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Lonely Planet: ‘Escape Express Ride”

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Lonely Planet India has launched ‘Escape Express’, a digital campaign with an objective to drive engagements on Lonely Planet India’s website (www.lonelyplanet.in) and social media channels.

Escape Express got launched on 1 August 2013 and will be live till 31 August 2013.

This one month campaign takes you on a virtual journey to destinations around Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

The campaign starts from Delhi moving onto the cities of Mumbai and Bengaluru and ends with users sharing their ‘Escape Diary’ of memorable trips.

Winners will get hosts of exciting prizes. The first prize is the winner’s choice of either an Apple 16GB iPad with Retina Display and Wi-Fi Cellular (4th Generation) or a Nikon DSLR camera.

The second prize is an Apple 16GB iPad Mini with Wi-Fi.  Best of next ten entries will win gift vouchers from a luggage company. But that’s not all, they also have dozens of other exciting prizes to be won under various categories.

Important Dates:

  • 1 August 2013 – Contest begins
  • 13 August 2013 – Phase II of contest and voting begins
  • 31 August 2013 – Contest ends
  • 5 September 2013 – Announcement of Grand Prize winners

Prizes to be offered :

  1. Early Bird Prize: 50 prizes each comprising sling bag and a Lonely Planet Short Escape Book
  2. Most Creative Tweets Prize: 9 prizes each comprising sling bag and a Lonely Planet Short Escape Book
  3. Maximum Buddies Prize: 3 prizes each comprising sling bag and a Lonely Planet Short Escape Book
  4. Surprise Questions: 27 prizes each comprising sling bag and a Lonely Planet Short Escape Book
  5. Mega Prizes 12 prizes as follows:
    1. The first prize is the winner’s choice of either an Apple 16GB iPad with Retina Display and Wi-Fi Cellular (4th Generation)  or a Nikon DSLR camera
    2. The second prize is an Apple 16GB iPad Mini with Wi-Fi
    3. The third – twelfth prizes comprise gift vouchers from a luggage  company

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How to Play

To enter, go to escapeexpress.lonelyplanet.in (“Website”) and register to participate by providing your personal details including name, email and contact number. The Escape Express contest comprises of two phases.

Phase 1:

It consists of three legs (Escape from Delhi, Escape from Mumbai and Escape from Bengaluru):

  • Attempt each of the questions or tasks in all three legs as instructed.
  • For each correct response, a certain number of kilometres will be assigned to you. However, the number of kilometres assigned will not entitle you to win.
  • If you respond incorrectly to a question or task, you will be able to move to the next level as long as an attempt has been submitted.
  • Once all three legs are completed, you will be able to progress to Phase 2.
  • Wait! There’s more. You will also get a chance to win surprise gifts by answering the surprise questions.
  • What are the Surprise Questions?
    The surprise questions will be asked between tasks. Answer them correctly and you could win cool goodies.

Phase 2:

Share your escape diary with us. You can either share your story in the form of an essay (maximum 500 words), OR upload the priceless pictures from your trip (maximum 10), OR share that brilliant video you have been itching to show the world (maximum 3)

Below are the snapshot of the contest flow :

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Lonely Planet, India, Uk, Australia, Lonley Planet India, Lonely Planet Global, Escpare Express Contest, Bloggers, Travel, Escapades, Travelouge, backpackers, Travellers, photographers

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So visit escapeexpress.lonelyplanet.in and share your digital travel with no “Travel Expense” and completely free contest and win great prizes.

This post was purely done as we are partnered with Lonely Planet India

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A ready lead to first-time Backpackers

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So it has been a depressing day, may be a sad week or even a super-boring month. What do you do?? A few suggestions you may get are: “go outside”, “get some fresh air”, “chill-out with friends”, “watch a series of movies from your bucket list” etc. My suggestion; BACKPACK AND GET LOST!

Now for first-timers, “What is a Backpacking Trip?”

Backpacking is a phenomenon wherein,  you just dump the things which decide your survival on the roads by yourself into a big back-strapped bag, and go out to explore the world, which starts from the first footstep outside your house.

Wow! I feel the above definition should be utilized by dictionaries to define “backpacking

First off, you must know that the term backpack itself was coined in 1910s in the United States. Before this term was born, other terms such as moneybag and packsack were used to refer to such bags. The other famous word ‘rucksack’ is a German one and is usually used in the USA Army and in the UK. It’s a loanword that literally means ‘der Rucken’ in Germany referring to ‘the human back’.

Backpacking is being done for decades and centuries all across the world. In initial days it was used to explore new places, to make detailed maps of places, cities topography, vegetation, clans and tribes, and other natural resources.

In olden days such trips were a necessity for a ruler to understand his terrain. Backpackers in those days were known as “Scouts”. They were all trained soldiers, who had a deep knowledge of survival and self sustenance in the wilderness.

Knowledge of this history behind backpacking is very essential. Today whatever we know, the maps we refer, many of the survival tips we use have come from a lineage of such brave travel journeys.

Today backpacking has become a more of a leisure trip. People do it to just take their mind off stress, work etc.

Backpackers have become a niche in the travelling industry. Anyone who is on a tight budget, but wants to be adventurous is considered a backpacker. So do not be demoralized if people consider your travelling budget to be low. Because if so, just show the mockers that what all is a part of your bucket list in the forthcoming travel and still spending much less.

Backpacker Profile

Despite their reputation as tourists on tight budgets, backpackers spend more, travel further and stay longer than other travelers. The typical backpacker is young (18-35 years), educated, adventurous and price conscious. Their travelling style is characterized by the following factors:

Preference for budget accommodation
Most backpackers use the wide variety of lodges or small hotels in India. Whilst they prefer to spend as little as possible for accommodation, they also want value for money and may not always choose the cheapest available. Most of their travel finances are spent on other activities.

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Eager to mix with travelers and locals

Social contact (including establishing friendships and partying) is a primary motive. Meeting fellow travelers is also an opportunity to acquire good travel tips. Indian backpackers in common try to make new friends for the soul reason of clubbing into forthcoming trips.

Price Conscious

Whilst aware of prices and wanting to spend their money over a longer period, backpackers spend, on average, double the amount of other travelers. Reasons for these are that, they tend to wander off from their main course just to seek that extra adventure.

Flexible itinerary 

Though Indian backpacker, have a fixed date of arrival and departure, but the time in between remains an extempore journey. They try to cover as much as possible within that time.

Active adventure seekers 

Of particular interest to backpackers are adventure tours and attractions that require active participation. Going off roads, staying with the locals, having local home-made cuisine, participating in various adventure sports makes the crux of their travel.

Working holiday 

Gathering funds is one of the biggest challenges for Indian Backpackers. Thus working on holidays, or doing overtime are common methods of getting those extra days of travel.

Saying all this above does not mean that a backpacking trip is completely unplanned. There has to be a few essential things which have to be planned let us go over them one by one as follows:

1. When to Go Where: This is a crucial question because Indian subcontinent has varied climatic condition all across the year. So you would not want to get stuck inside your place of accommodation the whole day because you did not pay attention to the weather forecasts for that region.

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  1. Maps… Maps… Maps: Carry an “As Detailed Map” as available. A few things it should include are legends for Hospitals, Food centers, Police Booths. These may save your life in a life threatening scenario.
  1. Basic route to follow: Though trips like these are not supposed to follow a pre-defined route, but still a basic outline for your travel destinations should be well defined. This will help you save a lot of time asking locals for places to visit.

4.  Culture Study: Having knowledge of the local culture and language is a boon in disguise. This is a very                       easy way of interacting with the locals and getting much needed help from them. Always remember, “It is their homeland and not yours”. Respecting it will help you gain the trust of the locals and you’ll learn a lot.

5.  “Say NO” to your “Drinking Urges”: It is a self explanatory statement. It may seem a bit of moral policing, but trust me, it is something which will keep your senses alert, especially if you are a “Lone Backpacker”.

  1.  Vaccination: This is a life-saving tip. We in India consider ourselves immune to every bug in this world. But you seriously don’t want to go on your feet and come back in a stretcher and be admitted to some local hospital with low resources. The infection on field may not kill you, but the ones in the hospitals may. This is a stark reality of off-beat backpacking trips. Hospitals situated in remote places are sometimes ill-equipped in dealing even simple sickness.

7.  Emergency contacts: Always keep a zip lock pouch which has all your emergency contact details. It should have the number of your near and dear ones, the local officials, your family physician etc.

Saying all the above, I still believe that, “It is you who can help yourself”. Wait for my next write-up on “A Backpackers backpack- On What to Carry and Why”.

Till them Happy Tripping, Meet you someday on field!! Adios!

 

Picture credit: evaser.com , www.visitbelgium.com , mycolorado.org

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Tarkarli – The “Virgin” beaches of Konkan India

By Arnab Banerjee

Hey let us go to “Tarkarli”… Tarkarli…?… Tarkarli…?… Yes the name did ring a bell at the back of my sleeping memory… Why but? At morning or rather should I say earlier than dawn my dull sleepy brain neither did comprehend the question nor gave out any answers… So like as usual, I would go back to sleep thinking it as a dream…. Yes indeed, the journey started with a “so called dream”… But by the time reality crept in, I was already packing my bags for the trip me and my friends always dreamt of.

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The journey started from “Panvel”, with an eventful event of regular begging for seats to the Ticket Checker (TC), which finally ended with the TC almost throwing me out of the train for carrying a general ticket and trying to board the 3AC. But an Olympics level 100 meter sprint took me to the general compartment, wherein I pushed myself into an overloaded compartment. After the first few hours of grueling battle to sustain my one-legged standing position inside the corridor towards the “shauchalya (western toilet)”, I finally got down at an intermittent station to join my friends for a proper nap in the 3AC. Eyes opened next day with an excitement to reach our first destination “Kudal”. Lazily drooling through the window, we all sat for the destination station to arrive. It finally did, but as per Indian standard Time (IST) an hour and half late.

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A cold drink along with an awesome “Misal Pav with Vada” was enough to fill up our hungry tummy’s mouth for a few hours. The heat had taken a toll on us… within 15 minutes the complete cold drinks which went inside us started trickling out of our sweat glands. With all our backpacks we were looking like coolies (though not as handsome as Amitabh Bacchan). Then another Olympics 50 meter sprint got us into a local State Transport (ST). As the journey commenced, we strapped ourselves to the seats with what we had. The driver as we guessed seemed to be a Pro-F1 racer. It was like the bus’s engine had suddenly been replaced with that of a jet plane. The driver’s cut throat driving though the narrow by lanes of the intermittent villages without the use of brakes was exemplary. Thatched roofs, tiled huts, paddy fields, barren lands etc. all passed by like a gusty haze. An hour and half extreme speed bus ride brought us to Malvan Bus Depot. With our heart pounding against our ribs, we got down and got into an auto for “Deobaugh”. We were greeted by a few local dogs, who had a nice time barking at us. Then finally when they were bored, they left us alone on our way towards our staying place

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Sreepad Lodge was where we had booked our stay. Through the walk-through between huts and tiled houses, we reached our staying location. Without keeping our bags inside the rooms, we ran towards the beach and into the Greenish-Blue cold water. The water was so clear that the visibility was clear up to 2-3 feet from above. I feel I have said enough… Now the remaining journey will be told by my forografs… “Adios”

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Uttarkhand, RoopKund,

Roopkund Trek: The Journey To Skeleton Lake

Uttarkhand, RoopKund,

Roopkund Trek, though it doesn’t come anywhere near some of the tallest peaks in this region of Uttarakhand, gave us a glimpse of a fit the mountains can throw unsuspectingly on its hikers. From the 15th-21st of September, 2012, the journey to this infamous lake spread with the bones of 500 people, had begun.

Roopkund Trek Log Day 1 – 15th September: Enroute to base camp, Lohajung, Uttarakhand (2530m)

The day begins at 5 am. By the time we eat breakfast, it is 7 am and within the next half an hour, our trek to Roopkund begins.

Roopkund

People were told to leave all their necessary items from their backpack behind to avoid being weighed down. Some others chose to give away their bags to the mules (Mule charges are Rs.150/- a day for 2 bags). When we began, we could see the clouds up-close, in fact, we were literally walking through them. We took the road route to a certain point. This route was filled with stones and pebbles. The Himalayan mountain tops in the distance were a majestic sight.

We passed several streams, refilled our bottles until the point where we began ascending. The climb was so tedious that everyone of us were longing to set foot on straight land. Eventually, after a nearly 6 hour trek, covering a distance of 9 kms, we reached Didina where we were accommodated in one of the cottages. Since we reached by 1pm, we had the rest of the day to spare and decided to engage in a game of cricket. What a joy that was !

By 9 pm everyone ate dinner and went to bed.

Journal entry: The day was delightful.

Roopkund Trek Log Day 3 – 17th September:  Enroute to Bedni Bugyal (3354m)

After waking up at 6 am, the routine of chai and breakfast followed.

We started by 8:15 am and it was only going to be a climb for the next 4-5 hours. We made our way through stoney terrain, through a beautiful forest patch, which was so gruesome a climb but ultimately, the point when we reached Ali Bugyal was all worthwhile.

Ali Bugyal was a magical sight of open green pastures, surrounding mountains and the clouds. After we were served a light nutritious snack at by 1pm, it started to rain.

RoopKund, Bendni Bugyal, Uttarakhand

Ali Bugyal

Putting on our rain wear, we then proceeded to trek for the next 2-3 hours to reach Bedni Bugyal. When we reached Bedni Bugyal, there were several tents pitched for us, including one bunker like structure. The rainfall got heavier and our enjoyment of completing the trek for the day was dampened by the muck and wetness.

By 9 pm, we all snuggled into our sleeping bags, inside the tent; 3 in 1.

Roopkund Trek tents

Journal entry: Witnessed the convergence of the dark clouds overhead when we reached a height of 10,000 feet at Bedni Bugyal, the largest meadow in Asia. Rain did start trickling down in the night, lowering temperatures to a bone chilling level.

Roopkund Trek Log Day 4 – 18th September: Bedni Bugyal to Bhagwabasa (4375m)

Today was the day we realize the wrath of fury of the mountains. Three participants returned back this day due to inability to cope with the physical strain of the trek.

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Amidst slight rainfall we begin our trek by 8:30 am. We passed by a Hindu temple known as Bedni Kund which was believed to have been the place where Lord Shiva and Parvati married. Further down in the trek, when all was calm, the sky burst open. Rain and wind lashed our bodies. We were gripped with an intense chill. Temperatures dropped by 8-10 degrees within minutes. Caught in the middle, the only option was to move on with all the might everyone had.

We did.

We reached a shelter at a point called Pather Nachauni. Everybody, all wet and freezing began questioning their ability to go further with the relentless rain. After our trek leader reached, he informed us about the weather not improving and that those who could go on, could and those who couldn’t or didn’t want to, could return.

It was so cold even inside a small room filled with 27 people that smoking became a resort to keep our bodies warm. Our teeth were chattering. We couldn’t move because the chill had ruptured our strength. It suddenly became a matter of testing our fate or safely returning back. We were even warned of sudden breathlessness and strike by lightning at that height.

As much as everyone wanted to complete the trek, 9 from 20 participants decided to head back. Eleven moved on.

The two sets went their opposite ways by 3:30 pm. The group that returned had a fairly peaceful return back, which by when, the rainfall reduced in its intensity.

Himalayas, Uttarakhand,

The other group reached Bhagwabasa by latest 7 pm. Still fighting the cold, the group had no choice but to take their clothes off inside the enclosed shelter and leave them for drying. After dinner sad news reached this lot that the sleeping bags carried for them had been all drenched. The group was helpless and had to snuck themselves into the wet bag and go off to sleep.

On top of that, it began to snow.

Journal entry: At 13,000 feet the sky burst open to a death-riddled extent. Walking became a test of life.

Roopkund Trek Log Day 5 – 19th September: The Return at Bedni Bugyal

The day when the sun hit our sore heads. It was a joyful sight to see a clear blue sky over head.

The nine who had returned back to Bedni the previous day enjoyed the day with a lot of games played out in the open over dry ground. Most of the day did go into drying off the wet clothes. It felt wonderful to see the water evaporate turning the colour of each one’s clothes brighter to its original ones. We even became friendly with a Spanish man and Austrian woman who had come trekking to Roopkund by themselves and pitched a tent right next to ours.

The other end, what was supposed to be a trek starting at 5 am, from Bhagwabasa to Roopkund, began at only 8 pm. Everyone was unable to wake up after the previous day’s chill of a thrill. This day was just what they had hoped for. A treacherous climb awaited them. A short distance of even barely 200 feet had taken over 45 minutes. The place near Skeleton Lake was laden with snow almost 2 feet deep. Everyone finally made it to Roopkund, the Skeleton Lake. This group then made their way back to Bedni Bugyal from here on at about 12.30 pm. They reached Bedni Bugyal at 7 pm.

The Bones

The Bones

Journal entry: To a phenomenal surprise, the sky bloomed in the sunlight. Yet, the safe arrival of the remaining 10 always lurked. It was in the evening at 7 pm, that the fanfare began when the rest of the 10 returned, safe and sound. A bonfire ensued and stories about their journey all the way was shared. Our last night at Bedni, the stars looked even more beautiful and majestic.

Roopkund Lake, Uttarakhand , Himalayas

Roopkund Trek Log Day 6 – 20th September: The return back to Lohajung

Everyone was fine, the weather stayed as good as it did the previous day and by 9 am, everyone made their way downwards to Wan.

Wan was little village a 3-4 hour trek away through a dense forest and the very famous Neel Ganga river. From Wan, there was a pickup arranged for that helped us get to Lohajung within the next one hour. And finally we were all back.

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On that day, the Nanda Devi Raj Jat festivals, one of the most well known festivals throughout the world, was being celebrated. It happens once every 12 years.

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Nandevi Procession

 

By Nasir

You can read more about his interest in treks at http://quirkyrebel.blogspot.in/    and on twitter @quirkyrebel

Restaurant in Pushkar

Day 2 Jaipur to Pushkar- Solo Travelling

After a good sleep and some updates on live tweets, early morning travel to Pushkar was something I was looking forward to. Hotel manager- Dibendu helped me in booking a direct bus which starts at 9.am from close by bus stop by Jai Ram travel directly to Pushkar.  A ticket of INR 170 takes you fromJaipur to Pushkar in 4 hours and good mini bus. I was surrounded only by foreign tourists which was a tour arranged by the group by G Adventures.

Foriegn tourists

G Adventures travellers with a Pushkar tourists

So they travelled for 15 days in India to places like Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Goa..etc told by their tour leader Mr. Zahid Bari. Mostly Handling vibrant tours of India, they have mix of elite, budget tours ,etc . Met David from Australia and many others from the tour and asked their till now experiences of India. The only words I could remember is “ Beautiful, Vibrant, Warm people, Great Culture” ..and these words always make me proud.. The journey through small villages on the way to Pushkar..Landscape of hills…every 10 mins a temple made the journey serene from the mundane work….

Tour Leader- Traveller

Zahid Bari

Reached the Pushkar main stop , around 1pm.. and there was already plan of @photokatha meetup with @snagpal @shaylnee, @aks_hai and @ldnbcn.. at Out of the blue restaurant. To reach this restaurant, cyclists taking people in small box like sitting  (In hindi it is called haath gadi ) was the only way to reach the restaurant as it was far by 20 mins .,which was in the main market. . The first glimpses from Pushkar, was only about colors, priests of different styles and colors, food sold in random things, foreign tourist more than locals.

Restaurant in Pushkar

Out of the Blue Restaurant

Photographers meetup

Photokatha meetup

Out of the blue restaurant had great eye view of Pushkar ghats, and striking ambience of blue.You had to climb 2 floors to be in the restaurant where you had floor seating style with comfortable tables and lounge beds.  And you get great overview of Pushkar.

Pushkar, Temple, Travel India

With such a heavy travel, this was THE  place for lunch I was contemplating. So we did mix of orders like Italian with Gnocchi pastas , Indian dishes like Paneer and malai kofta. Hummus is something you shouldnt miss at this place. unique about this place was that guests didn’t give feedbacks here on paper. The entire wall was covered with feedbacks from guests After the stodgy lunch, now was the time to settle the luggage before I get drained even with that small luggage.

Please note being solo traveller, meeting new people from twitter with the help of @photokatha did raise eyebrows to some of the people. However this meetup was really helpful, as shared cross-country experiences, photography, travel, India Culture,etc.  Shaylene ( Met through twitter) had already booked a room in Amika Guest house..where she was paying INR 500 per day only.. For an extra person it was only INR 200 which was good deal for both of us. The guest house was right opposite Varaha Ghat which was supposed to be the ghat for Maha Arti as well. So feeling comfortable the amount of distance to be walked is cut down and major evenings would be shot by Ghat side. Pushkar being city with small lanes, and less transport during such festivals, backpackers should always carry handy bags and fewer luggage. So from restaurant, I walked about 15mins till my guest house was seen. Passing by  colourful shops selling rajasthani bits and pieces.The guest house had very old era appearance with wooden doors and chains locks. As you enter ,you get this atrium surrounded by wooden stairs and rooms, where during those times one could shout out for water downstairs(during those dates water was  never available in the room.It gave me a feeling of my hometown in kolhapur. Reaching room, which was very small, with pista colour , I decided this would be the place just for sleeping. Now you cannot expect in Rs.200 , you get the best of facility.

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Day 1 – Mumbai to Jaipur – Solotravelling to Pushkar

Whenever the word solo “Women”  comes, the first question arises to the human mind, “Is it safe” to travel in new city?  How about staying alone in hotel? Arent you watching Crime patrol(A series on real life incident towards crime on national tv)?

These all questions definitely came to my inquisitive  thoughts, but I always knew from my heart if you travel safely and cautiously then even a woman can travel none other than a man.  So here I decided to visit world’s only Camel Trading Festival called “Pushkar Mela”. Or you can also call the “City of temples.

So the month I decided to book my tickets, I was penniless. A gentleman (that’s the contradictory of him) Rohit Uphadhyay booked my tickets through goibibo in the month of October only to avoid these airlines making money later from poor middle class youth. So he guaranteed me that even if you arent ready to leave for airport they will remind you to go as thier messages are very active. and trust me that really helped .Now thinking it would be working day before being transferred to new job, he booked and evening flight to Jaipur which would land 10pm in night. That’s where my apprehension got more over my mind, as solo travelling for the first time and reaching the city late .

Trip advisor and makemytrip played a massive role in giving me the option to book a hotel with amazing real time experiences by the guests and travellers in Jaipur. Being solo traveller late night stay would  be more  feasible then to travel in night for another 2 hours to Ajmer.

My flight was for 22nd November, around 8pm from domestic airport and I decided this time to travel from Navi Mumbai to Vileparle in train. Direct train from Vashi to Andheri at 5pm was the safest play to reach on time or rather 45 mins before the check-in. Always heard the concept of travelling light from people who have been in biker fraternity and solo travellers. So this is the first time in my all journeys, I was traveling only with one baggage ! Eureka I achieved the Tagline “ Travel light always”.

Whenever, I have moved from Navi Mumbai to Mumbai for any purpose I always wonder, what would be the future of this Mumbai with no trees. In Navi Mumbai after every distance of seconds I see one tree. And in Mumbai at every distance of seconds I only see building and restaurants. So appeal to people reading blog, try reducing papers as much as you can and use maximum your computer or mobiles to read newspaper, articles. DO NOT print office documents if not required, rather use hard drives to store them .

Gosh, taken by the Mother Nature emotion. Coming back to my travel, to reach airport, I got down at Vileparle station. Now this information was clearly derived from my tweeple. Some sweet people like @ajindam, @ssethia007, @pushpz, @rinashah @talkortweets , @rushabh69 and rajat bigghe. But most of them forgot to mention if it was east or west. However, I forgot to ask as well till I reach station and realized that I got down at the wrong side and again will have to ask rick guy to take to Vileparle East which is closer to airport.

Boarding happen within 20mins and the flight took off on time Indigo Airlines as always, so I was at ease that hotel driver will not have to wait. All short journey in flights are boring as you cant even sleep and cant even work on anything. Aparently while walking on the pathway  to find my seat and being busy in live tweets , I suddenly heard my name being called “ Rutavi “,and I look ahead, It was Priyanka Singh- my colleague from my previous organization who now had become Air hostess. So now on in flight menu is free for me .. lol . She offered me some great juices, dinner and tea&coffee. (Suddenly my co-passengers were interested to know if I was an Air Hostess, how I wish ). My neighbours were a sweet old couple who still kept themselves active by criticizing each other’s action. He (Mr. Sharma ) mentioned that bcz of Ms. Sharma Im gonna become bankrupt soon as she just shops where I take her..(Nothing new Uncle, all aunties have similar actions). The flight took off at .8.30pm and landed Jaipur at 10.pm.  As soon as I land, I receive a call from the driver that he is waiting outside. A sigh of relief that he has reached on time in a new city made me love the city more.

Hospitality being in my blood, will never let me go and that’s what made me land in this situation which was just coming. Seeing the tourist attraction for these dates, I had verbally booked with Hotel Kalyan on the reference of Hotel Pearl Palace owner Mr . Satpal Singh, as during that time Pearl Palace had no availability of rooms. Now after landing , driver informed that Pearl Palace had room for me. So was excited as would get to stay in the much awaited beautiful hotel for budget travellers called “Hotel Pearl Palace”. But on the same front Hotel Kalyan room which was booked and now seen and was defnately not upto mark. So the driver Saleem , mentioned “No matter where you booked you should like the hotel”.  This made me finalize my decision that I would like to stay with Pear Palace only.  The hotel staffs were very courteous and warm as entered. Being a budget traveller hotel, it never seemed to me. Ambiance was designed with lots of artifacts like elephants, sculptures, etc. Skilfully done carvings on the wall of the pathway along with ceiling painted in the unique Jaipur style fine work. At a very reasonable rate of INR 650 per room, the decor of the room was very stunning (wish could research more for word on dictionary for being more expressive) . Towels were used to make these artistic Swans …walls had these paintings of Jaipur kings and queens. It gave complete feeling of staying in Jaipur  to a new traveller in city. I would definitely recommend this hotel on all portals for budget travellers to use this hotel during their visit in Jaipur. Also there is amazing roof top restaurant catering cuisine from different places and ambiance was of backyard garden with artifacts. Again seeing the place you might feel its expensive, but Puri bhaji for me during breakfast costed only INR 60.

Jaipur Hotel Pearl Palace Breakfast

Morning breakfast

Pearl Palace Hotel – Jaipur

Hotel Jaipur

Views of Hotels

Hotel in Jaipur

Decorated Pathway

Pushkar Festival- Rajasthan

Kashmir was my travel plan for July, and yes it was travel where backpacking with two girls gave me good experience of how to travel solo, how to avoid be aware of surroundings, etc. So after a break from travel for  months the itch to travel has already happened. The next destination I chose is  Pushkar – which is one city in India that everybody is cognizant of and wishes to visit someday. This sacred city of Hindus, is only 10 km from the city of Ajmer in Rajasthan. The city of Pushkar is comfortably settled between hills from tri-directions and the magnificent golden desert form the remaining. Though the climatic variations border the extreme ranges as is the true for any desert the always city is abuzz with activities (Festivals, Fairs, Safaris, pilgrimages etc.) throughout the year.

This “Adi Tirtha” finds a revered mention in the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharat. Lord Bramha is supposed to have killed the asura Vajra Nabha with lotus flower. The asura was destroyed by the contact, and petals fell at three places. Brahma dropped a lotus flower on the earth – so say the epics – and Pushkar floated to the surface.
One of those places is Pushkar, where a lake was formed. Brahma performed sacrifice on a Kartik Purnima (full moon day in the Hindu Kartik month), sanctifying it.  Rows of sacred ghats front a mystically magnetic lake, where hundreds of milky-coloured temples and weather-touched domes sit beneath a shifting, pale grey sky.

After booking my flights tickets through Goibibo .com and Indigo directly, I set my journey as solo woman traveler on 22nd Nov to Jaipur. My travel plan is to visit he Pushkar Fair, or Pushkar ka Mela, which is the annual five-day camel and livestock fair, held in the town of Pushkar .  It is one of the world’s largest camel fairs, and apart from buying and selling of livestock it has become an important tourist attraction and its highpoints are the “matka phod“, “longest moustache”, and “bridal competition” are the main draws for this fair which attracts thousands of tourists. The festival concludes on the full moon of the Hindu lunar month of Kartika, which falls in October or November. Drawing in 50,000 camels and 200,000 people, the fair is ostensibly a time when Rajasthani farmers gather to buy and sell their camels, cattle and horses – most of the trading, however, is completed in the days leading up to the fair.

The next visit after festival is a  holy bath in the lake at Pushkar and worship at Brahma temple (one of the very few Brahma temples in the world) is held in very high regards.. Legends claim that, at one time, the shores of the Pushkar Lake were hosting 500 temples and 52 palaces (for numerous kings).

Apart of from religious places,  Pushkar has also insinuated itself to many for its wonderful shopping centers offering various fabrics, books, Handicraft goods, traditional and fusion music etc. Words of caution though not for me as being vegetarian ; avoid consumption of meat and meat products and alcohol within 5 km of Pushkar.

Pushkar Lake is a sacred lake of the Hindus. The Pushkar Lake finds mention on coins as early as the 4th century BC. Pushkar Lake is surrounded by 52 bathing ghats (a series of steps leading to the lake), where pilgrims throng in large numbers to take a sacred bath, especially around Kartik Poornima(October–November) when the Pushkar Fair is held. A dip in the sacred lake is believed to cleanse sins and cure skin diseases.

Places to be seen in this trip:

1.Pushakr Lake

2. Aptaeshwar Temple

3. Brahma’s Temple

4. Rangji Temple

5. Merta

6.Pushkar Cattle Fair

Here is the tentative map of my travel, https://maps.google.co.in/maps/ms?msid=210043318736060096277.0004cbe0b07134020bb17&msa=0&ll=22.958393,74.333496&spn=13.247988,26.784668

Incase anybody wants to join reading travel plan, please letme know….being solo traveller dun mind company!

References and credits:

  1. http://www.sulekha.com
  2. http://www.wikipedia.com
  3. http://www.about.com
  4. www.rtdc.in
  5. www.mustseeindia.com
  6. http://www.lonelyplanet.com

    Pushkar Festival

2 girls from India- backpacking from Mumbai to Jammu n Kashmir.

Never been able to do so,  I thought of going back packing with whatever I got from selling my Canon 1000d. I thought of making use of my 7 D which was recently bought.

Two girls would start the backpacking from Mumbai to Kashmir….through public transport and getting some help around through friends, media etc…

Currently this post gives you a brief idea of our backpacking plan that we have kept it tentative. The same in detail would be shared either while travelling or after returning from trip.

We have booked our tickets through http://www.irctc.in… from 6th July to 15th July, 2012 Bandra terminus to Nizamuddin Station. Since the name also suggests poor train.. this train is AC sitting chair for 16 hours. [ God help our backs ]. The price for one ticket is Rs 562.

We would be stay two days in Delhi and meeting tweepls which we have been interacting..and also seeing chandni chowk….other interesting little bits in delhi

Currently please find below the link for my google maps places which we are planning to do for this trip. The trip is very much decided by the helpful @Rameezmakhdoomi  who is a journalist for the magazine – The Kashmir Scenario. And definately we are gonna be taken care of.. in Kashmir..

The  itinerary is mentioned in the below link:

https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=210043318736060096277.0004c3c9d56cbb0a74864&msa=0

We would be also be sharing experiences during the trip and supporting with photography as well.

Nagin Lake

                                                              

Srinagar- Sunset Dal Lake

Sunset in Dal Lake

 


Gulmarg

Photo References:

www.lightstalkers.org for Beautilful Dal Lake 

www.srinagaronline.co.in for Nagin Lake

www.nisarg.in for Gulmarg

Keep watching this space for more updates on the travel… Also for this particular trip you can find us on #shutterkashmir on Twitter.

Bon Voyage.