Parties and loud music have never been my favorite thing to do, at least not during New Years. I prefer a quieter one, rather read a book or count stars. When 2017 arrived, I had to avoid invites and hide in a jungle where no one can find me. Instinctive decision told me to go to Sirsi, after a long search I found a place to stay and headed towards my first travel to Uttara Karnataka.
I was introduced to Uttara Karnataka through Kannada movies-misty mountains, tiled roof houses, a unique dialect of Kannada, areca nut trees, mind-boggling caves. These pictures that I had only seen in a movie came live in front of my eyes as the bus window started to cover with white curtains of mist. I stayed in a homestay 40 km away from Sirsi town, welcomed 2017 by counting stars, woke up on January 1st to birds chirping and went around Areca nut farms to know more about Areca Nut processing. Hiked to a waterfall in the morning and watched the sunset by evening, a calm New Year start.
I then moved to another place close to Banavasi, stayed in an eco-friendly cottage, traveled through those caves that I had seen in movies, relished on Havyaka cuisine. I fell in love so much with Sirsi; I was here thrice in 2017.
Also read: Areca Nut farms and their stories in Sirsi
Highlights: Areca Nut processing, lip-smacking food.
Scotland of Karnataka as commonly known, I have traveled lengths and breaths to Coorg multiple times even before I turned to a full-time traveler. It is a commercialized tourist joint now, but a friend and I needed a break and we booked a homestay far off from the town. We hiked around a small forest looking for a water stream, enjoyed the food and rested all our worries in that small forest.
Highlights: Hike to the water stream.
The first stamp on my new passport had to be from somewhere new, somewhere I had no expectations from, somewhere I had not really had any dreams set to. All of this was fulfilled when I planned my travels with my father to Nepal, it started dramatically with the flight cancelation. More than 24 hours delay and we were in Nepal, we stepped into this land without any expectations. The warmth of the people warmed our heart, the architecture of the palaces is incredibly beautiful, the stone carvings on the walls are breathtaking, scenic surroundings with river and paddy fields and the food at any corner of Nepal is to die for.
Highlights: People, food, and architecture.
One of the happiest countries in the world, this little paradise has to be on everyone’s list to visit. With their beautiful landscapes covering about 80% of forest, the happiness lies everywhere-in the air, in the leaves, in the river. Pine trees and rivers followed us everywhere, prayer flags swayed with the wind worshipping for prosperity. This country is surely one of the greatest gifts we have.
Highlights: Scenic landscapes, organic food.
Gokarna is one of those places that I can call home, for all those beautiful memories I have spent here; I decided to take my friend who had come to visit me for my birthday. I have always stayed at Om beach, this time I decided to change and enjoy the waves of Kudle beach. We stayed in a place with the view of the beach, few steps hike and there was a private view of the beach. The viewpoints are usually crowded but this one was just for the waves, sun and us. We enjoyed sipping the beer, reading the book and saying goodbye to the sun.
I visited Gokarna twice this year, the second time I did not miss to spend time at my home-Om Beach.
Highlights: Sunset viewpoint.
Whoever is familiar with the word Dandeli, the first thing comes to their mind is rafting. And for me, it’s a different story, we took a bus from Gokarna to Dandeli; the drive through the tiger reserve and the paddy fields was something that I was not aware of in Dandeli. The step paddy field reminded me of the very famous Ubud paddy fields, Dandeli can surely give a tough competition to Ubud. We stayed in a homestay closer to a small town called Joida, amidst the paddy fields and flowering plants that our host had planted for butterflies. My birthday travels for this year, did really end colorfully.
Highlights: Scenic paddy fields, lush green forest, and food.
Kerala always happens with a calling from the heart, something that kept me pushing to go to Kerala after my birthday travels. Last year, I had found out about an NGO called Kabani who are working towards Sustainable tourism; I couldn’t go then so decided to go now. Packed my bags and left for Kozhikode in the last week of October to volunteer with Kabani, traveled with Kabani to a village in Wayanad and learned the history of Kozhikode. Stayed for 44 days and all I can talk about is food, this is exactly the calling from the heart and that’s only because of food; food and my heart sync well and that’s where all the calling begins.
Highlights: Offbeat travel with sustainable practices, food.