For a perfect weekend, Escape Route picks up these ten destinations around Delhi that make for stunning weekend escapes…
For those who love to travel, a perfect weekend is about escaping the daily grind and exploring new destinations. From historical marvels and wildlife sanctuaries to picturesque hill stations and cultural havens, pick the destination of your choice along with a suggested stay option and escape for a road trip! (Please note: The distance to each of the following is as measured from Delhi.)
Bhowali – 307 kms
In the vicinity of many popular hill stations of Uttarakhand, beautifully secluded Bhowali is a relaxing weekend escape. You will find the beauty of nature in abundance here; it is one of those destinations to go to and do nothing at. If travelling between June and August, you must get your hands on freshly ripened apples, apricots, peaches and plums indigenous to the area. Other than that, explore an existing nature trail or discover one of your own, hike to the famous Tiffin Top to see what the view from their looks like.
As you arrive in the capital city of Rajasthan, its vibrancy, culture, and people make you its own… The famous forts and palaces are the heart of the Pink City; be it experiencing the sunrise from the top of Nahargarh Fort, an elephant ride in the Amber Palace, a walk through the heritage Hawa Mahal or the sunset view from Jal Mahal built in the middle of Man Sagar Lake, each has its own charm.
On the other hand, the hustle-bustle in the colourful streets of Baapu Bazaar and Johari Bazaar keeps the city alive and is something to be experienced. It is a paradise for shoppers as a range of artefacts, jewellery, traditional footwear, apparels and leather items etc., can be found here as you walk through the lanes. For the foodies, local delicacies such as daal bati churma, ghevar and pyaaz kachodis in the bylanes of Jaipur must be relished. The city has been one of the most convenient weekend escapes for the people of Delhi and we see no reason why it shouldn’t be!
To travel to the city of love, take the route through Yamuna-Agra Expressway and enjoy a smooth and comfortable road trip. Chances are that this will not be your first time in Agra and you might already have plenty photos with the Taj Mahal. Whether or not that is the case, this time, try and look at Agra as the capital that it was during the Mughal Empire. Trace the walls of the Red Fort,
The city owns the most magnificent architecture, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Taj Mahal, built on the banks of river Yamuna. It is the royal beauty of this monument and picturesque location that attracts travelers from across the globe.
While Taj Mahal is built from the precious white marble, its sister monument – the Agra Fort – is beautifully built in red and white sandstone. Don’t forget to try the popular “Agra Ka Petha” while you stay in Agra. 35km ahead of this is Fatehpur Sikri, a city with grandeur indo-Islamic architecture, culture and Mughal heritage worth exploring.
Apart from the adventure activities, Rishikesh, is also a center for spirituality and pilgrimage as the scenic view and holy atmosphere detoxifies the mind and soul. If you like solitude and introspection, then Parmarth Niketan is a must visit for meditation and spiritual healing. Well, the Beatles Ashram is also a place to be at, the famous music band visited the place back in 1968 to learn Transcendental Meditation and since the last few years it has become a famous tourist spot. Small shops offer head massage and body massages while restaurants like Chotiwala, street food and small bakeries will entice your taste buds.
*Please note that Shivpuri has been shut since the beginning of June and rafting activities have been discontinued until further government notice.
The paradise of bird watchers, Bharatpur, is the ultimate destination for exotic bird watching and nature photography in the popular Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary or Keoladeo National Park. Come here to listen to the songs of nature and enjoy the magical flora & fauna. Rare and endangered species of birds right from Sarus Cranes, Herons & Egrets to Indian Darter migrate here during different seasons. It is not advisable to cover the entire area on foot instead you can opt for a cycle or Tonga ride as well as jeep safari and elephant back safari, which are more fun amidst the nature.
The Lohagarh Fort in Bharatpur is magnificent and strong architectural structure ever built in India and this is a place often explored by curious travellers. The lovers of history often discover their “bliss” in the Government Museum of Bharatpur, where they find illustrations, sculptures, artifacts, weapons of the Jat rulers, zoological preserves and manuscripts paintings all under one roof dating back to second century.
Bhimtal, The Lake City, is an ideal getaway for a peaceful and pleasing stay amidst hills and lake. Nature lovers find this picturesque location their abode for the variety of activities they do here to stay close to nature such as exotic bird watching, nature walk, boating and much more. Unlike its more popular cousin Nainital, Bhimtal is more peaceful and less crowded which makes it more striking to nature lovers looking for an escape. There are these little tals around Bhimtal easily discoverable on foot, each with a story to tell.
Do not forget to pay visit to the Butterfly Research Centre, the fourth largest reference collection centre in India for butterfly and moth. It is believed that in Bhimtal alone, around 240 species of butterflies is found of the total 1300 species present in India. Also, what adds value to a place is the charming stays and the hospitable staff, giving you the best of services and local guidance during the stay.
If you are looking for a relatively less crowded and unspoilt hill station then, Lansdowne is the place to be at. The road journey from Delhi to Lansdowne is about 7 to 8 hours with well-connected roads, so for a relaxing weekend escape, it is one of the pleasing hill stations to be at. A perfect escape from city life, Landsdowne is an easy option to rejuvenate your soul.
One of the tourist attractions here is, The War Memorial, at the Parade Ground of the Garhwal Rifles Center, for which you will need permission from the military authority. With a short walk you could get a panoramic view of the Garhwal Hills with the backdrop of magnificent Himalayan Range., During monsoons, this hill station witnesses devotees of Lord Shiva from all over paying visit to its most famous temple, Kaleshwar Mahadev Temple.
Get lost in nature amidst mountains and dense forest of tall oak and deodar trees and explore the serenity of this peaceful hill station. Unlike many other active hill stations of Uttarakhand, Dhanaulti is peaceful and untouched which is why travelers dwell to this place for solitude during weekends. For the adventurous kind, there is a lot Dhanaulti has to offer, such as hiking in the lush green forests of Dhanaulti is the perfect thing to start your day with. Rappelling, Burma bride, horse riding and various other adventurous activities can be enjoyed in the Eco Park. The hot & delicious Maggi and tea served right at the entrance of the park will calm your hunger pangs and relish the taste buds in the mountains. Dhanaulti has less of luxury accommodation options, so camping under the open sky with stars twinkling right above makes the trip an everlasting experience. Tents can be availed on rent as well.
Rejuvenate yourself completely in this calm and beautiful hill station, Landour. Almost 5kms, away from the crowded bazars of Mussoorie, it is a more serene place to be at. Prefer a walk between the bazars of Mussoorie and Landour and enjoy the tranquility of life. As you move towards the Laal Tibba Hill, which is the highest point in Mussoorie, hold your breath because from here you experience the most charismatic sunrise and sunset.
Landour’s Chaar Dukan area is quite pretty and a popular spot, where tourists often stop-by for lip-smacking sandwiches, ginger lemon honey tea, Maggi, juices and more at Anil’s Café. Landour happens to be the hometown of Ruskin Bond, so you might get a glimpse of him. It is one of the first places in India where Peanut Butter was made commercially so do not forget to carry some fresh homemade peanut butter back to your homes.
Sarika Tiger reserve has held its fort for tourists over past many decades. The population of tigers might have been in question once in a while, but the place is the nearest getaway for wildlife enthusiasts from Delhi. Here, you will find a variety of wild animals such as jackals, leopards, jungle cats, wild boars, deer among many other not so wild species such as sambhar, spotted deer, lots and lots of peacocks. Some of the rarest species of birds migrate here, so for bird lovers this place has to be in their bucket list.
Though whenever one hears about Sariska, it is The Sariska National Park they think about but it has many hidden gems as well that are worth exploring such as the magnificent Sariska Palace, which was once the home of Maharajas of Alwar. The ruins of Bhangar fort, which is believed to be haunted is the most explored places when people visit Sariska. There are endless haunted stories of Bhangarh that catches people’s interest.
Please note that Sariska Tiger reserve is open for the public every day from October till May from 6 am till 3:30 pm.
Just like the beginning of life, each trip begins with an idea of hope, happiness and a new start…
A trip through unexplored routes fills us with freshness about an escape from the mundane. There is a start with determination that things will never be the same again and only better from thereon.
Sometimes you meet roadblocks in the beginning but those are soon overcome with the unending quest to explore something new, give our ideas the reality they deserve. As we grow, as we move forward in our trip, we meet new people. Each route, each person offers a new sight and new perspective. Every new stopover, every new interaction offers a new experience.
Each personality is developed by the perspectives we have built, experiences we have earned and that makes us decide what we like and what we will seek.
We have minimalists and glam packers, we have adventurists and comfort seekers, we have those who seek isolation and we also have story tellers, we have a variety of personalities, some seeking the same comfort everywhere and some seeking a new experience at each new turn. Technology and social media has coined a term for each and we have all become comfortable with our kind of personality whether it is in social life or real life.
While you are busy exploring newer terrains and yourself, you realize no matter what all you know and how good you are, there will always be people who face hardships better than you do. Those who embrace good parts of the trip, each new turn, condition, interaction, experience etc and you wish that you could be like them as well. You also learn that one trip is not enough to cover this big vast world and you start growing restless about what all you are about to miss.
There are challenging routes and there are fun routes but both are important for else, it will be meaningless to have a trip which did not present any hardships. By now you have realized that hardships make the best of stories, fun is just okayish.
There are also these parts of the trip where you are thankful to everyone for all that you have been able to cover and witness. There are these moments of eternal happiness and grave sorrow and sometimes they are too much to handle. But that’s just how it is and has to be dealt with.
While you are busy figuring out the answers to your own quests, discoveries, you realize the trip is already over and you must head back to where you came from. This generally results in an outbreak of emotions. Good or bad, ugly or beautiful, you realize that the trip was important. After all, all’s well that ends well.
“At last, we reached Komic; the signage read a height of 4587 meters and a village population of 114 inhabitants”…
The road that turns left from Koksar towards Spiti Valley does not look anything like a National Highway. It is full of challenges, adventure, risk and yet breathtaking landscapes. If you have covered the stretch from Jammu to Leh passing through the mud mountains, lunar landscapes, magnetic hill and more, you cannot expect Spiti Valley to surprise you, yet it enchants you like never before.
Our intention was to have evening tea at the highest motorable village in Asia, Kibber, and we crossed all hurdles with a smile. It was only at Key Monastery that we realised that the road now extends to Komic Village and the tag of the ‘highest motorable village’ had moved. The thing with tags such as highest, longest and brightest is that they can always be challenged. Unfazed, we changed our direction and set course towards Komic which was 21kms farther and much higher than the erstwhile highest village, Kibber. Not sure of what to expect, we were greeted by a narrow tar-less road uphill and a lot of dust, enough to change the colour of everything it touched. As we escalated up, the landscape kept getting more appealing and colourful. At last, we reached Komic village, the signage read a height of 4587 meters and a village population of 114 inhabitants. There was still no sign assuring of the highest-village-in-Asia claim. It was only after exchanging words with the indigenous lamas that the title was confirmed and we swell our chests with pride. Komic Village has a total of dozen odd houses and a 14th century old monastery which is the abode of Lamas. Most of the lamas keep shuffling between the Komic and Kaza as Kaza is the activity hub.
Komic means Snow Cock Eye. There are legendary stories associated to the village as robbers trying to steal the main deity but were unable to lift it after a point as it kept getting heavier, hidden treasures such as egg of the dragon, horn of a unicorn etc. Even the carving shapes of some stones will yell of delight. The earthquake in 1975 shattered the whole place around yet the deity statue at Komic held its place.
With one look around at the settling sun flickering over the Kaza mountain range, the thought of having tea at Asia’s highest village soon turned into the will to have dinner. We requested the head lama to let us stay the night and we were offered a room. We can never forget the delicious vegetable rice ‘pulao’ that the lama cooked up for us learning that we were hungry. We also gorged over vegetable ‘thenthuk’ for dinner. Well for tea, we are not sure how much we consumed as it tasted better than any other elixir in the world.
The village remains disconnected from the rest of the civilization for half the year due to heavy snow and lack of proper roads. The villagers are hospitable and are undaunted by lack of infrastructure or public services we, city dwellers, cannot live without. The trip to Komic is an essential escape from our worldliness to connect with the Lama life, to lay sight on landscapes and mountain ranges at same height as yours and more so to understand the true meaning of minimalism which cannot be taught better by anyone but the inhabitants of Komic village.
We are once again escaping to Spiti, in August this year. Know more about it here.
Everybody who used #hills #travel #fun #heaven and never thought #responsible is to be blamed…
‘Shimla locals ask tourists to stay away’
‘Congress MLAs have threatened to gherao the Municipal Corporation office, CM holds review meetings with different departments’
‘Mid-night protest march – citizens demand registration of FIR against the officials responsible for allegedly supplying sewage-mix water’
‘7 days of no water leave Shimla locals angry; tourists asked to stay away, find other options’
‘Government swings into action, divides Shimla into three zones to tackle water crisis. All are equal, no tankers for VIPs’
‘Court appeals residents to not wash cars,
‘Shimla’s daily requirement is around 42 MLD (million litres/day) water but supply fell to 22 MLD’
These are some of the headlines about the water crisis in the capital of Himachal Pradesh over the past one week. The Shimla water crisis that started as water shortage is over a week old and if reports are considered, it will loom over the next couple of weeks.
It is the worst thing to have happened to the hill station after the concretization. Exactly how big the problem is and which other regions are affected will be known later as the pundits have just begun their calculations.
I recently visited Shoghi for a small cleanliness drive on the Tara Devi temple route with one of our partner properties and couldn’t help but observe and capture the concrete jungle that Shimla has become. The thought of endless honking during traffic jams at the entry of Shimla city has filled me with restlessness over the years, so I would only look at it from a safe distance. The images gave me the same restlessness; mountains covered with more concrete than trees… they have been in mind ever since. And now the current Shimla water crisis only adds to the sorrow.
This is not a post full of crisis information, tips to recover from the Shimla water crisis or talk about how bad things have become. This is to remind us all that we are all responsible for this crisis. Anyone who has ever been to Shimla and been mesmerised looking at the green while overlooking the impending crisis is to be blamed. Everyone who got inebriated with the beauty of hills while honking endlessly at other vehicles in a never ending traffic jam is to be blamed. Everybody who used #hills, #travel, #fun, #heaven and never thought #responsible is to be blamed. Anyone who never cared about using the natural resources judicially is to be blamed.
Is it soon enough to respect Mother Nature and not feed on its carcass like wild dogs? What next after Shimla?
If we are still not doing our bit, we may never need to…
Day trips are more like power naps; you feel recharged and refreshed in no time…
Having said that, we also realise that living in a metropolis only leaves you with so many options for a day trip! For day trips near Delhi, one mostly needs to travel at least a hundred kilometres to begin to feel the escape. But with these options listed below, you’ll realise why hidden and gems are two words that go together. These are all interesting destinations great for a ride with your gang.
Please note: Distance to each destination is as measured from our Travelers Café & Motorcycle Garage in Noida, which is also the beginning point for all our Sunday Rides.
Bhardwaj Lake, Asola Wildlife Sanctuary, Delhi – 85 kilometers
Not many people know that the Asola-Bhatti forest range ahead of Chattarpur it is a natural habitat with a variety of birds, butterflies, mammals and lakes – of which Bhardwaj Lake is one. Ride to this place for an exploratory hike; be here with a group to ensure safety. It is advisable to carry plenty of drinking water and some quick breakfast options (sandwiches/ paratha rolls) with you.
Choose Garhmukhteshwar for a ride in the rain. Start early and discover this simple little town blessed with a close proximity to Ganga River. When here, Ganga Ghat and Nakka Kuan are two places you must visit. You’ll find plenty of breakfast options on the way and around the destination as well.
Situated just outside the city, it is the perfect spot to ride to. Take your breakfast/brunch spread along and cherish a Sunday picnic with family/friends. It is “an easily accessible bird paradise” (as described in a Nat Geo article). Go find yourself to know more.
Sultanpur National Park, Gurgaon, Haryana – 69 kilometres
Another haven for bird watchers on the other side of the capital, this site is plush with exotic migratory birds during winter, and makes for a charming picnic spot otherwise. It might be useful to note that it is open from 7 am to 4.30 pm. Find more information here.
Murthal, Sonipat, Haryana – 90 kilometres
This one’s obvious, and certainly not hidden, but the list wouldn’t have been complete without it. Murthal continues to be one of the favourite spots for bikers for a spin on NH1. Popular for the tandoori parathas served at its many dhabas, you need not worry about finding breakfast options here.
Damdama Lake, Sohna, Haryana – 60 kilometres
Damdama Lake is easily discover-able through Google Maps. However, owing to the reservoir’s irregular shape and size, there is more to it than just the main site. Best explored on motorcycles, the terrain is mostly raw and uneven, like most regions that fall in the Aravalli range are. It is recommended that you carry plenty of water and quick bites with you. There’s a restaurant by the Haryana Tourism board at the site. *Includes off-roading
Did you know you can find Dolphins in North India? Yes, you can. All you need to do is plan a ride to Unchagaon. 100 kilometres via Bulandshahr, Unchagaon in Uttar Pradesh is known for its Gangetic Dolphins and an ancient temple of Amantika Devi. Owing to the fact that Garhmukhteshwar is merely an hour away from Unchagaon, one may cover both in a day’s time.
Bhola ki Jhal, Meerut, Uttar Pradesh – 60 kilometres
Take a left from the Delhi-Meerut highway, just before Meerut, and you are in for a beautiful 25-kilometres-long stretch with the Ganges flowing alongside. Around Bhola ki Jhal, you can indulge in some fresh juice, pakoras, chai, bread omelette etc for breakfast. Our gang of riders played a match of cricket at the site to add some fun to the day.
Nuh, Haryana – 84 kilometres
Nuh is an ancient town in the state of Haryana. According to Mahabharata, the area was granted by Yudhisthira to their guru Dronacharya. If you’re a history aficionado, you must visit the ruins of the Ghasera Fort and the Chui Mal ka Talaab, when you ride/drive to this destination. Have breakfast on the way.
Pratapgarh, Jhajjar, Haryana – 110 kilometres
If you’re looking forward to an eventful day post riding, Pratapgarh can be an ideal destination for your group. You and your gang can immerse yourself in a range of activities at the popular Pratapgarh Farms here. Explore breakfast options on the way.
While most traces of the Mughal rule in the historic city of Panipat have faded, this one treasure still stands strong. Named after Kabuli Begum, Babur’s wife, the Kabuli Bagh Mosque was built in 1527 by the emperor Babur to mark his victory over Sultan Ibrahim Lodhi at the first Battle of Panipat in 1526. A halt at Murthal for breakfast mid way can be a good idea; there are enough restaurants on NH1 ahead of Murthal as well.
It is best to carry a basic tool kit and a first-aid box at all times.
Escape Route’s Sunday Rides are accompanied with an experienced road captain and a mechanic. _______________________________________________________________________________
If you think you have another interesting suggestion for day trips near Delhi, do let us know! We will update the article with your contribution. Meanwhile, join our Facebook group to stay updated about our Sunday Rides and other trips.
Forget about future generations, it is tough for this generation itself to find beauty in a hill covered with plastic bottles and packets
When was the last time you were actually planning a trip and surfing through different options? So you think of Shimla ─ mostly a concrete jungle, McLeodganj ─ brimming with humans all the time, Nainital ─ even the tal isn’t enticing anymore, Agra – ideal for a stampede, Jaipur – not so pink anymore…the list of places you don’t prefer going to anymore is endless. The reason is us ─ the travelers in all our glory.
We have not been respectful enough of the natural gifts. All these locations have been covered with concrete and are mostly man-made disasters waiting to happen. We cannot do much about the damage already done, can we?
At the same time, if you look around carefully, each off-beat location is getting polluted by humans into a garbage dump with plastic, used belongings, perishables etc. Social media is a culprit too, with all the amazing filters, it calls all viewers to visit the beautiful locations but never tells you about your ingrained responsibility to preserve that space.
Forget about future generations, it is tough for this generation itself to find beauty in a hill covered with plastic bottles and chips packets. We are all aware of the scarcity of natural resources, depleting clean water, less and less of fresh air and definitely lesser green areas. We also see hordes of warnings about not polluting the environment and caring about the landscapes, but who cares.
Picture this, at present one has to travel at least 200 kms and more from the nearest metro city to be in the lap of nature. Passionate bloggers and photographers are covering more than double the distance to show you how the clean world looks like. It takes you minimum of 4-5 hours to leave the grime and dust of the city to start breathing fresh air. What matters is how you behave while you are breathing fresh air in that area.
Some facts to get your attention:
Over 62 million tonnes of waste is generated annually in the country
Task of value extraction is left to the informal system of garbage collectors and recyclers
Only 80% of waste generated is collected and merely 28% processed
Swachh Bharat focuses too narrowly on individual action to keep streets clean without any pressure on State and Municipal authorities
There are stark threats to the world like the climate change, global warming etc. we cannot do much about it, but we can do what we can. We are listing out a few points for travelers to help conserve Mother Nature as we trot her majestic mountains and beautiful valleys:
Just stop littering – Please stop throwing while you walk and look all fancy. It is just not cool, is bothersome and affects everyone around you. No natural spot ever looked exquisite with discarded food cans, plastic bottles and other used stuff. Please stack the used items in a disposable bag, just carry it a little distance and place it in the dustbins. There are organisations like Waste Warriors and Clean Up Himalayas doing their bit, you need to do yours.
Act local – Locals do not pollute the environment they live in.
Conserve resources – One thing we must learn from our villages – Take only as much as you can consume, whether it is food or resources. What is the point of going to new places and not picking up their best practices?
We don’t have all the gyaan for you, but hopefully you get the thought. Please share what else do you think can be useful in maintaining the sanctity of all travel zones. We will update the article with your propositions.
PS – For each of Escape Route trips, we carry our own garbage bags and ensure that our fellow travelers make use of it for any kind of leftovers/throwaways. Littering is just not done.
An endless open road, clear or in some preferences cloudy sky and no particular destination in mind; is an idea of freedom epitomised by the happy movie endings and we all wonder what fun it must have been. Nobody follows the car post the happy ending to see if the driver got a stomach upset in the coming days because he did not pack the right food for the road-trip. It gets even trickier if you are in a country like India; all thanks to the scorching heat, dust, unbearable cold, fog etc. alongside many roadside eateries who have sworn on not giving you fresh food ever.
What to eat on a road trip is an integral part of the overall experience. Make a mistake and you will be searching for the next relieving facility throughout the journey or would be cranky for reasons unknown to others. There can be other disturbances too, better left to the imagination of our discerning readers.
How light is light enough and is fried really bad? Is Mac’n’Cheese with iced tea a good idea and how can the Dhaba food be bad at all? You will never know unless it happens to you. Keep these following recommendations about what to eat on a road trip in mind to be rather safe than sorry:
There is no substitute to water – you can add lemon to it, but no masala and no soda please. Fresh Juices are excellent fluids and great companions for road trips. Green teas keep it all clear and happy.
If you have difficulty finding fresh fruit juice, opt for fresh fruits. Tip – try and find new fruits other than apples and bananas.
So you cannot do without snacks and salt – here are some healthier options: baked banana chips, whole wheat pretzels, dry museli or with curd, fresh cut veggies and dips
Some of us just cannot do without breads when thinking of what to eat on a road trip and hence, a peanut butter sandwich, jelly sandwich and/or cheese sandwich with sliced cucumber and tomatoes does the trick.
The only problem with boiled eggs packed in a container is the stench it leaves. So keep the shell on till you are ready to eat. You need your protein.
Granola/Protein bars are not for everyone. But if you dip your granola bar in yoghurt, it might be an all new experience for your taste buds to relish.
Home-cooked Indian breads aren’t a complete no; baked and not deep-fried fenugreek parathas will help you every time you crave for salt. Curd, again pitches in for the rescue.
A lot of us are lactose intolerant and it is bothersome, at least in the head. So avoid milk and try soy milk or curd instead. Have black coffee wherever necessary.
Nuts aren’t really that boring; Mix almonds, cashews, figs, dried apple, walnuts, drip apricots, pistachios etc and it tastes great.
If motion sickness bothers you, try mint/ginger/cinnamon tea (you could also chew on mint leaves). Mix pepper and lemon juice in a bit of warm water to get rid of headache and dizziness. Cloves are tried and tested too.
Quick-tip: Please carry reusable water bottles and do not have tap water if you are not sure. Always keep a multi-purpose knife handy for fruits and other brief preparations. Bread and your favorite seasoning always come in handy. Rather than eating too much in one go, eat little many times.
Cheat-tip: If nothing of the above really works for you. Pull over to the next road-side dhaba and ask the guy to make fresh baked breads (rotis) alongside dal tadka. Add green salads and curd to the same and you will be good to go for another few hundred kilometers. Just don’t overeat.
When it gets unbearable, I make samosa sandwiches, by pressing a samosa between two bread slices and a slice of cheese and it gets me going till the next salt craving.
I won’t lie, we both were battling inside with various levels of being reluctant – but less did we know that this hostel experience would turn out to be one of the best bonding activity we did as a couple…
Three years of being married and Mr. H and I have found accommodation in endless hotels, resorts and Airbnb’s throughout our vacations. But never did the idea of staying in a hostel cross our mind (only god knows why), until recently, while we were looking for our options in Iceland.
Let’s accept it – marriages/relationships are not 24-hours rosy. Couples that don’t fight, don’t disagree and don’t demand their own space after a few years of being together are almost a myth (no offence to the ones who still claim to be perfect together – I am yet to meet you). And hence, we all need to re-bond every once in a while to make sure that the spark is still on – till death do us apart.
In January 2017, we both took a trip to Iceland and booked ourselves into a 6-bed dormitory at KEX Hostel in Reykjavik. The hostel boasted of some really cool yet cozy common spaces, live music, one of the best gastropubs in the city, and an easy-on-our-pocket kind of budget. And in one really impulsive moment – we booked KEX – ditching all our other luxury stay options. By now from the tone of this article – you would know we had an amazing experience (almost like an eye-opener) – and here is why we think staying in a hostel as a couple is an essential bonding activity (#couplegoals) all married couples should indulge in at least once in their lifetime:
You connect with each other as FRIENDS again, because sometimes we forget how it used to feel like. A hostel environment is all about meeting new people and staying with strangers in a common dormitory. Once you check into a hostel – the idea of privacy is almost nil – so forget about getting a cozy corner to romance it out. With so much happening around you – PDA is not an option – which leaves you with only one choice of being best buddies all over again.You learn to look out for each other in washroom queues and guard each others luggage in common spaces. You hunt for a table to eat together and often hold onto seats while your better half is gone to fetch his/her breakfast. You both are two ‘individuals’ traveling together minus all the lovey-dovey feelings – which forces you to re-connect as friends.
You push yourself out of your couple-comfort-zone and explore more outdoors. Staying in a shared dorm with bunk beds also means ‘no bedroom’, no cuddles, and no private bathroom. As a couple this very feature of a hostel is often THE deal-breaker; but a few years down a relationship – it’s an interesting experience. It pushes you both out of your room, and makes you concentrate on being outdoors, explore the destination a lot more, and spend more time discovering new things to do outside your accommodation.Or even just spending more time in the common areas of your hostel – reading a book, catching up with people and just enjoying some good music in the company of complete strangers.
You discover each others likes/dislikes/ideas/opinions/habits in the process of meeting new people.You learn new things together. The best part of a hostel experience is the constant in-and-out of travelers from all over the world. It is the perfect place to communicate with strangers and make new friends over all kinds of engaging conversations. As a couple we often slow down on getting to know each other assuming we already know our better half inside out. But people evolve and change with time – so does your partner. On a table full of different world-views and ideas – it is more than likely that you will discover exciting things about each other once again.
You are more likely to make changes to your itinerary and try new things together. Meeting travelers from all over the world in a hostel opens you up to various experinces, tips, recommendations and guides that you might not have researched earlier. This gives you both the privilege to together tweak your plans for the better and come across different things to do or better ways to lead your trip just by being in the company of new people.
You start flirting with each other again. This is probably my favourite part of being in a hostel – that you are constantly trying to steal a kiss from each other or grab a quick hug – when no one is watching. A crowded hostel is everything you need if you wish to rekindle that flirty spark you two once had and trust me it’s all worth it.
Or worst case – you might not like it as much as we did – but even that very feeling will be something that you will discover together and at the least will make you bond closer…
This blog first appeared on Streettrotter and is the original work of Shraddha Gupta, Founder & Editor, Streettrotter.
Shraddha Gupta is an aspiring digital nomad who loves life in balance and stability at the same time. A part time journalism/fashion professional and a travel writer during the rest of her days – she is trying to find the right mix of being lost and discovering herself with new goals over and over again. A social media addict, a foodie, an essential photographer and a culture enthusiast – you will most likely find her planning a new dream for herself, always.
There is no dearth of reasons for you to ride across the terrain of Ladakh for it is such a heavenly experience…
Ladakh has over the years emerged as a benchmark of adventure, style and machoness especially if you are a new biker yearning to ride across the valiant passes of this cold desert. It is the land of snow clad high passes, freezing temperatures, rugged terrain and breathtaking landscapes in the Kunlun mountain range that later extends to The Great Himalayas in the South-East. One of the reasons you opted for a thumping engine on two wheels was to ride straight upto to the highest motorable road in the world and earn yourself the coveted display picture next to Khardung La signage (‘La’ is pass in Ladakhi language). There is no dearth of reasons for you to take a bike trip to Ladakh for it evokes such heavenly feelings in the explorer in you.
One feeling that stands out is that of power and accomplishment, but with great power comes greater responsibility. Rightly so, Ladakh offers a difficult terrain to ride on and over the years, we have come across many bikers/motorcycle enthusiasts waiting for help in the middle of nowhere. Here are few pointers one must keep in mind to make sure that this road trip of a lifetime is complete without any glitches; from one biker to another:
NO ONE IS A BORN RIDER, plus it just sounds wrong. So hone it up before you start flaunting those tattoos on your bodies and stickers on your motorcycle.
PRACTICE MAKES ONE PERFECT: Just owning a bike and rider suit will not make you a biker, It is imperative for you to have a bare minimum of 10000 – 20000 kilometres of driving experience, including driving in the hills and off-roading. Get comfortable with your bike before you test the rough terrain of Ladakh.
KNOW YOUR MOTORCYCLE: Spend some time with your neighbourhood mechanic and ask him questions about your machine, the suspension, the cooling, the brake mechanism, spark plugs, oiling etc. No question is stupid, you never know which answer would help you when u are stuck on a pass in freezing cold with a over 150 kgs of metal and rubber.
CARRY SPARES: with improved accessibility and so many people travelling to Ladakh, you will not be stuck for long, However it is a decent idea to carry basic spares like a spark plugs, an extra tyre tube, accelerator / clutch wire, the tool kit etc. That might make you the knight in shining armour for someone else in need. You would also need to carry extra fuel for there are long stretches without a fuel pump. If you do not have a proper riding gear yet, wear multiple layers of clothing for it gets pretty cold post Sarchu.
SAFETY IS COOLER: you might look cooler riding your favourite motorcycle without a helmet, but remember it is not just hitting your head on the road during a mishap, Ladakh is famous for landslides and stones falling from above.
DO NOT BE TOO ADVENTUROUS (read crazy): Yes it is your first bike trip to Ladakh, you have crossed the Rohtang Pass traffic jam and the dust has just settled after Keylong, do not let your guard down, not on the curves, not on the straight roads. Keep your head straight and enjoy the ride at a decent speed.
RESPECT YOUR MOTORCYCLE: A lot of amateur riders will complain that it was the machine’s fault, but then again, machines do not have a mind, it is you who are responsible. Treat her well and you will have a fantastic trip, be rude to her and keep kicking the rear tyre for all she cares. Tip: be patient at tougher terrains and have a heart, you will pull through eventually.
LISTEN TO LOCALS: If you have been paying attention to all the points above, you have earned yourself a treat. Forget what he or she told you, spend some time with the local, be nice and if they find you genuine, they might tell you about that mysterious place that is still missing from 5612 itineraries that you read before the Ladakh roadtrip.
EXPLORE, AT YOUR OWN PACE: You do not have enough offs and there is so much to cover, you cannot explore the entire LADAKH in 8 or 10 or 16 days and that is not experiencing, it is called covering. So ask yourself what you want and let it soak in before you head to tick-off the next thing in your limited time itinerary. Come back next time and do more.
CHERISH IT& PRESERVE IT: Observe more than you show, listen more than you speak, this way the land of high-passes and zen might give you a lesson in life. Remember it is you who is yearning to go this is beautiful place ever since you first heard of it and try and preserve the sanctity of this place for the next time you visit it is still the same as you left it.
There is something very liberating about an open road, a long drive, some good music and wind in your hair…
The good feeling that a road trip comes with is second to none, and that is how its ought to be. Team Escape Route brings you a quick check list of the do’s and don’ts to ensure the experience lives in your memories for all the good reasons. Here you go:
Carry shades and headband; for when you roll down the windows, long hair gets messy and this holds true for guys too.
Always wear loose and comfortable clothes for the road trip. Do not wear flip-flops as it can get stuck between the driving pedals by mistake, shoes are a better bet.
Always carry few water bottles and keep yourself hydrated. You may not get mineral water in the hinterlands and remember in India, water taste changes every few miles.
Always carry an organizerwith all key papers of the vehicle, you can use its open pockets to stuff in toll receipts, else they will keep flying around in the car.
Eat only to taste and not hog, do not stuff yourself too much at Dhabas. Keep protein or energy bars handy, as you cannot surprise your stomach with all the roadside food. Stomach infection is common during long road trips. Rely on fruits and bottled water mostly while you keep tasting in the local culinary delights.
Carry charged power banks and multi charger power source in your car. Alternate between the power sources and use them amicably. As soon as the first source gets over, put it on charge in the moving car and use the other one. Sharing is saving.
A hard copy of state route map has never lost its charm even in the times of Google maps and GPS enabled tracking devices. It has its own benefits and comes in handy in hinterlands.
Carry extra tissue papers and extra car cleaning cloth. Newspapers work well as glass cleaners.Hand sanitizers or soap dispensers always come in handy. Hand towels are great for road trips.
It is fun to be lost when you know you have the global positioning system, (GPS) to get you out of any dead end.
You should always carry a swiss knife, torch, gloves, fuel lighter, pliers apart from the regular tubeless puncture strips, small air pump/foot pump in addition to the regular tool kit with all keys.
Always remember to keep the tyre air-pressure at least two points lower than the designated pressure as tyres tend to inflate a little on long highway drives.
It makes sense to note down the highway patrol / helpline number, just in case.
If you are adventurous: always carry a two/three-peopletent and sleeping bags for the ultimate experience after due checks.