Modern life is fast, furious, and hectic. Thus, in an attempt to spare the nerves that very often are at an edge, an escapade from the stress and strain of office frenzy was planned to the quiet hill station. Approximately 300 kilometres from Delhi, this serene spot is tucked away in the foothills of Himalayas. This time it was only us, the husband and wife with a three-year old kid as we failed to elicit favourable response from any of the family friends with whom we usually plan our vacations. It was the day of Dusshera and early morning we set out for our sojourn.
We decided to drive down in our own car and choose our own sweet pace. We had vowed to make it a relaxing trip and dared not show our frenzy while packing up for the short weekend tour. The homework on route selection was done. Taking cue from one of the previously written write-up in Ghumakkar by Anandarup Nandi, we had zeroed in on our route. The route charted out in front of us was through Sonepat, via Panipat, touching Karnal, crossing Kala Amb, to Nahan. The Renuka Lake was merely 40 kms from Nahan via Dadahu and takes less than an hour to reach the quaint little lake town.
We had started off around 6.30 in the morning and at about 10, we took an entertaining hour-long break on the way in Haveli near Kurushektra, a theme-based resting place on the highway to cater to the hungry and thirsty passers-bys. That gave us the much needed opportunity to stretch our legs. After an assorted sumptuous meal that was overly elaborate and more filling compared to a normal breakfast, we headed for our destination once more. Nahan provided us a short stopover while we checked out accommodation availability in Grand View Resort. Nahan was extremely picturesque and the resort looked very inviting with its splendid view. We had hoped to stop over and spend one night in the resort in our way back from Renukaji.
Unfortunately, the rooms were full and we shifted our focus to Renukaji once more. A total of about seven hours of cool drive through picturesque roads and we were in Renukaji comfortably.
A placid green lake, very few local inhabitants, shoals of gigantic fishes under the smudgy green waters and some colourful bobbing pedal boats offered us as much as we had expected at the first instance. There is very little to do in Renukaji other than relax – and that’s the beauty of it.
We had booked accommodation in the Renukaji Hotel that belonged to the HPTDC. The rooms were spacious and comfortable but did not have too much to boast of. The restaurant offered limited menu and the food was strictly vegetarian. But it seemed to be a testing time for our growling stomach as we had to wait every time for orders to be served that took ages. We had a quick lunch, changed and freshened up a bit and decided to hang around the lake.
A look at the lake and my naughty kiddo was excited to the point of diving into the waters to touch and feel the wide-mouthed fishes wriggling and swimming around in hundreds just beneath the green surface. We quickly hired the most colourful, dragon shaped pedal boat chosen by junior and floated off into the lake. There was so much of peace and calmness all around. The silence was soothing and harmonious.
Darkness soon settled in as the lake waters caught the last rays of the fading sunrays and it was time to get back to the hotel. We pedalled to the shore and receded to our hotel and anchored ourselves on the terrace. Darkness coupled with the sounds of the forest was mesmerizing. We had a warm interaction with another group also chilling out on the terrace and junior had an awesome time playing with the big friendly pet dog of theirs. Relaxing was the ‘mahamantra’ of the tour – our mantra materialized into genuine tranquillity.
Next day morning, with new enthusiasm and a fresh body and soul we started off to the forest that harbours the zoo, spread all along the lake. At the beginning of our journey we stopped to offer our prayers to the Renukaji Temple and fed the already well-fed fishes at the temple ‘ghat’.
Trekking along the leisurely narrow winding way was fun. I pitied the families whizzing past us who would choose to go round the circumference in their comfortable and posh four-wheelers and shirked the slow walk. Spotted deer, barking deer, black bear, and lions all vied for our attention from their wired cages. But the animals that took our breath away and left us gaping were surprisingly giant bats, wild and free. Yes, bats they were, in hundreds and ferocious looking, hung upside down from a clump of very high eucalyptus branches. The whole jungle was reverberating with the shrieks of these bats even in broad daylight managed to create a weirdly eerie atmosphere. These creatures with black back and brown belly looked ominous enough to send bone-chilling sensations down the spine. The jungle seemed to be trembling, shuddering and quivering with the continuous vibrating motion of these bats.
The lion safari was a bit disappointing with a well-fed lazy looking lion sitting majestically in a fenced jungle area. Just across, two gigantic and ferocious looking beers were jostling and wrestling furiously. That was quite a scene and small kids peeping over into the enclosure, cheered them along with enthusiastic baby yells. There were a lot of monkeys watching and aping us wherever we wandered.
Once inside the jungle track, we followed the narrow path that went along the circumference of the lake, we stopped for some refreshments that we carried in our bag. A bit trepid and cautious of the monkey families around, we snatched quick bites. We thoroughly enjoyed the flora and fauna, the coloured hidden flowers blooming in nooks and corners, sounds of crickets and birds and expecting some jungle beauty to unfold as we turned every bend we walked on.
There was a huge bird nest (or so it seemed) hanging from a tree overlooking the lake. We also spotted some beautiful water birds, a giant spider weaving a huge web, brightly coloured dragonflies skimming the waters, multicoloured caterpillars and other insects. The jungle watchtower had little to offer apart from the cool refreshing breeze and a view of the serene boats floating on the placid waters.
After we came back to our resort, we visited another small, quaint Renukaji Temple in front of the resort. There we happened to witness the marriage ceremony of a local couple who were getting wedded in the temple, offering their prayers to Goddess Renukaji. Darkness had already descended as the clouds glimmered with the last fading rays of the day’s sun.
Next day morning, we had our breakfast and wandered around the lakeside feeding the big fat fishes and soaked in some more of the greenery and peace. And soon it was time to pack up and begin our journey back home.
The Parashuram Tal, beside the Renukaji Lake, the beautiful swans floating in the waters, serenity of the Renukaji temple, giant hungry fishes co-existing with a giant enormous turtle continuously hungry and feeding from human hands were overwhelming enough to make us feel contented and happy. Renukaji lived up well to the expectation of a soft and silent getaway hidden in the hills not yet tainted by cursed commercialization – isn’t that what we all look forward to desperately at times!