Off the beaten track

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Do you remember what your doctor ordered you to do, to keep your body happy and healthy? Err, do apples ring a bell?

Great! So if I ask you what it is that you should do to keep your soul happy? What would you say?

Well in my opinion it has to be travelling.

Wouldn’t it be a perfect world if every couple of months, we would be able  to take short weekend getaways, far away from the hustle and bustle of the daily life.

A chance to stay in a fancy hotel, eat delicious food prepared by top chefs, lie on the beach drinking cocktails and going shopping sounds like the ideal way to de-stress away the daily grind.

Of course there is no doubt that indulging in luxe travel is absolutely fabulous, but sometimes let’s make that adventure junkie in us take over and have us explore new places as they are meant to be seen.

So how about getting off the beaten path and away from sponsored tourism?

If you really want to ‘see’ the place and ‘feel’ the experience rather than just taking a vacation, then here are some ways you can go about it.

Try backpacking

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Rather than staying at five-star hotels or dining in Michelin star restaurants, go away from the glitz and glamour of tourist hot spots. Try Backpacking. It allows you to see a destination in a completely different way. It’s a much more humble way to get around and appreciate a destination for what it really is beyond the conventional tourism.

Of course you’ll mainly be traveling on foot and or by public transport which will enable you to really immerse yourself in the place you’re in, allowing you to see it as the locals would and not simply as a tourist. You’ll be discovering places that you simply wouldn’t come across if you were on package tour. Not only is it an inexpensive way to travel, but it can give you really meaningful experiences. You will leave a place feeling as though you know it, rather than just skimming the surface like you would as a tourist.

Stay somewhere different

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PC:Kerela Tourism

Instead of staying in a hotel, why not look into different accommodation options when you travel? For instance if you are in Kerela, try staying in a houseboat. The experience you will have will be like no other. Or you could choose an AIRBNB rather than an upscale hotel. It’s a lot cheaper and can completely change the feel of your trip. There are plenty of websites which offer home stays and vacation rentals with the entire house if needed.

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I have personally had some amazing stays at Washington DC and Montreal at comfortable and well maintained AIRBNB’s .  Although these were a little further out from the main tourist destinations, it allowed me to stay in a location that I may have never found, had I stayed at a hotel. Or if you are solo traveller you could look into travel hostels, these are cheap and cheerful and can be a great way to meet other travelers.

Once you’ve decided on your destination, do your research and consider different options for where you could stay. Going with something a bit more unique such as Houseboats, or Swiss Tents could add another dimension to your trip and make it extra memorable.

Speak to the locals

Speaking to the locals is one of the best ways to find places that are off the beaten path. There are certain streets that bring out the vibe of a place. And speaking to locals would certainly help in exploring it.

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On my recent trip to Singapore, walking through the streets in Kampong Glam, I was pleasantly surprised to find Haji Lane. It’s fabled to be one of the narrowest streets in Singapore. The street had some quirky and vintage boutiques, funky graffiti on its walls and quaint cafes.

Neal’s Yard in London was another such gems I found on my travels.

Google and travel guides will, of course, tell you all about popular places and the things that you want to see, but there will be so many additional things that you’ll be able to discover by chatting to the people that live there.

Travel off season

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Most destinations will have a peak season and an off season, mainly dictated by the weather. Ideally try going during either on an off peak or shoulder season. Not only will it be less expensive but it will be less busy. Sure, there won’t be as many shops, eateries, clubs and other hot spots open but as a traveler, this won’t be the kind of thing you’re looking for anyway.

On the downside, there might be not so ideal weather conditions during the off season depending on where you go, so do your research and go prepared. For example, many hotels in Goa have excellent packages during the monsoon season between June-September.

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Travel, should not be a break from everyday life. Travel should be the time when you feel the most normal, centered, and at home.

There is no high more intense than being someplace new, and feeling like just a little piece of a vast, vast world.

 

Happy Exploring!!

madhavi

Unheard travel tales of India to fuel your wanderlust.

Bustling cities, dusty remote villages, exquisite temples, lush tea plantations and fragrant markets , rich culture, traditions, religions and ethnicities, India is a unique mixture of eastern values and western freedom.

You might have travelled a lot of India, but do you know that there are some intriguing facts that make travelling in this country even more interesting.

 

  1. Varanasi – One of the Oldest Inhabited Places of the World.

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Situated on the banks of river Ganges, the holy city of Benares (aka Varanasi) is at least 3000 years old. According to Hindu Mythology, Lord Shiva founded Benaras or Kashi 5000 years ago and is a major religious hub of India and one of its holiest cities.

Did you know : Varanasi has a hostel where people come to die- Terminally ill people check-in  themselves in to ‘Mukti Bhavan‘ , to breath their last, which they believe frees them from the cycle of life and death (“Moksha“). All they have is two weeks to die or they’re asked to move on to make way for others.

 

  1. Shani Shingnapur – A Village without Doors.

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Attracting over 40,000 devotees each day due to a 300-yr old legend, Shani Shingnapur is a village in the Indian state of Maharashtra. The village is known for its popular temple of Lord Shani (Planet Saturn).

Did you Know: Its residents sleep soundly as they believe Lord Shani to be the guardian of the village and none of the structures, be it dwelling houses, huts, shops, etc. situated within one kilometre radius of this Lord Shani temple have neither doors nor locks. The villagers believe that thieves will immediately be punished with blindness, and anyone dishonest will face seven-and-a-half years of bad luck.

 

  1. Kumbh Mela Gathering.

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Crazy and chaotic are the words that best define the Kumbh Mela (or Grand Pitcher  Festival) .It is a spiritual event held once in 12 years in India Amidst the intermittent chanting of mantras, the heart rendering dance of the Aghoris and the holy ghats lit up with fiery diyas, the Kumbh Mela, will not just lend you with a day’s feeling but a mind boggling experience of a lifetime.

As per the Hindu mythology Kumbh derived from the Sanskrit word ‘pitcher’ had the ‘Amrita’ or the immortal nectar that had appeared during the churning of the seas (Samudramanthan). It is believed that the Gods and the demons had churned the milky ocean to obtain the nectar.

This year it attracted approximately 150 million people, breaking the record for the world’s biggest gathering. It has been inscribed on the UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Did you know: The festival is over 2000 years old! The first written evidence of the Kumbh mela can be found in the accounts of the Chinese traveller Xuanzang, who visited India during the reign of King Harshavardhana.

 

  1. The most visited place in the World.

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Awarded by the World Book of Records, the Golden Temple in Amritsar is the most visited place in the world with more than a hundred thousand devotees flocking at the shrine every single day. The largest langar (community meal) typically feeds roughly 40,000 people a day for free. On religious holidays and weekends, the langar can feed upwards of 100,000 people a day. All the diners have to sit on the floor, irrespective of caste, status, wealth or creed, symbolizing the central Sikh doctrine of the equality of all people.

Did you know: The dome of the temple is gilded with 750 kilograms (1653 pounds) of gold. The ceiling inside the main sanctum is made with gold and precious stones. The main hall of the Golden Temple houses the Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred scripture of the Sikh religion. It is placed on a raised platform under a canopy studded with precious jewels.

 

  1. The Highest Motorable Road in the World.

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The world’s highest motorable road Umling La or Umling La Pass greets you at Ladakh. The road passes through Umling La Top at an elevation of 19,300 ft. Bike enthusiasts, take note because little fact about India could bring about a new adrenaline filled adventure for you.

Did you know: 235 Kms from Leh, all civilians will need a permit from the Army and administration to travel through the pass.

 

  1. Lonar Lake in Maharashtra – Formed by a Meteor.

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A 4-hour drive from Aurangabad and doubling as Maharashtra’s best-kept secret, this lake was formed by a plummeting meteor about 50,000 years ago. Travel enthusiasts must not miss this astronomical marvel and the temples around it.

Did you know: Also known as Lonar crater ,the lake is notified as the National Geo Heritage Monument and is home to thousands of  migratory birds.

 

  1. Mysterious Anti-Gravity Hills In Ladakh, Magnetic Hill.

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Located on the Leh Kargil Highway a small stretch of road defies gravity.Landmarked by a yellow notice board that spells out instructions and asks you place your car on neutral gear right on the spot marked by white paint, this one will leave you in awe as your car will begin to move uphill on its own.

Did you know: The magnetic force is so strong here that airplanes increase their altitude while flying over this region.

 

  1. Auroville an experimental township belongs to nobody, but everybody.

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Auroville, an international township in Tamil Nadu and in some parts of Pondicherry, contributes in the progress of humanity irrespective of caste, creed, color and religion. Everyone is equal here and people live united. Once you visit this place, you will never wish to come back.

Did you know: The township runs on a concept of sharing, giving and exchanging , a cashless economy, much like the barter system.

 

  1. Ancient Hindu temple that was carved from a single rock.

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The  Kailasa temple in Aurangabad is over 1200 years old and was carved from a single rock in Ellora. An estimated 400,000 tons of rocks were used to construct this monolithic structure. With bare hands and few hand tools, it is hard to imagine someone carving such an astonishing sculpture.

Did you know: The temple is double the size of Parthenon in Athens.

 

  1. A floating post office in Dal Lake, Srinagar.

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With the world’s largest postal system, India has post offices in some pretty unusual places. Inaugurated in 2011, in the Dal Lake, Srinagar, set in a huge houseboat is India’s first and only floating post office, believed to be the only one of its kind in the world!

Did you know: This heritage post office is a tribute to the already beautiful Dal Lake and houses the philately museum showcasing the fascinating history and stamp collection  and a souvenir shop that sells stamps, postcards, greeting cards and books on Kashmir.

 

  1. Step wells that take you to another world.

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Baori or ‘Step wells’ are the wonder of ancient architecture which can be found all around India. There were around 3000 step wells built in North India, many of them in the arid states of Rajasthan and Gujarat. These baoris’ narrate the beauty of their era with their marvellous sculptors and artwork. These elaborately carved step wells all over the desert were used to store water. Rani Ka Vav, Gujarat is enlisted in the UNESCO world’s heritage sites. Chand Baori, Jaipur is one of the oldest ,largest and the most astonishing Baoris of India in terms of its architecture While most are now abandoned and some have fallen into disrepair, many are well-kept and incredible to look at.

Did you know: Many of these step wells were meeting places, especially for women, for many centuries, and the oldest date back to around 500 CE.

 

  1. The Living Bridges.

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The ‘War-Khasis’ a tribe in Meghalaya, make the bridges entirely out of living trees, by training roots and vines of rubber trees, to grow across canyons and streams. Some of them estimated to be 500 years old. The beautiful thing about these bridges is, unlike the traditional bridges, these get stronger, as they get older. Although they take several years to create, but when finished they’re much more durable than wooden bridges, which would quickly rot in Meghalaya’s incredibly wet climate.

Did you know: It takes about 15 years for a new bridge to become strong enough to bear the weight of people.

 

  1. Delhi’s Khari Baoli is Asia’s biggest spice market.

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Asia’s biggest century old spice-den is located in Delhi, very close to the Red Fort. This market has local, as well as exotic spices. It’s a unique experience for anyone to see large quantities of spices and traders accumulate in a bazaar and through shops which are located in small alleys and bylanes hardly a meter wide. Trade worth millions are carried out in a highly organized and strict orderly system.With the spice filled aroma in the air, you can practically taste it once you enter the market.

Did you know: This spice market was started in the 17th century and today is run by the 8th or 9th generation of traders since their first set up.

 

  1. Spa for elephants.

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Every year a group of pampered elephants at the Punnathoor Cotta Elephant Yard Rejuvenation Centre receive elaborate spa treatments. The elephant yard is attached to the Guruvayurappan Hindu temple in Kerala, India. The elephants play a key role in Kerala’s legendary temple processions and with July considered a month of rejuvenation for humans and animals alike these ellies are certainly not complaining.

Did you know: The Punnathoor Cotta Elephant Yard was a former palace, which was converted into a sanctuary and renamed to Anakottaor Elephant fort.

 

  1. The Ghosts of Bhangarh Fort

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Located at the borders of the Sariska Tiger Reserve in the Alwar district of Rajasthan, the Bhangarh Fort is not for the faint-hearted. Widely known as one of the spookiest places, this fort resides in a deserted area and has many legends behind the paranormal activities experienced here. Although it is open to the public for visit, however, many tourists have admitted that a creepy heavy feeling prevails in its atmosphere. According to local tales the fort is cursed into desolation by a tantric priest who wanted to marry the princess and couldn’t. Apparently if any villager tries to build a roof it mysteriously collapses.

Did you know: the Archaeological Survey of India has installed a board which mentions that it is prohibited to roam around the Bhangarh Fort between 6 pm- 6 am.

Love it or hate it! But when you explore this beautiful and exotic country India, she will change the way you see things.

 

Safe travels

Madhavi

 

 

 

 

PC: Lonely Planet; Travel triangle: BBC : Getty Images :NDTV: Conde Nest

 

 

Leave the spot better than you found it!

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You’ve most likely heard of Sustainable Tourism sometime or the other. Natural resource preservation at some of the major destinations around the globe and the people who visit them are becoming more attuned to the environmental impact of tourism.

While traveling sustainably is becoming ever more popular, many people are still unfamiliar with the concept and just how easy it can really be.

Being sustainable does not mean being uncomfortable!

The very importance of sustainable tourism lies on its three pillars

  • The Ecological pillar: e.g. conserving and lowering the impact on the environment the natural environment of the destination
  • The economic pillar: support local businesses intending to generate employment and income for the local people
  • The social pillar: respect the culture and the people

The tourism industry in all its forms helps boost the economy of a country, which is a great thing. Not only does it generate reasonable foreign exchange but it also incidental in creating job and employment opportunities. Tourism is often responsible for increasing regional development and infrastructure particularly in isolated areas.

Because we are travel nerds over here, we are going to focus on specific ways you can spread the green gospel while traveling. Hopefully, these tips will inspire you to be a more conscious traveller on your next adventure and journeys to come.

Stay longer and reduce carbon emissions:

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How we wish we can zip across the world in a more eco-friendly way! Until that happens we have no choice but to fly. Luckily, there are a few ways to cut down on carbon emissions when flying. Consider the length of your trip in relation to the distance you’re travelling. In practice, this means the further you fly, the longer you should stay there. So if you’re considering a trip to the Caribbean then you should stay for at least a fortnight rather than flying there and back in a week. Avoid taking multiple flights within a country. Instead look at train travel or alternative modes of transportation that cause less emissions output.

Ditch the Plastic

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Plastic is a problem.  Bottles, packing materials, plastic bags.  Yeah, it’s not good. Bring A Reusable Water Bottle With You While Traveling: It may seem simple to purchase a bottle of water at the airport, at your hotel, or at the train station. But it is far more lovable to the nature if you have a reusable bottle that you can fill up for free. More and more places are adding in water fill stations, enabling you to get fresh water and also save money! Also don’t forget to carry a reusable bag for your shopping.

Did you know:-Plastic bottles have surpassed plastic bags as the biggest threat to oceans and rivers

Support Local Farmers Markets

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Hey foodies, we know you love chomp chomping away on your travels. After all, isn’t eating like 95% of what we travel for? Pretty Much.
So here’s the deal, why don’t you buy groceries from a locally owned market or farmers market or try dining at a farm-to-table restaurants while traveling? Also food tours that highlight local grown produce are a great way to enjoy the local cuisine.

This is my favourite! Shop local!

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Chances are you have an Armani or an H&M in your hometown, but still you are completely blown away by the window display and are itching to shop. How about gifting your loved ones something meaningful and small, that are run or made by locals, women and those that promote sustainability? Nothing beats bringing home a gift from a place that no one else has!

Take public transportation as often as possible or get a bike! Enough said.

Last, but not least, stay at environmentally-friendly accommodation.

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I know this is a hard one to swallow for the honeymooners or budget conscious couple. You can actually travel affordably abroad through Air B-N-B and still get your privacy. Not to mention some of these homes are GORGEOUS! Or you can do your bit even if you stay at a swanky hotel. Chances are you’ve seen signs at hotels you have stayed in suggesting that you reuse your towels and bed sheets. Conserving electricity and water can make a huge difference even while you are on vacation.

Some of the places that support Sustainable Tourism:

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Faroe Islands are truly cinematic. The islands are known not only for their picturesque nature, but also for their sustainable fisheries, unique gastronomy, and preservation of culture. You can explore verdant rolling hills, and dramatic waterfalls throughout the island.

 

 

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New Zealand has long been at the forefront of sustainable tourism and they have a vision of being the world leader in such efforts by 2025. Considering nature is the most profitable export of New Zealand, it is understandable that the country tries to protect it. The country is an outdoor Mecca for nature and adventure enthusiasts.

 

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The Kingdom of Bhutan operates on a “high value with low impact” model of tourism. With very strict entry requirements, travellers to Bhutan must be with an approved tour operator who will arrange all travel while in the country. All visitors must pay a daily tariff, of apprx $65 as “sustainable tourism” royalty.

 

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Kerela has been honoured for its path-breaking ‘Responsible Tourism’ project in Kumarakom, which has successfully linked the local community with the Hospitality industry and government departments. It has the first ever totally sustainable adventure park in the world, the Jatayu Earth Center, which is described as “a masterpiece combination of artistry, mythology, technology, culture, adventure, leisure and wellness put together to give every visitor a spellbinding experience.”

Did you know: Thenmala in Kerala is the first planned ecotourism destination in India created to cater to the Eco-tourists and nature lovers? 

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Kenya: Over the years, Kenya has developed a number of voluntary programs to support and demonstrate its commitment to sustainable tourism. Many hotels and lodges away from the cities are now investing in alternative energy sources such as Solar power.

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Ljubljana, Slovenia: Most people skip over Slovenia when planning a trip to Europe, which is a shame since Ljubljana is not only gorgeous but also one of the most eco-friendly destinations in Europe.

 

 

The responsibility to travel the world in a sustainable way lies with us. While there are other things you can do to be sustainable, taking these simple steps can make a huge difference as far as your impact on the planet!

The concept of “being green” has filtered down to all of us in one way or another – but how do we ensure it doesn’t become another Instagram trend?

It’s time we all engage seriously with the issue of sustainable travel.

Go Green!

Madhavi

 

 

 

 

PC: Lonely Planet;Pexel; Viator

The Journey Begins

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Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

Indeed!!! This quote completely sums up the feelings travelling invoke.

The chance to see a new destination, the opportunity to soak up new cultures, the awe on seeing the natural wonders across continents, the mega cities, the remote landscapes, the tantalizing cuisines; travelling is food for the soul if you ask me. There is so much to experience, motivate, inspire and imbibe when you travel.

Welcome to my blog  Tailwinds & Touchdowns – your very own podium to explore, discover and learn about the multifaceted Travel, Tourism and Aviation Industry

I have been meaning to write this blog for a while now. The experiential nature of travel is ideal for sharing, and I am glad I found this platform to do so. I am so excited to creating content that will keep you informed about the various trends and topics related to this industry.

Let’s sit together to hear stories, to be humbled by the history of yesterday, to witness the growth of the industry, to be informed about the policies and regulations of today and to be excited by the possibilities of tomorrow.

Join me, as together we embark on this journey of learning and sharing information, ideas, and news about the travel industry. Let’s inspire, connect, and empower each other and lets educate those young ones who are enamoured of, and interested in making a career in the travel and tourism industry.

Fasten your seat belts and Jet Set Go!!

Madhavi

 

 

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