Tuesday, March 25, 2008

My home town

This time I thought I would not write - Its just a visit to my home town. But yesterday one of the friends asked - "didn't see the update of your Himachal visit on your blog?" Hmm so people do look forward to my write ups... :-) So here's the post on my Himachal visit.

This one is the longest of all our trips till now. We have Friday and Monday attached to the weekend. For those who don't know where my home town is - its Palampur, in Himachal Pradesh. Awesome place, You will get to know that reading through this post. Started at 4pm as decided without any delays. We were 5 of us - Anirban, Agni, Dhanjoy, Kumkum and I. You already know Agni. Let me tell you a bit about Dhanajoy and Kumkum. Dhananjoy a good old friend of Anirban. Helpful in any kind of emergencies, love Anirban like a brother. But he does not socialize much and does not travel frequently as we and Agni do, due to which he has not got flexible and tough as we are...mmm I think I have not made myself quite clear...u'll get to know.. read on.. :)

The journey...
The journey was quite interesting. None of us knew the way. I know its my home town but never drove down myself, so how am I supposed to know the right and left turns.
Only thing I knew was the names of the places that come on the way. Till Chandigarh it was ok. We reached Chandigarh at around 10.30pm. Stayed with some distant relatives of mine, at night. And started at 7 in the morning. But don't ask me what happened after that. Since all of them have been teasing me for the fact I didn't know the way, I refused to tell them even the names of the places on the way. Let them find it out on their own. FYI Palampur is not that big a city that people would know the way. So asking the way to palampur directly wouldn't help. You need to know the places on the way. After Una we had to go to "Chintpurni", Ani and gang didn't remember the exact name of the place. So instead of Chintpurni they go and ask an elderly person how do we go to "Chintapuram"... I was a quiet observer... and enjoyed the moment fully...The expressions of the old man... hahaha...that was fun. I couldn't stop laughing. Reached Palampur at around 5pm, without much of my help...right Agni? That U turn was perfect ;)

Holi in Himachal...

The day we reached was Holi. There is the tradition of "Jhanki", tried a lot to get an appropriate English word for it but the exact feeling didn't come, the options I could think of were procession, fiesta, Carnival, Cavalcade and Convoy, thanks to Shuchi for helping. Language experts out there please suggest which is the nearest. So we all decided not to rest but to go out and be the part of celebrations. During the festival, locals come dressed in their best clothes and dance and sing joyously. They carry Gods dressed in finery, which are placed in colorful palanquins. It was fun more so because I was being a part of it after may be 15 years and others never saw it before, so was exciting for them, at least I would like to believe that :). After a tiring day of 9-10hrs of journey and the celebrations finally we got to rest at around 10pm. What a day it was!

Mera Ghar...

Morning...Good morning...we all woke up early to enjoy the quiet atmosphere, chilled air, sound of chirping birds and a beautiful sun rise.

Thats my Palampur :) After a stroll around..in the garden, and the railway track nearby had garma garam home made aaloo paranthas with aam ka aachar and Dahi...yummm. Then had a small meeting to decide where to go. This time I gave strict instruction to papa to take me to some place I have not seen before...tough for him I thought but he came up with so many places, thats why he is my favorite. Love you Papa.

Billing, a gliding site...

So we are going to Billing - Billing is a beautiful little place in Himachal, which is considered to be one of the best gliding sites in the world. Located at an altitude of 8, 500 feet in Kangra valley, Billing is famous for hang-gliding. On the way we visited a monastery as well. Would not write much about the place Pictures speak, will add a few more later :) It was awesome! Simply Divine! While going back it started raining. Wowwww...... :) Also visited my birth place Baijnath on the way back.

Next day first half was spent in a "khud" playing in water and after lunch we went to "Jakhni Mata". A small temple at the top of a hill. You can get beautiful view of Palampur and nearby villages from there. On the way back visited some old friends. I was treating all for Dinner as my B'day's approaching.
By the way Agni you should not have broken that "Drift Wood". I mean it ;)

Ohhh....we are going back the next day. Didn't even realize the visit's already over. We would be traveling the whole Monday. No break journey. Agni has accepted to drive the whole day, without breaks literally. This time he himself got the directions from papa, no help required from Shailza. So here we gooooooo................ooops....flat tyre. Just after an hour's journey got a flat tyre. The 3 men, is it?...mmm just one actually, worked hard to get it fixed. Stopped at one other place to have something, which was a samosa each.

Tomorrow is my B'day.
Reminded them all to get a surprise cake and gifts for me :) and they did! actually....reached home at 9pm. Had dinner and then party time at 12am....yay its my B'day!

Then Agni starts with full force...Dhananjoy wants him to stop for Lunch...he goes on...Kumkum wants him to stop to get fresh...he goes on...and he goes on and on and on....till its 5 in the evening :) Ani and me as usual quiet observers...flexible can adjust to any situation types. Finally he stops at a place, that apparently Dhanu and Kum kum didn't like.They refuse to take anything...we had burgers. Finally touched Delhi at 7.00pm what Agni anticipated when we started.
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Monday, March 10, 2008

Rishikesh and Shivpuri this time!

It started with a phone call on Friday afternoon from Anirban. "Do we have any important task to be completed this weekend".. ..... "nothing very important, usual household stuff to be done" I answered. "So here's the plan for the weekend - we are leaving for Rishikesh and Shivpuri Friday evening. I want you to come little early so that we can start on time" he added. It was Thomas's farewell on Friday and I did not want to miss that. So no way I could leave early, But I managed to take the first cab, told the driver to make it fast, taking risk but better than angry husband. I managed to reach by 7.15pm.

Anirban with his friends, Agni and Pratigyan, was waiting for me all packed up. We were going by Agni's car, an antique piece. He had been busy getting car serviced the whole morning. I hope we reach back safe and sound. Oh ya we did and that's why I am writing this blog. Agni, please don't underestimate your pyari Maruti.

A quick intro of people we were going with:
Agni - A business man, has a super sense of Humor, down to earth person and fun to be with.
Pratigyan - TOI journalist, who is a good friend and agreed to come for a trip after so long. May be her first and the last trip with us. Not because she does not want to come with us but because she is too busy for a trip.
Just FYI Pritigyan and Agni do not know each other.

We decided to stay at Haridwar the Friday night, so that we can go visit Haridwar early morning. But the main reason behind was - it is easier to get Hotels at night, actually late mid night, in Haridwar than in Rishikesh. Took 2 rooms one for Guys other for Gals.

We girls decided to get up early in the morning and go to the ghat and enjoy Aarti. We put the alarm on for 5.00am and went to sleep at around 1.00AM. Though we could not make it to the aarti but could hear the bells ringing at distance. Everyone got up at around 8.00, had chhole puri and roamed around at the Ghat. I liked it in the morning. After saying welcome hello to Ganga ji we started for Shivpuri at around 11.00am.

Though it was too hot with bright sun above our heads, it could not stop us from enjoying. Had to go down the hill, would we call it a hill, may be, well... a small one, the guys were worried about us girls....and look at them now...we are already down and they are still struggling. Hehehe...Girls are always first u c.

We did bird watching and rafting... It was great fun.

Spent the day there and came back to Rishikesh late evening. Agni helped us find a Hotel. Probably the one he stayed at when he came the last time. It was very nice. Clean, perfect location and very nominal. The only thing we didn't like about it was that it does not have a restaurant and one has to go out to take meals. So after relaxing for a while we went out for Dinner. Aaloo gobhi, Dal fry and garama garam tadoor ki roti. For me it is heaven, but for others ...hahaha...what to say, they all kept complaining about the food. No non veg stuff available.

The night was cool. Sound of flowing water, bells ringing at distance, some recorded chants playing somewhere near by...divine feeling :) Apparently, the ambiance is the reason why we have so many foreigners around. More than locals or Indian tourists we had foreigners here. Dressed in Indian attire and trying to speak Hindi, they seem to be more cultured, Indian cultured, than most of "us". They would take pride saying "Namaste" instead of hello and "Dhanyawaad" in place of Thank you.

Before we could even start craving for tea, Ani went out for early morning walk and came with tea for all of us. So sweet of him :)

Visited Rishikesh the whole morning. Laxman jhoola, Ram jhoola, fed fish.... and started our back journey at around 12.00pm. Had lunch at Haridwar.

After having lunch we all were curious to know how much did this trip cost us. A thing I wanna mention here is the way we maintain the finance on our trips. 1 person takes the charge of spending everywhere and by the end of the trip the total expense would be divided by the no. of people. Ani had taken the responsibility this time. And guess what! Including everything, travel, accommodation and food, it came to Rs. 900 per head. Wow Ani you have managed it so well :)

Journey back was even more enjoyable. took lots of pictures of sun set. And listened to Kishore da :)

Looking forward to more such trips. Hey those of you who are thinking how did we manage that, will have to come with us on the next trip.

Comments/ feedback's welcome...Will create a feedback survey else and send u the link ;)
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Thursday, February 7, 2008


We decided that this year will be devoted to visiting National parks. We have already visited Sunderban and now its Bandavgarh and next on the list would be Ranthambore, Corbett or Kanha...let's see...

We had only 3 days in hand. Ani could not manage more than that. So we knew the trip is going to be really hectic as it is not only Bandavgarh but also Meso's place we wanted to visit. We started Friday evening. Great excitement, chilly weather, hubby's company....here we go...

Reached Katni early in the morning.

Meso with his friends had come a night before to Katni. He took us to the hotel they were staying at. We got fresh there had tea and started our journey...yes it was a journey, Meso told us that it'll take around 6-7 hrs to reach Bandhavgarh. The way seemed to be ok. I mean the view was good, road were also not that bad and company...well If I am there, company has to be good. ;) The only bad thing about the journey was that we did not eat anything on the way. Starved till we reached Bandhavgarh.
On the way itself we sighted some Deers, a Peacock and Monkeys.

Now we had to look for a decent place to stay. We had not made any reservations in advance as usual :). It seems even Meso knows us, he had arranged for the trip and decided to get lodging on the spot :) We managed to get a decent place called Kumkum Hotel. Not very fancy or luxurious.

For those who plan to go to Bandavgarh and want to stay in luxury, there are quite many options. They have Mahua kothi, that'll cost around Rs50,000 per person inclusive all the luxuries one can look for.

We ordered our food, and got fresh. It was already 4pm by the time we were through with all this. The safari was at 4.30pm. So immediately after having food, can't call it Breakfast not even Lunch, we started for Safari. After completing the formalities at the gate we started. We were accompanied by a driver and a guide.

Calm, quiet, natural, away from all noises of cities.... If you want to be with true nature, visit Bandhavgarh, MP tourism have not paid me any thing to advertise for it, its my experience speaking ;) There were more than 20 jeeps on safari. They said its more crowded than the usual days. All jeeps went their own ways. There are no fixed routes in the evenings, unlike morning safari when routes are assigned to vehicles.

The first animal we saw was Cheetal. Then Sambar, Langur, wild Boar...
But we are in a look out for the King of the Jungle, The Tiger. The driver was following some foot steps.

They informed us that Tiger had been seen in the morning, so the chances to find him now are quite bright. The driver, more of a guide, showed us some marks on the tree trunk. These were the marks of Tiger's paws, that Tigers use to demarcate His boundary. The search for The King went on till around 6 in the evening., when we saw some strange kind of excitement in everyone. First we could not gather what's happening. All the drivers and guides were giving signals to each other. Then the Driver cum guide, actual guide was quite shy to share his knowledge, told us that someone has sighted a tiger and that now all are going to that place....

There were so many people waiting to see The king of the Jungle. We got to know that He was siting behind one of the lots of bamboo trees there. There was only one track and so many jeeps wanted to stop at the place from where that particular tree is visible. It was strange - so many people - Rich, not so rich; Indians, non-Indians; people of all ages...all waiting to have a glimpse of the Royal Bengal Tiger, thats what makes Him a King, I believe :). Finally the King decided to change his position. He got up, crossed the road and went to the other side of the track, and sat behind below some other tree, without paying any attention to so many curious eyes on Him. He was so MAGESTIC.

Great going, we decided to come on the morning safari as well...

Fresh chilling air, nature's aroma, animals in their natural habitat...all this felt like a Fairy land. It was an 'Out of the World' experience. Away from all affectation of city life.
'Perfect Holiday'
We went by the track mentioned and then gathered at one place, where we had tea and pakoras, that felt like heaven in chilly morning, empty stomach, and interacted with other people visiting the place...

We had to start a long journey now to Meso's place, another 8 hrs in Maruti Van, where mausi was waiting for us.

Thanks Meso for your wonderful company and the arrangements you did for us...
It was an amazing trip!!!

Already finalized the plan in March to revisit the place. This time with more time in hand and with larger group :)

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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy 2008 :)

We decided to go to Agra on the first day of the year 2008. Though that plan of ours didn't materialize we had a great day!

Got a call from an old friend, Hemant. He recently shifted to Delhi with his family - wife, son and mother. We wanted to meet...either he comes to our place or we go to his place. We decided to go to his place, as none of us was in mood to cook ;) Met the family and got blessings from aunt, a good beginning of the year.

Then was visiting Aniban's friends. We went to Abhishek's place. A nice cosy room on the top floor. Its great to bask in the sun in winter days. Another friend of Anirban, Shivaji also came there. Had nice lunch and decided to explore Delhi.

Shivaji suggested a place which none of us had visited before. So here we go... It was near hauz Khas village.

Tomb of Khilji,
and DeerPark

Perfect place to spend the first day of the new year :) No doubt the place was awesome and the Sardar jokes of Shivaji added to the fun. Never knew we have such a beautiful place in the midst of Delhi...

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