Vacation Ideas : A Week Under the Dhauladhars – Art, History, Adventure, Nature

Palampur is one of those amazing places that’s blessed with everything – snow peaks, green valleys, streams, weather that’s mostly never harsh, history, culture, art, adventure. 

Explore the amazing fort at Kangra – the oldest continuously occupied fort in the world from the times of Porus and Alexander, and whose cliffsides have an interesting story to tell!

Take the little heritage train to Baijnath to see the old, mystical temple that’s one of the jyotirlingas established by Lord Shiva himself. Head further to Bir and Billing for some paragliding!

The Earth House, Palampur

Nearer Palampur is Andretta, home to art and a pottery school. Many an artist comes spends time here, and you can even sign up for a session of learning how use the potter’s wheel and create your own work of art!

Of course, around The Earth House itself are numerous hikes, treks, village walks that let you explore the hills and streams and dams, the homes and bazaars of a Himachali village, and old temples. It’s just great for your lungs to hike in the fresh air of these hills.

All of this is just 35km from the Dharamshala airport! You could also drive from Chandigarh (245km) or Pathankot to which you can take one of many trains from Delhi – which is about 3.5 hours away by road, or you could take the slower but really lovely Kangra Heritage Railway.

You could easily spend a week in this beautiful valley and will never want to head back home!

Workations! Go Linger AND Be Productive

I also do a little bit of Product Management on the side, and for one such assignment, had travelled along with a colleague for a couple of days of brainstorming and ideation. We did have access to decent-speed-internet so my colleague’s check-ins happened like they would on a regular day anyway!

Got me thinking that our locations would amazing for teams to head to head to for a week to ideate, collaborate, or even for creative folks to spend 4-5 days at all by themselves. There’s way fewer distractions, no commutes, you feel fresher, and can come up with some seriously new and different ideas while there.

And I was not alone – someone had thought of this independently and came over for those 5 days to Chettimani, Coorg. Thanks to JioFi, it was almost like a regular workday for her and she could collaborate with teams in Europe and Japan. And not only got a lot of good work done, ideas hashed out, but also played with the pups, spent time around the farm, and even did a morning’s trek up Kopatti and back!

So we’re opening up the idea of Workations!

We’d love for you to take a Workation. Let us know if you want to plan this for yourself, or for a small team (3-5 people max) over a whole week – and we’ll set it up for you. We usually discourage folks from staying connected and using devices at Linger, but for Workations we’ll throw in use of a Reliance JioFi device with some limited data as well ūüôā

Want to go brainstorm and come back with some inspiration?

Let us know at stay@linger.in 

Experience the Deeper India

“People from my country, they come and visit the same old stuff. The Golden Triangle – Delhi-Agra-Jaipur, a couple of popular resorts¬†in Kerala – and that’s all! They miss out on the real India” – said Daniel of Aventura/Chalo-Spain over breakfast when he was in Bangalore. He’d just done a motorbike ride to our locations at Gokarna, Balur Estate and in Chettimani (Coorg), and is trying to get folks to visit the deeper India.

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Made me think about how much of a disservice the travel industry inadvertently ends up doing to both the traveller as well as the beautiful places, cultures and people that represent the true India in all it’s variety, across geographies, seasons, the profusion of colours, terrain, customs, food, festivals – everything. And this India is outside of the major tourist locations, outside of the cities and off the bigger highways. It’s in the little towns and villages – with their unique stories. It’s when you stay in the homestays. It’s when you walk, take it slowly and interact with folks around. Coorg’s Pandhi Curry, the catch of the day along the coast, the quiet solitude of a large coffee estate, the profusion of flora and fauna deep inside a Himalayan forest – these are all small bits of that huge jigsaw puzzle that India is – and they’re best seen from outside the comfortable familiarity of a “resort”.

Tiger

This is the India that Daniel is trying to showcase to his clients, and that we at Linger would like our guests to experience. It’s not about the “points”, or checklists, but the experiences of a civilization that has been through more iterations, changes and adaptation than we can usually imagine. It boggles the mind and mesmerizes even those of us who have been born here and live here all our lives. I can only imagine how much of an amazing – indeed incredible – experience it will be from someone coming in from Europe etc. It can be experienced¬†however you like – on a bike along with one of Daniel’s tour, on a slow bicycle ride, on bus and train journeys that let you interact with so many real people in real life situations, on a road trip that stays off the bigger towns and roads – the only thing to remember is to explore with an open mind, ready to embrace the myriad surprises that greet you at every turn. Sure, not all will be pleasant, but that’s what travel’s about!

So do yourself a favour – and don’t stop with that Golden Triangle ūüôā

Getting To Gokarna (and beach bumming!)

We went live with Linger at Bavikodla, near Gokarna, recently. A lot many folks have called in with “How do we get there?”.

So here goes:

From Bangalore

  1. There’s a train that leave later in the evening, and gets there at 1:30 in the afternoon. If you’re on a longer vacation this is a good option.¬†More at : http://indiarailinfo.com/search/bangalore-city-sbc-to-gokarna-road-gok/136/0/1776
    • The station’s about 6 kms from where we are.
  2. There are multiple overnight sleeper buses. They leave from Bangalore between 8 and 10pm, and have pickups at various places across town. And they get you into Gokarna early morning around 7:30am which is a perfect time to get there.
    • Autos take you to our place for about Rs.120-140/-
  3. Drive : Multiple routes, all of them scenic and its takes about 8-9 hours so start early. total of between 480-530 kms.
    • NH4 -> Bankapur -> Yellapur -> Ankola -> Gokarna Cross -> Gokarna Town
    • NH4 -> NH206 (from Tumkur, towards Shimoga) -> right turns onto NH17 at Honnavara -> Kumta -> Gokarna Cross -> Gokarna. Recently reported to have been repaved so in decent conditioned. Shortest route.
    • NH4 -> Left towards Sirsi at Haveri (many smaller roads, but scenic) -> Kumta ¬†-> Gokarna Cross -> Gokarna

From Mumbai

  1. A whole bunch of trains, including some overnight ones, take you from Mumbai to Gokarna Cross, Kumta or Karwar.
    • Kumta – Gokarna buses are very frequent.
    • Karwar to Gokarna Cross buses are common, and fewer go into Gokarna. Autos are easily available from Gokarna Cross.
  2. A few buses take you from Mumbai upto Gokarna Cross, but its a long journey.
  3. Driving : Its a 710km drive that should take about 9-11 hrs. NH4 -> NH63 at the Hubli Dharwad Cross -> NH17 -> Gokarna Cross -> Gokarna.  The roads are good all the way.
From Panaji (Goa) :
Its fairly close from Panaji Рjust about 166kms. 
  1. The above mentioned trains can take you upto Gokrana Cross or Kumta. Doesn’t make sense to catch one upto Karwar since you’re still relatively far away.
  2. Lots of buses. Volvos headed towards Mangalore drop you off at Gokarna Cross.
  3. Its a pretty, easy drive. You can also stopover at the warship museum (INS Chapal) at Karwar on your way/back.
Photos of Warship Museum, Karwar
This photo of Warship Museum is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Driving your own vehicle makes sense if you’re not just on a quick weekend break, and would be up to exploring more of the beautiful places in Uttara Kannada – Yana, the numerous waterfalls, Mirjan Fort, maybe even catch a Yakshagana performance or two.

Notes : ¬†We’re north of the Gokarna Town/Temple/Beach – away from the usual hotspots of Om Beach, Paradise, or Kudle. Its a secluded, rural beachside with farms, and the last mile is a little tough to find – we’ll send you directions from Gokarna to our place as you start to plan your vacation. Do get in touch at stay@linger.in or at +91-95900-50001.

[ Also, Linger locations are NOT designed as resorts. We’re about local construction, local flavours and retaining the feel of the place. You’ll experience beachside Uttara Kannada as it always has been. ¬†]

See you soon on the beach!

What we stand for or the Ethos of Linger Guesthouses

After 2+ years, we have finally figured out a tag for what our places are! We’re NOT hotels, of course. Nor did we ever get comfortable with the idea of being a string of “resorts”. None of our properties is a homestay since you do not intrude upon any homeowner’s privacy, not they yours.

What we settled down on is an unsurprising, age old and how-did-we-not-think-of it “Guesthouses”.

Sorry if its a little bit of a damp squib in this age of creative marketing and superlative tags – but thats what Linger places are.

They’re meant to be like the guesthouse a sarkari¬†department your Uncle headed ran in this pretty corner of an irrigation project, or one the bank your dad worked in owned in a charming little town somewhere. They’re spacious, amidst sprawling greens, comforting, comfortable and relaxed, not architect-designed marvels of creative architecture that leave you breathless and in awe. Its about your vacation, really, not how dazzling our places are.

“Guesthouses” describes that perfectly, we think.

What do we stand for?

We’re comfortable with who and what we are. In Coorg, we more than eagerly cook Pandhi Curry and are insect friendly, love the rains and grow coffee.
At Balur Estate we’re proud of the coffee heritage, and the hard work that goes into running the place. We’re all learning about the history, enjoying the stark yet stunning landscape and surpisingly great vegetarian food at the campsite in Devarayanadurga. We’re not about reception desks, uniforms and encourage the staff to not only take pride in who they are, but share the stories and richness of their surroundings. We build locally, use local¬†know-how¬†and help, and rediscover local cuisine, flavours, traditions and practices. We get involved in conservation where it helps. We try hard to be true to the places we find.

   

We believe you should be comfortable too. We want you to laugh out loud, slurp your tea if you enjoy it that way, eat with your fingers, walk around in that old comfortable tee and shorts – its your vacation! We want you to let your hair down and be yourself.

And we believe travel is about the midway point where you come together and seek out and shake hands with this other/new/different thing. Both comfortable with who they are, and both without pretence.  Yet both ready to accept, give, explore and accept with an open mind and ready senses.

That makes going somewhere so much worth it.

Especially to that little guesthouse which you didn’t expect.