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

Forget pricey hotels, say hello to backpacker hostels

Almost everyone has seen the Kangana Ranaut starrer movie, “Queen” (if you haven’t, let us know the address of the rock you’re living under!) In the movie, a heart-broken Kangana traverses Europe and finds love in adventure, stories, wanderlust and most importantly – herself! While she is in Amsterdam, Kangana finds happiness in the unlikeliest of places – the hostel she’s living in. Yes, you read right – hostel!

And no, not the one you went to at boarding school, but one strung with fairy-lights and made of walls plastered with memories and people with a million stories to tell. Weird? 

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Not so much! When you hear the word hostel, the first thing which comes to our mind is discipline, smelly loose, terrible mess food and maybe the Amitabh Bachchan ruled Gurukul from Mohabattein (SRK fans, amirite?). But we couldn’t be more off. Across the world, hostels are synonymous to unique hip n hop budget accommodation for backpackers and wanderlust-full souls much like yourself.

The word ‘Hostel’ in English comes from a Greek word, which means a ‘place of peace’ or rest, basically translating to the perfect place of solitude for the soul that’s tired from the hustles and bustles of everyday city life. The world’s first hostel was established in the year 1912 in Germany. Since then, travellers across the world have sought short term and long term affordable accommodation in such hostels to find everything from friends, peace, solitude and maybe even themselves.

So, what differentiates a hostel from a hotel? Quite a few things, actually. And one should really change the way they look at travel plans now? It is much more than seeing a monument or having the local food. It is about staying in the “coolest hostel of the place”, too.

  1. Hostels are budget oriented and are priced at amazingly low rates. So, their primary purpose is to provide accommodation and to create a space where you can meet and connect with so many different kinds of people from all walks of life.
  2. Hostels are informal and friendly. There are very little or almost no formalities and courtesies by the people who run the hostels, making for a great environment for the wandering soul. 
  3. Hostels provide shared accommodations in dormitories. While you may have little private space, you get to share so much with the people around you! Who knows the kind of stories you might chance upon – not something you’ll get holed up in your hotel room, is it? After all, everyone and everything is just an adventure waiting to happen. Embrace the detours!
  4. Hostels provide for common areas with fun things to do which give every kind of soul the space to find their kind of people. Even the shy-hearts get plenty of time to break out of their shells. From picnics, treks to amazing bonfire sessions, we kid you not – this is where you want to be.
  5. Super chill experiences: If you’re the introverted type like so many of us and get jittery at the thought of so much social interaction, fear not. Hostels usually are equipped with so many solo adventures that you can embark upon yourself. Some hostels even have private spaces, so you get the best of all worlds. 
  6. Hostels are self-catering which means you can eat whatever you want, and not pay through your nose for hotel-like prices. You get to try out the local cuisines and taste the culture first-hand. Could there be a better way of exploring a place? (Friends fans, yes, we hope you read that in Chandler Bing’s voice!)
  7. Every kind of person lives at hostels: from the young, excited students, to the spiritual nomads, to the weary, old souls looking for some time off. Literally, everybody can find their place in a hostel.
  8. Safety: There will always be people around, so the probability of being unsafe is minimal. There’s always someone to have your back. All you solo women traveller, do not miss this.
  9. Secrets: There are so many secrets waiting to be spilt through the walls of hostels, secrets that you may never know from under the ceilings of your hotel rooms. And who isn’t up for some great secrets?

Now, you know, what we are talking. We at The Hosteller are looking forward to seeing you on your next big Indian adventure. Be assured to get the best of our services and the time of your lives when you visit us. 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.

India : Where chaos seems beautiful

Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi

India Gate, New Delhi

Welcome to the Jungle.

Fifth attempt to try & write something hoping it would work this time. I will not talk about AIESEC or my application process, neither will I talk about what I learned nor I will leave a moral of a fable. I will just tell you what I saw, felt, heard, touched and smelled during the time I was in India, perhaps it will be easier for you to understand what I experienced to give you a flavour of what India is all about.
I’ll be totally honest here and the first thing you will see in India won’t be neither elephants nor cows, nor people dancing like in Bollywood movies, for real. The first thing you see will be thousands of people in a very small place, you will feel unbearably hot and hear car honks everywhere and smell a particular scent originally from India. I spent my first two weeks in New Delhi and everything you know as “traffic rules”, “be kind to others” and “privacy” is going to hell when you get to Delhi. And the thing I am sure about Delhi is that this is the real human jungle. And I absolutely love this amazing city. It has got in my nerves. There is something in particular that I like about Delhi and most of the people who have been to Delhi will think I’m crazy, but here it goes. I love the sound of the honks (I feel connected to them), a particular sound that will make you feel like your eardrum will explode anytime. Everything in Delhi is Intense. After I wasn’t able to breath in the Delhi Metro, I had profound understanding of what “personal space” is. It is crazy. I come from a place where the only public transportation is the bus and when I came to India the metro network was a shock for me, with more than 3 lines with different stops and hundreds of people. If you really want to experience Delhi, you got to move around the city by metro.
In India everything is chaotic, specially food, with every meal being a bomb of flavours. Paneer Masala, Butter Naan, Aloo Tikki, Mix Veg, Dosa and Mango Lassi are my favourites. I love the way Indians use spices, adding them to any cuisine there is. If you are a person who loves to see new things and experience innumerable cultures at once, India is the perfect place to be. Stalk people live, eat without giving a second thought to what the person next to you will think, follow anyone on the road who seems interesting, I’m not kidding, you can stare at a person for more than 5 minutes and everything will be all right.
Let’s change the topic and talk about what I really want to tell you about India. When you get to a place where there are children who do not know what his/her name is or where they come from and you look at a women without clothes outside a shopping mall, that is when reality hits you hard and you start to be grateful for things that you didn’t think were important. What struck me the most (besides the Taj Mahal) is the devotion of people to their religion. During the time I was in Varanasi (the holy city in India) I asked the tour guide: “How can you believe in something you can’t see?” and he said: “It is not about seeing, it is a matter of choosing to believe in something, that way you’ll have something to hold on to.” And that’s where I started to realise what I was doing wrong with myself. It is incredible how a simple sentence can change your perspective of life.
There is no favourite place but favourite moments. It is difficult to choose a moment, but if I have to choose one right now, it would be my first visit to Taj Mahal. It’s undeniably overwhelming. It is not most people imagine it to be: clean, peaceful and calm. It’s a total madness when you try to get in but when you see the Taj Mahal, everything that is around you doesn’t bother you anymore, it is impossible to believe that for the love of a woman such a thing was built. Apart from the Taj Mahal, you’ll see cultural diversity, different religions, beautiful customs and little girls with eye liner. It’s eye catching.
Delhi, Dharamshala, Varanasi, Rishikesh, Jaipur and Jodhpur, every city has something specific that makes them different. I can not describe at this time what it is but each of them is going to teach you something, it shows you something, it makes you feel something. The question is not “Why India?” the real question is “What is India?” and my answer for that question is: “India is the perfect, beautiful, colourful big ball of chaos.”

The Great Online Travel Upgrade

The 21st Century has recently upgraded itself to a beta version 2.0. This version has had very crucial fixes when it comes to handheld operations. One can easily order food, write letters and book hotel rooms while lying down on a couch. The only hardware requirement is a mobile device, a computer and a functioning set of hands. If you have three of these prerequisites your life just went through an update. This 21st Century update costs from around 149$ and goes upto 2000$ with luxury devices. In Addition, it offers a whooping advantage of auditing an organization via reviews.

Today we talk about this specific feature of auditing via reviews. Why this update has people bothered around the world and how fair is this feature. We also talk about travelling and booking a hotel room specifically. Its going to be ruthless and a gospel discussion for travelers. Let’s clear our throats.

Throughout the history of time we have seen the word explorer morphing somewhere with travelling. Travel today has become exploration essentially. Exploration of one’s soul and at times a beautiful spot to chill for a while. Earlier, the world that was not discovered, had to be discovered. But today we have discovered almost everything. Today, man has realized he needs to discover himself after excavating much of his geographical surroundings. To do this, Man travels. This has become a growing trend in this century with the increase of travelers around the world. We can go ahead and say every 2 out of 4 corporate sellouts are spontaneous travelers. The real issue is how they travel? Because if exploration is about comfort, we as well call it cheap cinema. Travel has never been a commodity that can be bought until now. Kudos Richard Branson! When we travel today we have basic mathematical rules to follow after choosing a place.

Is the Place safe? (Lets do a quick google search and dig out all the bad things that have happened here.)

Is there a hotel? (Lets scrutinize through every review on tripadvisor and bookmark the best)

Is the network okay? (Lets see if Oman has good 3g connection because snapchat Y’all!)

Will the place look good on facebook? (Lets see if India has a good appeal on my timeline!)

These factors are hereditary and compulsory (for most). Most of the travelers take this route. They are not wrong. They are just not travelling.
Sorry, But to get something out of your travel you need to switch off your phones. You need to think straight and take risks. You must be out of your comfort zone. Ever imagined Mccandles going “The magic bus has a rating of 1.5 on tripadvisor. It doesn’t even have a Wifi.”. Travel is about discomfort. Discomfort of not knowing where to go. Discomfort of not finding a perfect place to sleep. Its about management. Its about adjustment. Its about Survival!

Its not about finding the best hotel for your stay. Its not when you want a spiritual experience. If you really want to change your life through travel you must escape from judging a hotel by its rating, a place by its propaganda and your travelogue by how attractive it looks on social media. That is what travel is in its true sense. We travel for an inception not a deception. Hotel Reviews and Google Searches can hardly get you anywhere but priorities will.

And it has always been about priorities.

Either you want to be part of that 21st Century Upgrade.

Or you want to be Marco Polo.

The Choice is yours.

 

P.S. Only one is a traveler.

 

The ecstasy of life : My first solo trip

train-journey-on-a-rainy-day

TRRRIIINGGG! A sudden sensation of warmth emanated from my chest and found its way to pull up my cheeks. Running through the corridors, finding my way through the slow moving crowd, bashing into someone at every turn taken with constant unworried apologies, crossing the 100 meter long football field, I finally found my way into my house. Everything was kept just the way I had left it; the backpack, cap, snacks and my wallet. In 10 mins, I switched from my school uniform to some casual, seemingly “hip” clothes. Packing everything into the backpack, I set out and walked down the stairs to give the key to my mom. My mind was rushing with constantly inpouring thoughts of the train station, me sitting in the train enjoying the view, the “Will I get a window-side seat?” but most of all, “Did I forget something?”! Meeting mom at the front gate, I got into the rikshaw and as we rode outside of the campus, a sensation of freedom and boundlessness radiated all around. After reaching the train station, I got the tickets and stood on the platform waiting for the arrival of the train. Somewhere underneath all this ecstasy was a feeling of non-belief which said, “Is this really happening?”. As the train arrived at the platform, I rushed into the boogie to stop at the first empty window-side seat I can find. And gosh, I did! Sitting there inside, I received my first ever travel cautioning talk, “Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Call once you reach. Take care. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. And don’t forget to call!” Voicing a continuous “hum” to my mom, I settled in. In a few minutes, the train started moving and I looked outside with a wide glee on my face as we passed the “Nilambur Junction” signboard. For the next 3 hours I just sat there staring outside the whole while; different stations while the train stopped – some busy some not, the loud monotonous calls for chai and coffee, the peanut man, people getting in and out. The ecstasy was still present in the same magnitude. As the train slowed down along the platform at “Palakkad Junction”, I stood next to the door inhaling a long deep breath. Aah, home!

Such was the experience of my first ‘solo trip’; a 3 hour train ride when I was 13. There was something special about solo traveling that I had never experienced before. A sensation of boundlessness or perhaps an ecstasy that enables one to feel every breath with infinite joy for living. This made an impression on me and I wish the same for you. Take a break, get that backpack, break the routine and lose yourself to find your true self!

 
“There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive” – Jack London

– Sid Ramesh

This blog is absurd and so is the life we are living. So break away.

 

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I am a product. My religion is money. My gender is undefined. My occupation is to survive. But how often do I follow my code of conduct? How often am I true to myself? I work 8 hours a day. Accounts, Bureaucracy, Artist or a Sportsman; doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I am a product and I have chosen to be a product for a rather long term of my entire life. Should I be a product? Or Should I be an unreasonable hippie? Should I leave my responsibilities that I myself have built with lots of expectations? Should I buy a car or Should I buy a phone? Should I row a boat or should I discover fire? Isn’t it hard to be a modern man in this century? How do I answer these questions without being biased towards my choices? Will there be a divine intervention? Will there be an echo? Or will I just read some liberating blog to transform myself into a monk? Well, if you think this to be that blog, you are mistaken. This is just an informal manifesto, not a guide to recognising yourself.

Lets begin with birth. When I was born I was fed with lots of preconceived notions. God, Vegetables, Time, Love, Hate, Money, Job, Wife, Family. It was pouring in like a tap left open to fill a pool. It was massive information that I was not ready to analyse. So, I just accepted it all. The real conflict though is, what now? I think of them now. At present I question religion, my wife, my job, the concept of money in my life, the idea of love. But now, the society gets angry. Now it gets angry, it restricts me from articulating the exact set of answers I am looking for. I guess its time to move on. I have learned enough from the conventional industry that impregnates me with an illogical livelihood. I need to get bitten by a radioactive spider. I need that letter from Hogwarts. I need to kiss my wife passionately like Noah. But before that, all of that fairy tale crap I need to understand this absurdity. How are people in this entire world living? How do they think? Do they have more problems? I think its high time now. I need to take a break from all the people in my city. We can do some Facebook for a while. Its time for me to visit Europe, America, Asia, Antarctica, Africa and Australia. I hope I have enough funds, but even if I don’t I must walk as much as I can. There is a lot to explore and I have been living a monotonous life for really long now. I should pack my bags today. I must leave.

Ibn Batuta, Bernier and Al biruni might have been travellers by profession. I although would do it as a religion. Because whatever the popular culture says, its right about one thing, travel is the best religion out there. Its the best currency. Its the most transforming experience. I am a man, without god, without possessions, without a proper plan. Where do I start my evolution from? Yes, from travelling to a distant land. I am walking towards the bus stop, towards the railway station, towards the airport, towards the local bus stop of Nepal. I dont have an idea about tomorrow but a lot of spirit to be in it. I am walking towards home.

*Beep*

Wait, Wait, Wait. Thats a call from my employment agency. Oh! they have found a perfect placement for me. Hmmm, the pay is good. I can probably pay my rent pretty easily. I can buy a new sedan. I can buy the new iphone. Maybe I should work for a while and leave after an year. But wait, thats the occasional trap that the market throws at me.Its something today, it will be something tomorrow. It has captured my attention for long by this tactful manoeuvre. Should I take the job? Should I make a living instead of living? Should I not walk towards the station, the bus stop, the airport? My luggage pushes me towards the destination. I am falling. Why?

  1. Because I am a product.
  2. Because life is just absurd as it is.
  3. Because I need to know.

You decide.

After all,I am you and what I see is me. 

And do I take you by the hand 

And lead you through the land 

And help me understand 

The best I can. 

This blog is absurd.

So is the life we are living.

Lets Move.

 

Aatmbodh