The above picture of a 3 year toddler Syrian child went viral recently. It broke a million hearts and made millions cry. It also incited public outrage and shamed world leaders. His name was Aylan and was from war torn Syria. His final journey was supposed to end in Europe.However, it claimed his life and highlighted the plight of innocent people caught in the darnest refugee crisis that the world has seen in a while.
Before seeing this picture, a lot of people were not even aware of the crisis in Syria – I can vouch for that. People are busy with their own lives , complaining about petty things when a lot of people around the world don’t even have a place they can call home. Half of the 23 million population of Syria have been forced from their homes, with four million becoming refugees in other countries. The civil war in Syria as well as in a lot of other nations in the middle east and North Africa have become notoriously barbarous and ruthless.
It breaks my heart to see endless people being displaced out of their own homes. Families that were previously living peaceful lives are now forced to become refugees. Who is a refugee ? A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. According to the official statistics of UNHCR the number of forcibly displaced worldwide is 59.5 million.
Where are the human rights of all these people ? What if we are in that exact sam e plight as these people ? When did our world become filled with so much hate and violence ? I can keep posing endless questions here but i have no answers. None at all. Nobody in the world should live under shadows. Every individual matters. Every life matters. I hope that this world becomes a beautiful place – just the way it was intended and this mad charade of violence and bloodshed ends forever.
As i sit down to write this post, i have a smile on my face, love in my heart and peace in my mind. Last year exactly this time, there was a deep sense of anguish and negativity around. There was stagnation and torpor. There was the feeling of falling down in a deep abyss where one gets lost. Took me a while to figure out what went wrong where ? Took me a while to find myself. But when i did , i did it with a boom. Now after an year i’m back in the game – More powerful, more strong, more determined , more ambitious and more successful.
The greatest lesson learnt in the previous year and something that will stay with me for my life is – Never ever give your precious access to negative people. For if they do, they destroy your essential self. They destroy you. A few months ago , i had a sense of vengeance for some people who were selfish and ungrateful. I thought of them as obstacles – obstacles in the path of my personal growth. I thought of them as ‘energy vampires’ who were trying to take away my chi (positive energy) and break into my ‘aura’. A year later, i have no sense of revenge or hate or even the remotest ill feeling for those people. I exonerated them. I purged them. I forgave them. I ‘let it go.’
Forgiveness is indeed a virtue. It helps to move on. It really does. The moment you let go of people or situations , your journey to self growth begins. A journey of transformation. A journey of optimism. A journey of happiness. In that journey , you discover yourself as a human being. You literally re-invent yourself. You don’t even remember what ills people caused you because you’re busy finding your inner ‘self’. The ‘self’ that got lost. When you find it, there is just no looking back. Life becomes cheerful. Flowers become bright again. The sky is blue. The trees are green. Music is sweet. Food is delectable. Life is beautiful and ‘you’ become ‘you’ 🙂
For each of you out there who have been hurt by people or situations, hang in there. It’ll definitely get better. The people who hurt you may or may not revive eventually but you will. I can vouch for it. I am dedicating this post to every single individual who hit rock bottom and bounced back sky high. You’re the kind of people the world looks up to. You’re winners. Cheers to that 🙂
Lastly, i want to thank some outstanding people who met me along the way and helped me discover myself. I owe them the deepest sense of gratitude for believing in me and helping me reach where i am today. You people taught me that, “Akriti Mattu can make a come back on her own.” I totally did .
THANK you Divya Sarjolta for being there every damn time and never ever giving up on me.(Don’t think i need to say more, i just dedicated an entire post to you recently :D) THANK you Ashish Rajta for making me your own in every single way and for respecting me for who i am; You and i have to travel an entire journey together 🙂 THANK you Ashish Ranjan for all the time and the inspirational talks and for making me realize that the vision for the future is damn important ;the present moment shall pass. You didn’t let be weak for even a day 🙂 Finally , THANK you Prateek Purohit for investing so much time on all the fun chats ( i really really needed them) and keeping that faith alive in me 🙂
I owe you all my happiness and my success. I owe you my transformation from nihilism to optimism, from negativity to positivity, finally from India to United States.
P.S: Shared the following quote on exactly this date last year. Came out to be true 🙂
Wish you a very happy , joyous and an auspicious Birthday. Three cheers 🙂
It feels like yesterday when we became friends. It’s been more than a decade. A decade of awesomeness. A decade of fun. A decade of learning. A decade of growing up and finally a decade of memories. Memories that are reminiscent of every moment spent together. Moments that will always be cherished.
How awesome is the fact that we have seen each other through ups and downs , through thick and thin , through joys and sorrows. We have literally seen each other growing up. Growing , not just in terms of physicality but emotionally, psychologically and intellectually. We have seen each other evolve.
From the days of college when we participated together in various activities to the times spent in the university becoming a little serious, from winning accolades in academics to going on hikes to unknown and dangerous destinations, from eating street food with limited cash to buying each other the latest clothes, from narrating you Greek tales from my literature course to introducing me to economics, from preparing for competitive examinations to scoring it really big in life finallyyyyyy – We have come along such a long way. We transformed from naughty teenagers to graceful young women together (well, the naughtiness still remains).
Every time i won a medal, you were there and were always the first one to congratulate me. Every time i was awarded a fellowship, you were there to take your treat 😀 Every time i had to knock off some moron, you were there to calm me down. Every time i found myself alone in a world that tries to slow down powerful women , you were there to remind me that “the world is scared of powerful women.” Don’t remember a single time when you were not there. I wanna thank you on your birthday for every all the times you’ve been there. You have never failed to show up. Never ever ever.
What fun times we’ve spent together. All the trips, the outings , the night outs, the parties, the shopping, the movies, the crushes 😉 the jokes – my god i can just go on and on. I have a whole slideshow going in my head right now. I’ve seen the best of friendships being withered with time (especially women. God knows why). But not us. We were, are and will always remain friends. We have a foundation so strong that nobody in the world can shake it.
We’ve had our share of fights too. Seems funny when i write about them now. But every fight was a lesson and a new beginning. A lot of people tried their maneuvers and aimed at creating a wedge between us. Never happened. True friendship, after all is beyond the pettiness and insecurity of people. We didn’t split but the people trying to do so ended up being really far from our lives. So good for them.
Thanks for everything. Every single thing. Every warm embrace, every adorable gesture, every secure hug – All of this means so much. Thanks for making me the best food in the world. Thanks for thinking i can follow and achieve my dreams. Thanks for being my a.m friend. Thanks for listening to me criticize idiots. Thanks for wiping my tears.Thanks for making me laugh out loud. Thanks for being extremely patient with me when i yelled at you. Thanks for trusting me . Thanks for I just cannot thank you enough.
I wish you all the positivity and success in the world. Your year will be transformational and you know that very well. You deserve it. You totally do. You’re the most honest and innocent person I’ve come across. You’re not perfect but neither is rest of the world. Never change your essential ‘self’ – Never. Just learn and grow and most importantly ‘let go’ of anything that is not worth it.
THANKS FOR JUST BEING THERE BUDDY 🙂 IT REALLY MADE A DIFFERENCE 🙂 A HUGE DIFFERENCE 🙂
Keep rising and shining always
Lots of love –
P.S :We were known as the ‘Dashing Duo’ in college. 10 years later, we are still called the same 🙂
Make your friends feel special –
Today my beloved nation – India celebrates it’s 69th Independence Day and my blog celebrates 20,000 hits.
I love you people. Your readership matters. Your opinion matters. Your interaction here matters. I feel so good today. All thanks to my lovely readers.
Three cheers to all of you 🙂
Wow. It’s 2 years of blogging already. What an amazing feeling 🙂
When i started 2 years ago , wasn’t even sure whether i’d pursue it for long or not. Wasn’t sure about the readership as well. In fact , I’ve mentioned this in my first post. I ended the sentence with a ,”let’s see.” Well , today after 2 outstanding years here, i can proudly say , YES i pursued my passion and YES i got readership. Not just readership but brilliant minds that form that readership. With over 4900 followers and over 19K hits , i feel so ecstatic today. I owe you all big time 🙂
Brilliant readership, talented minds, creative ideas, awesome interactions, critical appraisal – my blog has seen it all. All thanks to the amazing people who read it and constantly give their honest and valuable feedback. I’m so glad i found people from all over the world here coming from various cultures, and ethinicities. What an amazing experience.
THANK YOU ALL 🙂
There is something really inspiring about intellectual conversations. They take you to a different level altogether. You feel liberated and evolved after having them.
To have friends around, whom you can look up to is one of the most amazing things that can happen to a person. Today i had a conversation with a really good friend who described it metaphorically. He termed it as an ‘exothermic reaction’ – A reaction which releases energy . In our case the energy is positivity.
People like me often feel disconnected from others. It’s one of the quirks of being different. Now this doesn’t happen because we look down upon people. It happens because the mental acumen and the attitude towards life that people like me have is a lot more different from others. But when you have people (even if they’re few) in your life who can patiently make you listen to them (since they make so much sense) you just feel good .They are the kind of people who can provide you the exact solutions for specific situations with rationality and logic. It is said that, ” if you’re the most intelligent person in the room , you’re in the wrong room.” It holds true.
No matter how intellectual and evolved you are, no matter how successful who you are , no matter how inspiring you are – there should ALWAYS be people in your life you can look up to. People who inspire and guide you. Sometimes you just want to be understood without saying a lot. Sometimes you just want people to mentor you. Sometimes you just want to feel the magic that usually you create, coming from a different source. It feels enfranchising. It feels emancipating.
Today was one such day 🙂
P.S: I dedicate this post to a dear friend whose words elate me.
(Get inspired by lives of people who’ve made an impact on the world)
What happens when the co-lead vocalist of one of your favourite rock bands sings to the lyrics of the world ‘s greatest playwright ? Awesomeness is created 🙂
I’m talking about Pink Floyd + William Shakespeare here. Heard David Gilmour (of the progressive rock band Pink Floyd) giving melody to Sonnet 18 ( by William Shakespeare) in one of the videos a few days back. I had to share it here. What a brilliant combination. Loved it.
The sonnet 18 is one the most famous in the sequence of Shakespearean sonnets. In fact it is one of the most popular lyrical poems in English language. As for Floyd , where do i start ? They perfected what others had started, and they created their own place in music by doing what they felt was right. They make great songs .
Being a free spirit, traveling to new places is one of my favourite things. When ever i get the opportunity to travel , i’m up for it. For me travel isn’t just about pleasure and frolic but also about exploration and learning. I’ve traversed extensively throughout my country (India) and have had some marvelous experiences that will stay with me for life. Today, i’d like to introduce you to some magnificent but lesser known places from my own home state – Himachal Pradesh. These destinations include – Kasol , Manali, Rohtang La, Spiti, and Kinnaur Not only are all these places spell binding but also nominal to visit. In fact they are some of the most traveler friendly locations in terms of budget. One can either visit these places one at a time or visit all of them in the same trip, since they all lie on the same route.
Before i start sharing my thoughts on the places mentioned , i’d like to give all my readers a brief introduction to my beloved state – Himachal Pradesh. A small but gorgeous state, Himachal lies in the northern region of India. It literally lies in the lap of the magnificent Himalayas and has some of the country’s most amazing destinations with the perfect landscape and serenity. It is called by some people as ‘Dev Bhoomi‘ in Hindi, which means the ‘Land of God.’ It is called so not just because it is beautiful but also because the people here are exceptionally kind and compassionate. Also, it is one of the safest places to visit for a traveler. That is why a lot of people take frequent solo trips in this part of the country.
Now let me get started on some of my favourite destinations from this part of the world. I can vouch for the fact that if you come here once, you’d want to visit again.
The first place i’d like to mention here is –
A small village in the beauteous state of Himachal Pradesh. It is located in the Parvati Valley along the Parvati River. Most people are not very familiar with it. Especially the ones who travel in a very conventional way. But being a traveler myself , i recommend this small but awe-inspiring place. It is the ideal place for a pack packer. I have always felt that the more untouched a place, the more gorgeous it is. Kasol is one of those places. Best part is it balances perfectly the modernity with the tradition, in terms of its culture. You visit Kasol once and you get addicted. Kasol is an adventurous place for trekkers who want to feel the experience of the majestic Himalayas. It has a large amount of camping sites. It is the base for trekking towards Yanker Pass, Pin and Parbati Pass commence. The weather is pleasant for most of the year. Winters can be harsh sometimes.
In the recent years , the place has seen a huge inflow of foreigners from abroad. This is a place that is hard to get over. Due to the increasing visitors, the small village has come up with excellent cafes and restaurants. Also the place is sometimes referred to as ‘mini Israel’ owing to a large number of travelers from Israel. The Himalayan Village Resort has come up between Kasol and another place called Jari. The resort provides facilities for mountain biking, rope climbing, river crossing, rock climbing and trekking. So a lot of visitors love staying here. The resort is so popular because it rests within the thick Pine forests , amidst wildlife and people of different etnicities but provides within its interiors spa and sauna facilities. It also has a Jacuzzi, aroma bath therapy, kero therapy, acupressure, and massaging for after the hectic day doing adventure sports.
Inseparable Parts of Kasol
It is an extremely serene village where one can sit for hours and hours staring at the picturesque view or just mediate without any disturbance from the outside world.The village is filled with scenic trails. One can only reach Tosh by foot from Kasol by crossing the suspended bridge that is over the free flowing Parvati river. One should take a moment there and listen to the gushing waters of the Parvati river. A large number of people sit near the river on huge rocks and just spend some time with themselves. Cafe’s and guest houses are readily available so accommodation is not an issue here. Some natives are courteous enough to allow visitors to stay in their houses as well. Hashish or Hash , a drug is cultivated in the region so a lot of foreigners visit Tosh for this reason as well. Some visitors also throw regular psychedelic parties for enjoyment and making merry. These parties can go in for days.The major crowd puller for these parties are world class DJ’s who come all the way to this beautiful valley just to perform for the music festival. There is an entry fee for these parties which is not too affordable any more.
It is an ancient village in the lap of the majestic Himalayas. The peculiar and unique location of the village geographically has helped preserve the village’s biodiversity. The most distinctive feature of Malana is that it has its own social structure and set of rules. It is one of the first democracies of the world and is believed to be the oldest republic in the world. The inhabitants are distant from the modern civilization and don’t like their local customs and traditions changed. They intend to keep it that way. A native of Malana village can provide food to a visitor but never receives food from an outsider. That is their custom. The natives speak the Kanashi language which is nothing like the other local languages. it is kind of a secret language for the natives. Another interesting feature about Malana is that it is the hub for Cannibis plantation. The product from the Cannibis plant in Malana is called Malana’s creme (a special kind of marijuana) which is a stoner’s delight across the world. Consuming weed is illegal in the region and there has been in the recent past regular police patrolling.The livelihood of the native people depend on Cannabis Cultivation. For them it’s just a plant and not a potential source of a world famous drug. The easiest way to reach Malana is from Jari, which is around a 20 Km picturesque trek to Malana.
When visiting Malana , stick to your prescribed path.Do not touch the walls and belongings of the native people, else you will have to pay a fine. Also do not consume the ‘Malana Creme’ (extracted from the Cannabis plantation which is cultivated vastly in the region) because smoking marijuana is illegal if found guilty, you can be subjected to prison for 10 years. If you feel like getting ‘high’, get high watching the majestic mountains.
INFORMATION FOR TOURISTS
BEST TIME TO VISIT: March to June
BEST WAY TO REACH: Travelling by road is the best option here. Luxury buses are available from New Delhi , Chandigarh and Shimla. Flights are available too till Bhuntar airport but they are not very frequent.
INTERNAL TRANSPORT: None required. Explore the region via trekking.
BEST EATING PLACES: Evergreen Cafe and Stone Garden Cafe.
ACCOMMODATION: Budget Hotels, Resorts, Guest Houses.
At a drive of around 2 hours from Kasol lies the beautiful valley of Manali.
A small hill station nestled in the mountains northern end of the Kullu Valley, and fed by the Beas river lies Manali. It is located in the Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh at an approximate distance of 250 kms from the state capital of Shimla. Manali is replete with scenic beauty. The snow clad peaks surrounding this small town and the sparkling waters of the Beas river add to the grandeur of this place. You literally feel bewitched here. Manali is also the base camp for many high altitude treks. It is also a hub for various adventure sports including paragliding, river rafting, zorbing, and skiing winters). You can either hire a cab, a bike or even a cycle (if you’re a professional) to explore the place and its adjoining areas. You can also take short hikes from one place to another (i can tell you from personal experience, they’re lot of fun).
While you decide to step out and explore places to visit near Manali, you’ll be surprised with these even more beautiful and less crowded spots located in the lesser-traversed areas of the Himalayas. If you’ve had your fill of the Manali’s central Mall Road and want to venture out from the hill town, then here are some short trips that you can plan while you’re in the area.
Must Visit Places in Manali
Solang Valley is a 50 minute drive from Manali and the landscape all along the way is just splendid. Once you reach there , you just wanna immerse yourself with the beauty around and venture into the mountains. Good thing is there is a ropeway which gives you a thrilling ride from the base of the valley mid way up to the mountain. You can hang out there till 6 and after that get back. After 6 the ropeway closes. Solang offers paragliding and zorbing. I insist you try both. For paragliding you can either go for a 15 minute ride or 45 minutes. You are provided with a trainer so don’t worry. Let go of fear and just experience the thrill of flying high in the sky. Once on the base, try zorbing. It is an inflatable pvc ball which contains another smaller ball that is suspended into position by thousand nylon strands of varying colours that is suitable only for grass covered slopes. Zorbing stops when snow covers the grass slope in winters.
The mountains with their snow clad peaks are a marvel to see. A lot of waterfalls in and around the area are also visible from the valley. You can explore the valley on foot. It really is fun. You just want to discover more and more of this place , when you start your trek. If you’re lucky you can even catch a glimpse of some wildlife.
Jogini falls are one of the least visited places around Manali . I insist you must visit them. Most tourists go back to Manali directly from Solang Valley , making a brief halt at Vashist. But my friends and i trekked right from Solang valley to Jhogni Falls via Vashist up till Manali. It was so much fun. The trek is covered with lush green meadows, pine forests, rivulets, waterfalls and some amazing wild life. One you reach Jhogini falls, you can take a brief halt and just feel the place. We had taken off our shoes when we reached the place and immersed ourselves in the water. Feels divine.
A few stalls are available from the way onward here to Vashist. You can get a cup of tea and some decent snacks. The place has the perfect feel to it. The trek up till Jogini Falls is really interesting. At the beginning itself you can observe the native people living life in a traditional and simple way. They’re warm people and will not hesitate to offer you a cup of tea in case you talk to them. You can also see these people doing some fascinating indigenous things.
Once you reach Vashisht, experience the hot water springs there. I won’t suggest a bath there, especially for women since there is no privacy but sure you can feel the water from the spring. It is said to have therapeutic properties. The distance from Vashist to Manali is a mere 2.5 kms. You will reach faster on foot than in a cab owing to the daily traffic jams in the region.
Going too near the waters of the Beas river is not recommended. There are a lot of dams in and around the region and the waters from these dams gets released every day so there is a good chance you can drown in the rising waters. So if in case you feel like clicking pictures, click them from a distance. A lot of unfortunate incidents have happened in the past. Try not to do that to yourself. Remain safe.
INFORMATION FOR TOURISTS
BEST WAY TO REACH – Volvo AC buses from New Delhi , Chandigarh and Shimla.
Flight till Bhuntar Airport from New Delhi are also available.
INTERNAL TRANSPORT – Local transport , Rented bikes and cabs.
BEST EATING PLACES – A German Bakery by the name of ‘Manali Day.’
ACCOMODATION – Home stays and Guest Houses.
Once you’re done with Manali , you should plan a trip to Rohtang La.
The Rohtang La , also known popularly as Rohtang Pass is a natural divide between the humid Kullu Valley which has a predominant Hindu culture and the arid, high altitude Lahaul and Spiti Valleys which are predominantly Buddhist. The Pass offers beautiful sights of glaciers, peaks, Lahaul Valley and the Chandra River. The twin peaks of Geypan are also visible from Rohtang. The initial part of the drive is along River Beas on one side and alpine forests on the other. The pass is on the watershed between the water basins of the Chenab River and the Beas River. In fact the Beas has its origin at Rohtang. The main place at Rohtang Pass is the ‘Snow Point.’
Snow Point is not any particular location, rather, it is just a stretch of snow on the way to Rohtang La identified by local vendors to set up their stalls. In peak winters, Snow point is at a location very close to Manali. As the summer progresses, location of snow point moves higher and higher till it reaches Rani Nullah and then further towards the Rohtang Pass.
Enthusiasm of tourists converts snow point into some sort of a snow theme park. Tourists can indulge in various snow activities like Amateur skiing, yak rides, snow scotters and snow mobiles and of course throwing snow balls at one another. Even in summers this region is chilly so make sure to carry proper woolens with you. A lot of tourists a one day trip to Rohtang from Manali and then get back on the same day. I insist you book a hotel in advance and stay for atleast a day. From there you can head back to Manali or move along to Spiti , whatever suits your schedule. Rohtang lies at a distance of around 50 kms from Manali and it takes around 3 hours to reach there , owing to the terrain.
Only a limited amount of vehicles are allowed to go to Rohtang Pass in one day. So make sure to get the permit before you leave. The permit can be obtained from the office located at the Mall, Manali. Also dress in really warm clothes , even if you’re visiting in summer months. This part of the world remains chilly all through the year. If you don’t feel like carrying woolen clothes, you can rent them on the way to Rohtang Pass from Manali.
INFORMATION FOR TOURISTS
BEST WAY TO REACH – Cabs and buses with permit can take you to Rohtang from Manali.
INTERNAL TRANSPORT – Not required
BEST EATING PLACES – Local stalls. You can eat on the way to Rohtang at a place called Marhi.
ACCOMODATION – Guest Houses located on the way to Rohtang, Tents.
At a distance of around 80 Kms from Rohtang lies Spiti. Rohtang is the gateway to Spiti.
Enter the valley of Spiti, and the terrain changes to a different kind of stark grandeur. No more lush green alpine vegetation. Now you tend to stare at contours of a far more complex nature. Endless layers of powdery maroon and glowing ochre slopes loomed in the distance, with the beautiful River Chandra drawing patterns in the lap of an ever-widening basin. On this route there are no tea-stalls and eateries at every turn. Instead, you will find pea and potato fields. Stop by and sample some. These are the sweetest, most succulent peas you’d have ever tasted. There is very little vehicular traffic too, but do expect to slow down as a big flock of sheep takes over the entire width of the road and slowly ambles by. Don’t even bother to hoot because this is where you go at their pace – unhurried, unfazed, happy to find a patch of grass in the largely barren terrain. You watch them quietly and the moment becomes your oasis.
This land often known as Little Tibet, was historically a part of the kingdom of Nariss Korssum (Western Tibet), and is home to few of the oldest Buddhist monasteries and temples in the world. Tucked away in the interiors of the Trans-Himalayan belt of Himachal Pradesh, this high altitude cold desert region has only recently been opened to the outside world. Situated at an altitude well over 3000 mts above mean sea level, this valley is exposed to temperature variations of -28 degree centigrade to +28 degree centigrade and remains cut off for most of the year by the high mountains that encircle it. Due to its relative isolation, various unique and rare aspects of the Buddhist culture (Tibetan Buddhism) are well preserved in this valley. Spiti is also a storehouse of various rare and endangered species of flora and fauna, such as the Snow Leopard, Tibetan Wolf, to name a few. Home stays offer one a unique and exclusive insight into this mystical land, its people, their rich cultural heritage, and its diverse flora & fauna.
There are some locations that can’t be missed in Spiti –
The foremost location which is an absolute delight for a traveler is the Chandratal Lake. Also known as ‘Moon Lake,’ Chandratal is a surreal lake located in Spiti. It is so magnificent that one can just sit there for hours and hours gazing at its beauty. The turquoise colour of the lake soothes the eye of the beholder. Chandratal is serenity presonified. In fact the entire region of Spiti is serene. One can spend the night at this splendid location in tents that are available at a nominal price. One cannot take a cab or a bike here. You will be dropped by your vehicles at a place called Batkal and you have to trek from there till Chandratal. It is a 14 km stretch. In case you’re traveling by bus , make sure to note the timings since only two buses run daily. One towards Manali and one towards Kaza – the sub- divisional headquarters of Spiti.
Chandratal rests in a rock basin that has been closed by the mountains surrounding it. The lake is situated on a plateau called Samudra Tapu, overlooking the Chandra River which originates from a glacier near Bara-lacha-la. It reflects the Chandra Bhaga range in its calm blue waters and is fed by the surrounding glaciers. I followed the circular path that goes all around the lake, marveling at how with every changing curve, the water also changed from turquoise to emerald and then to a deeper green. Once the sun was high, every shade, very stroke of colour from the mountains was reflected just as lucidly in the lake.
After spending a night at Chandratal , one can head towards Kaza and from there reach Tabo Monastery. You can halt at Kaza, spend a night and then visit the monastery. Kaza mainly serves as a tourist base for Spiti valley and one can visit places like the Tabo Monastry, Ki Moneastery, Kibber village. Kaza and its nearby village has good accommodation and other facilities like Petrol/Diesel pumps. It also has a market for daily necessities.
The Tabo Monastery was constructed as early as 996 A.D . That makes it the oldest Buddhist enclave in India. The monastic complex of Tabo (Ta-pho) is the first large religious site found in the barren and desolate moonscape of Spiti, between the Great Himalayan Range and the Zanskar Range. Inside its temples one can find extraordinary examples of early Indo-Tibetan art. They have rare and priceless collection of thankas, statues, frescos, religious manuscripts and murals on the walls.
Kibber, in Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh, has the distinction of being the highest motorable village in the world. The village is known for its scenic mountains, barren splendour and monasteries. Key Monastery, the largest in Spiti Valley is situated close to Kibber. The architecture of the houses and fortified look of the village are worth seeing. Houses are made of stones and adobe bricks. It is the biggest monastery of the Spiti Valley and a religious training centre of the Lamas. It looks like a house built on the top of another and they are haphazardly spread over the hill cliff. This monastery was damaged many times in the past due to the war, fire and earthquake. The successive trails of destruction and patch-up jobs have resulted in a haphazard growth of box-like structures, and so the monastery looks like a fort, with temples built on top of one another.
Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary is also located close to the village. It is home to the Ibex, blue sheep, red fox, Tibetan woolly hare, Himalayan Wolf, lynx, pika, Tibetan wild ass and snow leopard. It is the only sanctuary in India that is situated in a cold desert area. The high altitude and pollution free atmosphere is a boon for sky gazers. Watching the night sky from Kibber is an amazing experience. The stars and the constellations seem very close and can be seen clearly even with the naked eye. Another claim to fame is the presence of large amount of fossils in and around Kibber. The village is among the most fossilferous region of the world and has earned Spiti the sobriquet of ‘Fossils Park’.
Only BSNL Sim cards obtained in Himachal Pradesh work in Spiti, and that too only in Kaza (Spiti’s administrative capital) and some of the lower villages. There is a single cyber cafe in Kaza, that draws on the army satellite to offer an internet connection whose speed reminds you of the dial-up days! You’ll find an ATM or two in Kaza, but their functioning is often erratic, so it’s advisable to carry enough cash from Manali / Shimla.
INFORMATION FOR TOURISTS
BEST WAY TO REACH – Cabs and local HRTC buses from Manali via Rohtang to Kaza
INTERNAL TRANSPORT – Cabs, Bikes
BEST EATING PLACES – Sol Cafe and Makang restaurant (Kaza)
ACCOMODATION – Home stays and Guest Houses.
At Chandratal Lake, tents with food are available.
After you have enjoyed the serenity and the beauty of the Spiti region, you can head towards Kinnaur – the last destination on my list.
Kinnaur is one of the most beautiful districts of Himachal Pradesh. It consists of three magnificient mountain ranges – Himalayas, Zanskar and Dhauladhar. The slopes of the mountains here are covered with thick wood, apple orchards, fields and picturesque landscapes. Apples, chilgoza (Pine Nut) and other dry fruits are grown here which are transported to other states of the country as well. The place has a true Himalayan flavour with peace and serenity all around. Not many tourists visit the place owing to the inaccessibility during certain months of the year. However those who visit Kinnaur fall in love with every aspect of it.
When in Kinnaur , do visit the following places –
Sangla is a town in the Baspa Valley, also referred to as the Sangla valley, in the Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh. It is covered with dense forest trees with views of the Himalayan range. Earlier one could not enter the Sangla Valley without special permit due to it being close to the Indo Tibet Border. But now the citizens of India are allowed. Visistors from abroad require a permit. Sangla is the major town in the valley with a petrol pump, a bank, ATMs, post Office, restaurants, bar, mid range hotels , guest houses and shops. So before proceeding to further locations, you can purchase the stuff you’ll be needing. The valley is surrounded by forested slopes and offers spectacular views of the snow clad peaks in the lap of the greater Himalayas.
Situated halfway between Sangla and Chitkul, is a bowl shaped valley on the banks of Baspa river ies Rakcham. Many people don’t plan to stay here or visit here since it isn’t a well known location. However on the way from Sangla Valley to Chitkul, Rakcham literally makes you stay. Once here, you’ll notice a lot of tourists changing their minds and wanting to spend a day or two here as well. Starting from the main road, a 10-15 min walk in any direction will see you climbing the swooping ranges. The place reminds you of Enid Blyton books. It feels like you’re in a fairy tale. Imagine all the beautiful frames you might have seen during childhood, in movies/posters/cards or even dreams, stored in recess of memory. Rakcham appeared to be a blend of all those pictures created to the perfection.
It is the last inhabited village near the India-China border. Chitkul is a ‘out of the world experience.’ The population is hardly around 600 people.If you leave the village and take a hike up to around 6-7 kms , you reach the India-China Border. In fact you can see the snow clad peaks at a distance which lie on the Chinese territory. Like a doorway opening into this vast, windy landscape of serene beauty, a curve around a small hill and you see this majestic and beautiful valley. Like something out of a movie.There’s a guest house located right when you enter chitkul and another a few minutes ahead, close to the big tree with the things hanging from it.
The food available is usually very basic with non-vegetarian food made only on customers special demands and a little extra cash but good. Chawal, Dal, Rajma, Subzi and Roti are pretty much all you get to eat and yes eggs for breakfast and bread butter.If you’re planning to go there, stay at least 5 days. The different landscapes present there will keep you intriguied in exploring all that there is to seen. Meadows, Mountains, Grasslands, Big rocks, River, Jungle and Apple orchids! This place has everything!
The roads in this region are one of the most challenging roads of Indian subcontinent and at times breath-taking. It is utmost important to plan your itinerary meticulously, outline your destinations, overnight stops, pit stops before cruising into treacherous terrain. Else, you may miss some of the incredible attractions of these valleys and return back with frowning curiosity. So plan accordingly.
INFORMATION FOR TOURISTS
BEST WAY TO REACH – Cabs and buses from Kaza
INTERNAL TRANSPORT – Cabs, Bikes.
BEST EATING PLACES – Litte Chef’s restaurant.
ACCOMODATION – PWD Guest House , Circuit House (Kalpa), Camps (Raksham), Camps, Home stays (Chitkul)
Once you have seen and explored Kinnaur till your heart’s delight , you may head back to home. The nearest city is Shimla. So take a bus or hire a cab/bike to get there. From Shimla you can either go back by road, by rail, or even by flight.
I hope my post proves useful for all the travelers who wish to visit this part of the world. Don’t wait any longer. Take a break from your busy schedule , pack a bag and get going. Hans Christian Anderson once said, “to travel is to live.” Holds true.
Happy traveling 🙂
For the traveler in you, here is some stuff that be of interest to you –
Travel Book for Himachal
Travel Book for Travelers by Ravi Manoram
Travel Book for all countries from Lonely Planet
Travel Organizer Bag
Combo – Eye Mask, Neck Pillow and Ear Plugs
I had a discussion with an American woman recently. She asked me if it was ok for Christians to use the word, ‘Namaste‘ , since the word has it’s origin in Hinduism. For starters, i told her that , “have we become so intolerant now that we don’t even have space for a single word from another religion? Whatever happened to Humanity – the greatest religion of all ?” I started explaining to her the significance of the word and she was mesmerized. Not only she but about 9-10 more people , (all of whom were Christians) said that it was a beautiful concept . In fact many of them use it often. Especially the ones taking Yoga class. It is a norm to use it there. I was happy i could put the message across and i thought of sharing it here too.
On the surface of it , ‘Namaste‘ is a word that is used to greet each other. This is accompanied by folding of both hands and slight bowing down of one’s head .But this is not it. The word has a greater significance. The word has it’s origin in the Sanskrit language where ‘Namaste‘ is a combination of 2 words – namah + te which means “I bow to you”. In other words, “i offer my respects to you.” The joining and folding together of hands of the palms symbolizes oneness. When said with mindfulness and understanding, it serves to negate our sense of separateness or ego from others. There’s something about the universal recognition and the spiritual energy that accompanies the essence of Namaste that makes it a truly remarkable greeting. Just speaking the word Namaste – especially along with the Mudra (symbolic or ritual gesture) posture – raises the vibrations of your intention to greet someone by honoring of their inner goodness.The deeper spiritual purpose of the Namaste greeting is to remind ourselves and others of the absolute oneness and divinity of all life and to keep this thought and knowledge established each day in our consciousness. When the word Namaste is spoken and the hands are held in prayer over the heart, the person will bow forward as a sign of respect and humility. When we recognize the Divine Light in each other we are humbled by the greatest of that which creates us and that which we truly are.
When we know its purpose and spiritual significance, the greeting paves the way for a deeper, divine communion with others, complete with love, honour, and respect.
(With inputs from the Katha Upanishad)
All of us should read the revered Bhagwat Gita at least once.