20 fantastic places our guest writers took their TravellingCameras to in 2016

2016 has been fantastic year and this year we saw lot of guest-posts from traveller friends and followers of the blog. In 2015, we narrowed down to 10 final posts but this time it became very hard and we picked 20. And put things in perspective, this year viewership of the blog doubled. In 2016, we got views more than what we have got in last 8 years. And that's phenomenal and all these guest bloggers added a lot of value to build a better travelling community and a trustworthy information platform when it comes to travel experiences and awesome visual stories. 

Odisha by Anushka Bhisen - I met Anushka, when she was visiting India from US. After meeting her, I got to know about her passion for travelling and exploring new places. She was about to go to Odisha and I proposed her to share her visual stories on this blog. This was a series of travel experiences from different parts of Odisha state of India. Click on the link to check out this exceptional series.

Such a beautiful place it is. All surrounded by hundreds of years old tree standing tall. It seems like some of them are trying to touch the sky.

Pristine Redwood with Anushka Bishen - After hit series on Odisha, when Anushka moved back to US she started sharing her weekend travel experiences. From all those experiences, her post on Redwood Coast went viral over night and remained in top viewed posts for 3 weeks. 

Tungnath through Varun's Travellingcamera Tungnath was quite popular in 2016. 3 posts were published by different folks and this one was visually compelling and liked by photographers and trekkers.

Haridwar as the name suggests is Hari ka Dwar i.e. Door or Way to Hari i.e. God or Gateway to God.      It is a major pilgrimage in North India.  It also leads the way for other important spiritual destinations namely, Rishikesh, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri and Gangotri.    Haridwar is considered one of the holiest cities in India.  It is blessed of having numerous temples, spiritual ashrams and hosting different Melas major of them are the Kumbh Mela and Ardh Kumb Mela.   Here the River Ganges is the coolest and purest.  The place also is a major source of ayurvedic medicines.  The pleasant landscape of Haridwar is eye soothing.  People of all caste and creed make a point to visit Haridwar at least once.

Haridwar - by Prasun Sanyal - This post came from Prasun and I was not sure if we should publish it or not. After publishing I realised about the potential of religious tourism.  

Lot of us explore different places in search of peace, heritage, hills, beaches, cultures, food and lot more. But have you ever of anyone who visit places in search of Butterflies. Yes, you read it right. Today I am sharing about another inspiring explorer who goes to different parts of Himachal Pradesh to meet various butterflies and study them.   Today I am sharing abut Reetu Patial who is a Wildlife professional in Himalayan State of India – Himachal Pradesh. She has a unique hobby of finding different types of Himalayan Butterflies and capture them in her camera. When I asked how it started and what you want to do - “When I started wildlife job and met lot of conservation experts. Butterflies seemed very special to me and especially butterflies of Himachal Pradesh. I have been able to find 150 of them and will continue to discover more. I feel that I need to know lot more to find next set of butterflies. Understanding their habitat and other characteristics can guide me better. So far, I have been doing this search without any strategy but now more knowledge and strategy is required.”

Himalayan Butterflies by Reetu Patyal - This is one of the most inspiring posts this year. Reetu has been exploring and discovering various Himalayan Butterflies. Check out this post to know why I say so. 

I have spent my childhood in Himachal and Chhinj used to be a common fair which happens at different places. I clearly remember some of the popular Chhinj Fairs around Hamirpur. It's been more than 10 years that I visited any Chhinj. Recently Ajay shared these photographs, so we thought of sharing about Chhinj with rest of the world.

Chhinj by Ajay Jamwal - I would let you check out this one :-)

Golden Dunes of Thar by Sukhman Dhillon - Such a visual treat it was and there are some brilliant tips about stay, food and things to do in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. 

It was 21st feb '2016 the day we reached sangla , the local's recommended us not to travel further because the roads were closed for chitkul but we mandyals always love to do what obstruct others. We took a taxi to chitkul but the driver was little scared off the road conditions.The moment we reached raksham we found the roads are not in proper shape to travel further . So we took a risk and started walking.It was around 10kms that we decided to go by foot .The snow was almost touching our shoes bottom ,but  After few hours the snow started rising from mm to cms .The beauty around the valley was getting more exotic .It took us more than 4hrs to complete the 10kms patch between  raksham and chitkul .This  bridge gave us a hope that we are close to our destination.Finally after the tiring journey we made it toChitkul ,we  had a comfortable stay in HP Pwd resthouse. The best part was that the electricity was on full voltage which kept us warmer in such parky weather  .The next morning we roamed around the chitkul village .My friend decided to take some vitamin D before we walk back 10kms to raksham to catch a bus to reckongpeo.While he was having a sun on his head i decided to have a cup of tea with the local's.Somebody said it true , Chitkul looks best in winters .The only thing I learned from this trip , that  life in winters is really difficult here and I experienced it in this short trip to Chitkul , kinnaur (H.P)

Sangla & Chitkul by Arnav Tandon - Arnav is star instagrammer and his feed is full of awesomeness and inspiration. You can star feeling jealous of his travel plans. 

Writer and Musician who loved travelling, Raghav shared about his trek to Tungnath. Very informative travelogue. 

  I visited Pushkar in November 2010, during the Camel Fair. It was an overwhelming sight–thousands of camels and their herders, lakhs of pilgrims from every corner of the country, village folk dressed in their colourful best, and hundreds of make-shift shops stuffed with everything under the sun–from toys and shoes to swords and daggers straight out of a Hollywood movie.        After spending one evening shooting the scenes at the fair, I headed out to town the next day. The ancient alleys buzzed with people from all over the world – tourists and hippies, backpackers and devout pilgrims. Barber shops sported signboards in Hebrew, cafes promised chapatis and ‘real’ Italian coffee, while the temples drew in the faithful by the hundreds. Above, hot air balloons dotted the sky, offering a bird’s-eye view of the spectacle below.                                      As I wandered through the streets, I chanced upon a small temple in one of the innumerable alleys. Inside, across a courtyard, was a shrine to Kabir. The priest invited me in and I sat down for a chat. A roughly hewn, black stone image of the seer sat against a wall, surveying the human carnival. I stayed a while soaking in the peace and quiet of the shrine, then picked up my camera and walked out into the streets, promising to come back next time I visited Pushkar.

Pushkar Camel Fair is one of the popular fairs in India and millions of people visit this week long fair in Rajasthan. 

Churdhar is a popular trek in Himachal Pradesh and lot of folks from Chandigarh plan it during the weekend. Varun's this post was quite popular amongst my friends in Punjab and since it was shared multiple times, this post retained in top viewed posts for more than a month. 

While in Bhubaneshwar ( Odisha , we planned to drive to Konark Sun Temple and witness it's grandness & heritage.Temple has beautifully carved stone wheels, pillars and walls. A lot of portions of temple are in ruins, although remained part is being maintained. Some work was happening when we visited the temple this month (july’2016).Sun Temple in Konark is 65 kilometers from Bhubaneshwar and 35 km from Puri.ASI maintains the temple and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Konark Sun temple is also featured in the list of 7 wonders in India, along with Meenakshi Amman Temple of Madurai, Dholavira of Gujarat, Red Fort of Delhi, Jaisalmer Fort of Rajasthan, Nalanda of Bihar and Khajuraho of MP.The name Konark comes from Sanskrit words - Kona and Ark. Europian sailors had 2 important temples in this part of India - Konark Sun Temple and Jaganath Temple in Puri, which are called Black Pagoda and White Padoga respectively.Konark Sun Temple has used iron beams for it’s structure. It was made to look like Surya-Rath (Chariot of Sun God). There are 12 carved stone wheels which are 3 meters wide and is pulled by a set of seven horses, which you see on entry gate of the temple. It followed popular Kalinga Architecture.Maintenance of Konark Sun Temple was in progress and it made us feel good about the care ASI is taking of these beautiful heritage buildings in India. Although it made us worry about the way these structures are restored. Plain stones without any carving are being added to give support to the structure. It's understandable that same carving might be difficult to achieve but some creative stuff can be done. More than structure, the craved stones are decaying with time and wondering if there is a good way to avoid it. I am sure ASI must thinking about all these things.Konark Sun Temple is one of the most visited tourist places in Odisha and it's considered as one of the most popular places to visit around Bubaneshwar. We didn't want to miss and happy that it was a nice experience to be there. Although the weather was not suitable, but we had fun.There are some interesting facts about the architecture of Konark Sun Temple. Original temple had one part of the compound, which was 70 mgr high. Now the highest structure of the Sun Temple is 30 meters high, which is essentially the audience hall along with smaller structures like Dance hall and Dining hall.Orissa Tourism website  lists few interesting details around history behind this temple.Surrounding of the Konark Sun Temple is pretty green and the weather made it greener for us.We had great time roaming around this beautiful campus of Konark Sun Temple, which has lot to surprise you and make you think how it was built many centuries ago. Here we tried to click family selfie with our DSLR  and it came out well :)These are the Ashvas (horses) of Surya Rath. Somehow the faces are different and I am not sure why. There must be some reason behind these shapes.

After Anushka, Nishant and his parents shared multiple photo journeys from Odisha and many of them were liked & retweeted by Odisha Tourism.

Exactly 8 years ago, this blog was started with first post on Shrikhand Manadev . Blog-post was written in the month of July in 2008 and today we share a beautiful Photo Journey through Varun's Travellingcamera . And idea here is to about some tips to plan this heavenly trek in Himalayan State of India.Above photograph shows Nayan Sarovar, which comes on the last day of this trek. It's on the way to Shrikhand from Parvati Bagh. Shrikhand Trek starts in the month of July. Every year dates change but easily found on internet. This date drives a lot of things. Lot of communities arrange food and tents for pilgrims and trekkers. Langar arrangements are done at different places on this trek.Above photograph shows magnificent view of Bheem-Dwar.Varun and friends stayed at Barati nala from where the hike starts. Second day stay was at Bheem Talai and 3rd day at Bheem Dwar. On 4th day, they trekked to Shrikhand and came back to Bheem Dwar.Above photograph shows Bheem Talai.This year, snow was very less. There was only one stop where trekker had to cross through frozen snow. Somehow these are called glaciers, but technically they are not. I might be wrong here :)Danda Dhar is beautiful trek through forests. It comes in the beginning of the trek. Since trek happens in monsoons, it's important to keep rain suits and something to cover your bags. Another beautiful shot of Danda Dhar. It was disappointing to that almost everywhere tents are available and pollution is increasing. In one way, having multiple tents is convenient but every pilgrim, trekker and community work need to think about managing garbage as well.Kali Ghati looks beautiful with cloud-play all around. There are multiple Shrikhand  posts on this blog, so go ahead and check out more details about planning and things to avoid.Kali Ghati at it's best !Here is the view on top and the main khand on left is called Shrikhand. This year snow was less, otherwise most of these rocks are covered by snow.

In continuation to our journey to Orissa, here we share about Udaygiri and Khandgiri Caves around Bhubaneshwar. I hope you enjoyed the Photo Journey from Konark Sun Temple  and now excited about this new journey to Udaygiri and Khandgiri Caves.Udaygiri and Khandgiri Caves are mix of natural and man-made caves around Kumari parwat. It seems that caves were carved for Jain monk. Udaigiri means sunrise hill. Udaipgiri has 18 caves, while Khandgiri has 15 caves.Ranigupha (Queen Cave ) is one of the most popular caves and part of Udaygiri and this is double storied monastery.Hathigumpha which is 14th cave in Udaygiri is specially known for it’s art sculptures and similarly Ganeshgumpha which is 10th cave.There is a brilliant view of Bhubaneshwar from Khandgiri Caves. 3rd cave, which is known as Ananta cave has carved figures of women, elephants, athletes and geese on it.Caves in Udaigiri include - Ranigumpha, Bajagharagumpha, Chota Hathigumpha, Alkapurigumpha, Jayavijayagumpha, Panasagumpha, Thakuranigumpha, Patalapurigumpha, Mancapurigumpha, Ganesagumpha, Jambesvaragumpha, Vyaghragumpha, Sarpagumpha, Hathigumpha, Dhanagharagumpha, Haridasagumpha, Jagammathgumpha, RosaigumphaCaves in Khandgiri include - Tatowa gumpha No.-1, Tatowa gumpha No.-2, Ananta gumpha, Tentuli gumpha, Khandagiri gumpha, Dhyana gumpha, Navamuni gumpha, Barabhuji gumpha, Trusula gumpha, Ambika gumpha, Lalatendukesari gumpha, Ekadasi gumpha.More about Udaigiri and Khandgiri caves can be checked at here Entry Fees - There is entry ticket which costs 5 Rs per person (for Indians) and if you want to carry video camera, you need to get 25 rs ticket. For foreigners, ticket costs 100 Rs.How to Reach – Buses don’t go close to the caves ut bus number 801 drops you to nearby bus stop. Since distance is not much auto can be booked and shared autos are also available.Timings – Like any other ASI site, It opens after sunrise and closes around sunset time.

This is quite an interesting place around Bhuvaneshwar. Post talks about things to do around Udaigiri and Khandgiri caves, how to reach there from town and where to go when get free on time. 

Well this write-up gives you some insight of my experiencewith KheerGanga. I am not a avid trekker but I love to travel. So while lookingfor an outstation trip I was searching some place in Himachal. This time mysearch gave me KheerGanga as an option. I had done Triund trek (Mcleodganj)twice before this.So before finalizing  KheerGanga, I have read lot about it. And fromall my reading I concluded that it is more challenging than Triund. Lots ofpeople had mentioned the beauty of this trek. So I decided to do it.We were total three college friends. Its been 7 years sincewe are out of college and since then we were trying to find time to go on atrip together.We started on Friday evening from Delhi at around 8 PM. Wereached Murthal at around 10 PM where westopped for Dinner. After having aquick break we started around 10.45PM and then we drove for next 5 hours. Wethen stopped for a Tea Break. So after crossing Mandi, Sunder Nagar, Kasol wereached Barshaini. Barshini is the point till where you can go by Car/Taxi.Himachal State Transport also ply buses from Mandi to Barshaini.Barshaini gives you option to stay but they give you verybasic facilities. Although we didn’t halt at Barshaini. The point from wherethe Trek starts is basically a Dam construction site. They are constructing ahug dam on Parvati river. We parkedthe car. We then took our trekking bagswith necessary stuff like jackets, extra socks, towels, gloves, cap, torch andthen we headed towards our target. Its been said that the trek is 12 Kms long.The view of the Parvati valley from the point where trek starts wasspectacular. It gives you energy to start the trek. It attracts you and thenyou without wasting any time starts heading towards it.Along the trek you will find good number of shops which are managedby local villagers. They serve you Maggi, omlette chai etc along with dry snacksand fruits as well. You dont really need tocarry any food item for this trek.We started our trek at around 12 noon. After 2 kms we foundone cafĂ©/shop and we stopped there for a quick break. After having maggi wethen started our trek and reached Rudranag. It is almost at the middle of trek.There is a waterfall at this point which looks like snake and thus this pointis named after it. To reach Rudranag it took almost 90 mins from the last stop.We had fruits/tea at a shop here and then we started again.So, after having a good break of about 20 mins we startedour journey again. And immediately  therecomes an interesting wooden bridge over river Parvati. This pics says all. Iwas quite scared crossing this bridge. JAfter this point the terrain becomes more difficult, and it isalmost 2 hours from this point to reach our destination. In this part there arewater streams, steep paths and beautiful views.We reached at around 4 PM to the top.  And the view from here are spectacular. Heris a glimpse of that.To my surprise, there were so many eating outlets along withplaces to stay. I must stay rooms and halls for stay were way beyond myexpectations. Here you will even find currency exchange counter as lot offoreigners come to this place.Atthe top there is a temple and close to it there is a Hotwater spring. It has proper arrangements for women. Water is quite hot but itis very very relaxing. We booked one room with three beds. The rent was veryvery nominal. He charged us 200/- per bed. The sky view at night was awesome.It was clear and mind blowing. We slept early as we were really tired. We wokeup at around 4 AM next morning. After roaming here & there for some time,we started our back journey at around 5 AM. Slowly slowly we have reached fromwhere we started. Surprisingly it took us almost 4 hours to descendwhichincludes 40 Mins break for breakfast. On this way we found apple and peachtrees.  Kheerganga was a beautiful experience but I was greatlydisappointed after realizing that it is becoming more & morecommercialized. We should respect the nature JI found this written over a rock on the trek.

This is Ankit's first Photo Journey on the blog and he is planning to share more on the blog in 2017. 

Khirganga Trek through Varun's Travellingcamera  If you have seen post on travel selfies then you now Varun very well. and if you haven't, then do check out. He has been sharing the same place from a very different perspective and make other people plan out their trips.

If you have seen post on travel selfies then you now Varun very well. and if you haven't, then do check out. He has been sharing the same place from a very different perspective and make other people plan out their trips. 

Hampta Pass – A crossover trek from kullu to spiti valleyIt had been two months since my last visit to the mountains and something was kicking inside. A three days long weekend was approaching, and one of the friends in the group suggested idea to trek to hampta pass.A few details about the trek: Hampta pass is a special pass that takes you from lush green mountains of kullu valley to barrens of lahaul valley on other side. It lies at an altitude of 14000 ft. (approx). Local shepherds use this high altitude pass to take their herds for grazing in Lahaul Spiti where special grass known as “Neeru” grows considered a very good source of nutrients for sheep and goatsSo, three of us were coming from Noida, and plan was to meet at manali. Starting our journey at evening of 9th September, we reached manali in the morning. As I was coming from Hamirpur, approx. 200 kms from Manali, I had reached earlier. We all met each other and exchanged pleasantries and soon we were ready for all the thrill and adventure that was waiting for us in the mountains. We asked around and collected some information about the trek, things we need, food etc. and then hired a taxi from manali to jobra. It took around one and half hour to reach Jobra. The road is in bad condition with countless hairpin bends. In Jobra, there is only one small shop around for snacks etc. We had tea and lunch in Jobra. Then we met a group of people who were also going for trek. However, they had tents, food and other things with them. They told us that there are no tents available in the journey and we shall aim to reach “Balu ka Dera”, where we can find accommodation. So, we started trekking around 03:00 PM from Jobra with a small trail through pine forests and leading to lush green meadows with small rocks. Rani river/nala flows in between or either sides of the meadows. We reached Chilka, which is roughly 4 kms from Jobra and saw a campsite there. It was YHAI campsite and there were around 25 to 30 people there. They were quite surprised to see us as we had no tents or food with us. They suggested us same as earlier to reach Balu ka Gera for night stay. We reached Jwara around 5 PM and saw a couple of tents there. It also had started getting cold and dark. It was a small tea shop and there were two local men there. We had tea there and asked if they could allow us to spend the night. Initially, they told us to move forward, but as it started raining, they allowed us to spend the night. We took rest for a while and then were called for dinner. They had made khichdi which was delicious. They also offered us mutton, but we politely declined.In the morning after having breakfast, we paid the shopkeeper and thanked him for letting us stay. We started our journey towards hampta pass around 09:00 am and had planned to reach Chatru by evening. Weather all this time was lovely with no signs of clouds and sun shining. It took us around one hour to reach Balu ka Gera. We had tea and some snacks, took rest for few minutes and headed towards high mountains. Climb get steeper as we move. Unfortunately, we lost way somewhere but we kept moving. We rached a pleateau from where to our right was Deo-Tibba peak. After climbing for around two hours more, we were atop Hampta pass at 14000 ft. We took this moment to catch our breath and get some rest. It was around 03:00 PM and suddenly strong wind started blowing, clouds started forming around us and visibility got reduced to few meters. It was a scary moment as we could not see the way forward. After sometime as visibility got back normal, we saw the path and were relieved. We needed to cross two small mountains to reach the path. In meantime, we also saw two foreigner backpackers coming from other side. Once you reach Hampta pass, next destination is Shea Goru. It is a steep descent and one needs to be careful while descending. Shea Goru is visible from the top and there is no clear path to climb down. Shea Goru is at 12900 ft. with picturesque valley filled with grass and river flowing on other side. There was a YHAI campsite, and we met a YHAI volunteer there. It was a large campsite with capacity to accommodate around 60 people. Alongwith him, there were two other people there who were cook. He told us that we were lucky as no group was coming that day and tents were empty. We decided to stay at Shea Goru and leave early next day for Chatru. We put our stuff in a tent and got inside sleeping bags. We woke up around 08:00 PM for dinner and had a delicious meal with chapatis and mix veg.We woke up around 07:00 am in the morning, got fresh and had paranthas with chai. We left for Chatru around 09:00 am. One need to cross the river to other side and then walk downhill. River water is icy cold and it was quite fun to cross. After walking for one hour, we could see Chatru. There is a bus service from Chatru to Chandertal which leaves Chatru at 10:30 AM. As we were descending down, we saw bus enrotue to Chandertal. Reaching Chatru, we came to know that there are no taxis available from there either to Chandertaal or to Manali. Chatru is a small village with total population of 120 with only two or three shops. There is a fixed line phone available for calling as cell network is nonexistent. We had lunch in Chatru, and with no hope of visiting Chandertal, started trying to get transportation for Manali. After waiting and asking people for lift, finally after around two hours, a couple who was going to Manali in a taxi agreed to give us lift. It was really brave of them to give lift to four unknown strangers. On our way, we stoped at Rohtang pass for few minutes. We reached Manalibus stand around 07:00 PM; thanked them and bid goodbye. We had our dinner at mall road, manali and then took bus back to home.

You have to be lucky to explore some of the rare sights in the world and that too without any planning. This posts says it all. But we don't recommend that you don't plan at all. Because not everyone is as lucky as Nishant. His Hampta Pass Trek takes us through some of the brilliant landscapes in Himalayas.

Rock Edicts of Ashoka by Nishant Sharma  Nishant has been sharing Photo Journeys for last few years and he is the youngest Traveller & Photographer who has been inspiring lot of young kids to follow their own passions. His photographs are certainly unique and found place in some of the other popular websites this year. His travelogues from Odisha were very popular this year. The Chilika lke photograph caught attention of many viewers & followers on the blog and social media.

Nishant has been sharing Photo Journeys for last few years and he is the youngest Traveller & Photographer who has been inspiring lot of young kids to follow their own passions. His photographs are certainly unique and found place in some of the other popular websites this year. His travelogues from Odisha were very popular this year. The Chilika lke photograph caught attention of many viewers & followers on the blog and social media. 

Kedarkantha Trek by Anirban Deb  This was one of the most inspiring trekking experiences shared on Travellingcamera in 2016. One has to read this post to know why I say so. Lot of folks sent us queries over email to better plan treks. And thanks to the trekkers community who helped us resolving those queries throughout the year.   With this, we wish everyone a great year ahead and stay tuned for more year end posts for more inspiration & excitement.

This was one of the most inspiring trekking experiences shared on Travellingcamera in 2016. One has to read this post to know why I say so. Lot of folks sent us queries over email to better plan treks. And thanks to the trekkers community who helped us resolving those queries throughout the year. 

With this, we wish everyone a great year ahead and stay tuned for more year end posts for more inspiration & excitement. 

If you liked this post and found it helpful, I would request you to follow these things when traveling -

- Manage your waste well and don’t litter
- Use dustbins. Tell us if you went to a place and found it hard to locate a dustbin.
- Avoid bottle waters in hills. Usually you get clean water in hills and water bottles create lot of mess in our ecosystem.
- Say big no to plastic and avoid those unhealthy snacks packed in plastic bags. Rather buy fruits.

- Don't play loud blaring music in forests of jungle camps. You are a guest in that ecosystem and disturbing the locals (humans and animals) is not polite 

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