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 !!
Once over a heated argument with my father on the maintenance of our house in Calcutta, he said " I know , it doesn't matter to you. This repairs and all, you would just vanish , if the problems remain. That's what you do best. "
I wondered about it for long and then accepted it.
My kind of people, often depends on travel , to get out of the face of an impending stress in life. I know a hundred and more people, who would just pack off their bags and leave when life knocks a little out of them. I am also included, in this list. It is true often at times , when I feel it is too much shit to deal with , I Vanish!
In years I have also believed that, this is my super power. This super power is called ESCAPISM , and in psychological term means " mental diversion from unpleasant or boring aspects of daily life, typically through activities involving imagination or entertainment. Escapism may be used to occupy one's self away from persistent feelings of depression or general sadness. "
So does this necessarily meant I or my kind of people , mostly all those who long for travel, or find our way out easily without being attached to problems, are depressed or sad ? A brain storming session had to be underway.
We also admit that we believe travel as a form of escapism, but it doesn't make us feel bad.
When I asked in Internet yesterday for opinions , about how they felt using travel as a escapist method, most people justified , it is necessary sometimes to go and take off. I mean just leaving with your backpack to some distant destination, is kind of the best " F Off " that can be given to current problems in life. It was also justified as a healing process , rather than lamenting over a certain place and bearing the different waves of stress coming at us.
However, like every story, there's different sides to it. And I had conversations with those who thought using travel as escapism is sheer stupidity and evokes much problem.
Even if we escape our reality through travel , the transformations that we seek in our surrounding doesn't happen truly on the road.
It's just a phase , our journeys , untill we reach back in our lives again . Same family and friends , pull you back to your identity that you were. You might have outgrown for the time you traveled away , but now when you came back , you are looking right into the things that sparked you to escape. The problems never really go, you need to solve them. The only thing travel does is delay the inevitable facing.
That was mostly the summary of the reason from the people , who thought travel as an escapism is not a good thing.
For them , the true lifelong transformation in humans come by the daily habits and practices we do everyday when we find ourselves settled. It is realizations and actions and solutions that enhance the process , and not walking off, in search of a better view.
An acceptable perspective indeed. Glad I took opinions on my network through facebook and instagram, it does give a variety of outlook, and perceptions to think on.
It is true that when we come back home, we find everything as before. This is why most travelers go through a thing called Post Travel depression. If you ever take a long trip and come back , you will feel like crying. Thinking nothing is exciting anymore in life. Everything that is good has gone with the trip. This is why travel as an escapism might be futile, indeed.
However , there is more to travel. A lot of people also do travel for the sake of knowing things and places. It is a purpose of our otherwise inconsequential life , to seek things beyond our grasp. Life beyond the known, is what makes our time worthwhile. It also enhances their abilities and makes them a better person.
So in one sense , travel for escapism surely, is situational too. We can't only put travel into the shadows of escaping our mundane. Some people truly are in love with their home, as much as their quest for foreign lands and balance both of them out quiet well.
It will be unjust to call them escapist I believe.
Finally I would like to put a perspectives here, for the ones that believe travel as escapism isn't a stupid or bad thing to practice. I will admit , I fall in this group , and would like to clarify our point of view.
I agree it isn't a good idea to just shut your problems, or to delay it. Having said that, I also believe, we NEED to choose our problems. Let this sink in a little bit.
Throughout school and living in society, we might think that every human needs to necessarily fix some issues in their life. After all that has been the lesson for years, that has been what we saw or been tutored about. But who is to say , the lesson has been wrong all along.
If you studied in 14th century , science would have taught you that earth was the Center of Universe, and the people believed it. But now we know, the truth.
Similarly, the problems or issues a human must face according to social and schooling lesson, need not be true for all individuals. You might not necessarily identify some grave problems as issues to be important enough to attend in your existence. And that is absolutely okay, I believe.
In the end, just like the different God's we believe in, we can believe in different approaches to life, and so look for our different problems and different meanings to it.
So, if some of us think, facing an relationship issue is less important than solving through the visa process for a foreign land, it is absolutely fine. It is fine as long as we don't demean the ones who are passionate about their relationships problems.
In the end , life and all it's aspects are to be lived exclusively as per our liking. That is what, makes us an individual. Our thoughts are different and yearnings too. Accordingly to our happiness, escapism can help us to bypass some problems that are simply not worth our attention or precious time.
And more than often times , the travel you take , equip you with better wisdom to solve the problems that you might discover still growing in life. It also induces the habit and change of perspective for the long run evolution of us, the transformation into a healthy existence, or how we seek to be.
Hence, it is absolutely okay to walk off, anytime you think life isn't as you want it. It takes the same courage to walk off , that it takes to face a problem. And why even face a problem , that is not worth your while!
Before, I begin, I must put it out as a disclaimer that by stating my thoughts and ideas on travel, I am only giving my personal view. Do not travel until its absolutely necessary for you. For people like me travel is not just a vacation or part of life that is avoidable, as it is the only reason I live. Also for some it might be absolutely necessary to see the ocean or mountains to find peace and gain mental strength and avoid depression. This post is for them, in a way to help.
However, I will strongly advice, in case you do travel , try not to come back to old people or very young ones, for whom, Corona can be more riskier as a disease contracted. With stronger immunity we generally will face mild symptoms of the deadly virus, but that might not be the case for everyone out there, if you are not sure about your immune health yet.
In the end, I trust all my readers are mostly mature men and women and I put my faith on your intuitions and decisiveness. It is upon yourself, to decide if traveling and going out is an worthy option for you, depending how and where you live. Governments of state has slowly opened tourism with rules and regulations to follow, and it is absolutely necessary that all of us must comply to this rule if you decide to hit the road.
For every travel lover out their, the pandemic and lock down has been a lesson of patience and frustration both. Mostly because, eyes that find beauty in the vast expanse of mountains and beaches , had to resort to pictures on social media to soothe their eyes. The freedom lost in the times of pandemic will be remembered for long. But the good news is slowly but surely the world is opening up. So even if in immediate future, we cannot plan our dream destination or vacation, we can certainly, have some flavors of wanderlust and take upon journeys.
Here I am assembling some great ways to take a vacation, journey and trip during the times of pandemic which might satiate your hunger for the world for sometimes.
1. City Walks & Exploring unknown facets of your own town.
Most of us might have been , living in our cities and towns for long, yet I am a cent percent sure, there are spots in cities , that we have not yet experienced or been to. As a tour guide, who gives multiple city tours in Kolkata , Delhi and Mumbai, there is always something new coming up in my tour, even if I had been there before. Every city has a rich history, various communities and their folklores, waiting to be discovered. If you google a bit or read a book based on your city , you will find lesser known places which might amaze you , when you visit them. Hence, for a start it would be a great idea to have explore your unknown side of the city. You can do morning explorations, perfect to avoid the crowd and maintain social distancing. Walks or on bicycles, are both a great way to explore your town and stories unheard in your own cities. Also do not forget to take your camera or phone to indulge in street photography, which will be a pleasure for you surely !
2.Road trips with your friends or family.
As more normal life get back on, it will be a wise idea, to take road trip in a rented vehicle or self vehicle to some places accessible to your current location with four to five hours of drive. Road trips are always great , and in current times , road trips will help you be securing better movement , avoiding public transportation. I am sure , we all have lesser known villages or natural spots near to our current locations, where we did not visit yet , and we kept it for someday. Often it happened to me, being young , I always thought of wandering the furthest places, and kept all that was good in my surrounding for later years, as retirement plan. Well now , it is exactly such a time, to test your choices.
When we should access, this remote yet near places, we must savor the journey more than the destination. Take breaks on road to click more pictures. With monsoon just finished in India, most roads are vivid green and beautiful. Even if the spots are not in your bucket list, I recommend this highly, since in the end , Travel is more about journeys than destination. And what better way to enjoy journeys, than a good road trip!
3. Camping or hiking in nature or remote places.
Camping does not always have to be on mountains, neither hiking. But if you can somehow access hills and mountains, your luck is with you. Even if not, you can always search out for a place, which is quiet remote and go for a camping trip. Do it alpine style to involve your adventure senses more. Alpine style camping or hiking , defines , when you go for a hiking trip or camping in the wild on your own, without any help of professional hands. It is indeed, one of the best experiences in holistic ways, where you learn a lot about survival. With right people it is often too much fun, and even if you are alone, it is a great time to spend under the spell of nature and solitude. There is no better way to see a sunset or sunrise, or take a bath in a natural lake, than from a vicinity of a tent.
Generally , camping and hiking takes your to places which are not too crowded, and that will help your chances of social distancing.
Hiking is also safe , as not much people are involved in it. Already goverments of Kashmir ,Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand have opened up hiking and trekking. Following their rules one must be able to go back again to wilds of the unknown.
If you are interested , I am myself going hiking in next month. Check out the simple plans here, and connect if you would like.
4. Travel to Homestays.
Home stays are run by people , who live and run their lovely homes and give out exceptional experiences for travelers like us. Safety in times such as this, can be found best while traveling to their homes. Since they as residents will want to keep themselves healthy and safe, they will take the best measures for a secure stay. A lot of home stays, can be found remotely located which are not destination specific , but can add up to a travel experience greatly. I think , this is the perfect time to try those locations out. A simple relaxing stay in a new and strange place can calm your mind , and help you against the stress, the world is going through and putting on you. Add to that meeting the strangers and listening to their stories, which in itself , is of great adventure.
For your part you are helping them, by letting them earn a little after the long cease of their work and livelihood. It is also true , now you are more prone to find better deals as not much people will be heading anywhere. Grab this opportunity to visit some of the most wonderfully located home stays around yourself.
I will definitely recommend you to start shortlisting home stays now, by checking on Google and may be fixing a destination in mind. You can always also consult me for a free advice.Do connect with the host before traveling , so that they can aid you with the current scenarios, which will help your travel. Making sure, when you are arriving , also helps them to prepare for a safe stay.
This is a new term for the wanderlust stricken youth of India. In world wide travel, a many of people are known as digital nomads. They work but their job does not require them to be mandatory, to be situated in a single destination. With good internet, they can work from anywhere in the world, and that is how a lot of people , including me live from place to place of our desire.
With the pandemic, most working companies have now WORK FROM HOME scenarios, where you are also a kind of digital nomad, if you have the will ofcourse. There are great many a hospitality properties with amazing wifi, giving the chance to people to come and stay with them and work from their beautiful properties located in amazing destinations all around. For example I know a property in Pushakar who charges only 7000 INR to start with for a stay plan , in their super cool hostel, and work from their. High speed wifi to connect and work, and amazing places in Pushkar in vicinity to go around. Ping me up privately if you want to know more.
For a lot of people, they are moving to small towns and villages in the Himalayas, through me. They have rented amazing rooms in the heavenly destination and for next two to three months at least will enjoy travel and work together.
This is one of the brighter side of pandemic, that this chance is on offer, and will surely not repeat. So for people who had a long wish of moving to mountains and staying long, this the perfect time, as your life could be a mix of vacation and work. Check out some amazing properties to work from mountains here.
I hope soon enough, you can hit the roads, and start the journey. Travel will help your mind , and relax the stress we have been going through. Lastly , it will help people and regions economically , when you can take services from them. You can connect with me to know more about planning your travel during this times. Advises and friendship are free to those who love to wander! Do connect with me through my social media buttons on your right top corner.
Lastly , though we did cage up ourselves for the need of survival, I hope all of you can take up a little courage to take calculated risks.
For life is not just about survival, it is To Live!
The Reality about the People of Nagaland.
It is not unusual in my country to be discriminated for being different. Traditionally, India has always soaked in anyone from any background who came here. Religions , linguistics and every other form of social categories have always found a belonging in our country. So even after huge masses of immigration happened through out centuries , and everyone found a home in India, from time to time , we are be fooled to believe they were merely invasion. Not going into that discussion , as history is all about assumptions , yet we can see our ignorance as even in present times, we keep discriminating people of our own country for their different way of life. Here , from my experience I will try to light the true nature of Nagaland , as far as my experience of being their in my travels and tours.
The Nagas , refer to a cluster of tribes that belong from the northeastern states of India. To be told a fact , even outside Nagaland , Naga tribes spread in other states of Arunachal , Manipur , Assam and Mizoram. This tribes came into light under the British occupation of the region in late eighteen hundred. The origin of this tribes are disputed , as no strong historical evidence can be put forward to claim the source. However , at present there are 16 official tribes are inhabitants of the political region of Nagaland. English being brought in by the British with Christanity went a long way in bringing this tribes together. The ever warring Naga trives are now coexisting together for its development and in a quiet content way of living. They have reformed their practices , such as hunting into newer ways of economical avenues, saving the fine balance of nature and mankind. Being tribes, they always lived on hunting , and their ancestral accesories are all made of mostly tiger or leoprad claws, bones or skins of bear or deers found roaming in the wild, Bird feathers and meats are also quiet common for beautification and survival. However, with modern age , hunting has stopped , and they have conserved their forest for eco tourism to bloom and form the path towards a brighter future.
Being tribes, the people were very close to nature from there ancient days , and even now that can be seen in their general lifestyle. That dependency to nature and subsequent caring for it with utmost respect is what NAGALAND might inspire the rest of India to do. Almost all villages and tribes have a self sustainable living here. They depend highly on the nature that surrounds them. Wood from the forest , herbs for medicines or wild fruits to make wine and food is still a huge part of living in the modern Nagaland.
In ancient times, every tribe was almost at natural war with each other. Head hunting was a famous practice, where in , when two tribes met on battlefield, the winners would decapitate the fallen, and keep their heads or skulls as prize. These were awards to show the strength of a tribe and people. This practice is bygone now, and no more carried out. With modern social rules coming in, the tribes have found a cooperating existence among each other. Even though their languages and rules and laws , still differ, they adhere to the rules built up by the government. This is the proof , that if people are intending enough with good will , they can exist in peace. The Nagas known for their fierce battles and being warriors are also caring and happy family people, if you look closely. This myth , that Nagaland is only about soldiers and war , will soon perish as more and more travelers head there to see this beautiful culture.
Even though , in terms of GDP , the tribal areas do not contribute much , yet in the form of visions, they go a long way. Almost all houses in Nagaland have sustainable living, They make their general needs out of things they can find in their surrounding forest. From cultivating fishes to fruits and vegetables, each family has its treasure trove in its own , in the Naga country side. While on the tour in Nagaland , the food we eat in homestay is generally produced with in the surrounding of the house or cultivated, or found in the jungles nearby.
That was the way they lived hundreds of years ago, and still do. It is of importance to learn and realize this super value of the Naga society. Their needs are not much , and generally adheres to things that can be found with in the grasp of their natural habitat. The people here know how to make things and utilizes there time in every kind of handicraft possible from natural products, leaving no after effect on earth. The question is, with the advent of high consumerism , till when they can hold to their satisfied living?
Nagaland can also be called a state , where the rest of India must look up to for some inspiration , to diminish its conventional patriarchal miseries. Its a state ran by female power mostly. The Naga family heir is generally the youngest daughter of the house, and yet mostly family feuds are rare here, since their is a benevolent atmosphere. The homestays, where I lived in ,were all managed by women and they did a tremendous job. The women are also very productive here , since they create every house hold things necessary in the homes itself, rather relying on markets. Optimum utilization of time and nature can be seen, which needs to be implemented in our modern lives as much as possible too. Being a feminine driven state , the vibes are much more peaceful and relaxed here.
Nagas are primarily a non vegetarian population. The meats vary from tribe to tribe , but almost every tribe depends on that consumption. They have a healthy cuisine with lesser use of salt , as per my personal observation , which also helps their strong built. Chilies are heavily used , and cuisines mostly have meat as its primary ingredient. There is a negative obsession with what Nagas eat , specially the meat they consume. For the rest of India it is borne of classical conditioning. This curiosity behind the obsession , rather than being genuine, can be termed as a product of ethnocentrism of the Indian society.
A lot of this acceptance , that everything of a culture and tradition is because of the Geo political situation of a region and place , can be seen once you visit and live with the Nagas. This acceptance can breed tolerance and help our diverse country in bringing the ever glorified unity we so boast about , just like the different tribes of Nagaland has successfully practiced for modern coexistence.
Let me know your thoughts if you have been to Nagaland. If not, do plan up once, and let me know if my article motivates you to do so.
As more and more , travel industry is driven by social media , most travelers choose their next destination from pictures of other travelers and friends over Instagram and such handles. While it is a good way to promote such places, this also does not keep the destinations elusive anymore. You are expected to have crowds of other people , while visiting such a place . Yet to the blessing of huge range of Himalayas , some hidden hamlets and villages still hold on to their exclusivity. They are yet not, too much famous, in their reputation, and I chose to list five of them , for those who seek to go beyond the known trails. Check out if you have been to any one of this.
TONGLU - WEST BENGAL
Falling on the border of India and Nepal , Tonglu is my personal favorite. With majestic Kanchenjunga , world's third highest mountain looming large on the background , this village has some mind blowing landscapes around. Its just four houses in this village and settled atop a hill , pretty isolated from the rest of the world. With the chilling cold temperature round the year , Tonglu is a respite for summer and heat always. In the winter , snowfall, makes it beautiful and cold in both ways.
Falling near Darjeeling , it can be reached by car or foot . For more information to plan a vacation here, ping me directly.
THACHI - HIMACHAL
The village is well kept secret of central Himachal, and though the state continues to grow in its fame of tourism , Thachi still holds on to its elusive characteristics of being unknown.
Though Accessible by public transportation , the nature is still raw and well kept here. Most tourist know of Tirthan and by pass the turn that needs to be taken on Aut - Rampur highway to turn towards Thachi.
It is of your choice where you want to venture, but if you want to visit somewhere with almost no tourist along with you, then this is highly recommended. Addition to the beautiful nature, the culture here is highly rich , and amazing food delicacies such as SIddu can be found to adore the taste of locals. Also for travelers who might want to hike around , amazing temple tops as Churdhar Mahadev makes a place from where one can get uninterrupted views of panaromic Himalayas.
To know more , of course of this village , do message me directly.
OSLA - UTTARAKHAND
Legend has it , that this village has a temple dedicated to Duryodhana , the leader of Kauravas , from the epic Mahabharata. And the residents of this village are some of his descendants. But as all legends are , there is no proof to it, and the temple in the village indeed beautiful and striking in looks, is said to be of Lord Shiva , by the local residents. The temple door only opens during the annual fair which takes place in monsoon here, and thus the controversy remains. Hidden in the North western frontier of Uttarakhand , beyond reach of any transportation, this village is also gateway to a lot of amazing hikes and treks. A little tricky and time consuming to reach here , yet the journey and destination , totally captivates the mind and heart of all travelers that dare to go here. To plan a trip here, let me know.
GRAHAN - HIMACHAL PRADESH
A lesser known village in otherwise very famous Parvati valley , Grahan , in my view, is the most beautiful village of the valley , yet very less frequented. May be due to its accessibility only on foot, and no transportation makes it elusive as it is. The village still holds true to its customs and traditions and houses constructions that are two hundred years or more old. Surrounded by green mountains with snow during winter , Grahan is perfect to spend week , just detached from the outside world. Lonliness can never crop in , as the locals are very friendly and mingling with them is very easy. Activities here would range from hiking around forest, finding amazing waterfalls to take a bath in on sunny day. Evenings to mingle with other travelers and smoke some of the best hash in world. Interested ? You know whom to connect for a plan.
KANAK CHAURI - UTTARAKHAND
A very well kept secret of Uttarakhand, Kanak Chauri is situated in Rudraprayag distric. It is famous for its views of Himalayalan ranges , specially Chaukhamba that stands tall in the background. As it is connected with public transportation , reaching here is easy and weekend trips from Delhi suits perfectly. For travelers who wants to beat the rush , this place is ideal as hardly tourist know about this. Also for those who love hiking , the Kartik swamy temple sitting atop a hill , just 3 kilometres walk from the village is most amazing. One can enjoy the panaromic views of Himalayas from here, with 22 high peaks including Nanda Devi, Trishul, Nilkanth , Jankut , Kedardome , Chaukhamba and such visible from here easily. Travelers also stay in homestay and mingle with locals and walk around in the green farms around the village to see the true life of Garhwal Himalayas.
To know more about this place or to plan a visit , do consult with me.
There are many more such beautiful villages in every corner of regions of Himalayas. My list is here, on the basis that I have been to all this places , and have never seen, much Instagram post or a hash tag on or from this place.
If you know of such cool places or hidden villages, do leave the name in comment box, as I too , seek for more of such beauties.
A direct bus from Bangalore had taken me to Wayanad through the beautiful forest of Bandipur , and by the changing green from the traffic capital of India , I knew , Wayanad will be more than what is expected. Situated in the north east frontier of Kerala , the region of Wayanad , stays elusive yet. The end of the great biodiversity of Western Ghats , meets the civilization here. Of all districts in Kerala , Wayanad has the lowest population , which means more place for nature, and that is surely visible as you hop down from your vehicle here. Weekend destination for BANGALORE and Cochin people , Wayanad is generally more calm and easy in weekdays, and being a jobless vagabond, I chose that for my first trip here.
Nestled among the hills and hillocks , the great greens of Wayanad is feast for eyes looking for nature. As I made my journey here in monsoon , the green was more lush and the weather pleasant enough for me. Of course, the rain kept coming through out my endeavor , but then it was just water falling, so did not bother much. Wayanad region is made of small and big villages connected by its pretty road. The administrative head quarter is Kalapetta , and most buses drops or picks you up from there. A lot of hotels and homestays finds it place here , however , I chose my stay in a local neighborhood far from Kalpetta. Transportation is easy, with Auto rickshaws and buses plying , but walking the beautiful roads also help to experience Wayanad at its truest form. Getting a local homestay is better , as you get traditional food of the region and they help you to guide through for the most amazing spots of the region.
Staying in a local neighborhood meant experiencing their lives first hand. Wayanad famous for its fertile soil has a lot of farming all around. From Bananas to betel nuts , this farms stretch wide and far covering most of the landscapes. It is one of an experience to walk through them , as backgrounds are covered by pretty hills that surround them. Chembra peak , which is the highest in this region looms large at distance , and made up for a constant companion when I walked around. Trekking to the top is possible if not for monsoon season. I being mostly trekking and hiking mountains for work did not opt for that , though most travelers who have done it, recommends highly of it, Travel is a personal choice , so I leave this on your perspective best to choose.
However , do not miss the farm tours around. Just go in them and meet the smiling farmers and natives working here, My only warning , going around the fields, beware of snakes a little. Wear shoes always.
Banasura Sagar or the largest earth dam and reservoir was a good place to escape too. It is the biggest source of water and sustaible project being made out of earth and mud. It reminded me of the capability of the human minds. If it feels to procreate sustainable energy , surely that is possible. The people of Wayanad live and coexist with nature a lot. Every house is filled among dense green, and own plantations. Calm and peaceful way of living can be seen around , the elusiveness is also catered as it is not a hot destination as Munnar.
For next stop, I had chosen Edekkal caves , an ancient cave, where pre historic graphics and murals, made by our ancestors are found. To be honest, my heart , which was in search of a relaxed vacation in nature , was more happy to climb the hill and see the view from top , than the caves itself.
The most important of all plantations here, is the Coffee! The abundance of coffee plantation here, makes coffee as cheap as 10 INR, in every other shop, around the corner. Even the best souvenir to take back has to be the coffee powder. The homestay I stayed with, had their own plantation and I made sure to buy cheap powder from them , for the rest of my journey.
All in all , Wayanad will be highly recommended by me , for its natural and less crowded beauty. My super tips will be to visit in monsoon , when the whole world thinks Kerala is always flooded. Wayanad being on top of hills , is mostly safe of flooding, even though high rainfall is always there. And if you are more like me who enjoys just going around and observing things, rather than tick marking off the places in To-Do list , then definitely walk around the beautiful roads of Wayanad. Hop on any local bus , and drop at any point or part of road , you seem to find beautiful. Walk along with it. You can always use Google map to find your next destination or get a bus when you feel like it.
But those roads of Wayanad , are the things I miss most from my trip.
So if you are planning a Wayanad trip, let me know for advices. Also if you have been to Wayanad times and more , leave down your best memory from there. I am surely going to go back there and hopefully , might take up your recommendations. Happy traveling !!
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"