• MW elephant blessing
  • MW at Tiger Fort, Jaipur
  • MW at Taj Mahal with friends
  • Mariellen Ward, Kumbh Mela, Haridwar, aarti, India

My travel wish list in India, South Asia

Magical Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, by photographer Andrew Adams

Magical Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, by photographer Andrew Adams

I am inviting support for my dreams of travelling and empowering women

I AM WRITING this on the first day of the Year of the Horse, a year that is supposed to be marked by an upswing of positive energy and a big increase in support for projects of the heart. Breathedreamgo is nothing if not a project of the heart, born out of my love for travel, especially in India. As many of my readers know, it was travel in India that helped me recover from depression and got me started on my dream career: traveller, travel writer and blogger (read My Story).

But that first totally-life-changing trip to India was now eight years ago, and I have again lost sight of my dreams in the daily struggle of life. In fact, I have found myself starting to feel enmeshed in negativity, and I am trying to break this downward spiral and create a new pattern, a new story for my life. I thought that discovering my passion in life, trying to master it, and putting my heart-and-soul out there, via my blog, would be a springboard to success and a new life. Turns out, it’s not that easy. But over the past few years, as I’ve struggled to find my way, I’ve learned some very valuable lessons: To have faith in myself. To keep dreaming. And to keep giving voice to my yearnings. 

It is a woman’s voice, sire, which dares to utter what many yearn for in silence. Elizabeth Barrett-Browning

Taj Mahal, India, women

Me, with friends at the Taj Mahal in 2006

The project and wish list

I truly believe that life gives us the right experiences we need to learn the lessons that will move us forward on our soul’s journey. I need to have faith — in myself and in the abundance of the universe. I need to open myself to support. I need to overcome a lack of confidence in myself. So, to do that, I am putting my heart on my sleeve and inviting support from:

  • travel and tour companies
  • tourism boards
  • airlines, hotel chains
  • angel investors
  • online travel sites
  • media outlets
  • NGOs
  • travel startups and tech companies

… anyone who would like to see more travel stories from a female solo traveller in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, The Maldives and/or Burma/Myanmar.

The day a woman can walk freely at midnight on the roads, that day we can say that India achieved independence. MK Gandhi

boats, Kerala backwaters, India

On the Kerala backwaters

My idea is to travel for a year, a new place every week, and blog about each new destination. So, the story will be about my adventures as a female solo traveller in South Asia, a part of the world that I love, but that needs more female empowerment. And the story will also be about overcoming my own struggles (read A woman’s voice) and helping raise the voices of women in South Asia.

A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult. Melinda Gates

I am currently looking for projects to align with, and I am open to ideas. Ideas for both travel in South Asia and for empowering women. I am considering raising money for charity, profiling women that I meet on the road and women’s organizations, or working with a charity and perhaps distributing books or tablet computers as I go.

Ideas welcome. Dream along with me. Please leave ideas in the comments section below.

Varanasi, India, ghats, spirituality

Ghats of Varanasi

Potential projects

Helping Women Get Online

The current project I am assessing is a good one: Helping women get online. Here is some info about it from their website: “Helping Women Get Online is an initiative launched by Google in India, to empower women by enabling them to use the Internet. India is one of the few countries in the world where the online audience is very skewed towards the male population, with only 30% of the active Internet users as women. Studies have shown that if women were to get online it would have a very positive impact on their lives, their status as well as the society … with the aim of bringing a balance in the online space and to empower women, we have taken up the task of helping 50 million additional women get online by end of 2014.”

If I can get enough Aakash Tablets donated, and perhaps internet connections too, I can both hand them out and teach women about Helping Women Get Online as I travel. This is the frontrunner idea so far!

FEB 10 NOTE : DataWind, makers of the Aakash Tablet, have agreed to do donate devices for this campaign!

Lakshman Jhula in Rishikesh, India, yoga, spirituality

Lakshman Jhula in Rishikesh

The travel wish list

In no particular order, here are some of the places and events I would love to visit;

  1. Visit the Valley of Flowers in August
  2. Celebrate the Durga Puja in Kolkata
  3. Float in a shikara on Dal Lake, Srinigar
  4. Walk among the ruins in Hampi
  5. Hike the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal
  6. Cruise the Kerala backwaters
  7. See Jaisalmer in the monsoon
  8. Do the Char Dham pilgrimage in Uttarakhand
  9. Look for Babaji’s cave in Kumaon, see Nanda Devi
  10. Go on tiger safaris in Corbett, Bandhavgarh, Khana and Sundarbans national parks
  11. Take part in the Ganesh Chaturthi Festival in Mumbai
  12. Walk in the footsteps of 16th century mystic / poet Mirabai in Rajasthan
  13. Visit Sabarmati, Gandhi’s ashram in Gujurat
  14. Drink tea in Assam
  15. Cruise the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers
  16. Explore the Silk Road
  17. Immerse in the tea gardens of Sri Lanka
  18. Hike in Ladakh
  19. Discover the Krishna towns of Vrindhavan and Mathura
  20. Visit the temple of Madurai
  21. Spend time in Bumthang, Bhutan
  22. As many hill stations as possible
  23. Visit towns & regions I have missed: Coorg, Munnar, Varkala, Madurai, Bikaner, Manali, Gokarna, Gwalior, Shekhawati (more to come)
  24. A cruise on the Irrawady river in Myanmar / Burma
  25. The Pushkar Camel Fair
  26. Delight in Khajuraho and attend the annual dance festival
  27. Be on the beach in Kerala when the monsoons start
  28. Visit every state in India
  29. See the Taj Mahal by the light of the full moon
  30. Full Pancha Karma treatment at an Ayurveda resort in Kerala
  31. Teacher training with Sivananda at Madurai or Uttarkashi
  32. Go fly a kite at the International Kite Festival in Gujurat
  33. Follow the monsoon to Cherrapunji, wettest place on earth
  34. Find the setting for the ‘Marabar’ caves in A Passage to India
  35. Explore the markets of Mumbai, find the bas relief Rudyard Kipling’s father carved
  36. Go bird watching in the Rann of Kutch
  37. Meditate at the glorious Golden Temple in Amritsar
  38. Stay in these hotels: Lake Palace Hotel (Udaipur), Rambagh Palace Hotel (Jaipur), Rohet Ghar Fort Hotel and Mihir Ghar Fort Hotel (Rajasthan), Oberoi Amarvilas Hotel (Agra), Taj Mahal Palace Hotel (Mumbai), Wildflower Hall (Shimla)
  39. Festivals: Jaisalmer Camel Festival, Taj Mahotsav
  40. …. more to come ….

Ideas welcome. Dream along with me. Please leave ideas in the comments section below.

Kerala, India, yoga, ocean, Arabian Sea

Me in Kerala in 2006 on my first trip to India.

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46 Responses to My travel wish list in India, South Asia

  1. Joanne Homan February 5, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    Good luck in your journey. You are an inspiration! Child Haven is a great charity that has orphanages in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Tibet. It was started by an amazing couple Fred & Bonnie Cappuccino from Maxville Ontario. They always welcome volunteers if you are interested. I am off to India today. Keep up the amazing blogs, I really enjoy them.

    • Mariellen Ward February 5, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

      I know Child Haven, thanks for the suggestion! I think they are doing great work. Have a wonderful time in India!
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..The RiverMy Profile

      • Sabitha March 8, 2014 at 2:28 am #

        H merlline,
        You are wonderful women. I have some place to suggest. 1, try to visit tanjor brihadeeswara temple and kodaikanal in tamilnadu best place to relax. 2, kabini ( orange county resort) near Bangalore i’ve been there once it’s really best time in my life. Around that resort three kind of wildlife sanctuary connected by one river, also you can visit that wildlife by crossing the river. Its really wonderful.
        Have a wonderful trip.
        Regards,
        Sabitha

  2. Anita February 5, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

    While planning for travel to India, please do include out the diamond- Odisha that promises rare treasures & pristine beauty.
    A boat-ride in the Chilika Lake- Asia’s largest brackish-water lake should be on your list too!
    You’ll be spoilt for choice with the aesthetic Arts & Crafts – amazing Handicrafts & traditional Sarees.
    Sharing my Post- :
    http://anitaexplorer.blogspot.in/2014/01/guess-this-place.html
    Anita recently posted..She Won…My Profile

  3. ravi February 5, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

    Have you heard about mooji. Beloved master for many of the westerners. and also disciple of ramana maharshi. Mooji comes india with his western followers and give satsangs and meditate at Rishikesh in India. This is a great event. Hope this helps you in your life. A great thing.

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mooji-%E0%A5%90-Beloved-Master/159703214108514.

    Here you can go through the schedule

    http://myemail.constantcontact.com/NEWS–Satsangs-with-Mooji-in-Rishikesh–India–February-19th—-March-23rd-2014-and-Live-Broadcast–of-Satsang-with-Mooji–12th-.html?soid=1102751453991&aid=NLfQpqiOwi0

    • Mariellen Ward February 5, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

      Thanks, I don’t know Mooji, but I do know Sri Ramana Maharishi of course. I was in Tiruvannamalai in 2012, and had an amazing experience meditating in Sri Ramana Maharishi’s cave on Mount Arunachala.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..Choosing the perfect beach: Goa My Profile

  4. Renuka February 5, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

    Wow! Your ideas are exciting. :) I wish you all the best with your travel plans. I’d suggest you to experience Mumbai rains, visit an underrated city like Lucknow – full of great architecture and amazing cuisine.
    Renuka recently posted..Why Visit Delhi In FebruaryMy Profile

  5. ravi February 5, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    As you said ” India will touch your heart at every street corner”. No matter if you miss some places no worry India will make amazing journey.

    Always thankful to you for making a blog like these. without this blog some things are never happy for me in my life. You made India high. I feel this blog is sacred. All these things are just reflection of heart. You have great inner beauty and that is just reflected on your blog. Always great work.

    I live in south india in city visakhapatnam
    .http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visakhapatnam. If you have time you please come and visit the city I shall show all the things that seems to be heart touching and beautiful from my childhood.

    • Mariellen Ward February 5, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

      Ravi, your comment was written straight from your heart and as I sit here in Canada on a very cold, very snowy day, I am feeling very grateful. Thanks so much. I will try and visit Visakhapatnam.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..The RiverMy Profile

  6. Jessica February 5, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

    Mariellen,
    I love reading your blogs about India! I have now been 4 times and am making my 5th trip in 5 weeks! Some trips with friends and some solo… Reading your posts allow me to feel connected even when I’m not there.

    You it’s see Kerala in the monsoon, it is so green and lush and was my favourite time visiting there…

    I love this idea you have, you will have such an incredible time! Empowering women is close to my heart, there is so much need for this in India and the rest of Asia.

    I help to facilitate a small orphanage in the south of India, and through this have been helping to empower women and assist widows… Many women in that local area put there children in the orphanage so they are well looked after as they can’t do this themselves… One of the things we are looking at is helping the women set up small micro businesses (giving a sewing maching and teaching to sew, making soap to sell etc) and teaching skills so they can become self supportive and hopefully starting making an income where they can have their children back with them.

    I know starting small buisness with women would be difficult if you are only in each place for a week or so but I just thought to share this with you…

    I wish you luck in your journey and look forward to learning what you do.

    • Mariellen Ward February 5, 2014 at 10:37 pm #

      Hi Jessica, thanks so much for the comment, for the idea and mostly for the good work that you do. There are so many wonderful people in the world, and you are obviously one of them.

      I will think about this, how to encourage women to start their own small business. It’s a really good idea.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..Choosing the perfect beach: Goa My Profile

  7. Sharon Aschaiek February 5, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

    Mariellen,

    I think you are already halfway to achieving what you want – you have a pretty clear vision and have put your intentions out into the universe, and as the saying roughly goes, ask and you shall receive. You are one of the most dynamic manifesters I have ever met and it is truly inspiring. And I love how you have threaded in ideas for good causes as part of your travel adventures. Good luck :-)

    Sharon

    • Mariellen Ward February 5, 2014 at 10:36 pm #

      Thanks so much Sharon! I don’t know if I am a manifester, but I sure am a dreamer :)

      Maybe if I can just manage to keep dreaming, I can inspire others to do the same. That would make me happy.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..The glorious flowers of Costa RicaMy Profile

  8. Ashish Dharia February 6, 2014 at 12:14 am #

    Hi ,

    I am Ashish and really like your wish list.

    Firstly as a firm believer in women empowerment myself I think it is true that Whatever you give a woman, she will make it greater. Give her sperm, she will give you a baby. Give her a house, she will give you a home. Give her groceries, she will give you a meal. Give her a smile, she will give you her heart. She multiplies & enlarges what she is given. Thanks for your efforts on the same.
    Coming to your trip to India, the beautiful great India, I guess you should come about a two weeks early from the monsoon and start your trip from Gujrat and gradually as monsoon hits the western coast..travell down from Mumbai to Goa, its a dream drive and the most beautiful spots you will see.Goa is a lovely state and you guys would love the waterfalls, the western ghats the birds during this season.
    You will need a life time to watch the enire India, but surely I can help you with your itenary for the western side of it.
    Great to catch up with you and looking forward to talk to you more on your dream of travelling in India.

  9. moumita February 6, 2014 at 12:26 am #

    Ms. Ward,

    As Ravi said you made INDIA seat in such a high ALTAR , that many Indians if not prior would now feel proud to belong from a sacred country like INDIA.
    To your travel list I do a salute , it is well crafted . To it you can , if possible add one more place which I have never been to but heard a lot from my LATE father who was a spiritual person and my spiritual inclination came from him. The place is situated in Madhya Pradesh , AMARKANTAK , It is a place where RIVER NARMADA ( MANAS kANYA OF Lord of Shiva ) flows and mythologically this river is so powerful that is it believed that Ma Ganges come everyday and tkae a bath in NARMADA to get rid of the sins. I know you will feel a bit weird reading all these but its true , and i myself read it from a book called ” tapa bhoomi narmada ” and got amazed bythe spiritual power the land conceals within and it is the hub of very powerful saints who rarely come infront of commoners . The book ” TAPA BHOOMI NARMADA ” opens before you a whole new world of spiritual power and the strength of a river.anyway it’s not possible to write in a few words about the place as the book itself is in 6 volumes and is written by principal of VEDIC institute .
    regarding empowering women program , I will inform you facts , please ive me some time.

    • Mariellen Ward February 6, 2014 at 9:11 am #

      This is very exciting Moumita, I myself have experienced the spiritual power of Ganga, so I am definitely open to the power of the Narmada.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..The RiverMy Profile

  10. Krishna February 6, 2014 at 1:00 am #

    Hey Mariellen,

    Great to know that you like travelling in India. I am sure you have learned so much from this cultural diversity and ofcourse from the people over here :)

    BTW how is Kerala. I am Cochin and i hope you have really enjoyed your stay here.
    Krishna recently posted..Right Attitude for EntrepreneursMy Profile

  11. moumita February 6, 2014 at 1:01 am #

    regarding women empowerment , you can join into educating and teaching women of galabarah district of kashmir . for detail info visit https://www.facebook.com/WomensLiteracyProject

  12. Deepika February 6, 2014 at 8:02 am #

    You are doing great work. It is inspiring. Goodluck for your endeavor. All the best for your travel plans. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Martha February 6, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    Have you been to Auroville yet? It is outside of Pondicherry. I have worked with the village women there, teaching them Healing Touch energy healing. They showed enormous personal growth and deepened their self-respect. I am sure they would love to have more people come and share their knowledge. My contact there is named Sivaraj and his wife is Malar. Everyone knows them there. If you want his private e-mail, I can send it to you.

    My first trip to India was in 2003 and have returned 7 times. Indeed, it is so uplifting. I take friends along each time and we have so much fun! It is like another world.

    Best of luck to you.

    • Mariellen Ward February 6, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

      Hi Martha, thanks for the suggestion, indeed I would love to spend a significant amount of time at Auroville. I go regularly to an ashram in north India called Aurovalley Ashram.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..The RiverMy Profile

  14. Dilip Kumar February 6, 2014 at 8:25 pm #

    Hello Mariellen, I have been reading your blog and I have even posted comments on some of your posts. You have included places in Kerala mainly from the southern side. The historic and naturally beautiful north (the old British Malabar) is also a must be visited place. This could include:

    1. The Nelliyampathi hill station and the forest.
    2. Parambikkulam. (Note: Salim Ali ornithology center.
    3. The village life of Palghat (Palakkad)
    4. Visiting the forest tribal villages of palakkad
    5. Rice farming.
    6. Trekking in the Western Ghats of Palakkad
    7. The Cahriot festival of Kalpathy, Palakkad
    8. Silent Valley

    The list is vary long……….

    wishing you all the best,

    Dilip
    8. Historic Calicut and Tellichery

  15. John Gorge February 7, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    You have a brilliant idea. You can do it. I appreciate all the ideas you have. may you have an exciting and meaningful journey
    John Gorge recently posted..Dine in and Grab a Taste: Must-Visit Restaurants in Brisbane CBDMy Profile

  16. suni; February 8, 2014 at 3:07 am #

    India is a breath taking place one of its own kind. The culture india holds is exceptional and historical. Here is my share of India please see, http://www.slideshare.net/csunil169/top-20-places-to-visit-in-india.

  17. Bharat February 8, 2014 at 9:36 am #

    Hello Marrielen, pick your favourite traditional crafts and be sure to visit the artisans when you are in India. Here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.695374053836897.1073741873.107653209275654&type=3
    Bharat recently posted..Banarasi from VaranasiMy Profile

  18. Ankur February 9, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    You should do Dehra Dun and Mussoorie in Uttarakhand. If you have time go up to Dhanaulti and then from Dhanaulti down to Rishikesh. No need to return back to Doon or Mussorie that way. It’s a new tourist circuit that’s going to be developed by the government along the lines of golden triangle.

    • Mariellen Ward February 10, 2014 at 11:52 am #

      H Ankur, I don’t have RIshikesh, Dehra Dun or Mussoorie on this list because I have been there. In fact, I have spent a lot of time in Rishikesh area! But Dhanaulti, yes, I would like to go.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..India Visa on arrival coming soonMy Profile

  19. harsh February 11, 2014 at 10:06 am #

    Hi Mariellen,

    Below is link to one of the news which i found suitable to your project too.
    “Teach Women How to be Defend themselves”
    In India ,this is particularly applicable.

    http://www.glamsham.com/movies/scoops/14/feb/11-news-vidyut-jamwal-women-are-both-superior-and-superb-0214016.asp

    • Mariellen Ward February 18, 2014 at 8:51 am #

      Thanks, I will check it out. It’s sad that women need to do this. The natural order is that the male of the species protects women and children/babies. Things have gone terribly awry when women have to protect themselves from men.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..Tea and travel with a modern day explorerMy Profile

  20. ratna February 12, 2014 at 6:41 pm #

    Hi Mariellen.
    I subscribe to your blog.Travelling in India is my dream.I relive that reading your blog.You are doing a wonderful job. Travel safe and have fun.

    • Mariellen Ward February 18, 2014 at 8:52 am #

      Thanks so much Ratna. I have travelled a lot in my life, and I live in a beautiful country, Canada. But there is nowhere like India for travel, nowhere so exciting and colourful.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..Tea and travel with a modern day explorerMy Profile

  21. Alex February 19, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    South Asia is probably one of my favorite places to travel (or Asia in general) so much culture and history, so vibrant, but also affordable whilst out their. I would recommend a Jungle trek or some form, can do this in Kerala.

  22. Shantanu Apurva February 22, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

    Hi Mariellen,

    First of all kudos to u for the work u r doing regarding women empowerment. Spirituality is the essence of India in many ways. I wud like to suggest u to have a go at buddhist and jain circuits, the ancient university of Nalanda. rameswaram, and dhanushkodi in tamil nadu. spend some time inn chennai getting a taste of carnatic music.there is a place in kerala where they do chants in respect for fire. tht chants r transffered from father to son and up till now its considered that chants are pure vedic times. I dont remember the name of place exactly. If i recollect i ll put it here for u.
    Shantanu Apurva recently posted..Tea and sympathy in DarjeelingMy Profile

  23. Vikas February 25, 2014 at 12:56 am #

    May be you can add Nashik (near Mumbai), Palolem beach goa in th wishlist. Watching Sunset by evening & night walk on Palolem beach is just awesome experience. just love Palolem of South Goa

  24. vikrant March 26, 2014 at 5:49 am #

    Wow wonderful wish list. Wish you all the best. I am also going to valley of flower in august (15-19 aug).
    Mariellen, today i first time gone thru few of your blogs. I love the way you write. Simply amazing. Love it much :)

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