Letter to Santa - My 2013 Travel Wish List

12/10/2012 01:48:00 PM

"I want universe to royally spoil me this new year. so would you Mr. Universe?"

Starting next year, First thing i want to do is to take a dip, drench this, though pure yet sinful soul in my highly maintained yet mortal body, in the holy confluence of divine rivers, so that I can achieve nirvana. and by nirvana means, bringing freshness in to life yet again, and trying to see a world i want to see with a baby's eyes, new and curious.

and my first destination is -> ( drum-rolls...)

1.  Maha kumbh Mela

Held every 12 years, Maha Kumbh Mela is the greatest pilgrimage festival in hindu religion, and truly a cultural spectacle, attracting participants from not only all parts of india, but from around the globe to take a dip in the holy waters of Sangam, the confluence of holy rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the mystical Saraswati. 

For photographers and travelers, one of the main attraction of Kumbh mela is Naga Babas procession. Kubha mela is like a yogi convention, where yogis, sadhus arrive from various holy places, remote forests and mountain caves in the Himalayas. Naga babas are naked saints with their bodies smeared in ash and their hair in deadlocks. 

Maha Kumbh Festival 2013 in Allahabad Uttar Pradesh, India is speculated to be one of the biggest congregations in the history of mankind. Last Maha Kumbh witnessed participation of about 70 million people. A huge temporary city will created at the site of the festival for the millions of pilgrims that arrive for the most auspicious bathing days, one of them called mauni amavasya or "New Moon of the Saints." falling on feb 10, 2013. It is also the day when new members to various holy monastic orders will receive their first initiation.

2. Chadar Trek, Ladakh

Well it totally depends on Santa, where he wants to send me first to Maha Kumbh or Ladakh. if he wants to torture me a bit too much, (umm no, i wouldnt call it a torture though. the trek is a blessing, so shower upon please) but he can sure give me some strength to walk on a thin ice, shoot with my ungloved fingers, and yes clear vision... because I dont want to come back with blurred shots, nope.

Carrying the Legends, history, culture and magical landscapes for over thousand years, The ancient trail that was once used by the Zanskaris as only way in or out for trade in months of winters, is now known as the one of the greatest, high adrenaline, most exotic and incomparable trek in the region of himalaya. 

From walking on a frozen river and camping in caves, to utterly real possibilities of seeing a glut of wildlife — the bharal, ibex to the elusive carnivores, the wolf and the regal snow leopard, and chance of learning about the region and its people by staying with the locals, the Chadar trek offers thrill seekers an experience of a lifetime. no doubt its features in every avid trekker's dream trek list and as one the top treks in world trekking map. and exactly that is why its in my wish list too. 

Trek starts from chilling, a little ahead of the indus, Zanskar confluence near Leh, and goes all the way in to womb of zanskar with many villages on the river side, and also high up on the mountains. Well I am just sitting here writing, imagining how it be to walk on that blue-green ice and if i'd be lucky again to get a glimpse of snow leopard, like I was in when witnessing a alpha female tiger, on my very first safari in Bandipur, karntaka. one can always hope right ;)

3. Greenland / Iceland - Arctic Circle Expedition

Well Santa might think I am being greedy, but, can i really help it? the zanskar river is frozen only for few days in Jan end and feb beginning. the kumbh mela happens once in four years, and maha kumbha only once in twelve. so you see, I dont want to wait up till i get old, carry my kids along with me to kumbh mela, get them tattooed and lose them there only for them to meet up once they grow up, I know, very common phenomenon in 70-80s bollywood movies. 

photo courtesy - aliceinwonder.net & club.doctissimo.fr

Oh oh... did i get you all confused in age old repetitive bollywood story, just chuck that.

this is the third and final of the quarter, No No I am not asking to attend Holi festival too this year, that'd be way too much to ask, but Northern Lights???? How can I not go..? I am not sure what connection it has with the Cosmic Forces, Maha kumbh, but it seems the Aurora in 2013 are going to be best in past 11-12 years. Now... the weather has always been a great fan of mine, I have noticed, because whenever I go out in nature, I always get best weather. so well, Mr. Universe can you turn some tables and make me see the northern  lights in their full glory please ?

I can also make it a considerable option, You can send me to greenland, chances are, the light show will be the best there, you can send me to Iceland, or you can also send me to Alaska incase sending me all the way to Arctic is difficult for you... Well, I would always dream of a arctic cruise, or backpacking expedition, hiking to the glaciers, getting to see aerial views, meeting polar bears and all that sort of things, but I 'll be fine in postponing the latter, if you could just let me see the northern lights in a grand way :)) Just make me be the "Alice in Wonderland".. quite a bargain huh! 

photo courtesy - kanoo world traveller

The Bright light show, the Northern Lights, or Auroral displays that appears in northern or southern hemisphere, are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth's atmosphere. The lights appear in many colors and forms, i.e. the color ranging common pale green and pink and rare shades of red, yellow, green, blue, and violet, and in forms or in shapes of patches or scattered clouds of light to streamers, arcs, rippling curtains or shooting rays that light up the sky with an eerie glow. The lights, that are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. They are known as 'Aurora borealis' in the north and 'Aurora australis' in the south.
The Southern auroras are not that often seen as they are concentrated in a ring around Antarctica and the southern Indian Ocean. However, Northern lights can be seen in many places over North america such as, the northwestern parts of Canada, particularly the Yukon, Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Alaska. The best place to see Aurora are southern tip of Greenland and Iceland, the northern coast of Norway and over the coastal waters north of Siberia.

4. Utah Grand Circle Road trip

Past six years I have been in USA on and off, but I have not seen Grand Canyon, Yes you have heard it right! I have seen the coastal road from Point reyes to Bigsur and lot of forests and valleys but I havent seen the wonder the grand canyon is, and here comes the surprise, Its not really the only one, that qualifies to be part of my 2013 wish list, what however is the rest of the canyons scattered around i.e. Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyon lands and finally Grand Canyon national parks. 

The Grand Circle is a beautiful, vast region located in the Southwestern United States. Encompassing portions of five states – Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Nevada – the Grand Circle contains America’s largest concentration of national parks and monuments, woven together by extraordinary designated Scenic Byways. Some of America’s most diverse scenery can be found within the Grand Circle – the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Lake Powell and Arches National Park, just to name a few. From over 2000 arches in Arches National park, to Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument , one of the finest scenic route, from hiking to Angel's landing in Zion to walking among hoodoos in Bryce, from searching the geological wrinkles on earth in
 Capitol Reef to photographing the most breathtaking slot canyons in Antelope, I want to do it all and in just, one road trip. 

5. Chaouen, Morocco and Santorini Greece

Since after seeing it in 2005 movie 'Sisterhood of Traveling pants', which apparently was the first time, so far I have seen a countless of photographs of this beautiful greek island named Santorini, and every time i see one, I wish to go to this place, all over again.  this blue and white little magnet like place, was the only one place in my list, till I saw a flickr image from Chaouen, Morocco and I just fell for it. I opened maps.google and my eyes surfed all over the Mediterranean sea. where all I want to go... I want to see istanbul too. so is it possible for me to magically land in Casablanca, and do a road trip right through the coast line, from Morocco to dead sea of Jordan to Constantine,Turkey to Santorini in Greece and Spain? One needs to dream high right? ;)

Situated in the Rif Mountains, just inland from Tangier and Tetouan, and known by its Medina of shady alleys, whitewashed houses, blue turquoise doors, wrought iron windows and tile covered roofs, a glance of this small mountain city Chef chaouen is an experience in itself. Despite the blue colour, the old part of the city has a distinctly Andalusian feel to it and toing and froing in their straw hats, souks are decorated with their traditionally dressed inhabitants. Kasbah, Hammam – traditional Arabic bathes, Grande Mosque that dates back to 15th century are something worth to visit and a great way to immerse yourself in local culture and customs.

6. Oahu, Maui, Hawaii - can I go back in time and get myself a character in LOST ?

So I know that Maui has been voted the best island by many travelers and magazines through out these past years, but thats not the only reason I want to go to Maui for. earlier this year, I did a LOST marathon. yes exactly what it means, I watched all six seasons of ABCs' hit series LOST non-stop day and night. and in that period of time, I practically lived on that island. to tell you this series, when it aired in 2004, perhaps in india as well (HBO), in the same year i am guessing, I had absolutely no interest in it. I had a vague memory of that 9 or 10PM slot, with few season 1 scenes. But that definitely was different time in my life. came 2012, and I fell in love with it well except the last 2 seasons. which I did not like that much, but hey, who cares! what I want to do is to go and explore (not really the tour type, trust me its a huge business - read this ) each every spot in oahu, Kauai, lanai and Maui,  say, Oh I was actually here... yes virtually. 

here a gallery edited by CNN on LOST  locations -> http://edition.cnn.com/2010/TRAVEL/05/18/lost.locations/

7. Follow the Fall Foliage this year - umm, sniffing a New England here ?

In my dictionary, I have no word that can describe the love I have for fall colors. from sugar maples, scarlet oaks, sweetgums, red maples, and hickories, I want them all. I am a true leaf peeper who but wants it all for herself. I seek solitude, so is New England really a place for me? may be not. there where else can I go? 

Hiking Smokey Mountains? or Horseback riding in Shenandoah?
'or' perhaps take this MAP from weather.com and follow it through out United States. I kinda like the scope and challenge of the latter.

8. Tracing roots - Exploring My Ancestors History

So an interesting thing happened, as I went searching for images on parihar dynasty, google threw up my images as search results, not my face thank god, but the one I shot, and are spread over the internet. Parihar's were originated from Mandore, Rajasthan, they were also part of kannuaj dynasty somewhere in Kanpur Uttar Pradesh area. In this Era, there are about 100 villages of Parihar Rajputs or Thakurs in Bah District of  UP, close to Bateshwar which is a pilgrimage about 70 KM from Agra, and famous for cattle fair. What my late Grandfather told me years back, a group of Rajput sat on their horses, headed north, reached a forest, about 100 kms from Bateshwar, threw few Muslim communities settled around,  chopped the forest of, and settled there. Hmm... interesting story. this happened in late 19th century and this village is now known as Bankati Bujurg, in Etawah. 

Incidentally, when I discussed whatever little i knew about the origin, he told me that there is a man who comes to village to collect some kind of cash from everyone, every three years, and he's the only one who knows entire history of the place and people where did the came from and how they settled here. well, alright till I meet him, ( fingers crossed)  this is all, my father's side of the story I know. as for mom, history of Tomar's dynasty is another game plan, there were few who ruled in Delhi around 750 AD, but thats way too far for my interest, what I want to know, is What happened in Morena, Madhya Pradesh. I haven't been there for as long as 25 years, and I have absolutely no idea how I am going to fulfill this wish of mine to know a-z of of them all.

9. Burning Man Festival

Burning Man is a week-long annual event held in the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada, in the United States. The event begins on the last Monday in August, and ends on the first Monday in September, The event is described by many participants as an experiment in community, art, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance. There are no rules about how one must behave or express oneself at this event rather, it is up to each participant to decide how they will contribute and what they will give to this community. The event takes place on an ancient lakebed, known as the playa. By the time the event is completed and the volunteers leave, sometimes nearly a month after the event has ended, there will be no trace of the city that was, for a short time, the most populous town in the entire county. Art is an unavoidable part of this experience. Larry Harvey, founder of the Burning Man project, gives a theme to each year, to encourage a common bond to help tie each individual's contribution together in a meaningful way.

Two consecutively failed plans, and I am again keeping an eye on the burning man festival next year. there is no reason to be told, its an expression magic one can only understand after experiencing it. so Santa, Let me experience the city that never existed and never will, a place that just appears and disappears. ( I am kind of talking like LOST island again, but this is no island, its a bustling city of sizzling, bizarre things, if you call it that is.

10.  Send me wherever you want to...

How generous of me, right Santa? so well, for 10th I thought i'd go ahead look at everyone's list of top places to travel in 2013. 2 links I clicked but i could'nt connect, I think to wish for traveling to certain places, you really need to truly dream about them, for sometime, that process does build a perfect foundation to plan, research and travel and of course the post travel memorabilia.  so would I go push you to visit these places? not exactly, once I come back from there, may be yes. I'd have the dream that I lived in reality and I'd have the facts to support, an opinion about it... and I'd definitely want to share that with you all.

so why not I let you tell me what fit the perfect 10 in my list, the place you have experienced, you have been to, the place you've dreamt about?

Please note - All photographs are copyrights of their respective owners. I am available at handle  @poonamparihar on Twitter, or Facebook new page / profile  to chat up more. if you want to send me any query/comment you have, you can so by mailing on mailme@poonamparihar.com / indigypsi@gmail.com or commenting below.

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  1. Great list!

    I've been to Chefchaouen in Morocco and it's one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited, so I hope you do get to see it!

    I haven't heard of the Grand Circle before and I'll be heading to the US in the summer so I've put this on my list too! :)

  2. Hey Lauren,

    Thank you, would love to see photographs from Chefcahaouen, Please do share!

    You'll find plenty of info and maps on grand circle, pretty popular with photographers, all those national parks specially Antelope. I should be back in US in February end, do stay connected. we might cross paths. :)

  3. What a fabulous list, Poonam. While I am not Santa, I'll try and put in a word on your behalf to him to make your wish list come true. ;-)

    Good luck !

  4. @Sudhagee, that's so sweet of you :) Thank you for wishing me luck, Thank you for liking the post, Thank you Thank you ...

  5. Your list is quiet exotic. Any plans for travel in hills of north india other than Chadder trek. Would be great to join you. :-)

  6. dreaming high :)) you know!!!

    chadar trek is out till 2014 gets my hopes high again.
    was thinking of doing one of these winter treks -http://blog.poonamparihar.com/2012/12/top-10-treks-to-do-in-himalayas-this.html but too late :( perhaps next nov-dec I'd do both... will keep you posted.

  7. If you are interested in seeing volcano (one which is still erupting), you should try Big Island in Hawaii. Simply loved it. I have a series of posts on it on my blog.

    1. I Evan, Yes Hawaii Volcanos are sure in my mind. Hopefully soon. Thanks for the posts I shall check out soon. thanks.

  8. Chefchaouen in Morocco is really beautiful


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