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Showing posts with label Mountains. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mountains. 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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Anjaneya Parvat - Birth place of Lord Hanuman

Off late Vijaynagar had become a 2nd home, have been visiting it almost every 2nd week. While one of these visits got 3-4 hours break from my schedule, so thought of making use of these 3-4 hours. I knew of a hill top temple at Anjaneya Parvat, place believed to be birth place of Lord Hanuman.  So called up the taxi driver and asked if can do Anjaneya Parvat in 3-4 hours? Driver told yes, but slightly tough, Vow decision was taken and I was on my way to Anjaneya temple well before the first ray of sunlight.


Locally known as Anjaneyadri hill, this place is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Hanuman (the most powerful of the Gods). Nearby attractions like Pampa Lake, Rishimukh Parvat reinforces the connection of this place with the time of Ramayana. Lord Hanuman is also known as Anjaneya, that’s why the name of the hill as Anjaneya Parvat. 

Hanuman temple at the top of the hill is the main attraction here. However, you need to climb 575 stairs in order to reach the summit. Check out the way to hilltop temple.

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List of Best Treks in Uttarakhand that you must try

Uttarakhand often referred to as Dev Bhumi or Land of the Gods, is no less than heaven for all the nature buffs and adventure lovers out there. Uttrakhand is surely one of the most fantastic places in India, which is all covered with ethereal beauty. Situated in the foothill of Himalayan Ranges, Uttarakhand comes with an ample number of opportunities of trekking and camping, and with every new place, there’s something different and interesting present there to gain a whole new experience. Well, now summers are approaching and there could be no better excuse to take a leave from your work and make your way towards the mighty mountains. If you too wish to experience that adrenaline rush, take a look at some of the best treks in Uttarakhand and go on the trek you feel like trying out.

Bali Pass Trek
Let’s get started with the very famous trek to Yamunotri, which is situated there inside the Govind Wildlife Sanctuary and allows you to take a closer look at rich flora and fauna. You need to start your trek from Sankri and continue walking along the Supin River. After this, you need to climb up slowly to the Dhatamir and Osla Village. While walking through the pathway, you’ll come across River Tons and Siyan Gad. Go on and reach Har ki Doon, a cradle shaped valley full of a large variety of flowers, mind-blowing views, and amazing wildlife. Then you need to continue to the Ruinsara Tal that passes through mesmerizing grasslands and conifer forests. Walk slowly and reach the base of Bali Pass. After you cross the path, you’ll go downhill through the pastures and open forests to the Yamunotri shrine. After this, the route will take you to Janak Chatti and Hanuman Chatti. 
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Trek to Laxman Temple/ Hemkund Sahib

Laxman Temple/Hemkund Sahib, at a height of 4300 meters above sea level, lies in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand state. Challenging trekking route and spectacular beauty of the mystical valley has always tempted botanists, nature lovers, foreign tourists and adventure lovers. Valley boast off over 500 species of wild flowers of unparalleled appearance and fragrances.

This is the place where Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru of Sikh community, did intense meditation to please Lord Brahma. Please by the austerity Lord Brahma commanded Guru Gobind Singh Ji to take birth in Kal-Yuga in order to kill demons and protect holy people. Undoubtedly, the Hemkund Trek is a steep challenging trek and you will often hear from the locals there that – “Mountains are for FIT not FAT”. You trek from 9,600 ft to 15,000 ft in just 6 Kms and that’s what makes it a tough trek.

Place remains open to the world from June to October and for rest of the year it remains snow clad. Journey to the Hemkund starts from Haridwar, where you can easily hire a cab for your entire trip. 

 

Drive to Govindghat around 300 Kms, which would take 10 – 12 hours of time to reach depending on the road conditions, please expect land sliding at various points throughout the drive.
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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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Katarmal Sun Temple, Almora

Call of the blue skies and sight of mighty mountains makes a thrilling combination for an Explorer’s heart beats. Enjoying on the mountainous snaky roads and sometimes making the way out of non-existent roads to uncover hidden spots truly justifies the explorer spirit of a vagabond.


Where the first ray of sun falling on temple enlightens statue of Sun God in the temple! This phenomenon happens once in a year and attracts thousands of devotees from the nearby places. Let’s unearth one of the perfect offbeat destinations in Uttarakhand. In the picturesque Almora district of Kumaon region is the hidden Katarmal Sun temple. Despite being one of the biggest and tallest temples in the Kumaon region, Katarmal Sun temple is relatively unknown in the tourist circles.

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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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Coimbatore, Gateway to the Bliss...

Coimbatore is 2nd largest city in Tamil Nadu and one of the major industrial centers in this state. With these statistics any hopes of good sightseeing should have been effectively dropped. However, smoke filled environment and traffic jams were not in my destiny as I came across a well-planned beautiful city.
 
During my stay here, I came to know about lot of beautiful temples in and around Coimbatore and therefore a real temple run was on the cards.

15 km. from Coimbatore and situated in lush green hilly surroundings is the Marudhamalai temple, dedicated to Lord Murugan. It was twilight when I reached the temple, which is actually the best time to see the hazy ambience created by the blue skies and the hills. Situated on a hilltop, temple rises like a mirage to surround over the landscapes.

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Dehradun - Blended in culture of city and hills

Capital of Uttarakhand, Dehradun is a small, charming city that is known for its scenic surroundings, acclaimed educational institutes, cool environment and lots of interesting attractions to explore.


Such is the location of Dehradun that one can enjoy the journey either via Haridwar/Rishikesh or via Nahan. If you are coming via Nahan then enjoy a number of spots in the way too. First one being citrus fruits' orchards at Dhaula Kuan (58 km. from Nahan).


HIMCO shop on the main road sells fresh juices, squashes and pickles. Do not forget to try.
Moving 17 km. ahead it is the time to pray at Poanta Sahib Gurudwara. Poanta Sahib is a sacred town built in the memory of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs.

Gurudwara serves 24 hrs. langar (free kitchen) to everyone. Though it is not necessary, but if possible "Do contribute something to support this divine initiative" by the Gurudwara. Pray for a few moments here and continue the journey to Dehradun.


Another 27 km. straight drive will take you to barrage at Dakpatthar. This is slightly (5-6 km.) off the track from Dehradun. Continue straight from Herbertpur crossing, right turn will take you to Dehradun. Thanks to my special friend, I got to enjoy such a lovely point. 


Apart from the barrage, there is also a beautiful children's park here. From here Dehradun is only 40 km. ahead. Also if you have time, you may consider rock edit at Kalsi (7 km.).

Coming back from Nahan, a brief stopover at Dehradun is both wise and refreshing. Dehradun is a little town that boasts of hustle-bustle of a city with some quiet and calming corners.

First in line was Tapkeshwar Mahadev temple. The legend has it that this place was often used by the gods and saints for offering prayers to Lord Shiva. Guru Dronacharya, after many years of worship, too got the gift of the archery knowledge by Lord Shiva. The knowledge was later transferred on to Arjun, the greatest archer that ever lived and ever would live.
The huge temple premises looks like a small tour of Gods’ land. It starts with Lord Shiva’s temple, the cave where gods and saints prayed for years. It daily attracts a large number of devotees who worship numerous forms, statues or shivalings that represent Lord Shiva.

Temple premises is distributed on either sides of a small stream of clear and cool water, to reach the other side of the premises you have to cross a small water stream (do that bare foot and bid adieu to all your tiredness in a flash). There, one temple each is dedicated to Goddess Santoshi, Lord Hanuman and Goddess Vaishno Devi, which in fact is a replica of the cave in Jammu and Kashmir.


The reach to the small sanctum sanctorum of Vaishno Devi temple, through the small cave route, is both spiritualistic and thrilling. 

What catches the eye and strikes inquisitiveness in one and all is a marble stand with a small square platform and some cylindrical marble pieces on it. A close look at it tells you that it is your guide to nine planets, their properties and how they affect your life.

Next is Japanese Temple or Buddha temple for a similar soul-satisfying experience. This is an important of Dehradun and is widely acclaimed for its impressive architecture, beautiful interiors and pleasing surroundings.

One can easily spend a few hours to explore the huge premises of this temple and every minute spent there is worth it. The temple attracts large number of tourists and Buddhist followers from every corner of the world. Major attraction within the temple is 103 ft. high statue of Lord Buddha, dedicated to Dalai Lama.

The main stupa of the temple, about 220 feet in height, is built as a replica of Mindrolling monastery, Tibet. It is claimed to be the largest reliquary in Asia.

Stupa with company of adjacent structures, craft its own identity and presents a magnificent skyline to Dehradun.

 

From the towering Lord Buddha statue, giant stupa, calm praying halls to little monks showcasing some brilliant football skills, the place seems like without any worldly trouble. Watching monks play football is something which no one should afford to miss. You can also join them and hone up your football skills. Free accommodation, clothing, food, and other facilities are provided by the Buddha Temple authorities to around 500 monks who live here and study.

 

The colourful gardens, full of various types of roses, other flowers, plants and lush-green trees add to the place’s decor and peace. The shops and temple garden are open for the public seven days a week. However, the interior of the temple remains open only on Sundays.

Too much of spirituality lets now proceed to some cave exploration at the much acclaimed – Sahastradhara, around 11 km from the city of Dehradun. The earlier generation tells you tales of these mountains squirting out water streams in all their resplendence. However, the scene is not as stunning, but still too beautiful. However, the cool water, slowly trickling down the mountains around you makes your journey fulfilling.


Take a dip or just sit on the huge rocks with your feet in water or better still do some casual climbing to discover a your very own hidden pool or some historic cave. Once there, do not forget to try something from the small eateries. Pick your favourite from hot and crispy pakoras, vegetable maggi or mouth-watering aloo tikki.

And you can end your brief meeting with this small town amid its main market, bustling with energy. Just a few moments away from its new-age cafeterias, bakeries, restaurants, and shopping centres, is the old market near the clock tower. A look at that age-old clock tower and any Ruskin Bond fan would immediately identify with his many characters’ experiences and stories. It is perhaps the lanes of this market only that his famous character – Rusty – ran down with his local friends to savour local sweets and delicacies.

 

The market not only is a treasure trove for souvenirs, junk jewellery and local handicrafts, it also houses decade-old eating joints serving the flavours from across the country in authentic style.


Even if for a day or two, the time spent here would make for lifetime memories.


Way to Explore: Nahan – Dhaula Kuan (58 Km.) – Poanta Sahib (17 km.) – Dakpatthar (27 km.) – Dehradun (40 Km.)

From Dehradun one can go to Rishikesh (54 km.)/ Haridwar (53 Km.) or come back to Delhi. If you are interested in continuing the journey, head off to Mussourie (35 km.), to enjoy below panoramas:

Happy travelling Friends... 
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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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