Khardung La
Travel

#HighestBloggerMeet at Khardung La, with OYO and Scout My Trip

A few weeks ago, I received a phone call from the affable Vineet of Scout My Trip, knocking my socks off by telling me that I am going to be a part of the First Ever Blogger Meet being held at Khardung La, and the Highest Blogger Meet in India. At an elevation of 18380 feet above sea level. The highest motorable road in the world. Woot! I could not have asked for more as I had always wanted to visit Ladakh and being a road trip buff, I jumped on this opportunity.

Our journey began on 11 July and lasted 12 days, the details of which cannot be contained in one blog post. Brace yourself for more! These 12 days have been life changing, as I met some wonderful people who are going to be an inseparable part of my life from now on. And moreover, there’s just something about the mountains. You come back transformed, every time.

The highlight of the trip was of course Khardung La, where history was created as we all collectively made not one but two records. Steering through tough terrains, braving the cold, getting over tire punctures, reveling in the beautiful views and laughing through it all, we made it to Khardung La on 16 July. It was as remarkable as we expected. Blankets of snow on the mighty mountains, cold winds and the thrill of being there.

Khardung La, Ladakh
Khardung La, Ladakh

The cherry on top of the snowy cake was the announcement made by OYO about #OYOnauts. It is a huge step forward for the travel community. What us travelers really cherish, are stories. OYOnauts is providing a platform where travelers, photographers, writers and bloggers can share their travel stories and bag all expenses paid trips. Doesn’t that sound amazing? It is! Go check it out.

IMG_1908-3
#HighestBloggerMeet at Khardung La. Pic courtesy OYO.

After touching the highest point of Khardung La top, we gathered at Tsolding Buddha Park, a pristine little area with a small water body. Almost 30 of us sat there for 2 hours, relished our Maggi and had brilliant conversations! I have to say, this bit wasn’t easy. Oxygen was scarce and the weather kept changing from really cold to really sunny. Records don’t come easy!

#HighestBloggerMeet
#HighestBloggerMeet. Pic Courtesy OYO.

While making the records was such a thrill, the best part about the trip was the people. The immensely talented bloggers, and the gifted scouts. It was an honor being a part of this with them. I will need another blog post to talk about the bloggers, but here’s a quick thank you to the scouts. Because this feat of #HighestBloggerMeet would not have been possible without them.

Scout My Trip
L to R: Pratik, Dr. Amit, Dr. Shakeel, Samarth, Neeraj.
#highestbloggermeet
All smiles after making two records. Pic by Raza.

Vineet, Co-Founder, CMO, ScoutMyTrip. And the literal glue of the group! Sab saath me chalenge!

Deepak, Co-Founder, CEO, ScoutMyTrip. Such swag much wow. PS I like the beard.

Neeraj aka Yayawar aka Dada. The encyclopedia of the mountains! 

Samarth. Fellow retro music buff. Fab dancer. Life of the party. Cheers for the good times!

Dr Amit Nikam. Rescue team leader. Friend for life. #hippiecar core team member. More on that later.

Dr Shakeel Khan. Scientist. XUV lover. Faster than F1 racers. We would still be revving our engines when Shakeel bhai would reach the destination.

Pratik aka Nano Seth. Cutest and funniest. Kaafi nakhre and kaafi swag.

I am getting all senti now so will continue in the next blog post. Missing these people and the mountains. Seems like I left a part of me there itself.

Adios.

Khardung La
Happy happy at Khardung La

 

 

Travel

Travel News : Stayzilla expands presence in North East, Sikkim and Bengal

I’ve always been fascinated by the North East and especially Sikkim. Probably because I spent part of my childhood in the North East. I’ve been meaning to visit again for a while and now that Stayzilla has expanded operations there I’m more excited.


Given the remoteness and demand for stays in these areas, Stayzilla works closely with various state tourism departments for opening up more homestays across the hilly terrain of the East. The region is known for acres of lush green forests including Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary and the Buxa Tiger Reserve, a 760-square-kilometre tiger reserve. Both places are famous for its scenic beauty and wild animals such as bison, elephants and deer.

Stayzilla has also introduced homestays in Tawang, Bhalukpong and Bomdila, located along the West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh. While homestays in Bhalukpong are supervised by the forest division, the stays in Bomdilla are run by Monpa, Sherdukpen, Miji, Bugun and Aka tribes.

Homestays not only provide the comfort of home to tourists but also help boost the local economy. It provides travellers with a unique opportunity to not only experience the rich cultural heritage, taste the local cuisine of the region but also create a connect with people from different parts of the country. Identifying the undersupply of stay options relative to demand in India, Stayzilla stays are surpassing geographical barriers to welcome diverse cultures experiences across remote places such as Majuli.

With an array of homestay facilities available across Sikkim and Meghalaya, Stayzilla lists homestays that offer tourists an opportunity to live with the locals, discover and share their lifestyle. Stayzilla has been actively involved in promoting eco-tourism and rural home stays in the region.

Along with rural and wildlife tourism, religious destinations spearhead domestic tourism in the country. The Mayapur Tourism Department under ISKCON temple provides accommodation to several devotees and have recently opened up homestays in collaboration with Stayzilla.

Stayzilla is conducting several sensitization workshops across Siliguri, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Agartala, Imphal, Aizawl, Kohima, Dimapur, Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Moosakhia, Samanong and Kaziranga among others to promote Bed & Breakfast (B&B)/homestays.  These workshops facilitate open dialogues with potential hosts, enabling Stayzilla to take a step towards improving the sector.

All in all this is great news for people like me who enjoy homestays. Definitely looking forward to plan a trip soon!
 

 

Events, Travel

Goa Weekend with Renault Lodgy and Blogadda

As you know, I was in Goa last weekend having a ball driving the Renault Lodgy and interacting with wonderful bloggers. Because when Harish from Blogadda calls and invites you to Goa, you don’t say no! I attended an event with them last year in Goa and had such a great time that I obviously jumped onto the bandwagon this time too.

Monsoon, driving, great food, incredible location and wonderful people. What’s not to love? Bring together people who are zealous about blogging and life, and you get a diverse pool of potential consumers to try out your new product.

Bombay bid us a tearful (read rainy) farewell and delayed our flight by an hour or so but we managed to land in Goa in one piece. A warm welcome by Harish, Ankita, Sushma and gang at The Leela and we were off to our warm, beautiful rooms.

We were introduced to the pretty remarkable Renault Lodgy by the able and very talented Renault team in an interactive session hosted by the gorgeous Archana. By now, we were dying to get our hands on the steering wheel and the next morning, we did.

Pic courtesy : Renault
Pic courtesy : Renault
Pic courtesy : Renault

We drove through the stunning roads of South Goa, to The Lalit. Interspersed with good conversation, great music and lots of photo clicking, our drive was one hell of an experience, with my awesome team Deepak ji, Ashwini and Bhumika.

The car is spacious, with ample head and leg space. 7 full-size seats over three rows. The interiors are plush, classy and sporty; has a decent music/entertainment system; has charging points on all seats (yay!); a rear view camera for easy navigation.

In all, I felt the car is perfect for drives outside the city with your family. I would love to take my dog for a drive in the Lodgy. She would love the ample space! However, I am not sure if it is the perfect car to drive around the city traffic. I see it more as a second car for long distance travel.

My awesome team
My awesome team

A sturdy drive, an adrenaline-charged experience, a smooth pick up and gorgeous interiors. That’s all I really need in my kind of car. And as a lifestyle blogger and lover of all things stylish, my eyes first look for style in any product and I think Lodgy has got it. They have managed a balance between sportiness and beauty.

Pic courtesy : Renault
Pic courtesy : Renault

Tired and supremely happy, we partied through the night post the drive. I got an opportunity to sing for my fellow bloggers and I have to say, they were the most amazing audience.

Picture courtesy @ankitdavv. #LiveLodgycal

A post shared by Neha Ramneek Kapoor aka PWNeha (@neharamneekkapoor) on

A beautiful weekend was spent in beautiful Goa and I got to meet so many new wonderful people. A huge thank you to the Renault and Blogadda teams and the blogging community. It was an honour being amongst the top 40 bloggers of the country.

Until next time,

Neha

I was a part of the #LiveLodgycal Drive by BlogAdda.com in association with Renault India.

Travel

5 reasons I want to go back to McLeodganj

This time last year, I was in Mcleodganj. As someone who has traveled a lot within the country right from childhood, I have visited many hill stations, especially in the North, but hadn’t been to Mcleodganj before. And I’m so glad I decided to.

After much deliberation on where to go, we settled on Mcleodganj on my brother’s recommendation. And so we left for Delhi, I from Mumbai and my brothers from Indore. From Delhi, Dharamshala is an overnight bus ride away. The not-so-comfortable bus journey was oh so worth it and I can’t wait to go back. Here’s why:

1. The scenery

Every time you look up, no matter where you are in Mcleodganj, you can see snow-capped mountains glittering in the sun like colossal diamonds.

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You could be sipping coffee in a humble Mcleodganj café and still be enjoying the outstanding view. Speaking of cafés…

2. The cafés

I have a thing for tiny little cafés. The aroma of freshly ground beans wafting through a rustic-looking, quaint little place is magical to me. I was utterly enthralled by the cafés dotting the streets of Mcleodganj. Most of these places are run by locals, or former travelers who settled down in this charming little town.

Illiterati Café
Illiterati

One of the most amazing places I visited is called Illiterati. This place spoke to the book lover, dog lover and coffee lover within me. What with hundreds of books lining the shelves and a dog called Fondue walking around, I could basically live here.

Other cafés I liked: Chocolate Log. Pretty place!

3. The Food

The momos. The thukpa. The desserts! Mcleodganj is home to comfort food that complements the weather perfectly.

One of my favorite places to eat there is Woeser bakery. We went there every day! It is a tiny little place home to amazing desserts made by a lovely, charming lady who was so sweet to talk to! We basically survived on her desserts during our trip while we burned off the calories with all the walking.

Image Courtesy Kaumudi Bhardwaj
Image Courtesy Kaumudi Bhardwaj

Other than that, almost every café has an excellent European and American style breakfast menu. As far as Tibetan cuisine goes, while a lot of restaurants serve momos, the ones with the street side vendors are the best.

Other restaurants I liked: Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen, Moonpeak Espresso.

4. The Buddhist Vibe

Mcleodganj is home to thousands of Buddhist monks and monasteries. Wherever you look, you can spot prayer flags fluttering in the crisp mountain breeze.  The town has a vibe of peace and spirituality that engulfs you the minute you step into it.

Perhaps it is the prayers being said day in day out, or perhaps it is the history and the culture, there is just something that lends a mystic aura to the charming little town.

5. Triund

A four hour uphill trek from Mcleodganj leads to Triund, from where you can see Dhauladhar mountains on one side and the Kangra valley on the other.

On the way to Triund
On the way to Triund

While the trek in considered relatively easier compared to other treks in the Himalayan region, I found it pretty challenging! Especially the last 1 km before reaching the top of the hill. The route is peppered with tea shops where we took breathers and enjoyed the view.

With aching legs and enthusiastic hearts, we arrived at Triund after a 4 hour trek but to our utter dismay, it began raining! Hoping it’ll stop and we’d be able to camp the night there, we stayed for a bit gobbling up omelets but the rain showed no signs of stopping.

Triund
Triund

Sadly, we had to trek back the same day. And the climb down was much harder because of the rain and slippery slopes! My brother and I almost lost our way. I would love to visit Triund again on a non-rainy day and probably camp for a night. I have heard the view of the starry night is unbelievable!

Hoping to visit soon. One of my closest friends just moved there so I have another reason to go!

Until next time,

Neha

Events

Zest-ing it up in Goa

I was invited by Blogadda to spend the weekend at Zuri, Goa along with 49 other bloggers from all over the country, to drive and experience Tata’s new car, Zest. I’m live blogging this right now along with the other bloggers; some, furiously typing away.

A sturdy drive, an exhilarating experience, a smooth pick up and gorgeous interiors. That’s all I really need in my kind of car. But to my absolute pleasant surprise, the car I tried this weekend gave me all this and more.

Goa is gorgeous any day anyway. Add to that the thrill of driving a beauty of a car, and that’s a perfect weekend right there.

Drove the Tata Zest for 25 kms on the gorgeous Goa roads. What an experience.
Drove the Tata Zest for 25 kms on the gorgeous Goa roads. What an experience.

I’ll confess, I’m not really the kind of person who can comprehend in one go the technicalities and what goes behind the workings of a car. But this weekend made me gain so much insight and so much more respect for car designers and engineers. It’s a tough job, man! The fabulous people at Tata have come up with 29 new features in the Zest, which have not been seen in any car in the market so far. My favorites are the voice command features. They’re calling it Connect Next. The car can read out your SMSs to you, can play a song on your voice command, adjust the temperature to what you say, and it can understand almost all Indian accents.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try out these features because when I’m driving, and that too after months, the road is all I focus on. And Goa roads can be unforgiving. But, extremely gorgeous! The 50 km drive (I drove for 25 of it) was absolutely breathtaking. I do wish we could have driven by the beach though.

As a fashion blogger and lover of style and all things beautiful, what caught my eye was the exquisiteness of the design. The Tata Zest looks strong yet stylish, chunky yet fluid. I would say it matches my style, and in fact I might have to up my fashion game when I buy the Zest 😉

Overall, the drive was a fantastic experience and I was lucky to share it with lovely people.