The bewitching charm of Chandratal Lake

Tuesday, 14 August 2018 by
chandratal lake, binsar, Backroadescape

A veritable treat for the eyes, the 2.5 km wide Chandratal Lake is a picturesque moon shaped lake located in Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. It is situated on the Samudra Tapu pleateu, which overlooks the Chandra river. Sitting pretty at an altitude of 4250m, this gift of nature is a big attraction for trekkers and campers. It can be visited either through Kunzum Pass or Batal Here are a few interesting facts about this fresh water lake:

Mythological significance: One of the most popular mythological legends associated with Chandratal lake is that Lord Indra had come down in his chariot to the very same place to take along Yudhishthir, the eldest Pandav, in his mortal form with him to Swarg (Heaven). That is why this place is revered by the Hindus.

Stories and folklore: Apparently, the lake was discovered by traders who came to the region from Tibet or Ladakh. After the tiring journey, the traders used to rest near the lake before heading towards Kullu and Spiti valleys. Also, the local populace believe this lake is blessed and hence, it is visited by fairies at night.

It changes colour: The glistening crystal clear waters of Chandratal lake changes colour throughout the day from muddy green to aquamarine blue to sea green depending on the sun’s position. Apparently, the best time to visit the lake is from noon till 4 PM when the reflections on the lake are at its best. The beautiful sight is accentuated by the lush green rolling hills and Chandra Bhaga mountain in the background.

Best time to visit: Chandratal Lake can be visited only during summer from May to September, as the rest of the time it remains frozen and difficult to access. It is said that visiting the lake during a full moon night can be a once in a lifetime experience as the moon’s reflection on the waters create a stunning imagery. One can also get a clear view of the stars of the Milky Way galaxy from the lake.

trekking tips to keep in mind,

Trekking is an extended journey on foot through mountainous areas and trails of natural wilderness. The rugged terrains, unpredictable weather, and inhospitable environment may appear challenging to even the most daring lot. But the reward for taking such an adventure is mostly sweet and immensely satisfying in the end. The key is to undertake adequate preparations for the trekking trip to go as smoothly as possible. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind before you embark on the next trek.

Prepare yourself physically: Trekking is an arduous physical activity- one that could test the limits of your personal stamina and endurance. The bodily muscles have to function smoothly in order to undertake the steep uphill and downhill trails. Involve yourself in some kind of aerobic activity such as swimming, walking, jogging or cycling at least a month in advance to increase your stamina. A good level of physical stamina goes a long way in preventing issues such as joint strains and muscle soreness.

Always stay in your group: Please don’t walk too fast or too slow to get separated from your group. Avoid sitting at isolated places such as small water bodies or dense bushes. In an unknown terrain, you don’t want to get lost. Stay with your group members at all times and help each other out in case of need.

Pack all essentials: There are some survival items that you must carry in your backpack such as a pocket knife/Swiss knife, adequate amount of water, a map, a pocket torch, matchbox or lighter, a first aid kit, a raincoat, a whistle, healthy eatables such as dry fruits, nuts and chocolates besides hygiene accessories like hand sanitizer, paper soap etc. Always make sure to wear comfortable footwear, the kind recommended by your tour operator.

Train yourself for High Altitude sickness: You can encounter a common problem called acute mountain sickness while you are trekking in high altitude areas. It usually occurs when a person’s body fails to adjust with the changed atmospheric pressure upon exposure to a high altitude. The cold air on the higher reaches can be thin and can cause such reactions. The best way to avoid this problem is acclimatization or to gradually attain height to get used to the changed environment. Also make sure to rest well, abstain from alcohol and smoking, eat nutritious food and drink plenty of water to keep the body well hydrated.

Get Health Insurance It’s always better to have necessary health insurance that can cover the cost of any kind of treatment you may require for a physical problem that occurs during the trek. Remember this is only for the worst case scenario. In all likelihood, you will go and come back completely fine from the trek.

So sit back, dream of the next trek destination and make it happen. With a little preparation and resolve, you can experience the adventure of a lifetime.

offbeat travelers places | Binsar, Uttarakhand, India

Heaven for off-beat travelers

Binsar is truly a piece of heaven for off-beat travelers who crave some solitude and connection with nature. Binsar Hills, also known as Jhandi Dhar, is quite a remote travel destination located  2,412 meters above sea level.

Due to the remoteness and the sheer abundance of a variety of flora and fauna, it’s the ideal spot for writers, nature enthusiasts, bird watchers, and seekers of solitude.

In this article, I’ll give you a detailed overview of the top attractions and activities in Binsar. This will show you why Binsar should feature in the bucket lists of all off-beat travelers out there.

Bird Watching in Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary


Binsar is located in close proximity to the natural Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary which has been formed by running brooks and rivers. The biggest attraction of visiting this wildlife sanctuary is that it’s home to over 200 species of rare birds such as the Blackbirds, Kalij Pheasant, Parakeets, Laughing Thrush, and many more.

As such, Binsar is a paradise for bird watchers as you can observe a range of interesting and charming birds live and fly freely in their natural habitat.

In addition to the birds, Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary is also home to other animal species such as deer, leopards, foxes, porcupine, chital, jungle cat, and others.

Entering Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary costs only Rs. 40 per person or Rs. 50 per vehicle.

Trekking to Zero Point


Zero Point is one of the most famous viewing points in Binsar. However, even though it’s well known locally, it’s still remote enough that you won’t find a horde of tourists taking selfies and pictures.

You’ll need to trek a few kilometers into the sanctuary to reach this zero point. However, the view makes the trek completely worthwhile. You get a panoramic view of a range of Himalayan peaks from this point, such as Chaukhamba, Panchachuli, Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot, and Kedarnath.

Other than the Himalayan ranges, you also get a clear view of the Almora town and the Kumaon hills.

Day Trip to Jageshwar


Jageshwar is a complex, housing the twelve Jyotirlingas, and it’s about 50 kilometers from Binsar. If you enjoy sightseeing religious monuments of significance, you can’t miss this.

It’s situated at an altitude of 1,870 meters. It’s not the most remote destination or sight in the region as it receives thousands of tourists per year. However, if you’re lucky, you might get there at a time when no one else is around.

Jageshwar is surrounded by dense deodar forests and has a stream (the Jata Ganga) flowing in its very backyard. It used to be one of the prime milestones in the Kailash-Mansarovar pilgrimage, but due to better-connected roads and transportation, it can now be accessed more easily by a larger number of people.

If you’re keen on meditation, Jageshwar serves as one of the best off-the-beaten-track meditation and yoga destinations in India.

Also Read: Benefits of Traveling off the beaten path

Exploring Bineshwar Temple


Another interesting historical/religious monument you can visit is Bineshwar Temple, a 16th-century temple housing Lord Shiva. It was built by King Kalyan Chand who belonged to the Chand Dynasty and the temple is famous in Binsar for its architectural motifs and historical significance.

Well, so these are some of the prime activities you can engage in when you’re in Binsar. While all of these activities contribute to Binsar being a paradise for off-beat travelers, the real beauty of Binsar lies in how undiscovered it is.

If you’re sick of all the best locations being commodified by tourism, you can rest assured that in Binsar you’ll find an authentic piece of nature.

 

Jilling Sanctuary: A Review

Friday, 20 April 2018 by
Jilling Sanctuary | unexplored places in uttarakhand | India

Jilling Sanctuary, unexplored places in Uttarakhand, brings you the peace and quietude of the Himalayas while also offering five-star accommodations and luxuries. This little resort works as a balm for your soul and health, rejuvenating your body with the fresh Himalayan air, and detoxifying your mind and soul by connecting it to the natural beauty of the surrounding valleys and hills.

Nestled 6000 feet up in the mountains, it’s not an easy task to reach there. After a certain point, your four-wheeler is rendered inefficient and you have to climb up on foot or on ponies sent over by Jilling Sanctuary. However, if you don’t mind the climb, you’ll enjoy threading your way through the farms, dirt roads, and oakwood forests along the way.

The resort has been designed in the aesthetic of a stonework bungalow, which is perfect for a mountain resort as it keeps the interiors warm and pleasant, also making it easier to heat up with a fireplace. In addition to the practical purpose, the stonework with the creepers and dense foliage also offers a natural aesthetic that’s more in keeping with nature all around. There are various annexes and passages along the resort, each leading to different areas such as a common room, a terrace, or a solar heated swimming pool in a glass-enclosed room.

One of the best aspects of residing in Jilling Sanctuary is the view of the Himalayan peaks and mountain ranges in the distance. From one side of the property, you can check out the plains and valleys sloping down the hills. From the other side of the property, you can look out at the icy Himalayan peaks and the Nanda Devi range. Furthermore, you enjoy a clear sightline without any hindrances or distractions.

Also Read: The Best (And Most Remote) Places to Explore in Himachal Pradesh

The rooms are decorated with all modern conveniences in place, however, they don’t distract from the natural aesthetic of the resort. The rooms bear a warm and natural color palette— as is appropriate for a mountain resort — comprising wooden beams and large glass windows that overlook the valleys.

One of the most welcoming facilities in Jilling Sanctuary is the Conservatory. It’s a glass building that includes a fireplace overlooking a horse chestnut tree, a viewing deck, a library full of volumes on a wide range of subjects, a home theatre, and a dining table. As such, it’s a great place to interact with other resort guests or to simply fetch yourself a book and snuggle up with it before the fireplace. The presence of the Conservatory gives Jilling Sanctuary quite a homely vibe.

For those with an adventurous streak, you can go on little daytime expeditions to explore the neighboring attractions such as the Garjiya Devi Temple, Jhirna Village, and several other famous hill stations in the area.

All things considered, Jilling Sanctuary is exactly what the name suggests — a Sanctuary. It offers shelter, relief, and healing from the woes and struggles of daily life. It envelops you in the arms of nature and soothes your soul so that you can go back to your life more at peace with yourself.

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Remote Places to Explore in Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh is known for being a vision of natural beauty with its sprawling green hills, charming valley towns, and popular hill stations. It’s located in the western Himalayan regions and as such it’s appropriately dubbed the “land of snow”, offering a respite from the scorching summer waves found in mainland India.

Himachal Pradesh also makes for a great destination for off-beat travelers as there are a number of regions that haven’t yet been taken over with mass tourism.

Here are some of the best and most remote places to explore in Himachal Pradesh.

Khajjiar

Khajjiar is one of the best places to visit in Himachal Pradesh with friends and family. It’s a little valley in Chamba district surrounded by lush pine and deodar forests. If you’re looking for a quiet hillside town to relax and unwind in, then this is ideal for you. You can get a taxi from Dharamshala to get here.

When you’re in Khajjiar, you should explore the Khajjiar Lake via the Bakrota Hills. If you enjoy exploring temples and monuments, you can also make your way to the Khajji Nag Temple. There are also various apple orchards here that you can check out, or simply enjoy a view of Mount Kailash which is home to Lord Shiva.

Kasol

Kasol, located in Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh, is one of the most talked-about travel destinations amongst solo travelers and backpackers. It’s considered to be a little Israeli nest in the midst of Himachal as it features several prominent authentic Israeli restaurants and cafes, run by Israeli individuals.

If you enjoy hiking, you can follow the Parvati river trail into the surrounding jungles. If you can trek all the way to Kheer-Ganga, you can also dip into the natural hot water spring.

Spiti Valley

Spiti Valley — comprising the three hill stations of Spiti, Tabo, and Kaza — is one of the most stunning, yet least popular, destinations in all of North India. Surrounded by lush green forests and mountains, it’s also home to a number of Buddhist spiritual haunts.

When you’re in Spiti Valley, you should take the time to explore the ancient traditional meditation center at Lari Dupuk. In Tabo, you can also explore the Millennium Monastery and the rock carvings or go hiking along the nomadic hills to Angla and Phela. If you’re keen on exploring the local culture, you can also check out the cham dance cultural show in Nadang Lhakhang.

Also Read: Why Binsar is Heaven for off-Beat Travelers

Malana

Malana is perhaps the most remote destination in Himachal Pradesh. It’s frequented by solo travelers and backpackers who like to retreat into a simple mountain town disconnected from the technological grid. Located near Kullu, it offers the stunning sight of the Deo Tiba and Chandrakhani crests. This town is also referred to as the Little Greece of India because of its charming architectural style.

Bir Billing

Located in western Himachal Pradesh, Bill Billing is one of the best destinations in the country for adventure sports and activities. It’s frequented mostly by backpackers and thrill seekers. One of the most popular activities here is paragliding across the Himalayan valleys. If you’re looking for something quieter, you can also explore various Buddhist monasteries.

Well, these are some of the best and most remote places in Himachal Pradesh. These are the destinations that the rest of India and the world hasn’t yet caught on to, so you better make the best of it while you can!

Benefits of Traveling off the beaten path

When traveling, most people rely on tourist guides such as Lonely Planet to plan out their travel itineraries. They select a list of locations that offer the most stunning views, but ones which are also sought out by thousands of other tourists.

As a result, as beautiful as the chosen destination may be, it’s often corrupted by the spoils of crass consumerism and tourism. The prices for accommodations and goods shoot up considerably and these locations are often thronging with travelers, thus negating any possibility of peace and serenity.

If you’re someone who doesn’t much care for that particular brand of tourism, you might be interested in traveling off the beaten path. Most accommodation listing sites offer an unfiltered list of properties in some of the most touristic spots. However, you can use a directory such as BackRoad Escapes to find accommodations that suit your interest in finding hidden getaways that most people don’t even know about.

You can read below for a brief list of benefits of traveling off the beaten path.

Cheaper Attractions

If you enjoy traveling to engage in activities such as rafting, hiking, snorkeling, etc, you’ll find that the prime tourist attractions are extremely expensive. In addition to that, they’re often also crowded.

However, these activities are also found in various locations that aren’t well known beyond the local region. As such you can find accommodations in remote regions that offer such activities and you can be guaranteed that you’ll be able to enjoy them at a far cheaper price.

Furthermore, several remote accommodations also offer activity discounts that you can avail of to make your travels more economical.

Better Accommodations

Accommodations in prime tourist areas is incredibly expensive even when they’re offering only the basic amenities. However, if you seek out off-the-road locations, you’ll find that your accommodations will come with far more space and amenities for the same price as their more popular counterparts.

Solitude

There are some people who enjoy being the midst of life and tourism. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, some people enjoy being on their own, amidst nature and finding some peace and quiet.

If you identify with the latter, then you’re definitely an off-the-beaten-path traveler. In these destinations, you don’t need to worry about societal norms, about noise, about making polite conversations with strangers, or any of that. You can find peace in solitude.

Leisurely Pace

When you’re traveling to the touristy destinations, you always have to worry about how crowded a certain place would be. If you’re thinking of going for dinner, you have to worry about beating the crowd to find a place. If you’re going sightseeing, you have to figure out when you can get there in time to avoid the rush hour.

However, when you’re traveling — either solo or with a company — to remote locations, you can take your own time to do things as and when you please. As such, traveling off the beaten path can also be quite leisurely and calming.

Well, these are some of the prime reasons for traveling off the beaten path. You can use BackRoad Escapes as your personal directory of these off-the-road accommodations that can offer you all of these great benefits of this particular brand of travel.

If you have any personal stories of off-the-road travels that you’d like to share, feel free to comment about it down below.

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