Nepal Tourism tagline that says, “Naturally Nepal – Once is not enough” holds absolutely true! From trekking up through a rhododendron forest, to ridge walking above 4000m with jaw-dropping views of the Annapurna Himalayas up close, to enjoying gorgeous sunrise views of the entire mountain range from a village on the foothills, to chilling in a resort on a hill overlooking Phewa Lake & Pokhara city, chasing the one horned Rhino on a jungle safari at Chitwan National Park, experiencing the living heritage city of Patan in a traditional Newari home, to devouring delicious momos, sekwa, Dal Bhat and other traditional food in Kathmandu, it was the most eventful, thrilling & enjoyable two weeks I’ve spent in any country, and I am definitely coming back for more!
I remember the first time I saw Jupiter and its moons through a telescope that could fit in my backpack, I was spellbound! So when I got the opportunity to visit one of the highest astronomical observatories in the world that too in Ladakh, I was ecstatic and I wondered if we could see planets, stars or distant galaxies through the telescope at the observatory!
To reach a place as isolated in the Himalayas on motorbikes requires a heart full of courage and a spirit of adventure, other than a map of course or you could end up in China! Crossing some of the highest mountains passes in the world on broken, sometimes non-existing roads or mere dirt tracks to lead the way, it’s a challenging bone-chilling ride.
Before we set out on our road trip through the Central Highlands of Vietnam, I was nervous about riding for the first time in a new country. It took me a while to get comfortable on the motorbike and let my eyes off the road to enjoy the scenic views. But after riding more than 1300 km through half of the country, I am convinced there is no better way to travel in Vietnam than on a motorbike! And the freedom of exploring a place riding on my own adds to the depth of my travel experiences.
If it weren’t for the downpour that evening, we would’ve had a different experience riding through the road probably, maybe a more comfortable one. But I will always cherish our memories of that adventurous night on the historic Mughal road, where we not only got to ride on it we even slept on it for a night! 😉
Starting from bustling Ho Chi Minh City in the South to riding through the Vietnamese countryside with gorgeous landscapes of the Central highlands and paddy fields, rivers and emerald lakes, cruising through the misty cloud covered hills at Hai Van pass to the historic UNESCO cities of Hoi An & Hue in Central Vietnam, with excellent roads & amenities, delicious flavorful food, fresh Ca-Phe (coffee) and friendly Vietnamese people, it was an awesome experience to ride through half of Vietnam and experience the local way of life. The thrill of riding a motorbike and the freedom of going anywhere, was a dream realized… leaving me with yet another reverie, of the higher mountains of North Vietnam!
Did you know the Burmese use tea leaves as a food ingredient? Other than brewing a tea, the leaves are fermented to make a special Burmese tea-leaf salad and its yum! Myanmar offered a varied set of experiences from historic temples to nature hikes in the hills and boat rides exploring life on a lake, but it was the delicious Burmese food, readily available salads (and avocado!) and the people who stole my heart!
On the banks of Hooghly, in North Kolkata is a labyrinth of narrow lanes, older than the city and full of vibrant color and art, Kumortuli – the potter’s colony, where idols of Gods and Goddesses are made from scratch for the Hindu festival of Durga Puja. Various artists work on different stages of sculpting, painting & decorating the idol of Goddess Durga in the workshops here. Deeply engrossed in the making of the Goddess, they look meditative.
Charang is a delightful little village near the Indo-Tibet border in Kinnaur – the less explored & non-touristy part of Himachal Pradesh in India. The Kinner Kailash Parikrama is considered incomplete without receiving blessings at the ancient 11th century Charang monastery also called the Rangrik Shungma – the most holy temple of Kinnaur.
Two memorable weeks in the most remote parts of Arunachal Pradesh – Land of the Dawn-lit Mountains in North East India. Turquoise Lohit river flowing in all its glory, to the misty blue mountains of Walong in the Eastern Himalayas, wild jungles of Namdapha, tea gardens of Wakro, lush green rice fields of Miao, handmade bamboo houses on stilts, hanging bridges, cheerful happy people with a taste in music and the brilliant way locals sustain themselves on nature, liters of beer, bonfires and lots of memories…
Countless shades of blue change with the falling light, turquoise blue waters merge into cobalt blue cloudless skies, reflecting in the ripples of water with a mosaic of colorful stones shining underneath; the Ladakh Blues!
Ladakh is famous for it’s stunning landscapes, peaceful & heartwarming people, dangerous mountain passes, extreme weather conditions, pristine high-altitude mountain lakes, unique wildlife and gorgeous ancient monasteries, but in this remote land there lies another hidden treasure thousands of years old…the prehistoric Rock Art paintings – some of the earliest expressions of our species, our artistic and cultural beginnings!
Kinnaur is the most beautiful and least explored part of the Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh, India. Surrounded by harsh mountains, Charang Khas, a pretty little village at an altitude of 3500 meters in Morang, Kinnaur, is accessible only by foot, a trek through Thangi and Lambar.
River Ganges is the soul of Varanasi. The Ganges rises in the western Himalayas in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, and is the longest river of India as well as the second greatest river in the world by water discharge. In Hinduism, river Ganges is considered sacred and personified as goddess Ganga. A boat ride over river Ganges at sunrise is the best way to experience the ghats.
A landscape looks great in a ‘landscape’ or Horizontal format but sometimes looks much more interesting in a vertical or ‘portrait’ format. Here are a series of landscapes of River Yamuna shot from the new Naini bridge in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, in horizontal and vertical format for the Weekly Photo Challenge: One Shot, Two Ways. And some useful…
Chitkul is the last inhabited village near the Indo-Tibet border in Baspa valley of Kinnaur, Himachal. The Indian road ends here. At an altitude of 3450 meters on the banks of Baspa River in the Himalayas, about 24 kms from Sangla is the remote and heavenly village of Chitkul. Heavenly not just for the breath-taking…
Kinnaur in northeast Himachal, surrounded by Tibet in the east, is the least explored and the second least populous district, after Lahaul & Spiti, in Himachal Pradesh, India. The old Hindustan-Tibet road, the ancient Silk Route, passes through Kinnaur along the banks of Sutlej River. Kinnaur Kailash is a peak (6500 meters) in Kinnaur, considered the…
I’ve been mesmerised by the sublime beauty of the Himalayas since my first trip more than a decade ago! The sheer size of the gigantic mountains, the snake-like winding roads (sometimes just dirt-tracks) and the adventure of living in one of the most sparsely populated regions on earth is thrilling! Perspective gets skewed, as there…
End October and its the end of rainy season in Cambodia. On Tonle Sap lake, the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia, the water has submerged the trees and flooded the plains. And yet it seems life goes on normally for the people of the ‘floating village’. Its my first experience of the floating way of life. As my water taxi moves through the village, I realize all houses are floating like rafts, swaying to the waves. They have electricity and amenities like Television, which they power by car batteries! There is a school, a water station, fish and crocodile farms, a church and a police station – all floating on the lake.