I’m a big fan of day dreaming. Although an escapist’s way, it’s a great way to stay happy and maintain your sanity.

As I’m writing the first article of 2015, a montage of exotic places is being played out in my mind. They are those places which I’ve been day-dreaming of since quite some time now and wish to go during this year.

Few of these places may seem a bit too ambitious but who cares? I’m just 24. No reason to not to dream a wild dream. Other places are rather within reach. Hence there are good chances of me (or one of the fellow “partner in crime”) going there. Which will obviously be followed by a detailed post here.

Shortlisting these 15 places was difficult which is why I have also mentioned my thought process behind choosing that particular place. Some of my reasons might seem rather silly. Blame it on my extremely fickle mind when it comes to choosing a travel destinations.

So here goes the 2015 “razalpat” travel bucket list.

1. Tajikistan (Pamirs)

Pamirs are a mountain range formed by junction of Himalayas, Karakoram and Hindukush. In Persian, “Pamir” means roof of the world. One can visit these majestic mountains by travelling on the breathtaking “Pamir highway” which passes through Tajikistan.

My fascination with these mountains was born after Shabbir got his tent which was branded as Pamir. Some quick Google searches and I was in love with the place. As a reassurance of cosmic conspiracy to take me to the Pamirs, two signs have been recently dropped around: 1. Discovery of a lovely song from coke studio Pakistan called Bibi Sanam Janam (by Zeb & Haniya). A place called Tashkurgan finds a mention in this presumably Afghan / Pashto folk song, which is in the Pamirs. 2. One of my friend’s girlfriend is from Dushanbe, Tajikistan’s capital. He has plans to go there soon. Who knows, I may also join him.

2. Nepal / Bhutan

Ever since I found out (quite accidentally) that population density of Bhutan is just 19 – compared to 29,650 of Bombay – I’ve been wanting to go there. The mere fact that there are less people in entire Bhutan than there are in Kandivali alone, is extremely fascinating. Also, Bhutan is world number one in gross happiness index.

Nepal is a recent addition to this list, after Neha went there. There are many cultural and geographical similarities in both these countries. If I had to choose just one place to go in Nepal, it would be Mustang valley.

3. Gujarat

As far back in time as I can remember, the idea of travelling in Gujarat sounded lame. But off lately a few zones of Gujarat have been able to rouse my curiosity thanks to Dhruv Bhatt’s books – Akoopar and Samudrantike. These are the places which I wish to explore, preferably by self driven car or bike.

  • Secret colony of cave dwellers near Chotila

There was a two part article in Divya Bhaskar about cattle herders (Maldhari) who spend 4 months each year during monsoon in caves, away from the civilization. It would be totally amazing to stay with them for a few days and understand their way of life. The article said, there were frequent encounters with wild cats of various sizes.

  • Pirotan Island

Part of a Marine national park in the gulf of Kutchh, Pirotan is a coral island with blue waters and white sand. I’m not writing more about it as it is shut for visitors since past few years.

  • Meter Gauge Train through Gir and staying in Ness (નેસ / નેસડો)

There is a meter gauge passenger train from Junagadh to Delwada passing through Gir forest. This train ride offers most scenic views of the countryside in Monsoon.

Ness are typical community houses of cattle herders of Gir. Each ness contains multiple houses one for each family who collectively take care of their cattle; often having to protect them from Lions or Leopards. These people are said to be most hospitable in the world.

  • Camping in Rann of Kutcch

Rann of Kutchh is extremely overrated these days thanks to Ranotsav and Gujrat tourism TV commercials featuring Amitabh Bachhan. However, you can’t ignore the beauty of the great Rann because of that. It would be a good idea to visit there in off season and stay in a village or camp out in the desert.

Lesser known fact is that there are Navratri celebrations on the Mandvi beach (source: a friend’s friend). This too might be a good time to visit Kutcch.

4. Lonavala to bhimashankar traverse

Having been to most of the popular treks around Mumbai in last couple of years, now I the time has come to move on to more difficult and uncharted ones. Many of these popular treks like Rajmachi and Kalsubai have clear markings on the way which are like big turn offs for the adventurer in me. He wants to go somewhere off the beaten path where he may get lost in the dense jungle, may not find a source of drinking water, may have to fast as the food brought from home got over, may have to spend chilly nights under constant fear of wild cats.

Lonavala to Bhimashankar taversing or cross country trek as it’s called, promises to offer just the same. At the same time, it is already done by many people who have shared their experiences online. So, it is a perfect “next step” for our little group.

5. Sanskrit speaking villages

Did you know that there are a few villages in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar where people of every age group, creed and caste speak in Sanskrit and Sanskrit only. Even the names of grocery shops and wall graffiti are in Sanskrit.

Wouldn’t it be cool to hear children shout in Sanskrit while playing Cricket?

6. Turtuk / Baltistan

Last year when I went to Ladakh, my desire to visit Turtuk remained unfulfilled. Baltistan and Turtuk are geographically and culturally connected lands but sadly they are separated by Indo-Pak borders. I want to go to Turtuk but I even more yearn to go to Baltistan, due to forbidden nature of its country. InshaAllah one day I will go there. Meanwhile I content myself by following the posts by this Facebook page – “Baltistan the land of beauty“.

baltistan7. Siachen

Our country had to fight a bloody battle in 1984 to capture the Siachen glacier. Ever since then the Indian Army has manned this “world’s highest battlefield” with some of its toughest soldiers. Each year they conduct small expeditions for a few tough civilians to get a glimpse of their life. During the course of these expeditions you can witness the courage, determination and sometimes even the frustration of brave Army personnel, who have to fight a constant battle against weather even in times of peace. You get to hear stories of bravery in war, get first hand experience of the hardships faced by them in such adverse living conditions and feel futility of the whole concept of fighting over pieces of land.

Must be a humbling experience!

8. Trekking route of Kailash

Can there be a better way to visit Mount Kailash than the one traced by Lord Shiva himself while coming down to plains of India? Even if you ignore the religious aspects, this 180km/24 day trek route offers an adventurous journey through some of the most beautiful regions of the world. Each year only a few extremely fit Indians get the permit to go there.

9. Horse Riding

When I was in 5th grade, I wanted a horse for myself which I could ride between school and home. Needless to say I did not get one. But a strong affection towards these lovely beasts was always there in a dormant state.

Recently it has been re-awakened. And I’m gonna master the art of riding a horse.

10. Chaddar trek

In winters Zanskar river gets frozen which looks like a clean, white bedsheet. It is quite an experience to trek on it, which is aptly named Chaddar trek.

The reason why I have included it in this list is because Dharav has gone there. He had promised to write a blog post after coming back. But on the day when he was supposed to start for the trek, there was some mishap due to which it has been cancelled for this season.

11. Lakshadweep (Agatti island)

When I asked Jinesh to share his wishlist for 2015, he said he didn’t have any specific place in mind. However, the crazy enthusiasm with which he showed this photo makes me include it at the top of his wishlist.

agatti island airportThis is the landing strip of Agatti island, Lakshadweep. Do I need to say anything else?

12. Vipassana

Travel is not always about seeing places or doing things. Sometimes it’s about going deeper into yourself. This again is from Jinesh’s unsaid wishlist.

13. Sandakhphu

Shabbir also did not specify any place for his wishlist. But a few days later he came up with a plan to go for Sandakhphu trek near Darjeeling. I am also joining him for this 120km trek spanning 6 days through Singalila National park on the Indo-Nepal border. While doing this trek we won’t even know on which side of the border are we treading. Seems like this is the closest I will be to Nepal this year.

As a stroke of Serendipity, I discovered this mellow, joyful sounding album called “Sketches of Darjeeling” by Bipul Chhetri. These songs will teleport you to Darjeeling as soon as you hit the play button.

14. Dudhsagar

Among the tallest waterfalls of India, Dudhsagar was there in Tosh’s 2013 and 2014 wishlist. Now, it has been made famous by SRK’s Chennai Express hence driving more crowd towards it in monsoons. One way to reach there is by road but the fun way reach there by walking on train tracks.

15. Tarkarli / Dapoli

Another one from Tosh’s wishlist. These pristine beaches in Konkan are known for cheap scuba diving and Dolphins. Going there cycling on a road along coast sounds damn exciting!