2017 IS MY BEST TRAVEL YEAR AS BLOGGER FROM INDIA YET! A QUICK REVIEW!
From being mentioned as one of the Top travel bloggers from India many times to being interviewed by some reputed journals, it has been a dream year for my travel blog A Soul Window. Year 2017 has proven to be the best year for me travel wise and also travel blogging wise. If 2016 was a miracle year that forever changed the way I traveled. I completed 10 years of traveling in January 2018 and I feel like the last one year was a celebration of a decade in travel. 2017 helped me at every step in raising the bar.
I wrote 75 travel blogs in 2017. It was also a great year for my print articles. I also shifted homes more than 4 times (due to different reasons) between all the travels. I almost had a nervous breakdown. It was a year which moved at a very fast pace and got over in a jiffy. I am not sure I would want to be so busy in 2018. Perhaps I will become more choosy with assignments. I would like a slower pace for myself henceforth. Too much of a good thing is also bad. There are times I am tired of travel. The whirligig of blogging life left me with no time to reflect until now.
A SOUL WINDOW MENTIONED AS TOP TRAVEL BLOGS OF INDIA 11 TIMES.
Lonely Planet Magazine India mentioned me as one of the Top bloggers from India while introducing me in the November article by me. Outlook Traveler Magazine nominated me as one of the top travel bloggers from India for their annual awards. Skyscanner mentioned me as Top 5 travel bloggers from India. Hoste la Vie listed me as Top 7 Indian bloggers. Till now 11 reputed publications have mentioned my blog, A Soul Window as Top Travel Blogs from India. I was also interviewed by the likes of Radio One. Pls see their details in my ABOUT ME section.
Countries I visited in 2017: I made 5 international trips this year. 2 times in United Arab Emirates (Dubai and Sharjah respectively), 2 times in Nepal and once in Australia. The trip to Australia was my first solo International trip. I was nervous as hell. But luckily everything went well. 2 trips to Nepal were my best travel experience internationally.
Countries I missed visiting in 2017: Unfortunately, I missed out on lucrative offers to travel to media trips to places like Bali, Mauritius, and Maldives because I was traveling elsewhere and my dates were not free. I have learned to come to terms with these. I was also offered a TV show to be aired on National Geographic channel. I missed out because I was in no network zone and saw the mail late.
Brands I worked with in 2017: This year I worked with some amazing brands like Singapore airlines, Scout My Trip, i Travel, Escapes Routes, Princess Cruises, OYO Rooms, Wildcraft and many more.
Travel Blogs published in 2017: I publish total of 75 blogs in 2017. It is my highest number of blogs ever. Most satisfying was publishing 11 detailed blogs on Pushkar fair. I just wanted a closure with Pushkar. Luckily it received very good response. Ho the hard work paid off.
Print travel articles published in 2017: Total of 9 travel articles and pictures by me were published in leading magazines and newspapers of India including 6 debuts. Details are as below:
Print Articles published in 2017:
January- Railbandhu. Story: Shri Chandra Shekhar Azad’s disputed birth place.
March– Debut in National Geographic Traveler India. Story: Masi Magam in Pondicherry
March- Railbandhu- Story: Bhimbhetka
April- Debut in Mint. Story: Scuba Diving in Tarkarli
April- Railbandhu- Story: Bhedaghat
May- Railbandhu- Story: Satpura National Park
June- Debut in Jet Wings. Story: Only pictures of Ladakh.
June- Debut in Shubh Yatra- Story: Bhimbhetka
August- Railbandhu. Story: Bhimashankar Trek
November- Debut in Lonely Planet Magazine India. Story: Canberra, Australia
December- Debut in Tripoto (Not print. Online website) Story: Alwar Bagh, Majestic Princess
Yearly travel review
I didn’t travel much in January. I was on a self imposed break from travel since late 2016. I spent the time writing blogs, visiting book fairs, exploring international film festivals and classical musical concerts in New Delhi. I posted about none of these online. It was mostly a silent month, on purpose. The only exception was a heart pumping Republic day parade facilitated by #TCBGTrips. I am a huge fan of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A glimpse of him at the parade made my day. I was happy for many days. The parades made me feel proud of all that makes India, India.
I was mostly sitting at home and organizing my life.
I stayed in 2 amazing properties in March. Aamari resorts in Ramgarh helped me see former homes of Nobel laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore and Hindi writer Mahadevi Verma. Leela Orchards in Mukteshwar won my heart with its warmth and beauty. I walked around the lovely villages inundated with flowers. Visit to former homes of Jim Corbett in Nainital were also enriching.
It was my first time in a luxury train. Golden Chariot is the only luxury train in South India. I spent more than a week exploring 4 states of South India. Trains are anyways my first love, whether sleeper class or luxury trains. I love them equally and hence this trip was special. I explored many new places in this trip. I was in a new exciting destination every day in this trip. The 7 nights and 8 days trip took me to Bangalore, Kovalam, Alleypey and Kochi, Chennai, Madurai, Mahabalipuram aka Mammallapuram, Puducherry aka Pondicherry, Thanjavur, Trichy, , Kanyakumari.
It was a super busy month.
I had heard a lot about The Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa in Gulmarg. It exceeded my expectations. Each day spent here was a dream. From snow clad trees and mountains to unmatched luxury, a stay at Khyber is my best property stay to date. I also got an opportunity to visit the annual Tulip festival in Sri Nagar. Visit to Nigeen Lake, Dal lake and ancient Hindu temples of Kashmir were my favourite.
It was the largest travel blogging conference I attended in Nepal. Organised by PATA, I enjoyed mingling with bloggers from so many nations many of whom are still connected to me online. The 4 day long Poonhill trek revived my love for adventure. The Poonhill Trek blogs are also some of my most popular blogs ever. The excess of assignments I get in travel blogging leaves me with little time to explore adventure. I will make it a priority in 2018. I also did white water rafting in Nepal and visited Kathmandu, Nuwakot and Pokhara.
The long Nepal trip continued in June. I visited Malihabad near Lucknow along with my parents. It is known for its award winning mangoes. We returned with bags full of mangoes and stories. I enjoyed Fort Kochi in monsoon and a memorable luxury cruise from Dubai (U.A.E.) to Fort Kochi (India) via Oman. Certainly one of the most happening months!
July was an interesting mix. I visited Sardhana near Meerut tracing footsteps of Begum Samru. I stayed in Alwar Bagh, a luxurious property by Aamod Resorts in Alwar. Alwar charmed me as did the property which was built like the old havelis of Rajasthan. I also visited Bhangarh Fort, the most haunted fort in India. However, the 12 day long Ladakh road trip organized by Scout My trip and OYO Rooms took the cake. It is counted as one of the best road trips in the world. The agenda behind the road trip made it even more interesting. The agenda was- The Highest Bloggers Meet! We even made a record and got certificates for it!
Whether it was the night trail in rainforest of Agumbe or many day trips in search of King Cobra, it was my most enriching experience of 2017. I am a wildlife fan. And I don’t limit wildlife experiences to just tigers. I explored Udupi after so many years. It was followed up by a chilled out vacation at the luxurious Java Rain Resort in Chikmagalur, the coffee paradise. It was one of my best stays. I also stole some time to make my annual visit to Mumbai. An impromptu visit to Alibag aka Alibaug gave me that much needed beach vacation. I didn’t update a single social media post on Mumbai and Alibagh. I mostly prefer it that way (whenever I can).
Nepal beckoned me twice in 2017. This time, I attended the Kumari festival. It was a very unique experience which acquainted me with the mysterious life of Kumari, the living Goddess of Nepal.I also visited new places in Nepal such as Chitwan National Park, Nagarkot and Bandipur. It was followed up by my first trip to Australia. I visited Canberra this month.
I continued my trip to Australia with Melbourne and Sydney. I found the 2 cities mostly overrated. My stay in Harris Park, the Little India of Sydney was amusing. I denied some more trips and kept the rest of the month travel free, again to take a break. I visited Lucknow to spend time with family on Diwali.
It was my second trip to Tal Chappar Black buck sanctuary. However, it was my first trip to the outskirts of Bikaner and Jod Beed. It was the first time I stood in front of heaps of rotting animal carcasses. I was shooting eagles, raptors etc. One of my most satisfying wildlife and birdwatching trips.
It was my first time in Sharjah. I was surprised to discover ancient history of U.A.E. in Mleiha. It was also the first time I did dune bashing. Attending the F1H2O World Championship was the most exciting thing which happened this year. Towards the end, I discovered La Martiniere School, Dilkhusha Garden and Residency in Lucknow.
I had the best company in 2017:
I was lucky to travel with my close friends.
From the travel blogging community, I enjoyed traveling with friends like Manjulika Pramod, Dipanshu Goyal, Swati Jain, Ami Bhat, Divyakshi Gupta, Alka Kaushik ji, Swati Naik, Khurshid Dinshaw, Johann , Raza Rahil Hussain, Saurabh Arya, Deepti Asthana, Sandy, Parnashree Devi, Ragini Puri, Archana Singh, Aditi Mathur, Ruchira Shukla, Lakshami Sharath, Neha Kapoor, Karan Bhalla.
I also enjoyed travel with friends who are not bloggers: Sadly, I traveled with my parents only once. I hope to increase that frequency this year. I visited Alwar and Bhangarh fort with Jeetendra Sharma, Alibaug with Rahul Sahni, birdwatching trip to Bikaner and Jod Beed with wildlife photographer friend Sudeep Garg.
I also made new friends with many new travel bloggers, PRs and brands. Listing down all of them is cumbersome, so am skipping it.
The view from my #SoulWindow couldn’t have been any better!
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