey. We spent time near the lake, witnessing the sights of the setting before heading back to the steep descent to Litham. 

Time: 6-7 hours
Altitude: 14, 000 ft
Distance: 8 km
Trek type: Difficult

Day 05: Litham to Dhunda

Litham to Dhunda

Another refreshing morning in the meadows of Pabbar valley. We packed our backpacks after relishing breakfast. As of today, the trail will leave the green grasslands of Litham and loom over a monochrome setting of grey and white. It becomes extraordinary when the Pabbar River is no longer a gently descending stream.

The beauty of an alpine mountain zone

We crossed the virulent stream and continued to a sharper ascent until the trail got into a U shaped gorge valley to get the first view of the Buran Ghati. The most challenging part of the trek is to reach the top of the ridge following the shepherd trail. The beauty of an alpine mountain zone, Dhunda, can be enjoyed after the thrilling climb of around two hours.

first view of the Buran Ghati.

There is a clear view of Buran Ghati that takes us to a moment of the splendour of the Pass and the upcoming thrill. We enjoyed the dinner with the sunset as the temperature gradually dipped. Our team leader asked us to take as much rest as possible for the next day. 

Time: 6-7 hours
Altitude: 13,400 ft
Distance: 8 km
Trek type: Moderate

Day 06: Dhunda to Manirang via Buran Ghati Pass

Dhunda to Manerong via Buran Ghati Pass
Picture Courtesy: Hike in Himalaya

The campsite of Dhunda offers you the beauty of an alpine mountain zone among the best view with snow-capped mountains on all sides. It was already dark around, we grabbed our head torches to prepare ourselves for the pass. Our target was to reach the summit before the break of sunlight. We folded our tents and grasped our backpacks at 2 am in the night.

hopped over boulders for about three hours
Picture Courtesy: Biswajeet and Indradeep

The moon had already disappeared under the twinkling stars. We ascended the ridge and hopped over boulders for about three hours till the base of the pass at 15,000 feet. We encouraged each other along the trail for a successful summit and captured the memories of being a part of the celebration with team members. After a thrilling climb with the sun on the horizon, it was time to descend.

A narrow ledge with sharp steep on the left side
Picture Courtesy: Biswajeet and Indradeep

A narrow ledge with sharp steep on the left side was risky and took about 2 hours to get to the end. Soon we started to lose altitude, and it took us down a ridge with junipers and crested shrubs. Another hour to get to a stream that needs to be leapt over and stopped for lunch. The trail is remarkable for the variety in vegetation and diversity, is full of surprising changes in scenery that make it an absolute delight.

a lush green valley- beyond a vast range of mountains
Picture Courtesy: Biswajeet and Indradeep

As far as the eyes can see is a lush green valley- beyond a vast range of mountains the first farmer’s hut appear at Manirang. Hike in Himalaya and its associates had already pitched the tent for the night.  

Time: 8-9 hours
Altitude: via 15,000 ft to 9,000 feet
Distance: 9 km
Trek type: Difficult

Day 07: Manirang to Barua Village

Manerong to Barua Village

We celebrated our last night of the trek with a bonfire at night full of glittering stars. Surrounding the fire, we recalled all the beauties and difficulties we experienced during the whole expedition. The endearing folk songs from the locals made it memorable in the meadows of Manirang.

he endearing folk songs from the locals made it memorable in the meadows of Manerong.

The morning was waiting with a big surprise for us, the weather becoming bad as a huge black cloud started to surround us. The pass we crossed earlier, was covered with snow now, and hence we decided to move early and as quickly as possible to reach Barua village. The miracle of trail with variant nature and ardent pasture were carpeting the pathways.

The miracle of trail with variant nature and ardent pasture

We stick to the broader trail that descends rapidly through the high altitude pines to a large gushing stream. After two and half hours of walking, the first apple orchards and signs of society awaited us. It was a long descent through the village trail that came alive as the simple villagers were happy to see us.

the first apple orchards and signs of society awaited us

It pops out onto the road bridge over the Barua Khud in half an hour from the heart of the village. Hike in Himalaya had already arranged transport to drop us at the big Hydel Project of Karcham.

Time: 4-5 hours
Altitude: 6,700 feet
Distance: 6 km
Trek type: Easy

How to reach Janglik village?

How to reach Jhanklik village?

If you plan to use local transport to reach the Jhanklik village from Shimla, you move to Lakkar Bazar for buses to depart to Rohru. From Rohru you have to take another bus for Tangnu that leaves at 8 am, 1 pm and 4 pm. Tangnu is a small village which is 3 km away from Jhanklik village. You have to trek 45 minutes of descends through the broken iron bridge to cross the river with 30 mins of a steep hike to the Jhanklik village.

Contact:

Parvinder: 7018791443
Sanjay: 9816722069
Ranjeet: 7018103286

Special Thanks:

Team Hike in Himalaya- For sponsor

Ashish Negi- Team Leader
Parvinder- Founder Hike in Himalaya

Team Members:

Trek Team Members:

Sunil Kumar Tomar
Anand Singh
Sunil Yadav
Biswajeet
Indradeep
Aman
Manish G
Rohit
Riya

Trip to The Queen of Hill Stations- Shimla

Shimla the queen of hill stations India

A journey, after all, sets out an opportunity to discover the treasure of the day that never ends when we reach our doorsteps again. I left my true heart at the beautiful hill station in the foothills of the Himalayas with its trails to the backwoods of nature’s soul. The enigmatic glory of Shimla with evergreen forest, deep valleys, pleasant climate and colonial ambience- all consolidate to enfold the charm of its own. The splendours of nature with a wide range of attractions fascinate every tourist with its unique appeal form. When I planned to travel, it was tough for me to finalize the list of things to do in Shimla. So get set and gear up for an exciting trip to one of the most visited places near Delhi.

The enigmatic glory of Shimla with evergreen forest, deep valleys, pleasant climate and colonial ambience- all consolidate to enfold the charm of its own.

My tale of Himachal Pradesh starts from the capital city Shimla. When I arrived, the beautiful hill station welcomed and gave me the thrill of watching the mystical mountains with the fresh breeze. I felt found Nirvana! Fortunately, from Delhi, I got a window seat on the bus that allowed me to relish the beautiful scenes along the well-maintained road surrounded by green valleys. I decided not to book online rooms on this trip rather stay in hostels. Though there are very few hostels, I managed to find one. It was my first time staying in a capsule form of bunkers. The new exciting journey began with making a few new friends in the hostel that led to the memorable experience of the splendid natural beauty of Shimla. 

A Short Tale of Shimla

Shimla, also popularly known as The Queen of Hills, is the capital city of Himachal Pradesh.

Shimla, also popularly known as The Queen of Hills, is the capital city of Himachal Pradesh. The beautiful hill station is at the elevation of 7437feet above sea level in the hills of the Himachal region. It gets its name from Shyamala Mata, a divine avatar of Goddess Kali. The Tibetan script Arya Astha Sahasrikas Prajna Paramita of the 16th century boasts the ownership of a beautiful town. Later, the British founded it as the Summer Capital of India during its reign for its pleasant weather in summer. After independence, Shimla served as the capital of Punjab till the new state Himachal Pradesh came into existence.

Checklist of Things to Do in Shimla

Checklist of Things to Do in Shimla

Shimla is a perfect weekend getaway that offers more than elegant colonial buildings against backdrops of the Greater Himalayas. My itinerary for Shimla began with the ride of the UNESCO heritage toy train. It churns slowly up into mountains at winding tracks flanked by age-old trees seemingly playing hide and seek. The route is also famous for the popular Bollywood shooting location as Kashto maza song from Parineeta. It was fun to explore Shimla, the city of walkable distance, the village trails or stairs make the path shorter. As a popular Indian holiday destination, it provides a perfect break from the city with your travel plan, and I like to add a few things which may make your journey memorable.

Heritage walk around The Mall Road

Heritage walk around The Mall Road

Shimla boasts of preserving the charm of the old-world architecture in its original form. The Mall road is the main shopping street, makes popular for various tourists seeming for clubs, bars, eateries, shopping centres and some budget souvenir. It offers much more with its stories, legends and heritage equally exciting. Beginning with The Scandal Point, the famous narrative for its name has it that Maharaja of Patiala had an attachment with the daughter of Viceroy, eventually exiled from Shimla. 

The Mall road is the main shopping street, makes popular for various tourists seeming for clubs, bars, eateries, shopping centres and some budget souvenir.

Be prepared for the entranced by a pleasant colonial walk. Pass Christ Church fresco designed by the father of Rudyard Kipling on the ridge. The existence of General Post Office, 133-year-old, in the form of wild west Swiss-style is a souvenir. Walk past the grandeur century-old Gaiety Theatre, and you will feel the aura of its past. Take a break at the steps of The Town Hall now used by the Municipal Corporation of Shimla. Get a stopover at the neo-Gothic Gorton Castle built amid gigantic Deodars before you move to the ancient Kali Bari Temple.  

Well Preserved The Himachal State Museum

Well Preserved The Himachal State Museum

On the way, Mall Road to The Himachal State Museum, I spotted colonial architecture as Vidhan Sabha, the State Library and the spectacular Grand Oberoi Hotel. It is a pleasant walk of around 3kms. Formerly the enormous house of Himachal State Museum was the estate of the old Victorian mansion. The colonial building built in early 1860 was a small mud roofed house. Later in the 1970s, it was carefully altered to adapt to the museum surrounded by sprawling lawns. The museum aims to preserve the state’s culture and archaeological artefacts. 

the enormous house of Himachal State Museum was the estate of the old Victorian mansion.

The state museum has a decent collection of rare sculptures and beautiful paintings to old coins and exquisite handicrafts from all over the state and from other places. It is segmented into different galleries that present Indian archaeology, Himachal archaeology, Prehistoric objects, Wood Carvings, Monuments, Arms Gallery, Philatelic, Anthropological, Pahari Miniature Paintings, Contemporary Art, Wall Paintings Gallery and a lot on display. The unique section of the gallery is the collection of Himachali dolls displaying the costume of local people. 

Entry Fee: 

  • ₹ 10 per person for Indians
  • ₹ 50 per person for foreigners

Timing: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm; closed on Mondays

Viceregal Lodge Presently The Indian Institute of Advanced Study

Viceregal Lodge Presently The Indian Institute of Advanced Study

A historical mystique building, a marvellous work of Scottish architecture, is now a well-known Indian Research Centre. One of my roommates from the hostel recommended I should not miss this grand architecture of Shimla. I redirected my GPS from the museum to IIAS, displaying a short distance walk of 550 metres. It’s beautiful to explore on your feet as you can take a break to adore each moment. The sudden fog covering the street, rays oozing from leaf makes the enclosure a fairy tale.

GPS from the museum to IIAS, displaying a short distance walk of 550 metres

The prestigious edifice initially was the house of Viceroy Lord Dufferin of India during 1884 and 1888. Later in 1964, it was converted to a research centre by the former president of India, Dr S. Radhakrishnan. The perfect serenity, calm, and peace amidst the mesmerizing scenic beauty of the garden in a pristine environment encircle this centre. It hoasted many historical events as the resolution to separate Pakistan from India was taken here, and the conferences for Shimla Agreement 1947. It was sunset by the time I was about to leave the place. It was spectacular and a memorable one.

Entry Fee: 

  • ₹ 40 per person for Indians
  • ₹ 85 per person for foreigners
  • ₹ 20 per person for Garden Visit- additional

Timing: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm; Closed on Mondays

What and Where to eat?

Being a popular tourist place, Shimla has an endless lineup of restaurants and cafes. One of my favourite cafes was Wake and Bake having bright yellow shutters opposite Gaiety Theatre at Mall road. The cafe is friendly for budgeteers with a nice chilled out place to relax. I will suggest trying the cafes and restaurants at Mall Road that offers varieties of Indian cuisines. If you are looking for local Himachali cuisines to try, specialities are Sidhu- a sweet dish, Patandey made from a thin paste of wheat flour served with ghee, and then the Shimla apples are always favourite for tourists.

How to travel?

Picture Courtesy: travelling_with_bars_

The hill town is well-connected by highways from the different major cities of India as Delhi, Gurgaon, Chandigarh and other regions. There are frequent state and private buses on alternative book a private car or outstation cab from any of these cities for a road trip. The nearest railway station is Kalka station, where you have to take the single-gauge rail for Shimla. The airport is at Jubbarhatti- 22 kilometres from the main town. The interconnected local buses are available for short-distance travel within the city. I will highly recommend leaving the vehicle and exploring by leisurely walking.

Places to stay?

Places to stay in Shimla
Picture Courtesy: Google

As a solo budgeteer traveller, I always look for the options of hostels or dorms and suggest the same if you like to interact with new people, make new friends and be comfortable with sharing your space with others. I stayed at a hostel near Altruist Technologies Pvt Ltd- difficult to find as it is not on google map. You may surf online to check competitive prices and call directly for cheaper rates. There are many agents on the road who will try to hitch you, be careful with them. It’s safe to have some well-done research before reaching the place. 

Exploring the Hills of Himachal Pradesh- Devbhoomi

Himachal_Pradesh_Devbhoomi

The scenic beauty of the state endures from the Shivalik range to the Greater Himalayas. The green meadows, shining rivers, broad valleys, ethnic culture, legendary rituals and thrilling peaks offer Himachal Pradesh a fabulous travel destination. The state is popularly known as Devbhoomi Himachal- The Land of Gods with the context of its spectacular landscape emphasises its essence. The gift of the natural bounty is the merge of religious significance and the origin of mythological legends. The diversity of nature and picturesque mountains is why Himachal Pradesh is the beautiful state of India. 

Why visit Himachal Pradesh?

Why visit Himachal Pradesh?

The abode boasting landscape of Himachal Pradesh also has many hidden treasures and unexplored places. There is so much to explore that every place provides you with a unique experience. Its various hill stations are magical and perpetually dressed that can fascinate any tourist. It makes Himachal Prades a destination for all seasons and all reasons. It extends a wide range of tourism potential, ranging from a family holiday to adventure, sightseeing, pilgrimage, to an escape from the busy city life, for a rejuvenating experience. Its appealing topography provides an immense number of destinations grim to keep track of and for the traveller to cover it in its entirety.

Exploring Devbhoomi- Himachal Pradesh

Exploring Devbhoomi- Himachal Pradesh

My journey to Himachal Pradesh was all of a sudden, special thanks to Hike in Himalaya for sponsoring my trek of Chandrananhan Lake and Buran Ghati Pass. It was a thrilling experience of watching unexposed nature for a lifetime attainment. I concluded without wasting any second to pack my rucksack with all necessary items and left for Delhi from Howrah Railway station. Mountains were calling for a while now and trekking always excited me. Though, the certain anxiety for travelling to a new place always makes me nervous. The magic spell of the place with friendly locals always makes the journey smooth and memorable.

Shimla

Shimla Queen of hill stations in Himachal Pradesh

The charming hill town with colonial buildings against the backdrop of the Himalayas has enjoyed the status of most visited travel destination. First, in the 1800s, the Britishers arrived and noticed pleasant summers and snow-covered winters that shaped Shimla as their favourite weekend getaway. Later they declared it as the summer capital of India. It is popularly known as Queen of North hill stations as the beauty of this place still charms as it was centuries ago. It is the perfect desired destination for all kinds of vacations. The hill town keeps its quaint exterior, grand architecture, elegant temples and remarkable churches as enchanting beauty. The fabulous shops around the streets with plenty of cafeterias provide a space to chill out.

Chandranahan Lake and Buran Ghati Pass Trek

Chandranahan Lake and Buran Ghati Pass Trek Himachal Pradesh

Chandranahan lake and Buran Ghati Pass landscape is paradise on the Earth. Its offbeat trek starts along the Pabbar river tucked in meadows with an alpine zone. The lake is the source of the Pabbar river for the inhabitants of the valley relatively unexplored. It is mythological and highly revered by devotees who consider it the sacred abode of Goddess Kali. Trek exposes the landscapes walking through a mountain range and undulated meadows with a pure blend of contrasting campsites. The serene essence of pure air and the hum of fast-flowing brooks treats nature’s music with a blending of picturesque snow-capped mountains in the backdrop.

To book your trek Contact Hike in Himalaya @ 9805203783/9816722069

Manali

Manali hill station in Himachal Pradesh

Manali is a beautiful terminus of mountains with spell-binding views, charming streams and the fairy-tale-like fog surrounding the town. Valley of Gods is a paradise for mountain lovers surrounded by little hidden cottages, a lingering fragrance of pines and freshness on the banks of Beas River. The place is a charm in itself, and the local people append enchanting to its eminence with marvellous glamour. Old Manali give lots of option for party lovers is the most active place. Temples, hot springs, some of the highest mountain passes in the World, rich culture, adventure sports like paragliding, skiing, river rafting and others make Manali remarkable. 

How To Reach?

How to reach Himachal Pradesh

There are plenty of options to reach Himachal Pradesh as several private and government buses- HRTC ply from Delhi for various regions. Even government buses have options of Volvo A/C and Non-A/C for your journey. I booked a seat at the HRTC bus service, which was a comfortable ride to Shimla. Local and private buses connect the other regions of Himachal Pradesh at a reasonable price. If you love to ride in the valleys, you may rent a bike from the major places of the state as Shimla, Manali and Kasol. 

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10 Things to do in Nagaland

Hornbill festival is organized every year by Nagaland

Welcome to the Land of the great Nagas – Nagaland, a place that figures very rarely on anyone’s bucket list or travel itinerary. The land of the sixteen esteemed and proud indigenous tribes in the far north-eastern edge of the Indian sub-continent, this hidden haven is surrounded by lush, rugged mountains stretching from the Brahmaputra valley in Assam till the Patkai Range that border Myanmar. The intense flora of the area allows beautiful species of birds to flock and flourish. But there is more to Nagaland than meets the eye. Here are some interesting suggestions of the things to do when you are travelling to Nagaland next:

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Reconnect with the Head-Hunting Tribes.

the Naga local tribes give you a lesson for the preservation of forests.

Nagaland is a land of 16 main tribes and painted with a rich history and generations of traditions. Tribe and Clan loyalty is an important virtue of the people. One of these tribes is the Konyak tribe. What sets them apart is the history of fierce headhunting. They would go to war with rival tribes and bring back severed heads of the enemies as trophies. There was a time when human skulls adorned the doorways of the huts of the headhunter tribe, and the number of skulls would prove the power of the warrior. The present-day Konyaks are very proud of their warrior traditions, which live on in the form of war dances and the skulls of the enemies that are unearthed to be displayed as testimonies to the recent past.

Fun Facts: The culture of headhunting was practised till the 1960s when the Indian Government banned this practice.
Location: Mon Village.

You may also like: Travelling to Headhunter Basti – Mon

Take a stroll to Traditional villages

Ungma village of Nagaland the traditional Naga Village

When it comes to rural tourism, the villages in Nagaland stand out from the rest. Villages such as Khonoma Green Village, Naga Heritage Village, Mt.Pauna Tourist Village, Keltomi Village, Naga Heritage Village, and Dieziphe Village are some attractions brimming with fresh and clean air, calm and peaceful atmosphere and showcases rituals and traditions passed from generation to generations. No matter where ever you are, travel to the local villages will rejuvenate you, and the place will hold a special spot in your heart.

Fun facts: Mithun is known as the state animal as it is ritually the crucial species among the villagers.
Location: Khonoma Green Village, Naga Heritage Village, Mt.Pauna Tourist Village, Keltomi Village, Naga Heritage Village, Dieziphe Village, and many more.

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Stay close to nature

Travelling to The Land of Nagas “Nagaland”

Everyone nowadays talks about how green and beautiful the Northeastern states are; well, it’s absolutely true. But Nagaland has a (green) league of its own. Filled with treacherous hills, home to several species of mammals and birds, deep valleys, and picturesque terrains are some of the attractions that will take you on a journey of a lifetime. The capital of Nagaland, Kohima, in all probability, is one the most charming nature spots to visit in this state. Even though this place is commercialized, Kohima has not lost its beauty and its connection with nature. Other than this, spots such as Wokha, Meluri, Kiphire, and Peren are some of the other locations with plenty of scenic views, which are perfect for anyone looking for the perfect getaway.

Fun Facts: Kohima is known as the “Stalingrad of the East” as it was the site that experienced one of the bloodiest battles of World War II.
Location: lies 30 miles southeast of the railroad at Dimapur. 

You may also like: Exploring Beautiful Kohima

Trek to Dzukou Valley

It’s not just about travelling unless it is full of adventure. So come along with me to the streams of Dzukou valley trek, the best trekking route in Nagaland

Known as the “valley of flowers,” Dzukou Valley is a famous trekking spot that highlights the ravished scenic bliss adorned by Northeast India. Nestled at the height of 2,452 meters, the Dzukou Valley trek boasts of the incredibly tall and slender rolling hills, the lush towers of tropical forests, and jewel-blue streams. An unexplored gem for quite a long time, Dzukou Valley is not known by many foreign travellers. Hence it is less crowded compared to any other Northeast state. This fun-filled trek can be experienced by any backpacker as it is one of the easiest trekking sites in India.

Fun Facts: Dzuko Lily, a rare flower species, can be found in these valleys during monsoon.
Location: Viswema.

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Be a part of the Colourful festivals

Hornbill festival is organized every year by Nagaland

Nagaland is known as the “Land of festivals.” Rich in stories and folklore, Nagaland is home to numerous tribes which have their own set of cultures and heritage. No matter what time of the year it is, the locals love to get along and celebrate one or two festivals with great enthusiasm and joy.  Amongst the various festivals, the Hornbill festival stands out as the most important festival of Nagaland. Celebrated in the month of December, this festival is celebrated to revive, sustain and protect the richness of the Naga heritage and tradition.  Other than this, festivals such as Mimkut, Bushu, Yemshe, Miu, and many more festivals are celebrated with enthusiasm and fervour in this part of the country.

Fun facts: Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated the Hornbill festival in the year 2014.
Location: Hornbill festival- Kisma, near Kohima.

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Explore a variety of foods

Naga loves and relishes all kinds of meat in their everyday meal. A typical meal consists of rice and meat washed down with local rice beer known as Zu. Nagas have a number of local meat preparations which are unique and lip-smacking. Meat preparation such as Nashishi(beef with the bamboo shoot), Tabathyu(meat stew), and Chu Hu Tathu (dry meat chutney) are some of the famous delicacies every meat lover should try when in Nagaland.  Other than this, locals have a special love for fermented soya bean known as Akhuni, which is served with warm rice.

Fun Facts: The practice of dry-ageing meat is still practised in most houses to date.
Location: local eateries in Dimapur.

Shop souvenirs for your loved ones

Shop souvenirs from Nagaland for your loved ones

Many tribes of Nagaland are gifted with the skills of rich artistic and craftsmanship. The art of weaving unique pieces of clothes, embroidery of the famous Angami Naga shawls, wood carvings, tribal ornaments, and a lot more are some of the famous examples which showcase the craftsmanship that the locals pose. These beautiful souvenirs can be bought from local emporiums around Nagaland, where you can shop an endless number of souvenirs for your close ones. Other than this, people can shop the latest fashion trends as many shops offer a variety of merchandise that you can resist yourself from buying. 

Fun facts: Clothes made in Nagaland are mostly made of pure cotton as cotton is grown in plenty in this part of the country.
Location: Local markets in Mokokchung, Mon, Wokha, and Zunheboto.

Taste the hottest chilli of the World

Image Source: Wikipedia

Most of the delicacies made by the locals use a pepper named “Naga Jolokia” or Ghost pepper which is considered as one of the world’s hottest chilly.  Commonly known as BhootJolokia, Nagaland is one of the states in the Northeast that grow these rare spices of chilli. According to records, the Ghost pepper is about 400 times hotter than the famous Tabasco sauce. Other than fiery dishes, the Ghost pepper is a part of the biggest festival celebrated in Nagaland. During the Hornbill Festival, a unique competition named “Raw Naga king chilly eating competition” is conducted by the organizers, where competitors from around the world come and munch on these beasts to win the ultimate prize.

Fun facts: In the year 2007, BhootJolokia was termed as the hottest in the world by the Guianese book of world records.

Make New Friends

The people of Nagaland are simple, caring, and fun-loving in nature. Backpackers who have already travelled to the land of Naga’s have all agreed to the fact that the hospitality shown by the locals is unparalleled compared to other states of India. No matter what class they belong to, Naga’s love to welcome new guests to their homes and would never let anyone leave without a cup of tea. It is said that friendships and relations made in Nagaland last for a lifetime. That is the aura that the people of Nagaland hold.

Fun facts: People of Nagaland aren’t safe to interact with is a big myth. Travelling to Nagaland is safe as travelling in any other part of the country. They will welcome you with open arms.

Give your grievances to World War II Heroes

World War II cemetery is on the slopes of Garrison hill used to be the residence of District Commissioner which was then turned into a battlefield and later into a memorial.

 In the year 1944, to mark the deaths of the soldiers who had lost their lives in the Second World War, a war cemetery was built for the martyrs of the country in Kohima. This is a great spot for history buffs as this place speaks about the history of the great WW2. A visit to Kohima war cemetery is a must as it is a matter of pride as due to the heroics and bravery of these men, our present is peaceful.  

Fun facts: In the year 2005 marked the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. A memorial service was held at the cemetery, which was attended by 41 members of the Royal British Legion.
Location: Kohima.

So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and set out to explore Nagaland today.

For the latest Covid related travel protocols and complete assistance for your itinerary, get in touch with our travel experts today. 

Exploring The Temple City- Madurai

The famous ancient temples around the state, chronicle its demeanour of being the oldest civilization.

The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.

– Samuel Johnson

The quaint inheritance of Madurai beckoned me to one of the ancient cities of India. The presence of classical buildings and national heritage sites has kept the city in the global limelight. The next destination of my journey to Tamil Nadu enamoured as if the pages of the history textbook are unfolding.

The glorious past of temples and other monuments depicts the rich cultural heritage of the region. Madurai city ensures the best travelling experience for its travellers and tourists to cherish for a lifetime. Food lovers can also enjoy the popular South Indian cuisines on the traditional banana leaves with the naive and delicious taste of recipes. 

Picture Courtesy: Google

An abrupt lurch woke me up! The certain bustling with people packing their luggage apprised me the last stoppage of the train is here. A trip to Blend of The French Colony ended with a grand celebration of a Christmas party. I left Pondicherry for Villupuram railway station by government bus which took two hours.

Picture Courtesy: Google

My train was scheduled to arrive by 12 am-midnight and reach Madurai by 5 am. The sky was dark and the pleasant weather of the city embarked outside Madurai railway station. I reserved an auto from the online app for the hostel which was pre-booked. A glance at one of the ancient cities of India took me back to the moment of that era with its meticulously designed architectures. 

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Short History of Madurai

Madurai has a long and interesting history depicted as the ancient city in old texts and the writings of Kautilya as well as by Megasthenes – the Greek ambassador in the Mauryan court. The city was a flourishing empire during the rules of the Nayakkar dynasty in the 17th century. The magnificent constructions of the era portray the heritage and culture- the national landmarks of global fame. In 1801, Madurai came under the direct administration of the British East India Company and evolved as a political and industrial network through the 20th century. 

Things To Do in Madurai

The city is relatively small which can be covered easily by local transport. However, there are some destinations on the outskirts, so it is advisable to hire a cab or auto. The oldest cities of India have always inspired me to perceive the cultural and historical aspects of our nation. I got my first chance in 2017 to visit Varanasi and now at Madurai in 2020. The age-old traditions and modernity co-exist peacefully in these cities. The ancient temples of Madurai reflect the Dravidian style of architecture is a hub for religious and cultural tourism. The shopping in Madurai is more exciting as there are some of the best local places for all the shopaholics out there!

Jain Cave- Samanar Malai

A quick power nap rejuvenated me for my long-day plan to explore Temple City- Madurai. I moved to a restaurant around 50 years old near my hostel and was fascinated by the way they served on a banana leave. A delicious breakfast in a traditional style is a part of my experience.

Next, I hired an auto for Samanar Malai at Keelakuyilkudi village which is about 12 km away. A breathtaking view of Samanar Hill is tucked away from the bustling city. It offers an exceptional sight of the blend of nature and history. A sensation of adventure dynamized me as there is a climb of around 300 steps involved to reach the top.

Samanar hill is closely associated with Jainism which flourished here during ancient times dating back to the 1st century AD. Several caves in these hills are found in 2000-year-old Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions as well as Vatteluttu writings and carvings. There are a lot of flat rocks and stone beds that could have been used by the Jain monks to take rest. 

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Gandhi Memorial Museum

Following the repository of information about Jainism and trekking to the top of the hill, I moved to my next spot. I asked my auto driver to drop me off at the Gandhi Memorial Museum as my last ride. I was looking to spend more time at the museum which offers a glimpse into the aspects of Mahatma Gandhi in Tamil Nadu.

The holy city of Madurai inspired him to propagate Indian clothes among other significant purposes. There are various sections in the museum each presenting a peek into the life of Mahatma Gandhi. The serene location of the museum also includes Gandhis’ Kutir which is constructed as a replica of the original hut in Sevagram. 

The historical building of Gandhi Memorial Museum used to be the palace of Rani Mangammal of the Nayakkarya dynasty. Among the other exhibits of the Museum is the blood-stained garment worn by Gandhiji when he was assassinated by Nathuram Godse. 

Timing: The museum opens in the morning from 10 am to 1 pm and in the evening from 2 pm to 5:45 pm. It remains closed on Friday. 

Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal

A giant leap from the life of Gandhiji it was time to move forth for my next stop. I booked a bike from the online app for the palace of a well-known king, Thirumalai of the Nayakkar dynasty. The famous Stucco artwork on its domes and impressive arches is a marvel of Indo-Saracenic architectural style. Among other attractive features are the massive white pillars that run along with the courtyard.

There is a small museum in the palace having a collection of ruins featuring Hindu gods and goddesses. The artwork on the stones dating back to the 1st century AD is spectacular to witness the heritage of India. The most amazing part of the palace is the light show which narrates the story of the great King, Thirumalai and the fortunes of the palace.

The palace was built in the 17th century, fabricated by King Tirumalai Nayaka as the grandest palace in South India. Unfortunately with lots of raids and finally stripped by his grandson to one-fourth of the propositions led to the present state. It was further restored in 1866 by Governor of Madras- Lord Napier, creating a masterpiece to survive as one of the best architectures. 

Timing: The palace opens its gate for tourists from 9 AM to 5 PM on all days of the week. The light show starts at 6:45 pm in English and 8:00 pm in Tamil. 

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Meenakshi Amman Temple

A new day in the city of Madurai began with divine energy to visit the oldest temple of India. I intended to spend an entire day to feel its intricacy of sanctity, history, and exquisite craftsmanship. The first thing that caught me was its colourful towers covered in ornate carvings. The colour, the details and the dominating demeanour make it a marvellous temple.

Picture Courtesy: Wikipedia

It was amusing to walk around the tiny lanes lined with shops to reach the Meenakshi Temple. There are four main gates to enter the complex, each facing the geometric directions. (You are not allowed to take any electronic gadgets inside the complex). The temple is blended by many shrines, 14 magnificent Gopurams, the Thousand Pillar Hall decorated with intricate carvings and sculptures. 

Picture Courtesy: Wikipedia

The Dravidian style temple, dating back more than 3500 years old is dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi, which affirms mention in the texts. The present structure is said to be built in the 14th century AD by Thirumalai Nayak. Deities and mythical creatures depicting different tales are carved in each Gopuram. 

Timing: The temple opens for visitors from 5 am – 12 pm and in the evening from 4 pm – 10 pm.  

Banana Market

With the feeling of the blessing of a delightful and divine Goddess, Meenakshi was time to move out and explore the market around. I headed towards Prithu Mandapam Market at the eastern gate of the temple to fill my bag with gifts for family members and friends. Soon I reached the city’s famed market that sells Banana of more than 16 varieties at wholesale! When I reached the market,

I spotted the workers unloading several plantains of banana bunched together inside shops. They displayed them in the same clustered form. I was pleased to taste a few bananas that were different from each other in taste, size and quality. It was a fascinating experience to observe the various activities of the marketplace right from loading to unloading of bananas.

St. Mary’s Cathedral Church

The city is relatively small which can be efficiently reached on foot. I stopped for lunch at the local restaurant to explore the cuisine of Madurai. I travelled towards another charm of the city, St. Mary’s Cathedral Church, which was built in the Roman-Gothic style. The facade of white and blue lining with two boasting 42 feet bell towers make it a fascinating architecture.

The intriguing interior of the church is counted amongst the most awe-striking attraction. The quaint ambience and pristine aura address the tranquillity of the church. The colourful shadows formed by the light of the sun penetrating the beautiful stained glass serves as an impressive artwork.

St. Mary’s Cathedral Church is one of the oldest shrines in Madurai which was built in the year 1840. It was built by Fr. Joseph Bertrand who was one of the four pioneers of the New Madurai Mission in 1841. Later, in 1912, a new church was planned in Gothic Style to make it more spacious. 

Timing: The church which requires almost an hour to explore the place opens for the visitor from 7 am to 7 pm. The best time to visit is during the festive season when it is majestically decorated. 

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Travel Guide to The Blend of French Colony

Pondicherry also known as Puducherry

The charming seaside town, Pondichery, is one of the Union Territories of India. Three main reasons made me unanimously select Pondicherry (Pudducherry) as my first stop. First, the serenity and harmony of the town with the blend of French Colonies-impressions, I was looking for a long time. It is a small town that you can reach the entire city within two days. But I extended it for my second purpose that was to celebrate Christmas at this town. One of my utmost desire for Pondicherry trip was to explore the old forts and hidden beaches. 

Auroville sea beach of Puducherry

The new journey hoisted me after a long train journey from Kolkata to Chennai. I left the hostel early morning for the CMBT Bus Terminus of Tamil Nadu. A remarkable bus terminus as grand as the airport with all facilities such as marked signboards, clean platforms and a long waiting lounge held me spellbound. It was easy to find a bus to Pondicherry, and I was on the way by 7 am. First time in my life, I discerned a bus with a bio-washroom facility. The roads are well maintained, it took only 3 hours to reach the destination. The journey was enduring with fresh sea-breeze, the lush green scenic view and stone monuments, will not disappoint you.  

A Short Tale of Pondicherry

travel Pondicherry by road

A Greco-Roman periplus depicts navigation and trading opportunities with other coasts and mentions of one marketplace named Poduke or Poduca. The ruin of Roman architecture which is a few kilometres from the city attests that it was an important trade point for spices since the 1st century A.D. The different southern dynasties had ruled the land, the sturdy rule of the great Empire Vijayanagara was the last Southern dynasty till 1638. In 1674 the second French Colony was established at Pondicherry after Surat. Eventually, this outpost became the chief French settlement in India. A treaty of cession united the bureaucracy of two countries to organize Pondicherry as a Union Territory of India in 1963.

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My Checklist of Things to Do in Pondicherry

Pomegranate beach Puducherry

I was missing mountains on this trip, feeling a moment of uncomfortable to stroll around the towns on plains. But the serene and calm places have always attracted me. These led me to the first halt of Exploring Cape Comorin- The Tamil Nadu was Pondicherry. I planned to explore the tourist spots around the outskirts of the town. The route to peaceful beaches and crumbling forts makes the planning an awesome-sauce trip. One of the other reasons to be in Pondicherry was to look for the places in my favourite movie Life of Pi. This movie has long back pulled me of its charms. Indeed it is a place to spend your vacation as the town appears further elegant at the nights of Christmas.

Alamparai Fort

Alamparai fort Puducherry

I checked in a hostel at a walkable distance from The White Town and the cheapest way to stay here for a long period. For the first day, I planned to rent a bike and cover a longer distance. A newly made friend, my roommate, was also interested to accompany me. It is always good to have a new companion, a fresh beginning of a journey.

hovering sea gulls

It took us around one hour with small halts along the way to reach the fort. A fisherman took us in his small raft to the other part of the beach. An ancient dockyard weaved with a historical fort and clean white beaches with seagulls hovering around made a gratifying experience for me about the place. 

Mughal era fort Pondicherry

It was constructed on the Coromandel coast in the 18th century during the Mughal era. It had served as dockyard since ancient times till the Mughal Era. The docks of Coromandel coast used to export spices, Zari clothes, salt and ghee. Later it was given to French, sooner in 1768 British captured it and turned into the ruins. It has witnessed war, earthquakes, tsunami and eternal sea-waves.

raft beside fort

Now, it is decaying, and slowly its bricks are dissolving in the mighty sea. On the beachfront fishermen park their boats and assist tourists in a boating experience around it. This abandoned Fort stands as a testimony to the emigrating nature of quarrelsome empires. 

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How to reach?

The Fort is almost 50kms from Pondicherry and well accessed by roads. You may hire a bike or a taxi to reach the destination. We followed GPS to reach the place which is well-marked on the map. 

Sunrise from Rock Beach

sunrise from rock beach Pondicherry

I rented a sports bicycle for the next two days as transport for the local tour. It is the cheapest way to travel in and around the town. The plan was to start early in the morning to explore the charming town and its hidden beaches. Next day, I woke up early before my scheduled alarm, as the certain charm of sunrise has always shoved me.

Pigeons at Pondicherry

I left an hour earlier from the hostel and was well ahead of schedule to stroll on other beaches. The darkness around the seaside street was gleaming with the street lamps. The people had already gathered around for morning walk and jogging with the flock of pigeons looking for their fodder.

Gandhi memorial at Puducherry

Slowly, I moved to Rock Beach with paying tributes to Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru memorials. The beach is around the famous White Town filled with bright mustard and white house, pebbled street and cafes. I placed myself perfectly for the sunrise, soon the wait was over of watching the sun rising from the horizon was a sensational moment. 

Blend of French Architectures- The White Town

French Colony in India

The famous attraction of Pondicherry is White Town has the gorgeous colonial villas having vibrant yellow walls with oil lamps and leafy streets. I enjoyed just walking around the cobbled lanes alongside the dynamic blue street signs beginning with Rue. Trying to remember the names of French streets was difficult. I ditched my GPS and started having fun to move along the lanes.

Tamil quarter of INTACH

A few French Quarters have been turned into heritage hotels, cafes and art galleries. A long walk made me hungry, so I stopped for my breakfast at the quirky cafe to savour a fresh Capuchino and Garlic Bread. It is a pretty special place that intertwined the thread of India with the past of French legacy. 

Pondy streets

The architectural character of the town with traditionally styled houses form the unique and distinctive streetscape. I stopped at one of the heritage building, a beautiful Tamil House restored as INTACH office in Pondicherry. The house has well documented with information about the restoration of the old world charm of the beautiful Tamil quarters and French colonies. 

Serenity Beach

Serenity beach Pondicherry

The chaste-shoreline of the beach plays hide and seek with the shimmering waves of the Bay of Bengal. I sprang on my cycle and set GPS for Serenity Beach with an endeavour to see for less crowded places. Along the way, I caught a glimpse of the town- antique shops decorated with vintage lines, beautiful rangolis around the grand temples and incredible Gothic styled churches beside beautiful lawns.

sea wave at Serenity beach

Soon I left behind the busy streets of the main town and entered the village dotted with coconut trees. The golden sand lapped with peaceful surrounding is the best compliment for the name ‘Serenity’.  The panoramic view of the beach- fishing boats lined up, fishermen sewing and preparing their nets for the catch of the day left me to spell bounded.

Surfing in India

The waves on the shore are also appreciated for its water sports activity like surfing. If you are looking for the surfing course, you may contact the trainer for special classes they arrange for tourists. The sturdier rock lanes constructed to some distance within the sea is the most relaxing place to spend an afternoon. 

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Auroville and The Matrimandir

Matrimandir at Auroville

A universal town where people from all countries can live a life in peace and harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. It was founded by a spiritual guru Mirra Alfassa in 1968 and designed by architect Roger Anger. The purpose of the ashram is to realize the unity of the human.

Universal town in India

I hired a bike for a day tour at experimental town Auroville Ashram and the mighty golden globe of Matrimandir. The town is located in Viluppuram district, mainly in the state of Tamil Nadu with some parts in Puducherry. It is around 15kms from the White Town that took me 30mins to reach the place. The road to Auroville is much quieter and perfect to ride on. 

Auroville ashram

The first stop of a day trip was The Tourist Information Centre with a small museum and an exhibition. It gives lots of information on Auroville and, in particular, the Matrimandir which is in the middle of the community. It is around a mile from the visitor centre with nice and shaded walk marked by lots of signs and plaques relating to the township.

Arikamedu- The Roman Trade Centre

Roman Trade centre in India

The ancient Roman archaeological site gives an unforgettable experience by taking you back to 2nd Century BC. According to archaeologists, the excavated site inhabited by Tamil fishing villagers was formerly the major port dedicated for trading with Romans by Chola dynasty.

Ruins of Arikamedu

I decided to take a ride of 8kms by cycle for the site that goes through a lane of typical South Indian village filled with charm. Along the way, I was grasped by the sight of the bright colour houses with beautifully depicted rangolis on the doorsteps, children playing hopscotch on the streets and granny combing the hair of younger members.

Arikamedu Pondicherry

Almost at the end of the village, a dirt road leads to the unique excavation site. It is most difficult to cycling on the sand though it was a short distance it took more time for me. I parked it outside the gate, and first, to the ruins, I heeded two entrance pillars which are almost disintegrating against the ravages of nature.

2nd century BC Roman ruin in India

Then I moved towards the five arched doorway house, something most interesting in the wall was the huge sizes of bricks used to build. The site is under the protection of ASI, I hope a few more developments will attract the possibilities of tourists.

Veerampattinam Beach

Veerampattinam Beach

I was back in the lanes of the village having over 1000 years of recorded history. It has the pretty lengthy sea beach surrounded by extensive Palm Groves adding sublimity to the scenic beauty. It took almost 20 minutes to ride from Arikamedu for the beautiful and clean beach. The fresh breeze of Bay of Bengal lofted me to relax on the sand and enjoy the view.

Fishermen at Veerampattinam Beach

It was busy with the activities of the fishermen fixing their boats, elderly and young people working together preparing fishing nets. I moved along the shore and noticed a few fishing boats were returning from their rough journey with treasures along.

Veerampattinam Beach Pondicherry

The waves hitting the shore was so calm and time flew so quickly that I found the sun was at horizon. I moved back for my bi-cycle to make the journey back to the hostel. The peaceful day on the beach along with enjoying the lifestyle of fishermen is the speculum to our incredible India.

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How to travel nearby Pondicherry?

Bi-cycle tour Pondicherry

Pondicherry town is well accessed by local transports and its connectivity to other destinations. I planned to rent a bike and bi-cycle for my standard budget tour. If you are looking to travel in leisure then you may rent a car or hire an easily available taxi. Tuk-tuks and a few small vans are also available in the town.

Exploring Cape Comorin- The Tamil Nadu

tamil_nadu

My undaunted journey as a solo traveller had guided me to a few distant places in India. The experience of theses places is adventurous as well as charming. The journey of 2020 would have been fragmentary without a visit to the parts of Southern India. The oldest civilization of India attracted me to explore its culture and be a part of its heritage. I made a few adjustments and an ad hoc plan for Tamil Nadu. I had pre-booked my accommodations to make sure there is no issue of stay and budget. Though there were some challenges of which I was concerned, but the local people made it easy. 

Why visit Tamil Nadu?

The beautiful Indian state fascinated me with its gorgeous beaches girdled with natural splendours. The hidden beaches are pristine as they are clean, embarrass infinite sea, have pretty sunsets, and solitude. The famous ancient temples around the state, chronicle its demeanour of being the oldest civilization. The rock-carved pillars of Mandapam establish the skill of the artists and their artworks which make these temples unbelievable. The state is rich in historical sites that imply it has no shortage of natural resources and wildlife. It is home to dense forestland and a protected mountain range lauded for its biodiversity. The landscape of palm and banana plantations with rice fields, forest-clad of wildlife-prowled from the Western Ghats is all packed into a state that distinct from the rest of India. 

My Journey to Explore Cape Comorin

The charm of the state is often overlooked compared to other South Indian states. I had no prior travel arrangements for the trip and so planned to use local transport to explore. The long journey of twenty-six hours from Kolkata gave a glimpse of the natural resources of the state. I booked a hostel in Chennai for a night stay, the best price to stay in cheap. After, a long wait, my taste buds ultimately found the authentic South Indian dish in dinner. Chennai indeed is a splendour city, but I had planned to leave for Pondicherry, the next day. I was back to the hostel, preparing myself for my upcoming journey with too many ifs and buts, then slept with too many circumspect. 

Pondicherry

The next morning, suddenly I was feeling pumped-up and left early morning. My first destination was a small Union Territory almost 160kms from Chennai. Pondicherry got its independence from the French Government in 1959, the last colonial rule in India. You can still find it retains of French vivacity at the architectures around the city. The beautiful beaches, snuggling colourful constructions and a fusion of delicious French and Indian dishes make it a charming seaside town. The pleasant sunrise from its beaches with French cafes serving fresh coffee and snacks are the most remarkable moments of my life. Earlier in my semi-planned trip, I had determined to celebrate Christmas in this elegant town. The streets brightened up with colourful LED lights and the prayers at Churches to begin the celebration is illustrious. 

Madurai

My next destination was one of the oldest city of India dating back to 3500 years. The city has been exalted in ancient manuscripts of Kautilya, Greek ambassador- Megasthenes and others. Madurai have faced invasions from ancient times, but the city has rebuilt itself again and again. The pleasant weather was a perfect day to start exploring the city famous for its temples. The temples meticulously designed with intricate decoration will surely draw gasps of awe. The buzzing marketplace of the city is also famous for its silk and bronze handicrafts. It is overwhelmed with a museum dedicated to our Father of Nation Mahatma Gandhi. The experience at Madurai had left an incredible mark on the quaint town different from other hustling and bustling cities. 

Kanyakumari

The next destination of the trip was the Southernmost tip of India. The small town, surrounded by three water bodies- Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean and Arabic sea has a spectacular view. The waves hitting the rocky beaches and eye-catching sunset on the horizon with moonrise on the other end mesmerizes. Kanyakumari is a picturesque landscape and small vendors peddling across the streets with a variety of sea-shell products will surely grab your attention. There are plenty of options to explore the local dishes that give choices for veggies and non-veggies both. One of the main attractions of Kanyakumari is the 133 feet high statue of Great Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar. My delightful memories have escapades that might help you to select a better destination for the trip. 

How to travel?

Image Source: Google

The destinations of Tamil Nadu are well-accessed by roads, railways and airports. The local transports make it easier and cheaper for budget travellers. Many cities and towns have the services of Ola, Uber and Rapido as alternatives. The railways operating in Southern India makes the journey even smoother. The cleanest coaches I ever witnessed with helpful staff at every railway stations and hardly running late gave me redemption. 

Trekking in the Mountains of Singalila Ridge

Sandakphu Trek

The mighty ranges of the Himalayas in the North of West Bengal offer the phenomenal viewpoints, to begin with, one of the most classical adventure treks. Darjeeling Singalila Ridge is in the middle of Eden, as you cross from one ridge to another through a narrow trail. The uninterrupted view of all-encompassing snow-topped mountains with the family of Mt. Kanchenjunga including Mount Everest makes the landscape unique and renders loveable experience.

The small trails apart from the road are better routes for a trek from Manebhanjan.
The small trails apart from the road are better routes for a trek from Mane Bhanjang.

If you find happiness in messy hair, dirty feet and chilled water falling on your skin, then you can wander and wonder at the same time! Trekking is the most inspired activity for nature lovers as the trekking sites allow you to witness the best form of nature. The fascinating aspect of this trek is to reach the summit, Sandakphu, by crossing the India-Nepal border a dozen of times. The love and affection of local people are similar for their guests irrespective of their origin. 

Best Time To Visit:

A monk in Chitrey, route from Manebhanjan to Tumling
A monk in Chitrey, route from Manebhanjan to Tumling

Best time to trek is throughout the year except during the monsoon. March and April is the best time when the rhododendron flowers add life with a blush shade to the valley. From June to September Singalila ridge National Park is closed. 

If you are looking for clear mountain and sublime sights of dawn from Sandakphu and Phalut, then September-November offers a better view. You can experience early snow in November and even may come across the slippery red panda if your luck bestows!

How to Reach?

The nearest airport is Bagdogra and railway station NJP. You have to reach Darjeeling More to get the shared taxi for Ghoom or Sukhia Pokhari. Both are relatively well-connected to Mane Bhanjang. Mane Bhanjang is the last town where you will get access to ATM and Pharmacy. No shared taxis are available for Sandakphu, so either you have to hire or trek. 

My Journey in Singalia National Park- Itinerary

The entrance of Singalila National Park.
The entrance of Singalila National Park.

The pandemic has hit harder to the travel industry and its people are changing their professions to survive. We, the travellers, can help the travel industry to revive it. My first plan was to take up a challenge to push me out of my comfort zone and second, to explore my state. A friend of mine had already implemented an idea of Sandakphu trek. It was the perfect plan to rejuvenate myself and perceived the benefits of solo travelling. 

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What makes Sandakphu outstanding?

The view of Sleeping Budha from Aal.
The view of Sleeping Budha from Aal.

Sandakphu means “Height of the poisonous plants” as aconite plants grow in abundance at the height. The other notable aspects of the trek will take you through many hidden gems. It is one of the highest peaks in West Bengal at 11,930 ft above sea level and is truly breathtaking. Once you reach the summit you will be the part of an ethereal 180° panorama view of the four highest peaks of the world. Four lofts of the Sleeping Buddha are Mt. Kanchenjunga, Mt. Everest, Mt. Lhotse and Mt. Makalu. If you are a trekking enthusiast and nature lover, you cannot miss out on the Sandakphu Trek for sure.

Day 01: Mane Bhanjang

The morning in the beautiful town Manebhanjan.
The morning in the beautiful town Manebhanjan.

I took a bus from Kolkata for Siliguri, which reached in the next morning. After a few hustle and bustle, I grasped a shared taxi of Darjeeling to pass on Ghoom at the cost of ₹300. After three hours journey from Siliguri, I was at the Queen of Hills. The chill air of the mountain welcomed me at fuzzyGhoom station. I walked down the hill to reach my next pickup point for Mane Bhanjang. A few minutes later, I hopped to the next shared taxi for Mane Bhanjang at ₹100. 

The Land Rover, an antique vehicle which is still operating.
The Land Rover, an antique vehicle which is still operating.

The journey was not smooth, the rough road didn’t matter me as I was preparing myself for the next day. It took around two hours to reach a small town divided by two countries India and Nepal. The local people were friendly, which made me comfortable making new friends. One of them was going to be one of my best friends forever and guide me for the next six days in the ridges of Singalila National Park. 

Places to Stay: Homestays are a cheap place to halt for a night. If you are looking for a cheaper place, you can book for Dormitories offered by many homestays which will cost around ₹250-₹300. Hotels are also available in the town. 

Day 02: Tumling

Beautiful monastery of Chitrey at the peak of the mountain.
Beautiful monastery of Chitrey at the peak of the mountain.

The first day in the hills with a beautiful view of sunrise at the horizon boosted me up for the rest of the day. Suddenly, I was a different person, charged up for the new challenge of 52kms trek. Before I finished my breakfast, my friend Dawa Bhutia was already at the doorsteps. Quickly I packed my bags, settled my bills and moved towards Singalila National Park Office for the pass and other official formalities. 

The excitement was at full throttle after I walked out the gates of the office. The trek began complimented by the toughest challenge of the route. The first 4kms of the trek is steep climbing to mountain till Chitrey. It took every breath away, but the beautiful monastery at the peak of the mountain reinvigorated me for the rest of 9kms trek. We took a break in the fields of Chitrey, filled up water and moved on.  

The view of Tumling village. The second-day camping spot.
The view of Tumling village. The second-day camping spot.

The small trails apart from the road are better routes for a trek from Mane Bhanjang to Tumling where nature is at its best, a layer of fog will suddenly cover-up the whole path and suddenly the bright sun will appear in the sky. The beauty of mother nature and its show bewildered me, which took us eight hours to reach Tumling, though it is six hours trek.

Places to Stay: There are many homestays in the village. They mostly provide customized package as bed charge, dinner, breakfast and tea. The total package is ₹700-₹800.

Day 03: Kala Pokhri

View of Sleeping Budha from Tumling.
View of Sleeping Budha from Tumling.

The morning in Tumbling greeted with a crystal view of Sleeping Budha. With morning prayer to Lord, “Om Mani Padme Hum”, we finished our breakfast and moved for next destination to Kalipokhri. Another steep climbing of 3-4kms made it difficult for every single step. Sooner, fatigue grasped me and my bag seemed heavier. The motivating mother-nature and my friend encouraged me to reach the next stop at Gairibas. We walked through trails of jungle leaving behind the motorable road.

We took a break for half an hour with refreshments by red tea and momos at Gairibas. We refilled our bottle and went to the check post of Singalila National Park. The total distance we had covered was 6kms. Now we had to trek more 7kms for Kala Pokhri. We took stairs from Gairibas for a few steps then we followed the road. 

The Black Lake, Kalipokhri. The second-day camping spot.
The Black Lake, Kala Pokhri. The third-day camping spot.

It took us eight hours to complete the trek up to Kalipokhri where airtel network is available at a few particular spots. The place gets its name from the Black Lake which in local means “Kala Pokhri”. 

Places to Stay: Homestays are available in Kala Pokhri also. They treat their guests with the utmost compassion. The dormitories are cheap to stay. It will cost ₹250-₹300, food is available at a reasonable rate. 

Day 04-05: Sandakphu and Aal

The unwinding trails to Sandakphu from one ridge to another.
The unwinding trails to Sandakphu from one ridge to another.

We had our breakfast and tea in the new day at Kala Pokhri and moved on for Sandakphu. We decided to move further 2kms from Sandakphu to Aal. After leaving Kala Pokhri, we moved towards the trail led by stairs. A new zeal to reach the summit charged me up for the rest of the route. We passed along the pine forest with different species of birds chirping around. 

We took long breaks during this route as it was the shortest route to cover 7kms to Aal via Sandakphu. The scene along the way is something to be cherished. The final route to the peak was quite difficult and exhausting, as the climb from here was sharp. It took us six hours to reach the summit of Sandakphu and other thirty minutes to Aal.

180° panorama view of the four highest peaks from the summit, Sandakphu.
180° panorama view of the four highest peaks from the summit, Sandakphu, the highest peak of West Bengal.

I think it is a wise decision to move to Aal, as it is a cheap place to stay, thinly populated and gives the best view of Sleeping Budha. Aal and Sandakphu are at the same altitude. The evening becomes more cherishable if you love playing football. You can be a part of the team and have fun along with the play. I was not lucky to watch the sunset due to mist, but it smiled next morning when the view of Sleeping Budha was clear and spellbound. It is indeed something to remember for a lifetime.

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Places to Stay: There are very a few homestays at Aal at ₹300. Homemade food is available. Most of them rely on solar panels. If you are planning to stay at Aal remember to charge all your electronic gadgets at Sandakphu. 

Day 06: Gurdum

Morning view of Aal.
Morning view of Aal. The fourth and fifth-day camping spot.

A thin layer of frost on the grass makes Aal as if it came out from a fairytale. The small village with a handful of people around and the panoramic vista of the entire Sleeping Budha encourages for the most exciting day of the trek. After spending a day in the beautiful village, it was time to move down. We had our tea and breakfast at Sandakphu and prepared ourself for 13kms trek down to Gurdum.

The trail from Sandakphu to Gurdum is the most isolated route that makes it perfect for the trek. The trails are in the midst of the dense forest with tall bamboo grass and no sign of human settlement. We took long breaks in the jungle, yearning to spot any wildlife. We met a few local peoples on the way with horses carrying their goods. The unwinding route to the small village, Gurdum, in the thick of the jungle guided by Buddhist flags raised my self-esteem. 

The picturesque little village Gurdum.
The picturesque little village Gurdum. The sixth-day camping spot.

The village is encircled with steep diving valleys with dense evergreen forest. The variety of flowers grown around the hamlet show the taste of its people for gardening. It was my last night in the ridges of Singalila National Park. The sky, full of stars with a comet passing over the horizon, gave me the farewell for leaving the paradise

Places to Stay: There are a few homestays available at Gurdum. Food and hot water are also available. The charge of Dormitory is ₹250-₹300.

Day 07: Srikhola

The variety of flowers grown around the hamlet, Gurdum.

The final day in the ridges of Singalila, a fine morning with a mesmerizing sunrise and fresh air elated me. The experience of adventure that revealed my limits and strong-will. We moved to the beautifully decorated courtyard of the homestay. After a delicious homemade breakfast, I tasted salt tea for the first time recommended by my friend. Soon, it was time to say Goodbye to the picturesque little village Gurdum.

Srikhola village
Srikhola village gets its name from the beautiful stream that passes through it.

I packed my bag for the last trek of 6kms to Srikhola village. The village gets its name from the beautiful stream Srikhola that passes through it. The trek route is easy from Gurdum with the tortuous trail that took us around three hours to complete. Very few transports, mostly the small carriage trucks, are available from Srikhola. We hitched from Srikhola to Rimbick at ₹40 per person. The shared taxi for Darjeeling, Ghoom and Mane Bhanjang are available from Rimbick.

An Alternative Way:

Fields of Chitrey
The fields of Chitrey, We took a long break to enjoy the view.

If you are not a trekker and looking for a comfortable way to travel, then you can travel to Manebhanjan with your personal/ hire car. From Mane Bhanjang you have to hire Land Rovers for Sandakphu. As per rules and regulations, you cannot drive your vehicle to Sandakphu. The journey is uncomfortable that may take 7-8 hours. The one-way cost of Land Rovers to Sandakphu is ₹3500-₹4000 per person. There are better hotels at Mane Bhanjang and Sandakphu. It is preferable to book in advance.

The Artists Behind the Scenes of Chhau Dance [Day: 03]

My childhood memories in the beautiful town of Puruliya have always attracted me to visit it time and again. This was my first experience when I left the town and headed to explore its beautiful countryside. This trip has recreated my perception of the place and helped me to bond further with its culture and tradition. This post is to adore the incredible people who are trying to endeavour their lost tradition and art.

Artist behind Chhau Dance

The wonderful performance of Chhau dance by the native Santhal tribe is the prime attraction of Puruliya as well as the anecdote from my childhood. I have skipped a few of the destinations known to the people in this belt and stretched myself to the offbeat places. My trip would have remained incomplete without exploring one of the inspiring and patronage villages of Baghmundi which gives an insight into Puruliya’s Chhau masks.

Jharnakocha Cave

Jharnakocha Cave Purulia

Next day, early in the morning I left for Balrampur from Puruliya town. The excitement and the challenges of trekking always rejuvenate me with new energy. This unusual place is very little known even among the locals. Jharnakocha is a small tribal village at a distance of 15km from Balrampur. The village is surrounded by lush green hills followed by a muddy road.

Jharnakocha Cave Purulia

The first challenge I faced was to locate the place but with the help of locals’ guidance, I was able to reach the destination. The dense forest of Sal trees surrounding the area is not easy to trek as you have to make your way from the bushes. After an hour of adventurous trek, I reached the top of the hill. The beautiful panoramic view from the hill will leave behind the exhaustion of trekking.

Jharnakocha Cave Purulia

After spending a few peaceful moments at the top, I moved for the second challenge- in search of the trail to the cave. Though I was not able to get the glimpse of the cave but trekking in the forest and climbing up the hill was real excitement. If you are looking for the cave then I suggest hiring a local villager as your guide would be better.

Chorida Village

Chorida Village Chhau Mask Purulia

After a thrilling experience at Jharnakocha and a delicious lunch at the foothills of Ayodha, it was time to move for my last destination in Puruliya which was a small beautiful village name Chorida. Its most important ensemble for the performers brings spectacular Chhau dance to its glory. The large Chhau masks represent the specific mythological characters that are played during the performance.

Chorida Village Chhau Mask Purulia

The charisma and allurement of the dance massively depend on the dramatic detail of the mask. The handwork of the artists of Chorida has been listed in Geographical Identification tag in India. The art of mask making is facing gradual oblivion due to economic pressure and decreasing participation from the grassroots level. But the active zeal of the villagers has kept the tradition still alive.

Chorida Village Chhau Mask Purulia

When I reached here, I was amazed by the radiant and distinguished coloured masks that were hanging on the walls of the houses. I was dazzled by the Chhau dance and its agile and energetic performances. The part of the costume that always grasped my attention was the large masks of the dancers that narrate the story behind its artists’ handiwork. This led me to include this interesting destination on my list.

Chorida Village Chhau Mask Purulia

It is the home for the artists of Chhau mask that devised me with the appreciation of their hard work. More than 200 families of the village are involved in the creation of the masterpiece. Strolling in the streets with the encompassing workshops can comprehend the intricate process of mask making. You can also purchase these masks for decoration.

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Recline of Abandoned Temples [Day: 02]

A successful trip on day one exploring the unusual place accompanied by glorious weather was a day to be cherished. It was day two to The Land of Red Soil and the places in my list was far from Purulia town. As I mentioned earlier, Purulia’s existence can be found in the 5th century and was one of the 16 Mahajanapadas of Jain religion. The classical architectures of Jaina temple reflect its royal history.

It is a rare place of interest for tourists although a few of the temples are in the conservation of Archeological Survey of India. Yet their existence is steadily disappearing which is sad to witness. My closest friend from Purulia assisted me by bringing me his motorbike to explore these places. The places are well marked in GPS and the help of local guidance is always a choice.

Telkupi Temples

Telkupi Temples Purulia

Telkupi village is well known for its half immersed temple. The construction of Dam in 1959 at Panchet by DVC led to the disaster for the historical temples. It is located at a distance of 8km north-east of Ceheliyama in Raghnuthpur-II block. According to an Armenian-Indian archaeologist Joseph David Belgar, there were twenty finest temples made of bricks and stones in a confined area. Due to the frequent release of water from the Panchet dam the area is now converted into a swampy field. The two temples are visible that are half-submerged into marshy land.

These temples around Telkupi village were divided into three clusters with an architecture similar to that of Banda Deul. The deserted area with a vast lake is also a perfect place for bird watchers. I was accompanied by one of my friends from Purulia town for this trip. We entered our destination in GPS for the Telkupi Temples which is at a distance of almost 53kms from the town. GPS was working well though we reached a few dead ends, with the help of local guides, we crossed the barriers.

We left the main road and followed the shortcut route as shown. The longer route might have taken the same time as the village roads are tough to drive. It took two hours to reach the secluded part of the lake. The vast lake covered with wild aquatic plants and a view of the submerged temple will leave you speechless. It is a bit difficult to reach near the monument but a distant view in silence with no living soul around and the great species of bird will not let you leave the spot.

Banda Deul

Our next destination from Telkupi was 16kms towards Banda and 36km from Purulia. The temple of Banda is the finest stone structure found in Purulia. The stone of the temple is incinerated with patterned carvings inspired from the Odisha style. The site is under the Archaeological Survey of India with despicable maintenance. As no inscription stone was found and badly defaced temple makes it difficult to identify as a Hindu or Jaina temple. The temple is surrounded by Palash trees. During Basant when flowers are in full bloom, it looks more spectacular.

Banda Deul Purulia

Four pillars porched with a roof of the stone slab is placed at the front gate of the temple. A solitary abandoned temple is special for those who are interested in Bengal’s history. With a new experience of bird watching, we moved for our next destination, Banda Deul. Crossing the narrow lanes of the small villages along the widespread fields took a bit more time. The final destination was showing a vast field covered with Palash trees. The heritage temple frozen in time was standing tall a little far inside the field.

Banda Deul Purulia

It has remained neglected by the authority. The broken boundaries around the temple allow the herd of cows to enter the premises. It’s the local people from the village who have initiated to preserve our heritage. The change in weather has deceived me to refrain the full bloom Palash flowers. The temple, a masterpiece of the era, the huge stone blocks carved with artistic sculptures and the huge door of the temple, is mostly overlooked by the tourists.

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