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While we all #stayin due to the current situation around COVID-19, reminiscing, and dreaming about our past and future travels are totally acceptable. Don’t we all love to vicariously live through our favourite travel bloggers’ amazing travel stories? Through #TNLRevisits, we get your most loved travel bloggers to spill the beans about their favourite places, off-the-radar destinations, and about countless other experiences that they have encountered through their journeys. Successful travel photographer and Instagrammer Abhinav Chandel, a.k.a @abhiandnow who is responsible for kindling our undying love for the mountains, with his dreamy photos, is taking us on a virtual trip to one of his memorable 2019 trips to Sangla Valley. By Amitha Ameen
1. Tell us about your fondest trip of 2019.
It was visiting Sangla in Kinnaur region for Holi. It was a trip that I wanted to take for quite some time. To be able to visit that place, and to experience the unique Holi celebration there was quite something for me.
2. If you have to revisit the same place once travel bans are lifted, how differently would you explore the place this time around?
I would definitely go there for Holi next year. However, I would like to visit Sangla again sometime this year itself, once things settle down. Just for the natural beauty of the region.
3. Do you remember meeting and interacting with locals there?
We played Holi with the locals and were with them all the time. For me, the most wonderful part of the celebrations was seeing men of Sangla repeatedly ensuring that female travellers weren’t feeling uncomfortable in any way. That was something quite unique about Holi, where even though everyone was drinking, they were also making sure that the outsider’s amidst them felt safe and involved at every moment.
4. What hidden gems did you discover there?
That Holi itself was a hidden gem since not many people knew about the celebration. However, except that, I’d say the village of Batseri, where we stayed, a little outside Sangla town was quite a find. It was peaceful, beautiful beyond belief, and felt like the perfect place to go and hide in.
5. What about food memories? Any particular local food that you would like to recommend?
We had ogla (buckwheat bread) fried in apricot kernel oil, during one of the Holi functions, where we hopped from village to village. At one place we all sat down and the village ladies served us tea with ogla. And, that itself felt like the most delicious meal after walking for miles in knee-deep snow.
6. Give our readers five reasons on why should they visit this place once the pandemic evaporates?
– Well, it’s extremely beautiful and personally, it’s my favourite place in Himachal.
– The locals are extremely welcoming.
– It gives a perfect experience of living in a high altitude region without having to travel as far as Spiti. This means if you’re short on time, Sangla valley is a great alternative to Spiti.
– If you’re attending the Holi festival there, it’s one of the most unique celebrations. And then imagine playing with colours against the backdrop of snowclad mountains all around you; it’s as magical as it sounds.
7. How are you coping with the lockdown?
Just taking a break to be true, as I was on the move most of the time before the lockdown began and I was literally wishing for some rest. And this lockdown has given me enough time to rest and recollect my thoughts; plus I’ve started working on making YouTube videos. And of course, household work keeps me busy enough.
8. Where would you travel to when things get back to normalcy?
9. Any armchair travel tips?
One should take this time to read more about new places and work on the skills that’ll help them showcase their travels in a better way. Work on ways to become better travellers when the lockdown is lifted, so we can become more environmentally conscious whenever we’ll get the chance to travel again.