Glimpses of sacred Pushkar!

My friend wanted to spend her new year outside Delhi and I wanted to spend it at some quaint place so that is how Pushkar happened. There wasn’t a much hassle in selecting a place to stay in Pushkar, as zostel is there in Pushkar. This was going to be my second stay in Pushkar Zostel. Staying at zostel or any such hostel can be learning in itself. It allows you to open up to strangers in a friendly way yet maintaining your own space. Sometimes, you get to meet interesting people and sometimes you’ll bump into really funny characters but you’ll surely enjoy if you have the guts to take in anything with not much tantrums.

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Sunrise at Anasagar Jheel, Ajmer

We started our journey on Friday night (best day to escape from the chaotic world of technological slaves: P). We were suppose to board bus from Bikaner House and upon reaching there I was excited to see famous Pandara road market just a few steps ahead to Bikaner House. Pandara road market is very famous among night riders in Delhi because some food joints (also the famous Gulati’s Restaurant) remain open late in night. The reason for my excitement was to hit the market unknowingly at night when lights were gleaming and people were in festive mood. We gulped in some hot badam milk to beat cold, located our bus and then finally boarded it. Journey from Delhi to Ajmer was a smooth ride in spite of the fact that there was dense fog on the way. We reached Ajmer with the break of dawn and waited for our friend who was supposed to pick us up from Ajmer and stay with us at Pushkar. On the way, he showed us various points which we would have missed otherwise like famous jogging point for Ajmeriites. There is nothing better than watching a rising sun and seeing the people breathing in fresh air and bucking up for their day. We too stopped for some time and soaked the freshness of it to revive our lost energy due to overnight journey.

 

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Books and Tau @ Zostel, Pushkar

Entering Zostel is entering into a fantasy world! The colorful common area assures a comfort stay; paintings on wall depict various stories related to Pushkar. I especially loved the one which says “something in Hebrew” because there are many places in Pushkar where it is written only in Hebrew and not in any other language. Room was to be allotted at 12:00 noon, so we got ready in the common bathroom (of course one at a time :P) and headed to calm our taste buds with scrumptious street food. With so many foreigners coming to this place, one can easily find cafes serving multi-cuisine food along with Rajasthani food. I was surprised to see roadside eating joints serving middle-eastern food like Falafel & Humus and even more astonished to see locals talk in Hebrew so fluently. I guess the settlement of lot of Israelis have made the influence on both tourism as well as locals here. Anyway, we were more interested in trying authentic Rajasthani food and since there are many things you can try road side, I’m listing it here for the convenience of writing as well as for reading: 🙂

  • Poha: We went to a famous cart in front of Varah ghat which serves Poha (a kind of flat rice). The man who serves Poha is Sonu and is very polite and sweet. He was happy to tell that some foreigner has already mentioned about his cart on google (internet). It was just for 10 bucks! We never had such tasty Poha at such a nominal price. The other food item that we tried at the same cart was Daal Pakwan. We named it as desi pizza! It was new and good in taste.
  • Jalebi: After having delicious breakfast one can have freshly prepared Jalebi with Rabri.
  • Lassi: It is prepared in a wooden whisk and served in earthen pots. Gulab lassi is also a hit among locals.
  • Malpua: This is strictly not-to-miss dish which unfortunately we missed and will have to go back to try it.
  • Mirchi Vada: Popular breakfast for Rajasthanis. Try it if you can handle the hotness of chilli that is filled with mashed potato, onion and spices.
  • Fresh Juices: Do not forget to quench your thirst with freshly prepared juices.
  • Falafel: Gorge on Falafel, Humus with Pita bread donned with garlic (to suit the Indian taste buds) at Ganga Restaurant. The owner here was fluent in Hebrew!
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Magnificient Sunset @ Pushkar

After having heavenly food and feeling content, one can take long stroll along 52 ghats around the holy lake. That is what we did to digest our food and take in the city vibes in the best possible way. In the daytime, ghats keep bustling with pilgrims taking a dip in holy water (which is unfit for health but religious fanatics don’t mind about dirty water). It is preferable to wear slipper/chappal that can be removed easily as while walking on the ghats you’ll have to remove footwear at certain places especially when walking near lake. We saw lots of foreigners performing pooja (prayers) near ghat. In the evening we went to the sunset point to immerse ourselves in the hues of sunset forming reflections on lake, musicians playing ektara and nagara, town reverberating with the chants of Aarti. For me it was a beautiful evening to end the year with and hope for a peaceful 2017. By the night, town was surrounded with loud music (please read it as bad speakers) playing various popular Hindi, English and Punjabi, Rajasthani songs. Songs like “tip tip barsa pani” which tickled our ribs; but it was quite safe to roam around. We then took time to call or message our loved ones and wish them ‘Happy New Year’s 🙂

First Sunrise of 2017!

First Sunrise of 2017!

Next day was planned to hike to Savitri Temple which is on a hill top and is a sunrise point. I couldn’t hike till the temple and we decided to rest somewhere in the middle from where we could get to see a perfect sunrise. The time just before sunrise is very sacred especially when it is going to be first sunrise of the year. We were drowning in the moment when sun was rising. It was beautiful!

In the afternoon, we took our seats in Laura’s café and lazed there till early evening. People there at Laura’s café are really nice and sweet. Don’t miss to go there if you are in Pushkar. My two close friends drove down to Pushkar from Udaipur to meet me. I was overwhelmed with their gesture. It is all together a different feeling of meeting friends at a place away from your home.

Pushkar is also a home for only Brahma Temple in the world and a historical Gurdwara which was visited by tenth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh Ji. It offers peaceful vibes to the otherwise wandering mind of city dwellers.

Time spent at Pushkar was enchanting with lots of shopping done in the colorful by lanes of the town with a good start to New Year. I wish that this year brings more peace in the world. Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year! (a little late though).

Here goes the sneak peek of two days at Pushkar:

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Paragliding Paradise in India!

Winter has already knocked in! Bright sun is peeping through my window, spreading its warmth. Melodious Rabindra Sangeet by Shaan is playing, making everything in room to sway with it. And I’m earnestly eager to share my experience from my last trip. Though demonetization affected it a little but as they say “where there is a will, there is a way”, we managed it with all smiles. 🙂

Umm, the new adventure is about being a bird under the open sky. Yeah, you read it right, a bird. Befuddled? Well, let me clear myself. It’s about paragliding in mountains at the world’s popular paragliding site, Bir. And it makes one feel like a bird. 🙂 As usual, the journey started on Friday night. But before I start my blog I would like to mention about a

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With Dragan! 🙂

day prior to our departure. It is about meeting a Serbian cyclist, Dragan Sibalic, few months ago in Himalayas who was on his North India cycle tour and we made acquaintance with each other. He inspired me big time not only with his audacity of riding in dangerous Himalayas but also with his kind and humble nature. After few months, we again met in Delhi on one summer evening, promising to meet again when he will be in Delhi after his 8500 km of travel covering North India and Nepal. Keeping our promise, we met again. This time I was his host to show him my city – Delhi. The day was well spent in his company showing him few of the beautiful monuments of Delhi that stands testimony to imperial bygone era. And just before our departure for Bir, I bade him goodbye, with a promise of meeting him again but this time unsure of our meeting as he was leaving for his home next day. I will cherish all the moments spent with him throughout my life. 🙂

So, finally five girls all excited about their two days trip to Himalayas and being a bird, boarded bus from ISBT. To our astonishment, we had five last seats of Volvo. Thanks to the person who did this blunder while booking tickets. I was forgiven with their laughter :). Before even the bus started, two girls gulped in the Avomine tablet in order to not feel giddy of sitting on last seat. Keeping in mind all the adversities and awkwardness of the back seat, we adjusted to our best ability; singing, talking, and making fun to start our trip on a happy note. At around 2:00 am, after being scolded by a lady for singing loud, I managed to doze off only to wake up at a sudden jerk and seeing a friend of mine slipping from her seat, I held her though but imagining her lying on the bus floor made me laugh. And she is definitely going to beat me after reading this. Bus stopped twice, one for dinner break and second for a tea break. It was colder than Delhi and holding hot cup of tea in hand was more soothing than sipping it with a loud slurp. We reached Bir with the first light of the day. Morning and air in mountains make me high, makes me smile without any reason. I’m happiest under the mountain sun! Bir does not have a proper bus stop and in fact there are not many direct buses. Instead you need to take bus till Baijnath and take a taxi from there to reach Bir. We were lucky enough to get direct bus. Our hotel was in a small hamlet called Chougan which was a small trek down the road that hosted beautiful monasteries of Bir on one side and fluttering colorful prayer flags on the other side. The sight of it had a calming effect on mind and soul, and I knew that we are going to have a great time. After few calls and asking for directions from the locals, we finally reached hotel and got our keys. Infused with enthusiasm, we forgot the last night’s back seat journey, and planned to get ready and head for breakfast. I was told by a friend that one of her friend will be joining us for breakfast. He was really very handsome  and to my disappointment he was only 9 years younger to me so I stopped my mind from wandering in wrong direction and concentrated on food rather. At breakfast, Mr Chandan Bhatia Sir also joined us. Mr Chandan was an acquaintance to us through “Himalayan Club” on facebook. And he is absolutely one gem of a person who not only took care of us but also booked paragliding for us at a very nominal price. We can’t thank him enough for what he has done for us.

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Friends!

After having breakfast, we left for Billing (launching site) which is 14 km from Bir, in Chandan sir’s car. Road to Billing is really steep and oxygen level is also low thus making one feel like nauseating but going up and watching parachutes against azure blue sky took us in its awe.  We were given time to acclimatize to the weather before we could take a flight. We utilized time in clicking pictures, soaking mountain sun and making memories. We cheered fellow people who were ready to take their flight, bucking up ourselves to take the flight. I’m scared of heights but my father has always taught me to face fears with all my strength; it is his belief and my faith that gives me courage to take anything that comes my way. Here is a small poem that I wrote while preparing myself for the trip, shooing away all the negative thoughts and imbibing all the positive energy inside me.

Sitting on edge, with eyes full of dreams,
All set to para-glide, shout and scream
To fly under the open sky,
Above the mountains so high.
Ticking one more from bucket list,
Taking with audacity the air twists.

Finally, it was our turn to fly. With tensed face I wished good luck to all my friends and started chanting God’s name to keep me safe. I was the last one to fly. I took a flight in second attempt. I fell on stones in my first attempt and this reason was enough to terrify me. After few seconds of running and taking a flight, I was in air under the blue sky. It was ecstatic! After few minutes in the sky I was comfortable and talking to my glider but as I looked down it scared me again so I decided not to look towards ground, closed my eyes and let cool breeze touch my face and I got drowned in its howling sound remembering my grandma, brother and his wife, missing them and praying for them. I also felt the presence of my faith, rising behind the mountains and telling me to calm and enjoy the moment. I was in the air for around 30 minutes and after landing on the ground, my friends came running to me, one of them saying – “Gur, we did it. We all are alive!” I was so much elated to hear this that gust of tears came rolling down like a ferocious waterfall. We then celebrated this little achievement by feeding our empty stomachs with some food and watched the sun that changed the hues of the horizon as an artist fills his empty canvas with strokes of beautiful colors, before setting behind the Dhauldhar range. After dropping us all near our hotel, we said goodbye to Chandan Sir who was heading home which was a 2 hours drive from Bir. Bir is a very small town that has very limited options of restaurants which closes maximum by 8:00 pm. Hence, we were left with the option of having food at our own hotel which was decent enough to satiate our hunger. We then took a stroll on the narrow hilly roads under the moon which was supposed to be the largest and closest to earth. At last we came back to our rooms and dozed off to get up early next day and watch the rising sun.

Next day started as early as 5:00 am, we got ready and strolled on the unknown streets in the wee hours when we were joined by four dogs wagging their tales whom we gave names as – Tiger, Snowy, Brownie, and Kallu (all according to their colors. I thought ourselves as being racist but could not think of better names than these 😛 🙂 ) Tiger being the most quiet and innocent, stroked a immediate connection with me. They joined as soon as we started our walk and remained with us till the end. In just two hours, we got attached to them. We got to see the sunrise from somebody else’s home which we first entered to click the picture of rising sun and eventually took permission to enter their courtyard and spend some time. We walked laughed, clicked pictures and experienced many wow moments together. While on our way back to hotel, I found a secluded place where colorful prayer flags were hung around trees, sun was coming up from east, and mountains were at the backdrop; I decided to stay back and meet friends after some time at hotel. I was accompanied by friend’s friend, the same hot guy who was nine years younger to me. We talked so much about ourselves that when we returned from that place, we were in a relationship. A relationship of being elder sister and younger brother! After having our breakfast, we hired a cab to visit the largest monastery – Sherabling , around Bir. The monastery is grand and beautiful. It stirred that corner in all of us which was holding some pain and it came out in form of tears. We were also lucky to visit a school there and meet little monks. Ohh! They were damn cute. I wish I could have adopted one. We also were lucky to see mask dance at another monastery near our hotel. We had a bus back to Delhi at 5:45 pm so we couldn’t see more around Bir. There are so many places – trekking points and monasteries that were left; and I will cover them in my next trip to Bir.

The trip ended witnessing a beautiful red sun setting behind Himalayas and lots of cherish able memories. Here goes the photo blog:

An adventurous trail to world’s highest Shiva Temple!

Long weekends without traveling plans seem to be wasted! :p Taking advantage of the last long weekend of the year, I along with four girl friends

Us!

Us!

made a plan to trek to the world’s highest Shiva Temple. There are lots of tales associated with it and it is one of the “Panch Kedar”. The journey kick started at 10:30pm from ISBT Kashmere Gate in UPSRTC’s Volvo. The bus dropped us next day at Rishikesh at around 6:ooam. From here, we were to either hire a cab or take a bus for Chopta. Since we were five and collectively could afford a cab, we hired a cab (Bolero) to Chopta on mere 7500 bucks for next three days. With no kilometers to be noted, we could take or stop the cab where ever we wanted. With every travel I’ve realized that we (girls) fear to move out of our places and explore the outside world. On the contrary, people are more concerned about safety when, a girl or only girls are traveling. Where ever you go, whether you are known or unknown to people, they will wish you luck for a safe journey. Our driver, Akhil Bhaiya was sweet enough to listen to our chatter and stop where ever we wanted. The travel time from Rishikesh to Chopta or rather to Duggalbitta (7km before Chopta), which could have taken 6-7 hours, actually took us around 11 hours. Now you can imagine how patient our driver was and why I said he was sweet enough. 🙂

Confluence of river Alaknanda and river Bhagirathi

Confluence of river Alaknanda and river Bhagirathi

On the way to Chopta, we were in awe of the changing terrain. My mind drifts in its own world when I see mountains. We stopped at Devprayag to see the confluence of river Alaknanada and river Bhagirathi. I was amazed to see the different colors of two rivers, finally amalgamating, melting into one color and forming river Ganga. Sun shining amidst the mountains kept us in its warmth throughout the journey. With a breakfast stoppage at Teen Dhara and a stoppage for Lunch at Sirsoli, we managed to reach Duggalbitta at around 5:oopm. Food at both the places was not that great but we were overwhelmed with their service and the hot food they served us in that cold weather. Food was rather simple!

 

 

Duggalbitta welcomed us with our cab skidding on ice. And as and when we got down from the cab to ask for help, one of my friends slipped badly on ice. Anyways, sun was retiring for the day when we reached our camp and moved to our tents. By the time we had our evening tea, it was just 6:30pm but it was dark already. Discussing about pros and cons of “big data” with another group at camp over bonfire and then having our dinner, we dozed off for the day.

Duggalibitta!

Duggalibitta!

Start of trek!

Start of trek!

Next day was the main day of our trip. We were suppose to trek and start as early as possible, but we got little late because of extreme cold. One of the girls wasn’t feeling well so the rest four of us got ready for the trek. We started our trek at around 10:ooam from Duggalbitta (the camping site), which is 7km from Chopta.  The actual trek starts from Chopta. But because of ice, we had to trek till Chopta. Taking a shortcut, we reached Chopta at around 12:30pm by trekking around 4 km. We took a tea break here and basked in sun. We then started our trek towards Tungnath, the highest Shiva Temple in the world. Well! The name itself looks so tempting that I was eager to reach the point. Nishtha, the youngest among us, was quite fast. So we decided to send her with our guide, Harish to Chandrashila. Chandrashila is summit of Tungnath. It is 1km ahead of Tungnath and is quite steep and strenuous. At this time there was 2 feet of snow.

Taking our leisure time, enjoying the view and basking in sun we reached Tungnath at around 4:50pm (which is quite late in mountains). The sun was going down very fast when we started our trek downhill. We were just three girls and one girl from another group. Having no one around us, helping each other, some time walking in the moon light, some time walking in the torch light, we started descending. First time in my life I realized that why everyone says to get down before sun down on mountains. Damn, it was too difficult. We fell down so many times, got bruised, still we were walking. We wanted to be alive! I was pretty confident that we might take some time to reach downhill but we would reach when suddenly we saw a DEAD END. I didn’t tell anyone but I was scared out of my wits. We started shouting and crying for help. There was a point when I thought we’ll have to look out for a shelter to spend a night and a search operation would be sent for us tomorrow morning. That was too filmy! Everest movie was in my mind all the time. I remember mentioning it to my friends as well. 🙂 Anyways, we decided to make a final cry together. And we shouted – “Nishthaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”, name of the fourth girl with us as she was somewhere behind us with our guide. And to our relief, we heard someone saying “sun liya!” (We heard you). Gosh! I never felt such happiness in life. Now, together we trekked downhill with Harish Bhaiya. He was our savior! It was him who saved us from that scary night and helped us to reach safely to our camps. No, reaching our camps wasn’t that easy. It was already 9:00pm when we reached Chopta and to reach our camps we had to trek 7km more. We were dog tired when we heard SEVEN KILOMETERS. There was no other option! So now we started the final stretch of 7km for our lives. To be alive! Two of my friends gave up but kept walking. We were motivating each other. Now I very well understand what does – “run for your life” means. At this point I missed my friend Joy with whom I have traveled so much. I think if he would have been with us we would not have seen this difficult situation. But I also believe that we were to experience this situation therefore, he wasn’t with us. 🙂 At last we reached our camps at 11:oopm. We were fully exhausted to share anything with anyone. I just remember hitting our bed after having dinner.

Tungnath Temple!

Tungnath Temple!

Next day, we left our camps happily. But again were stuck by ice on roads. This time, God actually saved us from a steep fall. Somehow, we reached Rishikesh safely and boarded bus for Delhi.

I really want to thank Mr. Manoj Negi of Alpine Camps for his warm hospitality in that chilly weather. If anyone of you reading this blog want to go for the Tungnath trek can look at this as a staying option. We had a great time here!

Mr Negi with his squad!

Mr Negi with his squad!

This trek gave me lots and lots of learning. And those learning probably need another post.

The trek is rather very easy for anyone who have done trekking before. But snow and of course our bad timings made it little difficult. Surviving from 0 to -10 degrees, it was a great ending with the ending year. With this another magical place added to the list. We had so much fun together. The best part of traveling is making new friends and growing as a family with the friends/people with whom you are traveling. 🙂

And here goes the picture blog –

 

Sun Burst!

Sun Burst!

 

Tungnath Temple!

Tungnath Temple!

 

Valley covered with snow!

Valley covered with snow!

 

A Trekker en-route Tungnath!

A Trekker en-route Tungnath!

 

Negi and his squad at Alpine Camps!

Negi and his squad at Alpine Camps!

 

Sun Setting behind Ravan Shila! Ravan meditated here to please Lord Shiva.

Sun Setting behind Ravan Shila! Ravan meditated here to please Lord Shiva.

 

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Trekkers and their shoe marks!

 

Devi Temple @ Chandrashila!

Devi Temple @ Chandrashila! Courtesy – Nishtha

 

The Rays! Courtesy - Nishtha

The Rays! Courtesy – Nishtha

 

Misra Ji :)

Misra Ji 🙂

 

GD!

The Arabian – GD! 🙂

 

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Cheetah – Nishtha!

 

Bubbly Minakshi!

Bubbly Minakshi!

 

The more I travel, the less I speak. That's me! Happy in the lap of Himalayas.

The more I travel, the less I speak. That’s me! Happy in the lap of Himalayas.

 

There are hell lots of pictures which again needs another blog. Keeping it short and simple, I am ending blog here, hoping that you would have enjoyed it. 🙂

My Himalayan Odyssey!

Clouds are rumbling; teeming rain, as I sit to pen down my experience of a weeklong stay in Himalayas. My Himalayan Odyssey! It’s been more than 4 weeks that I’m back from yet another unforgettable road trip. Trips that are adding up to my life! It was surely a wonderful journey and I’m equally excited to write about it along with the sound of rain drops falling on the window.

As usual, journey started on Friday night. Friday – happiest day of the week for all Grey-collar workers! 😛 There is no need to worry about food when on National Highway -1. There are lot of “Dhabas (small kitchen)” on the way. The famous place for Dhabas and food is, Murthal. We stopped here, at Gulshan for dinner. The first destination was Manali! We were four friends, connected to a string of same passion. Harpal, an expert in driving and well versed about the places to which we were travelling. Joy, “Google Maps” as I call him and a dexterous photographer! And the two girls who were filled with  enthusiasm of exploring the new places. Taking advantage of Harpal’s travelling experiences; we stopped at every beautiful spot on the way to Manali. Slowly, we were absorbing the beauty of hills. There was a place en route Manali, where on our right were the hills, and on left was the Beas River. Sky was gheraoed by smoky clouds and we were chasing it in our little car. It was fun looking at the roads.

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On the way to Manali!

Finally! Happily tired, we reached our destination on Saturday evening. Manali is approximately 16 hours drive from Delhi. We chose to stay in a budget hotel with only basic amenities. We were satisfied with whatever there was in that hotel as we were too tired to go in search for another hotel. Sometimes it’s better to be content with what you have got! 🙂 We then met two friends – Nimit and Sabby, who are from Delhi, and had arrived Manali from Leh. Nimit is an awesome photographer and a humble soul. Whereas Sabby is a cheerful photographer who is fond of selfies. It is always good to meet someone you know at a far off place.Though, they confused us a lot about our next destination. We finally had dinner at Johnson’s Cafe (one of Manali’s best restaurants) along with some live music that was playing there. We then retired to deep slumber.

 

Apple Orchards, Manali!

Apple Orchards, Manali!

Day 2:

Being a morning person, I woke up before dawn, went out of the room and let the cool breeze of mountains rejuvenate me with its touch. I witnessed the rise of sun, slowly fading away the night’s darkness, and moving clouds making the snow clad mountains visible to the eyes. We then went deep into the apple orchards that was just opposite to our hotel and enjoyed clicking apples and posing with them. Till the time we got ready for our next place, the daylight was bright and  sun was over our head with deep blue sky and white cotton like clouds. There are very few times when sky is that blue in Delhi!

Manali Morning!

Manali Morning!

We then headed towards Rohtang – Pass. A beautiful pass from Manali! One has to cross this pass for going further to Leh. A permit is required to go there. Since we had not got the permit before hand, we could only go till the barricades or check post where the permits were checked. We had breakfast at river side and soaked up the sunshine of mountain sun. I love to sit with my face towards sun. I abhor any use of sunscreen lotion as “I love tans”. And I 20150726_174118believe – “Any makeup cannot be better than a tan“. Yes!  I got tanned :). En route we enjoyed watching huge mountains, driving on steep hilly roads, water falls and everything from a simple rock to its people. I was in a world of my own. Listening and humming to the tunes of Kishore Kumar (my favourite singer). By the evening we were back to the city and decided to take a stroll in the market. As a travelling ritual, I found out about a Gurdwara (a Sikh Temple) in the locality and went to pay my homage there. I am a strong believer of Guru Granth Sahib Ji (Holy book of Sikhs), and travelling is making my belief more firm. We munched on evening snacks at Saba Restaurant. I then came back to the hotel. The night was longer than usual as we were confused about our further travelling plan. Actually we had to go to Leh, but due to bad weather, we had to cancel it. So finally, Kinnaur in Himachal was decided.

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Day 3:

With deep heart of not going to Leh, we started our journey to Kalpa, a small town in Kinnaur district of Himachal. There are two ways of reaching Kalpa from Manali. One is via Jeori Pass and other is via Shimla. We chose the former one! We stopped at a very small restaurant on the way, run by a simple husband and wife. The food was tasty! More than taste it was their humbleness and simplicity that added to the taste. Though estimated time to reach Kalpa was 10 hours, but it actually took more than a day to reach there. One, because we were stopping at every beautiful spot and trust me whole route was beautiful 😛 🙂 And secondly, because of the rains and cloud bursts, we got landslides and rocky roads.

Clicked near Shoja

Clicked near Shoja!

There was not even a single time when we had to buy a water bottle. Every time the water was finished, we stopped at a waterfall on the way to fill the bottles and I didn’t miss a single chance of washing my face with the fresh water of hills :). Every time my hands got freeze! The most difficult drive was to Jeori Pass. It took around 4 hours to cover a stretch of just 5 kilometres. Kudos to the experience of Joy and Harpal! We safely passed the deadly hilly road. I exaggerated it a little 😛 But yes I was scared out of my wits! There was rain on the way and we crossed amidst clouds. Though I was afraid but I enjoyed it. The best part was, stopping at a village called Shoja for a tea break and having tea amidst mountains. We also happened to see a foreigner who was cycling on the hilly road. I somehow envied him of riding a cycle on such a beautiful road of my country. I wish to do it someday! Taking 2 – 3 tea breaks on the way, we halted at Rampur for the night.

Day 4:

Rainbow, Kalpa

Rainbow, Kalpa

We again started our journey to Kalpa (with a hope of reaching in 5 hours). Yes we reached Kalpa, only in the evening though :D. Ohh! I forgot to mention about the people that we met on our way. I remember names of some; I spoke to some, played with some and clicked some. The pictures with their names (if I remember) will be shared at the end of this post. There’s a memory of this day; we happened to stop at a place called Urni for a tea. Tea is a saviour in hills! While the tea was getting ready, we were sitting and chatting, and suddenly there was a sound of “boom!” friend’s iphone had fallen down and the screen got broke. All our life, we will never forget this place and this incident :P. I’m sure my friend is going to laugh when he reads this :).  Kalpa welcomed us with a full rainbow in hills. Due to incapability of my camera, I was not able to click a picture of it but it is captured in my heart forever. Till the time we found a hotel, moon was rising from behind the famous “Mount Kailash” (one of the peak in Kailash range). I just couched in a plastic chair and watched the moon filling up the darkness of night with its bright shine. Kalpa being a small town retires early in a day as compared to cities. So after a difficult search operation, we got food to satiate our day long hunger. We then tried some night photography and retired for a sleep sound after a long drive in hills.

Tea is a savior in Hills!

Tea is a savior in Hills!

Day 5:

_DSC0072 (2)Kalpa is located close to the foot of high Kinner Kailash. Kinner Kailash is the legendary winter home of Shiva. There is a spectacular sight early in the morning when the rising sun touches the snowy peaks with crimson and gold light. As suggested by locals, we woke up early to have a sight of “Golden Peak”. Though we didn’t really experience anything like that, but the simple sight of Kinner Kailash in itself was spectacular. I went up to a little height and remember being guided by a deaf-mute man. His smile has put a deep impression on my heart! After sometime, we could hear chanting from a temple and whole town was immersed deep in those chanting. Mind was at peace! Every living being from a single leaf to a beautiful flower to its people, was diffusing positive vibes. We visited a very old monastery in Kalpa and missed going to a famous suicide point there. With this positive vibes, we left Kalpa for Chitkul.

Inside Monastery, Kalpa

Inside Monastery, Kalpa

 

En-route Kalpa

En-route Kalpa

Terrain from Kalpa to Chitkul changes drastically! From high, dangerous hilly roads, we were welcomed to a beautiful valley of Sangla – Chitkul. Green mountains, flowing river and plethora of flowers, looked like a fairy tale. Chitkul is still an unexplored place, so there are not much hotels. But there are not much tourists either. So you can easily get a room there. After having some rest and food at hotel, we went to the river side to spend a peaceful evening. It was relaxing! I had a thought of being a ferociously flowing river and making my own way just like River Satluj. The setting sun in west and moon rising from east – north (I guess so), was mesmerizing. It was a full moon night! By the time we were back to our hotel, we were hungry. We tried food at Samaa Resorts. It’s a resort maintained by a very humble couple; Manmeet and Manali (we are now friends on facebook too). This is one more thing about travelling that I like – “making friends”. The food was good. We actually didn’t expect food of that level of taste. I wish the couple good luck for their future endeavours. Whole night, there was a sound of flowing river and rumbling of trees. I slept in ease with those sounds.

Spectacular Chitkul!

Spectacular Chitkul!

Day 6:

We again lazed around river and embraced its beauty. It was and extraordinary spectacle! I’m speechless to describe its beauty! It’s far away from my words. And I have incapability of describing His beautiful world. All my life I have believed in “magic”. It happened here at Chitkul. It was magical! I’m a kind of person who would like to sit and watch the beauty of the place rather than capturing it. It is because of the enthusiasm of my friend who goes beyond limits to click pictures. I owe one of my best pictures of the trip to him!

Chitkul Morning!

Chitkul Morning!

 

Day 7:

We started our “Nonstop” journey back to Delhi. Thanks to Harpal! I was almost in half slumber while coming back. There’s a lot that is left unsaid. Many memorable moments those are in my mind. Not making it too long to read, I decided to end it here. The post is only about my experiences and I’ve not shared much about the route. Get in touch with me if you want any information about reaching the place.

Little girl, Manali

Little girl, Manali

Old man at a restaurant, Manali!

Old man at a restaurant, Manali!

Cute Kid, Manali

Cute Kid, Manali

Little boy - Kaku!

Little boy – Kaku!

The highway girl - Aarushi!

The highway girl – Aarushi!

Mountain girl - Ananya!

Mountain girl – Ananya!

Mom and daughter duo, Manali

Mom and daughter duo, Manali

Hats off to truck drivers for driving on narrow roads of hills!

Hats off to truck drivers for driving on narrow roads of hills!

Kinnaur Kid - Riya!

Kinnaur Kid – Riya!

Kinnaur Lady 1!

Kinnaur Lady 1!

Kinnaur Lady -2!

Kinnaur Lady -2!

Storage house in Chitkul! Every family have their own storage house.

Storage house in Chitkul! Every family have their own storage house.

Houses in Chitkul be like!

Houses in Chitkul be like!

I envy those who studied here. A school building at Kalpa!

I envy those who studied here. A school building at Kalpa!

A Temple, Kalpa

A Temple, Kalpa

Samaa Resorts, Chitkul!

Samaa Resorts, Chitkul!

Full Moon, Chitkul!

Full Moon, Chitkul!

 

A day of Spiritual Rejuvenation!

There are times when all of a sudden you start feeling low. And there is no reason for this low ebb of your emotions. I was going through the same wave. I think it’s the traveler’s soul in me that gets edgy after a period of time. Nine hours of sitting keeps me in a cage where I’m always dreaming of opening my wings and breathing in an unknown destination. Well! This ‘feeling low’ was the result of the everyday dreams that wants me to move out of the daily regime and explore the unknown, make friends, write stories and gorge on delicious food.

The place decided for weekend’s getaway this time, was Amritsar. The spiritual center for Sikh religion. It is home to the Harmandir Sahib (an important Sikh shrine). And also houses the Sikh temporal and Political authority, Akal Takhat. Apart from that it is also known for Indo – Pak Border, Jallianwallah Bagh, and of course it’s food :). Since childhood I have been visiting this place, that now it is like a second home to me. My parents have always encouraged me for traveling but the idea of solo trip in India is a NO-NO for them. Still I managed to convince them for Amritsar.

Blue Hour at Golden Temple, Amritsar

Blue Hour at Golden Temple, Amritsar

There are many trains from Delhi to Amritsar. My journey started on Friday from Delhi on Amritsar Shatabdi. This train departs at 16:30 from Delhi and reaches Amritsar at 22:55. I always make a point to book window seat. So I was in my coach on confirmed window seat with only a book as my companion for the journey. As train started moving at speed, I started turning pages of my book, and also the day was slowly coming to retire. The feel of watching setting sun from the moving train with a book in your hand is amazing. The feeling of watching the retiring sun took over the feeling of clicking a picture of it. So I didn’t click any. I had a family sitting next to me who were on vacation. They were really nice and three kids in that family were very cute. But towards the end of the journey their jabbering was intolerable. Phewww! Anyways still they were not that annoying. There were two middle aged men in the train who did not miss a single chance of stare at me. At one point, I got little scared, as they were aware of the fact that I was traveling solo. The best way of ignoring their stare was to avoid eye contact with them. And I did exactly the same! In spite of the fact of men ogling at fellow female travelers (solo or with company), I support the idea of traveling because I feel traveling has made me learn the art of alertness, sensing the people with negative vibes and avoiding them. Anyways, train was little late and I breathed in ‘City of Gurus‘ at around 23:45. Quite an odd timing for a female! Parents and friends who knew about this trip were worried back at home. I too, was worried! Traveling has also made me learn the art of hiding my worries from my loved ones and taking it all alone with strength. I hired a rickshaw which charged 40 bucks. The distance from railway station to Gurdwara is approximately 2.5 km and it took around 10 minutes to reach the place. The area around Gurdwara is always bustling with crowd. So, food retail outlets like Subway, CCD, McDonald’s, Giani’s Ice cream and few other restaurants were opened till late at night.

Since it was not a planned trip, I had not booked a hotel and I had to spent a night in Gurdwara’s premises. It is very safe! There are hundreds of pilgrims sleeping on the Sarovar side and many more doing sewa (Service) like cleaning the floor, and reciting Gurbani (Holy Hymns). I decided to take a short nap before taking a dip in Holy water. I woke up at around 2:00 in the morning (you don’t feel that it’s 2:00 in the morning until you see the time in your watch as it is always full of people).  I got ready and headed to bow my head in front of Guru.  The aura of being inside the shrine (Gurdwara) with hundreds of other people who are dipped in faith is unexplainable. You need to be there to experience it! Tears automatically rolled down from my eyes. I experience it on every visit. After listening to Gurbani for some time, I came out to click photographs in blue hour and rising sun. It was only 6:00 in the morning and I was already so hungry. So before stepping out to search out a hotel, I decided to hop on some food. Punjab and Punjabi’s are known for their rich food. Food is not a problem in Punjab. Especially if you are in Amritsar. At any hour of time, you can get food, both inside or outside Gurdwara premises. I had heard about Giani’s Tea Stall on Queen’s road but never got a chance to pay a visit. So I hired a rickshaw to the place. It’s not very far from the shrine. This stall is years old and is famous for its masala cha(tea). Do not miss it if you are a tea addict! The creamy masala cha was sufficient to release the journey’s stress. I then  moved on to a hotel named Sita Niwas. It is a budget hotel. The room was very small and was not clean and I was too tired to search for another hotel. I slept for 2-3 hours before I started my food trail at Amritsar.

Immersed in yellow lights!

Immersed in yellow lights!

Breakfast @ Kanha Sweets

Breakfast @ Kanha Sweets

The first destination for breakfast was Kanha Sweets. It is in Lawrence road. Auto wallah charged 100 bucks for it. You can bargain till 80 bucks. If you are good at bargaining! Reaching there I got to know that this place is always crowded and one has to wait for sometime before getting a table. I got a table to share with two school girls, Manvi and Swati. Both of them were sweet enough to share their piece of information about the place. And I promised them to write about them in my blog. I hope that they read about it :). The poori chole at Kanha were tasty! After having breakfast I headed back to the shrine and devoured a much needed cup of coffee at CCD.

Mashaal @ Jallianwallah Bagh

Mashaal @ Jallianwallah Bagh

It was already noon and scorching sun was over my head. I went back to room to spend peaceful summer afternoon and cool myself. By the evening, I was ready to visit Jallianwallah bagh. This is a park which was built in the memory of people that were massacred on the occasion of Baisakhi by British Raj on orders of Gen. O’Dwyer. He was later assassinated by Sardar Udham Singh as the revenge of Jallianwallah bagh massacre. Late evening was spent inside the shrine again. The day had already retired. By now, Crescent moon had replaced scorching sun. I headed towards Langar Hall’ (kitchen) for food. The food served in Langar is simple. The best thing about Langar is that there is no discrimination. Everybody sits together in a row and waits for the food to be served.

It was 23:30, I then headed to my room. I had train in morning at 4:20. I left hotel at 3:30 and started my journey back to home.

It was a quick one day of ‘Spiritual Rejuvenation‘ at Amritsar. It filled me with positivity and I’m again back to my daily routine. Already feeling an urge to explore unknown.

The food joints that I missed out in this trip (but I have already visited in earlier trips) are:

1) Kesar Da Dhaba – for finger licking paranthas and lassi
2) Ahuja Di Lassi – for delightful lassi
3) Gurdas Ram Jalebi Wala – for mouthwatering Jalebis
4) Beere Da Chicken – for tempting non veg delicacies dipped in lots of butter

 

The place I missed is ‘Indo – Pak Border’ or ‘Wagah Border’. It is particularly known for the elaborate Wagah Border Ceremony that happens at the border gate, two hours before sunset each day. The flag ceremony is conducted by Indian Border Security Force (BSF) and Pakistan Rangers.

People preparing food for Langar

People preparing food for Langar

 

Happy Clicking!

Happy Clicking!

People at Wagah (from previous visits)

People at Wagah (from previous visits)

 

Sunrise @ Golden Temple

Sunrise @ Golden Temple