Coffee, Hills, Foliage and Beaches – Part 2

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There are two basic varieties of coffee: Arabica and Robusta. On asking how does one distinguish between two varieties and which variety is popular brands nescafe and bru made of he told us that instant coffee in India contains a mix of whatever coffee beans remain after sorting. To a connoisseur, instant coffee is blasphemy as the taste is nowehere near good coffee. We left after 20 minutes promising to return back some other time.

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Andaman & Nicobar – Port Blair

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There were some water sports facilities like scooter which I tried. There is a small rocky island a little inside the water which our driver told is frequented by sea snakes so it is also called as Snake island. From there we went to most prominent attraction of the island which is Cellular jail. The road from Corbyn’s to Cellular jail hugs the coast and gives magnificent views of the sea.

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Kolkata-Howrah

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I was little ahead of Indian Museum on the road so decided to walk unto the museum. By this time the footpaths along the road were starting to get occupied by hawkers selling all sorts of wares. I came to Indian Museum building which had just opened its counters. I did not have any expectations form the museum and thought I would just skim through it. However, it turned out to be a real treat. It has geological, archaeological, animal, avian, marine specimen over several galleries. The galleries where huge with several things at display. The display units were either tall wooden almirahs or wooden boxes placed on the floor. Rather than specimen I was more amused by rarity of such display furniture.

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Golden Triangle – Bharatpur, Jaipur

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Once it came, there was lot of confusion about the number of buses, seats etc. and it ate away lot of precious time. We eventually got seats in the front of the bus. The bus then went around picking up people from RTDC hotels. Anyways, once everyone settled we began the tour. Our guide was an interesting character to be seen apart from the attractions. He wore a listening device in ear, kohl in eyes, safari suit with a hat and broken english. We visited Hawa Mahal but did not stop, then Jantar Mantar, City Palace and then a handicraft store.

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Golden Triangle – Agra, Fatehpur Sikri

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We then decided that we should go around Agra a bit like visiting Red Fort. So, we took a Tonga to go to Red Fort. We enjoyed the ride and Tonga wallah obliged by letting us take pictures with Tonga. Red Fort was another revelation with so many stories about it. We had hired a guide who was telling us all the places where Shahjahan lived or exiled, where his daughters lived, mosque, sheesh mahal, bombshell damage etc. Soon, it was dusk and there were lot of birds circling the fort and its courtyard. We imagined how it would have been for Shahjahan watching his beloved Taj Mahal and the Yamuna while in exile.

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Himachal – Spiti Valley – Kaza, Kibber

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At Kibber we stayed at Tashi Zom guest house which was just before the village separate from the rest of the village. It was really sunny, windy and chilly outside so most of the time we stayed indoor. I went out a little to take a walk around the guest house and inside the village. This is a proper village with a school and a game of volleyball was going on. There are other guest houses and this village witness some tourists. Here I met Mr. Anurag Jately and his assistant. He is ex-NGC, ex-Fox Traveller head of programming for them and he was shooting night sky in timelapse, phew!! I was just awestruck listening to his anecdotes and watching some of his work on his laptop.

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Himachal – Kalpa, Nako, Tabo, Dhankar

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We next stopped near Khab where Sutlej river coming from Shikpila pass towards the east meets Spiti river from north. Spiti has much cleaner water and it can be seen distinctly at the confluence. Shipkila which is a pass to Tibet/China is only around 40 km from here. One of the high peaks of Kinnaur district Reo Purgyil (6800+ mts) is also situated here.

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Himachal – Shimla, Sarahan, Sangla Valley

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Sangla is also famous for Kamru Fort. This fort is like a tower dedicated to Kamakshi Temple. The Goddess idol was brought from Guwahati (Assam). We braced ourselves and took to steep climb of stairs. The climb took us through houses of Kamru village and get a peek into their life. First there is a temple which has couple of shrines in the small courtyard in hill architecture. Their sloping roofs are lined with flat chipped stones tiles and the distinctive cone as the top. The main Kamru fort was still some climb away. Thankfully, it was quite sunny and pleasant for the climb. After some time, the Kamru fort came into view perched right at the top of the village. One has to tie a cloth around waist and wear a cap which is available in the fort to enter the precincts and go around.

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Himachal – Kalpa, Shimla

Himachal – Kalpa, Shimla

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I have lived in Shimla long back in early 90s when my father was posted here. I used to come in summers for 2 months for 3 years, so I was keen on visiting places where I had lived and visited during that time. We lived in a suburb of Shimla there called Kelti. The route to it is from Ridge to Longwood and then towards Kelston and then bifurcate at one point towards Kelti. It was nostalgic to walk on the same road which I used to frequent 20 years back as child. To my surprise, road was just like what it used to be. Same road barriers painted green and white, the rain shelters where I took refuge many times in rains, the ascent, descent. The final leg to Kelti was still unpaved like it was at that time. Though this time saw more people crossing me with phones in their hands, hoardings and presence of vehicles.

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