Who defines what is trekking? Is the back breaking effort of climbing some high hill top only form of trek? Nope. I don't believe so....neither did my friends and thats why with a year old baby in our arms we decided to trek along the jungle pathways of Meghalaya to go see the famous....Living Bridges. As the warm rays of the morning sun i ...
One thought always overwhelms me as I sit down to plan a holiday in the hills; will it be too crowded? Any true-blue Dilliwala can tell you how genuine this fear is. From Shimla to Manali, Kasauli or even Ranikhet; there is no hill station within a few hundred kilometers of Delhi, that has escaped us.
So this ...
From the moment we decided to embark on this incredible adventure, our spirits were intertwined in a bond that transcended the physical realm. I, along with my fellow female trekkers, shared a burning desire to conquer one of the most challenging experiences of our lives: the trek to Everest Base Camp. The allure of the challenge beckoned ...
A trip to Cambodia can be an emotional churn. The country still has reminders of the atrocities of the cruel Pol Pot regime scattered across the country’s landscape.
In this blog, I will share with you my experience visiting the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The museum is a powerful and emotional reminder of the atrocities that occurred in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s.
As I entered the museum, I was struck by the eerie silence that permeated the halls. The museum is housed in a former high school that was transformed into a prison and interrogation center by the Khmer Rouge. The stark white walls and barred windows of the classrooms were a stark reminder of the horrors that took place within them.
The museum is filled with exhibits documenting the genocide, including photographs, artifacts, and personal accounts from survivors. One of the most powerful exhibits was a wall filled with the photographs of the prisoners who were held at the prison. As I looked at the faces staring back at me, I could not help but feel a sense of sadness and horror at the suffering that they endured. While the photographs of all these souls who endured such evils evokes extreme sadness, the proof of the hatred Pol Pot and his met evoked was evident from their photos. Their photos were also displayed there, but the faces have been scratched out by someone. I am assuming it was a visitor as the fierceness of the scratches showed that the person was acting out in pain and anger. Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge killed people in Cambodia for their perceived opposition to the regime's ideology and vision for a communist society
Pol Pot was a Cambodian politician and revolutionary who led the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. During his time in power, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge carried out a brutal campaign of mass murder and genocide that resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people, or approximately one-quarter of the country's population. The Khmer Rouge had a vision of creating a classless society based on agrarian communism, which meant that they wanted to abolish all forms of private property and establish a system of collective farming. To achieve this, they launched a radical and violent campaign to purge Cambodia of anyone they considered to be an enemy of the revolution, including intellectuals, professionals, religious minorities, and anyone suspected of opposing the regime.
The Khmer Rouge believed that urban areas were breeding grounds for capitalism and imperialism, and they sought to eliminate them by forcibly relocating millions of people from the cities to the countryside, where they were put to work on collective farms. The conditions on these farms were extremely harsh, and many people died from overwork, malnutrition, and disease.
The Khmer Rouge also set up a vast network of prisons and detention centers, where they tortured and killed anyone suspected of being an enemy of the revolution. These prisons, including Tuol Sleng, were used to extract false confessions from prisoners, who were then executed or sent to labour camps.
Walking through the prison cells and torture chambers was a chilling experience. The tiny cells were barely big enough for a person to stand up in, and the rusted metal beds and shackles were a stark reminder of the inhumane conditions that prisoners were forced to endure. One of the most moving exhibits was a room filled with the clothes and belongings of the prisoners who were killed at the prison. Seeing the shoes, clothing, and personal items of the victims was a powerful reminder that they were real people who had families and lives before they were taken to the prison.
While unlike the memorials of the killing fields, there are no skulls and bones that serve as a harsh reminder of the torture these people bore, Leaving the museum, I felt a deep sense of sadness and anger at the atrocities that took place in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime. But I also felt a sense of hope, knowing that the museum is working to educate visitors and prevent such atrocities from happening in the future.
Visiting the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum was a sobering and emotional experience. It is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in learning about the history of Cambodia and the resilience of its people in the face of unimaginable horrors
For long western travellers have defined what is exotic…and now as we…the Indian travellers take over a large slice of this lucrative industry….we decide what is exotic too. And in my opinion, Cambodia is the best mix of exotic and a warmish feeling of home mixed together.
From the moment I arrived, I was struck by the warmth and friendliness of the locals. Everyone I met was eager to help me navigate the city and make the most of my stay. I checked into a lovely hotel in the city centre, which served as a comfortable and convenient base for my adventures. I went to a small boutique hotel (I always choose them over luxury or cheaper chain hotels) called Tea House, which is described as a small, urban boutique hotel designed in an attractive retro Chinese-inspired style, and found in a central location near the Independence Monument.
After dumping our stuff my friend and I booked motorcycle taxi (one for each) and headed to visit the Royal Palace. The palace is a stunning example of Khmer architecture, with intricate carvings and beautiful gardens that provide a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city. I was amazed by the palace's grandeur and the wealth of history contained within its walls. But even more amazing was our chance encounter with a young Buddhist monk who was also visiting the palace. We struck a conversation with him and ended up spending almost an hour soaking up his ‘Gyan’ on Cambodia and their style of Buddhism.
Afterwards we explored the palace which is set within beautifully landscaped grounds, which include stunning gardens and ornamental trees. Visitors are greeted by a stunning entryway that leads to a central courtyard. The courtyard is surrounded by several buildings, each of which is adorned with intricate carvings and statues. One of the most impressive buildings within the palace complex is the Throne Hall. It's a massive structure that's topped with a gilded roof and features ornate decorations throughout. The Throne Hall is used for ceremonial events, such as coronations and royal weddings.
Another notable building within the palace complex is the Silver Pagoda. It's named after its gleaming silver floor, which is made up of more than 5,000 silver tiles. The Silver Pagoda houses an impressive collection of Buddha statues, gold and silver artifacts, and other precious objects. Other buildings within the palace complex include the Khemarin Palace, which is the private residence of the king, and the Chanchhaya Pavilion, which is used for state and ceremonial events.
Of course, no trip to Phnom Penh would be complete without sampling the local cuisine. So the evening was spent at the famous Foreign Correspondent’s club or the FCC along Sisowath Quay’s river promenade, where the Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers converge. Being a member of FCC in India, I thought we might get some extra privileges there, but that is not so. FCC of Phnom Penh is just like any other restaurant or club. Anyway, we enjoyed a few drinks and indulged in a wide range of delicious dishes, from spicy curries to sweet desserts. One of my favourite dishes was Amok, a traditional Cambodian curry made with fish and coconut milk. I also enjoyed exploring the city's vibrant nightlife scene, which offered everything from rooftop bars to live music venues.
Throughout my trip, I felt safe and welcome as a solo female traveller. The locals were friendly and helpful, and I never encountered any issues while exploring the city. Overall, my trip to Phnom Penh was a fantastic adventure, and I can't wait to return and explore more of this beautiful country.
One of the first things I did was to explore the city's vibrant street markets. From colourful textiles to delicious street food, the markets were a feast for the senses. I enjoyed haggling with the vendors and trying new dishes, and the bustling energy of the markets was infectious.
Who defines what is trekking? Is the back breaking effort of climbing some high hill top only form of trek? Nope. I don't believe so....neither did my friends and thats why with a year old baby in our arms we decided to trek along the jungle pathways of Meghalaya to go see the famous....Living Bridges. As the warm rays of the morning sun illuminated the emerald landscapes of Meghalaya, I found myself standing at the threshold of a breathtaking adventure that would lead us to one of nature's most captivating wonders—the living root bridges.
As we ventured deeper into the dense forests, the air grew cooler and fresher, carrying the earthy scent of damp leaves and moss. The towering trees provided a canopy of shade, while rays of sunlight filtered through the dense foliage, painting intricate patterns on the forest floor.
We walked through a labyrinth of winding trails and babbling streams. The path was dotted with all sorts of trees, my favourite being the Jackfruit tree, or as we call it Kathal ka ped in Hindi. And then, emerging from the lush greenery like a hidden treasure, we caught our first glimpse of the living root bridges. The bridges, crafted by generations of the Khasi people, were a remarkable feat of nature's collaboration with humanity. Thick, tangled roots of ancient banyan trees cascaded down from above, intertwining and entwining until they formed intricate latticework, sturdy enough to bear the weight of those who traversed them. There was a cement bridge also for those who wished to witness these marvels from a strong footing and firm ground.
The bridges spanned across the gushing rivers below, their steps inviting us to venture closer. We eagerly descended the moss-covered steps, their coolness soothing our feet as we approached the heart of this enchanting spectacle. The bridges seemed to pulsate with life, their organic nature blending seamlessly with the surrounding forest.
With every step we took, the bridges revealed new intricacies and mysteries. Tiny wildflowers nestled within the crevices, their delicate petals adding bursts of color to the verdant tapestry. The air was alive with the symphony of nature, as the melodious notes of birdsong intermingled with the rush of water below. The cool mist from the cascading waterfalls caressed our skin, refreshing us and invigorating our spirits.
We spent some time clicking photographs so that we could file this amazing moment in our collective memories. After anout an hour we decided to walk back to our vehicle, we said our goodbyes to this natural marvel and started our jungle walk.
One thought always overwhelms me as I sit down to plan a holiday in the hills; will it be too crowded? Any true-blue Dilliwala can tell you how genuine this fear is. From Shimla to Manali, Kasauli or even Ranikhet; there is no hill station within a few hundred kilometers of Delhi, that has escaped us.
So this time I decided that we shall taken a slightly less trodden path, especially since I was taking along two young nieces who are settled abroad. They wanted to experience the Indian trekking scene. I decided to take them on a trip with Bayberry Adventures to Nag Tibba.
Our home for this memorable trip was the picturesque The Goat Village, where we experienced warm hospitality, immersed ourselves in nature's beauty, and indulged in the delightful flavors of local cuisine. Upon our arrival at the Goat Village, we were greeted by the friendly staff, who instantly made us feel at home. The rustic charm of the village, surrounded by lush greenery and panoramic mountain views, took our breath away. My father and I, settled into our cozy cottages, each uniquely designed with traditional aesthetics and modern comforts. While our nieces along with other teens were helped by Bayberry adventures to set up camp on the grounds of Goat Village. In the evening, all of us settled down around the bonfire to share our excitement for the upcoming trek. Our trek leader shared some stories about local village leopard sightings and gave us information on what to expect.
Rising early the next day, after a light but nutritious breakfast, we embarked on an exhilarating trek towards Nag Tibba, the highest peak in the region. The trek leader of Bayberry Adventured guided us through dense forests, alive with the melody of chirping birds and the fragrance of wildflowers. My nieces, bursting with energy, eagerly led the way, as we soaked in the serenity and grandeur of the Himalayas. The trek to the Nag Devta Temple proved to be slightly challenging but some of us decided to push further and aim for Nag tibba peak. After about another hour of trekking we managed to reach the top. But then we saw the weather turning and decided to beat a hasty retreat to The goat village. By the evening we were at the resort and the gracious team had organised for piping hot pakodas with bhaang ki chutney for us. Although they had packed a lunch for us but by the time we reached our base, we were famished. The pakodas disappeared within minutes; but thankfully some more came in their place.
One of the highlights of our journey was experiencing the vibrant local cuisine. The Goat Village's staff served authentic Uttarakhand dishes prepared with locally sourced ingredients. We savored piping hot Aloo ke Gutke, a delicious potato dish with flavors of mustard seeds and spices. The Garhwali dal, cooked with locally grown lentils, and the traditional Bhatt ki Churdkani, made from black soybeans, left our taste buds dancing with joy.
The hospitality of the Goat Village team surpassed our expectations. From the warm smiles to their eagerness to share local folklore and traditions, they made us feel like an extended family. We were told that this boutique property has many times organised cooking sessions for guests on request where they can learn the art of making delicious Gahat ki dal and Kumaoni Raita, under the guidance of the skilled local chefs.
As our adventure drew to a close, we bid farewell to the majestic Nag Tibba and the Goat Village with a heavy heart. The memories we made, the breathtaking landscapes we witnessed, and the bonds we forged will remain etched in our souls forever. We left with gratitude for the kindness shown to us by the locals and the enriching experiences that made this journey truly exceptional.
From the moment we decided to embark on this incredible adventure, our spirits were intertwined in a bond that transcended the physical realm. I, along with my fellow female trekkers, shared a burning desire to conquer one of the most challenging experiences of our lives: the trek to Everest Base Camp. The allure of the challenge beckoned us, and we set out.
Our journey began in the vibrant city of Kathmandu, where the bustling streets served as a stark contrast to the solitude of the mountains that awaited us. Although we had to go tough a 7 hour wait to catch a 20 minute flight to the Tenzing Hillary Airport in Lukla, we kept up our enthusiasm as we waited to fly out of the Ramechap Airport. With hearts full of excitement, we boarded the tiny plane bound for Lukla, known as one of the most dangerous airports in the world. The adrenaline coursed through our veins as the plane descended onto the precarious airstrip, and we set foot on the trailhead of our trek.
First of all, let me be honest...the journey was strenuous. Not just strenuous, it was excruciatingly difficult at times. In fact, now I feel that initially I probably underestimated the task i took on. We started with a 4 hour trek to Phangding where we had planned our night halt. We navigated through lush rhododendron forests and crossed suspension bridges adorned with prayer flags that fluttered in the wind. We marveled at the azure hues of the glacial rivers below, and the turquoise lakes that sparkled like jewels amidst the rugged landscape. On the way we marvelled at impressive buddhist installations that kept greeting us at regualr intervals. As we passed though quaint Sherpa villages, dotted with colorful prayer wheels and mani stones, I was very impressed with the cleanliness of the trekking trail in this region.
The second day was a bit more challenging, as we hiked to the famous Namche Bazaar. We crossed several suspension bridges over the roaring Dudh Kosi River, as the trail gradually ascended through beautiful rhododendron forests. The final stretch, a series of steep switchbacks, was a true test of stamina, but the sight of Namche Bazaar nestled in the mountains made it all worthwhile.
To adjust to the increasing altitude, we took a rest day in Namche Bazaar. We explored this bustling mountain hub, visiting the Sherpa Culture Museum and the local market. An optional acclimatization hike to the Everest View Hotel offered stunning panoramic views of Everest, Lhotse, and Ama Dablam.
The next day our trek continued through alpine meadows and small villages, with the mountains ever-present in the distance. As we approached Tengboche, the famous Tengboche Monastery came into view. We attended a mesmerizing evening prayer ceremony before settling in for the night.
As we ascended in altitude, the air grew thin, and each breath became a conscious effort. The elements showed no mercy: the sun scorched our skin by day, while frigid temperatures forced us to huddle together for warmth at night. We faced the physical and mental challenges of altitude sickness, fatigue, and self-doubt, but the camaraderie of our group carried us through.
Our sisterhood blossomed as we encouraged one another, shared stories, and celebrated our individual strengths. We learned that our collective power was greater than any obstacle we faced. We empowered each other to push past our limits and reach new heights, both literally and metaphorically.
The teahouses became our sanctuaries, where we reveled in the simple pleasures of hot tea, warm blankets, and the company of our fellow trekkers. After days of incessant trekking and crossing landmarks like Imja Khola River and Dingboche, we trekked through a stark, lunar-like landscape, passing by the stone memorials of trekkers and climbers who lost their lives on Everest. The steady climb to Lobuche was a struggle, but we found strength in the camaraderie of our fellow trekkers.
Finally, the day arrived when we reached the fabled Everest Base Camp. The sight of the Khumbu Icefall and the formidable peak of Everest herself took our breath away. Our hearts swelled with pride as we hugged and cried tears of joy, knowing we had accomplished something extraordinary together.
As we stood at the base of the world's highest peak, we understood that it was not just the summit that held the true essence of our journey, but the collective experience we shared. Our sisterhood, forged in the fires of adversity and triumph, bound us together in a bond that would never be broken. Our trek to Everest Base Camp was a testament to the power of women supporting women, and a reminder that together, we can conquer any mountain, both literal and metaphorical.
Of all the things I love to do in my life travel probably tops the list. With time I have learnt to appreciate the beauty of different cultures, landscapes, traditions and cuisines. After travelling for almost my entire adult life I have realised that even travel can be termed irresponsible and damaging to the environment if not done right. That is why I believe that if I travel then small businesses, artists, local communities and the environment should benefit from it. There are other people in the travel and tourism space who also have the same belief and give you an opportunity to travel in a responsible and sustainable manner.
One such experience for me was curated by Bayberry Adventures and it was life changing. It gave me an opportunity to see the things that I believe in being executed in reality. Bayberry did end to end designing of an unforgettable experience where they arranged our stay at The Goat Village in Nag Tibba, Pauri Garhwal. TGV gave me an unforgettable and guilt free experience.
We reached TGV late afternoon after leaving our car and trekking about 2 kms. After a much needed serving of chai and pakoras we settled down in our cottage to relax before the evening bonfire and a wholesome and super flavourful dinner.
The next morning the guide appointed by Bayberry Adventures took us on the trek. he was thoughtful enough to carry chai and water for us when we wanted to take a break from the trek. The trek itself was not a steep climb but a beautiful walk uphill. Bayberry had made it super clear to us how much is expected out of us in terms of fitness. But what was even more impressive was that Bayberry had expectations from us as well. They expected us to keep this trek ‘Zero waste’ and expected us to learn about the mountains and the people who inhabit them with a sensitive approach.
We were back for a late lunch and after a nap we were ready again to devour some local delicacies for dinner. But this dinner was even more phenomenal as we were taken into the kitchen to be served the Chulha dinner sitting on the floor by the fire, eating the piping hot rotis as they were taken off the fire.
Truly An UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE
Travelling is often considered as a luxurious extravaganza that helps an individual to unwind, relax, rejuvenate and re-energise. To me, it is all this and more! I believe that travelling has to be an imperative part of everyone’s yearly routine. For me, this event must occur and reoccur several times. Travelling fosters numerous benefits to me. While exploring new places, I become adaptive to the prevailing conditions and circumstances without expecting them to alter per my convenience. It makes me open and welcoming towards the local cultures, beliefs, traditions along with food and festivities. Furthermore, travel gives me an opportunity to connect with my self. It is like a meditation. I firmly believe that each and every travel experience that I add to my memory list, transforms me into a better than before person.
I recently got really lucky to get an opportunity to go for an adventure trip, that too with an all females group! The experience was ought to be unique because I had never done anything like this before! I was both, nervous and excited when this idea was introduced to me by some friends; nervous because I have never been on any adventurous trip ever before and excited because I was about to attempt something as a naïve.
We chose to go for a trekking expedition. None of us had ever been for such excursion before. “Are we capable of doing it?”, was the first question that prompted in each one of our minds. Thankfully, our organisers were proficient, experienced and completely aware of the apprehensions the inexperienced women travellers like us might undergo. They, with utmost patience, answered and sorted every query we had. They kept us confident and motivated before and all throughout the excursion. To further boost our endurance and stamina, we were offered to follow a conditioning routine comprising of light but regular exercises days before our trek was scheduled. This training helped all of us through out. Trekking is like wandering without getting lost! We all made countless everlasting memories.
I often try to find the answer to why I got enticed for this trip, was it because of the adventure factor involved or was it because it was an all-women trip! To me, it was like taking a break from being a perpetual “role model”. The feeling of not being judged for my actions, not being scrutinised for my dressing and not being commented for my mannerisms, was unmatched.
Throughout this trip, we all travelled together in a group. The camaraderie among us was so strong that each one of us felt free to express, share opinions and offer suggestions which were further welcomed and accepted by rest of the group with full regards. With every one of us having our guards down, we managed to steer clear of any kind of unpleasant encounters and ugly clashes of egos.
Women travelling together boosts mutual emotional quotient. The feeling of “sailing in the same boat” is innate. We are able to understand, empathise with and even resolve the slightest inconveniences faced by the fellow travellers. We together, happily infringe the “rules” and enjoy every serendipitous encounter in a childlike way.
I believe, travelling with a all women group helps in shunning down the self-doubts while fostering self confidence as we come out of our comfort zones.
By Minal Mathur (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org)
We were sitting in my friends SUV and chatting next to a shop selling kebabs.It was late at night and the bottle level was getting lower and lower.But every now and then he went out of the car to smoke.He had some phobia of tobacco smoke lingering in his new Creta.As we slipped further into the blue night,my friends recharges became taller.
“Black Dog Gold Reserve is a good whisky, better than Black Label!” I said to bait him.
“Pooh,Black Dog is tap water compared to Black Label”
The thing about drinking is that you start talking bullshit with a lot of sincerity.You imagine yourself tobe the most flower like,unsullied man.All your past misdeeds fade away.You are experiencing a sabbath.You imagine that you are the best dutiful son a mother could hope for.You are offcourse a righteous husband too who has never even looked at another woman.
Besides this flowering of unsullied morality ,you also feel like a man with the wisdom of Plato and the wit of Aristophanes.My friend was talking wise things now,just like a curly haired Greek philosopher.
“English is not all all important,why do we give so much importance to English!” he said in his Convent school accent,which I would place at par with the best schools of Delhi.
Then like a faithful Meerutwallah,he lets out a vulgar profanity.He takes a long pull from the glass and inverts the bottle into it.Thankfully the bottle has a valved mouth and the whisky pours out in a controlled trickle.
I realize theres a lot of good sense in putting a nozzle on the mouth of a booze bottle .
“I got 86% in English”,he pipes up and starts recapitating the essay he had written in his 12 th exam.I hear him patiently.He finishes and starts talking about Bernard Shaw the playwright.Then he starts talking about an English play he wrote.
Then he starts taking long swigs as if all the recitation had dried his throat.Then out of the blie he again starts talking disparagingly about the importance given to English.
A drunk walks past the car,his slippers makes crunching sounds.My eyes follow this drunk .He has stopped a short distance up the road.He is whistling and singing.He is standing at the base of a sort of pillar.He directs his liquid homage to the pillar and walks a zig zag step and is soon lost in the hot night.I make a note to come again in the daytime to have a look at the pillar.
My fiends phone rings.
“Its twelve,when are you coming back?”Its his mother.”Coming in ten minutes”he says.
The sardarji who sells the expensive kebabs is pulling a grill door of his eatery.We seem tobe the last customers.
Next day I go back to the spot cycling in the great heat. The sun is at its best.Lovely hot summer. The pillar turns out tobe an obelix. All distances to Meerut were measured from this very spot.
Mountains are my favourite holidaying destination. Their majestic magnificence is incomparable to any other geographical feature across the globe. These serene, quaint natural features adorned with plentiful variety of ferns and flora are the habitat for countless lifeforms. The plants, birds, animals and humans dwell amicably here!
In one of my recent mountain vacations, I got introduced to an idiom called “Sustainable Travelling”. It sounded unimportant and meaningless initially. Like many people around, even I was ignorant about what it actually means and what actions does it expects from us. However, as I learnt more about “Travelling Responsibly”, the picture of sustainable travelling got bigger, clearer and quintessential. To explain it in simple words, traveling sustainably means adapting ways to travel without causing any harm to the surroundings and its natural & cultural environment. The negative impacts of tourism can be substantially minimised parallelly benefitting the locals by following just a few basic rules.
The first and the foremost important rule to be followed is “leave no trails.” We all carry food stuff, candies, juice cans and various eatables and drinking items to binge upon during travel. What do we do with the empty plastic wrappers after eating the stuff? Throw it ignorantly? To become a sustainable traveller, you will just have to carry a bag where in you can dump all these plastic waste and cans and carry with you to the nearest place that has a proper waste management system. It may sound crazy initially, but believe me when you do it, you feel good and guilt free. For my sojourns, I have started carrying the food stuff in air tight, non-plastic containers so that the plastic waste caused by me and my family can be minimised. I prefer picking tetra packs over plastic bottles. Me and my kids never forget to carry our water bottles even if we are going only a few kilometres away from home so that we do not have to buy packed mineral water plastic bottles.
The packaged food that we binge upon during travels might be tasty but not healthy. Moreover, it pollutes the surroundings. However, if we replace these food items with the locally available, freshly prepared, healthy food, we will not only be benefitting to our own bowel systems but also will be profiting the hard-working natives of the place along with playing our roles as a sustainable traveller.
I have started believing firmly that travelling sustainably should be the only way of travelling!
Yet another important feature of travelling responsibly is respecting the culture and beliefs of the local communities and dwellers. These people welcome us to visit their land with utmost reverence and love. As an accountable tourist, we must be aware of the ethos, faiths and views followed by the locals so that we do not disrupt them in any ways. Traveling without leaving a trail is easy than it sounds. Sustainable travelling is not the rocket science. It is just about adapting the right travelling habits. It indeed helps us to travel better. We all like to cherish the impeccable beauty the nature has blessed us with. By following the simple habits of sustainable travelling, we will be able to preserve this matchless natural beauty to be relished by future generations to come.
The importance of travelling responsibly has been liberally mitigated for past many decades, the results of which is now predominant in form of profuse dumping of plastic and other bio-toxic waste in and around the mountain regions resulting in irreversible environmental damages. The plentiful air travel, fancy resorts and uncontrolled tourist footfall is making the matter worst. It is indeed the time to change the old habits! We must not forget that we have borrowed this environment from our future generation which is why we have to return it to them in a worthy state.
By: Minal Mathur (email@example.com)
I am called a Pahadi…..but i have always been the kind who preferred to lounge on a beach than climb hills. That is till I went back to my ancestral village for a short trip. In an effort to encourage the people of the village to host travellers, my brother and I drove down from Delhi to Isoti (the village) in Uttarakhand. The trip was unforgettable and was made so by the love and hospitality of the village folk……watch how Bayberry Adventures makes your trip unique and a lifetime experience.
The thought of trekking over a green mountain, nestled with vibrantly colourful ferns and fauna, had always resided somewhere back in my mind. But now when I have turned this thought into the reality, it has become my fondest memory that I cherish over and over again. Mountains indeed are the ideal destination for pending holidays as they connect their visitors to the raw, untouched nature’s beauty, offers purest fresh air to breath easy and an unmatched wide-open spectacular view that rejuvenates any and every one from mind and body alike. I have been on mountain vacation with my family numerous times and have thoroughly enjoyed each one of them. But, mountain trekking with female group of friends was entirely a different experience. It came as an opportunity to indulge in the verdant scenery, binge upon local cuisines and above all being myself. During this sojourn, I eventually found myself unfolding a whole new world of momentous promenades and narrow paths taking me through quaint surroundings and picturesque landscapes to the final destination.
Trekking gave me and my fellow travellers a ground to test our stamina, physical and mental endurance enfolded with loads of excitement and trills. I like to describe trekking as “reading a mystery novel” as every mile in the mountains has in stored within an unknown territory, and to discover it, one has to reach there. Along with numerous health benefits that trekking offers, there is one permanent change that it brings within its trekker. It is the attitude of “Keep Going And You Will Reach the Destination”. It is only from the top of the mountain one can make out how low it was. This trip made me realised that women travelling together creates a magical camaraderie with oodles of positive energy and mutual understandings. I was able to experience the destination in its true form. I connected with the locals, saw their simple yet active way of living, got a glimpse of their culture, rituals and traditions. Furthermore, I learnt to be a sustainable traveller who understands and follows the phrase “Leave No Trails”. Unknowingly and ignorantly, many of us tend to leave the plastic waste behind in the mountains, when we head back to our abodes. Mountains are the substantial resource of fresh water and pure air. Plastic waste sabotages the purity of its surroundings in an irreversible manner. Therefore, it is imperative to understand, the “do’s” and “don’ts” while travelling across mountains, or for that matter, anywhere.
We were really lucky to have found the most reliable and highly recommendable “Bayberry Adventures” as our travel partners. Their proficient team was skilled and equipped to handle any and every situation that might incur during trek. We were guided, motivated and steered throughout the trek with utmost care and considering manner. Our safety was intact.
I remember, when we reached the top of the mountain, the first thought to strike my mind was “This end is the beginning!” And so, it is! I am eagerly waiting for my next adventure trek.
It’s a rage amongst all age groups today to spend there short holidays trekking or hiking in the picturesque hills of Himachal or Uttarakhand, where we can still find the pristine nature in its original untouched form. Adventurists also want to experience the adrenaline rush in overcoming the challenges, physical and mental, while undergoing these outdoor activities. However, to enjoy any outdoor activities it’s important to prepare for it well which includes administrative, physical and mental preparedness.
Today I will talk of Physical fitness preparations for undertaking a trek, hike or out door camping in a mountainous terrain. It’s aimed at people with average physical capabilities who are planning to take a trek of low to medium level of difficulty.
A trek normally involves traversing across cross-country hilly terrain with a daily average climb of 500 to 2000 ft over a distance of 5-10 kms in 4-5 hours with a back pack of 10-20 kgs.
• Altitude climb: 500 to 2000 ft.
• Distance: 5-10 km.
• Duration: 4-5 hours.
• Back pack: 10-20 kgs.
Men and women can easily traverse the above degree of difficulty with little but systematic preparation for physical fitness. It involves building up of stamina (aerobic exercises) and strength (strengthening exercises). It should ideally be a 4-6 weeks preparation in gradual manner to avoid injuries. We may divide our weekly schedule as following:-
Mon, Wed & Fri : Aerobic exercises for increasing our muscular stamina especially of lower limbs and lung capacity.
Tue, Thur & Sat : Strength training (especially core strengthening).
Sun : Rest
Aerobic Exercises : Mix of running or brisk walking is the easiest way to enhance your stamina and lung capacity. Start with 2 kms a day and work towards achieving 10 kms at a stretch of run & walk combination as per your capability. During this period consume adequate quantity of water and after exercise dip your legs in warm water for speedy recovery. Always stretch and do warm up exercises before and after the main routine.
Strength Training : It’s important to strengthen the core which plays an important part in traversing in a hilly terrain. There are many exercises you can do in gym or at home. Simple exercises like 3 sets of sit-ups, push-ups, crunches, lunges, squats or planks with 10-15 repetitions with a break of 30-60 seconds. Weight training under a trained gym instructor is ideal.
Back Pack carriage : It’s an important part of training as we will be carrying 10-20 kg of back pack during our treks. We may take a back pack with 5 kg weight initially and practice climb a gradient akin to our trek or climb stairs in our building with multiple repetitions. Graduate to 15 kg weight across the training period. This will help us achieve the confidence and the feel of walking with some weight on us.
Lastly, I would say that a good preparation helps to make the most of the outdoor adventure activities. It reduces the chances of injuries, muscle pulls, cramps, fatigue etc which may dampen our joy. We must also carry necessary medical kit to include anti-inflammatory sprays, ointments, bandages, bandaids and basic off the shelf medicines for fever, cold, pain killers, etc. Use sunscreen for safety against sun burns.
Wish you a fruitful, enjoyable and injury free adventure trips !
Intro to Author: Author is an adventure and fitness enthusiast based at Delhi. A keen sportsman having played junior national hockey and squash in his younger days. A regular participant of running, cycling and biking events. He also likes to paint and write on social and fitness issues.
The idea of planning a trekking trip To Nagtibba popped up in one of my casual walking and talking routines. Today, when I have accomplished it and with that have fulfilled one of my dreams, I feel blessed and lucky. This trip was indeed destined to become one of my most favourite memories that I will cherish for many years to come.
My journey started on a warm April evening, though the routine for it had commenced a month before the scheduled travel date. We were a group of ten females, coming from varied backgrounds and cultures, aiming for one destination, together! We reached Dehradun next day morning where we were greeted by our organisers. A two-and-a-half-hour-long road journey amidst small mountain towns and villages made us reached Lasher, from where we had to reach our base camp, The Goat Village, on foot!
It was a funny trail! Rocky, uneven, elevated, in simple words, it had all the hurdles that one might incur while walking. Escorted and steered by our friendly organisers, we begin the so-called leisure trek! Climbing up that path was challenging and at times frustrating with no option to look back! The weather was cold yet we were sweating from head to toe. Throughout the trek, I wondered how will I ever be able to complete the actual trek scheduled for the next day when this simple walk makes me feel sick and tired! The one-and-a-half-hour ordeal finally ended and we reached The Goat Village, ALIVE!!
The Goat Village comprises of simple, comfortable and quaint cottages. The rooms are aptly furnished with just the needful amenities. And yes, there is no electricity and the mobile network in The Goat Village! Seeing the setup, I seriously began to doubt my survival for the coming two days! But TGV was all set to prove me wrong.
The first eye opener came in the form of a super delicious, scrumptious food prepared out of fresh ingredients, grown within the premises of TGV. The food was simple but pleasantly enjoyable and contenting. After eating as much as I could, I went to my room and slept. I do not remember for how long did I sleep because I was not keeping any track of time there. The clock ticks little slow on mountains. A bell rang and woke me up. At TGV, the food, snacks, tea and long engaging conversations and chats are offered only at the common area! When the bell rings, reach the common area!
After having tea and freshly prepared light snacks, we were all spruced up and excited to explore the surroundings and so we headed out for it! It was a lazy soothing walk across the local ferns and fauna. The fresh air filled with the aroma of local flowers, the serene mountain sites, the quietness of the surroundings together created beautiful environs that we all were adoring to the fullest. We were welcomed by a warm and bright bonfire on our return. We all sat around it and began the session of extended engaging talks. That night we slept early, mystified, anxious and excited about the next day to come!
The next day was the judgement day! Our stamina, self-confidence, endurance and a lot more was to get tested! The fact that we were our own judges left no scope of cheating also!! Dressed in our trekking attires, caps, sun shades and sticks, we all begin the journey in high spirits, setoff to conquer!!
The trek began. Trekking is often described as wandering without getting lost. I often like to relate the trekking experience with reading a mystery novel! In both cases, you have to move forward to find out what lies in store! The surroundings kept us enthralled through out as we trekked. We were greeted by trails abundantly covered with local flowers, challenged by rocky terrains, mesmerized by the naturally manicured meadows and captivated by the panoramic views everywhere and anywhere we could see.
We walked at a steady pace. We took water break, tea breaks, snacks break and “just like that” breaks before finally reaching to the top. “Every step count”, the simple phrase was coming live to us with all its grandeur! Our escorts were patient and motivating. They were cooperative, accommodating and reliable. They seamlessly managed the group of novices, inexperienced, apprehensive trekkers like us. They congratulated us, praised us, stirred us and finally made us achieve our goal of reaching The Jhandi Top.
Jhandi Top worth every pain that we took to reach there! All my labour, doubts and anxieties were answered in an awe-struck manner. The divine panoramic view of the snow-covered Himalayas, the lush green elongated stretch of naturally manicured meadows the majestic tranquillity at its abundance steer away all the doubts, qualms and misgivings I ever had regarding this trip. I did not have much to speak, it was not required also! We, quietly, happily, proudly admired ourselves and celebrated our victory.
We achieved what we aimed for and attained a lot more than what we expected! Sitting there, at the top of the world, I realised, it is indeed the journey that makes the destination worthy!