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For centuries now, thousands of travellers have trodden the ancient trail laid by the Incas — starting from the Sacred Valley, all the way up to Machu Picchu. And yet, years later, the charm of the Inca trail continues unabated, drawing history and adventure buffs from across the world to the high Andean passes that lead to these mystical ruins. In recent times, this trail has attracted culinary enthusiasts as well, with South America’s gastronomic delights, from Brazilian grills to the Peruvian ceviche, forming an integral part of the trip. Not only do you get to sample modern, progressive food from the country’s kitchens, you also get to recreate ancient flavours, as savoured by the Incas.

Machu Picchu, a time-honoured Incan wonder!

The trail to the Lost City of Machu Picchu takes you through a series of delightful culinary experiences!

Colonial Flavours

Most travellers make sure to include destinations from Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela in their itinerary, leading up to the Inca trail. When in the Pampas country of Argentina, with its vast grasslands and farms, make sure to try the parrillada, which is a combination of poultry and meat, grilled together. One of the most loved dishes, you will find it being cooked everywhere, from street-side stalls to fine-dining restaurants. Grills, barbecues, soups and stews form an integral part of South American cuisine. One of the classic examples of this is the feijoada, a common dish in Brazil with very strong Portuguese influences. Made with beans, salted pork, beef, bacon and spices, it is a reflection of the rich colonial history of the country. You can also gorge on some succulent Coxinha de Frango, a juicy Brazilian fried chicken snack.

Gorge on Coxinha de Frango - Brazilian fried chicken snack

When in Chile, gorge on Coxinha de Frango, a juicy Brazilian fried chicken snack

The South American Samosa

When in Chile, don’t be surprised to find a South American cousin of the samosa being served by the dozen at street stalls. Empanada, considered the national dish of Chile, is a crispy-crunchy delicacy filled with shredded beef, beans, cheese or fish. Yet another favourite, of home cooks and restaurant chefs alike, is the pastel de choclo, which is a pie made with corn and ground beef or chicken. Every household has its own version of the pastel de choclo, with some adding a sweet touch with raisins or spicy undertones with paprika.

Empanada, the traditional dish of Chile

Empanada, the traditional dish of Chile, is a crispy delicacy filled with shredded beef, beans and cheese.

Peru: The Culinary Capital Of The World

However, it is Peru with its rich gastronomic legacy that is considered the culinary capital of South America. With flavours and recipes from the pre-Inca and Inca period still being practiced in kitchens, and influences from Spanish, Basque, African, Cantonese, Japanese and Italian cuisines inching their way into the cuisine, Peruvian food is a hotbed of cultural influences. According to some estimates, there are 2,000 different kinds of soups and 250 traditional desserts that are part of the Peruvian culinary repertoire. “Peruvian is the single most important cuisine in Latin America, with a repertoire of dishes that may be bigger than France,” said Douglas Rodriguez, the chef and owner of Patria, the pioneering nuevo Latino restaurant in New York, in an interview to The New York Times. Peru is one of those rare culinary capitals, where innovation co-exists with traditional flavours.

Culinary Vacations In Peru

Tour planners now offer culinary vacations in Peru that include visits to landmark fruit and vegetables markets in the capital city of Lima. Here you can bargain with local vendors for fresh food, then return to your hotel to cook staple Peruvian dishes such as causa limena, lomo saltado and suspiro a la limena. You can even watch the national drink, Pisco, being made, after which you absolutely should visit the fine-dining restaurants such as Casa Moreyra Astrid & Gaston, and Malabar.

Sacks of potatoes in a Peru marketplace in the Urubamba Valley.

Pick up fresh potatoes from a Peru marketplace in the Urubamba Valley while on a culinary vacation.

Recreating A Traditional Incan Feast

However, the highlight of the gastronomic segment of the Inca trail is the recreation of ancient styles of cooking. There are numerous chefs who focus on traditional Inca techniques such as the pachamanca, which involve burying meat in the ground. This pit-cooking technique continues to be an integral part of Peruvian cuisine in the central Andes, especially during celebrations, when families get together to stack layers of potatoes, corn and marinated meats in a pit. In Ollantaytambo, a picturesque Andean town where the Inca trail begins, another aspect of ancient cuisine come alive, one with plenty of fruits, vegetables and all other natural produce. At the El Molino resort, you get traditional Inca recipes made with wildflowers, golden berries, sweet fruit called tuna, granadilla, cherimoya and the aji amarillo.

Fried bananas in the market Iquitos, Peru

Traditional Incan meals include fried bananas, which are freely available in the market of Iquitos, Peru

As one walks up the majestic mountains, with yawning valleys lying below and the magnificent ruins up ahead, you’re happy for a chance to savour these delicacies. And sampling these meals leaves one satiated; it’s exciting to witness and be part of the culinary traditions passed down from the people who lived there centuries ago.

Fact File On Machu Picchu

Location: Peru
Language: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara
Currency: Sol
Food & Drinks: Pisco is the national drink and the traditional cuisine draws influences from the pre-Inca and Inca period, Spanish, Basque, African, Japanese and Italian cuisines.
Time Zone: GMT-5

Up for a whole new adventure?

Write to nissitoursindia@gmail.com or call us at 1800 123 6898

About The Author

20160807_130728

 

Avantika Bhuyan is a freelance journalist who loves to uncover the invisible India hiding in nooks and crannies across the country.

 

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The Indian travelling scene has witnessed a significant rise in the number of girls-only vacationers lately. Women of various ages are travelling to different parts of the country to explore things on their own while also spending time with their closest friends. This has also given birth to a number of women-only travel clubs across the country. If you too have been planning to go for a trip with your girl gang and have decided on trying adventure sports as your priority, here are some exciting options in India to consider.

Experience adventures in its simplest of forms by choosing to play a sport in the air

Experience adventures in its simplest of forms by choosing to play a sport in the air

Mountain Biking In Sikkim

Navigate epic landscapes of Sikkim while mountain-biking in the lush terrain

Navigate epic landscapes of Sikkim while mountain-biking in the lush terrain

If you love exploring places while cycling, mountain biking may just be the perfect adventure sport to try on your next holiday. The Sikkim-Darjeeling region has diverse terrain that provides varied trails, a major reason why mountain biking has become a popular sport activity among adventure-seeking travellers. The advantage is that there is no specific season to stick to, although the months between October and April are considered the best as the monsoon season tends to create slushy roads.

There are several travel groups and sports clubs in Sikkim who organise mountain biking tours, and this is a great way to recreate those childhood memories of cycling with your girl gang, albeit on a much tougher level. You also get to enjoy the spectacular natural beauty of the state and lifestyle of the local people while biking on its many trails.

Fact File

Location: Part of the north-east Indian states, located near the Siliguri Corridor
How to Reach: Bagdogra Airport is the closest, railheads are there at Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri; buses, taxis, etc. are available from Darjeeling and Siliguri
Official Language: Nepali
Currency: INR
Time Zone:  UTC+05:30
Climate: Mostly temperate.
Food & Drink: Vegetarian and non-vegetarian.

Interested in holidaying in Sikkim? Sikkim Delight

Paragliding At Bir-Billing, Himachal Pradesh

Witness the fascinating and majestic views of the Dhauladhar Ranges while you paraglide in Bir-Billing

Witness the fascinating views of the Dhauladhar Ranges while you paraglide in Bir-Billing

Have you ever wanted to have a bird’s eye view of places? If yes, then paragliding is the adventure sport you should try on you next girls’ trip. And where better to go than the ‘Paragliding capital of India?’ The small village of Bir-Billing is a sought-after destination for amateur and advanced paragliders alike.
You can paraglide here throughout the year (depending on weather conditions) apart from the monsoon season. You can go for tandem paragliding if you are a first-timer, as this version allows two people to fly on the same paraglider – so you can have a trained pilot beside you who will look after the technical part of it while you soak in the breath-taking views below, the breeze in your hair, and the feel of flying like a bird. For solo paragliding, you need to undergo training of about 15 days, which is also available in Bir-Billing.

Fact File

Location: In northern India, approximately 102km from Chandigarh
How to Reach: Dharamshala Airport is the closest; Pathankot is the nearest railhead, about 100 km from Bir; buses ply to Baijnath from Delhi and Chandigarh
Official Language: Hindi
Currency: INR
Time Zone:  UTC+05:30
Climate: Sub-humid tropical to alpine
Food & Drink: Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, with most local dishes being spicy

Interested in holidaying in Himachal Pradesh? Enchanting Himachal Pradesh

White Water Rafting At Subansiri, Arunachal Pradesh

River Raft in the deep, pristine gorges of Arunachal Pradesh

River Raft in the deep, pristine gorges of Arunachal Pradesh

Tucked away in the North-Eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh is the Subansiri River, which has gushing white waters perfect for white water rafting on rapids from Grade-I to Grade-IV. The Brahmaputra is the mightiest water body in this part of India, and Subansiri is its biggest tributary, which is also often referred to as ‘Gold River’ by the locals.
The major rafting destinations here that you can go exploring with your girl buddies are Taliha Camp, Sippi, and Daporijo. The river rafting experience will be challenging and give you the true-blue adventure sport experience. Early November to March is the best time to go white water rafting in Arunachal Pradesh.

Fact File

Location: In the north-eastern part of India
How to Reach: Guwahati and Tezpur are the nearest airports; Harmuti train station is around 43 km away from Itanagar; can be accessed by road from nearby cities and states
Official Language: English
Currency: INR
Time Zone:  UTC+05:30
Climate: Sub-tropical to temperate
Food & Drink: Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Rice beer is a local favourite.

Interested in holidaying in the North East? Green Triangle of North East

Scuba Diving At Andaman

Have an unforgettable experiences with your girlfriends in Andamans

Have an unforgettable experience with your girlfriends in Andamans

Scuba Diving is not only a fun adventure sport that gives you the thrill of doing something new, but also a chance to explore the fascinating marine life hidden from plain sight. Andaman Islands is the place to head to as it has several beautiful sites for diving, and offers some breath-taking sights of underwater ecosystems in the area that can best be understood when experienced.
If you are planning an Andaman trip with the girls, you have plenty of choices in adventure groups and travel companies who organise scuba diving expeditions, and anyone from a first-time diver to certified ones can participate.

Fact File

Location: In the Bay of Bengal in the southern part of India.
How to Reach: Port Blair Airport is the major one in the region; since Andaman is an archipelago, there is no rail route but one can travel to the islands via ship to Port Blair; there is no road to reach the islands, but you can travel on a ship from Port Blair
Official Language: English
Currency: INR
Time Zone:  UTC+05:30
Climate: Tropical
Food & Drink: Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian

Interested in Scuba Diving in Andamans? Amazing Andaman

Caving in Meghalaya

Crawl through a cave and have a stunning experience in Meghalaya

Crawl through a cave and have a stunning experience in Meghalaya

One of the lesser-known adventure sports, caving offers a unique experience for one and all – the thrill of walking through dark passages, at times having to wade through waist-high water, and the chance to observe one of nature’s magical works.
Not many are aware that Meghalaya is home to the largest network of caves in India, and this is the ideal place to try this exciting adventure activity. There are trained guides available and the caves offer a challenging experience for all skill levels.

Fact File

Location: Meghalaya is located about 100km from Guwahati
How to Reach: Shillong has an airport. The other closest one is at Guwahati, which is well-connected to other Indian cities. Meghalaya does not have a rail line, but Guwahati Railway Station is the closest; buses and taxis are available regularly from Guwahati
Official Language: English
Currency: INR
Time Zone:  UTC+05:30
Climate: Varies with the season, with heavy rainfall during monsoon
Food & Drink: Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian

Interested in holidaying in the North East? Super Saver North East

Travelling with your girl pals can be a lot of fun – like-minded company, having fun doing all the ‘girly’ stuff you want without being judged, and the chance to bond with your buddies during a much-need break. However, also pay attention to the safety factor and plan in advance to have an adventure-filled trip without any hiccups.

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Maha Shivratri, which translates to ‘the Great Night of Shiva’, is an annual festival celebrated by Hindus in the glory of Lord Shiva—one of the most revered Gods of the religion. The annual event is marked by the gathering of sadhus, chanting and revelry. Devotees keep fasts, participate in song-and-dance rituals, celebrate throughout the night, and partake of bhaang thandai, believed to be a favourite of the blue-throated, serpent-wearing God. Although a major festival in India, Maha Shivratri is also celebrated around the world as Lord Shiva’s devotees reside all over. Here’s a look at how this event is celebrated in various countries.

I. India

Such is the grandeur of Mahashivratri celebrations in India!

Maha Shivratri is celebrated on a grand scale in India

The home of Shiva, India also hosts some of the biggest Maha Shivratri celebrations in the world. The festivities across different states draw in hordes of travellers from other countries, who come to witness the magnificence of the occasion. There are 12 Jyotirlingas (holy shrines) in India, all of which celebrate the festival in a grand fashion. Visit these five places in India to experience Maha Shivratri at its best.

1) Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh: Although celebrated by various temples, the high point of the celebrations in Varanasi is the spectacular wedding procession, where people dress up as various Gods and Goddesses.

Lord Shiva is worshipped not just by Hindus, but also people of different religion and countries!

It’s not just Hindus, Lord Shiva is worshipped by people of different religions and countries!

2) Jammu and Kashmir: Kashmiri Hindus celebrate the wedding of Lord Shiva and Parvati with festivities that last for days.

3) Orissa: According to legend, Puri used to be a major centre of Shiva worship. Even today, Maha Shivratri is celebrated with pomp and show at the Lokanath Temple among other places.

4) Mandi, Himachal Pradesh: This is the biggest Maha Shivratri celebration in India, with a week full of festivities organised by the Bhootnath Temple.

Devotees in huge number gather for the Mahashviratri procession!

Thousands of devotees gather for the Maha Shivratri procession in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh

5) Karnataka: This South Indian state also celebrates the festival with a vibrant Sri Shidlingappa’s fair. Devotees also visit Hampi, where they bathe in the Tungabhadra River before going to see the deity.

Fact File

Location: South Asia
How to Reach: Airports in major cities as well as smaller towns, with international flights available from metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, etc.; India has the world’s largest railway network that connects all the places within the country; buses and cars are available to travel between the states, and also connects to Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.
Official Language: Hindi and English
Currency: INR
Time Zone: UTC+05:30
Climate: Different zones, ranging from tropical to alpine
Food & Drink: Regional cuisines, in a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. Kashmiri Wazwan, Mughlai, Kolhapuri, etc.

Interested? Book your tour now! Bhakti Yatra

II. Nepal

The celebration in Nepal is equally vibrant as you can see!

Maha Shivratri in Nepal is celebrated as grandly and with equal fervour as that in India

Another country with a majority of Hindus in its population, Nepal is home to several temples and places of religious importance. The Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu has the country’s biggest Maha Shivratri celebrations, with believers from all across the world travelling to Nepal just to be part of the festivities.

Located by the Bagmati River in Nepal’s capital city, Pashupatinath is a sprawling temple complex and one of the most significant Shiva temples. According to legend, the 12 Jyotirlinga in India form a body, with the Pashupatinath linga as the head. It’s also counted among Shiva’s 275 holy abodes, making it a sacred place for devotees.

Nepalese chant and play musical instruments to celebrate the joyous festival of Mahashivratri.

Nepalese chant and play musical instruments to celebrate the festival of Maha Shivratri

The Shiva lingam at Pashupatinath is about one metre high, and features faces in the four directions, each representing a different aspect of the God. During Maha Shivratri, there is a colourful fair with henna artists, snake dances, music, circus and several stalls. On this auspicious day every year, around 700,000 devotees flock here and wait in long queues just to glimpse the deity and give their offerings.

Fact File

Location: Himalayan region, bordering India and China
How to Reach: Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu; there is a railway route between Nepal and India that goes to Janakpur Dham; buses and cars can enter Nepal from India at different points.
Official Language: Nepali
Currency: Nepalese Rupee
Time Zone: UTC+ 5:45
Climate: Various zones ranging from tropical to arctic, depending on the altitude
Food & Drink: There are a number of ethnic cuisines, ranging from Khas and Pahadi, Thakali, Newari, Terai, Lohurung, and other variations.

Interested? Book your tour now! Explore Nepal!

III. Mauritius

Lord Shiva is also revered in the country of Mauritius and how!

Lord Shiva is also revered in Mauritius, which has impressive Maha Shivratri celebrations

During Maha Shivratri, thousands of devotees gather at the Ganga Talao (Grand Bassin), a lake that is considered sacred. The preparations begin weeks in advance as people of all ages follow a strict vegetarian diet, after which they start their journey to the lake. Many devotees also prefer to dress in white as a symbol of purity.

Yes, there is Ganga Talao In Mauritius too! This is where devotees gather on the occasion of Mahashivratri to offer their prayers.

Devotees gather in huge numbers at the Ganga Talao in Mauritius during Maha Shivratri.

Once the prayers are done, devotees collect holy water from this lake and carry it back home to be poured on Shiva lingams. On their pilgrimage, most devotees carry a beautiful structure known as a kanwar on their shoulders as a means of expressing their love and respect to Lord Shiva. The festivities come to an end with Char Pahar ki Puja, an overnight ritual during which devotees pray, chant and make special offerings to their beloved deity.

Fact File

Location: Part of the African continent, it is an island in the Indian Ocean
How to Reach: Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport, Port Louis; being an island nation, there is no railway line; there is also no road connectivity to Mauritius, but one can reach by sea on cruise ships.
Official Language: No official language, but English and French are used in the Parliament
Currency: Mauritian Rupee
Time Zone: UTC+04
Climate: Tropical
Food & Drink: The cuisine has a blend of Chinese, European and Indian flavours, with a growing popularity of some French dishes

Interested? Book your tour now! Island Holidays!

IV. Bangladesh

Little boys dressed as Lord Shiva for Mahashivratri event.

In Bangladesh, little boys dress up as Lord Shiva as part of the Maha Shivratri celebrations

Maha Shivratri is also celebrated in Bangladesh, one of India’s neighbours. Here, Bangladeshi Hindus get together to pay their respects to Lord Shiva at Chandranath Dham in Chittagong.

Chandranath Dham is a famous Shakti Peeth and according to Hindu scriptures is the place where the right arm of Godess Sati (an incarnation of Parvati) fell to Earth. The temple also houses an idol of Lord Shiva, locally known as Chandrashekhar. The Hindus here believe that fasting and performing pujas on the auspicious day of Maha Shivratri will help them get a good spouse, which is one of the reasons behind the immense popularity of this festival.

Fact File

Location: South Asian country, which shares borders with India and Myanmar
How to Reach: Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at Dhaka; There is a railway service from Kolkata (India) and Dhaka; there are two points of entry by road on the India-Bangladesh border, and there are buses to Dhaka from Kolkata and Agartala.
Official Language: Bangla
Currency: Taka
Time Zone: UTC+6
Climate: Tropical monsoon
Food & Drink: Mainly Bengali cuisine, with local variations in the fish, meat, rice and vegetable preparations

Interested? Book your tour now! Experience Bangladesh!

Maha Shivratri is believed to mark the occasion of Lord Shiva’s marriage with Parvati. This divine union is celebrated with utmost zeal by devotees not only in India but several other places, including Singapore, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bali, Sri Lanka, and even the USA and UK.

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Goa brings to mind sun, sand, beaches, great food, cheap beer, and the Sunburn Festival! However, there’s more to this coastal state… the Goa Carnival, for one. If you haven’t experienced this grand spectacle yet, here are 7 reasons you should definitely add it to your travel bucket list now.

Usually held in Feb-March, Goa Carnival is the definition of fun and good vibes

Usually held in February-March, the Goa Carnival is the true definition of fun and good vibes

Originally a Christian festival, the three-day Goa Carnival has turned into a major social event that incorporates elements from Hinduism. Usually held during February-March, this extravaganza of food, drink and merry-making embodies the fun, free, inclusive vibe that the state is famous for.

The carnival dates back to the time when Goa was under Portuguese rule. While a lot has changed, the essence remains the same—that of all-round revelry, colourful parades and varied entertainment, marked by a festive and cultural spirit. In recent years, the carnival has become an important event on Goa’s calendar, drawing lakhs of travellers every year.

Here’s why this elaborate festival should feature on your bucket list this year.

#1 Because This Carnival Is Absolutely FREE!

The best part about the Goa Carnival is that you can be part of this grand celebration for FREE! You could even DIY yourself a nifty outfit to get into the spirit of things. There are no tickets, no restrictions and absolutely no invitations required.

#2 Because It’s The Best Way To Explore Goa

Colourful parades are an important part of the Goa Carnival

Colourful parades are an important part of the Goa Carnival

The Goa Carnival is an interesting way to explore the coastal state. It takes little-known lanes and alleys across Panaji, Margao, Vasco and Mapusa, giving you an insight into the very heart of Goa.

#3 Because It’s The Perfect Mix Of Modernity & Tradition

Explore the Goa Carnival to witness the perfect blend of old and new

Explore the Goa Carnival to witness the perfect blend of old and new

This is one of the best opportunities to experience Goa’s Portuguese culture and contemporary entertainment. From folk music to DJ nights and fashion shows, this carnival is the perfect blend of old and new. You could also step into a Goan village and see the carnival being traditionally celebrated with Konkani drama and dancing.

#4 Because It’s India’s Own International Fiesta

Explore how India can match the flair and flamboyance of the Goa Carnival

Explore how India can match the flair and flamboyance of the Goa Carnival

From almost fading away to becoming a major festival, the carnival has come a long way. And truth be told, no other event in India can match the flair and flamboyance of the Goa Carnival, which has an international appeal. So if you can’t make it to Rio this year, head to the Goa Carnival!

#5 Because It’s Got All Kinds Of Fun

At Goa Carnival, you see agile dancers, fire eaters, masked performers, acrobatics, theatrical displays and a lot more

At Goa Carnival, you see agile dancers, fire eaters, masked performers, acrobatics, theatrical displays and a lot more

This grand carnival has a number of events and something for everyone. From elaborately designed floats, music bands and singers, agile dancers, fire eaters, masked performers, acrobatics, theatrical displays and a lot more. Wear red and black on the last day of the carnival for the fun Red & Black dance that marks and end to the festivities.

#6 Because You’re Likely To Meet A King

King Momo, a legendary character known as the ‘King of Carnivals’, presides over the Goa Carnival

King Momo, a legendary character known as the ‘King of Carnivals’, presides over the Goa Carnival

King Momo, a legendary character known as the ‘King of Carnivals’, presides over the Goa Carnival and is a special highlight. Usually depicted as removing a mask, King Momo is a chosen local man who participates in the festivities and asks everyone to “Kha, piye aani majja kar” (Eat, drink, and make merry).

#7 Because You’re In For A Culinary Delight

Don’t miss out on the amazing seafood dishes and local delicacies

Don’t miss out on the amazing seafood dishes and local delicacies

If you love food, you have to go to the Goa Carnival, which is THE food and cultural event of the year. Whether you head to a beach restaurant or a street stall, there is no dearth of lip-smacking food options in Goa during carnival time. Don’t miss out on the amazing seafood dishes and local delicacies, for a taste of both Portuguese and Indian flavours.

This year, the Goa Carnival will be held from February 25-28. Although the entire state gears up to celebrate, the carnival covers Panjim, Margoa, Vasco da Gama and Mapusa.So escape for a weekend getaway now and soak in the local flavour of Goa with this free-for-all event.

Fact File

Location: Goa is a state in western India, about 600km from Mumbai.
How to Reach: Dabolim Airport, about 29km away from Panjim, well-connected to other Indian cities; Madgaon, Vasco-da-Gama, and Thivim are the major railway stations; buses and taxis are available from different Indian cities.
Official Language: Konkani, Portuguese, Hindi & English
Currency: INR
Time Zone: UTC+05:30
Climate: Tropical monsoon
Food & Drink: Fresh sea food, with both Portuguese and Indian flavours. Feni is a popular local alcoholic drink.

 

Interested in holidaying in Goa? Goa Dhamaka

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From losing weight to making friends for life, here are 7 reasons everyone should be riding a motorcycle.

By Nishant Singh

Riding a bike is not just about going from point A to B, it is so much more than that!

Riding a bike is not just about going from point A to B, it is so much more than that!

Murder cycles, they used to be called at one point of time. But motorcycles have come a long long way since then. Actual no, they haven’t. They’ve still got 2 wheels, an engine and gallons of fuel between your legs and they still make grown up men act like teenagers. That’s not a bad thing you know. Honestly speaking, I haven’t met anyone who didn’t ride or didn’t have the passion to ride. Maybe cause I’m always around motorcyclists. Frankly speaking, what’s not to like about motorcycling? Here are 7 reasons, at the top of my mind, why you should MOST DEFINITELY be riding motorcycles. And if you already are, here are 7 feel-goods for you to continue!

#1 Weight Loss!

No, I ain’t kidding. Move aside diets and visits to the clinic, move in Sunday morning rides for breakfast. Riding a motorcycle can help you lose up to 300 calories per hour. Sure, you’ll probably have to ride all day to make a meaningful dent in your weight, but isn’t that the point? Imagine going on a 2 week ride and coming home a few kilos lighter. I know of riders who regularly end up losing weight on long motorcycle trips.

Forget gym, just ride

Forget gym, there’s a better way to lose weight

#2 Happier You

Motorcyclists are the happiest people in the world! No I don’t have research to prove this but what else will the feeling of freedom, the wind in your hair, the rain splashing on your helmet, the clear skies and abundant scenery around you result in if not happiness? Oh but wait, motorcycling does release endorphins that boost the mood and improve your overall mental health. I really just want you to be happy. So ride maybe?

Happiness=Riding

Happiness=Riding

#3 Inner peace

Remember all the struggles Po had to go through to achieve inner peace in Kung Fu Panda? Well, all you need to know is how to ride a motorcycle. Then let it rain or snow, let it be hot or cold, let it be a ride through traffic or through curvy open roads, zen mode on, always! What’s more, you stop being embarrassed about your messed up hair, or walking into a restaurant all geared up, or shopping for groceries with one hand holding the helmet and the other pushing a trolley, you do it with pride. Because the moment you get on your bike again, none of the stress, none of the road rage, none of the ’embarrassing’ situations matter. It’s just you and your bike, and probably a whole bunch of groceries as well.

Doing yoga for inner peace is so old school...besides this looks painful

Doing yoga for inner peace is so old school; besides this looks painful

#4 You Can Fix it!

Did you know getting your motorcycle up and running is as easy as fixing a light bulb? Yes, just replace the broken parts with new ones and you are good to go—much like installing a new light bulb isn’t it? Before you close this page, let me clarify that there’s a lot more to fixing a motorcycle. It could be as simple as cleaning off the muck and grime, lubing the chain, fixing a puncture, tightening nuts and bolts, replacing the engine oil, fixing the clutch cables, replacing brake pads…aah. I could go on… It really is easy to maintain your motorcycle by yourself. Besides, your motorcycle will always love you back, no matter where you ride it, however high or low you ride. So get down and dirty and believe me, you’ll never want anyone else to fix your motorcycle ever again! Ok, unless you really want them to. Think hard about this.

Isolated roads don't scare us because fixing a bike is easy

Isolated roads don’t scare us because fixing a bike is easy

 

#5 Become Fitter

No, riding a motorcycle won’t give you a Schwarzeneggeresq body but it will improve your core strength. Your motorcycle, taking a wild guess here, is considerably heavier than you are. Steering the bike, moving it at slow speeds, riding in stop-go traffic and balancing the motorcycle, really does help strengthen muscles in the abdomen, results in lower knee problems, and even improves neck strength. Look at bikers and you will notice they are visibly fitter and better able to manoeuvre their bike, are seemingly more flexible and can easily pass a stress test for motorcyclists, if there was such a thing.

Okay this is exaggeration, but you will definitely get fit. We promise!

Okay this is exaggeration, but you will definitely get fit. We promise!

#6 Make Friends For Life

How many times have you stopped at a signal and ended up chatting with a fellow motorcyclist? How many of you have already been on group rides, long or short. Or call yourself part of a brotherhood or a sisterhood? There is just something about being a motorcyclist. You connect. Easily. Effortlessly. People who meet over motorcycles, usually end up being friends for life, or at least a lot more than Facebook friends. Being a motorcyclist is real. Your friends are real. The connection you have with other motorcyclists is real. It’s not just a connection with people but with everything around you as well.

Perks of riding? You have a lot of friends!

Perks of riding? You have a lot of friends!

#7 Freedom

When was the last time you became one with the environment at 50kmph and not the climate control air conditioned environment of your car? Riding a motorcycle is all about freedom. Riding a motorcycle is all about letting go. It’s about feeling one with nature. It helps you appreciate the little things in your life. It is in fact nearly impossible to articulate the feeling of riding a motorcycle…riding through old country roads, zipping past rice paddies, riding into the sunset—there is absolutely no parallel and no way I could possibly tell you how it really feels to ride. It gives you control. Of your actions. And all your senses are attuned to the singular objective of riding. You become one with your surroundings. Riding is about Freedom. Freedom from the daily grind, freedom from struggles, freedom from expectations. Riding gives you a sense of purpose, a purpose to live life the way it’s meant to be lived!

Riding a bike is almost like flying. It gives you freedom

Riding a bike is almost like flying

Well, that was it. 7 reasons why you should really be riding a motorcycle once you are done reading this article. So don your riding gear, lock in your helmet, climb on to your motorcycle and ride out. And tell us where you’re going so we could ask you to write your own reasons.

PS: Please do not ask for research papers, I didn’t do any research. I simply live the life of a motorcyclist, as a commuter, as a tourer, as a group member, and as family. I ride.

If Nishant convinced you to go riding NOW then write to us at nissitoursindia@gmail.com or call us at 1800 123 6898.

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You love all things mountain. You’re fit, you’re a travel junkie and you love challenges. From lush Alpine meadows to the snowy glaciers of the Alps, experience the myriad landscapes of Europe on the Tour du Mont Blanc trek. Hit the summi, conquer Mont Blanc!

An ibex looks out over the Swiss Alps

An ibex looks out over the Swiss Alps

Even though Mont Blanc stands mighty and tall at around 15,780 feet, technically it is not the most difficult to climb. But it ain’t a simple walk in the clouds either. You need climbing experience, you need to be prepared and you need a good guide to get you to the top. Here are a couple of tips that can help you make your trek a big success.

1. How Fit Am I?

Start your preparation by asking this critical question. Enlist the help of fitness trainers and nutritionists to find out your weight-to-muscle ratio. It is believed that climbers and trekkers who have a high weight-to-muscle ratio tend have better chances of finding success at their outdoor adventures than those with a lower ratio. But there are ways to improve it. A well-balanced diet, with emphasis on protein,  and cardiovascular exercises can work wonders for you.

2. Hit That Treadmill NOW

Sore today; strong tomorrow! Time to get fit.

Sore today; strong tomorrow! Time to get fit.

It’s not just about reaching the summit, but enjoying the climb. Trekking up to Mont Blanc is an experience like no other, and you don’t want to spend it huffing and puffing it up and down. The fitter you are, the more joy you will find in the adventure. So get onto that treadmill right away. You should ideally start playing an endurance sport regularly at least six months prior to the climb. Start cycling, running, walking — anything that can help build your stamina. If you have hills nearby, put on your backpack and try small climbs. Opt to climb the stairs to your office or home, rather than taking the elevator. Start slowly with a couple of floors and by the end of six months, aim at running up and down the entire building. There are steep climbs up Mont Blanc towards the end, and you will thank yourself for having prepared in advance.

3. Get Your Technique Right

No need to panic if you haven’t trekked or scaled mountains before; novices have made it to the top of Mont Blanc. But make sure to get your basic technique right. There are days on the trek, especially around Val Ferret, which will require you to negotiate rocks and icy glaciers. To prepare for this, enroll for a short trek and get your rock scrambling and crampon techniques in place. Or, you could always rely on our guides to help you negotiate the terrain and get you up and down the mountain safely.

4. Mind Over Matter

Pretty villages dot the route to Mont Blanc in the Italian, French and Swiss Alps

Pretty villages dot the route to Mont Blanc in the Italian, French and Swiss Alps

So, you’ve achieved optimum fitness levels, and your techniques are place. None of this will matter if you let the fear of challenges ahead get the better of you. It’s not just physical fitness but mental toughness that make a trek a grand success. Practice your breathing techniques, think of the rustic Alpine meals waiting for you in medieval villages, the lush landscapes that you’ll pass by and the final sense of accomplishment that will engulf you once you finish this iconic trek.

5. Go slow

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Slow down and enjoy the view a little more.

And remember, don’t be in a mad rush to get to the top. Going too fast can be tough on your body, especially on the knees. And the whole idea of the tour is to be one with the moment, and with the picturesque vistas. So, take your time. Soak in the views. And stop to smell the roses. You know, figuratively speaking.

Fact File On Mont Blanc

Location: France
Language: French
Currency: Euro
Food & Drinks: Traditional Alpine delicacies, cured cheeses and Savoy wines
Time zone: GMT+1

Up for the Mont Blanc Challenge?

Write to nissitoursindia@gmail.com or call us at 1800 123 6898

About The Author

20160807_130728

Avantika Bhuyan is a freelance journalist who loves to uncover the invisible India hiding in nooks and crannies across the country.

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Every turn on the Tour du Mont Blanc brings you to a different landscape, a different experience — from lush Alpine meadows to snowy glaciers. The ten-day-long trek allows you to have a glimpse of the beauty of European terrain at close quarters, as you travel through little hamlets and villages of France, Italy and Switzerland; right up to the summit of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the continent. Here’s what you can expect on this incredible adventure through the heart of Europe.

A view so breathtaking, you won't mind sore muscles!

A view so breathtaking, you won’t mind sore muscles!

Day 1: A Scenic Beginning

Arrive at Chamonix: The Tour du Mont Blanc is 170 kilometres long with 10,000 metres of ascent. The trek begins in the picturesque town of Chamonix, France. The first day is all about relaxing, taking in the sights and indulging in some traditional Alpine specialties such as Raclette and cheese fondues, paired with the best of wines.

Day 2: Stay In Medieval Farmhouses

Who wouldn't want to stay amid snow!

Who wouldn’t want to stay amid snow!

Chamonix-Mont Blanc/Les Contamines-Montjoie:
Travel to Les Houches, just south of Chamonix, where the spectacular views of the valley simply open up. In some stretches, tips of snowy mountains emerge from behind wispy clouds. You could take a cable car ride to Bellevue, from where, on a clear day, you can enjoy views of the Chamonix valley. A hike to Les Contamines, through pine-scented woodlands, brings you to shaky suspension bridges before entering into vast breezy meadows. At Les Contamines-Montjoie, there are numerous bed-and-breakfast options, housed in medieval farmhouses.

Day 3: Challenging Terrain

Hiking through the snowy mountains of the Alps is worth every step!

Hiking through the snowy mountains of the Alps is worth every step!

Les Contamines-Montjoie/Les Chapieux:
The third day marks the steep ascent to Col Du Bonhomme, followed by a hike to the Croix du Bonhomme, where you can stop for lunch. Spectacular views of the Vallee des Chapieux greet the eye. Descend to Les Chapieux. Steep routes and rough terrain en route can prove to be a challenge to the trekkers.

Day 4: Rendezvous With The Mont Blanc Massif

Rifugio Elisabetta in Val Veny in Italy along the Tour Du Mont Blanc.

Rifugio Elisabetta in Val Veny in Italy along the Tour Du Mont Blanc.

Les Chapieux/Courmayeur:
This stage begins with a climb and then swift descent to Rifugio Elisabetta. Open pastures and snowy vistas brings you to the Italian border at the Col de la Seigne. Picturesque glacier lakes await at Val Veni, after which you need to embark on a 45-minute descent to the little hamlet of La Visaille. En route, the Mont Blanc massif is revealed in all its splendour. Take a bus or taxi to the town of Courmayeur, Italy.

Day 5: Italian Fiesta

Courmayeur:
This bustling town has a noticeably Italian feel and ideal for a day of relaxation and sightseeing. Opt for a rejuvenating spa experience of partake of a feast at any of the atmospheric restaurants in Courmayeur and enjoy rustic Italian dishes like ravioli, lamb racks and genepi, paired with digestifs and wines.

Day 6: Rewarding Views

Spectacular views from Val Ferret!

Spectacular views from Val Ferret!

Courmayeur/Val Ferret:
Get set for a steep climbing experience up to Rifugio Bertone. The challenging ascent is rewarded by some spectacular views of the Mont Blanc massif. A hike along the Mont de la Saxe is followed by a picnic lunch in the meadows and a descent to Rifugio Bonatti, overlooking Val Ferret.

Day 7: Cosy Stays In Switzerland

Val Ferret/La Fouly:
Bid Italy adieu and make your way towards Switzerland. There are no dramatic challenges on this route, but there are delightful climbs through bilberry, larch and alpenrose. Descend onto the hamlet of Ferret in Switzerland and take a bus ride to the village of Praz de Fort. Typical to Swiss landscapes; lush green meadows and meandering rivers leads you up to La Fouly, where you can kick your boots off and relax at one of the many cosy hotels and resorts.

Day 8: The Trek Gets Technical

 La Fouly in Val Ferret region is a spectacular landscape for trekkers!

La Fouly in Val Ferret region is a spectacular landscape for trekkers!

La Fouly/Trient:
Follow the “Bovine Way”, an age-old route filled with Alpine flowers to head downhill to Trient. This is when the trek gets technical, you have to negotiate long, steep uphill and downhill routes. There is an alternative route, which will take you through Fenetre d’Arpette, and involves walking through high, rocky terrain, which could prove tougher than the “Bovine Way”.

Day 9: The Final Lap

Trient-Chamonix-Mont Blanc:
Move out of Switzerland towards the Chamonix valley, through large forests and alpine slopes. This is the last stretch of the trek. Wrap it up with the downhill descent into the Chamonix valley.

Day 10: It’s A Wrap

Chair lift and cable car in Les Hoches.

Chair lift and cable car in Les Hoches.

Chamonix-Mont Blanc:
This is the final part of the Tour du Mont Blanc, which leads through rocky hillsides and high forests. You can take a cable car at Planpraz, connecting Chamonix up to Col de Brevent. Arrive at Les Houches to end your trek.

Fact File On Mont Blanc

Location: France
Language: French
Currency: Euro
Food & Drinks: Traditional Alpine delicacies, cured cheeses and Savoy wines
Time zone: GMT+1

Up for the Mont Blanc Challenge?

Write to nissitoursindia@gmail.com or call us at 1800 123 6898

About The Author

20160807_130728

Avantika Bhuyan is a freelance journalist who loves to uncover the invisible India hiding in nooks and crannies across the country.

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Anand Srivastava, Chairman of Maharishi Ayurveda, travels the globe multiple times a year. Stepping off a long-haul flight, straight into the boardroom, he is always a picture of calm. And why not. After all, he follows the planet’s oldest system of healing, where the keyword is balance.

“Ayurveda believes we are composed of three doshas or humours, vata, pitta and kapha,” explains Srivastava. “Of these, vata, which embodies the qualities of ‘air’ (light, dry, restless)  is the first to go out of whack when you are on the move. That’s why, travellers often suffer from joint pain, dry skin, lack of sleep, constipation and nervousness. So, tame your vata dosha and you will find it a breeze to travel without hassle.”

We asked him to share his favourite stress-relief tips:

1. Never take a sedative before you travel. The mind needs to remain alert during a journey.

Consuming a sedative before you take off is a strict NO!

Consuming a sedative before you take off is a strict NO!

2. Give yourself a comforting massage with warm sesame oil before you leave. Wipe off the excess oil with a wet cloth. Take a shower afterwards.

A light massage with sesame oil is always nice just before you travel

A light massage with sesame oil is always nice just before you travel

3. After you arrive, soak feet in warm salted water for a few minutes. You will feel the stress leaving your body and mind. This is particularly wonderful after a trek.

Go for a relaxing epsom salt foot soak once you arrive

Go for a relaxing epsom salt foot soak once you arrive

4. Splash or mist your face with cold mineralised water from time to time. Its coolness replenishes moisture and balances vata dosha.

Spray cold mineralised water every hour to get refreshed instantly

Spray cold mineralised water every hour to get refreshed instantly

5. Spritz organic rose water on your face and neck. Or, dab some rose water on a cotton pad and press it over closed eyes for a few minutes. Such a relief! Roses are highly prized in Ayurveda for their cooling and soothing properties—ideal for balancing the vata dosha.

Spritz some rose water for a relaxing and rejuvenating effec

Spritz some rose water for a relaxing and rejuvenating effect

6. Avoid alcohol and coffee when flying or travelling long distance: they leach moisture from the body, leading to the aggravation of the vata dosha. Eat sweet, juicy fruits; drink plenty of water or sip herbal tea.

Alcohol and coffee drains moisture from body,hence avoid intake of the same

Alcohol and coffee drains moisture from body,hence avoid intake of the same

7. Dabbing some organic, cold-pressed oil on your forehead. It improves circulation, alleviates travel sickness and settles the stomach.

Dab some organic oil on the forehead to avoid travel sickness

Dab some organic oil on the forehead to avoid travel sickness

8. Constipation often troubles travellers, especially in colder climes. Taking triphala at night clears toxins and boosts digestion. Triphala means ‘three fruits’, namely haritaki, amalaki and bibhitaki, each one of which plays a powerful role in healing. It is easily available at quality chemist shops all over India.

Say 'NO' to Constipation by regular intake of Triphala

Say ‘NO’ to Constipation by regular intake of Triphala

9. Think a couple of meals ahead when you’re travelling. It’s important to eat at regular intervals, so that your metabolism works well. Choose light, warm and nourishing foods such as wholesome soups and freshly cooked grains and veggies.

Choose light, warm and nourishing foods for quick metabolism

Choose light, warm and nourishing foods for quick metabolism

But the best way to reduce stress while travelling? Choose a Cox & Kings Instant Holiday for pre-booked holidays with flights. All you have to do is Choose > Pack > Fly!

Instant Holidays

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On a bike, no one will ask you, “Are we there yet?” That’s the thrill of zooming along unknown streets and having an encounter with adventure! Here’s a glimpse of Saurabh Khanvilkar’s soul-stirring experience in Thailand.

A motorbike trip is more than just going from point A to point B. It’s about creating memories, meeting new people, exploring cultures and having the best time! If you are thinking about one such dream adventure, tell us about it with #Whatsyourtrip in the comment section below.

Feeling adventurous?

Write to nissitoursindia@gmail.com or call us at 1800 123 6898

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Cycling adventures are for the fearless, adventurous souls. If you are someone who is a nature enthusiast and likes to travel across the lush country of India, this adventure is for you! As you explore mystical India, feed the adrenaline junkie in you with tonnes of offbeat destinations, because, there are certain places which can only be enjoyed on a cycle or a motorbike! Read on as Aishwarya Menon shares a fact file on India’s top cycling routes!

Travel across India on a cycle to witness the real beauty

Travel across India on a cycle to witness the real beauty

Ever wondered how it is to cycle across a spectacular stretch of barren land with the snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas on one side and exceptionally clear blue water on the other? Or how it is to have the cool wind in the hair while you ride across the picturesque south of India? Whether you are a tourist on a shoestring budget looking to travel across India on a cycle or a backpacker touring interstate, these are the TOP 5 cycling routes you must check out!

1. Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso

Circuit Route: Nubra Valley-Agham-Wari La- Sakhti-Chang La- Durbuk-Tagste-Pangong Tso (Lukung)
Distance: 300 KM
Duration Taken To Complete The Circuit: 9-10 Days
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Food: Thukpa, Tsampa, Skyu

Cycle across Ladakh and experience mountains, lakes and nature's beauty

Cycle across Ladakh and experience mountains, lakes and nature’s beauty

The 300 KM circuit route marks the best of Nubra to Pangong cycling route. The breathtaking stretch of the dry land covers Trimori, Tsokar and Pangong extensively. The mesmerising view of the snow-capped mountains on one side and clear blue water on the other is indescribable.

2. Rohtang La to Khardung La

Circuit Route: Manali-Marhi-Keylong-Zing-Zing Bar-Pang-Debring-Rumptse-Leh-Khardung La
Distance: 215 KM
Duration Taken To Complete The Circuit: 9-12 Days
Difficulty Level: Expert
Food: Thukpa, Tsampa, Skyu

Cycle through the highest motorable road from Leh to Khardung la

Cycle through the highest motorable road from Leh to Khardung la

Ever fancied cycling through the highest motorable road from Leh to Khardung la? Venture further beyond into the beauty of Siachen Glacier and we assure you that the 514 KM ride will leave you spellbound. Known to be one of the most difficult cycling routes, the journey is also beautiful and extremely enjoyable.

3. Munnar-Anamalai

Circuit Route: Munnar-Madupetty-Kundala-Perumala-Kanthallore-Marayoor-Amarvathy-Palani-Anamalai
Distance: 210 KM
Duration Taken To Complete The Circuit: 4-5 Days
Difficulty Level: Easy
Food: Paripu Vada, Idli, Dosa, Beef Roast

Trace through the magical lush green forests and beautiful temples in Munnar

Trace through the magical lush green forests and beautiful temples in Pilani

Looking to get the best of Kerala and Tamil Nadu in a short span of time? Look no further. The Munnar-Anamalai route traces through magical lush green forests and beautiful temples. Don’t forget to sip on some masala chai or irresistible idlis with fresh coconut chutney on at roadside stalls. Rest assured, this endeavour is a guaranteed treat to all your adventurous needs!

4. Udaipur-Jodhpur

Circuit Route: Udaipur-Kumbhalgarh-Ranakpur-Jojawar-Dhakri-Jodhpur
Distance: 352 KM
Duration Taken To Complete The Circuit: 8-10 Days
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Food: Maalpua, Pyaaz Kachori, Mawa Kachori

Witness the enchanting Mehrangarh fort as you cycle in the blue city of Jodhpur

Witness the enchanting Mehrangarh fort as you cycle in the blue city of Jodhpur

What’s better than riding along magnificent forts and breathtaking lakes? Nothing at all! Set onto a royal expedition and be enchanted by the century old palaces and serene lakes in Udaipur and Jodhpur. Taste the flavour of Rajasthan by travelling through the never-ending deserts and gorging on hot pyaaz kachoris.

5. Sikkim Tea Trails

Circuit Route: Gangtok-Rumtek-Damtang-Ravangala-Tashiding-Yuksam- Khecheopalri-Darjeeling
Distance: 330 KM
Duration Taken To Complete The Circuit: 9-10 Days
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Food: Gya Thuk, Thukpa, Vegetable Tarkari.

Get mesmerised by the stunning vistas of snow-capped mountain valleys in Sikkim

Get mesmerised by the stunning vistas of snow-capped mountain valleys in Sikkim

Explore the dramatic terrain of Sikkim on your 330 KM long cycle ride. While you experience the beautiful influences of the border nations of Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet, the stunning vistas of snow-capped mountain valleys of Kanchenjunga will keep you company. Don’t miss out on the delectable and refreshing tea to complete your memorable experience!

Feeling adventurous?

Write to nissitoursindia@gmail.com or call us at 1800 123 6898

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