Tag Archives: kashmir

Loops of the haunted!


Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Its is one of the India’s most popular ghost stories. I wouldn’t say that this story originates at most unlikely of the places, as it is one of the most wilderness of places you will come across. It can unnerve you and mesmerise you, both at the same time. But I will certainly say that I am interested in ghost stories only for sake of reading thrill, not at the point of believing them.

Those who have travelled to Leh from Manali by road will have certainly passed through Gata Loops and would have heard story about it. Now a days those who ride or drive on this road, do good research before hand and hence have a fairly good idea of the place. On Manali-Leh road, after you cross Sarchu, 24 kilometres later you come across a series of hairpin bends or loops popularly called as Gata Loops. These loops take you to a climb of almost 2000 ft upto Nakeela pass.

Also read: Lonely at mighty Baralacha La pass

Actually Gata Loops are to Manali-Leh road what Ka zigs are to Shimla-Kaza road. Both are nothing short of engineering marvels. Ka zigs raise from level of Spiti river to Nako through various hairpin bends. Similarly Gata Loops start at 4201 metres or 13,780 feet and 21 loops take you to altitude of 15,302 feet. Both these roads have been created out of nowhere to get human access via road to most improbable of places.

But these loops are also part of India’s most popular haunted stories. Those who have been to this place might be well aware of the hearsay. I am just briefing it for the sake of those, who haven’t heard about it.

Also read: Himalayan Rides- Chandratal to Keylong

This story is about a truck cleaner who died here a lonely death when the truck broke down in increment weather and the driver walked to nearby village to get some help. Cleaner waited at truck to guard the belongings. But it was late October (as per stories) and no vehicles were passing through as behind that truck the Rohtang Pass  (which provides vehicular accessories to Lahaul & Spiti valleys) was already closed down. Moreover snowfall had blocked all approach roads. Driver got stuck in the village for days. Hence the cleaner was left to fend for himself without an help, food or water which resulted in his demise. Stories say about his ghost still wondering around loops and begging for water to all passerby. Locals have constructed a makeshift temple where lies a human skull and believing the story people leave water bottles at the place.

But as always happens with the ghost stories, there are many versions and another version says about a tanker finding it difficult to climb the loop and driver asked its cleaner to get down and put some stones behind the wheels so as to stop it from rolling behind. But accidentally cleaner came under the wheels and seeing this driver ran away with the vehicle, leaving the cleaner behind left to die.

Nobody knows when these so-called incidents took place. Nowhere I have even read the name of that so-called village where driver went to get the help. There are no accounts to corroborate and it is surprising as by any means story would have been just a couple of decades old. Irony is, now there are hundreds of plastic water bottles scattered at that serene place.

I went biking almost end of the season on this route. I was pretty alone in the sense that I was biking solo and that particular time that stretch was devoid of any other vehicles. I captures whole climb of Gata Loops on video. But I was not able to see or capture anybody or any abnormal activity. Though interesting, it was hard for me to believe that story! I will tell you another thing, while returning back from Leh to Manali I crossed this particular stretch alone in pitch dark as I had decided to take the night halt at Sarchu instead of Pang. But still there was no ghost on the way.

Beautiful landscape around

Well, such stories might keep your travel interesting. But even without this story this particular stretch of road is quite fascinating for the views it gives while climbing up. I will say, it is actually a photographer’s delight to be here. You can just stop at every bend and keep clicking. Its amazing how the landscape changes as you climb, down from the river bed.

Reaching the top

As with every part of this route, it is quite different in different seasons. End of the season in late September or early October would be without any snow but different colours.

Gata Loops actually takes you to a different topography, once you are through, towards what Ladakh is actually famous for.

You can just forget all the ghosts and wonder at this nature’s marvellous creation.

What you see across is actually a view point

You can see a view point in the image above. It also works as a resting point for travellers after all the effort taken to climb the Gata Loops and enjoy some beauty, which they would have missed in all labour to climb up.

Interested in ghost stories? Read: Haunted Fort of Bhangarh- Nothing Spooky about it!

You can see the video of my Gata Loops ride on my channel by clicking on the link below-


Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Advertisements

Kashmir Great Lakes : First day trek to Nichnai

One of the most beautiful upcoming treks in mid-altitudes of Himalayas is the Kashmir Great Lakes trek. Though being surprisingly fascinating, it has not been that popular within domestic adventure tourism sector. There were a few numbers of foreign trekkers coming, mostly for fishing in Gangabal, who use to go up from Naranag (Read: Kashmir we know less about: Naranag). Then there were locals who will go there for some fun. But this has now come up as a organised trek, which includes trek to six-seven lakes of Kashmir.

Trekkers on the way

Base for the trek is famous hill resort of Sonamarg, which is around 90 kms from capital and the nearest airport Srinagar on the Kargil-Leh road. There are many places around the Sonamarg town to acclimatise for the trek and most popular among them is the Thajiwas glacier (Read: Thajiwas is a perfect acclimatisation for Kashmir Great Lakers trek) .

First day of this beautiful trek in Kashmir is very challenging as we gain the maximum altitude from 7,800 ft to 11,500 ft in almost 9 to 10 kilometres.

Thajiwas glacier as seen in background from the Nichnai trail.

Although it is a moderate climb but can be heavy for all those who are bit underprepared.

You can see the Sonamarg town below located on the banks of Sindh river
Trekkers coming up from Sonamarg
Its a beautiful way upto the top with lots of green

There is a gradual ascent upto Shekdur, which is also called as table top.

Its a well laid out trek, as there are a few villages of Kashmiri gujjars who regularly move up and down
Table top is a mid of the trek resting place, a big meadow.

Actually last of the villages of the trek are around this table top only. You will not find any villages after that, but for couple of army transit camps and camping sites.

My fellow trekkers enjoying some rest at table top.
…but this inhabitant kept looking towards me in a strange way…

Gujjar-Bakkarwal villages are very typical, built to bear the harsh cold weather and snow.

A gujjar village near table top
A gujjar hut meant to bear cold and snow as well as store items

Then there is a walk through forest which takes you to the other side of mountains into the valley.

Another look at the table top from the top

Actually, shortly after the Nichnai Top, the tree line vanishes. Around the hill after top we found some trees in groove style, but as soon as we moved closer to the stream, trees disappeared. What was left were small bushes, flowering plants and grass.

Last of the trees, that we would be seeing on the trek.

Then there is a gradual ascent along a stream up to the Nichnai camp.

Looking back: Trekkers coming along the stream from the table top side.
This stream goes down and meets the Sindh river near Sonamarg.
Being deep inside the valley, it isn’t so hot here. That is the reason that even after harsh months of summer, we can find ice glaciers here along the stream even at this altitude
Two more small glaciers along the stream on way to Nichnai camp
Looks as if somebody has made a slant cut in this huge rock by a powerful sword!

Fast trekkers can reach the campsite in around six hours, while slower ones can take upto eight-nine hours depending on the fitness level. It started raining just as I was half kilometre away from the camp. Couple of other trekkers were left behind me. We all three were walking together. Than I moved a bit fast to locate the campsite as all others had moved quite ahead. Rain become heavier as I reached the campsite and the two trekkers left behind had to take shelter in a shepherd huts. Our guide went back and brought them at the camp later.

Getting closer… You can see a white sopt in the middle of the picture at the base of the hill on left, that is our campsite… You can also see some trekkers moving ahead of me

No lakes on the first day, but good enough to prepare for days ahead.

You can also watch the video of the first day of my trek to Nichnai on my YouTube channel by clicking on the link below-

 

Kashmir, we know less about : Kheer Bhawani at Tulmul

There have been many facets of this paradise on earth. The political disturbances since last many decades have made many places either out of bounds or less frequently visited. One of such places is Kheer Bhawani temple at Tulmul (Tullamula) in Ganderbal district of Jammu & Kashmir. Just a few days back on eighth day (Ashtami, अष्टमी) of brighter fortnight (Shukla Paksha, शुक्ल पक्ष) of the hindu month of Jyeshtha (ज्येष्ठ या जेठ) pilgrims gathered at three shrines in Kashmir valley including the Kheer Bhawani temple. Devotees, mostly Kashmiri Pandits, thronged the shrine situated in south Kashmir, which is currently hot bed of  unrest in the Valley. Other two shrines are Tripur Sundari temple in Devsar (Kulgam district) and Ragnya Bhagwati in Manzgam (Kulgam district). This particular day is considered to be the birth day of Goddess Bhagwati. The day is celebrated  with hawans, community kitchens and mass prayers.

Outside Temple compound

Despite all fear created in media, devotees came here and paid obeisance at the shrine. It was usual as was in the past. Much hype was given to element of fear on social media, which led to fall in number of pilgrims but there was no such fear there. Besides this annual festival, people come here every month on the same day to perform rituals and seek blessings. Kheer Bhawani is one of the most revered Hindu shrines in Kashmir valley.

Also read- Naranag: Kashmir we know less about!

Message is clear: Go Vegan!

Though this temple has a rich mythology associated with it, the present temple was constructed by Maharaja Pratap Singh in 1912 and it was later renovated by his nephew Maharaja Hari Singh, the last Dogra king.

Inside compound of the temple

Surrounded by streams, this place is rich in true Kashmiri beauty, Its abound with Chinar trees- inside and outside the compound. There is a stream surrounding the temple. People take holy bath in this stream.

Also read: Wedding Bells

Stream surrounding the temple.

Now there is a legend on how Goddess Bhagwati reached in Kashmir. Mythology says that King Ravana of Lanka worshipped the goddess and pleased by his prayers, the goddess Bhagwati agreed to shower her blessings and reside in Lanka. But later because of Ravana’s misdeeds goddess cursed him and then she asked Hanuman to take her far in northern mountains away from Ravana’s kingdom. Hence goddess along with her vehicle and 360 nagas (serpents) was brought by Hanuman here at Tullamula near Shadipora.

Its a beautiful compound surrounded by Chinar trees

Then there is another legend on how the temple was discovered in medieval times. It is said that a Kashmiri Pandit, Krishna Dayal Tapilu from Srinagar had a dream wherein the goddess asked hime to travel from Ganderbal to Shadipora in a boat. From Shadipora a serpent would guide him to a pious spring. It so happened. Serpent disappeared after leading that pandit to this spring in Tullamula and this is where the temple is built today. Once you visit the temple, you will find many details about this legend.

Samadhi of the priests

The main spring called as Amrit Kund (अमृत कुंड) of goddess Kheer Bhawani is an irregular hexagonal shape. It has an island in the centre where a mulberry tree grew. And  here goddess Bhagwati is decorated and housed in a small white marble temple. It is said that idols in the temple are the ones that were taken out from this spring.

Devotees offering prayer to goddess

It is also said that water of this spring changes its colours from time to time. These colours are found to be red, light green, lemon yellow, milky white, grey white etc. There is no definite time or reason of changing the colours but any colour in shade of black is considered to be inauspicious. It is also said that there are bubbles rising out of spring water at times and they form a chakra (a mystic symbol, चक्र या यंत्र ).

The temple in the spring

The goddess here is offered Kheer (a sweet dish made of milk, rice and sugar) as prasad (offering, प्रसाद). People are not supposed to eat any form of meat when they visit the holy shrine.

Also read: Tulip Garden in Heaven

The main temple of goddess in spring

Years of unrest have decreased the number of tourists and pilgrims coming to this temple. Tourists just remained glued to their fixed itineraries. Hence, you won’t find many people here on regular days. There are number of restaurants here in the compound which also double up as prasad selling shops, and there is also availability of some rooms for pilgrims willing to stay. These restaurants also serve some local vegetarian delicacies. There is a guest house near by with all facilities.

Restaurants in the temple complex and guest house in the background

Also read: Never a dull morning in the Dal

How to reach: Located in foothills of Himalayas, this temple is not far from Srinagar. Once you move out of the city on the Srinagar-Leh highway, you come close to Ganderbal. Cross the Sindh river and move to Manasbal road. After few kilometres, there is a diversion towards Tullamula. Temple is around 25 kilometres from Srinagar and you can easily find taxis or buses to this place.

Beautiful surroundings

Please feel free to share and spread the word but not to copy and past!

 

 

Hurry up! Tulips in Kashmir are calling!!

Its getting hotter day by day. Though the forecast for the summer aren’t very pleasing, but still we have some more time to celebrate spring. Everywhere, it is also the time to celebrate the good harvest and rejoice while getting ready for the next season. Many colourful festivals around to give an occasion to travel. Two prominent festivals of the north-east Aoling festival of Konyaks in Nagaland and Mopin festival of Galo tribes of Arunachal Pradesh have just concluded. But there is lot more to do still this month. Here are some ways to celebrate this month in India.

Tulips of Kashmir

Asia’s largest tulip garden on the banks of Dal Lake in Srinagar has been thrown open to visitors on 2nd April. Though last few days were tough for Kashmir due to sudden snow & rainfall caused by western disturbance, but things will improve tomorrow onwards. Hence you can look for a quick trip to the valley. Spring is when Kashmir is at its most picturesque, and is also the season for flowering tulips. This special time of year is beautifully captured by the Tulip Festival in Srinagar. The garden, in the foothills of Zabarwan Range, has a total of 1.5 million tulips and its opening marks the beginning of new tourism season in Kashmir Valley. Formerly known as Siraj Bagh, the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden was opened in 2008. The idea of the garden was conceived to advance the tourism season in the Valley by two months. The average life span of the tulip flower is three to four weeks but heavy rains or too much of heat can destroy them.

When: April 2-17, 2017

Rongali Bihu in Assam

One of the most colourful harvest festival in India, Bihu is the main festival of Assam. This agricultural festival occurs three times a year but the biggest celebration, known as Bohag Bihu or Rongali Bihu, happens in April. It’s celebrated for three days and marks the start of the new year there, as well as seeding time in spring. The farmers prepare the fields for cultivation of paddy and there is a feeling of joy around. The ladies make pitha, larus (traditional food made of rice and coconut) and Jolpan which gives the real essence of the season. The first day of the bihu is called goru bihu or cow bihu, where the cows are washed and worshipped, which falls on the last day of the previous year, usually on April 14. This is followed by manuh (human) bihu on April 15, the New Year Day. This is the day of getting cleaned up, wearing new cloths and celebrating and getting ready for the new year with fresh vigor. The third day is Gosai (Gods) bihu; statues of Gods, worshiped in all households are cleaned and worshiped asking for a smooth new year.

When: April 14-16, 2017

Arattupuzha Pooram, Thrissur, Kerala

Arattupuzha is a culturally significant village located in Thrissur district of Kerala. This village, about 15 km from the town of Thrissur is renowned for the annual festival called Arattupuzha Pooram. The Sree Sastha Temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, which is believed to be more than 3000 years old and its premises are the venue for the festivities. It is believed that during the festival period, Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity at the Sree Sastha Temple is visited by gods and goddesses of the neighbouring villages. The annual festival at Arattupuzha is also termed as the mother of all pooram festivals in Kerala, due to its sheer magnitude and grandeur. Visitors from nearby and far off places reach the village of Arattupuzha during the festival days, to be part of this grand festival. The pinnacle of excitement and devotion during the seven-day festival is obviously the last two days. The evening prior to the last day of the festival would have an assembly of caparisoned elephants and staging of percussion ensembles as part of the ceremony called Sasthavinte Melam. The atmosphere during Sasthavinte Melam would have the brilliance of the many brightly lit traditional lamps and also the huge flame bearing staffs, locally called as theevetti. Once this ceremony is over, by early morning the elephants carrying deities of nearby temples would proceed to the adjoining paddy field for the grand spectacle that would have about 50 odd elephants lined up in front of a cheering crowd. The venue would soon become electrifying with groups of traditional percussion ensembles comprising Panchavadyam, Pacharimelam and Pandimelam playing their best possible beats and rhythms, while the caparisoned elephants bearing muthukkudas (sequined, glittering umbrellas) and venchamarams (white whisks) make a delightful sight, as they stand patiently and entertain the crowd. By sunrise, the elephants carrying deities from neighbouring temples that had gathered at the Sree Sastha Temple at Arattupuzha would proceed to the nearby river for the aarattu ceremony. It is a ceremonial cleansing process by immersing the idol in the river accompanied by chanting of mantras and floral offerings. The last to undergo the aarattu would be Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity of the Sree Sastha temple at Arattupuzha.

When: April 8, 2017

Vaisakhi in Amritsar 

Vaisakhi is one of the most popular harvest festival of north India. Vaisakhi (also spelled Baisakhi) is the festival which celebrates the founding of the Sikh community known as the Khalsa. It is celebrated on April 14 each year. It falls on the first day of Vaisakh which is the second month of the Nanakshahi calendar. On Vaisakhi day in 1699, Guru Gobind Singh summoned Sikhs from all over India to the city of Anandpur Sahib. It was then when the Panj Pyarey came into existence. It’s celebrated with a great deal of feasting, bhangra dancing, folk music, and fairs. Major celebrations are organised at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, and it becomes carnival-like outside. There’s also a street procession.

When: April 13, 2017

Chithirai Festival

Chithirai Thiruvizha is one of the most important annual festivals held at the world famous Madurai Meenakshi Temple at Madurai in Tamil Nadu. The festival is celebrated for 12 days during the Tamil month of Chithirai or Chitirai. It re-enacts the wedding of Lord Sundareswarar (Lord Shiva) and Goddess Meenakshi (Lord Vishnu’s sister). Legend has it that Lord Vishnu came to Madurai, mounted on a golden horse, to witness the wedding. In 2017, the date of commencement of Chithirai Thiruvizha is April 28, 2017 with flag hoisting ceremony. Pattabhishekam of Goddess Meenakshi is on May 5, 2017. Celestal Wedding or Thirukkalyanam of  Lord Sundareswarar with Goddess Meenakshi is on May 7, 2017. The Car festival is on May 8, 2017. The Theertham festival is celebrated on the 12th day (May 9, 2017) with the Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi going round Masi streets and blessing the devotees.

When: April 28-May 9, 2017

Painkuni of royal Travancore

Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple with its rich history is one among the most famous temples in India. A major festival at this temple which sees huge participation of devotees from across the state is the Painkuni Festival. Painkuni is a ten-day festival in which special rituals are offered every day. The festival is a visual delight where in colossal figurines are set up. These huge fibre glass figures of the Pandavas (the five sons of Pandu in the Indian epic Mahabharata) are placed at the eastern entrance to the temple. It is held that these figurines are set up in order to propitiate Indra, the Rain God. The festival starts with kodiyettu, which is the hoisting of the ceremonial flag. The ninth day has the head of the Travancore Royal Family performing the palli vetta (royal hunt) ritual, near the Vettakorumakan Temple in the Fort area. The arattu (holy bath) ceremony of the idols in the sea at the Shanghumugham Beach marks the end of the festivities. The head of the royal family of erstwhile Travancore will lead the procession for the arattu carrying the ceremonial sword and wearing the traditional green cap. The male members of royal family of Travancore will escort the deities in the procession and devotees line up to offer their prayers to the deities. The idols are then taken back to the temple.

When: April 10, 2017

Sankat Mochan Music Festival

Banaras or Varanasi has a long tradition of classical music and dance in temples. The first Sankat Mochan Musical Festival was held in 1923, and since then it’s attracted acclaimed classical musicians and dancers to perform from all over India. Recitals are held every evening in the temple courtyard and go on until dawn, as part of Hanuman Jayanti (birthday of Lord Hanuman) celebrations. The Sankat Mochan Sangeet Samaroh is the biggest annual classical music and dance festival of Banaras, and one of India’s biggest. For many Banarasis, it is the highlight of the year, its magic lingering long after it is over. First Sankat Mochan Music Festival was organized in 1923 and since then it attracts numerous enthusiasts of Indian classical music and dance world, including Odissi guru, Kelucharan Mahapatra, who was associated since its early days. In fact he was instrumental in starting women’s participation in the festival with Sanjukta Panigrahi, Swapna Sundari and Kankana Banerjee. Sankat Mochan Music Festival is an all night long music festival which goes on for four nights. India Classical Music maestros from all over come to participate to showcase their skills and consider it as an honour. This Music Festival has attracted numerous maestros of Indian classical music and dance world

When: April 15-19, 2017

Patayani at Kadammanitta

Kadammanitta Devi Temple in the tiny hamlet of Kadammanitta in Pathanamthitta is famed for its impressive display of the ritual art form of Patayani- the Kadammanitta Patayani. A vibrant outburst of colour and energy, the Patayani is performed to appease Goddess Bhadrakaali and this festival is celebrated every year from the first day of Malayalam month, medam to the 10th day, called the pathamudayam. The festival begins with chootuveipu – the lighting of fire and the beating of the thappu, Patayani percussion instrument. This is followed by eduthu varavu or the procession of several patayani kolams which marks the conclusion of the festival.

When: April 14-21, 2017

Where: Kadammanitta Devi Temple, Pathanamthitta. Nearest railway station is Thiruvalla, about 30 km, while nearest airport is Trivandrum International Airport, about 105 km.

 

Top 10 trekking ideas for April

The annual holiday season is right at the corner and one has got many options to choose from. Adventure tourism in general and trekking in particular is always flavour of the summer vacations when it comes to youth. Youth Hostels Association of India (YHAI) has been a pioneer in India for economical group trekking in himalayas and elsewhere. This time around we are listing top ten summer national trekking/adventure expeditions of YHAI in India which one would love to join. Treks are open for everybody, but unless we rush limited seats might not be available in each group. Have a look meanwhile-

  1. Glorious Sar Pass trek

Sar-PassIn the beautiful Parvati valley of Kullu District in Himachal Pradesh, SAR Pass is one of the most popular trails of the Shivalik range of the mighty Himalayas. Parvati valley abounds in natural beauty with snow clad mountains, perennial rivulets, streams and waterfalls, picturesque meadows in the midst of dense forests of Devdar and Fir trees, which beckon the young adventure lover to come and experience the serene and calm atmosphere of all pervading nature. 11 days and 10 nights SAR Pass Trail offers an opportunity to enjoy the exquisite beauty of the Parvati valley with Kasol, Tila Lotni, Biskeri and Manikaran as its beauty spots. Base camp Kasol is famous for its cool and pleasant climate and tall pine trees. Tila Lotni can literally be called the little ICE LAND, where one can experience the challenges of nature in full fury, during spine chilling cold nights. The splendid views of snowy peaks offer an endless feast to the eyes. Biskeri fascinates the trekkers with its sweet grasses, wild flowers and a variety of birds. Hot water springs of Manikaran, are bliss. A natural hot water bath at these springs relieves you of all the tiredness and rejuvenates the body, mind and soul with a new energy. Base camp Kasol is just 4 kms before Manikaran on the Kullu-Manikaran route.

Dates: 1st May 2015 to 10th June 2015

Fees: Rs. 4673/- Inclusive of Food, Boarding, Lodging, Equipments, Group Insurance, Forest entry, Trekking

2. Trekking in Har-Ki-Doon valley

Har-Ki-DoonTrekking Expedition route to Har-Ki-Doon in Uttrakhand was introduced in 2002 on a strong demand of a segment of YHAI members. Encouraged by the success and response of the last expeditions, this new adventure trail is being announced again. A nine days and eight nights trek with base camp in Sankri. The valley of Har-Ki-Doon falls in the Western Garwal Himalayas bordering Himachal Pradesh. The trek route offers a breathtaking view of snowy mountains, peaks, dense forest, waterfalls, bugyals (high altitude meadows), wildlife and rare himalayan birds. You can view the majestic peaks of Swargarohni, Bandarpoonch and Kala Nag from a close range. For ages, the land has been known for temples and shrines with sacred mythological attachments, Duryodhna, the eldest of Kaurvas, is worshipped here, This trek route is virtually a paradise for the botonists, bird watchers, photographers, nature lovers, foot loose trekkers and anyone interested in exploring and learning in an unconventional way, in short, the more you trek in this area, the more curious you get to know more which has not yet been written but only found in tales and lores.

Dates: 5th May 2015 to 30th May 2015

Fees: Rs.5250/- Inclusive of Stay & Food charges , Transportation (Mussoorie to Sankri), Group Insurance fees, Equipment charges , Entry fees, Guide fees

3. Everest view at Sandakphu

SandakphuSandakphu is the world famous trekking paradise, from where can enjoy the clear views of Himalayan Giants like Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga, Lohtse, Nuptse, Makalu, Pandim, Chomolhari, and many more up to Arunachal Pradesh. Only place in India to have a view of four of the world’s five highest peaks. For the tourists & trekkers, fresh from the sights of other lands, not only as a delightful surprise but as a variable relief from the hot & sultry weather from plains. The weather at this time of the year is Darjeeling best. Cool Languid days with hardly a cloud in a sky of clear and uninterrupted blue, near by slopes, a luxuriant green in the blue hills shimmering across the valley and the mighty Kanchenjunga range stands as a majestic background towering over everything. The base camp is at Youth Hostel Hotel Kadambari, near Darjeeling Railway Station, Darjeeling is easily accessible from any part of India by Air, Rail or Road, The nearest main line railway station is New Jalpaiguri and the Airport at Bagdogra being the links to the outside world. From there avail Bus/Jeep/Taxi services to reach Darjeeling (90 km.) in three hours. There is also a world heritage narrow gauge train from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling.

Dates: 26th April to 10th May 2015

Fees: Rs. 5250/- Inclusive of Accommodation, Nutritious Veg food, Insurance, Forest entry fees.

4. Beauty of Shivaliks at Chanderkhani

Chanderkhani-PassThis route is of scenic beauty and cultural diversity. It has vast tracts of meadows and pastures lying across beautiful mountains. Chanderkhani, located at a height of 12,190 ft. provides an awesome and breathtaking view of some of the most beautiful snow clad mountain peaks like Tiger Thatch, Ali Ratni, Inderasan and Priyadarshini Range. Chanderkhani, one of the most popular trekking routes in the Shivalik Range. The trek  route passes through dense forest with a variety of botanical species of thick and colourful foliage emanating enchanting fragrance, compelling passerby to view and appreciate the raw natural beauty. You may also meet simple Himachali folks who are proud of their land, culture and heritage. Malana is the only one village where residents still retains its 2000 years old traditions of a “Village Republic”. They have a distinct way of life, social customs, judicial system and ethics. Ten days and nine nights trek has base camp at Seobagh. Youth Hostel- Seobagh is 3kms from Kullu and on the left of the banks of meandering river Beas, near Jairu Mineral Water plant. It is linked by road via Ram Shila & Gamon Bridge, and commands a panoramic view of surrounding mountains. Regular bus services are available for Kullu from Delhi, Chandigarh & Punjab. The nearest Railway Stations are Ambala& Chandigarh & the nearest Airport is Bhuntar.

Dates: 26th April 2015 to 05th June 2015

Fees: Rs. 4515/- Inclusive of Food, Boarding, Lodging, Equipments, Group Insurance, Forest entry, Trekking.

5. Biking at Jalori Pass

Jalori PassFor all those who would love biking more than trekking or who had enough of trekking and now want to try a hand on biking, there is an option of biking on high altitude Jalori Pass. National Mountain Biking Expedition, yet again, to give you memories for life (from Banala (Post Aut) to Jalori Pass and back to Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh). Biking at over 10 thousand feet is always an enjoyable and thrilling experience. For National Himalayan Mountain Biking expedition stretching to eight days and seven nights, base camp is at Aut, which is on the Kullu-Manali Highway. It is 28km short from Kullu. Direct bus services are available from ISBT Delhi, Chandigarh and other parts of Punjab, nearest rail heads are Ambala and Chandigarh. Such camps give exposure to greater adventure and to rough the rigours of plodding with a sense of love for nature and outdoor recreational activity aiming at promoting advent are in tandem with national integration.

Dates: 24th April 2015 to 5th June 2015

Fees: Rs. 3675/- Inclusive of Food, Stay, Equipments, Cycles, Training, Guidance & Insurance

6. Nature study at Dobhi

Nature-StudyThis is for the young ones. Combine adventure with education camp for 8 days in the beautiful Kullu valley-the abode of Gods in Himachal Pradesh, is being organised by the Youth Hostels Association of India. The nature study camp includes bird-watching, star gazing, (identifying satellites) rock climbing, trekking and first aid training. One may also photograph the panoramic views of the surrounding areas. Avail this opportunity of staying in the camp site amidst majestic snow peaks of Himalayas and meet the youngsters from various parts of the country. At night, sit around the camp fire after dinner for a cultural get together with a sense of love for nature and outdoor activity, aiming at promoting national integration. Base camp Dobhi is directly connected with Delhi (527kms), Chandigarh (226kms) by road. Regular bus services are available. The nearest rail heads for Dobhi are Ambala & Chandigarh. The nearest airport is Bhuntar. Youth Hostel Dobhi is 14kms on Kullu-Manali highway. The program is open to students of age group between 10 -15 yrs. Only junior members are allowed to participate. One teacher/escort accompanying a group of 10 students will be allowed complimentary in terms of participation fee. Any additional teacher/escort will be charged.

Dates: 27th April- 31st May 2015

Fees: Rs. 3675/- Inclusive of Food, Stay, Equipments, Training, Forest entry fee, Guidance, Insurance

7. Heritage trek in Kashmir

Kashmir HeritageThe Youth Hostels Association of India, J&K State Branch in collaboration with the Directorates of Education, Youth Services & Sports, Colleges and Tourism, J&K Government, Patnitop Development Authority & District Administration Udhampur is organizing the “National Heritage Trek” expedition through some of the most scenic and beautiful areas of  Jammu & Kashmir. This seven days trek touches unique heritage sites, green meadows and pastures; lofty mountains; thick deodar forests; clear natural water springs; brooks and the holy river that flows just below the surface of the earth except at one location at Udhampur. The trek is a unique experience, providing trekkers with a glimpse of magnificent natural and built heritage of the state. The base camp Udhampur is well connected with whole country by means of road and  rail mode of transportation. Udhampur is about 60 Kms from winter capital of J&K the Jammu city on Jammu –Srinagar National Highway. From Udhampur railway station ( 4 Kms from base camp) auto rickshaw is available.The nearest Airport is Jammu airport.

Dates: 1st May to 10th June 2015

Fees: Rs. 4725/- The fee includes simple vegetarian food, accommodation, supervision, expert guidance and equipment for 7 days.

8. Camping in Nilgiris

Nilgiri HillsIf you have had too much of Himalayan passes and want to go something milder then try a family camping at Nilgiris. Youth Hostels Association of India, Tamil Nadu State Branch is organises a family Camping in the beautiful region of Nilgiris. Ooty youth hostel is the site for the camping. The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, which includes the Nilgiri Hills, forms a part of the protected bio reserves in India and is a part of UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The Upper and Lower Pykara falls have falls of 180 feet (55 m), and 200 feet (61 m), respectively. The best trekking seasons are April–June and September–December.

Dates: 25 April to 29 May 2015

Fees: Rs.7525/- Includes tented accommodation, guidance, equipment and 2days sight seeing – sight seeing to Ooty & Coonoor and sight seeing to Mudumalai Wild Life Sanctuary & Pykara Falls. Only Entry Ticket at tourist places to be purchased by the participants. Fees is for a family consisting of husband, wife and two children upto the age of 15 years. The fee shall remain the same even if no children accompany. Rs.1,750/- will be charged for more than two children, and children above 15 years, per additional family member.

9. Enjoy camping with family at Kullu

Kullu CampingIn 1995 YHAI introduced the Family camping Program for the families of volunteer camp leaders and other functionaries. Encouraged by the success of this adventure and, on the request of members it repeated this program in many years till 2013. In year 2015 again, YHAI is organizing the Family Adventure Camping Program in the picturesque valley of Kullu-Manali, Himachal Pradesh. This camps is for four nights and five days. Base camp is at 15 Miles, near end of Span Resort. Get down at Ballu’s Cafe – Baba Deluxe Dhaba on the Delhi- Kullu Manali National Highway. Regular bus services are available from Delhi, Chandigarh, Punjab to Kullu Manali. Nearest railheads are Ambala and Chandigarh. Nearest Airport is Bhuntar. One tent shall be given to each family. Mattresses, pillow and blankets shall be provided. Family should bring their own bed sheets. A well constructed pucca toilet-cum bathrooms block is available at the base camp. Morning tea, breakfast, packed lunch, evening tea (in the camp), and dinner and after dinner tea/coffee/Bournvita, shall be provided. Nutritious, vegetarian and good quality food shall be served at the camp.

Dates: 24th April’, 29th April, 4th May, 9th May, 14th May, 19th May, 24th May, 29th May, 3rd June, 8th June 2015

Fees: Rs. 4935/- Inclusive of Food, Accommodation, Guidance & Insurance for One Family(Husband, Wife & 2 Children upto 12 years)

10. Summer camping at Sulpaneshwar

Sulpaneshwar CampingAdventurous Three Days Two Nights in Sulpaneshwar Wild life sanctuary, the totally pollution free area.The participants will enjoy a splendid panorama of hills, refreshing water reservoir, beautiful landscapes, breath taking trees, The hilly trek of Sulpaneshwar wild life century provides trekking trails, some additional attractions like Repelling, River crossing, Burma Bridge, Boating, jeep ride, bird watching, and Photography. To be with the nature is the prime thing in our life, come and see what lies at –Sulpaneshwar wild life sanctuary. The Reporting camp Rajpipla is located on Vadodara-Netrang Gujarat State Highway. The nearest railway stations are Rajpipla, Ankleshwar (61 Km), Bharuch (65 km) and Vadodara (86 km.). State bus service is available. Direct bus service is also available from Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Bharuch, and Ankleshwar. Direct trains are available from Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and major cities of India.

Dates: 11th, 13th and 18th April 2015

Fees:  Rs.2500/- (Direct Reporting AT RAJPIPLA) which includes simple nutritious vegetarian meal, Boating, River crossing, Repelling, Burma Bridge, Star Gazing, Bird Watching, tented accommodations, Local Transportation, Forest entry fees, expert guidance, etc.

 

Tulip Garden at Heaven

Almost 50 thousand visitors have been to Tulips gardens, Srinagar since it was thrown open for public early this month. Tulips are in full bloom and will remain so for atleast early May. Don’t miss a chance to see one of the most beautiful places on this planet.

Vagabond Images

Kashmir is often referred to as Heaven on Earth and Tulip Gardens at the foothills of Zabarwan hills in Srinagar is one more addition to its glory. It is biggest Tulip Garden in whole of Asia. Spread in area of about 30 hectares, this garden has more than seventy varieties of Tulips in more than 2 million bulbs. Many of these vaieties have been imported from far Europe. Its a colour riot, a sight to behold with picturesque Dal lake in foreground. In just six years, this garden has become darling of tourists coming to Kashmir valley. This garden is in Chashmeshahi area with Botonical garden adjacent to it and many of the Mughal gardens for company in close vicinity. A must see for every tourist coming to India and Kashmir.

View original post

Wedding Bells

Kashmiri women singing a traditional wedding song at a village near Anantnag on way to Kokernag in Kashmir valley. Kashmiri weddings are a treat to watch. At this particular occasion the groom has gone to the local mosque and the women folk are waiting for him to return, while singing this song on the main road to village. Song is praising the bride and the groom and reminds them that they are finally now together…. And it was raining too!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here is a video of this song

Kashmiri Wedding Song