I am not a professional photographer or blogger, but I am tour guide who loves to show the real beauty of the places I visit or explore. Here is a humble try to showcase the beauty of Kasol village from the freezing winter times.
Kasol , my small beautiful village is situated by Parvati river which lays under snow in a winter morning.
Winter is no less colourful in the town of Kasol , with different hues of the mountains for background , and hues and shades from the houses.
A roof covered with snow , and its residents busy in buring the chimney, without it, impossible to bear the winters here.
A Raven sits atop a Deodar Tree as if meditating looking to the vast Pin Parvati range that walls the north.
A Winter Sky in Kasol.
Due to subzero temparature, water freezes inside the tanks and pipelines in Kasol. Two brothers try to fix it for their home.
A shop keeper tries to clear the road in Kasol market.
The grand view of the Pin Parvati range stands divine. Favourite sight from Kasol for me.
The snow covered busy bridge in Kasol.
The routine work during the winter of Kasol.
A bird's eye view of the Kasol.
I think I will call this picture " FREEDOM " . The very essence of existence in Kasol.
A parking in Kasol.
My beautiful home in middle of the Himalayas here in Kasol. You can visit here anytime. Connect to know how ?
With the summer gone caged in Lockdown, the hiking enthusiasts are getting low altitude sickness surely. I mean I am having it too. With the monsoon season propelling in, Himalayas is just ready to welcome it's lovers , with lush endless greenery, blooming of wild flowers and Meadows at it's beautiful best this season.
So consider this trails to take up for hiking for the months of June - July - August, and enjoy the Mountains & Monsoon. ☺️
Hampta Pass Trek.
This trail can be easily considered as the most popular monsoon trail. With lush lush green Meadows, cloudy landscapes and immense blooming of flowers, Hampta pass is a stunning crossover trek from Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh, to it's Spiti district.
The change over is remarkable, as one climbs the Hampta pass at 13500 feet to the other side of Spiti where the cold desert with it's colourful treeless texture, surprises people.
Here are some basics about Hampta pass.
Basecamp - Manali.
Duration - 4 N / 5 D.
To know more about Hampta Pass or to plan this trek, feel free to connect or message me.
Bhrigu Lake Trek.
Alpine lakes are beautiful in Himalayas, more so the ones who are at a height of over 4000 meters ( 12500 feet ). Bhrigu lake is just that. Camping in Moridug Meadows while on Bhrigu can be considered one of the finest , as the vast green engulfs every human soul that comes here.
People often rediscover their lost touch with nature and achieve a long lasting peace.
Climbing Bhrigu needs determination as it is quiet high, but the challenges are definitely worth the rewards at the end of the trail.
Here are some basics for Bhrigu Lake Trail.
Basecamp - Manali.
Duration - 2 N / 3 D.
Feel free to connect to plan this trek. 🙂
Pin Parvati Pass Trek.
One of the most moderate difficult trek of India, Pin Parvati pass is grand and life-changing. Not only the views change from day to day, but one reaches at a hieght of 5000 meters ( 17000 feet ) while on this trek.
We pass through Alpine Mantalai lake which is the cradle of famous Parvati River, and cross the Pin Parvati glacier to reach Spiti valley. This is definitely not for weak hearted, as this is among one of the longest trek you can do while in monsoon.
Here is some basic information on pin Parvati trek.
Basecamp - Kalga village.
Duration - 8N/9D.
Connect to know more about this long epic trail and plan for this monsoon.
Kashmir Great Lakes Trek.
Considered as one of the most pretty trail to walk in India, this trek of Kashmir makes into all of our bucket list surely. They say you can't walk on this trail without walking on flowers, as the blooming is limitless in monsoon. The camping is always by the sides of beautiful Alpine lakes like Vishansar , Gadsar and Gangabal, adding to some different level of experience altogether.
If pictures and photography is something you love to do while on trails, nothing beats this trail to go this monsoon.
Here are some basics about the Kashmir trails.
Basecamp - Sonamarg.
Duration - 7 N / 8 D.
To know more about Kashmir great lakes and our fixed departures, connect with me unhesitatingly.
Other Offbeat Trails to Consider.
Indian Himalayas is blessed with trails for every season, and then there are always those hidden trails that are unknown to the trekking world and are chosen by only few who really loves to see something that Instagram and Social Media has not reached to.
Here are three such names I am going to list here.
1. Shamsi Meadows ( Hidden Valley of Flowers in Himachal ). This trek starts from the village of Tosh, in Parvati Valley is very less known, but surely one of the best place to see flowers blooming all around.
2. Tarsar Marsar Lake trek in Kashmir.
Another classic walking trail from Pahalgam in Kashmir has its own charm when people cross glaciers and valleys to truly embrace the heavenly feels of Kashmir. This one has to be top rated destination this year, as after 12 years in 2021, a lot of rare flowers are to be bloomed here, according to the locals.
3. Bara Bhangal Trek. ( Manali to Bir crossover for 9 days ) Considered one of the long treks with changes of scene everyday , this trek is less chosen due to it's long route of walking. However , once able to access in this trek, the trail gives reason for all the tiredness and pain that comes along with a long walk. Definitely not for beginners, but someone who enjoys off the beaten path , this trek in monsoon gives landscapes only seen in Lord of the Rings movie.
My personal favorite is Tarsar Marsar listed above. If I find a team of minimum 3 people, I would love to go to the trail with since I haven't done it but know the region in and out. Keeping fingers crossed, hoping I find some eager hikers to guide on this trail.
Stay safe and connect with me on Instagram @deepjyoti_biswas to consult for a trek , to know about it in more details, and hopefully walk on it.
The enlightened one ( Buddha as we call ) was a runaway prince. He gave up on his kingdom , comfort and most of all his identity to seek for his truth.
Many of us do the same, don't we ? And which is why as travelers we can connect to Buddha and his teachings.
More importantly, We don’t need to be a Buddhist to borrow some spiritual wisdom and integrate it into our (traveler’s) life.
As traveling itself is one of the best ways to learn and become a better version of yourself, a Buddhist mentality can only add to the experience.
Here are 5 Buddhist beliefs that we can use while we are traveling to feel calmer in the face of difficulties, immerse ourselves in our journeys and simply feel happier on the road.
Learn to let go.
“You only lose what you cling to,” said the Buddha.
If we don’t try to possess a thing, we cannot lose it. and that makes it forever ours. To let go is an art that will improve our whole life, whether it be with relationships, friends, possessions or jobs.
On the road: Embrace minimalism and learn to pack only the basics. I don’t encourage you to voluntarily let go of your wallet, but if it happens to get stolen, it’s no use making a drama out of it – that won’t help you. Just move on and accept your new conditions.
It is better to travel well than to arrive.
What matters the most is not the final destination but the journey itself. We’re sure you’ve heard this thousands of times before, and you’ll hear it many more times throughout your travels because it’s true.
On the road: Enjoy every step of the journey. Don’t spend all your time on board a bus or a plane just waiting to arrive. Instead, use the time to talk to people, read with ravenous anticipation about your destination or listen to some local music from the place you’re visiting (which you have downloaded in advance because you already know this music habit will change your trips).
Get to know yourself
“It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles.” Buddha said it , and we cannot but agree with it totally. All our stress , confusion and issues are rooted in the fact that we do not know ourselves that well. We are constantly figuring it out, and that is okay indeed, as long as we keep doing it.
On the road: Even though traveling might seem like little more than a leisure activity, it actually changes you in a subtle way, no matter how you travel. Regardless of whether you go on short trips or year-long journeys, you will come back a changed – and in many ways better-rounded – person. We get to know ourselves when we face situations that take us out of our comfort zone.
When we share our happiness, it doesnt decrease.
If our happiness is a candle and you share the light with others, your light doesn’t decrease. Happiness is anyways only real , when shared. Christopher Mcandles ( Read " Into The Wild ") had to travel for years, and die in Alaska to realize this truth. I hope we realize it sooner.
On the road: Share happy moments on the road with the local people you meet along the way, as well as friends and family back home. Take the time to send news back home – your loved ones will be happy to know you’re safe and having fun.
Gratitude is surest way to Happiness.
There are hundred of books discussing all the advantages of gratefulness, and I am going to add to that to my best teaching learnt, reminding you & myself to take a moment to be grateful for what we have when we’re feeling low.
On the road: The very fact you can afford to travel is reason enough to feel thankful, because millions of people around the world can’t even dream of that luxury for various reasons (poverty, war, political restrictions etc.). Take a minute before going to sleep to feel gratitude for all the amazing things that happened to you during the day.
Throughout my journeys, in places that practice Buddhism , I have found a harmony that suits my own perspectives. It's teachings connect to me most of all religions that I read and understood about. This small article is only a partial understanding of my faith in it.
Let me know your thoughts on this, and do let me know what are your valuable Lessons from traveling learnt from the Buddha.
Connect with me on Instagram @deepjyoti_biswas.
Stay safe, and may Buddha be with You.
When I thought about Lahaul , memories of tiring long journeys over Rohtang Pass haunted me most. Yet never had I stopped in the valley to explore like I had done to other Trans-Himalayan region of Spiti , Ladakh or even remote Johar valley.
As it was written , finally in March 2021 , I did take my time out to visit Lahaul and explore a bit parts of it.
Overshadowed by the popularity of Ladakh and Spiti , the valley of Lahaul nestled between this two held on to it's beauty and secrets for long. The rough and long ride over Rohtang and inaccessibility in the winter's due to high snow made it a affair only chosen by few.
While posts on social media is filled with Spiti and Ladakh, and it's popularity surging everyday, Lahaul remains the exclusive place.
The offbeat small villages with some of the head turning views all around from your drive , surely etches a long-term unforgettable memory in the heart.
With time obviously , Lahaul will gain it's popularity , which is why I would recommend, if you want to visit it's authenticity, this is the time.
The expenses in Lahaul are a bit higher due to it's harsh weather and climate making it hard for people to operate hospitality business. Yet it doesn't boil a hole in your pocket.
Worth it if you ask me the views you see. Prime centres of attraction and stat are Keylong and Sissu.
Keylong is like the regional capital of the valley with a stretched town in the laps of ragged green less mountains of Lahaul. Almost all facilities can be found here and there are monasteries to visit around making it a perfect destination to stop.
The religion of Lahaul is primarily Tibetan Buddhism , so such similarities with Spiti and Ladakh is easy to discover and find.
The most attractive village and travel hotspot of Lahual Currently will be Sissu. Nestled in one corner of a huge valley where Chandrabhaga flows breaking the mountains , this small village is perfectly positioned as a painting in the huge canvas that Lahaul landscape provides.
Honestly speaking , you can't stop clicking pictures while being here. Hotels , guest houses and homestay are available , but less in number for best service it is advisable to prebook. But if it's not weekend , one can find a good deal while being there.
Sissu has Beautiful forests that look entirely alien to the general landscapes of India, and are often compared to exotic foreing destinations. It is sad , that half of us have such trouble to believe that India itself in it's various forms could be so beautiful that we don't need to compare.
All in all Sissu is a must if you're in Lahaul.
The road from Manali to Lahaul is another Adventure altogether , as we go through a very talked about Atal Tunnel in Solang valley. One can see what man and his machines can achieve when they see such a creation. The journey to Sissu which took around 7 hours over Rohtang now takes only 3 hours roughly. All thanks to the massive tunnel that cuts through the Dhauladhar range and opens to other side of the valley.
The road in Lahaul is smooth for now , as has been created recently , and the drive is one of the prettiest road trip you will ever take.
People like us would just walk long on the road, to click some great shots of the terrain. Hitchhiking is possible as the people of Lahaul are kind and warm from heart.
I would definitely need to go back and explore more of it's exclusivity, with time and energy. For now I just let's say , read the preface of the book that awaits my arrival.
But knowing my travelers how would they so want to discover this hidden sides of Lahaul I am already running road trips here.
3 Night 4 Days Roadtrip is at 5000 INR per person. For more information on that, you can directly message me.
To imagine what to expect from the road trip, you can check out my full video of Lahaul in my YouTube channel TOUR GUIDE JOURNAL.
An Alpine lake hidden in the cradles of giants like Mt.Nanda Ghunti and Trishul in the Garhwal Himalayas at almost 16000 feet. Add to it a trail a trail that changes everyday, keeps it's trekkers on foot, and that is Roopkund. From starting from a local village , where you can see the true Garhwal lifestyle , to walking on the biggest high altitude meadow of India, Roopkund has it all. Not to mention the thrill of snow line and walking up the slope on the day of the lake visit , which is dangerous and exciting at the same time. All in all, it is justified that why till 2018 , Roopkund was the most popular trek of India , with a step count of almost ten thousand Trekkers a year.
But this was also the reason why it got banned from the trekking world.
Bedni Bugyal and Ali Bugyal , the two of the biggest Meadows of India are of high value to the people of Uttarakhand. Even from environmental point of view, it's presence is crucial. Bugyals are like lungs set up by the mountains itself. With influx of Trekkers for Roopkund , a lot of popular corporate companies from Adventure Travel , set up their fixed camps on the Meadows. With batch sizes going up to thirty to sixties for them and continuously running , they found more profit in fixing their camps. The camps fixed in Meadows put high pressure on the grass bed for which the Bugyals are famous for. Tents covering the area of the grass and not letting sun in , or their huge steel pegs and wooden nails making holes all around to ruin the Bugyal. Add to it the the huge amount of Trekkers walking each day on the Bugyal that left scars on it. Lastly , with so many Trekkers came so many mules to carry their equipments, and mules had nothing but the grass to eat on. Overgrazing was the final nail in the coffin for Bedni and other beautiful Meadows up there on Roopkund Trail.
As the locals came to realize how their home is being hurt , a petition to the Uttarakhand High Court , came to the rescue. The Court banned all camping in Meadows. And not just for Bedni or Ali Bugyal but for most Meadows famous to Trekkers in the state of Uttarakhand. From 2018 the ban came into place and now in a lot of treks , camps are not allowed to be put in Meadows , where previously beautiful campsites were set up.
For the greater good, the trekking world welcomed this decision and aligned to the ban, giving a chance for the mountains to breath back.
The ban also did hit the stomachs of a lot of people associated with trekking business , but they also sacrificed in the betterment of the mountains they call home.
Finally now in 2021, the locals have got the permission to start their trekking again with one condition. No more camping on the Meadows. The Trekkers are allowed to pass through it and enjoy the views and feel of it. But one can't stay in the Meadows anymore.
This is justified and very logical for long-term healthy trekking world, as India grows it's adventure tourism.
After the pandemic , the livelihood was hurt bad in such mountain regions and this is a welcoming step from the government to revive the tourism in one of the most beautiful treks of India.
You can plan your Roopkund trek. It's certainly a moderate difficult trek due to the last day of technical ascent to the lake at 16000 feet which has probability of snow storms a lot. The trek is open May June , as before that the snow is too much for people to go. High altitude sickness due to such height is another issue which makes the trek , a tricky affair and every trekker must follow the discipline of mountains.
But in the end the views one get after surviving through the storms and challenges mountains throw at you , are among the best rewards of LIFE.
Also add to that after three years of no people having walked the trail to Roopkund , the trail with it's Meadows and mountains will shine in virgin glory having replenished.
And that my friend is a great enough reason to visit Roopkund this summer!
WITH GREAT PLEASURE I AM ANNOUNCING WE HAVE PLANS FOR ROOPKUND THIS SEASON. IF YOU WANT TO TREK WITH A INDIVIDUAL LOCAL GUIDE, RATHER THAN COMPANY , FEEL FREE TO CHECK THE ROOKUND TREK DETAILS HERE.
Unlike most people starting with Shillong when on a tour to Meghalaya, we were driving down to the southernmost point to begin with. This change of conventional plans always is a necessary if you are a tour guide, who wishes to offer the best to your clients. My travelers for this tour to Meghalaya were David and his wife, an Australian couple of mid fifties, who entrusted me to show them one of the less visited fronts of India.
I had decided on Meghalaya due to the time of the year being March, and as per the duration of two weeks they could spare for the grand adventure with me. In Meghalaya though , I needed to find some exquisite place, which are still lesser frequented by tourist. Though we were heading to Dawki, I felt an urge to find something beyond the ordinary to show my travelers.
I knew Dawki, was quiet famous, and it was evident from the cars that were lining the road crowding, once we were close to the destination. I inquired for more information on any unusual destination from my local driver friend, to see if there is some village with almost as good as views as Dawki, but lesser number of people. He said, well there is, and if we are ready to spend night in tents instead of rooms, we can live by a beach of the river. The river Umngot, which was running along with our drive, seemed to be a stream built of emerald crystal clear water , and I would be more than happy to spend a night just by it's vicinity. So i asked my clients about the change of plan that I proposed.
My clients being adventurous , gave me the permission to risk it, and so we did not stop in Dawki and drove on through a narrower road towards the new destination we knew nothing of..
The forest became denser and the road almost came into a single lane, with the tars vanishing from point to point, reflecting that we were moving quiet inside the region. Hardly we met another car as we rolled, I knew it was truly as remote as the driver had suggested. After an hour from Dawki, I read a sign board saying " Welcome to Shnongpdeng " .
I could not pronounce the name, and found myself confused how was it spelled. After repeating again and again from my driver's dialect, I could see it was pronounced as
" shnawng – preng ".
By the time he taught me, and then I taught it to my Aussie clients, we had reached. The road ends here, and one must take a walk down to the river bed, where camps are the shelter for night for seekers of adventure.
As we began walking towards our shelters, we passed through the village. One of the eye catching fact was the village here, had its huts and houses mostly made out of bamboo. They looked pristine and exotic after having lived in concrete for years to people.
I made it a point that once we got settled in our tents, we must take a walk around here, to truly see how the locals live around here in the remotest part of Meghalaya.
We finally walked down to the river bed, to see our shelters for the night. The river here, Umngot, has one of the most crystal clear water , you will ever find in the landmass of India. This is the same river that starts in Jaintia hills, through the gorges high up from Shnongpdeng, and then flows down river to pass through Dawki and then into the neighboring country of Bangladesh.
Plethora of tents were camped on the river beach, and a laid back atmosphere spread around. Frankie, was my man who arranged tents for me. It is pretty basic accommodation inside tents with pillows and bedding. Thank God one does not have to use sleeping bags , as the humid heat of the region does prick inside of you at this time of the year.
We were given options of rooms in bamboo huts too, but who in the world will leave the chance to camp by a crystal clear river flanked by green gorges, huh !!???
Common toilets were a little far, but spirits high with the discovery of this unknown place, we managed the discomfort as did David and his beloved. It was time now to walk around the village.
Shnongpdeng is home to around two hundred people at maximum. The prime livlihood of the villagers here will be fishing and farming. With the arrival of tourism, the newer generation has turned to services of hospitality and adventure sports. One can easily have the pleasures of kayaking, cliff diving or for more calmer experience just boat around the Umngot river. One could try fishing too. There is no shortage of activities here, but the most fun of all would be swimming in the flowing river, which is not too deep, and easy for beginners and experts alike.
Inside the village, the true lifestyle of the Jaintia tribal people of Meghalaya comes alive, as one can see them busy in their daily chores. The villages are filled with trees that ornamented with abundance of offsprings as litchees and jack fruits. A huge cultivation of beetle nut and bananas can be found , which seemed like the prime product of farming here. As we walked through the villages, the locals were all smiling and happy to give us pictures. There houses made out of bamboo or bricks made of river sand from its bed, were signs of their sustainable lifestyle. Clean and tidy, just like most of Meghalaya, the village looks a part of the fairy tales stories we read from.
Quietly I realized they are not yet bored with the conquest of outsiders, that happens, once the place gets overly famous. With such peace in mind and welcoming smiles, we did not know, when the evening passed, as we explored every nook and corner of the villages we could.
As the final light of the day sets out, we hurried to a local food shop near our camping place. Already many a locals were having dinner. It was quiet certain that life here starts very early with the sun rising , and they go back to sleep well ahead too. For dinner , we ate a simple rice and Dal , with boiled eggs, the only thing they had in offer, which felt we knew of. There were certainly other meals, local and regional, but it being the first night in Meghalaya, and also staying in tents, we felt best to go with safe options.
While on dinner, the women who ran the place, told us that if we came around in winter, it was better for the weather. In winter , there are clear skies, and due to that one can see the transparent water of Umngot river at it's peaking beauty. The crystal clear water holds such a magical image that it feels the boats on the river are uplifted in the air.
For now, all I could do is, keep it in my mind, that I needed to return in Shnongpdeng in winter once, to see what she told about so excitedly.
Sometimes, you are not in the right place at the most right time, but it does not take away the beauty of the adventure, for you see a more truer face that very less boast of.
Shnongpdeng , is a favorite destination for the youngsters of Meghalaya. With a fondness for western rock music, at night one can see group of youngsters camping by the beach and playing their music or jamming around a bonfire. I remembered my home in Kasol with such scenes. As we had a long journey , and a tired legs and heart after serious exploration, we decided to sleep. The music that came fror far, acted as a lullaby along with the crickets playing their tune from the dense nature that enveloped around.
The day starts early, and by 5 a.m we were up as with the arrival of a soft lightening sun. A huge cantilever bridge connects the two sides of shnongpdeng, and had our views all throughout the last evening. It was time to walk over it.
The bridge gives amazing view of the place from an alleviated ground. A good place to go, if you want to take great pictures. In my mind I could think, this would be a good bunjee jumping spot, may be in few years they will convert the idea.
After the walk over, we decided to take a bath in the river. Though we could kayak or get ourselves a boat, we just felt like watching them from far. The locals always go out in the morning to fish for the day. It will certainly be a good life to catch a fresh fish for meals, specially for the likes of us, who loves fishes.
But for now, bathing and watching them from far, I also noted to try this for the next time, I find my feet in this river again.
Finally it was time to leave Shnongpdeng, and I could pronounce it's name well by now too. Bidding the friends adieu I made for overnight, I did promise to visit here back in the winters. I must admit, if you can , do skip Dawki and spend your night or two here, definitely in your trip to Meghalaya.
For solo travelers, this place is connected to Shillong via Dawki, and then another hour of shared taxis. For group travelers , hiring a car is more easier and comfortable option. It takes around four hours from Shillong to reach here, though you can drive straight from Guwahati early morning too, like I did.
Lastly for accommodation or such helps, you can connect over to me through facebook or instagram. Both links up on the right corner!
I hope you plan a trip to Meghalaya soon, and feel free to consult me for any advises !
Hope you visit the unknown shnonpgdeng soonest !!
Note from the Author,
" Travel made me rich and free. Magic and miracles are true , once you wander on the roads to places different and divine. I have collected so many thoughts and stories while being a Tour & Trek guide for last seven years. Sharing with you all, those memories and stories , and wishing you all , that someday you guys travel far and wide too. I am not a great writer , so ignore my grammar and spellings, read it with feelings, and you might just be affected with the wanderlust to hit the road"