Pristine Lachung!

Located in northeast of Sikkim, Lachung is a small hill station. It is at an elevation of about 9,600 feet and is around 125km away from Gangtok.

Recently a friend of mine was on a work visit to Lachung which brought back all the beautiful memories of my wonderful stay in this mountain village. Lachung was the last leg of our honeymoon trip after Darjeeling and Gangtok. It took around 3 hours’ drive from Gangtok city to Lachung. And let me tell you the drive wasn’t very easy one as the road construction isn’t great and plus drive to the hills is always tricky. Apart from the roads, I was delighted to see remnants of snow on the sides of the road. It was everywhere. There was no snow fall, though till then. The moment we had reached our hotel it started snowing a bit and it was chilly cold. After checking in, we asked the bell boy whether the hotel has been running full, and he replied saying we were the only tourist in his hotel. Hearing this we were a little scared about our safety. The temperature was going down by the night, the heater in the room helped us to survive – 10 degrees Celsius.

As I woke up early in the morning with a wish to see the sunrise, what do I get to see?? Snowwwww!! The whole area was covered with snow and the view was mesmerizing. This was the first time I had seen snow and I just can’t express in words of how surreal the entire view was.

We decided to step out and go to the zero point in Lauchung. Zero Point or Yumesamdong is the place where three rivers meet with surrounding snow-clad mountains, offering marvelous scenic views. On our way to zero point we also spotted several yaks. When we reached the zero point, the view is breath taking. Trust me you won’t find any place more pristine and beautiful than this one.

Quick guide of my north east travel:

  • This was a week’s trip. From Delhi we took a flight for Bagdogra. From here, we left for Darjeeling which is around 3 – 4 hours’ drive.
  • We stayed in Summit Grace Resort and spa –our stay was beautiful here (both accommodation and food is worth it). This hotel has clear views of Kanchenjunga Mountains and its heavenly!
  • On day 2 in Darjeeling, we went to the Tiger Hill to see the sunrise from the snowcapped mountains. You have to visit here if you are in Darjeeling!
  • We then saw Ghoom monastery, Japanese Peace pagoda, Tibetan Buddhist monastery and Batasia loop.
  • Day 3 – drove fromDarjeeling to Gangtok 98 kms/ 4 Hrs approx. We stayed in Summit Ttakshang Residency
  • Afternoon was spent in sightseeing at Gangtok visiting Banjhakri Waterfalls, Do Drul Chorten (Stupa), Flower Show.
  • On day 4 we saw – Hanuman Tok, Rumtek Monastery (must visit), Phodong monastery, Bakhtang falls and Enchey monastery.
  • Do go for some shopping experience on MG road in Gangtok, it is quite clean and well maintained. You have to try the momos there, they are simply yum !
  • On day 5 – our whole day was spent in Yumthang valley (must visit) and in the evening we left for Lachung.
  • On day 6 – we left for zero point and explored Lachung.
  • On day 7 – we finally took a flight from Bagdogra to Delhi.

Our North east trip was an experience in itself. Gangtok, Darjeeling and Lachung is a great combination of places to plan your holiday. Specially for the mountain lovers, this is a dream destination.So go ahead and plan a trip to north east soon, hope this blog helps!

 

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Demystifying Doha

When I first learnt about my next travel I was not sure how to react about it. It gave me quite mixed feelings from the point of view of a solo female traveler, had multiple thoughts running on my mind and at the same time was excited about travelling to a Gulf country.

When I gave this news to my mom, her immediate reaction was – “You better pack your “salwar kameez” as women in Qatar are covered from the head to the toe”. And I certainly paid no attention to it. I started asking my friends who are frequent travelers but didn’t hear back anything apart from statements such as – Couldn’t I pick a different city?? The last thing I did was, dropped a query on a Facebook travel group asking –“Is Doha safe for female travelers” and got just one response saying “Yes”!

As my day was approaching near to travel, someone in the office happened to know that I am due to travel to Doha and bang!!!  He lectured me left right center, starting from how pathetic my Jet flight is going to be and how the city is going to look so rural to me, basically he made as much as fun he could about Doha. Fuming with anger, I didn’t have a good response and I just lied to him saying just don’t worry, I have a friend there and I will be alright! I don’t know why I said that but it turned out to be true and I found out a friend from my office who had shifted his base to Doha J I couldn’t have been happier and I just thanked my stars !

At the airport boarding gate, I actually found out that the crowd which is travelling in the same flight was all filled with workers and there were very few families. I walked up to the crew member and asked them if they could change my seat in case I am not so comfy with the assigned one and they happily agreed. Thankfully I had a safe flight and I landed in Doha.

As I sat in the car to leave for my hotel, I could see beautiful lights all around the city and I wondered why do people try to defame such a pretty place? Well, God didn’t like that I was feeling happy about it so he made me witness something else. As I was nearing my hotel, I saw an amazing park but that was filled with workers who were playing cards and smoking. This park was just few minutes from the hotel I was staying and now when I had already seen this I had already decided to stay in the hotel for the next day.

I stayed in Ramada Encore, it’s a budget hotel and had amazing hospitality. I needed some help with my internet and a hotel staff walked up to my room to help me with the query. While he was sorting out my net issues, he happened to ask me of my plans of going out, and I told him my experience about last night which was holding me from stepping out of the room. I still can’t thank him enough for explaining everything to me – he helped me understand that the area where the hotel is, it’s a downtown area, where a lot of construction is taking place, so these workers unwind themselves in the evening by playing cards. No one in Doha can even walk up to a random girl to talk or to even touch her and in case he does, he might just go to the jail if the girl complains against him so Doha is the safest place. Listening to him (his name is Oman) I made up my mind to finally meet my friend.

I went to see the city in the evening and covered only two places – Souq Waqif and Corniche. Souq  Waqif is a traditional Qatari style architecture building which dates to 100 year old but has been renovated. You can just sit in one corner and enjoy the traditional feel of the place. It has a lot of places to eat, buy souvenir, garments, spices etc. There is a section where they sell pets and it’s really wonderful. I saw different kind of cats, and my favorite was Persian cats. If you are a hookah fan, then this is the must visit place for you. All in all, I loved the “Vatavaran” (environment) of this place, this is really magical.

Corniche is just nearby from Souq Waqif and you can simply walk up to this area. This is a waterfront where you can enjoy the skyline view of Doha. It also offers boat rides at good rates and personally I loved the boat ride.

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Souq Waqif

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Corniche

Few restrictions you should know –

 

  • It’s an offence to drink in public in the city. Alcohol is available at licensed hotel and bars only.
  • A non-Qatari women isn’t expected to wear the abaya, but you should be covered – avoid skirts and dressed above knee length

Doha looks amazing and you can plan a one day trip in case you happen to be somewhere close by. Food is delicious and yum, you won’t die of hunger. Safe place for the vegetarians too, as there are ample of options. And trust me I did step out of the hotel alone and surprisingly on the street no one even dared to look at me, felt much safer than Delhi. So girls if you are reading this, safety is really not an issue in Doha.  

Thank you readers for your time, hope you liked this one! 🙂

Kutch, you beauty!

Hearing stories of the white desert always made me wonder, how the sunrise in the desert looks like. Little did I know that few steps away from my seat someone else as well is having the same imagination. Yes !! My team mates were also looking through pics of the Kutch festival and were wishing silently to go to Gujrat. Three of us from the same cube planned and organized this trip to Kutch.

The Great Rann of Kutch is a white desert located in Gujrat which is also an international India Pakistan border. This is one of the largest salt desert in the world and is also one of the hottest place in summer.

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View of Kutch from the high point

In the last week of Jan 2017, we had packed our bags to explore a new city all by ourselves. Our first halt was Ahmedabad where we saw the beautiful Sabarmati river front, then we took a bus to Bhuj. Bhuj is a small city in Gujrat and is 100 kms away from Kutch. We stayed overnight in a hotel and the next morning we had decided to see the sunrise in Kutch.

Energy and excitement were quite high to see the sunrise which made us reach Kutch at 6am in the morning. When we reached it was completely dark and cold but as time was passing by I saw few people joining us as well.

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Sunrise in Kutch

The atmosphere was something which just makes you fall in love with its white beauty. The place is so calm and white that it takes you away from all the hustle bustle of the city life and you just want to enjoy the serenity of the place! This was my first experience of viewing the sunrise from the white desert and trust me, the feeling is heavenly.

Tourism is on its peak here only during the Rann of Kutch Festival, and it is only in these few years where people from all across the world come here to witness the vast expanse of white beauty. We spent half a day in Kutch but I would recommend if any one of you who is planning to visit it next year, do book the tents in advance and stay in the tents. The experience you would have in tents is different than what you experience staying in a hotel. We also did a horse ride in Kutch which was fun.

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Rann of Kutch

Food is not at all a problem in Gujrat. We had some yum food in the restaurant called “Hotel Prince”. Though the name of the hotel may not sound that great but the food is worth the money you would spend anywhere else. My tip would be to try the Gujrati thali which is the yummiest food I have ever had.

The next day, we had planned to go to the Mandvi beach and Vijay Villa palace. Mandvi beach is a beautiful and a clean beach. We did the camel ride on the beach which was ultimate fun. You get some local snacks, coconut water and corn on the beach which is affordable. We then left to visit the Vijay villas palace where the film “Hum Dil de chuke sanam” had been shot. This is worth a visit, it is fabulous, specially the views from the palace.

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Vijay Palace

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Mandvi beach

Since this was an all-girls trip, it was loaded with a lot of fun and laughter. I would recommend you to do visit this place. Gujrat is vibrant and colorful, food is yummy, roads are heavenly and people are amazing!

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The Great Rann of Kutch

Triund – My first trek

To those who don’t know me personally, I am a little plum, not overweight but allergic to fitness routine. A person like me can never even imagine to do a trek but something in me changed in the middle of last year and I started giving time to myself for at least 30 mins. I started with interval training and a little constrain on my diet. I even got myself a GOQII fitness band which helped me to track things better.

November is my favourite month as I not only celebrate my birthday, but also my husband’s birthday and our anniversary.I would say this month is a festival for me.  I have always been super excited to celebrate my birthdays, but this time he didn’t have enough time to celebrate it, so he asked me if I had any alternate plans and asked me to go ahead.I am blessed to have him to allow me to travel so much 🙂

My friend Runa, with whom I have also travelled to Europe was equally excited about having a weekend getaway. We boiled down to going to Mcleodganj and doing a trek to Triund. The hills were calling us 🙂

Out of excitement, I even bought a backpack for myself, and other trekking accessories. We reached Mcleodganj on 12th Nov and spent a day trying new delicacies, admiring the mountains and also withdrawing cash (thanks to demonization) But let me tell you, people in Mcleodganj are extremely friendly and approachable. Starting from the travel agents to people in bank, I didn’t have a single instance where we felt unsafe. Here are some of the pictures of the view from hotel which was splendid.

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Dev Cottage, Dharmkot

Though the services weren’t that great but it was a decent hotel. The hotel is in Dharmkot which is walking distance from Mcleodganj. Below are pictures from Four season’s cafe, sunset point eatery and Naddi village

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Kothey momos in Four season’s cafe

Four season’s cafe is amazing !!! We tried thukpa, kothey momos, ginger lemon tea (this one is ultimate – must try).

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Naddi Village

This image doesn’t do justice to what we saw, it was breathtaking and beautiful.

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Some snacks at sunset point

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Carrot cake from Jimmy’s cafe and bakery

This cafe is underrated and unexplored. You should try their coffee and cakes, they are simply yum !!

The next day, on 13th Nov we started our trek to Triund. My bag-pack was filled with winter clothes, snacks, essential items like torch, soap etc. I had not imagined how will I be able to trek with a backpack, thankfully I got a porter from our trek organizer who agreed to carry our bags. Ahhhhh, I was soooo relieved.

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That’s me while trekking

Walking up the triund hill was still easy but coming down was super difficult. There are several eating points on the way to Triund and our trek organizers had also prepared lunch for us. We reached the top of the hill in 6 hours and the view was breathtaking. All the pain and the effort to climb the top was worth it.

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View from the top (That’s Runa)

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My happiness

We enjoyed the sunset, had Maggi & omelet. At night we had a bonfire and dinner was served. Since it was a weekend, there were too much of noises as people were dancing and playing around. I would advise to go on a weekday. We stayed in a camp for the first time, and slept in sleeping bags (this is adventurous too!!)

We got up too early to capture the sunrise and explore the surrounding nature, all this while I have been in awe if I minus the pain which I was feeling in my legs thanks to the trek. Here are the morning views :

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Camps in Triund

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Us

We then had to trek down which was a little difficult for me but overall it was a great experience. I would suggest to do a trek in Triund, stay in Mcleodganj and also cover Bir Billing (which we missed). This was a memorable travel experience.

Thank you for reading, hope you enjoyed !

 

 

 

Europenama

Going to Europe and travelling countries is every girl’s dream. And I am very happy that I have been able to fulfill my dreams this early!

My friend and I planned a trip to Europe in April 2016 where we would be covering three countries – France, Switzerland and Rome. So the first one was Paris and this blog would help you to understand how to plan a trip in Paris, how much expenses to expect and what should be your budget.

How to arrive in Paris : The best way to get to Paris from Charles de Gaulle Airport is to take the train. Carry your map or download the app for navigation.  Uber is available in Paris, but would advise on traveling by tube.

Stay : You can go for Airbnb or book a hotel, we stayed in Hotel Sainte- Marie. This is a budget hotel. The hotel is close to Bonne Nouvele metro station and is walking distance from Rex. We stayed here for two nights, and the cost came around 108 Euro (7k INR)

Places to visit :We visited Eiffel tower, Norte dam church, Catacombs, River cruise. My recommendation would be Eiffel tower for sure, do visit in the day and night as the view is different. Complete the river cruise, this is just worth it !!! Visit the Louvere museum, Nortedam church. You can skip the Catacombs, for us it was just waste of money.

Our next stop was Interlaken :

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We took a flight from Paris to Zurich, once we arrived in Zurich then we got our 4 day train passes made. Trust me the procedure is very easy and you get the passes from the airport without any hassle. The train from Zurich to Interlaken is breathtaking !!!! It took around 3 hours to reach from Zurich to Interlaken but the journey was beautiful.

Stay : We stayed in Central Continental hotel, which is walking distance from Interlaken Ost station. The stay in the hotel was around 347SF. The room which we got was view facing rooms, had a bath tub and was quite spacious. Interlaken Ost has a lot of Indian restaurants which are quite cheap options. Interlaken is heaven , is safe for girls to go out and roam around.

Places to visit : We went to mount Pilatus which is totally worth it. So your one full day would do in going and coming back from Pilatus. The second day we roamed around Interlaken, shopped and ate. We also took train and went around Lucerence, Basel, Bern. The third day, the weather was really bad so we missed Mt. Titlis but this is a must visit place.

Interlaken is heaven on earth, have never seen such a beautiful place in my life. 

Our next stop was Rome for which we had to take the train till Zurich. In this blog I am not covering much about Rome as it was just a one day stay where its was quite convenient to cover the entire city in just one day. But Rome was one place where the food was really cheap and affordable. In case you have any queries or questions, do feel free to ping me !!