Part#4–Unleashing Northeast India–Land Of Lama, Rains, Rhinos and Momos by Abhimanyu

Abode of clouds - Meghalaya!

Please excuse me for writing the final part of this journey after a gap of more than a month. Was caught up in adjusting with the “new normal” way of life and remote working.

There were struggles to get the groceries and seamless internet connectivity initially but now it’s all sorted. Meanwhile, I drove down to Raipur from Pune. 1000 kms in 20 hours with a co-driver. It was good fun. 

Reading part#4 directly might not be good idea so please click on the below links to read prequels

After spending 2 days in Assam, relishing local delicacies and meeting Rhinos it was time to hit the road again. Simanta was at hotel lobby with his innova, all neat and clean.

This time for a change, we started late. After lunch around 1:00 pm.

Day#7 –

  • Kaziranga national park to Cherrapunji
  • Travel time – 8.5 hours 
  • Road Condition – Smooth and well consructed
  • Stay – Saimika Resort, Cherrapunji

Lunch served to us @Bonhabi was full of taste and spices. Exactly the way we wanted.

The drive was pretty smooth, and we enjoyed the journey through the small villages, finally reaching the mountains from the plains. We stopped at Jiva Pure Veg to refill our tummies and this place is one of a kind. Very hygienic and full of taste. We ordered momos, noodles and some biryani. Reached at Saimika, resort by 10 pm. It seemed to be a deserted place wherein there was a security guard who led us to our twin-cottages (joined from inside).

Entering the cottages, our excitement reached next level. We had a fireplace inside the cottage. I have stayed in many resorts across India, but this was the first time I had this pretty thing inside the room. We asked the security to lit it up for us. Glasses clanged again with malt on the rocks. It was good fun and very relaxing. Woke up fresh next morning and opened the door of our cottage to be mesmerized by the beauty of this resort which seemed deserted yesterday. Resort is built on a cliff in acres of land, all construction is done using rocks which gives an ancient Roman feel to this place. Looked inspired by Harry Porter movie to a fair extend.

We had some quick sandwiches at the restaurant and left the resort to reach the entry-point of trek to famous “living Root Bridges.”

Day#8

  • living Root Bridges
  • Travel time – Full day trek 
  • Trek level – Moderate to difficult
  • Stay – Saimika Resort, Cherrapunji

At the entry point of the trek, you will meet local boys renting Bamboos and claiming to be guides.

My suggestion – Take Bamboos and not the guide. Because our guide named, Risk DID NOT guide us at all. He just kept walking ahead of us creating un-necessary pressure on us to trek down faster. Guide could be useful for getting some pictures clicked for sure.        

Single root bridge

Started off the hike and reached the,” single decker root bridge” after 1500 steps down hill.

It was tiring but we had some juice left in us so after some rest we moved ahead to the prime attraction of today’s hike – the double decker living root bridge. Another 2000 steps down hill, crossing a river, a few villages, lots of sweating and knee breaking efforts we reached the architectural brilliance, man-made, double decker living root bridge.  

There is a stream flowing underneath it and thousands of fishes are waiting to welcome you from a small pond of fresh, crystal clear water.

Fishes waiting to give you a natural pedicure

We spend time relaxing by the pond side and eating the packed food that we carried from Saimika. Pranthas that were packed had lost the taste completely and I suggest to better order Maggie from small shops around the root bridge.

Some wiki gyan for youA living root bridge is a type of simple suspension bridge formed of living plant roots by tree shaping. They are common in the southern part of the Northeast Indian state of Meghalaya. They are handmade from the aerial roots of rubber fig trees (Ficus elastica[1][2]) by the Khasi and Jaintia[3] peoples of the mountainous terrain along the southern part of the Shillong Plateau. Most of the bridges grow on steep slopes of subtropical moist broadleaf forest between 50m and 1150m above sea level.[4] As long as the tree from which it is formed remains healthy, the roots in the bridge can naturally grow thick and strengthen. New roots can grow throughout the tree’s life and must be pruned or manipulated to strengthen the bridge. Without active care, many bridges have decayed or grown wild, becoming unusable. *

*Source – Wikipedia

We had to trek upstairs again. Although none of us wanted to but we did as we had to.

Knees, thighs and back hurted bad but we kept walking and motivating each other. 

I will write another post on does and don’t while you take this tiring trek of Living Root Bridges. Finally reached the car parking after 7~8 hours to meet ever smiling Simanta.

Had maggie and tea and ditched all plans to see some waterfalls to reach Saimika resort so that we can enjoy this beautiful stay a little more. 

Evening was set with a lovely bon fire outside our cottages where we enjoyed endless chats under the sky full of stars, zillions of them twinkling all night long.

Next morning was a lazy one, got up late and enjoyed our pre-ordered breakfast at the gothic Sai-mika. After quick check-out Simanta took us for some sightseeing around Cherrapunji and Dawki river. The water has no colour and odour is true in the transparent river which flows from India to Bangladesh and merges in Bay of Bengal via Sundarbans. Boating is a must here and if you are enthusiastic like us the do take a dip in the freeazing crystal clear water. Left Cherrapunji by 4 pm for our next destination which was just a night halt for us.

Day#9

  • Cherrapunji to Umsning, Meghalaya
  • Travel time – 4 hours
  • Road condition – Very good and scenic
  • Stay – The Sanctuary Song Resort, Umsning, Meghalaya

All is well when it ends well. Reaching this serene resort, we thought to ourselves, what a showstopper trip end planned by the curator. Nested in nature’s lap within a forest, small stream flowing besides the resort and NO MOBILE NETWORK available. What else does a metro lad need!!

Final Night Celebration

Some local strawberry wine was bought from the reception, bon fire was lit and the night went on and on till 1 am. Crashed in our cosy beds and woke up with chirps of birds, Trisha was the 1st one to wake up and got outside to greet the birds singing in a foggy cold morning.

Day#10 was finally here when we had to board our flight back to Mumbai from Guwahati airport, which is around 3.5 hours smooth drive from the heavenly stay on earth called The Sanctuary Song Resort. I leave you with some pictures here as we end this epic journey of a lifetime with a promise to come back again soon.

Reach out to us for any queries about this trip and for planning and booking yours.

#travel-click-eat-repeat

Send your love to us in comments section and by sharing this blog as much as possible.

Meet the star – Simanta – The ever smiling Mawa Man

See you soon again!

Cheers!

Abhimanyu @yatripandit

Part#2 – Unleashing Northeast India – Land of Lamas, Rains, Rhinos and Momos!! By Abhimanyu

Part#2 – Tip toeing – Tawang and reaching Dirang!

We slept over with the Soldier’s stories of peace and altitude and how they live in extreme climate conditions at various posts across length and width of this beautiful Country called India.

@Tawang, the night temperature dipped to sub-zero and 3 layers of cloths, 2 blankets and a heater could brave us through that night.

Hold on, if you have landed to this page directly, please click Part#1 to read the prequel. Do come back here.

Day#3 –

  • Bumla Pass and Madhuri lake
  • Travel time – 8 hours tour
  • Road Condition – Good (Mostly)
  • Stay – Hotel Mon-Paradise

Woke up fresh and got ready at 8 am after eating some ready to eat poha and upma prepared by Akshata (Chotu). Reached downstairs to find our Chauffer for the day Mr. Tashi.

No, don’t think that Simanta got bored of our poha-jalebi talks and decided to part ways. In Tawang you are required to book a local taxi to visit Bumla Pass and Madhuri lake. Cost is approx. 5000/- all-inclusive and tour duration is about 7~8 hours. I think this arrangement is made to provide earning opportunities to the locals. That’s Good specially for Simanta as he got a rest day to spend with his favourite mawa and probably talk to his family over phone.

Tashi drove a Tata Sumo and could speak Hindi fluently. He had a footballer’s physique, spikes hairstyle and donned Ray-Ban aviators. He played some good music from the 90’s era which we really enjoyed.

Before moving ahead with trip, an important information is that all tourists (including Indians) need an Inner Land Permit(ILP) to enter Arunachal Pradesh border. The fess is about 250/- per person and it can be applied online. Our tour agent got this arranged for us before the commencement of trip.

Tawang to Bumla pass is about 35 Kms and takes about 1.5 hours to reach. The path is so beautiful that you would never want it to end. We visited in February and it was the perfect time as the mountains was covered with magical white fresh snow.

Tashi had to tie a metal chain on the tyres of Sumo to escape skidding on the snow.

Reaching Bumla Pass we were thrilled to the core, only Dev had seen such heavy snow before this day during his visit to Swiss Alps. It was difficult to even walk as the snow was soft, fresh and about 3~4 ft deep or even more.

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All tourists were taken to a Army shed and served free hot tea and water for FREE. You are expected to wash your glasses and keep them clean for the next lot of tourist. Before we move further in the day, let me brief you about Bumlapass, histroy and its geographic importance.

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Bumla Pass, situated at an altitude of over 15,200 ft is snowbound for almost the entire year due to its steep elevation and presents a beautiful view of the Tibetan plateau. The road to the pass takes visitors through many sleepy hamlets and scenic lakes, making the drive memorable. Elegantly maintained by the Indian Army, Bumla Pass is a must for those who want to see how Indian soldiers protect the borders in the harshest of climes. The road to Bum La is also a historical route, the People’s Liberation Army of China invaded India during the 1962 Sino-Indian War. Here in Bum La Pass one of the fiercest battles took place in the 1962 Sino-Indian War. It is the pass from where Dalai Lama entered India escaping from Tibet.

After some tea and talks, one of the army officers took all tourists for a walk towards the border, and while all of us were breathing heavily the siren hooted and we were ordered to march back towards the army shed. It was scary as we thought there is some activity from China’s side but after another free tea and talks later, the officer told us that it was a routine round from the China side and there was nothing to worry about. Let’s go again, he said.

Officer explained us about the meetings that take place every quarter between the two army’s, talks of peace and co-existence, exchange of culture and some gifts from each side. Chinese are tough nuts, he said and guided us back to the Shed. Some pictures, snow fights, another round of tea and bowing down to our soldiers for their courage and bravery later we were all set to visit Madhuri Lake(Sangestar Tso) with our Tashi.

Indian actress namely Madhuri, danced besides Sangestar Tso in koyla movie and since then locals fondly call it as Madhuri lake. Now that’s real swag!

While waiting at Bumla pass, Tashi removed the metal chains thinking they aren’t needed any more. He was wrong, as our cab got stuck in snow as on the way to Madhuri lake.

All of us got down and tried to help but little did we know that our soldier would arrive all of a sudden in a truck and get us moving in minutes. Salute them, smiling and feeling useless at the same time we got inside the cab. Trisha(my wife) started to feel heavy head. Tashi told us it normal to experience this for people from the plains like us. Altitude and extreme sun rays to be blamed.  

Right on the turn towards lake, an army officer told us that the road is blocked due to heavy snow. We could not see the lake where Madhuri Dixit danced in 1997. I was 9 years back then and other three even younger. No worries guys, this kinda stuff keeps on happening on roadtrips and hill terrains told our very own Akshata Dixit. 😛

A few minutes later curvy roads, an army officer in uniform asked us for lift and we happily stopped to invite him inside. I think all soldiers have a lot of stories and they are great story tellers as well. He narrated a few to us and then Soldier and Tashi started to talk about current Prime Minister – Shri Narendra Modi. Tashi told us that, he likes Modi very much and trust that only Modi can uplift Arunachal Pradesh. There was no college in Tawang and everyone either dropped out after high-school or had to enrol in other states for studies, but now Tawang has a basic college, told Tashi.

The soldier got us some hot water to drink, which is the best way to beat the altitude sickness. Trisha felt a little better and after some time tashi dropped us to Hotel.

After lunch Dev and Akshata went on to see Tawang War Memorial with Simanta. Me and Trisha decided to rest for a while. Some chai, talks and lying around was what we needed.

After an early dinner in the ground floor restaurant and thanking Raju- the chef for the lovely food we dozed off again. Yes, like how the pigs would do after spending some playfull times in the mud.

Day#4 –

  • Tawang local and drive to Dirang
  • Travel time – 9+ Hours
  • Road Condition – Good (Mostly)
  • Stay – Gonpalok Homestay

Next morning, it was time for us to bid adieus to Tawang but not so quick. Simanta had some plans for sight seeing and we also have “never say never” attitude. 1st place was Tawang Monastery. Monasteries are usually serene this was more that just serene. It was surreal. We were welcomed by harmless monkeys and after spending some time in the Monastery, waved goodbyes from young kids wearing Buddhist robes and having books in hands.

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Next up was a Giant Buddha Statue, located at an elevated place. We found a small and pretty café behind the statue to spend some good time and have tea and Maggie.

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Last up was the Tawang local market, almost all shops sell similar stuff which are woollens, souvenirs, incense sticks, cups/ mugs and footwears. We also got some to get back home with us. I love my dragon printed cup and still have my tea in it while writing this for you.

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Our time in Tawang was up and Simanta was ready with his mawa filled mouth and engine thumping. Next destination was Dirang.

Dirang was not in the original plan but last night we decided to alter the plan to ditch Shillong and include Kaziranga National Park. The decision was taken as the travel time to Shillong was too much for a day and we had to celebrate Dev and Chotu’s Anniversary. So, reaching to the next place was very important.

While driving back down-hill, we all admired the innocence and embracing nature of people of the beautiful state called, Arunachal Pradesh.

We stopped at Jang for a sightseeing, you will have to stair down about 200 steps to reach a river valley. Source Wikipedia : Nuranang Falls (also known as Bong Bong Falls), some 100 metres high, is located in the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh, India. It is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in this part of the country, yet is unknown to many travelers. It lies some 2 kilometres away from the town of Jang on the road connecting Tawang and Bomdila, so it is also known as the Jang Falls. There is a small hydel plant located near the base that generates electricity for local use. The Nuranang river originates from the Northern slopes of the Sela Pass. Just below the waterfall it falls into the Tawang river.

We were hungry and Simanta stopped at Jaswant garh war memorial again. Remember in the 1st part I told you about the free tea and hot water. This is the same place that serves them. We got some idlis, dosas, muffins and tea. The taste, view and soldier’s passion deserve respect and admiration.

About 4 hours drive and crossing Sela pass again we finally reached Dirang. Do not miss to buy fresh fruits from the shops on the highway side. Dirang is known to produce variety of fruits.

We faced some difficulty in reaching the home stay but when we entered Gonpalok Homestay. We thought, “stay ho toh aisa.” No words can describe the taste of hot pakodas that were freshly cooked for us by the caretaker lady along with hot tea. Later in the evening we celebrated the much awaited anniversary at hotel Norphel Retreat. It was very well planned and organised by our freelancer travel agent. I leave you with some pictures to ponder on and be jealous of us that we did this the trip only a month before the country wide lock down was imposed to tackle Covid-19 spread.

 

Pet-full aur dil housefull, reaching back we slept like pigs would do after spending some playfull times in the mud. Sure of waking up to sunrise, cool breeze and blue sky – What else does a metro lad need!!

Hope you liked our journey till now! Write some encouraging words in the comments section and share the link with your friends, also ask them to share and comment…

Part#3 coming soon… where we move towards plains from the mountains and see the mighty Brahmaputra river, tea gardens and 1 horned rhino.

Much Love 🙂

Abhimanyu@Yatripandit

Part#1 Unleashing Northeast India – Land of Lamas, Rains, Rhinos and Momos!! By Abhimanyu

Part#1 – Reaching Tawang from Assam via Bomdila !

It was the occasion of our 2nd anniversary when four Sharmas’ planned to explore North-east, India.

We had a fantastic company of Dev and Akshata who got married a day earlier than me and Trisha in the same month of Feb and year of 2018.

Me and Dev shared room during my 1st job in Mumbai and we jelled up pretty well for obvious reasons like being Sharmas’ from MP/CG and loving beer. Since we got married almost on the same day, we could not attend each other’s weddings, and this was the chance to cut it by celebrating the anniversaries together.

Tickets were booked in August’19 and we then finalized our itenary during December’19.

We read a few posts and then finally decided to book ourselves with a Freelance travel consultant from Assam.

7th Feb 2020, finally the day had come when me and Trisha embarked the road in our new Honda Amaze from Pune to Mumbai. Akshata arrange for a safe car parking over a week’s time in Mumbai. It was an early morning flight from Mumbai to Assam, we had our masks on as there was a buzz of Covid19 around the world already. Landed in Assam to find our driver, Simanta and pre-booked Innova Crysta.

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Mumbai Airport

None of us had slept last night but there was no sense of deprivation. It was the time to make memories, none of us had been to this side of Incredible India.

I decided to narrate this trip in multiple stories in sequence as it was a beautiful long ROAD trip.

Day#1 – Trip start, 0 Kms

  • Guwahati Airport to Bomdila
  • Travel time – 9+ Hours
  • Road Condition – Good (Mostly)
  • Stay – Norgay Guest House Homestay

Journey starts from plains and takes you to the mountains. Located on the Foothills of Himalayas, Bomdila could be considered as an entry point of Arunachal Pradesh. Simanta played some asamese music while driving and halted at a random café so that we can have some Momos, maggie and tea. After 1st stop Hindi music took over Assamese and we were friends with Simanta. He was a character, loved his dose of Indian tobacco(jarda or mawa) while driving and always smiling. Never said no to our demands and was a true host in all senses.

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Lipsmacking Taste

We also got a chance to Enter Bhutan Border, smart Simanta got his diesel tank full as it is cheaper in Bhutan than in India.

As we were driving up-hill the air was getting colder and heavier. We drove alongside a river stream (Kameng river), Simanta told us that it comes all the way from China to meet the mighty Bhramaputra before merging in Bay of Bengal. We will meet Kameng river multiple times during our journey through Arunachal. Just before reaching our homestay in Bomdila we purchased some liquor as it will be helpful in keeping ourselves warm during the course of journey and its cheaper than Goa in Arunachal. 🙂

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Bhutan Border

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River Kameng

Homestay was clean and economical, we had to pay extra Rs. 300/- for a room heater. That’s Ok we were happy and rich (as it was just the first day).

For dinner we walked down the stairs and found a restaurant (name forgotten), but please find it right opposite Dragon restaurant. The momos and noodles which they served were the best that we had during the trip. Please let me know the name of this restaurant in comment section. I can eat those momos all my life and die happily.

Pet-full aur dil housefull, reaching back we slept like pigs would do after spending some playfull times in the mud. Woke up to sunrise, cool breeze and blue sky – What else does a metro lad need!!

We were sporting jackets and woolens now. Simanta was ready to drive us to Tawang, the dreamland that I wanted to visit since the time I saw it in TV a decade ago.

Day#2

  • Bomdila To Tawang
  • 200 Kms (approx.)
  • Travel time – 8+ Hours
  • Road Condition – Hilly and average
  • Stay – Hotel Mon Paradise

Visited the mesmerising and peaceful Bomdila monastery, saw the little monks chanting and praying in sync. The whole atmosphere was so serene, that trying to narrate it here would be loud and might kill the serenity of the place. Check out our youtube video link below.

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Nam yo ho !! – Buddham Sharnam Gachhami 🙂

After, seeing the monastery we commenced our journey to the land of Lama. The car was cruising slowing with 2 constants, Simanta’s Mawa and Kameng river running alongside.

The drive from Bomdila to Tawang will always be extremely close to my heart because I was about to experience my 1st snow sighting.

Sela pass – You beauty!! I had heard that there is silent a kid within every adult, I was unaware of mine till I saw the 1st snow of my life. I could not stop myself and ran down the stairs, which led to a frozen lake called Sela lake.

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Stairway to Heaven

The whole area was covered with snow we were playing, while clicking some pictures on our phones and many many more in our hearts. While we were down near a frozen lake, those stairs which we walked down seemed like a stairway to heaven. God was generous and suddenly it started to snow, we had such awesome experience before we had to run back to the car as it was a hailstorm. My 1st snow was a helluva experience. Remember the liquor that we bought last night; finally we could do justice to it using fresh snow from the sky..

I even ate some snow. 🙂

Hailstorm turned violent & we had to leave or rather escape from Sela to reach our next pit stop aka Jaswant Garh war memorial. It’s about 22 Kms from Sela and 21 Kms before Tawang.

You must see this video to live Sela Pass a lil more

A bit insight about the memorial – Jaswant Garh is a famous tourist attraction in Arunachal Pradesh and it is widely visited all year round. It is dedicated to the warrior, Jaswant Singh Rawat who was killed during the Indo-China War in 1962. He was an Indian rifleman of 4 Garhwal Rifles, Uttarakhand and for his bravery; Jaswant Rawat was honoured by a memorial at the post where he fought the Chinese army. This magnificent memorial is well kept at an altitude of about 10,000 feet. A small canteen is run by army personnel offering free tea / coffee and hot water to all visitors to keep them warm in cold weather. It is unbelievable in today’s world of worshiping money as God, where almost everyone is running behind money and becoming rich leaving behind empathy towards fellow humans. We relished dosa and idli in Arunachal at such height, it still have the taste in my head while I write about it. My wife, Trisha loved the patty and muffins.

Last but not the least; there is a small shop from where you can buy jackets, socks, gloves, caps, etc to withstand the negative temperatures of Tawang.

The memorial is surrounded by beautiful valley perfect to gaze on while sipping your unlimited free tea.

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Panorama from Jaswant Garh

Hopped back in the innova with happier Simanta, he already had starting chewing mawa.

We reached Tawang in another 1½ hours, the sun sets early and it was almost dark by 5pm when we reached. While, Dev was co-ordinating with the pre-booked homestay owner we had some difficulties in locating the stay. Finally, have found the homestay just to realise that staying there was not a good idea. It was located far away from town in a dark and abandoned area. Girls felt some safety concerns, and we had to honour this being responsible companions. Simanta’s “never say never” attitude and always smiling face helped us find a hotel in the market area. Name of the hotel is Mon Paradise. It was freezing cold, we quickly changed and reached the lobby area with our packed food and theplas. The hotel guys were happy to heat those for us and serve it with dal, egg bhurji and rice which we ordered from them. Sharing our food with a soldier from Indian Army with a lot of border stories was the best thing that we could have thought of in this trip.

Pet-full aur dil housefull, reaching back we slept like pigs would do after spending some playfull times in the mud. Woke up to sunrise, cool breeze and blue sky – What else does a metro lad need!!

Hope you liked our journey till now! Write some encouraging words in the comments section and share the link with your friends, also ask them to share and comment…

Read the part#2 of the story to see Tawang and Dirang from our eyes.

Much Love 🙂

Abhimanyu@Yatripandit

Secret Campsite at Kasol – Photolog

Our love of Camping is well known, recently we have been to a Secret Camping Site in Northen Part of India Kasol, Himanchal.

 

Here are some Images from our wonderful trip !!

 

Yatripandit Kasol
Parvati River

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View from Tent

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Road Less Traveled, Way to Campsite

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Campsite at Nowhere

Mountains
Evening View

River View

Sun and Mountain
Sunset

 

Geo Location 

 

Pictures by: Satyavrat

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God’s Own Country – Kerala

I love traveling! It doesn’t matter whether the destination is at, above or below sea level. As you know, I work for a corporate house as well getting long leaves is a herculean task. I try to utilize all the long weekends and convert them into holidays. Trust me, it’s not that difficult when you plan in advance and have great set of friends to accompany you. I had 4 of them with me.

Last year, we eyed on 15th August (Independence Day Holiday in India) long weekend and planned a 5 day trip to Kerala – God’s own country.

Flight tickets – Check

Accommodation – Check

Intercity Transfers – Check

After a few morning hiccups and winning over a hefty traffic jam on the way to Pune airport, we   on-boarded a morning flight from Pune to Kochi. We landed at the beautiful Kochi Airport to find our pre-booked cab waiting for us at the airport.

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Kochi Airport

It was a neat, a bit old but well maintained Toyota Innova(my fav car for longer roadtrips). I am always hungry to taste local food while traveling; the cabbie took us to a local restaurant in Kochi to enjoy some delicious local Kerala food.

We commenced our voyage to Munnar aka Kashmir of the south. En route Munnar our eyes could not stop peeping outside the car window without blinking. Mesmerized by the beauty of Valara waterfalls we got out of the cabs to click some memories. Valara falls, where the water cascades from an altitude of about 1000 mts, which itself was a treat to eyes and the camera lens. Munnar is known for magnificent waterfalls, we could not visit all (remember lack of leaves for this poor corporate junkie) here is a brilliant article which gives a great insight. http://www.munnar.com/waterfalls-in-munnar.htm#waterfalls.

Where to Stay? – We stayed in Hotel Munnar black forest www.munnarblackforest.com. It’s a budget hotel located on Kochi Munnar road. Rooms are not that great neither the food is. We do not recommend this hotel and search for better options. Munnar is full of better stay options.

Places to visit in Munnar – This gorgeous hill station in Western Ghats is located at 1600mts above sea level. The height and the climate make it apt for tea plantations. We witnessed the whole of mountains covered with tea estates till horizon. The green leafy carpet and the aura of tea plantations surely make it an #instagram paradise. We even managed to gate crash an estate on the way to breathe tea and some perfect clicks.

  • Munnar Tea Museum – As they say,” tea doesn’t ask silly questions, it understands.” When you have such a huge yield of tea, it needs to be processed, packed and marketed as well. This tea museum imparts you enough knowledge on how a tea leaf is converted and marketed as the tea which we use in our households. Established in 2005 previously owned by Tata’s and now by Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Company (P) Ltd. (KDHP), this museum has so many historic machinery and models still preserved in good shape. They show a short film which depicts the history of Munnar and its lovely tea plantations. After the film, it also offers a tour to the factory in which you can see and learn the technicalities involved in processing your favorite beverage to come out of morning blues every day. You can taste and buy some tea varieties e.g ginger, masala, green and white tea.

Baith jata hun wahan, Chai bann rahi ho Jahan.

  • Mattupetty Dam – This dam is built near the confluence of mountain streams of Muthirappuzha, Chanduvarai and Kundale Rivers. It is used to generate electricity using hydel power. The large amount of water favors wild animals and birds to flourish. There are a few small shops to buys some local stuff like cardamom, masala and some munchies.

Places to visit in Alappuzha – This laid back heaven in south India is also known as Alleppey and Venice of the East. Well known for the backwaters, canals, lagoons and houseboats.

  • Backwaters – Shikara(boat) ride across the backwaters is a must do and you may book the ride right from the boarding point at the river side. Ask locals or hotel reception for guidance. Avoid hiring the boat through any agent as you might strike a cheaper deal at the boarding point. There are public boat buses which run across this city of Venice … oops; Alleppey.

While on the boat tour cruising on the backwaters; close your eyes, spread yours arms wide and feel the wind pass through your body. The water is clean, calm and serene. One can write books on the breathtaking beauty of this lake city. It surely is a honeymooner’s paradise, a painter’s painting, a poet’s lyrics and a musician’s beats. The song which kept on playing in my head during this trip, as Godsmack brilliantly sung, “I need serenity and a place where I can hide.”

Link to the song:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2A4Km5PTu5o

Alleppey also has a beach which is usually crowded and not very clean.

Stay in Alleppey – This being  an important tourist destination you can find many stay options from budget homestays to exotic 5 stars. Houseboat can also be a unique idea to stay which serve you great food, comfortable bedrooms and tidy western toilets while sailing across the backwaters. We stayed in a mid-ranged 3 star resort called Pagoda Resort which can be booked here www.pagodaresorts.com. The rooms are comfortable and food is to be relished forever (we were there at the time of kerala food festival). In Pagoda resort, you must gift yourself a kerala ayurvedic massage therapy, to help you forget the worldly affairs, work pressure, targets and let you meet your better and relaxed self. We opted for the relaxing Shirodhara and I vouch for it totally.

When to Go – In Munnar the weather is pleasant throughout the year but if you do not like rains avoid going in Monsoon (June, July and October) season as it rains cats, dogs and sometimes elephants too. Whereas in Alleppey summers are hot and winters is the best season to explore. Or you may plan Alappuzha at the time of Nehru Trophy Boat Race, held on the Punnamada Lake, on the second Saturday of August every year (we missed it by a week).

What to eat – I strongly recommend eating local food which includes idli, rice, appam, uttapam, dosa, sambhar, rasam, etc. Kerala is known for sea food. One must also try variety of chips/ wafers which are a local delicacy. We enjoyed an authentic south Indian meal and various other food items served on a banana leaf at the very famous Sarvana Bhavan in Munnar.

After cruising about 450 kMs(excluding the air travel) through a few cities and villages, beautiful landscapes, mystic mountains, pleasant waterfalls, a soothing beach, a healing ayurvedic massage, lip smacking kerala food and mesmerizing backwaters we ended up this amazing journey to the God’s Own Country with some memories to be cherished for lifetime.

We can help you plan one such trip. Please write to us on info@yatripandit.com

Abhimanyu@yatripandit

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Naya(New) Raipur – A Smart City in Making

 

I have been born and brought up in the city of Raipur. I did most of my schooling from this business hub of central India. During school days, I always hated the pollution and dust which blanketed the city. The scarcity of greenery, sports grounds and gardens was always heartfelt. There were no tourist places nearby. The air connectivity was extremely poor. The roads were narrow and traffic was haphazard, with only a couple of traffic signals in the city.

In November 2000, Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee (Prime Minister then), declared Chhattisgarh as a separate state. I was there. I was there when the RTO registration for Raipur changed from MP-23 to CG-04. I was there, when our 1st CM, Mr. Ajit Jogi took the oath. I was there when the state government’s 1st chopper (Maina) was commissioned. I was also there when a lot of roads were constructed across the city. This list can go on and on.

17 years later, the things are a lot more advanced than they were when I WAS THERE. Naya(new) Raipur is going to be the new capital of the state of CG. Naya Raipur is India’s sixth planned city of India and 2nd largest planned city after Chandigarh.

Here we list down 10 things you must know about this city of future:

  1. Green City – Environmental issues have reached to an alarming stage across the globe, and there is a tremendous effort and consciousness required to save it. In Naya Raipur, about 30% of the land is reserved for greenery. The city is has flourishing gardens and grasslands making it the first Greenfield Smart City in India.

12301717_854053938027191_974767572440326675_n2. Fitness first – The NRDA (Naya Raipur Development Authority) has taken a wise measure to promote long lost habit of cycling by constructing smooth and safe cycling lanes across the city. This shall surely reduce pollution and improve fitness.

17498448_1202597613172820_1938008730192688381_n3. Sports is a key focus area – Magnificent Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Cricket Stadium has hosted many 1st class cricket matches and 3 seasons of IPL. It’s the 2nd largest cricket stadium in India after Eden Gardens with a capacity of 67,000 audiences. A sports village is being built in Sector 3, ensuring world class facilities for indoor and outdoor sports to promote sports culture.

204. An Educational hub in Making – A sound education system forms the backbone of any region. Keeping this in mind there are many esteemed universities making a mark including Hidayatullah National Law University (HNLU) which is ranked sixth among the National Law Universities in India.

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IIT Naya Raipur (IIITNR), KIT, ITM University and State Administrative Academy are also operational in the city. IIM-R’s new campus shall be functional soon. A number of national and international schools are laying a good foundation for a bright future.

5. Marvelous Infrastructure – The roads are wide and cut each other at 90⁰, have proper demarcations and are lit with LED lamps. Bus stops are built such that they do not hinder the moving traffic. This smart city sports an underground utility corridor which means that services including water supply, sewerage, telecom, and electricity are developed underground. Waste management and disposal system shall be made matching the global standards.

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Swami Vivekanand International Airport

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6. Welcoming all Industries – Naya Raipur is willing to welcome all sectors with wide open arms, whether be it electronics, IT, pharma, agriculture, jewellery, handloom, hospitality or manufacturing. Sector 22 will be a hub for IT, and services industries. About 194 hectares of land in Sector 5 is reserved for automotive, banks, handloom, etc.

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7. Reliable Medical facilities – No city can be considered developed until it has reliable and latest medical facilities. Satya Sai Sanjeevani Hospital, has NO BILLING COUNTERS and is committed to provide free medical treatment and operation facilities for heart patients with no discrimination. More than 3000 surgeries have been successfully conducted here till date. A few world class hospitals such as Vedanta Cancer Hospital, Sankara Eye Hospital, and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) are under construction.

aiims38. Seamless connectivity – Naya Raipur will have excellent connectivity via rail, road, and air. The Swami Vivekananda International Airport was decorated with a National Tourism Award and recognized as the best non-metro airport in India in 2016. A new railway line is being constructed to connect Naya Raipur with rest of the country by broad gauge and four railway stations will be built by NRDA.

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Wide Roads

9. Tourism and Recreation: This is the most important aspect from yatripandit’s point of view. Recently, Mr. Narendra Modi inaugurated the Jungle Safari – Asia’s largest man-made forest safari and the Botanical Garden in Naya Raipur. An amusement park is currently being built in sector 24 alongside Jhanjh Lake for thrilling water sports. Ekatm Path, a 2 km corridor is a true bliss for morning walkers and will remind you of Raj Path in the national capital- New Delhi.

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10. The emotional connect – The transformation of this pretty city of Raipur is visible to the world but only people like me can proudly say, “Raipur is not only a city but definitely an emotion for the ones who dwell there and belong to it.”

Now that, I have been living in the big cities of Pune and Mumbai, what I miss the most is the laid back small town life. People actually believe in keeping their lives and things simple. For instance, people in Raipur usually relish their plate of Poha and dahi-jalebi for about half an hour with a lot of worldly gossips with the poha vendor himself.

Keep all this in mind and plan a visit soon to experience this smart, integrated city of future.

Eat-Sleep-Breath-Raipur

Photo Courtesy: NayaRaipur Chhattisgarh FB Page

This 5 minute video by Dainik Bhaskar will enhance your knowledge more.

Check out our story on Bastar to experience the tribal life and tourist attraction of Chhattisgarh.

Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel. This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media

Story By

Abhimanyu

Edited By

Utkarsh

Conquering Kundalika – River Rafting in Maharashtra | Yatripandit Original

Rafting is like romancing with a River. It expects respect, understanding and commitment as any other relationship.

We started off from Ghansoli, Navi Mumbai at 8 am, I know its a bit late for a summer road trip! This time we didn’t plan anything but the destination. We didn’t know what to eat, whom to book rafting with, where to stay or whether to stay overnight or return back the same day?

Reached Kolad by 12:30 noon and then the real task of finding a good stay begun. After a few phone calls and referring a number of websites, we found a place called “nature trails” (But didn’t book) which had luxury tents to offer but it was a bit out of budget as the tents were designed for 4 and we were only 2 of us. Nature trails can be booked from www.naturetrails.in . We failed in a couple of other places too as it was a weekday and most of the stays in Kolad operate only on weekends only.

Tired of hunger and burnt of heat, we decided to have lunch first, while having lunch I found a place called “Wilder West” which was very close by had good reviews on google.

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Wilder West Resort

We were there within minutes and got our cottage type room booked. Rent – 5900/- for 2 pax. 1-night stay, all meals and 4 adventure activities. The resort was situated right on the bank of the river and clear water was just a dive away.

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View from Cottage

4 Activities included – Kayaking, zipline, river crossing and WHITE WATER RAFTING.

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Kayaking in Kundalika River

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Fun during Zipline

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Kayaks

The 1st 3 activities were performed on the 1st day evening. Specially Kayaking is a must try. I enjoyed it and was able to learn it quickly.

The dinner was typical Maharashtrian cuisine and full of taste.

The next day morning was so pleasant besides the river that one can keep watching the water gush and listen to melodious birds humming for hours forgetting all worries, sorrows and griefs.

2nd Day, 8 am we left for the much-awaited adventure sport, white water rafting. The start point of the rafting is about 25 kms uphill from Wilder West resort. The rafting in Kundalika river depends on the release of water from Mulshi dam. Our rafting instructor Rajesh was pahadi, who hailed from Rishikesh.

Rafting
Image Credits – https://www.whitewatermag.com/

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Rafts

Note: Listen to the instructions carefully before setting in for rafting, as this sport can be ferocious and life threatening.

White water rafting is a sport where your adrenaline will be on the highest level and there are a few rapids which will give you the desired thrill.

The river has a calm flow after the rapids, wherein you can jump into the water and just keep flowing with the current and your raft.

The duration of rafting is about 2.5 hours but you will surely remember this for the rest of your life.

PS: – Rafting in Kundalika is fabulous for 1st timers and it is the only place to experience rafting in Maharashtra.

Cheers,

Yatripandit

Credits

Story By

Abhimanyu

Edited by

Utkarsh

PS: Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel. This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media

Raiding Mighty Himalayas – Himachal Pradesh

As you might have understood by far that I am a road trip person.

Before getting to the trip, let me introduce to a new member – A white Maruti Suzuki Swift VDi and the owner is none other than, my brother from another mother, Sandy. He has recently shifted to the capital city, New Delhi imparting me a chance to plan and RAID the Mighty Himalayas.The new family member Swift VDi

Coming back to the journey, I booked myself on late night flight to Delhi from Mumbai and landed to be received by Sandy at the Airport. Trust me I was more excited to see the car than seeing him. We reached Sandy’s place around 2am and tried to get some sleep before the Raid, but the butterflies of excitement in our stomach had planned the other way round.

We left early in the morning and our breakfast haul was at Sukhdev Dhaba in Moorthal just outside the national capital. The paranthas are to die for and you cannot afford to miss the white makkhan (butter) even if you are on diet. Filling out tummies and satisfying our souls we are all set to hit the road again.Sukhdev dhaba

We stopped at Ambala to meet an old friend from the university and continued our journey. After crossing Chandigarh bypass, we were welcomed by a board saying, “Welcome to great Himalayan Highways.” There we are, the commencement of uphill journey begins. After, a few KMs we could not control of emotions and urge to have Maggie noodles on one of the Maggie points (Any hill u go in India, Maggie points are omnipresent)

In about 10 hours we reached Kasauli (our would be basecamp) and wasting no time we booked Hotel Pine View located off Chandigarh – Shimla Highway, towards Kasauli. It was a budget hotel, which offered us a Room for two in Rs 1300/- (excluding Meals). Not a bad deal at all, being a long weekend.Hotel pinewood

Kufri:

We decided to rest that night and dozed off after having dinner in the hotel’s restaurant itself.

On the 2nd day, we left after having tea and breakfast to reach Kufri, on the journey we drove through Solan, Shoghi and Shimla (bypass) . The dist. Is about 100 kms but Kandaghat is not easy to drive on, the average speed was about 20 km/h. We obviously stopped at some Monsoon waterfalls and Maggie points to grab a hot tea and Maggie. Reached Kufri in around 6 hours and then our guide (avoid hiring one) told us to take a horse ride to see some sightseeing points (we came back half way disappointed by the ruthless way the horses are treated and made to walk in the mud slurry till knee height) We had to pay the full amt. about Rs. 350/- per horse. Nonetheless, we decided to visit, The Himalayan Nature Park. It is home to about 30 Himalayan wild animals and birds. Witnessing this was a true delight. We started our return journey at 4:30 pm from Kufri ( as we had decided to avoid driving after dusk ) we managed to reach our base camp by 8pm. We had dinner at very famous Giani Dhaba, but it turned out to be even worse than what we could have got at some other not so famous place. AVOID GIANI DHABA.

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Note: The area is a landslide prone, so be cautious while driving and follow sign boards strictly.

Shimla:

Next Morning was the most pleasant one, I have experienced in my lifetime. The sun was playing hide and seek with the clouds and the fog was waiting to embrace us in its arms. Wasting no time we head started our journey to state capital – Shimla. Driving through Kandaghat was not as difficult as the weather was pretty clear.Fresh apple from the orchid

Do not forget to take an apple break at the magnificent apple mandi(market) in Solan.

Reached Shimla in about 5 hours and had to struggle a lot to find a Parking place. We headed straight to Mall Road, which is a must visit when you are in Shimla. Bought some Pashmina shawls and stoles for our loved ones, after a lot of bargaining. We were mesmerized to know about the history and importance of Gaity theater. This theater was constructed by British and is one of the six theater left on the planet to be built on Victorian Gothic Architecture. After wandering around and having luscious Chole bature and Chole Samose, in a local Stall, at Mall road. We decided to explore Shimla a little more and click some pictures.

We were back to Kasauli by 8:30 pm and decided to have dinner at Haveli, trust me the food was delicious and way better than what we had @Giani Dhaba last night.

It was an amazing journey with Sandy who got hitched recently. We enjoyed every bit of the mountains. Pure air, green mountains, warm hospitality, well maintained roads, lip smacking food and the most welcoming Pahadis. That’s Himachal for you.

This trip to Himachal Pradesh – The land of Gods will be relished till we leave the land to meet Gods in heaven.

Signing off with a song playing in my mind in loop,”maye ni meriye” by Mohit Chauhan. Here is the link

Trip Duration – 5 days

Expense – Approx. INR 9000 PP (Excluding Flight tickets)

— Abhimanyu@yatripandit

PS: Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel.     This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media. 

 

Camping by the lake side @ Pawana Lake INR 1300/-

You will agree that we all are fascinated when we see a traveler carry a tent in his/her back pack and always wish to do something of similar sort. Isn’t it?

Find a calm and clean place besides a water body, pitch our tent, cook some food, talk to ourselves, sing to the acoustic guitar and sleep peacefully under the sky full of stars.

But the next moment this wonderful dream breaks and we realize that we are corporate dogs who do not have the liberty to do all this. Leave this dream apart; we do not even own a bloody tent!! I know how bad it feels, but don’t you worry  at all, Yatripandit has found out a fabulous midway. Read on!!

Do not own a tent but still be able to camp out in the nature’s lap!! Sounds fun right!!

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The crazy corporate employees in Pune / Mumbai surely have heard of Pawana lake. This amazing place is about a 70 KMs drive from Pune, off Pune-Mumbai old highway in Lonawala. You may follow google maps.

It’s better to reach the venue around 5pm so that you do not miss the beautiful sunset and the snacks served with tea by the property owner and organizer of Pawana camping, Mr. Vijay.

We suggest carrying booze and snacks along with you because there are no liquor shops nearby.

As the sun sets, you also may settle down, relax and unwind yourself in the natures lap.

Package details are listed below:-

  • Cost – Rs. 1300/- Per person
  • Evening snacks, dinner(veg and Non-veg – Must be informed beforehand), and next morning breakfast
  • Includes – Double/triple occupancy tents – Will be pitched by the us
  • Blankets, pillows and mattress inside the tents, to enjoy a cozy night
  • A table to dine and chairs
  • If you are a group of more than 20, you may also indulge in water-sports, but we suggest to ignore this and just enjoy peaceful camping experience
  • BONFIRE – Separate bonfire for every group shall be lit around 10 pm and will last for approx. 2 hrs
  • Neat and clean western/ Indian toilets
  • Barbecue can also be arranged on prior information on Per KG Rates i.e. Mix Veg Rs. 600/-, Paneer Rs. 800/- and Chicken Rs. 700/-

You may also carry Bluetooth speaker but do not blow it too loud to disturb the mountains and serene water in the lake.

Yatripandit is happy to help you plan this one of a kind camping experience.

You may call/whatsapp us on 9975712713 or fill the below form

This can be planned on any day of the week. Discounts on large groups on weekdays.:)

As Coldplay says, “Cause you’re a sky, ’cause you’re a sky full of stars, I wanna die in your arms”

By : Abhimanyu @yatripandit

PS: Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel.     This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media. 

Bow Down to the King – Bandhavgarh

Last January, we were in Jabalpur – The city of Marble Rocks, for a relatives wedding. En-cashing this opportunity and deciding to go on a short vacation and enjoy great family time explore the woods. Katni is a small town having superb railway connectivity. As always, We opted for roadtrip, taxis are easily available from Jabalpur to Katni. Its about a 3 hours drive on a not so good road. After reaching Katni and taking refreshments we borrowed a car from a family friend and hit the road again to touch our final destination – Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve. We are a happy family of four and luckily all travel enthusiasts. The distance between Katni and Reserve is about 50kms but you have to drive through kachha road from Teori to Bandhavgarh. This stretch is about 25 kms and runs through the jungle. As per the locals, the road is not well maintained to avoid over speeding of the vehicles which might harm wild animals.

Where to stay: After this bumpy ride, it was a delight to reach our pre booked resort – The Bandhav Vilas (www.bandhavvilas.com). It is a beautiful resort just at the brim of the jungle. We were welcomed with a fresh lime juice and a warm towel (to wipe of the fatigue). Mr Vijay Parwar, our resort manager was extremely friendly and had a lot of Jungle tales to narrate. They serve amazing veg and non veg food freshly cooked using organic vegetables procured from the near by villages. The resort too has a small farm. Its endorses a small library which is full of various books on flora and fauna. The resort has a swimming pool and spa to relax and de-stress. We also experienced digital detoxification as there was not much mobile network coverage.

Jungle Safari: After a calm night and sound sleep, we geared up for the early morning safari. the resort served tea and snacks even before the dawn @ 4.30 am. The 4X4 wheel drive Maruti Gypsy with a driver and a guide was waiting outside the resort. The temperature was 4 degree Celsius and the surrounding had a blanket of fog. We were all set to witness the “King of the Jungle”. As we started off with our journey we could see the varied flora and fauna. Got to see many peacocks, bison, monkeys, enormous colourful birds and countless dears. But you have to be fateful to witness the King. We wandered across the park in search of the tiger but our dormant fate took a steep turn on our way back to the entrance of the reserve. Oh my God, Screamed my brother – there he is – the giant cat – so elegant as if he wanted to say, ” Keep calm and bow down to the king” We held our nerves when he crossed the pathway to get lost in the wild. It was the scariest yet the most elegant moment of our lives. We reached back to the resort after the dusk. The sky turned orange to impart us a perfect evening before the infinite stars took charge.

Before the sleep: After enjoying the delicious finger licking dinner we decided to sit around the fire place and beat the chills. Trust me we had one of the best conversations that night, sipping coffee and popping popcorn, before we dozed off sinking between the soft mattress and warm blankets.

-Abhimanyu

Note : Story appreciated by Madhya Pradesh Tourism on Twitter

twitter @yatripandit

PS: Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel.     This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media.