I see him abruptly leave our surfing lesson in between and pace towards the seashore. He picks up a diaper lying on the beach before it can be swept by the waves and throws the same into a trash bag.
“Diapers are the worst things you can throw in the sea, people need to be more respectful towards the environment.”
Juan is one of the co-founders of Kallialay Surf School located at Serenity beach, Pondicherry. Kallialay was a chance discovery. I stumbled upon it during my solo backpacking trip to Pondicherry. Being an impromptu plan, I was totally unaware of the existence of good surfing schools in India. But as luck would have it, I overheard the interesting story of Juan and Samai (co-founders of Kallialay Surf School) from some strangers at a restaurant and decided to give surfing a go.
Deoriyatal is a Himalayan lake surrounded a beautiful meadows of Uttrakhand. To add to the setting, the lake overlooks the mighty Chaukhamba peak, making this location one of the best campsites in India!
I reached this location in the April of 2017, a season when the entire 2 kilometer long trail from Sari Village to Deoriyatal is filled with ‘Buransh’- or wild rhododendron. This article relives the memories of the short Deoriyatal trek through a series of snapshots.
The trek starts from Sari Village, 14 kms from Ukhimath. The 2 kms long trek is moderately steep, but has a well marked and well laden path.
Make sure to enjoy a glass of the famous ‘Buransh’ Juice (made from freshly plucked wild rhododendron flowers) available throughout the region.
The land whose exotic rain-forests hide one of the most beautiful secrets of India- the ancient Living Root Bridges.
These Living Root Bridges, as the name suggests, are bridge like structures made from the roots of Fiscus Elastica. Interacting with locals, we found out that each living root bridge take at least about 10-15 years to become sturdy enough to hold human weight, and most of the living root bridges in the Khasi-Jaintia hills of Meghalaya are over 100 years old.
In this article, we’ll showcase a series of such bridges encountered by the author during his trek to a village called Nongriat near Cherrapunjee.
The trek starts about 3-4 kilometres from Nongriat, a village famous for its rare Double-Decker living root bridge.
Enroute the Nongriat Trek- Such views are abundant.
Infact, you can witness you first ever living root bridge about 30 minutes into the trek (2-3 kms before Nongriat). This one will be marked as ‘Single Decker living root bridge’ on the sign boards. (I am unable to recollect the name of the village where this bridge is present. Comment on this blog in case you happen to know the name. TIA!) Ticket Cost for Single Decker Root Bridge: 10 INR.
“What did you say name was again- Prophet Star?”
“As in P-R-O-P-H-E-T Star?”? I enquired.
“No. You’ve got it wrong- It’s P-R-O-F-I-T Star. And by the way, you need to pay my 20 rupees as an entry fee before entering this Bamboo Skywalk- Hurry up, I don’t have much time.”
I paid up, of course, but not without reconfirming his name a couple of time. It’s not everyday you meet a man with a name so apt, for his job was to sit at the entrance of this amazing Bamboo Skywalk in Meghalaya, collecting profits from keen adventurers–here to witness one of the most spectacular scenes that the wettest place on Earth had to offer them.
It’s surprising how train journeys closely mimic the cycle of life. We meet people, make friends, only to let them go and find new ones- thereby knitting an endless chain of emotions- only to be felt but never to be broken. But again, what is life, but a collection of such journeys.
The following passage is an ‘as-it-happened’ description of a journey with the Indian Railways (the 12.30 Passenger train from Madurai to Rameshwaram, both of which lie in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu). Try not to find for a story in here, rather, seek to experience the billion personalities that make India Incredible. Here it goes.
Chug, Chug, Chug! The 12:30 passenger train from Madurai has just started to sing its rhythmic song, a melody it will sing for the next few hours till it reaches a mystical island called Rameshwaram. It is an overcast day of November 2015, the rain clouds looming over the horizon as I attempt to traverse, and hopefully document, the lush green landscape of Tamil Nadu, India.
Tamil Nadu country side with the looming rain clouds
I yearn for the rain, as I am aware of the power of the raindrops to elate even the most dolorous environs.
As I try to get comfortable in my cozy window side seat, I am greeted by a distinct sound. ‘Wooooooo…’– a loud cheer, emanating from the far corner of my train bogie, surprises all the five occupants of the compartment I am in. The train had just passed over a small river causing a group of seven children, sitting at a corner of the bogie along with their parents, to let out a loud “Woooooo..” sound in a seemingly pre-planned unison. From that moment onward, the children failed to hide their excitement towards any river, tunnel, or even an old bridge that our passenger train crossed. Continue reading “Experiencing India: Sounds and Sights from an Indian Train Journey”
Ever been compelled to watch a horror movie in the dead of night even though you know it would lead to countless sleepless nights? Ever been infatuated with the idea of exploring a haunted house? No? Yes? I was.
So were four of my friends. The big question was – where? Residing in Delhi which has seen its share of cold-blooded assassinations, bloody battles and betrayals, we thought it would be easy to spot restless, revengeful souls here. After making trips to the Khooni Darwaza, the Malcha Mahal, Agrasen ki Baoli and even a neighbouring house in the residential area of Lajpat Nagar, and not meeting any ‘other worldly’ (just because it is an accepted term, if they are in this world, how are they other-worldly? Anyway more on that later) creatures, we couldn’t decide where would our efforts find fruition. We finally zeroed down upon Bhangarh. What better place to get the thrills than a ruined city which is famed to be India’s most haunted place?
On the D-day, we rose early and started preparing ourselves according to the lengthy to-do list put together by our friend. She insisted that the place was infested with djinns who cling to open hair – which made all of us pull our hair into tight buns. Applying perfume or fragrant shampoo was a definite invitation for ghosts – hence, avoided. We had breakfast with an uneasy sense of foreboding and then drove away. Throughout the 60-odd km drive to the destination form Jaipur, we were excited and discussing details with our jolly driver – Param bhaiya (In India men are ‘bhaiya’ until they become ‘uncle’ at about the age of fifty or so. It is the polite way of addressing them).
It was a bright December morning. As the majestic ruins loomed towards our eyes, the Sun warmed our souls and we walked on towards the fort from our car. And I thought, would it be just as beautiful had it not been chaotic? If this is its state in abandonment, how did it look at the peak of prosperity?
Immersed in thoughts, we came upon a notice by the Archaeological Survey of India, prohibiting anyone from staying inside before sunrise and after sunset. After reading this proclamation of the dangers inside, we ventured onwards into the realm of ghosts.
Alam (our driver) was telling us about his daily life before we stopped at the suicide point. He was used to making three, sometimes four round trips to the Kolukkumalaifactory. That is six to eight hours of driving on the rocky terrain at a tardy speed of 5-10 kmph with frequent stops to let other cars pass and to click pictures. He was from a village in Tamil Nadu from where he and his parents would come to work in the tea estates in Kerala every day. Sometimes they took thirty minutes to walk from their village, small village problems he said, not like the cities with roads and highways. I thought about myself, spending an hour stuck in bumper to bumper traffic to reach the glass windows, the claustrophobic steel of my office. Well, this did look like a tiny village problem.
Now that the day was ripe, more jeeps had joined us on the rickety road. Alam turned up the sound system and then we realized how very special our jeep was in comparison to the others. He was a fan of Pop music and was humming to Justin Bieber’s hit single ‘Baby Baby Baby ooooh’. Akon, however was his favorite star. Conversation was stemmed because of the music so we lifted the flaps which acted as doors of the jeep to let in the sunshine and the view. Everything was surreal, the rocks, the endless cover of green symmetry. There were the dreamy, so-clean-it-could-hurt-your-eyes-if-you-stare-for-too-long jade inhabitants of the plantation our aim was to explore today, lined up all about us in a surreal symmetrical fashion. The tea gardens were a reminder of order, that was absent in my daily, chaotic existence of caffeine fuelled writing and sleep held ransom by internet.
Given our love for food, this post was long coming. It is a proof of how nice things happen to you when you travel. 2015 was a year of joyful travels for the Slowrover team. Individually, we travelled to distant parts of this beautiful country, getting unbelievably lucky when it came to food, This post celebrates our love for Indian Food, and we share with you, the best treats we had in 2015 (and where to find them). Here it goes
Disclaimer : You will feel very hungry. And you will need to travel.
Omelette Indulgence at Lovely Omelette Centre, Mussorie
Foodgasm in the making
Lovely Omelette Centre is considered to be one of the best omelette experiences in India. Extensively covered by all the leading travel/food journals of India (Lonely Planet, Outlook Traveller, Trip Advisor, Highway on my Plate), this Omelette paradise is adored by all. It offers a limited variety of omelettes (Oil/Butter/Cheese being the prominent ones).
Woods are enchanting.They are partially the reason for my fixation with mountains. While reading Enid Blyton’s The Enchanted Wood in my childhood, I had convinced myself that woods were magical. And somehow they held more of a sway over me, it seemed to be more potent than the magic of the toys which used to come alive in her other stories. Pixies, goblins, fairies, unicorns – all could be my friends if I lived in the woods.
As I grew up, I was faced with the strict logic of textbooks which declared Santa Claus to be nothing more than an impersonator (I think he is a phenomena). Anyway, the books were still there. The Forbidden Forest deepened my liking for the woods, grave as the dangers lurking there might be. So, I can safely say that I love the rank of trees, the smell of pine cones and sweet Earth, the little rocks which make great seats to sit and ponder life.
So much for my growing up. But this story isn’t about that.