Lite Blogs Travel & Tourism

Create Some Californian Memories

Call it a safety precaution or your chance to finally have some “me time” in the pandemic, solo travel is unquestionably one thing that is bound to appeal to young travellers, especially women. Owing to various outdoor activities, Mammoth Lakes in California is one location that naturally lends itself to social distancing.

From superb views on hiking trails to thrilling rides at the number one bike park within the USA, summer time is jam-packed with outdoor activities. Whether you’re exploring the geographic area on horseback or sampling exquisite cuisines at a festival, Mammoth Lakes delivers excitement for everybody. In fact, this small mountain city has no shortage of water adventures. The clear and pristine lakes are perfect for dipping your toes or catching a trophy trout, beckon.

What to do once you get here?

Year-Round Adventures

Adventure is available year-round in Mammoth Lakes. Outdoor adventure activities are a great way to enjoy a quiet moment in nature as a solo traveller. During winter you can ski and snowboard Mammoth Mountain or take off into the wilderness on your cross-country skis. When spring hits, you can ski and also celebrate the fishing opener on the same day. The summer melts away the snow, opening roads to Devil’s Postpile National Monument, 101-foot Rainbow Falls and the gateway to Yosemite National Park.

Some claim autumn is the best season because you get all of the sightseeing of summer plus spectacular fall colors and fewer visitors. From Hiking, Kayaking and Paddle-Boating to Skiing and Snowshoeing you’re guaranteed to have an adventure packed vacation. There’s nothing quite like camping in this mountain town. The Mammoth Lakes area is home to more than 800 campsites, many of them located near alpine lakes and in forested streamside settings.

Scenic views – Hiking and Backpacking

Hiking in the Eastern Sierra is spectacular year-round. In spring, the sharp and craggy granite peaks of the Sierra Nevada Range from a dramatic backdrop for meadows brightly colored by wildflowers. In the summer, you’ll never tire of finding secret alpine lakes, lush aspen-lined streams and forested hideaways tucked away in the mountains. In fall, early snow in the high-country contrasts beautifully with the vibrant golds and oranges of aspens and willows alight with their display of autumn colors. There are plenty of short, easy and family-friendly hikes. For more ambitious hikers and backpackers, check out trails from Mammoth Lakes link to the Pacific Crest Trail and the John Muir Trail.

Experience Water Adventure

Whether you’re paddling a kayak or stand-up paddle board, or motoring a pontoon boat or small fishing boat, getting out on the water offers a unique perspective and is an excellent way to observe waterfowl, fish, and other wildlife. The scenery is incomparable, with sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and distinctive geological features. Delight in the sight of Carson Peak from June Lake, or Mammoth Mountain from Lake Mary. See how many of the 300 species of birds who frequent Mono Lake you can spot. Many visitors have even been thrilled to spot eagles and black bears during their boating adventures.

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India News Travel & Tourism

Int’l flights to remain suspended till Dec 31

The Centre on Thursday extended the suspension of scheduled commercial international flight operations to and from India till December 31.

“This restriction shall not apply to the international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation),” an official statement said on Thursday.

“However, international scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes by the competent authority on a case to case basis,” it added.

At present, India has entered into ‘Air Bubble’ agreements with several countries.

This type of arrangement allows nationals of both countries to travel in either direction.

Passenger air services were suspended on March 25 due to the nationwide lockdown to check the spread of Covid-19.

Domestic flight services, however, resumed from May 25.

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Lifestyle Lite Blogs Travel & Tourism

Have A Safest Journey To The ‘Solo Traveler Haven ‘

Travelling alone can be the most therapeutic form of self-indulgence! By traveling alone, one can engage with their new surroundings unfiltered by the prejudices, tastes, or preferences of a traveling companion and connect with the soul of the place by hanging out with the locals

Switzerland is a solo traveler’s haven, one of the safest and easiest places to navigate, – the sheer variety of things to see and do ensures that your solo trip is a memorable one, especially if it’s your first!

Here are some of the activities we recommend you should add to your itinerary!

Not just a place to stay, but to experience:

Switzerland has a number of reasonably priced youth hostels around the country that are clean, safe, centrally located and with a choice of single room, double room and bunk beds with central kitchens and lobbies and lounges – perfect if you’re looking to meet other travellers. Other than hostels, travellers can choose to stay in single rooms available at lower rates than double rooms, in most hotels- whether budget, mid-priced or luxury.

The ultimate travel partner- The Swiss Travel Pass:

When travelling solo, a Swiss Travel Pass is a boon! Swiss Travel System makes traveling alone in Switzerland trouble-free with their efficient network of public transport- from the high-speed and famously punctual trains to buses, boats and trams. The Swiss Travel pass offers exciting discounts on most mountain excursions and gives you a free entry to almost 400 museums!

A part of the country’s heritage and history, Switzerland’s panoramic train routes are among the most beautiful rail routes in the world. To experience Switzerland’s majestic mountain scenery, idyllic valleys and villages; along crystal-clear lakes and ice-blue glaciers- a journey on The Glacier Express, or The Bernina Express is highly recommended!

Adventure Escapades:

With the stunning landscapes and action-packed activities, Switzerland will surely unravel the hidden adrenaline junkie in you! Whether you choose to jet ski over crystal blue waters, dive from the sky into lush green valleys or ski down steep terrains of the snow-capped alps, there’s an adventure to suit every person when in Switzerland. We recommend trying mountain biking or e-biking or sliding down the fastest Toboggan Run in Pilatus.

The best part? Your daring escapades aren’t limited to just one season. Whether you plan your trip in the summer, autumn or winter, Switzerland will always welcome you with towering alpine peaks, emerald green valleys and shimmering blue lakes!

Gastronomic Adventures:

In Switzerland- cheese and chocolate will be your go-to choice of food. But Switzerland’s local cuisine has the influence of 3 different cultures- German, French and Italian, so whether you are a meat lover or vegan, you will never run out of options to eat!

If you are on a budget, many restaurants offer a “meal of the day” which includes a salad/soup, a choice of 2 or 3 main courses and a dessert. Many mountain excursions offer a ‘picnic’ option where you can carry your own meal. Another must try when traveling to the country is Swiss Wine; one of the country’s best kept secrets is that almost all regions in Switzerland produce their own wines. The Viognier, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay from Lake Geneva region and Merlot Bianco from Ticino are particularly well known. However, if you consider yourself a wine connoisseur a trip to the Lavaux vineyards is a must!

When you are done trying the rich wines and scrumptious Swiss Delicacies and are craving a taste of home you can try one of the many amazing Indian restaurants in the country.

Swiss Cities- the fusion of old with the new!

Swiss cities are a true wonder! Surrounded by the spectacular scenery that dominates Switzerland’s landscape, the cities embody quality of life, urban flair and are perfect to base yourself to explore when travelling independently.

Zurich is a perfect example of Swiss cities, which are a blend of the old and new! While the old town will show you the rich history, the newer parts will cater to your young spirit with the best of Zurich nightlife with trendy bars and clubs. Any cosmopolitan swiss city such as Zurich or Geneva, will fill your calendar with festivals, fireworks, and al fresco fun, where you can meet different people and make connections for life!

And the best thing is that a 10-minute train ride can take you into countryside, so compact are even the biggest of cities in Switzerland.

Idyllic countryside landscape:

The picturesque villages of Switzerland have made for some of the most gorgeous backdrops of our Bollywood movies! Tucked in the lap of the Alps and surrounding valleys, these villages offer you a chance to unwind or pair up with other tourists and experience local life and culture!

In addition to being a paradise for hikers in summer and skiers in the winter, every village offers a multitude of attractions and mountain excursions throughout the year!

Rewarding mountain excursions:

The snow-covered peaks with panoramic viewpoints, thousands of hiking trails and many other alpine highlights make Switzerland an established destination for different mountain excursions. The journey to the mountaintops is either on board a cogwheel train, a cable car or the world’s steepest funicular, is a unique experience in itself.

When in Switzerland, you have to try the golden round trip to Lucerne’s home mountain Mt. Pilatus or experience the world’s first revolving cable car – Titlis Rotair while heading up Mt. Titlis! A fun visit to the snow park at Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe or discovering the Glacier palace at Matterhorn Glacier Paradise will also make your day eventful!

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Africa News Lite Blogs Travel & Tourism

Let’s Traverse Through The Rainbow Nation

South Africa is now open to all international leisure and business travellers from all over the globe.

The opening of all international travel follows President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Wednesday that South Africa would be moving to augmented alert level 1, thus opening up international borders for all countries with effect from November 11.

“We are excited by the full opening of our international borders because this is a strong testament of the fact that we are open for both business and leisure travel. This opening brings certainty for South Africa, as a travel destination putting us back on the map and on the radar for many travellers who want to come explore our beautiful country,” SA Tourism Chief Executive Officer, Sisa Ntshona said in a statement.

All travellers coming into the country will need to supply a negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) COVID test not older than 72 hours from the date of departure from their country.

“We know that now more than ever, traveller behaviour is influenced by trust and confidence so our country has put in place globally-benchmarked health and safety protocols. We thank all partners here in South Africa and across the world for their ongoing support and patience. As we gradually welcome tourists and business travellers from all over the world, we look forward to engaging with our partners once again as we work together to package South Africa for various tourists’ needs,” added Ntshona.

“While we know that there won’t an immediate influx of tourists as other countries are now experiencing second waves of the pandemic and have imposed travel restrictions for their citizens, we look forward to welcoming those tourists that are able to come. They can finally get to enjoy the wide-open spaces, scenic landscape, unique and authentic cultural experiences that South Africa has to offer,” concluded Ntshona.

South Africa recently won big at this year’s World Travel Market including Sun City voted as Africa’s leading casino resort, Plettenberg Bay as Africa’s leading beach destination and Durban voted as Africa’s leading city destination.

Earlier this year South Africa took top spot when booking company Tourlane asked its community where their perfect post-coronavirus trip destination would be. The survey saw South Africa as the go-to safari destination, packed with outdoor adventures, applauded for pristine and well-kept beaches.

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Lite Blogs Travel & Tourism

Greeny Getaway Spots In Philadelphia

Philadelphia, a large city in Pennsylvania, USA, is home to one of the largest urban park systems in the nation, with over 100 parks, squares, and recreation sites totaling over 10,000 acres. The green spaces both in the city and in surrounding areas present ample opportunities for visitors to spend time exploring outside, while also not venturing far from the heart of the city.

The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau lists a few key parks, historic sites, and other outdoor experiences to seek out during your visit to Philadelphia.

Fairmount Park

Totaling over 2,000 acres when combined, Philadelphia’s East and West Fairmount Park offers visitors an abundance of biking, walking, and hiking trails as well as recreation fields to explore. The park system is also home to several museums and attractions (Philadelphia Zoo, Please Touch Museum), six historic mansions, a music venue (Mann Center for the Performing Arts), and horticultural center. Kelly Drive — named after John B. Kelly, Jr., the brother of actress and Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly — and MLK Jr. Drive run parallel to one another on the banks of the Schuylkill River, each with their own set of paths and picnic areas. TIP: Sections of MLK Jr. Drive are closed to auto traffic Saturdays and Sundays in April through October.

Don’t miss the iconic Boathouse Row that caps the park’s eastern end (best viewed from along MLK Jr. Drive) and the beautiful grounds of the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden adjacent to the Fairmount Park Horticultural Center.

Schuylkill River Trail

Winding its way through Philadelphia along the Schuylkill River, the Schuylkill River Trail serves as a recreation trail with paved lanes for biking, running, or walking, including a 2,000-foot-long Boardwalk that hovers over the river near the city’s Rittenhouse neighborhood. The trail extends from South Philadelphia through Fairmount Park along Kelly Drive. In total, the trail is 120 miles long and extends to Frackville, PA.

Parks and Squares

In William Penn’s original plan for the city of Philadelphia, he envisioned five squares stationed evenly throughout the city’s grid-like system of streets. Originally intended to help prevent the spread of fires from building to building, now four of these squares e Rittenhouse, Franklin, Washington, and Logan e serve as recreation and community spaces, each with their own unique features. The fifth square, Centre Square, is where you will now find Philadelphia’s historic City Hall e the largest municipal building in the United States e and accompanying Dilworth Park, which transforms into an outdoor ice rink and holiday market each winter.

Wissahickon Valley Park

Originally considered part of Fairmount Park, the 1,800-acre Wissahickon Valley Park follows the Wissahickon Creek as it winds through northwest Philadelphia. The wooded park is home to 50 miles worth of trails, a quaint tavern and event space (Valley Green Inn), and Historic Rittenhouse Town.

Countryside of Philadelphia

A short drive west from Philadelphia will bring you to either Valley Forge or Brandywine Valley. Both of these countryside destinations offer a green escape from the historic and downtown settings of Center City. In Valley Forge, visitors can explore the over 3,400 acres of Valley Forge National Historical Park — once home to General George Washington’s encampment during the Revolutionary War — or any number of biking trails throughout Montgomery County. Alternatively, in Brandywine Valley, visitors can find the renowned Longwood Gardens — a sprawling botanical garden complete with lush conservatories and beautiful fountains.

Heading north from Philadelphia, you can visit the Andalusia Historic House, Gardens and Arboretum — the ancestral home of the Biddle family — in nearby Bucks County.

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Business Economy Travel & Tourism

Aviation sector to hit pre Covid levels soon: Minister Puri

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has exuded confidence that air travel will reach pre-Covid level by the end of current year or early next year.

Addressing the ‘Deccan Dialogue’ organised by Indian School of Business (ISB) in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs, he said for the civil aviation sector to reach the pre-Covid level, people required to continue to maintain safety protocol with self-discipline.

“We opened civil aviation on 25th May, a good two months and two days after we had completely locked down, with 30,000 passengers a day. Two or three days ago, just before Diwali, we carried 225,000 people,” he said.

“At a scale at which we are opening up in a calibrated manner, we have already reached 70 per cent capacity and I have asked my colleagues to look at 80 per cent. I am confident that by 31st December or soon thereafter… means a week or two thereafter, we will be back to pre-Covid levels,” he added.

Puri said he was committed to bring aviation GDP back to India. He was confident that the sector would get a boost in the next few years with the country getting 100 new airports and the fleet size reaching up to 2,000 from around 750 now.

“Our fleet size today should be around 750. I know airlines when they come across a pandemic like this, they try to curtail the size of their fleet orders. But, I can say with seven per cent penetration which means out of every 100 Indians, only seven fly and a 17 per cent rate of growth which we experienced pre-Covid at one time. We will move from 750, not to the 1,200 which everybody says, but to 2,000 aircraft. We will do it pretty quickly,” he said.

He said that there is a massive opportunity for investors across the aviation ecosystem including airports, airlines, ground-handling, maintenance, repair and overhaul.

The minister also revealed that Indian carriers get a mere 17 per cent of the value of traffic between India and the US. “The value of traffic between India and the US is roughly 7 billion dollars annually. How much do Indian carriers get out of that traffic, a mere 17 per cent. It is not as if American carriers are getting the remaining 83 per cent. I am not going to say who is getting it. But I see no reason why Indian flagship carrier and private carriers should not be earning more money flying passengers,” he said while terming this as a distorted business model.

Puri, who is also the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, hoped that the country would be able to reposition itself as an economic player in the global supply chain before long.

He said even during the times of pandemic, global technology majors like Google, Amazon and Mubadala announced $20 billion investment in India.

He also said that the Aatmanirbhar Bharat concept and process would definitely lead to a stronger India post-Covid.

Travel & Tourism UAE News

Ras Al Khaimah retains Gulf tourism capital title

Ras Al Khaimah has been named, for the second straight year, the Gulf Tourism Capital for 2021 at the fifth annual meeting of Tourism Ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The virtual meeting discussed Gulf integration in the tourism sector, where Ras Al Khaimah was commended for its identity as a sustainable tourist destination, and awarded the coveted title.

Ras Al Khaimah is considered one of the most diverse Emirates offering world-class experiences and attractions, which has enabled it to assert its position on the Global tourism map as the fastest growing destination in the region. Moreover, the Gulf Tourism Capital award this year is a testament to its early and sustained action to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in global recognition as a safe destination for inbound tourism.

It was the first city and Emirate in the world to receive both the prestigious ‘Safeguard Assurance’ Label from Bureau Veritas, a leader in testing and inspection services and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travels Stamp. The Authority continues to build on its ‘safe destination’ status, offering complimentary COVID-19 PCR testing for international visitors staying in Ras Al Khaimah until the end of this year.

Building on the momentum of recovery, Ras Al Khaimah also announced a series of firsts – the world’s first Bear Grylls Explorer Camp to open with accommodation offerings as well as the highest restaurant in the UAE – 1484 by Puro – both attractions located on Jebel Jais, the highest mountain peak in the UAE. In addition to this, UNESCO World Heritage announced that four sites in Ras Al Khaimah; Julfar, Jazirah al-Hamra, Shimal and Dhayah, have been included on the tentative list of World Heritage Sites, an acknowledgement that will serve to further strengthen the recovery performance of the Emirate’s tourism and hospitality industries.

Raki Phillips, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority said: “We are delighted that the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah has once again been recognised as the Gulf Tourism Capital by the esteemed tourism Ministers and senior officials of the Gulf Cooperation Council. It is an especially welcome announcement in an unprecedented and immensely challenging year and is testament both to the resilience of our industry and our ongoing focus on innovation to bring visitors back.”

“In line with the esteemed vision of H.H. Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, the Emirate has grown in stature as a leader in adventure, culture and nature tourism in the region and we will continue on our journey to sustainably grow the destination in 2021 and beyond.”

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Travel & Tourism UAE News

UAE, Russia discuss ecotourism strategies

During the meeting, which was held at the Ministry’s headquarters in Moscow, Al Jaber said that the UAE attaches great importance to preserving biodiversity and the sustainable use of natural resources…reports Asian Lite News

Dr. Mohamed Ahmed bin Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Ambassador to Russia, and Dmitry Kobylkin, Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, have discussed the cooperative relations between the two friendly countries and ways to further develop them in the field of ecotourism and nature reserves.

During the meeting, which was held at the Ministry’s headquarters in Moscow, Al Jaber said that the UAE attaches great importance to preserving biodiversity and the sustainable use of natural resources, as it celebrates the National Environment Day on 4th February every year as part of its tireless efforts to protect the environment.

He stressed the need for cooperation between countries in the field of climate change through the exchange of experiences, especially on issues related to its effects on the environment, and on how to reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

For his part, the Russian minister expressed his country’s aspiration to boost cooperation with the UAE in areas of common interest.

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Lite Blogs Travel & Tourism

Plan Some Blooming Seasonal Trips

Namaqualand flowers.

Flowers have long since caught and retained human fancy. Theyve been used to express love and regret, to bestow congratulations and to cement apologies. These veritable floral blooms are now taking over the internet, with travellers posing amidst natures most captivating backgrounds – no filters needed here…writes Siddhi Jain.

While Indian borders remain closed, we can still gaze upon these colourful, lush countryside flowers that flood the Rainbow Nation through our screens. Travellers planning their South African itineraries for next year, should be sure to make note of the following seasons:

Jacaranda Season, Pretoria

Every year thousands of tourists’ flock to Pretoria – nicknamed the Jacaranda city, to see Jacaranda blooms in all their glory, and capture that perfect shot for their next Instagram post! It is estimated that there are 70,000 Jacaranda trees in Pretoria, which drape the beautiful city in swathes of purple putting on a spectacular show over an eight-week period in late spring each year.

Some of Pretoria’s oldest Jacarandas can be found around Bosman and Cilliers Streets, where some of the first lanes of Jacarandas were planted. Folklore has it that the biggest and oldest Jacaranda in Pretoria can be found on the corner of Eastwood and Stanza Bopape (old Church Street).

Jacaranda City, Tshwane, Pretoria.

To get a birds-eye-view of this exquisite natural phenomenon, drive along Klapperkop. The route houses many stunning viewpoints that this sea of purple can be admired from.

From one of the northern viewpoints of Klapperkop, visitors are also able to spot a line of white trees along the foot of Klapperkop’s northern slope. This is Herbert Baker Street in Groenkloof, which has a row of almost 100 white trees. These trees are also Jacarandas, but have a pure white flower instead of a purple one. They are said to be sterile and is a cultivar of the main species.

Amidst the jacaranda tree’s purple haze of vibrant blossoms, South Africa’s administrative capital of Pretoria presents a true taste of the country’s rich heritage and fascinating history. A city once at the heart of the apartheid regime, Pretoria is now home to a growing number of black civil servants and foreign embassy workers, who are infusing the city with a new sense of multiculturalism.

Blooming Daisies, Namaqualand

In the months of August and September, flowers in their thousands, and in their varying colours and sizes fill fields and mountainsides, often for as far as the eye can see in Namaqualand.

These spring wild flowers are a phenomenon that never ceases to amaze and delight, even for those who live in what is considered South Africa’s “outback” – Namaqualand. What at first glance appears to be a wilderness of semi-desert – arid, dusty plains that stretch before one, dramatic mountains in the background, with little by way of colour or animation – is suddenly transformed, as if by a painter with a manic palette, into a pageant of flowers.

Jacaranda City, Tshwane, Pretoria.

The Namaqualand Flower Route lies roughly 5 hours north of Cape Town. You can already see evidence of flowers even in Cape Town, and Postberg, a small section of the West Coast National Park close to Langebaan, gets the juices flowing, but the real flower show belongs to a series of drives that centre on the towns of Garies, Springbok, Kamieskroon and Port Nolloth, way up the N7.

There are also numerous hiking and cycling routes that allow for a closer experience of the indigenous flora of the land. The riot of colors is sure to leave travellers mesmerized and amazed.

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Arts & Culture Lite Blogs Travel & Tourism

Unveiling The Paradise

A selection of photographs taken over a period of twenty years in Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh, is currently on exhibition online. The show of photographs taken by Kishore Thukral runs till November 15…writes Siddhi Jain.

Titled ‘Spiti – Paradise Unveiled’, the online exhibition is divided into five sections – Gateway to Paradise; The Incredible Moonscape; Life in Paradise; The Lamaseries of Paradise; and Serene Snowscapes. It is available to see on the website of India International Centre.

Kishore Thukral, who has to his credit a number of photography exhibitions and illustrated lectures on Spiti, Dangkhar and Vajrayana Buddhist art, has trekked, photographed and researched extensively in the western Himalayas, especially the remote valley of Spiti in Himachal Pradesh. He has authored ‘Spiti through Legend and Lore’, a book that documents the legends and folklore of the valley both in text and in photographs. He was instrumental in setting up Dangkhar Initiative, a project for the restoration of the ancient Dangkhar monastery in Spiti. Through his efforts, Dangkhar was recognised by the World Monuments Fund in 2006-07 as one of the hundred most endangered historical sites in the world.

Imagining Spiti brings to mind a remote valley high up in the western Indian Himalayas, abutting Tibet — a valley that is a world within a world. Spiti derives its name from a combination of two local words e bi (hidden) and ti (water/river/valley), though some believe it is rooted in chiti (paradise). Be that as it may, sandwiched between perennially snow-capped mountains, the valley has only recently started to garner the attention of the Indian traveller. The approach to it is not easy e the narrow, rough road leading to it takes one through canyons, across streams, beneath overhangs and over high mountain-passes.

Tibet is barely a day’s walk away. Little wonder then that Vajrayana Buddhism has flourished in Spiti for over a thousand years, a period that also saw the founding of magnificent monasteries such as Tabo, Dangkhar, Ghungri, Tangyud and Key, and smaller temples like the Ser Khang in Lhalung.

The mystique of the land is palpable. Spiti’s history is for the most part unrecorded, yet it boasts a priceless heritage and a landscape that presents a frame wherever you turn your camera.

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