Thursday, May 3, 2018

Exploring Darjeeling in half a day- Part 1 of Sikkim Tour

Located at a height of 2185 metres above the sea level, Darjeeling, also known as the ‘Queen of Hills’ is a quaint little hill station that consists of Mt. Kanchenjunga's summit as the backdrop. Established in the mid-19th century, this town offers palatial greenery and a champagne of tea estates. The sumptuous aroma all around and the sound of chanting of the Buddhist mantra give you the much-required peace of mind. We were often told that Darjeeling has been commercialized to such an extent that it has lost its charm. But we would definitely argue the toss, for Darjeeling possesses such opulent landscapes that are a treat for sore eyes.

How to reach

Rail: The nearest Railway Station is that of New Jalpaiguri, which 62 km away from the main city.

Air: The nearest airport is Bagdogra Airport.  Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati have direct flights to Darjeeling. Since we were travelling from Bangalore, we had to opt for a connecting flight (layover being in Kolkata).

Climate and Acclimatization
Situated at approximately 7000 ft, Darjeeling has a comfortable climate and you need not stay indoors for acclimatization. When we went (April mid), the temperature ranged between 12 to 15 degrees. Pleasant, isn’t it?

We stayed in Darjeeling for one night and explored some of the most commonly known, rather famous, tourist places the next day. A summary of the route map of our Sikkim Trip is given below:

Accommodation in Darjeeling:

Revolver Inn: Snug rooms in a quiet surrounding, Revolver Inn was one of our best bets. Hardcore Beatles’ fans, the hosts have adorned the place with catchy little memories of the band. The rooms in the building have names too. Any guesses what? Yes, they are named Paul, John, George and Ringo. The rates are economical; the rooms are clean, small but cosy. The special feature is the heating provision in the mattress. The food that the hosts provide in their small restaurant is delicious.

A day in and around the town

1.   Buddhist Temple and Peace Pagoda
The Peace Pagoda is hardly 3 km away from the mall road. In addition, the Buddhist temple is situated in the same campus. The Japanese Peace Pagoda is one of the several pagodas built by the Buddhist Nipponzan Myohoji. The aim of building this sacred testament was to encourage harmony, unity and goodwill amongst the people belonging to different sections of the society. The drumming Prayer sessions are held in the Buddhist temple and the devotees are offered a hand drum and encouraged to join in the rituals. The Buddhist mantra- Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo- is chanted while the drum is played in sync. The vital part of Buddhism is the belief that we have the ability to overcome any problem in life. We have the ability to transform any suffering. This mantra is a promise to oneself to never succumb to difficulties and to win over any form of suffering. The entry is free.

2.   Dali Monastery
One of the largest monasteries built in pure Tibetan style, Dali Monastery, is exquisite. Perched on a steep hill, the actual name of this monastery is Druk Sangag Choling Monastery. As you make your way through the arch gate, a series of waving flags greets you. A few steps lead you to a major prayer room that houses large prayer wheels. A little further is a huge prayer room with Buddha statues and superfluous wall art. The majestic grandeur and simplicity of the architecture is praiseworthy. The entry is free.

3.   Batasia Loop
Batasia Loop can be visited as a part of the Toy Train Journey but in case you miss the train, do visit this war memorial that was built in order to commemorate the Gorkha Soldiers who sacrificed their lives in various wars after India’s independence. The entry ticket is priced at 30 INR/person.

4.   Ghoom Monastery
Ghoom Monatery is another remarkable monastery that is on everyone’s must-visit list. Unfortunately, our Toy Train (morning 07:30 Hrs) was cancelled and hence that poured water on our plan to visit this place. The toy Train has a stopover at this Monastery. Due to lack of sufficient time, we decided to skip this and instead explored the Lamahatia Village Eco park.

5.   Lamahatia Village Eco Park
Located 23 km away from Darjeeling and on the way to Pelling, this eco park has an entry ticket priced at 10 INR/ person. A cemented gazebo leads to the top where you can see a row of colourful prayer flags waving. We were told by the locals that as the wind passes through the flags, it purifies the surroundings and also the minds of the people. A tiny wooden watch tower is nestled between the huge trees. A path through the forest leads to a water body. Since the walk was long, we skipped that. But if you have the stamina and the will, you must try it out.

6.   Tiger Hill
Tiger Hill is said to offer the best sunrise views of Mt. Kanchenjunga. We were all prepped up for our sunrise but the fog and clouds spoilt our plan. Our driver suggested that we skip going to Tiger Hill, for nothing would be visible. We are happy that we listened to him. It saved us a lot of time.
Post lunch (at around 14:00 hrs), we started for Pelling.

(Hyperlinks will be available soon)

To know the details of our entire trip, click Sikkim Itinerary.
For further information, click the links below:
Things to do in Pelling
Demanding but miraculous North Sikkim
Enchanting East Sikkim
Gangtok at a glance

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Effective Guide to Colour Code your Travel Outfits

“Without black, no colour has any depth. But if you mix black with everything, suddenly there’s shadow – no, not just shadow, but fullness. You’ve got to be willing to mix black into your palette if you want to create something that’s real.” ~Amy Grant

Life is a myriad of colours; the world in which we live is anything but black and white. And to understand our point, it is important to be ready to jump the bandwagon and be open to exploring all avenues. Travelling comes with a lot of planning- planning the itineraries, accommodation, transfers, flights, budget and clothes. But often we tend to ignore the colours that match well with our destination and end up in a black mood when we see the photographs. Hence, we present a colour-coding guide that will help you pack photogenic and glamorous clothes.

We have divided the destination into four major categories:

When it comes to greens, we refer to the mountains in Nainital, Shimla, Munnar and Patnitop. When amidst trees, it is vital to highlight your presence as the different shades of green can make you fade away. It is important to understand the difference between the warm and the cool colours. While the cool colours comprise of greens, blues and grays, warm colours consist of reds, yellows, creams, beige and oranges. Since green is already a cool colour, dressing up in warmer shades will make you stand out. Our personal favourites are yellows, whites and and blues (a lighter shade).

            See how the red makes you stand out in the green field!

Next up is blues. Blues are cooler colours and hence, when you are waiting for that perfect photograph to be clicked on the pristine beach, it is important to take care of the colour that you choose to wear. We have tried using the contrast (warm) colours but have failed in capturing eye-catching photographs. Then we tried wearing darker shades and guess what, things seemed to be coming up roses, for we found the right choice. The trick is to avoid colours that are already present in the background- blue of the water, white/ beige/ brown of the sand, white of the clouds, etc. We prefer shades of red. Yes, that will make you catch the eye.

                           Whose dress looks more alluring?

The whites are the most flexible surroundings. It is a no-brainer to choose a colour for such destinations. Whether you are swaying in your bomber jacket in the high mountains of North Sikkim or you are soaking the warmth of the sun on the Khai Nai Island, any colour that you wear will add an impact to your photograph. Our personal favourites are bright colours like yellow, orange and red for the snow-clad mountains and black, red and wine for the beaches.

See how the reds (and the blues too) can make you photogenic and attractive!

Last but not the least browns are the tricky ones. We often struggle to decide our clothing for these landforms. Since browns are hues of reds (warm colours), the logic says that cooler shades like dark blues, dark greens and dark grey should serve the purpose. But when we tried this out, we were not quite satisfied. For browns, we guess, it all depends on the mood, light and weather. For low light and gloomy weather, prefer lighter shades. For bright light and warm weather, opt for shades of grey or even black would do the trick.


The aim of these photos is to show how the bright colours like red and white sparkle when the landscape is mostly brown.

Though this post is not that detailed, we hope this small guide helps you click more captivating photographs.

Till the next post, Happy Experimenting!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Spending a Weekend in Yercaud

Located on the Shevaroy Hills in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Yercaud has been rightly called as ‘A Poor Man’s Ooty’. With ‘Big Lake’ in the centre of the city and viewpoints offering colossal panoramas, Yercaud has enough to make you forget the urban life for some time. Though it is not one’s best bet, yet the eerie silence and the presence of towering trees overlooking the buildings can leave you in awe of this place.
This weekend was filled with thrill and excitement as we made an impromptu plan of exploring Yercaud. With an ad-lib itinerary, we booked Ola Outstation (Our travel partner for all such trips) and began our journey at 6:00 in the morning. The road to Yercaud has a mix of both- good patch and a rocky patch. Till Kadamyapatti, the NH 44 made our journey as smooth as silk but a diversion to the left from this junction offered us a road that was at sixes and sevens.

Here is the list of places we explored in Yercaud:
1. Karadiyoor View Point
2. Pagoda View Point
3. Ladies Seat
4. Gents Seat
5. Botanical Garden
6. Big Lake- Deer Park and the Boathouse
7. Traveller’s trap- 32 km loop road

Karadiyoor View Point: 10 km before the main city of Yercaud, Karadiyoor viewpoint greets the travellers/ tourists with an expansive view of Salem city. But you might not be lucky enough to imbibe the details owing to the haze/ mist/ clouds. There is no entry fee. The travellers must make their way through the forest which is pure delight. There is a snack shop that offers bread omelette, bhajji, tea/ coffee, lime soda at nominal rates. If you take the diversion from Kadamyapatti, Karadiyoor is on the way to Yercaud. Hence, it is worth a try.

Pagoda View Point: In the east of the Yercaud Hills is a secluded yet enormous Pagoda viewpoint. Located 4.5 km away from the Yercaud bus stand, this viewpoint is away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It offers a bird-eye view of Salem district and Kakambadi Village. One can see the silhouette of several other mountains. There is no entry fee. Several stalls offer activities like balloon shooting for children as well as adults. It is advisable to visit this place either early in the morning or during the golden hour when the haze/ mist settles and there is clarity.

Ladies Seat: Close to Pagoda Point and 2 km away from the Yercaud bus stand is the Ladies Seat that offers a fabulous sight. A cluster of rocks naturally arranged in form of a seat treats your eyes. Though the view is not something extraordinary, yet the reason behind this name might interest you. Natives believed that a White Lady spent hours admiring the panoramic view and thus, the name- Ladies Seat was given. A watchtower nearby has a telescope and travellers can even see Mettur Dam and Salem town through it. There is no entry fee.

Gents Seat and Children’s Seat: Towards the right of Ladies Seat is the Gents Seat. The entry fee is 30 INR/person. The travellers have to make their way through an inclined clearing that has a paved path. The view from the top is average. The only plus point here is that the hairpin bends are clear and more photogenic from this point. Having walked tirelessly for more than 4 hours, we decided to rest on our oars for some time. And this made us skip Children’s Seat and the Botanical Garden.

Big Lake- Deer Park and the Boathouse: The Last stop in our itinerary was at the Deer Park and the Big Lake. The Big Lake is in ‘C’ shape and we found the water cleaner than in Ooty. Boating was a norm like any other hill station. But since it was already 5:30 PM, we didn’t have much time to complete the boat ride. We visited the Deer Park (Entry Fee: 10 INR/person, still camera: 100 INR/ camera, Mobile camera: 10/ camera). Well-built and well-kept, Deer Park has greenery all around. Towards the rear end of the park, one can spot animals like Deer, Guinea pigs, Swans, Peacocks and pigeons.

On the outskirts of the lake, there are several stalls that sell pakodas, American corn, Sugar candy and boiled peanuts.

Caution: Do not buy pakodas; we saw a vendor cutting cauliflower that had been invading by fungi. As the fungi-attacked Cauliflower, with a layer of flour, went inside the cooking vessel, we smelt the rat and avoided stopping by any stall.

We dropped anchor at GVS Residency (near Monford School) and call it a day. The hotel faces the Ornamental lake and has decent ambience. The rooms are clean and hygienic. The customer service is splendid and the in-house restaurant (called Food Plaza) offers mediocre food. We had Chicken do Pyaza and Fish Tikka- both not up to the mark. Our breakfast was complimentary.

The next day we decided to give the ‘Loop Road’ a try. But to keep the wolf from the door, we finished our breakfast before 09:30 AM. The Food Plaza offered a buffet that had Upma, bread, Puri-sabji, Pongal khichdi, mashed potatoes, boiled vegetables, scrambles eggs and tea/coffee. The meal was sumptuous and delicious. We started for the loop road at 11:00 AM.

32 km Loop Road: Call it our luck or our perception, we felt we made ducks and drakes of our time when we traversed through that road. With no alluring sights, this was more like a traveller’s trap. We opted for this based on the reviews it had received on TripAdvisor. But the entire stretch was gall and wormwood to us.
Right after completing the loop, we started for Bangalore but this time we took the route that passes through Salem. NH 44 came to our rescue and we reached Bangalore in three and a half hours.

Overall, the trip was a must-have for us because the idea was to quell the stress and the boredom of mundane robotic life. To some extent, we were successful in running away from the bustling city of Bangalore. Yercaud is not a commercialized city. Therefore, the serene and peaceful surrounding can uplift the spirits and help one reset the mind before the Monday blues take their toll.

One Liner for the Trip: Yercaud is any port in a storm!

Better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times

Till the next trip, Happy Traveling!

Watch the teaser of our trip here.

Friday, April 6, 2018

A miniscule shangri-la: Gorchha Village!

A small hamlet in the Chakrata Block in Dehradoon, Gorchha village is located at the border of Dehradoon District and Sirmaur District. It is in close proximity to Himachal Pradesh State Border.

Unadulterated and untouched by mankind, this natural miracle lies hidden in the valleys of Himalayas. Lying in the Shivalik Range of Outer Himalayas, this magical village is consecrated with bountiful Apple Orchards and densely packed green farms. A writer’s retreat for sure, the place is secluded and unknown. Just 70km away from Dehradoon and 400 km from New Delhi, this place is facing a major migration problem.

Here we bring to you 3 nights and 4 days itinerary that is bound to give you bouts of adrenalin rush.

Day -1 | Dehradun to Gorchha (146 Km)
On the first day, drive to Gorchha village from Dehradun. Enroute to Vikasnagar, explore the very famous Tiger Falls (near Chakrata and Kanasar). A picturesque location named after God Kanasar, Tiger Falls offers all-embracing landscapes. A Temple of Kanasar Devta is located a here. Following this, continue the drive to Gorchha Village. Lacking opulence, this village does not have any fancy hotels/ accommodation. One will have to spend the night in a homestay.

                             Tiger Falls, Gorchha Village

Day-2 | Gorchha to Byar Cave (2 km trek, 2-3 hrs one way)
On the second day, one can have an early breakfast and head for an excursion to Byar Cave. Following this, one can return to the village and spend time imbibing the cultural vibes and learning the interests and pastimes of the locals. Gorchha is a hub of many agricultural activities and it is priceless to become a part of such activities.

Day -3 | Gorchha to Moyala Top (5 km trek, 3-4 hrs one way )
Located at a significant height, Moyala Top can be kept for the third day. Again, after an early and sumptuous breakfast, one can opt for a day excursion to the alluring Moyala Top. The view from this place is splendid. Vast and expansive valleys and meadows greet your eyes. In the evening, return to Gorchha village and spend time walking around and appreciating the precious gift of nature.

                           The widespread green meadows

Day -4 | Gorchha to Dehradun (146 km, 4 hrs)
The last day can be used up travelling back to Dehradoon after saving a potluck of memories and experiences.

More about Gorchha Village
This area is known for the freezing temperatures during winters and pleasant climate during summers.
Summers (March to June) are very pleasant with 10 °C (Min) and 30 °C (Max). Tourists prefer this season.

Monsoon (July to September) is associated with medium rainfall. This season is characterized by slippery roads and cold winds. Tourists mostly avoid the rainy days.

Winters (December to February) are chilly. During this season, the maximum temperature is below 15 °C and minimum touches -5 °C; it is freezing cold.

Autumn (October and November) provides a mildly cold atmosphere and the destination becomes scenic.

For the couples planning a honeymoon trip to this Shangri- la, January to February is the perfect season.
March to May is the ideal season for outdoor activities.

Better known as Jaunsari (a community of people that resides in the foothills of Western Himalayas), the people of Gorchha are affable and welcoming.In Uttarakhand, Jaunsari tribes reside in Jaunsar -Bawar region that is close to Himachal border. This tribe traces its origin to the Pandavas of Mahabharat. The dialect of Jaunsari community is also known as Jaunsari and the culture is slightly different from Garhwali and Kumaoni community of Uttarakhand. The area of Jaunsar-Bawar comes under Chakrata tehsil of Dehradun. People here are honest and hardworking. Their main occupation is agriculture.

An important aspect of the culture is festive sports and dances like the folk dance named Harul/Raso which happens during all celebrations like ‘Magh Mela‘, one of the most important festivals of the Jaunsaries. It is characterised by an animal sacrifice ritual, which celebrates the killing of ‘Maroj’, an ogre, which according to local legends, stalked the valleys for years.

Gorchha is a small place, yet it offers spectacular natural beauty. We have not been here but we came to know about it through one of our Tripoto followers. He proposed the idea of making the travellers aware of this picturesque location and encourage tourism so that the migration ceases and the culture of the place is preserved.

Hope this information comes in handy.

Happy Travelling!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Travel Options and Finding Accommodation in Thailand

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
~Abraham Lincoln

Thailand is one of the most visited places every year and thus, all the travel planner websites propose various packages that provide an opportunity to explore only those areas that are the hive of activity. That is when the vlogs, blogs and Google come to your rescue. It takes backbreaking labour to research about the places that hide the untouched charm and wonder. Adding to the research, the job of finding cheap yet comfortable means of transport and economic accommodation can put you at your wit’s end.

Media is famous for its bait and switch tactics. Looking through the magnifying glass, we have to filter our options and choose the best that fits the bill. Travel packages, no doubt, offer a more convenient way of travel via private cabs/taxis, but the feeling of accomplishment when you plan your travel on your own form the scratch is incalculable.

Thus, to make your trip joyous, comfortable and complacent, we have listed some of the travel options that are not only cheap but also easy.

Swarnabhumi Airport (Bangkok) ——– Main City
Our place of stay was located in Sukhumvit Soi 18. Most of the hotels are either located at the Sukhumvit Soi (Street) or near Ratchadamri.

• If you are not carrying too much luggage, opt for the Bangkok Airport Rail Link. The image below lists the stations/ stops of this metro.

• To reach Sukhumvit, buy a ticket to Makkasan and at that station ask for the underground train station to Petchburi.

• Buy a ticket to the next station (Sukhumvit) and board the train.

Main City ——– Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun

All these temples are located in close vicinity. Book a cab through GRAB and enter the drop location to the Grand Palace. The rest can be explored on foot.

Siam Paragon is one of the most expansive complexes that houses the Wax Museum, the Ocean World and also offers bountiful opportunities to window shop as the complex has posh brand stores. To reach Siam Paragon, we used Bangkok Sky Train (maphere).

Accommodation in Bangkok

We stayed with our uncle but Airbnb and can help you book budget hotels. It is advisable to book six months in advance lest you miss the amazing deals.

Sukhumvit Soi 18 ——– Don Muang (Bangkok)

The distance between Sukhumvit Soi 18 and Don Muang is 24.8 km. Book a cab through GRAB and that will charge you between 600-700 THB. Don Muang is the domestic airport and if you are planning to travel to Phuket next, you will have to catch a plane from here.

Bangkok ——- Phuket

We booked a flight from Bangkok to Phuket and took a cab (booked through GRAB) to our Hotel Sinu House. Tourist attractions in Phuket are located in the centre of the city. Book a cab (GRAB or a private taxi- GRAB will charge you more here) and explore Big Buddha, Baan Teelanka (Upside Down House, The Tree House, and The Maze) and Promthepe Cape View (the southernmost tip of Phuket).

Details of the private taxi drivers

Tip: Book your hotel near the pier if your plan is to go for Island tours (which can be booked via Try to book the deal that offers pick up and drop because eastern side of Phuket does not offer many travel options.

Book your hotel in the main city if your plan is to explore the tourist attractions and the very famous Patong Beach.

Phuket ——- Koh Phi Phi

One of the best options available for Island Hopping in Thailand is that we can book the ferry rides one day before the plan and that too online. We used and got great deals on the packages.

Accommodation in Koh Phi Phi

Using, we booked our stay at Panmanee Hotel in Koh Phi Phi. Located centrally on the island, the hotel was not only reachable but also very well kept.

In and around Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi is a small dumbbell-shaped island that can be explored in a day. Walking around admiring the market dripping with colours and the restaurants giving out the luscious aroma, Koh Phi Phi is not to be missed!

We stayed at Koh Phi Phi for a night and then headed to Ao Nang.

Koh Phi Phi ——- Ao Nang

Booking our ferry through, we reached Ao Nang. Yet again, we had opted for a package that offered pick up an drop. We were booked in The Nine Hotel ( It was closer to the beach and was located in close proximity to the market. Island Hopping from Ao Nang can also be done by booking the tour one day in advance. Opt for a tour that offers both- pick up and drop.

Ao Nang ——– Krabi Airport

To board the flight back to Bangkok, we used Airport Shuttle that runs between Ao Nang and Krabi (150 THB/ person). Request the hotel staff to book one for you.

Hope this information comes in handy. Travelling to a new country is a different ball game. Each country presents the tourist with an embarrassment of riches; there are so many options that one finds it very difficult to choose the right one. That is when others’ experiences help.

Do let us know in the comment section if you have used any other mode of transport that was more comfortable than GRAB.

Keep Travelling!