"We will plan a trip to Auli soon."

"Where is it?"

"It's near Kedarnath. It's a beautiful place. Wait till you see it."

I had this conversation with a friend three years ago that's when I heard about Auli for the first time. Thanks to smartphones, these days, the moment to hear about something new or unknown, you google. I googled the place and was instantly mesmerised by its beauty. I have travelled to many places and there is one thing I have learnt - most destinations are not as beautiful as they appear in the pictures. And Auli pictures were all about snow, snow and more snow.

For the first time, I was not too convinced about the destination, but I did trust my friend for travel plans. We cancelled and rescheduled the trip many times and finally decided on dates, booked tickets and we were ready to go. The plan was Delhi-Auli-Delhi. After a stopover at Rishikesh which was one of my favourite cities to live in India, having spend awesome time there, we left for Auli. It's around 250 kms from Rishikesh, but since it's a hilly area, it takes around 10 hours to reach Auli. (8 to 9 if you hire a local driver. Our driver was a chomu.)

We reach Auli by 4.30. The sky is clear and we are sipping tea, discussing our plans with Vivek, the owner of XRA cottages in Auli. We were to go for skiing the next day. And snow trek on the day after. We were looking forward to the entire experience. Weather was quite favourable too. Or so we thought. We were about to finalise the plan when it started to rain. Now, the cottages are located seven kms from the skiing point. Rains there meant snowfall at the top. We were excited as well as worried. 

But fortunately, we did get lucky. The weather next morning was good. Cloudy, but it wasn't raining. We reached at the peak for our skiing lessons. This is something you must experience. And there be no better place than Auli. The reason is simple - it's not an explored place. Not many know about it. On day one, we were the only ones skiing there. There was nobody else around. The snow was clean. Unlike the one I had seen in Gulmerg. 

I found something funny there as well.
Yes, skiing was done.
Once the travel bug bites you, there is no hope for you. All you want to do is pack your bags and explore a new place as soon as you get the opportunity. South India is where I started my travelling journey. When I plan a trip, I decide the destination on the basis of what I want to see at that time. I divide Indian touristy destinations in four categories:

1. Greeneries
2. Beaches
3. Mountains
4. Stones

When you talk about green, two major parts of India that come to your mind are - South India and East/North-East part of India. I have explored South India extensively. Here is a list of places I have visited and you must visit too when you plan a tour to Kerala.

1. Munnar

When your flight is hovering over Kochi, all you see is different shades of green all around you.
My flight was from Bombay to Srinagar, via Jammu. The moment I landed in Srinagar and as soon as I stepped out from the aircraft, I spotted snow clad mountains all around me. Now, this was my first ever north trip. As I mentioned in my first post, I had not travelled much before this. Thus it was quite new to me. My first destination was Gulmarg. Unlike what most tourists do, my base was not in Srinagar. I was going to stay in Gulmarg for three days. Now, Gulmarg is around 60 odd kms from Srinagar Airport. And my resort was located 25 kms further. I had heard a lot about Kashmir roads and I was looking forward to travel as much as I could. And I was not disappointed. It was drizzling, the roads didn't have much traffic and weather was pleasant. 

On my way from Srinagar to Gulmarg

Now, more than this, I was looking forward to the ghaats. And they didn't disappoint me at all.