I was first acquainted with Banjara Experiences back in 2021 when I visited and stayed at Tethys Himalayan DEN at Chicham. Since then, I’ve chatted briefly with Rajesh and Mohit and considered how we can collaborate and work together and FINALLY it is happening!
This is the outline of the travel plan:
Drive from Gurgaon to Banjara Orchard Retreat, Thanedar
Drive from Thanedar to Banjara Valley Retreat, Sangla
Drive from Sangla to Kaza for a night of acclimatization
Drive from Kaza to Tethys Himalayan DEN, Chicham
Drive from Chicham to Banjara Valley Retreat, Sangla for a one-night halt
Drive from Sangla to Banjara Village Retreat, Sojha
Drive from Sojha to Gurgaon
Banjara Experiences has several additional retreats, resorts and restaurants. Which I will get to as part of the overall work plan. For now, the above four stops figure into our plan definitively. It is entirely possible that the road trip might get extended to include the other beautiful locales as well.
We will be driving my Dad’s Diesel Maruti Ertiga via the Shimla Route.
Plan to leave on a Sunday morning at 0500hrs so that we can avoid most city traffic. even if we drive comfortably, with a couple of long breaks, we should be able to reach Banjara Orchard Retreat, Thanedar, by or before 1700hrs. The goal is to reach before Sundown.
Once we’re there at Thanedar, dinner and sleep. The next couple of days will be spent exploring apple orchards, possibly lake Tani-Jubbar and of course the delicious food that all Banjara properties are known for. The Sutlej River flows next door, so that’s going to be a highlight too.
This, above, will be the longest drive of this trip.
From Thanedar to Banjara Valley Retreat, Sangla is about 5-6 hours of driving time. Assuming I’m going to want to photograph on the way, travel time might extend to 7-8 hours.
At 2,700 meters above sea level at Sangla, there are more orchards, the Baspa river flows next door and maybe a drive to a scenic spot close by.
From Sangla, we then drive to Kaza, which is at 3,650 meters above sea level, for a night of acclimatization because the next stop is Chicham, which is located at a height of 4,270 meters and it is advised to take it easy when climbing so high so quickly. Oxygen deprivation is quite real and I remember my last time – I was out of breath when taking literally 5 steps on the road in Kaza. The Sangla to Kaza drive should be doable in 7 hours if we make zero stops on the way. But that’s no likely to happen.
After a night at Kaza, we leave for Tethys Himalayan DEN at Chicham. This will take approximately an hour of driving time.
There will be a LOT to do while at Tethys but I plan to soak in the views from their dining area, hang out with Faizu and maybe go for a walk to my “Emerald Pond”. And lots of photographs of course. I also hope to carry a few unread books with me and do them justice while I’m there.
Then the return leg of our roadtrip begins. We drive from Chicham to Banjara Valley Retreat at Sangla for a night halt. This will be an approximately 8 hour long drive.
Next day, we leave for the Banjara Village Retreat at Sojha, which is approximately a 6 hour drive. At Sojha, we will be in the middle of the Great Himalayan National Park, so I’m looking forward to lots of forest sights and sounds.
Throughout this trip, I am looking forward to photographing sunsets and sunrises (I’m pretty sure it will mostly be sunsets though), birds, landscapes and a lot of flowers and plants and trees. Apart from the unique aspects of each property of course. I’m carrying my entire range of lenses and cameras, one tripod and even the laptop goes with me this time. SO EXCITED.
After Sangla, it is going to be a drive back home to Gurgaon. This is a 12 hour drive and I’m not too keen to do this in one go. So, we might get in a night halt at Chandigarh to break the journey. Have not finalized this part just yet.
I am super excited to be doing this in partnership with Banjara Experiences. It feels insanely great to be appreciated enough for my work to be hired to do it. Cheers to so many more stunning brand experiences to come!