Tag Archives: North India

Three routes through the Himalayas
Three routes through the Himalayas

1. Himalayas and The Golden Temple (Mountains and Spirituality)

Route: Amritsar – Dharmashala – Mirage by Andretta – Manali – Shoja – Kotgarh – Shimla – Kasauli – Chandigarh

 

This route is ideal for people wanting to experience a little bit of spirituality. You can witness the majestic mountains of the Himalayan range in India.

Amritsar

Start your trip off in Amritsar, easily accessible by flight, train and road. Visit the Golden Temple and immerse yourself in the most giving of all the world’s religions. Bask in the architecture and tank up on the humble but delicious Langaar. Backpackers can catch a night’s rest at the amazingly fun Jugaad Hostels or Akaal Residency for some privacy.

If you have a fatter wallet you can opt for the Country Inn and Suites. If you’re positively rolling in money, the Svasa is for you. From here on you can either catch a bus to save money. Or rent a chauffeur-driven car at INR 4000 for pretty much all your connections in the hills.

Dharamshala

We’d strongly recommend hiring someone to drive you, both because the roads are tricky for those unfamiliar with them, and also so you’re free to let yourself go in the view. Next you move up into Dharamshala, home of the Dalai Lama and the adjacent Mcleodganj.

Backpackers can hole up at the Pink House, those looking for a little more comfort can try Chonor House. There’s a rare treat here for the artistically inclined, in the form of Mirage, a home-stay that doubles as an artist’s retreat, replete with pottery wheel and everything.

Manali

Next stop, Manali. Blow off some steam hippie style and then satiate your munchies at any of the little town’s adorable cafes. Stay options would be Old Rock Inn for the backpackers, Johnson’s Café for the comfort category and the Himalayan for the luxury seekers. Catch a bus to Shoja, a national park that cradles a small village that makes a perfect base camp as you trek into its leafy recesses.

Kotgarh

All class differences are erased here, since there’s only one decent hotel available—Bajara Camps. Kotgarh, your next stop, is tiny and would be absolutely underwhelming if not for the gorgeous stay at Seetalvan Orchards.

Delhi

Come back to civilization in the charming resort town of Delhi. Head straight to Sunnymead bed and breakfast for a warm meal and great conversation, or Wildflower Hall for plush carpets and endless breakfasts. Wrap up the trip in Kasauli, free of cars, pollution and all the associated bad vibes. Hunker down in HPTDC’s Ross Commons or the elegant Seven Pines.

2. North-East

Delhi – Bagdodra – Pelling – Gangtok – Darjeeling – New Jagalpuri – Guwhati – Shillong – Kaziranga – Guwhati – Varanasi

Make a leap from Delhi to Bagdodra and Bagdodra to Pelling in a single day, by air and road respectively. There, take some time to allow the village to envelop you, preferably from the comforts of Daragaon Village Retreat.

Gangtok

From Pelling take a 5-hour scenic drive to Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim full of icily languid lakes and soaring mountaintops. You can stay at the lovely Hotel Pandim while you’re there, before shifting base to Darjeeling. Spend a few days learning the delicate art of tea picking and processing from the simple town that knows best, and then head back to the shining wood floors and gaping bay windows of Hotel Shangri La for the night.

Guwhati

From here you can hire a car to drop you to New Jagalpuri 5 hours away, from where you can catch a train to Guwahati. When you’ve had your fill of the burgeoning wildlife and ancient temples, you can make the quick 4-hour drive to Shillong, where we’d recommend you drop your bags off at the White Orchid Guest House before heading out to explore the manicured gardens and gushing falls.

Kaziranga

When you’re hungry for a little more wildlife, have a car drop you 6 hours away to Kaziranga, where you can stay at Nature Hunt Eco Camp. Finally, take another car down to Guwahati and catch a flight out to Varanasi.

3. Leh-Ladakh

Delhi – Leh – Tso Pangong – Nubra Valley – Leh – Delhi

 

Wrapped up neatly in flights to and from Delhi, this is the perfect for someone who feels the pull of the mountains but isn’t really into the grinding life of the backpacker.

Leh

Once you land in Leh, make sure to give yourself some time to adjust to the drastic change in altitude, the only downside of a quick flight.

Once you’ve had your fill of the palaces and stupas, get into a jeep and take a drive through Chang-La Pass, the third-highest motorable road in the world. Come out the other end onto one of the world’s most breath-taking sights—the endless stillness of Tso Pangong.

The next day, you can set your sights 1010ft higher at the world’s highest motorable pass—Khardung La Pass, which will take you into Nubra Valley.  Break through the fog and onto the smooth vistas of snow, take a camel ride, a million photos and a quick dip in the hot sulphur springs at Panamik before heading back the way you came.

 


A day of travel, food and spirituality in Amritsar (India)
A day of travel, food and spirituality in Amritsar (India)

This weekend I went to Amritsar to do some research for our India Someday clients. The religious city in Punjab is famous for three things—the Golden Temple, delicious food and the Wagah Border.After a lot of exploring (and a lot of eating!) we’ve come to the conclusion that this is definitely one city you do not want to miss!

The Food

Amritsar is a food lovers paradise. From the moment you wake up, the amount of food you will manage to eat would be quite a revelation even to your own self. The alu puris (potato curry served with deep fried Indian bread stuffed with cottage cheese) and the chole puri (the same bread served with spicy lentils), are great for breakfast. Kanha sweets or Munim di Hatti at Lawrence Road are probably the best places to try these. For lunch either pay a visit to the Golden Temple Langar (we’ll get to this later) or visit Kulcha Land where for just INR 50 -100 they serve great stuffed kulchas and lassi. If you do have some place left for dinner head to Bharwan ka dhaba or Kesar ka dhaba, for some rajma (red beans) and rice or tandoori roti and veggies. If you have not noticed yes there is a slight bias, I am vegetarian.

North Indian food in general is a little heavy on the stomach, but eating in Amritsar is so much fun you will not stop. On every corner of every street there is something being cooked. From alu tikkis to fresh fruit juice, it’s all so tasty and delicious that I cannot stop raving about it. There is lots of butter, lots of fatty foods and loads of proteins and lentils, and the few days you’re there I would suggest throwing any diet out of the window.

Barring the taste the best part of eating in Punjab is the people. Punjabis are a jolly and lively bunch of people who love only one other thing more than eating—feeding someone else. So enjoy your meals hot and served with loads of love and smiles :).

The Golden Temple

The serenity and the beauty of the Golden Temple is mesmerising. People often compare visiting this temple to visiting the Taj and I can guarantee that it is equally spectacular, probably even more so. Continuous chants, the stillness of the water, the thousands of people providing service for nothing in return, and the ornate beauty of the Temple itself all adds up to make a visit here really and truly special. I would recommend also signing up and helping to cook in the Langar. The temple itself has a long line to enter no matter what time of the day you visit.

Side note: A langar is found in every single Gurudwara or Sikh Temple, and is a part of their religious beliefs. It is a 24 hour open kitchen. The food is free to all guests without any discrimination(you can donate a small sum of course and you should!). The entire kitchen is run by volunteers who work in shifts and anyone can be a part of this team. The food is healthy and nutritious and filled with love :).

You should visit the temple in the morning and at night when the religious book is taken back into safe keeping, around 10 pm. If you interested in reading up more about Sikhism and the history of the golden temple click here

Wagah Border: India’s patriotic pilgrimage

IMG_20140930_171827616_HDR

Palpable in the air of Amritsar is the feeling of patriotism that is invoked when you visit the Jallianwala Bagh or the Wagah border. As sad and haunting as the tragedy of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre is the Wagah border is on the other end of the spectrum, yet both are connected by a heady sense of history and Indian strength. Every evening at the Wagah border (the only road entry point between India and Pakistan), you can witness a fun and competitive Beating Retreat ceremony or the ‘raising/ lowering of flags’ ceremony.The passion with which the soldiers on both the sides fulfill this duty is incredible. Shouting, singing, the thumping of the feet, drums, dancing and trying to out do the other side makes for a surreal experience. 

Staying in Amritsar

The stay in this city is not very expensive, the lower range budget hotels like Akaal Residency are clean simple and good value for money. And you even have a few unique options like Virasat Haveli. But here I would recommend staying at a higher end property as you do want to go back to an empty shell after the hustle and bustle of the narrow streets. My pick would be a stay at the Hyatt in Amritsar, they have nice cozy rooms and the service is impeccable.

Verdict

In conclusion all I would like to say is that if you have the time then you have to visit Amritsar. If you do need help in seeing how you can fit Amritsar into your trip, let us know and we at India Someday can help you plan your trip.