August has been a month without a single road trip. Just did not get the chance to go out due to work and other events happening on weekends. The RoadTrippers Club did some memorable trips this month – a trip to Kargil, another trip to Kodaikanal to see the Neelakurunji which blooms only once in 12 years. That must have been epic but I found the trip to be too hectic and therefore decided not to go. Had gone to Kodaikanal last for my honeymoon in 2001 and its been 17 years. A lot must have changed but I would like to stay for 2-3 days and explore the area after traveling so far.
Me and Chao would end up talking about trips that we wanted to do and sometimes the discussion would continue till late at night. We were always clear that we would drive. Now when I read about people doing international road trips from India to Thailand, London, Europe, I remember those times when we had discussed these possibilities and how fast the world is changing. Seems like in the past two years so much has changed. Whenever we went on a road trip we always invited friends and asked them to come along and no one would have the time. So we would just go. He was so fond of nature that he even bought a tent for a rugged vacation. I remember using it 1-2 times in Lonavla but he never got to using it properly. Someday I will I think.
So here are some of the road trips that we planned and I want to do as soon as possible:
- Rann of Kutch – The white sands spread out as far as your eyes can see, the tranquil atmosphere, the local flavour, the Kutchi bandhani, walking around for kilometres, photographing the vibrant festival as its happening – this is one of the most desired trips of mine. Drive down from Mumbai all the way and explore the area at leisure. Live with the locals, maybe dress like the locals and enjoy their local delicacies. Visit the Mandvi Palace and the Vijay Vilas Palace where quite a few feature films have been shot my renowned directors. Spend a lot of time in Bhuj since it has such a dynamic history – from the earthquake its come a long way and a visit to the majestic Thar desert. Hope to visit one of the remote villages and connect with the local craftsmen creating the Kuchi tie-and-dye fabric. The multi coloured Kutchi outfits are just a treat and you can’t resist buying a few. Also on my wishlist is a visit to the Rabari village and getting to know them. And last is the visit to the archaeological site of Indus Valley Civilisation without which this trip will be incomplete.
- Ladakh – This has been on my wishlist for so many years but I’m a bit terrified thinking that there is less oxygen and I might have an asthma attack over there. The Himalayan veterans have suggested there is no reason to panic and that I won’t have any problem as long as I acclimatise myself while driving along all the way to Leh. I might have to just be careful and carry some medicines and lots of mental strength to visit the high altitude places like Khardungla and Umlingla Pass. I want to spend a few days in the various monasteries and just meditate and enjoy the tranquil peace surrounding the area. Want to go to the border and thank the army which protects our borders and also visit some army widows and spend time with them. Maybe I could help them in some way. Discover myself some more. Share their sorrow. I will surely research since I want to make a film on this topic. Speculating whether I should visit Ladakh with someone or let this be my first solo trip. Surely will be 12-15 days minimum.
- Kerala – A road trip all along the coast of Kerala and ending at Kanyakumari has been on my list forever. Had the pleasure of visiting Thiruvananthapuram a few years ago and I remember it was a work trip. I had a few hours free at hand so I rented a car and went exploring on my own. Went to Kovalam beach and walked around the various spots the taxi driver was able to take me to in the few hours we had. It was the first time I was venturing out alone and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Told Chao about my whole experience and we were supposed to do this together, but now I shall do it alone. He will be with me everywhere as he lives on in me. Munnar, Alleppey, Kumarakom, Cochin – this one will surely be a 15 days road trip exploring each place for 2-3 days and making the most of the coastline visiting various beaches on the way. Hoping to discover some hidden treasures.
- Tawang – I heard about this hidden gem in Arunachal Pradesh from my dad and had no clue about it. Like most of us Mumbaikars, we have never visited East India much and so have very little knowledge about places like these. Tawang has various monasteries just like Ladakh and would love to explore them. Pulak and Prachi from Tummies on Tour have been there and I shall reach out to them for more insights since they are locals from nearby Assam. Would want to find a homestay instead of a hotel to feel the rawness of the place. There are a few options Pulak said. Tawang is not so commercialised as yet and want to visit as soon as I can to capture the rustic environs on my camera. Every good shot needs a lot of time and I reckon 8-9 days to explore this place along with some nearby scenic spots will be enough.
- Sikkim – Have heard so much about Sikkim from fellow bloggers and travellers that it is high on my list. Also came across this article on InspiredTraveller about Khecheopalri Lake which is one of the quietest places there. I might just discover some inner peace as my inner tribulations have still not settled down completely. Pelling and Gangtok have a lot to offer and will also look for some unexplored roads as I research the destination before I plan my trip. A visit to the Indo-China border is a must. Darjeeling and Kalimpong will be a part of this itinerary as well. Did you know that Sikkim has banned use of plastic water bottles since 2016? Vow! Surely an inspiration for people like us who live in cities like Mumbai and use plastic in everything. I just hate plastic and have 99% discarded it from my life replacing everything with glass bottles and jars. I would advise everyone to do the same for our environment.
There is so much beauty and diversity in India and I’m so proud of our country that whenever I think of travel, I always think of India. The whole of North and East is unexplored for me and there are so many other places I want to visit here. The world is beautiful no doubt but the comfort and pleasure I feel when I travel in India is just beyond comparison. I’m a proud Indian and will always remain so!
The universe will show me the way and don’t know yet when I shall be able to do these trips, but as they say – its never about the destination, its about the journey!!! Hope to set out soon with my Dhanno! Wish me luck!