It is that month of the year again, when WordPress sends me a reminder and ask me to keep up the good blogging.
I don't know if it is good blogging or not, but the fact is that I have started this 'trablogger' thing 5 years ago on a free WordPress platform.
When I came back after a month-long journey from the mountains and logged in again to my blog, it gave me this notification
" Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com! You registered on WordPress.com 5 years ago. Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging."
On this special occasion let me share with you my blogging journey so far.
2013 was the year when I decided to quit my last known corporate job. From mid of 2013 I didn't have any solid plans in life and I was trying out different things and traveling on and off randomly. After a while, waking up every day morning without any meaningful things to do, started to become quite frustrating.
I guess it was after reading one of those self-help books, one day all of a sudden an idea to create a travel blog came to my mind. Somehow it was the first day of September and the year was 2014.
There is a beauty in working on an inspired idea. It makes you feel alive. I felt alive again.
My days started with the blog and my days ended with the blog. I responded to comments as soon as it was posted. I was churning out posts and making newer friends everyday and enjoying the whole aspects of blogging. I'd say it was the golden period of my blog.
First six months of the blog went at full throttle and I made most of my blogger friends during that time.
2015 slowly made its presence. Things were going great. After gaining some confidence from blogging world, I even attempted to write a full length fiction and self published the book. Exactly on the first year anniversary of this blog, the book was made available. (In case you haven't seen it, it is still available on amazon.)
With the credibility of having a travel blog and self published book to my name, randomly a travel related job found me while I was on the road. [ You can read the story of how I found a job while traveling here.]
Having a job that let me travel was definitely cool. But it affected the quality time I had with my blog. Slowly the frequency of posting reduced.
2016 was a continuation of the previous year, though I happen to find another cool job. This time I was part of a team that managed a backpacker hostel.
During this time I did travel a bit, but more than that the world travel was coming to me. Meeting backpackers around the world on a daily basis was interesting. But it again took my attention away from the blog.
Blog postings, mainly were limited to "Mundane Monday Challenge", a weekly blog challenge I started to focus on the beauty of everyday objects.
In 2017, I started to spend my time for a team who were into cool cycling tours and the same thing followed; focus from the blog was taken away. Though many blog worthy things, such as doing a motorbike trip to Nepal, finishing the basic mountaineering course, visiting Paris etc happened during this year, I couldn't sit down and write about it. The self motivation I used to have in 2014 was nowhere to be seen.
2018 was another new beginning for the blog (again!). I tried to rekindle the love for blogging again. I started with sharing a funny travel memory of my first flight. Later in 2018, I decided to quit all the 'jobs' I was doing and start to travel again. I thought traveling was my calling, and not doing travel related jobs.
I tried to replicate what I used to do back in 2014; to travel and blog about it at the same time. It worked for my trip to Auroville back in 2014. So I started it again by writing about day 1 on the road, about my thoughts while on the train. But it didn't last more than 6 days. A 3 month-long motorbike trip from Kerala to Mumbai and back was also went without being documented on the blog.
It is the year I discontinued the weekly photography challenge that I started (after 150 weeks!), just to focus more on travel stories. But many of the travel series I started didn't take off much. So 2018 was a year of many failed beginnings. I even forgot to create a 4th year anniversary post!
I wanted to start 2019 in a very different way. So I decided to start the year in a new country. That is how I visited Malaysia and Thailand for a whole month for the New Year. Later this year I happened to drive a tuk-tuk across half of Sri Lanka. I was also lucky to be part of almost one month-long trek to Kailash - Manasarovar during August 2019.
It wasn't part of a travel bragging campaign that I've decided to share all of this here. But it is part of building up a social pressure so that I can make a come back (hopefully without failing again) to the blogging world at least on this 5th year! In order to build that social pressure I need that old and new friends of mine, whom I have found through blogging. I need all of your encouragement to stay on track and to share the stories here.
Here are the people I have made friends through this blogging world over the period of time. I am not sure if many of the people are still blogging or not. If you are still active on blogsphere, please do say hi. Lets refresh the long-lost friendship.
Opinionated man who first reblogged my post and boosted my stats when I had just started my blog.
Optimistic kid for being my early follower, I think the first one!
Aruna, Agent Zee, a regular indian girl, Aadhirai, Aakansha, Aanchal , Ady , Amy, Andy , Anne, Anoop, Afrin, Ailene, Amrita, Ameena, Alison and Don, Archita, Arundhati , Ana, Ankita, Asil, A Momma, Autowire, Carl , Cheefhobo, Divyakshi, Dr. Himanshu Bhatnagar , Estelea , Gill , Himanshu, Ivy Mosquito , Indah ,keyur ,Lataji, Lucile , Mauvora ,Mel , Priyanka , Poodle , Perelincolours , Rashmi , Sayali , Shooting star , Sweety Kannoth, Somni vision , Tanvi , The failing adult , Tidlidim , Upasana , Nisha , wise monkeys abroad, Babe, Boeta , Belle, Badfish, Backpacker Lee BeTravelSmart , Boho Hobo , Canaf , Cee , Chloe , Capt. Jill , CC , Cheryl , Crazy Colorful Turtle , Dewin , Desley , Diana , Doda , Debbie , Dhidhak , Debbie , Delida , Faith , Faraday’s candle , Fimnora , Felicity , Hafza , Hanne , Hargun , Hogrider Dookes , Indian Drifter , Ish Kish Mish , Jaaz aka Ajanta , Jenny, Julia , Joshi Daniel, Jul , Jonathan , Jenny, Jenny of Bull Dog Travels, Kamila , Khloe , Kerry , Kamal, Klaus & Sebastian, Kavita , Kriti , Lisa, María, Maniparna, Manasjaran , Mandi , Madhu , Maria , Moon , Meher , Margarita , Madie , Namrata, Niki , Nina , Nishita , Nimmi , Neerja , Naddieh , Nurul , OnChi , Otto , Principessa , Prreeya , Paula , Pamela , Peter , Prajakta , Prakash , Pancake Bunnykins Rob and Diane, Rosalyn, Rajiv, Rocio , Rachel , Rashida , Ruchi , Rajiv , Rosanne , Satyender , Shruti, Sima , Souzapalooza , Sandy , Svetlana , Shashank , Samjoth , Saana, Spanish Wood , Shoma , Secret Parade , Surlene , Soumya , Suyash, Tish, Trina, The doctor , Paula, Upen , Uma, Vibha , Vivek , Vyom , Yuliya
Then these awesome people joined
So if any of you are around, lets catch up again. Lets have some commentervesations just like the old days. With all your support, I hope I will be able to get back to blogging and share more travel stories with you all.
PS : Many of the bloggers have shifted focus to Instagram. So if you are more active there, you can find me there as well @trablogger
Looking forward to meeting you all soon. And congratulations to me to push myself to get this post done as the first step!Reading Time: 6 minutes
Sri Lankan government initially announced that they will be open for tourism from 1st August 2020, but looks like it will be extended by another 2 weeks as of now.
When it opens finally, it comes with some restrictions, obviously.
- New Tourist Visa Fee US$ 100
- Online visa at http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/
- Validity 30 day, extendable upto 6 months after arrival
Before Applying Visa
- Booking details at Certified Accommodation
- Minimum stay : 5 Nights
- Itinerary details and Retun ticket
- Need to get Covid Negative certificate 72 hours before boarding
- No quarantine if no symptom is shown
- 1st PCR test done on arrival at No charge
- 2nd test after 4-5 days at a mobile testing facility in connection with the certified accommodation provider at no charge
- 3rd test, if staying more than 10 days.
- In case of showing symptoms on arrival/ getting positive test result/ needing to wait for test result at the airport : you need to quarantine at one of the certified accommodation provider or at the hospital depending on the case.
- No restriction to move around between districts inside Sri Lanka
- No Public transportation should be used.
- Need to pre arrange transportation prior to arriving in Sri Lanka through a travel agent or through the certified accommodation provider.
PS : Below is the original post. Many of the facts mentioned might not be valid at the moment. Once everything is finalised, it will be updated. Thank you for understanding.
Indians are not very lucky when it comes to visa related matters. But then there are certain tourist visas which are comparatively easier for Indians to get. Sri Lanka is one such country. In fact, it is one of the easiest Tourist visas Indians can get. Here is how you can get a Sri Lankan Tourist visa if you are an Indian. This also applies for the people from SAARC countries. So all you have to do is apply online for Sri Lankan Electronic Travel Authorization.
As it was already mentioned, it is almost certain that you will get a Tourist visa for Sri Lanka. So you can apply for it either before or after buying a flight ticket.
You don't have to worry that your visa will get rejected by chance after you have bought a flight ticket. So whenever you find a great deal, go buy the flight ticket and then apply for the visa. Port of departure, airline and flight number are asked in the application form. But they are not mandatory fields.
♦ Make sure that you have a passport that is valid for no less than 6 months from the date of arrival.
♦ Find/book a hotel where you want to stay when you arrive in Sri Lanka, so that you can use the address of that hotel as your "Address in Sri Lanka". Check out the last part of this post for a hotel suggestion.
To be able to travel to Sri Lanka, what you need is an ETA - Electronic Travel Authorization. For simpler communication let's consider ETA as the visa itself. As per the official website, ETA is Electronic Travel Authorization granted online through the web based visa system implemented by the Department of Immigration and Emigration, Sri Lanka.
An ETA is issued only for Short Visits to Sri Lanka such as 30 days or less, for Business, Tourism and Transit purposes. The ETA is initially limited to 30 days from the date of arrival, but it may be extended.
♦ Intended Arrival Date*
An ETA holder is entitled to enter Sri Lanka within three months from the date of issue of the ETA. So you can start planning accordingly and find an intended arrival date.
♦ Purpose of Visit*
Since this post is about ETA for tourists, the purpose of visit is 'Sightseeing or Holidaying'.
♦ Port of Departure
The airport from which you are flying to Sri Lanka. (In my case it was Chennai International airport).
The airline company with whom you are flying, if you have booked your tickets already. Keep it blank if you haven't booked a flight. (In my case it was Indigo).
♦ Flight/Vessel Number
If you have already booked a flight, check for the Flight number. It will be something like "6E1203". If you haven't booked a flight yet, leave it blank.
♦ Address in Sri Lanka*
Address of the hotel where you are staying as soon as you arrive. If you are visiting friends or family, then use that address.
♦ For Group ETA
Fill in your details on the first page and click next. It will take you to another page where you have to fill in 'Member information'. Once you filled in all the information, click on the checkbox and confirm that all the information provided is correct and then press "Add member". Repeat this procedure to add all the members.
Once you make the payment, you will receive the first email stating "Your ETA application to visit Sri Lanka has been received." along with the reference number.
Once everything is fine and your ETA is approved, you will receive a second mail with a header "ETA APPROVAL NOTICE." This is the actual letter you need when entering Sri Lanka.
The email goes like this, "We are pleased to inform that your application for ETA has been approved providing that the particulars submitted by you in regard to relevant particulars, including passport number, nationality, and the date of birth are correctly entered."
In this mail you can find your ETA Number, Validity of ETA, type and number of entries, purpose of visit etc. You can either take a print out of this email or save it on your phone when you arrive at your port of entry.
While arriving at Sri Lankan immigration, it is advisable to keep a copy of the ETA approval with you to be produced at the port of entry in Sri Lanka. But even the copy on your smartphone will work. I personally didn't carry a printed copy.
You should also have a confirmed return ticket and Sufficient funds to meet the expenses during the stay.
Personally I felt Sri Lankan immigration was one of the easiest I had come across so far. It was very swift and hassle free. They only checked my passport. After going through the information on their system, an entry was stamped onto my passport. There was not much questioning or cross checking of documents. (This was on June 2019).
I hope you will plan a holiday in Sri Lanka soon. If you have any doubts do get in touch.
Sri Lanka is one of those destinations where Indians can have a holiday under ₹50,000/- Another such destination is Malaysia. If you want to know the procedure for a special Malaysian visa for Indians, check out the post on eNTRI visa.
Reading Time: 8 minutes
Update : Malaysian eNTRI Note for Indians or this Visa Waiver Program is extended for the whole 2020, ie. one year from 1st January 2020 to 31st December 2020 as per the latest revision on 1st January 2020
Getting a Malaysian e-Tourist visa is now easier and cheaper for Indians! The eNTRI scheme is an online registration facility provided by the Government of Malaysia to facilitate the entrance of Indian Nationals into Malaysia under the Visa Waiver Program.
So are you ready to take advantage of Malaysian eNTRI Visa for Indians and fly to Malaysia? If yes, keep reading.
First let's look at some of the FAQs
eNTRI stands fror Electronic Travel Registration & Information. It is a special visa waiver program for Indians. Through this scheme an Indian traveler can apply for a tourist visa online. It provides Single Entry visa for a stay of maximum 15 days without extension.
This facility is offered to Indian Nationals residing in India and abroad, starting from 1st January 2020 to 31st December 2020. There are chances that they might extend this. (Post Last Updated 25.01.2020)
eNTRI visa cost is USD 20 + Convenience fee. So depending on the conversion rate, you can get the visa for about ₹1500/-
An eNTRI holder can stay up to maximum of 15 days for each visit. No extension is allowed. Each application can only be used once.
All Indian Nationals in India and expatriates residing all over the world excluding Singapore. Indian nationals are required to apply their eNTRI (Tourism) from their country of origin only.
The application cannot be re-applied within 45 DAYS and you are required to wait for the cooling
period to end first, in order to reapply again. For urgent visa processing, you may apply eVISA as an
Apply for eNTRI registration at least 48 hours before your departure to Malaysia. Though the validity period of your eNTRI Note is 90 DAYS from your eNTRI issuance date.
Malaysian eNTRI Visa for Indians is a special visa under visa waiver scheme, hence the route one has to follow is a bit tricky and should be planned wisely to get most out from the trip.
For an Indian national who is applying from India, this visa allows them to fly from India to Malaysia and back to India only. But one can choose a transit through Thailand,Brunei or Singapore.
Update : According to latest update, one can go to any other country from Malaysia while flying out.
The eligible travel routes / flights are as follows:
*Country of Origin >> Thailand/Brunei/Singapore (Transit/Stay) >> Malaysia >> Thailand/Brunei/
Singapore (Transit/Stay) >> Any other country >> Country of Origin
For example : India >> Malaysia >> India is the basic route for eNTRI visa. But then you can add three countries to your itinerary to get most out from this travel plan. You can choose from 3 options; Thailand,Brunei and Singapore.
Some of the possible itineraries will look like this.
Note : eNTRI is a SINGLE ENTRY visa. So make sure you are entering and exiting Malaysia only once while making the itinerary.
Note : India >> Malaysia >> Thailand >> India tend to be cheaper route due to cheaper flight options.
For an Indian expatriate living abroad, this visa allows them to fly from their Country of stay/work to Malaysia and back to the Country of stay/work by transiting/staying through any other county in between it.
*Country of stay/work >> Any country (Transit/Stay) >> Malaysia >> Any country (Transit/Stay) >>
Country of Origin or any other country.
You are REQUIRED to have:
- Direct flight ticket from India to Malaysia OR
- Direct flight ticket from India to Malaysia via Singapore/Thailand/Brunei.
You are also REQUIRED to have:
- Return flight ticket from Malaysia to India OR
- Return flight ticket from Singapore/Thailand/Brunei to India OR
- Return flight ticket from Malaysia to any countries if travelling by air.
For expatriates only, you are REQUIRED to have a flight ticket to Malaysia and return flight ticket to any country if travelling by air.
If you satisfy all the above conditions lets look at how to apply for Malaysian eNTRI Visa for Indians.
You should be ready with a few documents before applying for the visa. They are as follows
• Passport with validity of at least 6 months
• Latest passport size photo
• Flight Itinerary Document
• Proof of accommodation document
Once you have these above mentioned documents ready, you are ready to apply for the visa.
First step is to go to the official Malaysian Visa website. It is called Window Malaysia. From this site you can apply for eVisa as well as eNTRI visa for Indians. A google search result would give many other websites for Malaysian visa application, but make sure you are going to the official website only.
First thing is to take a color print out of your eNTRI visa also known as eNTRI Note. And then pack your bags and get ready for the trip.
You are required to have below mentioned documents to be able to enter into Malaysia. These are the documents that may be checked upon my arrival at the Malaysia’s Entry Checkpoint.
1. eNTRI Note
2. Boarding Pass
3. Confirmed tickets coming in and leaving Malaysia
4. Sufficient funds (Cash/Debit or credible Credit Cards such as UnionPay /Travellers Cheque/
eMoney such as Alipay)
5. Complete travel itinerary
6. Proof of residence in Malaysia
Applicants residing inside India is only permitted to enter Malaysia and exit Malaysia via the following Entry/Exit points:
All authorized Malaysian air entry and exit points by Department of Immigration, Malaysia.
1. Sultan Iskandar Building Immigration Checkpoint, Johor 2. Sultan Abu Bakar Checkpoint, Johor
3. Padang Besar Checkpoint, Perlis
4. Bukit Kayu Itam Checkpoint, Kedah
5. Sungai Tujoh Immigration Checkpoint, Sarawak
6. Tedungan Immigration Checkpoint, Sarawak
The eNTRI Note merely establishes that you are eligible to travel, but does not guarantee that you are entitled to enter Malaysia. Upon arrival in Malaysia, you will be inspected by a Malaysian Immigration Entry/Exit Officer who may determine that you are inadmissible for any reason under the Malaysian law. So be prepared with all the documents.
Unfortunately I had to under go a rigorous interview with the Immigration officer to be able to enter in Malaysia!
If in any case you want to stay for more than 15 days, your solution is to apply for an eVisa. Unlike eNTRI visa, eVISA offers Multiple-Entry Visa (MEV) & Single-Entry Visa (SEV) to Indian Nationals for journey into Malaysia with up to a maximum of 30 days for each visit with NO extensions allowed.
If you have applied for eNTRI visa, you cannot reapply for another one within 90 days. In that case also you will need to apply for Malaysian eVisa. The procedure for Malaysian eVisa for Indians is very similar to that of eNTRI visa. In the welcome page you have to select "Apply eVisa".
This is one of the easiest visas that an Indian can obtain. But do not take it lightly. Plan well, be prepared and have a great trip.
In case you have any more questions do ask me. But the easiest, fastest and most reliable way to get your questions answered is by going to Window Malaysia website and clarify your doubts through the Live Chat facility. It is one of the best I have seen. 24x7 available and very quick to give you the required answers.
You might be also interested in knowing about Sri Lankan Tourist visa for Indians.
Indian e Tourist visa is now for FIVE year?!!
Too good to be true. Right? But it is true!
Yes, you read that right, India is offering E-visa for the tourists for a period of 5 years along with 30 days and 1 year. It's been upgraded from 30 days to 1 year to 5 years now. This great news was published as on August 2019. This is really a great news for the people who love India and want to experience it for a longer time.
Here is the good news about Indian e-visa in detail.
- The validity of e-Tourist visa has been extended to 5 years from the date of grant of ETA while you can still avail e-Tourist Visa and e-Business Visa for one year as well. Multiple entries will be permitted on e-Tourist Visa and e-Business visa.
- On e-Tourist Visa continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 90 days in case of nationals of all countries who are eligible for grant of e-visa except nationals of USA, UK, Canada and Japan.
- In case of nationals of USA, UK, Canada and Japan continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 180 days.
No more extensions of visas or visiting the embassy for applying a longer visa is needed anymore. Now you can get your permission to visit India in the comfort of your home. You can apply for 5 year e-tourist visa all by yourself without leaving your home. Here is how you can do it.
First step for applying for any e-Visa is to visit the government website for Visa application. Visit the Official website for Indian e-visa by following this link.
Eligibility : You can check your eligibility from below.
1. 166 countries are eligible to apply for an Indian e-visa. Below given are the complete list of countries/territories
Albania, Andorra, Angola, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon Union Republic, Canada, Cape Verde, Cayman Island, Chile, China, China- SAR Hongkong, China- SAR Macau, Colombia, Comoros, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cote d'lvoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati,Kyrgyzstan , Laos, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger Republic, Niue Island, Norway, Oman, Palau, Palestine, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal , Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos Island, Tuvalu, UAE, Uganda,Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, USA, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vatican City-Holy See, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe
2. Passport should have at least six months' validity from the date of arrival in India.
3. The passport should have at least two blank pages.
4. Should have return ticket or onward journey ticket with sufficient money to spend during your stay in India.
Be ready with the required documents and photographs before starting to apply for the e-Visa. All the documents should be in English, otherwise e-visa application will get rejected.
♦ Scanned Bio Page of the passport showing the Photograph and Details
♦ Digital photograph
Many people would say filling out Indian e-visa form is a lot of work. Yes, they do ask you a lot of questions. Here is a sample copy of the e-visa form.
This is the first Page of Indian e-visa application form.
Below mentioned are the complete list of designated Airports and Seaports through which a person with an Indian e-Tourist visa can enter India.
e-Visa is valid for entry through 28 designated Airports (i.e. Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bagdogra, Bengaluru, Bhubaneshwar, Calicut, Chennai, Chandigarh,Cochin, Coimbatore, Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Madurai,Mangalore, Mumbai, Nagpur, Portblair, Pune, Tiruchirapalli, Trivandrum, Varanasi & Vishakhapatnam) and 5 designated seaports (i.e. Cochin, Goa, Mangalore,Mumbai,Chennai). However, the foreigner can take exit from any of the authorized Immigration Check Posts (ICPs) in India.
If you are planning to enter in India using an e-visa, then you can do that ONLY through the above mentioned Airports or Seaports. In case you are coming to any other ports other than the ones mentioned here, you need to apply for the regular visa.
Once you finish the first page, it leads to this page. Here you will give your Personal details and Passport details.
This is the Third Page of Indian e-visa application form. Here you will give your Present and Permanent address as well as Family details and Professional details.
This is the Fourth Page of Indian e-visa application form. Here you will give your Indian Travel Plans and Mention your travel history. Here you can also see the Duration of Visa and Number of entries allowed.
♦ In this form you have to mention the places you are planning to visit. If you are feeling lazy, you can copy paste this list.
Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Goa, Alleppey, Varanasi, Agra.
♦ It also asks you, if you have visited any SAARC countries in the last 3 years. Here is the List of SAARC Countries. Just mention if you have visited any of these countries other than India.
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
♦ What should be the reference in India?
Reference in India can be the Address of the Hotel you've booked for the first few days. If you have any Indian friends you can use their contact details too.
This is the Fifth Page of Indian e-visa application form. Here you will answer some additional questions and make a self declaration that all the furnished details are true to your knowledge. In most normal cases, all the answers to the above questions will be "No".
This is the Sixth Page of Indian e-visa application form. Here you will have to upload your Photo as per the correct specifications.
Indian Visa Photo Specification
The application might get rejected for not adhering to the specifications. So please do not try to upload any selfies instead of a proper passport style photograph.
This is the Seventh Page of Indian e-visa application form. Here you will have to upload your Passport Copy in PDF format which has your photo, DOB, Nationality, Passport Date of issue and expiry etc.
Passport Personal page Scan Specification
Make sure you are uploading a clear scan of the correct page of the correct passport. Do not use the scanned page of an expired passport by mistake.
This is the Eight stage of Indian e-visa application form. Here you will have to Verify your details and confirm the same. If you want to make any changes, you can still modify it at this point.
If you think you have filled up this rather long form correctly, you can click 'Verified and Continue' button. Now the only step remaining will be the payment part.
This is the Ninth page of Indian e-visa application form. Here you will have to Pay the required amount as Visa Fees. In the below table you can find the cost of Indian e-Tourist visa.
Below mentioned are the costs connected with different types of e-Tourist visas to India.
|Government Fee (US$)||Country|
|30 days e-TV (April to June)||30 days e-TV (July to March)||01 year e-TV||05 year e-TV|
|00||00||00||00||Argentina, Cook Islands, Fiji, Jamaica, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue Island, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Seychelles, Solomon Islands ,South Africa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Uruguay and Vanuatu|
|10||35||35||65||Japan, Singapore and Sri Lanka|
|10||25||40||80||Albania, Andorra, Angola, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Cayman Island, Chile, China, China- Sar Hongkong, China - Macau, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Vatican City - Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Cote D'Ivoire, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali,Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger Republic, Norway, Oman, Palestine, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Macedonia, Romania, Rwanda, Russia, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent And The Grenadines, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Saint Christopher And Nevis, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania,Thailand, Trinidad And Tobago , Turks And Caicos Isl, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, USA, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe.|
|Free||Argentina, Cook Islands, Fiji, Jamaica, Indonesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, Myanmar, Nauru, Niue Island, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Uruguay, Vanuatu|
|US$25||Japan, Singapore, Sri Lanka|
|US$80||Albania, Andorra, Angola, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Cayman Island, Chile, China, China – Sar Hong Kong, China – Macau, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Vatican City – Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Iran, Cote d'Ivoire, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Republic of Korea, Laos, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger Republic, Norway, Oman, Palestine, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal,Qatar, Macedonia, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago , Turks and Caicos, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe|
|US$100||Mozambique, Russia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA|
There are some additional banking charges connected with paying the visa fee online.
Once you Click "Yes" to the Undertaking, as mentioned in page 9 of Indian e-visa form, three payment options will appear.
You can pay using any one of these options, namely Sbi e-pay, Paypal or Axis bank. All these options accept International cards. It can processes Credit card and Debit Card transactions for all the cards issued internationally by Visa & MasterCard, both with and without 3D Secure authentication.
Apart from the Visa fees, there is an extra bank fees one has to pay.
Once the payment has been made successfully, the 'Payment Success' window appears.
In an ideal scenario, once the transaction is processed, the applicant shall be presented with a payment successful page along with a reference number as shown above.
In some rare scenarios it may happen where the application is not shown Payment successful page even after the completion of transaction, which may be due to a drop in connectivity leading to non-receipt of success response. If the applicant does not receive any success message even after card account has been charged, a refund shall be initiated after due reconciliation process to the applicant's card account.
Congratulations then! Now all you have to do is cross your fingers and wait. Your shiny new Indian e-visa is getting processed. You will soon receive it in your inbox. Usually you will get it in 24 to 72 hour's time.
Applicant should carry a copy of Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) along with him/her at the time of travel. Please confirm that your ETA status is shown as 'GRANTED' on the website prior to commencement of your journey. Applicants can track the status of their application online by clicking VisaStatus.
When you arrive at one of the 33 designated ports where e-Visa entry is valid, the immigration officer will check your documents and capture the Biometric details and you are ready to explore India.
Nationals of Yellow Fever affected countries or travelers arriving from these countries must carry YELLOW FEVER VACCINATION CARD at the time of arrival in India, otherwise they may be quarantined for 6 days upon arrival in India.
Country requirement: anyone (except infants up to the age of 6 months) arriving by air or sea without a yellow fever vaccination certificate is detained in isolation for up to 6 days if that person
(i) arrives within 6 days of departure from an area with risk of yellow fever transmission, or
(ii) has been in such an area in transit (except those passengers and members of the crew who, while in transit through an airport situated in an area with risk of yellow fever transmission, remained within the airport premises during the period of their entire stay and the Health Officer agrees to such exemption), or
(iii) arrives on a ship that started from or touched at any port in an area with risk of yellow fever transmission up to 30 days before its arrival in India, unless such a ship has been disinsected in accordance with the procedure laid down by WHO, or
(iv) arrives on an aircraft that has been in an area with risk of yellow fever transmission and has not been disinsected in accordance with the Indian Aircraft Public Health Rules, 1954, or as recommended by WHO.
The following are regarded as countries and areas with risk of yellow fever transmission:
Africa: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte dʼIvoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea‐Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, South Sudan, Togo and Uganda.
America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad (Trinidad only), Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of).
Note: When a case of yellow fever is reported from any country, that country is regarded by the Government of India as a country with risk of yellow fever transmission and is added to the above list.
Apart from e-Tourist Visa, one can apply for e-Business Visa, e-Medical Visa, e-Medical Attendant Visa and e-Conference Visa using the same website.
Required Documents :
For e-Business Visa visiting "To deliver lecture/s under Global Initiative for Academic Networks (GIAN)"
Required Documents :
Required Documents :
Visa on Arrival (VOA) facility is only for the nationals of Japan, South Korea and UAE (only for such UAE nationals who had earlier obtained e-Visa or regular/paper visa for India).
Depending on one's Country, one can stay in India only for 90 days or 180 days continuously. Before reaching this limit, one has to leave India to avoid visa complications. If one wish to come back to stay longer can do so.
To be able to successfully complete the visa run and to come back to India to stay longer, one has to be outside of India for a complete day, meaning you can't cross the border and come back to India on the same day. Even one day of staying out of India will do, but mostly travelers do a couple of days of exploring a neighboring country.
*So minimum length of time you have to be out of India after your 90/180 days are up before you can re-enter on the 1 year tourist visa is 1 day
One can use any land border or airports to go outside India and can use any one of these borders to re-enter.
If you are in the North of India, Nepal is the most preferred country for a visa run from India. One can cross the border either by land or by flight. But Delhi offers direct flights to many other economical destinations.
If you are somewhere in the South of India, Sri Lanka is another cheaper option. Flights to Colombo from Madurai and Chennai are pretty economical.
If you are at the East side of India, consider Thailand or Malaysia. Try Bhubaneshwar to Kuala Lumpur or Phuket.
If you are in the west side, Mumbai opens up a wide array of economical destinations with direct flight options, which includes Malaysia, Thaiand, UAE etc.
*I have gathered above mentioned information from the experience of various travelers.
I had the good fortune of riding through the highways of Nepal. It was a totally unplanned trip. I was in a hotel in Thamel checking on the internet on what I should do next. Yes, I do plan my accommodation for the first day wherever I go.
While going through one of those destination guide books, I found the details of Motorbike renting shops. There were a few in Thamel. The idea sprang to my mind all of a sudden. I should do a motorbike trip around Nepal! It was decided then and there.
After a few hours, I found myself closing the deal with a motorbike rental shop in one of those narrow touristy streets of Thamel. It was a white colour Royal Enfield Classic 350cc. I did a test ride and it felt fabulous. I finalised the bike for the next few days to come.
The shop was renting out tent and sleeping bag as well. Then a new plan was added. Riding and camping. So I was all excited to begin the trip.
Though it was a bit difficult for me initially to navigate through the narrow and busy streets of Thamel on my new friend, Royal Enfield. While I was going to the fuel station right after getting my 'white boy' out from the garage, I was a bit nervous on how I was going to ride this beast confidently in the highways that were new to me.
View this post on Instagram
“The beauty and mystery of this world only emerges through affection, attention, interest and compassion . . . open your eyes wide and actually see this world by attending to its colors, details and irony.” ― Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #Bhaktapur #Nepal #NepalTourism #Tourism #travel #quote #travelblogger #streetphoto_color #streetstyle #streetphotography #streetphotos
Well it was my first ever attempt on a long-distance motorcycle trip on a Royal Enfield. So I had a bit of anxiety. Almost fifteen minutes later in the ride, anxiety was nowhere to be seen. I felt so comfortable riding this macho machine. I started to worry less and tune into the rhythmic thump of this beast. In Nepal, the driving culture and road habits were similar to that of India. So it wasn't difficult for me to adapt to the new highways and their ways of driving.
From Kathmandu, the route was set to Pokhara and added stops to include interesting places in between. The roads were similar to that of India, in certain stretches even worse.
The fun was reaching a destination without knowing much about it. But riding a powerful Royal Enfield through those difficult and different terrains was more interesting. I found myself getting more confident with my Enfield and cornering at good speeds. And the Enfield thump was quite addictive.
View this post on Instagram
“When you love a city and have explored it frequently on foot, your body, not to mention your soul, gets to know the streets so well after a number of years that in a fit of melancholy, perhaps stirred by a light snow falling ever so sorrowfully, you'll discover your legs carrying you of their own accord toward one of your favourite promontories”⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ― Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Bhaktapur, Nepal⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #Nepal #bhakthapur #streetphotography #streetstyle #ig_fotografdiyari #ig_cameras_united #nepalnow #streetshot
Bhaktapur was the first major stop. As soon as I approached the area, I could feel the heritage it was carrying. It transported me to a different kind of world. Maybe it was because of the architecture of the Palace courtyard or maybe the reddish tone that was predominant on almost all the buildings there. I parked my white Royal Enfield against the backdrop of reddish fire baked bricks.
By the time I had finished visiting the place, it was close to sun down. Then next ride was to find a safe open space to pitch the tent. Before getting too dark, I was able to find a spot to pitch the tent for that night. It was a fun experience finding a place to pitch a tent.
The same procedure was followed in the coming days too. Sightseeing in the morning and finding a spot to pitch the tent in the evening before it was too dark. That became my routine.
During this trip I figured out from my experience that it was possible to find a less touristic spot or even a less populated spot, wherever you go, by riding a few kilometers away from the tourist attraction. At least it was possible in Nepal. And every single day I could find a place to pitch a tent without asking anyone's permission.
The main reason why it was possible was because of the beast which can tread anywhere! I've ridden the Enfield into bumpy empty fields, into small bushes, into gravel filled steep climbs. It was an experience that marked new kind of touring possibility in my life.
I was getting initiated into the Royal Enfield way of tripping.
Wind on my jacket, thumping on my bullet, I was initiated into a lifestyle which was echoing with one word. Freedom!Reading Time: 3 minutes
Almost everyone who rides a motorbike dreams of a long Royal Enfield trip. The kind of iconic image Royal Enfield has created in connection with road tripping in the mountains is impeccable. So, it was easier for me to organize a group tour to Bhutan on a Royal Enfield along with another avid RE rider.
It was during my motorbike trip around South India that I met this crazy Bullet rider who had covered most parts of India on his Royal Enfield 500cc Bullet. It took us not too long to come to a conclusion that we need to organize a Royal Enfield trip! So we finalized a Bullet trip to Bhutan.
Bhutan is one of the easiest international destinations an Indian can visit. Riding a Royal Enfield through Bhutan can be an irresistible offer, we thought. And we weren't wrong! People signed up for the tour and on a sunny morning of October the team met their own rides for the trip.
Thus, the eight strangers became united through the REs and we all became a team of RE Trippers.
Ever since I have ridden my first RE, I've been a huge lover of its elegant looks and masculine exhaust notes. This love had planted the seed of taking a long Royal Enfield trip back then. Finally that dream was becoming a reality again, with this Bhutan ride.
The bike I was going to ride for the next 8 days was a Black Royal Enfield Classic 350cc, fitted with a dolphin silencer. It was a pure pleasure just to hear those dhak dhak notes while idling!
We started riding from Siliguri before noon. All our machines were in good condition, so we did pretty well in covering the distance in the daylight. As certain patches of the road became bad in some places, we had to slow down a bit. Otherwise it was a very smooth first day. By 9pm that night, we were able to reach the India - Bhutan border.
Phuetsholling was our first stop. As soon as we entered Bhutan, things started to change. The main change we felt was the stricter traffic rules. Since we were Royal Enfield riders, we were not known for our rash riding. So things were fine for us.
The next day after getting the required permits, we officially started our ride in Bhutan with Royal Enfield's characteristic calm but powerful demeanour. Kingdom of Bhutan roads were so perfect and our Royal Enfield trip really felt like a royal trip!
The destination for our second night was Thimphu. From there we went to Paro, Chele La pass, Dochula pass and Punakha. The powerful 350cc engine made negotiating the passes at an altitude of 12,454ft above sea level look easy. Due to this very reason, the ride through a foggy, cold day was a very enjoyable one.
View this post on Instagram
The Dochula Pass is a mountain pass in the snow covered Himalayas within Bhutan on the road from Thimpu to Punakha where 108 memorial chortens or stupas known as "Druk Wangyal Chortens" have been built by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, the eldest Queen Mother. Wikipedia Elevation: 3,100 m #Dochulapass #Punakha #Bhutan #Thimphu
Also taking this legendary motorcycle brand to places like Bhutan is a matter of personal pride too.
On the way, I could see many people waving at us, looking at us with a hint of jealousy. The admiration comes not only from the fact that we are having the time of our life, but also because of the fact that we are riding a legend, a motorcycle that started producing the same rhythmic thump for more than a century! The feeling of being part of such a grand legacy itself is an enviable feat by itself.
Our Royal Enfields lived up to the legacy. During all the 8 days of riding, our machines stayed in top class conditions and helped us to make beautiful memories of a road trip.
If anyone wants to recreate our Royal ride though Bhutan on a Royal Enfield, here is the itinerary you can follow.
Day 1 : Siligury
Day 2 : Phuentsholling
Day 3 : Thimphu
Day 4 : Thimphu
Day 5 : Punakha
Day 6 : Paro
Day 7 : Paro
Day 8 : Siliguri
A detailed Itinerary of the past ride can be found from this link.
Hope you will also have an amazing Royal Enfield trip yourself. Ride safe.
If you are still having two minds about visiting Bhutan, here is why Every Indian should visit Bhutan at least once.Reading Time: 8 minutes
We could see a flickering monitor of a TV playing on a very low volume. In only the dim light that was coming from a small incandescent bulb as well as from the TV, we could see a few tables and a few people sitting around one of those tables inside.
The nervousness from the face of the lady disappeared only when our Bhutanese friend told her something in a language alien to us.
We had no idea that we were about to commit our first crime in Bhutan!!
It was around 9 at night, we reached the famous Bhutan gate. We took the first few customary pictures of the iconic gate to commemorate our entry into another country.
To my surprise, I came to know that this prominent landmark is not the entrance gate, in fact on the contrary, it is the exit gate from Bhutan.
As it was already slightly late as per Bhutanese standards, most of the activities around that area had already came to a halt, so was the case with the city of Jaigaon.
Jaigaon is the Indian city that shares the border with Bhutan. It was just like any other city in India, though at night I couldn't figure out how busy it really was. Maybe due to the influence of its neighbour, most of the area on the Indian side looked rather empty for an Indian town.
Through the entrance gate for the vehicles we got inside Bhutan, just like going to another state in India through a state check post.
But as soon as you enter into Bhutan, you will feel the difference. Just an entry gate changes everything. The laws became stricter, people became law abiding, the road rules became proper and the side effects of it could be seen upon us, the Indian tourists!
Personally, I became anxious before doing anything and self-conscious at each turn on the road. Some of the roads were one way, some of them didn't have free right turn and at some points, you can't just make a U turn from wherever you want, like we do in India. Since laws are strict and police aren't corrupt, one can't really get away with breaking the laws. I think that is pretty scary thought for an Indian!
Somehow, without breaking any laws we reached our hotel. After finishing the check in process, the time was already 9.30 and the hotel's restaurant had already stopped taking any new food orders.
After a quick shower, hungry and tired we went out to find some restaurants that were open. There was a rule in Phuentsholing, possibly everywhere in Bhutan, to close the restaurants or any other shops by 10pm or 11pm at the most. By the time some of us got to the restaurant, it was almost half past ten and the police on patrol came to the restaurant and asked to put the shutter down.
The law-abiding restaurant owner bore with us for the extra half an hour and now he didn't have any other option. So, we were politely kicked out of the restaurant. By this time we had made friends with another local Bhutanese person. With all the shops closed and still hungry we didn't know where to go.
Then the saviour appeared in the form of our new local Bhutanese friend. He took us through the dark corridor of narrow streets to a place, but it was also closed. Then we took another corridor to enter into a building that looked like a shopping complex which was almost shut and dark.
He guided us through a flight of stairs and to a door where he started knocking. The feeble sounds that were coming from inside stopped all of a sudden. A lady's voice could be heard from inside. From the tone of it, we understood she was asking who was knocking. Our Bhutanese friend replied and a few minutes later the door was opened.
In the dim light that was coming from the small bulb and the TV, we could see a few tables and a few people sitting around one of those round plastic tables. The nervousness from the face of the lady disappeared only when our Bhutanese friend told her something in Dzongkha, the Bhutanese language. He was probably telling her that we were hungry tourists looking for some food!
She closed the door and latched it immediately as we got inside the room. It was actually a small family run restaurant which was operating illegally after 11 pm! That day we understood the relativeness of the term legal! Eating outside after 11 at night can also be a crime in some places!!
Whenever we were talking loudly we were asked to reduce our volume levels. Later we were also started to become cautious of the police who were on patrol. We also went silent whenever we heard any unusual noises from outside.
It was the first time I was eating out with so much anxiety! Without any other notable incidents, we finished our food and went back to the hotel to have a good night sleep with a satisfaction of breaking the law on our first day itself, even in Bhutan too!
If you want to get the feeling of a place, you have to wake up early in the morning and go for a walk through the heart of the new town, village or wherever you are. So early in the morning I set out to find the pulse of Phuentsholing.
I walked towards the Bhutan gate to get a better view of the gate we photographed last night. With the morning light I could see the reality of Bhutan in a better way.
The roads were wide and neat without any visible garbage anywhere. And more importantly cars were parked exactly within the lines painted for the parking spots. I couldn't find any vehicle that was parked just randomly!
When I continued walking through the sidewalk, there were Indian looking women and school going kids walking in the street. Again, to my surprise, they walked till the zebra crossing and slowly crossed the road, even though the streets had almost no vehicles running at that time. Crossing the road completely in right-angles was a matter of surprise to me, taking into consideration how close this place is to India!
I know these are not things that one needs to get surprised at. But listen to the rest of the story to get the full picture.
I saw quite an inflow of people through a gate which was casually guarded by a Royal Bhutanese police woman cladded in a black uniform. I was wondering from where these people were coming and what these people were doing so early in the morning. So, I walked towards the gate and figured out that they were the people who stay in Jaigaon, the Indian side, and come into Bhutan for work; it was their daily commute to work! How cool is that? Going to another country for work every day!
Like many other things in Bhutan, that was also a one way. My instincts told me to cross through the gate rather than walking another hundred meters or so to get to the exit gate. Since I was in Bhutan, I didn't dare to do that. So, I walked towards the exit and inquired to the policeman who was keeping guard if I could go out to the Indian side and come back in without any ID card since I wasn't carrying one during my morning walk. The policeman just asked if I was from India and upon hearing my ‘yes’, he said it was okay for Indians.
Thus, I went to the other side, which was separated by a half a man high sidewall with twice a man high iron rods installed in series. Through the iron bars one can see the other country clearly. It is such a friendly border indeed, I thought.
Through the exit door I went outside and stepped into India. The moment I stepped in, I knew already that I was in India. The spotless roads of Bhutan were replaced with roads which are flat but imperfect at each hundred meters or less. And there were tiny bits of garbage all the way and big chunks of them at almost all the corners.
Early morning itself people were sitting on the sidewalks and selling things. And above all the place was reeking with cow dung and other complexly mixed bad odours. If it was a pleasant one, I would have done some research to figure out the individual fragrances! I felt that even a blind person could tell in which country they were standing!
Further away, just in front of the Bhutan gate on the Indian side, all the auto-rickshaws were already parked in the most random way possible in comparison with what I had just saw less than a hundred meter away on the other side! Many of the street side food vendors started calling me to eat from their joint and the whole scene had only one name! Chaos!
It is very interesting to see such a drastic change of cultures just on the two sides of a long fencing.
Don't get me wrong, this isn't yet another post where some Indian bitches about India after visiting another country. India is definitely a very interesting country to explore. Many of the cultural intricacies are worth a good study as well. Out of which the carefreeness and utmost hope of things-will-get-figured-out-somehow are the noteworthy ones.
It could be one of the by-products of such attitudes that even after seeing a great example right next to the international fence, we Indians don't want to learn a lesson or two. At the same time Bhutan has taken good points from countries around the world and implemented it without harming their traditions and cultural values.
As an example, Western-style education was introduced to Bhutan as early as 1907, but they also made sure that everyone follows the traditional way of dressing at schools. Though there could be two sides about it, there are so many things that everyone can learn from Bhutan, especially for the Indians.
Out of these things what I, as an Indian can learn, would be a lesson on being reflective upon our reluctance to learn a better way of doing things even when an example is presented right in front of us.
As a nation we should take some extra efforts to create a better life for the self and for others rather than taking the path of least resistance. For starters, disposing a small plastic wrapper in a bin which is kept ten meters away from where you stand rather than throwing it wherever you are standing.
As a nation, we Indians should cultivate a sense of belonging towards the nation, towards the public places and towards all the public properties. I'm not talking about the patriotic feeling one gets when India plays a cricket match. I'm talking about treating the country as your own home.
If you still didn't understand, try answering these. Would you throw garbage inside your own home? Would you spit inside your own home? If not, why anywhere outside?
Swachh Bharat starts with a shift in thinking, with a change in attitude. It doesn't come from sweeping a bunch of pre-planted green leaves or erecting hoardings in every nook and corner!
For an Indian to get some good lessons on how to treat one’s own country, Bhutan gives the best opportunity. Phuentsholing being the land border, one can actually feel the difference between two countries and learn a lesson or two from it.
Also, Indians don't need any permits or immigration clearance to enter into Phuentsholing area of Bhutan. An Indian can just walk in and stay there. So that makes it a perfect place for Indians to visit and to have some shift in thoughts on how to become a better citizen. Also, Phuentsholing is the place from where you can obtain immigration clearance and other permits to visit the rest of Bhutan.
In case you want to know more about the permits in Bhutan, check this detailed guide written by Offbeat explorers.
So what do you think about visiting Phuentsholing in Bhutan?
NB : Please please vote for me to Win this trip of a lifetime. Voting Link is here.Reading Time: 4 minutes
When I first came across the concept of the blind list, the first thought that crossed my mind was reading "The Tao of Travel: Enlightenment from Lives on the Road" by Paul Theroux. In this enriching and delightful read, Paul Theroux talks about brilliant travel writers who went on various journeys in search of something they felt connected.
In one of the chapters he talks about Geoffrey Moorhouse who crossed the Sahara hoping to cure his fear of empty spaces and loneliness. Probably a similar account from my life is what comes next, to my mind when I think about one of the most interesting blind dates I had with the world.
That was back in 2015- when I had almost finished writing a big long story, the longest I've ever tried to write in my life till that date- I decided to do this particular night trek all alone. In the story I was talking about being courageous and about going out of one's comfort zone to do things that one is always scared to do and such.
After reading what I had written, I felt like a hypocrite. I asked myself, "Are you doing something that scares you?", and my answer was a hesitant no. I was just preaching and was not walking the walk! Thus I took that decision!
A brief internet search later, I had decided to do the Skandagiri trek and stay at the top of the hill all alone at night.
Skandagiri is a mountain fortress located approximately 62 km from Bangalore city. It has a series of fortresses as one climbs higher up the altitude. That was the first few information I got from my short research. Well they had also mentioned that Night trek was banned and whoever breaks the law will be taken into custody either by police or the local people! And that was scary to a certain extent. I instantly didn't want to do the trek!
But what did I tell myself a few hours ago?! "To do things that scare you." I shouldn't be backing off, even at the first attempt itself! But by then internal conflicts started to brew a storm! The clash was between the emotions of protecting the ego and facing the scary reality which might happen during the trek.
Finally I convinced myself by borrowing words from Mountain Dew's Indian tagline and decided to pursue success which is at the other end of fear. So I packed a couple of T shirts, water bottles and some fruits in my backpack and started the journey.
Since I didn't want to break any law, I started the hike in the afternoon. By 'enjoying' the scorching heat and the 'excitement' of getting caught by any local people, I started walking. Fortunately the trail was not too hard to figure out. Finally without much incidents I reached the top.
There were a few long slender slabs of granite arranged in the shape of a rectangular box, gravity and balance being the main bonding force, was the dilapidated temple at the top and there were no signs of any human presence on top of that mountain that evening. I quite enjoyed the solitude at the top of the mountain and even more the incredible sunset through the clouds, above the nearby mountain ranges. But the enjoyment didn't last longer.
As it turned darker, the enjoyment of solitude had been replaced by the anxiety of being alone in the darkness in a strange place. When the truth and awareness of daylight had been overpowered by anxiety brought in by the darkness, logical mind ceased to work. Every other shadow started to look like your worst nightmare, every other movement of branches and leaves looked like a wild animal ready to jump on you.
To add to this misery, it started to rain lightly and my last hope of making a fire was also gone with the rain! I was shivering with cold since I didn't have enough layers to keep me warm.
The fear also added more amplitude to my already shivering self! To escape from this misery, after my measly dinner of bananas and biscuits, I tried to sleep inside the temple, the only shelter which was available there.
Water droplets were coming inside every now and then. In addition to it, anxiety of the unknown made it almost impossible to sleep.
At some point, I fell asleep for a brief time and woke up hearing some noises. Soon a bunch of trekkers who came for the sunrise found me inside the temple! Surprisingly by then , it was already time for the sunrise!
I had somehow survived the night!!
Upon hearing my story of spending the whole night all alone at the top of Skandagiri made them look at me with some sort of respect! Somehow even without my knowledge, I became a celebrity sort! I quite enjoyed that moment.
After all, my blind date with the world turned out to be a great one in the end. Thus I started looking for the second date, then a third and so on.
My experience wouldn't be as grand as that of those travel writers mentioned by Paul Theroux, but I also had my share of adventure by venturing into the unknown. If I have to pick one such grand adventure, I would pick the one in which one of those adventurous travel writers went to figure out the secret Shamanic rituals.
It would be really interesting to go into an unknown place with an unknown language, filled with strange customs and stranger beliefs. Gaining their trust and getting into their close knit guild would be the first challenge of this blind date task. Otherwise it would be next to impossible to get any important information regarding the special ceremonies and interesting knowledge that are kept as top secret.
It would be equally exciting to think about the misadventures as well. What if it goes wrong? What if you've been taken into custody? What if you like those things so much that you don't want to come back ever again? What if you've disappeared quite mysteriously by doing so?
Well I think that is the beauty of having a blind date with the world. There are a million possibilities of experiencing the world and exploring these experiences in depth. So I would take up any such opportunity to travel the world on a self exploration by saying yes to the world!
Would you Say Yes To The World ? What is #TheBlindList you have?
In case if you want to read the full incident at the top of Skandagiri, read the series here : At the other end of fear.
PS : This post has been selected among one of the top posts for #TheBlindList contest.Reading Time: 9 minutes
Hampi, the city of ruins! Some say, Hampi is a magical land with all its ruins from the bygone era.
Indeed, Hampi is wonderful. Who doesn't love to explore Hampi and be amazed at the stories that happened in the past! Due to similar reasons, I set out to explore Hampi.
Close to one month stay in Hampi was a great experience for me. But the cherry on the cake was my stay at Heritage Resort Hampi during the last couple of days! You may ask why. Here is why I think my stay at this resort was an enriching experience.
Any of those usual resorts will have facilities like flat screen TV, hair dryer, personal safe, coffee-tea making facilities and a bit more advanced recreation facilities like a swimming pool and a spa. Yes, Heritage resort Hampi also had all those amenities. But what impressed me the most were something else.
It was some of the new knowledge that I acquired from this place made my stay very special. Here I am sharing the top 5 things I learned from Heritage resort Hampi during my two nights stay in the property
If you have ever been to Hampi, there is a high chance that you might have seen the Banjara ladies, those ones who wear colourful traditional dress, red and yellow being predominant and with intricate stitching patterns with pieces of mirrors, shells and coins making an integral part of the embellishment.
This way of creating colourful clothes with pieces of mirrors and other things stitched into it called Lepo embroidery or more popularly known as Lambani embroidery. So it is very evident that Lambani embroidery has a significant part in Banjara identity.
The Lepo embroidery practiced by the Banjara tribe people at Sandur in Bellary district is even more special. It is specifically called as Sandur Lambani embroidery. In 2008, this Sandur Lambani embroidery got Geographic Indication (GI) tag.
After checking in at the resort, as soon as I entered my room, what caught my attention was the colorful bed runner and two small pillows. It was definitely different from what you get to see on other hotels and resorts. After a while when I got a chance to meet the General Manager Mr. Prasanna, out of curiosity I asked him about the runner. Then the story of Lambani embroidery was revealed to me!
As part of their company's vision and policy, they have made it a point to help the local economy and all things that are part of the local heritage. This resort buy products like Pillow covers and bed runners directly from Sandur Kushala Kala Kendra, a non profit organization. By doing so Heritage resort Hampi is directly helping almost 500 artisans who work there. This I believe is a great initiative from them!
Can you even believe that you can train an inexperienced local person from a nearby small village who has never worked in any hospitality industry before, who has no opportunity to practice spoken English ever; into a full time, courteous staff who has to interact with western guests?!
Heritage Resort Hampi has done it, not with just one person, but with 80% of their staffs. The 20% who are already having industry expertise and English skills trained the rest of 80% and that too just with 99 words!! Certain level of innovation is needed when it comes to training a completely inexperienced person and to bring them to a professional level during on the job training!
When I first heard about this my reaction was, it was a big risk they were taking by employing an inexperienced person with in-house- on the job training at a Luxury resort where guests have higher expectation on the services provided to them! But during my stay I NEVER felt that any of these staffs were lacking any sort of professionalism. All of them were genuinely warm and helpful and communicated perfectly.
I think another advantage of employing and training local people, apart from helping the local community, is high retention rate. I'm sure this is the main reason why Heritage resort Hampi has a great team of loyal employees. Also the better performers get special training and a chance to visit and get more experience at their other resorts. So in short Heritage Hampi is creating a group of pleasant workforce who is ready to give the best guest service with a smile on their face.
Like any other hotel or resort, there are paintings and sculptures. But they were not procured from an artist with many business contact or from someone who sells at a fancy price! The operations team at Heritage resort Hampi had identified the local talents and bought all of the art and artifact from such artists or artisans.
As part of their Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, this resort has helped one of the talented student from North India to pursue his higher studies. The management agreed to buy his paintings and with that money this artist could go for his higher studies in art! (You can find those paintings in the spa.)
More over helping the local artists in many ways, this resort has also encourages and tries to preserve the local traditional art forms. Almost everyday this resort organizes a local art form performance for the guest. By providing a platform for the performers of traditional art forms, Heritage Hampi not only provides a financial help for the these artist but also a reason to continue these traditional art forms, many of which are almost at the threat of extinction. Due to such initiatives, even the younger generation is coming up to carry forward the heritage.
I was lucky enough to see Dollu Kunitha, a major popular drum dance of Karnataka. Even the young kids were part of the performance which means that the art form is passed onto younger generation and it will be safe with them as long as there are such encouragements.
Helping the local community doesn't stop with helping just the artists and performers. It extends to the local farmers. Kitchen at Heritage Resort Hampi runs with locally grown and procured vegetables and other produces. By removing the middlemen and directly procuring from the farmers, they are giving the full benefits directly to the farmers and thus creates a win-win situation. Also they run experiential tours which revolves around local village life which again positively reinforce the local economy.
The total area of Heritage Resort Hampi is a vast 9 acres! Out of this area, almost 4 acres are dedicated to an expansive organic farm! This is a welcome change among all those hotels and resorts which tries to maximize their room revenue from every inch of available land they posses! Probably this resort is also trying to maximize revenue from every inch of land but by being close to nature and by being Eco-friendly.
They produce more vegetables than that they can consume, from their organic garden. So in short, this resort is almost self sustainable! No wonder one of their main focus is sustainability! All the excess vegetables that they generate gets a makeover and they create value added products such as pickles, jellies, juices and so on. In that way they target revenue from the land by providing a better atmosphere which is closer to nature for the guests who come to stay.
Since they believe in being Eco-friendly, they do not use any pesticides in their farms. But they have to get rid of the insects and flies from spoiling their fruits and vegetables. They strictly do not use any chemicals or pesticides but they do efficiently and effectively keep the insects away from the fruits and vegetables, and they do it by following a organic farming method.
They grow Marigold! Yes, the flowering plant that gives bright yellow-orange flowers. Marigold is their first line of defense against the insects! Marigold is one of those plants that naturally repel insects! They either repel the insects and aphids or attract those flies towards the flower and keeping them away from the fruits and vegetables and acts as a protection plant. Such a smart idea!
Carbon footprint is defined as the total emissions caused by an individual, event, organisation, or product. Here in the case of Heritage resort Hampi, this indicator is negative which means they have more trees which produce more oxygen than the carbon dioxide produced by all of the activities happening within the resort! This shows how environmental conscious this group is!
I know it is not possible for a common man to measure the carbon footprint to verify it. But then the almost 50% of total area being organic farm, makes a firm statement to prove this claim! Also the drop in temperature one feels when they enter the resort premises from a hot Hampi afternoon supports this claim.
The environment conservation endeavors don't stop at keeping 4 acres of organic farm. They believe in the fundamental conservation principles of Reduce-Reuse-Recycle.
One of the ways in which they are trying to reduce the use of plastic is by providing drinking water for the guests in reusable glass bottles. They are also trying to reuse the already existing plastic bottles for other uses such as creating boundary walls.
People with a broader vision like Mr. Sunirmol Ghosh, the Director of Indo-Asia Hotels to which Heritage Resort Hampi belongs, can only create a wonderful space like Heritage resort Hampi which is a luxury resort that has special focuses on being sustainable, being eco friendly and being a helping hand to the local economy!
Let's hear what Mr. Sunirmol Ghosh, the director talks about Heritage Resort Hampi, " We want to give the feeling of space to the people living in the cities today, in cramped up space with almost no relationship to the nature. Here in Heritage resort Hampi we provide you space that is closer to nature. We are an environmental friendly-sustainable resort. We are proud to have an effectively negative carbon footprints". I believe we need such leadership in all industries!
Hampi is one of the most historically important places in India and personally I believe the ruins of Hampi need to be explored by walking and hiking. The best time to do that would be in the morning before the sun is in its full power for obvious reasons.
The best way to start your first day of exploration in Hampi would be by going to Matanga hills to witness a beautiful sunrise! After enjoying the sunrise, you can go visit the Virupaksha temple and Hemakuta group of temples which are very close. If you think you have enough time, you can visit Achyutaraya temple before visiting Virupaksha temple which is on the other side of Matanga hills.
Once you have finished the brief visit to the temples, you can head back to the resort for the complimentary buffet breakfast. It is served from 7.30 to 10 AM. On the way back to the resort, if time permits, you can take quick stops at Kadlekalu Ganesha, Krishna temple, Krishna bazar, Lakshmi Narasimha statue, Queens bath etc. If you feel that you are rushing through these places, you can always come back and explore these places more, later!
After the breakfast, if you want less of a ruin exploration and more of a local experience, you can opt for the Village tour organized by the resort which includes a bullock cart ride through the sugar cane fields and to a village. This tour takes you through an authentic village life. You can read more about the experiences from here.
In the afternoon, it would be a good idea to stay within the resort premises, away from the outside heat, enjoying the swimming pool or the spa. Also the lunch provided by Heritage resort Hampi involves some of the authentic local cuisines, the menu of which keeps on changing everyday.
After the lunch and relaxation, you will be ready and recharged for another round of exploratory trip to Hampi in the evening time. If sunset is in your mind, you can go to Matanga hills, Hemakuta hills, Malyavanta or Anjanadri hills depending upon how far you want to travel. Or else you can just stay at the property and take a guided walk through the Organic farm getting to know the plants, fruits, vegetables and more.
If you want to enjoy a traditional art form, be back at the property by 7pm and witness an authentic demonstration performed by local artists. By then it will be time for an amazing dinner. To make it even more amazing you can opt for a pool side romantic dinner or a forest themed dinner within the property. More on Destination Dining is given here.
Then probably it is time for you to experience the bed runner and pillows with Sandur Lambani embroidery! Time to call it as a day!
Hampi requires at least two to three days for you to experience properly. Second day can be dedicated to explore the rest of important places to visit in Hampi till afternoon. A visit to Daroji bear sanctuary or Tungabadra dam in the later part of the day can be planned.
There are some nearby villages and places of interests to visit. Some of them are two to three hours of drive away. If you have any such plans, do visit Pattadakkal, Aihole or Badami. They are equally interesting like Hampi.
If you feel like you want a relaxed holiday with a touch of luxury super close to the nature, your answer in Hampi is Heritage Resort. Book your room at Heritage Resort Hampi from the link below.
Read more about Heritage Resort Hampi from their website.