Delhi to Jodhpur – A Bike Trip to the Land of Colours!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0772-01Padharo Mhare Desh! Rajasthan is calling tourists and I couldn’t stop myself. Their colorful ads, rich cultural heritage, delicious cuisines, attractive attire, and everything became a reason for my Jodhpur trip. After a long 6-month break, my husband & I decided to embark on a bike trip to Jodhpur.

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On the way to Jodhpur!

 

We started our journey at 6 am from Ghaziabad, which is around 633 Kms from Jodhpur. Taking only a few tea & snack breaks, we reached Jodhpur around 6 pm. It took us almost 12 hrs to complete the journey. The highway is smooth and offers scenic views on entering Rajasthan.

What I love the most about Rajasthan is the ‘sunset’. I have not seen a sunset in any other part of India as dazzling and as astounding as I have witnessed in Rajasthan. I am sure I am yet to witness many more, but these are the best so far. On entering the Jodhpur road, we were welcomed by the setting sun.

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Enjoying sunset…

 

I booked a room at Bijolai Palace, which is nearly a km away from the city. It is situated close to the Kaylana lake. The look-&-feel of the resort has a tinge of ethnicity as well as modernity. Some parts uphold the magnificence of a palace while some boosts contemporary look. The main attraction of the resort was the terrace restaurant which offers a lake view. Apart from all the positives, the only negative was the ‘not-so-friendly’ staff.

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Bijolai Palace

 

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Garden at Bijolai Palace
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Lake view from the terrace restaurant of Bijolai Palace

 

We went to the railway station road for dinner and tried Daal Baati with some chilly garlic sauce and buttermilk. It was undoubtedly yum! And then, we walked around the market area to get the true essence of the city. It’s beautiful, colourful & undoubtedly lively.IMG_0798-01

 

Next day, we checked out of the hotel at 10 am and left our baggage at the reception because we had to visit Mehrangarh Fort, which is one of the largest forts in India. The fort is royal and offers a marvelous display of bravura. One has to walk a lot to see every part of the fort. It took us more than 4 hrs to embrace the splendor of the fort, to click photographs and to turn the chapters of the past.

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Mehrangarh Fort
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Mehrangarh Fort
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Mehrangarh Fort

 

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The Blue City!!

It is quite enthralling to feel how the Maharajas, Ranis and their workers used to live in the fort, which offers a full view of the Jodhpur city. They had their celebration halls, discussion rooms, bathing rooms, waiting rooms and many other big separate rooms decorated creatively. They were more advanced than us, considering the resources and technological limitations they had.

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Grand rooms at Mehrangarh fort

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We toured the fort and got free around 4PM and then we had onion kachoris and cardamom tea. Kachoris were okay, but the tea was mind-blowing. I am a tea lover and it’s always a treat for me to get good tea. It refreshes me. The tea seller made a special tea for us, knowing we are a tourist, and I really appreciate their warm gesture. Small things altogether create a huge impact.

After having tea & snacks, we started our journey to another beautiful place, which is some 70 km ahead of Jodhpur. It is Osian Village (spelled as Osiyan). Just as we got close to the village, we were again welcomed by striking sunset and a beautiful rainbow. We clicked a few pictures and continued toward the village.

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Sunset

 

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Rainbow at Osian Village

We booked a night stay at Camp Thar. On the straight road of Osian village, there is a railway crossing on the left that takes you to Camp Thar. Just as we passed the railway crossing, we started seeing sand dunes. We were overwhelmed and mesmerized to witness sand dunes for the first time. A lot of activities happen in that area like jeep safari, camel ride, biking on the sand dune etc.

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Activities around Osian Village

After crossing that happening area, we moved for around 3 km to reach Camp Thar. The property is huge, well-built and bordered by fort-like walls.

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Camp Thar, Osian
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Camp Thar

It offers camps as well as rooms. The rooms are spacious and even they are given a feel of camp. The interior is decked with white net curtains and white fabric having a golden print for the fairyland touch.

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Room at Camp Thar
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Room at Camp Thar

I would recommend staying at Camp Thar if you wish to spend a night or two away from the hustle bustle of city life. But, if you want to enjoy the most, then make sure you take your group of friends because there may not be many guests in the camp. Tourists, other than from Rajasthan & neighbouring states, are not well aware of Osian village.

Osian village is also named as the ‘Khajuraho of Rajasthan’ for its beautifully carved temples showing great art. The village has around 18 temples and ruins of around 100 temples dating back to 8th century. The most popular temple is Osiyan Mata temple which is also known as Sachiya Mata Temple. A trip to Osian village is incomplete without visiting this temple.

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Osian Mata Temple

If you don’t have time to visit Jaisalmer to enjoy the Thar desert, you can visit this unexplored place in Rajasthan to have a similar kind of experience under budget.

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Welcome to Thar Desert

Unlike the desert of Jaisalmer, you will find vegetation, small bushes, and trees amid the desert nearby Osian village. The land is fertile and not completely deserted. So, go fully prepared not to have too high expectations of a typical desert.

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Antique transportation mode in the desert

We enjoyed the folk dance at night and Sufi songs well sung by Rajasthani bhai-sa. The person attending us in the camp was very cordial and treated us well. We would like to visit the place again, but in a group, as it seems to be a lonely planet and we felt that we could have enjoyed the place more with friends.

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Singing the heart-warming songs…
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Dance Performance – Ghoomar

After fully enjoying the night by dancing & rejoicing in Rajasthani style, we left the camp for home at 8 am. We had breakfast in the village and just after that, it started raining. We waited for 10-15 mins but then, we sensed it’s not going to stop.

Wearing raincoats and securing our gadgets, we continued our return journey, enjoying the rain showers all through the day. We also realized that it’s not safe to ride a bike at night on a highway, especially in the rain. So, we decided to avoid driving at night time on highways.

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Wet & tired, we reached Ghaziabad around 12 am. We had tea and maggi in dinner, prepared by Chef Husband. And then, recalling the beautiful journey, we slipped into bed for a good night’s sleep.

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A Complete Guide to Explore Spiti Valley on Bike

 

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Spiti Valley is an incredible virgin paradise which is admired for its cold desert mountains, remoteness & rich cultural heritage. Situated in Himachal Pradesh, Lahaul Spiti displays a world completely different from the other parts of the state. A trip to Spiti is not just any ordinary trip, it is a complete personality & perception transforming journey.

Leh Ladakh has been a favourite destination of bikers, but nowadays, Spiti Circuit is gaining popularity. Some may even prefer Spiti circuit over Leh Ladakh because the journey to this inspiring land is equally thrilling, but it is still an untouched beauty.

A Bike trip to Spiti will allow you to enjoy nature in every form as you pass through mountains of mud, aqua green & blue rivers, ancient monasteries, old-fashioned habitations, and even get to see fossils.

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There is a difference in touring the Spiti Valley and Spiti Circuit. You can visit Spiti Valley via Shimla all year round and return through the same route. But you need to know the opening dates of Rohtang Pass and Kunzum Pass to complete the Spiti Circuit. The roads get closed during winters and they are accessible only after clearing the snow. Spiti temperature drops to minus in winters.

It depends on the month to visit Spiti Valley with what you are going to be welcomed – Snow or Greenery. September is the best month (concerning weather & road conditions) for Spiti Circuit as the water streams on the roads are at their lowest. It is the best time to visit Spiti as you bid goodbye to the monsoon & you are yet to welcome the chilly winds & snow. September to October first week is a safe bet. We did Spiti Circuit in the first week of October.

On the contrary, if you are keen to enjoy the sight of snow-capped mountains, then you can do Spiti Circuit in June after the opening of Rohtang Pass. Get ready for adrenaline rush adventure as the snow starts melting in May-June which gives a way to water streams & water crossings on the road. To enjoy the scenic beauty, you have to take the challenge of riding on deteriorating roads.

Spiti circuit in July and other months of monsoon should be avoided as there are many landslide prone areas on the way. It’s not advisable to do Spiti Circuit in monsoon.

DSC01455How to Plan Spiti Trip

To begin with, you must first decide whether you want to enter from Shimla & exit from Manali or vice versa. Shimla to Manali route is preferable as it becomes easy to acclimatise to high altitude. Another benefit is that you don’t need a permit to enter Spiti from Shimla, which is mandatory if you enter from Manali. Check the status of Kunzum Pass & Rohtang Pass before you plan your Spiti Trip. It is also advised to keep Spiti Circuit map to know where to look for help in case of emergency. Make a note of available petrol pumps, mechanic shops, mobile network in Spiti Valley, ATM on the route and Homestay in Spiti Valley. The complete detail of all requisites and know-how required during Spiti Circuit is available at the end of the blog.

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Every part of Spiti has something to amaze you!

Spiti Circuit Itinerary

Here is a Spiti Circuit Itinerary that we followed to reach Lahaul Spiti from Delhi and return back via Chandratal – Rohtang Pass – Manali.

Day 1: Delhi to Narkanda, Himachal Pradesh – 410 Kms – 12 Hrs Approx.

We, a group of 4 friends on 2 bikes, started our journey from Ghaziabad at around 6 AM. After having breakfast at a Dhaba near Murthal, we crossed Shimla at around 12 PM and reached Narkanda at 6 PM. Narkanda is the most preferred night halt for bikers. You can easily get hotels in Narkanda if you reach on time. You can book HPTDC Hotel Hatu in advance from the website http://hptdc.nic.in/ohrs/PublicPages/PubHome.aspx if you are looking for a decent room. For a night, it costs around Rs.2500 to Rs.3200. There are a number of budget hotels in Narkanda too. A delay can reduce the chances of getting good hotels in Narkanda, so make sure to be on time.

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Narkanda Market Area

Day 2: Narkanda to Kalpa – 175 Kms – 6 Hrs Approx.

We left Narkanda early in the morning to reach Kalpa before sunset. Road condition is good till Rampur but it gets tricky after Karcham dam. Road to Sangla & Chitkul diverts from the dam. You can spend a day in Chitkul also. The detail of the Delhi to Chitkul drive is given here https://tripohlic.com/2017/11/03/delhi-narkanda-sangla-chhitkul-kalpa/

As we have already been to Sangla & Chitkul, we skipped it this time and continued towards Reckong Peo to reach Kalpa. Due to some ongoing construction work, the road is in a bad condition after the dam, which gets better from Reckong Peo till Kalpa.

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Narkanda to Kalpa

Welcome the sight of beautiful snow-capped mountains from Reckong Peo and they will follow you till Kalpa. Have some thukpas in the small market of Kalpa and enjoy the sight of Kinnaur Kailash. You can also visit the famous Narayan Nagini temple in Kalpa & Chandika Mata temple. There are limited staying options in the market area. Search for a room that offers the view of Kinnaur Kailash and if you are lucky enough, you can witness the changing colours of the peak that happens at different time on a clear day.

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Kinnaur Kailash Peak

 

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Chandika Mata Temple in Kalpa

 

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On the way to temple
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Yummy Momo Thukpa

 

Day 3: Kalpa to Nako – 100 Kms – 5 Hrs Approx

We bid goodbye to Kalpa at 11 AM. After Kalpa, the road gets a bit scary till Pooh. The pathway shows no sign of habitation having rough mountains, dangerous inclines, sharp cuts and road full of potholes.

A few kilometers before Nako, you start getting the feel of Spiti as you ride through hairpin bends and narrow roads. The sight of bold standing scary mountains of rocks changes to mountains of sand, stretched mud plains and a good road to ride bike.

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The smooth & narrow roads towards Nako

We reached Nako around 4 PM and stayed in a guest house. There was no electricity in Nako for the last 2 days and our mobile phones had no battery and we could not charge it because of no electricity.

You get only the BSNL network in Nako, that too at selected areas. We requested a local to make a call, standing near a pole, which was the only area to catch network. That was the most enjoyable night of our whole Spiti Trip as we did candle light dinner & danced like crazy in no lights. Well, one can enjoy in limited resources if the company is good.

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High Altitude Mountains of Nako
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The beautiful & serene village, Nako

Day 4: Nako to Dhankar via Gue & Mud Village – 210 Kms – 9 Hrs

While having breakfast at a restaurant, we met a foreigner couple – Coni and Inna. At that time, we were strangers but later on, we became friends as they met us all through the journey at different destinations.

This was one of the hectic days as we tried to cover Pin Valley National Park, Mud Village & Gue (in limited fuel). Knowing that our destination is same, Hemant Khatmuria, a solo rider from Delhi joined our group when we were leaving for Gue at around 7 AM.

There was news of stones sliding at Sumdo, which is a landslide prone area. BRO was working with heavy machinery to clear the roads of continuously falling stones. They stopped us for around a half & hour for clearance work and asked to cross the area one by one, maintaining some distance between the vehicles.

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After crossing Sumdo, there is a diversion – the left goes to Tabo & Dhankar which was our stoppage for the day and the right goes to Gue village. It’s an off road 8 Kms drive to Gue. It’s a less populated village with a few families residing there and one may not even see a single person in the village.

The Gue Mummy in the Gue Monastery is a 550 year old, well-preserved mummy of a monk with teeth, nails and intact skull, which looks amazing! And yes, we met the same foreigner couple in Gue village.

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Coming back from Gue, we continued towards Tabo and then reached Mud Village, which is in Pin Valley. Again, it is a less populated village with a few eateries. We had our lunch in the Mud village & dropped the plan to visit Pin Valley National Park as we were short of time & fuel. We managed to reach Dhankar Monastery at around 6 PM & stayed there.

There are two monasteries – the old one & the new one. Staying option was available in the new one. The best part of staying in Dhankar Monastery is beer on the menu, which surprised us all. Singing, dancing & rejoicing, we spent the night to wait for the next beautiful morning.

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The Dhankar Monastery

Day 5: (Dhankar to Kibber via Langza, Hikkim, Komic) – 97 Kms – 6 Hrs

We woke up around 9 AM and got ready after breakfast at 11 AM. We were surprised to find Coni and Inna in the same monastery. We exchanged greetings and then left the monastery with good memories for Langza, which is famous for fossils of prehistoric aquatic creatures.

This village above 14,000 ft is believed to be submerged under the Tethys sea, some millions of years ago, and the fossils of marine animals in this area justify the same. You will find ladies, young boys & girls selling fossils. You can yourself locate them under the rocks; I found a few. However, carrying fossils is illegal.

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Langza

Crossing the area, we moved towards the world’s highest village with roads, Komic and the world’s highest post office in Hikkim. The roads are smooth, narrow and confusing. It’s a pleasure to drive on these roads.

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World’s Highest Post Office

As per our itinerary, we had to reach Kaza for night stay, but as we got late, we decided to stay in Kibber after visiting the epic Key Monastery. There are a very few staying options in Kibber village. It is better to stay in the Key Monastery if you are planning to spend a night in the Kibber.

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Key Monastery

There were no lights & no people on the road when we reached Kibber village. It became difficult for us to search a hotel in Kibber. After a little struggle, we got just one room in a Homestay with a shared bathroom. We had no choice but to agree with it. However, later on we got to know that we are sharing our bathroom with none other than Coni &Inna. It was a surprise for all of us to meet again. We offered them drinks and had a good conversation in the night.

Day 6: Kibber to Kaza – 19 Kms – 2-3 Hrs

Waking up at 10 AM, we got ready for Kaza which was some 19 Kms down Kibber. On reaching Kaza, we searched for a mechanic to fix a punctured tyre of our friend’s bike. You can easily get a mechanic, chemist shop and restaurants in Kaza.

The beauty of Kaza works as a magnet to pull the creative people from all over the country and abroad. They have made Kaza quite a happening place.

After fixing the tyre, we rested in a hotel. It was then, one of our friends started feeling uneasy and his nose began to bleed. A pharmacist suggested us to take him to a doctor, but our journey-mate, Hemant, suggested taking a puff from oxygen cylinder which he was carrying with him and luckily, the puff from the oxygen cylinder made him well. We enjoyed the night and were super-excited for the next day to Chandratal.

Day 7: Kaza to Chandratal via Kunzum Pass – 55 Kms – 6-7 Hours

This day we actually realised we are doing Spiti Circuit. Crossing Kunzum pass, Chota Dhara, numerous water streams and sliding over wet boulders – every tidbit gave us an amazing experience. The road to Kunzum Pass is all up and down with muddy narrow cuts, pebbles & stones – all in all challenging. But it is worth putting the efforts to behold the mesmeric beauty of Chandratal Lake. The closer you get to the lake, the narrower roads become.

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On reaching Kunzum Top
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Kunzum Top
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The colourful flags welcoming you to Kunzum Mata Temple
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Kunzum Mata Temple

We stayed in a camp for Rs.800 per person at Chandratal. Camps are located 2.5 kms before the Chandratal lake as camping is not permitted near the lakeside. From the camp area, bike can go up to 1.5 kms and then you have to trek for 10 mins to reach the lake. It is an average trek leading to an awe-inspiring view of the Chandratal Lake. Keep clicking pictures until you don’t get the best one for facebook cover pic (as I got mine).

 

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Chandratal Lake

After clicking numerous pictures and beholding the exquisiteness of the place, we came back to the camp. The road before the trek is also not in a good condition, so you can trek all the way from the campsite to the lake if you love trekking, otherwise skip it.

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Our tent
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Frost on the Bike, the next morning

We played carom & ludo in the camp, did bonfire, had dinner and spent a memorable night in Chandratal with many stars twinkling in the sky. This was one of the hectic days, but the deadliest one was awaiting us.

 

Day 8: Chandratal to Manali – 140 Kms – 8 Hrs

We left Chandratal around 10 AM and we were the last one to leave the place, being lazy souls. However, the rest was worth taking as we had the bumpiest ride this day. The nightmare road begins after Chatru with river-bed type roads, boulders and water crossings. There were actually no roads on the Batal Gramphu stretch. I suffered a bad backache going through the bouncy camel rides.

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Water streams on the roads
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These were actually ‘no road’ roads towards Gramphu

We were relieved on reaching the Rohtang Pass as we rode over buttery smooth roads after many days. Snow showers welcomed us on Rohtang road and disappeared after a few minutes.

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Welcome to Rohtang Pass
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The smooth road of Rohtang Pass

On reaching Manali, Hemant continued his journey towards Delhi while we decided to stay for a night in Manali at our previously visited hotel to recollect memories.

Day 9: Manali to Delhi – 540 Kms – 14 Hrs

We took the most stupid decision of our whole trip this day. We left the hotel at around 11 AM for Delhi and took a break to get some bike repairing work done. It wasted a hell lot of time and we managed to leave Manali only after 4 PM. It was the scariest ride for all of us as we were exhausted and hell sleepy. The tiredness of the complete Spiti trip was pushing us to take rest, but we kept riding throughout the night.

Taking many stops at Dhabas for tea to stay awake, we managed to reach Delhi by 7 AM. On reaching Delhi, we realised that Delhi is such a noisy city. We felt to have come from a different planet and Delhi seemed overcrowded where life is running too fast. We felt disconnected and discomforted with the hustle bustle of city life.

It took me at least a week to get back to my normal self, but I still can’t get over the incredible feeling of being in Spiti, staring at the mountains, admiring the clear sky, the almighty snow-capped peaks and swiftly flowing rivers.

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THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND ON SPITI TRIP

Petrol Pumps after Shimla

• Theog
• Narkanda – Must top up here
• Kingel
• Rampur
• Jeori
• Tapri
• Rekong Peo
• Kaza – Do not forget to top up at Kaza as the next petrol pump is at Manali.
• Manali

You should preferably top up at Narkanda, Rekong Peo and Kaza. We missed at Rekong Peo and faced the consequences. We bought petrol in black from a shop located in between Nako & Sumdo. Ask the locals for petrol if you get trapped in such a situation.

Mechanics in Spiti Valley

• Theog
• Narkanda
• Rampur
• Jeori
• Sangla (If you are visiting Sangla & Chitkul)
• Reckong Peo
• Tapri
• Pooh
• Kaza

When you are on Spiti Circuit, you need to keep in mind where to find a mechanic. It is also advisable to carry your own tool kit, especially air filling pump & puncture repair kit, because at many places, there is no mechanic shop. Pooh to Kaza stretch has no shop, but you can get a plenty of options of mechanic in Kaza. After Kaza, mechanics will be available in Manali.

ATM in Spiti Valley

• Rampur
• Jeori
• Sarahan
• Karchham
• Sangla
• Powari
• Reckong Peo
• Kalpa
• Spello
• Pooh
• Nako
• Sumdo
• Tabo
• Kaza
• Manali

ATMs in remote villages may or may not have cash. So, it is advisable to keep sufficient money with you. Especially after Kalpa, you should keep a good amount of cash. We withdrew money from an ATM in Kalpa and we were successful at the third one, after unsuccessful attempts at two ATMs with ‘No Cash’.

Phone Network in Spiti

You will face network issues in Sangla & Chitkul and to almost all places after Kalpa in case of mobile network other than BSNL. Only BSNL/MTNL works in Spiti Valley including Sangla, Chitkul, Nako, Tabo, Kaza and they too remain on & off throughout the Spiti trip. Airtel provides the second best connectivity, but even that won’t work after Kalpa. You can ask the locals for the pay phona e.

No network connectivity is available at Chandratal, Kunzum Pass & Batal.

Medical Facility in Spiti

You are advised to carry a first aid kit including medicine for headache, body pain, fever, nausea, stomach ache, cough, cold, bandage & so on. Besides this, medical facilities are available in Narkanda, Reckong Peo, Chango, Tabo, Kaza & Kiato (Gramphu Batal Kaza Road).

Homestays in Spiti

Do not worry about hotels and homestay in Spiti valley. Be sure to reach before the night and you will get many options for accommodation in Spiti. At many places, locals offer their home for a night stay, so do not hesitate to ask locals if you don’t get a hotel.

(PS: The time taken to travel a distance depends on an individual’s speed, weather & road conditions at that time. So, consider the mentioned driving time as indicative only).

For any other query related to Spiti Circuit, feel free to comment below.

Happy Riding to all the Riders!!!

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Top 5 Reasons to Visit Naukuchiatal

Naukuchiatal Lake

Naukuchiatal is an absolutely perfect holiday destination to breathe in the crisp, fresh air amid mountains and a sparkling lake which exhibits the brilliance of green gemstones. It is a paradise for nature lovers to spend days in the lap of nature while also enjoying a number of adventure activities in Naukuchiatal.

Popular hill stations have become overcrowded because of their popularity and the locals face the consequences. We blandly plan to visit the much-hyped places, sidetracking the less explored ones. It’s time to ditch the famous hill stations and travel the unexplored lands.

Naukuchiatal is one such place with mystifying beauty, away from the hustle-bustle of city. There are a number of places to visit in Naukuchiatal and fun activities to do, which makes it a perfect holiday hideout.

Here is a list of top 5 things to do in Naukuchiatal  

Paragliding 

Paragliding in Naukuchiatal will give you an experience of flying high like a bird around the mountains. You need to have guts to kick start the ride as you are required to run for a few seconds and then jump from the edge of the hill to begin flying. But once you are in the air, you leave behind your fears and feel on the top of the world. There is no better achievement than fighting your own fears.

Price for Naukuchiatal Paragliding ranges from Rs.1500 to Rs.5000 depending upon the duration. They also provide your flying pictures and videos at an additional cost. Do not forget to bargain for group bookings.

Paragliding in Naukuchiatal

Boating 

Boating in Naukuchiatal lake will trigger your romantic side and you might start singing ‘Oh Manjhi Re’. The lake is cleaner and deeper than the Naini lake and it is encircled by lush green hills. You will spot only a few boats in Naukuchiatal, that too in peak season. There are a variety of boats in Naukuchiatal like Shikara boats, paddle boats, rowing boats and canoe boats. Besides boating, you can also enjoy zorbing in the lake.

The price of boating for a half round is Rs.160 and for a full round Rs.210.

Trekking 

Trekking is a stress buster, where you can take utmost pleasure of the beauty of the nature. You can go for an 8-km trek to Jugliagaon and Jandhidhar. Enjoy the flora and fauna and the chirping of the birds and take back home a fresh mind.

Start early in the morning for the trek and return back by the evening. Do not forget to carry sufficient water and energy bars.

Adventure Activities 

Adventure never ends in Naukuchiatal. Besides paragliding and boating, there are a lot of other adventure activities to keep you entertained. You can contact the agents for a package of rock climbing, river crossing, rappelling, hiking etc.

The price depends on the activity you choose to do. The complete package can be available for Rs.1000-Rs.2500.

Sightseeing 

Naukuchiatal is surrounded by beautiful destinations.

While staying in Naukuchiatal, you can visit Sattal,  Bhimeshwar temple in Bhimtal, Naina Devi temple, Naini Lake, Eco Cave Garden and high altitude  zoo  in Nainital. If you don’t like to go empty handed back home, you can buy gifts for your loved ones. Nainital mall road is a must visit place for shopping. The place is in its liveliest form on Saturday evenings. Candles, lanterns and incense sticks are the specialty of Nainital. They are available in unique shapes and designs. You can buy candles at a price as low as Rs.30 and the range goes up depending upon the size and type.

Best Time to Visit Naukuchiatal  

Weather in Naukuchiatal remains pleasant in summer and chilly in winters. To get rid of the scorching heat of the summer, you can visit Naukuchiatal in March till June and to witnesses snowfall, you can plan a trip in December-February. And of course, hilly areas should be avoided in monsoon. So, it’s not a great idea to visit Naukuchiatal in July & August.

Kheerganga Trek – A Rejuvenating Walk through Dense Forests, Waterfalls & a Landslide

 

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Unplanned trips often give memories to be etched forever in the mind because unexpected adventures thrill us more than the expected escapades. We went through the same series of adventures on our Kheerganga trek.

We, a group of 5 friends, planned a trip to Rishikesh but one friend turned down and the trip got cancelled. My husband and I have a problem. We can never cancel a trip. Transforming the impossibilities into possibilities, we always end up saying to each other ‘yes, we are going’ (no matter what).

After the cancellation of the trip, we had no backup plan. I was considering destinations after destinations, but finally settled on Kheerganga Trek. Why? Because my school friend, Narendra Singh Rawat, runs a travel agency ‘Travel Syrup’, and he was already there with a group of 10-15 people. So, I knew there would be no problem of accommodation.

The only task was to reach Kasol in the morning as Kheerganga trekking begins from Barshaini which is 16 kilometers from Kasol. It was already 4 PM when we decided to trek to Kheerganga and the bus options were few. The only bus that matched our timing was HRTC ordinary bus, which was scheduled to leave Delhi at 6.15 PM to reach Bhuntar at 4 AM.

We could have reached Kasol on bike, but we had a friend-cum-bro, Nihal, to accompany us on the trip and he was more excited than us for Kheerganga. He has the same level of our craziness, so we could not say ‘No’ to him.

Without wasting time, we packed our bags and booked a cab for ISBT Kashmiri Gate. Nihal met us at the bus stop. Ordinary bus and Volvo bus were standing next to each other. Unaware of the fact that we are going by an ordinary bus, Nihal started moving towards the Volvo bus as he was all the way dreaming of traveling by a Volvo. He is from Orissa and he has no experience of traveling by bus.

Mr. Gupta stopped him from making a further movement towards Volvo. With a devilish smile, he shattered his dreams by pointing a finger towards HPTDC Ordinary Bus and told him that this is our bus. He looked shocked for a moment and then burst out laughing. We settled ourselves in the bus and realized that the crowd is better than what we expected.

Only one lady troubled us in the bus and that lady was sitting on the seat behind me. She vomited all through the journey making horrible sounds, strong enough to make anyone nauseous. Luckily, Mr. Gupta & I are mentally strong enough to not get affected by such sounds. But to add more entertainment to our bus journey, barfing sound works as an emetic for Nihal as he feels like puking. After deboarding the bus at Bhuntar and taking another bus for Kasol, it was Nihal who took the charge of vomiting.

We reached Kasol at around 11am. Narendra arranged a room for our refreshment in Hotel Tashila and the tempo traveller was waiting outside to take us to the starting point of the trek – Barshaini. It takes around 30-40 mins to reach Barshaini from Kasol.

In the tempo traveller, we were accompanied by a group. They were from the different parts of Rajasthan and most of them were colleagues-cum-friend. Accommodating ourselves in the tempo traveller, we reached Barshaini to begin our on-foot journey.

There are two routes to reach Kheerganga top. We chose the Rudra Nag – Nakthan route to climb up and Kalga route to descend. Nakthan village is the last spot to get mobile networks on the way to Kheerganga. So, it’s advisable to inform your loved ones before starting the trek and losing yourself in the beauty of nature.

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This wonderful 12-km trek encompasses natural bounties of the region. We were greeted by River Parvati on starting the trek. People offer sticks for rent at the cost of Rs.10 which you need to give back on the completion of the trek. You can take one as they prove supportive while trekking.

Kheerganga trek via Rudra Nag has an easy pathway in the beginning with almost straight walking passage till the midway & a few climbs and slopes. You will get some dhabas on the way, offering maggi, soft drinks and tea. But it is recommended not to eat too much during or before the trek. Having light snacks, chocolates, energy bars and drinks are a good way to stay energized.

We crossed several streams on foot, enjoyed the sight of mighty waterfalls and apple loaded trees.

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Water Streams on the way!

 

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Apple Trees…

 

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Singing and rejoicing, we walked halfway in no time. Moving towards a bridge, we started hearing the thunderous sound of the water and witnessed the river Parvati flowing vigorously. It was quite scary. I couldn’t watch the constant and powerful flow of the river for a long time and I crossed the bridge speedily.

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The terrain changed after the bridge. The flat, paved track turned into the narrow rocky pathway with tiring ups and downs. It started raining as we were acclimatizing to the high altitude, which added more challenges to finish the trek. We wanted to be the first one of our group to complete it, so we were walking without taking many breaks. Also, we wanted to make it to the campsite before the sunset.

The most challenging part was when we saw a landslide on the way. There was a long queue to cross the landslide affected area and people were moving one by one. After standing for more than half an hour, it was our turn to pass through the 100-meter landslide. With bated breath, I went ahead, stepping on the debris that moved down the slope, crossing the mudflow occurred due to heavy rain, taking giant steps up & down on the masses of rock to cross the landslide area.

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Landslide on the trek…

 

When I was about to finish this terrifying task, I heard someone calling my name. I looked up and it was Narendra, stretching out his hand to help me take the final step of coming out of the landslide. He helped everyone as the last step to cross the slush required a big leap and it wasn’t possible without anyone’s help. Overall, it was an adrenaline pumping experience with a mix of fear and excitement.

There was a sense of achievement & relief that we are out of danger, but the task did not end here. The last few minutes’ walk was exhausting, almost uphill. Our competitive spirit kept us going until we reached the crowded top with a number of tents, eateries & lots of trekkers. It wasn’t a pleasant sight after a really long trek. We were a little disappointed to see a packed place as we had in our imagination a beautiful, isolated & peaceful hilltop. Nevertheless, we create happiness wherever we go.

We started searching for our camps and to our relief, they were at some distance from that crowded fish-market looking area. There were numerous tents to accommodate groups of different sizes. We got a small one as we were 3. Keeping our bags inside the tent, we straight-away headed to the cafeteria as we were hungry. We ordered tea and maggi. It started raining again in full form. We were relaxed as we reached our destination before sunset, but a little worried too as our group mates did not make it to the campsite.

After half an hour, they all came one after one and that moment made me realise that the bunch of strangers turned our friend now. And, then we started the PARTY! It’s always thrilling to party in the lap of nature (Note: without harming the natural environment & disturbing the wildlife).

There was a group of people taking joint in the cafeteria. After some time, they were high and transited to a different world and we even forgot they ever existed. They all sat still and numb throughout the night under the influence of joint while we enjoyed music, danced crazily and shared the saga of our common passion – travelling.

Travelling connects people & their lives. It brings out the commonness among strangers and boosts the feeling of oneness. It makes us realise that there are so many like us who wander to quench their thirst for travelling to different places. Some travel to get their questions answered, some travel to explore different terrains while some travel to challenge their own limits. We all travel for some purposes. This time, we travelled to gain a new experience of trekking.

It was a beautiful night on the meadow of Kheerganga, when the dark sky was our blanket and the lush green grass was our bedsheet. We were exposed to the nature from every nook and corner. And, to add more charm to the night, it rained the whole night. I could hear the drops of rain falling on the tent, which made me feel wrapped in the arms of Mother Nature. It was among the rarest of the rare nights when I enjoyed the rain. I usually don’t.

We woke up around 8am when the sunlight entered the tent and it became too hot to sleep peacefully. All our group mates were ready to take a dip in the sacred hot water spring of Kheerganga which is said to have medicinal properties. We took paranthas & tea for breakfast and then got ready to enjoy the natural hot water spring. But before that, it was the time to bid goodbye to our trek mates. We also clicked a pic with the group to keep the beautiful memories intact.

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After taking bath in the hot water spring, we also started our journey back to reach Bhuntar. We took the Kalga route to descend and found it trickier than the previous one. However, this route is claimed to be a shorter one.

A beautiful waterfall passes by after crossing halfway with a café offering maggi and tea.

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Trekking down was more exhausting than climbing up, maybe because we knew the adventurous journey is going to end. But the excitement of our trip did not end here as more fun was waiting for us.

We took a taxi to reach Kasol, but we couldn’t find a single bus in Kasol for Delhi. We contacted the taxi union, but they also refused to drop us to Bhuntar as there was a heavy traffic jam in Kasol. We started asking for lifts from the passers-by and we got different reactions from different people.

After a struggle of more than half an hour, a local offered us lift in Mahendra Bolero till Bhuntar as he was going to Chandigarh. I can say that it was the scariest ride of my life. He was driving crazily, overtaking each and every one coming on his way. I was calming myself down by remembering the fact that he is a local driver and he knows well how to drive.

It was not just me who was scared, I found ‘tongue in cheek’ expressions on the face of Mr. Gupta as well as Nihal. I, naturally, calm down when I see other people worried more than me. I left our fate in the hands of God and closed my eyes to open them in Bhuntar.

We were blessed enough to reach Bhuntar safely by 9 pm and we saw a bus ready to depart for Delhi. We were super-excited to ask the driver about the availability of seats and to our delight, he confirmed the availability of three seats at the back. It was a Scania bus, better than Volvo. A huge smile appeared on Nihal’s face after entering Scania. On settling down in the bus, we slept in every damn possible position on the back seat as it was solely our territory. There was no one else on the back seat. The bus was like a treat after all the hustle bustle. I can say that ‘All’s well that ends well’.

The bus dropped us at Kashmiri Gate, Delhi, around 7 am, putting an end to our wonderful journey.

Points to Remember :

  • Book a hotel in Kasol to keep your luggage and carry only the essentials on trekking.
  • Do not forget to keep a water bottle, light snacks and energy bars on the trek.
  • A guide is not required for Kheerganga trek, but if find difficulty in carrying your luggage, then you can hire one.
  • It takes approx. 4-5 hours to reach the Kheerganga top from Barshaini. So, it is advisable to start the trek before 12pm to enjoy the evening at Kheerganga.
  • Best time to visit Kheerganga is April-June and September-November. Avoid monsoon and winter season.
  • Do not pollute the Himalayas by disposing of the leftovers, water bottles and other hazardous material. Love, respect & save the Mother Nature so that our next generation can enjoy the same clean & green environment.

For any other queries related to Kheerganga trek, feel free to leave a comment. Thanks!

Singapore: A Paradise for Adventurous, Nature Lovers & Nightlifers!

pexels-photo-462342.jpegThe first foreign trip is always memorable, especially when it is your honeymoon. The newlyweds brimming with unbridled energy explore the new land, interact with different people, embrace lifestyle & cultural diversity. All the thoughts of traveling to a new place with the loved one make one super-excited for the trip, just as we were thrilled for our first international trip.

Singapore was on the top of our list because it offers varied tourist attractions to keep entertained almost every type of traveler. It has a nocturnal zoo, world’s largest orchid garden, world’s tallest indoor waterfall, 541-foot tall flyer, beautiful beaches, amazing theme parks, rocking nightlife & the list goes on…

Here’s what we loved and how we made the most of our Singapore trip:

Heading out of the Changi airport, we were not sure of what this beautiful land is going to offer us. Our mind was blank, having no expectations, but we were all set to get drenched in the rain of different experiences. We were welcomed by our driver at the airport as we booked a package through Cox and Kings.

Singapore pic.jpegThere was a twinkle in our eyes as we were moving towards the hotel. We could see a world so different from ours. Tall flashy buildings situated parallel to a river, gaudy markets, on-street restaurant bars and lighting everywhere. Our excitement doubled after entering the hotel as a wedding ceremony was going on in the restaurant area and we could hear people singing with joy and celebrating the event.

We stayed in Village Hotel Bugis on the Victoria street which is nearly at a distance of 2 km from Little India. It is a better option for vegetarians to stay near Little India as there are a very few eateries that serve vegetarian food in Singapore, while you get a plenty of options in the Little India market, from North Indian to South Indian food. Besides, Singapore seems to be a paradise for non-vegetarians, especially for seafood lovers.

The first day of our guided tour was dedicated to the Singapore City Tour, which included Cricket Stadium, Parliament House, Supreme Court, City hall, panoramic views of Marina Bay, and Singapore Flyer, which is a giant wheel that is “really” giant. Singapore Flyer offers a splendid view of Singapore.

 

Flyer.jpegMerlion, the national icon of Singapore, was also on the list, but due to some renovation & routine maintenance work, our visit to Merlion was canceled by the tour operator. We got disheartened to know this as we could not afford to miss the mythical symbol of Singapore, knowing its prominence.

After this half day city tour, we got ready for some more fun in the Gardens by the Bay, which is a futuristic nature park having hundreds of plants and trees. The Supertrees offer an enthralling Skywalk over the gardens and they are enough tall & amazing to mesmerize the onlookers. We really appreciate the creativity of presenting and enhancing the power of ‘Green’. But at the same time, you need to be careful with the plants. Mr. Gupta touched a plant (a cactus, lol) and he regretted later because his finger turned blue after some time. Luckily, nothing worse happened.

IMG-20151210-WA0007.jpgWe were exhausted by the evening, but still full of enthusiasm to explore the place on our own. We walked a mile to find a vegetarian restaurant and glad to spot one open-area restaurant, serving veg pastas, sandwiches and our much-loved beer. Well, that was enough to end the first day of our trip on a good note.

The second day of our trip was dedicated to Sentosa Island. The adventure began as soon as we boarded Mount Faber cable car. It started drizzling and we got uncertain whether we would be able to enjoy the shows or not, as the availability of most of them was subject to weather conditions. But we have been lucky enough to enjoy one and all because the drizzle stopped and the sky opened up after a while.

Dolphins welcomed us with their playful antics in the Dolphin Lagoon of Sentosa Island. Synchronized tail walking, dancing, jumping and entertaining people is all that they do. Though the act was cute, it is depressing on the other hand because we don’t know what these little creatures go through to learn the tactics.

pixsanta19After enjoying Dolphin show, we went to Underwater World. We walked through a transparent tunnel at the bottom of the sea with the amazing sight of thousands of sea creatures. This was the first time I so closely experienced the aquatic life – from crabs, turtles, jellyfishes, seadragons to sharks. We waited to capture the shark in a frame with us and we succeeded after a few shots.

(Sadly for the people planning to visit Singapore now, Dolphin Lagoon show and Underwater World are no more operational.)

In the evening, we spent some time on the Sentosa Island Beach, watching the sunset as the next on the list was ‘Wings of the Time’ and the show timing was 7 pm. So, we took a snack break afterward and geared-up for the show. Wings of the Time is a magnificent night laser water fountain show with 3D effects.

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The best part of this show is the backdrop of an open sea. It feels simply amazing to watch the laser show on such a grand scale where you feel all the magical things coming to life. The world-class effects, the burst of fire, foot-tapping music, colorful lights will make you go gaga, just as it wooed us completely. Our second day ended on a majestic note after watching Wings of the Time. We had dinner in the same restaurant where we did the first night.

Contented with the second day of our trip, I was not expecting that a lot more fun is still left in store for us for the third day. I must say that I have never been so entertained in my life by any theme park and the credit goes to Universal Studios. It is a complete entertainment package with 24 rides and seven themed zones. You can feel your favorite Hollywood blockbuster movies coming to life and the best part is you can be a part of them.

 

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After standing in the queue for more than 60 minutes, I thoroughly enjoyed the super realistic Transformers: The Ride-3D. It takes the riders in the middle of all the action and keeps them highly engrossed. The simulator ride and the projection technology are so powerful that you actually forget that you are in a ride and get completely involved in the scene because so much is happening around you.

After the action-packed Transformers ride, we entered the world of dinosaurs. This river raft ride may wet you but that’s worth it. I found this one fascinating because of the jungle look & feel. Overall, it was a pleasant experience to ride through the Jurassic Park in the circular raft crossing the animatic dinosaurs. You are advised to bring your own poncho or you can also purchase the same from the vending machine to save yourself from getting wet.

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I was avoiding ‘Revenge of the Mummy’ ride because I knew it’s not for me but still, I went for it to accompany Mr. Gupta. Revenge of the Mummy is an adrenaline-pumping high-speed roller coaster ride, which is surely not for the faint-hearted. The sudden acceleration, breaks, climbing, jumping, twists & turns will keep your heartbeats elevated. Frankly speaking, I hardly saw anything in the ride & was just waiting for the end.

There are a number of other interesting rides in Universal Studios, Singapore like Madagascar: A Crate Adventure, Puss In Boots’ Giant Journey, Battlestar Galactica: Human vs. Cylon etc. One day is not enough to make a visit to all the zones and rides. If possible, get the 2-day fun pass to enjoy the rides, shows, and attractions. We still regret not been to all the rides because of the shortage of time and that’s what motivates us to visit Singapore again. After having soup, noodles and potato chips, we bid goodbye to Universal Studios.

 

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We explored the markets on day four and shop for our friends and relatives. We started with Haji lane, which was just a few minutes walk away from our hotel. It’s a colorful narrow alley with some independent fashion boutiques, cafes & restaurants. From there, we took a taxi and went straight to our favorite place ‘Little India’ to enjoy Indian cuisines. After trying Dosa, Sambar Vada and filter coffee in a South Indian restaurant, we went for shopping at Mustafa Centre.

You get almost everything in Mustafa and that too at bargain rates. From grocery, clothing, jewelry to gadgets, it has simply everything! Must shop for accessories for your friends from here. They gonna love it and it won’t dig a hole in your pocket either. Another thing that I loved shopping at Mustafa is perfumes. You get the authentic ones at a fair price.

Well, it was hell difficult to get yourself out of the shopping center but we had to do it because ‘Night Safari’ was lined up in our schedule of the day. I was super excited for Night Safari ever since we planned the trip because of the idea of closely observing animals on a tram when they are not caged thrills me. And guess what? It super exceeded my expectations. Universal Studios and Night Safari are the two not-to-be-missed things on a Singapore trip.

Safari entrance

This nocturnal zoo houses Indian rhinoceros, Malayan tigers, Asian elephants, fishing cats, leopards, Asian lions and thousands of other animals. They are made visible through a special light that resembles moonlight without disturbing or irritating animals. You have the option to explore this tropical forest either via tram or through walking trails on foot.

What I love about this zoo (besides the idea of seeing animals uncaged) is that it respects the day-night cycle of animals. Animals rest during the daytime and they are most active during the night hours. So, the park has been thoughtfully designed without disturbing their cycle and taking proper care of their habitat. Thumbs up to Night Safari!

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It was all good throughout the day but the trouble started when we started looking for Indian food. It was already late by the time we reached our favorite restaurant where we had dinner almost every day. It was closed. We walked through the streets in search of vegetarian food but we failed to locate even a single restaurant on the streets serving vegetarian food. We tried McDonald’s too, but surprisingly, they had nothing vegetarian, except for the French fries, which was our last hope to satiate our hunger. By that incident, we learned to keep some foodstuff in store for an emergency.

The fifth day was our departure day. We had our flight in the evening, so before ending the trip, we continued the fun. With the swimming costumes that I especially bought for the trip, I was ready to bask in the sun and take a dip in the swimming pool of the hotel. At the end of the swimming session, we decided to visit the Merlion Park on our own in the metro. We believe it’s a must to get clicked with the Merlion if you visit Singapore.
Depositing luggage at the hotel counter, we boarded metro from Bugis MRT to reach Merlion Park. After 2-3 attempts, we bought the tickets from the vending machine and enjoyed the metro ride experience.

After deboarding the metro and walking a few miles, we caught the sight of the Merlion. Our efforts didn’t go in vain as we succeeded in getting clicked with the iconic statue of Singapore in its renovation form. Our trip completed with this last stop and we boarded the metro back to reach the hotel and to finally put an end to this wonderful trip of ours.

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On a concluding note, I would really recommend visiting Singapore for many reasons.

  • A 5-hour flight will take you to Singapore from Delhi. You don’t have to spend too much time in flight.
  • A trip to Singapore can be done in 2 Lac Rupees for a couple (we did in December 2015). You can get a plenty of cheapest Singapore tour package options.
  • Singapore offers good nightlife too. Visit Marina Bay Sands, Club Street, Clarke Quay & Sentosa Beach Bars to rock the night.
  • Singapore is a must to enjoy Universal Studios and Night Safari.
  • Its compact size makes it easy to travel and above all, Singapore is safe.

First-time international travelers can book Singapore package online to make their vacation smooth. Otherwise, I would recommend preparing an itinerary, set a budget and get set go on your own.

For any query related to Singapore tour plan, please leave us a comment.

Delhi – Narkanda – Sangla- Chitkul – Kalpa

Delhi – Shimla (350 KM) – Narkanda (65 KM) – Rampur (68 KM) – Karcham (60 KM) – Reckong Peo (58 KM) – Kalpa (3 KM)

The realization of inner strength and passion is equivalent to second birth. I was born again in the land of adventurers when I discovered my love & passion for biking. I don’t drive instead I am a pillion passenger. But, I found wings added to my soul when my husband and I, headed onto unfurl the beauty of Himachal Pradesh on our trip to Sangla, Chitkul & Kalpa. Our decision to travel alone on the bike came after our group of friends said ‘No’ to us, being hectic for them.  Even then, we thought to take a dip in the ocean of adventures.

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Day 1

Packing our bags & safeguarding ourselves with biking gears, we left Delhi at around 6am. The scorching heat of June compelled us to take a break before Chandigarh for Lime water & snacks. We took the second break near Solan for buttermilk (Chhach). Crossing Shimla at around 12pm, we reached Narkanda by 5pm. Narkanda is a small beautiful town, spreading its own magnificence. We checked-in to Hotel Himalaya Inn on the main chowk, which was priced around Rs.1200. There is only one shop in Narkanda to enjoy Thukpa (special Indo-Tibetan hot noodle soup made with mixing vegetables). North Indian food is easily available in hotel & market.

 

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The Yummy Thukpa !!!

 

Day 2

We left Narkanda at 9 am to lose our spirits in the serene beauty of Sangla & Chitkul. We crossed Karcham Dam at around 1pm. The road condition is moderately bad after the dam, though it’s worth driving through the treacherous road to reach Sangla. Remembering the long & bold standing mountains still give me goose-bumps. Sangla & Chitkul, both encompasses uniqueness in their beauty. While Sangla has mountains just aside you, Chitkul gives you a perfect landscape that you might have drawn in your drawing books in childhood – A river flowing amid snow clad mountains & greenery covering the valley with a few cottages.

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We stayed a night in Sangla & left for Chitkul the next morning at around 9 am. It was cloudy and the weather predicted rain in the evening, so we decided to reach Kalpa before it starts raining as we were not sure of accommodation in Chitkul. We reached Chitkul around 11 am and enjoyed the beauty for 2 hrs and left for Kalpa. Though, we now regret we could have stayed a night in Chitkul instead of heading to Kalpa. The beauty of this last village on the Indo-Tibetan border is untouched.

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There are some budget accommodation options in Chitkul that you can book after reaching the place. Post lunch, we headed towards Kalpa and reached the place at around 6 pm. The majestic views of the mighty Himalayas welcomed us & took away all the stress. It’s a very small village with a few eateries outside the hotel.

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Day 3

My heart just melted away with the stunning sight of Kinnaur Kailash, the Shivlingam, which keeps changing its color throughout the day. It looks the most beautiful in the early morning hours. Some of the places to visit in Kalpa:

Suicide Point: It is situated around 3 Kms away from Kalpa. You can even trek to suicide point with a group of friends. It is a place having a dangerous trench and vertical slopes and gives a sight of apple orchards.

Sapni Fort: It’s a seven-storey high fort situated in Sapni village in the vicinity of Kalpa. The fort is a pleasure to the eyes of Art lovers, rich in architectural grandeur & a witness to the glory of the past.

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Stop !!! There is a landslide ahead.

 

Sangla, Chitkul & Kalpa are some of the unexplored places near Shimla that must be explored by travel enthusiasts.

Day 4

After enjoying the beautiful sight of Kinnaur Kailash, we took a night halt in Narkanda and enjoyed the cool weather with a chilled beer in Hotel Hatu by HPTDC. The same moment we decided our next trip to Spiti Valley after seeing the mesmerizing picture of Dhankar Monastery on a wall in the hotel.

You can always trust hotels by Himachal Pradesh Tourism. They are neat, clean and well-maintained.

 

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Garden area of Hotel Hatu (HPTDC), Narkanda

 

Day 5

We left Narkanda early morning & reached Delhi in the night. Disheartened and dull, we put an end to our 5-day adventurous Trip to Himachal Pradesh and promised ourselves to come back again on a more thrilling expedition.

If you are bored of travelling to Shimla, then must visit these unexplored places near Shimla.