We reached Shimla by 7 in the morning we waited for our traveler. Our plan was to get freshen up from the ISBT, New bus stand. But our driver suggested that we are already late and we can get freshen up on our way to Sangla.
After an hour’s drive, we stopped at a restaurant to freshen up and have lunch. The backside of the restaurant had an amazing view and It was mesmerizing.
During our Breakfast, We had a proper Introduction of everyone, Everyone was going on the Spiti expedition for the first time and was thrilled. After breakfast, we continued our journey to Sangla. The view on the way was changing rapidly and then we started to see Apple farms everywhere. We were going through a place called Theog and suddenly the traveler stopped. Some of them were getting down, I asked what was happening and they said they were just going to look around the apple farms. I also got down as I haven’t seen an apple farm in my entire life. It was something thrilling.
It was apple harvesting season and some were harvesting on top of a hill, We couldn’t see who they were. We climbed up to have a good view. A puppy came along with us and Juhi was afraid of the puppy. Puppy followed me and reached the top. there was a small steak step in ahead of us. Karthik climbed up first and a guard dog started to bark, we could only hear the barking. The people who were harvesting told us it is okay and we can come forward. I climbed up and went to the place where they were harvesting. I had a small chat with them and asked if my friends can also come to this point, they replied “why not, it is perfectly fine” I signaled my friends to come over. We asked for some apples, they told me to pick from the basket which they have collected. I took 2-3 apples and started to walk back. Then the girl who was plucking asked me to stop and asked to take more. She asked if we have a bag to carry apples and I said “No, We will put apples in our pockets and hands”.
We thanked them and left, But my hands and heart were full of the love and affection shown by the farmers. You guys have my heart.
We continued our Journey to Sangla eating apples in traveler. By afternoon we reached Rampur and visited Padam Palace and spent some time there and continued our journey. We were stopped because of land sliding/blasting happening ahead. Sun was at full power and we couldn’t sit inside the traveler and get down. People on Himachal Pradesh are used to this land sliding and blasting and they were chilling around. We took rescue in the shade of the traveler and waited for an hour. One good thing is that we were surrounded by the nature all along and it made us calm.
By evening we stopped at a Dhaba and had lunch and continued our journey. We could see the last rays of the sun hitting on the highest mountain and it was an amazing view. The roads were getting dangerous as we were going on one side were hills that seemed like they may slide any moment and on the other side was steep (This was the road for the entire Spiti valley expedition). It was also pitch dark and couldn’t seem to figure out what is happening, Now we knew why our driver was rushing to reach our hotel before the night.
Somehow we passed by our Hotel and went ahead for some time we crossed a bridge when we were nearing our hotel. I could feel the cool breeze and hear the roaring of the river nearby. I figured out there should be a small waterfall near our hotel, I decided to wake up early and look for the waterfall. We got settled into our rooms and had our Dinner, Most of the dishes were new to me and I tried a few. All the boys were allocated to one room and the girls another. We started to talk about each other and get to know each other, But my mind was on the waterfall and I have to wake up early. I asked anyone is interested in going for a morning walk, Only Karthik showed interest and we went to sleep.
Hello there, You might be wondering why Mumbai? There are a lot of places in India which is more beautiful than of Mumbai, Some of you have also said/suggested there is nothing in Mumbai to see.
So let’s start with the idea how Mumbai was added to my bucket list. I have been a kid who watched a lot of Movies and in most of the movies Mumbai was there, I was curious about Mumbai and the crowd, the local trains and its rushes. One of the recent famous movie dialogues about Mumbai is “Powerful people comes from powerful places”. There is also another reason, You guys know my friend Bindi, we become friends during my visit to Meghalaya and kept in touch afterwards. (Those who haven’t read about my Meghalaya articles here is the link: Nongriat, Shnongpdeng)
So this year I was planning to spend my birthday in some other place rather than my home, after a long search I had shortlisted down to two places: Igloo stay in Manali and Mumbai. When I said my plans for my birthday to Bindi she asked to visit Mumbai, She was always sending me pictures of street foods in Mumbai which I have always wanted to try.
I was staying in Mumbai for 3 days and told Bindi to help me out with the planning, I had only very limited knowledge of places around Mumbai, So she sent me a list of places and I choose from that. I booked my stay at Zostel, I highly recommend Zostel to the other travelers out there.
I reached Mumbai: Lokmanya Tilak Terminal around 4:00 am in the morning. I was planning to take a train from Tilak Nagar to Andheri, My stay was at Andheri, unfortunately the train service only started after 6 am. So I talked to the auto rickshaws guys they asked for Rs. 500, I told no and bargained it to Rs. 300 and they happily dropped me at Zostel. When I reached Zostel the receptionist told me that the auto-rickshaw guy has looted me. Also the regular check-in time was at 12 pm. I told them I had reservations and have to reach Essel world around 10 am. Zostel guys made some adjustments and let me check in early.
I got some sleep and woke up around 7:30 am got ready, I had to meet Bindi at her place by 9 am, so that I can drop my things at her place and leave to Essel world. I took an auto from Zostel to Andheri railway station. I had to catch a local train from Andheri to Borivali. I was really nervous, I was worried if I will be able to get into the local train as it will be crowded. The station entrance was crowded, I got a ticket to Borivali. The station was so crowded and there were trains coming and going in every two minutes, I went to the platform and waited when the train came, I asked the person nearby will it be going to Borivali and got into the train. When I got down at Borivali I called Bindi and she told she was running late and told me to reach at her place and wait. I walked from Borivali station to Bindi place and she came there after some. We left my luggage there and got a auto-rickshaw to boatyard where we will get a ferry to the famous Essel world.
Essel world is an amusement park which has many adventurous rides and it is in the top 10 places to visit in Mumbai. We got into almost all the rides, there was one ride “Shot & Drop” we very much liked it and got into the ride 6 times. Around 6 pm we got out of Essel world took the ferry back to Borivali and witnessed an amazing sunset.
We took a bus and went to Borivali railway station, Nearby there was a Dosa place where we went and tried Masala dosa with two different flavours. The Masala dosa was not the same that we get here. It was very much different. Bindi told Mumbai has many cultures and people around India is been there. People in Mumbai like to experiment/mix food with different types of cultures traditional foods. So when you order your favourite dish in Mumbai, “Forget what it tastes like in your mind or at your place. It will be totally different.”’
Today I was going to the South Mumbai, Bandra and Church gate was in my list. I took a local train from Andheri to Bandra. I got down at Bandra and my first destination was Mount Mary church it was around 2km away I decided to walk and explore this time and walked towards the church, On the way I got to see some amazing streets. The church was beautiful and was filled with some tourists, I spend some time in the church and after that I went to Bandra Bandstand and Bandra fort. Bandra fort is filled with couples, We can also see the famous Bandra Worli Sea link from here.
After some time I got a bus to Bandra Station and got on a train to ChurchGate to my next destination. I walked around Churchgate and saw the Mumbai High Court, The beautiful Gothic architecture buildings. My first destination was Jehangir Modern Art Gallery, The place had some awesome collections of art, After that I went to the Prince of Wales museum. When I got out of the museum Bindi called and told that she will meet me at Churchgate I told her we can meet at the Mumbai Gate. We spent some time there and walked to our next destination Marine drive. Marine drive was filled with people and we sat there and enjoyed the sunset. Today we were going to eat at the restaurant Sardar which is famous for its pav bhaji. We had to stand in a queue to get in, it was amazing how they were making pav for the entire people at the restaurant at a time. On the way back I figured it out that there was a metro connecting from my place to Andheri railway station.
Today I was going to Elephanta Caves for that I have to go back to Church gate and to take a ferry to the island, the ticket costs around Rs. 205 with return. The journey to the island is around 1 hrs. There are snacks and juices available in the ferry. People started to feed the birds with the snacks and the birds started to fly over to get their food. There is a toy train which will take you to the starting point of the Elephanta caves. I Skipped and decided to walk towards the caves. There is a two entry fees we have to give when we reach. One is an entry fee to enter the island which is Rs 5 and another is around Rs.100 for the entry to the elephanta caves. The caves was so crowded. Avoid Elephanta caves if you’re visiting Mumbai for a short time as it will take your half day or entire day if you don’t plan well. I reached back at church gate and went to the fashion street which is in the marine lanes. Fashion street has everything you need and if you’re good at bargaining you could get some good items at a very low price.
My next destination was Juhu and Bindi was joining me there, We were going to the famous Pritivi cafe to have some aloo parathas, As usual we had to stand in queue to get a seat at the cafe. The cafe has some amazing interiors with food. We went to the Juhu beach and went back to Borivali. There was a night market at Borivali and Bindi helped me to buy some kurti for my Mom and sweets for my colleagues.
Hello there! Have you read my article on Nongriat? Well, this is a continuation of my Meghalaya trip with Theraparatravels. We started to Shnongpdeng from Nongriat. When we were traveling to Shnongpdeng, my heart was still at Nongriat and to be frank, I was sad leaving the most beautiful place I have ever visited. On our way, we visited Mawsmai caves and Nohkalikai Falls as well. But sadly at Nohkalikai falls there was no waterfall and was too dry. From Nohkalikai Falls, we started our journey to Shnongpdeng. On the way, we saw a beautiful sunset even though I’m not a sunset person. I have seen it a million times on the sea, but this time the sun was setting on the hills and that was a view worth cherishing.
As we were a group from different parts of India, people had brought various types of local snacks and shared it amongst one another. The snack I liked the most was bhindi masala.
Around 7 pm we reached Shnongpdeng. We were going to stay in tents near the Umngot river. We could see a lot of vehicles parked, but there was no sign of any river nearby. Nadheem told that there were porters available to carry our luggage as we had to cross a bridge and walk for some time to reach our tents. While crossing the bridge, we could hear the river flowing below us. Myself and Bindi started to walk parallel to balance the bridge, but our minds were still stuck in the Nongriat root bridges. (there was no need to walk parallel as the bridge was safe).
As we reached our tents, we could hear the river more louder. Two persons were allocated to each tent, but no one went inside them. Everyone was tired after the long drive. After some time everyone settled down on the chairs they could find. While some started to have drinks, food and campfire got ready with good music. We could see some other groups playing songs and dancing around their camp across the river and near us.
We settled down at the campfire and started talking and eating our food. My heart was still at Nongriat, and all I wanted was to go back. Everyone shared their experiences of the trip, and especially each one of us was happy that we could complete the trek to Nongriat. After sometime we decided to go and sit down on the bridge that we crossed. As we were walking through the bridge, everyone was talking something and I was just looking around. I was Wonderstruck seeing the most beautiful thing, the river in the middle guarded by giant mountains on both the sides. You guys should see the place at night; It seemed to me like I was in Jurassic world. I stood there admiring the view and feeling the cool breeze, it was like the mountains calling me to stay with them. I was so thankful that I could be there, to open my eyes to the beauty that surrounded me.
A little later, Nadheem joined us and told that we could go and sit in the middle of river. There was a small bamboo bridge below us. We all said yes and joined hands for a night adventure. We found a place in the middle of the river as Nadheem told and settled down there. Some people started singing songs and Nadheem along with Bindi joined them. Bindi knows the lyrics of most of the songs by heart. As none of us had any night vision camera, we all turned on our mobile flashlights to get a picture of us.
The next day I woke up early and started to the bamboo bridge we sat on the previous day. The sun was not up yet. I went down and settled down on a rock to see the sunrise. Sitting there, I was searching for the mountain that called me the other night. I sat there admiring the view and listening to the river, as she was telling stories to those who open up their hearts and listen.
After some time, Bindi, Rachita and Srujana joined. Bindi came and laid down on the rocks saying her usual dialogue “I’m set here”. She does this everywhere she goes and looks up into the sky. We were all wondering where the transparent green waters were which we get to see when we Google Shnongpdeng and were disappointed not seeing it.
While Srujana and Rachita went back to the tent, Myself and Bindi went to the otherside of the river to explore the place. There were lots of boats and each boat was painted beautifully. We went further ahead to explore the places which was when I realised that I could have gone for a river trek if I had woken up early in the morning.
We simply roamed around and went back to bridge we crossed the previous night. Then we looked down, and looked each other in awe as we could see the riverbed and rocks very clearly now and it was all in green.
We went to have our breakfast as we were going for boating after that. We changed our outfits and went towards the boats. Each boat could accommodate five people and as we started, we could see people trying to catch fish by looking through the river. After sometime, we reached a small waterfall and the boat went straight to it. Gurvir was sitting in the front of our boat; He got panicked and started telling us “don’t move, don’t move” while he was doing all the shaking. A few minutes later, he became calm. We stayed near the waterfall for sometime and then went back.
On our way back, we saw someone trying to swim across the river. As we neared him, we could see that it was actually Sree who was having a good time. This was the time I regretted not learning swimming (adding my to do list: Learn Swimming). There were some other activities like zip lining, cliff jumping as well in store for us. Some of us went for it and I skipped it all as I didn’t know swimming.
We went back to the bridge to capture photos just like the ones we get when we google Shnongpdeng and yes we were lucky enough to get some good pics.
Then we saw a foreigner swimming below us and there was a good spot to take a picture from above. Myself and Bindi went down and asked Rachita to take a picture of us from the top (you would have seen that picture at the beginning of the article).
Sometime later, Sree joined us after coming back from cliff jumping. I was too busy taking his photo and for some reason, I looked down the river. My precious red glasses fell off and had already gone into the depth of the river. It was hopeless to retrieve it. It was time to leave Shnongpdeng and so we went back to our tents to have our lunch and kickstarted our journey back. By now I was well and good at saying goodbye to beautiful places.
Hey there! First of all, I came to know about Nongriat through Rachita Saxena instagram stories. (PS: She is definitely a person to be followed on Instagram). We travelled with Thera Para Travels. Yes! You heard it right. Many of my Malayalee colleagues had asked me the same, “Thera Para Travels !!!! Is that a real travel agency???” At some point, even I have asked the same question. But here I am, writing about them. So next time when you hear Thera Para Travels, Just close your eyes and say “Yes, I’m in”.
So let’s get back to the trip. We were a group of 14 and none of us knew each other, but everyone knew Rachita. I’m skipping the part where we all landed at Guwahati Airport and from there to Nongriat.
Let’s start with Nongriat, We reached around 4pm at the top from where we had to climb down 3200 steps to Nongriat village. Some of us brought sticks to help climb down. At first, only a few steps were visible. I thought “One step at a time” and started to descent. We had a tourist guide (Phayas) who was only 16 and was earning his share for college. How cool is that?
On the way, Phayas told us that he needed only 20 minutes to climb down and 45 mins to climb up. I was wondering how he could walk like that. As we moved down, the number of steps kept on increasing and it was more like a labyrinth of steps. We saw many people who were climbing up. They were sweating and tired, stopping regularly to breath. This made us worried. By now, Bindi, myself and Phayas were the only ones visible.We continued to walk..walk..and again walk.
As we walked, Bindi told me that she had a thing, a competition in her mind had already started and that she should reach first at Nongriat before anyone else could reach, NOT EVEN ME!!!! And we reached Nongriat before anybody else and you can guess who reached first.
The feeling when you complete a target cannot be said or written, but should be experienced atleast once in a lifetime.
When we reached the place, my expectations were blown off. I was expecting a place without electricity, and was hoping to live in a bamboo hut. But I saw small concrete structures and there were more tourists than the Khasi people.We were so thrilled and then Phayas pointed to a hill and said that we came from there.
We sat down on the steps, waiting for the others. Then a small kid came over to Bindi and asked for candy. Bindi told that she would give her a candy if she gets to see some magic trick. Then the small kid told that she knows magic and planted a kiss on Bindi. These kids have a way of getting things done (Be prepared to play with them if you’re planning a Nongriat trip).
Our group was to stay in different homestays. Myself, Sree, Rachita along with Gurvir went to a house which was near the double decker root bridge. As it was night, we couldn’t get a good view of the bridge. So I made a mental note to wake up early and visit the double decker first. When I reached the homestay, I heard Malayalam, which reminded me of the fact that there would be at least one malayalee where ever you go in this world. Later I got to know that they were medical students from Trivandrum Medical College and they were visiting Meghalaya after coming from Nagaland.
Next morning I woke up around 5:15 am and the sun was already up. I was so excited that I went straight to the double decker bridge and started exploring the place. It’s so good to be in a place where you can find yourself. The water is so clear that you can see small fishes and if you put your legs in the water and stand still, you will get a natural fish pedicure. I just walked through the narrow path for sometime listening to the sound of jungle.
We had a long day ahead. We were going to the Rainbow falls after breakfast, so I went back and got changed for the trek to Rainbow falls.
We started the trek around 9am. There were more steps, bridges and hills ahead of us. After an hour and a half, I could hear the sound of a waterfall. As we neared, I couldn’t believe my eyes as the water was plush blue in colour (I have heard about blue lagoons, but never believed it). It’s so beautiful that my heart skipped a beat (probably due to the long trek). We had to descent down to reach the Rainbow falls and there were no steps, but only a narrow lane of rocks.
Some people who were nearby the falls showed signals to descent slowly. We did the same and reached the Rainbow falls. When I was there, I just wanted to take off my t-shirt and jump into the water. A few minutes later, Sree came and jumped right into the water, but got out of it quickly. The water was so cold that he had to come out.
The people in there asked us to stay in the water for sometime, so that our bodies could adjust to the cold temperature. We did the same and it worked. Around 12, we descended back to the village and on the way back, we had some delicious Maggi. By the time we reached back, everyone was so tired that no one wanted to leave the comfort of their houses.
Our homestay owner had 7 children and each one of them was naughty, but one got very close to Rachita and Sree. She was hanging on to either Sree or Rachita all the time. The children there are so crazy that if we taught them a trick, we had to continuously do it until they’re tired (Mostly Sree was the victim). When Rachita put on her sweater to go outside, the little girl went inside and brought her sweater asking Rachita to help her put it (she was trying to be like Rachita). These kids have magical powers that they never get tired. Even when they fall down, they don’t cry but rather just get up and walk like nothing ever happened.
Around 6:30pm, we went to the other homestay where the rest of the team was staying. On the premises, kids were playing carroms and they played like professionals. As I watched the kids play carroms, they started to sing BONEY M- Brown girl in the ring ( shalalala ). It’s good to be with kids.
Then I asked our team if anyone was interested in playing carroms to which they all said yes. Myself and Rachita were a team and the other team had Srujana and Sree. Srujana said that she did not know to play and we told her that we would help her out. Once we started to play, she started to point out the rules of the game and gained coins for her team. But obviously myself and Rachita won the game.
We went back to our homestay and talked for sometime. Everyone was so tired that we started limping by the end of the day. Now we knew why we shouldn’t skip leg day at the gym.
Next morning we had to start our climb right after breakfast. I woke up early and went to the double decker root bridge and sat on it for a while. I didn’t want to go back. My mind was saying to stay there for a month. I convinced my mind that I will go back and stay there for a month.
It’s so sad to leave a place which you love. After breakfast, Bindi and Srujana told that they’re going to climb up early and asked me if I’m joining them. I said yes, grabbed my bag and started to climb. I didn’t want to look back. That would make me even sad. So I just walked towards the steps without turning back.
All of us were worried to climb up as it demanded hard work and more patience. Anyway, everyone started to climb up(There is no other alternative). Srujana had breathing problems and was stopping regularly to control her breathing. I also stopped and waited for her. After an hour we reached the top. I was not that tired the way I expected it would be. I guess stopping for Srujana helped me as well.
When we reached the top, Bindi was already there. She told us that she lost her way and had to walk extra. We waited for everyone to reach and said goodbye to Nongriat, the place of root bridges, blue lagoons, waterfalls and the happy people.