Category: Travel

major tourist destinations

Tourism is opening up, but when will it pick up?

Posted By : Sumit Singh Jamwal/ 471 2

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected life as we knew it across the world. Of all the sectors hit by this pandemic, Travel and Tourism seems to have been the worst hit. Across the world, countries and major tourist destinations have suffered financial losses and are taking their calls on when to open up and help revive their struggling finances. In India, where the cases are at their peak, some states have decided to open up, albeit with a few caveats.

If you want to visit the hills of Himachal and Uttarakhand, you need to be registered on a government portal, carry a test report that you are Covid negative and show stay receipts for a minimum of 5 to 7 days. Goa was the first one to open its doors to tourists, however the hotels are still to register any bookings. Kashmir is the latest to allow tourists via air testing tourists for Covid as they appear.

Amidst all this, there is a resistance by locals to allow visitors from other states fearing they might bring along the deadly virus. Now one may argue in favor of or against all these premonitions and all of them are right. This pandemic hit us out of nowhere and has made us all understand the worst of it.

Amusing things about humans is that you cannot confine them in a small space. They need to venture out, eat out, experience everything for themselves and decide for themselves. As much as we hate to admit, we are a bunch of selfish souls giving in to the sins time and again. The food industry is opening up, people are ordering food from outside, dining out with restrictions, online shopping has resumed, so has the supply of groceries and ‘essential’ items, giving two hoots about the virus and its catastrophic effects on lives until it hits an immediate near and dear one.

major tourist destinationsIt has been months since we have been out, experienced new things, roamed around freely, let it out and so on. And some of us have had enough already. If one is pragmatic, no matter how many restrictions you put, this virus can hit you from anywhere, considering WHO just declared it airborne, asymptomatic etc. etc. All we can do is to do our best and hope for the best. That does not mean, we go all crazy relishing on the experiences we have missed in the past few months. We should still not attend mass gatherings, we should wear a mask to avoid inhaling contaminated air, always cover our cough and sneeze and avoid contact with sick people as much as possible.

To each his own; if we are careful and take all necessary precautions, we can still do few of the things we missed, as per the new normal. We can be safe inside the confines of our homes or even in open fields as long as we follow the protocols laid out by the government and few additional steps while travelling;

  1. Avoid human contact while travelling
  2. Use digital modes of payment, rely less on cash, cutting down on touch points
  3. If you must eat out, make sure you know the place and they follow the safety and hygiene protocols or carry food for the journey. Eat healthy, build up on your immunity
  4. Do not go to crowded places, stay at off-best resorts with open spaces
  5. If you are staying at a trusted resort, make sure there are open spaces around your place of stay and keep distance.
  6. Allow the property to sanitize regularly and you take care of your personal sanitization and hygiene.
  7. Let go of the touch and feel habit. Do not touch door handles, lift buttons, things kept in the open, pretty much anything you don’t own or know.
  8. Develop a respect for cleanliness and sanitization and never let it go. Please take a pledge to stop littering
  9. Avail the Covid testing facilities carefully, stay updated and healthy
  10. Never lose the faith and do not feel bad about the new normal

You can add a few more depending upon your level of consciousness and fear of this virus, just do not feel hopeless or annoyed. Remember this time is tough for everyone and each one of us is doing our best to stay alive. Do not let go of that trust yet.

We might have slowed down in the past few months, but let us not hang our boots just yet. If we can follow all the things as listed above and be hopeful of a better future, we might be able to travel again and help the travel and tourism industry pick up.

 

About Author: This article is written by Sumit Singh Jamwal. Sumit is the MD of Escape Route, an experiential travel company, loves to explore off-beat places and share Escape stories with the world through Escape Route.

Follow him at www.instagram.com/jamwal_saaaab/ on instagram and Escape Route at https://www.instagram.com/escaperoute.co.in/. You can also watch Escape Route videos at https://www.youtube.com/c/escaperoutein

Sumit Singh Jamwal

                                                                     Sumit Singh JamwalEscape Route
How to approach honeymoon planning

How to Approach Honeymoon Planning

Posted By : Sumit Singh Jamwal/ 394 0

It is an old saying that not all moons of your married life will be as sweet as the first few moons, hence the word honeymoons or honeymoon. Your honeymoon is the best opportunity to understand your partner while you create memories of a lifetime. If it was only about copulating, the couples would not need to travel in search of new experiences, opportunities to get to know each other. Indian weddings are infamous the world-over due to the grandeur, opulence and the noise they create. Indian honeymoons are an equal big deal, just that we do not talk much about it, as for a major section of our society, honeymoon is mostly about shhhhh.. the intercourse bit.

While there is a lot of advice around how to have a grand wedding, not much information is shared openly on how should the new couple go about planning their first few moons together. Most of it is personal suggestions shared in a hush-hush tone in confidentiality.

Each individual is different and so are the choices and preferences. While there are a lot of examples you can take from your friend circles, planning a perfect honeymoon completely depends on you. While planning a honeymoon, you need to decide, what kind of a couple are you. Take a cue from the following and decide for yourself.

The love-birds: If you do not remember your life before your partner entered your life, you probably fall in this category. You are best friends, share everything with your partner and cannot imagine a life without your partner. If this fits your bill, you already have a lot of thoughts about your honeymoon.

Love irdsYou may want to reminisce the good old days by visiting all your favorite locations again, this time legitimately and/or you may do something that you have been planning ever since you decided to drive-off into the sunset together. Try to surprise your partner with the things that both would love to do together. It is always easy for the couples who can communicate well.

The arranged married-ones: Arranged marriages are not so uncommon in India and the success rates of such marriages can still baffle anyone. In this scenario, when the newly-wed couple does not know much about each other, the focus should be on understanding each other, the likes and dislikes before planning the big deal. It is an opportunity to impress and overwhelm each other with the options and places to go to, but it is more important for the couples to understand each other first than surrendering to the other’s choice.

Plan for easy things that do not include too much travel. Spend a lot of time doing couple activities, massages, candle-light dinners, long walks, cooking together, share stories (just hold on to revealing every blunder from the past). Focus more on knowing each other than covering a lot of places during the honeymoon.

The angry birds: If you end-up arguing over every little thing because you want it your way, you fall in this category. It is difficult to plan anything as both of you want it perfect and you want it your way. A slight deviation from your plan is a big inconvenience to you and you don’t want any inconvenience during your honeymoon at least. This is a tough spot to be at and one needs to be very careful to not spoil the first most-important chapter of your happily ever-after.

You might have to try this a few times, but do it with patience and remember your love for each other. Create a wish list of your top-favorite things you want to do and lend each other your ear. Discuss, debate on what you want to do and why. Then after each point from your wish-list, place a point mentioned by your partner. Once the wish-list with equal pointers from both the partners is ready, spend time zeroing-in on the possible location, opportunity, time that can help both of you realize your wish-list.  If one point falls out due to the restrictions offered by the place or plan, change it with another point from your wish-list. During the course of your meticulously planned honeymoon, wait for the time when you realize your partner is having equal or more-fun during one of your listed activities.

 

Some important points to remember while planning your honeymoon:

 

  1. Don’t get too worked up because it is your honeymoon
  2. Every problem has a solution
  3. Do not go overboard, take it easy
  4. Exclusive does not necessarily mean too expensive
  5. Honeymoon is for you two and not for the world
  6. Where you go for your honeymoon does not define your social standing
  7. Honeymoon is first of the many things you will plan and do in your life
  8. Your partner is the first reason you are doing this

A honeymoon is the most important defining factor for each couple and how their life will be. Honeymoon planning is as important as the big deal itself. If you do not know what kind of couple you are yet and how your future will be, don’t be in a rush, just make sure that both of you get the best out of the first thing you do together as a married couple – your honeymoon.

 

For guidance and travel bookings support for your honeymoon, speak to Escape Route.

Travelling via social media

Travelling via Social Media

Posted By : Sumit Singh Jamwal/ 570 0

Travel has been a buzzword, a stress-buster for some and a business for many.

Ever since the World War II, times have never been this tough. Just when the humans were basking in their self-pride of being the smartest race on this planet, a delicate but highly contagious virus, roughly one-900th the width of a human hair, has brought this entire world to a standstill.

Over a million people have been affected by the novel coronavirus across 205 countries and the death toll has crossed 59000 people. Thousands have recovered as well, however the havoc and fear created by this virus through round-the-clock news and social media analyses is the most widespread. Countries are under lockdown, businesses are shut, roads are bare and hospitals are buzzing with new cases every hour.

You cannot travel in the “lockdown” as the word explains itself. Such vivid is the idea of travel that sitting in the comfort of your homes sounds illogical and painful to some. In absence of travel, social media has established a deep rooting in our routine, deeper than the era-before lockdown. The mountains have stopped sending invitations and the hill stations are shutting their doors on the virus. Still there is plenty of content out there which has kept the #wanderlust ignited and that too with revered hope. #Throwbacks and #whattovisitnext is making everyone travel albeit virtually.

The travel content is also making way for more-important topics. Moving away from the social and religious divide created by politicians or some over-intelligent folks across the world, we are now dividing people basis their views and actions on social media. There is now a clear distinction between an extrovert and an introvert, a Government-supporter and the one who is anti-administration, a challenger and a follower, the positive and the fearful and so on. Let us not even touch the world of Whatsapp or the expert field of hate and fear-mongering.

Travelling via social mediaSuch is the trend that friends are being unfriended over their views, couples are fighting, ladies are challenging each other on wearing sarees and posting pictures on popular social media sites, men are shaving-off beard from half of their faces and challenging other men to do the same, among other trending challenges across social media. Some folks have taken it entirely on themselves to train the world on how to spend time at home by showcasing not-so innovative techniques. Everyone is either an artist, chef, a fitness trainer, a dietician, doctor, motivational speaker, journalist or a self-proclaimed expert in various disciplines.

Travel companies are facing most of the heat of this pandemic. Some are disheartened and have gone quiet, some are exploring at other ways of survival and others are scared and sending SOS creatives, feel good messages every hour. Wonder how many times one should wash hands especially when you are at home and not touching anything apart from your beloved no-so smart-phone.

The country which started this all – China, has announced that they have treated each of its infected soul and the pandemic is now over in their part of the world. They are communicating how effective is their way of dealing with the crisis and how they are benevolently helping other countries fight with the pandemic that started in China’s living room. They are busy patting their backs while nobody knows the real state-of-affairs in China. Guess curbing media has its own advantages. Imagine if the rumors about thousands dying each day in China are verified and the global media starts broadcasting it… what comes after lockdown?

There is always someone to blame, someone to praise, somethings to opine about and in current times, a lot to worry about. Let us do it in the right way; keep some of our thoughts to ourselves, not circulate fear or fake positivity. Let us not jump the gun and wait-out this global calamity as:

  1. The mountains will not move anywhere and will call us when they have to
  2. Few days of healthy-eating of home-cooked food never killed anyone
  3. The pahadon-waali maggi will always taste yummy just like the one we can make at home
  4. The buildings outside are not changing shapes and sizes
  5. The roads need to breathe without endless traffic and honking
  6. Our friends and relatives will meet us dearly if there is a gap of few days
  7. Even though social media challenges are fun for some, some don’t like sarees of shaving off-half of their face beard
  8. For those who want continuous attention, people will not forget you if you post a little less
  9. Even if you are as creative as you want, the world does not need each detail
  10. Helping others is more satisfying than few likes on social media
  11. Your loved ones are at home next to you, they need your time and attention more than anything else in the world

Let us stay positive with the social media narratives and fake news and challenges and what not, but more importantly let us try and stay sane.

 

About Author: This article is written by Sumit Singh Jamwal. Sumit is the MD of Escape Route, an experiential travel company, loves to explore off-beat places and share Escape stories with the world through Escape Route.

Follow him at www.instagram.com/jamwal_saaaab/ on instagram and Escape Route at https://www.instagram.com/escaperoute.co.in/. You can also watch Escape Route videos at https://www.youtube.com/c/escaperoutein

Sumit Singh Jamwal
Sumit Singh Jamwal – Escape Route
coronavirus news

Travel Industry Gets Deadly Virus

Posted By : Sumit Singh Jamwal/ 623 3

Never in the history of mankind, Travelling has appeared so dangerous.

Terrorism and safety have been top apprehensions for travelers around the world, but who knew that a couple of bats in the Wuhan region may lead to thousands of people being infected and billions living in fear of travelling. As of March 4, more than 3,000 people have died around the globe from Coronavirus and infected cases have been reported in dozens of countries. There is a new case being detected each day and the media reportage has spread enough fear for everyone to cancel their overseas travel plans.

 

The travel industry is under a lot of stress as people are scared of moving out of their safe confines. Airline companies are losing business, countries have no tourists, sending couriers across the globe has become difficult, multinational companies are losing business and regular people are losing jobs. Some are saying there has not been a bigger issue in the travel industry since 9/11. Experts say that globally, the travel industry has come into a deficit of nearly $80 billion while the Indian companies continue to pile-up on loses.

 

Now, while COVID-19 or corona virus is deadly and has pushed a lot of people across different corners of the world to live in fear, it has asked us to look inward and be more responsible while travelling. Following are some of the points we can think over:

 

  1. Why travel international right now? Most of us are obsessed with travelling abroad. This is not the first time, we have the chances of carrying home this virus or some other flu which no one else might have a clue about. Not that traveling international is not a great experience, but what is the urgency?
  2. Do we have enough domestic destinations? It is no doubt that we have a plethora of destinations and almost everything in our country which can be compared to the Switzerlands and New Zealands of the world. What is stopping us from exploring our own countryside.
  3. When will we have enough infrastructure to travel smart in our own country? Forget the responsibility of the government, there is a lot that we can do to make a destination beautiful right from marketing it right to not over-crowding it. If there are roadblocks to creating better infrastructure, how can we ensure that right steps are taken to build what is required.
  4. Why do we spend more outside and crib when we have to pay extra for our own services? Famous cities the world over are charging visitor fees per day, the best of the international spots have absurd toll taxes, fees for everything. People do not crib while paying it abroad, why crib at home? It is the same money being used by those authorities to make things better. Remember each penny spent wisely or contributed wisely is lot of pennies earned, especially in travel.
  5. Are we explorers of hoarders? Do we travel to experience or just tick-mark being at the already famous spots? Are we doing it for our satisfaction or just to prove a point across social media? Our hills are collapsing as tourists are only hoarding the already suffocated spots and not opting for new experiences.
  6. How do we travel in current times? If you must travel overseas, you will have to be extra cautious and follow the rules laid out by the medical experts and chances are that you might come back unaffected. However, if one has to travel for leisure, it is suggested that one does try and avoid the foreign soil and the risks it brings along currently.
  7. Can we help save the travel industry? The airlines are piling up on their losses and most of the flights are being cancelled, the frequency of international flights is being halved. Cannot do much there, but there are many allied services that we can opt for while planning our holidays
  8. What next? We do not know about the next issue but we have already caused enough damage to our eco-system. Travelling is one of the major contributors to the overall carbon footprint, but those of us with means do not care about what we can save while we still have the option to exploit it. This is the only world we live in and we are leaving for our future generations, if there will be any after ours.

 

What are similar or other questions that are bothering you about travelling in current times, do share, let us talk about them and raise awareness.

Image Source: COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE

 

About Author: Sumit is the MD of Escape Route, an experiential travel company, loves to explore off-beat places and share Escape stories with the world through Escape Route.

Follow him at www.instagram.com/jamwal_saaaab/ on instagram and Escape Route at https://www.instagram.com/escaperoute.co.in/. You can also watch Escape Route videos at https://www.youtube.com/c/escaperoutein

Reasons to Visit Ladakh

Top Reasons to visit Ladakh

Posted By : Sumit Singh Jamwal/ 349 0

Ladakh is a famous tourist destination, also adjudged as one of the most adventurous and full-filling journeys of all times throughout the world. There are a great number of things to do in Ladakh and there is a long list of top Ladakh attractions. Here is a list of top reasons to visit Ladakh, before we embark on our annual Escape to Ladakh this year from 20th to 30th June.

 

Cold desert – La-dakh or the land of high passes is a cold desert in the northern part of India. The land lacks basic rainfall for being on the rain-shadow side of Himalayas, has very little vegetation (apart from few products that are grown closer to river Indus), lacks water and other natural resources and the temperatures dips to sub-zero for most of the year. Despite all the challenges, Ladakh has a rich culture and the natives here are warm and welcoming.

Reasons to visit Ladakh

 

Altitude – Being in the lap of Great Himalayas, Ladakh features over a dozen high-passes and some of the highest motorable roads in the world with Khardung La being the highest motorable pass in the world standing tall at 18,380 ft. There are claims about other passes being higher, like Marsimik La at a height of close to 19000 ft is unofficially the highest motorable pass in the world. Other important passes include Tanglang La – the second-highest at 17,582 ft, Chang La – the third-highest at 17,590 ft, Wari La at 17,400 ft, Lachulung La at 16,616 ft, Namshang La at 16,568 ft, Pensi La at 14,436 ft, Fotu La at 13,478 ft, Namik La at 12,139 ft and many others that you have to cross to get across Ladakh.Must Visit place in ladakh

 

Sand dunes – Once you cross-over from Leh to Nubra valley, you are greeted with white sand dunes at Hunder. Not only that, you also get to see and ride on the double-humped Bactrian camels which is one of the most favorite things to do in Nubra valley for tourists. The road further leads to Diskit monastery with the largest statue of Maitreya Buddha and then leads-on to Turtuk and Thang the northernmost villages of India just before the LOC, international border with Pakistan.

Reasons to visit Ladakh

 

High Lakes – The land of high passes also features some of the highest lakes in the world such as Pangong Tso, Tso Kar, Tso Moriri each with a distinct beauty. As ‘La’ means pass, ‘Tso” stands for Lake in Ladakh. In a day’s trip you can get from the sand dunes of Nubra Valley to Pangong Lake via Shyok making you marvel on the distinct beauty of Ladakh. While Pangong Tso is famous, Tso Moriri is equally or more beautiful as it is still lesser explored. Tso Kar falls on the route when you come back from Chushul towards Moray Plains.

Reasons to Visit Ladakh 

Two International Borders – In a day’s drive you can go from LOC (International border with Pakistan) to LAC (Line of Actual Control with China) while the surreal landscapes keep you company. You need inner-line permits to travel to these areas and foreign nationals are not allowed to visit beyond a point. As you drive between these two international borders, the topography changes vividly and the army posts just make you feel more Indian than ever with the history and war memorials.

Reasons to visit Ladakh

 

Warm and welcoming locals – There is so much about the spirit of Ladakhi locals that make you wonder what are we complaining about. A day in the life of a local Ladakhi, especially those living in the far-fetched areas away from Leh will educate you that they are no less than super humans. Despite all the challenges and struggles for basic amenities, you will still be greeted with warm smiles and an indomitable spirit of hospitality by the locals. Much to learn for the city dwellers.

Why Visit Ladakh

 

Food – Ladakh doesn’t grow its food much as it is mostly limited to wheat, barley, peas, fruits such as apples, walnut and apricots. Despite the lack of vegetation, there are a number of food items that are famous such as Thukpa, Chutagi (dumpling soup), momos, Ladakhi breads etc. As Leh is a tourist place, it offers a very world-cuisine with the best of German bakeries to cake shops to Tibetan, North Indian, Mughlai food and much more.

Reasons to visit Ladakh

 

Adventure – Road trips to this cold desert with a rugged terrain are known for being the toughest in adventure and 4by4 travel across the world. Ladakh is home to some of the most treacherous roads in the world. Biting cold, scary altitudes, lack of oxygen, acute mountain sickness etc. are some of the factors that make Ladakh an epitome in adventure travel for guests from all over the world. There are a number of adventure activities one can choose from while in Ladakh ranging from river rafting, trekking, trekking on snow (Chadar trek), camping, quad sand-biking, safari etc.

Reasons to visit Ladakh

 

Surreal and Lunar landscapes – Ladakh is a land of surreal landscapes with gigantic mountains with different shades, sometimes covered with snow, sometimes just mud and stones. This cold desert has many important spots which make you feel out of the world like the magnetic hill effect, sand dunes after huge snow cover, lakes stretching for hundreds of kilometers. There is a region in Ladakh called Lamayuru which is especially famous for its lunar landscapes.

Reasons to visit Ladakh

 

Highest war memorials – These war memorials will stir up a number of emotions in you. The most prominent ones are the war memorials at Kargil, Drass and Rezang La, each with its own war stories to share. The war memorials have pictures from the war- era and serve as a reminder and a tribute for all those who lost their lives fighting for their mother country. Ladakh has its own history with the past wars and has seen many international wars from the front line.

Reasons to visit Ladakh

 

Buddhism influence – The population of Ladakh is predominantly Buddhist and Ladakh has been deeply influenced by Tibetan Buddhism, which follows the Mahayana and Vajrayana schools. The early religion of Ladakh and Zanskar was the animistic Bon, worshipping spirits and mountains. 77% population of Ladakh is Buddhist. Some of the famous monasteries of Ladakh include Hemis Monastery, Thiksey Monastery, Diskit, Likir, Spituk Monastery, Stakna Monastery, Alchi Monastery, Phyang Monastery, Takthok Abbey, Sumda Chun among various small gompas and monasteries.

Reasons to visit Ladakh

 

A trip to Ladakh warrants a new experience of travel, adventure and more importantly of selflessness, that is the need of the hour. To book your Escape to Ladakh talk to us.

 

At the same time, we need to be responsible, respect the region and its challenges and not pollute the region any more.

 

About Author: This article is written by Sumit Singh Jamwal. Sumit is the MD of Escape Route, an experiential travel company, loves to explore off-beat places and share Escape stories with the world through Escape Route.

Follow him at www.instagram.com/jamwal_saaaab/ on instagram and Escape Route at https://www.instagram.com/escaperoute.co.in/. You can also watch Escape Route videos at https://www.youtube.com/c/escaperoutein

Sumit Singh Jamwal
Sumit Singh Jamwal – Escape Route

Why Dalhousie Should be your next Holiday Destination

Posted By : Sumit Singh Jamwal/ 567 1

Dalhousie is a famous hill station on the northern side of Himachal Pradesh. For the last three months it has been covered with snow and is our very own Indian answer to the most beautiful destinations on this planet.

Founded as a summer retreat during the British Raj, whatever is documented about Dalhousie dates back to the colonial era and has a certain amount of nostalgia. Everyone is mesmerized by the beauty of the region and no amount of appreciation can do justice to this magical town.

As the snow cover recedes and we step into summer, tourists are making a beeline to this heavenly abode. We look at some reasons on what makes Dalhousie so popular and the first choice as a summer holiday destination for both domestic and international travelers. The temperature during peak summers shuffles anywhere between 18-27 degrees while the rest of India is reeling under the heat wave of over 45 degrees.

Snow in DalhousieGeographically, Dalhousie is very scenic with layers of hills engulfing each other till eternity. Dalhousie itself is a combination of five hills of Kathlog, Potreyn, Terah, Bakrota and Bhangora with views of snow clad Pir Panjal range at a distance. The region is covered by a thick cover of pines, deodars, oaks, flowering rhododendron trees and wide variety of seasonal flowers. At a height of over 6500 ft above sea level, the location of Dalhousie presents panoramic views of the distant plains as the river Ravi twists and turns glistening in the sun right below Dalhousie. On a clear day three of the five great Punjab rivers i.e Sutlej, the Beas and the Ravi are visible from the high points of Dalhousie. If you are an ardent fan of nature, scenic landscapes, views of snow-clad Himalayas, virgin forest land (some of it marked as forest reserve), meadows, colonial styled hamlets, tasty Himachali snacks, warm affectionate people etc you will immediately fall in love with this region still unscarred by the devil of concretization.

6 Reasons to Visit DalhousieIn addition to marvelling over the beauty of this region, there are a lot of things to experience in and around Dalhousie. There are a lot of options to choose from. We have listed a few for you:

A walk and shopping at Mall Road – You can choose from a variety of woolens, shawls made from sheep wool, Tibetan artefacts and souvenirs, traditional jewellery, handicrafts and wooden memorabilia.

Churches – Built during the British-era, the churches form a major part of Dalhousie’s colonial heritage. St John’s church near Gandhi Chowk built in 1863, St Francis Church near Subhash Chowk built in 1894 and St Patrick’s Church built in 1909 on Military Hospital road are top recommendations.

Picnic at Panjpulla and or Satdhara Waterfall – The waterfall is due to the confluence of different mountain streams and local believe it to have medicinal properties. Both places are naturally scenic and a great venue to enjoy your picnic lunch.

Visit Khajjiar – Commonly called the mini-Switzerland of India, Khajjiar is a beautiful scenic town close to Dalhousie. It derives its beauty from the excellent amalgamation of lake, meadows and forests. Visit the temple near the lake to know the history on how Khajjiar acquired its name.

Trek to Dainkund and Pholani Devi Temple – Dalhousie is home to many famous temples like Bhalei Mata Temple. The trek till Dainkund top and to the temple is an ideal treat to the city eyes as it offers a 360 degree view with breathtaking views of Pir Panjal Range, the town of Dalhousie from a bird’s eye view and the famous hills of Dalhousie.

Dainkund Dalhousie - Escape Route

 

 

Take it slow – Do not be in a rush to cover Dalhousie in one go. Relax, rejuvenate and breathe in the fresh air of Dalhousie. Enjoy leisurely strolls in the lanes, sit-out at your favorite spot and think about the beauty of nature, gaze at the Himalayas and think about life and what you are chasing. Get philosophical, just do say it out loud. Get one with the wilderness and you will thank yourself for it.

 

Escape Route recommends a stay at either of our two partner properties to explore the beautiful Dalhousie and make the best out of your time:

 

Aaroham Resort Dalhousie – Machan shaped cottages in a thick cover of oak and rhododendron tress, Aaroham Resort is located approximately 4.5 km from Dalhousie town on the road to Karelnu. Each cottage has its private sit-out area opening towards the vast valley. The spacious cottages are marked into Deluxe and Super Deluxe categories and offer all modern amenities to its discerning guests. Aaroham is undoubtedly one of the freshest and contemporary additions to the beautiful offerings by Dalhousie.

Snow at Aarahoma Resorts, Dalhousie

 

  

Aamod at Dalhousie – Mud-finished cottages perched on a mountain ridge adjoining the Kalatop wild life sanctuary, is located approximately 5 km from Dalhousie town on the road to Khajjiar. Aamod at Dalhousie offers unparalleled views of Pir Panjal range from its open-air restaurant and its hospitality stands up as an epitome of excellence.

Cottages at Dalhousie - Aamod at DalhousieAamod at Dalhousie

The nearest airport to reach Dalhousie is Ghaggal airport (110 kms away). Nearest Train station is

Pathankot (87 kms away). One needs to take public transport to the reach Dalhousie from either of the two points.

 

About Author: This article is written by Sumit Singh Jamwal. Sumit is the MD of Escape Route, an experiential travel company, loves to explore off-beat places and share Escape stories with the world through Escape Route.

Follow him at www.instagram.com/jamwal_saaaab/ on instagram and Escape Route at https://www.instagram.com/escaperoute.co.in/. You can also watch Escape Route videos at https://www.youtube.com/c/escaperoutein

Sumit Singh Jamwal - Escape Route
Sumit Singh Jamwal – Escape Route
Things not to do in Ladakh

Why travel?

Posted By : Sumit Singh Jamwal/ 627 0

The mountains are calling and I must go vs human jams on Everest Top, trekkers stuck for hours!

Must visit hill-stations this summer vs Shimla faces the worst water-crisis in its history, urges tourists to stay away!

There are many such recent headlines that you must have come across if you have any interest in the world of Travel.

The recent boon of social media has given rise to many a things, from voicing your opinions anywhere anytime to the attempt to gather maximum views and create a social equity. There is a new breed of professionals, which are defining how to use social media and boy, people have taken note.

From fashion and beauty bloggers teaching you how to apply make-up through in-their and in-your face videos to food bloggers and influencers telling you what and how to eat, to travel bloggers who are telling you how to travel, we have really come a long way or have we?

Filters on Instagram, checking-in at different FB locations every-day, edited travel pictures and travel videos are some new ways to appear cool. Still some people must be fed-up of seeing the fake smiles and touched-up pictures begging you to spread some love, like, share and comment on their content.

How can one define how the other person should travel?

And why should you take it from others what is cool for you?

Do you ever wonder, what and how much goes behind the amazing flawless pictures in the middle of nowhere, with influencers wearing the most exquisite dresses looking fresh as blooming daisies. Full marks to the creativity, but can you imagine yourself on a mountain top after days of tiring journey, a couple of sleepless nights, dizziness, AMS, possibly a stomach upset, looking the same?
Then why have such faffy dreams?

Travel is anything but glamorous!

Travel involves planning, effort, guts, leaving your comfort zone, wandering sometimes aimlessly, stress, exploration, introspection and many things. After all of this is done well, you earn experiences and sometimes memories. Memories in terms of pictures, videos etc. is a part of the process not the process itself.

Both, the ones feeding you such travel dreams and the ones getting crazy to live the same dreams are at fault. In travel, not one-size fits all. Have you ever asked if you are okay with walking miles on road to come across one thing you have never seen before, would you travel hundreds of miles and trek mountains to find that first ray of sun touch the mountain top, would you spend hours in a jungle trailing the wild animal, would you spend time with a local ladakhi family understanding their way of life and playing with the kids, would you love and feed stray hill dogs etc. without clicking pictures?
Would you do all this and more and not show it to the world?

Most of the people travel to show and not to see. All tourist spots are covered by Instagram, FB and whatever other social media handles, not human beings. Else why would people fight with each other to jump the queue and get their picture first; Instagram handles would do that. If it were humans, they would have understanding, they would have perseverance, patience and most importantly manners; social media handles dont have such things. They just have light, filters, colors and share options.

What happens when you follow your favorite travel bloggers and visit their tagged locations? Do you see the same filtered spots or do you spot landfills of plastic bottles, chips packets, people peeing on the roads, people having defecated on hill tops (take George Everest in Mussoorie as an example, thanks for the recent clean-up by authorities).

The point is your pictures can never be as perfect as you are not an influencer yet and selling fake dreams is not how you earn your livelihood. You are not getting paid for views or getting free gifts from lifestyle brands to deliver their messages to your ‘fans’. You are just a normal human being who wants an escape from the rut. You just want to be happy and explore the world you want to see.

Believe in yourself, figure out what you like and what you want to do. Travel for yourself. Do not blindly follow dreams being pushed to you via social media handles which are either fake or being sponsored by brands that want your time and money.

P.S. this article is penned by a guy who runs a Travel Company. Takes people on trips and sends people to different off-beat locations for their holidays. The article was penned during Escape to Ladakh, after seeing the plight of clueless travellers who have reached the cold desert without really knowing, what are they doing there.

So you are a traveler, but are you?

Posted By : Sumit Singh Jamwal/ 1092 0

The world of travel more often than not misleads you to a happy place. What is that happy place? that rock on the mountain top, that beautiful shore with colorful pebbles, the adorable, sometimes angry faces of young kids? After that it is just filters…

What is that happy place you need to be at for you to be a traveler?

Thanks to the outburst of social media (more on that later), travel is the buzz-word. But what is travel really?

Travel is the movement of people between distant geographical locations. Travel can be done by foot, bicycle, automobile, train, boat, bus, airplane, ship or other means, with or without luggage, and can be one way or round trip. Travel can also include relatively short stays between successive movements.

The origin of the word “travel” is most likely lost to history. The term “travel” may originate from the Old French word travail, which means ‘work’. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the first known use of the word travel was in the 14th century. It also states that the word comes from Middle English travailen, travelen (which means to torment, labor, strive, journey) and earlier from Old French travailler (which means to work strenuously, toil). In English we still occasionally use the words “travail”, which means struggle ~ Wikipedia (most basic and easily accessible reference point).

Travelling in India is more often than not considered a luxury as it is an escape from your beaten-to-death routines, hardships, personal battles, miseries, sorrows and what not. That explains why tourists on the roads are so impatient, driving rash, honking mercilessly, hurling abuses at fellow travelers, fighting and anything else. “Friends” traveling together with alcohol in their veins and music in their soul are no different; one moment of confrontation and hell breaks loose. Are you the weekend offender / holidaymaker, visiting popular holiday destinations for to spend the night partying at a resort?

How it affects the minority of people who are neither pissed at their life nor travelling for ‘fun’ is that it spoils the journey and sometimes the entire travel. In a country as livid as ours, many people have died in road rage.

If you somehow manage to escape the rut, the road-age, near-death experiences and reach your destination, you would realize the same set of people already waiting for you, the same set of people you were running away from. There are traffic snarls in city during rush hours and now there are human jams on Mount Everest. Mind you, you cannot travel higher than Mount Everest at least on foot and there too, people are honking / yelling at each other to let-go first, without any oxygen to breathe.

I remember having rescued vehicles from Pagal Nala on the Rohtang – Kaza route as they forgot they are in a 4by4 terrain and had no preparation for times like that. Are you an adventurist?

The restaurants, shopping places, local attractions too are filled with the same howling kids, pushing moms and staring dads that you left behind in the city. So, are you a weekend traveler out there for few hours of relaxation?

The most touristy spots generally have a queue for everyone to get a picture and the most-famous local food shop owners have no time to talk ever and generally seems annoyed with the cacophony. A lot of people hate small-talks that have to be endured to be the subject of your insta-worthy pictures.  Are you a culture-vulture or an explorer?

We live in a world of global warming, extinct to near-to-extinct-species, dying marine life, rising water levels and erratic temperatures, plastic that can envelope the planet and suffocate us to death in moments. Yet, we stand at mountain tops proudly spitting, peeing and throwing away the potato chips’ packets and plastic bottles while we pose for a photograph with a victory sign using the index and middle finger. Should ideally have been just the middle finger to the entire human race.

In between all this havoc, you will find a beautifully dressed damsel or sometimes even a fella posing for an out-of-the-world picture. The camera guys, light guys, make-up artists would flank the daredevil-artist out of sight, before this leads to another roadblock. Are you the fashionista traveler or a beauty blogger?

Are you a photographer travelling to different places to capture some unique moments?

One of the most popular tourist destinations in North India; Rohtang Pass Top is 50kms from Manali and one has to cross through a check-post to feel the snow. In the peak season a tourist cab charges as high as INR 20,000 and even more for a few-hours to a day-trip, depending on your paying capacity and eagerness to get to the snow top. Nobody will agree to having paid this absurd amount of money for ‘fun’ in the snow for few hours, yet there is bumper-to-bumper traffic for 5-7 kms each day waiting to cross the check-post by hook or by crook. What happens when you make anxious travelers / tourists wait on a hill-top, they get hungry and they need to relieve themselves and hence we have human and plastic waste piling up on that route each day. At the mountain top, you have to navigate through the carelessly parked vehicles waiting for major disaster while you see thousands of happy tourists / travelers crawling on the snow on their fours, eating whatever there is to eat, drinking alcohol gloriously after having achieved such a great feat, couples ruminating in all the famous movie scene enactments they know of. It takes real courage to un-see this once you have witnessed such acts by the most-intelligent sentient race on this planet – homo sapiens.

Everything about Rohtang tourism is a case-study and is just one of the thousands of examples we witness each day.

Once could argue that not every other situation is as grave as Rohtang, but is it? It is the same route, same people, same mannerisms that are slowly eroding away all the beautiful places we had as the closest escape from the city life. The temperaments do not change whether you are in the city or 1000 kms away from it.

There is this other breed of off-beat travelers (mostly working for the social media and trying their luck at getting famous for reasons best known to them), who have taken it on themselves to spoil the areas which were still unknown to the breed of travelers. Among them, there is always a race to get somewhere first or go to the last humanly possible region of the planet and ask the world to visit the same place and ‘tag’ them. You will find such specimen mostly on social media with long captions about themselves and how they are the best in what they do. If they are lucky or smarter than the rest, they get paid in free gifts or sometimes money to say what they say and do what they do by brands who are always trying newer ways of capturing eye-balls. Are you a travel blogger? 

Let us not even start with the influence traveler category, it is a bubble waiting to burst and one should never get influenced enough to talk about them.

We also have short-on-money or sometimes pretending to be short-on-money kind of breed who want to travel and experience the world as is. Now the world doesn’t change if you travel by flight or on foot and why the urgency to travel if you are not capable of meeting your basic expenses?

You can be a traveler and be any of the categories mentioned above or not; but in any case, you need to question yourself, why do you travel?

No, this world is not a bad place, on the contrary this world has a lot of beautiful places. We make this world, we are the ones who need attitude correction and need to understand our responsibility. The places, routes will not change, they will just keep getting crowded and will eventually diminish, if not taken care of.

Going back to the origin of the meanings to the word “travel” – ‘to torment’ is one of them. If you are moving from point A to B only for careless “fun” and not being responsible towards the environment, the region, the routes, the fellow travelers and most importantly yourself; you are just doing it all wrong. You may not torment yourself but what about the people who are really passionate about travelling, discovering, exploring, helping, creating things?

Do not do travel for the heck of it and do not travel in a rush, it is not going to help anyone.

 

Your Ultimate Packing Guide for Ladakh

Posted By : Escape Route/ 1145 0

The land of high passes, the cold desert, the toughest terrain there is, the land of surreal landscapes, and so on – there are many reasons for you to go to Ladakh and all are just. But one must note that neither travelling to Ladakh (by road) or staying in Ladakh is easy for it is not easy for everyone to acclimatize to this region. But the right set of packing gear to accompany you can assure a comfortable experience, and rest is always up to us to explore.

We have collated a list of things you will need in Ladakh, some of which you must pack along to be prepared to explore the cold desert:

  1. Luggage – Do not carry big bags / trolleys to this region. It is ideal to pack light in a suitcase / trolley or a big rucksack, so that you can drag the trolley and carry the rucksack on your shoulders wherever you go. Pack as much as you can lift all by yourself, and also remember to pack smart. You will not have help everywhere you go with your luggage.Tips for Ladakh Packing
  1. Clothes – Ladakh is the only place where you can get a sunburn and a frost-bite at the same time. A lot of people misjudge the climate at Ladakh. The temperature fluctuates between 20 degrees Celsius to under zero degrees, all in a day. And if you catch a cold easily, it will be prudent to stay covered all day. Please carry warmers, woolen socks, high ankle walking shoes and jackets to keep you covered throughout the day and night. Hats / caps / beanies, mufflers, shawls, gloves etc. come in handy in this region. Flip-flops / chappals will be required too while you rest indoors.
  1. Medication – Ladakh is not an easy terrain as the roads are bumpy and the long drives will make you feel sick. Also the deficiency of Oxygen has multiple effects on your body. Also, since you do not get the food you are used to for days at a stretch, your stomach getting upset is a possibility too. Keeping these things in mind, do carry all the medicines prescribed to you by your doctor.

Diamox is used commonly to fight AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). It is advisable to take basic medicines for headache (Saridon); body ache (Combiflam); body ache with fever (Crosin/Paracetamol); loose motion (Roko/Dependal); cough and cold (Waterbury’s compound); stomach ailments (Pudin hara); altitude sickness (Avomine); vomiting (Stemetil); dehydration (Electrol); energy (Glucose); and for wounds – cotton wool, bandage and antiseptic.

  1. Vanity – This dry area will make your skin go dry and over-exposure to the sun will leave you with a bad tan or sunburn. Some moisturizer, and Vaseline for dry lips is essential. It is a good idea to keep your hair oiled for some days and keep it covered to have at least one good hair day through the duration of the trip. Do not forget your sunglasses (carry a couple of them atleast).
  1. Self-help tools – Anybody can be the X-Man or X-Woman in Ladakh just with the help of the right tools at the right time. A swiss-knife, garbage / trash bags, thermos, multi-point chargers, external battery pack, thermos, portable umbrellas, windcheaters, pocket knife, tyre inflator, GPS Navigator, torch, headlamps etc. come in very handy during this trip. Wet clothes do not dry soon, so some extra zip locks, and plastic covers in different sizes to carry your wet clothes is a good idea.
  1. Toiletries – Go overboard on this one. Some of the must-haves are Sunscreen – SPF 50, body lotion, face cream, moisturizer, Vaseline, lip balm – SPF, shampoo & conditioner, hair oil, shower gel, face wash, toilet paper, toothbrush & toothpaste, mouthwash, wet wipes, dry tissues, sanitizer, deodorant, soap strips, hair brush, ear-buds etc.
  1. Water bottle – Please carry your own water bottle, preferably a metal bottle. This will not only be your personal bottle throughout the trip, it will also help reduce the plastic waste being added by tons each day in our mountain valleys. The water in Ladakh is scarce but the drinking water quality is good and feel free to fill your bottles from houses or restaurants.
  1. Quick bites – You will feel hungry at a lot of spots and multiple times during the day. Please keep some nuts / dry fruits handy, some protein bars, tea and coffee sachets, gluconD and Electrol for dehydration, granola bars, dry muesli and some chocolates with you throughout the trip.
  1. If a local kid asks you for money, which is sadly a truth because our fellow travelers find the Ladakhi kids ‘cute’, please do not offer any money. Just offer a few chocolates and share the love.
  1. Documents and IDs – Some places in Ladakh are out-of-limits for foreign nationals due to security concerns near the border areas. However an Indian can reach anywhere with the right set of documentation. You would need a national photo ID like an Aadhar Card, or a Driving License etc. If you are travelling by your own vehicle, you need the attested photo copies of the Registration Certificate (RC), Pollution Control Certificate and Insurance as all times. You will need green permit while crossing over from Manali to Ladakh and will need inner-line permits to travel in and around Ladakh. The same can be obtained from the DC office at Leh.
  1. Be ready – Do not expect to find money at every ATM or even to find an ATM in the first place. Keep your cash handy starting from your hometown and be responsible. It will be wise to budget in your days and expenses and stay prudent on the road atleast. If you save enough, you can go bananas at the Leh shopping market!
  1. Camera equipment – If you are carrying DSLRs, be sure to carry them in an organized DSLR case with your lenses, memory cards, tripods, mono-pods, selfie stick for the selfie enthusiasts, extra batteries, charges and multi-point plug chargers etc. You will have electricity at Leh and a few spots to be able to charge your equipment so carry extra batteries.
  1. Network – Your city network operator may not be functional in Ladakh. Most of the pre-paid or post-paid sims stop working the moment you cross Rohtang Pass and will only work in Leh. If you want to stay in touch while on the move, do take a BSNL post-paid sim along for the journey.

Additional tips for girls by StreetTrotter:

“3 years back I invested in couple of tank top warmers with attached bra pads from Uniqlo. Till date they have been my best winter + travel buys. While the warmer keeps you warm on the inside, with the added bra support all in one – makes you feel light with so many layers on your body in extremely cold places like Ladakh,” adds Shraddha Gupta, Founder of StreetTrotter. Here are some more travel tips for girls from her personal experience:

  1. Carry your pack of sanitary pads, with extra disposal options such as some old newspapers, or disposal bags.
  2. Finding a clean bathroom at every stop could be tricky, so carry a pack of soft wet wipes, your own toilet paper, and a hand sanitizer as a must.
  3. As mentioned earlier, Ladakh can surprise you with fluctuating temperatures – so keep your makeup on the minimal side. Avoid base foundations and keep your skin as clean and basic as possible. Carry face tissues, face cleanser, and a face cream/gel with a higher moisturizing content to keep your face fresh and less dry during the trip.
  4. If you are picky about hygiene while sleeping, carry your own light and foldable bed sheet.
  5. Ladakh is also a tricky terrain. So replace that hand purse by either a backpack or a handy side sling. Make sure to keep your hands free at all times.
  6. Other than a cap, its good to carry a warm headband to save your head and your ears from the biting cold.
  7. Trusting your instinct and carrying a pepper spray are just some extra precautions that never harm!

It is important to book your first trip with an experienced road-captain or a travel company of your preference. This way you can focus less on planning and more on having fun and exploring the place without any hassles.

Moscow

From Russia, With Love

Posted By : Aarti K Singh/ 564 0

Moscow has something for everyone – whether you want to spend the night in a Bohemian art café or be in a nostalgia-rich beer club, says Aarti Kapur Singh

Moscow is a city held by its denizens as being limitless. That can also be said about the nightlife here.Whether you are a jazz aficionado, a hardcore clubber, or just a plain old alcoholic, Moscow has an amazing array of nightlife options and a scene for. A night out in Moscow can be rather dizzying. All the ‘rules’ of going out in other cities don’t seem to apply in Moscow. But giving into it, and letting yourself be swept along by all the excitement, can be a very exhilarating experience in itself.

Since the nightlife is so diverse, it is hard to arrive at generalisations. But even then there are some things that if a traveller becomes familiar with, nightlife in the bustling city will be a breeze.

The-Hungry-Duck

Firstly, a bar or nightclub in Moscow is rarely just that. Nearly every drinking venue in Moscow doubles up as an eatery too and some also multi-task as a bowling alley, snooker room, casino and even a bookshop. This is probably so because Moscow is such a vast metropolis, and getting around in cabs so expensive, that owners want to provide their customers with a ‘one-stop-shop’ for nightlife entertainment – rather than send them out into the, often bitter, cold night for a bite to eat!These multi-purpose venues often charge a cover, but rather it’s best to choose your spot for the night and stick with it. Moscow’s nightlife is also highly-charged. From the newly rich flashing their cash in seriously expensive and snazzy clubs to the more humble citizens in downright seedy bars, everyone seems to be slaking their thirst as only Muscovites know how. Clubs tend to be on the pricey side – and full of people admiring themselves. Some of the more recent additions have melded great international music with the less sophisticated pop fare for which the city used to be known. Moscow’s bouncers are famous for exercising what’s known as ‘face control’, a rigorous screening of people trying to get into their clubs. The best advice to get past would be to dress up a little more than usual. Many travellers are slightly disconcerted by the extent to which lap-dancing clubs are considered acceptable. A number of mainstream clubs that you’d never have thought to be strip joints even offer private suites for those with the money and the inclination.There are some places that one should definitely not miss.

beer-barrels-in-Kamchatka

Put on your dancing shoes

Gipsy

Thanks to its big summer terrace with a picturesque view of the Moscow River, Gipsy remains one of the most popular party locations. A big indoor dance floor with a bar in the middle, disco balls hanging from the ceiling and walls upholstered in fake cheetah skins help sustain the party atmosphere. The Gipsy’s public is rather pleasant and includes plenty of gorgeous girls. Some of the city’s best techno jams take place here on Fridays, while Saturdays are reserved for mash-up and alco-dance music. During the day, Gipsy transforms into a good restaurant, which we highly recommend visiting in summer for lunch on the terrace.

Solyanka

Solyanka is widely believed to be Moscow’s central nightclub. Once called a “hipster stronghold”, Solyanka is located in an antique mansion in the centre of Moscow. To enter the club, one has to climb up a marble spiral staircase leading to the first floor.The dance floor is the last of the rooms and also the most spacious. Parties are held from Thursday to Saturday (and sometimes on Sundays, too) and the music ranges from techno and house to funk and hip-hop. The club also hosts interesting guest performances on a weekly basis. Special mention should be given to the Love Boat party run by famous fashion blogger Vitaly Kozak.

During the day, Solyanka transforms into a trendy and quite affordable restaurant and the Thai curries are particularly good.Part restaurant and part club, Solyanka also has its own designer accessories shop and a fashion magazine on site. Spread across the second floor of an old mansion, parties here have the feel of a giant house party, albeit one where your friends are all unusually stylish and good-looking and don’t give a damn about jumping all over the furniture.

Sit Back & Relax

Muscovites are not always on some sort of hyperactivity trip. Some of them like to have laid back evenings as well and you can give them company at several places.

Kamchatka

Darling I’ll Call You Later

The Darling I’ll Call You Later chain consists of three Moscow bars that combine rock-n-roll, delicious beer at $6 and a home-like atmosphere. Here you can enjoy a tasty breakfast or lunch while watching a cinema masterpiece or a music show.

In the evening, major sports events are broadcast and football tables are installed for those willing to play. On Fridays and Saturdays, the bars throw parties, where famous TV presenters, editors-in-chief of glamour magazines and next-door music fans can all spin the turntables. A typical lunch here costs $20.

Kamchatka

Kamchatka is a city centre pub in a prime location right in front of the city’s most luxurious department store, TSUM (the local version of London’s Selfridges or Milan’s Rinoscente).This two-storey bar, meticulously decorated in Soviet-style, is a must-see for any foreigner interested in the drinking and eating habits of Communist Russia: Kamchatka’s menu complements its interior quite harmoniously. The 1980s and 1990s Soviet pop songs are played non-stop and the prices are quite affordable. The house speciality beer is called Kamchatka.

Sin City

The Hungry Duck

No guide to Moscow’s nightlife is complete without paying lip service at least to its most notorious venue. The Hungry Duck has seen some very raucous action in its time, and although it might not be quite the no-holds-barred haven of hedonism it once was, there’s still plenty of life in the old bird yet.At the peak of its popularity, “the Duck”, as it was known, was an icon of Moscow hedonism until it was closed in 1999 after complaints from members of the Russian State Duma. The bar was reopened in 2012.The bar was known for it’s uninhibited sexual and sometimes violent atmosphere. Its “Ladies Night” is especially notorious, with male strippers entertaining a packed bar filled with women paying almost no entrance fee and consuming free drinks.

Now that you are all sorted, get set to say dobryyvecher Moscow!

This article was written by Aarti Kapur Singh on http://www.gypsyonexploration.com/from-russia-with-love/