Adventure

Benaulim Beach – As radiant as it can get

Firstly, wishing all the fellow bloggers and readers ‘Happy New Year’!! It’s been almost a month since my last post, I have been traveling and catching up with loved ones 🙂 So, blogging got out of attention purview. Well, I’m back and here’s the first post for the year….

I saw flurry of colors taking off and

Landing smoothly on the calm waves

I witnessed the smiles while memories were made

The drawings on the golden sand

Making impression on my heart

I wish I could stop Time or may be capture it in a magical box…….

The beautiful Benaulim Beach gave us memories of a lifetime!!

 

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Benaulim now a town in South Goa district (Salcette stretch) was erstwhile known as Banahalli. After Portuguese intervention it was given a new name and since then it has stayed so.

The region has two beautiful churches – The Holy Trinity Church and the St. John Baptist Church. Both the churches have peculiar appeal. However it’s prime beauty is its Benaulim beach adorned with tranquil waves, the swinging coconut trees, the creatures that greet you here and golden sands.

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We spent whole evening here and it was just wholesome entertainment. There were more people swimming here as the waves on this beach were super calm. There was parasailing, jet skiing, boat riding, wind surfing, people jogging, playing volley ball, doing yoga and much more.

The number of sea stars that greeted us here was incredible. Not just that there were all different kinds of crab and all other tiny creatures touching the feet. And Jelly fishes too!!

The varieties of Starfish here was unbelievable, some of them were close to water and hence managed to survive but few others just waited for long to unite with the sea.

Benaulim Quote

And now few snapshots that will make you smile right away!! Continue reading

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Categories: Adventure, Travel Quotes, Traveling with a Baby, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Best of Spiti – Mani Stones

The first story in this series was published few days ago and can be read here – Best of Spiti – In Pictures.

The origin of ‘Mani Stones’ is as ancient as Buddhism. Buddhists began to mark stones with symbols, phrases and mantras as a means to express their faith for deities and spread positivity. Hence, you’re likely to find varied kinds of inscriptions, use of vibrant colors manifesting belief of the decorator. These are sacred, magical and mystic.

 These decorated stones make you feel not just happy but also exude positivity.

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Travelers to Spiti Valley (place inhabited by Tibetans) will encounter such stones / mound of stones pretty much everywhere. Since, we were on a road trip, we spent our maximum travel time on roads and every time we saw such beautifully and meticulously carved stones, we would stop to soak in beauty.

These ‘Mani’ stones come in different colors, shapes, sizes and also different inscriptions, texts or images but primarily one will find such stones inscribed with ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’.

Mane 1

Fortunately, I found this profound explanation of the powerful mantra by ‘H.H Tenzin Gyatso The Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet’ in the sacred texts and I’m sharing the brief version. It is believed chanting of this mantra brings great benefits for mind and soul but one must contemplate on the meaning as well for the meaning makes the chant and its impact complete.

‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ 

‘Decoded’

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The first, OM, is composed of three pure letters, A, U, and M symbolizing the practitioner’s impure body, speech and mind. The development of pure body, speech and mind comes gradually as one transforms from leaving the impure state into the pure. Continue reading

Categories: Adventure, Spiritual, Spiti Valley, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

The Tall and Mighty – Dudhsagar Falls

Day 2 – Witnessing the fifth largest waterfall of India

Dudhsagar Falls translates to ‘The Sea of Milk’ in English, with a mighty fall of 1,020 feet; these falls are a sight to watch evoking awe and excitement alike. Dudhsagar is a 4-tiered waterfall located on the Mandovi River near Goa – Karnataka border. We covered Dudhsagar Falls on Day 2 of our recent Goa trip (Oct’17).

The falls are located inside a Wildlife Sanctuary and hence governed by the Forest Department, the access is a bit difficult but worth the effort. Dudhsagar has a mighty fall, and the arc sort of design as seen in pictures is actually a railway track, there’s a Bollywood movie shot here too (remember Chennai Express!) ; however the train has been discontinued lately.

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Dudhsagar Falls

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Things to Know, before you go to Dudhsagar Falls

  • Currently, the only way to reach the falls is by booking the ‘Jeep Safari’ which costs INR 400 +INR 30 for life jacket +INR 50 forest department fee, comes around INR 480. The Jeep will take you on a bumpy ride of 10 -12 km and finally once you reach the falls, you’ll have 1.30 hours to enjoy. Photography is allowed but carrying a camera and managing it (particularly DSLR) is a bit difficult.
  • The way that leads to falls is beautiful, risky though, especially if you have a Kid / Backpack. It’s preferable to wear Floaters or Sandals.
  • There is a place where one can enjoy light swimming at the foot of the falls. One has to be careful all the time as there are rocks beneath water.
  • There was a train earlier which used to go till the Falls, but now it has been discontinued.
  • You might encounter the local villagers claiming that they will take you on a trek till the top of the waterfall and charge only INR 1,000 but please do not fall prey to such claims; the area is not safe due to thick forest, presence of wild animals and steep water cliff. Moreover, if anything goes wrong, they will not take any responsibility.
  • Since, we had our bike; we traveled the distance in 2 hours from South Goa to Dudhsagar Falls. However, for someone coming from North Goa this might take 3.30 – 4 hours of travel from one side, so plan accordingly.
  • During monsoons and heavy rains, the falls are closed to avoid casualties.

The lower half of the falls where swimming is allowed –

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Ending the day, Cavelossim way Continue reading

Categories: Adventure, Beach Vacation, Family Travel, goa, Offbeat Travel, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Best of Spiti – In Pictures

The inviting roads, the terrain, the landscapes and topography…….

Making up our minds for doing the 11 days road trip with a little baby was not easy at all. It was the first time ever that we were so anxious about our ‘Travel’ plans!! Post baby, the lifestyle changed every bit and traveling together (particularly the adventure trips) were difficult to fathom. However, our zeal for road trips couldn’t keep us away for a very long time and after an occasional break of a year we decided to pack our bags and set out on a road trip along with our 11 months old little love to the revered Spiti Valley, the Land of Lamas in India. Interestingly, we discovered our baby boy shares the love for Travel 🙂 This trip wasn’t his first though, he had been on few short trips already before Spiti.

Spiti is as stunning as it name sounds!! Lahaul–Spiti lies in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Spiti is predominantly occupied by Tibetan refugees and hence the region has pretty much feel of Tibet.

We covered the region via Shimla. It was thrilling as well as challenging to drive on these roads. We were bracing ourselves for the drive on one of the most treacherous and deadliest roads of the world. This time it was the thrill of NH-22 and Hindustan-Tibet road. The hairpin bends, the narrow dimensions, encountering natural waterfalls, close encounters with trucks and buses, the frequent bad patches made us  feel ecstatic and sometimes insane:). Take a virtual tour of the roads here.

The region is heaven for photography enthusiasts, to hone skills and experiment with different styles, today I’m sharing the essence of the ‘Spiti Valley’ captured in pictures, a random compilation of awe-inspiring sightings. This is going to be a series of posts and I hope you travel along 🙂

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This is a landscape view of village – Dhankar. Dhankar stands tall at an altitude of 12,774 feet. Dhang/dang means cliff, and kar/khar means fort. Hence, the fort on a cliff is popularly known as ‘Dhankar’. The confluence of Spiti & Pin Rivers from this height is incredible!!!

Dhankar houses a 16th century old fort monastery; however one can see the new monastery now in the tiny village of Shichilling. The old monastery complex is also known as Lha-O-pa Gompa; it has five different halls and includes a number of multi-storied buildings. The highlight of the monastery is the a statue of Vairochana or Dhayan Buddha with 4 figures seated back to back. The monastery is associated with Gelukpa order of Tibetan Buddhism and has around 150 lamas residing in it.

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Read more about Dhankar

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The natural settings are so beautiful here that we were compelled to take breaks and soak in the beauty, this capture is a humble attempt to share the beauty with the world. Continue reading

Categories: Adventure, Family Travel, Himachal, India, Spiti Valley, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 71 Comments

Totally Tabo-ed!!!

Visiting the Ajanta of Himalayas -Tabo Village in Spiti Valley

Tabo (Ta- pho) is situated at a wobbly altitude of 3050 meters in the eastern region of Spiti Valley. Spiti is one awe-inspiring region that houses few of the greatest surviving monuments of Tibetan art and culture. Historically, Spiti Valley is believed to be part of the Kingdom of Western Tibet. The tiny divine village (Tabo) will catch your fancy for all the right reasons.

Visit to Tabo was part of our road trip to Spiti Valley. It seemed as if the incredible road trip had surprises in store for us at every corner. The vast expanse of land, flawless empty roads, and the Spiti River flowing by, filled us with happiness and wonder for nature. We were already in different world, albeit tired of all the driving throughout the day. Once we reached Tabo, the gigantic and colorful entrance re-energized us, the feel of this small settlement was so contagious!!!

Glimpse of Tabo

Glimpse of captivating Tabo village

That evening we settled in our rooms, gazing at the bright stars and stunning moon, excited about the next morning. Continue reading

Categories: Adventure, Discovery, Road Trip, Spiti Valley, Tour Spiti | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 45 Comments

An epic road trip to Spiti Valley, the Land of Lamas in India

For the last three weeks I have been receiving lot of queries regarding travel to ‘Spiti Valley’. More so as we did the circuit with our 11 months old little baby ∞ The road trip that entails more than just planning your days, test of patience and display of mettle!!

So, I decided to share our story, experience and details again for the benefit of the fellow travelers. I have attempted to make this post as comprehensive as possible to serve like a helpful Travel Guide to Spiti. This post has actually been one of the most popular one on Untraveled Routes so far, it received 1000+ views within two days of posting 🙂 Finally here it is –

The Trans Himalayan voyage through Shimla – Kinnaur – Spiti Valley

We have done road trips before (Dainkund Peak, Betaab Valley, Mandhavgarh) but the one we were planning this time was totally different. We were bracing ourselves for the drive on one of the most treacherous and deadliest roads of the world. This time it was the thrill of NH-22 and Hindustan-Tibet road. This time we were going to be away in the majestic rocky deserted mountains, rugged terrains, vertical cliffs and cold desert valley.

And somehow our instincts convinced us that this was totally worth it.

Spiti was on our minds for a long time, an incessant zeal for travel gave us all the courage required to do this trip with our 11 months old baby boy – Aayansh. So we did it in April 2016!!! Gorgeous mountains, flawless cold desert valley, captivating culture, contagious love and warmth, beauty exuding from every quarter… Spiti Valley is a treat for soul.

Continue reading

Categories: Adventure, Tour Spiti, Traveling with a Baby, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

Wednesday Wisdom :)

Wednesday Wisdom

Read this beautiful saying by Dalai Lama and felt like sharing 🙂 Captured this picture near Kaza during our Road trip to Spiti Valley in April 2016.

Categories: Adventure, Experience, Tour Spiti, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

The ‘Sakya Tangyud Monastery’ at Kaza

Kaza / Kaze is the largest township of Lahaul and Spiti Valley. Kaza is the sub-divisional headquarters of Spiti Valley, making it an important administrative and commercial center.In fact, Kaza was the only place in whole of Spiti Valley which had the hustle bustle of a town unlike Tabo, Dhankar or Komic and felt totally different from other places in the region. Kaza has strategic importance attached to it, primarily because of location. In you are entering Spiti via Rohtang Pass, Kaza is the first town of Spiti you will witness. There are myriad stay options at Kaza to suit one’s pockets. Mostly the travelers, prefer staying at Kaza and exploring the area around on a day tour. There is not much to see as such but the place has it’s own charm and known for the Tangyud Monastery.

The Colorful Monastery at Kaza!!

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If you would like to read more about Spiti and it’s villages, feel free to explore the first section on our blog.

To give you a glimpse of Spiti region, sharing a ‘A photo tour of Gue village in Spiti Valley’

Categories: Adventure, Spiti Valley, Tour Spiti, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Surprises on the road in Himachal, India

Our fondness for backpacking has taken us on lots of road trips in past five years and maximum of them have been to some location in Himachal Pradesh. Himachal is like assorted bouquet of exotic flowers, you just can’t have enough and can’t get over it, the more you explore, the hungrier you become 🙂

So, in all the road trips we did, primarily Mcleodganj – Dainkund, New Delhi – Spiti, New Delhi – Shimla / Manali / Rohtang, there were few things absolutely common!!

  • The School Gang – You are going to witness pure happiness when you’ll run into little kids going to school in blue uniform. So cute they all look !! They have to walk really long distances on a daily basis.

Kids Dainkund

  • Be prepared to meet unexpected companions on the road – You are going to find the roads inundated with pashima goats, yaks, cows and sometimes monkeys too 🙂 (though at regular intervals).  A must watch short clip here from our Dainkund trip when our bike waded through the goats covered route!!

Goats in Spiti

  • The Natural Springs and StreamsHimachal Pradesh provides water to both the Indus and Ganges basins. The perennial rivers of the region are the Chenab, the Ravi, the Beas, the Sutlej and the Yamuna. The road trip in this region will get you to witness beautiful streams at unexpected places and do they look beautiful!!

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So people ‘Travel more to find your surprise’ 🙂

Marcel

Categories: Adventure, Travel Experience | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

Roghi, a beautiful village near Kalpa

Wonders on the the Trans Himalayan voyage through Shimla – Kinnaur – Spiti Valley

It’s not the destination but the journey what makes life so interesting. A road trip to Spiti Valley is sort of like that only. The travel treasures that you get to witness to reach Spiti valley are fascinating. And one such place that we instantly fell in love with was ‘Kalpa’.

Kalpa, is an alluring village of Kinnaur. Situated at an altitude of 2758m, Kalpa offers unbelievable views of the majestic Kinner Kailash range. The sunrise and sunset are mind blowing here. When the clouds play hide and seek with the mountains during the day, it’s a sight to watch!!!

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A captivating capture of Kinner Kailash Range during Sunrise at Kalpa, Kinnaur.

Reaching Kalpa was the most difficult part of our journey due to bad road conditions. We were enjoying the monster faces and scenic beauty until the bad patches began disturbing us. Once we crossed Sungra the patches transformed into a fully fledged pebbly road. It was a stretch of good 40 kms starting from Wangtu and continuing till Karcham. Once you reach Karcham, the roads are divided into two – the one going straight leads to Rekong Peo and the other one to Sangla. We purposely took the one going to Kalpa.

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A view of Kinner Kailash range adorned by Tibetan Flags

Get a little more cozy at Roghi

Situated  just 3 kms away from Kalpa, is this beautiful scenic village called Roghi. You would love to explore the treacherous road, the famous suicide point and serene views.

Roghi Village

Suicide Point

You don’t want to fall from here!! Suicide Point at Roghi Village

Happy Exploring!! with Untraveled Routes

Categories: Adventure, Kalpa, Kinnaur, Nature, Offbeat Travel, Photography, Road Trip, Tour Spiti, Travel, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , | 32 Comments

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