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ShiviApril 24, 201915min13757
Hong Kong Skyline Spirited Blogger
Hong Kong Skyline Spirited Blogger

No wonder Hong Kong is a metropolitan country that does not have a rich history in terms of reign and emperors but yes it has, in fact, quite an interesting fact which is that – Hong Kong was under the British rule from 1841 to 1997 before handing sovereignty over to China. This agreement was established post a 50-year period of autonomy when Hong Kong achieved governance by a “One Country, Two Systems” agreement. Since then it is a complex yet technologically advanced nation and is a “Special Administrative Region” of China with its own currency, constitution, passports, and official languages (Cantonese and English). This travel blog will take you to a few things that are essential before you travel to Hong Kong

Please note that, do not speak Mandarin when in Hong Kong, they do not consider it as their language as per locals, thus avoid this act.

Hongkongers are very proud of their culture and heritage thus when in Hong Kong learn few gestures and signs which can make them feel like being an expat. For instance, avoid addressing them as Chinese as and they are proud to be Cantonese rather than an extension of Chinese.

The currency

Hong Kong currency is Hong Kong dollars – HK$ – The Hong Kong dollar is the official currency of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. It is subdivided into 100 cents. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority is the governmental currency board and also the de facto central bank for Hong Kong and the Hong Kong dollar. Official website: hkma.gov.hk

Hong Kong Currency Coins Spirited Blogger
Hong Kong Currency Coins Spirited Blogger

 

Hong Kong Currency Coins Spirited Blogger
Hong Kong Currency Coins Spirited Blogger

You can exchange your currency at the airport or else you have reliable foreign money exchange counters in the city within your location. If not required do not carry much of cash as you may find ATM’s and money exchange counters easily. But remember you will have to carry a lot of cash while shopping and roaming around as Hong Kong deals in cash majorly.

Getting around

Getting around Hong Kong in the budget is possible via metro line, ferries, and buses. A very well connected network all through Hong Kong. In fact, take the airport express train from the airport for central as it is just 24 minutes and cheap.

Another historic mode of transport is a ferry that is very cheap – starts from 2 HK$ from Victoria harbour and then you can take a tram to the Central Peak which is the skyline of Hong Kong. (it is just 30 cents).

MTR Hong Kong Train Spirited Blogger
MTR Hong Kong Train Spirited Blogger

Remember before you step out the airport please buy an Octopus card. It is not only for public transport but it gets used at convenience stores, and even at some coffee shops. This card is really helpful for solo travellers and for travellers who are travelling on a low budget. Hong Kong does have Uber and affordable taxis – that starts from $3); however, the latter sees a “changeover” in hours as the shift changes.

What to pack before you come here

Hong Kong weather sometimes is unpredictable – still, the entire year Hong Kong is oppressively quite hot and humid. When you listen to any local saying that it is summers – they mean it is the season that stretches from late April to late October. This means it has a rainy season as well. Please carry lots of jackets, an umbrella, rain sheets, as rain showers are unpredictable. Moreover, Hongkongers never turn off air conditioners – it is pretty cold inside the hotels and at the workplace. So better be warm is the tip.

Eat as locals do

The biggest hurdle for a traveller in Hong Kong is the variety of Cantonese and Chinese food, from which to distinguish is a big task. Do share food as Chinese cuisine is all about sharing. If you sharing twosome then order one portion and share. Enjoy dim sum at traditional restaurants on the streets near central, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon etc. Do remember not to put the chopsticks in a vertical position as it is a sign associated with funerals.

Cantonese and Chinese Food Spirited Blogger
Cantonese and Chinese Food Spirited Blogger

Shopping

For the serious traveller, Hong Kong is a shopping paradise but no second thought Hong Kong is dammed expensive for any national coming here for shopping. You’ll find ample shops in every possible street in Hong Kong. You’ll be spoilt for all the vivid choices the streets have to offer. From the Avante Grande malls to all the international brands’ outlets at central and Tsim Sha Tsui you will get hooked by the variety it has to offer.

Hong Kong Shopping Malls Central Peak

But for shoppers who looking for bargained shopping explore the largest shopping street in Hong Kong – Temple Street. Do also check other streets in Yau Ma Tei and Tung Street in Mong Kok for cheap clothes and electronics. With this do explore Granville Road in Tsim Sha Tsui and Cheung Sha Wan Road in Sham Shui Po for cheap clothes.

Temple Street Hong Kong Spirited Blogger

One tip – Bargain, bargain and bargain as much as you can, show your skills if you do not see any price on the products, but if you see any price on the product this means the attendant will not be willing to negotiate.

Nightlife

Hong Kong is not quite popular for a good late night culture, but this is not right it is like another New York or Manhattan. It is not a speedy country, and can’t be compared with the neighbouring Bangkok but the evenings and night clubs are happening, in the pubs of Tsim Sha Tsui – where you may find many expats taking a stroll on the sideways of the streets. It is filled with locals too. Lan Kwai Fong is the city’s nightlife heart and comes alive as happy hour slopes in and on the weekend nights, the street turns into one big open-air bar and LGBTQ nightlife scene with doors open for all. Sky bars are big business here, and please remember if you intend to experience be ready to eye-watering prices for cocktails.

Hong Kong Night Life Streets Spirited Blogger
Hong Kong Night Life Streets Spirited Blogger

Please note: Do feel free to carry around a beer or glass of wine in the street as Hong Kong has lax open-container laws. 

Here’s a quick sneak peek into some basics to survive in HK:

  • You don’t have to be fluent in English while talking to the locals but please speak slowly so that they understand word by word in pieces.
  • Don’t use flowery or tough English terms. Keep it simple.
  • Try to catch their actions if not able to make them understand what you are asking.

You can also learn a few Cantonese phrases online.

  • Hello – Néih hóu (pronunciation: Neyi Hou)
  • Good Morning – jóusàhn (pronunciation: Sou San)
  • How are you doing? – néih hóu ma (pronunciation: Layi Hou Maa)
  • I don’t speak Cantonese – ngóh m̀hsìk góng gwóngdùngwá (pronunciation: Wa sihk gwong dung waa)
  • I’m a vegetarian – ngóh sihk jāai (pronunciation: Wa sihk taai)
  • How much is it? – Géidō chín a (pronunciation: gei cin aa)
  • Are there any discounts? – yau mou zit aa (pronunciation: yau mou zit aa)

 

Keep reading and happy travelling 🙂 

Please leave a comment below and let me know what you wanted to know about Hong Kong Travel, will share the bog soon! 


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ShiviMarch 20, 201910min1174

Holi Blog - Spirited Blogger

Holi is an ancient and prevalent Hindu religious festival distinguished throughout India. It is a spring festival, also known as the festival of colours. The colourful festival of Holi is celebrated on Phalgun Purnima which befalls around the month of March. It is the second most extensively celebrated festival of India after Diwali.

The story

This festival is celebrated as the victory of good over bad also. There are numerous mythological stories behind the origin of the festival. But, one which is in Indian traditions is about killing Holika, the sister of Hrinyakashyap. – Owing to that it is celebrated. Holi festival is also broadly related with the immortal love of Krishna and Radha. The festival also holds implication with reverence to end of winter season and the onset of the summer season. So, there are many on the charts as Indian religion is vast.

Holi Blog - Spirited Blogger

With a long weekend coming up this Holi, it is the time to put on your travelling shoes and travel to some of the below-mentioned destinations in India for some crazy Holi celebrations. Get beaten with sticks, or enjoy a concert or join the locals in the streets as they shower gulal and water to each other or get drenched with vibrantly coloured powders and water or watch the ‘Holika Dahan’ or just calmly soak in the bewildering experience of perceiving the band of itinerant spiritualist minstrels of Bengal. Witness all this on Holi 2019 in a different than the usual way, as India is Incredible.

Just pick up any destination from the below and play your famous Holi festival in India Go Travel!

  1. Barsana, Uttar Pradesh: Holi with Sticks

Barsana, Uttar Pradesh: Holi with Sticks Holi Blog - Spirited Blogger

Indian men don’t always rule the nestle! The women of Barsana and Nandgaon villages near Mathura in Uttar Pradesh hit men with sticks – no wonder it is the tradition in town which is known as Lathmar Holi celebrations. Unfortunately, I being a solo traveller would not recommend the other solo travellers to come here alone due to the repulsive behaviour of men, who continue to go around assaulting women. However, you can visit it with your friends or group to experience the sight to catch the giggling women taking absolute pleasure in putting the sticks to use. The Barsana Holi is definitely the most famous places to celebrate Holi in India and will give you all the ambiences of Mathura Holi for sure!

  1. Mathura and Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh: Traditional Holi

Mathura and Vrindavan Holi Blog - Spirited Blogger

It is one of the most additional Holi celebrated in India. Here the Holi celebrations get underway on Vasant Panchami which is the end of winter – 40 days before the main Holi-day. It is in the town of Mathura and Vrindavan – an easy four-hour drive from Delhi. Mathura is also well known as the birthplace of Lord Krishna, while Vrindavan is the place where he spent his childhood. Also to notice is that on Ekadashi before Holi, the city celebrates Phoolon wali Holi where flowers are thrown at the devotees by the temple priests. Vrindavan is also known for a unique celebration of Holi where Widow’s Holi began a few years back to break the resolution that prevented widows from playing with colours or wearing coloured clothes.

  1. Shantiniketan

Shantiniketan Holi Blog - Spirited Blogger

Shantiniketan is a timeworn and leading university in West Bengal, where the great Nobel laureate and poet, Rabindranath Tagore introduced the Basant Utsav to re-experience the ancient tradition. Till today the ritual is followed and celebrated in matchless enthusiasm and vigour. Inspired by Holi and springtime the students dress up in a colourful outfit and put on a huge ethnic extravaganza for the visitors. All this contentment, colours, and joy of Shantiniketan make it the best Holi celebration in India. Students wear up in spring colours and put on a huge traditional program for visitors, including dances to Tagore’s songs. This is followed by the typical throwing of colours. Basanta Utsav has become a valued part of Bengali history and culture, and it fascinates abundant foreign tourists.

  1. Jaipur, Rajasthan: Holi and Elephants

Jaipur, Rajasthan: Holi and Elephants Holi Blog - Spirited Blogger

This is one its kind in India and is celebrated with full enthusiasm and zeal. It is an elephant festival which kicks off Holi celebrations in Jaipur every year on Holi eve. Elephant parades, elephant beauty contests, traditional dances, and the tug-of-war between elephants, locals and foreigners are some of the events on this day. This destination can be covered by solo travellers as well. All this makes Holi extra fun! Please see: That this event hasn’t been held since 2012 due to pressure from animal rights groups. So, if you do not get this you can try Holi of Pushkar and Udaipur it has its own unique charm and playful atmosphere with loads of sweets to relish.

  1. Punjab

Punjab Holi Blog - Spirited Blogger

Punjab in India is a traditional and rich state with a variant of festivals and customs. One such is Holi too! The celebrations of Holi in Punjab are by the Sikhs which differ from the entire country in many ways. The locals shout-out their hearts following their tradition. Besides, they display their martial arts on this day and have fun with colours in the evening. Delicious halwa, puris, gujias, and malpuas are eaten and served to others.

  1. Hampi

Hampi Holi Blog - Spirited Blogger

It is sporadic to find celebrations of Holi in South India. But, it is true Hampi is one of the known destinations for Holi, people from all over the world come here to celebrate Holi. And this is because of the presence of a large number of western tourists in Hampi and this is because it is a world heritage site and quite popular among foreigners. In addition to the use of coloured powder & liquid colours, the celebrations of Holi in Hampi also include a loud riot of music and dance.

 

Be Happy 🙂 #keeptravelling #share #like #comment #happyholi


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ShiviMarch 12, 20197min1404

Katal Dhar | Lonavla | The secluded and mysterious waterfall | Travel Blog Trek

Katal Dhar waterfall Spirited Blogger Travel Trek Blog

Somewhere near Mumbai or somewhere in Maharashtra, you may find this amazing waterfall which I would love to mention in this travel blog. It will not be somewhere, technically but amidst the mountains, Sahyadri, and the gorgeous standing ranges in Maharashtra, you find – Kataldhar waterfall. The name is intriguing, isn’t it? Katal means a form of rock – Dhar is the brink sharp edge of a sword or a knife. In short – “Katal” means a Rock & “Dhar” means a Waterfall.

Katal Dhar The mysterious waterfall Spirited Blogger Travel Trek Blog

You must be thinking why this explanation is given here, because when you will see the pictures and would explore the waterfall with me, and you may find that how sharp and steep the waterfall is that can kill you with its awe-struck views and mesmerising sounds.


About the fall – This is a Natural Waterfall, which completely depends on Rains. It is close to Lonavala and can be reached from Mumbai as well. As in Monsoon Lonavala becomes the most popular destination for all the Trekkers, but apart from all these resorts and clubhouses there’s this waterfall and “Kataldhar Waterfall Trek”. This trek gives you the real trekking pleasure in rains. Imagine that you are rappelling down from this waterfall which is at the top of around 350 feet with an overhang of more than 100 feet. The most important point is the gear and clothing when you trek to this fall. Everyone, please wear Full Sleeves & Full Track pants to avoid power bite from insects. Once you reach the base the entire valley will surprise you with gigantic waterfalls of Kataldhar. The waterfall is near Lonavla in Pune district – Maharashtra. It is basically not very famous among the travellers but it is certainly secluded and worth a visit. It is also because to reach the valley is a bit tough job and you need some basic experience of trekking before exploring this place.

 

The views and the beauty of the waterfall:

As soon you enter the forest, the sound of the chirping birds would thrill you, you will forget the city’s life and all the hustle and bustle that keeps you worrying about everything. To make the way to the waterfall is really tough as you need proper maps and directions to reach the valley (see the picture in the end). The most important thing is the instincts that make you reach the spot as you will find hardly anyone there. After walking some distance, the sound of the water falling from the distance got will get you there. Ahah! Well, the view to die for…

 

 

 

When I visited My heart filled with joy and started frisking.. and I knew that it’s the waterfall which I was looking for, From the spiky bushes and botchy trails, the point to witness is a huge waterfall, with thundering water currents. But how to get this waterfall? – While walking on the route keep watching and looking for the letters coloured in White on the Big Rock as “ Kataldhar Waterfall”. One more thing there are two 2 identical mango trees that identify the waterfall way. See some of the pictures below. Keep following the path and you would find some more pebbles coloured that will exactly take you to the waterfall. For any trekker, it is worth a visit and a surreal trek to go for this monsoon.  

As a solo traveller, I would say please visit this amazing waterfall and get drenched in the views. 


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ShiviOctober 5, 201814min1274

Spiti Valley – the moment this name comes, a lot of people get amazed and ask ohh, is this in India and if yes where? This is a hidden isolated world in Himachal Pradesh which is a wonder in itself. This blog is close to my heart and you will get to read more such on Spiti valley as this place is a treasure chest for me and I’m sure many traveller enthusiasts would agree with me.

Treasure chest – just two words to say about a world that was forbidden to visitors for about 30 years. Travelling to Spiti Valley is like Time Travel, you tend to get a feeling of getting in a time machine and travel to a world and time unknown. Wow! Goosebumps.

 

Spiti Valley - Himachal Pradesh
Spiti Valley – Himachal Pradesh

This blog is based on my recent 10-day bike travel to Spiti valley with a rider me being a pillion on Royal Enfield 500 cc. In particular, this blog is about 6 reasons to visit Spiti Valley – the hidden treasure of Himachal Pradesh. So let’s start by knowing the place a bit.

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.” – John Muir

This all belongs to Spiti that lies across the main range of Himalayas, called the Trans-Himalaya. But hey, wait, what are those things that come to your mind when we think about Himalaya. Spiti is 13,800 square kilometres of untamed land. Lush green meadows, misty mountains with dense pine forests, snowing ranges, and soaring high snow peaks. On the contrary, if I say you won’t get to see much of these in Spiti valleys then? What I wanted to say is – Spiti is the complete divergence of all that, but just as beautiful as the other side of Himalayas.

Spiti Valley is a cold desert mountain valley that is situated in the Himalayas – the north-eastern part of Himachal Pradesh. It is the land of barren hills, gorgeous lakes, grey scree slopes, rubble rocks, muddy terrains, and some of the world’s highest inhabited villages that are secluded with the least of 30 humans, and as their population and not more than 100 people in one village at the max. it is a land of beautiful monasteries hovering histrionically over its landscape. The touch of desolateness and a sense of ancient civilisation are some add-ons. The name “Spiti” means “The Middle Land”, i.e. the land between Tibet and India. Let’s find out reasons to visit this unadulterated and hidden treasure that has gradually getting transformed into an exotic tourist destination. Let’s see…

Reason 1

Spiti valley is also home to the highest motorable village in Asia – Komic it is a beautiful scenic village where the temperature dips to -30 degrees Celsius in winters. The landscapes are amazing that will leave you awe-struck.

The world's highest village with a road: Komik, Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh
The world’s highest village with a road: Komik, Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh

 

This village has a population of around 50 to 60 people. The houses here, separated by swish lawns and green threads of the loom with wooden windows and doors, very Indo-Tibetan feel. This set up gives everyone enough room to bask in the winter sun. These houses are a welcome change from our congested city houses.

Reason 2

Spiti is the secluded terrain for many visitors yet there is a reason to visit because of plenty of homestays in this scarcely inhabited Spiti. My favourite is Solo Yolo – Kaza and for more on homestays in Spiti read next blog

The best homestays in Spiti Valley

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This gives you a wonderful opportunity to the visitors to learn about their culture and stays with locals. Most of these homestays are in the middle of the villages and at a very high altitude giving you the perfect view of the entire valley.

Reason 3

It has a beautiful monastery amidst the mountains that dates back to 996 AD. Key Gompa is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery located on top of a hill at an altitude of 4,166 metres (13,668 ft) above sea level, close to the Spiti River. It is the biggest monastery of Spiti Valley and a religious training centre for Lamas. It reportedly had 100 monks in 1855. You can stay in the monastery and pray in the praying room.

 

key gompa monastery - Spiti Valley - spiritedblogger
key gompa monastery – Spiti Valley
key gompa monastery - Spiti Valley - spiritedblogger
key gompa monastery – Spiti Valley

Reason 4

The monasteries are one such reason for not to miss visiting Spiti. There are many monasteries in Spiti that are considered to be the centre of Buddhism; you will get to unwind your soul in this perfect place. Come to stay in monasteries and have some soul-searching.

komic monastery - Spiti Valley
Komic monastery – Spiti Valley

 

Tabo Monastery in Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh
Tabo Monastery in Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh

 

Reason 5

The glorious and stunning view of the Milky Way at Pin Valley, you get to have them at Tabo and Kaza as well. In fact, Chandra Tal shall not be missed for star gazing and this amazing view to fall in love.

Milkyway Sight in Spiti Valley
Milkyway Sight in Spiti Valley

 

Milkyway Sight in Spiti Valley
Milkyway Sight in Spiti Valley

Now that’s a sight we simply don’t get at too many places.

Reason 6

There are dozens of lakes in Spiti that are neatly tucked away in the valley for you to discover. One such major tourist destination known for some of the toughest and exciting motorable roads in India is a stop at Chandra Tal lake – the lake of the moon. It is on the Samudra Tapu plateau overlooking the Chandra River. It is at the altitude of 4,300 metres (14,100 ft) in the Himalayas. Camping by this lake under the starry skies is exactly the kind of life-changing experience you are looking for.

These are some of the reasons to visit Spiti – an offbeat travel destination in India. Here are many more offbeat destinations in India which you can choose for your next travel.

Chandratal lake - The moon lake - Spiti Valley
Chandratal lake – The moon lake – Spiti Valley

 

Chandratal lake - The moon lake - Spiti Valley
Chandratal lake – The moon lake – Spiti Valley

Keep reading, Keep travelling.. the world awaits you!

 

Be Happy 
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ShiviApril 1, 20188min2592

It is rightly called as Dalia Lama’s abode – McLeod Ganj and when I gave a thought to travel solo to this wonderful place I never realised that by the end of my travel journey I will be in love with this place evermore.

When travellers talk of heading up to Dharamsala, what they really think to visit or experience – to see the Dalai Lama, to visit the best treks with valleys, to trip high on the hippie hills – reason can be many for different kind of travellers, so as mine as a solo traveller.

Dalai Lama Temple Mcleodganj

Here’s why and how I loved McLeod Ganj why I love to travel solo to this place.

Starting with the residence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, which is 3 kilometres north of Dharamsala town (or 10km via the looping bus route. This small place is the home to a huge Tibetan population, that includes the monks and the nuns and other locals.

dalai-lama-temple - Mani stones

So, the Tibetan government-in-exile is based out here just at the downhill of Gangchen Kyishong. When I visited McLeod I was amazed to witness this huge part of Tibetan population that is peacefully yet unofficially residing here. This is one of the main reason why this destination attracts thousands of international visitors each year to volunteer this Tibetan community. One thing which holds my attention is the courses which you can take on Buddhism, meditation or yoga, and then of course trek in the Dhauladhar mountains, Parvati Valley and many other players lying deep on the foothills of Dharamkot and McLeod. You can shop at the Tibetan crafts, or just hang out with the firangis all around who come here and stay for long to witness this remarkable blend of culture and heritage of North India.

McLeodganj Local Market

Travelling solo makes you close to your soul, and helps to challenge yourself in any situation. One cool thing that I learned on my visit to Mcleod Ganj is that it is the suburb of Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh, which is popularly known as “Little Lhasa” or “Dhasa” as it has a huge population of Tibetans. Moreover, the Tibetan government-in-exile is headquartered in McLeod Ganj.

You get good homestays to stay that is cheap and comfortable all through your journey. Being a solo traveller or a “woman solo traveller” (yeah, had to quote it this way as it is India and there are some parts of India that are not easy for woman solo travellers) I was a bit sceptical on how and where to stay. But McLeod Ganj offered me the best and the safest stay during my entire vacation. The streets are colorful and perky filled with local cafe’s and shops that offer local jewellery  Apart from other stuff one thing which caught my attention is a handful of shops that offer musical instruments.

Cafes of Mcleodganj - SpiritedBlogger

There are some of the unbeaten places to visit in McLeod that will leave you speechless with its natural surroundings and snow-cladded mountains.  Hike to the mighty Triund Trek, it is 9 km away from Mcleod Ganj, beautiful peak and an ideal place for a solo traveller to relax and rejuvenate amidst the mesmerising meadows.

Triund Trek - Spirited Blogger

Bhagsu Falls and Bhagsunath temple lies 3 km from the McLeod city. A beautiful walk, great surroundings, stunning pools and lush green vicinity makes it a perfect place to visit. This place has its own historical importance that dates back to Lord Shiva, Nag Devta and the King Bhagsu. Due to this reason, this place is worshipped by both Hindus and the Gorkha community.

Bhagsu Falls - Dharamshala

Other than this, I took a road to explore Namgyal Monastery, took a trail till Naddi, Tsuglagkhang (Dalai Lama’s residence), a non-gothic architecture – the church of Saint Johns in the wilderness and the list can be countless. McLeodganj has everything to offer to a tourist. For me, it is like a second home, where every time I go, I feel new and explore new things.

Best Time to Visit – September to June

How to Reach – Passengers buses are available till Mcleodganj bus stand. Then hire a taxi to reach further in the town. One can also walk the lanes. Pathankot is the nearest Railway Station.

Come to McLoed… and breathe free 🙂

 


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ShiviAugust 19, 20179min1220

Travelling is exploring your inner being. It always fascinates me as it brings a lot of challenges and expedition in my kitty. This time when I was planning my next trip, the third highest peak of Maharashtra named Ghanchakkar that is positioned beautifully amidst the Sahyadri ranges came out from my bucket list. 

Ghanchakkar Peak

Overview of the destination:

These ranges offer an opportunity to observe the beauty of nature and lush green terrain that is perfect for hiking and trekking. Of course, any traveller would love to visit this place. SO, here I decided to take a plunge to the Ghanchakkar peak.

Ghanchakkar Peak, Travel Blogger

The topography of Ghanchakkar plateau in the western India is a rugged terrain with stunning mountains amidst the Sahyadri mountain ranges in Maharashtra. Ghanchakkar plateau is the third highest peak in the Western Ghats of Sahyadri mountain ranges. It stands beautifully, guarding the two small villages and the flora and fauna, at the height of 1532 meters ( 5,026 ft). 

Ghanchakkar Peak, Travel Blogger

Two base villages surround ascents of the peak, out of which we visited Shirpunje village, which is positioned around 22 kilometres from Rajur on the northern side of the Sahyadri Mountains. Taking this village, a base one can trek the Ghanchakkar peak in around 2.5 hours.

Let’s begin our journey:

I would love to begin my journey with letting you guys a bit about this rugged topography and Rocky Mountains of Ghanchakkar peak. Although, the region is surrounded by gorgeous views, waterfalls, lakes and an extensive forest region that are the virtual paradise for camping, trekking, climbing etc. This region provides an array of choices for outdoor adventures and nature lovers.

Ghanchakkar Peak, Travel Blogger

It’s indeed a pleasure to illustrate the whole experience of the trek on a canvas of magnificent mountains standing high, stunning waterfalls and nature at its best. The group of around 24 adventure enthusiasts went crazy just with the thought of going on different type of trek and camping.  This gusto led me to take a wrong train, Alas! But, I managed to get on the train to move ahead. 

Ghanchakkar Peak, Travel Blogger Ghanchakkar Peak, Travel Blogger

Well, wait, the journey to the base camp was thrilling as the monsoons added an extra charm to our trip. The lush green vicinity and the roads all drenched with rains made the view awesomely great.  Not just this, the when a 7-year-old kid sat on the top of the jeep, everyone went awe-struck, she enjoyed immensely in the rains while on the top of the jeep with other travelers. 

Unforgettable trek experiences

Ghanchakkar Peak, Travel Blogger

Accommodation: When we travel accommodation becomes an integral part, thus here, I had a home stay this time, which was in the heart a small remotely located village surrounded by the peaks and waterfalls. Yes, visualizing it is divine! The base village was actually a very tiny village that is not developed with a lot of modern amenities and lifestyle; rather I loved the place because of their immense welcoming attitude and treasured culture, which ideally, I was unable to experience in my urbane and chic lifestyle.

Ghanchakkar Peak, Travel Blogger

With few fellow trekkers we stayed for a night and relished local cuisine, home cooked by the villagers (Staple Maharashtrian food), in fact, we all helped them and learned about the local food that they eat. Moreover, it was great fun to cook with them as well. Wow! What a thrilling experience with the entire team and the co-trekkers. The stay was warm and cozy with mesmerizing views from the windows, needless to mention it was raining, thus the lush green grass and the tiny ponds made us felt like kids again. The whole idea of connecting and gelling up with the villagers paid off when we played with the kids of the villagers. It was indeed an unprecedented experience.  Of course, selfies can’t be resisted! 

Ghanchakkar Peak, Travel Blogger

Trek and Trail: We went for a night trail to enjoy the cool breeze and the serenity that this place has to offer. The team had fun at a huge lake that was approachable with an interesting small trek. The panoramic views and the rains was a terrific experience.

Come let’s go #solo and #gocrazy 

#spiritedblogger 


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ShiviDecember 24, 201610min994

PRESERVING TIBETAN CULTURE AT NORBULINGKA INSTITUTE – DHARAMSALA, HIMACHAL PRADESH

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Norbulingka Institute

#SoloTravel has always beguiled me! It was a beautiful morning, unadulterated and not to miss in life! The view from my cottage was stunningly perfect awe-struck my senses. I took my shades, got into my boots and headed down towards Dharamshala from Dharamkot passing by Mcloedganj. The destination was Norbulingka institute.

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Wondering why I’m writing on an institute that has nothing much related to me, indeed the institute needs to be talked about. It lays 6 kms southwest to Dharamshala and as established in 1998 by Kelsang and Kim Yeshi Sidhpur. The name of the institute is derived from the traditional summer residence of the Dalai Lama which is in Lhasa (the capital of Tibet)

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Getting around Norbulingka  – I got enticed the moment I entered the institute by the gorgeous artifacts and colorful walls engraved and painted with traditional Tibetan art (thangka). The moment you step in you are enthralled by magnificent and gurgling streams that smoothly run through flawlessly maintained Japanese-styled gardens. You may get astonished to see or witness different species of Himalayan birds flocking and flittering among the treetops.

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Stupa – Lord Buddha

There lot to see and roam around in the institute which might take your hours to explore fully. Norbulingka institute’s main aim is to preserve the art and culture of Tibet in India. The institute comprises of a temple, stupa with deities who are worshiped in Tibetan culture, workshops for embroidery, paintings, statue making, wooden art, lush green gardens and hummingbird café for munching and chilling out!

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Temple Entrance

Workshops  – This institute will amaze you with the endurance and perseverance of the culture intact on safe hands. From, generations the artisans and craftsmen are working hard to conserve the traditional art form of paintings (thangka) and appliqué work.

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Every year thousands of visitors come and explore the Norbulingka institute and take part in the workshops. The workshops give you vivid knowledge and understanding of intricate art form and culture of Tibet. You can take the workshop as per your choice of art form; there are workshops given on thangka sketching, wood painting, wood carving and appliqué workshops. Do not worry! you are always under the supervision of experts who would make you professional in the respective art form. After the completion of the workshop if you wish you can be offered to volunteer or work as well.

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Shops  – There is a shop inside the institute that sells the hand-made artifacts, paintings, and statues, which are made in-house at the workshop in the institute. The unique collection of appliqué, wood carvings, paintings are sold here. You can take any of the meticulously created thangka painting, statues or wall paintings for your home décor way back home. It is worth!

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Meet the humans

One of the best things you should not miss while visiting the institute is meeting the humans here. OMG! They are the wonderful people one can have all the pleasure knowing them. Every manager, artisan, craftsman, worker, tour guide has their own story to depict with the pain of being a refugee in India. The hard times they faced as refugees in India or caught hold by the military or stuck with kids and no food and no shelter. From my eyes out of many meet the two –

KALSANG KYPA – THE TOUR GUIDE – A great chap with sincerity towards whatever he does. He was a great help to me for all the time I was in the institute, exploring and learning new things about Tibetan culture. His journey was terrible but after being patient and having faith in oneself he found he is safe in Nepal and then he came to India. Wanted to say thank you!

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DASAL – THANGKA PAINTER – He is a terrific thangka painter, since childhood he would draw mountains, valleys and hills. But as he learned more about Tibetan culture he now loves to paint only Buddha and thangkas.

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Getting Here Norbulingka is situated in Sidhpur, a suburb of Dharamsala, about 30 minutes from McLeod Ganj.

By Air – nearest airport is Gaggal, around 20 minutes from Norbulingka. Alternatively, you can take flight from Jammu or Amritsar, both are around 4 hours from Dharamsala.

By train – Pathankot is the nearest station. 2 hours from Dharamsala. Booking in advance is recommended.

By Bus – One of the most cost-effective and reliable way to reach is by bus. Volvo and Himachal Tourism buses ply on a timely basis; you can check the schedule online.

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There is a piece in me that like to tenderly imagine my maverick and seditious soul. But, precisely, I love to have a picky and cosy relationship with my soul that can rub up against a little bit, putting me alive.


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