Sainj: The grand Sainj fair, known better as ‘Laxmi Narayan Sainj Mela’, kicked off on May 3 and i coming to a close on Tuesday at Sainj village’s jalor village. The fair, with more than a hundred stalls and thousands of visitor was a sight to behold this afternoon when women from different village gathered together in their traditional attire ‘Pattu’, and danced along the folk songs. The fair is celebrated at the onset of summer in Sainj valley and also in the honour of the ‘devta’ of village around the valley. The devta or the lord of several villages are taken around the mela, or are given a tour of the whole fair to check if things are fine. The ‘chelas’ or disciples of each of the devta holds them and places them into a carriage with four handles. The lords are covered and clad in colourful clothes on the ocassion. About a hundred year old traditional fair, it came to life only recently as the Mahanati dance performance began last year. Women from different villages and aspects of life register through Aganwadi or Mahila Samiti to enroll their names for the mass dance. The scenario is breathtaking as women go round and round with those subtle yet difficult dance steps with the live music. Atop some of the terraces, one can get a bird eye’s view of the whole dance performance that mesmerizes you as one sees tiny people moving around with gentle hand movements. Prior to the dance performance, the crowd also releases a bunch of colourful balloons that fly away into the sky amid the Himalayan ranges. One of the teachers here, Rakesh Chauhan, said the fair is a yearly entertainment and means of earning for people here. “A lot of stall are set up through which many people earn revenue. Besides, talented women also get a chance to showcase their talent by dancing. The dance, however, started only last year that brought limelight to the fair. Otherwise, it was just a small valley fair,” he added. The roads going to the fair are slightly bumpy but seem worth it after witnessing the mass celebrating life together. The fair commences every year on the same date, i.e., May 3 and goes on for five days only. If you plan to visit it, do not forget to visit other popular and beautiful villages around including Shanghar, the treks and tour packagesof which are available on HMRA website.
Leh: At a height of about 14,000 ft, the Ice Cafe is bringing a whole new experience of sipping a cup of hot coffee and tea! Surrounded by the greater Himalayas, this cafe at Gya Meru village in Manali-Leh highway is all set to give you a surreal, dream-like feeling. The cafe in the shape of a stupa, was created during winters through a natural process by the Border Road Organization officials and several locals. The huge stupa of ice has a pretty restaurant in it where one can order and savour local delicacies the likes of noodle and other hot beverages. The owners, as reported by Curly Tales, intend to use the cafe’s income for organizing trips for people aged 90 and above in the village. This has been built a a part of village-level Ice Stupa competition organized by innovator Sonam Wangchuk, who provided all the material to the youth, for free. He also donated money so that people come up with unique ideas. As many as 12 villages from Leh and Kargil districts have participated in the competition. There are running pipes under the frost lines from which water is pushed out into the cold air that freezes it. It then falls as ice. It also work as an artificial glacier and one of the most effective methods of water conservation in the high desert terrains. The Ice Stupas are a medium to create awareness and do something about water scarcity in the region, of which Ice Stupas help in conservation of water. With this really cool cafe established so beautifully up there, we are more than excited to take you all on trips to the mighty Himalayas. Join us on the Manali-Leh and Ladakh trips coming soon within next two months for memories of a lifetime!
Uttrakhand: The popular Char Dham yatra of ‘Devbhoomi’ Uttrakhand, will commence soon in May. While Yamunotri and Gangotri shall open on May 7, Kedarnath and Badrinath will open on May 9 and May 6 respectively. The land of god will be flocked by devotees and followers from across the country to witness the grand celebration of the four lords. These four pilgrim destination, placed gently in the laps of greater Himalaya, or Himadri, are important hubs of religious travel in North India. According to Hindu scriptures, the tour begins from the West and ends in the East. People start their ‘dhaam’ from Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and finish at Badrinath. It is believed a tour through these four pilgrimages washes away the sins of anyone visiting them with pure belief and devotion. Here’s all you need to know about the four pilgrim destinations of Uttrakhand: Yamunotri- Dedicated to Goddess Yamuna, daughter of Yama, this goes up to a high altitude to Rawai valley. Facing the majestic Bandarpunch peak, Yamunotri is a sight to behold when thousands of devotees chant together the hymns and names. People take a holy dip in Divya Shila, or the hot spring emerging out of a dark rock. Since Yamuna is Yama’s (God of death) daughter, it is believed, bathing in the river blesses a person with protection from untimely death. At 3235 meters in Uttarkahi district, the temple area is usually cold and the maximum temperature is 20 degrees during May-June. Gangotri- As suggests the name, Gangotri is dedicated to goddess Ganga in Uttarkahi district at a height of about 3415 meters. The shrine here overlooks river Bhagirathi, originating from Gomukh. The name Bhagirathi comes from the mythological story wherein King Bhagirath paid penance and came down onto the Earth from heaven. The king meditated here to summon Ganga, who was fierce but mischievous. Lord Shiva took her within the knots of his ‘Jata’ or hair from which she drops down on the Earth. Interestingly, Ganges gets the name only after the confluence of Bhagirathi and Alaknanda at Devprayag. Kedarnath- A Lord Shiva temple, Kedarnath is a part of the ‘Panch Kedar’ and the northern-most Jyotirlinga in Rudraprayag district of Uttrakhand. It stands at the height of 3583 meters, close to the source of river Mandakini. It is believed, Adi Shankarcharya attained nirvana, or ‘samadhi’ close to Kedaranath. The Kedarnath peak peeps from behind the temple, presenting a mesmerizing view to the people. Badrinath- Nestled beautifully amid Neelkanth peak and the Nar-Narayan mountain, Badrinath is a Vishnu temple. Situated on the banks of river Alaknanda, this temple is vibrant with colours all pouring in and the greater Himalayas offering a breathtaking view! It is believed that Lord Vishnu meditated here while goddess Laxmi, his consort, took the form of a berry (badri) tree to offer him shade. It beautifies the Chamoli district at 3415 meters height and also houses a hot spring ‘Tapt Kund’ considered very sacred. Interested in the holy ‘Char Dhaam’ yatra? Book with
When we talk about mountaineers, we mostly only imagine ones with muscles and strength, and a great physique! However, the most important factor when climbing a mountain is the will power and determination. Some women FROM India outgrew all of the definitions of determination, strength, and will power after their victorious climb on the highest mountain peak- Mount Everest. Here’s a list of them all, to pay them a small tribute. Bachendri Pal The first woman to reach the summit, she was from a village in Uttarkashi Himalayas. She climbed the Everest in 1984 and was conferred with the Padma Shree for her feat. She was also given the Arjuna Award in 1986. The brave soul made it to the Limca Book of Records as well, in 1990. She wrote an autobiography on her journey- ‘Everest- My Journey to the Top’. She fought against her family’s wishes to fulfil her dream of mountaineering. She kept on organizing and leading several treks and trip up on the Everest and was also a part of the team of Everest summiteers who carried out relief and rescue missions in Uttrakhand after the devastating flood in 2013. Arunima Sinha From a small district in Lucknow, she was the world’s first female amputee to climb the Everest. Hers is a very inspiring story, as she lost both her legs in a train accident, when two thugs threw her out of the train after her refusal to give in to their demands. With both her legs amputated, her dreams of climbing the mount Everest were being laughed at. However, she stood firm on her grounds and on May 21, 2013, she triumphed the summit. She was a national level volleyball player as well, and was awarded the Padma Shri, too. Premlata Agarwal She was the oldest woman to the climb the Everest at the age of 48, in 2013. Hailing from Jharkhand, she also became the first Indian woman to have scaled the Seven Summits of the world. She is a mother of two, and helps conduct several trips to the Himalayas. Tashi and Nungshi Malik They became the first siblings (female twins) to climb the Everest in 2013. These 21-year-olds, also became the first siblings to climb the Seven Summits and reach the North and South Pole. They were conferred with the Tenzing Norgay Award in 2016, and are also featured in the Guiness Book of World Records twice. Malavatha Purna At the tender age of 13, Purna scaled the Everest on May 25, 2014. She became the youngest girl to have done so! Born to agricultural labourers in Pakala village of Telangana, she was handpicked by the Andhra Pradesh Social Welfare Residential School, that provides free education to underprivileged children. For her, harsh weather conditions were not the only challenges, but the horrid packaged food too. Actor Rahul Bose also made a film on her journey titled- Poorna. Santosh Yadav She is the first woman to have climbed the
ARE YOU A LONG MOTORCYCLE TRIP FREAK? Would you believe if we tell you about a damn long motorcycle trip spanning over 549 days and some 57800 odd kms in which rider did not spend even a single penny on stay! MEET BALAJI SURESH There are many travellers, many tourists, and many motorcycle riders. However, not all of them have made it as much a part of their life as breathing! Hailing from Tamil Nadu, Balaji Suresh, comes into the category of those who lives for such breath-taking experiences on his motorcycle. A mechanical engineer and farmer, Balaji Suresh, has been biking across the country and beyond for over four and a half year! In 2015, having been working in corporate field for some time, he decided to take a break for a 4 month long trip. He rode across the seven states of the North East and that experience changed his mind forever! Funnily enough on the 60th day of his trip he received an email from his office that he has been fired. There began a new life for him, and he knew what he lived for! Soon after that trip ended he took upon the mega road trip exploring the India and beyond in depth on his beloved motorcycle spending actually nothing on the stay for 549 days and 57800 kilometers. SWETA MISHRA from HMRA caught up with him for an interview where he shared a lot of details from his motorcycle riding experiences in the Himalayas, and the priceless lessons he learnt on the way. Here’s an excerpt: HMRA: First of all, what inspired you to travel? BALAJI: It has to be my North East trip, because once you’ve been there, you are no longer the same person. I have always been a biker, but something snapped after I rode through the tough terrains of Himalayas in the North East. It was not the most detailed and intensive trips, of course, but long enough to have sowed the seed of travelling in me. HMRA: Tell us how did it all start? BALAJI: After I was fired from my job, and the wonderful trip, I was sure of not doing a corporate job. I started farming. One of my friends taught me farming, and simultaneously, I planned for the bike trip I had to do across the country. I also worked with Royal Enfield to earn some money so I could save for the travel. Within six months, I could save about 30,000 rupees and I had decided to use it for three months. HMRA: How did you manage with it? BALAJI: Oh, there were a lot of things! I made a lot of mistakes as well. Now, I had to cut down on my stay expenses because I had too little money. So, I slept just about anywhere- from benches, to petrol pumps, to army base camps even. I struggled the most due to my language, as I did not know Hindi. However, North East was quite smooth since people
The Himalayas have everything one needs- greenery, snow, peace, love, challenges, and life! Perhaps, that is a reason why it also adorns several destinations and places that are unique and beautiful distinctly. On World Heritage Day APRIL 18, we celebrate and appreciate all the efforts of communities, government, and every person to help tourism grow in the Himalayas while keeping in mind the preservation and conservation of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) , a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is India’s youngest national park located in Kullu district in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India. The park was established in 1984 and is spread over an area of 1,171 km2 at an altitude of between 1500 to 6000 meters above sea level. Home to about 25 Internal Union Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red-listed plant species, GHNP in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh is a paradise breathing free and alive. There are about 180 species of rare birds ,including endangered Western Trapogan, and mammals there, including the stunning snow leopard. Many villages surrounding the park, thrive with dependence on the park. GHNP is also one of the most popular trekking and exploration sites in the Indian Himalayas. Mountain Railway, Kalka – Shimla It is one of the three World Heritage mountain railways in India, comprising a massive number of tunnels and bridges. There are about 102 tunnels and a whopping 864 bridges! It is absolutely stunning an experience. The longest tunnel, Baroh tunnel, named after Col. Barag also comes in the route. He was the engineer who began the construction of this tunnel, however, after having constructed a large part of it, he realized that it is not aligned. He committed suicide after paying a fine of Rs 1. Darjeeling Mountain Railways This hill railway is one of the firsts in the world and the first in India. The train faces a very sharp curve of 12 degrees on its way. With stunning view around, the Darjeeling Mountains Railways is not to miss when travelling there. There were no tunnels made on this route, but an earthquake in 1934 required the construction of a small tunnel. Manas Wildlife Sanctuary Situated on India-Bhutan border in Assam’s Himalayan foothills, Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is an incredible experience. In 1922, it was declared as one of the World Heritage sites in Danger, by UNESCO. Poaching and hunting were rampant, including terrorist activities. However, commendable, relentless efforts changed the face of the sanctuary and UNESCO withdrew that title in 2002. This sanctuary is well known for tigers and elephant reserves. There is a huge variety of flora and fauna found here, including several endangered species like Bengal Florican. Valley of Flowers National Park Spread over a sprawling area of 87 square kilometers in Uttrakhand’s Chamoli district, Valley of Flowers is a paradise on earth. It is set in the backdrop of Zanskar Ranges and was discovered by Mountaineer Frank S Smith in 1931. It is a fairyland up on the Himalayas, protected