The Indian traveller has come of age. As against the image of a typical Indian traveller, packing his bags once a year and heading out for a popular destination, he has emerged as a more mature individual who is a conscious traveller, respects nature and would love to go for the offbeat for a good experience — and yes, happily travel solo.
This Indian traveller is also the one who likes to make the most of long weekends and needs no detailed or lengthy planning before taking off on a one-off adventure. In this issue, instead of listing the usuals, we have put together new travel trends along with a choice of destinations that this mature traveller would love to explore and emerge richer in experience.
For a conscious traveller, it is not about the destination but choosing means of travel. The next step is to go local — you don’t litter or purchase anything.
“Ecotourism entails traveling without leaving footprint (carbon and plastic), respecting the local community, biodiversity, and engaging in economic transactions directly with locals to empower them,” says Tanya Roy, an excorporate vagabond, who decided to turn a propagator of ecotourism. “A step further is to address environmental issues,” she adds.
Out of the rat race, Roy now runs a travel and inspirational blog called hopelesswanderer. org and takes people on eco tours and treks in the Himalayan Region. “In December 2015, I undertook an unsupported eco trek to Har Ki Doon,” she shares. “I was carrying all that I needed to survive in my backpack, including a tent and a sleeping bag. I made it through with zero plastic footprint, I could not make it zero carbon footprint as food is cooked on fuel wood in the villages. However, burning dead wood is better than burning fuel, oil or coal as it’s organic,” she says.
For meals, she ate fruits and boiled eggs along dhabas on the trek; carried nuts and other dry fruits to keep her warm and high on calorie intake and did not have to use her tent and sleeping bag as she stayed in village homes with villagers. “I also booked dorms on Garhwal Vikas Nigam website, which are very basic accommodation,” she shares.
Trekking is a great way to explore the beauty of nature and also being an ecotraveler. In India there are many easy, moderate and difficult level treks. We list a few for you:
Bailey’s Trail (Sela Pass), Arunachal Pradesh
Bailey’s Trail is a trek that traces the historic route taken by Lt. Col. F M Bailey and Capt. H T Morshed, two British officers who were commissioned to survey the lands between Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet during 1911-12. The trek was initially an ancient trade route that connected Burma, India and Tibet. The trek crosses through some pristine remote forests of the Eastern Himalayas, where pine, oak and rhododendrons grow aplenty. The highest point of this trek is Sela Pass at a height of 4,550 metres. This gorgeous mountain pass connects Tawang to other parts of the country. This is also where, second largest Buddhist monastery of the world is located. Another major attraction of Tawang is the Tipi Orchid Sanctuary which houses thousands of orchid varieties.
How to Reach
Nearest railway station is Guwahati. From here, it is a 4-5 hour drive to Tezpur; then, 7-8 hour drive to Dirang and finally, a 30 minute drive to Phudung, the last of the villages before you begin the trek.
Kheerganga trek, Himachal Pradesh
Kheerganga is a meadow at 2,960 metres in the Parvati Valley of Kullu district, where Shiva is said to have meditated for 3,000 years. It is also one of the most refreshing treks with beautiful meadows and natural hotwater springs making it worth the effort and the climb. For the trek, you have to reach Barshaini, the last motorable point further up Manikaran, Sikh holy shrine, in Kullu valley. The trek starts from Pulga, where the construction of the Parvati Hydel Project, a hydroelectric dam, dominates the landscape. The view at the top opens into a flatland with hot springs, Shiva temple and some cafes dotting the landscape. The hot springs at Kheerganga are extremely important for Hindu and Sikh pilgrims as well as many others who believe the waters have sacred healing properties.
How to Reach
The nearest railway station is Kathgodam, which is about 198 km from Kheerganga. From here you can take either a taxi or a bus till Barshaini and trek further up to Kheerganga
Lidder Valley trek to Kolahoi Glacier, J&K
This is a classic Kashmir trek that makes for a perfect getaway. Mostly taken as a three to four day trek, the trail follows the course of the Lidder river from the pretty vale of Pahalgam up to the Kolahoi glacier. You drive up to Aru village, before beginning with the real trek up the West Lidder through alpine meadows and then boulders around the Kolahoi massif before arriving at the glacier. Majestic pine trees, wildflower laden meadows, rushing cream blue rivers and snow capped peaks along the route are a treat to your senses.
How to Reach
There are no train stations in Pahalgam. The nearest railhead is Jammu Tawi, which is at a distance of 157 kilometre and is well-linked with most of the Indian cities
Words – Navneet Mendiratta