May 2020 - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Friday, May 29, 2020

5 Best Treks For Beginners In Uttarakhand

Best Treks for Beginners in Uttarakhand

In all probability, you might have heard of the iconic band 'The Beatles' and even heard their music. But you might be surprised to know they visited Uttarakhand, dubbed as the 'Land of God', to find some creative inspiration!

Well, it is not tough to gauge why they conceived Uttarakhand as a source to get their creative juices flowing. The sprawling Himalayas, dense wood, whirlwind of flora and fauna, and lastly, the treks, everything for you to delve into your creative perfection away from the noise.

Hill stations like Nainital, Mussoorie, Auli and Dehradun have always been pulling in people across the globe. The trekking enthusiasts have more reasons to visit Uttarakhand as the trails of some of the famous treks lead to this place.

We will be talking about some of them today.

1) Nag Tibba - Appreciate Nature’s Mastery

Sunset from Nag Tibba trek

Best time to visit:
Winters - October to December / Summer - April to June

Duration of Trek: 7 hours for a 10 km trek from the base camp to the hilltop

Level of difficulty: Relatively easy

Each trek takes hours of effort to get a sight of nature's brilliance forming indelible moments. Nag Tibba provides sight of nature’s mastery, but with minimum sweat work. It is an ideal weekend trek that can aptly compensate for the Himalayan trek you have been planning for months.

The trail cuts its way through the grass cover, dense jungle and heritage sites. Thus, all the way, you have something pushing you forward when you are exhausted. At the top, you have the prize waiting, a 100-degree view of the snow-capped Himalayan range, Bandarpoonch and Kala Nag peak. The sight of
Kedarnath peak in the North would itself be the sole motivator of the trek.

2) Har Ki Doon - Encounter Rare Fauna and Floor

Har Ki Doon Trek, Uttarakhand

Best time to visit:
Summer - April to June / Autumn - September to December.

Duration of Trek: Total 47 km can be covered in 6-7 days.

Level of difficulty: Moderately difficult

This trek is a part of a common folklore tale and stretches over 44 km. The highest point in the trek stands at 14,000 ft. The mesmerising views of the nearby mountain ranges in both summers and winters are a sight to behold.

The beauty of Har Ki Dun trek lies not just at the summit, the trail itself takes you through a journey in time with small settlements formed a hundred or even some thousand years ago. Amidst the woods, you might find some rare avian life along with other forms of wildlife.

This place is known for its frequent rains and most of it is concentrated in summers. The hide and seek between the sun and rain-filled clouds ready to burst make the trek even more satisfactory. But you must be properly equipped to tackle such situations.

3) Valley of Flowers – Trek amidst Nature’s Vibrant Colors

Scenic treks of Uttarakhand

Best time to visit:
July to August, the time when the flowers are in full bloom

Duration of Trek: About 6 days to complete the trek

Level of difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Close your eyes and imagine yourself standing amid more than 600 floral species, surrounded by tall mountains. Welcome, you are in a Valley of Flowers, as listed in UNESCO world heritage sites.

This place is a paradise for people who are enthralled by nature and love flowers. Not just the floral life form that is enticing here, a few kilometers into the wood and you might spot a musk deer, black bears of Asian origin, blue sheep and many other wildlife species.

As a tourer, you will find many reasons that prove why this place is listed in the UNESCO records.

4) Auli – Winter Trekking Destination

Those snow capped mountain views during a trek in Uttarakhand

Best time to visit:
November to March

Duration of Trek: 3 hours, covering 5-6 km

Level of difficulty: Moderately difficult

Auli is one of the most perfect winter destinations, away from rising mercury of the urban chaos. Trekking in Auli has the ideal mix of leisure and adventure. Such combination results from the lush green valley and snow-covered mountains that follow you throughout the trail.

Auli is one of the ideal places for a snow trekking adventure. It cultivates a sense of joy when you see snow all around you, much like a kid in a candy store. The sight of sunrise and sunset can turn anyone into a photographer.

As you complete the trek, a 360-degree view of Garhwal Himalayas and Nand Devi awaits you.

5) Kedarkantha Trek - Amidst Snow Covered Trails

Skyscape from Kedarkantha Trek, Uttarakhand

Best time to visit:
Winter - December-to-March.

Duration of Trek: 7 hours to complete the trek of 6 km

Level of difficulty: Easy-to-moderate

You might not be an expert trekker to take on hard terrain all the time, but if you want to be a part of such a pre trekking destination, the Kedarnatha trek is your place. The snow-covered trail shows you the path right to the summit. The surrounding view of the snow-covered Black peak, Bandarpoonch and Swargarohini mountain range will allure you to move forward.

The campsites are sporadic and consistent. Thus at any point in your journey, there is a campsite just a few kilometers away. These campsites would provide you the much-needed rest after long hours of trek and get your body ready for the upcoming trails.

Closing thoughts

Beginning the descent after soaking in the snow capped mountain views

In a nutshell, Uttarakhand has the trails to suit all forms of trekking enthusiasts. You just need to unpack apprehensions and dive into the adventure. You have parks, snow covered mountain ranges and rich flora and fauna reserves to keep you at your toes.

AUTHOR BIO: Amit is an avid traveler and passionate writer. His weekends are dedicated to travel and free time dedicated to writing for his blog His passion for both these hobbies made him start The blog is intended to bring out the real India and present it to the world!

All the photographs in this article are courtesy of the author.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Langza: The Himalayan Village that is known for Fossils of Marine Animals

Langza village - of fossils, rich history, snow capped mountains and more

Imagine this. A high altitude village in the Western Himalayas of India that is made up of a small group of people living in Tibetan styled mud and stone houses and who are surrounded by snow capped mountains and the rolling hills of the mighty Himalayas. Now, imagine their mountainous land being the home to a rich array of fossils of marine animals and plants from millions of years ago. Sounds impossible right?

Well, such a village exists at an altitude of 4400 metres above MSL in the high Himalayas of Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh. This village called Langza is a picturesque village that lies at the base of the Chau Chau Kang Nilda peak and that is just made up of a few hundred people.

Bird's eye view of Langza village and the snow capped mountains

The interesting thing is that Langza and most of Spiti valley was under the ancient Tethys sea many millions of years ago and it was home to many ancient marine flora and fauna. The entire mountain landscape that we see today was all under a huge ocean before the tectonic plates shifted leading to the Indian subcontinent shifting itself from Africa and banging against the Eurasian continent. And which led to the birth of the Himalayas and the Tibetan plateau.

Today, the Tethys ocean is no more, but the fossils of these ancient marine animals still exist in and around Langza and quite possibly other parts of Spiti valley too. All you need to have is a keen eye to spot these fossils or take the help of a knowledgeable local.

Road to Langza in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh

It doesn’t matter whether you are a trekker, a bicyclist, a motorcyclist, anthropology lover, mountain lover or just a good ‘ol tourist, this remote high altitude village of Himachal Pradesh is bound to bowl you over. It’s ancient monastery, its friendly citizens, its high altitude lakes (Chumo Tso and Tsonyeti) and other umpteen treks, its green pastures, its snow capped peaks, its rich wildlife including the elusive snow leopard and its many fossil trails are bound to keep you captivated. Do remember to pack for the sharp mountain sun and for cold nights to have a ball of a time at Langza.

Motorcycling in the high mountains of Spiti

How to get here:

The nearest airport would be Kullu international airport. From here, the route to Langza would be via Manali –> Rohtang pass –> Tandi –> Gramphoo –> Kunzum pass –> Kaza and –> Langza. Local buses, taxis or self drive vehicles are your best bets.

The other more popular airport would be Chandigarh. And the route to Langza from here would be Chandigarh –> Shimla –> Recong Peo –> Nako –> Tabo –> Dhankar –> Kaza –> Langza. This route takes you through the heart of Kinnaur and Spiti valley. The route can be long, but the experience will be remarkable.

Best season to go:

Langza is open all year round. Winters can be extremely cold. Summers are the best time to visit, but if you can handle the cold, try late autumn to early winter so that you enjoy the lack of crowds and the apple season.

Key things to keep in mind:

1) Most of these areas are high altitude places with low oxygen. Do plan for AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) and ascend gradually.

2) Some of the high mountain passes can be blocked due to bad roads. Do check the status of roads before starting on your journey.

3) Buying or possessing fossils is illegal in India.

Extremely scenic mountain village of Langza in Spiti, Western Himalayas

Other attractions nearby:

1) Komic – the highest village in the world connected by a motorable road at 4,587 metres

2) Kibber – a high altitude village known for its stone houses and easy access to snow leopards

3) Hikkim – home to the highest post office in the world at 14, 400 feet

4) Ki Monastery – located at 4,166 metres, it is the biggest monastery of Spiti valley

5) Kaza – the largest town and the headquarters of Spiti valley

6) Kunzum La – At 4, 551 m, it is a high mountain range in the eastern Kunzum range of the Himalayas

7) Chandra Taal Lake – A magical family camping destination in the Himalayas

8) Dhankar – the prettiest village of Spiti

9) Pin Valley National Park – A remote national park known for its high mountains, unique flora and fauna and medicinal plants

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Thursday, May 21, 2020

How to travel smartly with back pain

How to travel smartly with back pain

Suffering from back pain should not stop you from exploring the world. Thousands of travelers live with back pain and still visit exotic destinations on a regular basis, and you can too. The key is careful planning; as long as you can manage your back pain, you can have a lot of fun going on trips.

Managing your back pain while traveling is not as difficult as you think. In this article, we are going to take a look at the best, most practical tips and tricks you can use to travel smart and manage your back pain at the same time. Let’s get started!

1. Avoid Queues

Timing your flights (and other parts of the trip) lets you avoid hold-ups that could cause back pain. Long queues are never fun, so make sure you design your travel itinerary with the perfect timing in mind. You can even ask your airline for details about the quietest time to fly.

2. Yes, Tell Your Airline

Speaking about asking your airline, telling the airline that you are traveling with back pain also helps. Many airlines let you check-in and board the plane early. Some will even put you on a fast track from the moment you arrive at the airport.

Additional services such as extra pillows for supporting your back are also common. As mentioned before, thousands of people are traveling with back pain, and your airline can be very helpful in keeping you comfortable.

3. Patches and Braces

While we are at it, you also want to make sure that your back can remain comfortable and burden-free during the trip, especially during the flight. Sticking some heat patches on works most of the time, while back braces or lumbar support can keep you comfortable for longer.

Staying comfortable is the key here. Most back issues are triggered by stress and discomfort, so you want to avoid them as much as possible.

4. Watch What You Pack

Forget about carrying your stuff using a backpack. No matter how comfortable the backpack may be, a heavy one will still put too much stress on your back. You can use a backpack as your daypack or carry-on but be extremely careful with its weight.

A rolling suitcase is your friend. You can also get a backpack or a messenger bag that you can slip onto the handle of your luggage. No more lugging around heavy bags while trying to go to your terminal.

5. Book Smart

Accommodation is not something you want to skimp on when you are traveling with back pain. You want to make sure that you book a hotel with a comfortable bed since the right mattress can help you get better sleep at night.

It is perfectly okay to check the brand of mattress used by hotels you are comparing before finalizing your decision. Some brands like Amerisleep and Vaya are known for their mattresses and just how well they can support your back at night.

6. Sleeping Position Matters

That actually brings us to our next tip: watch how you sleep. Your sleeping position will determine just how much stress you put on your back. The fetal position, especially combined with a high-quality mattress, is the most comfortable.

What you want to avoid is sleeping on your stomach, especially with a hard and thick pillow supporting your head. This position forces your neck to tilt upwards, which redirects much of the stress to your lower back area.

7. Keep Your Meds Close

Last but certainly not least, make sure you have pain (or prescribed) medication with you at all times. You don’t want your back pain to ruin a nice stroll around town or a day at the beach, do you?

With these tips and tricks in mind, you can travel smartly and enjoy exploring the world, all without having to worry about your back pain. As you can see, dealing with back pain should not stop you from having a blast.

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Monday, May 18, 2020

Beans Around the World: 4 Countries to Visit if You're a Big Fan of Coffee

The aromatic and famous Tana Toraja Coffee, Indonesia

Coffee-drinkers are being pampered with thousands of options when it comes to drinking coffee, and more origins of coffee beans have been discovered. There are many roasters and baristas creating their own unique flavors. There are even coffee drinks that combine beans from multiple origins to create vibrant flavors that a lot of people enjoy.

If you are serious about coffee, visiting countries where coffee-drinking is a big culture can be very enlightening. You can choose to visit countries that produce the best coffee beans in the world or go to places where the coffee culture is incredibly strong. In this article, we are going to list countries from both spectrums and see the countries to visit if you are a big fan of coffee.


A Tana Torajan Coffee Seller

Indonesia is home to many great coffee beans. It is also the country with the highest variations of single-origin beans, each with unique flavors, different origin areas, and plenty of stories to uncover. In fact, Indonesian beans cover the entire spectrum of coffee flavors.

Sumatra Mandheling is a good example. Sumatra Mandheling beans are rich in flavor, but with complex layers waiting to be explored. It has a very earthy note without overpowering the true flavor. Sumatra Mandheling beans’ flavors are brought out when the beans are black roasted.

Blue Bali Moon, on the other hand, has a unique note of dark chocolate due to where the beans are planted. This too is a variant with rich flavor, but it is best when medium-roasted. Get it right, and you will also get hints of vanilla in its natural flavor.

Kopi Luwak is another must-try. It is coffee that has a peculiar flavor because it comes from the civet cat or Luwak. Coffee beans consumed by Luwak are then roasted to bring out the full flavor they offer. This is currently still the most expensive coffee bean in the world.


Ripe Coffee Beans

From Indonesia, we go to Japan. Japan is not high on the list of coffee bean producers, but the coffee culture in Japan is simply too good to miss. This is the place where you can find beans from around the world being transformed into magnificent cups of coffee.

Japanese roasters are famous for their attention to detail. Dark roasted beans are never overcooked, there is plenty of new technology being used alongside traditional means, and the entire coffee scene is filled with stories to explore.

If you are looking for a destination where you can have different coffee every time, Japan is the place to go. This is where you can meet the best roasters and baristas too, plus the locals really appreciate a good cup of coffee.

Japan is littered with independent coffee shops that serve the best cups in the world. Forget about the larger chains when you are visiting Japan. The local coffee shop that is within walking distance from your hotel will definitely have a tastier cup to serve.


Inside a lush coffee estate

We cannot talk about destinations with a strong coffee culture without talking about Brazil. Brazil has the best of both worlds; it is a producer of coffee beans and a destination with a vibrant coffee scene. However, Brazil takes a completely different approach than Indonesia when it comes to variants.

Rather than promoting single-origin coffee beans, the coffee culture in Brazil focuses more on a uniformed set of flavors that are only separated by regions in which the beans are grown. Areas like Sao Paulo and Bahia are famous for their coffee plantations.

Brazilian beans have a sweet and gentle flavor with a hint of spice and earthy notes. This flavor can be found consistently, which is why Brazilian beans are very popular among roasters who produce in larger capacities. That sweetness is also very popular among coffee drinkers.

Drinking coffee in Brazil is a clean experience. No matter where you go, you can expect a good cup of coffee being served. More importantly, you can count on that flavor consistency too. There will be no surprises while visiting Brazil.


A monsoon motorcycle ride through the coffee estate roads of Malnad, Karnataka

The last country on our list, Portugal, is famous for its love for traditional coffee brewing. This is the country to visit if you want your coffee experience to be charming and memorable. Unlike other places that take coffee seriously – we’re looking at you, Italy – the people of Portugal have fun with coffee.

You will certainly enjoy sampling the local brew. As mentioned before, coffee shops in Portugal take pride in the traditional methods they use to brew a cup of espresso. This is also the country that champions slow-roasting to bring the best flavors out of coffee beans.

Don’t expect latte art or sophisticated coffee-based drinks either. What you want to try while visiting Portugal is the espresso. A trip to this country will transform the way you see coffee entirely, including the little things that you can appreciate in coffee beans and coffee as a drink.

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Saturday, May 09, 2020

Mallalli Falls in the Monsoons: A Drone Video

Bird's Eye view of Mallalli Falls, Coorg

In these times of virtual travel, I bring to you one of Karnataka’s prettiest waterfalls whose surroundings can supercharge you, especially during the monsoons, which also happens to be my favorite season of the year. Located in the northern part of Coorg (the Scotland of India), the Mallalli waterfall begins its journey in the medicinal forests of the Pushpagiri wildlife sanctuary of the Western Ghats as the Kumaradhara river before meandering its way through dense green jungles and then tumbling close to 1000 metres about 20 kilometers from Somwarpet to form a majestic setting, which is a sight to behold in the rains.

This drone video will precisely give you an idea of the beauty of this majestic waterfall and its spectacularly green surroundings. Do remember to watch it in 4K mode and find a way to supercharge yourself during this lockdown. And may be, once we return to a state of normalcy, you can actually travel to Coorg and see this waterfall up and close during the monsoons and let it fill you with positivity and its lush surroundings rejuvenate you.

Video Courtesy: This drone video and photo is courtesy of Pradeep Gowda, a friend, a travel partner, fellow motorcyclist and monsoon lover.

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