Places to Visit (India) in 2015- Part 1 was a blog on what I want to do during the year- a monologue from my perspective. I am assuming that Ankur would like to visit at a couple of places from that list, else I will make a puppy face and convince him to come along. My little list aside, Ankur has a list of places in India that he would like to visit during 2015. Considering that I have itchy feet, I would want to accompany him on all these trips, besides those on my list! So, here goes… Ankur’s wish list of places to visit in India in 2015…
Ladakh: The Cold Desert
Ankur has been to Ladakh in 2009. He has had the adrenaline high by rafting on the rapids in the Zanskar, has tried counting the twinkling stars in the dark nights of the cold desert and has ticked an item off his bucketlist by driving through the Khardung La pass – the highest motorable road in the world. While he did visit Pangong Lake, which is the highest salt water body on the planet, he did not have enough time to visit Tso Moriri, which is supposed to be even prettier than Pangong Lake; Tso Moriri continues to be on the bucketlist.
I have never been to the cold desert. Every year, at least one of our friends ends up doing a trip to Ladakh and then does not stop raving about it for the next six months. Maybe it is time for Ankur to visit Tso Moriri and for me to join the ‘Ladakh ravers club’!
Sikkim: Monasteries and Mountains
Having spent two years in the little town of Kharagpur in East India, I have visited the little state of Sikkim. It hides jewels beyond compare. The mountainous state of Sikkim overlooks the lofty peaks of the Himalayas, covered in snow. The golden halo around the peaks during sunrise makes it surreal… One needs to witness it at least once in one’s lifetime! There is more in Sikkim than monasteries and splendid views. The state has the rhododendron valley of flowers, that bloom in April/May and make the valley appear like a painters palette. And then, there is the untouched and unexplored Yumthang valley in North Sikkim that is difficult to get to, but the experience is worth all the effort.
While I have seen the valleys of Sikkim, Ankur has seen only the pictures. It is time to translate pictures to reality!
Ankur and I went to Coorg in 2013 during monsoons. There was greenery all around and we literally walked through the clouds. Since that trip, Ankur has fallen in love with the little hill town of Coorg. Our Coorg vacation has become a benchmark – part of it also has to do with the outstanding Taj Vivanta property that we stayed in and the warm service that we received there.
Ankur wants to revist Coorg sometime this year, but in a different season. Maybe we could plan a short summer getaway to escape the heat of the plains or a winter break to read a book in the sun. There are plenty of good properties and homestays in Coorg to let us have a different experience, if we so desire.
Bekal: Abode in God’s own country
We did a long weekend trip to Kochi in July 2014. Kochi is a prime city in Kerala – the state is better known as ‘God’s own country’, a truly apt name! Bekal is a small costal town in North Kerala, which has been the hub of activity for a couple of hotel chains like the Taj and the Intercontinental. A fourteen hour train journey from Mumbai to Kasaragod, the closest rail head to Bekal, will help us save some money instead of spending on air tickets. As Ankur is big fan of Taj properties and I fancy the Jiva Spa, this trip will not be a budget weekend by any stretch of our imagination. Maybe I can surprise Ankur by planning it over a weekend when he least expects it?
Rann of Kutch: Vibrant Gujarat
The Rann of Kutch remained hidden from tourists and even seasoned travellers for the longest time, until the Gujarat government took the initiative to introduce this magical land to the world. The land is not too fertile and there are miles and miles of salt pans that shimmer on a full moon night, as though dusted with magic sparkles. The Rann Utsav, organised by the Gujarat government during the winter months (November to March) contrasts this barren expanse of land with colourful festivities. …there are traditional dances …there is delightful food (even more delightful for the vegetarians) … warm and friendly people …and there is also a roaring bonfire to spread the warmth in the chilly winter months.
We haven’t planned this trip as yet and it is unlikely that we will be able go here in the next couple of months. We will have to get into the planning avatar during mid 2015 to book a place post November 2015.
Sangla Valley: Far from the madding crowd…
Ankur’s list this year is dominated by the mountains – the Himalayas, to be precise. Sangla Valley is part of the list. The pictursque valley in Himachal Pradesh has rolling green hills bordered by white lofty peaks. The place lets you breathe easy – no pollution – air, noise or light. Ankur wants to pack a couple of heavy books, plonk himself on a hammock and read for at least 8 hours a day. I wonder what I will do then? Eat delicious, hot parathas, loaded with butter and wash them down with a cup of warm tea…and then walk for for miles and miles and miles to burn some calories and witness untouched natural beauty.
Getting to Sangla Valley from Mumbai isn’t an easy task . There is no direct connection by train or by air; the only way to get there is by long winding roads. This break will require us to take atleast a week off from work and surely isn’t a weekend getaway.
It’s time for us to take out the calendar for 2015 and circle the long weekends. We have shared out travel wishlist in this post and the previous one (Places to visit (India) in 2015 – Part 1). We hope to visit at least six of the twelve destinations that we have listed in these posts.
Our wish list for the international destinations is coming up soon…