Dear Negative Thoughts

You’ve been serving me for a long time. Not necessarily in a good or bad way, but for a long time, anyway. That’s why I remember you. And that’s exactly the status you have with me now: A memory; an echo. A faded photograph of an old place that’s no longer worth visiting for me. … Continue reading “Dear Negative Thoughts”

You’ve been serving me for a long time.

Not necessarily in a good or bad way, but for a long time, anyway. That’s why I remember you.

And that’s exactly the status you have with me now: A memory; an echo. A faded photograph of an old place that’s no longer worth visiting for me.

I think you’re still here because I have a hard time forgetting. Because forgetting would feel like losing an important part of my identity.

I don’t know if that’s right or wrong. Some things are probably fine to remember; others might be inhibitive. I think you’re still around because you’ve felt like part of my identity for long.

But I think it’s time to let go, Negative Thoughts.

I want you to know that I actually love many of the times we’ve shared. The nights where I just stayed at home, drank by myself and listened to my own music have felt amazing. Hell, I might even do it some other time in the future. But at that point, it will be because I genuinely want to; not because I feel safer that way.

And today, I feel safe enough to dare letting you go. I’m sure there’ll be others who’ll take care of you, because they’re at a stage of their lives where you’ll get along. But you and I don’t get along anymore. It’s not that you’re wrong or bad; it’s just that we’ve outgrown each other.

Don’t worry: There’s plenty of need for you out there. The world is a huge place that can easily feel insecure. There’ll always be a lot of people who need someone like you to support themselves. You’re not gonna have trouble finding anyone to take care of you and be much better for you in the long run. I’ve actually seen many of your kind all over the place. In fact, you’re gonna have a ball!

But you and I must go our separate ways now. I know it’ll be hard for both of us to adjust to the fact that our time together is over. But it needs to be this way for our common good. You’re no longer expressing yourself fully with me, and I no longer need you for support. And so, splitting up is all for the better, no matter how much it hurts.

You can cry if it makes you feel better. Personally, I will no longer be spending my energy mourning, but learning, evolving, and full-out enjoying the recovery of a part of myself which I’ve been without for all too many years. That is, until you and I started drifting apart.

I hereby let you go. And so, it’s only a matter of time until we separate entirely. Because I know how stubborn you are, and how forcefully you hold on. But I’m letting you go now.

We’ll probably be seeing each other around a lot. Hell, it’s practically inevitable, what with all our mutual friends. You’ll probably see me and consider me something unattainable and therefore irritating in all my self-assuredness, determination and optimism. And I’ll probably see you and consider you someone else’s problem, truth be told.

I know there’s a deep discrepancy there, and that it hurts someone like you. But I’ll ask you to respect my choice and accept that it wouldn’t lead to anything durable — much less something at all good — if we were to try and get back together.

Once again, thanks for all the instantly gratifying times. I know there’s probably some phrasings here that might be interpreted as though I’m keeping a door open for reconciliation. Just to make it entirely clear: It’s only you who’s interpreting it that way. You can’t help it; it’s your nature.

But it IS entirely over between you and me. I’m married to Confidence now.

Goodbye, Negative Thoughts.

Why You Should Pivot to Asia

It is amazing how in just over the past decade, since the 2008 Summer Olympics held in Beijing, China has become a buzzword, a topic for high-minded intellectual conversation, and as a topic for uncomfortable debate regarding national policy and economic forecasts throughout the Western world. Maybe it all began in 2011 with the US Secretary of State Clinton’s Foreign Policy article, America’s Pacific Century, followed then by US President Obama’s so-called “Pivot to Asia”, through which that administration sought to rebalance US foreign interests away from the Middle-East and toward its East Asian allies, as well as its potential economic and global power rivals, namely the People’s Republic of China. This essay will peer beyond the smoke-screen of global power politics, military build-up, and regional border and maritime disputes, to an equally valid reason why the China-centric East Asian region has been a topic of great interest to the West, and exactly why YOU should consider allocating your time and resources, and perhaps even expatriate, to China. What is beyond that smoke screen of political concern? The Chinese economy in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been growing at an average of approximately 10% since the early 1990s. This growth, coupled with the sheer size of the Chinese population, nearly one-fifth of the world’s population, renders China an aggregate force necessary for outsiders to understand and attractive to those who are forward-thinking in their personal and career aspirations.

This author was born in the mid-1980s. To my parents’ generation, China may still be perceived as a third-world country, with its geographic location, cultural peculiarities, and market realities, all still blurred with the images of its past. Whether it is by the deep red hue of communism, the iron wall of geopolitical enmity, or the unforgettable horrors captured in photographs from the famines and social upheavals wrought by policies of long-dead and infamous Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong, China remains in the eyes of many in the West as a mildly exotic and mostly sketchy place, for which we have only the mainstream Western media to provide us with the bulk of our information. Well, Mao has been dead for more than 40 years. The Chinese Communist Party embraced foreign investment and limited market reform with haste, just a few years later. By the mid-1980s, the trajectory of the Chinese economy was notable. Over a billion smart, hard working people finally given some semblance of socioeconomic and legal stability did what they do best; they began striving in new and reformed industries, accumulating modest pools of wealth for their families and for the hopes of their posterity.

The mid-1980s was three decades ago. Much has happened since then, and until recently, the West’s vision of China was so sullied by antiquated concepts that many viewed China’s economic rise as a sudden wonder. Where was their attention placed before? Regardless of how the masses viewed China, it is clear that private industry and diplomatic missions took notice immediately. Foreign investment and expertise has been streaming into China ever since the 1980s. The tide has begun to crash on the shores of the West, however, most recently. Chinese investment is now pouring into a variety of sectors, particularly evident in English-speaking countries. We all must be familiar by now with one or more of these cases: investment immigration, such as that provided by the US government’s EB-5; the Chinese Central Bank is holding unprecedented amounts of US Government Bonds; real estate markets across the West are experiencing an influx of Chinese cash, which bids up housing prices; and about a half-million Chinese students study abroad each year to make the most of foreign institutions of higher-learning, just to return to their homes within years, which illustrates that this is a population that is not fleeing a country, but rather gathering skills and resources from the outside for the continued growth of their homeland. The growth of the Chinese economy especially over the last decade is an undeniable miracle. Consequently, members of the West will continue to look on unflinchingly with awe, or they will accept the winds of change and become more integrated with the Asian economies, principally China.

These miracles have not happened by the merits of the Chinese alone. Foreign individuals and institutions have played a critical role in funding, educating, consulting, and bridging the gap generally for the Chinese in their transition into the world’s largest economy. While this process of foreign investment, consulting, and foreign-based education has been steadily marching on for two decades, Chinese individuals and institutions are not decreasing in their interactions with foreigners. The difference now is that the direction of interaction is that of a more mutual, two-way street. In fact, in many facets, this trend is both growing in its scale and in its acuteness. The Chinese involvement with foreign institutions is becoming more standardized, robust, and integrated. While the English language has been a compulsory course in public schools during the middle and high school years for nearly two generations, most well-to-do parents are now sending their young children to private English training schools on the weekends. Instead of studying abroad for university, many families are choosing to send their children abroad for study at the start of high school, and some even earlier. Chinese companies are buying American brands, adding prestige to their portfolios while also hedging their company value with an asset denominated in a more stable, trusted currency, like the US Dollar. The above-mentioned are merely a few of thousands of examples of how the average middle-class Chinese person is affected by and affecting the global marketplace.

You might ask yourself, “why is this notable?” After all, Singapore and South Korea, for example, are two other Asian economies that have reached high-levels of integration globally and equally high levels of prosperity domestically in recent decades, with per-capita GDP much higher than that of their Chinese counterparts. The difference is that collectively those two political territories contain the same population, just over 50 million, as that of China’s two largest cities combined, namely, Beijing and Shanghai. Framed another way, China’s population is more than 400% larger than that of the United States. The American and Chinese economies are relatively equal in size as measured by GDP, and therefore the average Chinese is only one-fourth as productive as they average American when viewed by per-capita GDP. However, with American overall GDP growth registering considerably lower than that of the Chinese economy, about 70-80% lower, then it follows arithmetically that the Chinese economy, all things being equal, will begin to create distance from America economically. As a result of this rising relative economic importance over the world’s other economies, China will continue gaining a strong leadership role in the global economy, and possibly leaving behind the Americans, much in the same manner that the American economy eclipsed the British and other European economies about a century ago.

Geopolitical concerns aside, xenophobia and chauvinism aside, what does this likely outcome mean for members of the West? The tough answer is that such an outcome could have great ramifications for members of the West, both positive and negative. Of course, its affect could also be completely innocuous. The extent to which the growth of Chinese and Asian influence on the world stage could be impactful for an American or a Brit is obviously contingent upon the industries playing greatest influence on any given individual. Regardless, a careful reflection on one’s career path will answer that question. Pivoting to Asia, associating with the Chinese, and expatriating to the future’s global economic-driving nations are all laudable positions for any member of the West with a vision to take proper advantage of the tides of economic and social change.

5 Key User Acquisition Strategies for Aspiring Appreneurs

Entrepreneurs often think that building an app successfully is enough to get the right grip on their target market. However, engaging with people and acquiring new prospects is where the main quest lies. While considering the different highly effective marketing tools, a mobile app works wonders to tap the target audience rightly. Considering this fact, it becomes highly important to plan a winning user acquisition strategy for your business.

Know Your Market Right

Before marketing your app, it is important to judge the preferences, likes and dislikes of the targeted market. Well, it is obvious that you want to score a higher rank in the Play Store. Thus, you must list out all the available strategies, analyse and choose the best fit for your business. This, in turn, will help you to stay focussed, thereby not diluting the broader markets.


App Store Optimisation in your app world is similar to SEO in the web world. Optimising your app’s listings will help in increased workflow and counting the store search results as well. Use the right set of keywords to increase its online visibility. Many of the developers add certain descriptive words to the app titles. Most importantly, App Stores function more like search engines for the popular ones thereby, pulling them to the top. Helping it to secure a high rank becomes easy and simple by adding high-quality images and relevant descriptions.

Test Different Acquisition Channels

While starting from the very scratch, it becomes important to test all the various user acquisition channels and choose the most promising options available. Following here are some of the most effective ideas to try out for planning a winning user acquisition strategy.

Leveraging Social Media

Building a social media presence has become essential for businesses and considering it as a prime online marketing tool for your products and services. Thus, you must invest your time in social marketing activities like starting or joining conversations, connecting with influencers and much more. You can build groups on LinkedIn or Facebook, active Reddit subgroups, use popular hashtags and join Twitter chats to reach the audience on a wider scale.

In- app Sharing

Another strategy which, works well for marketers and entrepreneurs is encouraging sharing content with the social media audience directly via the mobile app. You can think of sharing videos with the audience via Twitter or can enable automatic sharing for sharing content on social media platforms.

Final Word

The opportunities are endless when it comes to boosting the client acquisition rates. However, the quest is all about finding the right strategies which, will suit your business requirements. With experienced app developers, you get better scope of choosing the most ROI-driven strategies for ensuring better customer reach and more prospects.

Godalming – Surrey – Facts About the Town

The town of Godalming – Surrey is a civil parish in the county of Surrey in England. Located in the district of Waverley, the town is just 7 kilometres away from the southern side of Guildford. Gogalming is situated on the shores of the River Wey. The town has enjoyed immense prosperity since its formation and has served as a catalyst to the development of the London commuter belt.  

As expected, the success of the town has enabled it to be linked to other towns outside the UK. The town has been twinned with towns in France and Germany, namely, Joigny and Mayen. It is also shares friendship arrangements with the city of Moscow, and the state of Georgia in the USA. The friendship link between Godalming and the state of Georgia is a fascinating historical connection. The founder of the Georgia colony, James Oglethorpe came from the town of Godalming. He attended the Charterhouse School. The town of Godalming is always improving and aiming for higher standards. The town was voted the fourth best place to live in the UK in the 2008 channel 4 polls.

The town of Godalming has been around since the Saxon period. However, historical records show that the town may have existed in the pre-Saxon period and much earlier. If you read the records of King Alfred the Great, you will find mention of the town in one of his wills. The town was known as “Godhelms Ingus”, a Saxon name. The term means “the family of godhelm”.

The location of Godalming is ideal for growth and development. Located between London and Portsmouth, the area is a good resting place for travellers and traders. Motels, bed and breakfast shops sprouted along this route.

The architecture around Godalming is fascinating. You can find architecture dating from the 17th century to the 19th century. A total of 230 buildings are listed in Godalming. Buildings with Tudor timber framing can be found as well as seventeenth century brickwork. The Parish Church of Godalming spots a Norman tower and a Saxon chancel. 

Why Nainital Is The Best Place To Visit In Summer

Nainital is a year-round destination, but the ideal time to visit is between the months of March to June. These months constitute the summer season in Nainital and are generally considered pleasant for a day wanderers. Sometimes, especially during the months of May and June, The average temperature at this time varies between 10 degree Celsius and 25 degree Celsius.

Nainital, also known as Lake District of Uttarakhand, is named after the goddess Naina Devi. It is located around Naini Lake in Uttarakhand. If you are planning to feel tourism of Nainital then below are some guidance which help you throughout the tour.

Places to visit in Nainital

Mall Road: The vibrant Mall Road, was built during the British rule in India. There are a number of shops, restaurants, hotels and cafes at the Mall Road. No trip completes taking a walk around here.

Naini Lake: The fact that Nainital is named after the Naini Lake speaks highly of its significance. You can enjoy row boating as well as paddle boating at the lake, while the stunning scenic surroundings please your senses.

Sattal: Sattal is one mesmerizing tourist and picnic spot with seven lakes. While visiting Sattal you should also visit Naukutchiatal, a placid lake with nine corners, which is located about 26 kilometres away.

Tiffin Top: Tiffin Top is a very famous tourist attraction point. This picnic spot also known as Dorothy’s Seat. A cobblestoned walkway leads you up to Tiffin Top which can be a tiring trek, those travelling with their families opt for a horseback ride all the way up.

Snow View Point: Snow View Point gives the amazing views of the snow-clad Himalayas. This spot can be reached by an adventurous hilly trek or a comfortable taxi drive. Out of the different ways to reach this place, the most exciting one is by cable car.

St. John’s Church: St. John’s Church is located at the north-end of Nainital. The church was established and named in 1844 by the Bishop of Calcutta, Daniel Wilson. St. John’s Church is a must-visit when visiting Nainital.

Hanuman Garhi: A famous temple dedicated to the mighty Lord Hanuman, also has a sunrise and sunset point from where you can see one of the most mesmerizing views of the sun.

Guano Hills: The Guano Hills are best known for their adventurous walking and trekking. The whole landscape is very scenic, to say the least.

Bhimtal: Famous for its absolutely stunning Bhimtal Lake, Bhimtal is a small town and Nagar Panchayat in Nainital. Tourists from all over India and even internationally come to Nainital to spend some time at the Bhimtal Lake.


Nainital has both mid range and budget accommodation but it is advisable to travel during off season when you can get Heavy discounts. While most of the expensive hotels situated around Mallital, Reasonable rooms are available around Tallital, towards the southern side. With options like adventure camps, heritage villas, lodges, colonial style wooden cottages and many more, there is no trouble for places to stay in Nainital. This is what makes it one of the best places to visit in north India during summer.

Things I Hope My Nephew Knows While Growing Up

To my nephew,

From the moment you were born, I have loved you more than life itself. In fact, I didn’t know I was capable of loving something so much that didn’t even belong to me. You’ve taught me time and time again what love really is. I have had the opportunity to watch you grown into the kind, loving little boy you are today. You still have some growing up to do, but here are some things I hope you learn along the way.

I hope you never forget how much your family loves you. You brightened our worlds the moment you entered them. Let’s start with your Mom and dad, they love you more than anything in this world. I’ve watched your dad go from a tough guy to the dad who sneaks you candy after mommy says no. You always get so mad at mommy but she does it because she loves you so much. She is trying to teach you that we don’t always get everything we want in life, but that it’s okay. Oh, your brother. He picks on you so much, but that’s just what brothers do. I grew up with your daddy and uncles who picked on me just as much.. It is a brother’s way of telling you they love you. You two won’t always see eye to eye, but he will always have your back. Your whole family is a little bit crazy, but we do have one thing in common. We all love you so much.

I want you to know that I will always be there for you, no matter what. There will be times when you don’t want to tell your mom and dad things, and in those times I want you to know that you can come to me. I will always have an ear to listen. You will always be able to depend on me. I’m not perfect and I will make mistakes but I will do the best that I can for you. Never, ever forget that.

Always be a stand up guy. You have such a sweet heart and even at the age of two, you would do anything for anyone. Never grow out of that, no matter what anyone says. You are so kind, show people kindness in everything you do. Always be the man, walk away from fights (and you will have plenty in high school). Be a friend to anyone who needs it. Give second chances and love with all you have. People like you will change the world someday, I’m sure of it.

Last but not least, I don’t want you to ever settle. Never settle for less than you deserve. Life is short and you will learn just how quickly it goes by. Always believe in yourself. Do well in school, go to the college of your dreams. Apply for that job. Travel the world, go on amazing adventures! Take risks, even if they seem scary. You deserve the world, never let anyone tell you otherwise.

You are one amazing kid, I hope you get everything you have ever wanted in life.


Your Aunt

Capture Creative Thinking By Unleashing Your Mind For Success

Unleashing Your Mind and Going Beyond the Status Quo!

I use an easy and simple meditation often, sometimes multiple times throughout my day, bringing me to an alpha state of mind–meaning a new beginning at a much brighter level.

Here it is and I hope you will practice this to gain the benefits of being one with the universe:.

Those who know me also know of my sincere belief in the practice of meditation. It is an amazing technique for bringing about inner peace and stimulating your creative juices, especially in this world that so desperately tries to deprive us of it.

The opportunity

We have every opportunity to take our Divine Nature to whatever level we deem necessary, in the stages of our development to Oneness, or “One-Mindedness.”.

If you desire to live your true free will–to improve your life–your current situation–then creativity will help you do it. Your true free will and creativity equals innovation and here is where your success in life will be found.

While in your favorite comfortable position with your eyes closed, inhale and exhale peacefully and repeat the following words to yourself while trying to see yourself at-one with your own words and the world.

The late Wayne W. Dyer had written something that I have hung onto. “The goal through meditation is to achieve a state of mind that will become so unified that darkness, or the wrong-minded notions that make us seem to be separate identities, can not be perceived at all.”.

Ego-based thoughts project the unreal; whole-mindedness extends the Creation–which is Reality–and in That is your true free will. Once you are able to have a vision that receiving and giving are one and the same, you will be witnessing the whole, which is Light.

From here you will unwind you mind and your vision will open up, learning not to be afraid to take action on what it is you truly want to do in life.

A Course In Miracles states, “Our extended thoughts spring from Oneness and remain one with us; the images we project are ego-based thoughts, sent forth as separate entities.”.

In other words the Creation is One, and if you are trying to operate outside of your true free will it will be impossible to truly succeed. Your true light will bring peace of mind into other minds as you give of yourself, so you can share the Light and experience the whole.

It happens when your mind learns to extend thoughts rather than the way many of us live; by projecting images that become judgements.

How do you find it?

By getting rid of the, “I can’t do that” wrong-minded thought system. Letting go of your ego-based mind that continues to dictate to you that “It’s too much work” or “I can’t afford to make a mistake,” or any number of the creativity killers that keep many from the life they truly want to live.

An unidentified Zen Master had said, “Meditation works to heal, and its purpose is to help you see wholeness, unity, or one-mindedness, in all that you do throughout your day.”.

Slowly repeat these meditation words several times, as needed, until they become a part of who you are.

Close your eyes and begin your meditation.

To give and to receive are one in Truth. I will receive what I am giving now.

True light, or in other words, your true state of mind, makes true vision possible. I am not describing the kind of light you see through the body’s eyes, but merely a state of mind.

Benefits Of Being Wealthy – Check Out These Amazing Benefits

It is great to be wealthy. In fact, the pursuit of wealth can be a noble initiative. You can do a lot of things if you have the necessary wealth. Being wealthy is a great advantage. Let’s examine some of the things that come with being wealthy.

• One of the biggest advantages of being wealthy is that you can have the best comforts in life. Practically everything in the world is available in return for money. Being wealthy enables you to have the best houses to live in.

• You are able to provide the best education for your children. Some of the best schools and colleges in the world are exclusive for the wealthy people. Studying in such schools has its own advantages.

• You can visit every place on the earth. Visiting exotic places can help broaden your vision and expose you to many cultures in the world. Experiencing them can be a great education for your children.

• Being wealthy, it is natural that you would end up having similar friends and acquaintances. This can help you to forge better relations with them and multiply your wealth.

• You have the advantage of buying in bulk at the best stores in the world. You also have the advantage of investing in a wide range of securities.

• You can do your share of philanthropy by donating a part of your wealth to charitable organizations and medical institutes. This can help the poor and underprivileged people have decent educational and medical facilities.

• One of the noblest initiatives can be taking up the educational responsibilities of poor children. There are people in the world who have the talent but not the means to pursue higher education. You can pitch in with your contribution.

There are hundreds of things that you can do if you have the necessary wealth with you.

Here is the next thing for you to do!

You must develop some skills in order to be a successful entrepreneur. Certain skills include;

1. The skill of being discipline because many start up businesses require around 2 years of hard work before a proper return on investment is made.

2. The skill of being a closer. A closer is someone who is good at closing deals or transactions. In order to be a good closer, you must educate yourself of how to talk to clients.

3. The skill of being ambitious. You will have to have a certain level of drive to be a successful businessperson.

What Do The Different Colored Passports Represent?

For many generations, passports have been helping people connect with other people from all around the world. With a passport, you can see just how different the people and places of the world are. However, despite the frequency of its use, very few people have a good amount of knowledge about the passport. There is a seemingly endless amount of rules when it comes to passports, such as how to handle a damaged passport, but there are some fun things to know as well. For example, have you noticed all the colors that passports come in? Many people don’t, so here’s a quick overview.

Passports come in a whole array of different colors. However, these colors aren’t just to look at, and they aren’t optional either. The color of a passport represents a certain status of the person holding it. You most likely own the dark blue passport. This passport is reserved for issuance to regular citizens of the Unites States. If you are 18 or older, your passport is valid for 10 years, but if you are younger, then it’s only valid for five. Another passport color is maroon or dark red, which you might see at an airport. These passports are reserved for those traveling on official US government business, but this doesn’t include diplomatic business, as that has it’s own color. US military and their families are frequent holders of a maroon passport, and they are valid for five years.

The black passport is the one used for people who are traveling on diplomatic missions. When this passport is used, it tells the people at the airport that they are diplomatically immune. This means that the person is free from search of his person or property, free from getting arrested, and free from delays or detention. Just like the maroon ones, these passports are valid for five years.

Additionally, there is a green colored passport. This passport is a little different from the others. The green passport is like a special-edition passport, as it was created to mark the 200 year anniversary of the US Consular Service. In the passport there is a one-page commemoration to none other than Ben Franklin. You will most likely not see one of these being used at the airport, as by 1994, they weren’t being made anymore.

The last color passport is the blue-green one. There are a couple types of blue-green passport, but they both are used by those who are not yet full citizens of the US. For example, there is the Travel Document, which also goes by Refugee Travel Document or Refugee Passport. These are for aliens who are either refugees or asylees. Basically, a refugee is someone who fears persecution in their home country and therefore flees. An asylee is either just incapable or unable to go back to their country, or they are unwilling to do so. The Reentry Permit is pretty self-explanatory. It is reserved for permanent resident aliens who are looking to reenter the country. All of this information is only a little bit of what there is to know about passports. There are other things to know, such as why someone might need a passport name change for instance.

Hill Stations and Mountain Towns of India

Shimla– Himachal Pradesh 2205 m

Shimla is a lovely sprawling Himalayan hill station with a leisurely pace of life and an interesting past. It’s bound to be a real higlight of any India trip. It was the British summer capital from 1864 and once part of the Kingdom of Nepal, but is now a firm favourite with Indian honeymooners, giving it a real holiday feel. Shimla is popular for its cool mountain air in the hot season, its snowfall in the winter and the famous scenic toy train ride on the way down (or up)! The toy train has recently been given UNESCO World Heritage status and is one of the famous narrow gauge mountain railway journeys of India. If you visit Shimla during your India travels, you can stroll along the Mall enjoying Himalayan views, relax in your hotel garden, or hike up to the Monkey Temple set on a hillside above the town.

Mount Abu– Southern Rajasthan – 1200 m

Rajasthan’s only hill station that attracts many Indian tourists from the plains of neighbouring Gujarat state and those retreating from the desert heat of Rajasthan. From one of the viewpoints you can see Pakistan on a clear day – a unique experience to add to your India travel plan. The Maharaja of Jaipur built a summer retreat here in 1897 overlooking the lake. You can do some nice treks here too and there are temples to admire and a polo ground too. Diwali is really big here and it gets very crowded at this time.

Darjeeling– West Bengal Hills – 2134 m

West Bengal’s main attraction; Darjeeling is separated from Nepal and Bhutan by snow-capped peaks and lies in the North East foothills of the Himalayas. Take a break from rowdy cities during your India trip to experience the cool mountain air of this charming hill station, surrounded by emerald tea plantations, and home to a fascinating mix of Indian, Nepalese, and Bhutanese people. You can wander through lush green forests, enjoying the fresh mountain air and explore brightly coloured Buddhist monasteries. At the end, you can toast your visit with a steaming cup of Darjeeling – the champagne of teas. This is an excellent spot to begin a North East India tour into the Himalayas, as well the gateway to the relatively undiscovered state of Sikkim and neighbouring Bhutan.

Gangtok– East Sikkim – 1400-1700m

The name Gangtok means ‘hill top’ and is the capital of Sikkim, a beautiful province that many travellers forget to add to their India itinerary. The buildings are perched along a sharp mountain ridge. The town itself is not so attractive in its’ architecture, but the views, when clear of clouds, are very impressive. There are excellent views of the Kangchenjunga Range from various points along the way. Mount Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world, towers over all of the scenery, dwarfing its surroundings. It is viewed as a hill station holiday resort by many holidaying Bengalis. It can get very busy at festival times for this reason, so bear this in mind if you’re thinking of including Sikkim in your India tour.

Dharamsala– Himachal Pradesh 1219 m

Dharamsala is known as ‘Little Lhasa’, and it will provide a really different spin on your India trip. It is full of burgundy and saffron clad Buddhist monks and fluttering prayer flags. You’ll find the fresh mountain air and the cool air a welcome change from the city smog and hectic traffic. During your stay, you can find out more about Tibetan culture, try some meditation and perhaps take some yoga lessons, listen to the monks chanting prayers in the monastery, or watch their lively debates at the temple. Wander up to the beautiful waterfall in the hills above the town, or visit the Norbulingka Institute, an artistic academy for young Tibetans set amongst beautiful gardens. Trekking and alternative and holistic therapies are also on offer here. McLeod Ganj is the place to stay for most travellers to India. It’s uphill from the busy centre below. The Dalai Lama’s residence is nearby (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama) and so this is the centre for the Tibetan Government in exile. In the 1850s McLeod was a British garrison and administration centre for the colonial government.

Nilgiri hill stations– The western Ghats – Ooty – 2240 m, Coonoor – 1850 m, Kotagiri – 1793 m

Kotagiri is the oldest of the three Nilgiri hill stations and is quiet and unassuming. It is a quiet contrast to the over-development of the more popular Ooty, so it will be a refreshing change from city life during your India tour.

When in Coonoor you should head to Upper Coonoor for peace, quiet and tranquillity as well as the best views. Central Coonoor itself is quite hectic and not so charming. Ooty is perhaps one of the most famous of India’s hill stations in Southern India. As with Shimla it was the British Colonial head-quarters for the government in Madras (now Chennai). You can take the miniature train on a scenic ride up too Ooty and the forests and mountain views are lovely. Old Ooty was nicknamed ‘Snooty-Ooty’. Here travellers to India mix with international students and honeymooners and some parts of Ooty still look very like rural England.

Kodaikanal– Tamil Nadu – 2100 m

This hill station is a cool retreat from the heat of the plains in Tamil Nadu state. It is around 120 kms from the bustling, colourful temple town of Madurai. It has a relaxed pace and is popular with Indian honeymooners. High season in Kodai is from April to June and this is reflected in the hiked prices for accommodation. Indian tourists love row boats and pedal boats and take them out on the lake here. Treks can be arranged and you should hire a guide from the tourist office or youth hostel and of course, as it is India, guides will probably approach you in the street. Or perhaps just get up early and take the 5 km circuit around the lake when it is quiet if you do not fancy trekking into the forest and mountains. Head to Coakers Walk for a great view across the valley below and if you stay at the youth hostel the views from the lower rooms are good too. The valleys can gather mist which is very atmospheric but will sometimes hinder your view.

Manali – Himachel Pradesh – 2050 m

The modern town of Manali is built on an ancient site, but does not have the colonial history, charm and attractive setting of Shimla or some of the other hill stations, but it has a big reputation hanging over from the 70’s and 80’s scene and western hippy scene.

There is high quality marijuana that grows in this region. This attracts a certain kind of traveller, but it is still illegal to smoke it in India. It is now more popular with Indian honeymooners and the western ‘hippy’ travellers are more likely to now reside in neighbouring villages such as Vashisht or Dhungri. The nearby countryside is good for hiking and there are forests, orchards and old temples and the Beas River to explore. Old Manali is more peaceful and charming and walking distance from New Manali or just a short auto-rickshaw ride. Adventure travellers can find opportunities to go rafting, paragliding, skiing as well as trekking.

Munnar – The Western Ghats – 1524 m

Munnar town itself is not so great to look at, but the reason to head up to this hill station is the sea of emerald green tea plantations that surround the town. It’s a real joy to walk through the rolling green hills and take in the cool air and tranquillity of this region. Some of the highest commercial tea estates of the world are in this area. Munnar was another colonial British retreat in days gone by.

Mussoorie – Uttarakhand – 2003 m

This hill station is often referred to as the ‘Queen of Hill Stations’ and was established by the British in 1823. In parts the images of the colonial era linger, as they do in Shimla, in the form of old churches, hotels and summer palaces. It can get very busy here in the summer months, but at other times of year prices can drop quite dramatically and vacancies are easily found. There are great views across the Doon Valley and the distant snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas are visible on a clear day. As with Shimla, this hill station is easily accessible from Delhi so will get busy at holiday and festival times, something to keep in mind if you’re going to schedule it into your India trip.