Episodes

  • WINNER OF GIVEAWAY FROM NASHIK EPISODE

    RIKIN MERCHANT

    This week, The Musafir Stories speaks with Akanksha Siwach, solo traveller, amateur gardener and a terrific storyteller who blogs at https://talesofthehiddentrails.wordpress.com

    Today's destination: Glaw Lake, Arunachal Pradesh

    Nearest Airport: Dibrugarh Airport, DIB

    Nearest Railway Station: New Tinsukia Railway Station, NTSK

    Prerequisites - Inner Line permit, Permit for the trek/camping

    Packing - Pack light, good shoes/gumboots, rucksack, tent, sleeping bag and SALT - watch out for those leeches!

    Time of the year - October - March

    Length of the itinerary: 2 days

    Itinerary Highlights:

    Akansha takes us on a trek to the mystical Glaw lake in Arunachal Pradesh. Glaw lake is situated in the Wakro town of eastern Arunachal Pradesh, in the Lohit district - a sparsely populated region, still pristine with flora and fauna.

    The lake is situated in the middle of Kamlang Tiger reserve, close to the Burmese and Tibetan border. The reserve is filled with thick forests full of exotic plants and animals - plantains, dry fruits like Chahal, oranges, elephant apple, butterflies, gibbons, the Great Indian hornbill, Himalayan monals among others.

    Akanksha’s guide was a local student from Arunachal - Bethem, who helped navigate through this 7-8 hour trek (one way). Important pit stops include the forest hut, the suspension bridge over the Lohit River, trekker’s hut in Kalai among others.

    Legend goes that Glaw lake welcomes anyone visiting the lake for the first time and is welcomed by showers, which was true in Akanksha’s case as well. Another legend goes that no one ever drowns at the Glaw (also no one swims at the Glaw!) and the lake never gets dirty!

    The team arrives at the site of the lake just after noon, and spends time exploring around the lake. The team also meets up with a couple of local Miju Mishmi fishermen who help with breakfast the following day.

    Akanksha and team also get a chance to share a meal with the fishermen and try out some of the local food. The views of the Glaw lake the following morning at sunrise are something to treasure - the mystical lake covered with mist and crystal-clear water as the first rays of the sun shine on the camping area. Akanksha also has a chance to go on a short boat ride on a raft made by the fishermen.

    Miju Mishmi are one of the prominent tribes of the north east and are a very hardy people surviving on the resources from the mountains and forests. Akanksha shares some background about the tribe and their ways of life.

    Akanksha also shares further details about places in the vicinity that one could visit, including Parashuram Kund, Walong, Namti plains, Golden pagoda and a few more places in the vicinity

    Links:

    Link to Akanksha’s blog: https://talesofthehiddentrails.wordpress.com

    Link to the blogpost: https://talesofthehiddentrails.wordpress.com/2021/03/11/glaw-lake-the-secret-of-kamlang-that-youve-got-to-know/

    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/akankshasiwach/

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/AkankshaSiwach

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/akanksha.siwach.7

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    website: www.themusafirstories.com

    email: themusafirstories@gmail.com

    You can listen to this show and other awesome shows on the IVM Podcasts app on Android: https://ivm.today/android or iOS: https://ivm.today/ios, or any other podcast app.

    You can check out our website at http://www.ivmpodcasts.com/

  • GIVEAWAY ALERT!

    LISTEN TO THE EPISODE, ANSWER 3 SIMPLE QUESTIONS TO STAND A CHANCE TO WIN A TICKET TO AMRITA’S HERITAGE WALK IN NASHIK - https://forms.gle/xea2P2KFthjgbUPM7

    WINNERS OF TALES OF HAZARIBAGH GIVEAWAY

    Poonam Pragya

    Yashaskar Shubham

    This week, The Musafir Stories speaks with Amrita Gangatirkar, researcher, filmmaker and the founder of travel experience company Nashik Heritage Trails (formerly Urban Serai)

    Today's destination: Old Nashik and Panchvati!

    Nearest Airport: Gandhinagar Airport, Nashiki, ISK

    Nearest Railway Station: Nasik Road Railway Station, NK

    Prerequisites - NA

    Packing - NA

    Time of the year - All year round, except monsoons

    Length of the itinerary: 3 hours

    Itinerary Highlights:

    Amrita takes us on a virtual walk around the heritage part of Nashik city - Panchavati and Old Nashik

    Panchavati is the heritage part of Nashik that is home to some of the most sacred temples and old neighborhoods.

    We start our walk with a visit to the Kalaram temple, a temple dedicated to Lord Ram. The temple and the deity are sculpted in black basalt stone, hence the name Kalaram. The temple also houses idols of Sita and Lakshman and is estimated to be built between the 7th-11th century originally and reconstructed during the 1780s. Nashik has a lot of influence from the Hindu epic of Ramayan, as is seen from the temples and the names of the neighborhoods.

    The next stop is the Goraram temple, built in white marble and hence the name - Goraram or fair Ram, also believed to be built in the 1780s. The temple architecture resembles that of a wada (residence) and is very unique.

    Another popular festival of Nashik is the Rangapanchami, celebrated a few days after holi, the festival of colors. The festival is very popular for the Rahad or the colored water pits!

    Another popular temple in the locality is Kapaleshwar temple, close to the banks of the Godavari. It is unique for the mixed architecture and use of domes in the construction of the temple.

    From here, we make a stop at the Godavari ghats and the popular kunds - Ramkund, Lakshman kund and Sitakund. The kunds are very significant as people perform final rites of their loved ones in these kunds. Another popular structure in this area is the Ahilya Devi Holkar bridge - learn more about the wonderful stories around this bridge.

    Our final stop in Panchavati is the Naroshankar temple and it’s iconic Naroshankar bell, acquired during the battle at Vasai fort.

    On the other side of the river is the Old city of Nashik that is popular for its markets and the wadas in the alleys. The popular markets include textile market (kaapadpet), Vessel market (bhaandi bazar), Jewellery market (Saraf bazar), steel market. One can spend hours in these markets and narrow alleys watching the beautiful wada architecture. We make some stops at local homes and discover the architecture of these old homes.

    Our final stop of the walk is the Sarkar wada, now a government museum but that has been used as an administrative office, prison, a public library and a police station!

    At the end of the walk, make sure to binge on some good old Nashik Misal, jalebis, fafdas, dhoklas (thanks to the gujarati influence), sabudana vada. One of the popular eateries in the locality is Sayantara!

    Other options include the numerous forts in and around Nashik and the iconic wineries of Nashik! A great way to end your visit to Nashik with a visit to the wineries and vineyards

    Links:

    Link to Nashik Heritage Trails’ facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nashikheritagetrails/

    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nashikheritagetrails

    Women who speak Heritage Podcast: https://open.spotify.com/show/7L3EXJBKfOskTSTOgP8RVO?si=5105790862f448dc

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    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/musafirstoriespodcast/?hl=en

    website: www.themusafirstories.com

    email: themusafirstories@gmail.com

    You can listen to this show and other awesome shows on the IVM Podcasts app on Android: https://ivm.today/android or iOS: https://ivm.today/ios, or any other podcast app.

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  • GIVEAWAY ALERT!
    LISTEN TO THE EPISODE, ANSWER 3 SIMPLE QUESTIONS TO STAND A CHANCE TO WIN A COPY OF MIHIR’S BOOK - https://forms.gle/NUdNuS3HtwSiYmLNA

    This week, The Musafir Stories speaks with author and poet, Mihir Vatsa, as we discover the plateau town of Hazaribagh through Mihir’s book - Tales of Hazaribagh: An intimate exploration of the Chotanagpur plateau!

    Today's destination: Hazaribagh!

    Nearest Airport: Birsa Munda Airport, Ranchi, IXR

    Nearest Railway Station: Hazaribagh Town Railway Station, HZBN

    Prerequisites - NA

    Packing - NATime of the year - Pleasant weather all round the yearLength of the itinerary: 3-5 days

    Itinerary Highlights:

    Hazaribagh is a plateau town situated on the Chotanagpur plateau in the state of Jharkhand. Mihir takes us through his hometown, talking about his return back home and how he wrote the book, re-discovering his hometown.
    Mihir talks about the origins of the town, its distinction of being one of the earliest hill stations in India, the vicinity to the Grand trunk road and the solace it offered to the homesick soldiers of East India Company.
    We talk about the origins of the name, its connection to tigers and a thousand gardens.

    Mihir also talks about the innumerable nature’s bounty in and around Hazaribagh including

    Hills (specifically the Canary hill)The iconic stepped lake formation or the Hazaribagh lakeRivers and some rock formationsForests and the Hazaribagh Wildlife SanctuaryWaterfalls including Tiger fallsHot springs at SurajkundThe ruins of the Padma palace, Hawa Mahal and Badam FortKaranpura valley and its rock art dating 10,000 BC

    We wrap the conversation talking about healing, the real and present threat of coal mining, and the legacy of fear of the Naxals and how this has impacted the area.

    Links:
    Link to Mihir’s book: Tales of Hazaribagh: An intimate exploration of the Chotanagpur plateau!
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tales.of.hazaribagh/
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/MihirVatsa
    Website: https://www.talesofhazaribagh.com

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    website: www.themusafirstories.com
    email: themusafirstories@gmail.com

    You can listen to this show and other awesome shows on the IVM Podcasts app on Android: https://ivm.today/android or iOS: https://ivm.today/ios, or any other podcast app.
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  • This week, The Musafir Stories speaks with a dear friend, traveler and host of the podcast Baap beeti, Vaibhav Dewan!

    Today's destination: Darjeeling and Kalimpong!
    Nearest Airport: Bagdogra Airport, IXB
    Nearest Railway Station: New Jalpaiguri, NJP
    Prerequisites - NA
    Packing - Make sure to carry warm clothes and accessories
    Time of the year - April, September-October is a good time
    Length of the itinerary: 6-7 days

    Itinerary Highlights:

    Vaibhav shares his itinerary around Darjeeling and Kalimpong, traveling with a toddler! The journey starts with a flight to Bagdogra or New Jalpaiguri, depending on your mode of transport.

    The team hails a cab ride from the station to reach Darjeeling. The first day is spent seeing around the area, including the Cable car/ropeway, which is one of the longest in Asia.

    The area near Chowrasta and the Mall road are full of tourists along with eateries as well as local shops to shop for souvenirs as well as restaurants and cafes.

    A visit to St.Joseph’s school, North Point is also well worth the time, and is the location of the popular bollywood flick, “Yaariyan”

    Tenzing Norgay Rock and Gombu Rock are other attractions in memory of the famous Sherpa mountaineers, Tenzing and Gombu Norgay.

    While in Darjeeling, make sure to try out the world famous Darjeeling tea. A visit to a tea estate also helps one understand the history of tea as well as the numerous types of tea grown in this area.

    The local markets around the mall road also have a variety of momos sold by locals, make sure to try that out.

    Other nature related places that should make it to your itinerary include Rock Garden, which has a variety of plants and trees and involves a small trek to a waterfall.

    Next up on the itinerary was a trip to the Dali monastery, along with the museum - a great chance to interact with the monks and understand the buddhist religion and culture. There are other popular monasteries like Ghum, Aloo bari, Bhooti Basti among others.

    A visit to Darjeeling is incomplete without experiencing the Darjeeling Himalayan railway - make sure to take a joy ride on the popular ‘toy train’. A short trip to Batasia loop is a must do - the location of the popular hit “mere sapno ki rani’ starring Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore! The railways are also a UNESCO world heritage site!

    Next stop is the Japanese peace pagoda built by the Nipponzhan Myohoji foundation to promote peace in the aftermath of the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Another important point of interest is Tiger Hill, one of the most visited spots to get a view of Mt. Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world at 8586m, after Mt. Everest and Mt.K2.

    Some popular eateries in the area include Keventers, Glenarys, Kunga’s, Nathmull’s, HImalayan coffee, Margaret’s deck. Also don’t forget to try the local spicy chilli - Daale, but try at your own risk!

    Kalimpong is not too far away from Darjeeling but provides an offbeat experience compared to it’s more popular sibling. Places to check out include Lamahatta park, Durpin monastery, Cacti park and pineview nursery, Graham’s homeschools, Morgan house and Crookety, Mangal Dham among others.

    Links:
    Vaibhav’s podcast - Baap Beeti: https://open.spotify.com/show/5cELVD4HYXq0sAQ2lSKacc
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pregnantpapa/
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/dewanekhaas
    Link to the Andaman Islands episode: https://shows.ivmpodcasts.com/show/the-musafir-stories-india-travel-podcast-yg3r-RgjYIgajKrExt2J2/episode/99-andaman-islands-with-vaibhav-dewan-mznq-IqY1WlDHPAvAzyb7?startTime=0

    Photo by Joy Amed on Unsplash

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    website: www.themusafirstories.com
    email: themusafirstories@gmail.com

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  • This week, The Musafir Stories speaks with traveler and content creator, Stuti Bhadauria who creates content at www.nomadographer.com

    Today's destination: Islands of Goa!

    Nearest Airport: Goa International Airport, Panjim, GOI

    Nearest Railway Station: Karmali Railway Station, KRMI

    Prerequisites - NA

    Packing - Pack light, wear a good pair of walking shoes

    Time of the year - Round the year, except summers

    Length of the itinerary: 3-5 days

    Itinerary Highlights:

    Stuti takes us on a whirlwind tour of Goa beyond the beaches! We explore the prominent islands of Chorao, Divar and St. Estevam as we explore the quaint villages, streets, churches and more in these islands.

    We start off our journey from Chorao Island, the largest of the 17 islands around Goa. Chorao is situated at a distance of about 5kms from the capital Panji and is accessible via Ferry service.

    Places to explore in Chorao - Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Mangroves leading up to the bird sanctuary, Devaki Krishna temple, one of the two temples dedicated to Krishna and his mother, Devaki, also known as Yashodha. Apart from the temple, popular churches in the island include Our Lady of the Grace, one of the earliest churches built in the region - island is also known as the island of Noblemen as the first portuguese noblemen settled here.

    The other popular churches include St.Bartholomeus Church and Chapel of Our Lady of health, and Christ the King statue, situated a 360 view of Chorao islands

    Next on the itinerary is Divar island - one of the more commercial islands in recent times. Things of interest include churches like Our Lady of Piety church and Sao Mathia’s church and the step well of Porne tirth thalli, once home to the Saptakoteshwar temple - the patron deity of the Kadambas.

    Another unique festival celebrated in Divar is the festival of flags - Bonderam, Stuti explains the history and connections.

    The final island on the itinerary is St. Estevam island, named after St. Stephens. The island is also home to one of the shortest ferry crossings in Goa (and perhaps the country!). Popular churches include The Lady of BoaVentura, Christ the King Statue (again), along with the 14 holy crosses, St. Estevam Church.

    Another noteworthy phenomenon in Goa is the use of sluice gates, and Khazan system of irrigation that is completely a community driven initiative.

    Other smaller islands include Vanxim, Sao Jacinto and Grand Island. Finish off the journey by walking along some narrow alleys, exploring the Goan architecture, a slowly dying breed of architecture.

    Links:

    Varsha’s blog: https://nomadographer.com

    YouTube: ​​https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCK8_Gab8W4t2YNiqx0QjUlg

    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nomadographer/

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/Nomadographer

    Photo by Jess Aston on Unsplash

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    website: www.themusafirstories.com

    email: themusafirstories@gmail.com

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  • This week, The Musafir Stories speaks with one of our dear listeners, Varsha, as she takes us to a lesser travelled gem in Tamil Nadu, Pollachi!Today's destination: Pollachi, Tamil Nadu!Nearest Airport: Coimbatore International Airport, CJBNearest Railway Station: Pollachi Junction, POY Prerequisites - NA, some places might need permitsPacking - Pack lightTime of the year - Oc to FebLength of the itinerary: 3-5 daysItinerary Highlights: Varsha and her mom start off the journey by exploring the town of Pollachi - home to Asia’s largest jaggery market. Also make sure to visit the local cattle market and flower market. Pollachi is a farming town, so there are a lot of paddy and rice fields around. A couple of interesting villages to visit are Sulakkal, Kinathukadavl and Setumadai. The villages have some interesting temples, traditional folk and cuisines. The temple that stands out is the Masaani Amman temple, where the goddess Durga is depicted in the form of a corpse! Setumadai is also a popular location for filming tamil movies with an estimated 1500 movies being shot here. Other interesting places in the vicinity include a visit to Aliyar dam, Vetarthi Maharishi ashram at the foothills of the Anamalai mountains. There are boating options available at the dam as well. Top Slip and Parambikulam wildlife sanctuary are other options one can consider, permits might be needed along with lodging, so make sure to book in advance. Wildlife safaris here are a must do experience to view some of the wildlife in the sanctuary.Parts of the Parambikulam wildlife reserve are in Kerala but Pollachi offers an easier access which is preferred by many visitors. Valparai and its vast expanse of tea estates is another setting in which one can spend time in, there are other activities like paragliding that one can partake in. Try out some of the local eateries like Paati bajji Kadai for fritters and other fried goodies. There are many popular biryani options in town like Daadi Sardar Biryani, Arcot Biryani hotel, Taj Biryani hotel that one should check out. Chola mess popular for the local fish is something not to be missed. Theni, Thirnalveli, Madurai and Satyamangalam Tiger reserve are other options one can explore if you have more time on hand as these are close to Pollachi. Negamam, is another tiny hamlet that is popular for the local looms and saris. Tirumurti Hills and dam is also something that offers some wonderful views and activities like kayaking. Links:Varsha’s linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/varshasathishkumar/?originalSubdomain=sg

    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theadhdblog/Follow the Musafir stories on Twitter: https://twitter.com/musafirstories?lang=en 
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/themusafirstories/ 
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/musafirstoriespodcast/?hl=enwebsite: www.themusafirstories.comemail: themusafirstories@gmail.comYou can listen to this show and other awesome shows on the IVM Podcasts app on Android: https://ivm.today/android or iOS: https://ivm.today/ios, or any other podcast app.You can check out our website at http://www.ivmpodcasts.com/

  • This week, The Musafir Stories speaks with traveler and history & culture  nerd - Ayush Khanna, as he takes us back in time to explore an important milestone in India’s independence. 

    Today's destination: Kanpur & Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

     

    Nearest Airport: Kanpur Airport, KNU or Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport, LKO

    Nearest Railway Station: Kanpur Central Railway Station (CNB) or Lucknow Railway Station (LKO) 

    Prerequisites -  NA

    Packing - Pack light

    Time of the year - Nov-Feb, avoid the cyclone season

    Length of the itinerary: 3-5 days

    Itinerary Highlights: 

    Ayush talks about the leadup to the 1857 Sepoy mutiny also known as India’s first war of Independence and discusses the connected histories of Kanpur and Lucknow during this period.

    Kanpur used to be a garrison town of the British East India company’s troops. Kanpur turns out to be a key location where the 1857 mutiny played out. Ayush explains the role of Nana Saheb, the adopted son of the Peshwa in exile, the events that unfolded at the Massacre Ghat and Bibighar, the reaction of the East India company. 

    In the meantime, Lucknow had been the home of Nawab aristocracy, starting with Asaf-ud-daula who was the architect of Lucknow, moving from Faizabad and  lasting till 1856 and ending with Wajid Ali Shah.    

    Ayush also shares some interesting stories about the Cawnpore Memorial, Nana Rao park, the Baron of Cawnpore and All Souls church.  

    Along with the history of the 1857 mutiny, Ayush also calls out some important structures in the two towns - Kala Imambara, Kaiser Bagh, Kothi Roshan ud Daula, The Residency and La Martiniere in Lucknow. In Kanpur, Ayush touches upon the popular mills like Elgin Mill, Lal Imli along with All Souls church.      

    Of course, how could we miss covering some creepy ghost stories while here - learn about the Kanpur Cemetery and its Sa rkata Angrez or the headless Englishman as well as the horse riding Sufi! 

    Covering the cuisine of Lucknow alone should take a season or two, but notable mentions starting with Idris ki Biryani and Lalla ki Biryani in the Chowk area, Aabodana home kitchen by Sheeba Iqbal for Sheer mal, Kheema matar, kali gajar ka halwa. Also try out Neymat Khana in Kaiserbagh for a collection of home food at one place. Bajpai’s chai, Shukla chaat, as well as Thaggoo’s badnaam kulfi and samosas are not to be missed while in Kanpur.

    Links:

    Ayush’s Blog : https://www.whitelotustile.com/ 

    Article Blog post: https://livewire.thewire.in/politics/the-baron-of-cawnpore/ 

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/LotusTile 

    Photo by Aradhya Kansal on Unsplash

    Photo by Laurentiu Morariu on Unsplash

    Battle music: Sota War (https://freesound.org/people/YleArkisto/sounds/258207/) by YleArkisto (https://freesound.org/people/YleArkisto/) is licensed under CC by 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

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    website: www.themusafirstories.com

    email: themusafirstories@gmail.com

    You can listen to this show and other awesome shows on the IVM Podcasts app on Android: https://ivm.today/android or iOS: https://ivm.today/ios, or any other podcast app.

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  • This week, The Musafir Stories speaks with Lakshmi Sharath, one of the  top travel writers and bloggers in India, who blogs under Travel with Lakshmi or lakshmisharath.com

    Today's destination: Coromandel Coast! 

     

    Nearest Airport: Chennai International Airport, MAA

    Nearest Railway Station: Chennai Central, MAS

    Prerequisites -  NA

    Packing - Pack light, carry sunscreen and shades. 

    Time of the year - June-Feb, avoid the cyclone season

    Length of the itinerary: 4-7 days

    Itinerary Highlights: 

    Lakshmi takes us on a fascinating journey covering the east coast of India, exploring the colonial connections of the region, being at the forefront of trade and commerce, and how some towns and villages blossomed while others have stood still in time. 

    The coromandel coast covers the states of Tamil Nadu and parts of Andhra Pradesh and runs along the Bay of Bengal. It is popular not just for its scenic beauty but also attracted travelers and traders from far and wide. 

    The first stop on the itinerary is Madras or Madrasapattinam as it was formerly known. Madras’ rise to prominence dates back to the time of the Portuguese and Britishers, both having ruled here. The area around Santhome was a Portuguese settlement whereas the Britishers made it their first base as Fort St. George. The city still has a lot of remnants of its British connection with the secretariat building, the High court as well as some popular churches. 

    Lakshmi carries on her journey passing Mahabalipuram,famous for its Shore Temple and moving on to Sadras or Sadrangapattinam - which boasts of a 17th century Dutch fort, and is also the scene of the Battle of Sadras fought in 1782.

    The next pit stop is at Alamparai which has the ruins of a fort, believed to be built by the Nawab of Arcot, but was gifted to the French for their help and collaboration. The village was known to have a mint where coins were minted as well as a hostel for travelers. The region was also popular for trading of ghee, textiles and zari. 

    Lakshmi moves on to Pondicherry from here for the night halt. Enroute Pondi, Lakshmi makes a stop at Marapakkam, popular for its huge salt fields. Pondicherry exploration includes a walk with INTACH - Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, around the city that was the headquarters of the French in India. Also on the itinerary is a visit to the popular cafes, architecture, streets and Auroville. 

    After Pondicherry, Lakshmi travels to Cuddalore, one of the early settlements of the British at Fort St. David. Fort David is a shadow of itself and has completely been reduced to ruins. 

    Lakshmi continues to drive from here and the next stop on the itinerary is Porto Novo, the other Portuguese settlement besides Santhome in Madras. It was formerly known as Parangi pete or land of the parangis/foriegners. It was also known to be a trade center for the Arabs and Yemenis. Porto Novo pagoda was known to be minted from the Porto Novo mint in this village. 

    The next stop along the journey is Tranquebar or Tharangambadi - land of the singing waves, the most prominent Danish settlement in India. The town’s popular attraction includes Fort Dansborg, built in its unique Danish style, rustic streets like King’s street, Queen’s street, churches and temples. 

    Karaikal, a part of the Puducherry/Pondicherry UT is the next stop on the road trip and includes a fascinating legend of Kraikal. 

    The last stop on the road tip is Nagapattinam - believed to be a popular Dutch settlement  and also has a strong Buddhist connection. The town is also very close to other popular religious sites like Nagoor Dargah and Vellankani Cathedral. 

    The final call out is for Poompuhar, the point where the final estuary of the river Cauvery meets the Bay of Bengal!

    Links:

    Blog: https://lakshmisharath.com

    Links to the blog post: 

    Part 1 : https://lakshmisharath.com/driving-down-the-coromandel-coast-part-1/

    Part 2 : https://lakshmisharath.com/driving-down-the-coromandel-coast-2/

    Part 3 : https://lakshmisharath.com/driving-down-the-coromandel-coast-part-3/

    YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC57mn7ypVKFBb3UrMU7TiXQ

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TravelwithLakshmi   

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/lakshmisharath   

    Marine Life of Mumbai: https://www.instagram.com/marinelifeofmumbai/   

    Photo by Namrata Poddar on Unsplash

     

    Follow the Musafir stories on:

    Twitter : https://twitter.com/musafirstories?lang=en

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    website: www.themusafirstories.com

    email: themusafirstories@gmail.com

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  • This week, The Musafir Stories speaks with Husein and Keshav, hosts of the podcast “Far From Fact” (now you get the title of the episode?)

    Today's destination: Day trips and lesser explored  places in and around Mumbai!

     Nearest Airport: Chattrapati Shivaraj Maharaj International Airport, BOM

    Nearest Railway Station: Mumbai Central, MMCT

    Prerequisites -  NA

    Packing - NA

    Time of the year - Round the year 

    Length of the itinerary: Day trips/weekend getaway 

    Itinerary Highlights: 

    Husein and Keshav talk about some of the lesser known and visited places by tourists in Mumbai and shine light on the variety of options Mumbai has to offer to both visitors as well as locals. 

    Day Trips/weekend getaways discussed on the episode include 

    Sanjay Gandhi National Park (including Nagla block entrance)

    Bhandup Bird Sanctuary

    Coastal biodiversity center, Airoli

    Day trips to Alibaug

    BPT Park, Colaba

    Shore walks, Juhu

    Dharavi walking tour

    Links:

    Podcast website:  https://www.farfromfact.in

    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/farfromfact/

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/farfromfact/

    Email: hello@farfromfact.in

    Photo by Angel Santos on Unsplash

    Follow the Musafir stories on:

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/musafirstories?lang=en

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/themusafirstories/

    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/musafirstoriespodcast/?hl=en

    website: www.themusafirstories.com

    email: themusafirstories@gmail.com

    You can listen to this show and other awesome shows on the IVM Podcasts app on Android: https://ivm.today/android or iOS: https://ivm.today/ios, or any other podcast app.

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  • This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to Aakash Mehrotra from the blog www.handofcolors.me

    Today's destination: Pragpur and Garli, Himachal Pradesh!

    Nearest Airport: Kangra Airport, DHM

    Nearest Railway Station: Raimehtpur, MTPR or Ambh/Pathankot

    Prerequisites -  NA

    Packing - Pack according to the weather, warm clothes preferable

    Time of the year - Round the year 

    Length of the itinerary: 2 days

    Itinerary Highlights: 

    Aakash takes us to the first heritage villages of India, Pragpur and Garli in Himachal Pradesh. We discuss the origin of the village in the 1600s, the origin of the name Pragpur and the connection to the Sood community from Sirhind, Punjab. 

    The villages prospered during the time of the British as the merchants here were instrumental in providing the timber and raw materials for building the summer capital of Shimla. 

    The Beas river in the vicinity, the ample availability of timber and the good weather in the foothills helped the traders set up the operation. 

    The village has a unique identity with an amalgamation of different architectural styles that the traders and merchants were exposed to during their travels. The mansions are inspired by Rajputana architecture, Mughal as well as British architecture and are reminiscent of the mansions of Shekhawati region in Rajasthan. 

    The unique mansions, some of which date back to the 1600-1700s have still been maintained, and the villages were given the heritage village tag in 1997. 

    Some of the unique mansion and havelis in Pragpur and Garli  one should check out include The Judge’s court, Lala Rerumal Haveli, Butel Niwas, Santri ki Kothi, Nalke vali kothi, Melaram ki Kothi, Chateau Garli.

    If you are in the mood to splurge, the Judge’s court and Chateau Garli are two heritage properties which will give you a wonderful experience living in these mansions. There are also other lodges or serais that are more economical options. 

    In addition to the mansions, one can also enjoy the sights and sounds of Himachal - from the Beas river to the majestic Dauladhar ranges. 

    If one wants to extend the itinerary, other places of interest include a visit to the nearby religious places like the Jwalamukhi temple, Dada Sibba temple for the murals, and the unique Kangra style of art. Visiting the villages during the occasion of Lodi or Nakki ka mela - the wrestling festival that happens in September might be a good option. 

    Links:

    Aakash’s blog:  https://handofcolors.me

    Link to blogpost: https://handofcolors.me/2019/06/16/to-the-heritage-villages-of-himachal-pradesh/

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/aakashmehrotra

    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aakashmehrotra/

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/handofcolors/

    Link to Aakashs’ episode on Nagaland: https://themusafirstories.com/podcasts/tms006-explore-nagaland-with-aakash-mehrotra/

    Link to Aakashs’ episode on Landour: https://podcasts.apple.com/ng/podcast/71-explore-landour-with-aakash-mehrotra/id1209849464?i=1000456649557

     

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    email: themusafirstories@gmail.com

    You can listen to this show and other awesome shows on the IVM Podcasts app on Android: https://ivm.today/android or iOS: https://ivm.today/ios, or any other podcast app.

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  • This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to Anshul Akhoury from the blog dailypassengerr.com!

    WINNER OF THE GIVEAWAY ALERT: ANUJ 

    Today's destination: Rajgir and Nalanda, Bihar!

     

    Nearest Airport: Gaya Airport, Bodhgaya, GAY

    Nearest Railway Station: Rajgir Railway Station, RGD

    Prerequisites -  NA

    Packing - Pack according to the weather. 

    Time of the year - October to February 

    Length of the itinerary: 2 days

    Itinerary Highlights: 

    Anshul takes us to his home state of Bihar covering a part of the most popular tourist circuit of the state, Rajgir and Nalanda

    Places covered on the itinerary

    World Peace Pagoda

    Jarasandh’s Akhada

    Swarna bhandar

    Krishna’s chariot marks

    Pandu Pokhar

    Hot springs

    Cyclopean walls

    Nalanda university remains

    Hiuen Tsang memorial

    Kundalpur 

    Pavapuri Jal Mandir

    Bihar Sharif (if time permits)

    Links:

    Anshul’s blog:  https://dailypassengerr.com

    Link to blogpost: https://dailypassengerr.com/2019/04/09/rajgir-nalanda-travelogue/

    Link to podcast: https://linktr.ee/ansh997x

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/DailyPassenger_

    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/daily.passenger/

     

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    Twitter : https://twitter.com/musafirstories?lang=en

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    website: www.themusafirstories.com

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  • This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to Ila Reddy, as she takes us on a trip to the land of the Headhunters, Nagaland!

    GIVEAWAY ALERT: 

    https://forms.gle/QTLBNgZEy26CEzFQ9

    Answer 3 simple questions and stand a chance to win a copy of the book “The Konyaks: Last of the tattooed Headhunters”

    Today's destination: Nagaland

    Nearest Airport: Dimapur Airport, DMU

    Nearest Railway Station: Dimapur Railway Station, DMV

    Prerequisites -  Inner line permit is required. Can be applied at https://ilp.nagaland.gov.in/

    Packing - Pack according to the weather. 

    Time of the year - First week of April

    Length of the itinerary: 6 days

    Itinerary Highlights: 

    Ila talks about the planning for this trip and more about her larger itinerary that included Kaziranga National Park, Majuli island and finishing off at Mon district in Nagaland to celebrate the Aoleng festival of the konyaks. 

    We discuss more about the Konyaks and their unique tradition and culture including the tradition of body tattoos, large ear piercings and headhunting. The headhunting tradition, where warring factions would kill and carry the heads of opponents as it was believed to bring good luck, prosperity and fertility to the village. The practice started to decline after Christianity was brought to the area by the British, and stopped in the 1970’s. 

    The Konyaks are one of the biggest of the tribes of Nagaland and are mostly situated in the Mon district of Nagaland. The last surviving head-hunters of Nagaland are in their 80s and 90s. 

    The group planned to spend time interacting with the Konyaks during their Aoling festival that is celebrated before the harvest season to welcome spring and the new year. The festival is celebrated in the first week of April. 

    The week-long festival includes music, dancing, feasting, sacrifices and traditional rituals. The preparation includes new clothes, food, rice beer, dressing up with the traditional clothes and headgear. 

    Ila and the group spend time across three different villages participating in the celebrations. The trip starts off at the Shiyong, spending time at the tea estate of Phejin Konyak, a great granddaughter of a popular headhunter and author of “The Konyaks: Last of the tattooed headhunters”, among the views and the welcoming locals. 

    After Shiong, the group spent time at Hongphoi & Wanchin - two smaller villages. Most of the octogenarian headhunters were in Hongphoi. The celebrations were more intimate and on a smaller scale. Ila also has the opportunity to engage in playing the traditional log drums during the festival. 

    The next stop was at Longwa, which is at the Indo-Burmese borders. The celebration appears to be a bit more aggressive with gun totting Nagas who set off celebratory fire shots. The village was also unique given it was bordering Myanmar, giving access to some local delicacies. The Anghs or the chieftain’s house is half in India and half in Myanmar, and the locals are free to move about to the neighbouring village to visit relatives. 

    Ila also spends some time visiting the local gunsmiths and craftsmen, who are popular for wooden products. We also discuss the effect of opium addiction as a part of the Naga lifestyle. 

    We wrap up by discussing the Naga kitchen and its importance as being the centre of the Naga household where the family members spend most time in. The delicacies include non-vegetarian and vegetarian dishes along with the local rice beer. 

    Links:

    Ila’s blog: https://ilareddy.com

    Link to blogpost: https://ilareddy.com/2018/05/05/celebrating-aoleang-with-the-tattooed-headhunters-of-nagaland/

    IG: https://www.instagram.com/ilareddy/

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/ilareddy

    Link to the book - The Konyaks: Last of the tattooed Headhunters: https://www.amazon.in/Konyaks-Last-Tattooed-Headhunters/dp/9351941124/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&qid=1627938608&refinements=p_27%3APhejin+Konyak&s=books&sr=1-1

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  • This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to Jasod Motwani as he takes us to the hill station of Chikhaldara in Maharashtra! 

    Today's destination: Chikhaldara, Maharashtra

    Nearest Airport: Shioni airport, AKD

    Nearest Railway Station: Badnera Jn, BD

    Prerequisites -  NA

    Packing - Pack according to the weather, don't forget your rain gear during the monsoons!

    Time of the year - June to September

    Length of the itinerary: 2 - 7 days

    Itinerary Highlights: 

    Jasod starts off by discussing the geographical location of Chikhaldara and its USP as the only hill station in Vidarbha region in Maharashtra as well as the only place in Maharashtra with coffee plantations. 

    The name Chikhaldara is a corruption of Keechaka Daara, which translates to the valley of Keechaka - an evil chieftain who was killed by the strongest of the Pandavas, Bhima, for harassing Draupadi

    The region was discovered by Captain Robinson of the Hyderabad regiment in 1823, who was mesmerized by the beauty of the region. 

    The first point of interest is the Melghat Tiger reserve, one of the first tiger reserves of Maharashtra, and is home to over 80 tigers and covers about 1600 square kilometers. The tiger reserve offers a variety of safaris and other sighting and adventure activities along with some good stay options

    After wildlife, the next important point of interest on the itinerary are the forts of Gwalighar and Narnala forts. 

    Gwalighar fort is named after the gawlis or shepherds of the region, it was first constructed by Ahmed Shah Wali in the 15th century. It has since been ruled by the Marathas and the British and has also been the scene of several key battles between the Marathas and the British. 

    Shahnoor or Narnala fort was built by the Gond dynasty in the 10th century AD, but was later on ruled by Mughals and Rao Rana Narnal Singh after whom it is named. Look out for the wonderful fort gate as well as the huge cannon in the fort premises!

    Other attractions in the region include Saakhar lake and Devi point which is of religious significance. Other lakes include Bir lake as well as Kaala pani lake. 

    Also an important feature of the region are the view points, the famous among them being the Hurricane point, Mojiri point and Panchbol - an echo point. 

    Important waterfalls in the region include Bhimkund, where Bhima is believed to have killed Keechaka, which we referred to earlier in the episode. Other important waterfalls include Bakadari and kalalkund waterfalls, which also offer some great trekking opportunities. 

    Finally, Muktagiri is a complex of about 52 jain temples that is also a religiously significant place that has a lot of devotees visiting around the year and is situated about 50kms from Chikhaldara. 

    Links:

    IG: https://www.instagram.com/jasod_m/

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jasod.motwani

      

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  • This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to Ayush Kumar as he takes us to the holy town of Puri!

    Today's destination: Puri, Odisha!

    Nearest Airport: Biju Patnaik International Airport (BBI)

    Nearest Railway Station: Puri Railway station (PURI)

    Prerequisites - NA 

    Packing - Pack according to the weather, dress code might apply at certain places 

    Time of the year - November - January 

    Length of the itinerary: 3-5 days 

    Itinerary Highlights: 

    Ayush shares his experience visiting the holy town of Puri, situated in the state of Odisha

    We discuss the origins and history of the most prominent place in Puri, the Jagannath Temple, and its connection to King Indradyumna. 

    The temple is believed to have been rebuilt in the 10th century AD by the Ganga Dynasty. The deities of the temple include Lord Jagannath, and his siblings Subhadra and Balabhadra.

    The unique feature of the deities is that they are all made of neem wood, unlike other deities found in prominent temples. 

    Ayush explains the key features of the Jagannath Temple, the connection to the Odissi art forms, and the temple kitchen which is believed to be the biggest in the world. 

    The temple kitchen is believed to have over 500 chefs and serves Chappan Bhog or 56 types of meals every day. 

    We also discuss in detail about the iconic Rath Yatra of the temple. The Yatra happens over a period of 10-12 days and is attended by lakhs of devotees 

    The Rath Yatra starts from the Puri temple and chariots of the 3 deities, Jagannath, Subhadra and Balabhadra travel to the Gundicha Temple situated 3 kms away. 

    There are several other rituals and ceremonies carried out prior to the yatra, including creating new chariots, bathing of the deities, quarantine for 14 days and many other interesting titbits. 

    We also discuss some very interesting mysteries around the temple as well as the important ceremony of Nabakalebara, or replacing the deities with new idols. 

    We cap off the conversation by including other places of interest, including the Puri beach, sand art by Sudarshan Patnaik, important Matthas in the vicinity, Chilika Lake, the artisan village of Raghurajpur among others.  

    Links:

    Episode 81 exploring on Bhubaneshwar: 

    https://themusafirstories.com/podcasts/explore-bhubaneswar-with-ayush/

    Link to Ayush's social media:

    Instagram: @soul.traveller.kumar (https://www.instagram.com/soul.traveller.kumar/)

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  • This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to Preeti Parthasarathy, the Peppy Travel Girl!

    Today's destination: Jodhpur, Rajasthan! 

    Nearest Airport: Jodhpur Airport, JDH

    Nearest Railway Station: Jodhpur Junction, JU

    Prerequisites - Dress according to the weather!

    Packing - Pack your sunglasses and sunscreen!

    Time of the year - Oct-Dec

    Length of the itinerary: 4-5 days

    Itinerary Highlights: 

    Preethi starts off the episode with some geographic context around Jodhpur, best time to visit and ways one can get there. 

    We touch briefly upon the history of the city as well as the founder Rao Jodha, a Rathore Rajput ruler from Marwar. 

    Preethi kicks off the itinerary talking about the most iconic monument of Jodhpur - the Mehrangarh fort. Built in the 15th century, the fort is very well maintained and has an imposing structure given its strategic location. We discuss some rather difficult backstories and legends about the fort and its origins. 

    The fort consists of 7 gates and numerous galleries and palaces inside. The important ones include the Sheesh Mahal, Phool Mahal. Moti Mahal, Takht Vilas. 

    In addition to this, the galleries range from Pagadis to armoury to textile and palanquins. 

    After spending time at the fort, one should definitely make a stop at Jaswant Thada - the royal cenotaph and often referred to as the Taj of Jodhpur. The architecture reflects Rajputana as well as Mughal influence. 

    In the vicinity of the fort is the Rao Jodha Rock garden - that offers some wonderful insights into the ecology of the state as well as some interesting trails. 

    Moving towards the old city, make sure to visit Toorji ka Jhalra, a step well as well as the Sardar Market and the bazaars by Ghanta Ghar! Shopping for handicrafts and textiles in these markets is a very popular activity among visitors and locals

    Another popular item to check off is to get lost in the narrow lanes and alleyways of the old city, in its full glory with the blue walls and buildings. 

    The final stop before turning our attention to the culinary delights of Jodhpur is the Umaid Bhavan palace, the current Raja's palatial residence. The palace is believed to have over 300 rooms as well as a vintage car museum! 

    Once you've had your fix of shopping, make sure to check out the various eateries in Jodhpur, both the local outlets in the Ghanta Ghar area as well as the experiential ones. The noteworthy ones include The Omelette Shop, Surya Namkeen for kachoris, Rajasthani Thali at Gypsy, Shandaar, Sparrow's, Le Monk, Khaas Bagh among others! 

    Preethi’s social media handles:

    Twitter: @peppytravelgirl (https://twitter.com/peppytravelgirl)

    IG: @peppytravelgirl (https://www.instagram.com/peppytravelgirl/?hl=en)

      

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  • This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to Ranjani and Raghavan from the blog Rararaasta!Today's destination: Tranquebar or Tharangambadi, Tamil NaduNearest Airport: Chennai International Airport, MAA Nearest Railway Station: Chidambaram Railway Station, CDMPrerequisites - N/APacking - Pack according to the weather as summers can be hot and humidTime of the year - November to February is a good time. Length of the itinerary: Weekend itinerary is ideal. Itinerary Highlights: - Ranjani and Raghavan cover the Tranquebar itinerary as a part of their 14 day road trip across Tamil Nadu. The couple kick off their tour from Chennai - make sure to enjoy a scenic drive on the ECR or Easter Coast Road. - En route Tranquebar, make sure to have pitstops at the numerous surfing cafes as well as the mangroves of Pichavaram, the second largest mangroves in the world. Enjoy a boat road in the mangrove forests, also the shooting location of numerous South Indian films, including Dasavathaaram. Listen to the stories of how the mangroves protected the nearby villages from the wrath of the 2004 Tsunami that devastated coastal Tamil Nadu. - Tranquebar is only a short distance from Pichavaram and the couple reach in time to enjoy a sunset by the beach as well as pay a quick visit to the museum. Tharangambadi, the original name of Tranquebar, translates to Land of singing waves, in Tamil and also happens to be one of the most ozone-rich beaches in the world!- The main attraction of Tranquebar or Tharangambadi is the Dansborg Fort built by the Danish East India company in 1620. Tranquebar was one of the two settlements of the Danish and was leased to them by the Thanjavur Nayaks in 1620 for a sum of 3111 rupees annually. - The fort is in a decent condition and houses a garrison and a small museum inside, the Fort is closed to the public on Fridays, so plan your visit accordingly - Also worth a mention is the property in which Ranjani and Raghavan stay during their visit - Bungalow at the beach, a Neemrana property that was previously the British Collectors office. The property offers great views of the beach and is a mere 50-60m from the shore. - In the vicinity of the beach is the Masilamani Nathar temple, some of which was impacted by the 2004 Tsunami. This is one of the oldest surviving structures of Tharangambadi and is believed to have been built in 1306. - Other points of interest in the town include a post office, New Jerusalem church, Zion church, some old structures and houses on King Street. Enjoy your walk around the town and appreciate some of the remaining colonial structures- Famous personalities of Tranquebar include German Missionary Barthalomous Zeigenbalg, who was responsible for setting up of the first printing press in the area and also set up the region's first girls school. He is still fondly remembered by the locals for all the work he did for uplifting the community and a statue of Zeigenbalg stands at the intersection of King and Queen street. - Another famous personality of Tranquebar is M.A. Sulthan, a resident who has been instrumental in documenting the history of the region and also writing several books to preserve the past of Tranquebar. He has worked closely with organizations like Intach to preserve the remaining heritage of the town. - Raghavan and Ranjani also share their experience learning about the Danish community and their unwavering support to the town, specially during the rebuilding phase after the Tsunami. The Danish Tranquebar Association or DTA has been a key player in ensuring families get all the support during the rebuilding process. The couple cap off the trip by sharing their experience interacting with a Danish couple who were visiting Tranquebar or Tharangambadi, as they refer to the town, and how it is deeply rooted in their history and still finds a place in their academic curriculum. - If you are thinking about extending your itinerary, other nearby options include a trip to Pondicherry for the beautiful beaches and French vistas, Chidambaram and Thanjavur for some iconic temples, the famous Nagoor Dargah or muslim shrine as well as the Basilica of our Lady of Good health in Velankanni. Enjoy your trip! Links:Link to the blog: https://rararaasta.comTwitter: https://twitter.com/rararaastaIG: https://www.instagram.com/rararaasta/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rararaasta/Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUSJl64SvdbHlf_dLPvLy1QFollow the Musafir stories on:All podcast platforms: http://link.chtbl.com/MusafirStoriesTwitter : https://twitter.com/musafirstories?lang=enFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/themusafirstories/Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/musafirstoriespodcast/?hl=enwebsite: www.themusafirstories.comemail: themusafirstories@gmail.com

  • This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to Atul Maharaj as he takes us down the memory lane to the dreamy town of Panchgani!



    Today's destination: Panchgani, Maharashtra

    Nearest Airport: Pune International Airport, PNQ

    Nearest Railway Station: Pune Junction, PUNE



    Prerequisites - n/a

    Packing - pack according to the weather

    Time of the year - June to January can be a good time to travel

    Length of the itinerary - Weekend itinerary is optimal


    Itinerary Highlights:

    - Atul shares his experience of growing up in Panchgani and his experience of life in a boarding school. He also touches up on the different residential schools in Panchgani and the history behind some of them.
    - Atul also talks at the different experiences at New Era High School including being a part of Bournvita Quiz contest and the Aamir Khan starrer, Taare Zameen Par!
    - We discuss important points of interest in Panchgani including popular hang outs like Table top, view points like Parsi point, Sydney Point and Harrison's folly.
    - There are also caves believed to have been used by the Pandavas during their final ascent to the heavens.
    - Apart from places to interest, there are also several farms that grow berries - primarily Strawberries and gooseberries. The popular factory Mapro, provides a great getaway to spend some time at the factory and park. The factory is also popular for being a completely organic operation as well as being run by solar energy.
    - Apart from Mapro, there are options to make a quick trip to Mahabaleshwar which has several points of interest, including a temple that is the source of river Krishna, the Kamalgadh fort - a popular hiking destination, view points like Dolphin's nose, Elephants trunk, adventure activities like paragliding, Devrai art village, that is an artisan's village, Kaas plateau which is popular as the valley of flowers of Maharashtra.
    - Finally, Atul calls out some must try eating joints in Panchgani including some iconic tea stalls near the city centre, Lucky's bakery for chai and bun maska, Vada pav by Shivaji Statue, Lakshmi Vilas hotel for Maharashtrian meals, Akbar Ali's for aloo parathas and street food, MV Roach's bakery for some fulsome fresh breads and cakes, Hilltop ice cream for gulkhan and green chilli ice cream, to name a few!



    Links:

    Atul's blog: https://socialmaharaj.com
    Panchgani blog posts:
    https://socialmaharaj.com/2020/04/01/memories-of-new-era-high-school-panchgani/
    https://socialmaharaj.com/2018/07/18/short-getaway-vacation-visit-to-mapro-garden-panchgani-must/
    https://socialmaharaj.com/2016/10/14/breathtaking-panchgani/
    https://socialmaharaj.com/2016/01/29/panchgani-in-natures-lap/

    Follow Atul on:
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/atulmaharaj
    IG: https://www.instagram.com/atulmaharaj/
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Atulmaharaj/

    Photo by Shubham waghulde on Unsplash

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  • This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to Vishwas Raj, founder of the adventure travel company - Adventure Sindbad (www.adventuresindbad.com). Adventure Sindbad specializes in a variety of adventure activities across the Himalayas, right from hiking, cycling, whitewater rafting to family adventure tours. Sit back and enjoy as Vishwas takes us to Changthang, the land of the Pashmina!

    Today's destination: Changthang, Jammu & Kashmir

    Nearest Airport: Leh Airport

    Nearest Railway Station: Udhampur Railway station

    Prerequisites - Inner line permits may be required for a few areas. This is taken care of by Adventure Sindbad if you travel with them.

    Packing - Warm clothes, sunscreen, sunglasses, good walking boots

    Time of the year - August

    Length of the itinerary: 10 days

    Itinerary Highlights:

    This experience is a part of a photography trip led by Adventure Sindbad. The trip begins with acclimitization in Leh for 2-3 days in order to get used to the high altitude. The guests get to go around and explore the old Leh city during the acclimatization process!

    The group then heads off towards the Changthang area, a highland plateau in Kashmir that extends to Tibet and covers about 1600 kms into Tibet.

    The first stop is close to the picturesque Tso Moriri lake, albeit at some distance from the touristy points around the lake. One gets to experience the beautiful colors of nature while camping close to Tso Moriri.

    The group then heads off towards the camping site close to the nomads of Changthang - the Changpas. The Changpas are a nomadic community that wanders across the Changthang area with their herd of sheep and goats.

    The famous pashmina wool is made from the wool of the sheep and goat of this region, which is then crafted by Kashmiri artisans and is very valuable.

    The adventure sindbad team does a recce of the area well in advance and establishes contact with the nomads in order to ensure the group isn't being intrusive. As a part of the photography trip, the patrons get to document the life of the Changpas and their nomadic lifestyle.

    The rebo or yak wool tents of the Changpas are the epitome of minimalism and simplicity. The tents contain a kitchen, a dining area, sleeping area and a prayer room.

    Once the group has made contact with the nomads and set up tent in the vicinity, the patrons get a chance to observe and document the lifestyle of the Changpas, considered a dying lifestyle with the younger generations prefering to move away.

    The Changpas usually own anywhere between 100-800 sheep and start the day early by milking the goats and sheep. Some of the family then heads off to graze the sheep, while one or two family members stay back and take care of the household chores.

    The group gets to experience the various aspects of nomads life and also get some exotic shots of the arid plateau.

    Links:

    Adventure Sindbad's Website

    Follow Adventure Sindbad on

    Facebook

    Twitter

    Instagram

    TripAdvisor


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  • This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to journalist and host of Madraswallah podcast, Arjun Narayanan!

    Today's destination: Thrissur, Kerala!

    Nearest Airport: Cochin International Airport, COK

    Nearest Railway Station: Thrissur Railway station, TCR



    Prerequisites - n/a

    Packing - Pack according to the weather if you are traveling in the summer.

    Time of the year - April-May

    Length of the itinerary: 3-5 days


    Itinerary Highlights:

    - Arjun talks about the rich history of Thrissur and the important rulers over the years, calling out Raja Rama Varma or Sakthan Thanpuran - the ruler of the Kingdom of Kochi.
    - Thrissur is referred to as the cultural capital of Kerala for the rich heritage, religious places, art forms as well as festivals.
    - The most important of the temples is the Vadakkumnathan temple, situated in central Thrissur. The temple is said to be over 1000 years old and is also home to the Koothambalam performing art. The temple has daily shows of the koothambalam performed at the temple premises. The main deity of the temple is Shiva. The temple is built in the traditional Kerala style of architecture and is also the location of the famous Thrissur Pooram.
    - Apart from the Vadakkumnathan Temple, other popular temples in the town include Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna Temple, Paramekkavu Bagavathi Temple,
    - Thrissur is also home to the oldest mosque in India and Asia, the Cheraman Juma Mosque in Kodungalloor that is said to have been built during the time of Prophet Mohammed.
    - Popular churches in Thrissur include Our Lady of Dolours Syro-Malabar Catholic Basilica (Puthan Pally), believed to be one of the tallest churches in Asia.
    - Another important point of interest in Thrissur is the Kerala Kalamandalam, home to many of Kerala's performing arts, most prominent of them being Kathakali, Kudiyattam and Mohiniyattam. The Kalamandalam is believed to be key in preserving Kathakali when it was on the verge of extinction during the British rule.
    - Other places of interest include the Thrissur Zoo, Sakthan Tampuran palace, Athirapally waterfalls, Vilangan hills among others.
    - The most important festivity in Thrissur is the Thrissur Pooram and is one of the largest congregations in the world with 6-7 lakh people believed to come together for this festival. The Pooram takes place around the end of April or early May and is attended by devotees and visitors from all over India and abroad.
    - Two groups of temples, one led by Paramekkavu Bagavathi Temple and the other by Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna Temple come together in an elaborate face off of elephants, artists and a variety of paraphernalia. The main events of the Pooram include Flag Hoisting, Poora Vilambharam (Door opening by elephant), Display of fireworks, Display of caparisons, Main pooram (Display of Fans, music by more than 200 artists, with instruments such as thimila, madhalam, trumpet, cymbal and edakka), Final fireworks.


    Links:

    Link to Madraswallah podcast - https://madraswallah.com/category/podcasts-2/
    Link to Simply Stories Chennai - https://www.facebook.com/simplystorie/
    Thrissur Pooram video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOoIF2XPMqs
    Image credits - Arjun Narayanan
    Follow Arjun on :
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/madraswallah
    IG: https://www.instagram.com/madraswallah/
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/arjun.narayanan.73



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    This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to Chandreyi and Joy from the blog www.themoonchasers.com


    Today's destination: Pench National Park, Madhya Pradesh!

    Nearest Airport: Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport, Nagpur, MP (NAG)

    Nearest Railway Station: Nagpur Railway Station, NGP



    Prerequisites - Make sure to get permits and lodging sorted ahead of time (https://forest.mponline.gov.in)

    Packing - Pack light, do not pack bring colored clothes, carry hats, insect repellants and binoculars as needed.

    Time of the year - Round the year except monsoons, summer months can be very hot.

    Length of the itinerary: 3 days


    Itinerary Highlights:

    - Joy and Chandreyi start off by sharing the background of the Pench National Park and the folklore it shares of the very popular character, Mowgli and the Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. The couple also speak of the inspiration drawn from Sir David Attenborough's 3 part documentary that was shot in this national park, Spy in the Jungle!
    - The National Park is located in the heartland of India, in Madhya Pradesh which is also home to other national parks and tiger reserves like Kanha, Panna, Satpura and Bandhavgarh.
    - One can enter the path through any of the 3 gates, depending on where you are lodging - Turia gate, Karmajheri gate, or Jamtara gate.
    - Pench is home to several species of wildlife including but not limited to the Royal Bengal tiger, jackal, peafowl, wild dog, wild boar, sloth bear, Indian leopard, fox, striped hyena, monkey, gaur, barking deer, four-horned antelope, Indian wolf among others.
    - Both canter and Jeep Safari options are available, be sure to make reservations ahead of time as it can get crowded during the peak season. Safaris are available during the mornings and evenings.
    - Joy and Chandreyi share their experience of going on the wildlife safaris and the encounter with the main protagonist and queen of Pench - Collarwali and her cubs.
    - The couple also share their experience of sighting the other popular tigress - Langari.
    - The next day's safari is all about Collarwali's cubs and the nerve wracking encounter with an unknown male tiger in the region, and how the cubs navigate their way out of a tricky situation.
    - The duo also share some of the concerns and effects that uncontrolled tourism could have on the ecosystem as well as the long ongoing man-animal conflict.


    Links:

    Link to the blog The Moonchasers: https://themoonchasers.com
    Link to YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw8R6jB6xzZ3Xjrp26yGuGw
    Link to the BBC Documentary, Spy in the Jungle: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b009smrg

    Follow the The Moonchasers on:
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/dmoonchazers
    IG: https://www.instagram.com/themoonchasersofficial/
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dmoonchazers
    Join their workshop: https://www.tripoto.com/collections/tour-packages/careers-to-consider-if-you-love-travelling-joy-and-chandreyi-161718179430

    Photo by Jay Patel on Unsplash

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