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Showing posts with label Road Trip. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Road Trip. Show all posts

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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Garhi Padhavali - the Fortress Temple

Inspired, charged and rejuvenated after the exploration of Mitawali, it was the time to unearth one more jewel from the chronicles of Golden Indian Heritage.

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Friends welcome to "PADAWALI", a fortress temple dedicated to all the Gods (Padawali is spelt differently across various places/ platforms). Padawali is just 3 km. from Mitawali and can be visited comfortably with Mitawali. You only must make sure your vehicle does not run the risk of running out of fuel. Area around Mitawali is devoid of any habitation however the region around Padhavali is populated with several villages. 


As an honorary tradition in India, Red Carpet welcome is extended to all the visiting dignitaries at the entrance. Find out yourself, a grand welcome by none other than the mighty: LIONS: on moving closer to the main structure:

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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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Getaway to Gwalior

Everyone has his/ her ways to enjoy the gift called "LIFE". Some prefer hanging out with friends, some like discotheques and some prefer travelling to distinct locations to seek enjoyment. Apart from enjoyment, travelling is an ideal way to recharge your energy stocks.


I too fall in the latter category, and I honestly believe that you need not going to Bahamas or Paris to seek rejuvenation: "just look around yourself, pack your bags and start". Here lies the Advantage India. India is such a diverse country that if you try to explore, you can go to any city/ town or village I am sure you would not be disappointed. This I believed during my trip to Gwalior. 


This was my 2nd trip to Gwalior. First visit was too hectic, so this time I kept some time for exploration, as Gwalior has a rich heritage and legacy. This city has been a witness to numerous curves of the India history.
This was the time to opt for our National transporter. You guess it right, Indian Railways. There are numerous trains at all times during the day and it takes only 5 hours to reach Gwalior from New Delhi.



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On the Road --> Religiously to Kaila Devi

Beauty is in the eyes of the viewer…Experiences of scorching sunlight makes the joy of a pleasant evening unparallel…Many people find beauty everywhere while some keep on complaining and searching for it.

 

One fine day I realized that of late I have been meandering only in the hills, lush green valleys to take pleasure in heavenly breeze and holy river waters. India is a land of diversities: Lush green valleys to barren landsSnow-capped mountains to scorching desertssparkling rivers to oceans…there is everything to everyone.

 

Better late than never, As I always say good travelers never plan in advance. As soon as I decided for the sandy and colorful Rajasthan…my car was ready to explore the colorful Rajasthan all the way to the holy temple of Kaila Devi.

 

Route is simple: Delhi - Mathura (150 km.) - Bharatpur (190 km.) – Mahua (255 km.) - Hindaun (290 km.) -Karauli (322 Km.) – Kaila Devi (345 Km.). Road is in fairly good condition and exquisite charm of Rajasthan will keep you in lively sprits.

The Kaila Devi Temple was constructed in the year 1100 AD and is situated at a distance of 23 km from Karauli town. Thousands of devotees from all over the country and from all communities visit this temple, as this place is considered to be one of the 9 Shakti peeths of Hindu religion.






Beyond Mathura, you have to travel in the company of the real India. India that lives in villages, no swanky apartments, but houses made of mud...






Barren fields, sandy lands to mountains and lush green fields…all in one drive. At times landscapes are simple breathtaking. I captured this panorama with my driving hand and while I was driving. I am an adventurer, but please do not imitate this...
At times you will get the feel of being on a Road Safari. I mean the places where this is no proper road. Check out this road; there in proper surface, however driving is as smooth as any well surfaced road. The red  sand in this region though is very rough in appearance but it gets hardened like a perfect road surface by even a small downpour of water.

Nearest railway station to Kaila Devi is Hindaun. One can take State roadways buses or taxis, which ply at regular timings and fares are pretty reasonable. If you are a driving enthusiast, only 320 Km. separates you from Delhi.

Kaila Devi is located in the Aravalli ranges. Looks like Goddess already knew about my love for hills, check out if you can differentiate between Rishikesh and Kaila Devi:


If you are looking for 5 STAR comforts here, you will be disappointed. The best accommodation you can get here in “Narsi Guest House”. Narsi Guest house is the biggest one here and is reasonably well maintained and to my joys parking too. Well I was very happy for my car...However there is no option of prior advance booking, but do try your luck whenever you go. We were fortunate to get accommodation in the Narsi Guest House.


All the streets lead to the temple of Kaila Devi, however we chose this way. This place dates back to 1100 AD, so you will find a lot of ancient architecture. This structure has not crumpled even an inch for centuries, a benchmark for present day architecture and construction.











Apart from Narsi Guest house, there are also a number of privately owned guest houses which provide bare minimum accommodation. Since this place a limited accommodation, so at times of huge rush of devotees a large number of people sleep in the beautiful courtyard of this temple. This might look a bit odd to us, but no one is complaining…

One of the most venerated fairs of Rajasthan, Kaila devi fair is held here in the month of Chaitra (according to the Hindu calendar), for fifteen days in March or April. It is held in the honor of the deity Kaila Devi (a form of Mahalakshmi, the goddess of wealth and Chamunda, the goddess of death).

 

I was amazed to see some of the devotees covering the distance to the temple in a very peculiar way. They were lying prostrate and marking lines with their hands at that position, then getting up and moving up to the drawn line and again repeating the procedure. Locales told me that this ritual is called 'Kanak-Dandoti' and is observed by staunch devotees. This is the power of faith and devotion by virtue of which these devotees endure hunger, thirst and exhaustion for even 15- 20 kilometers till they reach temple.

 

You can see a large number of saints and pilgrims from all the beliefs and traditions at all times here. One can also observe tribal people performing dances of happiness and singing songs in the praise of the deities lending the gaiety to the environment.

 

Mass prayer to the Goddess is also organized by the temple twice in day at 7:00 AM and 6:30 PM. You have to be the part of these prayers to experience the electrifying atmosphere. Let your soul immerse in the divine spirituality of this place.


Power of faith here is immense; even I went there twice in 2 days to seek blessings of the Goddess. Day or night, rains or scorching sun nothing can dampen the spirits of the devotees. Irrespective of their status everyone is lined up to seek the blessings. During the evening prayer the ambience of the temple is amazingly exuberant with the holy chants, can not be missed.





Don’t forget to visit the temple of Bhairon, located in the courtyard. Also there is a “Lord Hanuman” temple, facing the Kaila Devi shrine. Lord 'Hanuman', is also called 'Languriya' in the local talks.

Trips can not be completed without shopping; this place has a small market. There are a large number of shops selling variety of articles where one can buy souvenirs and memorabilia for this trip. Its advisable to check the prices from 2-3 shops before actually buying. I saw a camel too in this market, where else you can find a camel in the markets…Check out


Since Kaila Devi is located along the banks of Kalisil River, you can also enjoy a quite walk along the river side. Why only walking, sitting one can also take a bath in the black waters of the river and join these devotees..

Black waters...? “Kalisil” stands for “Black layer of Stones”, river bad is made of black stones, due to which the water appears stark black in colour. The view from the riverside is panorama par excellence. Photographers will definitely enjoy this.

Thanks to Goddess Kaila Devi, for the first time in my life I came so close to the peacocks, our National Bird. These birds are much more beautiful than our imagination. You will find a lot of peacocks here, preserved due to local people worshiping Peacocks as sign of good luck. "Life is made of moments, beautiful moments"
Peacock is an endangered bird and is facing severe perils of getting extinct. It was utmost heart breaking to see these birds trying to adjust to the new environment full of garbage, which is the outcome of human activities. We should stop encroaching in its natural habitats, without the vibrant colors of the Peacocks our earth will appear too dull.





Sorry folks, I forgot about the food....but such is this place that you would not feel hungry too often. This I realized when it was the time to have dinner. There are number of local eateries run by the locales. However take care about the hygiene factor. If you can afford walking till “Narsi Guest House”, you can get very reasonably priced and delicious food. Enjoy the charm of having the food served in the plates made out of leaves. And and and...Do not miss the appetizing “LASSI” in the earthen pots called “Kulhad” in local dialect. One earthen pot was almost equal to the dinner. Vow…I had a hefty dinner.

After dinner we set out for a quite walk around the place. Umbrella of the clear blue skies with distinctly visible stars had mesmerized us. In Delhi we hardly get to see more than 5-10 stars.
I got up early in the morning, to have a marvellous view of the Aravali ranges from the terrace of Narsi Guest House.

After one more round of praying and seeking blessings from the Goddess Kaila Devi, we decided to return back to Delhi. The place is magnetic as we found it very difficult to start the return journey.

Return journey was as eventful as we were able to enjoy a few missed out charming landscapes. This was the trip that took me closer to the real India. Despite being the economic powerhouse, there is an India where people has to walk miles to fetch drinking water. Though our highways are getting better day by day and the speed of the cars is increasing rapidly, but we still have to go a long way before we call ourselves a developed India.

Without any doubts, I will come again...Hopefully the next time I will see the much developed India.
To summarize this exciting trip: May the Goddess "Kaila Devi" be benevolent on me to let me continue travelling, exploring different places and living my life the way I want...

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