Summer vacations in Delhi schools had started and kids were getting bored at home in the scorching heat of Delhi. Inam bhai and I thought of planning a quick weekend getaway, this time especially for children. Any place where kids would enjoy thoroughly; as well as learn things about Mother Nature. We did not want to take them to any please which would be crowded or full of tourists. We were thinking of any place which was not on any tourists map. One of our friends at the office (Rohit) is from Dehradun and suggested that we take the kids to a place called Silla Chowki. He assured us that kids would love the place as it had a small stream and the location was beautiful. We took the instructions to reach that place from Rohit and set out for Rishikesh.
Inam bhai’s children Hamza (Hammo), Yamaan (Maanu), and Manaal (Manno) and my son Adit (Vishu) made friends with each other within no time. Even thou they met for the first time still they were chatting in the rare seat of the car as if they knew each other since ages. We started at around 10 PM from Delhi and Inam bhai was driving the car calm and composed as he always is. We were in Rishikesh at around 4:30 AM and had enough time to reach our designated place. We decided to take break at Rishikesh and parked our car at the Triveni Ghat parking. Even at 4:30 AM there were lots of pilgrims at Triveni Ghat taking a dip or preparing to take a dip in holy Ganga. The atmosphere was divine and the breeze was cool and relaxing. We along with the kids spent about an hour at the banks of the holy river and then decided to move on towards the road that connects Rishikesh with Dehradun. After driving for about 40 minutes or so we reached Rani Pokhri from where we were supposed to take a right turn towards the mountains. We stopped at the crossing and bought some essential food supplies as we planed to send the night at the site where we had thought of. After driving for about 20 KM away from the main road we reached the village Silla Chowki. It is a small village that resides about 6 to 8 families. On asking one of the village folks we got to know that we would have to follow the course of the road and drive ahead for about 2 KM more to reach where we wanted to. Finally at around 8:00 AM we reached our destination. We parked our car on the side of the road and unloaded the car as we had to walk down a bit to reach the stream.
The place where we were to spend the day and the night was actually a check dam constructed in the British times for irrigation purpose. The place also had a small cabin where no one ever lived. Even though we were carrying our tents; the cabin seemed to be a better place to spend the night as we had kids with us. The kids could not resist the water and wanted to break free right away. We wanted the kids to be safe but did not want to impose too many restrictions on them and allowed them to freak out the way they wanted to. They were having a great time.
At around 1 in the afternoon; after spending a lot of time and energy the kids were feeling hungry. Inam bhai and I prepared some tomato and cucumber sandwiches which the kids loved. After filling up their tiny tummies the kids were back in the water. Their routine was to spend a few minutes in the cold water and then they would get out of the water to sun dry themselves by lying on their favourite rocks. The time was flying by and soon we realized that it was 6 in the evening and we had to prepare “dinner” for the kids. All we had was some rice, Maggie, onions, cucumbers, butter and salt. We had borrowed a cooking utensil from the shopkeeper where we bought the supplies. We did not have any plates, spoons or any other kind of crockery or cutlery. First of all we gathered some fire wood that would be enough for cooking as well a small bon fire at night. Inam bhai took the charge of cooking Khichri and I went out in the jungle to gather “plates”. At a distance I found a plant whose leaves looked like perfect dinner plates in this wilderness. I do not know the name of the plant but I knew that these leaves were used by locals as plates in marriages and other gatherings. At around 8:30 PM the kids were starving and the Khichri was ready. None of the kids had the time to think about on what the dinner was being served. All they cared about was eating.
After they were full again they insisted that we started the bon fire. After spending about an hour around the bon fire the kids started to doze off one by one. After putting off the fire, Inam bhai and I also went to sleep. The next morning we all woke up at around 5 AM. It was a beautiful morning. The breeze was cold; there were different types of birds making noises yet there was soothing calmness. It was time to teach the kids how to take natures call in the nature itself. After every one was fresh we again lit the fire and prepared to cook Maggie. By the time Maggie was cooked and served; the sun had risen over the valley where we spent the night. The kids again wanted to repeat what they did yesterday.
While the kids were busy in the water, Inam bhai thought of catching one of the big lizards that were hiding and running around in the cracks of the check dam. He made a noose out of a fishing line and was successful in getting one within minutes. After showing off the catch to the kids he released the lizard back into the wild.
After spending a couple of hours at the site; we decided to hit the road and get back to Delhi. While coming back the kids were so tired that they were sleeping in the car almost all along the way back. On asking the kids how they liked this trip; the answer was a loud AWESOME…