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Pillars of Sabah in Kota Kinabalu is a unique concept. This is a place where art has been used effectively to create something meaningful. Located at the heart of Kota Kinabalu town, the Pillars of Sabah is an inspiring community art project aimed to highlight the issues important to Sabah. In our recent visit to Kota Kinabalu, we visited Pillars of Sabah 2.0 and found it to be quite fascinating. The colourful pillars also make it an Instagram worthy place in Kota Kinabalu. These pillars depict 30 threatened wildlife species of Sabah painted on the pillars by 30 artists through a community project.

Art can bring a revolution. The artist can express his thoughts through his creations that can create a more powerful impact than mere words. Graffiti and street arts often create powerful messages apart from being pleasing to the eyes. As we wander around various places, both of us make it a point to look for street arts and graffiti in a city. They tell a thousand words about the people, culture and the place. This time at Kota Kinabalu too, we were quite impressed with the Pillars of Sabah. Not only because they were wonderful pieces of artwork, but also the concept behind them is very singular and important to Sabah.

When we came to know about this place, we knew that we have to visit here. The site is located just opposite the Surya Sabah Mall, an important landmark of Kota Kinabalu city. But not much people visit there. We heard from a few locals in our hotel that the tourists prefer to visit the other attractions of Kota Kinabalu. Early morning, we just grabbed a Grab Car and came to the place.

The pillars were hard to miss. We could see them from a distance and I was quite excited to just cross the road and see them. but, by the time, it started raining. So getting drenched in the rains, we took a few pictures of the pillars and marvelled at the art created to spread awareness on such a vital issue of wildlife conservation.

What are Pillars of Sabah?

Pillars of Sabah is basically an art project, the brainchild of local artist Red Hong Yi. She is quite well known internationally as someone who creates art with simple things that are found at home. The Pillars of Sabah was created in an abandoned site in the heart of Kota Kinabalu city. The building was initially a pre-World War II Land and Survey Building. This heritage building was later converted into the Social Welfare Department and then into an office for the Society of the Blind. In 1990, it was planned to convert the building into an art gallery. But before it was materialized, the building was totally ruined by a devastating fire in 1992. So bad it was that only the foundation of the building and around 30 pillars facing the open sky was all that was left!

And it was in this abandoned and derelict site, Red Hong Yi decided to turn this into a display of artwork. In September 2018, Pillars of Sabah 1.0 was created. This one focused on the various personalities who had played a significant role in the development of Sabah and Sabahan personalities who have achieved success. Hong Yi along with another local filmmaker Jared Abdul Rahman recruited 20 professional and new artists to participate in the project. Each artist was given a pillar on which they would create their art. They painted the portrait of people who have contributed to Sabah considerably and inspired them. They launched Pillars of Sabah on September 16, 2018 which is also Malaysia Day.

Pillars of Sabah 2.0

Pillars of Sabah 2.0 is the second project by Hong Yi and Rahman where the 30pillars were revamped and was launched on March 30, 2019 in conjunction with the Earth Hour 2019. This time another 30 Sabahan artists came together to highlight 30 threatened wildlife found in Sabah and its rainforests. The project is supported by the Tourism and Cultural Ministry of Sabah as well as WWF-Malaysia. The animals are portrayed and painted in the individual style of the artists. The main aim of this project was to raise awareness about these threatened species, and also the “various issues that threaten not only these selected animals, but biodiversity conservation as a whole both locally and globally”.

The featured animals include the Sunda pangolin, Dugong, Bornean Crestless Fireback, Hose’s Palm Civet, Proboscis Monkey, Sunda Clouded Leopard, Hawksbill Turtle, Green Turtle, North Borneo Gibbon, Corals, Bornean Slow Loris, Bornean Bay Cat, Bornean Bristlehead, Banteng, Black-Headed Pitta, Hornbill, Horsfield’s Tarsier, Pelagic Thresher Shark, Manta Ray, Whale Shark, Bulwer’s Pheasant, Borneo Beaded Pig, Flat-Headed Cat, Sumatran rhinoceros, Horseshoe Crab, Bornean sun bear, Irrawady dolphins, Binturong, corals and Bornean pygmy elephant.

Wildlife is an integral part of the ecosystem and has to be protected. The Pillars of Sabah 2.0 is a place where art and colours come live to spread awareness on important issues. Also, this place happens to be one of the most Instagram worthy places in Kota Kinabalu. So on your next trip to KK, take a visit to the Pillars of Sabah. I am sure, the pillars will be again repainted and new art will be created soon. Till then, see these animals would rule the pillars. Believe me, they really look cute.

How to reach Pillars of Sabah

The Pillars of Sabah is just opposite to the Suria Sabah Mall, an important landmark in Kota Kinabalu. Just hop on to a Grab Car and reach there. The I Love KK point is just a walkable distance from the pillars. You take just take a trip there and get some pictures clicked.

Please note, for those who love graffiti and street art: There are some beautiful street arts painted on the walls just nearby the Pillars of Sabah. If you want you can walk around a bit and take a few pictures. We could not do it as it was raining quite heavily at that time.

Meet a few animals from the Pillars of Sabah Horsfield’s Tarsier

This is Horsfield’s Tarsier. tarsiers are nocturns that can turn their heads 360 degrees to survey their surroundings and prey on insects. They can also jump backwards in perfection just like ninjas. They get traumatised by loud noice and touch and commit suicide if kept in captivity! This was painted by Teo (Firdaus) of Sabah.

Doesn’t it look like some mythical character straight out of a Harry Potter movie?


This is Binturong or bearcat. It is a fruit-eating carnivore that lives in the canopies of Borneo rainforests. Their population is slowly declining due to deforestation, habitat destruction, wildlife hunting and trading. They are classified as vulnerable. It is one of the only 2 animals having digestive enzymes capable of germinating seeds of a Strangler fig tree. These trees make up a critical portion of the rainforest ecosystem. Without Binturongs the forest ecosystem would be heavily disbalanced. The artist here is Lee Kah Yee.


Don’t they look really cute and very kissable? But these cute dugongs were hunted from small boats using harpoons and nets. Their meat is considered a delicacy and their tusks were used as fashion tool handles. But now these animals are protected species under Malaysian laws. Dugongs are quite friendly and tame animals. The artwork is done by Nosarine Abdul.


Corals are threatened in many parts of the world. It is heartening to see Sabah has taken corals into consideration.

Sunda Pangolin

Pangolins of equatorial Africa and Asia are supposedly the most illegally traded wild mammals on the planet. The Malaysian Sunda Pangolin are declared critically endangered and is a protected species under Malaysian laws. Eating pangolin body parts that are considered as exotic food is also seen as one of the prestigious things. Their scales too are used as raw materials for making handicrafts. Hope the protection stop illegal hunting and trading and prevent its extinction

Bornean Sun Bear

Sun bears are cuteness overloaded. And just see their swag in the graffiti! As the smallest bear in the world, Bornean Sun Bear looks just like a walking teddy bear. Their cubs are really adorable and are often kept as pets by many people. This actually becomes a bane for them because they lose their ability to survive in the wilderness when they are kept as pets. Sun bear is a favourite target of poachers because of its highly-priced gall bladder. At Sepilok, you can visit the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre where these bears are rehabilitated.

Borneo Pygmy Elephant

These are the smallest sized Asian elephants. The pygmy elephants are baby faced with oversized bellies, plump bellies and tails and are gentler in nature.

Borneo Proboscis Monkey

This reddish-orange monkey is named after its huge pendulous nose found only in Borneo island of Southeast Asia. They are listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Their main threats are habitat destruction ad hunting. Sabah is one of the best places to see these monkeys on wild.

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They call it the “land below the wind”. Sabah, located on the northern part of the island of Borneo (the other Malaysia) is so called, as it is located just south of the typhoon prone region around Philippines. Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah has the best of both the worlds. Surrounded by the tropical rainforests and boasting of Mount Kinabalu, it is also the meeting point of the Sulu and South China Sea, Kota Kinabalu is the nature lovers’ paradise and adventurer’s delight. There are so many things to do in Kota Kinabalu – you can trek, climb, dive and swim. The place is full of adventure!

If you are not into the adrenaline rush, then Kota Kinabalu will surprise with its varied culture and smiling people. But yes, the adventure is still there. The thrill of discovering the city in its streets and lanes or indulging into a gastronomical treat, adventure awaits at Kota Kinabalu!

When we got an opportunity to travel to Kota Kinabalu, it was the second place this year after Koh Mak in Thailand when both Agni and I had no idea of. The only thing we knew that it was in Malaysia. Well, if you have already travelled to a greater part of Southeast Asia, Kota Kinabalu can be a great place to visit if you are looking to see something new and to indulge in some off the beaten adventure.

So in this Kota Kinabalu Travel Guide, we will give you useful information about planning your trip and how to get the best of your time at this beautiful destination.

Where is Kota Kinabalu and Sabah?

Sabah is located in the northern part of the Borneo island. Borneo is the thirds largest island in the world and the largest in Asia. Shared politically by 3 countries – Sabah and Sarawak of Malaysia, Kalimantan of Indonesia and the tiny country of Brunei, Borneo is known for its rich biodiversity, verdant rainforests and beautiful beaches. Kota Kinabalu is the capital city of Sabah, also known as KK by the locals.

Kota Kinabalu is named after Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Malaysia.

Sabah is located just below the tropical typhoon belt of Philippines, resulting in a warm temperature throughout the year. It is saved from the typhoons usually faced by its neighbouring country. And so it has got the name of “Land Below the Winds” or Negeri Di Bawah Bayu”.

A very brief history of Kota Kinabalu

Since 15th century, most of Sabah was governed by the Brunei Sultanate, which extended till the early 17th century. Later the region faced various power struggles and rebellions. In the second half of 19th century, British and other western businessmen started gaining rights in Sabah, as it fell on the trade route between India and China.

In 1882, the British North Borneo Chartered Company (BNBCC) was formed. In 1886, the whole of North Borneo was made into British protectorate. BNBCC occupied the area of Gaya Bay from 1882 to 1897 until it was destroyed by a group of rebels led by Met Sallah. In 1899, the British built their new settlement in Api Api due to its proximity to North Borneo Railway. This new centre was named Jesselton, after Charles Jessel, vice-chairman of the BNBCC.

Did you know: The book Pre-war Images of North Borneo by Lim Pitt Kent and Nicholas K.M. Tan showcases the history of Kota Kinabalu.

During World War II in 1942, North Borneo was occupied by the Japanese force. In 1945, the Allied Force bombed most of the area and only 3 buildings were left intact. After the Japanese surrender, North Borneo went back to British administration and in 1946 it became a British colony.

In 1963, Malaysia gained independence, and North Borneo was renamed Sabah. Jesselton was renamed Kota Kinabalu in 1967 after Mt. Kinabalu. But it was only in 2000 that it got the official status of the city.

Things to do in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Mountain peaks graze the sky. Sunsets are spectacular here. Here are a list of things to do and places to visit in Kota Kinabalu. Depending on the number of days you have, you can choose the places you want to visit.

Best Kota Kinabalu City Sights
  1. Kota Kinabalu City Mosque or the Floating Mosque

KK City Mosque is an impressive building. The mosque is partially surrounded by a large moat overlooking the Likas Bay, giving it an illusion of floating on water. So it is also known as the Floating Mosque. It is the largest mosque in Sabah. It was opened in February 2000 after KK had got city status. The design of the mosque is inspired by the design of the Nabawi Mosque in Medina.

How to Get there: Take a Grab Car

Entry Fees: 5 MYR

  1. Sabah State Mosque

Source: Wikimedia

The Sabah State Mosque is the largest mosque in Sabah and is an elegant example of modern Islamic architecture. Its single minaret rises to almost 66 metres. The mosque can handle around 5000 worshippers at one time.

Do remember to dress conservatively while you visit both the mosques.

Visiting Time: Monday to Thursday, Saturday & Sunday : From 08:00 am to 12:00 noon and from 14:00 pm to 17:00pm

Friday : From 14:00 PM to 17:00 PM

  1. Atkinson Clock Tower

Source: Wikimedia

 Atkinson Clock Tower is one of the buildings that have stood the ravages of bombing by the Allied forces in 1945. The tower was built in 1905 in the memory of Jesselton’s first district officer Francis George Atkinson, who died of malaria at an age of 28 years. This is perhaps one of the oldest buildings at KK.

How to get there: Atkinson Tower is located at the edge of Signal Hill, located off Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman.

Entry Fee: Free

  1. Signal Hill Observatory

It is located just behind the Atkinson Clock Tower. The Signal Hill Observatory platform offers a majestic view of the city and the island beyond.

Hoe to get there: Take a Grab car. From the edge of the Signal Hill, take the trail uphill.

  1. Tanjung Aru Beach

Tanjung Aru Beach is said to be the best place in Kota Kinabalu to view the sunset. Very naturally, this is one of the most loved beaches in the city for both the locals and tourists. You can visit here and walk along the long stretch of sand or have a drink at the bars and shacks lining the coast. And yes, the sunset is really awesome from here, though the beach can be really crowded.

  1. Pillars of Sabah

This is one of the most unique things that I have seen at KK. The concept of Pillars of Sabah is also quite unique and noble. I say noble because it aims to educate people about wildlife conservation. Located at the heart of KK city, Pillars of Sabah is actually a number of pillars on which the 30 endangered and threatened animals found in Sabah are painted. It is a collaboration of various artists and they have painted the animals according to their style and imagination. The location of these pillars is actually an abandoned pre-war site. It was so good to see that these people have used the abandoned site in such a noble cause.

How to get there: Take a Grab Car to Suria Sabah Mall. You can see the Pillars of Sabah just opposite to the huge mall.

  1. Gaya Street Sunday Market

Source: Wikimedia

Gaya Street has been the centre of business for more than a hundred years in KK. If you are at Koka Kinabaluon a weekend, it is worthwhile to take a visit to the Gaya Street Market on a Sunday morning. The market offers beautiful souvenirs, art and craft items, food and many other. You have to use your bargaining skills if you wish to pick up something from here.

Market Timing: Sunday from 6:30 AM to 1:00 PM

  1. Handicraft Market

Kota Kinabalu Handicraft Market is located near the Waterfront along Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens. This is undoubtedly a favourite shopping haunt for the locals and the tourists alike. Textiles, seashells, jewellery, woodwork and precious pearls – all are found in display at the handicrafts market. Be sure to use your best bargaining skills here.

At night, the night market is located just beside the handicrafts market selling local delicacies and sea food.

  1. Kota Kinabalu Waterfront

Kota Kinabalu Waterfront and the Times Square are the most happening places in Kota Kinabalu. Dotted with a number of restaurants, this is the place to hang around in the city. This is the place to sit back, relax and get a vibe of the city. Also if you want to catch the beautiful sunset of Kota Kinabalu, Waterfront is just the place to be.

  1. Island Hopping at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

Tunku Abdul Rahman Park is one of the most beautiful places in Sabah. Comprising of 5 islands, you can take a speedboat from Kota Kinabalu to hop around this island. Gaya, Sapi, Manukan, Mamutik and Sulug are the five islands and it will take about 15-20 minutes to hop around each of the islands. Manukan Island is the second-largest island is one of the most beautiful and popular destinations.

You can take a dip in the water, go for snorkelling, scuba diving or sea walking, parasailing or simply laze around in the beach. Gaya Island and Manukan Island also have resorts where you can also opt for staying.

  1. Upside Down House (Rumah Terbalik)

Rumah Terbalik is the first upside-down house in Malaysia. Located along the main highway leading to Mount Kinabalu, it takes around 1 hour from the main city. This is quite an interesting and fun place, especially for the kids. The house is totally upside down having a drawing room, dining room, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, garage and other fun places.

Inside the same complex is located the 3D Museum, another interesting place. Thanks to special art techniques, two-dimensional images are transformed into immersive 3-D environments. The theme is Sabah’s culture and customs, landscapes and traditions presented in a reality bending way. This is also a very fun place for the kids.

Opening time:

Rumah Terbalik : 7AM – 7PM

3D Wonders Museum : 7AM – 6PM

Entrance Fees for Rumah Terbalik: RM 12.72 (Malaysians) and RM 24.38 (non-Malaysians)

Entrance fees for 3D Wonders Museum: RM 19.08 (Malaysians) and RM 34.98 (non-Malaysians).

Special combo fees for both: RM 31.08 (Malaysians) and RM 47.70 (non-Malaysians)

Kota Kinabalu Day trips

There are so many interesting..

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Someone rightly said, “it’s not the destination but the journey that matters.” The endless possibilities on the road signal the rider to embark on a journey of self-discovery and exploration.
Riding a bike on bustling roads is more exciting than it sounds. It allows the biker to unleash the inner adrenaline craving soul and experience the feeling of freedom. The feeling of watching things pass you, while the wind gushes through your hair cannot be expressed in words.

“I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me. – Walt Whitman”

In India, the culture of taking long motorcycle trips is rapidly gaining popularity. Every day, more and more riders are raving their engines to conquer deserts, coasts, and mountains on their beasts.
In this article, we have noted some of the most adventures road-trips that you can take on your bike. Read on to know more.

  1. Delhi to Leh

Every biker in the country has thought of taking this trip once in their lifetime. Known as one of the most adventurous trips in India, the route is full of treacherous terrains and picturesque sceneries.

The trip begins from the capital city and ends at Leh, one of the highest places in the world. The entire trip takes almost two weeks or even more to complete. Roads on the tour are entirely unpredictable, and most bikers face difficulty in riding on these regions.

On the trip, the riders have to pass through the highest motorable pass in the world; the Khardung La Pass, which is the most challenging part of the journey according to many riders.

  1. Bombay to Goa

A trip that has been etched into the minds of most travel enthusiasts. Seldom can forget the journey taken by three friends in the movie ‘Dil Chahta Hai,’ from Bombay to Goa.

And if you loved the reel trip, you will definitely fall in love with the real version of it. The scenic views of Western Ghats, tricky narrow lanes on the Chiplun-Ratnagiri route and road-side vendors, everything in this route is awe-inspiring.

While on the Chiplun-Ratnagiri route also check our the Karnal Bird Sanctuary, the home of 222 species of birds.

  1. Kolkata to Puri

The vacant, green spaces and beautiful villages lined up along the roads make the journey more delightful than the destination itself. The trip is an excellent choice for people who wish to unwind their stress and relax on the beach of Puri.

Moreover, you can also visit the holy shrine on Jagannath Puri to witness the devotion of people. Some other destinations include Konark Sun temple, Chillika Lake, Model Beach, and Makar Mela.

  1. Chennai to Pondicherry

The best road-trip along the coastal lines of the Indian Ocean, the journey will make you fall in love with the exquisiteness of the turquoise waters. En route, you can enjoy the magnificent beaches, have coconut water and enjoy mouth-watering South-Indian delicacies.

The East Coast Road has many great places for sightseeing, which include, Kovalam Beach, Alamparai Fort, Mahabalipuram, and many others.

  1. Delhi to Jaipur Via Agra

The well-known Golden Triangle road makes up for one of the most smooth and awe-inspiring road trips in India. Not just the road, the three cities are also a delight. The cultural and historical presence of these cities offers many magnificent vistas for the traveller.

The Yamuna Expressway is a vast stretch of clean, smooth, and plain roads. On NH8, you may face some hindrances sue to recent construction works, but the ride is full of beautiful sceneries to make up for it.

Some of the sights to be seen include Taj Mahal, Tomb of Akbar, Hawa Mahal, Nahargarh Fort, Red Fort, and India Gate.

Don’t think, Just Do it

Road trips are the best way to gratify your craving for escape and adventure monotony. To pack up bags, rive up the engines and whiz through the road is the kind of break that can reduce your stress.

You just need some friends, music, camera, some money and most importantly a two-wheeler insurance policy to increase the joy of riding. The insurance policy helps in covering any expenses that you might have to face in case of an eventuality. It will also help in covering any third-party liabilities in case of an accident.

Moreover, leading insurers like Tata AIG General Insurance also offer additional benefits with their two-wheeler insurance policy such as:

  • Damage caused due to natural or human-made causes
  • Personal accident cover
  • Return of invoice cover
  • Depreciation cover

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your essentials, buy a two-wheeler insurance policy, and ride away on these beautiful roads to experience freedom.

The post 5 Unique Once in a Lifetime Bike Trips for Travel Enthusiasts appeared first on Tale of 2 Backpackers.

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This post is our tribute to all the incredible people who are trying hard to revive the lost art, craft and heritage of Bengal as well as India. We had visited Purulia during the Chhau-Jhumur Utsav at Bamnia and had watched in awe the spectacular performance of Purulia Chhau Dance. We also visited Charida village to get an insight into the Purulia Chhau masks

I was totally awed by the large masks the dancers were wearing. I wondered how they would perform a dance with such a huge mask. I myself had just participated in a folk dance competition wearing a farmer’s hat. While dancing, the hat had fallen off my head. Well, that is another of the embarrassing stories of my childhood. But on a serious note, I was simply awestruck when I say the dancers wearing Chhau dance masks.


This is the anecdote from my childhood days when I used to take part in various singing and dancing competitions. You know, Bengali parents want their kids to be good at singing, dancing, poetry, drawing and what not! The competition was a part of my father’s office recreation programme. It was there where I first saw a Chhau dance performance. The dancers with their agile moves, moving their torso energetically and jumping acrobatically had me mesmerized. I have forgotten all about that particular programme (I was merely in the second standard then). The only thing that I remembered was the Chhau dancer and of course, my embarrassing dance performance (sigh)! That was my introduction to the Purulia Chhau dance.

Now that when I travel a lot, I always wanted to see a Chhau dance performance in the place of its origin, Purulia. And since Agni and I always keep visiting the offbeat destinations to see cultural events like these, my dormant wish to see and know more about the history of Chhau dance in Purulia was fulfilled. We visited Purulia in December 2018 to see the Chhau performance at Baghmundi. Infact, we had visited there also in January for the Tusu Parob, another rural festival.

Origin and History of Chhau Dance

Chhau dance is prevalent mainly in the tribal belts of eastern India bordering the states of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Odisha. There are three major forms and distinct styles of Chhau associated with the regions from where they belong – Purulia Chhau of West Bengal, Seraikela Chhau of Jharkhand and Mayurbhanj Chhau of Odisha. While the Purulia and Seraikala Chhau dances use masks, the Mayurbhanj Chhau does not use it.

The origin of Chhau is somewhat obscure and is perhaps lost in the realms of time. The dance form perhaps had come from indigenous martial dance forms. The dance movement comprises of mock combat techniques, gaits of birds and animals and also that of simple village beings.

There are different schools of thought as from where the word “Chhau” has been derived from. The most accepted school of belief says that the word Chhau has been derived from the Sanskrit word Chhaya, which means shadow. Perhaps the looming shadow of the dancers when they perform their acrobatic steps gave this name. Some others believe that the word has been derived from another Sanskrit word Chhadma (meaning disguise) while another school of thought believes that since Chhau is a war dance, the word had some association with Chhauni (meaning camp of soldiers).

The different types of Chhau Dance

As mentioned before, there are three distinct schools of Chhau dance. While the Purulia and Seraikala Chhau dances use a mask, the Mayurbhanj Chhau does not use it. The masks used in these two schools also have subtle differences. Mayurbhanj Chhau is more folk-oriented, while both Purulia Chhau depends on more on acrobatic movements and drama. Seraikala Chhau, on the other hand, is subtler and more like other classical dance forms.


Purulia Chhau Dance and Chhau Mask

The Chhau dance that originated from Purulia finds its inspiration from martial arts and combative training. The dancers perform a repertoire that explores a variety of subjects like mythological episodes from Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas, local legends and folklores and abstract themes. The traditional dance is performed at open spaces at the rhythm of various kinds of drums and other musical instruments. Indigenous drums like dhol, dhumsa and kharkai are used along with the melody of mohuri and shehnai to make the dance lively and striking.

Over the centuries, this dance form was patronized by the royal families, rich landlords as well as by a few British Governors of the region. It is believed that the Raja (king) of Baghmundi in Purulia was the main patron of these dances. It was through his inspiration and patronage, that the Chhau masks were made elaborately.

The history of the Seraikela Chhau is connected with the history of the erstwhile rajas of Seraikela, the Singh Deo rulers. The Singh Deos were themselves, choreographers and performers. The kings and their subjects, after practising the art of warfare, would entertain themselves by singing and dancing. In this way, Seraikala Chhau came into being.

Did you know? The knowledge of the dance, music and mask making are transmitted orally from generations to generation.

Chhau dance is an integral part of these communities binding the people from different strata. The Purulia Chhau is usually celebrated during important ceremonies having strong religious sentiments. Purulia Chhau dance follows the Tandava form of Indian classical dance and the performers were mostly Shaivites (followers of Lord Shiva). Chhau is mostly performed as a veneration to Lord Shiva mostly during Gajan festival and other Shaivite festivals. They are also performed during weddings and the sun festival.

The Chhau Dancers – manifestation of energy and strength

Chhau dance is performed only by male artists. Even the female characters are played by male members. Though a classical dance form, Purulia Chhau do not completely adhere to the classical form of dance due to its elaborate costumes and masks. These masks are even more elaborate and extravagant than the Gomira masks that we saw at Kushamandi.

The dance is usually performed on the ground or at the floor level as opposed to an elevated stage. Although these days, Chhau dance is being performed at various places as stage performances, the actual charm and magic of the dance can only be understood when performed in their traditional stage. We visited Purulia just to experience this mad magic of Chhau dance performance. Usually, the important characters of Gods, Goddesses and demons like Krishna, Ganesha, Durga and Ravana have elaborate masks for performing the dances.


Charida – the home of the Chhau Masks of Purulia

The Chhau masks are the most important ensemble of the dance performance. These masks are usually made at Charida village at Baghmundi block of Purulia. More than 500 families of Charida are involved in the making of Chhau masks and once you are there, you can easily see different masks hanging on the walls of the workshops at Charida.

The Purulia Chhau masks are mainly made by the Sutradhar community. The making of the Chhau masks is an elaborate process. Usually paper, mud and clay are used to make these masks. Usually, the mould is made of mud and on it, 8 – 10 layers of paper are immersed in diluted glue are pasted one after the other. It is then dusted with ash powder. The facial features are made with clay. Next, another layer of mud is applied and the mask is covered with a cloth and sundried.


Finally colours, mostly pastel shades are applied to the masks. The masks are then decorated with beads, glittery ribbons, artificial flowers and leaves. Holes are drilled for eyes and noses. The masks are the representations of the characters that are being played in the dance drama. The beauty and magnetism of the Chhau dance definitely depend on the dramatic details of the Chhau masks.

Each mask represents a specific mythological character. The eyebrows and eyes are painted to give a striking look at the characters. The masks of Goddess Durga, God Kartick and Lord Rama is usually painted bright yellow or orange. Krishna gets the colour green or blue while Lord Shiva and Goddess Saraswati is painted in white colours.


Costumes too play an important part in the dance. The style and variety of costume depend on the character being portrayed. The male dancers wear colourful dhotis with matching kurtas. A lot of jewellery is usually worn by the dancers. The female characters wear colourful sarees. While depicting Gods and Goddesses, the red colour takes a prominent part in the costumes.

The demons and monsters too have their own distinct characters. The demons are elaborately dressed, most likely to have a blue coloured face. In this picture below, see how Ravan is dressed – having a blue mask and 10 hands. Goddess Durga is dressed in red saree.


Of recognition and appreciation

The dance, as well as the art of mask making, was gradually going into oblivion because of economic pressure and modernization. There was a decreased participation in the grass root levels as the communities were disconnected from their roots. But with the active zeal of a few people, Chhau dance and Chhau masks are being revived.

In 2010 the Chhau dance was inscribed in the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Of late the Chhau masks are getting a lot of attention. The Chhau masks have also been presented with the Geographical Identification (GI) tag by the Geographical Indication Registry and Intellectual Property India along with other handicrafts like Dokra, Pattachitra and Madurkathi.


Our Chhau Dance trip to Purulia: Chhau – Jhumur Utsav at Purulia

We visited Purulia to attend the Chhau-Jhumur festival at Bamnia. The performance started in the afternoon and continued till night. There were several acts, each one depicting a mythological or folk story. The story of Sri Krishna, Savitri-Satyaban and many more kept the audience glued. But the main act was perhaps the slaying of Ravan by Ram.


To be honest, I find negative characters in a movie or act to be more dramatic and theatrical. Same was the case with Ravan. The person performing the character of Ravan donned with 10 heads and 10 arms was a fabulous performer. We were simply awe-struck by his agility. He jumped, swirled and made terrific acrobatic moves with all the costumes and headgears. The performance was simply electrifying.


So were the performances of the other dancers. The dance performances were taking place at the Bamnia School playground. We were roaming around the place and saw how these dancers were getting ready for their act.

The entrance of the characters into the performing area is always quite sensational. And this dance performance is aptly complemented by the musicians who play the variety of drums, sehnai, reed pipes and other instruments. The audience too plays a huge part in boosting the morals of the dancers. The cheers and claps are there to encourage the dancers. People from the nearby villages all flock the place to see the Chhau performances.

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When it comes to Thailand, we are instantly reminded of the azure seas, breathtaking islands, shacks and beaches and unlimited fun. For most of us, Thailand is a place for partying our hearts out and splurging in shopping. Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya turn out to be the most visited destinations in Thailand for exactly these reasons. But in between all these cacophony and touristy places, lies a relaxed and friendly Thailand. And that is what makes this country so beautiful. There are a number of unique places to visit in Thailand that provides immersive experiences beyond the usual. These lesser known places are perfect for travellers who want beyond the parties and sun, seeking immersive experiences.

As travellers, we both love to visit off the beaten tracks, not just visit and see different places, but also connect with the people. In that way, our first visit to Thailand was just perfect, more than we anticipated. We explored a few hidden gems in the eastern part of the country on this trip. We were invited by the Tourism Authority of Thailand along with a few other awesome people to visit Chanthaburi and Trat district. I would not blabber much, and share with you about our experience at “The Legend of Eastern Gems”.

Unique Places in Thailand – the eastern gems Chanthaburi

This riverside town was our first introduction to Thailand after we landed at the Suvarnabhumi Airport at Bangkok. The place is not as crowded as the other attractions of Thailand and we also found fewer tourists there. Nevertheless the quaint town immediately captured my heart.

Chanthabun Waterfront Community (Old Town Area)

Chanthaburi is actually an eclectic mix of culture and interesting landscape. The Chanthabun Waterfront area or the old town is a beautiful place. The old buildings have been wonderfully restored. One look at the place and you can clearly understand how historically and culturally rich the place is. Distinct Chinese, French and Vietnamese influence is seen in the architecture of the buildings as well as in the life of the people. It is easy to roam around the old town without a map and discover its delights. It feels lovely to walk around the cobbled roads, look at the small stores set up on the roadside. These stalls are the best places to enjoy the local delicacies of the place.

The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception

The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception is located near the waterfront and is one of the biggest church in Thailand. This is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have seen and reminded me of the cathedral at Yangon. The cathedral is almost 300 years old lying on the east bank of the Chanthaburi river. A footbridge separates the cathedral from the town’s historic Waterfront. The cathedral was first built in 1711 as a chapel and was later reconstructed three times till date. Today the cathedral stands as an imposing Gothic style building in front of the footbridge.

The interior of the cathedral is quite beautiful having elaborate stained glasses. Inside the church is the statue of the Virgin Mary along with Saints Anne and Joachim, the parents of the Virgin Mary. One of the major attractions of this cathedral is the statue of the Virgin Mary standing on a golden dais in front of the altar. Chanthaburi is known for its gemstones and gems trade. The statue of Virgin Mary is said to be studded with more than 200000 glittering semi-precious stones. The blue coloured cloak is made up of thousands of blue sapphires from the Chanthaburi and Kanchanburi areas, while the rest of the statue is decorated with white sapphires, Thai rubies, and hundreds of yellow and orange sapphires from Chanthaburi and other countries. It is such a beautiful piece of art and we could not but stand there and admire the beauty of the statue.

Chanthaburi gemstone market

Chanthaburi is well known for its gemstone market. Trat along with Chanthaburi is a major source of gemstones. Infact, after the military rule took over in Burma in 1962 and the world’s ruby supply was effectively cut off, Chanthabury gradually became a major supplier of the gemstones. Very soon, Chanthaburi along with Trat province came to be known as Ruby Capital of the World, known for its exceptional Siamese rubies.

Today, the mines are depleted and mining is now done on a much smaller scale. But Chanthaburi had emerged as a major gem centre. It has some of the best and skilled cutters along with the best techniques for heating and treatment of gems. Chanthaburi is now known as the city of gems. It is said that most of the gemstones of the world pass through the City of Gems, at least once in their travels!

We visited the Chanthaburi Gen and Jewellery Manufacturer’s Association which had a museum that showed us the history of mining of gemstones in Chanthaburi and the present scenario of the gemstone industry. It is estimated that the gems and jewellery industry accounts for Thailand’s third largest export sector. There is also a gem museum, gem exhibition hall and a demonstration centre. There is a shopping area too, where the gems and jewellery are sold. Once you are here, I am sure that you will be dazzled to see the beautiful gem-studded jewellery and the gemstones. I was totally awed seeing them. Yes, they were great to look at and admire, but they were definitely not on my buying list. I might as well spend the money on another trip!

Bo Ploy Lek Petch Community Learning Centre

This is an interesting place. The place is located in the area of the gemstone source. So this centre is opened for tourists to learn about gemstone mining and other things related to it. “Bo” actually means holes, and here you can actually see how these people mine the gemstones from these holes. There are holes of various depth dug, and the Bo Ploy Lek Petch Community centre demonstrates how they do the gemstone mining. If you so wish, you can also go deep down into the holes and try to get some gemstones yourself!

After seeing the mining activity, we visited the fruit garden. Chanthaburi is known for its fruits. The place is famous for durian, the king of fruits and mangosteen, the queen of fruits. Trees abundant were found at the orchard. Durian, mangosteen, rambutan, langsat, sala (snake fruit) and so many more whose name I do not know were found at the fruit garden. We literally had a fruit party and enjoyed tasting the different fruits there.

Well, I tasted durian for the first time. Well, I had heard not many good things about durian before. I had heard about its incredibly bad smell. So I was a bit apprehensive to taste durian. But contrary to what I had heard before, durian tasted quite good and did not have an obnoxious smell. May be since these fruits are grown organically without the usage of any chemicals, they tasted better! This is just my speculation; I have no proof of this theory of mine.

Travelling to Trat

Between the Chanthaburi province and the Cambodian border lies Trat, a sleepy frontier town surrounded by fertile forests and mountains and also the home of the famous Siamese rubies. The sea here is dotted with a number of tropical islands, 52 exactly and so the place is known as half an island city. Thailand’s third largest island Koh Chang is located at Trat along with Ko Mak, Ko Kradat, Ko rang and several other picturesque islands.

So on the second day of our trip, we took the motorboat ride to one of those 52 islands, Ko Mak. This one-hour journey in the speed boat moving through the azure blue sea was pretty exciting. It reminded me of our trip to Andamans.

Towards Koh Mak, an offbeat destination in Thailand

Koh Mak is a paradise. One look at the place and I fell in love with it. This spectacular paradise island spanning an area of little more than 16 sq kilometres is also known as the coconut island. The island has beautiful virgin beaches and tropical vegetation but is not much known to international tourists. This is what makes this place more appealing as it is yet untouched by mass tourism like that in Phuket or Pattaya.

Well, the inhabitants of the island have taken a special effort to make Koh Mak a low carbon zone and a self-sufficient economy. The community is greatly aware of the importance of sustainable tourism and the preservation of nature. The locals had come together and created certain regulations that need to be followed by all the inhabitants of the island, business owners as well as the tourists. The “8 rules of Koh Mak” are the set of rules that these people follow religiously towards making “Koh Mak Low Carbon Destination”. It was really so heartening to see the locals work towards making the island sustainable as they respect and preserve nature. The best part is that they do not change the rules for the visitors as well.

The Koh Mak Museum

The Koh Mak Museum is located in the southern part of the island. The white coloured house is actually owned by Sutthithankul family and they have converted their house into a museum. The museum has images, pictures and many old artefacts that tell the story of past and present of Koh Mak island.

Later in the day, we went for a sightseeing tour at Koh Mak. True to its low carbon initiative, we used bicycles to go around the island to see the various attractions. The island is a beautiful one and cycling through the island itself is a lovely experience. But the day was warm, and it was quite hard to cycle at such a warm temperature.

The cycling team had a break at the organic garden where we saw papaya, passion fruit, mango and other fruit trees. Honey is also one of the product that they cultivate at Koh Mak and the locals showed us how they rear the bees and extract honey from them.

The last stop was at the Cocoscape Bridge. It is a beautiful place having a long wooden bridge from where we watched the beautiful sunset. The calm blue water, clear sands and the setting sun were all just perfect end for a perfect day at Koh Mak.

Back to Trat

The next day, we travelled back to Trat by the speed boat. As I said before, Trat is a beautiful town. We visited the Trat National Museum and got an insight about the history, culture and the lifestyle of Trat and its people. The Museum building itself is a very beautiful and imposing wooden building. It was good to know so much about the place and its people.

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A trip to Daringbadi was long due. We had been thinking of visiting this gem of Odisha since long. So when our friend wanted to go for a road trip to Daringbadi, we just could not say no to it. The journey becomes more beautiful when you have childhood friends for company. Don’t you think so?

Odisha is a fascinating place. Travellers have always associated the state with sea beaches and the ornate temples, but we feel that the state has much more to offer. When we made a trip to the Diamond Triangle in Odisha or visited the small village Raghurajpur, we were totally awed by the Buddhist monastic ruins. This time also, the trip to Daringbadi turned out to be a great place with a perfect mix of relaxation and adventure combined together.

So Where is Daringbadi?

Located amidst pine forests and coffee plantations, Daringbadi is a charming hill station in Odisha. Situated at an altitude of 3000 feet in Kandhamal district of Odisha, the place has all the attractions that make it an ideal weekend getaway from Kolkata, Bhubaneswar or Vishakapatnam.

We came to know that this hill station was named after one British Officer named Dering. Just like many other hill stations in India like Darjeeling, Panchmarhi, Shimla, this idyllic hill station was quite a favourite place for the British who found it hard to bear the Indian summers. The place was named Deringbadi, which later came to be known as Daringbadi.

Do you really get snowfall at Daringbadi, Kashmir of Odisha?

Well, I do not know if it ever snowed at Daringbadi long before, but now, it does not get any snowfall. Daringbadi is also called the Kashmir of Odisha, where the temperature dips below zero during the winter.  It is actually the frost and dew on the grasses that get frozen into ice and gives an impression if snow. Nevertheless, with its deep pine forests, green valleys, verdant hills and eye-catching natural beauty, this tribal-dominated area surely justifies the sobriquet it has earned.

How to reach Daringbadi?

The nearest railway station to Daringbadi is Berhampur. From Howrah, there are a few trains that go to Berhampur. Alternatively, you can also take a train to Bhubaneswar. Daringbadi is around 245 km from Bhubaneswar. There are day and night buses available from Bhubaneswar towards Daringbadi.

Our road trip to Daringbadi started from Kolkata. The first day, we drove 445 km to Bhubaneswar and stopped for the night there. The next day, we drove from Bhubaneswar to Daringbadi via NH16 and NH59. In the middle, we took a detour from Aska to Vetnai, the blackbuck habitat in Odisha.

Our Daringbadi travel itinerary Day 1: Kolkata to Bhubaneswar

We started from Kolkata at around 6 AM in the morning and drove towards Bhubaneswar. We took our breakfast stop at Kolaghat and then continued our drive towards Bhubaneswar. As we approached Bhubaneswar, we could see the devastating effect of the cyclone Fani. Uprooted trees, broken and bent signposts were seen all over the way. We had seen the devastation on the television, but seeing the effects in person was quite different. We reached Bhubaneswar around 2:30 PM.

Day 2: Bhubaneswar to Daringbadi via Vetnai

Another day of long drive started quite early in the morning. The roads in Odisha are smooth and driving was quite enjoyable. While on the way, we suddenly decided to take a detour to visit Vetnai. The speciality of Vetnai is that you can see a lot of black bucks there roaming around freely. Vetnai is about 5 km from Aska, one of the main towns on the way to Daringbadi.

Vetnai – The playground of Blackbucks

To be honest, we did not know blackbucks are found in the eastern parts of India also. I had come to know about Vetnai from an article that I read somewhere. While trying to figure the way on Google maps, I found out that Vetnai lies only a few kilometers detour from Aska or Asika, a small town on our way. When I proposed the idea to visit Vetnai, it was met with enthusiasm as all of us wanted to see those rare deer.

Vetnai is the natural habitat of blackbucks in Odisha. Strangely enough, the area is not a protected forest zone. We reached Vetnai at around 11 AM. There is a watchtower from where we could see the animals. But the locals warned us that we might not see any blackbucks at this time of the day. The animals are mostly seen in the late afternoon at around 3 or 4 PM. Nevertheless, we drove towards the watchtower along the rough and dusty roads.

Did we see the blackbucks?

We stopped our car before a vast expanse of field. It was scorching hot outside and we strained our eyes to spot any blackbucks there. It was totally stark and nothing could be seen. Maybe, the animals, unlike us, did not come out of their home in such hot weather.

We felt quite disappointed, but then suddenly Agni spotted a few animals grazing in the fields. We strained our eyes to look at them. And yes, there they were. Not one or two, but quite a number of them grazing freely on the field. We walked towards the herd to get a clear view. And what a great view it was! A number of Blackbucks were grazing on the field. And when they saw us, a few were startled. They looked at us stealthily. A few kept on grazing while some of them started moving elsewhere.

I had always heard that a deer looks immensely beautiful when they stretch their body and run. I had so long seen then running on television on National Geographic. It was the first time I saw them running in front of me. And yes, they look extremely beautiful. It is just like poetry. I was so mesmerized looking at them, that I forgot to take pictures. Thankfully, better sense prevailed on Agni and he took a few pictures.

The sight of the blackbucks completely made our day. All the hot weather, perspiration, hunger, running around in the heat were all forgotten. Just imagine the number of blackbucks one could see if they came at a proper time! With happiness in our heart, we started from Vetnai towards Daringbadi.

Road towards Daringbadi

As we approached Daringbadi, the weather became a bit cooler. The roads are beautiful with trees on either side of the road. Odisha does have some very well maintained and beautiful roads where driving can be a pleasure. Finally travelling through the winding roads under the cool canopy of the trees, we reached Daringbadi at around 2 PM.

Day 3: Sightseeing at Daringbadi

We had seen the scenic beauty of the place while driving here. The dense woods and the marvels of nature in the form of rivers, waterfalls and pine forests were yet to be explored by us. So after having our breakfast, we were all ready to explore this beautiful, yet unexplored gem of Odisha.

Day 4: Daringbadi to Kolkata

This was a long long day of driving. We started from Daringbadi at around 9 AM in the morning and after a long drive, reached Kolkata around 11 PM at night. The drive was long, but the experience we had on road was incomparable.

Places to visit in Daringbadi Mdiubanda Waterfall

Our first stop for the day was the Mdiubanda Waterfall. Surrounded by the dense pine trees, this waterfall is located a few kilometers away from Daringbadi main town. There is a fleet of stairs going down all the way to the waterfall. The place is quite a beautiful one. The pool was, however, a bit dirty and the water stagnant. The little one, Palash (our friends’ son) was quite excited to see the waterfall and wanted to take a bath there. He was quite upset when his mother forbade him to do so.

Pine forest and Duluri River

This was one of our favourite places in Daringbadi. The pine forest lies on the way to the Mdiubanda Waterfall, so while returning, we stopped at the forests and went inside to explore. The way to the Duluri River is also through the forest.

The riverside was quite scenic. We could not stop Palash this time from having a bath in the river. So he along with his father and uncle went in for some fun in the river, while my friend and I watched them enjoying as we sat down on a rock with our feet in the waters.

What can you do when you see the three having so much fun in the water? You have to simply join them. So both of us did not think much and joined the guys in the river. It was so much fun. The water was cool and it was totally soothing against the sun. Have a look at the pictures below to see how much we were having fun!

After our riverside story, we returned to our hotel, had our lunch and then started for the next few places.

Coffee and spice plantations

You will definitely see the coffee and spice plantations while on your way to Daringbadi. There is also a garden where you will find the coffee and spice plantations. We saw the pepper plants and roamed around for some time in the cool shade of the gardens.

Emu farm

The Emu farm is around 12 km from the Daringbadi town on the way towards Baliguda. There is a small enclosure where a few emu birds were kept. Although I am against animals kept in captivity, but Palash enjoyed quite a lot at the emu farm. It was totally a new experience for him to see a new bird. The egg of emu also excited him a lot.

Lovers’ Point

Around 1 km from the Emu Farm is the Lovers’ Point. I don’t think many lovers visit there at least in the afternoon. At least we were the only one there when we visited. The road to the Lovers’ Point is also a bit rough. But the place is extremely beautiful. The river is flowing by and you can simply sit on the huge rocks and enjoy some quiet time. It is a place to experience the silence of nature, or maybe have a love affair with nature herself!

Hill View Park, Butterfly Park and hill Top Viewpoint

All these three are close to each other and fell on our way back from the Lovers’ Point to Daringbadi. The Butterfly Park is located within the Hill View Park and the Hill Top Viewpoint is just opposite to that of the Hill View Park.

The Hill View Park has a beautiful and well-maintained garden, a garden of medicinal plants. There is also a display of the Kutia Kondh tribe inside the Hill View Park.

The Butterfly Garden is a beautiful flowering garden inside the Hill View Park. True to its name, you can spot a number of butterflies there.

The Hill Top Viewpoint has a children’s park and it is the best place to have a panoramic view of Daringbadi and the surrounding area from there. I think the place is also good for watching the sunrise, but the park only opens after 7 AM in the morning.

Sunset Point or Silent Valley

This place is around 2 km from the Daringbadi town and is actually a viewpoint. From the vantage point, the entire valley can be seen and is the best place to watch the sunset.

Places to visit near Daringbadi

There are a number of interesting places near Daringbadi. Taptapani, a place having hot water springs is around 2 hours drive from here. You can also visit Belghar Sanctuary, Phulbani forest, Putudi Waterfalls (located near Phulbani) from Daringbadi. We could not visit these places as we had to return the next day. You can also visit Gopalpur-on-sea, Manglajodi and Vetnai from Daringbadi.

Where to stay at Daringbadi?

Daringbadi is yet to see the flush and rush of tourists. It has a few hotels and resorts. We stayed at Hotel Mid Town, which is an average hotel. If you are going to Daringbadi, stay at one of the resorts there for a better accommodation experience. But you need to book the resorts much in advance. We did not get rooms even when we tried a month earlier.

A few places to stay at Daringbadi

Deers Eco Home (+91 9438422452, 9348268744)

Daringbadi resorts (9348137052)

Hotel Mid Town (+91 9337335835, 7978749656)

Hotel Utopia (+91 9437781972)

For sightseeing, you can get a car from your hotel and explore the place.

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How much travel is too much? For our parents’ generation, a week in the sun was an indulgence to be enjoyed annually. But today? Gap years, semesters abroad, six-month honeymoons and going on a city break once a month are all the norm. So, whether you’re curious about travelling for a longer time period, making van life your reality or are just keen to make taking a vacation a more regular occurrence, it’s time to bite the bullet and make it happen.

It’s never been easier to travel

Gone are the days of having to go into a travel agency and rely on a single stranger to let you in on the best deals and recommend you the best holiday destinations. Now you have blogs, YouTube channels and review sites sharing top tips and advising you of where to go and when – as well as how much it will all cost. Add to that a whole host of online travel agencies and websites dedicated to helping you get the most bang for your buck, and the internet really is your friend when it comes to travelling more.

Plus, with the rise in technology and the move to digital, more and more companies are giving their employees the option to work remotely. In fact, flexible working has become so much more normal than 39% of millennials and Generation Z workers wouldn’t accept a job that doesn’t let them travel. But if your current employer hasn’t quite caught up with the 21st century way of working, don’t worry, you can still earn as you travel – simply become a digital nomad and work for yourself. There’s a whole host of opportunities out there, from being a freelance travel photographer to an online tutor or business consultant.

You can do it super cheap

Whether you’re looking to hit the road long-term with limited funds or you want to work more budget breaks into your year, you can do it for less than you think. If you’re flexible about where you want to go and when, then sign up to online travel agencies and airlines’ newsletters to be the first to find out about sales and discounts. Or, if you know when and where you want to go, look out for deals online that fit with your trip. Once your initial plans are in place, there’s still plenty of ways you can cut down on costs.

Consider camping or couch surfing rather than staying in hotels if you don’t mind forgoing a little luxury, or choose the accommodation that has kitchen facilities to cut down on food costs. Alternatively, if you often travel for business, make the most of the paid for flights and add a few extra days (or weeks, if you can!) onto the beginning or end of the trip so you can do some sightseeing. With 30% of workers saying they would accept lower salaries in exchange for more business trips, now’s the time to make the most of any that you’re fortunate enough to have and really turn that work commitment into a way of satiating your travel bug.

You can delegate the planning

If the idea of planning several trips a year or a multi-country adventure sends shivers down your spine – delegate. There are plenty of companies dedicated to making your life easier and your holidays run smoother. Head to a site where you can book your flights, accommodation, car hire etc all in one place for complete convenience, or if your budget is bigger, enlist a bespoke travel company to plan out every step of your itinerary for you. Plus, with the abundance of travel apps available, you don’t need to carry around armfuls of loose paper for every different flight, train and hotel you have booked – simply store all your boarding passes, confirmations and tickets on your phone and you’re good to go. Just remember to pack a charger, and maybe a portable one too!

Still have your doubts about upping your travel? Here’s a fourth reason to embrace the fear and travel more: you’ll never regret travelling, but you’ll most likely regret not. So get adventuring!

The post 3 reasons you shouldn’t be scared to travel more appeared first on Tale of 2 Backpackers.

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There is no doubt that Kolkata is a beautiful city and the best part is that there are many offbeat weekend destinations near Kolkata. You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to weekend getaways from Kolkata. You can visit the mountains, the rural villages, beaches or the forests to simply relax and spend quality time with your family. So we have decided to collate a list of some great offbeat weekend destinations from Kolkata for you.

These days with more work pressure, lesser family time and stress, it becomes difficult to strike a balance between work and travel. It is best to use the weekends to this cause and plan a short getaway to the place of your choice. You come back rejuvenated for the next week.

The most visited weekend getaways near Kolkata are undoubtedly Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Shantiniketan and the beaches of Puri, Digha and Mandarmani. I am sure all the Bengalis are very familiar with the term Di-Pu-Da. In this list, we are excluding these better-known places.

Offbeat Weekend destinations from Kolkata

We have collated 52 weekends getaways from Kolkata for the 52 weeks of the year. We have arranged these offbeat weekend destinations in alphabetical order. The distance from Kolkata is an approximate one. There are obviously many more places to visit during the weekends. These are only a few. If you want to know more about offbeat weekend destinations from Kolkata, wait for our e-book to be published. We promise it is going to be published soon!

Bagora, North Bengal

Mountains, mist and pristine nature – that is what Bagora is. A beautiful hamlet tucked at an altitude of 7150 ft above the sea level, Bagora is a place where you can simply relax and rejuvenate. The mountains are there for your eyes only and the carpet of green grass is to soothe your souls. Here no one is in a hurry and you too can enjoy this slow pace. You can simply walk down the village and explore the place in your own ways.

Distance from Kolkata: 600 km

Best time to visit: Throughout the year

How to reach: From Siliguri / NJP, take a shared sumo towards Darjeeling. Get down at Dilaram. From there you have to take a car to Bagora.

Things to do: Visit the Zero Point, walk through the village, bird watching. There are several trek routes from Bagora to Chimeni (4 km), Latpanchar (19 km), Mongpu (12 km) or Chatakpur (8 km).

Nearby places: Chimeni, Latpanchar, Mongpu, Chatakpur, Dilaram

Baguran – Jalpai, Medinipur – West Bengal

Baguran Jalpai is an unexplored and tranquil beach destination under the Contai subdivision of Purba Medinipur. This lesser-known destination is just 4 hours away from Kolkata. Surrounded by casuarina trees, the long beach with golden sand is just the place to relax and rejuvenate. Time will simply pass by here as you look at the waves crashing down the sandy beach. Dusk is a very beautiful time here. After exploring the beach, you can visit the fishermen village and get a glimpse of their life.

Distance from Kolkata: 160 km

Best time to visit: All through the year

How to reach: From Howrah, you can take a train to Kanthi. The place is 10 km from Kanthi and can be reached by hiring a car or auto from Kanthi Railway Station or Bus Stand.

Things to do: Walk on the beach, visit the fishermen village, watch the sunset.

Nearby places: Digha, Junput, Bankiput, Mandarmani

Bangriposi, Odisha

Bangriposi literally means ‘the beautiful daughter of the hills’ and the place lives up to its name. Situated in the Thakurani ranges of Odisha, Bangriposi has been immortalized in the novel by Buddhadeb Guha. The place is known for the hills, beautiful forest and the rivers. Overall, it is a great place for seclusion and relaxation.

Distance from Kolkata: 220 km

Best time to visit: Any time of the year

How to reach: The nearest Railway station is Balasore. From Balasore, take a trekker to Bangriposi, 110 km away.

If you are travelling by car, then take the Bombay Road (NH6) and drive straight, past Kolaghat, Kharagpur, the Baharagora check post and Jamsola. The drive is quite pleasant on winter mornings.

Things to do: Visit the Buribalam waterfalls, the river side, take blessings from Kanak Devi Temple. Take a day trip to Kuliana, the dokra village of Odisha. During winter, the place becomes the home to a number of migratory birds.

Nearby places: Simlipal Forest, Puri, Chilika and Gopalpur-on-sea.

Baranti, Purulia – West Bengal

Baranti is one of the most beautiful places of Purulia. Surrounded by Biharinath Hill on one side and Panchkot Hills on the other side, Baranti is ideal for those seeking tranquility away from the chaos of the city. The Muradi Lake in Baranti has been created by a mud dam. The view of the sunset with the lake in the background looks breathtaking. From Baranti, you can visit the other attractions of Purulia like Ayodhya Hills, Biharinath Hills etc.

Distance from Kolkata: 265 km

Best time to visit: October to March

How to reach: From Howrah station, take a train to Asansol. From Asansol, Baranti is 40 km by car.

Things to do: Enjoy the sunset at Baranti Dam, Go sightseeing to Ayodhya Hills, Biharinath Hills and Susunia hills.

Nearby places: Ayodhya Hills, Asansol

Bhalukhop, North Bengal

Bhalukhop is a small village near Kalimpong offering magnificent views of the Kanchenjunga ranges. Perched at an altitude of 5300 feet, the place is a great alternative to Kalimpong for those who want some solitude and peace. Here you can wake up to the call of chirping birds, enjoy the fresh air and roam around the village admiring the quaint village. The best views of the Kalimpong hills are located within a few kilometers from Bhalukhop. The Delo Park and viewpoint, Buddha Statue, Hanuman Temple, Guru Padmasambhava statue are all within 10 km from the village. As it is located on the outskirts of Kalimpong, you can get the best of nature here without having to face the crowd of Kalimpong.

Distance from Kolkata: 624 km

Best time to visit: All through the year

How to reach: From New Jalpaiguri, take a sumo towards Kalimpong. From there reserve a car to Bhalukop.

Things to do: Visit Delo Hill, Buddha Statue, Hanuman Temple, Kalimpong Arts & Craft Center and other attractions in Kalimpong from here. You can enjoy nature, explore the village and take small walks in the forest.

Nearby places: Kalimpong

Bidyang, North Bengal

Bidyang or Bidhyang is a beautiful offbeat destination situated beside the Relli river very close to Kalimpong. Situated at an altitude of 3000 ft, the place is a perfect choice for spending a weekend among the forests of oak, pine and fir. It is a small village around 15 km from Kalimpong. The village is surrounded by dense forests. The only sound you hear is the chirping of the birds in the morning and the sound of insects at the night. And if it is a moonlit night, the place looks ethereal with the moonlight falling on the bamboo bushes.

Distance from Kolkata: 645 km

Best time to visit: Any time of the year

How to reach: From NJP/ Siliguri take any vehicle to Kalimpong. From there, you have to hire a car to go to Bidyang.

Things to do: Village walk, bird watching, butterfly watching, visit the Relli River.

Nearby places: Kalimpong, Lave, Lolegaon, Rishop

Bijanbari, North Bengal

Bijanbari is a small town located near Darjeeling where you will find peace and solitude in immense measure. The road towards Bijanbari from Ghoom is quite scenic with the sprawling tea gardens all along. On the way, you will also pass through the Hima Falls, a beautiful waterfall, some lovely mountain streams, tea gardens and green forests.

Distance from Kolkata: 640 km

Best time to visit: All through the year

How to reach: The nearest Railway station is NJP. From Siliguri you can take a shared sumo towards Darjeeling and get down at Ghum. From there hire a car to Bijanbari. Bijanbari is about 30 kms from Darjeeling town and can be approached via Ghum. There are also Darjeeling-Bijanbari buses that leave from the bus stand early in the morning.

Things to do: Enjoy the natural beauty of the place, visit the Hima Falls

Nearby places: Ghum, Darjeeling

Biksthang, Sikkim

Biksthang is a small pristine village situated around 120 km from Gangtok in West Sikkim. Folklore says that the word ‘Biksthang’ is derived from the Lepcha words ‘bikmon’ meaning ‘the place where a tiger ate a cow.’ Bhutias, however, say that ‘Biksthang’ means a place with a wide variety of special stones. A serene village with spectacular views of the Kanchenjunga ranges, Biksthang is a beautiful weekend getaway.

Distance from Kolkata: 664 km

Best time to visit: October to May

How to reach: From Siliguri, take a shared sumo to Jorethang. From there you have to take a car to Biksthang.

Things to do: Enjoy the views of Kanchenjunga ranges, birdwatching, village walks and trekking to the Lheuntse Monastery

Nearby places: Pelling, Rinchenpong, Kaluk

Borong, Sikkim

Borong is an abode of peace and tranquility with the Himalayan mountains at its backdrop. Just imagine staying in the cottages among the pines and firs and capturing the beauty of a morning sunrise over the mighty Himalayan ranges! The Pandim, Narsing and the Sinochlu peaks are visible from here. Borong is also famous for its hot water springs at the banks of Rangit river. These hot water springs or Tsa-chu as known locally are traditional winter spas and are said to have medicinal properties.

Distance from Kolkata: 680 km

Best time to visit: October to May

How to reach: Nearest Railhead is New Jalpaiguri. Borong is about 117 km from Siliguri. You can go to Borong by car via Ravangla. Borong can also be reached from Pelling, Gangtok and Rinchenpong.

Things to do: Visit the hot springs, local Monastery, hand-made paper factory. Go for birdwatching and enjoy the views of the Kanchenjunga ranges,

Nearby places: Ralang,..

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Travelling is so much more than an activity. It’s an experience, a journey and a way to discover new things about yourself and different cultures. No two trips are ever alike and after each trip, you’re always asking “So, where are we going next?”

Whether you’re a solo traveller or you have your travel buddy, you want to share your experiences with others. People will always ask to see your photos, ask about what you ate and what the locals were like.

“You should write a book,” someone might say to you, and it doesn’t sound like a half-bad idea. While a book may be down the road, you certainly have other options to document your travels and share them with everyone.

You’ve Got Mail

No, this isn’t a plea for you to act more like Tom Hanks or Meg Ryan, but instead some simple encouragement. No matter where you are in the world, you’ll probably have some form of internet access. With this internet access, friends and family may be checking their inboxes for updates on your trip and to make sure you haven’t been carried off by Somalian pirates yet.

 This is a great, free and easy way to not only keep in touch with everyone but also journal your trip. At the end of each week, every two days or whenever, write an email to a group of people informing them what you’ve been up to, what your next plans are and everything in between. 

At the end of your trip, you can return to all those emails, print them off and put them in a notebook. Going back through them will just help you relive all those wonderful memories.

Start Blogging

Think of this like a public journal, but a blog or website is a great way to keep track of your journeys. You can upload photos, put down restaurant reviews or talk about your trips down the road oft-not taken.

You can also expand your blog and put travel recommendations on there, tips and tricks you’ve learned or the best ways to find cheap flights.

Whatever your plan is, make sure you map out a regular posting schedule so people can know when to check back on you and keep coming back to your site. So many people look to social media and blogs for their inspirations. Who knows, you could inspire the next group of travellers!

Dial it Back

While writing on pen and paper may be a lost cause these days, that doesn’t mean you have to follow the trend and ditch the traditional writing style. Even if your handwriting has gone from bad to worse, you can still write down everything you see around you.

In a way, some people may prefer this style as it lets you get a little more personal as you’re not going to be sharing it with tons of other people. Plus, you can write anyway you want. Bullet points, long paragraphs or just a flurry of short sentences, the journal is your oyster.

It’s easy to carry everywhere and you don’t need much to go ahead and get started on writing anytime.

Take a Picture, It Will Last Longer

If you’re travelling, you are using your phone for so many things like directions, email and taking lots and lots of pictures. Whether you’re a camera fanatic, taking pics of everything from food to monuments, or a simple point and click person, pictures are one of the best ways to document your trip.

But you can take it a step further and make a photo journal out of it. The first step in all this is to make sure that your photos are backed up on some type of cloud. Whether that be OneDrive, Google Photos or something else, you don’t want to take all the pictures in the world only to have your phone lost, damaged or stolen.

Back all of those photos up and whenever you arrive home, print your favourites out. Go find a nice photo journal and put your photos in there. Place it on the coffee table or shelf and voila! You now have all your memories in one place. Plus, it’s a great conversation starter and always fun to look back on! Just make sure you get plenty of photos with you in them, instead of only landscapes and buildings.

The post 4 of the Best Ways to Document Your Travels appeared first on Tale of 2 Backpackers.

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Come summers, and your vacation mode gets on! You find summer heat a perfect excuse to escape to exciting destinations across the world. This gives you a chance to explore interesting places that have so much in store.

So, if you’re planning to go for a vacation abroad this summer, then travel to those destinations that are best visited in summers. This will ensure that you enjoy the best of time there and come back with a refreshed spirit.

Travelling to a good destination requires planning and preparation, like setting your budget, applying for a visa and other such things. Another important thing worth considering is to buy travel insurance online because it will put you in a better place when faced with any challenges while you’re on your trip.

So, to help you choose a good destination, we have made a list of a few places that are summer friendly and thus good options to consider:


Mauritius, a tropical gem is famous as a summertime destination. The place sees winters in between the months of May and December, thus making it a good escape from the scorching heat of the summer months in India.

The far-stretching beaches and the glistening water here can refresh you inside out. The beauty of the place is what calls tourists from all over the world. You can enjoy snorkelling and scuba diving in the underwaters; boating to nearby islets, and hiking in the forested and mountainous interiors.

All in all, this destination will be a perfect retreat for you!


Netherland’s landscape is one of a kind, and thus, a visit to this European country is sure to leave you feeling mesmerised.

With its fabulous landscapes, Netherlands offers you a chance to cycle around the city, catching sights of the lovely tulips, and the humble windmills on the way. You can even sail around in the beautiful canals, stopping at the quaint cafes to relish some Dutch dishes.

Not just this, you can also explore the world-famous museums and the exquisite architecture here, learning more about the culture of the place. Whatever you may do here, its charm will rub off on you!

 Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain’s most famous destination is blessed with a Mediterranean climate. So, visiting the country between May and June is a good time, and perfect for your summer vacation plans.

From enjoying quiet time at the picturesque beaches to enjoying kayaking, paddle-boarding or cruising, you’ll love being around the sea. You can even enjoy hiking and biking on the Collserola hills and Montjuic hills here.

Come night, and the city becomes even more alive and happening with live music ranging from Indie-rock to jazz playing in concert halls and bars. Barcelona is also famous for its wide-ranging palate and flavoursome ingredients, which together promise you some remarkable delicacies to enjoy!


Whether you’re artsy or adventurous, Russia will delight you, nonetheless. The largest country in the world, this place encapsulates just the right mix of old-world charm and contemporary dynamism.

From exploring splendid palaces and churches to visiting the country estates of literary greats like Tolstoy and Pushkin, you’ll be enchanted by the cultural vibes that Russia beholds. For a good dose of adventure, you can go skiing or mountain climbing in the Caucasus, rafting or trekking in the Altai republic or scale the active volcano in Kamchatka.

Summers are a good time to visit Russia as the temperatures remain mild and balmy here and offer pleasant weather for both exploration and adventure.


Auckland can leave you in awe of nature’s beauty and bounty. From rainforests, thermal springs, volcanic cones and the beautiful waters, Auckland is endowed with them all. So, if you love being in the lap of nature, this place is just right for you.

You can soak in the beauty of nature at the Waiheke Island and Goat Island marine reserve and dig deeper into the culture of Auckland by visiting the museums and galleries that abound here. March to May is a fairly good time to visit the place as the temperatures are perfect for outdoor activities like zip lining and hiking. Further, from June onwards, the weather gets cold and wet here so you can plan accordingly.

Travel Stress-free with a Travel insurance

All these destinations are beautiful in their own way and can give you wonderful travel experience. However, unexpected challenges like the loss of luggage or passport, flight delay or medical problems can often spoil your trip. Especially, in a new destination, such issues can cause more worry and financial loss. Therefore, it is advisable that before you zero down on any destination, you buy travel insurance online.

Having such insurance will provide you with various benefits like cashless hospitalisation in case of medical emergencies, reimbursement for delay of Checked-In Baggage, loss of passport and other such coverages. Moreover, nowadays, it is simple to buy travel insurance online, so be wise and buy one to minimise your worries and maximise your travel fun!

Happy summer travelling!

The post Ready, Set, Summer! Escape the Summer Heat at These 6 Destinations appeared first on Tale of 2 Backpackers.

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