The Musafir Stories is an audio podcast that documents Indian travel tales. Each episode, we share the journey of travelers in their own words and relive their experience with you, our listeners. The sole aim of our podcast is to share the rich experiences of traveling in India and inspire listeners to take the leap of faith, grab those backpacks and set out to explore the beautiful and exotic country, India!
106: Tranquebar with Ranjani and Raghavan
This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to Ranjani and Raghavan from the blog Rararaasta!
Today's destination: Tranquebar or Tharangambadi, Tamil Nadu
Nearest Airport: Chennai International Airport, MAA
Nearest Railway Station: Chidambaram Railway Station, CDM
Prerequisites - N/A
Packing - Pack according to the weather as summers can be hot and humid
Time of the year - November to February is a good time.
Length of the itinerary: Weekend itinerary is ideal.
- Ranjani and Raghavan cover the Tranquebar itinerary as a part of their 14 day road trip across Tamil Nadu. The couple kick off their tour from Chennai - make sure to enjoy a scenic drive on the ECR or Easter Coast Road.
- En route Tranquebar, make sure to have pitstops at the numerous surfing cafes as well as the mangroves of Pichavaram, the second largest mangroves in the world. Enjoy a boat road in the mangrove forests, also the shooting location of numerous South Indian films, including Dasavathaaram. Listen to the stories of how the mangroves protected the nearby villages from the wrath of the 2004 Tsunami that devastated coastal Tamil Nadu.
- Tranquebar is only a short distance from Pichavaram and the couple reach in time to enjoy a sunset by the beach as well as pay a quick visit to the museum. Tharangambadi, the original name of Tranquebar, translates to Land of singing waves, in Tamil and also happens to be one of the most ozone-rich beaches in the world!
- The main attraction of Tranquebar or Tharangambadi is the Dansborg Fort built by the Danish East India company in 1620. Tranquebar was one of the two settlements of the Danish and was leased to them by the Thanjavur Nayaks in 1620 for a sum of 3111 rupees annually.
- The fort is in a decent condition and houses a garrison and a small museum inside, the Fort is closed to the public on Fridays, so plan your visit accordingly
- Also worth a mention is the property in which Ranjani and Raghavan stay during their visit - Bungalow at the beach, a Neemrana property that was previously the British Collectors office. The property offers great views of the beach and is a mere 50-60m from the shore.
- In the vicinity of the beach is the Masilamani Nathar temple, some of which was impacted by the 2004 Tsunami. This is one of the oldest surviving structures of Tharangambadi and is believed to have been built in 1306.
- Other points of interest in the town include a post office, New Jerusalem church, Zion church, some old structures and houses on King Street. Enjoy your walk around the town and appreciate some of the remaining colonial structures
- Famous personalities of Tranquebar include German Missionary Barthalomous Zeigenbalg, who was responsible for setting up of the first printing press in the area and also set up the region's first girls school. He is still fondly remembered by the locals for all the work he did for uplifting the community and a statue of Zeigenbalg stands at the intersection of King and Queen street.
- Another famous personality of Tranquebar is M.A. Sulthan, a resident who has been instrumental in documenting the history of the region and also writing several books to preserve the past of Tranquebar. He has worked closely with organizations like Intach to preserve the remaining heritage of the town.
- Raghavan and Ranjani also share their experience learning about the Danish community and their unwavering support to the town, specially during the rebuilding phase after the Tsunami. The Danish Tranquebar Association or DTA has been a key player in ensuring families get all the support during the rebuilding process. The couple cap off the trip by sharing their experience interacting with a Danish couple who were visiting Tranquebar or Tharangambadi, as they refer to the town, and how it is deeply rooted in their history and still finds a place in their academic cu
105: Panchgani with Atul Maharaj
This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to Atul Maharaj as he takes us down the memory lane to the dreamy town of Panchgani!Today's destination: Panchgani, MaharashtraNearest Airport: Pune International Airport, PNQNearest Railway Station: Pune Junction, PUNEPrerequisites - n/aPacking - pack according to the weatherTime of the year - June to January can be a good time to travelLength of the itinerary - Weekend itinerary is optimalItinerary Highlights:- Atul shares his experience of growing up in Panchgani and his experience of life in a boarding school. He also touches up on the different residential schools in Panchgani and the history behind some of them.- Atul also talks at the different experiences at New Era High School including being a part of Bournvita Quiz contest and the Aamir Khan starrer, Taare Zameen Par!- We discuss important points of interest in Panchgani including popular hang outs like Table top, view points like Parsi point, Sydney Point and Harrison's folly.- There are also caves believed to have been used by the Pandavas during their final ascent to the heavens.- Apart from places to interest, there are also several farms that grow berries - primarily Strawberries and gooseberries. The popular factory Mapro, provides a great getaway to spend some time at the factory and park. The factory is also popular for being a completely organic operation as well as being run by solar energy.- Apart from Mapro, there are options to make a quick trip to Mahabaleshwar which has several points of interest, including a temple that is the source of river Krishna, the Kamalgadh fort - a popular hiking destination, view points like Dolphin's nose, Elephants trunk, adventure activities like paragliding, Devrai art village, that is an artisan's village, Kaas plateau which is popular as the valley of flowers of Maharashtra.- Finally, Atul calls out some must try eating joints in Panchgani including some iconic tea stalls near the city centre, Lucky's bakery for chai and bun maska, Vada pav by Shivaji Statue, Lakshmi Vilas hotel for Maharashtrian meals, Akbar Ali's for aloo parathas and street food, MV Roach's bakery for some fulsome fresh breads and cakes, Hilltop ice cream for gulkhan and green chilli ice cream, to name a few!Links:Atul's blog: https://socialmaharaj.comPanchgani blog posts:https://socialmaharaj.com/2020/04/01/memories-of-new-era-high-school-panchgani/https://socialmaharaj.com/2018/07/18/short-getaway-vacation-visit-to-mapro-garden-panchgani-must/https://socialmaharaj.com/2016/10/14/breathtaking-panchgani/https://socialmaharaj.com/2016/01/29/panchgani-in-natures-lap/Follow Atul on:Twitter: https://twitter.com/atulmaharajIG: https://www.instagram.com/atulmaharaj/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Atulmaharaj/ Photo by Shubham waghulde on UnsplashFollow the Musafir stories on:Twitter : https://twitter.com/musafirstories?lang=enFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/themusafirstories/Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/musafirstoriespodcast/?hl=enwebsite: www.themusafirstories.comemail: email@example.comApple podcasts - https://apple.co/2LPtTA3Google podcasts - http://bit.ly/2toY7ljwebsite - http://bit.ly/2xFZqOVSaavn - https://bit.ly/2J5rIqiSpotify - https://spoti.fi/2HLPSViGaana - http://bit.ly/2NClUYYpocketcasts - https://bit.ly/2xu3Ewgcastbox - https://bit.ly/2sqBDQiOvercast - https://bit.ly/2LN9wnfStitcher Radio - https://bit.ly/2JiBbhwaudioBoom - https://bit.ly/2oZZowSTuneIn - https://bit.ly/2xyQH4aRadioPublic - https://bit.ly/2snY9u0iHeartradio - https://ihr.fm/2xvOG8RDeezer - https://bit.ly/2L7GmOo
104: Rebroadcast: Land of Pashmina with Adventure Sindbad
This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to Vishwas Raj, founder of the adventure travel company - Adventure Sindbad (www.adventuresindbad.com). Adventure Sindbad specializes in a variety of adventure activities across the Himalayas, right from hiking, cycling, whitewater rafting to family adventure tours. Sit back and enjoy as Vishwas takes us to Changthang, the land of the Pashmina!
Today's destination: Changthang, Jammu & Kashmir
Nearest Airport: Leh Airport
Nearest Railway Station: Udhampur Railway station
Prerequisites - Inner line permits may be required for a few areas. This is taken care of by Adventure Sindbad if you travel with them.
Packing - Warm clothes, sunscreen, sunglasses, good walking boots
Time of the year - August
Length of the itinerary: 10 days
This experience is a part of a photography trip led by Adventure Sindbad. The trip begins with acclimitization in Leh for 2-3 days in order to get used to the high altitude. The guests get to go around and explore the old Leh city during the acclimatization process!
The group then heads off towards the Changthang area, a highland plateau in Kashmir that extends to Tibet and covers about 1600 kms into Tibet.
The first stop is close to the picturesque Tso Moriri lake, albeit at some distance from the touristy points around the lake. One gets to experience the beautiful colors of nature while camping close to Tso Moriri.
The group then heads off towards the camping site close to the nomads of Changthang - the Changpas. The Changpas are a nomadic community that wanders across the Changthang area with their herd of sheep and goats.
The famous pashmina wool is made from the wool of the sheep and goat of this region, which is then crafted by Kashmiri artisans and is very valuable.
The adventure sindbad team does a recce of the area well in advance and establishes contact with the nomads in order to ensure the group isn't being intrusive. As a part of the photography trip, the patrons get to document the life of the Changpas and their nomadic lifestyle.
The rebo or yak wool tents of the Changpas are the epitome of minimalism and simplicity. The tents contain a kitchen, a dining area, sleeping area and a prayer room.
Once the group has made contact with the nomads and set up tent in the vicinity, the patrons get a chance to observe and document the lifestyle of the Changpas, considered a dying lifestyle with the younger generations prefering to move away.
The Changpas usually own anywhere between 100-800 sheep and start the day early by milking the goats and sheep. Some of the family then heads off to graze the sheep, while one or two family members stay back and take care of the household chores.
The group gets to experience the various aspects of nomads life and also get some exotic shots of the arid plateau.
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103: Thrissur with Arjun Narayanan
This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to journalist and host of Madraswallah podcast, Arjun Narayanan!Today's destination: Thrissur, Kerala!Nearest Airport: Cochin International Airport, COK Nearest Railway Station: Thrissur Railway station, TCRPrerequisites - n/aPacking - Pack according to the weather if you are traveling in the summer.Time of the year - April-May Length of the itinerary: 3-5 daysItinerary Highlights:- Arjun talks about the rich history of Thrissur and the important rulers over the years, calling out Raja Rama Varma or Sakthan Thanpuran - the ruler of the Kingdom of Kochi.- Thrissur is referred to as the cultural capital of Kerala for the rich heritage, religious places, art forms as well as festivals.- The most important of the temples is the Vadakkumnathan temple, situated in central Thrissur. The temple is said to be over 1000 years old and is also home to the Koothambalam performing art. The temple has daily shows of the koothambalam performed at the temple premises. The main deity of the temple is Shiva. The temple is built in the traditional Kerala style of architecture and is also the location of the famous Thrissur Pooram.- Apart from the Vadakkumnathan Temple, other popular temples in the town include Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna Temple, Paramekkavu Bagavathi Temple,- Thrissur is also home to the oldest mosque in India and Asia, the Cheraman Juma Mosque in Kodungalloor that is said to have been built during the time of Prophet Mohammed.- Popular churches in Thrissur include Our Lady of Dolours Syro-Malabar Catholic Basilica (Puthan Pally), believed to be one of the tallest churches in Asia.- Another important point of interest in Thrissur is the Kerala Kalamandalam, home to many of Kerala's performing arts, most prominent of them being Kathakali, Kudiyattam and Mohiniyattam. The Kalamandalam is believed to be key in preserving Kathakali when it was on the verge of extinction during the British rule.- Other places of interest include the Thrissur Zoo, Sakthan Tampuran palace, Athirapally waterfalls, Vilangan hills among others.- The most important festivity in Thrissur is the Thrissur Pooram and is one of the largest congregations in the world with 6-7 lakh people believed to come together for this festival. The Pooram takes place around the end of April or early May and is attended by devotees and visitors from all over India and abroad.- Two groups of temples, one led by Paramekkavu Bagavathi Temple and the other by Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna Temple come together in an elaborate face off of elephants, artists and a variety of paraphernalia. The main events of the Pooram include Flag Hoisting, Poora Vilambharam (Door opening by elephant), Display of fireworks, Display of caparisons, Main pooram (Display of Fans, music by more than 200 artists, with instruments such as thimila, madhalam, trumpet, cymbal and edakka), Final fireworks.Links:Link to Madraswallah podcast - https://madraswallah.com/category/podcasts-2/Link to Simply Stories Chennai - https://www.facebook.com/simplystorie/Thrissur Pooram video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOoIF2XPMqsImage credits - Arjun Narayanan Follow Arjun on :Twitter: https://twitter.com/madraswallahIG: https://www.instagram.com/madraswallah/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/arjun.narayanan.73Follow the Musafir stories on :Twitter : https://twitter.com/musafirstories?lang=enFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/themusafirstories/Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/musafirstoriespodcast/?hl=enwebsite: www.themusafirstories.comemail: email@example.comApple podcasts - https://apple.co/2LPtTA3Google podcasts - http://bit.ly/2toY7ljwebsite - http://bit.ly/2xFZqOVSaavn - https://bit.ly/2J5rIqiSpotify - https://spoti.fi/2HLPSViGaana - http://bit.ly/2NClUYYpocketcasts - https://bit.ly/2xu3Ewgcastbox - https://bit.ly/2sqBDQiOvercast - https://bit.ly/2LN9wnfStitcher
102: Pench with The Moonchasers
Last Call - Limited time offer!!One month of free access to The Great Courses Plus: http://thegreatcoursesplus.com/musafirThis week, The Musafir Stories speaks to Chandreyi and Joy from the blog www.themoonchasers.comToday's destination: Pench National Park, Madhya Pradesh!Nearest Airport: Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport, Nagpur, MP (NAG)Nearest Railway Station: Nagpur Railway Station, NGPPrerequisites - Make sure to get permits and lodging sorted ahead of time (https://forest.mponline.gov.in)Packing - Pack light, do not pack bring colored clothes, carry hats, insect repellants and binoculars as needed.Time of the year - Round the year except monsoons, summer months can be very hot.Length of the itinerary: 3 daysItinerary Highlights:- Joy and Chandreyi start off by sharing the background of the Pench National Park and the folklore it shares of the very popular character, Mowgli and the Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. The couple also speak of the inspiration drawn from Sir David Attenborough's 3 part documentary that was shot in this national park, Spy in the Jungle!- The National Park is located in the heartland of India, in Madhya Pradesh which is also home to other national parks and tiger reserves like Kanha, Panna, Satpura and Bandhavgarh.- One can enter the path through any of the 3 gates, depending on where you are lodging - Turia gate, Karmajheri gate, or Jamtara gate.- Pench is home to several species of wildlife including but not limited to the Royal Bengal tiger, jackal, peafowl, wild dog, wild boar, sloth bear, Indian leopard, fox, striped hyena, monkey, gaur, barking deer, four-horned antelope, Indian wolf among others.- Both canter and Jeep Safari options are available, be sure to make reservations ahead of time as it can get crowded during the peak season. Safaris are available during the mornings and evenings.- Joy and Chandreyi share their experience of going on the wildlife safaris and the encounter with the main protagonist and queen of Pench - Collarwali and her cubs.- The couple also share their experience of sighting the other popular tigress - Langari.- The next day's safari is all about Collarwali's cubs and the nerve wracking encounter with an unknown male tiger in the region, and how the cubs navigate their way out of a tricky situation.- The duo also share some of the concerns and effects that uncontrolled tourism could have on the ecosystem as well as the long ongoing man-animal conflict.Links:Link to the blog The Moonchasers: https://themoonchasers.comLink to YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw8R6jB6xzZ3Xjrp26yGuGwLink to the BBC Documentary, Spy in the Jungle: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b009smrgFollow the The Moonchasers on:Twitter: https://twitter.com/dmoonchazers IG: https://www.instagram.com/themoonchasersofficial/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dmoonchazersJoin their workshop: https://www.tripoto.com/collections/tour-packages/careers-to-consider-if-you-love-travelling-joy-and-chandreyi-161718179430 Photo by Jay Patel on UnsplashFollow the Musafir stories on:Twitter : https://twitter.com/musafirstories?lang=enFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/themusafirstories/Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/musafirstoriespodcast/?hl=enwebsite: www.themusafirstories.comemail: firstname.lastname@example.orgApple podcasts - https://apple.co/2LPtTA3Google podcasts - http://bit.ly/2toY7ljwebsite - http://bit.ly/2xFZqOVSaavn - https://bit.ly/2J5rIqiSpotify - https://spoti.fi/2HLPSViGaana - http://bit.ly/2NClUYYpocketcasts - https://bit.ly/2xu3Ewgcastbox - https://bit.ly/2sqBDQiOvercast - https://bit.ly/2LN9wnfStitcher Radio - https://bit.ly/2JiBbhwaudioBoom - https://bit.ly/2oZZowSTuneIn - https://bit.ly/2xyQH4aRadioPublic - https://bit.ly/2snY9u0iHeartradio - https://ihr.fm/2xvOG8RDeezer - https://bit.ly/2L7GmOo
101: Gomukh and Tapovan Trek with Chandan Prakash
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This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to slow traveler, mountain lover and YouTuber, Chandan Prakash!
Today's destination: Gomukh and Tapovan Trek, Uttarakhand!
Nearest Airport: Jolly Grant Airport, DED
Nearest Railway Station: Dehradoon Railway Station, DDN
Prerequisites - Permit will be required for the trekhttps://uttarkashi.nic.in/service/online-single-window-system/
Packing - Warm clothes, medication, good shoes and trekking gear
Time of the year - October - November for the Autumn trek
Length of the itinerary: 3-5 days
- The trip starts off from Gangotri, a small pilgrimage town and one of the Chardham's in HIndu religion.- Make sure you spend 1-2 days in Gangotri, acclimatizing and making sure your body is getting used to the higher altitude.- Gangotri is also religiously very significant place as it is believed that the Ganges was brought down to the earth from the heavens at this point. There is Ganga temple as well as Suryakund which you can visit during your stay here. The Ganga Aarti also happens on the ghats.- Once you have acclimatized in Gangotri, the trek begins with the first stop being at Chirbasa - this is small stopover and has beautiful views surrounded by pine trees. The permits are checked before you reach Chirbasa- From here, continue trekking towards the camp site of Bhojbasa as this is the only place to halt overnight before your ascent towards Gomukh glacier. There are 2-3 options for staying GMVN property being one of them, along with a couple of ashrams.- AMS can be a factor as you make the ascent, make sure to take breaks and stay an extra day if you have any symptoms.- After the overnight stay at Bhojbasa, start your ascent towards the Gomukh glacier. Gomukh glacier is the source of the river Ganga (River Bhageerathi at this point). The glacier's snout is in the form of a cow's head and is considered holy for Hindus.- One has to cross the glacier in order to continue the trek towards Tapovan - but crossing the glacier is a tricky situation as the glacier has crevasses in several places and has been receding at a fast pace due to climate change. It is preferred to have a guide/porter for the journey.- The trek from Gomukh to Tapovan is the hardest stretch, even though it is a short distance. One gains significant height and has to deal with some technical sections and crossing a river stream (Akashganga) during the ascent.- Once you have crossed the river and made the ascent, you reach Tapovan - our destination and campsite for the next 1-2days. Tapovan is a flat land that is surrounded by some majestic peaks, including the Shivaling peak, Bhagirathi peaks (1,2,3). There are other peaks in the vicinity that one can view as well from the camp site.- There Tapovan meads are full of wildflowers and sometime mountain goats, along with the stunning views of the peaks. The place also has a lot of lore and legends attached to it!- One can indulge in some stunning photography of the surroundings as well as the night skies, weather permitting.- There are a couple of babas who have small huts where one can lodge for the stay. One can also camp here if you are traveling with a travel company. Start your journey back after enjoying the stay here for 1-2 days!
Chandan's Youtube channel - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQ9C6G3Cv4_fcIVb6iAKuuQ
Gomukh and Tapovan trek video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNXr76uEZ28
Image credits: Chandan Prakash
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