Kanyakumari to Kashmir

Here’s my journey, up-and-coming:

Day 0 (lasted for 2 days and 10 hours)

Delhi to Thiruvananthapuram  (train)

Every train has a loving mother!
A candy uncle.
The favorite staff guy.
A howling kid who fathoms the end of the world!
A random stranger you like.
A random stranger who likes you and takes all the train journey to effort a smile!
A random stranger you make some space for.
A family who shares their oranges with you.
A book you sleep with.
A toilet window you smoke with.
And a feeling of being at home!















Day 1:

It was 2 in the night, when I randomly told kittu that I wish to travel from Kanyakumari to Kashmir: solo and almost penniless!
She never laughs at such crazy ideas. Just smirks at the “what ifs”!
And here I am! At Kanyakumari, wading-jumping-strolling-rubbernecking, my way forward.
Cheers to the start of this journey!


Day 2!
Catching the sunrise at Kanyakumari!
For those who know me, hope you enjoy the slow clap of morning paradox! Anyway, here’s how it felt!
The moment was bound by a strange kind of devotion. When you don’t think of life or death, problems or relief, Colgate or toothbrush and so on. But totally give in, to the sight of the fire that wakes up the world!
This is what I was thinking about, until an aunty almost trampled my camera and the janta enjoyed a cat-fight in the backdrop of eternal bliss!


Day 3:

I am in kollam, kerala, now. And my host is really kind. I love her as much as I love food ❤



This blog is a little disintegrated. There are a couple of reasons for that. Firstly, I am not carrying my laptop. And most of villages I am staying in, laptop or work stations aren’t easily accessible.

Secondly, these are my raw experiences. Mostly scribbled on a small notepad while on the go. Point is, I want you catch the live action and not a fancy looking perfect blog! Drama matters!

Concluding, I would like to thank you all for walking with me! Nobody really travels alone. By reading this, you too have become a part of this story! Thank you so much!

P.S: love you all!


Midnight Bonfire Thoughts


Shot by: Daastan-e-Musafir

I want to be one of those poems,

Indestructible by artless pain.


And Careless.

As if words fell on a bloody canvas of hope.


But soulful.

One of those poems


And scattered.

Not the ones you read,

But the ones you feel.

Ambika Bhardwaj


Paths and Poems

A poem was born,

When I saw this path:


Years from now,
in the winter of our life,
when you come back,
we will walk here.
Hold hands, again.
Talk about the colour of our soul
or may be the texture of pain that kept us apart all these years.
We’ll talk about what happened to that little dream cafe of yours.
It wont be a “hey let’s get a beer” conversation!
We’ll talk about the shooting stars of our endless journey.
All this, without a word!
In the winter of our life.
When you come back.
© Daastan-e-Musafir
Place: Chitkul

P.S: Romance sells!

I, write this!


I write, as the last bidi finds it’s way into the ashtray. I write this at 04.30 in the morning.

Writing, because the backpack resting at the corner of my room, stares at me, with a little dust settled on the un-promised adventures.

Next to it lies a pair of trekking boots, yearning to go out there.

Aching of restfulness, lies a rugged camouflage jacket on the chair.

Next to the chair is a table full of maps.

Maps of hamlets and towns, sleeping at the moment.

Thus, sweet sleeps the travel journal, dreaming of the blank pages to be bloomed by the awaited adventures.

So, wakes up the wandering soul!

P.S : This is dedicated to all you travellers out there, aching of wanderlust! To all the mountain beasts caught in the concrete jungle. I love you all, I really do! And soon, we shall all embark on a new adventure! Until then, I know my pep talk doesn’t help much!


Auli, his childhood dream!

Quick downpour:

This story starts at an altitude of 10,000 ft.

498 km away from cabbage-head, Delhi

This is about the euphoria  of exploring a realm surrounded by the revered peaks of Nanda Devi, Chaukhamba, Panch Chuli, Mana and Kamet.

This story is about, the dreamland called Auli bugyal!



Here’s what happened:

Windows rolled down. involuntary, I craned my neck out like a happy dog. We were about to reach Rishikesh. When about Uttarakhand, Rishikesh always announces the beginning of an adventure.

Auli was sleeping when we reached, late at night. Heavy breathed, we climbed 56 stairs to get to our room in the GMVN guesthouse. Such a labyrinth!

If you are there:

– Ignore the caretaker, wearing a strange monkey cap

Auli  rained its way through the morning, slowly and calmly. It wasn’t a rebellious one, it was one of those rains that sweeps all the sorrows away. Stepping an octave down this philosophical tone, it was raining cats and dogs, plain and simple!

It washed away all my time-lapse dreams, at once.

But as a photographer you are a, stubborn soul! You lurk in the ambush like Satan, waiting for Eve to step in the garden. It did and how…








Deo Tibba Moments!



Quick Downpour:

As we live, there are things that happen to us! As we travel, there are places that happen to us!

An octave down this philosophical tone, I was really excited for this one. I brushed and bath, for the big day!

When four strangers pack their bags for a Delhi-Manali road trip followed by a trek, you know you are at the brink of epic stuff! So here are some facts:

Region: Himachal Pradesh

Location: Manali

Altitude: 4800 meters

Best Time: June to October

Duration: 7 days

Grade: Moderate

Here’s what happened:

Day 01:  Manali (2050m) Rest & Acclimatise

After Rohit baba drove for an insane Five-Hundred-and-thirty-six km, all on his own, from Delhi to Manali, we thought rest & acclimatisation would be good. All nice and cozy! But that would be too boring for us!

We were staying in Jagatsukh, a tad farther from the hurly-burly Manali. To be truthful, no one fancies Manali mall road. No-One! It is the Colaba Causeway of Mumbai and Sarojini of Dilli, if you know what I mean!

But the moment anyone says Old Manali, I am sold! I have a history there, which you will find in my personal diary (page: whatever)! Not that you care, of course!

So we decided to hit Old Manali, as soon as we could. If you are my kind, you’d love it! If you are not my kind, well God save you then! Love having coffee next to the rasping Beas or a refreshing mug of beer? The place is a hub of free spirits. Live music, good food, greater shopping, hot firangs and hotter pancakes, need I say more?


Dear child, if you go there, don’t miss:

-Hot Chocolate at cafe 1947

-The singer in his pyjamas

– All the pyjamas


Day 02: Manali (2050m) – Jobra Naala (2707m) – Chikka (3100m) {Drive: 1 hour and Trek: 2- 3 hours}

En route Chikka

The night before a trek lives in the wake of a looming adventure! You never know what tomorrow holds for you, literally.

We started at ease around 9 in the morning from Manali to Jobra Naala. It is quite a rickety one. The road has been under construction, yes, has been! But the drive, it made us feel like  men-on-a-mission! The trek starts from Jobra Naala, with rebellious Dhohangan river being your flowing companion. It speaks a lot, if you listen!

Dumping most of the load of our existence on tragic mules, we started heading towards Chikka. It is an easy hike unfolding every moment in a wonderland. Lush green meadows, boulders with inexplicable expressions on their  timeless face, and thousands of goats, keep the traveller’s heart humming.

Chikka, for sure, is an anti-depressant . I rushed to the ancient snake fossil, engraved in the heart of a rock! An old Sheppard there, explained the meaning of the name of the place. Quite surprisingly, “Chikka” is a strap tied on the muzzle of an animal. It has been a grazing ground and hence to stop excessive grazing a “chikka” was tied on an animal’s face. Kind of retard, I know.

Nonetheless, you will fall in love with this place. That’s destined!

Day 03: Chikka (3100m) – Pandorupa (3500m) {Trek: 3-4 hours}


You know that feeling… when your wake up call in the mountains, says “chai piyogi?” I was taken, that very moment! This is when I woke up with a smile!

We packed our essentials and left at ease around 9.

Making our  way crossing little rivulets, old wooden bridges, humming along with the loud Dhohangan, walking next to a hanging glacier, amidst a mixed forest, we reached Pandorupa. Setting a few steep patches aside, it was an easy hike.

Now, here’s a little mythology. They say once upon a time, Panadavas planted rice here. The paddies are flooded with water, till date. The huge boulder on the campsite, as huge as a mountain, wearing a strange expression of history, written all over its face.  Almost, making imaginative souls believe that it has something to say. No, I am not schizophreniac, just a dreamer!

Moving to my favorite part of camping, we lit a bonfire in the evening, played bengali-punjabi songs, did exactly what you are thinking and slept snug in our tents.

Day 04- Pandoupa (3500m)- Seri (3900m) {Trek: 4 to 5 hours}

En route Seri

By now we were all sun kissed, we were all children of the wild! We were all singing Himachali folk songs, kissing goats, patting horses… we were all, of the mountains. We were different people, once again!

It was around 8 in the morning when I lifted my tripod to head towards Seri. The sun was as bright as last night’s bonfire. Not that comforting, though! I still remember becoming a zombie dipped in sunscreen.

When Samik dada, smiled and said, “take whatever the mountains give you, even if it’s harsh!”

En route Seri

Thus, we started another day, another adventure! Amidst we met a melting glacier, pouring river Dhohangan, straight from its heart. Melting bit by bit and unbecoming itself to flow. Damn, the mountains always do this to me, make me a philosophical sucker! Anyway, the trail kick starts as a mix of beautiful wild flowers: purple, yellow, pink, and little rivulets. But as we dived deeper in this exploration, I found myself in the middle of an unending moraine zone. Mighty boulders!

To add a hint of drama to this tale, the weather drastically turned into a misty storm, Dhohangan became calmer: closer to the source , and boulders become larger than life!

En route Seri, the moraine zone

When I was practically preparing myself to spend the rest of my life in this moraine zone, the unexpected happened.



After crossing a stretch of silt and sand, a flat lush greenland, surrounded by snow mountains welcomed us. Yes, Seri welcomes wanderers! It was still raining cats and dogs but we were in mood to pet, so we rushed to a trekker’s hut. The damp cave made me feel like an ancient sadhu, there to pay homage to the unknown.

Soon the rain stopped to take a deep breath, until it rained again soon. And again. And again. We knew it, either the rain God was way too impressed or just downright pissed off.

So we all snug tight in the kitchen tent together, singing sagas of the mountains. Indranil kar, the founder of Ongoz Escapades and a dear friend, is a man of humour. It would be hard to imagine what would we do without his whicked-bitchy humour! His love for the mountains is beyond reverence  and so are his stories.


Day 05: Seri (3900m) – Tenta (4200m) NO?

Seri-Seri, yes!

Towards the water fall in Seri

As much as we wanted to go Tenta, the rain wouldn’t let us! Just wouldn’t! So we got other things going. Interesting stuff like, two bongs by the river side discussing what would be the diameter of the outermost ripple credited if we throw a stone in the rivulet! Ahem! ***Smiles****

Dumb charades, oh yes, loads of Dumb charades! From “Being Cyrus” to “Finding Nemo” and much more! Playing Dumb charades with Rohit is once in a life “woh” experience: Arey wahi… wahi wala! In minutes he can run you through the script of the entire movie, but not the name! Sheer fun!

In the evening, when rain took a deep silent breath, we rushed to the waterfall. It was a quick 30 minute walk from our campsite in Seri. The calm Dhohangan, green pastures oozing of water, the left shoulder of Deo Tibba peak, fresh snow on Jagatsukh peak and the hike up to the waterfall, stirred the adventurous souls again.



Day 06: Seri (3900m) to Chika (3100m) {Trek 4 to 5 hours}

When we climb down from Chika to Seri, it was hard to believe that we ever climbed up! It was raining softly when we started but sun kissed us soon!

Day 07: Chika (3100m) to Manali (2050m)

And this was it!


Concluding, I always say this, the essence of a place can never be captured. Neither in words nor in photographers. It can only be experienced! And that’s what Ongoz Escapades aces at, helping one experience the mountains!

Special Thanks to:

Group leader: Harsh Thakur

Host in Manali: Deepak Thakur

Wonderful Cook of all times: Rohit

The guy who does it all: Yashwant Bhai

The man who introduces Himalayas like no one else: Indranil Kar

I’ve also created a short video about our experience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEWSo6IVN1M&t=366s












When the mountain, smiled!



Quick Downpour:

Thousands of feet above the tree line. Less of oxygen and more of  enthusiasm. Difficult to gauge if it’s a travellers paradise or pilgrimage.They call it the land of high passes!

Where winds are wild,

and wilder is the desert.

The land of fluttering prayer flags, arid secrets, where sunsets and sunrises write on the mountains with a blue ink of clouds (care less, about my bizarre poetic expressions)!

It is beautiful. It is treacherous. Treacherous.

Ladakh, is what we are talking!

Here’s What Happened: 

As an instinct, it was going to be about “rampant photography”, on account of my first ever pilgrimage.


whenever we stopped,

wherever we stopped,

however we stopped,

I would pounce with my camera and break into a thousand pictures.

A rubbernecker, who is an amazing, like

fucking-really-amazing cinematographer, was travelling with us. Eavesdrop on our conversation:

Him: Hey, would you take a picture of me?

Me : Sure.

Him: ***Grim face on***

Setting the camera aside, I look at him. Grim face on, still!

Me: Why that face? Wouldn’t you smile?

Him: Ask that to the mountains too. Even they should smile before a picture. Even they should be “ready” before the picture. The light, the clouds, the reflections, should make the mountain smile.

Why do you think, eccentrics, wait for hours, sitting in front of a mountain? The wait for the mountain to say, “NOW”!

Me: ***Smiled***



Behind the lens

Whenever I look at a photograph, I wonder about the moments exactly before it was captured.

What were the thoughts of the photographer? Was it shot by chance or did he hold his breath still? Did he lie flat on the burning marble or cold ice for long?

How fast did he run to take another shot at life? Did he smile when he pictured the shot in his head before pressing the click button?

A photograph becomes a moment, even before captured!

Sehri (Deo Tibba), Himachal

©Ambika Bhardwaj