2017 was filled with travel plans, visiting new places and new stories to share. I got to visit the Philippines too! A short summary of the 2017 that went by! Completed around 8 trips, a couple of them were quite long ones. The last one of the year, a 3000 km long road trip for 10 days from Srinagar to Kolkata covering the breadth of North India, was one of my finest.

The year started off with an unexpected business visit to the Philippines, where we were lucky to squeeze in a weekend getaway to the enchanting Boracay islands. 

Philippines – Starting the year with an international trip | Jan

My first international trip thanks to my office. The Philippines is a very beautiful country with a rich history and very friendly to tourists. The strong connection to America could be felt in the capital city of Manila. Though Manila was a pure business trip, our weekend getaway to Boracay was pure travel and fun.

Scuba Diving at Boracay
Sunset from white sands beach, Boracay
White sands beach, Boracay

Belum Caves & Gandikota | Jan

A totally random trip to the largest and longest cave system open to the public on the Indian subcontinent and the hidden Grand Canyon of India. And the best part Gandikota, this small offbeat village, has not yet been commercialised, which means you’re not likely to find the usual noisy crowds of tourists and garbage littered about everywhere!

Inside the Belum caves
Intricate formations created by nature inside the caves
River Pennar through the canyon in Gandikota

Chikmagalur /  Sakleshpur | May

Chikmagalur is known as the ‘Coffee Land’ of Karnataka. This was my 3rd visit to this place. A great place to chill out and get recharged. After spending a night at Chikmagalur and enjoying the local sightseeing, we headed off to Sakleshpur, a hill station in the Western Ghats mountain range. It’s surrounded by slopes covered with tea, coffee and spice plantations. Enroute we also visited the 18th-century, star-shaped Manjarabad Fort which has a panorama of mountain views.

Srinagar – Leh | Jun

Leh is the dream destination for every traveller and more for driving enthusiasts. Driving from Srinagar and around Ladakh, we crossed many super high altitude passes, starting from 11000 ft and going up to more than 18000 ft. An exhilarating road trip from the start itself, crossing the Zojila pass (11574 ft) and continuing to drive through Chang La (17,590 ft), Khardung La (17,582 ft), some of the highest roads in the world. 

Kolkata – Home-bound | Sept

One can simply not resist “Durga Pujo” in Kolkata. Always a happy time with family and friends. From pandal hopping to late night snacking, the Pujo always takes me down the nostalgia lane. The “City of Joy” literally is on its street during this time. The festival of Durga Puja has been now officially declared as the biggest carnival in the world. Enjoy the food, the lights, sounds, crowd and glamour. I promise you will never experience anything like this anywhere else. For 10 days the city forgets everything and celebrates!

Read more about Durga Pujo

Coorg | Oct

The go-to destination for every Bangalorean. I have been to Coorg 5 times now and each time the drive is as fun as the last time. I think I end up in Coorg at least once a year now. This time took the family to Coorg to indulge in some luxury at the Club Mahindra resort, thanks to Dad. 

Club Mahindra, Madikeri
The meadows of Coorg
The view from the Taj Madikeri lobby

Goa | Dec

Goa has become another annual destination for me. Be it my birthday celebration or the quick getaway from the work life, Goa is always dependable. Goa has been dependable from 2016 for me. This time though things were a bit more special to me. Almost my whole college group met in Goa and we had blast. 15 boys partying in Goa. It was a madhouse. And guess what, I turned 25.

Well, that’s a big frame!
Anjuna Beach

The North Indian Road trip | Dec

The route map

Well, what else possibly could have ended this year better than a road trip with the family for 10 days across North India. Starting from Srinagar, we cross the Pri Panjal mountains and driving into the plains of Punjab to our stop at Pathankot. Then from Pathankot to Amritsar, to visit the Golden Temple and Wagah border, where we joined by uncles, aunts and cousins for the yearly vacation. We headed off to Delhi from Amritsar. Enroute we had a stop at Jalandhar. My sister’s birthplace and my first school.

From Delhi we headed off to Agra, stopping at Gokul and Fatehpur Sikri. Got to visit the Taj Mahal for the first time, and it totally blew me away. One can never get enough of the Taj. 

Taj Mahal

From Agra, we were off to Varanasi, with a night’s halt at Allahabad. Varanasi, this city dates back to the 11th Century BC and is regarded as the spiritual capital of India. We crossed the entire state of Uttar Pradesh, one of the largest states of India.

From Varanasi we were headed to Gaya for another two days, exploring the Buddhist pilgrimage sites. 

Fog over the ghats at Varansi

After 9 days on the road, it was now time to head back home to Kolkata finally. By the end, the trip meter had a reading of 3000 km, my longest ever road trip. And that too with the whole family. We crossed 7 states in the country.

Bodhgaya