Welcome to the Jungle.
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.
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
“It is important to remember that it’s your thoughts and perspectives that give your pain its power and you are in the pilot seat. At any point you can refuel your engines, rechart your course, and begin anew. Your mind contains millions of worlds. There is always someplace to escape to.”
I have always wanted to make myself, and the people around me believe that traveling was meant for anyone and everyone. I never had the kind of money to fly to an exotic holiday destination. Desperate for a getaway, I decided to pedal my way home: from Manipal to Bangalore. To cover 443 km alone with no prior experience, made me think of myself as a child, where you have absolutely no concrete knowledge of how the world functions outside your own comfort zone and your existence becomes a series of interesting guesswork.
My indecisiveness and intrusive thoughts has had me interact with various individuals. The term “Travel” never really seemed to have a concrete definition; it was rather a blend of assorted perceptions. For some, it entailed a break from mediocrity and monotonous mundane; for some it was an ostentatious display of extravagance over social media. Some said it was the enthusiasm to explore numerous cultures, historical landmarks and delicacies, while the other few responded with their love for nature, adventure and adrenaline. As for me, the sole purpose of this journey was introspection and to add a new perspective to the ongoing events in my life.
So on the 6th of December, 2015, I began a journey to broaden my horizons, re-evaluate, reflect and conquer my thoughts and dreams.
DAY ONE – Manipal to Mangalore
I had no previous knowledge about the needs of a cycling expedition. I prepared my rucksack with a sleeping bag, sunglasses and comfortable clothes whereas some sports gear, saddle covers, sunscreen were forgotten. It took time to sink in that I would really be treading the distance of 450 kilometres, given that the only considerable experience I’d had prior to this was cycling barely 40 km in Ladakh last summer.
The very initial phase of the journey felt like a routine as I travel around on my bicycle every single day and is the only mode of transport I operate. As I cycled my way past the concrete jungle, I came across fellow passer-bys that waved to me with bright smiles. I covered around 60-65kms in order to get to Mangalore.
Mangalore is the second largest city of Karnataka which is one of the fastest developing cities of Southern India. I managed to book a hotel for the night. Dinner was at a local food joint in a mall that stood nearby the hotel. This was the only luxurious stay for the journey and I absolutely had no accommodation plans thereon.
DAY TWO – Mangalore to Uppinangadi.
I planned to leave at 6 in the morning to admire the landscapes and traffic free roads while I made my way to Uppinangadi, but the fire in my soul could not outshine the urge to grab a couple of extra hours of sleep. I ended up checking out of the hotel at 10 a.m. wearing suitable, full-sleeved sportswear, precautionary equipment and sunscreen.
Just when I thought I prepped myself well for the day, another predicament showed up. The saddle of my bicycle wasn’t built to endure long-distances, definitely not as long as 400kms and I ended up with a saddle sore. Despite of the nerve wrecking pain and unfavorably warm weather, I cycled my way to B.C Road (Bantwal Cross road) that is 24kms from Mangalore. Fortunately, I came across tiny carpentry stall outside a mosque. His dexterity caught my attention and I requested him to modify my saddle. He agreed without a thought and my saddle had been modified as per my requirements within minutes! I was charged Rs. 50 while the ‘branded’ sports saddle would have costed me close to Rs. 2000.
Karnataka has been the most humble state to me, in comparison to all other South Indian states. People are cordial and welcoming. My experiences in other states have been really indifferent. If I were to do something of this sort down south and solo, Karnataka was the place. Hands down.
Even though, not many interactions with people midway were possible due to the obvious language barrier. The astonishment and curiosity and the bare-minimum conversations in sign language and common words was a good boost.
I stopped at a local road-side ‘dhaba’ that served decent, stomach-filling food only at the cost of Rs. 20! Uppinangadi, made me feel like I had travelled back in time; little technological advancement and the residents living in their own bubble of oblivious happiness.
DAY THREE – Uppinangadi to Sakleshpur.
I woke up to the sight of people fidgeting with my bike and its gears. Not an ideal way to be greeted early in the morning in an alien land among strangers. I left the dhabba exasperated and cycled my way into the Western Ghats.
Challenge of the day had to be the elevation that ended up reducing my speed all the way down from 15 to 16 kmph to 6 to 7 kmph on an average. It constantly reminded me how plain roads at the beginning of my journey were nothing less than a blessing. Coconut water became my personal favorite throughout the journey. It not only helped me restore my energy, but prevented dehydration to a great extent.
DAY FOUR – Sakleshpur to Hassan.
Day four had been really fascinating in terms of exploring tourist spots and landscapes as I touched Sakleshpur. Moreover, I covered a 2300 m elevation which was an accomplishment for me. My body started getting habitual to the exertion and the intensive up-hill cycling. I noticed a major positive difference in my stamina levels that I attained from pushing my boundaries physically as well as mentally.
Sakleshpur is a hill station famous for coffee plantations that attract a lot of tourists. I managed to purchase coffee beans for myself as a souvenir .The temperature dropped down from burning 35 degrees to 19 degrees.
I visited the Manjarabad Fort located on the outskirts of Sakleshpur on NH48. The fort was constructed by Tipu sultan to protect the plateau beyond Sakleshpur. The entire fort has a star shaped architecture which was also used as an armoury during that period.
DAY FIVE – Hassan to Hirisave.
On my way to Hirisave, I was bewildered to find a Café Coffee Day that stood isolated in the middle of nowhere. I entered the cafe, only to be surprised by the number of people there. I interacted with a gentleman who had driven an incredible 8000km in the past one month in his car. His travel destinations included well acclaimed places like Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Kerala and was now on his way to Bangalore. We had the same destination!
On the road to Hirisave which is a village in the Hassan district, my bicycle had its very first breakdown. The front brakes broke away from the tyres and I was in a fix. Luckily, I managed to find a scooter repair shop on the highway and the mechanic somehow managed my breaks reattached in no time.
DAY SIX – Hirisave to Bangalore
I was 120kms away from my ultimate destination. A distance that seemed so close but was impossible to cover within a day. My parents suggested me add another day to my expedition and stay over for another night. I strongly disagreed; I put my foot down and went against all odds to cover 120kms in a day’s time.
I was exhausted and I desperately wanted to go back home in the time I had planned initially. I started cycling at 10 in the morning and decided to stop only when necessary.
It was around 7 in the evening and I still had 30kms to cover. I was nearing Bangalore when I saw an accident. I was stopped for water and basic first aid and I gave away my bottle. Giving away my only bottle with none to spare was a terrible mistake. The hope of getting back home, pushed me to pedal harder and forget of the brutality I was putting my body through. The highway had no stop where I could buy a bottle of water and replenish my thirst.
15kms away from home, I finally managed to find a tiny stall and grabbed a bottle of water. My body started rejecting liquids due to the fact that I had exerted it to the point of dehydration.
However, I pushed through till my body gave up on me in the middle of the highway. I hazily pulled my cell phone out and called my parents up telling them about the horror I had put myself into. I called an Uber cab for the last few kilometers and my expedition came to an undesirable end.
I was taken to the hospital immediately as I got back home. I had severe dehydration, but I managed to recover quickly.
Experiences post the introspective journey
You can never stop the human mind but by meditation. And, that is something I’ve never really been able to take up well. Hence, Travelling has always been my thing when it comes to the search for my peace of mind. It gives you the much needed alternative perspective towards the issues in the daily life. Coming across various people from such diverse walks of life ought to get one thinking and reevaluate one’s approach to life. The major part of the journey involved a lot of introspection and helped me take decisions that I otherwise would not have. Now, three months since this journey, I can very well say that each one of those decisions was right and rewarding.
Traveling through rural areas and being surrounded by nature for the most part brings one closer to oneself. This is a great opportunity to be true to yourself. I had the chance to accept myself, my strengths and weaknesses, my needs and wants. Only when you accept yourself can you move to improve on the areas you’d like to. Living in denial and trying to fit in, is definitely not an answer. Post the trip, I decided to let go off a few toxic people. Killed a few ongoing projects that were turning out to be mentally exhausting. Focussed more on where I felt I belonged. Mustered up the courage to step aside from the mass conformity that happens all around. But, the funny side of this was that if a friend told me of their worries/problems in life, my one point answer became : You should travel (more often). This ofcourse doesn’t go down well with many people. But, to each their own! 🙂
– Compiled by Arminder Kaur
– Edited by Pallavi Vemuganti
As the summers bid goodbye, the arrival of monsoons is eminent with silver dark clouds lining up over the blue sky in the horizon. The snow clad peaks of the Himalayas that stands tall on the gushing Parvati River like sentinel are now veiled most of the times by the clouds. The green has turned to emerald in the forest all around as the frequent drizzles are pouring more life into the vegetation as if adding soul to the ever beautiful body.
The much better part is the decrease in rush for the public coming into the valley. As the months of May and June have now passed, the huge inflow of tourists now have changed into genuine backpackers who seek to explore the beauty of the Parvati Valley.
So if you are and hopeless romantic, love the rains, love the mountains, love the smell of wet soil, love the dampness of a emerald green forest, blooming of apples and many other exotic fruits and want to live such memories that eludes time then visit the Parvati Valley this monsoon because i know how the heat still irritates the cities, but here in the land of Shiva and Parvati, everything is reborn with the onset of drizzling drops from the heaven.All the stress, demanding tensions, futile worries and any negative thoughts or emotions would be washed away once you drench in the heavenly monsoon of the valley.
So what are you waiting for? Pack your backs and book your tickets because the lustful combination of Monsoons and Himalayas are waiting, and I await your presence to come experience this feeling with me.
Visit Kasol and look for The Hosteller to stay. For online booking go to http://www.thehosteller.com/
Delhi is a fast moving city with an overwhelming dose of culture, traditions, religions, languages and everything one could possibly think of.Also called Mini India, The National Capital is divided into 2 sections known as Purani (Old) Delhi and Nai (New) Delhi. The city was designed by British architect Sir Edward Lutyens.
Exploring Delhi is not everyone’s cup of tea because things always don’t turn out how you want them to be and there will always arise some frustrations from touring around.
But don’t let the backdrops pull you down, Keep a positive attitude!
Where to Stay?
For people who have seen the movie ‘Queen”, the idea of staying in a hostel, sharing experiences, life stories and adding new people to the journey called life will seem more welcoming and exciting . A regular vacation can turn into a life changing experience and all one needs is the right kind of place to stay in.
The Hosteller, Saket is one of the best backpackers hostels in India, travelers visiting North India seem to swear by it and rightly so. The hostel also provides WI-FI, books, games, etc. The hostel is located nearby the Saket Metro station which offers good connectivity of the guests to all the parts of the city.This hostel helps bring tourists closer as they have many fun activities such as movie and karaoke nights,etc
How to Move around in Delhi?
Local DTC Bus System provides both AC and Non-AC transportation within the Delhi and NCR region at minimal fares.
Delhi Metro has its branches spread all over the city providing fast Air Conditioned transport at meagre costs
Local Cabs and Autos – One can easily find a Green\Yellow tuk tuk anywhere in Delhi or people can even book a cab for themselves using the Ola or Uber Mobile App
10 things to explore in Delhi
- India Gate – Designed by Sir Edward Lutyens, India Gate sits at the centre of New Delhi at the arc end of the Raj Path. Built in 1931, the arc type gate has more than a lakh names engraved on it of the British Indian Army soldiers killed during the World War I
- Old Delhi – The walled city was founded as Shahjahanabad by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Old Delhi is known for its vibrant and diverse cuisines and the hustle bustle of the market place.The Old Delhi market is a spreader from Red Fort to the Jama Masjid where one can buy traditional items to Modern Gadgets. Dont miss the Paranthe Walli Galli
- Humayun Tomb – Having the graves of humayun and many other acclaimed Mughal warriors, the tomb was built in the mid 1500’s to house the Mughal Emperor Humayun.You can walk around the surrounding gardens and then proceed to climb a flight of stairs to the main deck. Then you can walk around the inside of the building and see the many marble tombstones.
- Nizamuddin Dargah – Caste no bar. The place makes your heart worthy, love for Almighty Allah, love for brothers n sisterhood makes your soul peace.You jostle with people and more people in the narrow alleyways – the crowds are everywhere, and when you reach the open square of the Dargah- there is a sudden calm- the qawwalis on Thursday evenings are a treat. Listen to centuries old songs sung in praise of this famous Sufi Saint Nizamuddin . The environs belong to the times he lived there be transported to him. Sufism promotes a culture of kindness to all mankind.
- Sacred Heart Cathedral – The Cathedral Of The Sacred Heart is a Roman Catholic cathedral belonging to the LAtin Rite and one of the oldest church buildings in New Delhi. The cathedral organises functions on certain days of the year. Prayers are held in the morning and evening every day. The major ceremonies held at the Cathedral are Easter and Christmas. The most important of the festivities during Christmas is the Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth and the Christmas Vigil Service an hour before midnight Christmas Eve
- Bangla Sahib Gurudwara – It is one of the most prominent Sikh gurdwara, or Sikh house of worship in Delhi and known for its association with the eighth Sikh Guru, Guru Har Krishan, as well as the pool inside its complex, known as the “Sarovar.”The place offers you eternal calm. One can sit in the main hall or next to the pond and can feel immense delight and relief.Seeing people doing selfless services and the free meals are something to relish.
- Qutub Minar – Qutub Minar, at 120 meters, is the tallest brick minaret in the world. Qutub Minar, along with the ancient and medieval monuments surrounding it, form the Qutub Complex, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.The tower is located in the Mehrauli area of Delhi. An amazing historical and archaeological site, it remains a mystery and the main structure (Qutab Minar) remains standing firm and beautiful as if it’s not aging.
- Lotus Temple – Among the numerous recognizable landmarks which are scattered all around Delhi is the remarkable Lotus Temple. Designed in the shape of a sacred lotus flower, there are 27 flower petals which are constructed of marble and make up the structure.Though it’s dedicated to the Bahá’í faith, it’s a religious worshipping grounds for people of all religions (as such is the philosophy of the Bahá’í faith).
- Akshardham – Akshardham’ means the divine abode of God. It is hailed as an eternal place of devotion, purity and peace. Swaminarayan Akshardham at New Delhi is a Mandir – an abode of God, a Hindu house of worship, and a spiritual and cultural campus dedicated to devotion, learning and harmony. Timeless Hindu spiritual messages, vibrant devotional traditions and ancient architecture all are echoed in its art and architecture.The mandir is a humble tribute to Bhagwan Swaminarayan (1781- 1830), the avatars, devas and great sages of Hinduism.
- Hauz Khas Village – Hauz Khas village in Hauz Khas, South Delhi houses a water tank, an Islamic seminary, a mosque, a tomb and pavilions built around an urbanized village with medieval history traced to the 13th century of Delhi Sultanate reign.Lakes and buildings take you back to the old period of Indian civilisation.Now it is famous for cafes,restaurants,eateries,shops,art and entertainment hub of New Delhi.It is an excellent place for someone looking to hangout with friends and for those who enjoy the nightlife.
Come visit Delhi and look for The Hosteller to stay. For online booking go to http://www.thehosteller.com/
Nestled in the Laps of the Himalayas, The beautiful town of Kasol is the most happening and important part of the Parvati Valley. Cradled amongst the tall pine and cedar trees, surrounded by the forest and lofty snow clad peaks, Kasol holds its own charm and magic to enchant every soul which shall step out here. From beyond the high horizons of the mountains to the banks of the ever flowing Parvati river, calmness and surreality surround the valley. Plus if you have a hippie heart and want to experience some good party, Kasol will never disappoint you.
Where to Stay?
The Hosteller, Kasol is a backpacking hostel located in Old Kasol near the German Bakery. The hostel emits divinity due to the melodious music made by the waters of Parvati River flowing nearby and the chirping of birds and insects in the forests. The hostel gives a good view of trees with Apple, Peach, Pear and Plum fruits blooming at a hand’s distance.
One can book a deluxe room or a dorm bed at the hostel. Adventurous people can go for tents to sleep in the lap of the Himalayas under the protection of the stars.
How to go around in Kasol?
Kasol is well connected by road to all the major cities of North India. In Kasol people can opt for local government owned cheap buses or Cab services to move around in Kasol. But walking,hiking and trekking is more recommended in Kasol to experience the majestic beauty of the Valley.
5 Things to Do in Kasol
- Chill and Relax sitting by the Parvati River – Time is an illusion in Kasol, Hence, it is mandatory that you sit by the gushing waters of the river Parvati and let the time fly and introspect into life or just enjoy laziness.
- Be a Foodie and do Cafe Hopping – From the famous Evergreen cafe to the Jim Morrison Cafe, Kasol has its own taste and rich cafe culture. You must not leave this place without trying the cafes out. From delicate Israelis cuisines to the subtle momos or thupkas, Kasol will satisfy every taste bud of yours
- Attend the Trance Party – Kasol is a party hotspot and a hippie paradise. World renowned DJ’s perform at the psychedelic parties and it is a one of a kind experience.The experience will be incomplete if you don’t jump to the beat drops of the EDM Tracks.
- Hiking, Trekking, Camping – Kasol is the base camp of so many breathtaking Himalayan trekking trails. From beginners trek of Kheerganga to the the all time grand Pin Parvati Trek or Sar Pass Trek, Kasol serves as the throat to all the high altitude adventures.Don’t leave without camping in the woods and having a bonfire party with the forest. Kasol has its soul in it.
- Boom, Shankar – The myth, magic and mystery of Kasol is in its herbs and leaves which grow around. From hippies to backpackers, every soul takes a drag of the famous and world renowned “ Stuff or Maal” of Kasol. Don’t go without experiencing the world’s best gift from Kasol to the world.
Visit Kasol and look for The Hosteller to stay. For online booking go to http://www.thehosteller.com/
– Deep and Rusin
Traveling is mind blowing. It’s awe-inspiring, it’s breathtaking and surprising. It’s often stunning. It is so many good things I cannot even count but sometimes it really stinks. My example was when I came from Nepal to India. India can truly be a thorn in one’s side. It took me 5 tries and over 8 hours just to fill in the “easy” E-visa online. That meant that I would not be able to make the land crossing as intended. I’d have to fly in because only a certain airports would accept a walk in visa.
The day before I was to fly a friend asked me to send a post card from Kathmandu. I got back from that errand with the intention to look up my housing address and how to get there and be on my way. I threw some lunch together only to hear that my taxi had come early. I hadn’t looked up the info and the internet was down. “There’s Wi-Fi at the Kathmandu airport, right?” “Yeah, but I only hope for the planes to take off at the right time there. Everything else is extra.” I packed up and went. He was right. I sat calmly next to strangers reading my book on my phone. Surely the Wi-Fi at the much bigger Delhi airport would suffice.
I tore through my book, landed and collected myself, my bags, and some money from the ATM and headed toward the exit. I asked a few people where to find Wi-Fi. They said there was none. I walked over to a desk where they were selling phone cards and struck up a conversation with a very interesting looking woman. You could tell she belonged here. She was collecting a pension so she was free as a bird and she offered to help look up my address after hearing my troubles.
The only thing I knew about this place was it was a Tibetan settlement and that a friend had stayed there not long ago. I gave the name and she popped it up on her phone. I took a pic of the name and address and finished my conversation with this woman who I secretly wished to offer to hang with her. But soon we were both on our way. I found the secure taxi station just outside the doors and made my reservation. Within 3 minutes I was in a taxi with a much cheaper fare than expected. Things were starting to turn around now.
When taxi driver pulled over I saw no hotel in sight. Immediately I was suspicious. He pointed around the corner but I was thinking, “Noooooo way mister!” To my surprise a man with a red vest sporting “The Golden Dragon” came out. I grabbed my bags, hopped out and followed the man. We went around the corner and up a ramp. This is when I knew there was trouble. The Golden Dragon was a restaurant. I looked at the picture I saved of the place my friend had sent me. “Dragon House Hostel”. This man thought I needed food, not housing. I so cursed a little bit, apologized and asked if they had Wi-Fi before I sat down to enjoy my dinner. The food was amazing. The Wi-Fi was fast. The service was excellent. Everything happens for a reason, right?
I looked up a place to stay that said it was 1km away and booked and saw my phone would die soon. This place was so close I could walk there before my phone died. Easy enough and the reviews were great too. Things were looking up. I polished off my drink and pulled up Google maps. Apparently it was 5km away instead and it was getting dark. I checked Google maps again and had an idea.
When I walked outside I did what I call, “Looking for someone who looks like they won’t kill me.” Essentially, you’re looking for someone who won’t kill you. Oh, and someone who might give you directions to where you’re looking to go without trying to trick you or ask for money or send you to their friend’s store or a friend who would steal you. I one and he gave me perfect directions. I was just two stops away for 10 rupee. I was hesitant to think things were looking up just yet.
I hopped on the metro. I came in, bought my token for the said 10 rupee and went my two stops. I came out to a hustle and bustle that was only a bit more than what I’d experienced in New York. My heart smiled while I concentrated on looking like I knew where I was going and this wasn’t my first time. I walked a little bit and then found another guy who wouldn’t kill me. This man gave simple directions and I was on my way. My philosophy on asking directions when walking is ask a person, then ask a second person to be sure. If that person gives you directions you have to find a third person to figure out which one was right. I found a second person.
I looked up and the guy I asked the first time was coming after me. But I didn’t see anything but kindness in his eyes. “You missed the turn.” He walked me back and showed me the sign I missed. I went down a dark alley. After about 5 more minutes I found where I belonged. I signed in and went upstairs to an empty desk. There was no one there. I wondered why and why it was so dark. Two people came in and we hit it off immediately.
They told me that things were a little crazy right now. There was a big storm that had knocked the power out. No wonder it was so dark down that alley and into the building!! Finally, a really kind and funny character came in. His name was Ayush and he worked at the front desk. He had been upstairs making sure everyone was safe. He was superb in his public service and excellent at making me feel at home. He had me laughing within minutes. I was overjoyed to have found a place as welcoming as this. I was shown to my room, in this hilarious darkness, and was informed that it was game night. WHAT?!?!??! I love games! I went upstairs to join the crowd of about a dozen people where the most comic bout of Pictionary by flashlight happened. It was truly riotous. And before long we welcomed the lights turning back on with boisterous applause. That’s when we switched to charades.
That night I stayed up until 1:30 am playing charades and laughing until my sides hurt with 12 (and up to 16) of my new friends. We talked about our lives, where we were from and what it was like to live there. We shared food and beer and hugs. We laughed until our energy ran out. At 1:40 I climbed into bed utterly exhausted and happy to my core. It’s not always you find places filled with people like this. I considered this a stroke of luck that I would collect on for my entire stay in Delhi. And it just goes to show you, everything happens for a reason. Even a girl running around in the dark can find a great home.
– Kelley Roark
After three months travelling India, at the beginning of April I found myself heading to Thailand to continue my travel adventure in South East Asia. It didn’t feel right to me from day one as I knew three months in India just wasn’t enough, and not a day in Thailand went by without me making constant comparisons to India. The same magic just wasn’t there. So within days I decided I just had to come back. I researched volunteering opportunities at NGOs and eventually found the perfect one, with one big downside: it was based in Delhi – my least favorite place due to a few previous bad experiences.
I am a solo female traveler from the UK, and on my first visit to Delhi which was only for one day I was scammed and harassed, and on my second visit I ended up staying in a dirty and unfriendly hotel in an even more dirty and unfriendly area – Paharganj. And of course I got food poisoning. I had been told that Paharganj was the best place to stay to meet other travelers and absorb Delhi. Maybe this is true if you are braver than me, in a group, or drunk. I just found it to be a very intense experience, where I was stared at and hassled constantly in the burning heat looking for somewhere to stay fully loaded with my backpack. The one hostel I could find there also seemed pretty dirty and inhospitable, and was inexplicably full, so I ended up in the aforementioned hotel where one filthy room for one night was 1000 rupees, and nothing was included except wi-fi that didn’t work, and rude staff who constantly looked at me disapprovingly. Needless to say I wanted to get out as soon as possible.
As I write that, I can’t believe not only that I’m back in Delhi, but that I’ve grown to love the place, and it’s largely thanks to finding the perfect accommodation. I checked into The Hosteller on the 26th April and quickly made up my mind it would be home for the next month. It’s in a perfect location next to the metro station so it’s quick and easy to get into town, with extremely relaxing and comforting communal areas, and the value for money, cleanliness and location attract the best kinds of travellers too. All of this, along with awesome staff who really go beyond the call of duty to help, combines to provide my favourite thing about the place, it’s atmosphere: I can never not feel relaxed or happy around this place. And I’ve (hopefully) made some friends for life.
And as for Delhi, when you have such a perfect home to escape the city from it gives you more confidence and bravery to explore. It’s a city that is so extremely different to anywhere in the UK that it can be intimidating at times, but with The Hosteller in my heart, I’ve been able to explore Delhi and soak up the unique beauty and spirit of this fantastic place, knowing I have a second home and a second family to go back to should things get too much. There are so many varieties of interesting sights to see and things to do, but it’s so much more than just a sight seeing checklist. Every street chai you drink and every local person you chat too strips off another layer of the real Delhi, which is a destination maybe no visitor can ever really know, but the journey is so worth the effort.
– Gill Walter
To all backpackers out there,
For every soul of our backpacking species, the term KASOL is equally exciting as a whole adventure itself. So by great fortune I came down upon the chance to be offered the role of a manager of this upcoming hostel in Kasol by this super cool hospitality start-up called The Hosteller. Considering the fact that it was 3 years since my last job, this had to be something special that I agreed to join. And special it was and is.
The Parvati valley and its hamlet of Kasol has for ages held and captivated the minds of the travellers and wanderers from around the globe. From singers looking for inspiration to artists seeking motivation, to simple sages and people just wandering, everybody is a part of the crowd in Kasol. The young, the old and some who never age, are all here with their diverse background and various interesting stories. The cosy cafes, the delicious German bakeries, the hanging bridges, the towering cedar trees, the blooming Himalayan flowers, the blue sky, the white clouds, the apple orchards, the wooden houses and the green grasses, all add to the myth and legend of Kasol which I am glad to explore and invite you all to do so along with me.
As happens with inevitable flow of time, Kasol has commercialized too, it has grown in its reputation and attraction that today it is not only visited by travellers but typical tourists also. Sadly, that declines a little portion of the magic it once held as a backpacker’s paradise. This is why we decided to open up our hostel here for the core wanderers, travellers and backpackers. We are also proud to claim us as the first backpackers hostel in the Parvati valley and with it we hope to fertile Kasol again back to its true magic.
Fortunately enough our hostel is perched on a higher grounds, a little far from the hustle and bustle of the main commercial centre of Kasol, yet it is just a 5 minutes’ walk from there. Glad shall I be if you choose our hostel as your home to discover the valley as we expect true core backpackers and travellers.
Our hostel is made of finest cedar wood and is a Himalayan architecture to gaze upon itself. Add to that, some creative vibrant artwork on the wall by other backpackers and wandering souls making it lively and amazing. Being perched on a higher level gives a view of the far extended valley with horizons covered in cedar tree with its emrald leaves. The busy town of old kasol, cradled in the valley by the rushing parvati river adjacent to it, is a beautiful view from our balcony of the private rooms we provide. Perfect for people who enjoys solitude yet enjoys mixing and knowing with other people too.
The front yard with open space has a cafeteria to serve your stomach with great tastes from both the western and Indian culture. The backyard is a part of the apple orchard which continues far in step cultivations is as beautiful a sight to wake up as one can imagine. We have also added tents to give the adventure feel to the people whose soul yearns for camping and wants to sleep under billions of stars. I hope like me a lot of you shall fall in love with our land.
We know the value for money as we once too wandered with a penniless pocket. Our dorm bunk beds help backpackers and students with shoestring budget to fit himself in nice warm blankets and find a cosy bed in the cold chilly nights of the mountains yet enjoy all the good basic facilities like hot water, laundry, great food and most of all the charisma of Kasol.
We already have two hostels in Jaipur and Delhi loved and adored by backpackers around the world, now with one here in the Himalayan valley, we have the icing on the cake, literally during the wintery cold nights.
So are you not already planning your trip here?
From the 70’s, the crowd of Israelis made their home here in the laps of Himalayas and even now some of them choose never to return from here. So what is it that enchants their heart and mind? Why is the youth captivated and infused with the magic and mystery of this place, so much so, they never leave? Such question has always been around my mind and finally I hope along with you all we shall discover these myths and secrets.
So I hope together we shall not only travel this valley but live the experience called KASOL.
Come with a smile and return with memories.
Yours sincerely and waiting,
Your host @The Hosteller – KASOL