2015 Travel destinations
2015 has been a great year in my travel space as I took baby steps to explore the big wide world. Not that sacrifices weren’t made as I had to make few compromises by putting down my paper after working for thirteen years in the software industry. But travel has taught me something very important that my daily job failed to do – to live every moment to the fullest. The ride hasn’t been easy as I have had to face the chill wind couple of times in my solo travel ventures. I earn peanuts as compared to a day job, there have been months where my reserves have dried out completely but that has never deterred me from taking further solo trips to explore this beautiful world and I managed to tick many from my bucket list.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” –Mark Twain
There is magic and beauty in every destination be it its natural attractions, culture or its residents. Every place has a unique story to tell me that I am always looking for. Today when I sat down to list the places I visited this year I was in for a surprise as I never ever thought I would have ticked off so many of my list. Here is a round up of my 2015 travel destinations.
This city is close to Pune but until recently I hadn’t visited it. This was the first place that I visited this year. It was a very short trip but one that I enjoyed thoroughly what with Hyderabad’s rich history and vibrant food scene.
This city and the places around it have not much been promoted and receives less footfalls as compared to Bangalore but Dakshin Kannada is an amazing place to explore with virgin beaches, great sea food, the various mouth watering Mangalorean delicacies and experiencing the cultural extravaganza with Konkani, Goan, Kerala and Karnataka influences found across this region. I had visited Dakshin Kannada on a travel writing assignment.
Also read: Mangalore and Dakshin Kannada
This place in North Kerala was a surprise package what with its wide variety of art be it the animal like moves of Kalaripayattu or the native performing Theyyam. I stayed in a homestay close to a virgin beach and explored the nucleus of Kerala’s rituals for five days in an auto-rickshaw. This was a self funded trip.
I was invited by Goa Tourism Board in the summer of 2015 to experience its Food and Culture Festival. I was in for a complete surprise when I visited the spice plantations as I never knew about this facet of Goa.
This self funded trip to Rishikesh followed by Kuflon, Agoda and Dunda was an eye opener. I hiked to the remote village Agoda which is accessible only by foot and met the extremely hardworking Agoda women who toil in the fields, tend to their cattle, home and family. They are a smiling and a hospitable lot who welcome you into their homes for a cup of tea. This place holds a special place in my heart thanks to these ladies. Rishikesh got adventurous when I was a stranded in a desolate place with no petrol in my rented Activa.
I was born in Madurai but raised in Pune. Despite visiting Madurai couple of times a year I had never visited Kodaikanal. After attending my cousin’s wedding at my home town I headed with my family to this hill station which is rich with flora. I loved the beauty of the Mannavanur village.
Aranmula & Allepey
I had always wanted to watch the snake boat races that are conducted in Kerala every year. The one in Arnamula is more like a ritual than a race. In one single boat about 100 men are found working vigorously with their oars, few singing songs and beating the drums. These races are a visual delight and the atmosphere is completely charged up.
Germany & Austria
Having won a blogging contest conducted by Lufthansa airlines I flew to Germany in its premium economy class. I visited some beautiful places like Heidelberg, Triberg, Munich and Berlin. I also visited Innsbruck and Vienna courtesy Austria Tourism Board.
On invitation from the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board I got to visit Bhopal, Jabalpur, Kanha National Park, Bhimbhetka and Bhedaghat. The heart of India has lots to explore in terms of adventure, history, culture and wildlife.
The last international trip of the year was to Macau a hotspot for casinos and gambling. But Macau has more to it than gaming it is a melting pot of Portuguese and Chinese culture, history and heritage. I specifically loved the Portuguese and Cantanese food. This trip was sponsored by Macau Tourism Board.
This little known destination near Kochi is a must visit for birding. Founded in 1983 the Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is home to many rare and endangered species. It was interesting to meet Dr. R. Sugadan student of India’s birdman who has traversed the entire stretch of Western ghats thrice in search of Ceylon Frogmouth, Broadbill Roller and the Red Faced Malkoha. There are many destinations in and around Thattekad which are hidden gems of Kerala that are not much known. I managed to tick off Thattekad on a travel assignment.
Lastly I would be closing this eventful year at Gulmarg my maiden trip to Kashmir. The purpose of this trip though is not to explore Kashmir but to accompany my 11 year old for his National Ice skating competition. But you never know, it would be my earnest endeavor to explore this paradise which is heaven on earth.
I hope the coming year has lots in store for me as regards travel, exploration and writing. I wish to spread my wings in the world of print, photography and cover many more logos.
Wishing you all a Happy and prosperous New Year. May all your dreams come true.