Road Journeys – Towards Sinh Saheb’s Abode at GIR

By

How many of you have sighted a big cat in wild? Will all of you agree that sighting it for the first time is a nerve-breaking, shaky, crazy, ecstatic, intoxicating, heavenly, euphoric, blissful and rapturous…….., short of words to explain, state of mind and body! All eyes still, hoping another sight of the shy animal petrified motionlessly for another few seconds. No chance, assured by the whispers of the guide. Everyone on board was busy browsing their cameras, for the best clip out of multiple shots taken in few seconds. Triumphantly, only my camera crowned the honor with one better close-up with a promise to share it with everyone later.

Soon, we sighted one more leopard crossing the road much closer, but that one was in haste and soon out of sight before, anyone could shoot it. The guide and driver were unanimous view of our better luck to spot two, too shy animals so easily in our first few minutes. I feel, they were right because back home, surprisingly we were informed that none have sighted any big cat that morning.

Read More

Road Journeys – Ahmedabad to Jungarh

By

Finally a huge granary, a few steps from the step-wells, covered with stage wise storage facilities enabled the curators to use the stocks in hardships as per its requirement by taking it out of the selected chamber designed by high class engineering technique without disturbing the entire storage. Preserved with natural herbs and their way of modern-ancient techniques of keeping the grains dry and free from pesticides is a matter of research. We are happy with pride to know that we were always ahead of time.

An interesting fact, which I feel prominent to mention, is that Zulfikar Ali Bhutta, the deceased veteran of Pakistan, hanged in a political trial was an administrator of the Nawab of Junagadh and played a role during annexation, post independence. Also the very famous, beautiful actor in Bollywood, Parvin Babi was a kin to Junagadh Nawab of Babi dynasty, sadly died in pitiable condition. A few fresh blooms and a solitary eagle on a dead dried tree impressed me with the balance of nature.

Read More

Road journeys – Nashik to Ahmedabad

By

In 30 minutes we reached the famous abode of the Mahatma, the father of the nation and a legend preaching lessons on peace even today. We were enthralled with the mere feeling that we are actually at the site where, Mahatma Gandhi once lived, preached, enlightened our political revolutionists with his successful spiritual ideas of peaceful revolution and earned independence through his ardent anshans, un-armed and without blood shed. The river Sabarmati alongside flowing timidly adds tranquility in the already pacific atmosphere of the heavenly adobe. A few foreign visitors accompanied with philosophers on Gandhian studies were keen in learning with humility. We visited the whole area pursuing every facts preserved in pictures, models and writings with great respect and honour. A stall with Gandhiji’s books and relevant works by other legends was very worth visiting. A classic piece on crystal with Gandhiji’s portrait in it was what we couldn’t resist purchasing besides few artifacts and books. The hutment of Mahatma, a much revered place and the replicas of the items used by the immortal was also of interest. A charkha in working condition at its verandah is still there, in remembrance to the veteran, honouring his omnipresence in every Indian heart and beyond. A man weaving on the charkha drew every ones attention and was framed in all cameras including mine. The room, where Gandhiji resided was found locked for no better reasons but one can see through the netted wires on its windows, the resting place of the Mahatma, Later we also visited Vinobaji’s hut which is a thatched roofed mud hutment with two rooms one for him and another for Mira Ben the Anglo follower of Gandhiji.

Read More

Road journeys – Daman to Mumbai-Shirdi-Nasik

By

After relishing the home made graceful dinner, after so long, we started our onward journey to Shirdi at 9 pm, a 250 km drive was supposed to take 5-6 hrs. Kavita on the front seat, immaculately navigated through the zig-zags and soon through the Ghodbander road we were on the Eastern expressway to Nasik. I was told that Mumbaikars often travel on this route on weekends for Shirdi and Nasik at this hour so no issues driving till late night there. On the contrary, I didn’t find much private vehicles and was little uncomfortable regarding the route to Shirdi from Igatpuri which is a single and bumpy 100 km drive. Engulfed with apprehensions of adversities, with three ladies on board, I was a bit skeptic to whether go Shirdi or halt at Nasik which is relatively safer because of the HW throughout. Kavita on the other hand was confident and relaxed about the safety issues. In a state of topsy-turvy, I stopped at a large food joint (not many on this route) at Igatpuri for a stretch, fags & refreshment to ladies. I was pleased to see a few private vehicles parked there, on enquiring most of them revealed of their return journey to Mumbai and suburbs. One Innova driver was however, going Shirdi with ladies on board and assured about a safe journey except that the road from Ghoti to Shirdi is single and mostly dusty and bumpy.

He was on first instance very impressed about knowing us from Delhi. He had once tried luck in Delhi and stayed in Laxmi Nagar for one year was fallen for the city as usual but luck pushed him back because of his mother’s ill health and since then staying in a slum in Khar near Bandra. While chatting, he was extremely happy recalling the names of the Delhi-NCR localities, praising proudly, every thing about his lavish life style way back in 2002-03 during his stay in Delhi.

Read More

Road Journeys – Udaipur to Daman (UT)

By

Locals suggested visiting the Jampore Beach in the morning for the oblivious tangible apprehensions of countering unreasonable clashes with drunken-brawls. Being sensible, when with your family is I feel is an intelligent act though, the macho mind always resists fearing such instances. I suppressed my macho-ness and preferred to visit the beaches next morning and utilized the evening in walking along the bustling market place counting the wine shops which were more than 39 within 2 km, later stopped doing it and entered into one of the eateries. Every small or big food joint is equipped with a bar too besides those shops I referred. A bottle of KF strong costs Rs. 60/- in shops and Rs. 100/- to 140/- in bars depending upon the size and shape of the furnishings inside. We were in one of the best hence had to pay the maximum. Every table had a countable number of bottles in different colors and shapes with families enjoying wining with dining in loud atmosphere. The liberal city has no age bar supposedly for serving alcohol because a group of very young stags sitting beside our table were so intoxicated that two of them fell down a couple of times while making way to the loo.

Jampore beach is a nice and cool place and worth visiting. A row of hutments on the shore blocking the sight of sea serves liquors, sizzlers and sea food mostly comprised of small sized prawns and pomfrets. You need to make way to the beach only through those shops which have small openings on their back, fronts are sea facing. Plastic chairs specially designed for a leisure seating, half immersed in the sand are arranged in sequence in front of the shops. Early morning, we found a number of tourists mostly with families enjoying their drinks leisurely on the beach side budget-resorts. Fresh catch of prawns lured us to give a try and we ordered a plate containing 8 pieces at Rs. 150/-. The prawns were definitely fresh but cooking in too much of spices spoiled its natural flavour. We therefore, again ordered a plate without spices and the later was better. The sea was calm with a far stretched beach along the timid water which was creeping gradually closer in natural course. On the way back we were amused to see a decorative piece in one the government office premise and couldn’t resist from putting the image here.

Read More

Road journeys – Delhi to Udaipur-the Lake City

By

Enjoying the splendid landscapes we reached Baewar by 1.30 pm on our first major stop for refreshment and lunch. I was so energetic till then that my wife didn’t ask me why we are heading towards Udaipur and not Chittorgarh for the break journey. Filled the tank of the car alongwith our tummy, we were again lost in the nostalgic picturesque landscape full of greenery, on an average speed of 100 kmph with ease due to good tar and less traffic. Our first visiting place was Rajsamand Lake which soon appeared with an awesome view of a natural wild lake on the left side of the road. Rajsamand Lake is an artificial lake created in the 17th century by Rana Raj Singh of Mewar. We stopped and hurriedly captured the view both in our eyes and in the camera. Surprisingly, none other was available to enjoy the serene virgin beauty of the so natural place in wilderness. A clear water in the lake, yet uninterrupted by artificiality, was a soothing sight. A rusted board mentioning victory of Maharana Pratap over Akbar’s huge army in 1582, fought there was boasting its historical importance. We stayed a few minutes clicking photographs and watching the silence in the tranquility, glooming hearted was back to our seats. It was sad to see that a place of so rich history, so beautiful is so unattended.

Read More

Serene Naukuchiatal & Bhimtal

By

Sattal is another pristine and less polluted natural place in the area. Seven lakes interconnected and bounded by many hills from different sides never allow viewing the entire lakes together. The hillocks in the water obstruct a wide angle vision however, the greenery around with clear water beautifies the area mystically. Few good resorts and one KMVN TRH are located here offering a pacific stay in wilderness. Camps are also organized by locals on the back drops of the hills amidst the water, now gaining popularity gradually. Evening is very calm and solitary here since, it is located far from any near by localities, feelings of adversity may engulf family tourists. We however, enjoyed a boat ride, a red duck shaped paddle boat, yellow was not available but the kids were generous and happy with a red one too.

Read More

Nainital to Kausani and back to Delhi by road

By

Though the entire Kumaon region is divinely beautiful, Kausani & Gwaldam are the authentic highlights due to its spectacular landscape with 300 km panoramic view of the range of Himalaya’s few of the very high peaks at hand shaking distance. The Nanda Devi and Trisul are the main attractions that attract tourists from far and near to glance the breathtaking scenic splendor at dawn which is unparallel. Mahatma Gandhi has rightly called the place the ‘Switzerland of India’. Located amidst dense Pine forest atop a ridge at an altitude of 1900 m, Kausani is a cool and tranquil place with limited tourist turnout hence still raw, retaining the natural essence.

Read More

Nainital – Kumaon’s Capital

By

Sadiatal and its cascade also fall on the way just after climbing a few kilometers on the serpentine road. A short halt for photography there is never a bad idea. A little before reaching Nainital is Bara Pathar, an ideal Rock climbing spot conducted in supervision of trained professionals and maintained by Nainital Mountaineering Club. Horse riding activities are another attraction in the area. We have though neither tried hand in rock climbing nor horse riding but couldn’t ignore the next spot i.e. the Cave Garden just a few minutes from Bara Pathar. It is relatively a new tourist spot carved out of natural rocks as caves for a feel like entering the real caves named after predator viz. Panther Cave, Tiger Cave etc., a better place for kids rather. A KMVN run restaurant opposite to cave garden was a worth one to quench our hunger. By around 4 pm we reached Nainital. A hotel was the immediate search with safe parking space. Soon we found one just behind the famous and most expensive Manu Maharani. The Langdale Manor, though not a star hotel but it was very nice and comfortable with very professional and courteous staffs at a reasonable rate of Rs. 1,200/- for three including extra bedding (off season).

Read More

In Search of Tiger at Corbett Tiger Reserve

By

The different zones offer varied landscapes with opportunities to sight different floras and faunas. The presence of animals varies in accordance with the landscape suitable to their habitats. The landscape of Jhirna is drier than in Dhikala and vegetation is mostly scrub. Jhirna was a farming village until 1994 when it was successfully relocated under Project Tiger. The abandoned farmland is gradually reverting to a wild state and is being managed to develop grassland habitat. The nearby terrain consists of numerous sots and narrow gorges running through typically Shiwalik landscape. The hills to the north of Jhirna are covered with dense patches of bamboo. Apart from being a good habitat for tiger, leopard and deer, the place hosts other interesting mammals like sloth bear and wild boar. A variety of birds can also be enjoyed here.

were informed that a male tiger is also reported wandering in the area during the early morning. There is a defined route for every visitor to follow from the entry gate which ends at the FRH inside the jungle. On the way there is a watch tower alongside the river for watching animals reaching at the stream for drinking water and bathing. We tried it but in vain. The spotted deer, peacocks, variety of birds including the sparrows were a delight to watch. Suddenly, the driver stopped the vehicle and we found some fresh pug marks of a tiger on the sand beside the road. After a few meters we spotted some scratch marks on a tree probably made in the past. These proofs however, evidenced the truth of story we were told by the nature guide about the male tiger visited the place early morning. Elephant herd might have walked away leaving signs of crushed bushes and flattened shrubs. The dream of sighting the mighty RBT remained a dream but it was good to see the evidence of their presence that retained the hope to see the king in future also.

Read More

Reaching Manali and drive back to Delhi

By

We reached Rohtang at or around 4 PM and passing through the beautiful pass and its valleys amidst dense fog reached Manali at or around 5 PM. Since, Manali was visited many times by all of us and also due to the exertion of the long drive, we preferred heading towards our home without stopping. Steadily, we reached Sunder Nagar via Mandi in Himachal Pradesh covering another 140 km to reach as closer as possible for the return journey, on the following day. On the way we had some apples straight from the trees by courtesy of one of the owners of the orchard. We stayed in a road side Motel situated a few kilometers away from the town of Sunder Nagar, constructed alongside the river Beas at a bargain price of Rs. 1000/- for an excellent room equivalent to a super deluxe room of a 3 start hotel, with excellent facilities and river view balcony.

Lethargically, we started for the journey back to home and reached Delhi by evening with enormous sweet memories forgetting all hardships of the way. A total journey of 2200 kms in 9 days is the most memorable travel I have ever made in my life so far. My car has never betrayed even in the most adverse situations. Next day when we showed the photographs to our friends and relatives, the astonishing remarks filled the heart with joy and smile on the face. I still remember the journey while browsing the photographs and recall each event clearly one by one. My laptop has a screen saver of the picture of Taglang La and my office computer is loaded with the desktop picture of the landscape at Drass. Not many believe, it to be conquered by driving a small car all the way without a professional driver, the photos however, leaves them in awe. Many of my friends are now planning for the trip and insisting me to join them but honestly, I don’t have the dare to repeat this road journey again. Moreover, a lot more destinations are still on my list and want to cover them all one by one and share with all esteemed readers in future. Your valuable comment is most sought on the write up.

Read More

Drive to Manali from Leh

By

The road upto Upshi was good and at par the Highway, a route from here diverts towards left for Pangong Lake. Hereafter, the character of the terrain starts changing and the road is gradually treacherous and rigorous with sudden steep ups and sharp curves. The little above 100 km journey was a mixture of adventure, peril, test of driving skill and curiosity. We were now at the world’s 2nd highest motorable road at Taglang La at an altitude of 17582 feet. The air here was so rare that we were feeling the scarcity of oxygen despite acclimatizing since last few days. The mountain peaks were on parallel to us and the sight of snow covered mountainous stretches around us was spellbinding. A board on which written, “Enjoy Tea/Coffee at 2nd Highest Motorable Pass” by courtesy of the BRO was very satisfying and proud moment. Multi coloured prayer flags flurrying in air tied around a tiny roundabout on the small flat top plateau at the stopover seemed blessing all of us for reaching there. A triumphant feeling brought tears in my eyes out of immense ecstasy, reaching upto there was never easy and I longed for years with intensity for this moment. Though I wanted to stay longer at this impossible site but it is not at all advisable, due to prone to AMS. With immense joy and satisfaction, we started descending gradually on the journey to confront the onward adverse challenges.

Read More