Call yourself a true India expert if you have done these 15 things

You do not have to be born or live for years in India to label yourself as an expert on this country. You can claim to be an intelligent and informed, true India expert, if you have ticked off these 15 things on this list!

  1. Used ‘jugaad’ as a means to solve your problem.

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 ‘Jugaad ‘is a Hindi word used by the locals of the country, which means to find a low-cost solution to any problem in an intelligent way, it is  a new way to think constructively and differently about innovation and strategy and using things from your immediate environment.

2. Taken a bicycle rickshaw or tuk-tuk ride.

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One typical India experience is taking a tuk-tuk ride, making it’s way through the narrow lanes with the infamous heavy traffic. These are cheaper and faster, and one of the best ways to see the city. It may seem like a rollercoaster ride the first time, but later you enjoy the ride and embrace the things you see around yourself!

3. Visited at least one sacred place.

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India is home to different religions and there are sacred places of various faiths. The spiritual side of this diverse land will undoubtedly delight you and open you to some great experiences. From practices to rituals, you will see things you’ve never seen before!

4. Binged on street food and spicy food as well.

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For Indians, midnight snacks aren’t in the fridge always, food is literally everywhere, around every corner and if you’ve experienced the street food, like the locals do, you will agree that its super delicious.

India is a land of spices and the food supports this statement, it makes you weep, true but it’s all worth it!

5. Indulged yourself in traditional clothing

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India along spices also is a land of beautiful textiles, the whole country as you explore has a variety of textiles and garments to offer worn in simple yet beautiful ways! Be it a saree or salwar kameez. Indulging yourself in clothes could be an exciting experience!

6. Indulged in street shopping

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India is a shopper’s paradise, from big malls to flea markets, you name it and it is there! Do you think you can bargain? Find out! India has a unique and unconventional way of setting up petite street shops known as ‘haats’ and stalls that sell everything from fashion to trinkets and knick-knacks, these are temporary setups which take place during different days of the week. Note: everything is affordable.

7. Zoomed through the perennial traffic, crowds and busy roads

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Traffic jams, narrow roads and large crowds are common in India. You’ll often witness pedestrians crossing the busy street, getting away with the traffic in the most hilarious ways! They do it so much that it ends up becoming a skill! If you can dodge and tackle traffic like a pro, you will find it easy to commute here.

8. Played gully cricket

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Gully cricket refers to street cricket and it’s played in literally every street across the country, in India cricket is almost like a religion and people follow it in a similar manner! There is immense appreciation for this sport and it’s celebrated through so many ways!

9. Visited at least one place of historic significance

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India was once the land of rulers, from Britishers to the Mughals, different communities ruled this country during different times and left a part of their culture in this country. You will often be greeted with majestic pieces of history and architecture which will absolutely amaze you. Also, don’t forget the world-famous ‘Taj Mahal’, one of the Seven Wonders of the World and a brilliant piece of architecture is situated in Agra, India.

10. Ate your entire meal with your hands.

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From the very beginning, the Indian culture uses and promotes eating your meals through the help of your hands and not anything else, for various reasons and believe it or not, the food tastes even more delicious when eating using hands, try for yourself!

11. Become addicted to ‘chai’ aka tea

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Tea is a vital element of everyday life – everyone needs a cuppa, especially in the mornings. Indians literally survive on tea! There is nothing more fascinating and tempting than the tantalising smell of the chai, the way the locals prepare it here in India will definitely leave you for wanting more brewing.

12. Danced on a Bollywood track

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Just like cricket, Bollywood is too followed religiously, Indians never shy away from dancing on a good Bollywood song, every occasion, event and celebration has people dancing to the tunes of some of these songs, it’s almost like a ritual.

13.Celebrated Indian festivals

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The best way to blend in with this culture is to take part in their festivals which binds them together through food, music, entertainment, traditions during the festive season. Celebrations in India happen all year around, so indulging in a festival shouldn’t be a problem.

14. Travelled by train

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India has one of the longest railway networks in the world and Indians have been travelling via train since 1853! The fact that travelling in a a train is usually cheaper than travelling in a plane makes it more budget friendly! The experience of travelling through a train is truly one of a kind and opens up a person to so many new things.

15. Can speak in more than one language

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You might be a tourist or a local, either way, if you’ve been in India for a considerable amount of time, then you probably have mastered the art of speaking more than one language, especially Hindi and even regional variations of that language. (although English is widely spoken and understood across India)

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11 NOVELS THAT BRINGS BACK INDIA TO LIFE.

The process of reading a book is an art itself and thus the process of reading a book becomes inspiring! Part of the tool belt of any traveler is a good book. Long bus, train, or plane rides can get pretty boring and can give you a lot of “dead” time if you haven’t mastered the art of the 10-hour blank stare.

Especially when you are reading on and about India, there is so much to write about the country, the history, the culture and the people. These authors mentioned below have done a meticulous research about the country.

1. Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts

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This novel took the literary world by a storm and why wouldn’t it? Once you know the plot, you’ll understand. It is the story of a convict who escapes Australia and finds himself in India. His life and discoveries about the real country, his friends and enemies and the Bombay ‘underworld’ are all a part of the plot. He goes to a village only to come back with the name ‘Shantaram.’ This book shows Mumbai as a site of struggle and handwork but also depicts the people of the city beautifully. It features iconic Bombay haunts such as the Leopold Café (where many crucial scenes are set), Colaba Causeway and the Taj Hotel.

 

2.  All Roads Lead To Ganga – Ruskin Bond

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Ruskin Bond’s love for the Himalayan life comes into play through this book, that creates an urge for everyone to visit the Himalayas.The author shows us the breathtaking beauty and the splendour of the hills and Ganga, India’s sacred river, through an epic love story. He describes the simple life up in the mountains and has woven nostalgic stories about the people he has met during his life up there. Yes, the place has gone under changes since the book was written, but reading the author’s narrative will take you places you haven’t been!

 

3. Nine Lives – William Dalrymple

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You only have to indulge yourself into reading one of his books and you will understand the amount of research that goes into it.  Nine Lives is a story about nine people, spiritual in their own way, the author depicts about how the lives of these people have changed and are being affected by the modernisation of India. Some of them are neglected; some of them have to be a ‘part-time’ god and the others are shunned by the society. This book is a true reminder of why certain cultures still exist in our society and opens up our mind to view these people under a different light.

 

4. Man-Eaters Of Kumaon – Jim Corbett 

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Reading this book before heading out to the Jim Corbett National Park will thrill you. Safari guides and hotel staff have plenty of stories to tell the guests about this great hero. The book shows him as nothing less than the greatest ‘safari-sahib’ who was in relentless pursuit of man-eaters. He figured out that certain animals turn into man-eaters due to the steady disappearance of the forests for their game hunt, and hence started a national park of sorts back then in order to protect the helpless villagers as well.

The book depicts his various experiences with the man-eaters. Gruesome killings are described at times which brings fear into your heart, other stories portray him as a compassionate hunter who is respectful of the natural environment of India. A refreshing change in a book that shows how rich India’s flora and fauna can be and it’s impact on the lives of people.

 

5. Maximum City: Bombay Lost And Found – Suketu Mehta

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Beautifully written book about the great city of Mumbai. The initial reviews had mentioned this book to be just another copy of the Shantaram with stories about the underworld and cops and thugs. But to be fair, the author, Suketu Mehta has managed to spin an original world in the same waters of Mumbai. The movie stars, the stories behind them, and the black money seems unreal but is written in such a way that makes it seem real. The negotiation between the author and the city and how he finally accepts the difference between what he remembers of the place and how it turned out to be is compelling and evokes so many strong emotions inside the reader.

 

6. Sikkim: Requiem For A Himalayan Kingdom – Andrew Duff

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Reading a book about a place before you end up there truly changes your perspective of the destination in more than one way. The book is a great detective work by author Andrew Duff, who dug up all the information during India’s time of independence. The last king of Sikkim with his American wife fought for Sikkim to be an independent country like Nepal and Bhutan, but got caught up in the Indian politics and it was annexed back in 1975. Duff has retraced the steps of his grandfather and has created this informative and thrilling text for his readers. The book acts a great insight into authentic facts and history.

 

7. The God Of Small Things – Arundhati Roy 

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Arundhati Roy is a pro when capturing  human emotions and translating to you in her words. This is a story about twins from a small village in Kerala who are stripped of their childhood with traumatic deaths, pushing the reader to explore their emotional depth. The Syrian Christian life of the people there, the smell of the wood fire and fish curry is all innocently woven into an intricate plot around the caste system and the impact of communalism. It is no wonder this breathtaking novel won the Man Booker Prize in 1997!

 

8. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie 

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This book takes us through time and the changing face of India since its Independence. The author has unhesitatingly, bravely and boldly depicted even the darkest of events and emotions through the eyes of the protagonist, Saleem Sinai. It is probably the courageous candidness of the author that got this book the Booker Prize in 1981, the year of its release, and later, the “Booker of Bookers” honour in 1993 and 2008. This book is a must read.

 

9. India After Gandhi – Ramachandra Guha

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This book talks about Indian history after 1947 and history assumes the form a of a story in this book. It is not everyday that you want a voluminous history book to never end. The book gives an account of almost all watershed events and the amount of research that has been put into the writing of this book is commendable. This book is a must read for anyone who wishes to know about India’s modern and contemporary history.

 

10. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth 

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This novel, at it’s core is a love story: Lata and her mother, Mrs. Rupa Mehra, are both trying to find a suitable boy for Lata to marry. Set in the early 1950s, in an India newly independent and struggling through a time of crisis, the novel takes us into the richly imagined world of four large extended families and spins a readable tale of their lives and loves. A Suitable Boy remains the story of ordinary people caught up in a web of love and ambition, humour and sadness, prejudice and reconciliation, the most delicate social etiquette and the most appalling violence.

 

11. The Epic City: The World On The Streets Of Calcutta – Kushanava Choudhury

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“Sifting through the chaos for the stories that never make the papers”, Choudhury investigates the city where he was born, which he left as a young boy and returned to as an adult in 2001 – when many of his relatives were asking, “Why?” He came back to a city down on its luck in comparison with Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore but one still home to 15 million people, among them the “shouting hawkers and fish-sellers squatted on bazaar floors” that he recalled from his childhood.

 

If explored properly, you can find the beauty of the whole world within India!
READ. TRAVEL. BECOME.

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Dorm or Suite style: What kind of a traveller are you?

While you plan your next stay at a hostel, which type of room one should choose?

Make an informed choice and travel trouble-free!

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What is a hostel dorm?

Beds are sold individually in case of a dorm, which means if you’re travelling with two friends and choose a four-bed dorm, you will likely have two more people in your room that you have not met before, which is actually kind of fun!

Hostel dorms vary in sizes, some offer four beds, others offers 10 beds, you will come across hostels which offer them both.

Why chose a dorm room?

When travelling solo, dorm rooms are the best form of accommodation for travellers around the world! Solo or not, the experience of staying in a dorm is unique and must be experienced.

The price of a bed in a dorm room is less than the price of a private room, which is a great thing for travellers and their budgets! Even if you don’t have a budget to maintain, save that money for your next travel!

Travelling solo or not staying in a dorm room gives you more opportunity to meet other travellers than you would have in a private room.

Things to keep in mind when choosing a dorm room:

Since you are sharing a room with others, privacy is limited.

Different people, different plans! Some people might wake up late, some people might stay up late. Open yourself up to these little changes!

All dorms have lockers where you can keep all your luggage and valuables so, there isn’t any trouble regarding the security of your belongings.

37What is a private room?

The traditional idea of a hostel has had a recent change, many hostels offer luxurious private rooms for travellers who don’t want to share a room with others. Since the space increases as you move to a private room, you enjoy the uniqueness and luxury of it. Some hostels have incredible spaces for their private rooms!

Why chose a private room?

Every traveller has a different needs and if you’re someone who loves the environment of a hostel but can’t share a room with others, a private room is just a right thing for you.

When you’re paying on the basis of a room and not a bed, prices vary. Private room cost more than a bed in a dorm room, a lot of hostels provide great deals and packages, make sure to ask them!

When you choose a private room you get the best of the both worlds, privacy and great atmosphere around you.

Things to keep in mind when choosing a  private room:

Sometimes, bathrooms aren’t a part of your package, to avoid trouble, check with the hostel beforehand.

If you’re looking for a break and need some rest before your next big adventure, private room is the best option for you to crash in.

Travel to have fun and to explore! Pick an accommodation based on what kind of environment you enjoy being in.

 

“Plan your next venture out with The Hosteller. The whole world awaits you, so keep traveling!”

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Backpacker Hostels: New found love of the young & wild

The social stigma of associating hostels for being crowded, dirty and unsafe must end! As this is rarely ever the case. Unlike hotels, you can stay at hostels and still travel in budget. 

Don’t believe us? Time to think again!

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Budget friendly

 

Hostels are way cheaper than hotels, often even more than 50%, which can help a lot of budget travellers save money without compromising on the quality of service. Even if you are not a budget traveller, save your hotel money and plan another trip for yourself.

(Book a bed with us, @ only $5)

 

 

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Modern and comfortable

 

The idea of hostels being crowded and unsafe is just not true! Most of the established hostels (especially the one’s located in cities) have every facility that a hotel has and don’t make any compromises in the services they provide.

 

 

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Private accommodation

 

If you don’t want to share a room with anyone that’s all right! Hostels have budget friendly, stylish privates and subtle offerings of amazing hospitality. Some hostels have private room as an option, allowing guests to experience the luxury of privacy and the fun within a hostel!

(Have you booked us yet? Our privates starting from $22)

 

 

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Incredible experiences

 

Unlike hotels, you get to see more than just your room when you’re staying in a hostel! Conversations  in the common area, borrowing a good book and cooking with a fellow traveller are only few of those many things you could do at a hostel!

 

 

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Creative spaces

 

Unlike hotels, hostels don’t follow an identity, they create one! Hostels are far from structured spaces, they are quirky and often have aesthetics which pleases the eye and might help you with those perfect photographs for your travelogue!

 

 

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Say ‘no’ to boredom

You’ll always find something going on inside a hostel, there’s never a dull moment that exists!

Movie night or book readings, you can always engage your self in some sort of activity and when everything fails you can always find someone to talk to, remember, everyone has a story to share!

 

 

 

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The world is one family!

 

While you sip on your morning tea, you will meet your new friend who is from Spain who will then introduce you to his friend who is from France! The world is one big family and each day you will see glimpses of cultures existing around the world! These people will even give you some great recommendations for traveling in their countries!

 

 

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Plan a better trip

 

Very often the hostel arranges for local tours and activities which you might have missed out while planning your trip and the fact that you can get authentic reviews of places, activities and cuisine from the fellow travellers around you is a bonus!

 

 

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Free WiFi

 

Unlike most of the hotels, you don’t really have to pay an astonishing amount of money to be able to use the wifi at hostels, most of the times it’s part of the deal and you might even find a computer there and make a call via Skype!

 

“Plan your next venture out with The Hosteller. The whole world awaits you, so keep traveling!”

Book: Stay | Food | Transfers | Local Activities | Trekking | Camping | Adventure | Jungle Walks | Us

Visit us in our super cool hostels in Delhi & Kasol and sleep under a million stars. New locations are coming up soon. Stay tuned.

​Hampta Pass – A Stunning Crossover Trek.

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Do you really want to find yourself as an individual? Do you really want to prioritize what really matters? Do you really want that kick to help you discover the meaning of all the un-clarified thoughts?

Honestly, being a frequent traveler, Himalayas is the Way. Trekking into the adventurous terrains in the higher and lower parts of The Himalayas is always a life-changing experience helping oneself to learn and understand the mysterious magic of the mighty mountains at the right age and at a high altitude.

“And into the mountains, I go to lose my mind and find my soul”

So, this story is about one of our (My friend & I) recent Himalayan expedition. Hampta Pass, a 4N/5D stunning crossover trek, starts from the lush green valley of Kullu and passes through the fresh white snow of Hampta Pass to the barren deserts of Spiti Valley. Located at an altitude of 14009 feet in the Pir Panjal range in the Himalayas, it serves as a small corridor between Lahaul and Kullu Valley. With varied landscapes to hidden waterfalls, from tiny lakes to frozen ones, hanging glaciers to vertical rock walls, Hampta pass trek catches every eyeball.

And yes, it caught our eyes in tempting our minds to take on this eventful journey. So, here we would love to share how one should plan and execute Hampta Pass Trek.

Start Point – Delhi

Starting from Aamchi Mumbai and coming to Dilli, as it is called, was a cultural shock for freshers like us. And whatever is known about our capital, it surprised us in many ways, especially Delhi metro. Delhi to Manali is the perfect road trip to witness heavy traffic, mesmerizing view of the lower mountains alongside river streams.

Day 1: Manali

Old Manali was our den to settle down and acclimatize in the mountains. And yes, we were absolutely right as Old Manali has a delightful charm with great hospitality, (Stay at De Chalet booked through www.thehosteller.com). Based on the amazing recommendation by the hostel staff, we satisfied our taste buds at some of the amazing cafes in Old Manali serving tasty continental food & flavorful sheeshas. We rested early that night with an overfilled head for the trek.

Day 2: Manali – Jobra – Chika

Starting the day early post a delicious breakfast, we were transferred in Sumo cabs towards base camp, Jobra, in 1.5 hours. Beautiful weather, roller coaster ride, and great company was all we needed to start the day. A short trek introduction by the trek leader was followed by lunch. Post-lunch we were all set to start and it was the time for our legs do the job. It was an easy trek on the first day to start with. We started at around 2.45 PM. The trek was around 3 hours with captivating views. Everyone did pretty well though the majority were first-timers. We reached our first camp at Chika, around 5.30 PM, offloaded our backpacks, did some stretching and enjoyed the stunning campsite. After, we had our dinner and called off for the day to wake up at 5 AM.

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Beauty Of Chika Campsite!

Day 3: Balu ka Gera

So waking up at 5 AM was a routine for the next 4 days. The second day was supposed to be a bit long with crossing the freezing cold river. We started post-breakfast with clear technical instructions to stay together, slow walkers in the front and fast walkers behind to keep a good pace and momentum of the group. Steep ascent & rocky terrain made the trek a bit difficult, however, as a group, we were determined that everyone will do the job no matter what reaching the river crossing spot. The river was so crystal clear, freezing and fast that it could take you along its flow. And yes, one should never miss drinking this pristine mineral water. Soon after the river crossing, we proceeded further to the campsite. Moreover, the view was so scenic and quaint that I wasn’t tired in spite of it being a long day. We reached the campsite at around 2 PM and started with our acclimatization activities followed by some fun games.

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One should never miss drinking this pristine Mineral Water.

Day 4: Hampta Pass – Shea Goru

The Great Hampta Pass – This is what we came here for. It was supposed to be the longest day with around 8-9 hours of trekking. We had to walk on the snow, with high altitude already taking a toll on us, as well. We started the day at sharp 7 AM. It was getting difficult for few people due to high altitude. But as you know, trek leaders never let you quit. Everyone kept encouraging each other. Having lunch at 12500 feet with mesmerizing landscapes all around was like a date with nature. And after a lot of efforts, we made it to the pass. Standing at 14000 feet above sea level, there were breathtaking views of the snow-clad mountains all around with Mighty Mount Indrasan and entire Pir Panjal range, right in front of us.

We spent some time at the pass to relax but more so to enjoy what we were witnessing at that altitude. After some time, we started descending to Shea-Goru campsite sliding on the snow.

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The Hampta Pass! The peak behind is Mt. Indrasan!

Day 5: Chattru

 

We started at 8 AM by crossing the most chilly river of the trek. Since we started in the morning, one could imagine what the frozen river would have offered us. Ah, but, it was absolutely rejuvenating. After a moderate to easy trek, we reached Chattru, where we found signs of civilization and set our minds to rest. The trek has finally come to an end.

Our next plan was to go to Chandratal Lake. Unfortunately, the roads were blocked due to heavy snowfall in the region. But, that left us happy and sad at the same time. Sad because we couldn’t see the lake this time and happy as we got an opportunity to come back again.

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Spiti Valley! On the Way to Chattru.

Day 6 – Manali

The day finally came when it all had to end. We were transferred to Manali in the same Sumo cab and passed Rohtang La on the way back. We bid adieu to all the amazing friends & trekkers we met, the locals who helped us get through the trek, and our trekking organizers. Finally, we reached Manali and then to Delhi and to Mumbai.

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There is no other place than Himalayas that I’d rather love to be. I had already started missing it when I was there and I do it way more right now. Truly, some secrets aren’t told, they are witnessed.

Travel Before You Run Out Of Time! 🙂

“Plan your next venture out with The Hosteller. The whole world awaits you, so keep traveling!”

Book: Stay | Food | Transfers | Local Activities | Trekking | Camping | Adventure | Jungle Walks | Us

Visit us in our super cool hostels in Delhi & Kasol and sleep under a million stars. New locations are coming up soon. Stay tuned.

 Blog submitted by Utsav Sarvaiya

Music & Travel: Discover all at the “Rock capital of India”

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The seven-sisters offer immense support to talented artists in the form of massive local enthusiasm and gorgeous landscapes; it’s no wonder these states are oozing with creative talent. If you love the travel and music combo then you should not miss out on North eastern India.

So, here I begin my bumpy story as I witnessed it.

I had successfully managed to not go to NH7 Weekender so I could save up for this musician I had freshly discovered- Eric Martin, who was going to perform in India in November. Eric Martin happens to be the vocalist of a well-known band called Mr. Big and has this unique raspy voice that had me hooked for good. After a huge confusion between Guwahati and Shillong, given that the musician was performing in both the cities on consecutive days, I decided that I’d go watch him in the former and then go around exploring Shillong.

We were supposed to reach Guwahati by 11 am on the day that the concert was supposed to be. However, the train kept getting delayed after having started off late and reached Guwahati at around 9 pm. The concert was most certainly over by then. I was disheartened, certainly, but I looked forward to making it work the next day in Shillong.

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We left for Shillong next morning, hunted for an inexpensive hotel and decided to split, for it was just one of my friends and me who wanted to watch Eric Martin eventually. I was on a really tight budget and didn’t want to spend on front-row tickets, yet, I wanted to be able to watch him up-close and possibly meet him. So I decided to try my luck and gave one of the organizers a call, explained my situation and convinced him to let me click pictures for them in return for free entry. To be on the safe side, the two of us reached the venue hours in advance and waited patiently for the organizers to turn up. I had no idea how the guy I had talked to looked like, his number stayed busy and I had no option but to wait outside the gate. Finally, one of the other organizers took notice that I had been hanging around for exceptionally long, asked me what was up with me and on hearing out my story, handed me an All Area Access volunteer card, almost frustrated.

I was beyond thrilled; all my patience had finally paid back and I was all set to have the night of my life. Flash forward to the performance, I remember standing right off the stage, the crowd held back by the cops behind me and sang along while Eric Martin performed some of my favorite songs. My hands shivered in the overwhelming winter of Meghalaya, but I kept clicking. And meanwhile, made friends with a cop on duty, who was also a huge fan. After the concert, he helped me get access to the backstage and meet Eric. I was overjoyed to have my CD of Mr. Big autographed by the singer himself. The adventures that night came to a halt after my friend and I were offered a ride back to our hotel by the cops in their Gypsy, for it was way too late to find public transport.

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Another incidence on the same trip happened on our last day in Shillong. We set off for Dawki, which is popular for its crystal clear river and the neighboring village called Tamabil, situated on India-Bangladesh border. We got off at Dawki, asked around a little and managed to take the contact number of a taxi driver before starting to walk towards the border. It was heart-warming to see the locals crossing the border freely and trucks from Bangladesh entering India without a check. Visitors, however, could not go beyond a certain mark some 150 meters off the border.

When it was time to give the taxi driver a call, the three of us realized that none of our phones had a signal. After a little hesitation, I walked up to one of the policemen at the check-post and asked for help. He gladly complied and gave his cell phone to me. Once the taxi arrived, we found ourselves negotiating with him for a gamble. He claimed there was a place roughly seven kilometers uphill which was far better than Dawki, which he could take us to. Again, there was a split in opinions; one of the guys didn’t want to go but the other one and I had a huge gut feeling that it is worth a visit. We somehow convinced our friend and less than thirty minutes later, we found ourselves gaping wide at a view that cannot be explained in words.

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A suspension bridge that started off our feet connected this side of the cliff to the one across. Under it, flowed the clearest waters I had ever seen, of river Umngnot. The tiny boats appeared to be floating on air while the bed of rocks under the water could be seen with utmost clarity. The fact that there was hardly any crowd as compared to the overly crowded Dawki served as icing on the cake. Our originally reluctant friend was now thankful that we brought him there.

Time flew quicker than we could realize and soon it was almost 5, the sun was about to set and our driver claimed we would not be able to find any transport back to Shillong except the over-priced private taxis and suggested we camped there. We could not have afforded to pay for a tent and let the hotel back in Shillong charge us for the night at the same time. I listened to my intuition again, took a chance and we came back to the taxi stand. I had to talk to a big number of drivers before I found one who settled for a modest price. On our journey back, with Khasi rock songs playing in the car and a starry sky above, we finally asked him the hard to pronounce the name of the place we had visited. After a few failed attempts, our driver finally spelled it out for us and we learned how to say- ‘Shnongpdeng’.

Plan your next venture out with The Hosteller. The whole world awaits you, so keep traveling!

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Visit us in our super cool hostels in Delhi & Kasol and sleep under a million stars. New locations are coming up soon. Stay tuned.

 Blog submitted by: Disha Malviya

Gokarna travel diary – “How it changed her life”

“Travelling has always been my way of making sense of life.” The fact that I will be someplace far away from the rat race, sitting in corner, listening to the sound of the water crashing on the nearby rocks or the waves hitting the beach, or the wind brushing through my hair and smell the soil, knowing that my cell phone is out of the coverage area and my office cannot contact me even if all hell breaks loose, is something that allows me the life through the constant pressure of work. There is a sadistic pleasure in knowing that your team might try to contact you but the closest they’ll get to you is a pre-recorded message in Kannada provided by the service provider. Anyway, right after moving to Bangalore we formed this enthusiastic group of people who decided to travel every two months-no five star accommodation (not that we could afford it with our salary, still saying that out aloud made us feel like we had the option and we rejected it), local food, affordable modes of transportation. Our first trip together was in April 2016, Gokarna. We stayed at this beautiful wooden shack facing the beach, lived on seafood and beer, swam in the water till the sun went down. Post this trip, we managed to organize two more trips post which the enthusiasm was swallowed by the walls of our office and the yelling of our bosses.

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(The above images might look like heaven but it’s just Gokarna. PC- My buddy with a DSLR)

 

As time passed by, responsibilities came up but my thirst for travel only intensified. The unavailability of a group made my frustrations even worse and I decided to venture out with a group I found on Meetup. My first trip with these guys was Hampi and second plan was Gokarna beach trek.

Now, this is where my actual story starts (apologies for the long introduction, but some I had to build this thing up). I had just quit my job (Yaay) and I had a month’s break before I joined another. I had a few responsibilities to take care of at home so I had around a week to chill and I decided to make the best out of it-I asked the guy I was crushing on for a date, planned to hit the gym twice a day (“planned” being the operative word here) and I decided to join a meetup group to Gokarna one day before the scheduled departure.

I packed my bags and booked a cab, Achilles last stand playing on my phone, out to combat Bangalore traffic. The team has had a total of 30 people and except for the guide, I knew no one.

We started off around 9 pm, made a few stops for tea and water. Post 12 the bus was speeding on the highway like a train.

Now to be honest I felt a little cramped up, I was sitting next to a stranger (which I honestly don’t mind, but that the guy talked so less!) and the only conversation we had was a “Hi”, and the weather was quite humid, so I wasn’t really able to sleep. I kept dozing off and waking, and all of a sudden, I work up to the sound of a crash, the post which, it seemed as if the bus was flying and there was another mighty crash and the windshield exploded. My entire body jerked and my chin hit my backpack with my mouth smashing on the seat in front of me.

There was a confusion inside. Everyone was up. I could hear moaning from somewhere, someone was crying. The bus had crashed against something, I was alive, but I wasn’t sure if everyone in the bus was. I could hear my guide, Tarun, trying to sound like he was in control but the confusion in his voice was evident. He yelled out to the drivers asking them if they were alright. One of the women in our group had been flung on to the glass, she was bleeding and unconscious. Someone opened the emergency door and I jumped out on the street.

We were in the middle of nowhere. It was 3 am, and we were in the middle of nowhere, scared, confused, injured, cold.

I was walking on the glass with one footwear because I had lost the other one inside the bus. Someone grabbed the injured girl out and called the ambulance. Someone had a bleeding nose, someone had injured her recently fractured shoulder, someone had a huge bump on his lip. I had one huge gash on my knee, the guides Tarun and Jatin were running about, both of them injured. Tarun had a huge cut on his ankle which he was constantly not attending because he wanted to make sure everyone was safe, all the luggage was out of the bus, some arrangement was being made.

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I was sitting on the second window seat on the left side. Post 30 minutes the first ambulance arrived and picked up the most injured people. The second one arrived after another hour and took us back to the hospital where we got our wounds dressed and a mandatory tetanus injection.

Now the big discussion – should we proceed? We were very very close to Gokarna (read 6-7 hours away) and all the necessary arrangements can be made, but if anyone decides to turn back, the entire team would turn back. Unexpectedly most of the team (including the girl who had smashed her head on the glass and had two stitches on her forehead) had agreed to move forward, but there were few people who were reluctant, so the others put their efforts into convincing them to agree. Everyone who agreed to proceed had the same thing in their mind, “If we turn back now, this can haunt us for the rest of our lives and we will remember of this incident every time we plan a trip”.

5 am, plan fixed. We move forward. We rush outside the hospital, catch 5 auto rickshaws (there were only 5 people anyway) and move to the bus stop. I sat beside the autorickshaw driver, in the front, another item crossed off my bucket list!!! We reached the bus stop at 5:45, and took our seats. The people around were staring at us because almost everyone had a bandage somewhere. I personally felt like a badass (as the guy I had been crushing on had once called me).

Post 5 hours of dozing off, being pushed by daily commuters and munching on the energy bars I had in my bag, we finally reached Shimoga. We sat in this small eatery with a huge crowd and brilliant idli vada, filter coffee (if you have visited the South Indian states and you have not tried filter coffee, you are definitely missing out a lot in your life!) while our guides went out to arrange transportation. Post 3 hours including a small halt for lunch, we reached Kumta, 30 kilometers from Kudle Beach in Gokarna, where our stay was arranged. Our stay was in a secluded area, three four houses per hundred meters, the beach visible from our stay, some 500 meters from the locality. Our initial plan was to start at Nirvana beach, take a ferry to God’s own beach, and trek (yes, trek!) to Kudle beach via Hell’s Beach, Half moon beach, Om beach. We planned to stop at Dolphin’s point watch the Dolphins.

Now, none of that seemed possible because we were already too late and tired. Around 3 pm we headed took the bus to Om beach post which we’d plan what to do next (planning the unplanned).

As we came closer to Om Beach, I could remember the trip I had made to Gokarna just a year back. Everything was just the same, the roads, the sights, the moist air near the sea, the cashew shrubs at the side of the roads. I really can’t type what I felt in that moment, it felt like home, it felt like the sea had been calling out to me, to wash off all the struggle I had been through in the past year. It might sound very vague but there was something much more than the pleasure of visiting a beautiful place, there was something about the air that made me anxious. I couldn’t wait to get to the sea.

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On reaching the Om Beach, this was the view that greeted me.

 

The only words that kept repeating in my head were, “I missed you so much”

I rushed down the stairs carved out of stone and climbed on one of the rocks. The weather was warm, the breeze was cool, there were fishing boats in the water. I really needed to live in this moment, away from all the noise

After the others arrived, I dumped my backpack and jumped into the sea. I stood in the water, staring out at the waves. The sand shifted under my foot and I could feel the cut in my knee burn slightly, but that was alright. I stood facing the waves and turned around when there were about to hit me and let it drag me up for a while (created the illusion that I was floating). I stayed in the water till I could see the sun set and I walked out of the water. On hitting the beach I realized that my injured team had decided to try out water-sports so I decided to guard the bags, and I got surrounded by a bunch of locals who were selling handmade accessories (and I am a sucker for these). I turned around and saw Namaste Cafe with the small tattoo shop beside it, the same shop where I got the really bad temporary tattoo last year.

After the sun set, we decided to have a small trek to Kudle beach. Now Kudle beach has brilliant food (so does Om beach, note – Banofee pie at Om beach and Kingfish at Kudle beach, must have food). It was a short trek, beginner level, but not carrying flashlights and wearing floaters made it a little tough. We had an hour to roam the beach and have dinner. I chose a small shack with a seat facing the sea. One of the best things about the shacks in Gokarna is the music. Blues, jazz, vintage rock, you can never be disappointed! After a delicious meal of king fish, prawns, squid (basically every variety of seafood available in the shack) we trekked to the spot where the bus was headed and we returned to our stay to…..

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The shades of sunset.

 

…. No, we weren’t done for the day. As it happens the food and the sea breeze had recharged our batteries. After everything we’ve been through in the past 24 hours, we felt invincible. So 15 of us including the guides decided to change and head back to the small secluded beach beside which our stay was located. This beautiful beach was called Kadle beach and she had a breathtaking, mysterious, haunting beauty at night. We walked through a path full of thorny shrubs to get to here, 10 minutes of walk from the stay.

This beach was different – the 15 of us were the only humans at the beach, no lights, no shacks/stalls. Even the noisiest people in the team turned quiet, there was something about this place. The sound of the water and the wind was crystal clear, there was no source of light apart from the beam from a distant lighthouse. On the right-hand side, one can notice dark outlines of what appeared to be a hill, on which stood the lighthouse, on the left-hand side was another hill was the outline of another hill, possible 3-4 kilometers from where we stood. We lit a fire, roasted some green channa along with the plants. Around 1 am, 8 members decided to leave, while the rest of us decided to stay back.

We went closer to the sea and sat down in peace after which three people decided to trek to the hills on the left-hand side. The rest of us decided to enjoy the calm of the water and roast our feet in the fire. The temperature had dropped and I had my humongous headphones and a dry towel to keep me warm. After awhile we realized we were out of fuel so we found a dried coconut shell and some dried thorny shrubs which we dumped on the fire.

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Craving for a roasted coconut?

 

As for the team who had left for their unknown quest, we could easily track them. Their flashlight was the only light we could see on the left so we had been following their progress all along. They returned around 5 am and mentioned that the route to the top of the hill was blocked off.

We returned to the stay at 6 am, just to pack our bags and leave for the day. We had plans to visit Gokarna town, visit the old temples, hit the local markets (as I mentioned before, I am a sucker for local markets and local food) and then leave for Bangalore at 1 am.

I had somehow remembered the lanes and I headed off towards the market on my own, picked up a couple of things here and there and around 1:30 pm we started our journey back. No bus crash or adventure on the way home.

Just one last thing I want to mention before I end this article – during our first trip we met a Swedish man in one of the shacks. He listened to the blues and drank a cold beer while telling us the story of how he came to India alone post retirement. Now he lives in a shack by the beach, works as a gardener spends the rest of his day staring at the sea and sipping cold beer under the coconut trees. Retirement goals!

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Plan your next venture out with The Hosteller. The whole world awaits you.

Book: Stay | Food | Transfers | Local Activities | Trekking | Camping | Adventure | Jungle Walks | Us

Visit us in our super cool hostels in Delhi & Kasol and sleep under a million stars. New locations are coming up soon. Stay tuned.

 Blog submitted by: Mohana Roy Choudhury.

12 packing hacks that will help you travel smoothly: Save space, save time

Have you been caught by the travel bug, yet? Or, your work is always keeping you busy? Finding time is no easy task, however, do people utilise it well once they actually find the time?

This generation is all about venturing out, exploring, discovering and seeking things beyond the mundanity of our everyday lives. They are always looking to feed the wanderlust, whether it’s by rushing along city lights, climbing mountains or just laying by the great blue seas.

If you are anything like me, packing for a trip drives me completely crazy. I don’t know what to take and what to leave behind, and even when I do I end up missing out on something or the other. Does that sound like you, too? Worry not, after a lot of pack hacks, I have put together some tips on “How to Pack like a Basic”: try these simple “jugaads” for your next trip and tell us if they worked or not:

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How to Pack like a Basic –

  • Make a list – we cannot emphasise this enough. Well begun is half done, after all. Skyscanner makes even this easy for us – they have put together a basic list of all things essential for your next journey.
  • Save space – roll or cube your clothes instead of folding them up separately. You will end up saving a tonne of space (more space to keep all the things you splurge on during your vacation). This method will even save your clothes from being wrinkled.
  • Do not pack your entire wardrobe – As tempted as you may be, you do not need to pack everything. Use your discretion here, but know that even ten pieces of clothing can make for a good fourteen outfits if properly planned (two weeks of clothing).
  • It’s all about the little things – Another great way to save precious space is to roll up your socks and put them inside one another, and then put those inside the shoes you’re going to pack.
  • Use Ziplock for tubes and other things that might leak (or tangled – you can also use this tip for things like phone chargers and headphones), not only will they prevent your things from getting messy, but it’s also a great way to organise things.
  • Invest in a Kindle (or some other eBook reader) – cannot travel without your own personal library with you the entire time? We understand the feels completely. There’s nothing better than curling up with a good book sometimes. But books do take up a lot – a lot of space. Invest in a Kindle or an eBook reader and you’ll get the best of both worlds. It’s totally worth it.
  • Keep your things safe – Travelling can be risky, depending on the kind of adventure you’re looking to embark upon. Be as inconspicuous as you can, keep your valuables in subtle and hidden spaces. Also, don’t forget to keep a stash of emergency cash in some place only you know.
  • Choose your travel bag wisely – if you’re going on a trek or other kinds of heavy-activity vacation, it does not make sense to be dragging huge pieces of luggage around. Keep it simple, use a sturdy backpack. Even if your vacation plans are more relaxed, it makes sense to go with lightweight suitcases. Lightweight design is key.
  • Be creative with your bags – spruce up your bags with stickers, ribbons or other things that scream ‘you’. This looks super cool and helps you identify your bags easily – you’ll save time and reduce the risk of losing your stuff.
  • Hand luggage – We tend to stuff everything into our hand baggage, but let’s be honest, there’s almost never a situation when we’ll need half the things we stuff in there. Keep your hand luggage to the bare essentials – the things you will need only during your travel time.
  • Good things come in small packages – Carrying your heavy cosmetics, shampoos and other toiletries can be so cumbersome. Use (and reuse) smaller sized tubes, bottles, packaging for these things. Doing this will also make you think about how much or how little you actually need and helps you to not overpack.
  • Carry converters/adaptors – Depending on where you’re travelling, you might require different kinds of plugs to support your electricity needs. Invest in a global travel adaptor so that you’re sorted wherever you go!

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So, what are you waiting for? Use these tips and plan your next venture out with The Hosteller. The whole world awaits you.

Book: Stay | Food | Transfers | Local Activities | Trekking | Camping | Adventure | Jungle Walks | Us

Visit us in our super cool hostels in Delhi & Kasol and sleep under a million stars. New locations are coming up soon. Stay tuned.

Unearth the hidden treasures: Visit these 5 museums in New Delhi to know more about its history

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Delhi, a city inhabited since the 6th century BC, is a place of many things. With a history so vast, one can find everything they seek in Delhi. And, especially, those who have lived in this city has seen it all, from changing dynasties to great sultanates, powers changing hands from one emperor to another and in the end the modern era. It is truly a city that has left greatest poets stunned beyond words.

So, what’s been left behind, is well preserved in the great museums built over the last few centuries. Within the jagged contours and amidst the chaos upon which this city is built is all the stuff that dreams are made of. Once you fall into the breaths and beats that piece together to form the city, a part of you will stay with Delhi, and a lot of Delhi will fail to leave you.

If you’re going to be in Delhi for a weekend and want to catch a shot of this culture overload all at once, we have the names of our top 5 museums that we think should be on the top of your checklists:

National Museum: Established in 1949, the National Museum harbours relics from the times of the Indus Valley civilisation. A lot of the things about which you read about in your history textbooks back in school are brought to life within the spaces of this museum. What’s more is that it’s situated in the heart of the city, and surrounded by the sprawling market of Janpath where every corner is filled with shopping treasures that you certainly don’t want to miss.

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Railway Museum: If you are a 90s child brought up in Delhi, chances are that the Railway Museum has featured in some of your favourite childhood memories. The Railway Museum takes you through the spectacular journey of the Indian Railway System (largest in the world), and the best part is the mock train that you get to ride on when you visit!

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Crafts Museum: The crafts museum at Bhairon Road is the perfect place for anyone who wants to realise the sheer simplicity, beauty and truth in art. A thatched roof encloses cool mud walls, terracotta baubles, intricate woodwork and many other lovely handicrafts just waiting to be explored.

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Gandhi Smriti: If you’re interested in the history of India’s freedom struggle, Gandhi Smriti is a place you need to go to. Set up in Birla House, where Mahatma Gandhi was shot, the Gandhi Smriti celebrates his life, struggles and contribution towards the independence of India by piecing together memoirs and bits from Gandhi’s life. Amongst the things you might find there, are rooms preserved just the way he left them, his Chappals and his spinning Charkha.

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Shankar International Doll Museum: This is one of our personal favourites. The Doll Museum at Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg is a fascinating place which transports you back to your childhood. Inspired when he received a Hungarian doll from the ambassador of Hungary, political cartoonist Shankar Pillai built this museum to showcase different dolls from all across the world. A wholly unique experience that should not be missed!

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Culturally, Delhi is infinite; the moonlit streets of Chandni Chowk (where today you will find the latest of everything ever) find their beginning long before anything we have known, and yet these very streets meander and find their way into the glitzy Tech parks of that glaze the outskirts of the National Capital Region – Delhi really is everything. The city is scarred with the worst and most glorious of wars, and yet shines through with the ever widening light of hope every single day.

Now, you know, what we are talking. We at The Hosteller are looking forward to seeing you on your next big Delhi adventure. Be assured to get the best of Delhi through our uniquely designed city walks & tours. Chao.

Book: Stay | Food | Transfers | Local Activities | Trekking | Camping | Adventure | Jungle Walks | Us

Visit us in our super cool hostels in Delhi & Kasol and sleep under a million stars.

The best investment you can do today is: Buy a tent & start travelling

I believe that there are two kinds of people in this world – one those who love camping and the second is those who haven’t yet experienced it. To phrase it simply, there’s no other category where one can classify the camping crowd. So, through this blog, I try to pen down my thoughts on why a person should definitely camp in the woods and let the soul go wild for some time.

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Though there are countless reasons to support why one should camp, however, I would ponder upon the three most basic and pivotal of them amongst a hundred – Time, You & Nature.

Time, it surely doesn’t wait for anyone. True, isn’t it. But if one just totally doesn’t give a “shoot” to time, oh, the time would be left so lonely. Exactly, camping can help you do so. From childhood, humans are trained to be time bound with our lives ruled by a dimension found by us and dictated thereafter. Wrong as it is, we are merely the slave of it until one realises that it is nothing but a perspective. On a normal camp day, mornings necessary doesn’t mean an alarm clock; one wakes up with the first rays of the sun, with every beautiful warm breeze and chirping of the birds, as if they really want to say some to you. Eating feels all right because of the hunger not because it is time for breakfast or lunch or dinner. Hence, if you are a regular camper, you give up the notion of worrying about time and its concept, as created by man. You just do things because you feel like doing it. As it is wisely said, “A man who camps do not age, as he doesn’t care about the time.” So go out now, and camp. Figure a way out to do things that matter most and let the time wait on the periphery of your tent.

You. You are the most important being in this world and how camping can help you love you. Yeah, you read it correctly. Let me walk you through this. When one camp in a vast meadow in front of a mountain or an ocean, often do one just rolls their eyes in awe, amazed at the landscapes around, as if the whole Milky Way has given us a dancing roof full of stars. The magnitude and intensity of these elements are beyond our basic calculations, and then in a slight moment, you feel so insignificant, so small and negligible, in front of the mighty world. And, there, right at that moment, one understands their true worth. For all that is out of our control, one can sometimes let go, the things one cannot have control over, the things one cannot change. Trust me, it shall result in making you feel free and unburdened. So go out now, and camp.

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Thirdly, learn from Mother Nature. How many times have we heard this, “All great inventions happened because of someone, somewhere, sat and observed things as they were happening”? Camping, not only helps in distressing one from all the life issues but also helps one invent, optimise and discover new skills & techniques. From boosting our natural happiness to kindling peace to inspiring us to have a better living, spending time close to nature is the solution to all the problems. Just talk a walk outside your tent or hike up to the nearest hill top, nature shall heal you. So go out now, and camp.

We at The Hosteller are looking forward to seeing you on your next big camping adventure. So, let us know your favourite reason to camp, and we will get back to you with a perfect place for you to pitch a tent.

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Signing off

Super Trekker – Deepjyoti Biswas