Tirupati: Trip to the Holy Land of Lord Balaji

In the chilling afternoon in the month of January, I was sitting in my office as usual with the lingering thoughts in my mind. It was my usual way to think about different subjects as my mind always wonders about some vivid thoughts about life. In a Sub-conscious, lazy posture laying back on my office chair, I saw a hazy image of Lord Balaji in my mind. Wondering what it was and soon after that, I realised that it was a call from God. I spontaneously decided to make a quick visit to the divine destination “Tirupati the land of lord Balaji”. With much zeal and enthusiasm, I booked the tickets on the very same date.

On the way to the Holy City Tirupati
Picture By: Rishav Singh

On the way to the Holy City Tirupati

My journey started on the 9th of February 2020. I was very curious about and was eagerly waiting for the day of my journey. Finally, the day arrived and with a light travel bag, I boarded my train to Tirupati station. The train arrived at the destination the next day at 10:30 PM at night.

A sound of continuous chanting of mantras made the atmosphere divine. The aura of the place created a soothing sensation in my mind. Without wasting any time I hired an auto to reach Alipri Mettu to start my divine trek from the bottom of seven hills.

Alipiri Mettu which is the place at the foot of the seven hills in Tirupati. It is the best route to climb Tirupati. I deposited my luggage in the counter beside the entrance and started my trek. The sacred journey had started at Gali Gopuram or Narmala Tonda (1st Hill). I collected the Divya Dashanam tickets from TDD counter. On the way, I found Sri Anjaneya Swamy Statue, Deer Park and Lakshmi Narasimha Temple and reached Tirumala at 4:00 AM in the morning. My journey was awesome with lots of divine experiences in climbing uphill step by step.

On the top of the Tirupati
Picture by: Rishav Singh
On the top of the mountain

On reaching the Hilltop, I did not have to wait for long hours in the waiting rooms. I just collected my luggage from the counter. Went to the amenity complex to freshen up and deposited all my belongings in the counter locker. I had breakfast which was very delicious, near the complex. Then I entered the Darshan complex, it took around 3 hours to get through the temple and get a glimpse of Lord Balaji.

The process of darshan was very streamlined. Finally, my turn arrived after 2 hours and I had the darshan of lord Balaji. I felt a Shiver and had Goosebumps all over my body on having the divine darshan of beloved lord Balaji. I then offered my donation in Hundi and stepped aside for prasad. After having Prasad I went to nearby complex to buy some temple Laddu which is very famous and delicious.

With heavy heart I promised lord Balaji that I would often come to visit this divine destination and prayed for the well being.   

Thus my journey ended on a sweet note and blessing of lord Balaji. 

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Mussoorie: Tale of the queen of hills

College trips give you some of the best memories and exotic experiences. So let me take you to the craziest college trip of mine to Mussoorie.

It was February of 2018, my last year of college. As planned we enrolled for the trip and started making plans, what to wear, which accessories, who will be roommates, etc. My excitement was at cloud nine.

On the way to Mussoorie
Picture by Mamta Bohra
The First Step to the Best Trip

Here comes the day, we departed about 5:30 AM in the morning. Everybody was very enthusiastic. We started dancing insanely as the journey started. It makes me laugh whenever I think about this day. We were also accompanied by our faculty teachers, unexpectedly they blended with us so nicely and took part in every activity.

After covering 200 km from Chandigarh to Dehradun, we reached our first spot, Forest Research Institute. It is a Premier Institution with beautiful infrastructure. Many movies were shot here. It seemed like a college from a Hollywood Movie.

Then we moved on to another place called Sahastradhara, which literally means ‘thousand fold spring’. The place has a magnificent view as the water drips from the limestone stalactites, making the presence of sulphur in the water and thus this place is known for its sulphur springs. After the tiring travelling throughout the day, it was very relaxing to enjoy the drips of sulphur water. We also had bread pakoras and chai there.

Kempty Falls at Mussoorie
Picture by Mamta Bohra
Almost reached Mussoorie

At the time of twilight, we were climbing the last hills to reach Mussoorie. We checked in at 7 PM. From the window panes of my room, I could see the twinkling lights all over the mountains making it appear like a Christmas tree. After some touch-ups, we went to explore the mall road. Shops, restaurants and hotels arranged in a queue and streets filled with tourists with winter gears caps and jackets. It was very cold and eating those hot steaming momos was a wow moment. The food was awesome so was the vibe of the market. It was 11 PM, most shops were being closed. Some of us tried hot milk and some of us tried ice-cream as midnight craving which was accompanied by the street dogs.

After getting back and hustling around over the hotel terrace and capturing the starry sky we get into bed.

Next Day!

Next morning, we departed for Kempty falls, it is about 15 km from the main city area. I feel it is a must-visit place if you go to Mussoorie. There is a 40 ft high waterfall and some cascades too. It was so refreshing and so photogenic. Water falling seems like frozen, so pure, so elegant. Little rainbows arch as sunlight crosses the droplets of dripping water, it gives a magnificent view.  We enjoyed a lot. Some also clicked a picture with rented traditional dress. And Maggie was delicious. We ended up spending a lot of time here and return we had to skip the gun hill point.

Kempty Falls at Mussoorie
Picture By Mamta Bohra

The weather, scenery and vibe everything is amazing about Mussoorie. The ravishing visuals of mountain peaks make you fall in love with this place. And the company of best friends made it more cherishing. Every journey has its destination. Ended so soon but will be remembered always.

This is it for now. Hope to catch you soon again.

“ To travel is to live”

 Nicolas Zangenberg

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Indian Food: They serve this to the Gods


I would say there is no food in the world tastier than the Indian food. I would not be surprised if any Indian living outside India says that they miss Indian food more than their family. We have 29 states, 9 union territories and all the states have their own staple, signature dish and desserts that are to die for.
So, what is it that makes Indian food so different and special?

There is no sincerer love than the love of food
-George Bernard Shaw

Diversity:

The culinary diversity of India is pure gold. 9 union territories, 29 states, 100’s of spices, 1000’s of dishes. Each region has a huge variety of dishes, ranging from traditional to modern era. From rice to roti, sambar to butter chicken everything is finger licking good. Indian families bond over food, you see unity in diversity.

Indian barbecue technique
Photo by samer daboul from Pexels
UNIQUE METHOD OF COOKING:

There are a handful of methods that Indians adopt to produce dishes with authentic taste. Methods such as ‘bhuno’, ‘dum’, ‘baghar’, ‘balcho’, ‘talna’, ‘dhunaar’, ‘tadka’ and many more. They say “it’s all in the way you cook it” and it completely makes sense.

Photo by Mareefe from Pexels
LARGE COMBINATION OF SPICES:

There are a lot of spices that go into a dish to give it a distinct flavour. It’s the spices that form the foundation of a dish, one extra spice or less and the results can be completely different. Some of the essential spices used in Indian cooking are Cardamom, Clove, Cassia bark, Black pepper, Cumin, Coriander, Nutmeg and mace, Mustard seeds, Fenugreek, Turmeric, Saffron. India is a country rich in spices and that is where it all came from.

FLAVOURS:

Sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent are six flavours that are witnessed in Indian cuisine. Indian food is tasty, colourful, aromatic, flavourful and absolute bliss. A proper indian meal will have all the flavours in it.

Photo by Gagan Kaur from Pexels
HEALTH BENEFITS:

You must have often heard your mother say “eat it, don’t you dare throw it”. yeah, it’s true that spices have health benefits, they work as antibiotics and make your immunity system stronger. Turmeric, black pepper, cumin, curry leaves and many more ingredients.

Lastly, Indians make food not just with ingredients and spices but also with a lot of love and emotions. They say ” A food that is emotionless is also tasteless”, there is a dish for every occasion and an emotion associated with it.

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Malaysia: Beckoning of the Bustling Cities

The date was March 25, 2019. I and my friends were very excited for our first trip to a foreign country. It was Malaysia. I was very excited the night before and packed all the things I want to take there with me. I was even a bit sad as some of my group boys were not coming as their father didn’t agree for the trip (abba nahi mane?).

At sharp 10 pm, we were at the airport, with full excitement for boarding. We all checked in and sat inside Air Asia. We were some 30 fellow friends with 3 faculty members and 2 tour guides.

Penang: Malaysia
March 26th, 2019

We landed at Malaysia airport and went to a hotel in Penang, Malaysia. We checked in and went to a restaurant, had our lunch, and after that, we left to visit the Penang hill. I and my friends we had a good time while travelling, we played small games in the bus while travelling and after reaching that place we went to the top of the hill with a train and we enjoyed some time there, had some good time there, clicked photos and went to visit some local places. After that we had our diner then I and my friends went to 7/11, took some beer and cigarettes and went back to the room. The whole night we talked about the day spent, enjoyed some time and went to sleep.

Twin Towers: Malaysia
March 27th, 2019

It was a cheerful morning. We had our breakfast in the hotel, spent some time in the swimming pool with my friends and went to some nearby beaches and had our moment. Then we and sat on the bus and went to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Then we all went to visit twin towers. We clicked a lot of photographs. That night I and my friends went to a night DJ. Had some time there and came back to sleep.

March 28th, 2019

We got ready had breakfast and went to Sunway Lagoon, which is the world largest surf pool. Believe me, I will never forget that place. It was the best waterpark I ever went to. We entered there and it was a whole another world. There were various types of water rides minimum of 100 different rides, there was a park in there, roller coaster, wild animals and much more that cannot we described in words. I personally enjoyed a lot there, went to each of the rides and was full of excitement. We came back from there in the evening and went to see KL tower. Had our full time roaming at night with friends had dinner and went back to the hotel.

March 29th, 2019

We went to the Batu caves, Malaysia. Later we had to go up with the help of some 300 to 400 stairs. We went there had our puja, spend some time there had a little bit of shopping, clicked hundreds of photographs and went to the chocolate house to taste and buy some chocolates. Then we had our lunch and from there we went to do shopping.

After that, we went to Genting Highlands, Malaysia. That was a very beautiful place, we went there by a cable car ride. It was really fun there. Inside there a place called Skytropolis Funland, there were so many rides there where we enjoyed. We also went to the casino in there. After that, we went back to our hotel and we had a small night pool party at the top of the hotel. We enjoyed a lot there had some beer and danced together. Then we all went back to our rooms, packed our bags and went to the airport to get back to India as our trip was over now.

As a whole, the trip was a blast. I loved that place, enjoyed a lot there. The local people were even very good and kind. And if I had a chance would definitely visit that place again.

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Khardongla: Trip to the Highest Motorable Pass

Road trip to Leh Ladakh is boon and dream of every rider in India. A trip filled with dangerous and adventurous roads and mesmerizing views attracts tons of riders and traveller every year. Situated approximately at 11,400 ft above sea level Leh charms the ride and vacation. Along with the opportunity to reconnect to nature and its wonders. 

Khardongla Pass

The journey started from Delhi with the king of bikes “Royal Enfield Bullet” one of the best vehicles to travel. Bullet is mostly prefered vehicle due to the road conditions landslides and water crossings.

You do need permits to travel to Leh

The view form the valley: On the way to Khardongla

Start of the Jounrney

Starting from Delhi to Leh covering a distance of 1011km if you take Delhi- Manali- Leh route. However, Delhi to Ladakh via Srinagar covers a distance of 1230km. We went for a round trip starting from Delhi-Srinagar-Leh. While returning back it was Leh-Manali-Chandigarh-Delhi. From Delhi to Leh and back the whole trip ended up being a 10-day trip.   

The view of mountains, layers of snow, riding on different terrains, meeting other riders is a whole different experience.

Travelling away from the busy and noisy city life to a quiet and beautiful place which fills up your soul with joy and brings you closer to nature and its beauty.

You’ll notice how humble people are here in Leh. Also, no mountain trip is complete without tea and maggie. Maggie in Leh Ladakh is undoubtedly the best maggie with refreshing warm Ginger tea is a lifesaver and most delicious combo in harsh cold weather of Ladakh.

Maggi at Khardongla

The whole journey consists of numbers of halt depending upon your speed and destination. Roads and routes are highly dangerous at points hence one must wear proper gears and well-serviced bikes. Also, get your kit ready with some mountain sickness medicines, don’t forget your jerrycans for petrol storage you won’t get much petrol pumps to refuel.   

Things we enjoyed

Starting your journey from Delhi at night would be preferable as by day time you’ll reach the mountains and one must not ride through mountains at night time unless well-experienced rider. Leh is a visual delight a place like heaven within the Queen beauty state Kashmir.

On the way to Khardongla

If you plan to visit Leh via Manali don’t forget to visit the Rohtang pass, must halt at Keylong, Jispa, Zingzang Bar, Sarchu, Lachung La pass, Tanglang la. No expensive camera, drone, DSLR or any device can do justice to the view and experience of those mountain peaks and visual delights. Khardongla pass only permits the bikes of their own territory as per their rules so don’t forget to rent one in Leh or Jammu and Kashmir.

Royal Enfield, view of the valley at Khardongla

One mistake that you would not like to make is staying at Khardongla pass for more than 10-15 minutes. Yes, all that travel for a 10-minute stay at Khardongla. Worth the time. The altitude at which pass is situated is dangerous, one might get mountain sickness, headache, difficulty in breathing which would ruin your experience so it is advised not to stay long at the pass.

Khardongla

Khardongla was the best experience and I feel lucky enough to be able to ride the dream destination, Leh.

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Africa: A Tour into the wildlife aisle

African Safari is more than just a holiday; it is a life experience. Well, what we know about Africa is that it is one of the driest and hottest continents with deserts and drylands but what most people don’t know about Africa is that it is the land of abundant natural beauty. The wildlife in Africa is a huge attraction for everyone in the world.

Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

85% of world’s elephants and over 99% of the remaining lions are on the African continent, it has over 25% of the world’s bird species, home for world’s largest animal – the African elephant, 8 conservation hotspots, also has the world’s largest wildlife migration on earth. So need I say more?

Africa exhibits the incredible wildlife beauty and the best way to experience it is through an African safari tour. Africa is recognized as a safari destination, wildlife lovers from all over the world visit to experience African safari.

Grey Elephant Throwing Sand With Trunk Near Green Trees

Private African safari tour serves with maximum number of wildlife parks which attracts the attention of the viewers. They get to witness the alluring chemistry of wildlife and natural beauty through the vibrant parks which are surrounded by varieties of birds and mammals.

Top African safaris that are a must visit:

  1. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.
    • Serengeti happens to be the most popular African Safari, this is the oldest park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can witness the migrations of Wildebeests, Zebras and Gazelles if you visit this Safri during the migration season.
  2. Mana pools national park, Zimbabwe.
    • The best time to visit this Safari is from April to July. The national park also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you can experience a paradise of wildlife here. You can take canoeing and walking safari, to get the most out of your travel.
  3. Mala Mala game reserve, South Africa.
    • Mala Mala safari might be the most photogenic safari. This game reserve is the largest among the Big Five game reserves in South Africa and it is bordering the Kruger National Park.
  4. Okavango Delta, Botswana.
    • Okavango Delta is created by the Okavango River that flows into the Kalahari Desert. The delta supports around 530 species of birds, 160 species of mammals, 155 species of reptiles and around 1500 species of plants. You can find the beautiful African Elephant and Nile Crocodiles when you visit this delta.
  5. Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia.
    • If you want wildlife around your campsites then this wildlife safari would be great for you. You can see Elephant Herds, Hippos, Leopards if you take this safari.

If you’re planning to experience the adventurous African safari, here are few companies that can help you with your trip with reasonable prices:

  1. Aboriginal tours and safaris ltd.
  2. Jewel of Africa Safaris.
  3. Mission Africa safaris.

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Why should one visit Southeast Asia?

For the frequent travellers who want to travel but don’t really know where to go next. And for the newbie travellers who are looking for where to start. Southeast Asia is my answer. Why? The beauty you would find in Southeast Asia would blow your mind away and you would find yourself slowly falling in love with the culture and the aura of the places. Do you want to fall in love? Then visit these places in your next travel journey:

Vietnam:

Photography by: https://www.instagram.com/hhnam__/
Photography from: https://www.pexels.com/

Vietnam doesn’t only export rice to the whole world, they have so many beautiful places you can visit and explore on your own. From rich tea estates to amazing tailors to picture worth spots around the whole country. You could visit the Silk Marina Resort and Spa if you are looking for a relaxing place. This spa is located in Hoi An which is an ancient town in Vietnam.

Myanmar:

Photo by Sirikul R from Pexels

Dominated with Buddhist temples this place is a bliss for Travelers. If you follow Buddhism then you should visit this place for the cultural aspect of the society. And if you are a traveller then you should visit it for its River Plains and also for its monasteries. It is an amazing combination of surreal beauty and religion coming together. Places to stay in Myanmar for a little luxury Ananta Bagan and if you want something in the cheaper price then go for New Wave Guesthouse.

Thailand:

Photography from: https://www.pexels.com/

Thailand is very popular for its nightlife and laidback, carefree attitude among the citizens. The place Chiang Mai is known as the Rose of the North. The weather of Thailand is one to praise as it is great throughout the year. The nightlife comes later on which consists of Theaters, Clubs, Pubs, After Dark Shopping. Thailand also has huge national parks, beaches and mountainous terrains, which just gives us more wildlife.

Indonesia:

Indonesia happens to be the land of Volcanoes in Asia. Bali is famous in Indonesia, due to it being a huge tourist destination and also Honeymoon destination. But other than Bali, Indonesia has a rich culture, diversity, artworks and beautiful temples. Ubud which is a town in central Bali is known as the Center of Art of Culture, and if you are visiting this place, you can stay at Alaya Resort Heritage Ubud. This place happens to be very cheap and would be best if you are travelling on a budget. When you are visiting Indonesia, plan it according to the Kite Festival, as it happens to be the best festival in Indonesia and you would have a great time.

Laos:

Photo by Simon Matzinger from Pexels

If you love nature or just have an adventurous spirit then Laos would be a lovely place for you to visit. You can trek through the mountains, cycle along the roads and even kayak down the river when you are visiting Laos. The people of Laos are very warm and you would not have trouble becoming one with them. If you are looking for a place to stay near the Khan River then you should definitely try out The Belle Rive Boutique Hotel. If you are travelling on a budget then you should try out Thongbay Guesthouse. Visit Laos to experience the rich heritage and for the thrill.

Well these places are the reason why you should visit Southeast Asia, to experience these places and to understand different cultures living in Harmony is why you should visit Southeast Asia. What are you waiting for? Get these places added to your Bucketlist right now.

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Plan your journey with these Websites

Whoever said that if you haven’t travelled the world you haven’t lived, was actually telling you the truth. Travelling is not just about going to different places. It’s about taking the journey to experience new things, meeting new people and understanding different cultures. If you just think that travelling is all about going to a place, staying there for a couple of days, seeing the “most famous” things around. Then, unfortunately, you haven’t travelled.

If you really want to travel and explore places nobody has explored before? Then you need to check out these websites for a more adventurous journey.

Gemtrack: Why should you look at this website before travelling? Because they help guide you to a more sustainable journey. Gemtrack travels promise you to show the unexplored places wherever you are travelling to, and that makes it more fun to travel with them.

App Cushy: Cushy is an amazing website because they curate their travels through the help of the locals. So whatever you read on their blogs or on their application that would all be curated by the locals. What is better? Going their and then meeting someone, or talking to a local before your travel? We all know the latter one is correct.

Not on Map: If you are fond of living like a local then Not on Map is the great option for you. They are helping you reach the places tourists don’t usually visit. They are opening doors for the locals to interact with us by letting us stay at their places. So if you are someone who would love to explore a place like a local then this is the right option for you. Also, they have an Instagram page where you can get all the information about them.

Hopper: Are you planning to travel somewhere but you don’t have enough budget to spend on the tickets? Try Hopper, what this website does is, it predicts the prices from various time periods and tells you exactly when should you book the tickets to adhere to your budget. Isn’t that amazing?

Forks And Backpacks: So what does this website do? Forks and Backpacks helps you build an itinerary for your travels. You would just have to fill out a form for them, and then would contact you for more information. If you are too busy to plan your trip yourself, let someone else do it for you.

Well these were some of the websites that you should definitely check out, if you love travelling and want to make your journey more fun and comfortable.

Also if you want more information on some of the other websites, you can definitely check out my blog on the Cushy Website, here.

Pondicherry: The French Riviera of the East

I am a beach person, if you’re also one, then Pondicherry is your paradise. Last year in November I went to Pondicherry and whenever I try to put my experience in words I always fail. You know, the fragrance after rain or your favourite food when you’re craving for it? That hits different, Right? Pondi felt exactly like that. It was a short trip of 2 days and trust me every moment was an irresistibly beautiful vibe.

There are 2 things i adore about Pondicherry which are Beaches and Food.

Beaches:

I visited 3 beaches in my stay over there. Rock beach, Paradise beach and Veerapatnam beach. All of them were astonishing with clear and pristine water and soul-soothing sound of waves. Out of all 3, Paradise beach has my heart because of its beauty

Food:

Pondicherry is a foodies delight because it has adapted from different cuisines of the world and people here love innovating on these dishes. The city is filled with cafes and restaurants worth drooling for. In the span of 2 days, I tasted different types of chicken and prawn dishes which was an absolute treat to the soul. I explored this cafe “La Vele Box” which was made with truck containers, a very unique concept and serves amazing continental food.

A beautiful evening at the beach:

On the 2nd day. In the evening I experienced one strikingly beautiful sunset of my life at rock beach, everything just felt graceful. I was reluctant to go back to the room after that, which is why I ended up having my dinner at a nearby cafe and came back to the beach. I enjoyed every moment and stayed at the beach till 11’o clock. With every wave hitting the shore, blowing breeze, flying hair,this is excatly when I wished I could freeze the time.

If you want to check out more experiences, check this one out and if you are looking for some Travel and Food related articles check out these pages.

Manali: Valley of the Gods

Like every other teenager, it was my dream as well to see this place of beauty. Goa?? No. Manali. And finally, it came true in January 2020. Probably one great thing that happened before lockdown.
Our college planned a 7 day trip to Delhi and Kulu-Manali and as luck had it I could convince my parents to let me go for the trip.

The journey Begins: Delhi to Manali
The Journey Begins: Delhi to Manali
Photo Courtesy: Aathira

The Journey Begins:

We left for Delhi on the 11th Jan. But it wasn’t Delhi that we had been waiting for. It was Manali. We just wanted our day in Delhi to be over as soon as possible.
On 12th night we left for Manali on a bus. What a ride I must say. From what a ride I mean the more brilliant it was, the same way sick it was. We started having more sick people on the way and it became worrisome after a point. We were supposed to reach our hotel at Manali by noon but due to some reason, we got late.

Hunger was creeping through our bodies and we were tired. It was then my friend Abhinav came up with the rescue. A kettle and several packets of Maggi. Did he foresee this? We wondered. We cooked our Maggi in the kettle inside the bus.
But let me tell you. There was a moment when we saw the one thing that we were longing to see. Yes, snow it was. Our joy knew no bounds we started jumping and dancing on the bus. And by 5 pm we reached our hotel.

Beauty of Manali
Photo Courtesy: Aathira

Beauty of Manali

Everywhere we saw, it was snow. We forgot the fact that we were hungry. We started throwing snow at each other and playing around and laughing. It felt like “Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani” coming to life.
The next day we went to Solang Valley. What a treat to our eyes it was. The beauty of nature was inexplicable and we were lost in it. The snow-capped valley just looked like vanilla icecream. Beautiful.

We did tier sliding, rode sliding, skiing and ATV motor sliding. It was sooo much fun. While we were leaving Solang valley it started to snow a bit. By the time we reached Hadimba Devi temple, the snowfall had increased to a great level. We experienced that most beautiful sight of snowing and that was unforgettable. It gives me chills down my spine even now.

The next day, on our way to Kulu from Manali we stopped for river rafting. It was such an impromptu plan. We sang songs, screamed and enjoyed without bounds. We had no extra clothes with us and we were all drenched and wet. Later we went to a gurdwara. The peace there was really refreshing. Later on, we did some shopping on the streets of Manali and started our journey back to Delhi that night.
We reached back to Hyderabad on 19th of January. This trip was the most memorable journey of my life and a dream come true.

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