The Annapurna Circuit- Abode of Solitude

ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT – The Journey

Before I get on to my experience let’s get into, What is the Annapurna Circuit?

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

“The Circuit is a trek of about 160-230 km within the mountain ranges of central Nepal.  This trek crosses two different river valleys and encircles the Annapurna Massif. The path reaches its highest point at Thorung La pass (5416m/17769 ft), touching the edge of the Tibetan Plateau. Practically all trekkers hike the route anticlockwise, as this way the daily altitude gain is slower, and crossing the high Thorong La pass is easier and safer.

The mountain scenery, seen at close quarters includes the Annapurna Massif (Annapurna I-IV), Dhaulagiri, Macchapuchhre, Manaslu, Gangapurna, Tilicho Peak, Pisang Peak and Paungda Danda. Numerous other peaks of 6000-8000m in elevation rise from the Annapurna range”

 “You are not in the mountains. The mountains are in you.”  – John Muir

So true, the experience was truly within but of course laid with vivid spectacular sceneries on the go!

My heart raced as I ran up the long flight of stairs at a neighbourhood temple. It was a week since I had started to run along the stairs to get a cardio workout in place along with practising Hatha Yoga for the past 4 months. Another three weeks were left for my friend and I to meet the mighty Himalayas! This time we were gearing up for the beautiful Annapurna Circuit Trail.

I had butterflies in my tummy for over a week as my mind raced through the thought ‘Will I be able to reach up to 18000 feet?’ Well, I would soon figure out.

Bangalore-Delhi-Gorakhpur-Sunauli-IndoNepalBorder-Pokhara – All in 36 hours!

Bangalore to Pokhara was quite an adventurous ride. Bangalore to Delhi by flight and then we had to book a night bus to Gorakhpur as the train we had booked was in fact non-existent since a month even though we had received our confirmation for the seats! Well, the Indian Railways sure gives one an experience to remember always!

Before Boarding at Bangalore Airport, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
Before Boarding at Bangalore Airport

The bus journey was eventful; firstly it arrived late, secondly the two of us were cramped on the upper berth of the bus; thirdly the bus driver kept on honking throughout the night as if he had to play a song. I woke up uneasily to some noise and then the driver called out, ‘Gorakhpur!’

Somewhere near Agra on the way to Gorakhpur, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
Somewhere near Agra on the way to Gorakhpur

My friend and I hurriedly got out of the bus and collected our luggage. We luckily, found a share-auto which took us to the bus-stand. There we sat in the bus to Sunauli.

We quickly managed to freshen ourselves in a nearby lodge and later sat in the bus. The bus ride was pleasant as the bus veered by the farm lands and headed towards the mountains. After about five hours we reached the India-Nepal border.

Cycle-Rickshaw across the Indo-Nepal border, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenlens
Cycle-Rickshaw across the Indo-Nepal border

We got down from the bus and crossed the border in a cycle-rickshaw. This was quite a lovely slow ride.

 

We ate a quick Nepali staple lunch and jumped on a bus to Pokhara. The bus was rickety and we were caught in a jam up the mountain roads for about an hour.

Jam on the mountain roads enroute Pokhara, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
Jam on the mountain roads enroute Pokhara

After about nine hours in the bus we reached Pokhara.

As we reached our stay at the ‘Mountain View’ – a warm couple invited us and showed us to our rooms. We went out to eat at the opposite small shack. The owner cum cook got us hot rotis and palak paneer. It was something to die for. We smacked our lips and licked our fingers until the entire curry was nowhere to be seen.

Pokhara is the second largest city in Nepal and it is the gateway to Annapurna Circuit and one can see the Dhaulagiri, Manaslu and Annapurna ranges from the city.

We woke up to a beautiful day and went out in search of the ACAP office. Once we finished our registration and got our trekker card, we headed up for the Phewa lake.

Phewa Lake, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
Phewa Lake

As we soothed our tired legs and soul, the sky invited us to be a spectator while it painted colorful parachutes along the clouds.

Colorful Parachutes adorn the sky, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
Colorful Parachutes adorn the sky

We later did some shopping and booked the bus to Bhulbhule for the morrow.

Day 1: Pokhara-Besisahar-Bhulbhule-Ngadi (3000 feet)

A six hour drive from Pokhara to Bhulbhule was amazing and beautiful. Bhulbule is a small town along the Marshyangdi river.

The drive took us from narrow roads to dusty mountain roads to long roads through the tropical forests. Well one could catch a glimpse of the snow clad mountains throughout the way.

At Bhulbhule, the start of our trek, Annapurna Circuit trail, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
At Bhulbhule, the start of our trek

We started our trek along the road from Bhulbhule and reached Ngadi, a quaint quiet place in the midst of the valley by the Marshyangdi River. We got talking to these children at whose home-stay we stayed for the night. A brilliant 8-year old kept us engaged and entertained us throughout the evening. He took us to the river as well and played with us. They were quite an endearing family and we had a simple sumptuous food for the night.

 

Day 2: Ngadi-Bahudanda-Ghermu-Jagat-Chamche (4500 feet)

We got up quite early at around 5 am and headed to the trail. It was a gorgeous start to the day with trekking up the beautiful lush mountains followed by Chai and breakfast at Bahudanda. The view of the mountains and the river was mesmerizing.🗻

Breakfast at Bahudanda Annapurna Circuit Trail, ShwethaKrish,ShoePenLens
Breakfast at Bahudanda Annapurna Circuit Trail

The trail to Ghermu was downhill and we had a nice hike. But the trek to the next village Jagat was quite an ordeal with the sun beating down us. The trail was really difficult. My legs were giving away and my mind was too occupied and stressed out with the sun beating down. We kind of pushed ourselves to Jagat and were in for a sumptuous Dal bhat. None of us spoke for the next 20 mins as we enjoyed our meal in silence and rested our aching body on the wooden chairs. As our minds contemplated on taking a ride, we beat it and trudged our aching selves ahead to the next place Chamche where we decided to stay for the night as we were thoroughly exhausted. Chamche happened to be right opposite a beautiful falls and it started to rain as we freshened ourselves and sat down to drink some tea. After a quick dinner we crashed.

Waterfalls at Chamche, Annapurna Circuit Trail, ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
Waterfalls at Chamche, Annapurna Circuit Trail

This day was truly terrifying and it was on our minds whether we would make it along the rest of the trail. Well we had to see for ourselves in the days to come!

Day 3: Chamche-Tal-Dharapani-Danaque (7200 feet)

An early start to Day 3 had us walking across a lot of bridges and mountain paths carved along the walls of the mountain.

On the way from Chamche to Tal, Annapurna Circuit Trail, ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
On the way from Chamche to Tal, Annapurna Circuit Trail
The Triangle Mountain, Annapurna Circuit Trail, ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
The Triangle Mountain, Annapurna Circuit Trail

Post which we reached Manang district and entered Tal, a lovely hamlet by the river. This place is very scenic; the lush green valleys, the shimmering Marshyangdi river and of course the stalwarts-Mountains held a very gripping hold of the scenery.

Tal, Annapurna Circuit Trail, ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
Tal, Annapurna Circuit Trail

The path led us up and down the mountain ranges and we were greeted by a lot of lovely falls. We had our lunch at Dharapani, a small village and headed to Danaque for the night.  At 7000 odd feet, the weather was cold and it rained from late evening to late into the night.  Highlight of this day was this beauty of a place, Tal and the vivid sceneries on the trail. We also happened to see a Tomato Tree!

Tomato tree at one of the homestays in Tal, Annapurna Circuit Trail, ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
Tomato tree at one of the homestays in Tal, Annapurna Circuit Trail

 

Day 4: Danaque-Timang-Manaslu-Kyoto-Chame (8891 feet)

We woke up to a chilly morning and geared up for the trek. As travellers, we took to the road early.
After a nervy crossing along the stream across the road, we were faced by a steep ascent into the cold woods.

Across the stream on the road from Chame, Annapurna Circuit Trail, ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
Across the stream on the road from Chame, Annapurna Circuit Trail

After an arduous climb in the narrow slushy mountain paths, we came to a small village called Timang from where the Manaslu peaks came into view. I was in for a treat and I donned the cap of a shutterbug. A breakfast by the view set us on the trail with some zestful energy.

Manaslu Ranges and Peak, Timang, Annapurna Circuit Trail, ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
Manaslu Ranges and Peak, Timang, Annapurna Circuit Trail

The trail led us on through dusty roads, narrow paths along small villages and after quite a descent we came to a place called Kyoto. One can view the gorgeous Annapurna II from here.
I could just get a partial view of the peak on my camera and I was hoping to come across her soon.

Annapurna II, Kyoto, Annapurna Cirucit Trail, ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
Annapurna II, Kyoto, Annapurna Cirucit Trail

And we reached Chame for the night. It started raining there on but we had a nice warm sleep.

Day 5: Chame-Barathang-Dukha Pokhari-Lower Pisang (10662 feet)

The clouds cleared up to a bright sunny day. We had a lovely hike up the mountain paths. Our next pit-stop was Barathang, a small place with lots of apple orchards and a beautiful tea house. Excitement took us over and we enjoyed our delicious breakfast by the mountains, orchards and it was a clear day.

 

Later we trudged on and reached Dukha pokhari where we relished a couple of cookies given by a monk the previous day at the monastery at Kyoto.

The next stop lower Pisang awaited us. A long hike in the dusty mountain roads and beautiful vistas led us to Lower Pisang.

 

After we relaxed and had lunch, we hiked up to Upper Pisang, a dwelling a little above which offered views of the lovely Annapurna II and a monastery welcomed us. We retired for the night at Lower Pisang.

 

Annapurna Range from Lower Pisang, Annapurna Circuit Trail, ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
Annapurna Range from Lower Pisang, Annapurna Circuit Trail

Day 6: Lower Pisang-Humde-Manang (11614 feet)

A gorgeous day as we saw the gorgeous Annapurnas IV, II and III and also the shining Gangapurna glacier and Tilicho peak. Prior to getting to the peaks we started our day from Lower Pisang. Morning was pretty cold and cloudy. We braved the winds as we hiked up the dusty trails and after a short ascent we walked through pine tree forests and the vistas opened up to brown rocky mountains.

 

Humde was our next pit-stop and it has its own small airport, fancy one eh.

We hit upon the road, Annapurna and Tilicho peaks were right along the way…😍

 

About a couple of hours later we reached Brakha where we relished cinnamon roll at the oldest bakery.

We took to the road along the glorious mountains and reached Manang, 11000 odd feet. It was pretty cold and windy but sunny. 😐

Manang is a pit-stop for many trekkers to acclimatize for a day or two before heading to Thorung La Pass or Tilicho Peak. One can also visit a couple of gompas which are close by and also the Gangapurna Glacier.

We attended the High Altitude training on AMS organized by ACAP. There were a lot of trekkers from around the world.

Day 7: Manang

Today being our rest day we woke up late. We decided to visit Prakhen gompa at about 12500 odd feet and get acclimatized.

The hike was along narrow mountain paths and was a bit slippery owing to loose gravel.

But it was a good hike and we reached a beautiful view point from where we got a panoramic view of Annapurna IV, II and III.

 


The view also gave us the complete mountain-scape of Gangapurna glacier and Tilicho peak.

Gangapurna Lake, Manang, Annapurna Circuit Trail, ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
Gangapurna Lake, Manang, Annapurna Circuit Trail-2

Given a chance, I could just spend the day looking at these gorgeous mountains albeit the weather. Further on we hiked and reached the Gompa.

Praken Gompa, Manang, Annapurna Circuit Trail, ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
Praken Gompa, Manang, Annapurna Circuit Trail

An old lady monk aka Lama was in the small cave, she blessed us and gifted us a lucky charm for the road ahead, well precisely the Thorung – La; the Pass ahead. It was quite heart touching and she also offered us hot tea which was a breather. After capturing the vistas we headed down to Manang.

Manang Annapurna Circuit Trail, ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
Manang Annapurna Circuit Trail

Day 8: Manang-Bhraga-Yak Kharka (13287 feet)

Our next pit-stop was to Yak Kharka, a village high up in the mountains. We started from Manang up the dusty trails and then it led us to beautiful rocky mountains with a colorful red flora. 😍

 

After about 3-4 hours, we did reach Yak Kharka. The temperature was pretty cold below 10 deg Celsius for sure… We binged on garlic soup and the ever famous Dal bhat

A pretty short day but we gained in on the altitude.

 

Day 9: Yak Kharka-Ledar-Thorung Pedi (15000 feet)

Well Thorung Pedi, our base camp for the Thorung La pass was our target for the day.

We were pretty excited that we would shortly be attempting the pass the very next day.
The hike was good but tiring as the altitude was gaining in on closer to 14400 feet.

 

Well there were some steep climbs on the way. There was a landslide area too and we carefully tread upon and made sure that we move not a pebble.

 

The stay at the base camp was fabulous; great music, spectacular ambience, food, desserts. We took into a lot of eating and celebrated as we had made it to the base camp. After some rest we looked into the road ahead and it was going to be a pretty steep climb the next day .Well we went to bed early as the next day would be a long and an epic one for sure.

 Day 10 The D-day! Thorung Pedi-High Camp-Thorung La(17769 feet) – Muktinath(12467 feet)

Well, the D-day. We woke up at 2:30 am for a quick start to a long hiking day. We started up the next stop High Camp.
It was a hard steep climb and the temperature was below zero deg😒 All I could see was the beautiful star-studded sky way above me and the trail lit by my head torch. The mountains looked like shadows towering on either side of us.

We braved ahead and made it to the High camp and took a break, grabbed a few dry fruits and we were on the trail again.

We slowly climbed the next steep trail and as I looked about, the snow clad mountains showed themselves in the twilight and they looked like steady stalwarts with a white cap 😍

 

Our next leg of the hike was very very arduous, we found it very difficult to keep ourselves at a momentum because of the altitude, we were roughly gaining 4000 odd feet in a span of 3 hours.

But something in us made us go on and on.

 

Though our energy sapped, we held on and took one step at a time. Finally, I could see the prayer flags in the distance and my heart jumped with joy. My spirits rose and tread on for the last mile to the Pass.

And there I was standing amongst a group of people rejoicing the feat along with my friend. 😊

Thorung La, Annapurna Circuit Trail, ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
Thorung La, Annapurna Circuit Trail

I could feel a sense of pride in me for making it through and I love myself for that, for I was a bit skeptical all the way through but here I was at the Pass, standing strong and blissfully happy 🙌

We roughly trekked about 115 kms in 10 days! That’s quite a feat we achieved!

Well we made it down to Ranipauwa village, close to Muktinath later that morning and had a pretty comfortable sleep in the famous Bob Marley hotel.

 

Muktinath is a sacred place for the Hindus as well as the Buddhists. The place was utterly beautiful adorned with yellow flowering trees and the gushing of the Gandaki river in the form of 108 springs which has a significance in the Hindu philosophy.

 

The next morning, from Muktinath we headed to Jomson by Jeep which we luckily caught and also met some amazing fellow travelers. The ride was beautiful with the brown mountains gazing at you and the Kali Gandaki river flowing across in shimmering blue. Dhaulagiri and other mountain ranges can be seen from Muktinath.

Later that night, we reached Pokhara and had our usual Rotis and Palak Paneer as the rain gave us company.

We did have a small celebration and we marked it as a successful trek across the Beautiful Annapurnas.

Onward we went to Kathmandu and then to Varanasi- A fabulous experience explained in this blog. Click here – Varanasi

Highlights / Tips for the Annapurna Circuit Trail

  1. Prepare yourself physically 4-6 months in advance
  2. Pack only what is necessary and please carry a book along to read as you would have ample time to do that
  3. Though I haven’t done the Annapurna Base camp trek, I have heard from fellow trekkers from around the world say that the Annapurna Circuit is beautiful and much worthier a trek than the Annapurna Base camp trek
  4. Please get the trekker permit and register yourself with the itinerary at the ACAP office in Pokhara
  5. Don’t bother about accommodation if you are traveling in October season as once you reach the village, ample number of homestays are available, you only need to pay for the food you eat, accommodation is free!
  6. Best part of this trek is that it is a Tea-house trail as the trail is marked with tea houses or home-stays all along the trail.
  7. Vivid changing sceneries guarantee you a solid memorable adventurous trek
  8. The journey within is all that matters on this beautiful a trail.

 

There was a time which was overwhelming

There was a time which was blissful

There was a time when everything was silent

That was the time when time stood still!

 

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Inner Engineering! What’s that all about?

My mind couldn’t fathom the immense profundity at the end of the Initiation day. All it said again and again- ‘I should have tapped on Inner Engineering much before I did Engineering!’ Phew! Probably I had to tread the hard way before I could cherish the Inner Way!

Well let me give you a glimpse of how my life has changed post Inner Engineering. Before that I want to be very clear, I am not writing this post to propagate a line of Yoga / any Foundation / Guru! I am simply sharing my experience as a person who has tapped into the beauty of Life and much more. I am sharing this so that it can reach any person (atleast one) who wants to know more about life, cherish it in the best possible way and who is willing to take on this journey of exploring oneself ‘The Inner Way!’

yoga-shoepenlens

It is almost two years since I completed the Inner Engineering program offered by Isha Foundation. It is a 7-Day Program(3 hours every day with one day being the Initiation day which runs for 12 hours) where one is taken through learning a Kriya- Shambhavi Mahamudra.

What the Program Offers:

  • Enlightening interactive sessions
  • Guided Meditations
  • Asanas, simple yoga postures
  • Shambhavi MahaMudra, a powerful, 21-minute energy technique that brings your entire system into alignment so that your body, mind, emotions and energies function in harmony

Post the Inner Engineering program which I completed in Jan 2017, I took to regularly doing the Kriya everyday which runs for 21 mins. There have been significant changes in my Physical, Mental and Emotional well-being!

To describe a few,

  1. I feel an amazing sense of enthusiasm in carrying about my work day in and day out.
  2. It has been a overwhelming experience of Exploring myself inwardly and trust me I wait for each day so that I can learn more about myself and be a better being!
  3. I can multi-task several activities in varied fields at ease, be it writing, photography, social media management of my clients and learning anything new in a day. And I am not that tired or exhausted. Believe me- I am surprised! Because I used to get bogged down with maybe 1/2 tasks a day!
  4. My take on Life or perception of Life has changed and more so confirmed that there is something more than the mundane which we fail to grasp; there is something more than studies, work, marriage, children, family, materialistic aspirations, keeping up with the societal norms!
  5. As I hike in the Himalayas every year, I now see a tremendous change in my stamina and energy levels. With falling sick on a mountain and being exhausted all the time to now being a person who is truly happy and overwhelmed that my stamina holds me up throughout the trek in high altitudes. Fingers crossed, I haven’t fallen sick in the last three Himalayan treks since I have been regularly keeping up with my practices (Yoga).
  6. Though I haven’t tapped into the secrets of life and have an answer for each of my problems, I surely have some sense of clarity in things that I am doing and certain clarity in the confusion! (That’s something quite right! 😉 )
  7. I have had opportunities where I stepped in as a Volunteer at the Foundation and otherwise where it has certainly helped me grow as a better human-being. I am very grateful for that.
  8. I have always pondered on religion, culture and wondered where I belong because I didn’t have a clear cut answer to ‘Do I believe in God?’ I was all muddled up but now I do have some clarity that ‘I don’t know!’ So, I choose to be a Seeker – neither a ‘believer of God’ nor a ‘non-believer of God,’ treading on a way of exploring myself than God!
  9. The best part of my Journey so far in these two years have been my networking with people from various walks of life! It is an amazing way to learn things and you never know when you are meeting a person who is going to be a part of your life or a person who is going to be your mentor! It is always a joy to interact with people who are on this journey but also otherwise. Needless to say, I have had some amazing conversations and connect with people on my travel.

More on my experience of being a part-time Yogi is out here. Joy of being a part-time Yogi! Check it out!

Well, if you want to get into Inner Engineering and want to know more about it, here is the link: Inner Engineering

And there is an upcoming program on the 15th and 16th December. The best part of this program is that – initiation and completion of the program will be with Sadhguru! This is designed in a different way than the 7-Day Program. In this one has to take 7 Online sessions and the Completion Program runs on 15th and 16th December 2018. Special discounts running online now!

More on the program and registration out here: https://isha.sadhguru.org/blr

Please do register, if you think and know ‘The Way Out is In!’ And I am sure you would have realized this by now!

Inner Engineering

At the plateau, Nohkalikai , Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens

MEGHALAYA – ABODE OF CLOUDS

MEGHALAYA – ABODE OF CLOUDS

It was dark and a chill air ran through my spine…. The walls of the caves were damp. It was eerie! I have a phobia of caves and more so this intriguing cave was getting on my nerves with each step. We were 5 of us venturing into the darkness with a head torch, phone flashlight and our indomitable spirit. After a while of carefully meandering through the caves, stalagmites…. we decided to head back as it was totally spooky and we didn’t know where our next step would land us in.

Two days prior we had reached Shillong via Tezpur from Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. It was quite a ride and we headed to our hotel to get some rest and figure out on our trip around Meghalaya. Luckily, after a few phone calls and chance meets we had found our man-friday who would take us on a tour of Meghalaya for a week.

So it began….

Day 1: Shillong- Mawlynnong- Shengpendong

It was a bright sunny day when we started on our tour of Meghalaya. We first went to the Elephant falls just on the outskirts of Shillong city. The Falls can be seen from various points as it is multi-tiered and one can traverse to the Falls along a short trail of steps.

Our next point was to the Single root bridge which are over 100ft long and are roots from Rubber Fig trees and can withstand 50 people on the bridge!

Single root bridge, Meghalaya, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens

We then headed to the cleanest village in Asia-Mawlynnong. It is situated on the border of India and Bangladesh. One can see the border atop a stilt tree-top. It is a lovely village and one can walk along the clean alleys and engage with the warm villagers. Many tourists and travelers stay at well furnished home stays of the villagers. After spending some time on tree tops and a simple sumptuous meal, we left for Dawki.

 

Dawki is a town in West Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya. It is at the border of India-Bangladesh. A crystal clear river, Umngot flows through the border. The main highlight of this place is the boating along the river which is beautiful to look at as one can see through the water and the bottom of the river!

An hour’s boat ride along the clear waters was quite an experience.

We later headed to Shengpdeng village alongside the river. We managed to hire a tent for the night and spent our time playing random games way into the night!

In the morning, we crossed a bridge and reached the other shore and spent considerable time listening to music and the waves.

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One can also enjoy  various water activities like scuba-diving, kayaking etc. at this place.

Day 2: Shengpdeng – Krang Suri- Cherrapunji

We bid goodbye to Shengpdeng and went to a small village, I forget the name. At the end of this village was a forest. As we walked about 500m into the forest, we were standing face to face with an old cave. We carefully walked into the dark caves with the support of a torch light and the flashlights from our phones. The villager who accompanied us mentioned that the cave runs for 20km. Without a constant source of light along the cave, we headed back thinking it would be too risky and stupid to go along the narrow, unlit paths of the cave.

Must say it was an intriguing experience added with my fear of caves and we headed straight to our next point- the gorgeous Krang-Suri Falls. As we drove through winding mountain roads, many a limestone quarries added to the landscape on the way.

The Falls is a treat to one’s mind, body and soul! The sparkling aquamarine waters beckons one to swim, get drenched and enjoy the beauty of the place. A life-jacket is compulsory which one can hire at the Falls and anyone can swim, spend as much time in the cool shimmering waters and bask in the rainbow in all its entirety!

After playing and swimming in the water, we added some fuel to our tummies and off we went to our stay for the night, Cherrapunji!

Day 3: Cherrapunji-Mawsmai Caves-Nohkalikai Falls

Cherrapunji, locally known as Sohra is a town in the southern part of Khasi Hills in Meghalaya. Known for being the wettest planet on Earth after Mawsynram, it is a beautiful place with numerous living root bridges, falls, caves and of course forests.

Our first stop for the day was at Mawsmai Caves. These are beautiful caves, maintained by the Govt. The caves are well-lit and one can explore the caves without a guide. There are a few narrow paths where one has to squeeze themselves to move ahead. But it is quite an adventurous one and less scarier than the caves we had visited on the previous day.

Later on we went to our next pit-stop Nohkalikai Falls. As it wasn’t the season of rains, there wasn’t much water. Thanks to that that we could explore the path of the Falls.

Nohkalikai Falls is the tallest waterfall (1115 feet) in India! It is fed by the rainwater which gets collected in a plateau. We were excited to visit this plateau.

A small trek down through a forest takes one to this mesmerizing plateau. One can see spellbinding rock formations across the plateau. I was in awe of this place. We went to the small falls ahead which was truly vibrant and something which I hadn’t seen at all.

At the plateau, Nohkalikai , Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
At the plateau, Nohkalikai

A walk on the opposite side of the Falls leads one on the path of the Nohkalikai Falls. As there wasn’t enough water, we traversed along the splendid huge boulders like monkeys. The path was utterly adventurous and a bit scary as we had to squeeze ourselves into natural rock tunnels. After quite some time we went to the edge of the Falls. The view is spectacular and this was something of a first I had done- getting to the mouth of the Falls.

We went back up the forest only to find one of our friends waiting for us. She had had a bad fall and had maybe broken her leg. We had a couple of villagers called for who helped carry her along the trail. Post that we drove back to Shillong to get her leg checked at the hospital.

Doctor says, ” I need to put a cast as there is a fracture but you can start walking in 10min and probably visit places from tomorrow onwards!”

This was too much of news but we had suspected a fracture beforehand.

After the necessary procedure we headed back to Cherrapunji where we hit the sack after a long day!

 

Day 4: Double-Decker Living Root Bridge

After a long day and more so a painful one for my friend, we woke up late and relished our breakfast.

Our friend stayed back to rest her leg much to the hospitable folks at the stay and the two of us headed to Double-Decker root bridge!

We drove from Cherrapunji to a village called Tyrna. There we started our hike down 3000 odd cemented steps. We reached a village along the way and then a couple of single root bridges. After crossing Iron bridge made of rusty cables, we reached a Chai point where we refreshed ourselves with a gulp of hot tea and chocolate cookies.

After treading ahead for about 15 mins we reached Double-Decker Root bridge! It was quite a view but we headed further ahead to reach the Rainbow falls.

As we hiked further, we came upon an empty football field and then trudged our way along a steep trail of steps. After a few twists and turns we came to the gorgeous Rainbow Falls. We were too excited to get to the tip of the boulder below.

Rainbow Falls, we headed to the tip of the boulder! Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens

As we went to the very end of the Boulder, we could see the Falls falling almost upon us and it was an amazing feeling to be at the behest of the Falls!

A nap and light snack completed the amazing moment at the Falls. We headed back on the trail and now to explore the Double-Decker root bridge. It was quite an amazing spectacle of the strong roots of the tree as they stood still embracing us fellow beings we we walked upon them.

Double decker Living root bridge, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
Double decker Living root bridge

With a couple of hours left for the sunset, we headed back up a shorter forest trail to reach back.

Day 5: Weisaudong Waterfalls- Nartiang Durga Temple- Monoliths- Garden of Caves -Shillong

Weisaudong waterfalls is beautiful but it is quite a hassle to get to the bottom of the falls as one as to walk through narrow forest trails. We were happy to get to the Falls but we carefully walked on the rocks as it was very slippery and we managed to stay put in a spot and enjoy its beauty rather than monkeying around!

 

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Weisaudong Waterfalls
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Meditating me at the Falls

Later we headed to Nartiang in the West Jaintia hills. It has a Durga temple- Jainteshwari and is one of the Shakti-peeths. The temple is around 500 years old.

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Nartiang Devi Temple

We paid our respects at this beautiful abode of the Devi and headed to the Nartiang Monoliths, which are a complex of stone monoliths erected by the Jaintia empire in 1500 AD.

We later visited Garden of Caves (touristy spot) and a few Falls along the way. 😉

Day 6: Shillong- Mawphlang Sacred Forest- Shopping at Police Bazaar

The next day we headed to the much awaited Mawphlang Sacred forest. Legend says that nothing should be taken out from the forest, not even a leaf or a stone, nothing!

We were intrigued by the stories and after a mind boggling tour into the forest along with the guide, we were even more mesmerized of the story! It is quite a tour to experience!

After lunch in the city, we went to Police Bazaar for shopping. Apart from hardly shopping a few clothes, we took to buying and relishing the Mulberries!

I think the delicious highlight of the Meghalaya trip were the lip-smacking Mulberries and Raspberries!

Meghalaya is splendid and offers a wide range of places to visit – be it Falls, Forests, Caves, Root Bridges, Stilt-tree tops, Mountains, Rivers and of course with the clouds playing hide and seek.

Well, when are you heading to Meghalaya?

PS: This is the number of our Taxi Bhaiya who drove us all over Meghalaya- Addy – 09774749839, a decent chap, very helpful and a wonderful guide all along.

 

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The WINDOW!

 

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This is a Window at my Grandmother’s place! And it was a window to the world for me!

The Summer holidays at my Grandmother’s place used to be fun; climbing Mango, Jackfruit trees, eating Kulfis whenever my Uncle would buy, listening to deafening music from my Uncle’s massive Music player, playing games with my sisters and cousins and of course loitering around the house running away from my Grandmother’s dog – Raksha!

Apart from this the window in my Uncle’s room was my favorite place; I used to sit by the window ledge listening to the wind blowing, the trees humming a soft tune and obviously enjoying the pitter-patter of the rain! If not for these, I would stare at the passers-by on the street and the myriad of vehicles.

On one occasion, there was a congregation probably some ceremony which I don’t remember now. Being the introvert, I stuck to the room, sitting by the window and watched the innumerable guests passing by the lovely garden and engaging in amusing conversations. I lost track of time and I remember Mom coaxing me to meet the guests and at-least have Lunch. So the Window happened to be my silent companion!

As I ponder, Windows have surely kept me company and have given magnificent views. I do remember a Window at my house years ago. The three of us Sisters shared a room and the window opened to the street by our house. As soon as I woke up, I would stare at the blue sky, the swaying trees and the weather would certainly set my mood for the day! Many of my creative works then used to happen by the window!

Lately, I am getting back to the mode of creating pieces of Art by the Window at my present home now! Wonder, if Nature beckons to this Soul to create a piece of Art which defines her and the language of the Universe! Well hope to decode it completely one day!

Do you have any Window stories or musings?

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Exploring Peppa to Masha way!

I have always loved watching Cartoons since my childhood days. Though the urge to watch has obviously subsided over the years, I do get a peek into the cartoon characters and shows through my nephews!

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Lately, there is a routine watch of a few shows with my nephews! Thanks to their summer holidays, I do get the opportunity to roll in the fun of their leisure activities!

I do remember watching DuckTales, Talespin, Aladdin, Mr. Bean videos(thanks to my Uncle for making me an ardent fan), Starwars, Shaktimaan, Captain Vyom and of course Tom and Jerry. It was in my early teens that I started watching Popeye, Scooby Doo, Dexter’s Lab, Powerpuff Girls, supersonic, Simpsons and maybe a few more… The joy of watching these cartoons surely helped me with my reasoning capabilities and of course being creative with my drawings and paintings back then. But they certainly helped me improve my diction and a glimpse of the world in a way!

There were a few which I used to watch a few years back Oswald, Spongebob Squarepants, Noddy- a favorite one of my 4 year old nephew then.

Well the shows that I watch now or have a peek into are Peppa Pig; a cute preschooler who learns and does a lot of activities along with her brother George and her loving family, Paw Patrol; here Ryder, a gadgety boy takes on rescue missions along with six tech talented puppies, Dora the Explorer/ Go Diego Go(the boy version)- where an 8-year old goes about exploring the world  and learning the mundane things in a beautiful way, Masha and the bear; is my 3 year old nephew’s favorite cartoon thanks to the versatility of the circus bear and the innumerable adventures that Masha has with him and they are adorable, Max and Ruby; brother-sister duo take on their everyday adventures with utter cuteness. Other cartoons they often watch are Shiva, Winnie the Pooh and Rusty Rivets.

Well you know I am thoroughly refreshed everyday with the innocence and beauty of these shows and it is great fun to watch along with my 3 and 5 year old nephews. These shows truly have a moral, a learning and I can see my nephews take on a few words and use it while conversing with us. It is splendid and it is really nice to see them relate to things, of course there are a few cons to that as well pertaining to toys and gadgets! 😉

Well thanks to my nephews, I have grown through the cartoons and probably growing again with more morals and learnings! It so happened once that when these kiddos weren’t there I have gone ahead and watched these cartoons at the respective times. Funny me!

There was a phase when I used to watch Anime / Manga series. They used to play on Animax Channel. They were quite interesting. I recently watched one series ‘The Death Note’ – it was quite a thrilling story and I was glued to it for about a month.

Well it is an adventurous journey along with these cartoons over the years. I am sure we as adults would love to watch no-nonsense cartoons once in a while curled up in bed with a hot drink/soup to go with. Or maybe just about cut off from the reality with these cute little characters! The child in us never dies.

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So what have you watched recently, I mean cartoons / animes / animated movies?

Let me know if there are any intriguing Anime series for adults or an educational cartoon for the kids!

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Am I lucky enough to travel?! Aren’t you?

‘Oh you are so lucky, you are traveling?’

‘I don’t know how you do it!”

‘You are living the life!’

‘Keep traveling while you are single! I don’t think I can’

‘You are young, travel more!’

‘You are freelancing, right? You have the time! I don’t have the time with work’

Hmmm, these are a few of the responses/ quip I get from strangers, acquaintances and friends!

These are quite amusing yet annoying at times because it is not big a deal!

So here goes, I am going to give away the other side of the story….. not to make it sound boring or scary but for the fact that traveling is possible by anyone and you need not be lucky but passionate!

  1. For starters, being single doesn’t mean I don’t have responsibilities, family, commitments and work. At the end of the day, I have to work around these for being able to travel. My toughest times have been at convincing my folks for my travel! 😉
  2. I am not rich that I can afford traveling now and then. I have to work, earn and save for being able to travel and explore the places galore. Trust me, my bank account balance hasn’t seen a decent amount in the past couple of years! I am not kidding! Security is far far away!
  3. Being a freelancer, doesn’t mean I am free! It means that I take up work according to my pace, situation and variety and the amount of work involved etc. And of course it is not a fad and is more than a 9-5 job; considering multiple commitments, clients, projects and being a one-woman army is quite tasking!
  4. Age doesn’t have to do anything with travel! If you are interested and want to really explore a place, just get out of your comfort zone- you will surely be able to do it! Well I have seen elderly people from across the globe take to traveling from all walks of life. The smile and gratitude on their face, inspires me to keep traveling  forever- like even when I am way tooooo old!
  5. Frankly, I am not lucky. I am grateful for the things I have and work towards making the best of what I can do and go traveling- for it is my passion! If you are passionate about traveling and exploring the unknown- I am sure, you already know- Luck doesn’t have anything to do with it!

So,  I haven’t written the above because I found the statements/responses offensive but for the fact that ‘I am not lucky’ but I do work towards getting what I want.

I am blessed and grateful to make the best of what I have with utmost passion and reverence!

Or in other words, we are all lucky that we are in this beautiful world! What you make of it or how you explore all depends on what you really want!

Well, next time you think about wanting to travel, think of how passionate and focused are you for wanting to do it(nah nothing about luck) and just get on with it!

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Life a Circle / Spiral?!

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It has been a while since I blogged. Well, a lot many events, travels and work have kept me away.

Well here I am today pouring my heart out!

Lately, I am feeling that I am back to the same point where I started ? That is a question on my mind and I can’t find the answer.

I know I have grown a lot, changed mentally, spiritually, even physically and understanding life in a completely new perspective or must I say experiencing life in a different way.

But somewhere deep down I feel I have come back to the starting point, it feels like I am starting everything anew and now. It does feel great!

From a spiritual perspective, we tend to grow and move ahead spirally transcending into the dimension unknown! Well, this is something entirely intriguing and gives room for more exploration.

Well, maybe I am moving ahead; my understanding of life has changed, the way I lead my life has changed, relationships/friendships (some have nurtured, some I have let go, some I am beginning to understand the shallowness/depth), the dilemma between reality and illusion or in another words thinking illusion as reality still boggles me about living my life. Well all of these sound very complex but trust me the way I look at things are somewhat clearer.

Well, you must be thinking what gibberish is this all! But I can only hope that you reach a point in your life when all of this makes sense.

Well, I don’t think I have answered the question I started the blog with. Because I am still unsure but all I know is I am better equipped to take on another circle of life.

What has your journey been like? Have you ever felt this way before?

 

 

What life was and what life is….

When all that you thought about life, turns out to be a mere illusion

When all that you idolized turns out to be a mere sham

When all that you strictly adhered to, turns out to be mere supposition

When all that you put up on a pedestal, turns out to be a mere perception

When all that materialistic possessions you gathered, turns out to be Ego driven

When all the love you gave and received,  turns out to be a mere commodity

When all the security you gather through job, relationships, turns out to be fear driven

That is when you question your existence, your purpose, your path

That is when you realize that there is more to life

That is when you look inward

That is when you feel one with the universe

That is when you know love is divine

That is when you resonate with the other beings

That is when you JUST BE!

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Sunrise at Kolukkumalai, ShoePenLens, Shwetha Krish

A trip to scenic Kolukkumalai and Meesapulimalai

A trip to scenic Kolukkumalai and Meesapulimalai

With a week left for my friend’ and my birthday, we decided that Munnar is the place to go. We found a decent stay in Suryanelly, 20 km away from the Munnar town, through Airbnb. After an exhausting travel of 14 hours from Bangalore, we reached Munnar only to be welcomed by the lush tea estates and bountiful rains.

A quick breakfast at Saravana Bhavan gave us the energy to get to our home-stay in Suryanelly. We found a warm friendly Share-Auto person who took us to the home-stay  and enlightened us with places to visit in Munnar. The ride was beautiful. The tea estates were a treat to the weary eyes. After a quick picture and two we reached our home-stay. It was more than what we saw in the pictures on Airbnb and we were elated.

We enjoyed rest of the day, lazing around, watching TV, drawing and reading books. The next day we ventured out to explore the Suryanelly town and we had to book a ride to Kolukkumalai tea estate which happens to be the World’s Highest Organic Tea Plantation. We found a very genuine person(a travel guide cum driver) who gave us a short itinerary on the things that can be visited in and around in a day. After much contemplation, we gave a positive nod for him to take us along in his Jeep.

Before heading back to the stay, we explored the nearby tea estates and had a lovely stroll through the scenic roads.

The following morning we left quite early so that we could catch the sunrise at Kolukkumalai mountain range. The ride was pretty eventful as it was a bumpy ride all throughout. We did get a massage naturally.

Well, as we reached the mountain ridge, there the sun was climbing its way up and we were mesmerized by the spectacle. I felt on top of the world to start my birthday filled with wonder. After taking a few shots of the sunrise and the mountain ridges we took to a spicy breakfast as in spicy Maggi noodles and omelette.

Sunrise at Kolukkumalai, ShoePenLens, Shwetha Krish
Sunrise at Kolukkumalai

After a while atop the scenic mountains, we hiked to the Meesapulimalai mountain. With winding paths and ridges we made it to the gorgeous peak. We were on the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The panoramic views, the gushing wind and the mind boggling silence had us glued to the place. We then trudged back to the jeep.

Scenic tea estates, ShoePenLens, Shwetha Krish
Scenic tea estates

 

 

We went about a tour of tea-making at this beautiful estate. A guide told us about the entire process and also involved us in few of the steps. It was quite heartening and hilarious as well.

At the World's Highest Organic Tea Garden
At the World’s Highest Organic Tea Garden

 

Post lunch, we headed to our home-stay to freshen up. An evening of Kathakali was waiting for us. We were happy to be the curious audience at this program. I had always felt scared seeing those colorful faces on TV as a kid but today I was here, right in front enjoying their performance.

 

After the lovely performance we headed to our stay for a relaxing night by the stars.

The next morning we went towards Thekkady and visited the Spice garden. We were educated on the various benefits of the spices. The short trail in the garden mesmerized us in a spicy way. Later on, we whizzed past lovely bridges between the tea estates.

It was a nice tour and after some shopping we headed for our bus to Bangalore.

Well all in all, it was a beautiful trip where we rejuvenated our tired souls 🙂

The beauty of the mountains spell binds any traveler any day.

Team Indus, a private startup launching a Rover to the Moon this December 2017!

Team Indus, a private startup launching a Rover to the Moon this December 2017!
An Inspiring story to share – Team Indus, a private startup launching a Rover to the Moon this December 2017!
 
Kudos to their indomitable spirit. More about them on my blog post.
 
Hoping for #HarIndiankaMoonshot soon 🙂
 
#TeamIndus #inspiring #ShoePenLens #spacetechnology #aerospacestartup