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Showing posts with label Himachal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Himachal. Show all posts

Jatoli Shiv Temple, Solan

Solan is a small town in Himachal Pradesh, but has one of the oldest breweries in India, is popular as “Mushroom city of India” and is also known as “City of Red Gold”. First 2 are self explanatory, well the "Red Gold" is for the tomatoes production, almost highest in the country.
Solan once a cantonment settlement, is one of the secrets of Himachal to be explored with some beautiful temples and scenic landscapes. Not just temples, Solan is home to tallest Lord Shiva temple in Asia, Jatoli Shiv Temple.

On way to Shimla from Kasauli, via Solan take a right turn on Rajgarh Road and drive for 8 km. to reach the scenic hilltop grand temple. Jatoli Shiv Temple is one of the sacred destinations in Solan, which attracts devotees from all over the country. Jatoli Shiv temple is the tallest temple of Lord Shiva in Asia and is also one of the very ancient temples. It is believed that Lord Shiva had visited this place and stayed for some time and reason behind the 112 ft. height of this temple is the Jatas (Hairs) of Lord Shiva.
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Mohan Shakti Heritage Park, Solan

If you think that mountains are all about valleys, flowing water streams and precisely located temples, well your thoughts may be going for some serious reconsideration. 

Coming from Jatoli Shiv Temple in Solan and after travelling 8 kms towards Shimla, turn right on a narrow downhill road. You have to be a very confident driver for this 7 km. of road, if driving yourself, in order to find this Khul Ja Sim Sim like Treasure of our Heritage.

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Lake Rewalsar...

We started at 8:00 AM from Shimla and took the way to Kullu via Mandi. The objective was to visit Lake Rewalsar, 140 km. from Shimla. Lake Rewalsar (locally called as Tso Pema/ Lotus Lake) along with statue of Padmasambhava (popular as Guru Rinpoche in Tibet) is one of the most popular symbols in Himachal Pradesh tourism advertisements. Surrounded and hidden in rugged mountains this sacred lake is 23 km. from town of Mandi.

It was from this place Indian teacher Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche in Tibet) left for Tibet to spread Mahayana Buddhism in Tibet. Annoyed by fondness of his daughter for long haired Padmasambhava, legend says that the king of Mandi, Vihardhara tried to burn alive the sage Padmasambhava, to prevent his daughter Mandarava running off with him. It is believed that the charred corpse of Padmasambhava liquefied into water forming Lake Rewalsar. The spirit of Padmasambhava is said to still reside in the islands of floating reed since then. Statue of Lord Padmasambhava defines the skyline of Lake Rewalsar.

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Wonderlands around Shimla...

The mountains, when covered with dense forests may look similar, but something is surely in the air. When it comes to driving nothing beats the romance of snaking in the hills around Shimla. Is something actually in the air of Shimla and surrounding places or it is just the unparalleled beauty of this heavenly region...?


Outskirts of Shimla are the places which separates visitors from explorers. If you ask people if they have visited Chail, Kufri, Mashobra and Naldehra; there is good chance to hear that most of the people would have ended on Kufri only. These four locations can be covered in a day if you start from Shimla before the first ray of the sunlight. Though you may also enjoy a night stay of perfect solitude at Chail or at Naldehra.


To explore these out of the world spots where blanket of Pine and Deodar trees grace the landscapes, this eternal vagabond started his early morning drive to Chail (51 km. from Shimla) to get an authentic morning mystic feel of the valleys. Till Kufri (20 Km. from Shimla) you will find many visitors. Once you will move ahead from Kufri, its only nature and yourself, enjoy the symphony of birds chirping, whistling of tree leaves and your camera clicks.

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Mesmerized in Shimla

Some of the places are fortunate to be blessed with all-time pleasant weather and unmatched natural beauty. For such spots you need not plan, just pack your bags and go. Located at a distance of 350 km. from Delhi, Shimla is one such destination. No doubt Shimla is always a preferred attraction in Himachal Pradesh for  tourists from every part of the world. 

Snow-covered peaks and picturesque valleys make Shimla a popular choice for a weekend getaway from Delhi. Excellent road condition from Delhi will ensure a fun filled driving till Shimla. But there is a better option, take a night train from Delhi to Kalka and then enjoy the legendary toy train ride from Kalka to Shimla. If you can afford a little extra time, trust me to take the toy train. Lovely stations and amazing natural settings will bring out your camera much earlier than expected. Start with the lovely Toy train, running on the ancient narrow gauge rails...

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Kullu, the valley of Gods...

A wandering soul searching for a nest can get numerous excuses to surely settle in Kullu, Valley of Gods.


Stunning landscapes coupled with hospitality of people, their distinct lifestyle and rich culture have made Kullu valleys popular as “Valley of Gods”. Kullu is renowned around the world for the woollen Shawls and the Dussehra festival. However, to explore it also has some amazing spots, which despite the popularity of Kullu are surprisingly not so known. When coming from Shimla, spending one day to explore Kullu Valleys shall be a great choice before proceeding to Manali...


Nearest to Kullu is Bijlee Mahadev temple, which is approx. 25 km. from Kullu town by road. Cherish the beautiful Beas River while crossing over the Kullu Bridge on the way to Bijlee Mahadev. You may park your car at a side and click the fabulous bridge and pleasing landscapes...
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Forbidden Republic of Malana

When it is 21st century, it is very difficult to believe about places which are still lying disconnected from the mainland. Malana is such a spot which is 45 km. from much popular tourist destination of Kullu and has been lying isolated from the outside civilization for thousands of years. 


That much mention of such a solitary village was enough to stir the exploring soul of this vagabond. In line to my philosophy that Good travelers never plan in advance, I was on the way to Parvati Valley, situated to the north east of Kullu valley to see the sights of Malana.

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Nahan - for real vagabonding

There are times when urge to travel is so much that destination takes a backseat and we tend to start without any destination in mind. This is when you feel like going for a "Journey without a destination".

While in middle of such a temptation, I decided for some real vagabonding in the himalayan ranges in Nahan region. Totally secluded from the hustles of any type, Nahan is an ideal place to roam around like a free bird. Once out of Delhi the excellent highway ends up adding to your impatience of reaching Nahan as soon as possible. "Resist the temptation". Nahan is a small town and headquarter of Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh. Lytton memorial is the entry point and a renowned landmark of Nahan.


There are a few accommodations available here, however locales advised us to go uphill 14 kms. and stay at Jamta. As we had no obligation for destination, we started meandering uphill along the snaky roads.

To our good fortunes Jamta is the highest point in the region and has some very good staying options. With such a view outside your window. One cannot say anything other than Vow, what a place...? Decision to travel without a fixed destination was paying.


This is a place to enjoy your evening tea, morning breakfast alongside the green airs of the hills. One here it was the time to further explore the virgin beauty of this region. We were surprised to know that the largest lake in Himachal Pradesh, "Renuka Lake" is separated from us by a distance of only 27 Kms.


Next morning it was the voyage downhill to Renuka Lake. Every turn of the serpentine drive in the hills will surely keep your cameras in overdrive. Each click of the immensely artistic panoramic caricatures will only lead to click more and more. Enjoying the voyage also bought some envy, it was natural to envy the fortunes of the people living in such a heaven.


While enjoying our drive, we came across a pleasant surprise in the way. Check out the temple situated in middle of a waterfall - "Bedolia Waterfall".


During the rainy seasons the of temple beautifully chisels the down coming waterfall. As this was not the rainy season, so one more visit has to be planned to witness the helpless waterfall. One gets so much engaged here that its natural to forget that we have to drive to Renuka Lake which has been waiting for our arrival. OOPS..."Excess of everything is bad". No issues, we again started towards Renuka Lake. 

Renuka Lake is the largest lake in Himachal Pradesh and is 672 m above the sea level. Renuka Lake is named after Goddess "RENUKA", mother of lord Parshuram. Welcomed by naughty ducks in the pond called "Ram Sarovar", you have entered the place of Renuka Lake which is also very sacred and is worshipped as a holy place. This place is also birth place of Lord Parshuram. Check the history associated with it...

Time to thank the Gods for such a wonderful experience in the Renuka Temple. Every November this temple is a site for annual fair. Saints and devotees from all over the Indian gather here to witness the meeting of Lord Parshuram and Goddess Renuka. 

 


Land locked by the mountains on 3 sides, floating lilies on the water surface, Renuka Lake is as picturesque as your dreams can be...

With a circumference of about 3214 m. this lake is surrounded by a sanctuary too. A leisurely walk into the sanctuary will not disturb the inhabitants, Lions, Bears,...My favorite turned out to be bulky "Mithun Cow"...

The range of flora and fauna in the sanctuary is amazing.

This region can be described as land of valleys, meandering water streams and a place where you can drive throughout the day without getting enough of the place. This was turning out to be more wonderful than any of the expectations. As evening was approaching, settling mist was making the valleys more gorgeous. You can have the liberty of stopping your car, walking down to the bed of the streams and cherish the twilight in the woods...

Once you are back at Jamta, evening and morning tea is also a pleasure. Immerse yourself in an isolated walk in the Shivalik hills and relish the ambience.  

To reach Nahan:

Hit the Roads: 270 Km from Delhi Via: Sonipat-Panipat-Kurukshetra-Karnal-Shahbad Markanda-Kala Amb-Nahan-Jamta

By Train: Nearest railway stations are Ambala, Chandigarh and Kalka and regular bus services connect these stations to Nahan.


While returning to Delhi take the other route (via Dhaula Kuan, Poanta Sahib and Dehradun) and continue exploring more and more.

Another wonderful lake in Himachal Pradesh; worth exploring is Lake Rewalsar which is lying hidden in the mountains, 23 km. from town of Mandi...

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Manali to Rohtang Pass...

Though Manali is a small place, but it is base for onward travel to Rohtang and further to Leh, as widely acclaimed Leh-Manali highway starts from here only. First thing while in Manali is to set off to Rohtang Pass. Start as early as possible, so that you get ample time to enjoy the journey and can get back to Manali before it gets too dark in the evening.

 

In the morning as the sun was spreading its rays from behind the mountains and the city was about to come to life, the moment seemed like the whole world to us. It was an amazing Way to Go...


Well-defined snow capped peaks, Deodar and Pine trees, will give you company on this journey.

Start with adequate winter gear to counter any onslaught of the chilling winds at Rohtang pass. There are lot of shops at the exit of the city which rent out adequate winter gears and drivers insist a lot on taking those clothes from local shops. Time taken to cover 52 km. depends on how frequent you stop to enjoy the ambience. Road is in good condition, however occasional landslides.


However mighty mountains, falling waterfalls will keep you occupied. Click after click continue to capture the opulent nature and the snake roads. make sure you carry a good camera.

Limits of vision were the mountains only and nothing else. As it is said Human will to triumph is above all, we stopped at a place full of eateries. We wondered how much efforts must have been done by these shopkeepers to open such shops at this height. This place is "Marhi" and like everywhere else view from this point was staggering brilliant, barren mountains were incomparable.


We had to stop for 15-20 minutes due to some blasting work being carried out by Border Roads organization. Landslides are frequent here, may be due to lose mountains:


At RohtangThe view was "Incredible".

As our feet are always the best option, we decided to chart the course by walking on for the summit. However now you only must walk and trek, as gone are the days when one could have enjoyed a horse ride to scale the Rohtang peak.

 

Braving the winds and walking on the frozen rivers, one will constantly hear the noise of water gushing underneath the frozen layer of ice. Need not worry keep on moving. There is a small stupa at Rohtang.


Snow at the top was calling us and Step by step we kept on moving and it did not took long to reach the summit, with snow everywhere around. Rightly said "View from the top is what makes the journey of 1000 steps so exhilarating". A sense of Deja Vu ---


Return journey was as usual devoid of any thrill, except the fascinating memories gathered during the day. Fast changing landscapes from hills covered with trees to barren mountains, what a diverse panorama on display here.


While coming back, you can visit or indulge in adventure activities at Solang Valley (14 km. from Manali on way to Rohtang). Enjoy view from the top in the cable car...

Or slide/ glide in the romantic slopes...

Just before the Solang Valley is the entrance for the trek to Anjani Mahadev. Around 30 minutes of trek will take you to the place where waterfall is dripping over the Lord Shiva.
During the winters Shivling rises upto 5ft. in height due to dripping water. People from far off places come here to witness this marvel and offer prayers.

Ambience and surroundings are mesmerizing and you may feel like becoming a monk and stay here forever. Trek is also equally enriching, as one has to actually cross over a stream of water. There is a small cable trolley to cross this stream.

Adventure never stops in Manali. Keep travelling Guys...

The best plans should be kept early during the trip as one snowfall or landslide, the Leh Manali highway, which is the road to Rohtang gets closed. So, when in Manali first thing to do is to head straight to Rohtang.


Someone rightly told that you have to be lucky also to experience Rohtang.

Permit is required to visit Rohtang and beyond, please use the link for applying and getting the permit http://admis.hp.nic.in/ngtkullu. 400 Diesel vehicles and 600 Petrol vehicles are allowed during the day. To return to Delhi, book a Volvo or take any state roadways bus. Prior booking is advised for both options.

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Spirituality Quest: Dharamsala-Mcleodganj

Dharamshala is a name or better a destination synonymous with peace, tranquil environment, spirituality, great food, home to his holiness Dalai Lama, Tibetan government-in-exile,  and above all "Teachings of LORD BUDDHA"


Situated in Kangra Valley-Himachal Pradesh, Dharamshala is easily approachable by roads from the nearest railway stations of Pathankot (85 Km.) and Chakki Bank (89 Km.). Himachal Pradesh tourism buses/ AC Volvo buses ply regularly from Delhi and it takes around 12 hours to reach Dharamshala. Place yourself peacefully in a comfortable bus from Kashmere Gate, Delhi (Maharana Pratap ISBT) and open your eyes in the morning to an altogether different world:
 

Don't worry about the shelter. There are many options to stay, suited to all pockets, choose yours:





Exuberance of nature is visible everywhere in the form of spectacular landscapes and magnificent skyline dominated by Dhauladhar ranges (Himalayan ranges). Explore with the best option i.e. on your feet by means of a leisurely walk:



Dharamshala is not only about monasteries, calm and serene surroundings. It is also home to the highest cricket stadium in India and which is perhaps one of the biggest attraction in world cricket now:
 

Watching cricket at the backdrop of the mighty Himalayan ranges is an unparalleled delicacy and a memoir worth lifetime. If somehow you feel getting bored by cricket, just turn your eyes to the other side of the stadium and enjoy the emerald Dhauladhar ranges:  
Half an hour drive from Dharamshala will take you to Mcleod Ganj (or Upper Dharamshala), a suburb of Dharamshala. En route to Mcleod Ganj, keep on cherishing the unspoiled natural extravaganza and breath taking views:




One of the much talked point near to Dharamshala is "CHURCH of St. JOHN in the WILDERNESS". Situated at Forsyth Ganj, this Church is the final resting place of Lord Elgin, the 2nd viceroy of India. As the name speaks, the church is lying unattended with no caretaker and sports a deserted and haunted look. Check out yourself...
   

Do not miss this from your itinerary. If you are scared lets proceed for the Dalai Lama temple in McLeod Ganj.
Try out rotating wheels of fortune:
Temple has also got a collection of exquisite paintings:



Being the home of Dalai Lama, Mcleod Ganj is also a home to a large Tibetan population which runs a number of handicraft shops and restaurants in the place, most notable are the incense sticks prepared by "Tibetan Children's Vilalge". Dharamshala sleeps by 8 PM, while McLeod Ganj keeps awake till late night.

Mcleod Ganj is also known for its lip smirking delicious food, do not miss out satiating your taste buds at this immensely popular restaurant Mcllo. This food joint is always crowded and is frequented by visiting dignitaries and sports persons.






Even the small joints are worth a visit or two. Four Seasons Cafe serves lip-smacking English breakfast to start with and most enjoyable freshly-baked thin-crust pizza among its wide menu. Norling, which boasts of being recommended by 'Highway on my plate' series for its delectable Chinese preparations, is not heavy on pocket too. 
Apart from a nice tip, all you would feel like to leave are the empty bowls and plates.



While enjoying the nature and other delicacies in Dharamshala, its natural to forget that you have to return back too. With a calm mind and refreshed soul, but a heavy heart it was the time to return. One trip might have finished, however the quest to find the meaning of life will continue; as also preached by his holiness Dalai Lama...

Looks like the journey has just began...

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The Magical Manali...

Far from the Maddening crowd, in the realms of Nature, surrounded by mountains lies an incredible holiday spot, we call it as "Manali".  It is an excellent place for a holiday, a favourite resort for trekkers to Lahaul, Spiti, Kinnaur, Leh and Zanskar regions in Kashmir valley.

 

Amazing Landscapes, flowing river, green mountains are a few to keep you enthralled during your road trip to Manali...also known as the "SWITZERLAND OF INDIA".


We started from Shimla at 9:00 AM in a taxi, which the best way to explore the beauty all the way till Manali. Every mile was asking us to stop and see...but we had to reach Manali - -so we kept on moving, though with occasional stops. Each turn was unfolding stunning panorama of nature, and landscapes were getting better every time. Pandoh dam for hydroelectric power generation is one of such stops during the way. Photography of the dam is strictly prohibited, unless you risk forfeiting of your camera by security agencies:


Whether it was the green waters of the rivers, eye catching hills or the 3 km. long tunnel, all of them kept us glued on our windows. We kept on moving and enjoying...

Once you reach Kullu, stay for 2 days and cherish the amazing spots in the Valley of Gods. In the way, around 45 km. from Kullu is a place which is still disconnected from the mainland. While going to Manali or while returning, take some time to explore Malana...


280 Km. distance took around 9 hours including a few stops to relish in the majestic beauty of the Himalayas. In Manali, select a room with a captivating view of the opposite mountain ranges the land where the music of the mountains was reigning supreme.

Manali is a small place with some amazing sightseeing options here, notable among them Hadimba temple, Maharishi Vashisht Temple, Anjani Mahadev, Solang ValleyMall Road and Old Manali. It is the experience and AURA of this place that sets it apart from other destinations in this region. Manali is also the base for going to Rohtang Pass and further to Leh.

 

There are some things which you always desire, and Snowfall is one of them. It was November, but we got up to witness Snowfall. We were in for a heavenly experience.


Trees, Houses and ground covered with snow were simply irresistible to stay indoors. We too came out to have our share of enjoyment in the falling snow. At breakfast, hotel staff complimented us for being lucky to witness snowfall in November as it usually happens in January. We were rejoicing on our good fortune.

The snow had a magnetizing effect on us and we continued to explore whatever we could have. Check out, what was the closest encounter with snow we could have had. I saw a few kids playing with the snow, in the snow. Just a glance of them was ample for me to join their game. With in a few seconds I went back to my childhood days. Staying in the big cities we miss out on lot of simple yet delightful activities. Rightly said - "Those are the moments which make life worthwhile". So guys Live Life to the fullest before it gets too late.
We realized that local sightseeing was due, when our cab arrived. Though we did not wanted to stop the fun in the snow with the kids.

First in the list was Maharishi Vashisht Temple, it was a small but impressive temple. We were in for another surprise, as there was snow all around the floor and we were supposed to cross it barefooted. Isn't it Enticing Guys...?

We saw a few tourists praying from outside and returning back. The snow had a terrifying effect on them. However, we went inside without our shoes. Brains and feet were fighting out for moving fast or maintain a balance to avoid slipping. By the time they would have reached to a conclusion, we had performed the rituals and were out of the temple.

 

Vashihst temple, without snow:


The place has been the meditation place of Maharishi Vashishta and there is a famous hot water spring. According to legend, Laxman (younger brother of Lord Ram)had come to take help of Rishi Vashishta for Ashwa Megha Yagya. However Lxxman was unable to bear the cold of this place and had shot an arrow into the ground which resulted in gushing out of hot water from the ground and provided him the much needed respite from the cold weather.

Also adjacent to Vashisht temple is the Ram temple:

Some distance from Vashishth temple is Jogini Waterfalls (4 km. from Mall Road). A gentle trek of around 30 minutes from the main road (Manali to Rohtang) will take you to this stream of waterfall which is on its way to join river Beas. People of Vashishth village worship Jogini falls with a belief that Goddess Jogini reside inside the rushing waters of this waterfall.
The way fighter pilots prepare before every flight, same way with our spirits rejuvenated, we started for Hadimba Temple. 

Cladded in snow and snow falling from the Trees, Hadimba Temple was posing like a panorama only seen in artists' sketches. What could have been the icing on the cake, we were walking besides the rabbits. There were rabbits all around to cheer you. Our shoes have got wet by the time, but we were not complaining. With snow all around and rains embracing us, we got to know, why it is called as "SWITZERLAND of INDIA". Do you have any question guys?

Hadimba temple without snow:

Instead of returning to our hotel we decided to get to the Mall. Every hill station in India has a Mall Road and Manali is no different. Artefacts sold by different shops exhibits ample glimpses of diversity of India culture. Laughing Buddha, Dragons' souvenirs, Lord Krishna pictures and masks used in South Indian dances, all at one place - that's what we call "UNITY in DIVERSITY"

Exploring Manali on foot with complimentary sight seeing and cool breezes is an experience to cherish life long. Adjacent to Mall Road is a beautiful  Tibetan Monastery, Gadhan Thekchoking Gompa Monastery:

Adventure does not end here. Manali is also acclaimed for adventure sports activities. One can indulge in River rafting, Paragliding, Trekking, camping and can learn mountaineering. For budding mountaineers there is a mountaineering institute too.


I do not have many words to describe the Aura of this place. To be honest you must come here to feel yourself. In short, a special place and a must visit for all. Situated at a height of 6,398 ft and distance of 550 Km. from Delhi, Manali is a very popular hill station in Beas River valley. Going further ahead on Delhi-Manali Road, one can drive till Leh, which is world's one of the best motoring roads on account of natural beauty. Isn’t it enticing:


For me this is the best time to be in Manali (October- November), as you can go to Rohtang Pass. So guys, ready 1,2, 3.......Vroom, coz one snowfall and road to Rohtang will be closed. Would you like to miss the lovely drive on the above road?

Permit is required to visit Rohtang and beyond, please use the link for applying and getting the permit http://admis.hp.nic.in/ngtkullu. 400 Diesel vehicles and 600 Petrol vehicles are allowed during the day. To return to Delhi, book a Volvo or take any state roadways bus. Prior booking is advised for both options.

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