If there’s something very close to my heart – its music, books, travelling and photography, in no particular order. And the better-half and me are totally custom-made for each other in this regard – We are always (y)earning for a vacation 😉 So, when BlogAdda announced a Travel Photos Contest, I knew that I had to give it a shot. Well, going by the no. of vacations we take, the huge no. of pics that we click, it was Mission Impossible-n to select 5 of the best pics, as required by the contest. But since today is the last day, I had to be partial to 5 of them and so here we go 🙂 Hope you all have a pleasant journey as we trot along 😀

1. Picture Perfect!

The traveler sees what he sees.  The tourist sees what he has come to see.  ~G.K. Chesterton

We are authentic travellers in this regard. We stop  @ numerous points on the way when something catches the eye and spend as much time as we want there, not worrying about the ‘tourist spot’ we are heading towards. It was @ one such point that we shot this pic. While we were going from Dharamsala to Khajjiar in Himachal Pradesh, we got to know that the usual route had been blocked by snow lying all around and had to take a long route via Chamba to reach the destination. This proved to be a blessing in disguise! It was on the way that we found this spot and spent more than an hour uuuh-awwwing @ its beauty!

The Shiwalik ranges trying to hide the splendor of the snow-capped Himalayas and the River Ravi painting the scene blue @ the centre – isn’t it picture perfect?

2. Snowwww, Chai and 2-minute Maggi Noodles

I had seen snow peaks for the first time in my life @ Gangtok, which is therefore before I visited Himachal. But seeing is not same as feeling and playing with snow. The first time I got to do that was when we visited Solang Valley in Himachal Pradesh. It was already around 5:30 p.m when we reached the entry point and was getting dark. Without wasting any time, we immediately got on to the horses which would take us close to the main area from where we had to tread some distance on foot. But then, I am not complaining. Would have taken any amount of pain and risk if I could get to see something like this.

There was a make-shift shop there selling chai and noodles – Just one wooden table with a stove and some masalas and manyyy packets of maggi noodles [do they need a better ad 8)]  and we relished them whole-heartedly, sitting around a bon-fire. Aaah … bliss!

3. Lead Unto Light!

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

I selected this picture because it is something unique and interesting. This is a natural formation of Sivalinga inside the captivating Belum Caves in Andhra Pradesh – second largest cave in Indian sub-continent and the longest caves in plains of Indian Subcontinent. Local people found the existence of these caves inside a well when they could not find enough water in the well and had climbed down the stairs to get water from below. Even to this day, we need to climb down this flight of stairs to get to the caves. An amazing experience. The stalactite and stalagmite formations here will leave you simply spellbound and take u away from this realm of existence into a world far away.

Known as the Patalganga, the structure in this pic consists of a naturally formed Sivalinga, and a small perennial stream below which disappears into the depths of the earth is believed to be heading towards a well at the Belum village, located 2 km away from the caves. The caves reach its deepest point (120 feet from entrance level) at this point. You hardly get any place to stand close – its a narrow passage, let alone click a pic comfortably. My shadow thus finds a place close to Lord Siva too 😛 😛

4. Tea Heaven Munnar

Do I need to say anything more about a place which is located in God’s Own Country? We were in Munnar during Independence Day ’09. While I was  taking my morning walk, I saw a small settlement somewhere down the hill our guest house was situated on and was really excited about meeting a few localites. Travelling for me is as much about connecting with people as it is about exploring places. Its so nice to learn about their ways of life, the different culture and traditions etc.. I met them and got to know that they are all workers of Kannan Devan tea estates and were celebrating Independence day and were all set to hoist the tri-colour. They invited me to be one of the guests of honour … a life-time opportunity to be celebrating such a day in the lap of Mother Nature.

The next day, in the early hours of the morning, the workers took me and Su [my husband] to the estates where they work – doesn’t it look like green velvet carpets have been spread all around 😯 Its an ecstatic feeling! U don’t ever need to go sight-seeing in Munnar; bcoz everything is a SIGHT !!!

5. Songs of the Sea

This pic was taken @ Sentosa Island in Singapore when we went visiting during Christmas’09. This is from one of the best laser shows I have ever seen – a sound and light show called ‘Songs of the Sea’ over the beach in Sentosa Island.  As mushy as it might sound, the excitement on the husband’s face when he gets a nice shot – especially when it is a difficult one is totally priceless 😉 Its like this genuine happiness a child exhibits when it gets something it wants, however small it might be. This is one such shot. It was totally dark, about 7:30 p.m, no lights other than that from the laser show and those which lit up the seashore which served as the stage for the show and a few which lit up the pathways for people to move about. We had no space to use a tripod either and these images used to stay for just a few seconds. Using my head as a tripod, which meant I had to stay perfectly still, we clicked this picture and were mighty impressed when we saw the end product. Its very very close to my heart 🙂

And last but not the least, an eternal companion for all travel-lunatics … a travel mug to drink chai, kaapi .. anything which suits the time, place and mood 😉 Thanks Pringoo 😀 😀

P.S: Co-incidentally, I hit a double century with this most cherished post of mine 😀  A big thanks to all of you who have been with me along this journey, through all the twists and turns and err the highways too 😉

P.P.S: I can do with some self-advertising 😉 So, please visit our travel tales section on this blog for more such pics and travel stories 8)