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Why and where to cycle in Ladakh?

1024px-Tso_Kiagar_Lake_Ladakh (revised)(1) - 29 Jun 14

Ladakh is one of the most daring tourist places in India. Its daunting altitude and frigid weather can pose big challenge to a tame-hearted but if you have your adventure hormones spilling out in abundance, you won’t think twice before booking a Ladakh tour package.

Ladakh is also a gateway to thrill, as a number of exciting sports have emerged in this corner. Who knew that something like yak safari would be made available to casual tourists? There is trekking and there is the white river rafting. But what make Ladakh really proud are its long stretches of zigzag hilly tracks which give the perfect fodder to a cyclist or a biker. Cycling, or mountain biking as they call it in sophisticated parlance, has really picked up momentum in this part of the world. So much so that even contests are held and races are organized, which can be both stimulating and fulfilling.

Thankfully, you do not need to be a professional biker in order to enjoy cycling on these hills. Even somebody like a schoolboy or a business woman can take pleasure out of cycling over these tracks which are varied from the simplest routes (for beginners) to the more hostile ones (for the professionals).

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One of the more popular cycling tracks is the 64-km stretch between Leh and Alchi. While Leh is the capital of the district and is included in a Ladakh tour, Alchi is a quiet village which is home to some historic monasteries and old traditions. The route offers thrill and is easy to navigate. The zigzags keep your heart on the guard but the Himalayas are thankfully there to look after you.

Cycling between Leh and Hemis Monastery is another viable option. The Hemis Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries of Ladakh and is a must-visit attraction. So, a sightseer can cycle all the way to the landmark and sip over nature’s bounty during the journey.

For those who are seasoned bikers and are looking for more impressionable routes, the track that runs uphill towards the Khardungla Pass makes for a delicious recommendation. The pass is nestled at higher altitude and the route can be unfriendly and rocky. Plus, with the fluctuating temperatures, it can be quite a feat to reach the pass and bang your chest in pride.

Routes like Marhi-Manali track and Jispa-Gondla track are also worth your attention. Choose one wisely keeping in mind your fitness and your experience.

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5 Mistakes first-time Backpackers Make

800px-Backpackingskyranchlutheran (revised)(1) - 29 Jun 14

If you are going on a long travel trip for the first time, then it would be really sad if a mistake on your part mars the fun. As a naïve debutant in the world of backpacking, it is very common for you to err and regret. Here are 5 common mistakes which first-time backpackers make. You better read this and resolve not to repeat them:

  1. Over-packing: It is better to under-pack than to over-pack. Packing tons of clothes adds weight to your luggage and makes traveling very difficult! Some people have this notion that they may need an extra pair of jeans or some additional woolens just in case the weather turns hostile! But in most cases, those clothes are left unworn during the holiday. If you pack less, then you can reduce the weight of the luggage, get some empty space, and may even bring down the number of backpacks & trunks you are planning to take! And, just in case, your worst fear about the catastrophic weather comes true, you can always buy something from the local markets!
  2. Planning to visit too many places: Holidays are meant to give you repose and relaxation. Yet, it is vital that you visit as many attractions as possible. But at times, first-time travelers make grand plans of visiting too many cities or countries in just a fortnight! This leaves you wearied, unsatisfied and even hassled.1024px-Backpackers_Dolly_Sods (revised)(1) - 29 Jun 14
  3. Not carrying enough money: You may be a card-and-ATM person. But when you are going to unfamiliar territories, it is best to carry sufficient cash. At times, your cards may not work leaving you stranded, hapless and morose.
  4. Going with the wrong person: Half the fun will be gone if your traveling partner is someone who does not share your tastes! For example- if you love your share of history, but your partner is not into it, then there will be conflict of interests during sightseeing.
  5. Making plans too far in advance: A very common mistake that first-timers make is that they make a long-drawn plan till the end of their itinerary! Traveling is fun when there is a layer of unpredictability. Make plans and bookings for the first few days, but not too much in advance. It is important to go with the flow and keep things flexible.

About Creative Writer:

Author is a traveller and adventure seeker writing about a number of Indian & International holiday destinations. Solo Travelling, playing with nature and backpacking are few more undertakings author loves to do. As a blogger she writes about Europe tourism and managing Europe tour packages at WAH Holidays.

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Jaipur Lit Fest beckons the bookworms and bibliomaniacs. Are you ready?

Globe on book

Before we begin, let me make this clear once and for all. I am a bookworm and am literally betrothed to my favorite characters like Harry Potter and Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. I read books of all genres; anything that comes my way, you see. So am I not excited about the upcoming Jaipur Lit Fest?

Huh, is that even a question?

I am damn excited to go to Jaipur this season and finally satiate my cravings to meet some of my favorite authors. Besides, it will be a great place where I can rub shoulders with other co-bookworms (let us see who else in the country can match my bibliomania)! By the way, I reside in Delhi, mind it. So the journey is going to be an oversea one. Well, not exactly an oversea journey, but it seems all the same to me. You see, being a compulsive bookworm, I hardly venture out of my house, except for occasions when I really have to. Even the stray dogs in my neighborhood quiz my presence with raised eyebrows on those seldom moments when I hit the streets.

So, making this trip all the way to Rajasthan will be like a Mars trip for me. Yes, there are weekend packages from Delhi which I can latch on to. But despite all the convenience and luxury these packages promise to offer, there is this mental block which I will have to conquer.

But, as my parents say, I will even cross the seven seas in pursuit of books. They are not wrong coz I have done some bizarre things to lay hands on certain books. The day the final book of the Harry Potter series was released (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), I left my house a little after 4 am so that I can get the book the moment it gets released. (It was to be released at 6 am IST).

Anyway, enough of my ramblings!

For guys like you, a Jaipur trip may not sound all that daunting. The Jaipur Literature Festival 2014 shall be held from 17th January to 21st January. There is enough time to make preparations. After all, this can serve as an excuse for you to plan a family holiday.

The trick is to combine the pleasures of literature and sightseeing. So, I guess I shall do both of them. Even if you are not a big-time bookworm like me, there are attractions like the Amber Fort, Hawa Mahal and City Palace to keep you busy.

Best bazaars of Rajasthan- Top shopping corners of Jaipur, Udaipur and Jodhpur

Rajasthan (pic) - 18 Aug 13

Well, you may have travelled to Rajasthan for the primary purpose of sightseeing. But once you enter its local bazaars, you will forget your palaces and forts and get forlorn amidst the charms of these traditional corners. Besides, Rajasthan is also a lovely shopping destination and a pretty quaint one. Instead of thrusting those irritatingly snobbish malls down your throats, it delights you with its crowded, noisy and winding bazaars where you can shop for pottery, handicrafts, clothes, paintings, souvenirs, books and everything else.

Here is a quick breakdown of the best bazaars of Rajasthan, city by city:

1. Jaipur: Those shopping-loving women have really elevated the status of Jaipur tourism to unfathomable heights. If you are a maniac of shopping, then the ‘pink city’ would really make your face go pink in ecstasy! Johri Bazaar is the most popular market in Jaipur and is best known for its gold and jewel shops. If you are looking for textiles, then Bapu Bazaar is what we would recommend. On the other hand, the Nehru Bazaar should serve you well if you are looking for shoes, chappals and sandals! It is also a cool place to shop for perfumes and souvenirs.

2. Udaipur: When you are in Udaipur, you cannot come back without browsing through some paintings. Anything that has got something to do with art sells like ‘samosa’ in this city! Off the Lake Palace Road, there are many local shops which sell anything and everything. The region beside the Clock Tower is also a magnet for a shopaholic and presents you with some traditional bazaars. If you are hunting for shoes, then head to Mochiwada, and if you are looking for silver artifacts, then hop over to Bhattiyani Chohtta! These are the best places to visit in Udaipur for slipping into the shopathon mode.

3. Jodhpur: Jodhpur is another city which is teeming with markets. Its Kapraa Bazaar is one of the top places to visit in Rajasthan for purchasing garments. Here, you can hunt for both western as well as Rajasthani style of dresses. Mochi Bazaar (known for footwear) and Sarafa Bazaar (best noted for traditional clothes) are also must-visit destinations.

A special shopping tip: Rajasthan’s bazaars and shops quote prices which are usually inflated. They are negotiable and you must do everything you can to bring down the price. In short, this is not a place for a poor bargainer! But if your wife knows all the shopping tricks in the world, then you can let out a sigh of relief! Your wallet, we know, would be in safe hands!