Browsing Category India

Yoga in Dharamshala – With an Introduction to Yoga

When I went to Chile in 2016, many Chileans asked me if I knew how to do yoga. While traveling around South America for nine months, I realized the popularity of yoga in the world.

Apprehending the vast influences of yoga and seeing the craze of the westerners towards India and yoga, I became a wanna be yoga learner.

In those immature years of my life, I wanted to be a solo female traveler who also did yoga. I wished to bend myself one-eighty-degrees on the sultry Goa beaches and the summits of the mighty Himalayas alike.

After all, the social media pictures of yoga teachers and practitioners over the internet kindle enough narcissism that you forget the real purpose of yoga (if you ever knew) and only admire the overwhelming curves on the trending photos.

Yoginis look like the epitomes of Urvashi from the Indra palace. Maybe we can compare the Yogi to Shiva who is said to be the first-yogi or the Adiyogi?

Those yoga pictures look as perfect as the postures held in the frame, but remember that pictures don’t tell the entire story.

Yoga is not about a few jazzy posts on Instagram or Facebook. And I kept this in mind when I traveled to Dharamshala and practiced yoga there.

Yoga, a word derived from the Sanskrit word Yuj meaning join, means union — of the mind, body, and soul.

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A Road Trip From Bangalore to Coorg – The Quintessential Karnataka

I won’t tell you that Coorg is the Scotland of India, as every other Bangalore to Coorg travel guide must have already told you this. I don’t know anything about Scotland’s landscape for I have not been there. But I can say that Coorg, also known as Kodagu, is straight out of that movie where you see fat cows grazing on a soft grassy carpet while spinach-green hills pose in the background.

I am not sure if I can call Coorg a quaint town for everybody traveling to Bangalore or the South, in general, go on a road trip from Bangalore to Coorg, at least one-time. But what brings these travelers to Coorg, a district nestled in the western ghats of South Karnataka?

Rolling emerald hills, an opportunity to see elephants, leopards, gaurs, giant Malabar squirrels, and other wildlife, the peppy birds of Karnataka, aromatic coffee and tea estates, huge avocados, rich Kodava cuisine, silky waterfalls melting into the revered Kaveri, old temples, and ancient monasteries could be some of the reasons.

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Spiti in Photos – The Pictures that Instagram Won’t Let You See

Snow-capped peaks, inky sky, copper mountains, creamy cubicle homes, lean Spitians jostling around, and a few sheep and cow — this is Spiti Valley, one of the remotest valley of the Indian Himalaya.

Spiti is indeed a bucket list destination for many millennials and older travelers alike. Some say their dream came true when they visited Lahaul and Spiti.

Spiti valley photography isn’t a new trend. People have been clicking pictures of Spiti for decades. Occasionally you would see Indians and foreigners posting gorgeous Spiti images on their Instagram account.

Young maroon-clothed monks jumping on the road. Himalayan peaks standing tall and a river swiftly shifting in front of them. Icy summits with a white Spitian village in front. A selfie with a Spitian woman on the road. Key Monastery standing tall. Pictures of self in front of dominant mountains. A few close-ups of flat-roofed homes of Spiti.

We have seen this all. But most of the Spiti valley photos don’t even make it to Instagram.

The nothingness that envelops the stunning Spiti and the isolated Spitian life is too much to handle sometimes. Even in pictures.

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A Photographic Affair With Pushkar, Rajasthan

I went to Pushkar a few days before the Pushkar cattle fair starts.

Nearby villagers had arrived at the fairground with their cattle, and some were still on their way. Animal trade had started, though the ground was still being set up.

Hundred thousands of tourists, photographers, and locals from the nearby villages attend the Pushkar Fair every year. But as the big influx of tourists was not to come until the camel fair started, the grounds were yet to fill up.

Even though I was only carrying a phone camera, I decided to treat my visit as a Pushkar photography tour. While walking in the tiny streets of the Pushkar bazaar and wandering on the ghats of the Pushkar Lake, I not only clicked some Pushkar photos that I am happy with, I also captured some deep-felt emotions.

Now without saying much, let me take you on this photo tour of Pushkar.

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Spiti Valley – Not Just Another Travel Destination

Spiti is every traveler’s dream.

Why? Because Spiti is stunning.

Have you traveled to the Himalayas yet? Maybe you went on to a travel trip to Dharamshala, explored the many places to visit near Manali, or hiked to Chandrashila peak, or perhaps you visited Uttarakhand: Mussoorie, Landour, Dehradun, or trekked in the valley of flowers.

Vast green pastures, sheep and cow grazing on lush grass, high vegetation-rich mountains, dense jungles, orchards, farms and villages, English houses, churches — this is the typical scene in Himachal and Uttarakhand.

Though Spiti is one of the many Himachal Pradesh valleys, its nothing like this.

In this Spiti valley travel blog, we will see how Spiti is one of the most bizarre and gorgeous places to see.

But why the Spitian landscape is so distinct that everyone keeps talking about it? The altitude of Spiti is at least 4,000 meters even in the lowest parts of the valley. And don’t forget that Spiti is a Himalayan valley. The high altitude and the Himalayas make Spiti a unique place to live. 

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Life in Bhagsu Nag – A Gorgeous Village in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh

When you think about traveling to Himachal, do you think about visiting the beautiful villages in Himachal Pradesh — the evergreen state of fresh air and happy people? This story is all about the villages of Himachal.

I am living a dream life in BhagsuNag, a small, hippie village in the Kangra valley of the Himalayas. Bhagsu Nag is above Dharamkot village, which is above Mcleodganj, a town you must have heard about as Dalai Lama’s main temple is located here. Both the villages and Mceodganj fall under the district of Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh.

When I came to Himachal, almost a month and a half ago, I didn’t know that I would stay put up in a village in Himachal for a month. As I arrived from Amritsar in Dharamshala on a rickety HRCTC bus, I straightaway went to the Vipassana center in Dharamkot(I know I still have to write about Vipassana as many of you are waiting to read). When Vipassana ended, I came out the deodar-dense ashram to realize that I didn’t connect with Dharamkot — a village full of stone, and Macremia jewelry stores and learners’ classes, hemp and regular cloth stores, restaurants and hotels, fancy cafes, and a popular Yak cheese sandwich shop.

Groups of international tourists sat at the streetside cafes facing the walkers and sipping cappuccinos or masala chai while their stone-ring adorned fingers frantically rolled cigarettes or held joints. Whether I scooched through those tiny streets crowded by people standing on the street smoking or buying second-hand clothes and crystals during the morning or the sunny afternoon, the cafes fringing the streets seemed to be filled with the same people and a similar vibe. The place lacked the positive energy I was looking for.

Following my instincts which told me to get away from Dharamkot, I crossed onto the other side of the valley to arrive in the village of Bhagsu. I wanted to live, learn, and explore the Himalayas nestling this village which is popular amongst Indians for the BhagsuNag Shiva temple and a waterfall.

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Nawabi Places to Visit in Hyderabad in 3 Days

When I traveled to Hyderabad twice this summer for my US visa interviews, I thought that I would not write a Hyderabad travel guide. Not because Hyderabad didn’t have enough archaic domes, stone-carved mosques, vast green lawns around centuries-old tombs, pigeons clouding the grey sky, flaky flavorful pastries crowding old bakeries, robust fort walls that sprawled through the city, ginger tea being sold at every nook and corner, and historic buildings standing bright and beautiful as proud queens amongst the hustle and bustle of the old bazaar.

But I didn’t want to write this list of places to visit in Hyderabad in 3 days because Hyderabad city seemed orthodox to my independent taste. Men ogled women freely, while their wives roamed around the city fully clad. Hoards of men crowded the corner shops and the streets while the women were nowhere to be seen. I even saw an old Muslim man pointing out to me and then later telling his son that the style of clothes I was wearing (a pink top and three-fourth jeans) weren’t decent. Though delicacies sent out a spicy fragrance in every corner of this Nawabi town, we had a hard time finding delicious vegetarian food in Hyderabad.

Then I decided against my intuition of not writing about Hyderabad. 

As I returned from my Hyderabad city tour, I slowly realized that Hyderabad was so much more than the conservative society rallying the streets of this heritage city. 

Hyderabad was established by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah in 1591 at the banks of the Musi River to overcome the water shortages at Golconda fort. Later Hyderabad became the major trade center for pearls and diamonds as the mines of Golconda were rich with both. The lineage of the ten Qutb Shahi rulers then shifted their capital to Hyderabad, but the city was won by the Mughals to be eventually lost to the British. 

The present-day Hyderabad can be divided into the historic city that is on the southern side of the Musi River, and the New City that sits on the northern banks.

Though most of the historical places in Hyderabad are in the old city, this division is hardly visible. 

Now Hyderabad bustles like an era from the past that is equipped with modern cars and tall glass skyscrapers. While on one side you will see bright Charminar standing tall reminding us of Hyderabad’s Nizami heritage, on the other side you will see cabs full of white-collared migrants rushing to Hitec city. Laad Bazaar is as popular as Mega Shopping Mall. While Golconda fort is a weekend’s delight for many, the GVK Inox isn’t much behind. KFC might have a long queue of burger-hungry customers, but Shah Ghouse Cafe is even busier.

Hyderabad is an interesting blend of traditional and modern that invites you to immerse in it even if that means elbowing your way through crowded streets or standing in line to get into the Golconda fort. These are just the battles you have to win in Hyderabad. 

But if we are talking about imperfection, let me tell you that men stalked me even in the artistic lanes of Paris and Delhi, and I wouldn’t even get started on how crowded London tube gets.

So I will get started on these places to see in Hyderabad list.

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My Love and Hate Relationship With the Colorful India – A Story and Memory Postcards

As I move onto a new journey that takes me outside India for a couple of months, I couldn’t help but reminisce about the places that I have lived in and visited in the last one year I have been in India.

India — a country with distinct religions from the ancient Hindu to the declining Zoroastrianism, with a myriad of languages and dialects from Konkani to Jarawa, with a plethora of geographies from fathomless deserts to treacherous glaciers, with a vast network from modern sea links to old hanging bridges, with a wide assortment of food from homely dal roti to mouth-watering, overnight-cooked chicken biryanis, with a range of commutes from rusted Hero bicycles, serene camels, and obedient bullock carts to fancy Rolls Royces, from peaceful Tamil marriages that are held for two hours during daylight to exciting Punjabi wedding functions sprawled over many days in luxurious hotels spread across India; we have it all.

This large and miscellaneous congregation of people — that India is — sometimes makes me proud, but sometimes the restrictions of this collectivist society suffocate me.

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Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka – A Day in the Winged Paradise

We went on a one day drive to the Ranganathittu bird sanctuary. And I was overwhelmed by its beauty.

I penned down my experience in a poem. After all, what is better than nature and poetry?

Writing down that poem here.

Related Read: If you love animals and are in South India, do visit Daroji Bear Sanctuary, Hampi, Karnataka

 

As we entered the sanctuary, painted storks glided above us in the clouded sky, 

and with our heads tilted towards the heavens,

we walked by the side of the muddy Kaveri,

to see flocks and flocks of white and grey birds just perched onto the canopies of the Arjuna and the Acacia on the islets.

The crisp air buzzed with their songs and shrieks,

though I couldn’t identify even one of those notes.

We gazed at the distant foliage to recognize the winged-ones,

but our eyes instead discovered three crocodiles who rested on the rocks with their powerful jaws wide open,

as if they were waiting for a fish to dive into their mouth.

Their stillness made us wonder if they were real or fake,

and then we saw one of them gracefully gliding into the coolness of the water,

alluring us to go behind him.

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A One–Day Road Trip From Bangalore to Panchapalli Dam and Bettamugilalam Village

One needs to control his or her mind to do anything in this world. Even the most enlightened of us all, Plato, Seneca, Marcus, Aristotle, Buddha, Socrates, valued this virtue. I do not possess this quality, yet, and hence couldn’t sleep the Saturday night before the Sunday drive. At 4 am, when I disabled the alarm and dragged myself out of bed, I felt as if a hundred pins pierced my eyes. 

Determined to hit the road, we packed our country-egg-omelet and Amul-butter-pasted sandwiches, that I had already prepared the night before, in tiffin boxes and then in a backpack, along with bananas, water bottles, and Unibic protein bars. We wanted to hike the world. Soon, we sped on the road in search of a green and sunlight-lit golden Sunday in some distant hills or next to a lake or a dam, may be accompanied by an elephant or two. 

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