Sunday, August 26, 2012

Why I have never traveled out of India!

When will you travel out of India?

It is one of the most frequent questions I get asked. How long will you keep wandering here (in India)? Seems the entire existence of my blog has been a lost cause! I started this blog when I started (re)discovering India. I wanted everyone to know there was so much to see here. I have ranted here before and there's a very good chance I might get into that mood by the end of this post. :) Let me warn you dear reader, this post addresses those who keep insinuating that I should travel out of India to really “travel”. If you are just curious, by all means do read the post but don’t get offended because I am not really addressing you when I say “you”, it is the insinuators!

Is this really in India?

As I grew up, I had dreams like most. Seeing the snow capped peaks of Switzerland topped the list, deserts, pyramids, Eiffel Tower and what not! In fact so much so that, I thought India had no marvels so to speak. Even up till three years ago, I was still dreaming of that Phoren Trip! Then I started traveling within India. Then I met the Mountains!

In the very early days, when I was just posting travel stuff on the internet from my treks, I was asked many times if this was in India. Such great confidence we have in our country or perhaps it was plain ignorance that no place so beautiful can be in India. I still see this question being asked on many photos from many people. Of course it is India, if you ever cared you would know!

There is a thing called A-G-E-N-D-A!

My first and last love will always be the Mountains. It started with Western Ghats and ended at Himalayas. The world's mightiest peaks are right here, almost like next door. Why in the world would I want to go anywhere else? There's a thing called agenda! Different people have different agenda. While many travel to just go out and have a good time, there are few like me who always have a specific agenda in mind. Few travelers might be on a cultural quest, few on a heritage trail, few on a culinary trail, and few on an adventure trail or more. If you are looking for birds-of-paradise, damn right you are, in saying what are you doing in India, you have to be in some exotic rainforest of New Guinea. And if you love mountains, there couldn't have been a better place! My love of the mountains is indescribable. Just for starters, look at the amazing collection of Indian Himalayas. There are so many treks that I want to do and so many mountains to climb here! Remember? My agenda is not to have a million postcard pictures in front of the Empire State building or Windsor Castle or St. Peter's Basilica or London Eye! I want to climb mountains and they are right here, right next to me. So, sorry to disappoint you but I am not going anywhere outside in near future! Maybe Afghanistan or Pakistan, for its amazing Himalayas again, but that isn’t fancy enough for you I suppose!

I see no purpose in telling the same old stories. I want to tell new stories!

For starters, just google for Nagaland, Manipur, Nicobar or Chhattisgarh and tell me if you found any good information on places there. Now, then google for Rajasthan, Kerala, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and tell me what you found. It is our own folly that we have stereotyped India to be those few states and comfortably forgotten the rest of the states. These famous destinations have been written about over and over again by many publications so far. And it amazes me that such less documentation is available on the other states. I do not want to have a conversation where I say “Taj Mahal was beautiful” and you say “Oh yeah! It is very beautiful.” Both of us know it is beautiful and end of conversation.

Instead, I want to tell you how amazing the lakes of Kashmir were and I want you to tell me how that poacher in Arunachal Pradesh turned into an active conservationist. I want to tell new stories and there are so many of them, untold.

I am not infinitely rich!

I know the world is a beautiful place and there are many many countries that I do want to visit! Trust me! But my priorities are totally different, I admire nature alright. But I do not have infinite resources backing me to take infinite trips to any place I fancy. I don't travel to take a vacation. I travel to learn, to be inspired, to witness nature's glory. So, traveling to New York or Paris or Rome or Singapore or any other fancy location is practically useless for me. I really don't consider going to any of these places travel (in my dictionary). People travel for different reasons. Mine simply doesn't include any cities in the itinerary. If India was all about culture and temples and religion, I would’ve been first to travel outside the country.

Yes, on the other hand I would like to climb some mountain or glacier in Alaska or Chile, if you would sponsor the trip. But otherwise I am not all that rich to spend all my money to just fly down to Alaska, climb one mountain and come back. I could do so many trips to Himalayas with that money. Simple logic, really!

It is an amazing Country. Oh wait a minute, it is your country too, remember?

And it is really not just about mountains. It is about exploring my immediate surroundings, my country. Even a year won’t be enough to see India entirely. Ask any outsider who has visited India and they will all say the same thing. Many have come back and stayed here for years together. Such is the charm of our country. I am just a weekend traveler taking few travel breaks in a year and all my travel days put together won’t be more than 150 days. It’s like just 5 months and how much would I be able to see in such a short time? I haven’t even seen a quarter of India’s glory. I haven’t even stepped into 19 of 35 states and Union Territories of India! The more I have traveled, the more I understood how much more there is to be seen. India is an exquisite country geographically speaking, so much variety it has to offer apart from the incredible people, history and culture. Before I knew any better, Phoren trip was all I ever wanted, but now, all I want is to explore the unseen beauty of our country.

No! Once and for all, no, it isn't all the same!

If "when will you travel out of India" is the most irritating question, another stupid question that comes quite close is why do you keep going back to Himalayas? Why do you keep trekking in Western Ghats? Isn't it all the same? No! Once and for all, no it isn't all the same! Western Ghats is a 1600km long stretch running from Gujarat to Kerala and you think it is all the same? I won't even begin to talk about the diversity of the Himalayas. It is as sad as saying siblings are all same, they all look same anyway to an outsider. Does that mean they are not different persons with totally different individual traits? Only those close to them would know how different the two siblings are. Only those who keep going back would know how different these mountains are.

Isn’t it strange enough that foreigners have been the first to arrive to most of the spectacular places in India? They were first to arrive at Ladakh as travelers, same with Spiti. You will see more foreigners there than Indians. Kutch always featured in the foreigner’s “India trip” while we ourselves were quite late in even realizing there is something to see in those barren lands. Very recently when a group of Indian Trekkers entered the remote valleys of Kashmir, the army there was surprised to see domestic visitors. Apparently foreigners have been trekking that route regularly but not Indians, and here I was thinking we are exploring unknown lands. India is way too big to be contained in a Lonely Planet guide book or two. I’ve had it enough. I want to discover my own secret destinations, call them our country’s best kept secrets if you will. If not us, who will write about our wonderful Country?

At the end of it, it might seem to you that this could be a case of the sour grapes! But let me assure you, it is not. I want to travel outside of India too, but exploring my home ground would be of a higher priority any day. Imagine sitting with a group of travelers and while everybody is telling great things about their country, I’d be talking about great things of other countries! Something doesn’t feel quite right about that picture. And even if I do travel out of India, it would be to a country whose name you haven’t heard of. Try Kyrgyzstan or Eritrea for instance.

Maybe that is why I am not traveling out of India yet. To answer your question, to tell you that there is so much to see here!

83 comments:

  1. I fully agree. This is the this time I type and erase to comment how much I agree with you. I guess I just don't get the flow today. So I will leave it here.

    Hopefully in a couple of months from now I would have travelled to most nook and corner of my home state.

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    1. I too hope that you will travel across much of your home state soon. We badly need some information on North Eastern states. Trust you to find us some offbeat experiences. :)

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  2. Excellent article Neelima. I would say that even a lifetime would not be sufficient to cover our beautiful India. For Indians, its the same old story- The garss is always green on the other side. Probably thats why they would prefer to tavel to Europe and not to north-eat India. Do you feel its the same with foreigners too? Do they travel extensively across their country before heading to India? What is your thought to it?

    www.rajniranjandas.blogspot.com

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    1. That's a very good point Niranjan. But then again, different people have different agenda. Mine is to explore this country, maybe they want to explore other countries. :)
      Frankly I do not know, next time I meet one, I will ask them this question.

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  3. You speak my mind many times..keep writing these good stuff..cheers!

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  4. Expression... Its not just answers for question from many!

    Well Crafted...
    "I want you to tell me how that poacher in Arunachal Pradesh turned into an active conservationist. I want to tell new stories and there are so many of them, untold"

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  5. Dear Neelima
    How are you? Reading your post after a year is so refreshing! Very well writtten ( as usual) ..Leaving in the heart of sahara desert without a proper net connection was tough and will continue like this for some time. Now on Vacation trying to read as much as lossible ..let me see what all I have missed
    Have a nice week

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    1. Hope you like what you read here! Thanks. :)

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  6. I know what you mean, Neelima. The amount of beauty we have here in India is unparalleled. I've been travelling here almost a year now with whatever I've saved, and truth is, I've barely scratched the surface. But at the same time, I must admit that I love travelling in foreign countries too. There is so, so much more to France than the Eiffel tower & Paris. The charming villages, the postcard countryside, the food, and you just have to go there to see it (no lonely planet, and definitely no touristy pictures can show it to you). It'll be unfair to compare India & any other country because each is unique in its natural beauty and everything else. Personally for me, I want to travel, and irrespective of the country I am, I want to go where few people have gone before. And I'm gradually beginning to accept that I won't be able to see the entire world in this lifetime, heck maybe not even every nook & corner of India.

    PS: Love how passionately you feel about discovering ALL of India before stepping out :-)

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    1. Agree with you Shivya! I too want to go where few have gone before. But the number of places in India where few have gone before is astounding and it baffles me!
      Sometimes I wonder, considering myself a traveler I should feel more like a citizen of the world than favoring one country. But then again I almost feel obligated to discover this country before going anywhere else. I don't mean to compare India and other countries here and I am sure all of them are beautiful places too. And I don't mean to say I will never travel out of this country either, sometime soon, not just yet. :)

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  7. Makes a lot of sense.
    Almost all my travelogues have been written about places visited outside of India (barring a few). I need to make some time and explore places right here in my own country, and I think the time is now :D

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  8. hey neelima,
    glad to see stuff like these avl online! u r doing a tremendous job! showcasing India! I'm a travelling musician myself(When m not working :P), and i found ur articles pretty helpful. keep up the good wrk! cheers!

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    1. Hey thanks shrek! A traveling musician? That's sounds quite interesting. Tell us more about it!

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  9. "Imagine sitting with a group of travelers and while everybody is telling great things about their country, I’d be talking about great things of other countries! Something doesn’t feel quite right about that picture. And even if I do travel out of India, it would be to a country whose name you haven’t heard of. Try Kyrgyzstan or Eritrea for instance. "

    Loved this para. and hell yes, Hindukush are high on my list to!

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  10. Fantastic post, Neelima!! Once again you have put down so well what I would say myself!!! Of course, while you go climbing mountains, i go visiting temples and ruins, but the attraction is just the same, for there are so many stories to tell, stories few people know about!! and to think that we might just manage to see a part of India in our lifetime!! the variety is just so huge, can we ever say, I have seen it all? i dont really think so!

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    1. Thanks Anu! There is a lot of variety if we were willing to see.
      It will take a lifetime to explore all of India. :)

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  11. Well written... Our India is great.... within the agenda and budget there are lot to experience in India. You speak the language of a true traveller and speaks out what is in our mind... Keep Going.. mera Bharath mahan

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    1. Correct Jinu, that is also another major point. With a decent budget, we get to experience all kinds of terrain here. The diversity works well for us. :)

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  12. Nice article Neelima :) Yeah cant agree with you more than this. Like somebody said before me said, every place has its own charm. It just the difference of opinion between a "traveler" and the "tourist" on how he sees a place. On my recent ride to Rajastan and Gujarat, half the world was against me when i told that i wanted to see some dunes and the Kutch, all alone. Just few changes in ISO/aperture/shutter speed doesn't make a place look good. one has to be there to witness the reality.

    Also, its the "chalta hain" attitude of we Indians, that makes people to think about going abroad. Take any "tourist" place for instance, the sight of of Pan is almost inevitable. Dare they do it in the public area of White house or Eifel Tower.

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    1. Agreed, it also has to do with the general Indian mentality, the need to get the passport stamped, the understanding that has to come about preserving the places. Slowly things are changing. I wanted to do the same a few years ago, now I am happy exploring places here. And I can assure you one hundred percent, that not all places here are touristy. One just needs a new perspective like you said.

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  13. Two years back I always thought that we need to travel outside India to find beauty...Places like Switzerland, Ireland etc... But then my husband changed my view. He said that he wanted to travel in India before going out for two reasons. First is that there is a lot of beauty to be enjoyed inside India and second is about contributing to your own country men and economy... I think the second reason makes as much sense as much as the first one...

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    1. Exactly my point Elizabeth. And in my case, the second reason holds more weight than the first one. I feel it is upon us to explore and talk about the beauty of our country.
      I do live in an imaginary world most of the times and in there I hope to be able to answer the questions of an outsider. :)

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  14. Hey Neelima, very well written. When we were growing up trying to become engineers and doctors, there were a few of us who opted for something else that they were really passionate about as means to earn a living. I guess its the same principle here. Those with a real passion to travel, will travel anywhere and explore the nook and corners of our country. Call me a cynic, but I prefer to keep it that way. As a general rule, if a certain place is going to be visited by a large number of Indians, its bound to get dirty. Full of plastic and what not.
    You mention places like Nagaland, Mizoram and I'm sure the average Indian wont even know they are a part of India. Heck, ask them how many states India has and they will get that wrong!
    I really would'nt care if others ask stupid or irritating questions. I just dont bother. After all, everybody is entitled to have his own outlook on life. Keep up the good work though and let us know more about your travels.

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    1. Sourabh, the point you have raised is a very valid one and a thought that has crossed many of our minds. I do have a lot of conflicting thoughts on whether writing about lesser known places is more of a boon than a bane or is it the other way around. And this demands an entire post. I will write about it soon. :)
      But I think given all the negatives, tourism will still help these forgotten places in a way. And although I say I am irritated by such questions, I am not really. But I wouldn't pass upon an opportunity to rant about it. One, because it is so much fun to rant. ;)
      And second, it might just clear the air.

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    2. I'm still pessimistic about letting some of the secrets out completely.. I would like people to make that extra effort in trying to go to a place.. Tourists are usually the ones who are unaware of so many places they visit. For instance, a guy asked me near Pangong Lake if we were in the Himalayas! I feel certain part of the tourist crowd don't deserve to be shown some places as they become a liability in maintaining the place.
      About the post, its more for the cynics! Any person who has traveled in India would agree with you.. :)

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    3. "a guy asked me near Pangong Lake if we were in the Himalayas" - Super LOL, this cracked me up! :D
      But to tell you the truth, even I had similar encounter in Kargil and asking something similar about Pangong. The issue with Pangong is its new found popularity thanks to Aamir Khan, but otherwise who are we to keep secrets and how are we to decide how much traffic is enough traffic? This raises an entirely new problem for which sadly we do not have a solution yet.
      And yes, this post was for cynics! :))

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  15. I can understand if not going outside of India is because of resource crunch (money, time etc)..if not, then I believe "my home ground would be of a higher priority any day" is not the right view point. Others may not have magnificent Himalayas like we have in our own backyard, but then what they have done with their lesser mountains, is no less thrilling as exploring our own. In fact it gives you a different fresh perspective about our own heaven which you will never get otherwise. So do explore India, but I feel it will not be right to say that you will not explore outside because there is still lot more to explore within India. Given a chance it certainly makes sense to travel out once in a while even if it means cutting down on one Nagaland trip.

    Just my two cents.

    Prashant Durgadmath

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    1. Phew! After that big post, I cannot explain any more on why I feel so strongly about exploring India first. :)

      All I can say is, only two months ago I wrote about the almost unknown lakes of Kashmir. Few more months ago I wrote about Sikkim in Monsoons. Few years ago I wrote about the magnificent Chitrakot falls in Chhattisgarh. Now please tell me if you have found some good info on Nagaland! If not, I see that as my purpose. To each his own.
      I'll let someone else travel the world and bring back stories. I am going to write about this country.

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  16. May you rediscover more places in India :)I enjoyed the read :)

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  17. If somebody had asked me this question about 4 years back, I would probably have replied in the same way as you have in this post. But a chance to spend a year abroad changed my perception.

    It's not like I didn't know about or appreciate India before my visit abroad. I did, but that year abroad only made me appreciate my country even more. Be it nature, mountains, culture heritage - the richness of what India has was enhanced that much more.

    My primary interests lie in the area of art, architecture, culture, and heritage and I cannot emphasis enough how enriching that experience was to actually see and correlate and compare various structures, styles, events and timelines across the world.

    I must admit that I would not have travelled so much abroad if I did not have a scholarship funding me; on my own I could not have afforded the travel that I did abroad. Whatever the reason I am grateful for the chance I got to explore other parts of the world.

    Like you, I seek experiences beyond the usual tourist trail. But I also seek to see the hidden in that same tourist trail. Every time I return from a tour, its with the realisation that I have only skimmed the surface of something unfathomable. This makes me enjoy every trip, whether in India or abroad.

    As for the question, "When will you travel out of India?" it is akin to people asking me as to when I will get married ! I've stopped getting irritated as "Kuch to log kahenge, logon ka kaam hai..." :-)

    Good luck with your travels !

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    1. I hear you, but my thought always has been "If not me, then who else?". :)

      That is what drives me to explore India before anywhere else. I am this close to setting foot in all states of India. I can never see all of our country but setting foot in all states comes close in my head. Then I might step out.
      There are many people exploring the world, I want to do something different and this is how, by exploring my own backyard. :)

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  18. Every time I read one of your blogs, I am becoming a bigger admirer of you.But this one is a very special one to me as I personally believe that India has so much to offer for every traveler. I have made a choice last year when I decided to start travelling ( I have not yet understood what actually motivates me to travel, but I know that I just love it) that I will travel in India before thinking about travelling in any other country. To be precise, when I planned for Leh- Ladakh, I had an equal opportunity to do a euro trip, probably i would have managed with the same budget. Hats off to you for speaking from your heart!

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    1. I know what you mean when you say you had the option between a Euro Trip and a Ladakh trip. I too had that option, almost every time, but aren't we glad about the choice we made? :))
      Glad you enjoyed the post. Cheers!

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  19. absolutely true.. i have same answer for this question.
    Loved this line
    "The more I have traveled, the more I understood how much more there is to be seen. "
    Rightly said. There are so many treks and so many places to travel in india (specially in himalayas), i am not sure if the remaining years of my life are enough to cover these places, considering i visit himalayas twice every year
    Everytime i go there, i come up with a few more enteries in my TODO list :)

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    1. Ha ha, I know what you mean! There hasn't been a single instance so far where I felt satisfied with what I saw. Always promised myself that I will return and explore more. :)

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  20. kudos!
    it is refreshingly great to read a fellow Indian actually enjoy India.. I agree with you completely... India!.. well there is a certain rustic charm attached to everything about it... the smelting heat the hoards of people the colorful people and the never ending conversations between complete strangers.. The more I see India the more I crave for it all... I don't mean the mountains, Monuments and picture perfect locations... but rather every thing about it... the crowd, the noise, the color... and the chaos .. I love them all!

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    1. As for me, for a country as crowded as India, I was shocked to find vast spaces of wilderness every nook and corner. It surprises me that despite all the chaos and crowd there are still places where few have set foot yet. :)

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  21. Hey Neelima,

    Ditto!!! I so agree with you!!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and making us realise that India is the place to travel and explore!

    Cheers to your spirit of travelling!

    Archana

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    1. I know! One lifetime will not be enough to explore all of this country. :))

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  22. True...while travel outside is just as fantastic, defly a good point that there is so much to see in our own country...I think this applies not just to travel , but to all things pertaining to life- if life's enjoyable, it sure isn't in India...its upto us, the current generation, to change this mindset, I think- and with people like you babe, am pretty confident we can atleast get the change started! :)

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    1. Yes, which is why I keep suggesting all people should be sent to wilderness every once in a while, just to know the value of what we are enjoying. ;)

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  23. Hi Neelima, I so agree with your thoughts! I don't think it's a case of grapes being sour, it is just that India is too diverse to be explored in a single lifetime.

    Cheers,
    Pubali

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    1. I swear! Just this weekend I found more awesome places right in my backyard, well almost. :)

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  24. Hey great piece! I am quite impressed with your fascination for mountains - I love them too! I totally agree that India is full of treasures and we can spend a lifetime to explore them!

    check out my blog also-

    http://renuka-mytraveldiary.blogspot.in/

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    1. Thanks for dropping by Renuka. :)
      will check out our blog surely!

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  25. I too wouldn't travel outside India. But that's not for the reasons mentioned here! I shiver whenever I go to a mountain top - Both the height and the cold hits me hard. I am a surface person, and as you might have guessed by now, too lazy to climb :)

    Financial considerations is one, but there is one more all important reason - I just cannot apply for a passport, due to lack of address proof. I have been trying to get an address proof since time immemorial, but there seems to be no chance. This, in a metro city!

    So I guess I have no other option but to explore within the boundary constraints. But, I like what I see in the surface. Even within cities for that matter.

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    1. Hope you get your passport soon. Well you don't have to climb mountains if cities interest you. :) I am sure Indian cities must be having lots to explore too.

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  26. Hi Neelima! It has been a long absence, but things have been a bit hard: father 95, mother almost 91 doing radiotherapy, wife broke right elbow and I’m consuming some much needed holidays to take care of all this...

    Your India is fabulous!!

    As far as Blogtrotter Two is concerned, it seems nobody is interested in St. Kitts, so maybe I should try something else. Anyhow, enjoy and have a great week or better a vacation, if still available!!!

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    1. I hope everyone in your family gets better soon so you can travel more! :))

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  27. Hi There,

    Your view are fully appreciated. In fact after meeting approximately 120 fellow Indians (Approx. 60 guys who have done post graduation together and then another 50 or 60 who were my colleague during first 7 or 8 years of my career), I almost concluded that we do not respect or have confidence in our own things. There is a lot of truth in it and in spite of the fact that I hate to generalise anything but still cannot help myself doing the same on this subject. You came across as an exception, you explored your interests , you shared it with others and got attention of people who hold similar interests and you showed them a way how to do it. Great, Thanks for doing it.

    When we talk about the way we behave and react to foreign things, in all aspects of our life, and give them a superior level it always raise a question why we do it that way. Is it really true. To get an answer to this very complex question we need to explore in past and it goes back to many decades when after coming out from the centuries of living under the foreign rules, individuals and groups of Indians were struggling to find its pride and we almost made to believe that we are good for nothing and it was tested against many things, e.g., goods we produce, services we provide as Politician, as Govt. agency and so on. But then Information services industry revolution came that gave chance to try your skills on a bigger platform independent of various restrictions which were there in other places and it gave some confidence to the new generation.

    Still we have a long way to go. But your efforts to boost the confidence in people, who were either ignorant or unaware about the opportunities that exists in Indian to explore their interest be in mountaineering, various topography, archaeology etc., are very good.

    I just want to add that when highlighting out glory we should never say that we are the best but we are none the less. That should be the spirit. Have respect to what you have got and equally do not undermine others. Someone said we can learn what other have done with whatever less they have got. It is a good statement. Again only if you have interested in that thing. You love mountain and you might not be interest to think about how best to maintain the landscape that nature has given to us, how not to disturb what nature has given to us then this suggestion might not be relevant to what you are doing – a splendid job anyway, so forgive me but I thought you have pulled so much attention of like minded people then why not I can also divert their attention towards this.. When you visit other places you come to know how and what more should have done to preserve this ultimate beauty mother nature has given to us. But we have done quite the opposite. Our greed has destroyed a significant part of that nature already and it is the high time we should realise it and take some step to prevent further decay and preserve whatever is left. I born and bought up in Uttrakhand and love for mountains is in my blood. Now I live in the UK and visited Europe quite extensively and on that basis I can say that it is heart breaking when I see how we are destroying what we have been blessed with in India. It is pure greed for money that never lasted with us in last two centuries but we are still doing the same. Think about it we have killed Tigers and Lions, Sandal trees are almost reach to extinction. Our rivers are disappearing or becoming poisonous. We need major steps at personal as well as at Govt. level to roll back the ills.

    All the best.

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    1. I agree to what you have said about how our greed is destroying the sensitive environment and I also agree that we have to take a conscious decision to try ad stop it along with the govt. As I see there are two parts to this process. One is just identifying and realizing that we do have so much treasure in our own backyard, and second being a thought to conserve what we have. Without knowing the value of what we have here in India, I doubt anyone will even bother to try and save it.

      It is a very sorry situation that thoughts on conservation is almost nonexistent in the common man's mind. But then again, expecting the common man to think of conservation when his life is at stake is pointless, he will of course do whatever he can to take care of his family. And govt is doing nothing to help the situation. We have survived so far only thanks to the sheer size of our country and its resources, wonder for how long we can keep plundering its wealth mindlessly. And I have been just talking about the problems for I have no solution to this at this point. :(

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  28. Hi,
    It was nice reading your post. I can understand your views. Keep up the good work.

    I love trekking in the Himalayas and do blog a bit about it (http://sathyastravels.blogspot.in/) so that the information regarding the treks can be shared.

    One of the facts that saddens me a bit is that on truly remote treks (like you pointed out) one seldom sees Indian trekkers. If at all you meet a trekking group it is, more often than not, a group of foreigners. However, if you go to places like Manali though one sees a lot of indian tourists. My theory behind is that for a large majority of us Indians travel needs to be both comfortable and affordable. Adventure travel is not in our DNA. Though I do believe that the trend is slowly changing. Even in LEh one would find a lot of indian tourists, but you would find them as far as the vehicle goes...After that it would be hard to spot any indian tourists even on popular trekking trails. Hopefully, in the near future, I get to meet more Indian trekkers in the Himalayan trekking trails...

    cheers
    sathya

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    1. Wherever remote I went I found foreigners there, it almost kills me to think how much they have explored our country and how little we have. But then again maybe it traces back to the way we have been bought up! At this point, I think we should be just happy that we are slowly trying to move towards more exploratory and experiential travel. Slowly we might be getting there, not in the very near future but soon enough I hope.

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  29. I agree to what you have said about how our greed is destroying the sensitive environment and I also agree that we have to take a conscious decision to try and stop it along with the govt. As I see there are two parts to this process. One is just identifying and realizing that we do have so much treasure in our own backyard, and second being a thought to conserve what we have. Without knowing the value of what we have here in India, I doubt anyone will even bother to try and save it.

    It is a very sorry situation that thoughts on conservation is almost nonexistent in the common man's mind. But then again, expecting the common man to think of conservation when his life is at stake is pointless, he will of course do whatever he can to take care of his family. And govt is doing nothing to help the situation. We have survived so far only thanks to the sheer size of our country and its resources, wonder for how long we can keep plundering its wealth mindlessly. And I have been just talking about the problems for I have no solution to this at this point. :(

    You are right that one need to recognise their treasures. Current generation seems to lost the track regarding who they are, how to live and a madness is observed in the every sphere of life. No other developed country (to say the least) ignore their culture like us except America who is doing same up to certain extent but America is a very new country and made of immigrants (native American culture survived only in the history books) . If you have been to any European country or gathering of European people observe what they talk most – they keep cultural things in the centre of their discussion most of the time. We lack it as it was not stressed in a positive way by parents or teachers. Only the negative aspects are stressed e.g.,” I am Konkan Brahmin”, “I am from same family of Rajput who did xyz”. “I am from XYZ town/XYZ University/hold XYZ degree/Son of XYZ”.

    It is not like everything is bad with current generation. They are more Indian that their predecessor they believe in a united India. They are also realising that politicians have manipulated to get the vote. They want a corruption free India. The only area they are lacking is confidence in doing Indian things. They end up following what west is doing or judging themselves on a western scale. They do not need to. They should have their own taste in doing things they enjoy doing. Our films does not portrait society correctly - , e.g., films are showing music bands. Where are these bands, how many student take music as their subject, where they practice, where is this band culture they talk about. Indian take music as their hobby, most start with Indian classic and with Indian instrument. But film never shows that and this western band culture is portrait in urban youth. But it is not rooted in the Indian student living in 90% of the towns. On the other hand here in West it is very common, in a smallest of town you will get many music instrument shop, they can be hired, leased or purchased in a affordable price. Student do practice right from childhood. They have 100s of gigs in very town – places are running music nights, they organise big music festivals where thousands of people come and stay in tents for the duration of the festivals. This is their culture. They spend money to join these gathering, they spend time in developing music and it is a big business. Beatles still add billions of pound every year in British economy. But we look very artificial when following it. Grow interest, provide infrastructure and space to do practice. Be original not the copycat – no one respect copycat.

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  30. Our way of life in ancient time is our treasure. It affects everything around us, how we communicate, live, eat travel, behave, work and so on. We need to bring it back. We are the nation who make so many things from Milk but we failed to produce enough milk to meet our need as we never respect the traditional dairy practices. Read newspaper in festival season and you will find news where artificial milk or other milk products are produced and people were arrested. Here in west milk is cheaper than bottled water. Why because it is part of their life. Every countryside is flooded with Cows and farmers are respected and all the support is given to them by govt. They are also doing wrong things to combat certain disease like “Moot & Mouth” but let’s leave this discussion for some other day.

    Let’s move this discussion bit more: I believe that every part of this planet is blessed with something unique and native people learned to live in harmony with it. This includes everything, Roti (Food), Kapda (Clothing) and Makan (Shelter) to say the least. Gradually in the name of modernisation we destroyed most of it and continuing to do so.

    The more we highlight it, discuss and debate about it – how it should have kept, what are the best practices etc then more challenges will be thrown by society and eventually it will change as a result of that. Not saying because no one will do anything might not be the best approach. The speed with which we moved in certain area (Developing Mall, Realisation of Football league style Cricket called IPL) should also needed in other neglected area.

    Take few simple examples: In my childhood when I used to travel by road to Delhi, there was hardly any noticeable building apart from Dabour, Mohan Meakins, Sahibabad hospital to name few, that too in a stretch less than few kilometres. It was lush green countryside between Gaziabad and Delhi. Forward the time to present and hardly any land left between Gaziabad and Muradabad. What we have got in return, It made few billionaires, corrupt politician and others. Big shining mall where only a small percentage of population can enter. Lots of pollution, decreasing level of water level as there is no way that rain water can enter into the earth.

    Another example: Near my home town, there was a centuries old natural habitat for Elephants beginning from or beyond the banks of Ramganga river , Jim Corbett national mark to Nepal border around Tanakpur (banks of River Sharda). It was giving Elephants a migration opportunity when the food at one place is not enough for them. They survived and flourished for centuries and in the name of development we have destroyed/Cut off this migratory routes of elephants. They started entering into nearby villages and destroyed agriculture land. Villagers who rely on such land started killing elephants (poisoning them, putting traps etc). Now the number is reduced to shocking minimum on record. A land aptly called the ‘Land of Roar and Trumpet’ are now deprived of Tigers and soon with Elephants. What we have got in exchange, A large paper mill, lots of export based manufacturing units may be generating revenue up to few millions dollars. Mostly benefiting some politicians who actually converted Jungles and agriculture land as industrial park. Now think about this, the revenue generated or employment created could have been matched by developing a sustainable tourism model. Think how Germans, British people developed big Animal Safari in South Africa and nearby countries where lots of tourists race each year. This place was full of herbs and other cash crop e.g., Basmati rice and Wheat. We could have developed plant based medicine, essential oils by cultivating relevant plants similar to how France, Switzerland are doing. I am sure that we could have generated more employment and revenue if it was done in a organised way. No pollution, no migration of people, no damage to flora & fauna and you could have established a industry that would have worked in harmony with Nature.

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  31. Now you may ask what about these industry as these are also important and give us confidence that we are as industrialised as any developed Nation. You could set-up these industry where there is no such damage to nature, There is a big belt of dry land in Rajasthan, Near Agra and Jhansi, and many such places dotted around the country. We learn very quickly that I-phone is the phone to have even before it is made available in India, we learn what we need to eat, Baby Corn, Blue cabbage, Asparagus , Broccoli,(Can only give veggie example as these vegetables were not sold when I was child) but we learn nothing about how West build their infrastructure and build their big industrial park, i.e., by doing least damage to flora and fauna. How cleverly they use land and optimise everything. Take Bristol as an example, all the Big Cement factory, Power plants and other industrial units are build across the sea channel and you get absolutely no pollution in the town, Obviously they have most strict law and enforcement in place as well to help.


    Now coming back to common man- they will not learn unless it is debated and mentioned in our daily life. Common man is not that poor as you might think, but our system definitely make them. They pay more to get power because electricity is stolen and our Electricity generation and transportation mechanism is not anywhere near to I-phone using, Broccoli eating countries with whom we are trying to compete by developing Formula one race track (by stealing land from farmers). Majority of land in the control of government and not made available to develop housing for growing population and as a result of this buying house or flat becomes dream for common man. An affordable sustainable housing planning could have solved this problem up to certain extent. It works in some major towns but also rotten by corruption. Common man give big donation to get a seat in a substandard institute to allow their children to become engineer and doctor. Because no effort is made to develop institutes (apart from few – IIT, IIM etc.) or curriculum to keep it in line with Asparagus eating nations. Only a deep and honest discussion and corruption free reforms can save this society which in my opinion is going through a worst of time. It is high time that we start ignoring people who are production of a corrupt politician, govt officer. We must question when we see something expensive is seen in the hand of a salaried person or their offspring. Ask how your parent can afford that. The least we respect such wealth better it would be for society.

    You guys are the future of India and I would like to request you to be original, do spread what is good for the communities and take steps to elect good governance without falling in the trap of regionalism or anything that they use to manipulate you. Disrespect anyone around you who is nurtured by money obtained from wrong doings (a child of a corrupt magistrate must be reminded about what his father is doing and he should in turn remind his father about his duty – take some inspiration from “Rang De Basanti”. I always wonder who are these people who vote for people like Sharad Pawar, Rahul Gandi A Raja. When A raja went home from Tihar millions gathered – why?

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    1. Blah... Blah ... Blah ..

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  32. This was like reading what i always wanted to shout out to people around me.

    When people asks me about travelling abroad, i wonder whether they realize that we live in a 'country' with a million countries inside it!

    Also, travel is not just about sigh seeing, its a process of understanding & learning, a damn effective one. Where else can we learn better than India, where, every 100 kms you travel, surprises you with a new culture/language (dialect)/food/etc., than what you have seen till date!

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    1. I know! Got asked this question so many times I decided it was time to explain the theory! :)
      Glad to see there are many who feel the same way.

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  33. Read initial few lines and I was glued to this post. Yes, one life is not sufficient to see our country. It's also true that India has so much to offer that you will never run short of variety. It will get irritating when someone asks you why not travel outside India when you are traveling amazing places in India.

    But at the same I would like to see other countries also. I think the word 'agenda' in post is the answer to it again. You can call me a novice in travelling and yet to do a solo travel but still I have a set agenda. I plan to travel all part of India which I can afford and at the same saving for a big trip once in a year. Yes money is a big factor and that's why South East Asian countries are a good start. I started with Malaysia which was not cheap but still doable costing me a bit more than Ladakh :). Yes, expensive places like London or Tokyo will be visited later years of life but I keep researching about a country where I can manage to travel. Dream of seeing pyramids in Egypt or a Safari in Kenya motivates me to save/invest/avoid unnecessary expenses so that dreams become reality one day :)

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    1. You got what I am saying! I hate it when people jump to conclusions without knowing the agenda.
      I wish you get to visit all your dream destinations very soon. :)

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  34. I agree - even if you spend a life time traveling in India you will still not see all the beautiful things there are to see in India.

    I recently spent a few months in the northeast of India - Arunachal, Nagaland, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram - there are no words to describe my experiences here. I want to write about it in my blog but don't know where to start...

    My love affair with the mountains also started with the Western Ghats (Sahyadris of Maharashtra).

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    1. Western Ghats are so awesome, it is hard not to fall in love with those mountains! wow, all NE states! I have just been to Nagaland and Sikkim. Please start somewhere, I look forward to your posts. :)

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  36. Excellent article Neelima. I want to say that even a lifetime would not be sufficient to cover our beautiful India. This article gives me inspiration of Travelling In India .

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    1. Exactly Amresh, I am sure this is true for any country, if we look closer. Given India's diversity, both culturally and naturally, it will take a lot more than a lifetime to see all of it. All the best with your travels.

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  37. Hi Neelima,

    Excellent article and website too!!

    I have recently relocated to Bangalore and planning to start exploring Western Ghats.I was searching for information about the places and trekking.. Landed up in your sites. Thanks a lot for the information and inspiring too. I always want to travel and see as many places as I can ..But never happened all because of all Human personal reasons and commitments.But I made up my mind and determined to start my travel Journey :)I guess your site will help me a a lot.

    I will start to (re)discover India!

    All the best for your future adventures :)

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    1. Awesome. Welcome to Bangalore, this is a perfect base to explore the awesomeness that is Western Ghats! In fact Western Ghats is me favorite place, after Himalayas ofcourse. :)
      Have written lots about these two places, do go through those posts. And I wish you all the very best in (re)discovering India!

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    2. Hi Neelima,

      Thanks for the reply.

      I have successfully completed(half) Kumara parvatha. Due to very hot temperature not able to reach the peak :( Ofcourse this is my first trek in western ghats. Let KP stay as unconquered peak for sometime in my list.

      I am reading all your post and inspiring :) I hope will visit enough places to start writing my own blog :) Thanks for the wishes!!

      Shiva

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    3. I can understand, KP was the very first peak I attempted to climb in Western Ghats and I also did not reach the peak. :)
      http://www.travelwithneelima.com/2009/04/elusive-kumara-parvatha.html

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  38. Hi Neelima... this was a fantastic post! I am not yet a seasoned traveller, but I completely agree with you. There's so much beauty in our own country that we fail to see. And it's not just in the usual history, nature, culture angles. Travel is also about making connections and having conversations. A travel-loving neighbour once said "the more I see of India, the less I need to see of the world". That thought has stayed with me, and now your post also hits the nail on the head.

    Good luck with your travels. I hope to match up soon. :)

    Cheers,
    J

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    1. Well, yeah, everyone who has travelled in India finally does come to the very same conclusion that there is so much to see here.
      All the best with your travels. :)

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  39. have registered for mizoram trek this nov ....got ur link while googling .....grt passion neelima ..hats off to you ....you seem to be speaking out my mind in every article ....

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  40. I appreciate your ideas and this is very nice article and have great information.and Thanks for share

    www.apjtours.com

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  41. Echoes my sentiments too... when a lifetime is not sufficient to see what's here, why go elsewhere :)

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  42. Your blog powerfully speaks about your passion.

    It is really commendable.

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  43. Hi, I just happen to check your blog and trust me I agree with you. I am a new travel blogger with a dream to travel whole of India and Love going to offbeat places thanks to Manglore it inspires me to travel to remote places.
    http://adventuresofablackwidow.wordpress.com/

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  44. very very very well written,,, awesome...

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