Best International Roaming Plan for Travelers from India [in 2018]

Best International Roaming Plan for Travelers from India [in 2018]

I have a confession to make – I can’t survive very well without 3G while traveling. As much as I hate my dependence on technology, I have to admit that being connected makes things very easy while being on the road.

It’s not so much about social media, but is because of the ease of checking things like flight status, language translation, train schedules, Google maps and many other apps that make a traveler’s life simple.

My husband – San is not so fond of smartphones and Internet but even he realized the importance of staying connected when I was stranded in Istanbul during the military coup last year. Without 3G, my friend wouldn’t have been able to inform me about what was happening and I would have continued exploring Istanbul on my own at night. Also, my family wouldn’t have been able to breathe a sign of relief to know that I’m safe if my WhatsApp wasn’t working. Moreover, my husband wouldn’t have been able to know that I needed his help to rebook my flight out of Istanbul to Frankfurt and I would have been stranded at the airport with 100s of other people who couldn’t rebook theirs.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is – a traveler’s life is so much simpler (and stress free) when we have an access to Internet. Unfortunately, it is expensive to get a new SIM in every country and even then most of the plans are limited.

Guess what – I think I have found the best solution. Vodafone India has just launched their awesome international roaming plan, which can be activated very easily. Based on my research, I think this is by far the best international roaming plan that I have found because of UNLIMITED calls and data usage.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, I thought so too and I did a little test to see if the data connectivity was shit. Believe it or not – it wasn’t. I passed my test in Amsterdam last weekend, a bigger test in Germany yesterday because I did a LIVE video in the middle of nowhere.

This plan is called i-RoamFREE and at this time it seems to be only for Europe, US, UK, UAE, Singapore and Malaysia. It costs as low as 180 rupees a day – but hey – it depends on where you’re going and for how long you need it.

Go check out more details about Vodafone’s #RoamUnlimited plan to enjoy stress free and unlimited calls and data usage while you’re traveling.

Things to do in Bikaner – Travel Guide for the Red City of Rajasthan

Things to do in Bikaner – Travel Guide for the Red City of Rajasthan

“Oh Bikaner, why have you been hiding all this time? Did you get overshadowed by too many famous siblings?”

A few months back if you had asked me about Rajasthan, I would have mentioned places like Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur or Pushkar. However at this point, Bikaner tops my list for places to visit in Rajasthan and this post will tell you why.

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when someone says Bikaner?

I bet it’s either Namkeen, or sweets, or the famous rat temple. Blame it on Bikaji namkeen wala (the largest Bhujia manufacturer in the world), or Bikaner Mithai wala (one of the most famous mithai shops), or the shock factor associated with the rat temple, but people don’t think beyond these three things when someone talks about this city.

Well, these are the same things that people mentioned I told them that I was visiting Bikaner and I arrived here with these same images on my mind. Little did I know that I was about to get blown away by the Bikaner’s art, culture, architecture, palaces and the royal life.

It’s a good thing that Bikaner sometimes gets ignored because it has still managed to retain its quaint and offbeat charm. What’s even better is that a visit to Bikaner gave me a stronger flavor of Rajasthan’s Royal life, as compared to its siblings.

In case you’ve been crushing on my Instagram pictures from Bikaner (#SonalinBikaner), I’m going to do you a favor and NOT let my experiences remain a secret. Now that I have sold the Red city as a travel destination to you, let me share exactly what you can do here when you visit.

 

Things to do in Bikaner, Rajasthan

1) Admire Junagarh Fort’s Magnificent Interiors

 

Visiting Junagarh Fort is one of the most obvious things to do in Bikaner and honestly, I was not really interested in it. I had already seen this fort from the outside and I expected it to be like many other forts in India that I have already seen already.

My last day in Bikaner was excessively hot and someone suggested it was the perfect opportunity to visit Junagarh Fort because I will mostly be indoors. With little or no expectations, I arrived here with my friend Deepti and our jaws literally dropped as we explored this palace.

Colorful mirrored passage in Junagarh Fort, Bikaner

Colorful mirrored passage in Junagarh Fort, Bikaner

Junagarh Fort has got to be one of the best-maintained palaces that I have seen from the inside. There are themed areas – white, blue, red, gold colorful and what not. Bikaner’s ruler – Raja Rai Singh, built it in the 15th century and each generation from then added a section to this fort. My favorite part here was a section called Badal Mahal, which was blue from the inside. It was designed to depict rain for royal children because it hardly ever rained in Bikaner.

2) Visit the Camel Farm and See Baby Camels

A baby camel with mother in Bikaner's Camel Breeding Farm

A baby camel with mother in Bikaner’s Camel Breeding Farm

If you think camels are cute, wait till you see baby camels. The National Research Centre on Camel is India’s only camel breeding farm. I had only seen brown camels but here I saw black and white ones too!

The best time to visit this place is from 3 pm to 4 pm because that’s when a massive number of camels return back to the farm. You can opt for a camel ride or even buy things that are made out of camel milk.

Camel Milk Kulfi (Ice cream) at Bikaner Camel Farm, Rajasthan

Camel Milk Kulfi (Ice cream) at Bikaner Camel Farm, Rajasthan

I tried camel milk kulfi (Kulfi is Indian ice cream), which was a little too heavy for me.

3) Explore Bikaner’s Old Town on “Merchant’s trail”

Exploring Bikaner's Old Town - things to do in Bikaner

Exploring Bikaner’s Old Town – things to do in Bikaner

Exploring Bikaner’s old town was one of the best things that I did here. This part of the city is the reason why Bikaner is the Red City of Rajasthan because most of it is built using red sandstones. The Merchant’s trail starts at Rampuria Haveli and takes you around Bikaner’s old town, Jain temple and you will get to witness some of the most interesting sights.

An old Red Sandstone Haveli in Bikaner, Rajasthan

An old Red Sandstone Haveli in Bikaner, Rajasthan

While I was in Bikaner, I explored this area twice – one on a horse carriage and the other on foot. I’d personally recommend you explore by walking too because the streets tend to get crowded.

4) Check out Rampuria Haveli – the pride of Bikaner

Rampuria Haveli - the pride of Bikaner, Rajasthan

Rampuria Haveli – the pride of Bikaner, Rajasthan

Rampuria Haveli is what Eiffel Tower is for Paris or the Empire State Building for the New York City. Often called “the pride of Bikaner”, Rampuria Haveli proudly stands in the middle of the old town.  This majestic haveli was constructed in the 15th century for Balujee Chalva. If you do the Merchant’s trail, you will start at Rampuria Haveli. This Haveli is the highlight of this area and deserves a separate mention. Honestly, this Haveli is unlike any other that I have seen in India because of a very strong influence of Victorian architecture. It looks like someone has plucked it out of an old school British movie and dropped it here.

Rampuria Haveli under the moonlight by Deepti Asthana

Rampuria Haveli under the moonlight – photo by my friend by Deepti Asthana

My fascination with Bikaner’s Rampuria haveli led to some research and here’s what I have discovered. The Havelis in this part of the city were built many years ago by the noble families and merchants of Bikaner. Back in those days, Bikaner emerged as a business hub because it was on the trade route between Central and Western Asia. If you’d like to photograph this epic landmark of Bikaner, then I’d suggest you visit this place at sunrise because it ends up being extremely crowded after that.

5) Eat a Royal Rajisthani Meal in Narendra Bhawan

Not only is Narendra Bhawan the best place to stay in Bikaner, but also is one of the most amazing places to experience a royal Rajasthani meal. This place was once the residence of Bikaner’s last Maharaja – Narendra Singh and the meals here have been designed keeping his memory in mind.

Experience the Royal Life at Narendra Bhawan in Bikaner

Head to Narendra Bhawan for a Royal Rajasthani Meal in Bikaner

You can opt for a highly luxurious “museum dinner” that is served in the most exclusive and intricately designed dinner hall in Narendra Bhawan. For something simpler, you can head to the in-house restaurant – P&C and try Rajisthani maas curry.

Bikaneri Crescent thali at Narendra Bhawan, Bikaner

Bikaneri Crescent thali at Narendra Bhawan, Bikaner

For a simple and traditional meal, try the Bikaneri Crescent thali, which has a variety of veggie and meat curries with rice and roti. Don’t miss out Mad Hatter bakery’s heavenly desserts while you’re there.

6) Check Out the Miniature Art Studio

the Miniature Art Studio by the Swami family in Bikaner

the Miniature Art Studio by the Swami family in Bikaner

Rajasthan is famous for miniature paintings, a trend, which has supposedly started from Bikaner. Palaces like Junagarh fort, Laxmi Niwas and Lalgarh had rooms with intricate art patterns on walls and ceilings. We couldn’t get enough of it so our guide took us to a very cool miniature art studio, just outside the Junagarh Fort. It also functions as an art school and is run by the Swami family. Not only you can buy this artwork at surprisingly low prices but also watch the artists create it.

Inside Bikaner's Miniature Art Studio

Inside Bikaner’s Miniature Art Studio

This studio has around 4 – 5 small rooms where miniature artwork is displayed as per themes. There are birds, animals, people, scenes from Bikaner’s history, Hindu Gods and more – mostly drawn by Shiv Swami and Rajan Swami.

During our visit there, the artists also created miniature artwork on our nails. It was extremely detailed for its tiny size. They have also created a record in the Guinness world of record back in 2002 & 2003 for creating world’s smallest painting which is 5 X 3.5 cms and has 1220 leaves, 20 animals, 30 birds, 70 flowers and 20 aquatic animals. They don’t hold this record anymore.

7) Try Bikaner’s Famous Namkeen – Bikaji ki Bhujia

Bikaneri Bhujia inside Bikaji Namkeen Factory in Bikaner

Bikaneri Bhujia inside Bikaji Namkeen Factory in Bikaner

If you’re not from India, you probably don’t know what namkeen is. Namkeen in Hindi simply means salty and this word is also used while referring to salty Indian snacks. Namkeens are an important part of Indian culture. Bikaner’s namkeen – especially Bhujia is famous all over India for its taste. You should not only try it for yourself but should consider buying it as a gift for your friends too.

While I was in Bikaner, I got a chance to visit Bikaji Namkeen Factory and I carried back a namkeen hamper for my family. My family obviously loved it. 🙂

8) Visit Bhandasar Jain Temple and Admire the Mirror work

Stunning frescos inside Bhandasar Jain Temple in Bikaner

Stunning frescos inside Bhandasar Jain Temple in Bikaner

Bhandasar Jain Temple is in Bikaner’s old town and is surprisingly beautiful from the inside. This Jain temple is tiny and is decorated with intricate mirror work that has a hypnotic effect. There are many bright frescos on the walls and the ceiling that depict the lives of the Jain teachers.

The insides were refreshingly cool because of the white marble. Strangely the foundations of this temple have been made using ghee (clarified butter).

Bhandasar Jain Temple was built in the 15th century and is one of the oldest buildings of Bikaner.

9) Explore Devi Kund Sagar – the Royal Crematorium

Cenotaphs in Devi Kund Sagar, Bikaner

Cenotaphs in Devi Kund Sagar, Bikaner

Visiting a crematorium may not be very high on anyone’s list but Bikaner’s Devi Kund Sagar is surely unique. It is an amazing place where you can admire architectural summitry.

The entry fee is just 5 rupees and you need to remove your shoes before stepping in. You can pick up a pair of disposable shoes at the entry area and wear it while exploring Devi Kund Sagar.

Stunning Symmetry of Cenotaphs in Devi Kund Sagar, Bikaner, Rajasthan

Stunning Symmetry of Cenotaphs in Devi Kund Sagar, Bikaner, Rajasthan

Inside the complex, you will find tombs of deceased members of Bikaji dynasty with “chhatris” around them. “Chhatri” is a Hindi word that means umbrella, used here to describe the shape of these cenotaphs. At first, these chhatris appeared to be the same but we soon noticed a pattern where the ones for women had footsteps printed outside.

10) Visit Lalgarh Palace and Shri Sadul Museum

Lalgarh is one of the newer palaces of Bikaner and was also made using red sandstones for Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner. It is a three-story complex, which represents a mix of British as well as Architectural, style and is stretched across sprawling lawns. It is now owned and run by his daughter Princess Leia.. oops I mean Princess Rajyashree Kumari.

A Painting of Princess Rajyashree Kumari in Shri Sadul Museum of Lalgard Palace, Bikaner

A Painting of Princess Rajyashree Kumari in Shri Sadul Museum of Lalgard Palace, Bikaner

Loved seeing Maharani's Wardrobe at Sri Sadul Museum in Lalgarh Palace - Bikaner

Loved seeing Maharani’s Wardrobe at Sri Sadul Museum in Lalgarh Palace – Bikaner

Shri Sadul Museum is inside Lalgarh Palace, right after at the entry point. This museum displays several artifacts from Maharaja Sir Ganga Singh’s and his children’s lives.

Indoor Pool at Lallgarh Palace, Bikaner

Indoor Pool at Lallgarh Palace, Bikaner

The main building of Lalgarh Palace functions as a luxury heritage hotel. There are many lounges, an indoor swimming pool, a massive dining hall, guest suites, and most of it is covered with intricate artwork. You can either stay here or visit for a meal at Ranbanka Cafe and check out this palace from inside. Or you can simply visit Sri Sadul Museum.

11) Get a Taste of Bikaner’s Ultimate Luxury at Laxmi Niwas Palace

Deepti and I enjoying our Royal dinner at Laxmi Niwas Palace, Bikaner

Deepti and I enjoying our Royal dinner at Laxmi Niwas Palace, Bikaner

Laxmi Niwas Palace was once Maharaja Ganga Singh’s residential palace but is now a luxury hotel. Although this palace is smaller than Lalgarh, it is much more beautiful from inside.

Pool area - Laxmi Niwas Palace, Bikaner

Pool area – Laxmi Niwas Palace, Bikaner

My favorite thing about Rajasthani palaces is that they are built like havelis, with an open courtyard in the middle of the building. If you stand exactly in the center of Laxmi Niwas Palace’s courtyard, the symmetry all around will amaze you.

Laxmi Niwas Palace, Bikaner, Rajasthan

Laxmi Niwas Palace, Bikaner, Rajasthan

Along the courtyard, you will find conference rooms, a billiard room, guest suites, a highly luxurious dining hall, a restaurant and a path that goes outside to the swimming pool area.

I was here on several occasions on one of them; I got to check out the king and queen suites with an impressive view. If you want to experience the ultimate luxury of Bikaner, then you should stay in this hotel. If not, then at least try a meal in their restaurant where the head chef creates magic with meat kebabs and curries.

12) Spend Half a Day at Gajner Palace and Sanctuary

Gajner Lakeside Palace near Bikaner, Rajasthan

Gajner Lakeside Palace near Bikaner, Rajasthan

Yes, this is the fourth palace on this list but hey – Bikaner is the perfect place to experience Rajasthan’s royal life. Unlike the other places on this list, Gajner Palace is outside Bikaner.

Gajner Sancuary near Bikaner

Gajner Sancuary near Bikaner

It will take you approximately one hour to reaching Gajner Palace from the main Bikaner city but it is totally worth the effort. Plan your visit in such a way so that you can witness the sunset next to the lake with a few drinks and dinner. If you have more time, then try to go for a jeep safari to explore the adjoining Gajner sanctuary, which is beyond the lake.

13) Go Visit the Sand Dunes

Little Sand Dunes just outside Bikaner, Rajasthan

Little Sand Dunes just outside Bikaner, Rajasthan

Jaisalmer is one of the most popular travel destinations in Rajasthan for visiting the sand dunes, but not many people know that you can see them in Bikaner too. These sand dunes are a little outside the city and are not far from the Camel Research Centre (point 2), so you can do both these things together.

Chilling on the Sand Dunes in Bikaner, Rajasthan - little planet perspective

Chilling on the Sand Dunes in Bikaner, Rajasthan – little planet perspective

I will be honest with you – the Khuri Sand Dunes and Sam Sand Dunes near Jaisalmer are surely bigger. However, the smaller dunes in Bikaner also have a lot to offer and visiting them around sunset was an amazing experience.

14) Go to Bikaji Ki Tekri

Bikaji ki tekri - Bikaner, Rajasthan

Bikaji ki tekri – Bikaner, Rajasthan

Just like Devi Kund Sagar, Bikaji ki Tekri also has “chhatris” shaped cenotaphs but that’s where the similarity ends. Bikaner was created in 1488 by Rao Bikaji and Bikaji Ki Tekari is a tribute to him and his immediate successors. Rao Bikaji’s cenotaph was made with marble and the others were made using red sandstones.

In my opinion, there was something gloomy about this place. It was sad to see that the site that pays homage to the creator of the Bikaner city was not well maintained. Moreover, this site also has inscription of medieval Indian social practice – Sati – which was performed here for two wives of Sri Rao Bikaji. Yes, this makes me shudder! If you don’t know what “Sati” is – then maybe it is a good thing.

If you want to visit Bikaji ki Tekri, you need to make advance arrangements and inform the guards of this place.

How to Reach Bikaner, Rajasthan

The easiest way to reach Bikaner is by train. You can do the train journey overnight from Delhi (or Gurgaon) on train number 12457 – Bikaner SuperFast Express and reach Bikaner early morning. This is the smartest and the most affordable way to reach Bikaner from North India.

Alternatively, you can also drive to Bikaner from Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and, Punjab. The condition of the road beyond Jaipur is pretty good. Another way of reaching Bikaner is by flying to the nearby Jodhpur (4-5 hours away) or Jaipur (6-7 hours away).

 

Weather in Bikaner and When to visit

The best time to visit Bikaner is from October to February. Rajasthan is extremely hot during the summer months and the temperature can go as high as 45 degrees. Winter months are pleasant but it can get surprisingly cold at night. I visited in April and it was very hot but thankfully I spent the hottest hours of the day indoors.

 

Where to Stay in Bikaner

One of the best ways to experience Bikaner is by staying in a haveli or a palace that was once the royal residence. The options are many and surprisingly are not expensive for the kind of luxury that they offer. Here are the places that I suggest you check out for staying in Bikaner –

Narendra Bhawan

Narendra Bhawan is one of the most newly renovated heritage hotels in Bikaner and it was once the grand residence of ex Maharaja of Bikaner. The interiors are extremely luxurious and vibrant in a style that’s ultra modern yet Maharaja-like.

Narendra Bhawan is the place where I stayed while I was in Bikaner. I ate several meals in the restaurant here and each was extremely delicious and memorable. The rooftop pool here is the perfect place to cool off from Bikaner’s heat in the evenings. They also offer several curated experiences to explore Bikaner like a Maharaja.

Read reviews on TripAdvisor 

Average price per night: $110 – $260 per night depending on the room and season.

Laxmi Niwas Palace

Laxmi Niwas Palace is much bigger as compared to Narendra Bhawan. There is not much difference in price if you compare both these hotels but the smaller Narendra Bhawan is more luxurious. Personally, I prefer Narendra Bhawan’s rooms and interiors more.

Read reviews on TripAdvisor 

Average price per night: $115 – $230 per night depending on the room and season.

Lalgarh Palace

If you want to stay in the largest palace of Bikaner then you should book a room at Lalgarh. This palace hotel features an indoor swimming pool, massive lawns, an elaborate dining hall and more.

Read reviews on TripAdvisor 

Average price per night: $102 – $230 per night depending on the room and season.

 

Gajner Palace Heritage Hotel

Gajner Palace isn’t inside Bikaner but is 30 km away. If you’re looking to get away from the main city then you’re going to love this place. Gajner Palace is next to a lake so you can be sure of spending amazing evenings next to it enjoying the sunset. This lakeside palace hotel is the perfect place for destination weddings and honeymoons.

Read reviews on TripAdvisor 

Average price per night: $120 per night depending on the room and season.

Disclaimer: I was invited to Bikaner on a press trip. As usual, the views expressed in this article are mine.

 

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us reduce the costs of keeping this site active. Thanks for reading!

3 Offbeat Places to Visit in Arunachal Pradesh [Northeast India]

3 Offbeat Places to Visit in Arunachal Pradesh [Northeast India]

Often called the Land of the Rising Sun, Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast India shares it’s borders with Bhutan, China and Myanmar and is unlike most of India. If you are looking for wildlife, adventure, and peace – then you’re going to love Arunachal Pradesh.

Northeast India is a region which consists of 7 small states or also known as 7 sisters: Assam, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram. Not only this, the Northeastern region also has one brother named Sikkim. These states are a part of the Himalayan region and offer a plethora of options for travelers to explore. This region is known to be one of the most treasured and eco-friendly regions in India.

Suggested Reading: Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary – India’s Iceland with Surreal Landscape

Whether you are a traveler who is looking to explore different and yet vibrant cultures, searching for beautiful vistas, or just looking for some mouth watering cuisine – Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast India is the place to go. In this article, we will discuss 3 underrated and virgin places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh that are still out of tourist’s footsteps.

Offbeat Places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh –

1) Fly or Trek to Vijoynagar

Vijoynagar in Arunachal Pradesh

Vijoynagar in Arunachal Pradesh

With more than 1.324 billion people living in only 3.287 million km², it is very hard to find places which are yet not touched by tourists and not littered. However, there are some small hamlets which most of us have no idea about – and one of them is Vijoynagar in Arunachal Pradesh.

Vijoynagar - Places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh

Vijoynagar – Places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh

This is a small town or village, located just on the India – China border. This little town with a population of only about 45,00 is one of the remotest one in Changlang district in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. Surrounded by hills and valleys, this region provides everything a traveler might look for.

How to reach Vijoynagar, Arunachal Pradesh

Vijoynagar - Arunachal Pradesh, Northeast India

Vijoynagar – Arunachal Pradesh, Northeast India

Reaching Vijoynagar is not that easy and is an adventure in itself. There are no roads which connect this village with the outer world. There are only two ways of reaching Vijoynagar. The first is by Helicopter Sorties Service from Miao, but even the air service is available only on Tuesday and Thursday.

The second way of reaching Vijoynagar is by trekking to it. The trek to Vijoynagar starts from Miao and passes through dense forests of Namdapha National Park. But keep in mind, this trek is not for novice hikers. As it would take you around 5 nights & 06 days, to reach this village. The total distance is around 156 km.

In terms of accommodation, you there are guest houses where you can plan your stay:

  • Inspection Bungalow with 6 Rooms
  • Eco-Tourist Forest Guest House with 4 Rooms
  • Circuit house with 4 Rooms

Suggested Reading – Chandrataal – the Moon Lake in Spiti Valley in Himachal Tribal Circuit

2) Visit the Land of Oranges – Dambuk

Dambuk - places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh

Dambuk – places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh

Next on our list of places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh is Dambuk – the land of oranges. Just like Vijyonagar, reaching Dambuk too is an adventure in itself. You have to cross dense forests and various water bodies & rivers just to reach this beautiful town in Arunachal Pradesh. Known for its beautiful orange orchards and swollen rivers, Dambuk is one of the best places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh.

If you don’t like off-roading then this place is not for you. There are no paved roads and you will be driving on anything apart from roads.

If you are planning to visit this place during monsoon then the only way to cross this river is on elephant back – so be prepared for an adventure of a lifetime.

Beautiful Locals of Dambuk, Arunachal Pradesh

Beautiful Locals of Dambuk, Arunachal Pradesh

Dambuk was in news when the Arunachal government initiated Orange festival to promote tourism. And nowadays, people from all around the world visit this town to witness this amazing festival.

The Orange Festival is usually organized in December and one can not only enjoy various rock bands performing their heart out to fill the valley with their music but also witness off-roading vehicles, modified cars and jeeps engaging in a number of challenging tasks to try and win the off-roading tournament. There are various other events which run side by side like river rafting, bungee-jumping, paint ball and so on.

If you are looking for a peaceful time in Dambuk then it would be a good idea to not visit it during the Orange festival.

How to reach Dambuk, Arunachal Pradesh

Dambuk - Arunachal Pradesh, Northeast India

Dambuk – Arunachal Pradesh, Northeast India

To reach Dambuk, you first have to reach Roing. From Roing you can either take a bus or can book a taxi for your onward journey. And there are hotels and guest houses where you can plan your overnight stay. But don’t expect of any luxurious hotels here.

Suggested – 11 Hippie Villages in the Himalayas that will take you back to the 1960s

3) Kiss the Clouds at Anini

Anini - Arunachal Pradesh, Northeast India

Anini – Arunachal Pradesh, Northeast India

Anini a small village where clouds come to kiss the land. Mystic air, unexplored terrain making a perfect place to rejuvenate yourself and experience pristine calmness. Located in Dibang valley of Arunachal, Anaini is marked by beautiful valleys and pleasant weather making it one of the sought after tourist place. It is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Northeast India.

Visiting Anini is altogether a different experience. It is surrounded by tribal villages from all sides like Hunli, New Anaya, Ranli, and a few more. You can actually explore these villages and can experience different types of Arunachali tribes and their culture.

Anini - Places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh

Anini – Places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh

Anini is a perfect destination to visit if you’re looking for some peace, as the land is virtually unexplored untouched and ripe for tourism. Anini is quite is secluded, not crowded, and serves as an excellent destination to unwind. You can also travel to Roing, in order to visit the places of interest present there.

Anini is very near to Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary, which is a popular tourist hotspot. You can also take a walk through the lush green forests while in Anini.

How to reach Anini, Arunachal Pradesh

Anini - Northeast India

Anini – Northeast India

The best way to reach Anini is from Roing. Roing is well connected to other cities of Assam and Arunachal. From Roing you can reach either by government buses or by booking a cab. And if you are looking to stay there then there are a number of budget hotels to serve tourists.

Hope you enjoyed this list of offbeat places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh. Reaching these destinations can be a hard task but rewarding nonetheless. If you have visited Arunachal Pradesh and have a few suggestions for places to visit, just let us know in the comments section.

Tirthankar Bose is a solo backpacker from India. He has been traveling for last 10 years and has covered almost all of India. Follow him at ThePoorNomad Indian Travel Guide.

Tirthankar Bose

Ladakh Road Trip – Itinerary, Stories and Madness

Ladakh Road Trip – Itinerary, Stories and Madness

Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary has been written by Karan Bhalla who represented Drifter Planet at the Highest Blogger Meet that was organized and sponsored by Scout My Trip and OYO to launch OYOnauts. This epic road trip was complimentary and all the opinions (and jokes 🙂 ) in this article are Karan’s. 

Ladakh is the mother of all road journeys in India. As they say – Ladakh is truly about the journey, not the destination. It’s got the vibe – there is music there for sure, we just ain’t tapped into the right frequency.

My perception of the place prior to this visit was a collage of pictures posted on Facebook on personal accounts of interesting mini-adventures done by my brother and practically all my friends.

Most of the people I have interacted with use to be startled when we came upon a Ladakh story and I would confess – ‘Never Been there’, usual reply – ‘what an Idiot you are’.

SO I can safely say over the years of my traveling I DRIFTED into this one – Happily. Let the fun begin!

Where is Ladakh?

Ladakh is in Jammu and Kashmir, India’s partially disputed state that’s towards the extreme north. This state is often called the crown of India because of its position and also known as “heaven on earth” because Emperor Jahangir called it so!

Suggested: Balkans road trip itinerary – the most beautiful road trip in Europe

Ladakh is in the western region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and this area is also called Trans-Himalaya because this land is beyond the Himalaya. The landscape and geology of this area is often compared to that of Tibet. Ladakh is broadly divided into 4 parts – Kargil, Leh, Nubra, and Zanskar. You will find information about all these parts of Ladakh in this post and they are a part of the road trip itinerary. This post is mostly focused on Ladakh but check out this post as well for information about hiking in Kashmir.

 

Ladakh Road Trip –

Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary - India

Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary – India

Day 01: Gurgaon to Jammu

With an ample time notice of 16 Hours, I was at the OYO Room property at 6 in the morning as per that time my Single Point of Contact (Vinit – ScoutmyTrip) – here on referred to as SPOC. SPOC – the first person from Scout my Trip initially looked as serious as somebody from the Finance team of OYO quickly wanting for all PO approvals…..but later did I realize this powerhouse of a guy with a mad/subtle sense of humor.

My first interaction with the bloggers’ community was Ajay Sood – Travelure, always on Time, the first person to be ready every morning come hail, storm, rum, mutton curry……nothing stops this man.

Loaded up and divided across 5 SUV’s – I see myself moving towards a Black – XUV piloted by Dr. Shakeel Khan and co-passengers Ragini Puri and Khursheed Dinshaw. We were zipping from the word go on songs going back in order chronologically to the 1940’s…..but first time saw there may be a co-relation between pre-independence era music and high speeds. We could safely say that we were the most well-stocked car in terms of food and beverages.

Checked into the hotel, had a great night getting to know each other over drinks and food

Suggested Reading: Crossing Hampta Pass – 5 Days of Trek through Himalayan Wilderness 

Day 02: Jammu to Ramban

Neha at Titanic view point - Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

Neha at Titanic view point – Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

Everybody’s up and on time, except yours truly still in La La Land woken up with a shake by Yayawar. Hangover and Dada first thing in the morning – that is one helluva sight. If used correctly he could be a WMD (Weapon of Mass Destruction)…..all he has to do is wake up the enemy and smile. But thanks to him I made it to the Batmobile for another round of supersonic speeds.

Ate breakfast at a picturesque dhabha we ran into the first road block of the trip a place called Ramban alongside the raging Chenab. Due to Landslides and security reasons, we were not given permission to move ahead to Sonmarg.

Sonmarg - Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

Sonmarg – Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

ScoutmyTeam quickly got into the thinking mode and before we knew it lunch and alternate accommodations were done. Over here is where I had one of the best meals of the journey – Mutton Curry and Rice……yes we made out with the food followed by a barrage of Zee Cone Ice Creams.

Day 03: Ramban to Kargil

Ramban - Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

Ramban – Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

Ready and the first cars at the police barricade and manage our way through by convincing the security personnel we are not for the yatra and would be moving up. Here onwards it started to really get beautiful. Sonmarg was gorgeous but the road ahead had loads more to offer.

Baltal based on the Sind River is the camping site for the start of the holy Amarnath Yatra – looked gorgeous when you looked at it from above, but seemed would be pretty chaotic with the sheer numbers down there at ground zero. Was totally surprised to see the number of helicopters doing frequent rounds ferrying the well-loaded bhakts.

Zojila Pass – My first experience of High Altitude and it was unbelievable, especially seeing so much greenery at those heights. It is from here started seeing the madness in Clouds which lasted all the way to Keylong.
Post Zojila is when the fun started for me as no road journey is complete without a breakdown. Enroute Kargill we realized one of our jeeps was taking unusually long to come so we decided to wait it out since we didn’t have any mobile signal in the area.

It is here that magical move into the THAR was made and a start of a mad friendship. Dr. Amit Nikam hereon referred to as Doc and he is one of the nicest guys I met with a mad streak of adventure and some common interest’s lol.

Doc, SPOC and I decided to backtrack to look for the missing party. We were lucky to meet Deepak, Yayawar and the infamous tire at the army check point. Our missing crew had a mishap with their tire and were stuck at Zojila Pass. The plan of action was that SPOC, Yayawar, and Deepak would go get them while Doc and I would proceed to the Kargill memorial and then ahead to our hotel in Kargil.

Drive to Kargil was real fun as Doc and I were busy chatting, exchanging stories etc. and before we knew it we were at Kargil War Memorial.

Kargil War Memorial – Is one of the most powerful places I have ever visited in all my travels. The detailed account of the war, letters from soldiers to their families, tombstones was too much for me to handle. I left the place with a sense of pride being an Indian with the bugle playing in the background and our National Flag.

Kargil war memorial - Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

Kargil war memorial – Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

Kargill – On reaching Kargill I played my first round of Treasure Hunt/Lost & Found with Deepak and SPOC which will now remain as one of the many memories from the trip. We were all finally together and looking forward to the journey ahead.

Day 04: Kargil to Leh

NamikaLa Pass - Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

NamikaLa Pass – Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

One of the best days visiting some incredible monasteries/passes and were settled for lunch at Lamayuru. Here is the time when one really started seeing the difference in the people, food, and general happiness. We managed to play cricket with the local young lads aided with some fun Boomerang.

 

It is here we had our first bout of AMS – Altitude Sickness. Doc on duty was the savior of the day and decided to go directly to Leh instead of stopping at Magnetic Hill and other places for photography.

We reached Leh and I was surprised or rather shocked as I had NEVER thought it would be so crowded with all the taxis parked everywhere.

We found our hotel (OYO Rooms Leh) which was ideally located away from the maddening city crowd yet walk able distance. Doc and I ended up going out for a coffee and soup at a local cafe which gave a very old Manali vibe in the late 90’s followed by an early night.

Day 05: Leh

NH1D to Leh - Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

NH1D to Leh – Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

While the rest of the crew went sight-seeing around Leh I decided to give Doc company as he was monitoring the Oxygen levels which were generally fluctuating.

Lamayuru Monastery, Leh Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

Lamayuru Monastery, Leh Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

We sat outside at the reception and ended up having random conversations with other travelers and the whacked out hotel manager – always fun to see how people live their lives differently. In he evening we decided to go for a Ladakhi meal with 2 of our biker friends from DON – Dukes of Nagpur who did the complete stretch on their bikes….superb effort. We ended up eating the tastiest Mutton Shaptah, Ting Mo and Kothey (Pan Fried Momos) truly authentic Tibet/Ladakhi cuisine.

Suggested Reading – 11 Hippie Villages in the Himalayas 

Day 06: Leh to Khardung La to Hunder

Leh to Khardungla - Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

Leh to Khardungla – Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

Time for the Highest Blogger Meet. No better way to start the day with Neha joining the THAR. She was truly the soul and voice of the car. Since both Doc and I are not really gifted vocally….from here on called the HIPPIE CAR. Photo sessions were done, we had decided to do our own Victory Dance for making it to the top.

Karan Bhalla and Thor at Khardungla Top - Ladakh Road Trip

Karan Bhalla and Thor at Khardungla Top – Ladakh Road Trip

Highest Blogger Meet and the Launch of OYONAUTS

The venue for the highest bloggers meet was Khardung La – it was kickass! we were joined by a few more bloggers, and the OYO team where everyone got to know each other and the much-awaited launch of the latest offering from OYO – OYONAUTS.

Ktop - View from Khardungla Top - Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

Ktop – View from Khardungla Top – Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

Khardungla Top - Ladakh Road Trip

Khardungla Top – Ladakh Road Trip

After spending a considerable amount of time we finished the meet and headed towards Hunder Sand Dunes. Hunder is in Nubra Valley by the way. The picturesque road from Leh to Nubra valley passes through Khardungla – click here to read more.

Enroute we stopped at Khalsar – for the best Chicken Chowmein I’ve ever eaten in my life. Khalsar had a superb vibe to the place and you know it’s special when you see 12-15 dogs of all sizes come out and play and all the locals enjoying looking at their pride. The drive onwards saw rivers, sand dunes and crazy mountains all in one frame.

One of the most stunning views - Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

One of the most stunning views – Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

The OYO property at Hunder was clearly the best for me during the trip. Everything about the place was amazing from the pool made out of the river water flowing through the property, and yes we did jump into the water…BRRRRRRRRRRR.

At the sunset time, we went to the dunes but hurriedly left the spot after seeing the number of tourists and decided to have a drink at the local bar with the biker boys. After having spent so much time and some rum with Doc it is here where I unknowingly started saying HAU for HAAN and bonds were being formed.

We reached back to the lobby witnessing Samarth doing one of his old school Bollywood renditions. Everybody especially the ScountmyTrip (Deepak finally smiled) team were relieved in pulling off the Highest Blogger Meet – kudos.

Suggested Reading: Chandra Taal – the Moon Lake in Spiti Valley

Day 07: Hundar to Pangong Tso

Leh Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

Leh Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

All prepared for the long journey ahead since due to landslides we had to re-route our trip going all the way back to Leh and then proceed to Pangong Tso.

Chicken chowmein and chilling with the dogs had to be done again since we were passing through Khalsar. This time for once Khardung – La was not as crowded and we made Leh in good time but were smart enough to bypass the city and stop for a quick bite – ended up having some really good pizzas and club sandwiches at a coffee shop run by the monastery.

Surreal Views - Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

Surreal Views – Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

Here onwards was the tough part of the journey where suddenly all roads disappeared and we were truly on the beaten path. Waded through rough terrain, some water crossings and made it to Chang La where we could see bikers in huddles deciding to go ahead or not – happy to see responsible riders making informed and calculated decisions rather than just being heroes…. the power of Ladakh for me.

Our convoy is lost and we decided to sit at the Indian Army post and have chai. The Chai session breaks into a great conversation ending with Neha singing a song for the soldiers at an elevation of 17,000 feet….Power of Ladakh☺.

Chang La Army Bunker - Ladakh Road Trip

Chang La Army Bunker – Ladakh Road Trip

Post waiting for the rest of the convoy we slowly start driving towards Pangong Tso and make it only by nightfall but happy to be reunited with our team. This is the day when Yayawar plays agony aunt while all of us wait patiently for midnight to wish Samarth on his birthday. By the way, I highly recommend you check out the camps at Pangong lake to experience the surreal beautify of this place.

Day 08: Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri

Pangong Lake - Ladakh Road Trip

Pangong Lake – Ladakh Road Trip

 

Finally got to see Pangong Tso (Pangong Lake) in all its glory. Went for a superb walk with Khursheed Dinshaw while the Sun was slowly coming out and one could see all the different shades of blue. On the way back saw the number of campsites and tents – that was something totally unexpected for me.

Near Pangong Tso - Ladakh Road Trip

Near Pangong Tso – Ladakh Road Trip

We finally started moving towards Tso Moriri – arguably the best drive for me during the trip. Best was the instructions given to us that NEVER to take a left as we may enter China…….Damn.

Rezang La - Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

Rezang La – Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

Crossed some of the most beautiful terrains and finally got to see the Indian Wild Ass. Stopped on the way for Maggi / Wai Wai and ended up chilling out there for a bit.

Sumdo cafe before Korzok Monastery - Ladakh Road Trip

Sumdo cafe before Korzok Monastery – Ladakh Road Trip

Finally, we made it to Tso Moriri – the lake looked gorgeous although if it wasn’t raining would have been even better. Btw, this is one of the highest lake in this world of this size – it is at the height of 4,522 m.

Tso Moriri - Ladakh Road Trip

Tso Moriri – Ladakh Road Trip

It was the coldest here compared to all the night halts during the trip. The icing on the cake was Deepak and Vinit making it all the way from Leh to getting some repair work in one of the cars.

Day 09: Tso Moriri to Keylong

Yellow Billed Chough (the Alpine chough) - Ladakh Road Trip

Yellow Billed Chough (the Alpine chough) – Ladakh Road Trip

Beautiful Sights on the way - Ladakh Road Trip

Beautiful Sights on the way – Ladakh Road Trip

Driving from Tso Moriri to Keylong was epic and I finally got see some beautiful birds and animals. I saw yellow billed chough, wild horses and marmot. We covered more plains, Ghata Loops, Tsarchu, Jispa and finally reached Keylong.

Suraj Tal a.k.a. Vishal Tal enroute to Keylong - Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

Suraj Taal a.k.a. Vishal Tal enroute to Keylong – Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary

We even got to see Suraj Taal, which is also known as Vishal Taal. Suraj Taal (the Sun Lake) is the sister lake of more popular Chandra Taal (the Moon Lake). This day had the most variation in terrain and was really soothing to the eyes.

Day 10: Keylong to Manali

Rohtang Pass, Manali - Ladakh Road Trip

Rohtang Pass, Manali – Ladakh Road Trip

The highlight of the drive from Keylong to Manali was Khoksar. The views were stunning everywhere I looked. I even found a few dhabhas that served mutton curry and rice while overlooking the road that goes down to Spiti Valley.

Suggested: All you need to know about Leh Ladakh Inner Line Permit

Karan Bhalla Drifter Planet

Karan Bhalla loves dogs, chai, mutton curry, beer and the mountains (in no particular order). He is a simple guy with not so simple jokes and doesn’t believe in sugar coating his words.

He started as a travel and marketing professional with brands such as Amex, InterGlobe, SAS and Coca Cola.

Bitten by the wildlife and adventure bug, he first floated a rafting community ‘Ganga Panga’ with a friend for like-minded adrenalin junkies. He later launched a customized wildlife and adventure outfit ‘Big Shot Adventures’, with Jim Corbett National Park as the base of operations.

Living in Jim Corbett National Park turned him into a birding enthusiast and he became actively involved with the local community.

Best treks in Leh Ladakh

Best treks in Leh Ladakh

This is a guest post by Eva Green

The magnetism of Leh and Ladakh lies in its beautiful hilly terrains and the deserted flat landscape that are dotted with a tint of blue because of the streams and lakes. Popularly known as the “Little Tibet,” the lofty peaks and high-altitude passes offer a range of outdoor activities for the adrenalin seekers such as rafting, jeep safari, mountaineering, motor biking, mountain biking and of course, trekking. There is something exciting and challenging for every thrill-seeker here of every kind. There is no denying that when it comes to trekking tours in India, Leh and Ladakh Treks emerge at the top.

The right best time for trekking in Leh, Ladakh is July and August as the possibility for storms and snowfall rises from September on. However, one can attempt the demanding Chadar ice-trek in February. Trekkers should go well prepared with an experienced local guide and the right equipment for trekking.

Too lazy to read the entire post? Watch this little video about Leh, Ladakh.

Markha Valley Trek

The colorful and challenging Markha Valley Trek is immensely popular. Enjoy the great views of Zanskar and Ladakh mountain ranges as you embark on one of the most sought after trekking routes of the region.

Markha Valley Trek is also known as the “Tea House Trek,” and the trek will take you through the Markha Valley and the Hemis National Park. You will love the experience of passing through Ganda La and Kongmaru La and spot blue sheep or the ibex or the patches of wildflowers on the way. You will cross the Markha River and the rocky canyons on this challenging trek.

The complete trek will take you about 11 days.

Love to trek? Read about these best treks in Asia

Lamayuru Alchi Trek

Another of the most popular trekking trails in Ladakh, the Lamayuru Alchi Trek is full of excitement. The trek is just perfect for those looking for a moderate level challenge as well as the spiritual zone of Ladakh. On the route, you come across significant Gompas and get to admire the rich cultural treasure of the “Land of Passes.”

Pray and meditate at any monastery and admire the unique beauty of Ladakh. Lamayuru is believed to be one of the oldest monasteries. You get the opportunity to cross four passes on Lamayuru Alchi Trek that starts at Lamayuru, namely Pritikingir La, Stakspi La, Kongske La and Panji La.

The whole trek will take about nine days.

Chadar Trek a.k.a. Frozen River Trek

Frozen River Trek follows a trekking trail on the frozen Zanskar River lined with high mountains. The name itself is enough to give a spine-chilling feel of the freezing temperatures.

The Frozen River Trek is indeed one of the most adventurous and best treks of Leh and Ladakh. The completely a winter trek has another name – “Chadar Trek, ” and one needs loads of mental stability and strong stamina to compete the winter trek in the harsh climatic conditions. Average day temperature remains around near to -15 ºC and can dip down to -30 ºC.

The trek would take about 13 days.

There are several other popular treks in Leh  /Ladakh such as Stok Kangri Trek, Nubra Valley Trek, Snow Leopard Trek, Rupshu Valley Trek, Lamayuru Padum Trek, Sham Valley Trek and the list could just go on and on. Ladakh also has some unbelievably gorgeous lakes such as Pangong, Tso Moriri, etc.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us reduce the costs of keeping this site active. Thanks for reading!

7 Thoughts That Crossed My Mind Before My First Bungee Jump

7 Thoughts That Crossed My Mind Before My First Bungee Jump

“Your turn”, said Olly, the jump instructor at Jumping Heights, Rishikesh.
“OMG Whaaaaaat”, I thought. However, I smiled and said “Awesome!”

I could hear my heart in my ears! I was standing at the edge of the bridge, 83 meters above the ground, ready to take a leap of faith. This was the first time I was going to bungee jump!

What felt like an eternity but in reality was just a couple of seconds. In that moment, a lot of thoughts flashed through my mind but only a few of them I remember today. The common phrase is “butterflies in the stomach” but what I felt was more like a tornado through my nervous system. The tingling started from my toes, went up to my knees, made a circle in my stomach and rose up from my spine and I felt a little dizzy.

By the way, this post is my bungee experience near Rishikesh. In case you’re looking for travel information, then check out this travel guide to Rishikesh.

Things That Crossed My Mind Before My First Bungee Jump:

What if I accidentally pee while bungee jumping?

Don’t laugh but this can happen to anyone. Blame it on that MasterCard commercial where a guy actually poops in his pants while bungee jumping so the thought stuck in my head. What if I’m too scared while jumping and I end up peeing out of fear?

What if I puke while bungee jumping?

Even though I had eaten a very light breakfast, I could still feel my it in my stomach. I was hoping it wouldn’t come out while jumping. What if I puke while bungee jumping? Will my puke fall back on my face? If you’re laughing, then you’re going to love reading about this hilarious first bungee jump experience.

What if my chord breaks while bungee jumping?

There is a reason why bungee jumping is a leap of faith. It’s because you have to trust the system. I still remembered a news article that I had read about an Aussie woman whose chord snapped in Victoria Falls and she fell into the water.

What if my back breaks during the bungee jump?

It just suddenly struck me that they had asked me if I had a back problem before I registered for the bungee jump. Is it because a jump can break someone’s back? What have I done?

What if I get a heart attack while bungee jumping?

What if this rush of excitement is too much for my heart? What if my heart cannot handle it and gives up. Do I have a strong heart? I was going to find out now.

What if I am too afraid to bungee jump?

What if I’m not as much of an adrenaline junkie that I thought I was? What if I chicken out? At this point, I was really hoping that it wouldn’t happen.

Am I crazy to be doing this?

Not completely crazy, but only a little. No sane person would ever jump off a bridge just for kicks. Why can’t I just eat chocolate and enjoy the rush? Or some form of intoxication for a decent high.

My first bungee jump in Rishikesh, India

My first bungee jump in Rishikesh, India

Yes, I did end up jumping and NONE of the above mentioned things happened. In fact, as soon as I jumped, the fear vanished and I was let out a sound that was a mix of laughter and scream. My friend Archana also bungee jumped in Rishikesh with me and she felt it was scarier the second time.

Oh and by the way, actually bungee jumped with the famous Dangal girls – Fatima Sana Shaikh (“Geeta Phogat” in Dangal movie) and Sanya Malhotra (“Babita Phogat” in Dangal movie). In fact, Sanya did Jumping Heights’ 50,000th jump. It’s crazy but the first three jumpers at Jumping Heights were also women. Talk about celebrating girl power, eh?

Here, you can watch this video

Have you ever bungee jumped? If so, let me know about it in the comments. Note: Cover picture credit

Or, watch San’s first bungee jump in Last Resort, Nepal. This is Asia’s second highest bungee spot.

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PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us reduce the costs of keeping this site active. Thanks for reading!

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