As I am penning down my travel highlights of 2017 on a winter night, I am recollecting the best moments I lived through my travel to far and wide. Whether it was my very first visit to Europe or a next-door country like Nepal, traveling to the southern town like Mahabalipuram or less explored Bikaner in India, the year has been nothing less than a roller coaster for me. From meeting the indigenous people of Europe named Sami in Finnish Lapland, cruising on one of the biggest Cruise Ship named the Princess Cruises, indulging in a 10 days long road trip in Nepal with bloggers across the globe, exploring my backyard in Assam, especially experiencing the heritage Colonial Tea Bungalows, visiting interiors of Padavedu village in Tamil Nadu, indulging the Royal hospitality in Mihir Garh(Jodhpur) to encountering Tigers in the National Parks of Madhya Pradesh with Taj Safaris, I have covered the length and breadth of the country and a few countries abroad. If I talk about the highlights, I have to mention the brand collaborations and media mentions as well. I have been fortunate enough to work with some of the top-notch brands in the industry this year. Regarding media mentions, along with several of them in my kitty, I am ending this year by becoming one of the TOP 20 TRAVEL INFLUENCERS FROM INDIA IN 2017, declared by Social Samosa.
The best travel moments of 2017
The biggest high point of this year would be my visit to Finland. It was nothing less than a fairytale affair. While reflecting back to the year that has passed, I consider myself blessed to get an opportunity to tick off one of the dream countries from my list this year.
Whether landing in the capital of Finland, Helsinki, walking on the biggest lake of Finland named Saimaa, getting lost in the picture perfect and the most colourful town named Porvoo, spellbound in the magical winter wonderland in Lapland, indulging in winter activities or sharing my smile with the Sami people, I had the best time of my life in this fairytale land called Finland. I still can’t believe that I literally started my year with this fascinating country in 2017.
While in the month of March, I decided to stay back home to finish off my pile of work, I set off to my Homeland Assam in the month of April. This is a time of the Assamese main festival Bihu and so it was the perfect excuse to spend the holidays in my homeland with my family.
Well, the holiday became more pleasant when I got an invitation to explore the Heritage Tea Bungalows in Jorhat district, run by the Heritage North East. Nothing can beat the feeling of exploring my backyard with immense pride. I visited three heritage colonial properties like Kaziranga Golf Resort, Thengal Manor and Banyan Grove.
Not just that, I also happened to visit the tea factory of Gatooga Tea Estate to see the actual process of Tea making. It was quite an enriching experience.
Before I could unpack, I was again off to another exciting journey to the country which had been on my list for a long time. Upon invitation from Nepal Tourism and Pata Nepal Chapter, I boarded the flight to attend the International Travel Bloggers Conclave in Nepal with bloggers across the globe.
From exploring the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu, small town named Paunati, Lumbini, Pokhara, Chitwan National Park, the ten-day road trip across Nepal was one of the most enthralling experiences so far. The meeting with the powerhouse speakers, hearing their success stories, attending the inaugural function in the presence of the President of Nepal, was one of the biggest highlights of 2017.
The first half of the year 2017 was the year of many firsts. The month of June started with a bang. I was about to embark on a journey like never before. I have travelled far and wide on flights, trains and buses. But this time I was going to explore the places on a cruise ship. Yes, you heard it right. I was cruising from Dubai to Kochi for 5 nights and six days on one of the biggest cruise ship named Majestic Princess Cruise.
I was literally holding my breath the moment I stepped inside a 19th deck’s giant cruise ship. Probably I had never seen such a gigantic ship from such close proximity. With 1346 crew members, 1,780 staterooms, and more than 3500 passenger capacity, this royal ship is a massive cruise liner sailing at sea currently. It was like a floating resort with the most luxurious accommodation at sea, specialty dining, some thrilling activities, unavoidable entertainment, rejuvenating spa treatments, multi-story atrium, outdoor cinema and much more. Majestic Princess introduces you to a whole new world. I had the most unusual experience sailing, indulging in the best of the culinary delights, attending the sky-high entertainment, partying hard on the ship and more than living those days on the cruise ship. It was undoubtedly a surreal experience for me.
After just a week later I landed in India, I was invited by Taj Safaris to explore the wilderness in their two luxurious jungle lodges named Mahua Kothi and Banjaar Tola in Madhya Pradesh. The high-end luxury, excellent hospitality and the opportunity to explore the wilderness in Bandhavgarh National Park and Kanha National Park in the center of India was undoubtedly one fulfilling experience.
In the month of July, I travelled all the way to the interior villages in Padavedu in Tamil Nadu. It was quite an enriching experience, knowing about the social initiatives by TVS Motor and also how the villagers are benefiting from those schemes.
While after some of the best of travel experiences in a row, I literally needed a month’s break to soak into all my luxury indulges. So I decided to stay back home for a month to pen down all my amazing travel tales on my blog and got involved more in brand collaboration before I decided to pack my bags again.
The month of September was one of the craziest months in terms of travel. I had three domestic trips from South India to Northern part of India. I started with Punjab, followed by my trip to the historical city of Mahaballipuram and ending it in one of my favourite states called Uttarakhand.
It was quite a hectic schedule to travel non-stop covering three different destinations on a roll.
I always find excuses to visit the hills and live a few moments in a secluded place. My wish soon translated into reality when I boarded the train for Shoghi in Himachal Pradesh in October. Travelling on those twisted roads, smelling my coffee in the sun drenched balcony and watching the rising sun was such a luxury in the hills.
I also fulfilled my long cherished dream of riding the Kalka Shimla Toy Train there. What an amazing journey it was.
After my detox trip in the hills, it was time to visit my favourite state, Rajasthan. The Narendra Bhawan became my royal abode during my Bikaner trip.
From the royal exploration in the city, visiting the famous Rampuria Havelies, living in the Royal Residence of the last king of Bikaner, his majesty Narendra Singhji, it was really a memorable trip.
Following my royal expedition, I travelled to Jodhpur with one of my favourite Travel Bloggers from Philippines. Lonely planet named it one of the most extraordinary Hotels in the world and I could vouch for it when I landed in Mihir Garh in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan experience its hospitality.
It was by far the best luxury property I had ever stayed. The exclusivity of the location, royal hospitality, and their signature experiences have made it one of the ultra-luxurious properties worth visiting.
I ended the year visiting one of the secluded properties in the periphery of Corbett National Park named Paatlidun Safari Lodge. The unique thing about this property is that it infuses the local Kumaoni traditional elements into its architectural designs and the cuisines it serves. The Kumaoni hospitality is the highpoint of this unique safari lodge. From having Hi-Tea session by the Kosi River, mountain drive in the evening to experiencing the wilderness in Corbett National Park, it was quite an eventful trip to the jungle.
This is basically my year 2017 in a nutshell. Starting from the fascinating Finland to ending with the wonderful Uttarakhand, I had a remarkable journey. Though there were a few things that did not get materialize, but I have no complaints. I haven’t just traveled far and wide, collecting every piece of memory from each destination; I also met some of the most amazing people, who have contributed immensely to make me a better person with each passing day.
Luxury Property: Mihir Garh, Jodhpur
Must have experience: Go on a Cruise Ship at least once
Be a part of my journey and I promise to take you on an amazing voyage in 2018.
Wishing everyone a very Happy and Prosperous New Year.
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