8 PLACES TO RIDE TO FOR A MEMORABLE NEW YEAR BASHsubhash kumar
It is about time to bid farewell to the year 2015 and we all know it has been a rough one. Between the rising “intolerance” and ISIS wrecking havoc, we hardly got a chance to breath easy…which is why it becomes imperative that we take matters into our own hands and make sure we bid adieu to this notorious year and welcome 2016 in style. And no, we’re not talking about crashing your buddies’ house party and immersing yourself in copious quantities of fashionable liquor while breaking a leg on the beats of Honey Singh’s latest sexist number, which you’ve been “eagerly” looking forward to (heaven knows that’s fun too). We’re talking about getting on your favorite set of two wheels and riding down to the perfect destination that matches both your mood and sensibility. A place where you feel in tune with your surrounding and also feel at one with your own self.
So take a look at these magical destinations and depending of your sensibilities, figure out where and how you’d like to welcome the brand new year and say adios to all your troubles of the past.
THE PARTY ANIMAL
GOA: Goa can easily and undisputedly be attributed as the place that is the mother of all New year bashes, at least as far as India is concerned, and there is a good reason for that. Goa has something to offer to everyone. The young and the restless, the party hoppers, the foodies, the romantics, you name it. Nightclub parties, beach dos, some of the best trance and EDM events have all turned Goa into the prefect destination for celebrating the new year. Even if you’re not the party type, there’s plenty for you to do in Goa. Just riding through the streets of Goa can be an extremely pleasurable experience and a lot of fun as the entire place engulfs into the Carnival like spirit of the New Year.
THE ICE COLD ADVENTURER
Narkanda: Winters this year have been grossly underwhelming to say the least, which might actually be a relief to a lot of folks out there, specially those who find themselves dreaded by the bone chilling winters. But for those of you who are looking to have some fun and frolic in the snow, and enjoy riding through wilderness, Narkanda might just be the perfect getaway. Far from the madding crowd, tucked away in a beautiful corner of the Himalayan abode, it is about 2-3 hours ride away from Shimla. The prime attraction of this place is the Hatu Peak, which stands at over 11000 ft and can be easily reached on two wheels, provided your tyres are prepped for snow. Catching the sunrise or the sunset at the top would be a sight to behold and a treat to your senses. It also offers wonderful skiing opportunities at about this time of the year, if you happen to be the hard-core snow adventurer type. You could also take a trip down the local orchard and have a quiet and wonderful time in the lap of Mother Nature. It is like being in a different world; so unlike the world that we’re so used to, and yet it feels right at home. Arguably, in many ways there couldn’t be a better way to kick off a new year than to be here when it happens.
THE LAID-BACK DRIFTER
Puducherry: For those looking for a lazy and laid back opening to the new year, Puducherry, formerly known as Pondicherry, could be just the right destination. It is peaceful and serene and also offers a delightful experience of the French sub-continental aesthetics. Not only is Pondy full of wonderful and serene beaches, it gives you the opportunity to take a glimpse into history of the 18th century colonial times; a salient montage riddled with blossoming bougainvillea and crumbling cathedrals. If you live anywhere in Karnataka or Tamil Nadu, Pondy is most certainly worth your while. Walking down the streets of Pondy is like playing a live romance with history. If you happen to be the spiritual one, there’s Auroville nearby; an experimental township where you can meet and interact with people of different nationalities who believe in the idea of universal humanity and sustainable living, which is not at conflict with the nature. If perspective is what you were looking for, this would be quite a place to start.
THE PEDANTIC HISTORIAN
Jaisalmer: For those who like to revel in history, Jaisalmer has plenty to offer. A riveting look into the Rajputana history that tells tales of conquests, valor and sacrifice. Although Jaisalmer is very much a modern city in terms of civic amenities and such, it is still quite rooted to centuries old traditions and customs of the yesteryears. Which is what makes it so unique. Located right at the heart of the Thar Desert, Jaisalmer offers perfect opportunities for taking desert safaris and camping in the desert. The pristine roads leading to the city offer a chance to push your bike to its limits. Considering how hot it can get around summer, this might just be the perfect time to visit this magical city. A couple of days in Jaisalmer could work as a perfect antidote to the metropolitan madness. A perfect way to kick off the New Year some might say.
THE NATURE LOVER
Kodaikanal: Lush green forests, surrounded by pristine Palani hills and serene lakes; Kodaikanal can be a perfect place to start the New Year in the nature’s abode. Far from the hustle and bustle of city life, Kodai is what nature lovers refer to as paradise. You could visit the nearby Kukkal caves or camp in the forest and be rest assured that you’re about to have an experience of a lifetime. There is plenty to explore in and around this place. The ancient caves of Kukkal were one of the earliest settlements of now extinct Paliyan tribes and now serve as a camping site for trekkers. The locals are extremely warm and hospitable and the local delicacies are a delightful treat to your taste buds. Kodai attracts people from not just within the country, but from several parts of the world, partly due to its super rich flora and fauna. Several plant species spotted around this place cannot be found anywhere else in the country.
And if you were the kind that gets enchanted by the deep space buzz, there’s an Astrophysical observatory as well.
THE CULTURE ENTHUSIAST
Amritsar: If the mere mention of Amritsar instantly provokes an image of the Harmandir Sahib, more famously known as the Golden temple in your mind, and you find yourself filled with a sense of respect and devotion, and you’ve never actually been here; the long weekend could be a perfect excuse to ride down to Amritsar and pay your respects. It might just make this New Year, a rather auspicious one. And although the famous Harmandir Sahib is synonymous with Amritsar, there’s a lot to see and do here apart from visiting the temple as well. The infamous Jalianwalan Bagh is also right in the vicinity, where you could pay homage to all those who lost their lives during our struggle for independence. You could also ride down to the Wagah Border, which is a short ride away from the city, and watch the ceremonial lowering of the flag or Beating Retreat as it is sometimes referred to. The ceremony happens every evening right before sunset, and the entire place is brimming with feelings of nationalistic pride and patriotism. It somehow symbolizes the rivalry between the two nations as well as the brotherhood and cooperation between them. It is a sight to behold.
Kolkata: If your idea of a grand celebration begins and ends with tickling your taste buds, then there’s hardly a better place for you to celebrate the New Year than Kolkata. The iconic park street that has quite a resemblance to the Times Square of New York, full of people, colorful lights and music, is where you want to be on the New Years eve. For the longest time Kolkata has been known to be the foodie’s paradise. But that is definitely not the whole story. The city still hosts some of best live jazz troupes in India and has a longstanding tradition of street celebrations that dates back to the swinging ‘60s, when Kolkata used to be a its’ charming best. In many ways Kolkata was the first and the biggest metropolis of the modern India and served as the first capital of the British India of the Victorian ages. The Victoria memorial still serves as a reminder of those times. Picking up pieces of history while relishing in fantastic Bengali delicacies and moving to the rhythms of smooth jazz…sounds like a perfect kick off to the New Year.
Nashik: If romance was your mind, Nashik could just be the prefect getaway for you and your beloved. Taking a tour down the local vineyard, tasting some of the finest Indian Wines, walking hand in hand amidst the beautiful and scenic grape fields, there’s just something utterly romantic about the whole experience. That’s not all; the Pandavleni caves of Nashik offer a glimpse into a past long forgotten. A short 30 minutes trail through the steps to reach the caves literally takes you back in time, and you’re left wondering how these caves and the sculptures inside them were carved almost 2000 years ago chisel by chisel. They’re a living testimony of the faith and labor of the artisans who left their indelible marks on history with patience as their primary tool.
Whatever you may be looking for, there’s always some place that would satiate your senses and suit your sensibilities just right. But then again, when you’re on two wheels, it doesn’t really matter where you’re going, as long as you’re on the move. So where are you going to be when the clock strikes 12 come midnight? Drop your comments and let us know.