Friday, June 26, 2015

Trailwala | Adventure Trips

I recently came across a new adventure travel marketplace that connects travelers directly with trip organizers for experiences such as trekking, water sports, paragliding, safaris, camping and biking.

As  most of us who have tried to book a trek know, it can be pretty time-consuming and frustrating to find that perfect match: one that meets your dates, your budget, and your preferences when it comes to things like safety equipment, reviews, eco-friendliness, group size, etc.

Trailwala is a one-stop-shop that immediately gives you multiple options to compare when you search, and makes it easy to contact trip organizers to customize your trip.

The company was started by a bunch of outdoor fanatics who felt that there had to be a better way to go about researching and booking an experience that you’ll hopefully remember for the rest of your life. Moreover, the market is teeming with new options as adventure tourism grows, but most operators are small, fragmented and under-the-radar, and so there’s a good chance you’ll never hear about something you would have loved.

By bringing the market onto one site, Trailwala promises to make it super-easy to search, compare and connect with your dream adventure.

Check them out at and book a trip today!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Nepal Earthquake Support II - Update on Sundara Devi VDC

As many of you who have supported the twin villages of Kaaule and Bhangeri in Nuwakot  district of Nepal know that  I had made a visit to the villages last month to assess the situation there and chalk out a plan of action with the villagers.  My earlier report is found is this link below:

Today,  I am pleased to report that 350 bundles of GI zinc sheets for roofing have been delivered to the villagers from the  contribution made by the donors. 

Santaman Tamang one of the village leaders sent me this message last night  which I reproduce verbatim: 

"Dear Sir Sujoy 
 Yes I have distributed the 350 bundles for the villagers for the moment and soon going to bring the ordered 50 more bundles to my neighboring houses. You can see the attachments. Thank you very much for your great support which is most effective support for us.
Wishing you all the best and Looking onward to see you.
With Kindest Regards

Santaman Tamang
Your friend from Himalaya"

The photos sent by Santaman are below: 

Villagers waiting for the sheets to be distributed

Carrying the sheets home

The lorry which carried the sheets

Making a frame structure from wood for the temporary home

The sheets have not been permanently fixed as they will be re-used for the permanent houses


Trekkers, well wishers and friends of South Col Expeditions had raised an amount of USD 20,000 for the villagers. This entire amount was remitted through banking channels to Santaman Tamang. The bills received till date from Santaman are below and they cover the money which has been sent. The amounts are in Nepali Rs. Santaman still has another 50 bundles of sheeting to provide for the remaining villagers which he should manage through all the other donations he has received and he should also have some funds left over for future use.

I would like to thank all of you once again for the very generous support which you have given the people of Nepal.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Das Studio | Darjeeling

For many years now, one studio is Darjeeling has been at the forefront of mountain photography in the region. Durga Das Pradhan,  who is now in his eighties and is still active in running the studio spoke to me in Darjeeling a few months ago.

From large format film cameras to 35 mm single lens reflex models to digital cameras and D-SLRs and now phone cameras, Das Studio has seen them all.

When I was a boy in Darjeeling, a daily visit to Das Studio was a must. I would stand before the photographs of  the great mountains and look in awe at those wonderful pictures. Many were to places I have never been to like Everest Base Camp, Kala Pattar, Poon Hill, neighbouring Sandakphu and Phalut, Dzongri and many more. And as I looked I imagined that I would be there one day!

The postcard section was a great attraction and over the years I built up an album of Das Studio postcards. I have that green album even today - dog eared but treasured.

Durga Das Pradhan was and still is a wealth of information on everything photographic. While we were chatting this March, he suddenly mentioned some huge Ansel Adams prints which he had seen in the USA. " For tonal quality you can't beat large format film" he said " hopefully film is making a comeback." In his heart Durga Das is still a "film man".

Ratna Das Pradhan, son of Durga who now lives in Australia  writes this about Das Studio on  his web site :

"Our firm, Das Studio of Darjeeling, was established by my grandfather Thakur Das in 1927 at Mount Pleasant Road, a site near the present day bazaar. When the opportunity presented itself, he expanded his business and moved into shops in Commercial Row  (Nehru Road). In 1949 he scraped together a down payment to purchase the premises that housed Whiteaway Laidlaw, a haberdashery. 

He made the move to 15 Nehru Road in 1950. The history of the the family business is an interesting one not only to us family members, but also for the long time permanent residents of the town and the surrounding Tea Plantations.  

Darjeeling being a tourist destination and an escape for many plains dwellers during the scorching summer months meant many a visitor came to Darjeeling regularly during the hot Indian summer. 

Das Studio was always a familiar meeting place as the visitors strolled along Nehru Road to Chowrasta and a walk along the Mall to savour the cool Himalayan evenings. In a manner of speaking, the story of Das Studio has been somewhat linked with social history of Darjeeling, in that the business provided a popular social hub for visitors as well as the locals."

Sadly given the present situation of Darjeeling that is all changed.

Some photographs from the Das Studio archives are  below:

Setting up  a plate camera near Tonglu

Burdwan Palace and Darjeeling town 1950s
Das Studio in the 1940s

For more information on the history of Darjeeling and this historic studio visit 

Monday, June 8, 2015

George Mallory: 8th June 1924

" I cannot tell you how it possesses me...." George Mallory

The spectacular Kangshung face of Everest seen from the Kharta Glacier on the 1921 Reconnaissance expedition
On 8th June 1924, two men left  Camp VI (26,700 feet)  to make an attempt on the summit of Everest. Camp VI  was the highest camp of the British 1924 Everest expedition.

On the same morning, another British climber, Noel Odell, was making his way up from Camp IV to Camp VI. Odell was a geologist and he was collecting fossils from the slopes of Mount Everest. Odell recalls that it was not the perfect morning to climb Everest. " Rolling banks of mist" were sweeping  across the mountain and covering the north face. Neither the face nor the summit ridge could be seen by Odell. There was also a sharp wind which was making climbing very difficult.

Suddenly at 12.50 pm the mist cleared and Odell spotted high above on the ridge, a black dot climbing a rock step, which Odell at that point identified as the Second Step. Soon after Odell saw another black dot following the first black dot. But before Odell could be sure that the second black dot had joined the first,  the mist rolled in and blanketed the mountain and this fantastic vision was lost forever.

The two dots that Odell saw were George Mallory and Andrew Irvine "going strongly for the summit of Everest". Mallory and Irvine were never seen again.

But even today, ninety one years after the disappearance of Mallory and Irvine, the legend of Mallory is still alive. Books are being written about Mallory, expeditions are being planned to find Andrew Irvine and his camera because Everest experts believe that the camera will unlock the secret of Mallory's last climb.

In this post we take a look at some photographs and other memorabilia from the Everest expeditions of 1921, 1922 and 1924.

" Higher in the sky  than imagination had ventured to dream, the top of Everest itself appeared" George Mallory

Odell's photograph from the pass of Pang La shows the entire Himalayan chain from the Tibetan plateau with Everest standing just 35 miles away

A  current day telephoto view of Everest from the Pang La  identifying the important features of the mountain - please click on the photo to enlarge.

Mallory and Irvine before boarding the ship S S California  which they took to India on the 1924 expedition

Members of the 1924 expedition - Standing from left Irvine, Mallory, Norton, Odell, Macdonald. In front: Shebbeare, Bruce, Somervell, Beetham. Members not in the photo : Noel, Hingston, Hazard.

" Again and for the last time we advance up the Rongbuk Glacier for victory or final defeat" George Mallory 

The last photograph of Mallory and Irvine leaving for Camp Six for their summit bid from the North Col 

The list of provisions for the summit climb found on Mallory's body  - he planned to be on 2 cylinders of oxygen. Please note the rations on the left!

Original oxygen cylinders of the 1924 expedition preserved at the Planters Club, Darjeeling

The 8 pm in the note is a typo Mallory meant 8 am!

The note that Odell recovered from the tent at Camp VI  - Mallory had no compass on  his last climb

Before leaving for Everest - Mallory with his daughter Clare

A letter from  Mallory to his  children  from Everest

"..... some day you will hear a different story..." George Mallory

Friday, June 5, 2015

Nepal Earthquake | Rebuilding the Villages

Re-building a home at Kaaule village, Nuwakot, Nepal
With the monsoons just around the corner, most villagers are looking to build quick temporary shelters which can protect them from the rain. Most of these shelters will be built with galvanised iron sheets with zinc coating and there is a huge demand for G I sheets in Nepal right now. The villages which we have been supporting  - Kaaule and Bhangeri - in Nuwakot district are yet to receive their full quota of sheets.

Along with this architects and planners are thinking of low cost prototypes which will be better equipped to handle earthquakes and these will form the bulk of the permanent housing in the villages.

Ashish Sharan Lal is a conservation architect who visited Kaaule and Bhangeri villages one month after the earthquake to see for himself the damage and plan for the future.

In this video shot at Kaaule village, Sharan shares his thoughts on re building the village.

I also quite liked the design of the houses using earthbags which has already been used in Nepal.

Do visit which describes how to make these buildings in details.

Bond beam on earthbag school in Nepal.

For anyone interested in building with earthbag construction in Nepal contact:
Travis Hughbanks, Edge of Seven, Edge of Seven Blog, U.S.A.
hugh2834 [at] 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...