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The Vaishnodevi Experience 2023

My first trip to Vaishnodevi was unimpressive. Climbing was hard, and it only served to highlight how badly out of shape I was, while my in-laws managed to cope so much better. Further, I hadn’t quite realized that the cave experience wouldn’t be the same as I had imagined, since the original cave was only opened at certain times a year, and that we only entered a newly created tunnel, one far easier to access, and hence more manageable with the crowds that thronged the mountain shrine. The resulting experience at the shrine, for barely a fraction of a second, hardly compared to what I had expected / imagined / heard about. So, for me, Vaishnodevi was like any other temple, nothing to write home about, something that was reflected (though not explicitly mentioned) in the blog post I wrote then.

Dreaming of Antarctica with Mridula

Have you ever watched the National Geographic channel or any other travel programme for that matter, and wished you could go to all those wonderful places? I certainly have. I might be an avid traveller, but I have yet to set foot out of the country.... There are few places I have actually visited... I am no good at walking long distances or climbing even the smallest mountains. The only ones I do climb are those which have steps or a proper road, and even then I have a hard time... Yet, it doesnt stop me dreaming about all the wonderful places on earth, and wishing I could be one of those who actually go there! 

One of the reasons I started my own travel blog was that I enjoyed reading about other travellers' experiences, and wanted to add mine to all those on the net. Among the bloggers I have followed for a long long time, is Mridula.... I have loved reading her experiences, especially those about her treks, which are something I will never even think of attempting. Recently, she trekked to the Everest Base Camp - and came back with a series of posts which had me wishing I was fitter and readier to trek! 

Now, Mridula is planning another trip - this one really special! She is joining the International Antarctic Expedition 2013 with Sir Robert Swan's 2041. Sir Robert Swan is the first person to walk unaided to the North and South Poles. The International Antarctic Expedition is all about raising awareness about Antarctica under his leadership.  As to why 2041, that is the year the no-drilling no-mining treaty comes up for review. The expedition also aims to address the key issues related to the treaty and how it will impact the environment. 

As the 2041 website says -

The Antarctic continent is one of the most remote, inhospitable environments on earth. Harsh and inaccessible, covered by over 5 million square miles of solid ice, it is the world’s highest, driest coldest and windswept continent. The lowest recorded temperature in Antarctica was -89 Celsius (Volstok Station). No place on earth provides a more demanding environment to face the ultimate leadership challenge. Here the Inspire Antarctic Expedition (IAE) program focuses on leadership, teamwork and personal development. 
Robert Swan and the 2041 team will lead an international team of corporate leaders, environmentalists, entrepreneurs, teachers and young people on a journey through the Antarctic Peninsula, visiting incredible locations and sharing his insights and personal experiences of this unique continent along the way.
Working with a group of on-board experts, IAE team members will take time to truly become inspired by the unique experience that is Antarctica.Team members will not only enjoy an ideal setting for personal development, but they will also be uniquely positioned to share their experiences and knowledge gained with their colleagues, friends and families back home.

This is what Mridula will be a part of. However, before she actually sets off, there is much to be done, and among the biggest challenges is raising the funds needed! 

She needs to raise about 22,000 Dollars, plus airfare and gear. This is not a small amount, and certainly not easy to raise, but every small drop counts, and every single contribution, no matter how small, will help. Not all of us will be able to go to Antarctica during our lifetime, but our contribution can help send a friend there.... and we can enjoy reading all about her experiences when she gets back! 

Mridula is not the first Indian to be part of 2041. Last year, Dr.Priya Venkatesh was part of the same expedition. I heard about it too late to contribute then, but following their blog as the group explored Antarctica and reading all about the members' experiences was just too good! This time, I am sure it will be even better, and I guess we can then truly say that we know someone who has been to Antarctica!! 

Mridula has set up a page on, so that all contributions go straight to 2041... So, people, go ahead, click on the link and do your bit!



  1. Anu thank you so much for all your time and effort. I am deeply touched.

    1. Mridula, it is a pleasure to be able to help! just hoping that it does help and you are able to collect the amount soon!! Its a wonderful opportunity and something we would love to read about and experience through your lens and words once you get back!!

  2. Wishing Mridula all the best. She is definitely going to be a part of the team. Let us do our bit.


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