Brandon Sousa is a Travel Writer based in Toronto, Canada. He writes for Metroland Media Toronto under the blog 'Hashtag AirBuds'. To date, he's travelled 21 countries and well-over 50 cities around the globe. This is his first time in India, visiting MHE as their blogger-in-residence in October 2014. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @brandon_sousa.
Bull's Retreat in Shivpuri is the perfect spot to re-charge. The Himalayas has quite a bit to offer thrill-seekers, but Bull's Retreat lets it's guests take a breather and slow down the pace.
Western culture is always so fast-paced; a rat race with no end. I found Bull's Retreat a sanctuary away from the routine of life, with the comforts of home. Satellite TV, A/C, hot water, and showers, it gave me a chance to figuratively and literally re-charge. As a travel writer, I carry quite a bit of tech that needs to be powered up on the regular: iPad, Bluetooth keyboard, Blackberry, iPhone, camera, and mobile battery packs; which made Bull's Retreat exactly what I needed.
The grounds are meticulously kept and surrounded by lush plants and flowers. There's also a basketball court and a rock wall to keep you active and outside. But the real charm is the early morning hike to the View Point. This 20-30 minute hike up the Himalayas provide you a true look down into the Ganga River.
I went up with Outward Bound's Ben, a 21-year old guide from the UK. At the top sat a beautiful Hindu temple that overlooked MHE's Beach Camp. We shared a cup of tea and talked about the challenges of leaving everything we knew at home to see the world.
The hardest part about travelling, particularly solo travel, is the people you leave behind. Family and friends are miles away, out of reach of instant communication due to the time difference. Relationships are put on hold or sacrificed for an experience not many can claim to have. Ben and I discovered quite a bit of parallels in our lives as we chatted on top of that peak.
Later that afternoon, my white water rafting guide, Titu, from the Beach Camp took me into Rishikesh giving me my first experience with the Hindu religion and culture. From temple to temple, I learned the traditions and practices of the local residents. As the day turned to dusk, I had the opportunity to set an offering to Mother Ganga down the Ganga River. A leaf boat full of flowers, incense, and fire floated along the current as the sun set; a moment that only a picture can truly explain.
Bull's Retreat felt less like a resort and more like a friend's home. I felt welcomed amongst the staff, regardless if they spoke English or not, and comfortable amongst the setting. Bull's Retreat is like a parenthesis from your regular life.
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