10 Interesting Facts About Ladakh

Ladakh is also fondly known as the ‘Land of High Passes’ by the Indo-Aryan people who reside in the area. It is located in the Jammu and Kashmir State of India between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south. It is a beautiful place to spend a vacation as shown by the following facts about the region.

10 Interesting facts about Ladakh

Ladakh is also fondly known as the ‘Land of High Passes’ by the Indo-Aryan people who reside in the area. It is located in the Jammu and Kashmir State of India between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south. It is a beautiful place to spend a vacation as shown by the following facts about the region.

1. Ladakh is a region of festivals, mostly due to being home to two of world major religions – Hindu and Buddhism. Among the most popular festivals include; Hemis Festival, Dosmoche Festival, Losar Festival, Sindhu Darshan Festival, Ladakh Festival, and Tak-Tok Festival.

2. Ladakh is a high altitude region ranging from 9000 feet (2,750 m) at Kargil to 25,170 feet (7,672 m) at Saser Kangri in the Karakoram.

3. It is the highest settlement in India and is served by River Indus.

4. Due to its high altitude, it is one of the last places in India that retains its natural beauty. It is sparsely populated unlike most of India.

5. It is home to Tsomoriri Lake which measures 28 km long with 7 – 8 km at the widest points. It is a paradise for wild animals and here you can spot cranes, wild ducks, and some other small birds and marmots.

6. The area is dotted with monasteries and Pagodas and tourist can commune with the monks in such monasteries as Hemis Gompa, Thiksey Gompa and Shey Palace.

7. Ladakh is the highest plateau of the Kashmir Valley, with much of it being more than 3,000 meters above the sea level.

8. Ladakh is arid but home to 225 species of birds such as finches, robins, redstarts and Hoopoe. It never ceases to amaze the tourists who venture this far up that the region could retain so much of its natural beauty.

9. The unimaginable happens in Ladakh…imagine how surprised you will be to see a lake at 4350 meters above the sea level. Well, Pangong Lake is the highest salt lake and it is situated high up in the Ladakh Mountains.

10. Due to its high altitude and clear skies, the region has emerged as an important astronomy center. The Udaipur Solar Observatory and 2-Meter Himalayan Chandra Optical and Infrared Telescope are some of the Indian Astronomy studying facilities that are situated in Ladakh.

If you visit the Kashmir Valley, make sure you complete your trip by venturing into the Ladakh hills and mountains for a day or two. You will find that high altitude is not as bad as some people will make you believe.

Source: www.nexioncanada.com

Ladakh in Winter: 11 Reasons why it is for travellers and not for tourists

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” ~ Marcel Proust

The true meaning of Marcel’s words were understood when I saw Ladakh in winter in a completely new light.  In it’sharshest but truest form. When the roof of the world was cut off from the rest of the world and was wrapped in a white blanket of snow and ice.

Ladakh in winter is a digital detoxification trip where time and space bear no relevance. A million emotions erupted as I stood admiring the Frozen Ladakh’s incredible beauty. Like hundreds, my initial plan was to do the glamorous Chadar Trek. However, the creator had a better plan in store for me. So as I alighted at the Leh Airport, got news that due to a landslide Chadar Trek has been called off. I was heartbroken but instead of whining about it, decided to do an alternate trek, Sham Valley. Though the trek was fairly easy and not as half renowned as Chadar Trek is but it brought me face to face with the real beauty of the land, which is hardly known or explored. Ladakh in winter is an intimidating yet overwhelming experience. Temperature in Ladakh in winter drop  up to -30 degree Celsius and the definition of basic amenities gets redefined here.

Why did I plan my Leh Ladakh trip in winter? Well I take pride in calling myself as a TRAVELLER over a TOURIST. I chose to explore Ladakh in it’s harshest times because I wanted to connect with the soul of the place and wanted to explore what is usually not seen. And I must say the reward was stupendous.

Leh Airport, Ladakh in winter

Top view of Leh Airstrip (photo by Archana Singh)

HERE ARE 11 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD PLAN A TRIP TO LADAKH IN WINTERS

1. EXPERIENCE THE REAL HOSPITALITY OF LADAKH IN WINTER:

Unlike west, Ladakh is not geared up with amenities to have comfortable winters. But it is the time when you get to see the genuine beauty of the roof of the world. The only way to enjoy this beauty is to acclimatize to the local culture and habits as fast as you can. Most of the hotels in Leh are closed during winters therefore you have to stay frugally in modest Home stays – traditional Ladakhi houses.

The Home Stays are basic and you’ll be sleeping in a sleeping bag on a mattress on the floor. The water pipes freeze and water (hot and cold) is provided by bucket. Bathing is a luxury, which no one dares to dream. No flush toilets. Only ‘compost toilets’— usually a hole in the floor on one level, where ‘excreta’ drop to ground level below, after which a liberal sprinkling of soil is deposited on top of the growing pile. Food is cooked by the local family and is mostly traditional Ladakhi meal – butter tea, kahwa, thukpa, noodles and soup served in common dining room with bukhari.

Travel tip: Stay in a kitchen instead of a room for a warm cosy night. Also, if you crave for Cholle Bhature then Neha snacks in Leh is your address.

Ladakh in December

Photo by Archana Singh

2. GET TRANSPORTED INTO THE ICE AGE SETUP:

Walking in the BongBong La Snow Valley was a setting straight out of ice age. Everything was frozen – mountains, valleys, waterfalls, river shores, and vegetation. With temperature plummeting to less than -35 degree and wind chill adding another -10 degree Celsius, it was nothing less than a dream. If you are suitably covered with at least four layers of warm clothing then there is no better sight than being in Frozen Ladakh.The Khaltse to Lamayru way is incredulously beautiful where you’ll come across moon land, frozen waterfalls and frozen Indus Shores.

 Travel tip: Explore this area in a small group with a good local guide. Don’t forget to capture the top view of Lamayaru town from the Lamayaru Gompa.

Ladakh in winter

Photo by Archana Singh

3. DO SOMERSAULT ON FROZEN PANGONG LAKE: 

In summers, Pangong Lake acts as a teaser of nature’s craftsmanship. The brackish water plays with sunlight to produce different shades of blue. Ladakh in winter, almost all the water bodies freeze, yet the effect that Pangong Tso creates is unrivaled. The tranquil, azure blue waters of lake become a thick layer of ice sheet on which you can play cricket, drive your car or even do a somersault. The temperature is around -30 degrees Celsius even during the day therefore nobody spends more than half an hour there.

Travel tip: Start your day trip before 7 am and try to cross the Changla pass as soon as possible. Diesel freezes at that point, there is no network coverage and seeking help becomes a nightmare.

pangong lake Leh Ladakh in December

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4. GET HIGH ON ADRENALINE RUSH:

Ladakh tests your mental and physical toughness in winters. Besides doing the world famous Chadar Trek, one can also do other fairly lesser known but more challenging treks like Stok base camp trek, Markha Valley Trek, Sham valley trek at a very cheap price like 10K. They are not at all monotonous and everyday presents a different kind of an experience. When in Leh, don’t forget to watch the Leh Ice Skating rink. From December until March, Ladakhlives and breathes ice hockey.

Travel tip: Don’t take trekking in Ladakh in winter casually, train hard, acclimatize well and stay away from heated rooms. Forclaz 500 is a good trekking shoe.

Ladakh in December

Photo by Archana Singh

5. BECOME FRIENDS WITH LOCALS WHO HAVE FREE TIME ONLY IN WINTERS:

Ladakh has very short but busy summers when most locals earn their yearly living from tourism. During summers, they are extremely busy making money out of tourism. Nobody has the time to have laid back conversations. Winter is a time when they are looking for company to talk. Soft spoken and polite, a smile is there to greet you no matter which part of Ladakh you travel. Kids have school holidays therefore are always on the lookout of playmates. Also, you get to meet very interesting and diverse variety of like-minded fellow travellers (not tourists) from across the world that inspire you in more ways than you can ever imagine.

Travel tip: Say Julley and strike a conversation with friendly strangers to peak into their local culture and make friends for life.

ladakh locals, Leh Ladakh in Winter

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6. EXPERIENCE LADAKHI FESTIVALS & KNOW THE COOL QUOTIENT OF LAMAS:

Winter in Ladakh is a celebration time. Locals have very little to do during winter months, so free time is turned into celebration time. Tourists and wannabe photographers usually dominate summer festivals. Winter festivals are of different league. Ladakhi Losar, Spituk Gustor, Thiksay Gustor, Stok Monastery Festival, Matho Monastery festival, Dosmoche all fall in Ladakh in winters. Many senior lamas visit key monasteries during winters. Locals come from far away lands to have heart-to-heart conversations with their spiritual gurus.

Travel tip: Have a meal with the lamas in a monastery. You’ll be blown away not just by the simplicity of the tasty food but also how tech savvy and well aware those monks are.

festivals in ladakh in winter

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Ladakh Travel Guide  Book Your Trip

7. PHOTOGRAPHER’S HEAVEN:

Winter is a great time for photography in Ladakh. With barren land completely covered with white sheet, frozen rivers, frozen waterfalls, frozen shores, wilted tress, blue skies, no tourists interfering in pictures, lots of local festivals, Ladakh in winter is a heaven for photographers. If you can brave cold at night then you can have star trail time-lapse videos that will make your peers go gaga over your photography skills.

Travel tip: With frequent power cuts and temperature getting below -20 degree c, batteries drain out too quickly therefore carry lot of spare batteries, 10000mAh power bank and keep them in your jackets or sleeping bags.

ladakh in December

Photo by Archana Singh

8. BEST TIME FOR RARE LADAKHI WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS:

As the harsh winters set in, most Himalayan animals tend to come down to lower altitudes, making it easier to spot them. Winters is the best time to spot the elusive “Ghost of the Mountains”, the Snow Leopard. While spotting a snow leopard is not easy, you will definitely spot lot of mountain fauna like Blue sheep, mountain wolf, wild hares, magpies etc.

Travel Tip: Look out for the flora fauna map in outskirts

wildlife ladakh in December

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9. GET BEST VALUE FOR MONEY:

Ladakh in winter is fairly cheap as compared to touristy summer season. Flight rates are at rock bottom – you can get a Delhi-Leh return flight for as little as INR 3000 if you book well in advance. Same flight costs as high as INR 35,000 in summers. You can get a heated home stay for Rupees 500 per bed per night. Shopping is cheap. Fake brands that you get in new market, moti market are as good as real brands.

Travel tip: Plan well in advance and do your winter shopping in Leh local market.

shopping in Ladakh in December

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10. WALK AND SKATE ON THE FROZEN ZANSKAR – THE CHADAR TREK:

Though it was my bad that because a natural calamity, Chadar Trek was called off but it is a great experience that one should have before it becomes a distant memory. Once the road from chilling to Padum will be constructed, there are chances that Chadar might not form and hence Chadar Trek won’t happen. Hence, do it before it’s too late. I am going to attempt it next year again. Will you?

Travel tip: Go via a local trek agent.Savvy marketers from plains having their operations in Ladakh are good for nothing.

Ladakh in winter

Chadar Trek (Source)

11. REKINDLE ROMANCE IN GOD’S DEN:

There is nothing like romancing in the coldest region of India. A kiss under a sky full of billion stars or a hug at 18,000 ft above sea level or making love in bone-chilling cold is something that you will not forget till the last breath of your life. You won’t need a chapstick or multiple layers of clothes when you’ll have your loved one around. So make the most of it. Go ahead and rekindle your romance.

Travel tip: Before expressing your love, make sure you are wrapped up in multiple layers otherwiss be prepared to get a severe cold and cough.

leh in winter

Photo by Archana Singh

Visiting Ladakhn in winter is like freezing time or existence itself. I discovered the undying spirit of Ladakh. I had relished every bit of the indescribable beauty of the coldest desert. No words or pictures can do justice to what I saw and experienced.

Still thinking to visit Ladakh in winter or sticking to a comfortable summer trip?

All I can say is – let go of the fear of cold and immerse yourself in the insurmountable beauty of God’s favourite masterpiece.

Ladakh in December
Submitted by: Archana Singh, Source: www.holidify.com

Best Places For Solo Travel In India

Solo Travel not only pushes you out of your comfort zone, it also pushes you out of the zone of others expectations – Suzy Strutner

There are some things in life that you must do on your own, all by yourself and at least once. Solo Travel is gaining popularity among the travel community steadily due to the sheer spontaneity that comes with it. The quest to discover oneself along with spiritual rejuvenation and flow of adventurous adrenaline becomes a perfect reason to pack your travel bag and climb those serene mountains or stroll by silent beaches, all by yourself. Solo travel also allows you to not be enslaved by the whims and fancies of your fellow travellers, and your planning is largely unmarred by group dynamics. So if you want to trek up that hill on your next trip to the Himalayas, or watch the sunrise by the beach on your next trip to Gokarna, get ready to go! You get a sense of independence and freedom, from being out of your comfort zone while also getting cool stories to tell people back home! Here are some places you must explore if you’ve been bit by the little bug called wanderlust!

1. Sandhan Valley

Sandhan Valley – a valley of shadows (source)

Referred to as the Grand Canyon of Maharashtra, the Sandhan Valley is a trek of a lifetime for the thrill-seeker in you. It’s a combination of a valley with a canyon. Accessible from November to May, this water carved valley has Ratnagad and Ajoba mountain ranges around it. Going back to basics, it is the quintessential tent-pitching camp where food is cooked in campfires with the aroma filling the air around. The trek takes five hours to finish with activities like rappelling to really get your adrenaline pumping.

Getting There – Reaching here is half the fun with a train journey to Kasara and then a bus till the Samrad village where it’s located in the Bhandardara region. You can also fly to Mumbai and then go on with the train.

Where and How Long to Stay -Accommodation is in the tents by the campsites in the area or even in the open if you’re an experienced trekker. This is generally a two day trip.

2. Zanskar

Lunch at Phuktal Monastery, Zanskar. Source.

The most isolated of all the Himalayan valleys, Zanskar is to be explored by those who want to experience untouched, pristine beauty in India. The frozen waterfalls and the Chadar trek along with the frozen Zanskar River is a must-do while visiting here. Buddhist monasteries are also worth the visit here. The best time to visit is April to August.

Getting There – This is a destination which you must cover on a road trip to Leh-Ladakh. A bus or on a motorbike is the best way to get here.

Where  and How Long to Stay – There are no resorts in Zanskar but tourists can pitch tents in the valley or stay in establishments at Leh.  Ideally, three days or more are required to visit here. Preferably, take a whole tour of the popular places of the Himalayan region in a two-week expedition if you’re really feeling adventurous.

3. Lahaul-Spiti

Chandrataal Lake, solo travel destination

Chandrataal Lake (source)

One of the most unexplored terrains in the country, Lahaul-Spiti is definitely a trip of a lifetime. Mountains and monasteries await you here. You can either make a long road-trip of these two places while passing Manali, Rothang Pass and Leh, these destinations can be visited individually also.

Getting There – This trip is strictly to be taken by road to actually experience what it is all about. Some of the highest motorable roads in the world exist here. Best time to visit from May to October.

Where and How Long to Stay – Though there are no hotels here, the people are warm and friendly who will let you stay with them as well as monasteries where you can spend the nights. Give yourself a week or ten days for this crazy road trip of a lifetime!

4. Manali

Clouds Pose. Source

Clouds Pose at Manali Source

Old and new are both beautiful when it comes to visiting Manali. Thick pine forests and a gushing river make it seem like you’ve stepped into a perfect world that only exists in books and imaginations. Manali is also a starting point for many while going to Spiti and Leh. Having two major seasons of summer and winter, you can take your pick of which season you want to visit in to experience Manali in a different way. If you go in February, the Tibetian New Year and Lossar Festival happen then which is an extravagant affair. Temples, hot springs, monasteries, German bakeries are just some of the places to visit.

Getting There – You can either fly to Bhuntar which is 10 kms from Manali or take a bus or train if you want a longer, more scenic path along the rivers.

Where and How Long to Stay – Lots of hotels and hostels are there, depending on your budget. Keep five-six days aside to visit Manali, especially if you’re going in winter since the snow will make your drive there more treacherous.

5. Puducherry

Pondicherrry, solo travel destinations

The French Colony in Pondicherrry (source)

If you want to go to France but don’t have the money yet, go to Puducherry instead! With French influence in its architecture, this sleepy little place is perfect for a serene, beach getaway. The food has a lot of French influence too and beer is cheap, making it a place to if you want a real culinary experience. The Auroville temple is a place to visit if you want to reconnect with your spiritual side.

Getting There – You can get here by driving down from Chennai on one of the most scenic rides in India. While there, you can walk around town and explore. It’s also famous for its incense at the Aurobindo Ashram shops. October to February is the best time to visit with the minimum temperature not going below 17 degrees.

Where and How Long to Stay – Staying in one of the colonial establishments converted into hotels is the best thing to do here. This can be a three-four day trip, ideally.

6. Bodh Gaya

Bodhgaya, solo travel destination

A solitary monk gazing at the horizon at Bodhgaya (source)

If you’re feeling spiritual, historical or just a curious Buddhist, a trip to Bodh Gaya is a must do for you. Essential to Buddhism being the place where Prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment under a bodhi tree, it attracts a lot of tourists who come here for meditation and study.

Getting There -The best time to visit is November to March while high season is December to January when his holiness Dalai Lama visits. Well connected by air, rail and road, with Gaya being the closest point of access of all three from where you can take a bus to the monasteries.

Where and How Long to Stay – The Bihar State Government runs 3 hotels, along with private hotels and bungalows available as accommodation. Try spending four days here so you can cover all the places given they are rich with Indian history.

7. Gokarna

From a Distance. Source

Gokarna, from a Distance. Source

If a chilled out beach experience is what you’re looking for then Gokarna is your destination. Even though it’s a temple town, the beaches here have some insane bonfire nights and parties for all. All the beaches are in quick succession of one another, each being even more beautiful than the previous.

Getting There – The best time to visit is October to March. Well connected with buses and rails, you should experience the drive to this place rather than flying down. Otherwise, the closest airport is Dabolim in Goa.

Where and How Long to Stay – There are cottages and guest houses where you can live like a real backpacker, chilling on hammocks and enjoying the balmy weather. This can be a four-five day trip.

8. Jaisalmer

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Jaisalmer’s Rich Cultural Heritage (Source)

A World Heritage Site, Jaisalmer is a jewel in the Rajasthani crown. Camels and sand dunes almost give it an Egyptian feel but the forts remind you that you’re still at home. Safari tours, visiting Jain temples, feeling royal at the havelis are just some of the things to do in this city.

Getting There – You can get here by bus or train easily but there are limited flights here. The best time to visit is October to March, when the temperatures drop.

Where and How Long to Stay – You can stay at hotels which used to be palaces or even camps in the desert, choosing the kind of experience you want.Two-three nights spent here are sufficient if you’re doing a pan-Rajasthan tour. Otherwise four days will do justice to the beauty of this place.

9. Kasol

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River Parvati near Kasol (Source)

Could be called “Goa of the Hills”, Kasol is a destination that is on every trekkers list. Catering to a lot of hippies, it’s a small village on the banks of Parvati River in the valley. The river being replete with trout is ideal for fishing but you need a permit from the forest department. It’s also a great destination for rafting and water sports.

Getting There – Buses and trains are well connected to this region. The best time to visit is from March to May.

Where and How Long to Stay – There are quite a few cottages and hotels to stay at in the old and new parts of Karol.This can be a two day trip with one day for trekking and two days for chilling.

10. Mahabalipuram

Rock Cut Caves. Source.

Rock Cut Temples at Mahabalipuram  Source.

A scenic drive from Chennai, Mahabalipuram is a small temple-town. A major sea-port of the Pallava Kingdom, it is also a World Heritage Site. The architecture of the rock-cut temples is beautiful, which everyone goes to see. There are also local craftsmen who keep the art alive of carving idols out of a single stone.

Getting There – 2 hours away from Chennai by a car or bus, it’s a town that can be explored by foot or a bicycle.

Where and How Long to Stay – Guesthouses and hotels are plenty here to stay but you can also cover it in one day while on a tour of the South where you can additionally go to Chennai and Pudducherry and make a longer trip of it. This can be a trip of just a day or two if you want to extend it.

11. Dharamsala

Dharamshala City. Source

Dharamshala City. Source

Home to the largest Tibetan temple outside Tibet, Dharamsala also has the monastery of the Dalai Lama. The upper part of Dharamsala, known as Mcleodganj is the one more famous with travellers. Bir is located southeast of Dharamsala and Biling is on the way to Thamsar Pass. It’s a trek of 14kms which can be done on foot from Bir to Biling. Biling is also a paragliding destination with some of the best services in the world. Kaereri lake, which is a high altitude fresh water lake, is in the northwest of Dharamsala and a trek can be made out of going there.

Getting There – Easiest to reach by a flight to Dharamshala, taking a bus or train is a better option to get a feel of your trip. The hotels are cheap with the best time of visit being March to October. It’s ideal even for a weekend getaway.

Where and How Long to Stay – There are lots of budget and luxury hotels and cottages to choose from. Spend two days here and combine it with a trip to Dalhousie or McLeodganj for another two days to make it a longer one.

12. Rishikesh

Ram Jhula at Rishikesh, places for solo travel

Ram Jhula at Rishikesh (source)

Everyone has had trips to Rishikesh, be it from school or college but it never gets old to go back! Rafting being the reason most people flock here, mass ashrams for yoga and meditation are also found here. If you feel spiritual after visiting one, Haridwar is just one hour away from Rishikesh. Haridwar is also one of the stops of the “Chaar Dham Yatra”.

Getting There – Going by bus and train are popular options but if you want to fly there, the Jolly Grant airport at Dehradun is the nearest to Rishikesh.

Where and How Long to Stay – There are various camps and hotels to stay in at Rishikesh while in Haridwar there is the Swami Dayananda Ashram to stay at. A three day trip is ideal, to break the monotony of life and it can be done even over a long weekend.

13. Varanasi

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The ghats of Varanasi Source

Whether you want to go to Varanasi, Kashi or Benaras, you will land up at the same place. Regarded as one of the holiest cities for Hindus, it is known for more than just the Benarasi silk. It is replete with ghats and temples, making it hard to imagine that a lot of them were destroyed in the middle ages. The most intimate rituals of death take place in the open so it is not a destination for the faint of heart.

Getting There – The best time to visit is October to March. You can fly here with the Lal Bahadur Shastri airport being 24kms away from the town, or take a bus or car directly.

Where and How Long to Stay – Spending three days here is sufficient to explore the city and what it has to offer. Most of the budget hotels are located at the banks of the Ganges River. One can also stay at one of the many backpacker’s hostels that have sprung up.

14. Varkala

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Cliffs and beaches in Varkala (source)

A peaceful cliff overlooking the Arabian Sea, Varkala is a coastal town in Kerela. Ponnumthuruthu Island, Papasnanam Beach, Kapil Lake, Janardhan Swami temple are some of the sights to see here. You could also just lie down at the beach in a hammock and watch the day go by, because the place is that beautiful. Ayurvedic spas and massages are also famous here.

Getting There – You can get here by train to the Varkala station or a drive from the Trivandrum International Airport. December to March is the best time to visit especially if you need a respite from the cold climate you live in.

Where and How Long to Stay – Three-four days here will be good to explore the temples, beaches and water sports.

15. Ziro

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The number of reasons stopping you from visiting Ziro is zero. Located in lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh, Ziro valley is another captivating destination for solo travellers. With enriched flora and fauna, this place is filled with pine groves and mesmerising orchids. The rivulets and streams and the crisp mountain air, will not fail to revitalize your tired soul. Dolo Mando is a trek to undertake here. There is also the Ziro Music Festival, which is ideal, amidst the hills for listening to some great music.

Getting There – The best time to visit would be from February to October and for the music festival in September. Tezpur is the closest location to get here by a train or air.

Where and How Long to Stay – Spend four days here to soak in the beautiful topography that this part of the country has to offer.

16. Sikkim

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A small state bordering Bhutan, it has diverse topography to scale on your trip here. Sikkim has a lot of hot springs, perfect for visiting in the winter. Kanchanjunga is also visible from various points in the state making for postcard-perfect pictures. West Sikkim is a favourite among trekkers for its high peaks, in Pelling and Jorethang.

Getting There – Fly down to Gangtok and then take local transport to make the best of your time here. Or even take a trip if you have more time on your hands. The peak season to visit is from September to June.

Where and How Long to Stay – There are several hostels and hotels to choose. You can also home-stay with families to experience the food and culture first hand. Spend two days in Darjeeling, another two in Gangtok and one in Kalimpong to get a feel of the state.

17. Megahlaya

Seven Sisters Waterfall. Source

Seven Sisters Waterfall. Source

The ‘Abode of Clouds’ as it literally translates to, Meghalaya is one of the Seven-Sisters you can’t miss. As the name suggests, it has two of the wettest places on Earth, Cherrapunjee and Mawsynram where most of the rain falls between June and September. The water has carved out some of the longest caves of Asia. One of the main attractions in Cherapunjee is the Living Root Bridge.

Getting There – Guwhati is well connected by trains and air but for the rest of the state, the road network is to be relied on.

Where and How Long to Stay – In Shillong, most hotels and accomodations are in the Police Bazaar area. Given the shortage of water in the state (touche!) the rest of the places are harder to stay in but can be still visited. Five days here are ideal though you will really have to plan if you want to visit Cherrapunjee and Mawsynram, given the rains there.

18. Hampi

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A UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Karnataka, this place is a must visit especially if you love some art and history. There are more than 500 monuments to see here, strewn across the gorgeous backdrop of hills, so make sure you devote enough time to this trip! The political, royal centre of the Vijayanagara empire, temples and even the quarters of Muslim officers in the royal army are all here in a harmonious setting, located just a few miles from each other.  The river Tungabhadra also adds to the beauty of Hampi, with coracle boats and stone-hills.

Getting There – The closest town to Hampi is Hospet and you can take a train here and then a short bus ride. If you want to fly down, Hubli is the closest airport located about 160 kms from here.

Where  and How Long to Stay – Winter is the best time to visit Hampi with the temperature not dropping below 12 degrees. There are a lot of nice guest houses to stay at here and also some hotels if you want a luxurious trip. There are also heritage resorts with ayurvedic massages to offer. An ideal trip should be of 2-3 days to really see what Hampi has to offer.

19. Khajuraho

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These Hindu and Jain temples in Madhya Pradesh are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temples have exquisitely carved, erotic sculptures. They’re a part of the tantric mysticism which regarded sex as an important part of the rituals. Carefully preserved even after all these years, these temples are a definite must visit.

Getting There – October to February is the best time to visit with the temperature dipping to 4 degrees almost, with quite some activities to be done. Monsoon has its own charm when the lush green landscape makes the temples stand out even more. There are trains that go directly to the Khajuraho station as well as a new airport that connects it to the major cities of India.

Where and How Long to Stay – There are budget hotels and hostels as well as five star, luxurious hotels so it’s really your pick! 3 days is more than enough here. Brass sculptures available here are something worth picking up.

20. Colva Beach

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A white sand beach, this stretches for a good 2.4 kms in Goa. Water sports are a great activity here, apart from just lazing around on the beach!

Getting There – The closest railway station is Margao and the closest airport is Dabolim. You can get around in cabs or even hire scooters to see the place yourself.

Where and How Long to Stay – While there’s no limit in the amount of days one can stay in Goa, 4-5 days is the ideal time to spend here on the beaches, eating food and drinking by the shacks. There are villas that you can book as well as hotels depending on your price range. The best time to visit is either spring or during winter, when a lot of people rush in for the new year.

21. Kaziranga National Park

Source

Source

While being the oldest park in Assam, Kaziranga lies partly in the Golaghata district and partly in Nagaon district. A world heritage site, it is famous for the Great One Horned Rhinoceros. The park has lush forests, tall elephant grass and marshes in its terrain.

Getting There – The nearest airport to Kaziranga is Rowriah in Assam which is about 74 kms away. Regular trains  go to Helem in Assam which is connected to Kaziranga by road. If you want to take a bus then you need to reach Numaligarh from where regular buses ply.

Where and How Long to Stay – There are lodges and resorts located inside and outside the premises of the park. The park is open from November till April. An ideal duration is of about 3 days to cover the park.

22. Majuli

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Source

Majuli is the world’s largest river island, located in the Brahmaputra in Assam. Given the abundance of rainfall and water, much of this island is submerged during monsoon. With over 100 species of birds, this place is ideal for bird-watching and for neo-Vaishnavite culture and tradition. The local art and culture is quite a spectacle here and can be seen in the Satras.

Getting There – From Guwahati, Jorhat is a 7 hour bus ride away. There are also ferry rides to Majuli everyday, twice.

Where and How Long to Stay – There are no hotels here but there are guesthouses and guest rooms where tourists can stay. An ideal visit would be of two days to just unwind in the scenic beauty of the place. Best time to visit is post November, once the monsoon is done.

Some Do’s and Don’ts of Solo Travel –

  • While it is liberating to not have to check in with people constantly while travelling alone, make sure someone has the numbers of the places you’ll be staying at.
  • If you are going to a place where your phone might not get network and you are not sure where you’ll stay, get an MTNL/BSNL sim-cars for your phone as most places do catch their signal.
  • When going to a cold place, always carry en extra pair of woollen socks that can also double up as mittens for when your hands start to get cold.
  • Always have some money strapped on your person for if your luggage were to get lost, you can at least get by to a safe location with some money.
  • When backpacking, keep it light as you’ll only have to carry the bag like dead weight. Backpacking to colder places is better since you can re-wear the same clothes a few times, without sweating in them and feeling mucky.

Source: www.holidify.com – by Ms. Akriti Paracer

Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves

Every land holds its secrets in its hidden corners. The most stunning stories from Ladakh are still unheard secrets. Its culture is still an unsolved enigma for many. Here are 15 deepest secrets of the Himalayan wonderland that the locals would rather keep to themselves.

1. In 1971, the war with Pakistan was paused to celebrate Losar

Colonel Chewang Rinchen captured Turtok and suddenly decided to pause the war with Pakistan, keeping in mind local sentiments on Losar. Colonel Rinchen also received the Mahavir Chakra at the age of 17 and the army renamed Corps lecture Hall after him in 2006 as Rinchen Auditorium near Leh Airport.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 1/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: wikimedia

2. Kung Fu nuns of Ladakh

Every morning at the Drukpa nunnery in Ladakh the nuns dress up in pyjamas and yellow sashes and the voice of their hee-yaas echo across the serene hills. The kung fu nuns are figures of a new age in the 800 year old Drukpa buddhist sect.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 2/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: wikimedia

3. Shrine of OP baba

At the Siachen Basecamp, the shrine of OP Baba is a sacred corner to celebrate the well-being of the soldiers. Named after soldier OM Prakash who single-handedly fought the attack on Malaun, the shrine is a place where the soldiers pledge to give up alcohol and tobacco during their posting in Saichen.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 3/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: majorkalsiclasses

4. Magnetic Hill

If you turn off your car engine at the Magnetic Hill, it will still keep moving. 30km from Leh on the Kargil Highway, you can see the unbelievable happen for real.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 4/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: wikimedia

5. Rocks of Viagra

The magic drug which oozes out of the rocks in Ladakh is gold for your body if you know what Shilajit is. It burns fat, increases bone strength and is most importantly used for treating infertile couples.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 5/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: wikimedia

6. Entombed bodies of Mongols in temple foundation

The abode of the royal family of Ladakh, the Leh Palace, was built by Sengge Namgyal in 1600AD. It is believed that he entombed the bodies of Mongol invaders in the temple’s foundation to ward off future attacks.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 6/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: wikimedia

7. Druk White Lotus School

Around 200 pupils travel by bus to this school everyday and receive the best in class education maintaining rich cultural traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. With passive solar heating, gravity feed water system and seismic design and safety, the school passes all test of sustainability and has received international acclaim for its design.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 7/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: dwls

8. Lovers fleeing to Leh

In this silent corner of India, a religious conflict would be the last thing you would expect but often when a Buddhist falls in love with a Muslim, the two communities don’t take it well. There are numerous stories of couples from villages fleeing to Leh to find their love haven.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 8/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: Praveen

9. Indian army training people to build homestays

To promote rural entrepreneurship in Ladakh, the Indian Army is promoting the efforts of the locals to build comfortable homestays. To help the local economy, the army also sources their fruits and vegetables from the local farmers.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 9/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: Laura Blankenship

10. Find a Marmot to cuddle

Do you wish to find a pet midst this calm landscape? Around Khardung La and Tso Moriri you can trace Himalayan marmots from the road. These tiny things love to cuddle and are quite friendly.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 10/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: Wikipedia

11. The myth of Tso Kar

The locals believe that millions of years back a devil drank up from the overflowing Tso Kar. And when he drank more than he could, he spluttered the water all over and thus formed Regul Tso and Starspapukh.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 11/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: Wikimedia

12. Road across Khardungla

18 men lost their lives in building the highest motorable road at Khardung La. The construction of Bailey Bridge on this glaciated patch is unique in the sense that its ends rest on hard ice and it is also the highest bridge in the world.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 12/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: Ajay Panachickal

13. The tradition of the order

It’s a Ladakhi tradition to send the youngest child of the family to join the monastery. Though with dwindling tradition the practice is no longer common but teenagers voluntarily join the order.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 13/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: Sharada Prashad CS

14. Blow a conch to call 120 lamas for lunch at Karsha Monastery

Finding no other way to round them up, the lamas assemble at the sound of the conch during lunch and dinners. There can be no other way to signal the call to 120 resident lama in the 30 buildings spread all over the hill slope.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 14/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: Wikimedia

15. Where the snake king slept

Buddhists believe that the snake king Jokpo slept at the Likir Gompa. The word Likir is derived from lukhgil which means coiled snake. It is one of the richest and most influential gompas in Ladakh.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 15/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: Fulvio Spada

There are beautiful stories waiting to sweep you off your feet. Explore, dream and say yes to great stories in life.

Share this with someone who is dreaming of a Ladakh trip and gift them new grounds to explore.

Source: www.tripoto.com – Disha Kapkoti