C THE EXPERIENCES 08
N 02 An Ode To Incomplete
T 04 The bold and the beautiful
E 08 A teen cyclist
T THE MATERIALS
12 The Vanlife
THE COVER STORY
16 Manali Igloo stay
18 India feels foreign
25 Motorcycle tour
26 For chocolate lovers
On the Mesmerizing Nature of India
In India recently I gave a man a word. His name was Balveez,
and he worked for the bus company whose services we were
using to get from Udaipur airport to the city. Balveez, with his
very definite side part—as if his hair was having an unresolvable
argument—said he would like one day to return to his farm and
work the land alongside buffalo, cows, and goats. He planned
to open a camp there so visitors from all over the world could
come and stay with him and see how he and his family live. Un-
til then, he is making money shuttling guests to and fro and is
keen to improve his English. I could feel, even though he was
sitting two rows away, that his head was turned entirely toward
me like an owl’s, unblinking, waiting for me to say something.
“I have many Australians, Canadians, and Americans on this
bus,” he said, “all speaking English, but they use lots of curi-
ous phrases, and there are so many different singsongs in their
voices. I would very much like to learn as many new words as
possible.” We arrived at Lake Pichola. Boats were chugging
around the moody blue water, a thrush was singing, the Taj
Lake Palace looked smaller than I remembered it, and whiter.
“I’ll give you a word. It’s a good word for India, but one of my
favorites anyway,” I said. “The word is ‘mesmerizing.’ It means
wondrous, captivating, like you can’t take your eyes off it even
for a second.” “Mesmerizing,” he said, raising his eyebrows.
“I like it.” “And when you come back to pick us up,” I re-
sponded, “you must give me a great Hindi word in exchange.”
1 | EXPLORER | MARCH 2021
An Ode To Incomplete Experiences:
Tough Experiences Mumbai. Took the local train, was squished, and did not have
I first visited Mumbai when I was 11 years old, and by then the time of my life, but it was an experience. I had vada pav,
Mumbai was already the face of modern lifestyle. The loud nois- misal pav, keema pav, and anda pav in Dadar, and relished every
es and rushing cars scared me, and I clung to my mother’s hand bite. I had kebabs in Colaba and was fairly impressed. I watched
for reassurance. The 23-year-old me is still scared of the rushing my first football match in the Mumbai Football Arena in And-
cars and tries not to die while crossing the road. This is the heri and loved it. It was also my first time shouting cuss words
second time I’m away from home and just when you think it gets in a stadium. I partied in Bandra, to the point of collapsing, but
easier, it doesn’t. The food here also doesn’t make the missing kept going. When I came back at 2 am, holding my heels in my
home part easier. Hyderabad had spoilt me with flavoursome hand, the people on the road did not look at me in a weird way.
and spicy food, so my standards for food were pretty high, and Mumbai roads might be dirty, but felt very safe.
Mumbai kept failing me. I am not a big fan of the vada pav or Mumbai Through My Eyes
misal pav (staple Maharashtrian street food), and was very closed I find Mumbai lanes very fascinating. On the outside, the city is
off to whatever else Mumbai had to offer. I optimistically looked modern, but even in posh places like South Bombay, the lanes
out of my window with expectant eyes, waiting for my delivery remind me of a small town. A friend told me that Mumbai gives
guy to bring me a biryani that would satisfy my taste buds. But him the ‘hill station and small-town vibe’ and I was going to say
it’s never as good as the one I got at home. The Sea, The Sky no, but I looked around me and the small buildings, and the
And The Solace There was a dislike I was developing for the constant drizzle did remind me of the small town where I’d like
city that made me blind
to every beautiful thing to settle down at 60 and
in it. Everything except die peacefully. To add to
the sea. I can be poetic that charm, Mumbai has
and say that the waves people who are ready to
crashing against Marine help you, most of the time.
Drive have touched my Back at home, I lived
soul, but that would be in auto-rickshaws most
a lie. I haven’t found of the time, but when I
myself on its famous arrived in South Bombay
beaches but I have I was shocked to see that
found the peace that there were no autos and
every beach never fails I wondered how people
to give. It is popularly lived like this. Now I miss
known that any conver- having conversations with
sation after midnight the kali peeli (local taxi)
becomes deep. But drivers. It was after I went
any conversation after to Andheri and Bandra
midnight at Marine that I released the breath
Drive is truly close to I was holding and felt
my heart. My friends normal again.
and I considered Ma- Mumbai taxi on the city
rine Drive holy ground street on the background
where every problem of houses
could be solved. I also Mumbai taxi on the city
enjoyed Marine Drive street
in its silence and with Leaving Things Behind
my closest people It slowly felt like I was
around me. It gave me letting go of grudges
true happiness that only and starting to enjoy the
the sea can offer. city. I had just found my
Panoramic View of ground but suddenly it
Marine Drive at dusk, was taken away. Due to
Mumbai, India the COVID-19 pandemic,
A Start To Something our classes and graduation
Good were cancelled. Our batch
Before I knew it, I had of 2019-20 did not have an
a favourite place and official goodbye. I could
a favourite thing to do not go to Marine Drive
in Mumbai. I slowly one last time. I could not
explored other parts of eat things I loved and visit
the bar we usually spent.
“I love riding
distance I travel
on the road is
only half the
distance I travel
THE BOLD AND
Four years ago, if you had glanced through I won’t say that responsibility for their daughters/wives/
Dr Sarika Mehta’s bucket list, words like riding comes mothers/sisters. After that comes research
‘bike’ or ‘ride’ wouldn’t have featured without its fair — I thoroughly study the route we are
anywhere on it. Mehta, however, had going to ride along and also contact locals
always been an avid pursuer of adventures share of in case they can give us some insights that
and regularly planned hiking trips to the problems but I’ve are not found on the internet.
always looked Then comes the safety check — weather
On returning from one such trip, she at them as stepping forecasts, road conditions, first aid kits, gas
invited all her friends over for brunch, and station stops, medical details of the riders
one of the men arrived on a spanking new stones. and the works.
friend but to rid herself of the humiliation I also make it a point to test the riding
All of them ran out to appreciate it and and helplessness she felt at that point. skills and techniques of the women before
Mehta casually requested him to click a we embark on our journey besides giving
picture of her with it. Subsequently, she formed the women’s them a 101 in acclimatisation because we
riding group Biking Queens in Gujarat often switch between different climates
Having some trouble mounting the bike and led like-minded women across the and altitudes.
initially, it was a while before she could country where they addressed various
manage its bulk, provoking the friend social issues in both rural and urban areas. In case we are travelling to an internation-
to snarkily retort that a regular woman al destination — we rode from Surat to
like her should be content with climbing In case you were wondering, the patron- Singapore two years ago — I also have to
mountains instead of aiming for the stars. ising male friend continues to eat humble sort out the paperwork.
I come from a simple Gujarati back- I have a whole schedule ready for the
ground where women are not particularly As a mother, my first priority is to ensure causes that Biking Queens would like to
encouraged to dabble in anything that is that my riding schedule doesn’t clash lend themselves to in 2018 which include
inherently masculine, so to speak. with anything important on my family’s training in self-defence for women, pro-
itinerary. moting health and hygiene in rural areas,
My in-laws were dead set against my riding educating the girl child and — this is a per-
a bike, but after a lot of convincing, they Then, I have to convince and cajole the sonal one planning an international ride.
finally warmed up to the idea, and my families of the riders and promise to take
husband started giving me riding lessons. For every woman who wants to ride a
bike but keeps putting it off, I say this —
That statement irked Mehta, and she took our gender is already empowered, you
it upon herself to learn the intricacies of only need to get out of your comfort zone
bike riding, not to prove anything to the to tap into all that talent.
5 | EXPLORER | MARCH
I’ve come such a long way since the health and hygiene, as some of the varied I launched
time my husband taught me how to ride. topics. Biking Queens
Biking Queens covered 10 nations — As a part of this initiative last year The to shatter the
India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos, Biking Queens visited 21 Nations cover-
Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, ing 21,000+ kms in 3 continents, propa- societal
Singapore — in order to spread awareness gating the message – “Ride for Women’s mental roadblocks
about issues that we personally believed Pride”. The Biking Queens after suc-
in. Last year, we travelled to various Indi- cessfully completing their historic Bike and prove
an states, finally ending our 10,000-km- Expedition from India to London in 89 women can do
long ride at Khardung La in Ladakh on days, returned to Surat. anything they set
August 15, where we hoisted the national Moreover, to support the community
flag on India’s highest motorable road. during tough times of Covid-19, friends their minds too
and family members of Biking Queens
Another memorable trip would be the have been distributing foods to about
time I represented our country at the un- 5000 migrant workers and poor people
veiling of the Global Road Safety Report from the beginning of the lockdown on
by the World Health Organisation by daily basis. As frontline warriors they have
riding across Germany, France, Austria, ensured availability of biscuits and milk
Switzerland, Italy, Sardinia, Corsica, pouch for the children’s and pregnant
South Africa and The Alps. women as they are most vulnerable to the
However, nothing tops the time when
Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted
us at his residence to discuss various
schemes such as Beti Bachao, Beti Pad-
hao and Swachh Bharat that we supported
via Biking Queens. Of course, there was
a lot of spiteful talk behind my back, but
the fact that I was representing every wife,
mother, daughter or sister who wanted to
ride a bike, but couldn’t, put my mind at
Seeing a traditional Gujarati woman on
a bike roused the interest of my would-
be ilk and I started receiving calls and
messages from young girls who’d en-
quire about the nitty-gritty of biking. I
had already been an advocate for many
women’s issues, so I thought of using my
bike as a tool to get people to really listen
— nobody can shrug off the words of a
woman on a bike in Gujarat!
Sarika, considers herself fortunate for
having loving and supporting parents,
husband, in-laws and children. Yet she
felt she had more to offer to the society.
With inspiration from her mother Maya
Jariwala and husband Jignesh Mehta’s
encouragement, she established Biking
Queen Charitable Trust, an all-women
organization, that aims to serve society by
breaking the stereotypes.
An avid and prolific mountaineer, Sarika
launched Biking Queens to shatter the
societal mental roadblocks and prove to
the world that women can do anything
they set their minds too. Sarika chose mo-
torbikes as a medium to spread awareness
through the numerous motorbike rallies,
including even the remote rural areas of
India, to educate the girl child, along with
A Teen Cyclist
My name is Mohit Kapoor and I
am a cycling enthusiast and
traveller by heart. When my
father offered to buy me a scooter at the
age of 16, I decided to pass on his offer
and asked for a bicycle instead. I wanted a
My father let me have my way and soon, I
started a journey to explore Rajasthan.
Not satisfied with this small sojourn, I
decided I wanted to travel from Kashmir
I had no money but I was not to be
deterred. I set off on my bicycle for a
journey that took me from Rohtang Pass
near Manali in Himachal Pradesh to
Vivekanand Rock Memorial at the south-
ernmost point of India.
Alone, without money or a sponsor, I
sold my cell phone to arrange equipment
for this tour. Finding food and shelter in
gurudwaras and temples during the trip,
I conquered the goal I had set for myself
and lived a dream that I chased all alone.
Pedalling from Manali to Kanyakumari in
less than a month and then sitting on the
last rock in India, touching the seagreen
waters of the India Ocean, I encountered
the good, the bad, and the beautiful of
In the second and concluding part of this
odyssey, I felt like I had left my teens be-
hind to become a man, and had come to
know myself through my bicycle, a strong
pair of legs, and a will of steel.
Self-inspired as I was, I again decided to
venture on my next cycling expedition.
Travelling through Ladakh on a saddle
and two pedals, I lived this dream too
with the same fervour.
By the time the trip was over I knew I my soul by traversing through spectacular fined destination or time. There was only
wanted to explore the world. I had learnt landscapes and also my taste buds by a vague plan to see the world and learn to
a lot about India from the roads I had indulging in delicious foods. cook Nom hua chuoi or the banana-flow-
travelled but was thirsty for more adven- er salad in Vietnam.
tures.I had always dreamt of being a chef. It was hard to explain my decision to my
I had grown up devouring food shows on parents to take a break before I joined It helped me when some friends decid-
TV and always wanted to visit the Middle college and ride on a bicycle for a year. ed to ride along for the whole day; their
East. But, sadly, that was out of the ques- It took me five months to satisfy their camaraderie and good wishes gave me
tion as it meant having to cycle through queries and convince them that my the strength to reach Delhi where I was
Pakistan and Afghanistan. journey would be a learning process, so surprised to see a big welcome planned
essential for a young man on the cusp of for me.
Not only was this dangerous, my parents adulthood.
would have scuttled my plans even before There were around 100 pedal pushers
I took off. I then decided to plan my ride But now, after having planned my dream from the cycling community, who had
to South East Asia instead, via the great ride to the last detail, I hit another assembled to cheer me on. There, my
Himalayas. pothole: where would the money come jersey pocket became unexpectedly heavy
from? I started to look for sponsors. I – someone had slipped in an envelope
That would kill two birds with one met many people from different com- containing Rs 3,000 with a note that sim-
stone – not only would the ride take panies for help. I used to hitchhike as ply read: ‘Happy Journey!’ My eyes were
me through some of the most amazing I did not have enough money to buy filled with tears; I couldn’t even thank the
places on Earth but I would also able to tickets. And most of the time I thought well-wisher who dropped it in my pocket
immerse myself in culinary adventures far people would loosen their purse strings as I did not know who he/she was.
removed from the Rajasthani food I was to support a noble venture but, alas, I was Next day, with my heart full of emotions,
accustomed to. politely declined. I would make my way I left Delhi and reached Karnal toll by
back home with disappointments. night.
My endeavour has already begun. I will
be pedalling through nine countries of Somehow, goodwill worked and I got I was lucky to witness a gram panchayat
South East Asia – India, Nepal, Bhutan, some sponsors for my trip – but no cash. meeting and taste some local delicacies
Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, I decided to set out anyway and see how she had prepared for me. On my way
Vietnam, and Malaysia. My plan is to not I could manage and make my way on to Kullu, I met with an accident and lost
just witness some breathtaking landscapes the road. Next morning, I had a lovely the only jacket I was carrying with me.
and scenery but to indulge in and learn breakfast prepared by mom with lots of I reached Manali and called a friend to
about the famous foods and traditional love and blessings for my continental ask him to loan me his winter wear as I
tastes of every region on my route. adventure. After all, how many kids are did not have enough money to buy a new
crazy enough to venture on a bicycle to jacket. I stayed at a backpackers’ hostel in
I can’t think of any better way to make unknown lands. Here I was, taking off a small village called Jagatshukh, where I
my dream come true – I will be gratifying into the wild blue yonder with an unde- met people from different countries.
9 | EXPLORER | MARCH 2021
Indian travel books to satisfy
The first book on the list is one written by
William Dalrymple, a writer who loved
this country and made it his own. The
title of this book alludes to one of the
stages the world goes through as part of a
cycle in Hinduism. The author also met
writer Shobhaa De in Mumbai and spoke
to her about her depiction of socialites in
the maximum city. For aeons, many have
journeyed across this country and wrote
fabulous accounts of their trips. India is
ideal for long wanderings. When one is
trapped in a monotonous routine life,
boredom sets in, and the best panacea to
overcome the situation is travel.
The second book on the list is Butter Chick-
en in LudhianaJust like the name of the book,
its entire narrative is full of quirky charac-
ters which the author encounters during his
extensive travel through small towns in India.
Mishra had several experiences of awe and
intrigue while exploring places such as Mandi,
Pushkar, Kottayam, and Murshidabad. The
title of this book is linked to an amusing anec-
dote, which the author explains vividly. While
sitting in one of the small-town eateries, he
encountered a few drunken men from North
India who while conversing in their inebriated
state asked each other ‘What is the national
bird of Khalistan?’ To which one of them
shouted back ‘Butter Chicken’.
The third book on the list is Wanderings in
India and Other Sketches of Life in Hindo-
stan by 19th-century Australian lawyer and
writer John Lang, who is now considered to
be the first native-born novelist of Australia.
Lang’s travelogue gives a fantastic account of
India during the colonial times and the many
lifestyle habits of the British. If you are to
explore the colonial architecture of India in
its various hill stations and cities now, it is best
to carry this book which might transport you
back to a bygone era with all its eccentricities.
Lang’s grave in Mussoorie has been discov-
ered by writer Ruskin Bond whose many
books can also be read while travelling to the
The next book on this list of must-read
Indian travelogues is Nine Lives: In
Search of the Sacred in Modern India,
again by William Dalrymple who has
added so much to the historiography
of India. Through this book, one can
experience the spirituality of this diverse
land. The book narrates the lives of nine
Indians from different religious back-
grounds and the uniqueness that each
exudes. There is one thing which never
ceases to excite people about India – its
vastness. And thanks to this immensity,
the country is replete with innumerable
places of interest.
The last travelogue on this list is the bestseller
Chasing the Monsoon: A Modern Pilgrimage
through India by Alexander Frater. Frater is
probably the right person to chase the Mon-
soon in India and thereby explore this vast
land in all its mystic glory. He has
beautifully described many scenes of rain
here, and just one line from the book will
suffice to see the connection: “Flooded
paddies, silvery in the soft, mellow light of
late afternoon, flanked the road”. Such beauti-
ful prose can only accentuate the heightened
expectation of a traveller. The Monsoon in
India is often long, and it can be enjoyed
depending on one’s taste and mood. This book
might help in the process.
11 | EXPLORER | MARCH 2021
‘Vanlife future of
travel in India’
India’s first fully equipped Camper Van, now available in Karnataka. Months in lockdown, travel & tourism has taken
quite a beating & will continue to do so with travel restrictions & underlying fears of infection.
However, for travel enthusiasts, there’s some great news. Earlier today the CM of Karnataka along with the tourism
Minister CT Ravi flagged off a fully-equipped Camper Van called the Luxe Camper that promises to bring in a whole
new dimension to the concept of travel. The campers are now available in Karnataka & soon will be available across
Camper vans are a milestone & will boost to tourism in the state. Karnataka government has not invested or has no
cost or profit-sharing for now, however, we plan on setting up exclusive campsites & special amenities for the travel-
lers using these campers & people can opt to visit them, overall it will create indirect revenue as well,” said Karnataka
Tourism minister CT Ravi
13 | EXPLORER | MARCH 2021
Travel that feels like home a fridge. If that’s not good enough the camper is also
loaded with two TVs & a Bluetooth music system.
The luxe Camper which is India’s first commercially The added bonus is that people get to travel together,
approved premium Motorhome is not your ordinary with no need to stay at hotels or eat out at restaurants - a
vehicle, it’s literally your home on the move. boon during the pandemic, all this while they get to visit
& camp at scenic locations.
The camper can accommodate about 8 people.
For now, the company provides a driver & a guide who
Cozy seats inside can be converted into relaxing beds. will have a separate enclosure in the RV, however for
It also has a fully functional kitchen with an induction those who have a valid heavy motor vehicle license the
stove, a toaster, electric kettle, a microwave oven & even
option to self-drive could be made available.
“Contextually speaking, post the pandemic, we offer probably Pilot project in Karnataka, soon to be
the best way to travel that allows social distancing. Travel for available across India
leisure otherwise will be the lowest priority.
We will be able to change that. Plus people get to see plac- As part of the initial trails offered, the company has tied-up for
es that have no good accommodation,” said Tiger Ramesh, camping sites at locations.
Founder Campervan Camps.
They are Aanejari, Bandipur, Bheemeshwari, Hampi, Kabini,
Currently, we provide personalized travel experiences to exotic Kodagu, Kudremukha, Sadashivgad, Sakleshpur, Sakrebyle,
locations in Karnataka and will very soon expand to rest of Sitanandi, and a few more locations under finalisation” Added
India. Tiger Ramesh
Now get the feel of arctic region in India. We bring to you a first
of a kind travel adventure, one that will leave you with Goose-
bumps. Yes you heard it right, IGLOO stay in India. Experience
something truly novel this winters, as we bring you India’s first
ever Igloo stay vacations.
Spend a night inside an Igloo, in the backdrop of the snow clads
mountains in Manali and live your childhood dream. Camping
out in the summer is one thing, but there’s something magical
about camping out in the snow.
Stay 1 Night in Igloo enjoy Bonfire, barbeque, meals, Adven-
ture Activities, Skiing and Snowboarding lesson, explore the
snowy mountains doing snowshoeing and make your own igloo .
This weekend, how about staying in an igloo house in Manali. house in Manali.Each igloo will be available on a twin-sharing
Yes! You read it right! It is Manali’s first igloo house that opened basis, and you can combine skiing activities with it or just choose
to the public in January and has become a star attraction already. to spend a night there. The only thing to keep in mind is that
It is your chance to have some crazy adventure this February, you should travel in a small group, for there is not much space
and the people you must thank for this opportunity are Vikas to accommodate large groups. You’ll have to shell out INR 5000
& Tashi Dorje. The duo has made this incredible experience a for a night in the igloo camp in Manali.
dream come true for many who wished to stay in igloos some
day.Here’s all you need to know for planning a stay in the igloo
Rohtang Pass Is Not For The Faint Hearted. Take A Trip In
2021 To Experience The Thrill.A one-night stay in the igloo
including activities like skiing, tube sliding, and sledge sliding will
cost you INR 18,000.
Both packages include three meals, bonfire, and a barbeque.
After all, no winter camping is complete without a bonfire.
Worried about the biting weather? Fret not!
Don’t fret about the freezing temperature; you’ll get a feather
sleeping bag with extra blankets, a foam mattress, and hot water
bottles, so it’s going to be absolutely comfortable.
The Igloo house Manali is also equipped with appropriate
clothes, gloves, and snow boots.
Bring uniqueness to your romance
A sleeping bag on the bed inside the igloo in Manali
Agree or not, we can say it without a doubt that spending some
time in igloo house Manali can sizzle up your
romance in an exceptional way. It won’t be a humdrum expe-
rience that most couples experience in any random resort or a
lavish hotel. The time in here will offer you unforgettable mem-
ories and obviously an adventurous romantic time with your one
LIMITED SEATS AVAILABLE (max 15) Missing
this once in a lifetime experience is sure to
leave you racked with guilt.
Day Trip – Igloo Camp
Enjoy a day trip to our Igloo camp site and
have an exhilarating experience of skiing/
snowboarding or snowshoeing. Its all a guided
trip and first lesson for you of winter sports.
1 Night Igloo Stay
Once again, we are ready to make a frosty
lodging this winter in the hills of Hamta/
Sethan Valley to make your dream come true
of staying amid the snow capped mountains
and to play with soft white snow.
2 Night / 3 Days Package
Make your weekend holidays this winter,Visit
with your family or group of friends. Winter
is a season when colour of mountains is just
white and all around is calm and peaceful.
Adventure enthusisats resting inside an igloo in Manali
That’s how your stay is going to be. Like it, don’t you? Well,
why are you delaying then? Pick your dates and book the best
igloo house in India and spend some exceptional time with your
friends here. Believe us when we say it is a thrill that you should
not miss at any cost.
For a crazy vacation with friends
A large group sitting atop the unique igloo in Manali
It’s not some normal 4 walled room with lavish amenities and
24/7 services. This is something one of a kind, Obviously, it
will give you a crazy vacation with your friends and family here.
Don’t miss and don’t delay, look for your type of igloo house in
What are you waiting for? Book your stay in Igloo hour Manali
and relish a stay inside the white one of kind walls.
By availing a stay at an igloo house in Manali you won’t have
an exceptional experience for a lifetime rather you can enjoy
adventurous activities like skiing and sledge sliding with your
On your next trip to Manali do not miss a stay in this magical
place. As winters give way to a shiny summer these igloos will
too melt away, so the month of Mid January till Mid March is
your only chance to undergo this unique and wonderful
17 | EXPLORER | MARCH 2021
India feels Foreign
Planning a trip? Nothing is better than a well-deserved holiday There are many places in India that has the essence of a foreign
after a tiring work span or those stressful board exams. Now, the land in terms of beauty & affordability. Though some of them
big question is, domestic or international? are instantly recognisable as India – hello, Big Golden Tem-
ples – there are plenty others that you could mistake for being
While we all dream of traveling international, budget and time somewhere else entirely…
often stays a constraint: Tight budget, not many leaves, fear of These Indian cities will make you feel as if you’re abroad with-
international travel, visa rejection are few of the common out the sky-high ticket price and exorbitant international tour
But why bother taking an international trip away from your Need beaches? Head to Goa. . Need beaches? Head to Goa.
home country, when your own country ‘India’ has so much to The tropics? Cherrapunji. Desert? Rajasthan. Mountains? Head
W offer. From graceful valleys to colourful streets, lovely beach- to Ooty. Want some snow? Manali it is! Temperate forests?
es and inspired architecture to rich heritage, they remind us that Coorg.
India has her share of spectacular attractions that not even locals
know about.Moreover, you’ll save time, money as well as see Get ready to join us on an epic journey round the world –
more for less!! without even having to step out of India.
Switzerland has some of the
most jaw-dropping scener-
ies in all of Europe, thanks
to the majestic Swiss Alps.
Unfortunately it’s also the
planet’s priciest destination
according to the World Eco-
nomic Forum. One look at
the Kashmir mountains and
you’ll really believe you’re in
some sort of cold (ok, cool)
Swiss Alps. From snow-clad
mountains, rolling green
hills to serene views of lush
meadows, sparkling lakes,
silvery streams to bustling
The Beauty of Switzerland vs
Paradise in Kashmir
The Niagara Falls of Ontario vs
The Chitrakote Falls of
Niagara Falls is an icon
that needs no introduction.
Niagara Falls is famous the
world over for its thundering
power and impressive show,
located along the Canada-USA
border. Chitrakote Waterfalls
in Chhattisgarh is located to
the west of Jagdalpur in Bastar
district. The main reason for
the comparison to Niagara Falls
is due it its horseshoe shape. It
is believed that the pressure of
falling water is equivalent to the
weight of 500 elephants.
19 | EXPLORER | MARCH 2021
A visit to a tea plantation
is always a treat, especially
when the trip takes one off
the beaten path. While a
trip to Malaysia may burn a
hole in your pocket, Kerala
is perfect for the budget
traveller. India’s big star,
Munnar is one of the largest
tea plantations in the world.
The hill station of Munnar
is synonymous with rolling
hills that are carpeted with
verdant plantations of tea – a
delicious beverage loved
Tea Gardens of Cameron in
Malaysia vs Munnar in Kerala
Tulip Garden of Amsterdam vs
Tulip Garden of Srinagar
Could these be the famed tulip
fields of the Netherlands?
No. Srinagar Situated on the
foothills of Zabarwan Range
with an overview of Dal Lake,
the Tulip Garden of Srinagar
is the largest Tulip garden in
Asia spread over an area of
about 12 hectares (30 acres).
Also known as Indira Gandhi
Memorial Tulip Garden, it
is ranked fourth among the
world’s biggest Tulip Gardens
by the World Tulip Society.
There are over 20 lakh Tulips
of over 70 varieties in the
Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden.
Covering most of North
Africa, the Sahara is almost
as large as the United States
and the largest hot desert in
the world. Our own Thar
Desert although not
particularly large or big,
covers a large part of the
north-western Indian sub-
continent. Though India
is surrounded by water on
three sides, it is also home
to the 17th largest desert in
the world; The Thar Desert,
fondly called the Great Indi-
Sahara Desert in Africa vs
The Grand Canyon of USA vs Thar Desert in Rajasthan
Gandikota Gorge of Andhra
Pradesh The Grand Canyon is a true
marvel of nature, but it’s not
the only natural wonder in Ari-
zona worth hitting the road for.
Gandikota is a small village sit-
uated in the Kadapa district of
Andhra Pradesh.the Gandikota
Gorge is loaded with more
sites such as the fort, temples
etc. to see than just, well, the
Grand Canyon. The location
is situated beautifully amongst
the dense forest, and a scenic
nature spread. The gorge is
gaining popularity for trekking,
rock climbing, rappelling and
21 | EXPLORER | MARCH 2021
7 When it comes to skiing, the
Skiing in Canada vs Skiing proximity, soft snow and dusty
in Gulmarg mountains of well-known Cana-
da is hard to beat – but once in
The Bonneville Salt Flats and a while it’s worth looking a little
Rann of Kutch are some of the further afield. Both Canada
living wonders. These are huge and India are home to impres-
areas of salt marshes, which sive mountains and world-class
makes them quite similar to powder, but debate rages on
look at. And while the Bon- about exactly which location
neville Salt Flats may be seven provides the better runs. We
miles away, The Rann of Kutch have the Himalayas and we
is a precious possession of have Kashmir, Auli is Gulmarg,
India and you don’t even need one of the highest ski resorts
a passport to visit it. The dense and home to the highest cable
salt pan of Kutch is a natural car in the whole world.
phenomenon and definitely
worth checking out for its own 8
sake. his truly otherworldly part The Bonneville Salt Flats of
of the state is one of the most Utah vs The Rann of Kutch
impressive Indian destinations.
With its romantic resorts, 9
azure sea and sea breeze,
Andaman Island is the Phi Phi Phi Islands of Thailand vs
Phi Island of Thailand. Andaman & Nicobar Islands
It is also a great spot for
scuba diving. If you have of Bay of Bengal
been thinking of diving and
snorkeling in Thailand,
you could give this island a
look! Take advantage of the
bountiful beauty beneath,
with fantastic coral reefs – or
just relax by the ocean and
enjoy the exotic delights.
Deep in the lagoon, you can
also spot many fish species.
Tranquil Beaches of Bali vs
Vibrant Beaches of Goa
There’s no denying that the In-
dian love affair with Bali is go-
ing strong. With the number of
couples choosing Bali as their
honeymoon destination, visitor
numbers are making it an
expensive holiday destination.
bypass the expensive cities of
Kuta and Seminyak and instead
head to India’s most beloved
city Goa that offers long exotic
beaches, cocktails by the pool
and great value-for-money.
Self-styled the ideal destination
for “beach bums worldwide”,
Goa is home to some amazing
23 | EXPLORER | MARCH 2021
there is no other destination
in the world like the Blue
Mountains of Jamaica. And
while Jamaica is proud of its
blue mountains, India’s has
its own blue mountains in
the Nilgiri Mountains. The
Nilgiri Mountains of Ooty
are as beautiful and mysteri-
ous as the Blue Mountains.
Commonly called as Nilgiri,
the Blue Mountains of India
are popular among campers
due to the view from the
mountains which can take
your breath away.
. Blue Mountains of Jamaica Vs
Nilgiri Mountains of Ooty
Venice in Italy Vs Alappuzha in
You can enjoy panoramic views
of lush fields, ducks and birds
as you glide through the water,
deriving the same pleasure as
being in Venice (pictured). The
best time to visit is during the
winter months of November to
February.Formerly known as
Alleppey, this popular destina-
tion in the south, takes you on
an enchanting journey through
the backwaters of Kerala. You
can enjoy fishing, coir-making
and prawn farming when on-
board a houseboat, known as
MOTORCYCLE TOUR INDIA
Himalaya... This mythical chain of moun-
tains evokes an isolated, preserved and
During your Himalayan motorcycle tours
you'll be touched by the variety of cultures
and panoramas extending from Ladakh to
Uttarakhand via the Himachal Pradesh.
The Himalayan India truly amazes and
captivates. The sacred India of the Ganges,
one of the luxuriant valleys, and the cedar
forests turn into a mineral and lunar uni-
verse near Tibet.
On your Royal Enfield, go up and down
Himalaya through the highest summits,
and enjoy the mountains stretching as far
as your eyes can see.
A STRONG AND UNTOUCHED
The wonders of the Himalaya will reach
out to you, from craggy roads in the
mountainside to the Chandra Taal sacred
lake. You’ll be fascinated by the typical
culture of Himalayan India all along your
trip, from the verdant Uttarakhand region
to Zanskar’s arid panoramas. True beauty
and power emenate from these sceneries.
Let yourself be seduced by this wonderful
A MOTORCYCLE TOUR IN
As a budding or experienced rider, you
want to pursue your dreams discovering
the Tibeto-Buddism culture during an ex-
citing mountain trip? Escorted by our spe-
cialized guides, try a 7 to 15-day motorbike
tour in Himalaya. The operative words?
Adventure, attraction and liberty.
During your trip, you’ll ride through the
roof of the world to the Nanda Devi, at
7816 meters (above 25,000 feet). What a
view! Spirituality is also one of the main
features of your motorcycle tours
On the road, you’ll visit the holy city of
Haridwar and even Rishikesh, the world’s
capital for yoga. Numerous Buddhist
temples will spread on your way, just as the
ones of Alchi or Ukhimat. Isolated in the
mountains, those places out of time enable
you to dive deep into the disorienting and
unique Himalayan culture. To discover
more about the country, we invite you to
read official information. Motorcycle tours
in Ladakh are an opportunity for you to
share strong and true feelings of liberty and
humility with other motorbike fans.
25 | EXPLORER | MARCH 2021
DISCOVERIES Must-Try Destina
While known to be honeymooners’ Lonavala Kodaikanal
paradise, you cannot miss Ooty’s home-
made chocolates! And if I am not wrong, Homemade Chocolate Fudge Chocolate LoversKodaikanal is another
romance goes well with chocolates. Right? StackedThis cute hill-station in the state hill station in Tamil Nadu that’s famous
At Charing Road, walk into one of the of Maharashtra is surrounded by foggy for its homemade chocolates and its wide
many bakeries to grab many finger-licking green hills. Adding to the amazing views variety. From coffee-bean chocolates
chocolates in Milk, dark chocolate, white of the hills, enjoy warm Chocolate Fudge to fruit syrup filled chocolates, you can
chocolate, with cashews, raisins, straw- here which is truly phenomenal. Any get’em all in Kodaikanal. As there are a
berries and many other flavours. King’s chocolate lover who’s been to Lonavala number of places selling homely choc-
Star Bakery is a must visit during this trip will definitely agree that Cooper’s deli- olates, do check out Chocolate Factory,
of yours and pack some heavenly truffles cious chocolate fudge remains unchanged Pot Luck, Cloud Street and S.G. Cottage
and fudges to satiate your chocolate and undefeatable! Every batch is laden Industries; and have a chocolatey time
cravings! with walnuts making it a nutty delight! here at this balmy hill station.
You can also visit the chocolate museum Don’t forget to try flavoured chikkis as
in Ooty where you get to learn everything well. Cooper’s offers an eclectic range of
about chocolates and their manufacturing. chikkis including Kesar badam, pista kaju
and Kesar kaju.
ations in India for
Delhi Being a Pahadi myself, I don’t think this
list will be complete if I don’t add Baal
Chocolate eclairs on plate on white back- Mithai here. While it is prepared in
ground whole Uttrakhand, it is said to be originat-
The veteran bakery: Wenger’s here in ed in Almora during the early twentieth
Delhi makes the best chocolate éclairs! century. This delicious sweet is brown
While Wenger’s an age-old name for a chocolate-like fudge, that is made with
delicious range of munchies, its array of roasted khoya and coated with white sugar
pastries and cakes should not be missed! balls. In absence of these sugar balls, you
As the bakery dates back to pre-inde- get simple chocolate mithai which also
pendence times, their old world charm quite popular.
remains unmatched even now. There
Mumbai is another speciality that you should try
while you are there: chocolate dipped
A batch of chocolate brownies on a plate strawberries. Now, if you have a sweet
While there are many cafes in Mumbai tooth like me and dream of having eating
which offer us an opportunity to gorge pastries, cupcakes or mithais in some
on chocolate delights but in the past form or the other (all day long), you’ll
decade, Theobroma has successfully love this cream filled éclairs glazed with
brought exclusive and indulgent cakes chocolate.
and desserts to the high street and within
the reach of many. This patisserie chain
founded by pastry chef Kainaz Messman
has now become one of the most famous
patisseries in Mumbai.
27 | EXPLORER | MARCH 2021