Thursday, July 31, 2014

East Himalayan ‘Dream’ trip

One of my dreams is to travel all the beautiful places in Himalayas. I got the pleasure to visit Shimla, Kullu & Kinnaur region of Himachal Pradesh. All of these completely beautiful. With Himalayas stretching over as many as five countries, India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, and Pakistan, I wonder will that take a lifetime?

I love the mountains, specially The Himalayas, however contrary it may sound, but I love to plan the itinerary. So when Skyscanner in collaboration with Blogadda came up with this amusing contest of planning a trip with a kitty of Rs. 1 lakh, I jumped at the prospect. Even though it would be just an itinerary with an imaginary trip, it sounded so tempting.

If I have this credit of Rs. 1 lakh, I would take a step towards my Travel Himalaya dream. My plan would be to travel part of Eastern Himalaya. That is travelling to Nepal & Sikkim starting from Sikkim.

The itinerary will look like following -

Date Cost/day Description Hotel Description
1 04-11-2015 Rs. 3,043 Mumbai to Bagdogra Flight    
2 04-11-2015 Rs. 3,000 Bagdogra to Gangtok Helicopter    
3 04-11-2015 Rs. 3,000 Travel Gangtok to Singhik Rs. 2,000 Singhik Tourist Lodge
4 04-12-2015 Rs. 3,000 Visit Gurudongmar lake & return to Singhik Rs. 2,000 Singhik Tourist Lodge
5 04-13-2015 Rs. 3,000 Return to Gangtok Rs. 3,600 Netuk House Gangtok
6 04-14-2015 Rs. 3,000 Gangtok to Ravangla Rs. 1,800 Queens Regency
7 04-15-2015 Rs. 3,000 Ravangla to Pelling / Yuksom / Uttarey Rs. 1,000 hotel garuda
8 04-16-2015 Rs. 3,000 Uttarey to Gangtok Rs. 3,600 Netuk House Gangtok
9 04-17-2015 Rs. 3,000 Gangtok to Bagdogra by Helicopter     
10 04-17-2015 Rs. 3,905 Fly to Katmandu. Visit Patan Rs. 2,900 Marcopolo
11 04-18-2015 Rs. 7,200 Fly to Pokhara by Buddha Air Rs. 800 Hotel Diplomat
12 04-19-2015 Rs. 5,088 Fly to Pomsom to Muktinath Rs. 1,000  
13 04-19-2015 Rs. 5,088 Muktinath to Pokhara Rs. 800 Hotel Diplomat
15 04-20-2015 Rs. 7,200 Pokhara to Katmandu Rs. 2,900 Marcopolo
16 04-21-2015 Rs. 7,380 Katmandu. Enjoy Mountain flight Rs. 2,900 Marcopolo
17 04-23-2015 Rs. 10,257 Return to Mumbai    
    Rs. 73,161   Rs. 25,300 Total: Rs. 98, 461.

The deal was to plan for trip of Rs 1 lakh. I have it in Rs.98,461. A little change in the pocket wouldn’t sounds bad.  

Now the above itinerary may look simple and plain, let me assure you that it took days and lots and lots of effort. Visiting forums, wikitravel, took lot of my mind peace. In the chaos, simplest was to plan the transport and hotel bookings which took 10% of the entire effort. Thanks to Skyscanner. The Itinerary now completed, I am happy with outcome. I hope it would turn to a real trip some day.

I am tempted to give some of the highlights of the trip :-

Bagdogra to Gangtok helicopter service: Fly from Bagdogra, West Bengal to Gangtok in just 30 minutes and guess what, fly in helicopter. Now I have never been into a helicopter (I bet most of us haven't) and with such a terrific start, the trip cannot be better.



Catch beautiful view of ever beautiful Kanchenjunga mountain range.   A small and picturesque hamlet, Singhik is located around four kms away from Mangan. The popular Singhik View Point offers the most magnificent view of Mt. Khangchenjunga & Mt. Siniolchu . Surrounded by lush green hills, with the Teesta River flowing below it. With the surrounding pitchursque mountain ranges, I bet the sunrise and sunset will be a lifetime experience.


Gurudonmar lake: 

Situated at a height of 17,800 feet, it is a fresh-water lake is located northeast of the Kangchenjunga range in a high plateau area connected with the Tibetan Plateau.

It is considered one the most sacred lakes by the Buddhists and Hindus alike.

The beautiful and awe inspiring lake (190 kms from Gangtok) remains milky in colour throughout the year.



Ravngla is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South Sikkim. At an altitude of 7000 ft, located on a ridge between Maenam and Tendong Hill, Ravangla offers unmatched views of the Greater Himalayas.

Ralang Monastery, a Buddhist monastery of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism is located six kilometres from Ravangla. Ravangla attracts a lot of Himlayan birds and is a bird watcher's paradise.




Pokhara is the starting point for most of the treks in the Annapurna area.

One of Nepal's most beautiful spots, Phewa Tal is surrounded by a combination of monkey-filled forests and the high white peaks. The reflections in the mirror-like water in the early mornings are something you must see at least once before you die. Hire a boat and row yourself across the lake (or hire a local to do it for you - there are some fine times to be had on this lake, even in the middle of the night!)


Patan, Katmandu:

Patan is also known as Manigal. It is best known for its rich cultural heritage, particularly its tradition of arts and crafts. It is called city of festival and feast, fine ancient art, making of metallic and stone carving statue.

The city was initially designed in the shape of the Buddhist Dharma-Chakra (Wheel of Righteousness). The four thurs or mounds on the perimeter of Patan are ascribed around, one at each corner of its cardinal points, which are popularly known as Asoka Stupas.

The most important monument of the city is Patan Durbar Square, which has been listed by UNESCO as one of seven Monument Zones that make up the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage Site.


Katmandu Mountain flight:

And the most amazing experience would be the Mountain flight. The captain will fly you at eye level for the perfect viewing experience. Everyone gets their very own window seat.

The plane visits all the nine major peaks that every Himalayan trekker better be able to pronounce, within the span of a Nepali hour.


Well, above were just few of the gems of the trip. As I waded through the photos and forums, sometimes mesmerising and sometimes overwhelming, planning an itinerary was getting tougher. More than deciding the destinations, the selection of Hotels and travel routes & flights can be very consuming. But a perfect companion to me in helping in this bigger task was Skyscanner.

imageI am not being biased here but what I liked in Skyscanner was the response time of the query. It is much faster than most of the sites that I am used to.

Also one major plus with this site is that there are no multiple popups or screens opening on your laptop when you enter your search which is so very irritating.



The user interface is very easy and helped me in planning the flights and hotels very conveniently!

There are other options like car hire & buses on the site which I bet would also be very helpful and handy for travel.A hands-on on the site and you will find much of your interest and help.

Happy Travelling!

This post is a part of Skyscanner travel wizard activity at

Sunday, July 27, 2014


From old times, Black is considered evil by puritans. Do you know why? I say, because it's seducing!

Blogadda has brought us a new contest, #WhatTheBlack, where we have to write about five black items that we wish for and why. As I think about the list, here are some black gadgets that have put spell on me. Wish I had these.
5) Play Station 4 – Why just play Candy Crush alone ? We can sure have fun with friends at altogether different level!
4) Wacom Intuos 5 – With an apt designer tool at hand, I wouldn't see any of my sketches just waste away on papers.

3) iPad Air – Anyone with an iPad or Mac would be a proud owner, isn't it? The sleek and alluring apple gadget exude finest design and technology.

2) Camera Lenses – Anything that I am desperately want to have my hands on, Filters, Lenses - Fixed, Wide angle etc. Technique, practise and good lenses are key to better photos..

1) The Magic Hat – How about having the black magic hat? I wouldn't bother with a bunny though. I have better and longer list!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Amazing Things Your Smartphone Can Do

I'm sure we've all had "Aha!" moments. Why, when I upgraded my old phone to a smartphone, I've had them everyday. It took me a surprising while to get the most out of my phone. Well, aside from the obvious - calling and texting, taking pictures, listening to music and playing games, did you know that there are other cool uses for your smartphone?

Health Monitor

With accessories that you can use with your smartphone to measure your blood pressure and blood glucose levels and apps that can track your daily workouts, weight and diet, monitoring your health and fitness has never been so fun and easy.


Want to keep a watchful eye on the family? You can locate your loved ones by tracking them on your smartphone.

Remote Control

Do you know that you can replace your collection of remote controls with your smartphone? Yes, you can use your smartphone to control various home appliances.

GPS Unit

If you need a GPS unit for your daily runs and bike rides, you can download GPS apps or maps that you can use offline on your smartphone.

Digital Cookbook

Can't get enough of your favorite recipes? Download cooking apps and recipes and turn your smartphone to a digital cookbook you can carry everywhere.


There are tons of apps that will let you use your smartphone for all your barcode or QR code scanning needs.


If you're unwilling to splurge on tablets or eBook readers, you can use your smartphone as a digital reader. There are lots of apps, both free and paid, that you can install on your smartphone to make it a decent reading device.

Digital Wallets

You can now hold your payment and banking information on your smartphone and enjoy cash-free transactions, making carrying credit cards a thing of the past.


You can video chat using your smartphone.


Always on the go? Don't worry, you can still watch your favorite soap via live TV streaming on your smartphone.

Mobile Hotspot

Don't you find it annoying every time a friend has access to the internet and you don’t or vice versa? Good thing you can turn your smartphone into a wireless router and share your data access with other devices easily.

Measuring Tool

You may not have a tape measure or a ruler with you at all times (really, who does?), so if you need a measuring tool to measure height, width, distance, area, and what have you in a jiffy, by all means, whip out your phone and measure away.

Do you know of other practical uses for your smartphone? Please do comment share below! And for anyone in the market for a new smartphone, you can compare plans and get free information at


Sage Harman is a frugal living enthusiast, wife and mother. She runs, a site dedicated to providing free information to consumers trying to find viable no-contract phone and internet plans.

P.S:.Thank you Sage Harman for putting together some helpful tips. It will help many of us. And thank you for being my first Guest blogger :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Turning

Isn't it true that travel makes you wiser and it is also travel that brings yourself to you? I love to travel and among all I love to travel the mountains. Be it the Himalayas or the Sahyadris. When I say this, it would be ironic to mention about my fear of height. But that's the sad truth I have to live with or in time overcome it. But the phobia doesn't stop me from planning to visit these beautiful mountains.
It is their grandness that overwhelms you, it’s beauty that makes you feel loved but it is also their steep fall that makes brings the reality of your mortality to you. When we planned our trip to Kinnaur,  Himachal Pradesh in March, I was looking forward to seeing the beauty of Himalayas in off season. Tons of snow, calm appearing glaciers and the vapour released by your each breadth, a dream for a Mumbaite, isn’t it?
After enjoying most of the snow in Kinnaur, we started our travel to Manali. We were in our rented Innova and on the helm was our driver Mr. Vinkel. Vinkel had been a good driver and host. We took the Jalori Pass over the longer route via Shimla.
Jalori Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 10,800 ft (3.120m) above the sea level, situated in the Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh.
A few hours had passed and we were gaping at the steep path ahead. Vinkel pointed out to the top, “See there?”, he said. “The top of the trees are white. It means there is a snowfall at the top. If we do not pass it before evening, we will have to stop. It could be a trouble”. We looked at the faraway forest dumbfounded. What we gathered from his statement was not that snowfall could be a trouble but the thought of going up there so high. I looked down the steep slope from the window to my left. It was terrifying.
We kept travelling up. We heard Vinkel say he hasn't seen any vehicle coming down the other way. We nodded and he kept on the pace. After a while there was a vehicle coming down. The two drivers greeted each other. The other man said the snowfall has started at the top. He heard from someone a car crossing the pass some thirty minutes earlier. And that would be less risky for a car like Scorpio than ours like Innova to attempt it.
We all agreed to keep going b’coz if we’d stop, we would be stuck there, we wouldn’t know when the roads will be cleared. “We should cross the pass before it gets dark”, Vinkel said. We nodded, not wanting to be left behind of the schedule.
By the time we reached the top, it was dark. And there was snow every where. I looked around. The check post looked like an abandoned village now gripped under snow storm. Vinkel sighed. The snow and the darkness had finally got us. My parents and I were struck, now realising the gravity of the situation. It would be difficult to drive down. Going up wasn't much but going down needs grip on the road with a steep slope, especially the one covered with snow. But without proper shelter, staying the trip was also not an option.
Vinkel got out and inspected the situation. When he was back he said, he could see tyre marks, probably of the supposed car which had passed thirty minutes ago. “The snow is soft”, he said, “if we get down before the snow hardens we would be lucky. We have to move”. My parents were wide eyed.
The snow was coming down hard, and when I peeped out, it looked very beautiful white against the black blankness. It was the first time I had seen snowfall and I felt like blessings coming down upon me in the dark.
The damp air was clouding the windshield. So Vinkel started the AC. And with it came a gust of fragrant air with a crispness of green and a hint of flowers. The freshness was so assuring at the moment, that we all took a deep breath, filling our body and mind with confidence. Ready?, Vinkel asked. We sucked some air, the pure fragrance, soothing our tension, just what we needed. “Yes”, we replied.
Slowly, our car moved forward, running over the tracks left behind by the previous car and finally we reached down safely. When we drank hot tea in our hotel that night, each one of us was silent, trying to understand, the experience sinking in and thanking God repeatedly. But the real hero was our driver Vinkel, who did not loose confidence and took us to safety (later he confessed it was a first-time situation for him too).
Nature can throw you into a storm but it will also give you the strength and courage!

This post is written for Indiblogger contest - #InspireAFragrance. To know about different inspiring fragrances, check out GodrejAer website.

PS:.This post is not fiction, in fact I left out a lot of details for brevity. I wish I had taken a few pics of the night but we were very busy in watching the path ahead and clearing the windshield off the dampness. Our hearts were in our mouth!