Tag Archives: India

All Blogs, Destination Travel Guides, Travel Videos, and other content related to India.

International Driving License: Understanding the Basics

An International Driving License (IDL) is a document that allows a driver to drive a motor vehicle in a foreign country legally. It is available as a supplement to the driver’s home country license and is valid for a certain period.

It is issued by an authorized body in the driver’s home country and is accepted in most countries around the world.

History of International Driving License

The IDL was first introduced in 1949 when the United Nations created the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic.

International Driving License (IDL)

This convention provided uniform regulations for the recognition of driving licenses between different countries. Since then, the international driving license has become a requirement for many countries to be able to drive a motor vehicle legally in that country.

Advantages of Having an IDL

The main advantage of having an international drivers permit is that it allows drivers to drive in a foreign country legally. This can be especially useful for those traveling abroad for business or pleasure.

Japan

Furthermore, an international driving license can serve as a form of identification as many countries recognize it and can also help to prove a driver’s identity in case of a traffic violation.

Disadvantages of Having an IDL

Although there are many advantages to having an international driving license, there are some disadvantages as well. For example, an international driving license can be expensive, and the process of obtaining one can be lengthy.

Additionally, it is important to note that an IDL is only valid for the period-of-time stated on the license and in the country it was issued.

Mexico City

Countries that Require an International Driving License

An international driving license is required in many countries. Some of these countries include:

It is important to check the laws and regulations of the country you intend to visit before traveling, as some countries may require an international driving license even if you are only visiting for a short time.

Eligibility Criteria for Obtaining IDL

To obtain an IDL, a driver must first be eligible. The eligibility criteria can vary depending on the country; however, in most cases, the driver must be at least 18 years of age, have a valid home country license, and have had no serious traffic offenses in the last three years.

Documents Required for Applying for an IDL

When applying for an IDL, certain documents must be provided. These documents may include a valid passport, a valid home country license, proof of residence, and a certificate of insurance. Ensuring that all the documents provided are valid and up-to-date is important.

Steps to Obtaining an International Driving License

The process of obtaining an IDL can vary depending on the country. Generally, the first step is to gather all the necessary documents and submit them to the relevant authorities. After the documents are approved, the applicant must then pass a written and practical driving test. Once the tests are completed, the applicant will be issued an international driving license.

Costs Associated With Obtaining an International Driving License

The costs associated with obtaining an IDL can vary depending on the country. Generally, the costs include the application fee, the testing fee, and the fee for the actual license. It is important to note that the applicant may also be required to pay for medical examinations and insurance in some countries.

Canada

Conclusion

An international driving license is a document that allows a driver to drive a motor vehicle in a foreign country legally. It is available as a supplement to the driver’s home country license and is valid for a certain period.

To obtain an IDL, the applicant must meet certain eligibility criteria and provide certain documents. Please note that the process of obtaining an IDL can vary from country to country, and its costs can also vary.

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From Palaces to Backwaters: Luxury South India Tour Packages That Enchant

Welcome to South India, where opulence coexists with cultural splendor and unmatched beauty. Look no further than the exquisite tour packages that highlight the best of South India if you’re searching for a wholly immersive and opulent travel experience.

This blog post presents a hand-picked collection of luxury tour packages that will enthrall you and leave you wanting more, from regal palaces to serene backwaters.

With luxury tour packages that will mesmerize you, set out on an unforgettable journey through South India’s opulent landscapes and cultural treasures. Trust the best in the business, The Grand Indian Route, with your itinerary to ensure an exceptional and seamless travel experience. They create immersive experiences that highlight the best of South India’s palaces, backwaters, temples, wildlife, wellness, and more.

They are renowned for their expertise in curating bespoke luxury tours. As you indulge in the pinnacle of luxury travel through the captivating wonders of South India, let The Grand Indian Route handle every last detail.

“The Grand Indian Route” stands out as the pinnacle of excellence when it comes to luxury South India tour packages. They have made a name for themselves as the go-to travel agency for discerning travelers looking for extraordinary journeys thanks to their in-depth knowledge of the area, meticulous attention to detail, and dedication to unmatched service.

“The Grand Indian Route” is a luxury travel company that places a lot of emphasis on lodging. They carefully choose the most opulent and elegant hotels, resorts, and historical buildings that best reflect the opulence and cultural heritage of South India. Throughout your stay, you can anticipate first-rate amenities, faultless service, and the utmost comfort in everything from royal palaces to upscale beachfront retreats.

Custom luxury tour packages that highlight the best of South India’s palaces, backwaters, temples, wildlife, wellness, and cultural treasures are what “The Grand Indian Route” is known for. Their team of knowledgeable travel professionals has years of experience, extensive local knowledge, and a passion for creating memorable, immersive experiences.

They stand out as the top tour operator for opulent South India vacation packages. They ensure a captivating and immersive journey through the wonders of South India, where luxury and cultural splendor harmoniously coexist. They do this through their expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to creating exceptional experiences.

Discover the Majestic Palaces

Explore the splendor of South India’s palaces, which are living museums of the past. Immerse yourself in the Mysore Palace’s architectural wonders, the opulence of the Chettinad mansions, and the Padmanabhapuram Palace’s regal allure.

These palaces provide a window into South India’s illustrious past and regal way of life.

Cruise the Backwaters in Luxury

Set out on a tranquil journey through Kerala’s well-known backwaters, where luxurious houseboats are waiting.

Drift through the calm waters while being encircled by picturesque villages and lush greenery. Take advantage of the attentive service, mouthwatering food, and spellbinding sunsets.

Temples and Traditions

The vibrant cultural traditions and historic temples of South India are well known. Find out more about the magnificent temples of Madurai, Tanjore, and Hampi, which are renowned for their intricate architecture and spiritual significance.

Experience real rituals, take in traditional dance performances, and get lost in the spiritual atmosphere of these holy places.

Wildlife Encounters

Explore South India’s national parks and wildlife sanctuaries on exhilarating safaris. Visit the Periyar National Park to see the magnificent Bengal tigers, the Nagarhole National Park to see the elusive leopards, or the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary to see the exotic bird species.

These luxurious tour packages provide one-of-a-kind chances to interact with nature and see a variety of wildlife.

Ayurvedic Retreats and Wellness

Discover the rejuvenating effects of the traditional Indian medical system known as Ayurveda. Reputable Ayurvedic retreats and wellness facilities can be found in South India, where you can enjoy therapeutic massages, holistic treatments, and yoga sessions. Restore your mental, physical, and spiritual equilibrium while indulging in opulent wellness activities.

Beachside Bliss

Beautiful beaches in South India provide the ideal fusion of luxury and relaxation. Relax on Kovalam’s palm-lined beaches, take part in water sports in Pondicherry, or reenergize at an opulent beach resort in Varkala.

These beach locations offer the perfect setting for an opulent and relaxing vacation.

Cultural Experiences

Through immersive experiences, become fully immersed in South India’s rich cultural heritage.

Visit traditional craftsmen’s communities to see silk weaving, bronze casting, and pottery being made.

Attend classical music and dance performances, take cooking classes to learn how to prepare genuine regional dishes, and interact with the locals to better understand the culture.

Exquisite Cuisine

Enjoy the flavors of South Indian food, which is renowned for its wide variety of dishes and aromatic flavors. Enjoy traditional cuisine prepared on banana leaves, spicy Chettinad specialties, and Kerala’s world-famous seafood.

Curated culinary experiences, such as private dining with celebrated chefs and trips to local markets, are frequently included in luxury tour packages.

Conclusion

An opulent, culturally immersive, and naturally beautiful experience is what a luxury tour of South India promises. Whether you’re exploring majestic palaces that echo the grandeur of a bygone era or cruising along tranquil backwaters surrounded by lush landscapes, these luxury tour packages promise an unforgettable journey.

These expertly chosen tour packages provide the ideal fusion of luxury and authenticity, whether you’re touring regal palaces, sailing the backwaters, or indulging in wellness retreats.

How To Have A Great Time In Kolkata For 4 Days Trip

Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, is a vibrant city with a rich history and culture. It’s known for its literature, arts, music, and culinary scenes, among other things.

If you’re planning a four-day trip, here’s an itinerary suggestion that will allow you to experience the best of what Kolkata has to offer:

Day 1: Historical and Cultural Sightseeing

Start your morning at the Victoria Memorial. This grand marble building, surrounded by lush gardens, houses an extensive collection of art and historical items.

Afterward, head to the Indian Museum, India’s largest and oldest museum, to witness its vast collection of artifacts.

Later, visit the Mother House, the headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity, where Mother Teresa lived and worked.

Spend your evening on Park Street, which has a number of restaurants, pubs, and nightclubs.

Don’t forget to dine at Peter Cat, famous for its Chelo Kebabs.

Day 2: Exploring Literature and Arts

Start your day with a visit to the Jorasanko Thakur Bari, the ancestral home of the famous poet Rabindranath Tagore, now turned into a museum.

Then, visit the Marble Palace, a 19th-century mansion known for its collection of art, sculptures, and antique furniture.

In the afternoon, head to College Street, home to the world’s second-largest second-hand book market, and visit the Coffee House, a gathering place for intellectuals and artists for decades.

Attend an evening performance at the Rabindra Sadan Cultural Center, known for hosting Bengali theatre and music.

Day 3: Cuisine and Shopping

Start your day with a visit to New Market, a bustling shopping area, where you can buy anything from spices to sarees.

Have lunch at 6 Ballygunge Place or Oh! Calcutta for authentic Bengali cuisine.

In the evening, visit the Gariahat Market for more shopping and local street food.

End your day at Princep Ghat, where you can enjoy a peaceful boat ride on the Hooghly River while witnessing a breathtaking sunset.

Day 4: Modern Kolkata and Farewell

Visit the Eco Tourism Park, a vast expanse of gardens, lakes, and recreational areas.

Afterward, head to Salt Lake City to see the more modern and planned part of Kolkata.

Visit Science City, one of the largest science museums in the Indian subcontinent.

End your day and your trip with a visit to Park Street again for some final shopping, food, and maybe even some live music.

Remember to try Kolkata’s famous sweets like Rasgulla, Sandesh, and Mishti Doi during your visit.

Rasgulla

And, if you’re in the city during the Durga Puja festival, you’re in for a vibrant and joyous celebration unlike any other.

Enjoy your trip!

Explore Ladakh and Spiti: A Journey into the Heart of the Himalayas

Ladakh and Spiti are two regions in the northern part of India that are known for their breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and spiritual significance. Both regions are situated in the high-altitude Himalayan region and offer a unique experience to travelers who are looking for an off-beat destination to explore.

Explore Ladakh

Ladakh, also known as ‘the land of high passes’, is a region in the northernmost part of India that is situated in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The region is known for its stark and dramatic landscapes, which include high-altitude deserts, snow-capped peaks, and crystal-clear lakes. Ladakh is also known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several ancient monasteries and Buddhist temples.

The region has a predominantly Buddhist population, and the local festivals and celebrations reflect this cultural heritage.

One of the most popular tourist destinations in Ladakh is Leh, which is the largest town in the region. Leh is located at an altitude of over 11,000 feet and is surrounded by snow-capped peaks and rugged terrain.

The town has several monasteries and temples, including the famous Hemis Monastery and the Shanti Stupa. Other popular tourist destinations in Ladakh Packages include the Pangong Tso Lake, which is a stunning high-altitude lake that changes colors throughout the day, and the Nubra Valley, which is a scenic valley that is known for its sand dunes and Bactrian camels.

Explore Spiti

Spiti, on the other hand, is a region in the northern part of India that is situated in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The region is known for its rugged landscapes, which include high-altitude deserts, snow-capped peaks, and deep gorges.

Spiti is also known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several ancient monasteries and Buddhist temples. The region has a predominantly Buddhist population, and the local festivals and celebrations reflect this cultural heritage.

One of the most popular tourist destinations in Spiti is the town of Kaza, which is the largest town in the region. Kaza is located at an altitude of over 12,000 feet and is surrounded by snow-capped peaks and rugged terrain.

The town has several monasteries and temples, including the famous Key Monastery and the Tabo Monastery. Other popular tourist destinations in Spiti tour packages include the Pin Valley National Park, which is a stunning high-altitude park that is home to several endangered species, and the Spiti River, which is a pristine river that flows through the region.

Both Ladakh and Spiti are popular destinations for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts. The regions offer several trekking and mountaineering opportunities, including the famous Markha Valley Trek in Ladakh and the Pin-Parvati Trek in Spiti. The regions also offer several opportunities for camping, wildlife spotting, and bird-watching.

Moreover, both Ladakh and Spiti are also popular among spiritual seekers, who are looking for a serene and peaceful environment to connect with their inner selves.

The regions are home to several ancient monasteries and Buddhist temples, which offer a glimpse into the spiritual traditions and practices of the local people. The monasteries and temples are often situated in remote and secluded locations, providing a perfect setting for meditation and introspection.

Apart from their natural beauty and cultural heritage, Ladakh and Spiti are also known for their hospitality and warm welcoming people. The local people are friendly and hospitable, and they are always ready to share their traditions and way of life with visitors.

The regions are also known for their traditional cuisine, which includes dishes made from locally grown vegetables, herbs, and spices. Some of the popular dishes include momos, thukpa, and chhang.

However, it is important to note that both Ladakh and Spiti are situated in high-altitude regions, and travelers need to acclimatize themselves to the altitude before undertaking any strenuous activities.

It is also important to be mindful of the fragile ecosystem of the region and to minimize the impact on the environment. Travelers should respect the local traditions and customs and behave responsibly while traveling in these regions.

In conclusion, Ladakh and Spiti are two regions in northern India that offer a unique and off-beat travel experience to visitors. Whether you are looking for adventure, nature, spirituality, or culture, both regions have something to offer.

The regions are home to stunning landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and warm welcoming people. However, it is important to be responsible and mindful while traveling in these regions to ensure a sustainable and meaningful travel experience.

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10 Things to Know Before Taking Indian Safari

For a nature lover, there is no better place than visiting a national park. The flora, fauna, wildlife, and natural beauty of a national park are almost a treat for people living in urban cities and anyone who loves adventure.

Well, it is great news that India is one of the top countries in the world known for its biodiversity.

India has 101 national parks that include wildlife, sanctuaries, marine life, and much more. Boasting some of the rarest animals like One-horned Rhinoceros, White Tigers, Asiatic Lions, and many others, Indian National Parks are a favorite spot for nature enthusiasts and photographers.

Bengal Tiger

People from across the world appreciate this natural beauty. However, one must realize that these are wild predators, and it is a privilege to watch these glorious and magnificent creatures. The least we can do is follow the rules when visiting these parks and taking a safari.

Indian National Park Safari Tips

Every national park in India has its rules and guidelines for visitors. This helps them see the animals but also keep both the animals and people safe.

Please ensure you know about these rules thoroughly and take time to follow them when taking a safari in these parks. Below are 10 common things you should know before taking a safari in Indian National Parks.

Maintain Distance with Animals

Remember that they are in their space. You are just a visitor. You are invading their private space. That is why you must always remember to let the animals be and not try and engage with them. As they walk around in their area, do not disturb them in any way or try and make them afraid or infiltrated on.

One-horned Rhinoceros

Do Not Litter

This is an actual rule of any place across the world. However, more so, in the different Indian National Parks, you may visit. Do not be irresponsible. Do not throw plastic covers or glass bottles around as you travel through the national parks.

Unlike us, animals that inhabit the area do not understand the difference between stepping on different textures. It is your responsibility to ensure that you protect them.

Do Not Smoke or Start Fires

Creating fires or throwing cigarette buds that are not turned off in the national park is dangerous. Fire is a real issue. Often, if you are in an Indian National Park, there are usually designated areas where you can start a campfire, a barbeque, or even smoke. Follow the rule.

One mistake could lead to drastic displacement and a lot of heartache for the inhabitants.

Avoid Feeding Animals

The experts know what they need. By that, it is the people who are handling the national park and the animals themselves. You are not helping by trying to throw food on the road. As much as you think you are helping the animals.

If you do not know what they must or can eat, you have to ensure that you stay away from the idea of feeding animals to satisfy yourself.

Spotted Deer (Chital)

Follow the guide’s instructions

Guides that take you through safaris in Indian National Parks are experts for a reason. They come with years of experience and know what they are talking about.

It is pivotal that you follow their instructions to the tee. Do not try or think you know better than those who have got it and done it for years.

Stay Inside the Vehicle

Safaris have select vehicles that can stand the route and is designed to protect you during animal encounters. So, unless you are advised to get out and walk around the national parks, do not step out of the vehicles. Trust the experts.

A Tiger in Ranthambore National Park

If you are taking a tour without a guide, make sure you stick to the route and don’t go off the way searching for more creatures. Such adventure can put you in a lot of trouble like losing the trail, animal attacks, and more.

Do Not Disturb Their Habitat

Again, you are in the animal zone. Keep it quiet. Parties can be taken elsewhere. When you are in their habitat, respect it. In all likelihood, animals do not like loud noises. Therefore, respect their space.

Avoid playing music or making noises to get a reaction from an animal. It is not just unnecessary; it is also cruel.

Indian Gharial in Chambal River

Stay Silent and Calm

When you are going on a Safari in Indian National Parks, there is every chance that you will have a trip of your lifetime.

Baby Elephants taking a bath

However, the best way to go through the safari is to not disrupt wildlife. They will come and showcase themselves. But if you gasp a little too loudly, you might scare or annoy them away and not get the complete experience of the safari. So, stay calm and be patient.

Wear Light Coloured Clothes

Jarring colors can throw animals away from trying to get closer to the people that are coming to meet the visitors. They usually do not respond well to bright colors. Doing the best to be one with and blend in with flora and fauna is part of the things we do.

This will help us be one with the surroundings making us as travelers more accessible to the animals.

Earthy colored clothes are the best for Safari

Carry Supplies

Safaris usually last a while. So, always carry supplies. This includes ensuring you are prepared for a long ride as the guides take you through different parts of the national parks. You should try and carry supplies like water, basic food, and a garbage bag, so you do not litter.

Additionally, make sure you have the right equipment to make all the memories. However, ensure you do not scare them with flashes.

Never in your safari trip, you should forget that you are venturing into the wildlife’s space and somehow disturbing their habitats. So, by abiding by the rules of the park you are not only respecting the animals but also helping yourself and the animals.

Author Bio

Gulshan Bafna is a wildlife enthusiast and a brilliant photographer. His love for natural beauty can be found on his blog, where he shares all his travel experiences in a beautiful way that most of his followers love to read.

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Explore the 13 Intangible Cultural Heritage of India

There are 13 traditional-cultural elements of India that have been inscribed on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The Indian ICH list is an attempt to recognize the diversity of the Indian culture embedded in its rich and diverse social demographics.

Intangible Cultural Heritage Classifications

The UNESCO’s Convention for safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) classifies cultures and traditions into 5 broad domains. These are:

  • Oral traditions & expressions (including ancient languages)
  • Performing arts
  • Social practices, rituals, & festivals
  • Knowledge & practices concerning nature & the universe
  • Traditional craftsmanship

Intangible Cultural Heritage of India

The 13 traditional-cultural elements of India are:

  • Vedic Chanting
  • Kutiyattam (Sanskrit theatre)
  • Ramman (a religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal)
  • Mudiyettu (a ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala)
  • Ramlila (the traditional performance of the Ramayana)
  • Kalbelia Folk Songs & Dances (in Rajasthan)
  • Chhau Dance (in Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Odisha)
  • Buddhist Chanting of Ladakh (recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in the Himalayan Ladakh region)
  • Sankirtana (a ritual singing, drumming, and dancing of Manipur)
  • Traditional Brass and Copper Craft of Utensil Making (among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru in Punjab)
  • Yoga
  • Nawrouz
  • Kumbh Mela (most popular in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh)

Vedic Chanting

The oral tradition of the Vedas consists of several recitations (or chanting) of the Vedic mantras. Such traditions of Vedic chant are often considered the oldest unbroken oral tradition in existence, the fixation of the Vedic texts as preserved dating to early Iron Age.

UNESCO proclaimed the tradition of Vedic chant a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on November 7, 2008.

The four Vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva) are not books in the usual sense, though within the past hundred years each veda has appeared in several printed editions. They comprise rather tonally accented verses and hypnotic, abstruse melodies whose proper realizations demand oral instead of visual transmission.

Kutiyattam

Kutiyattam, is a traditional performing art form in the state of Kerala. It is a combination of ancient Sanskrit theatre with elements of koothu, an ancient performing art from the Sangam era.

It is officially recognized by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Koodiyattam, meaning “combined acting” in Malayalam, combines Sanskrit theatre performance with elements of traditional koothu. It is traditionally performed in temple theaters known as koothambalams.

It is the only surviving art form that uses drama from ancient Sanskrit theatre. It has a documented history of a thousand years in Kerala, but its origins are unknown.

Ramman Festival

Ramman is a religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal region in India. It is a festival of the Hindu community in the Saloor Dungra village of the Painkhanda Valley in the Chamoli district in Uttarakhand, India.

Photo by UNESCO CC-BYSA3.0

The festival and the eponymous art form are conducted as an offering to the village deity, Bhumiyal Devta, in the courtyard of the village temple. The Ramman is unique to the village and is neither replicated nor performed anywhere else in the Himalayan region.

Ramman combines the sacred and the social, the ritualistic with revelry and expresses the history, faith, lifestyle, fears and hopes of the Saloor Dungra villagers through a mesh of oral, literary, visual, kinetic and traditional craft forms.

It is an annual affair that children learn by watching. The various skills it involves in terms of dance, singing and drumming are passed down across hereditary communities orally.

Note: The onslaught of globalization and technology and lack of financial or artistic compensation have adversely impacted the ritual and traditional performances of the Ramman. Being peripheral to mainstream art forms, the awareness of the Ramman beyond its immediate borders is small and it stands the risk of becoming extinct in time.

Mudiyettu

Mudiyett or Mudiyettu is a traditional ritual theatre and folk dance drama from Kerala that enacts the mythological tale of a battle between the goddess Kali and the demon Darika. The ritual is a part of the Bhagavathi or Bhadrakali cult.

The dance is performed in Bhadrakali temples, the temples of the Mother Goddess, between February and May after the harvesting season.

Photo by Bobinson K B CC-BYSA3.0

Being a community based art form it is the community that has traditionally encouraged and trained the next generation to preserve the art form. There is no school or institution to give training in this art form and its survival depends almost exclusively on direct transmission through the Guru-Shishya Parampara (i.e. masters to disciples tradition).

In 2010, Mudiyettu was inscribed in the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, becoming the second art form from Kerala after Koodiyattam.

Ramlila

Ramlila (literally ‘Rama’s lila or play’) is any dramatic folk reenactment of the life of Rama according to the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana or secondary literature based on it such as the Ramcharitmanas.

It particularly refers to the thousands of Hindu god Rama-related dramatic plays and dance events, that are staged during the annual autumn festival of Navratri in India.

After the enactment of the legendary war between Good and Evil, the Ramlila celebrations climax in the Dussehra night festivities where the giant grotesque effigies of Evil such as of demon Ravana are burnt, typically with fireworks.

Most Ramlilas in North India are based on the 16th century secondary work on Ramayana, Ramcharitmanas a verse form composition in the regional vernacular language by Tulsidas. These verses are used as dialogues in traditional adaptations.

Open-air productions are staged by local Ramlila committees, and funded entirely by the villagers or local neighborhoods in urban areas. The core team of performance artists train for the dance-drama, but the actual performance attracts impromptu participants from the audience and villagers.

This art form is a part of the Hindu culture, found for many gods and goddesses, but those of Rama, Durga (as Durga Puja) and Krishna (as Rasa lila) are the most popular and annual events in the Indian subcontinent.

Kalbelia Folk Songs & Dances

Kalbelia or Kabeliya is a dance from Rajasthan, performed by the tribe of the same name. The dance is an integral part of their culture and performed by men and women.

Photo by Aniket Murkute CC-BYSA4.0

The Kalbelia dance, performed as a celebration, is an integral part of Kalbelia culture. The dancers are women in flowing black skirts who dance and swirl, replicating the movements of a serpent.

The male participants play musical instruments, such as the pungi, a woodwind instrument traditionally played to capture snakes, the dufli, been, the khanjari – a percussion instrument, morchang, khuralio and the dholak to create the rhythm on which the dancers perform.

The dancers are tattooed in traditional designs and wear jewelry and garments richly embroidered with small mirrors and silver thread. As the performance progresses, the rhythm becomes faster and faster and so does the dance.

Kalbelia songs are based on stories taken from folklore and mythology and special dances are performed during Holi. The Kalbelia have a reputation for composing lyrics spontaneously and improvising songs during performances.

These songs and dances are part of an oral tradition that is handed down generations and for which there are neither texts nor training manuals. In 2010, the Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan were declared a part of its Intangible Heritage List by the UNESCO.

Chhau Dance

Chhau dance, also spelled as Chau or Chhaau, is a semi classical Indian dance with martial, tribal and folk traditions, with origins in Eastern India. It is found in three styles named after the location where they are performed, i.e. the Purulia Chau of West Bengal, the Seraikella Chau of Jharkhand, and the Mayurbhanj Chau of Odisha.

Photo by Biswarup Ganguly CC-BY3.0

The dance ranges from celebrating martial arts, acrobatics and athletics performed in festive themes of a folk dance, to a structured dance with religious themes found in Shaivism, Shaktism, and Vaishnavism.

The stories enacted by Chhau dancers include those from the Hindu epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the Puranas, and other Indian literature.

The dance is traditionally an all males troupe, regionally celebrated particularly during spring every year, and may be a syncretic dance form that emerged from a fusion of classical Hindu dances and the traditions of ancient regional tribes.

Buddhist Chanting of Ladakh

The recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in the Himalayan Ladakh region. These chants are a form of musical verse or incantation, in some ways analogous to Hindu, Christian or Jewish religious recitations.

In Buddhism, chanting is the traditional means of preparing the mind for meditation, especially as part of formal practice. However it can also be done for ritualistic purposes.

In a more traditional setting, chanting is also used as an invocative ritual in order to set one’s mind on a deity, tantric ceremony, mandala, or particular concept one wishes to further in themselves.

Tibetan buddhist monks are noted for their skill at throat-singing, a specialized form of chanting in which, by amplifying the voice’s upper partials, the chanter can produce multiple distinct pitches simultaneously.

Sankirtana

Manipuri Sankirtana is a form of performing art involving ritual singing, drumming and dancing performed in the temples and domestic spaces in Manipur State in India.

Through the performances which exhibit unparalleled religious devotion and energy, the performers narrate the many stories of Krishna often moving the spectators to tears.

It is practiced primarily by the Vaishnava community in Manipur and by the Vaishnava Manipuri population settled in the neighboring States of Tripura and Assam.

Traditional Brass & Copper Craft of Utensil Making

The traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru Punjab has got the distinction of being inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, UNESCO, in 2014.

The crafts colony was established during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1883), the great 19th Century Sikh Monarch, who encouraged skilled metal crafters from Kashmir to settle in the heart of his kingdom in the Punjab. Jandiala Guru became an area of repute due to the skill of the Thatheras.

The craft of the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru constitutes the traditional techniques of manufacturing brass and copper utensils in Punjab. The Thatheras craft utensils are of both Utilitarian and ritualistic value made of copper, brass and kansa (an alloy of copper, zinc and tin).

The metals used are recommended by the ancient Indian school of medicine, Ayurveda. The crafting process carried out by a specific group of craftspeople, known as Thatheras, has a unique ethnic and historical identity with an oral tradition that underpin their skill. The very name of the community – ‘Thatheras’ is identical with the name of the element.

Yoga

Obviously, yoga! Namaste world! 🙂 Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India. Yoga is one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophical traditions.

There is a broad variety of yoga schools, practices, and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. The practice of yoga has been thought to date back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions; possibly in the Indus valley civilization around 3000 BC.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the most popular authoritative text on yoga, dates from the 2nd century BC. It has gained prominence in the west in the 20th century after being first introduced by Swami Vivekananda.

Nawruz

Nowruz (Persian: “new day”‘) has Iranian and Zoroastrian origins; however, it has been celebrated by diverse communities for over 7,000 years in Western Asia, Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Black Sea Basin, the Balkans, and South Asia.

Tradition of Nowruz in Northern India dates back to the Mughal Empire; the festival was celebrated for 19 days with pomp and gaiety in the realm. However, it further goes back to the Parsi Zoroastrian community in Western India, who migrated to the Indian subcontinent from Persia during the Muslim conquest of Persia of 636–651 AD.

In the Princely State of Hyderabad, Nowruz was one of the four holidays where the Nizam would hold a public Darbar, along with the two official Islamic holidays and the sovereign’s birthday.

Kumbh Mela

Kumbh Mela is a major pilgrimage and festival in Hinduism. It is celebrated in a cycle of approximately 12 years at four river-bank pilgrimage sites: the Prayagraj (where three rivers Ganges, Yamuna, and Sarasvati meet), Haridwar (river Ganges), Nashik (river Godavari), and Ujjain (river Shipra).

The festival is marked by a ritual dip in the waters, but it is also a celebration of community commerce with numerous fairs, education, religious discourses by saints, mass feedings of monks or the poor, and entertainment spectacle.

The seekers believe that bathing in these rivers is a means to atonement (penance) for past mistakes, and that it cleanses them of their sins.

The festival is traditionally credited to the 8th-century Hindu philosopher Adi Shankara, as a part of his efforts to start major Hindu gatherings for philosophical discussions and debates along with Hindu monasteries across the Indian subcontinent.

About UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage

The purpose of such a list is to preserve intangible human elements that help demonstrate the diversity of cultural heritage and raise awareness about its importance.

Some of the criteria for inclusion in the representative list are if the inscription of the element will ensure visibility and awareness of it and if the element has been nominated after having “the widest possible participation” of the community, group or individuals concerned and with their free, prior and informed consent.

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Explore the 8 Natural History Museums in India

The visit to a museum has always been an enchanting experience for every visitor since humans started collecting and preserving ancient artifacts and memories of bygone people, wildlife, and cultures.

A visit to a museum always leaves a visitor gawking at the unexplored parts of both the past and the present. That’s why if a museum houses elements from paleontology, geology, archaeology, climatology and various other natural spheres, then the visit to such a museum becomes the greatest source of pleasure and excitement.

The best part about these museum is that you can visit them with kids as well, which makes it a great choice for family travel.

India is blessed with the presence of 8 such natural history museums across its prominent cities. Even though each of these 8 natural history museums is a great place to explore, in today’s blog, we’ll highlight the top 4 museums because of their rich collection and beautiful ambiance.

Leopard at Gass Forest Museum / Photo by Booradleyp1 CC-BYSA 3.0

Natural History Museums in India

  • Indian Museum, Kolkata
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum, Mumbai
  • Gass Forest Museum, Coimbatore
  • Napier Museum, Kerala
  • Government Museum, Chennai
  • Bengal Natural History Museum, Darjeeling
  • Thar Natural History Fossil Museum, Rajasthan
  • Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai
  • National Museum of Natural History, New Delhi (1972–2016; sadly, it got burned down in 2016)

Ready? Let’s being.

Indian Museum, Kolkata

The Indian Museum in Kolkata is the oldest museum present in India. Not only is the Indian Museum the largest in India and best among all museum in Kolkata, but, it also acquires a significant place in the Asia-Pacific zone. Started out in 1814 by the Asiatic Society, this museum has emerged as the most-stocked museum in India over the years.

As soon as the visitor sets foot on the steps leading to the museum, he or she is greeted by the huge, white pillars structured as per the British architecture. The various halls of the enormous building are tagged as per the different contents stored in them.

While a visitor may get awestruck looking at the weapons and coins of the old era at one hall, another visitor may get scared looking at the giant skeleton as soon as he or she enters the Paleontology section.

However, even though these things are beautiful in their own ancient way, the biggest source of attraction at the Indian Museum is the Egyptian section. The reason why every visitor rushes to the Egyptian section is because of the mummy that is displayed within the glass chambers.

There is a particular sort of chill in the air that automatically makes every tourist keep quiet and pay respect to the Egyptian mummy resting there peacefully.

Apart from the specimens, the architectural bounty of this museum, especially the white-washed walls and the huge pillars surrounding the lush green courtyard, leaves every visitor dreaming of returning to this exceptional place again and again.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai

Started out in the early 1900s as the Prince of Wales Museum, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya is known for its massive collection. This museum too has different sections and specializes in the collection of art and culture.

However, a huge natural section is also present at this museum which is a beautiful deviation from the age-old cultural partiality of any museum. Thus, as a whole, the collection of this Indo-Saracenic style architectural museum along with the adjoining lush, green lawn makes the city of Mumbai a proud owner of immense diversity.

Gass Forest Museum, Coimbatore

Photo by Booradleyp1 CC BY-SA 3.0

The Gass Forest Museum was established in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu in 1902. This museum is an influence of the forest department and, hence, houses a great variety of biodiversity.

This museum is blessed with some of the best collection of stuffed animals in India that enlivens the tour and makes the visit an enriching educational experience.

Napier Museum, Thiruvananthapuram

Photo by Ashiq Surendran CC BY-SA 4.0

The Napier Museum, founded in 1855 in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, is one of the oldest museums in India. Inspired by the Indo-Saracenic architecture, this museum boasts of a wide variety of the specimens of art and culture.

The natural air-conditioning system of this museum makes the visit a pleasant experience even in the hot, summer months.

This museum also has a zoological garden which was established in 1857. This is one of the oldest zoological gardens in India and, thus, has a huge collection in the field of natural history.

Thus, this varied flora and fauna, and, the cultural and natural biodiversity makes the Napier Museum a must visit for every tourist.

Conclusion

Thus, it can be comprehended how beautiful India is in terms of the natural museums. Because of the marvelous collection of natural specimens in each of these aforesaid museums, India boasts of being a proud owner in the field of displaying the untold stories of the past.

Author Bio

Rohit is a curious traveler who takes a keen interest in getting to know the past and comparing it with the present. He takes out time from his busy schedule to unearth true knowledge and share the same with his readers. You can read his stories and experiences at his travel blog Trans India Travels.

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Things You Should Know When Caring for an Aging Parent

Watching parents progress through age can be challenging, to say the least. The person who raised you and acted as a strong, powerful role model slowly loses their faculty as they grow old—and before you know it, you’re caring for the person who cared for you since you were a baby.

This transition could happen gradually as their condition worsens, or it could happen overnight if they unexpectedly slip, fall, and break a bone.

That’s why it’s critical for families to be proactive and plan for this chapter of life before anyone is caught off guard and thrown into a caretaking role they’re not prepared for.

 

Mix this with your travel plans and your lifestyle, and it gets tricky. Today, we’ll talk about  3 things you should know when caring for an aging parent.

Daily Living Requirements Must Be Met

How do you gauge whether your parent needs additional assistance as they progress through age? It’s a delicate line to walk. You don’t want to offend their dignity or autonomy, but you need to know that they can safely meet the daily living requirements essential to their emotional and physical well-being.

Keep a close eye on their condition to ensure they independently perform the following activities every day:

  • Self-feeding
  • Dressing
  • Bathing or showering
  • Personal hygiene (grooming, brushing teeth, etc.)
  • Toilet hygiene
  • Functional mobility (getting in and out of bed, sitting down and up from a chair)

Many seniors develop age-related illness or mobility issues that impede their ability to conduct their daily activities with ease. They might show signs of cognitive decline and forget to take their prescriptions, or it may prove unsafe for them to walk up and down the stairs after recent surgery.

Whatever the case may be, you’ll need to find them the appropriate help. This may be in the form of you stopping by at lunch to make sure they took their meds, hiring a qualified professional for help, or retrofitting their home and installing the proper safety equipment.

This transition is inevitably challenging. Adult children may be in denial, not ready to accept their parent’s decline in health, and elderly parents may be reluctant to ask for help due to guilt, shame, or stubbornness. However, taking an honest look at their condition and identifying where they need support is the first step to helping them live out the last years of their life most comfortably.

There are Ways to Pay for Senior Care

As health weakens and parents show increased symptoms, many adult children worry over how to pay for senior care. You want the best possible treatment for your parents, but how can you afford it without placing a financial burden on your own family? And how do you know which type of treatment program is best?

Fortunately, there are several ways to pay for senior care without mounting expensive medical bills. Take a look at the options below:

  • Medicare Part A – Original Medicare includes provisions for different types of inpatient care during temporary stays at a hospital or skilled nursing facility. This form of senior health insurance also provides hospice care for terminal illnesses and may cover the costs of at-home nursing care in severe cases.
  • Supplemental Medicare – Also known as a “Medigap policy”, supplemental insurance can be used to bridge the gap between services not covered under Original Medicare Part A and B. This offsets the out-of-pocket costs for dental care, dentures, eye exams, hearing aids, and more.
  • Investment Accounts and Retirement Savings – According to LongtermCare.gov, the average monthly cost of living in an assisted living or nursing facility ranges from $3,600 to $6,800, which could be very difficult to afford on Social Security alone. When your parent can no longer safely age in place, they can receive the treatment they deserve by tapping into the interest accrued on their investment portfolio or the money they’ve placed into a savings account.

Be sure to take advantage of the publicly funded programs that offer financial assistance for the elderly if you need extra help covering medical expenses.

Charities such as Meals on Wheels can provide your loved one with warm food and friendly smiles when you can’t be there, while the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development may be able to find your parent an affordable place to live.

Estate Planning Should Be Aligned

Unfortunately, it’s not a matter of “if” your loved one will die, but “when”. As they develop signs of age, it’s wise to go over their estate plan to ensure their affairs are in order. It can be uncomfortable to discuss what will happen once a parent passes, but it’s crucial to talk about it in advance.

Having a plan laid out will not only minimize stress following their passing, but it will also help minimize the amount paid in taxes, court costs, and legal fees. It’s likely that your parents began preparing their estate when their children were born, but it’s worth reviewing in case any changes need to be made.

For example, a divorce in the family or the birth of grandchildren could warrant names being added or removed. Your parent may have acquired a business since then, in which case they’ll need to formally document who it will be transferred to, or they might have opened a bank account but have yet to record the information necessary for an heir to access the funds.

Go over the documents in detail to confirm nothing’s left out, and if they haven’t already created a plan, make it a priority while they’re still in good health. Talking through various options from the comfort of home will make you and your parents feel much more comfortable as you prepare.

Conclusion

It’s important to have these conversations with your parent(s) well before their condition deteriorates and they have their full mental faculty. Otherwise, family members might feel rushed into a decision and emotions can run tense. Difficult conversations are never easy but going into them prepared helps smooth the discussion.

Come to the table with these talking points in mind and your loved one can rest assured they’ll receive the best care possible.

Author Bio

Kaelee Nelson received her Master degree with an emphasis in Digital Humanities and pursues her career as a writer in San Diego, currently writing for 365 Business Tips and GoodLife. She enjoys informing readers about topics spanning industries such as technology, business, finance, culture, wellness, hospitality, and tourism.

 

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Best Tips On How to Find Work & Travel Around the World

If you love traveling, then you have to admit at some point in your life you have envied the airline and cruise employees because they get to travel to so many destinations (for Free)!

Well, up until just a few decades ago, people were very, very limited with regard to where they could work unless they specifically had a job that involved international travel.

Most people never had the opportunity to work from another location (whether a farm or factory or an office building), let alone work across the globe.

This meant that not only you could never enjoy the experiences of those that were lucky enough to travel for work (example: traveling salesmen) but also you were bounded by “how many vacation days you get”. 

Time & Money Equals Travel

You need both the money and free days to travel. Without a job, there is no money. And even with a job which pays money, if they only give you two weeks of vacation, how can you fulfill your dream of traveling the world!

In other words, you need flexibility in life and work to be able to travel.

How to Find Work Abroad

Depending on the type of work you do, you may find that you can work from anywhere in the world.

This is great for those who want to expand their horizons by traveling but do not want to give up on their ability to earn a living doing something they have experience in.

The Rise of Remote Work Culture

Find work where all you need is an internet connection

Of course, these days, with the rise in the gig economy and remote work, this has all changed. The digital age powered by cheap and fast internet connectivity has made it possible for people from many different backgrounds and industries to collaborate and work around the world.

Not only is this made easier by being able to work remotely from another location but also because learning new languages has become more accessible.

For instance, you can take online French, Spanish, or Japanese lessons from Live Lingua to help you get to grips with the lingo so you can work more efficiently and score a higher chance of finding a job when living abroad.

Making business partners in Kenya

With some types of jobs, all you need is a computer and internet access, and you are all set to enjoy the working adventure of a lifetime.

American Peace Corps Volunteers in Ukraine

Some tips that can help when it comes to working efficiently abroad include:

Research the Area Properly

One thing you need to do is make sure you research the area or areas you are planning to work from properly.

This doesn’t mean just checking out the best sights and attractions to explore in your spare time – it means looking at factors that could affect your work such as internet access and speeds in the area.

Also, look at things such as living costs in the area, as this could impact the viability of you heading over there to work.

Learn the Language

When it comes to working efficiently, it is important to learn the language for the destination you plan to work from.

There are all sorts of times where you may need to be able to converse, whether it is with local clients in relation to work or whether it is with service providers when it comes to services you use for your work.

Learning how to speak the language will make life far easier for you when it comes to working abroad.

Make Sure You Have Necessary Visas

It is important to remember that there may be different VISA requirements and requirements for other official documentation depending on where you plan to work from.

You don’t want to end up working there illegally, obviously! So, make sure you are well aware of the documentation you need and make sure everything is in place before you head off to work abroad.

You can get plenty of information online about what you need, so you should be able to get it all sorted out in plenty of time.

Learn About Cultural Differences

Another thing to do is to look at cultural differences between what you are used to and what the culture is like in the area you will be working from.

If you are unaware of these differences, you could end up offending people without even knowing it, which is definitely not good for work if you will be dealing with the locals.

Respect the Traditions

So, make sure you look into the culture before you head off, as traditions may be very different where you are going compared to where you are at the moment.

Another thing to keep in mind is clothing. Try to wear as much ethenic or neutral clothing as possible because that shows your willingness to mingle with the locals and it also demonstrated you are respecting their values and traditions.

Research the Currency

You should also take some time to research the currency in the area you will be working and/or living in and compare it against the living costs in the area.

Again, this will enable you to determine the viability of living and working in that area in terms of finances. You can get online to look up this information but bear in mind the fluctuations with some currencies – you will need to keep a close eye on this.

Avoid Politics and Religion

Discussing politics and religion in a workplace setting is often considered off-limits, and perhaps for good reasons. When you are living and working in a foreign country, be extra cautious and avoid taking sides, picking favorites, or insulting or dismissing someone’s beliefs and values (whether right or wrong).

If you have strong opinions, one way you can express those is through Twitter and blogging. If your opinions are critical of the people in power in those countries, and if your main objective is to travel and not start a revolution, then it is also wise to keep yourself anonymous on these online platforms.

Practice Common Sense Safety Precautions

Read these tips:

The World Is Your Oyster

Thanks to digital technology, the world really can be your oyster when it comes to working around the world. The above tips will help to ensure you can work efficiently and that you have everything you need to start working in destinations around the world.

Once you have picked up a skill that is in demand and can be done online (or something like teaching certifications), have mastered the local language, and learned about local culture and traditions, you will find it much easier to settle in destinations you are not familiar with.

You can then get on with doing your work, earning money, and enjoying an adventure all rolled into one!

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6 Places To Visit In India During Winter

The winter landscape is surreal. The snow-laden mountains and pristine blue sky make beautiful scenery. But I bet you don’t think of India as a winter travel destination.

What if I told you that there are many places in India that will take you on a tour of a winter wonderland. Pack your bags and buckle up to discover the beauty of the chill.

SHILLONG

The crystal clear water of Unmgot is the major attraction of Shillong. You can row your boat here and think you are flying. The feeling is sensational. During this time of the year, many festivals are organized.

You can attend them as well as savor the tangy oranges near the Uni got the river. The Pleasant temperature will make your stay more fun.

LEH

The freezing temperatures of Leh can make your bones chilled. But what is an adventure without a little risk? You can do ice trekking here in Like trek, Sham trek and much more. The icy blue floor beneath you and the clear blue sky above you.

You will be overpowered by blue. But, you need to ready yourself for the harsh environment also, because it can get a bit dangerous if you are not well insulated.

NAGOA BEACH


The unspoiled territory of India, Diu is a gem to be explored. Nagao beach here is the sandy escape of your dreams. In the comfortable temperatures of winter, you can get out and lounge in the winter sun. During the night a bonfire sounds like an exciting idea.

What better way to spend your night singing and dancing around the fire with your close ones? A world-famous festival Festa De Diu is held at the ivory-white beach of Nagoya. Enjoy your new year.

RANN OF KUTCH

Image Credit

The western Indian state of Gujarat has something to surprise you at every turn. Rann of Kutch is a massive area of endless sands sprawled across the barren land. You can pitch your tent at the nearby Dhordo village.

At night you can gaze at blue sands shining under the moonlight. During your stay, Rann Utsav will be in full sway. The ethnicity of festivities will leave you flabbergasted.

DALHOUSIE

Himachal Pradesh is known for its lovely winters. If you want to experience some serious snow, go to Dalhousie. Deodar trees surround the old colonial town.

Snow envelopes the quaint houses and trees, giving the town a Christmassy feeling.

You can do trekking here as a beginner or as an expert. The National Himalayan Winter Trekking Expedition is your opportunity for some adventure.

SRINAGAR

It is titled as the heaven on earth, and rightly so. Once you behold the vibrant scenery of Kashmir, you will fall in love with it.

The snow-covered landscape makes it an apt place for winter sports like skiing and ice trekking. You can ride a shikara on the jheels (lakes) of Kashmir. Winters enhances the magic of Srinagar.

How to Obtain Argentina Travel Visa for Indian Passport Living in USA

I am an Indian passport holder (with a green card) and live in the USA. What is the process to get an Argentina Travel Visa?

I am answering my own question here based on my experience of getting an Argentina visa from the consulate in Los Angeles.

I am writing this post because I had these questions before I got the visa. The visa experience is from Nov 2014 and might be different depending on when you read this post.

The Argentinian consulate in Los Angeles, CA caters to some 11 states. If you need a visa from them, you have to make an appointment at the consulate. They do not accept walk-ins, nor can you apply by mail.

To make an appointment, send an email to the consulate.

I sent an email to visas_clang@mrecic.gov.ar, but this would be different for other consulates.

The consulate is very busy and hence replies to emails very slowly, sometimes even after 2 weeks. In my case, they replied after a week. Given sufficient time for them to respond and to get an appointment.

A young and old couple doing the Tango

Tips On Communication

When communicating with the consulate, please highlight in the subject that you are requesting for an appointment, and when your date of travel is. This might help you get their attention if you are in a hurry.

The consulate will give you a list of requirements for the visa. They will also give you a date and ask you to confirm it. I took the date they gave me and did not try to change it.

I live in San Francisco, so had to travel to LA for the appointment. On the day of the appointment, I went to the consulate. The consulate is in a good area of Los Angeles and is well connected by public transport. There is parking at the consulate if you decide to drive.

I took public transport. There is a Starbucks if you reach early and need to wait, and printer services outside the consulate, if you need to take any missing printouts. The consulate has restrooms as well.

When you go into the consulate, you need to sign in. they have two lists, one for appointments and one for those without. Sign into the one for appointments. Wait for your name to be called out. You won’t be called before your appointment even if the person handling the visa

is not busy. When your turn comes, a consulate person checks your papers to make sure all required documents are submitted. You are then asked to wait to be interviewed by the consulate officer. I had to wait 20 minutes, but a person before me had to wait for an hour or so.

The consulate officer asked me basic questions as to why i am going there, how long, if i have been there before etc. But he did check to make sure I have all the hotels booked. I had made a list of all the dates and hotels in addition to the hotel reservations. This made him happy.

The officer was very courteous. He approved my visa. I asked him for a multiple entry visa, and he gave me one for twice the number of days I asked for. The passport will be mailed back to me (you have to submit a prepaid USPS priority flat rate envelope) in 7 days. You can ask for 3-day processing for $40.

Pro-Tip: The visa fee is free for Indian passport holders. Therefore, you can ask for a multiple-entry visa, since you don’t have to pay anything extra.

Note: You can carry a backpack to the consulate. So if you are traveling to LA from another city and need to check out from your hotel or just reach there in the morning (by bus or plane), you don’t need to keep your bags in a locker or something. Good luck!

Author Bio

This is a curated post on visa requirements. The author of this article is Ksach and this answer first appeared on a TripAdvisor forum. Some changes are made to make this article more useful.

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One Golden Rule To Avoid Overpacking

When I went on my first ever solo trip, I bought myself a 75L rucksack. Yes, you read it correctly. A 75L Rucksack!

I was so happy when I received it. It was huge, and it could carry almost anything.

In my excitement, I packed four pairs of shoes and all the pretty dresses I had. The rest is just a bad memory, Lol. My rucksack became so heavy that I got backache and blisters, and overall physical exhaustion from my trip.

I was so much in pain, that I couldn’t even enjoy my stay. I needed a vacation after my vacation to recover from my vacation!

Read Next: How to Pack Like a Pro & Travel Like a Ninja

The Golden Rule

Pack your bags smartly. There is a golden rule of packing that you must follow if you want to avoid overpacking situations like me.

The Golden Rule: Ditch the what-ifs

If you travel to a place in monsoon, then travel with your boots on. So, you don’t have to think- “should I pack my boots?”

Pro-travelers have a neutral colored wardrobe. I prefer black and blue over any other colors.

As a solo female traveler, as a bonus benefit, remember neutral colors goes a long way. For example, When you are traveling through busy streets or tourist hot spots, and if you dress up in bright colors, you will attract unwanted male attention.

Not only this waste time in causal small talks and saying “No” to offers for drinks and coffee, but it also causes unwanted stress, especially if the place and people don’t appear safe.

But if you wear a neutral color like navy blue, black or gray, you feel at home with the Parisian Women. Make sure your travel capsule has neutral colors which you can mix and match.

Black pants, black jacket, black jeans, and boots can take you almost anywhere in the world. And you can mix and match it with gray and navy blue. Below, there are infographics to show you how to create a travel capsule and yet look fashionable.

There is a saying that the lighter you pack, the farther you go. And it couldn’t be truer.

Travel Capsules – Packing Tips

We have three travel capsules for three seasons you may encounter on your travels: winter, summer, and rainy.

Fall and spring seasons can be planned as a winter destination minus the coats, thermals, jackets, gloves, and boots.

Winter Travel Packing List

  • (Inner) Thermals
  • Black tank tops
  • White tank tops
  • Black full sleeves t-shirts
  • Grey full sleeves t-shirts
  • Black and white striped t-shirts
  • Black pants
  • Blue jeans
  • Black jacket
  • Black boots

Summer Travel Packing List

  • White tank tops
  • Black tank tops
  • Black T-shirts
  • Grey T-shirts
  • Black and white striped t-shirts
  • Blue jeans/shorts
  • Black pants/shorts
  • Tan Sandals
  • A Red/black/white dress

Rainy Travel Packing List

  • Travel size umbrella
  • Light Waterproof /Windproof Jacket
  • White tank tops
  • Black tank tops
  • Black t-shirts
  • Grey Full sleeves shirts
  • Black and white striped t-shirts
  • Black pants
  • Blue jeans
  • Black boots/tan boots

What About Accessories

Actually, accessorize (watch, bracelets, jewelry) don’t take much space. Also, things such as scarves, belts, and handbags don’t take up a ton of space if you utilize the space and pack them smartly.

This means your default neutral-colored look can be enhanced with beautiful, small accessories of bright colors.

Moreover, there are good chances that you’ll do some shopping on your travel and you can also buy a few accessories or clothes as you travel. If you plan it right, you can carry even fewer stuff than what we have suggested above.

A Word on Souvenirs

Some folks like to collect memorabilia from everywhere they visit. This is a subjective choice and although I respect those who buy 5 magnets and postcard photos and a handmade artisan craft and a bag of local coffee or whatever that place is known for, know that these days you can buy most common stuff everywhere.

Besides, many of the artisans made pieces are not truly “made in fill-in-the-blank” but imported from China or South America.

If you absolutely feel like buying a souvenir for yourself or your family and friends, then buy something that is essentially and uniquely local.

You can choose to buy stuff that helps the local people and economy rather than at the airport or in big stores.

You can also consider donating money or hard cash to local artists or street performers. Moreover, you can take a class for something if you are staying longer.

These memories, good karma, and the new skills that you will learn will give you more joy than the shot glasses, postcards, magnets, or whatever common stuff everyone collects.

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How to Overcome Travel Visa Hassles as an Indian

If you are someone who holds an Indian passport and wants to travel the world – backpacking, cruising, or simply wanting to fly and explore a new country, you likely already know the frustrating drill.

As an Indian passport holder, you rank 67th in the world and it is true that the situations for Indians are improving. For example, India used to be ranked #77 just five years ago (in 2015).

With significant improvements made on the diplomatic front with several foreign countries, as of 2019, as an Indian citizen, you get to travel visa-free to 25 countries and get visa on arrival to an additional 39 countries.

Must Read: List of Countries Indians Can Travel Visa-Free on a US H1/F1 Visa

This is all great and all Indians should celebrate! But, like me, someone with an Indian passport, you still need a pre-approved travel visa to a whopping 134 countries.

This makes travel expensive, time-consuming, stressful, and overall less fun!

Fun Fact: The UAE passport is currently ranked number 1, which allows a UAE citizen visa-free travel to 167 countries. Other countries in the top 5 are Canada, United States, Germany, FranceDenmark, Sweden, Luxembourg, Finland, Italy, Singapore, Netherlands, Spain, Norway, and South Korea.

Overcome Travel Visa Hassles as an Indian

The Taj Mahal, India

Whatever! This all said one should not feel discouraged. As the old saying goes, where there is a will, there is a way. Moreover, there are hundreds of Indians (if not thousands) who have managed to travel all over the world on a budget and average passport power.

As Indians, your biggest advantage is your language skills. If you are reading this blog in English, you will have no problem exploring this planet from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle.

Must Read: The Ultimate India Travel Guide

Here are my few recommendations for Indian backpackers and world travelers:

Start at Home

Travel and explore everything in the country you reside and India. If you live in India, then make sure you have traveled to all 29 Indian States.

If you live in the United States, make sure you have traveled to all 50 US States. The same applies for whether you work and live in the Middle East or Canada or the UK or Australia for that matter.

Visit the Neighbors

The Himalayas in Nepal

As per the India-Nepal and India-Bhutan treaty, Indians enjoy no questions asked, visa-free travel to both Nepal and Bhutan. You can even work there or teach English or do some volunteering work and take your time while you explore these beautiful Himalayan countries.

Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan

Travel to Visa Free Countries

Once you have covered your home and residence country, start with the countries that welcome you.  It’s time to return the favor through our travel and the money that we spend in a foreign country.

Tourism is the bread and butter of many countries and many of these countries depend on our tourism revenue. For example, Maldives, Madagascar, and Mauritius, to name a few.

Here is the list of countries that allows Indians to arrive visa-free:

Widi Islands Lagoon, Indonesia

Explore Visa on Arrival Countries

Wild Sri Lanka

Apply for Schengen Visa for Europe

If you want to travel to Europe (and you should), the best way to go about it is to apply for a multi-year, multiple entry Schengen Visa. Currently, the Schengen Area consists of 26 member European countries.

Northern Lights in Vik, Iceland

This allows you to travel to all of these countries which are all located in Europe.

Well, if you travel to all the countries listed above, you would easily become one of the most traveled people in the world.

You see, the challenge is not the lack of information or the Indian passport, but of proper planning.

WW2 Brandenburg Gate in Germany

 

Read Next: List of Countries Indians Can Travel Visa-Free on a US H1/F1 Visa

If you have enough motivation, you will make it happen! Go travel the world and explore everything under the sun.

If you have any questions, please leave it in the comments below.

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12 Months, 12 Challenges: Happy New Year

Happy New Year! You have hit the reset button and you get to start fresh. Congratulations, you have made it to the new year, a new beginning in many ways.

This morning, on January 1st, Neha and I brainstormed and discussed how can we make this year a little different and more interesting than any of the previous years.

A New ‘New Year’

We didn’t want to do any new year’s resolutions this time. Like, lose another 10 pounds or travel to 6 new countries kinda common, boring, silly stuff.

This year, we wanted to do something fun and inspirational. Something that can be replicated by anyone and can be measured and therefore hold us accountable.

Read Next: 69 One Month Challenges That Will Make Your Life Better

 

12 Months, 12 Challenges

After drinking a gallon of water to flush all the alcohol from our system from the last night’s new year’s eve party, and peeing around 15 times, we were finally hit with a lightbulb moment.

We thought of how we can turn an ordinary year into a transformational year. Something that is both fun and motivational for our travel-addict community.

We had a nicely brewed cappuccino by the window while we enjoyed the sunny Boston afternoon. We discussed what challenges are practically doable by most people and beneficial to the doer even if they fail. We brainstormed and selected the following ideas.

Related: If you like challenges, you’ll love Our Ultimate Travel Bucket List

12 Challenges in 12 Months

  • One month without alcohol and soda
  • One month of being total Vegan
  • One month of sugar detox
  • One month of running 1 mile each day
  • One month of yoga every day
  • One month of social media detox
  • One month of caffeine detox
  • One month of eating only at home or home-cooked meal
  • One month of no Netflix and TV
  • One month of daily reading for at least 30 minutes
  • One month of daily mindfulness meditation for at least 20 minutes
  • One month of doing a random act of kindness

No soda, no alcohol, no caffeine

Monthly Challenges Breakdown

  • January – one month without alcohol and soda
  • February – one month of being total Vegan
  • March – one month of sugar detox
  • April – one month of running 1 mile each day
  • May – one month of yoga every day
  • June –  one month of social media detox
  • July – one month of caffeine detox
  • August – one month of eating only at home or home cooked meal
  • September – one month of no Netflix and TV
  • October – one month of daily reading for at least 30 minutes
  • November – one month of daily mindfulness meditation for at least 20 minutes
  • December – one month of doing a random act of kindness

Well, this is going to be both fun and tough.

That said, we want to encourage you to make your own list of challenges and play along with us.

A new day, a new start

Benefits of Monthly Challenges

Whether it’s writing a novel in 30 days or doing 30 days of yoga or 30 days of running or 30 days of detoxing, there is a good reason that 30 days challenges are getting popular. I believe:

  • Monthly challenges are a great way to instill new healthy habits
  • Anyone can commit to doing anything for 30 days
  • The 30 days duration is neither too long nor too short
  • A monthly schedule is easy to track and follow
  • These can be turned into fun group activities and can be viewed as games

Well, the clock is already ON. Let’s get started and motivate each other!

Challenge Your Friends

Please share your progress and lessons learned from each challenge on the social media of your choice or just comment below.

Please follow us on @The Art of Travel and @Fitness_Girl_Daily. We’ll be sharing our progress and our failures on Instagram stories.

Please tag us in your posts if you are planning to do any of the challenges above.

And, once again, a happy new year to you and yours from all of us at The Art of Travel family.

6 Road Trip Safety Tips That Could Save Your Life

Going on a road trip solo or with friends and family is always exciting. The thought of reaching your destination, spending time during a road trip with your favorite people, driving fast on not-so-busy highways while listening and singing along to your favorite songs are some of the things that make road trip unforgettable.

The journey is always fun if you are well prepared for it. But, oftentimes, in the excitement of the trip, there are some basic things we tend to forget.

In this blog, we want to cover a few basics which will double your joy and hopefully might even save your or someone’s life someday!

Road Trip Safety Tips

Well, we’re not talking about your iPhone charger (can you really forget that?) or earphones but something much more important. While cars and roads are safer now than before, you can’t afford to take chances on yourself and your loved one’s lives.

Too often, simple precautions get forgotten in the midst of all the excitement and delight of hitting the road. Below are the six tips on how to make your road trip safer and more fun having the extra peace of mind that comes with being totally prepared for anything.

Carry a Fully Stocked Emergency Kit

 

It’s always good to hope for the best, but it’s even better to prepare for the worse just in case. The first thing that should go in your car should be an emergency kit that stocked with items that can be helpful in case of an emergency. It should include:

  • Flashlight
  • First Aid Kit
  • Water bottles
  • Mobile Charger
  • Clean blanket
  • Emergency contact names & numbers – this is critical

You should also include car-specific items in case your car develops issues on the trip like triangle reflectors, some coolant, jumper cables, and an adjustable wrench.

We advise keeping all the emergency items in one place, preferably a tote bag or box, so that you can quickly get everything you need during an emergency.

Read Next: Beach Safety Tips, Ocean and Swimming Safety Tips

Learn Basic Car Maintenance Skills

If you are heading to a place you’ve never visited before, it is best if you can be fully self-sufficient with everything, from road navigation to vehicle maintenance.

You don’t want to start looking for a mechanic in the middle of the woods when your car busts a tire. As such, a week before leaving familiarize yourself with DIY car maintenance procedures like removing and changing tires, checking and adding pressure and changing antifreeze and coolant.

Learning to do these things with boost your confidence, eliminate worries and let you enjoy your trip.

Related: 9 Tips to Prepare for a Long Motorcycle Roadtrip

Keep the Music Low

 

You may find putting your favorite Drake song on full blast as you drive home from a long day at work quite therapeutic. There would be little to no impact on your driving. But that’s probably because your mind and body are used to taking the same road home every day.

On a new road, however, you need to be as keen and focused as possible on what’s happening in the front, sideways and at your back.

You might not be able to swerve fast enough to avoid an oncoming truck if you’re too busy having your own version of Carpool Karaoke.

Map & Load Your Route Beforehand

 

Get acquainted with the routes to your destination a few days before the trip, even if you’re not the driver. Additionally, check the weather and traffic forecasts on all roads you plan on using and plan accordingly.

Share your route information with a close family member who will be left behind and keep them updated on your progress. In case you suddenly go off-grid, they’ll know where to look.

Service Your Car Before You Go

The last thing you want to do is go on a trip hundreds of miles away from home with a faulty vehicle. Apart from subsequent repairs being expensive as hell, a defective car on a long journey is an accident waiting to happen.

Do a full checkup and service before you get on with your journey, replacing everything likely to break down within a month’s time. It is also good to carry spare parts like wheels and windscreens.

A Good Night’s Sleep Goes a Long Way

As mentioned several times above, going on a trip on unfamiliar roads requires loads of concentration and alertness to avoid accidents and nasty road experiences altogether.

Thus, the driver (and the co-driver) need to sleep for at least 8 hours before departure to ensure that they are on high alert and fresh during the trip.

Apart from sleep, resting also does wonders to one’s concentration and instinctual reactions. You might want to skip leg day if it falls a day before you’re set to be the designated driver.

Also, do we really need to stress the importance of being entirely sober before and during a trip?

Conclusion

Traveling is fun, exhilarating and eye-opening, more so when it’s with a bunch of friends or family. Nonetheless, a little caution goes a long way to making sure you all come back in one piece.

We hope that you’ve learned something about Road Trip Safety from this article and that you have a safe and fun road trip to wherever you’re planning to visit.

Feel free to also share your personal tips with our readers, congratulate us on a good job or just drop some words of wisdom in the comments below. Cheers!

Author Bio

Scott Pine is a team-building coach in the social marketing sphere, expert in a life insurance company, traveler and car lover. Scott also works on several own projects, including AutoExpertGuides. Follow him on Twitter.

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Dalhousie to Amritsar Roadtrip via Chamba

The distance between Amritsar and Dalhousie is almost 180 km. The best way to travel between Amritsar and Dalhousie is to take a train from Amritsar to Pathankot (both cities are in Punjab), and then take a bus or rent a taxi.

In our case, we drove the entire way. Road condition is usually good except for a few patches at times and overall it was a great experience.

Related: Delhi to Amritsar Road Trip 

Dalhousie to Amritsar Roadtrip

The drive is very scenic. Here are few photos from the Chamba region (in Himachal Pradesh). The main goal however for us was to reach Amritsar before noon.

Pic credit: SuyanRamesh

Pic credit: Vjdchauhan

Arriving In Amritsar

We had our lunch at a proper Dhaba in Amritsar, and finally I tried the much hyped lassi. And bammm! It was on my face! I loved it. And the summer heat made it feel like ambrosia. We made it straight towards the famous Golden Temple.

Jallianwala Bagh

You can visit both places on the same day as Jallianwala Bagh and Golden temple are both side by side.

Mass Murder at Jaliianwala

Jaliianwala is a place where many Sikhs had gathered to protest against the British during the British Raj. And then happened the merciless incident, when the silent protesters were fired on by the British troops.

All the gates of the garden were blocked. So the people had nowhere to go. Many tried climbing the walls, and many jumped straight into the well. Terrible!

Jallianwala Bagh is a place which lights patriotism in any Indian, and mercy in any human. Walking inside the Bagh, I saw the walls, where the bullets had hit.

The holes on the wall tell a story of how ruthlessly the forces tried to overpower the peaceful protesters.

Inside the park, the Martyrs well is a place where 120 bodies were found. You can look below and feel the helplessness of the people who jumped into the well to escape from the gunshots.

The panicked protesters couldn’t do anything than run away. There is also a museum nearby which gives you the history of the Indian freedom struggle.

Golden Temple

Just a few steps away from the Jaliianwala Bagh is the Golden temple. You can see the Golden temple shining in the sun from afar. We all walked into the temple. And as soon as you enter you will have to submit your shoes at a counter. It is a holy place, and a temple, so opening the shoes is an important part of the tradition.

Once you submit your shoes you will have to walk on the marble floor in the heat. But the Sikhs are so caring and full of concern, they know the trouble you face.

Hence you can see carpets laid out on the floor. And they are not the normal carpets, they are the wet carpets. They pour water over the carpets, so that it does not hurt the feet.

I had never encountered this level of mindfulness and it made me grateful.

We made our way throughout the temple, and I stood near the pond, where you could wash your hands and feet. It is supposed to be holy.

The water seemed tempting, so I went into the water. But a man soon came by and warned away all the devotees who were in the water because there were fishes swimming on the edges.

I stayed there long enough to wash off my hands and feet, and say a prayer. It was already time for lunch and the sweating made me hungrier.

Ravi who had been to the temple more than once led us to the place where the langar is served. But before that let me tell you what a langar is.

Golden Temple has one of India’s mega kitchen, it serves thousands of people food everyday as a form of charity. Many people volunteer to help, and help with cooking, serving and cleaning.

My father – who is always concerned I go around traveling was the one who recommended we surely have the langar. So, Papa’s word taken, we sat in the lines of hundreds. 

In Langar, they served us Roti made of corn, curry made from gram seeds, a form of sherbet, and kheer as a desert. I shoved the food down my throat like an animal (do not judge me as I was very hungry.)

I must say  the best lunch ever. Kindness and generosity do fill your stomach.

Wagah Border

Tummies full, and soul sated. We were bound to Attari- Wagah Border. It is the most controversial place you can be in India other than Kashmir. It is the border between India and Pakistan, and that is the closest I have been to Pakistan.

We reached there at 3 in the afternoon , the sun did not take it easy and kept blazing over our heads. We were led by a soldier to the entrance, he was graceful enough to help us out.

And then we had to stand in line for the security process. Ravi knew all the places like the back of his hand, so he advised us not to take any purses with us, just our phones.

After the security process, we lost each other. We sat in different groups all around the place. But it did not matter because the enormity of the moment outweighed it all.

I was about to witness the full on India VS Pakistan live. The program here lasts for exactly an hour and starts 4:30 in winters and 5 in summers.

Exactly at five, we met our host. He had a charismatic personality and did not need a knife. His expression were enough to make the audience cheer. The ceremony has a specific order as it is a face off between two arch enemies.

Dance was the first one, we were to dance and cheer long enough to beat the Pakistanis out on the other side of the border. It was a friendly rivalry but I couldn’t feel any less patriotic.

After all the cheering and dancing, it was time to get back to business. Woman soldiers led our troops to the gate, and when the gate between India and Pakistan was finally open everybody was up, no single one sat.

Then, the two sides started showing off their strength by parade. It was the kind you can’t put to words, you have to be there to experience it. As the face off continued, the flags of both countries were slowly taken down.

It was the crowning glory of the ceremony. Personally I could not take my eyes of the soldiers of BSF in all their sturdy uniform, I had huge women crushes that day with the female ones.

Visiting Wagah border made me realize how tough these humans actually are, standing day and night in the sun, guarding the borders, going to war. A huge salute to all the soldiers!

The return journey to Delhi filled me with a bitter-sweet feeling, I didn’t want to stop traveling but I had to be home for my parent’s anniversary.

As the Punjabi songs played in the background of the car, I couldn’t help but smile. These songs will always remind of the places I went to, so I downloaded all of them.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation in Dalhousie

Dalhousie – a little Britain inside India. That was my first impression of it. I have never been to the UK, so my impression was based on the books, movies, and stories about England and the English culture.

But whatever it may be, I fell in love with Dalhousie instantly. This place is somewhere I would like to come again and again, or maybe settle down. You can see plant pots on both sides of the road, and they give me the hanging garden feels.

Summer Vacation in Dalhousie

I know I have been raving about my hotel rooms throughout this long summer road trip, but Dalhousie tops them all.

Lucky me, I got the view, the room, the staff and the food – all the boxes ticked. I got a place to rest, where I could finally feel like home.

Khajjiar, Himachal Pradesh

On our first day, I gave every detail to my appearance. I thought we will just be doing some local sightseeing so I dressed well. But damn my luck!

We came across a point where we could do paragliding. And I wasn’t dressed for this adventure as I had my bellies on not sports shoes. I had paragliding on the bucket list for so long, and when I got the chance I jumped at the opportunity, damn the shoes.

Well and let me say that nobody in my group was up for it, so I had to go for it alone. Lucky me! That is what it thought until I had to raid the mountain range and its caveman ways to get to the peak of the mountain.

I have zero experience whatsoever in hiking, so when I had to do it I felt so out of breath, and my blocked nose and cold-stricken lungs didn’t help either.

Half the way through I thought I was going to die, I could feel the blood in my throat from all the coughing I was doing. I don’t want to go philosophical on it or anything, but that moment I realized I either go up or keep sitting here because no one is going to pick me up.

I scaled to the tip and finally got there. Water up there is gold, and you will definitely need a bottle after the strenuous hike.

As I had no experience of paragliding so I got myself a cool pilot. He buckled all the necessary straps, pulled some ropes, and let the parachute open. I had to run from the peak and jump off the cliff, and pray that I don’t fall.

Khajjiar Lake, Himachal Pradesh

I had never been so excited in my life. All my previous complaints and bodily ailments vanished. And even though I have acrophobia, I wasn’t feeling it. I ran as if I was running for my life and jumped straight off.

And whoa! It was exhilarating. I could see the trees below, the river, the tiny dots called houses and the field where my gang was waiting for me to be done flying and come to them.

It was all good till my pilot adjusted the sails (in sailor’s tongue) and we were gliding. I wasn’t just going forward, I was twisting and turning along with the wind. That is the thrill of paragliding. And this too, I would definitely want to do again.

We flew for about ten minutes and made it towards the land. Just when we were about to land my pilot commanded “Legs up!”, and in that way, I landed like a pro. I hadn’t expected that I thought I would get stuck somewhere in the bushes, and tear my pants.

Kalatop

The strenuous hike and the aerial changes made my body feel sick, I got a serious headache. And did not want to do anything but sleep. So I thought I could skip the zoo/sanctuary while my friends go and visit.

I have been to my fair share of zoos and seen many species, so it did not interest me. While I took the power nap in the car I thought maybe I will miss out on the exotic species they are going to see, but as it seems this sanctuary had very few animals.

It is just a stretch of a jungle on the mountains where you see bears if you travel at night.

Credit: Pushyamitra Navare

St. Francis Church

Getting back to my hotel room was all the comfort I needed. And my power nap turned into a powerful sleep. I woke up reinvigorated and wanted to check out the St. Francis Church which was near my hotel.

I dressed up for the cold and visited St. Francis church. It has got a lovely entrance, there was various station along the stone paved way to the church depicting the crucifixion of Jesus.

I adored all the sculptures here. There is a myth that you can ask three wishes the first time you visit a church. I don’t believe in it, but there is no problem in giving it a try.

Once I returned to my room, I just sat in the balcony and had a drink looking over the sight of sleeping Dalhousie.

Early in the morning, we started loading our car with the luggage. We were done with the mountains now, and it was time to head out into the summer sun. I really wanted to stay back and enjoy Dalhousie some more, but that did not happen.

Driving up the mountains was good because many of us slept through it, but descending made it difficult.

Image Credit:  Piyush Tripathi

Two of my friends got sick, and one of my friend being a true gentleman, picked up mangoes from a tree on our way and asked everyone to take bites of the mango.

We continued our journey to Amritsar via Chamba (the hilly mountainous terrain) and Pathankot. Continue reading my travel diary in the next chapter “Dalhousie to Amritsar Roadtrip via Chamba.”

Cover Photo Credit:  Piyush Tripathi

How I Spent My Summer Vacation in Dharamsala

After a well satisfying day at Manali, we now headed to Dharamsala via Kullu.

Visiting Hill stations? Then you got to keep in mind to bring a lot of clothes, and make no point to washing it because they don’t dry. That day I made a stupid mistake which I would like you guys to learn from.

KULLU RAFTING

We took a stop in Kullu, named the Himachal Pradesh tourism and rafting point.. And We jumped at the chance we got at rafting here. We were in a group, and the best thing you can do in a gang is rafting.

I had never done it before. We were told by our guide to get rid of our sweaters, and he even said to remove my glasses. But I said I am practically blind without it so, he understood my trouble. The instructors made sure we wore the life jackets properly. We agreed to do a 14 Km long rafting.

Once we were in the boat we floated. My excitement knew no bounds. But the fact that I lack one of the important life skills- swimming, made me afraid too. I sat right in the front. And the ones in the edges took the paddles. We were taught when to do the front and back paddle, and when to get down. I sat on the front like a wall, that is what I thought.

The stretch of water started, and it was quiet for a while. But then we starting singing like a bunch of loonies, we were stoked. The swell of the waves started getting bigger and we paddled, forward backward, anything that took us ahead, we came to a point just under a bridge. Right at that moment a row of army trucks went over, and they waves at us. I just died right then.

After some time we started seeing other rafting crews coming from other directions, we waved them high, and bumped into them in a friendly way. There came the highest point of wave when the river Padmini and Beas met. We just sat and waited for our instructor’s command, he told me to get down on the front of the boat. And I just did that. Then came the moment of crowning glory,  when we bumped hard into the waves. And I got drenched. The waves carried away our laughter. We even got into the water, it was 50 ft deep, I didn’t know and it was freezing.

We had it all recorded in Gopro, so we were excited to have the videos with us. But sadly and by the bad stroke of luck, the card got corrupted and we lost our file. Videos or no videos, we at least had the experience of a lifetime. I will never forget how my buddy Kartik used his paddle to throw water at me, and I did something spontaneous- I spit the water right on his face. It was juvenile, but so much fun! I am definitely doing the rafting thingy again, I don’t care that I don’t know swimming, gonna try it anyway.

Changing out of the wet clothes is a tricky thing to do. My finger hurt just doing that. And yes, protect your hair,  depending on the minerals in water so make sure you put your hair inside the hat they provide. Not like stupid me, letting it down.

The rest of the day we did nothing than travel, and it did not feel like I had come to a hill station because wow, it was hot. It took us around 6 hours to reach Dharamsala. And it was a relief to see a cloudy weather.

I can’t put into words how these quaint towns affected me. Just driving through them gave me a feeling that I was Alice in Wonderland. Palampur was the best town I saw on my way. It defines the word Sustainable development to a T.

PALAMPUR DHARAMSALA NIGHT WALK

Like Manali, our hotel in Dharamsala was also located in a scenic place, just on the foothills of mountain. We agreed that after we freshen up we will go exploring. So, we set out just to  stroll around the locality.

The town was quiet, and the locals looked at us like we had two heads. We were wearing jackets, when they weren’t, that must look weird.

Coming from a place where we do not get to eat authentic chineese food, we wanted to taste chowmein, and Viola we spotted a local shop which prepared it. We sat there watching the IPL, it was a CSK match, so yay!

We had to wait an hour to get the stuff our dreams, and when they served us up we wolfed down the plates. It was a homey li’l shack cum shop. So we relaxed there. And my friend Kartik had a crush on the waitress, that made us stay longer than wanted.

Our way back seemed to have perfect timing. Just when we had reached the look-alike of Big Ben, it was 9. And the clock chimed , I couldn’t have been happier. We heard the bell going on, and strolled back to our hotel. The road was empty and that was when I felt best.

The scorching hot weather did nothing more to lessen the humidity. We checked out of our hotel and planned on doing a roadtrip to Dalhousie. But first we would visit few places around Dharamsala.

Things to do in Dharamsala

HPCA STADIUM

We headed out to visit the HPCA Cricket stadium in Dharamsala. It it here where many of the IPL Matches were held, that made it all the more exciting. We paid the entrance fees and made our way inside the stadium. And I will say I have never seen grass as green as I saw inside the stadium. It had the view of the mountain from anywhere in the stadium, so that is a plus point. We also watched a few kids who practised cricket there, and there wasn’t anything much to do so we headed back to our car.

DAL LAKE

No, this is not the Dal lake you see in pictures, this is not the one in Srinagar. But this is the Naddi AKA the Dal lake. It is just like a park where you can stroll and sit. We found a bunch of guys playing cards there. But my attraction there was a group of kids, there were so adorable to look at. I even tried talking to one but most of them did not understand Hindi and were speaking in their local language.

BAN JAKHRI

Another Big No- No to this as well. You won’t believe the rush which seems to fill the streets of Dharamsala near the Ban Jhakri waterfalls. We walked and walked to beat the traffic still we could not see the waterfall in sight, we even visited the shiv temple on the way but still no sign of it.

But we did see a pool like thing where you can dip yourself and be cool. In the summer heat it was so tempting. Once we were halfway we got the sight of the waterfalls and another temple near it, and that waterfall was not a waterfall, but in the summers was reduced to a thread of water. Our Ban Jhakhri rendezvous ended up being a shopping delight as we shopped in the thrift stores. We bought some really good bohemia jewellery and jackets.

ST JOHN’S IN WILDERNRSS

By this time I was so disappointed in Dharamsala because it was so loud and noisy, and of course we travelers are to blame. It was Sunday and we really wanted to go to the church. And no matter what a Neo-Gothic church never disappoints. I had read a lot about St John’s in Wilderness because its name intrigued me. We walked into it and I was so glad to know that it was also a CNI church, a church wing of which I am also a part of. I even met someone local from my hometown there. The world indeed is a small place.

St John’s in Wilderness is a very old church, built during the time of British Raj. You can learn the truth of its antiquity by the gravestones and epitaph which line the cemetery of the church. I loved dating back the graves and the oldest was from 1822, about two centuries back! Can you believe it. I just did not want to get away from there, but I had a breakfast to catch. Just in front of the church we found a stall serving mini-burger, how were they?  yummy let me tell you.

NAMGYAL MONASTERY

Our last stop before we made our way to Dalhousie was the Monastery. Due to the traffic we had to walk a long way to the Monastery, but it was worth it. If like me, you are fascinated by Buddhism, you need to see this place. On the entrance you will find two boards depicting the story of the youngest political refugee. Make a point of reading it, because it is interesting.

And before you enter the temple, do not miss the museum. It has got all you need to know about the chinese invasion of Tibet. The heart breaking story is portrayed along with the real pictures of the events. The Namgyal Monastery is a place where lot of the devotees sit and chant, you can sit if you want to. But the amount of tourists bustling made me think that we were intruding their privacy and I really did not want to do that. They were serving food, which if you wanted you could have.

And on we sat inside our cars and made our way through the rocky terrain, it was so hot, and the sun shone right on our faces, and at that altitude it is scary. I commend Ravi, our designated driver who braved all the odds to drive us home safely.

The road to Dalhousie is the prettiest one I have seen, there is no place near the road where you wouldn’t find wildflowers, and there is no way the sunshine can penetrate through the thick canopy. Dalhousie was far cooler, and we had to wear our sweaters again to keep ourselves warm.

How I spent My Summer Vacation In Manali

Summers in India can be grueling. That is what pushes me every year to visit a hill station – to cool off. This year, I chose not to go alone but in a group. I didn’t know any of my crew initially, but once we decided on the trip, everyone was in.

As we were doing a group tour, we thought it would be better to have a long train journey in order to get to know each other. And so it began the mega journey of 2018.

INDIAN TRAIN RIDE

Amidst all the shouts and bustle of the train, we managed to bring life to the train. Innumerable rounds of antakshari (it is a game where you can sing songs ), and playing Buff as well as UNO, we finally reached New Delhi.

We had to ride from the Nizamuddin station to Manali overnight, which is about 500 km.

KNIGHT RIDING

We all were tired beyond belief, and it took us more than 3 hours just to get out of Delhi region. Once we made it close enough to Chandigarh we liked to stop at Dhabas which is a specialty of this region.

The Pahalwan Dhaba is famous, but foolish me and my sister we made it to Baskin and Robbins to have some ice-cream rather than having the typical Haryanvi lassi.

Later we just stopped at another Dhaba where we had some tea, and as you can see clicked some shitty pictures. I love driving out into the night, but it was a risky thing we were doing because the road from Chandigarh to Manali is hilly and the terrain is difficult.

That too we had only one designated driver who had been driving for hours. My main goal was not to let him doze off. So off went into the night.

SUMMER VACATION IN MANALI

I have been to hilly areas but is not any area have I seen such fast driving, because people value their lives there. Yet on my road to Manali, I thought it is gonna be my last night the way Ravi- our chauffeur was driving. We even had to wait at many stops just to take a break and free ourselves from the muscle cramps.

My best moment was when we just waited at a place for coffee at around 3 in the morning, we were already up in the hills. It was cold and I had to light a cigarette and share it with my friends so we get to keep ourselves warm.

Just sitting there in the night with the cold mountain wind blowing and burning off the cigarette was a moment I am unlikely to forget anytime soon.

I did not sleep a wink throughout the ride, I used to bump Ravi’s shoulder to let him know that he was sleeping. But finally watching the first rays of sunlight filtering through the mountains gave me a giddy excitement which I hadn’t gotten in a long time.

Two days of long journey, and a sleepless night, and I was at Hanogi. This shaky bridge would give anyone a heart attack. The wind was loud above the Beas River, and my one step there make it shake. Goosebumps!

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

It took another two and a half hours to reach Manali. My first glance at it and I could not believe it. My eyes went straight to the mountains. And that is the closest I had yet been to a snow-laden mountain. I could not thank my hotel staff enough because the view was gorgeous. I could spend days sitting there and staring outta the window.

But whatever it may be we needed a power nap and refreshment before we explored. After a yummy lunch of  Egg Fried rice (Pahari food is love)  at a local joint, we headed off to see the thrills Manali had to offer. We decided on visiting places that would not demand much of our energy, tired to the bones? Yeah.

THINGS TO DO IN MANALI

HADIMBA DEVI TEMPLE

You can walk anywhere in Manali, it is better that way. Around the summers it is one of the most visited places. There was honking of cars everywhere which I don’t like one bit. So we walked our way to Hadimba Devi temple. I had looked at this marvel in pictures.

 

But up close it was surreal. I hate crowds. So when I tried to enter the temple and saw the line of devotees. I scratched the idea of going in. But I spend my time in Van Vihar. Which is close to the temple and a quiet place to sit and relax.

THE CLUB HOUSE

Zorbing

One of my best experiences of the first day in Manali was in the club house. The club house is a place for sports- from indoor to outdoor. The first thing I did there was water zorbing.

I am out of shape so it is no wonder I  took breathing breaks while being on my all fours and trying to get the big ball rolling in the water. It was exciting and draining as well, I effing loved it.

The Pool Thing

After getting out of breath by zorbing, we headed off indoors to play some pool. To be honest, I got no idea how to handle a stick. But those amongst us knew, taught me how to do it. And I clearly learned how to hit it.

Our time in the Club House didn’t just end there we spent an insane amount of money on per chance games like shooting, archery and yes a silly one was “Drop all the glasses with a wall”. We wanted to head to Vashist Springs, which is a holy place with hot water springs. But it was already too late, so we decided against it.

The Hotel we stayed in had served us delicious dinner. If you travel up here and do not taste Rajma Chawal then your traveling here  is futile. So make sure that you taste a plate of it, and once you have done it you will wanna do it again and again.

MARIH / ROHTANG

From the day I planned on coming to Manali, Rohtang had been up on my list. It is one of the most dangerous roads in the world and it takes you up into the Antarctic like beauty of the mountains. But sadly just few days before we arrived there was snowfall. And roads to Rohtang were close.

So we settled for a place in lower altitude, the road to it was nearly as tricky as Rohtang – we went to Marhi. At an altitude of 11,000 ft, it still had snow left in the summer. The temperature was below the freezing point. And just when I had started playing with snow it started raining.

I can’t tell you enough how much I loved this place. It had an army camp just above the mountain and on the way you encounter lot of army trucks going. It is really commendable how these brave-heart soldiers survive here.

SOLANG

It took half of our day to come back from Marhi, and we made a point of getting out of our snow suits in public which was the goofiest thing I have ever done.

Then we headed to Solang Valley also known as the snow point( though there is no snow here during the summer). It is famous for skiing during winter. I so want to travel here during winter, to just catch the snow in time.

There wasn’t much to do here during summer because it just looked like a barren piece of land. Something caught my eye here, and it was paragliding.

Our whole gang wanted to do Paragliding but as soon as the instructors saw us, they hiked up their prices, demanding 3000 Rupees from all of us. And that paragliding did not even have a proper height to it. We chucked the idea away, disappointed.

HORSE RIDING

When something outsmarts your budget, what do you do? You do something far more exciting at a meager cost. That is what happened to us. We saw an old man with a bunch of horses, near the Shiv temple just outside the Skiing center.

It was my sister’s idea to go talk to him, and boom! We landed a deal. He decided to take us all to the shiv temple on horseback for 12 km. And he charged much less than we had expected. So yay!

In no time we hopped on. But, damn my luck, I got the naughtiest of them all. His name was Sheru (meaning Lion in Hindi). He reared his head and galloped here and there, once I was on his back. Thank God! He did not throw me off.

The first few minutes of the ride, I feared for my life, but soon enough, I drank in my surroundings. We were walking straight into the foothills of the mountain where the Beas River originates.

Imagine, being on a horseback, hopping through the rugged terrain with the glaciers winding across your path, this experience was my favorite as of yet. Our guide who led us towards the temple, was an old Himachali man, he told us about himself. How now people prefer riding the hotshot snow motorbikes rather than taking a horse, and how we were his first ride of the entire day.

While he talked I talked to Sheru, calming him down. When we went uphill I had to lean backward, and when we went down I had to lean forward. “ Easy there Sheru Boy!” was all I had to say. Once we reached our location, it was so cold there. We had to sip a cuppa coffee.

Taking rest for a while, we started our journey back, and now I had trouble getting up on Sheru, because I am a shorty. Our guide was old so he wasn’t able to push me up even though he tried. And after my several attempts, there came a local who lifted me up easily so I straddled. Everyone around the coffee stall laughed out loud, and I turned tomato red, yet I looked around and waved at him, shouting a huge thank you.

The journey back was victorious, how you might ask. Let me tell you. When we were on our horseback perched up high, that too walking in an imposing line, everybody down riding the motorbikes looked up at us. And my inner goddess just did a twirl!

Going local and sustaining the local business is the best possible way to travel. That point got proven that day.

5 Exceptionally Romantic Getaways in South India

There are many destinations all around the world that have marvelous wonders to win your heart. India is one of such place where the natural beauty and cultural influence can make people fall in love all over again.

There are many historic monuments as well as the natural beauty that attracts many travelers from all around the world. India is a huge country with diverse culture and landscape.

A traditional South Indian home lunch on a banana leaf

If you are looking for a romantic getaway there are some exceptionally romantic destination in the Southern part of the country.

Romantic Getaways in South India

South India is also called the romantic hub as it has gorgeous hill stations, beaches,  and natural heritage. It is also a great place to visit on a honeymoon.

The states of Tamil Nadu, Goa, Kerala, and Karnataka take their tourism very seriously and make sure that the tourists have a good time. Here are some of the most  romantic spots in the southern part of India which is worth a visit.

Related: 10 Best Summer Places To Visit In India

Munnar

Photo: Munnar tea plantations/ CC Rajib Ghosh

Munnar is a place that comes on any list of best honeymoon destination in south India. The tea gardens, lakes, waterfalls, and beautiful countryside can make your romantic getaway unforgettable.

Munnar also has a rich natural heritage. This place is a complete relax zone for people who want to take a break from the busy city life.

Coorg

Coorg is another hill station situated in the beautiful state of Karnataka. Considering the fact that Coorg is only 260 km from the city of Banglore, the beauty of Coorg is unparallel.

The morning time on this hill station truly makes the couples enthrall with bliss. The mix of white fog and green landscapes makes Coorg a beautiful and ideal romantic spot for couples.

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Marina Beach

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This long 12km beach in Chennai is one of the longest urban beaches in the world. The sunset and sunrise at the beach is what attracts couples where they can witness the true beauty of the sun.

Take a stroll down the beach and make memories. This can surely influence your relationship in the best way possible.

Related: 25 Beautiful Couple Travel Quotes

Mudumalai National Park

This is a stunning spot for romantic couples who are looking for a walk in the wild. The Mudumalai National Park is known for its rich vegetation and unique biodiversity.

The Mudumalai National Park is spread across 6000 square kilometers protecting many endangered wildlife species. This is the best place for newlywed couples looking for an adventure for their honeymoon.

Kodaikanal

Kodaikanal is a beautiful hill station located in the state of Tamil Nadu. Kodaikanal is also known as the princess of hill stations throughout the country.

It is also regarded as one of the famous romantic spots for a honeymoon in the state of Tamil Nadu. There are many enchanting viewpoints and lakes filled with water lilies that give the couples an opportunity to cherish their relationship.

Related: 5 Tips For First-Time Visitors To India

The romantic trip to South India is the dream of many couples and honestly, it is worth a visit. There are many South India Tour Packages available from many online platforms such as Tamil Nadu routes.

If you are planning a trip to south India then makes sure to pack properly and prepare yourself for a treat.

Read Next: Visit the 36 UNESCO Heritage Sites in India

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Author Bio

Charles A. Jacobs has visited several places in the world including the 7 wonders of the world and is still looking for a place where he might end his journey. He is a travel enthusiast and owner of the TamilNadu Routes.