Tvara Mehta | Living with the locals in Dharamshala | Solo Traveller

The spontaneous spirit, crazily adventurous and someone who will rock up to the hills to simply scribble scripts and poems, meet Tvara Mehta and know her wander tales from Dharamshala. Planning an itinerary is never fantasized by her yet she would bump into the best few cozy cafes to savour some luscious meals & satiate her cravings.

  • Tell us something about yourself

I kick started traveling solo around two years back. Also, I go for group treks and holidays with friends. I love traveling as it helps me comprehend different people and cultures, which in return help me write well. I have a lifestyle blog and am also writing some scripts and a novel. Traveling helps me unwind and relax, but also acts like fodder for my brain to write ads and blogs, required for my profession.

  • How many countries and Indian states have you visited?

I have trekked on India-Nepal border, have been to Nainital, Mcleodganj, some villages in Himachal Pradesh, Darjeeling, some villages and cities in West Bengal, Aurangabad, places near Pune, Lonavala, explored the hills of Maharashtra, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry, Rajasthan – Jaipur, Jodhpur, Mount Abu, Ajmer, Pushkar, and other small villages around. Gujarat, I have explored south Gujarat – Dwarka, dunni point, Mithapur, Okha, Kutch, and Saurashtra.

  • What’s your favorite destination? Tell us about your journey to that place and why it’s so important.

It has to be Dharamshala. I had a great time over there. Himachal is truly Gods’ state like it is proclaimed. It was very calm and serene. I loved the food and met some very interesting people. I was on a solo trip over there which helped me, explore the place on my own, letting me reflect on all I saw and felt.

October 2016

I went by train as I needed time to write. Train rides give me different perspectives, and also, help me get a sense of the cities, cultures, and people.

Himachal Pradesh is the most beautiful place I have ever been to as it is straight out of those drawings of ‘nature scenery’ we used to create as children- a little house overlooking mountains, valleys, rivers and beautiful trees. There are perennial rivers and lakes breaking out from the green hills and lovely pastures. Horses graze around like cats and dogs we spot in cities.

I have been connected to Manil, who is from Ahmedabad, who took me to Dharamkot– a village beside Dharamshala on his Enfield. We instantly bonded over the amazing Gujarati business acumen and bad Ahmedabad traffic. Also that extra spoonful of sugar we added into our coffees. Manil introduced me to Sanhita, a consultant in Mumbai and then, dwelling in Dharamshala. She is an absolute dog lover. She would often buy biscuits for all the dogs in the neighborhood. We bumped into this cafe Lung Ta and gorged on amazing Sushi and talked about spirituality, yoga, food and men.

It was the wedding time for Manil’s landlord’s daughter. Manil invited me to this hamlet around 40 mins away from Dharamshala. They resided in the most beautiful home surrounded by lush meadows and a river bed called Neugal. I attended the wedding for two days. The first day was the Mehendi ceremony. We were by the bride’s side. When Sanhita said she can apply henna, she was immediately asked to start applying it on Dimple’s (the bride) hand. We fuss about the beautician, decorations, food and what not; we even have wedding planners these days. These Himachali weddings remind you, planning isn’t (and shouldn’t be) crucial when it comes to weddings.

The wedding day was very special. Everyone in the village is invited and so were our friends. Two foreigners came along and I must say they really made an effort to dress up traditionally- kurta, pajama, Himachali topi. I looked like a ‘jhali’ with ripped jeans, sweater, and big shoes. But it all ended up as one of the most beautiful experiences.

I always pray for an interesting life. Before starting a journey, I pray it is interesting. Now, these vibes created by my prayers are so strong that ‘the interesting’ becomes too much to handle sometimes. Yes, I meet a lot of interesting people; hence, witness some really interesting things – at my own expense sometimes. But after all, everything turns out to be life changing and worth a learning.

  • Tell us about your fears and anxieties when traversing solo. How you keep them at bay?

I feel anxious while traveling, it is important to safeguard your luggage and yourself as well. I always keep someone updated about my whereabouts.

  • What’s your favorite travel quote?

“Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have traveled.” It hangs on my bedroom wall.

  • What’s your way of seeing a country?

The first thing that strikes me is the way it looks to an outsider. The beauty is in the natural surroundings as much as in the man-made architecture, and all has its own story to be told. I love food and even blog about it, so I love to explore the food options. Locals are the best when it comes to exploring a new place.

  • Advice for the first time solo travelers and readers

Research the place well before you go. Keep in mind the places you could go and stay at, but don’t plan much. It needs to be a combination of being well aware of the place but not planning much. If you enjoy offbeat places more, don’t try to cover all the famous landmarks and just enjoy where you are. Keep your eye open for interesting stories and people and also to safeguard yourself. Talk to the locals about their lives and indulge in local dishes.

  • Where are you off to next?

My trips are mostly impromptu.