Hills

Spiti valley, a caravan diary

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Woke up with a terrible headache and nausea on the Day 3 of the voyage to the once forbidden land, Spiti Valley. Outside it was just another dawn in Kaza, the snow is reflecting a tinge of orange in the early morning sun; the spotless blue sky in the background is arched over the town. The Gong inside the head continued meanwhile; I needed oxygen then.

It’s the primary state hospital of Kaza where I met Serine and the fellow patients. An ugly looking machine was pushing oxygen through my nostrils and I was trying hard to concentrate. Serine teaches english in a local private school, where tibetian is hardly taught seriously, she frowned. Her mother was lying sick on the bed adjacent; they have ultrasound machine here but nobody knows how to operate, looks like she will have to take her mother to Simla, a 500 kms and a strong determination away from Kaza. She had once travelled to Delhi though, her sister works as a hotel receptionist there. The Metro escalators are amongst worst inventions of the human kind; and she frowned again…it continued and the other patients joined in no time. Soon I was being invited to their homes; for tea, thukpa and country liquor ! Never felt more disappointed on leaving a hospital; was feeling better already. Affection works better than the oxygen may be…who knows !

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Romancing the rain in Wayanad

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The Chembra Peak which at 2100 meters above sea level is the loftiest peak in Wayanad forms the backdrop to Annapara. For those who have a head for heights, it makes for some exhilarating trekking. Almost half way up, you will come across a heart-shaped lake- what a romantic spot to get down on one knee and propose to her!!!

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Amarnath Yatra :: A Journey of Faith :: Pahalgam to Pishutop

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We were climbing the steep ascent through the muddy, rocky and narrow route. Those on foot were making their path upwards according to their own convenience. Every step on such steep ascent of initial trek is the first test of one’s mind and faith. To strengthen devotees’ faith the Military Personnel are there and their presences are felt throughout the route.

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नाथुला पास का यात्रा वृत्तांत

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ऐसी विषम परिस्थितियों में भी सीमा के प्रहरियों को मुस्तैदी से डंटा देख उन्हें सलाम करने का मन हुआ  और हमारी खुशकिस्मती थी कि उनके प्रति आभार और सम्मान व्यक्त करने का अवसर भी मिला। हमारे जाँबाज़ सिपाही जान पे खेल के ना सिर्फ सीमा की सुरक्षा करते हैं, बल्कि हम जैसे यात्रियों की सुविधा का भी ख्याल रखते हैं।

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Padarn Country Park: Wales

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The slate cutting factory with the old rusty machinery al around. Slates were used for roofing, fencing etc. and was big business then. The factory was eventually closed down in the 1969 and now serves as a National Slate Museum.

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Solo Travel, Himachal Tribal Circuit – Kinnaur Valley

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After crossing Simla and its suburbs, the lush green mountains and apple orchards in the valleys were a treat for the eyes. We had a small stop over at Theog. Rain drenched Theog looked all the more beautiful during sunset. I had never been beyond Theog before, so I had a fascinating image of Narkanda, a winter sport hill station of Himachal Pradesh, in my mind. But frankly, seeing Narkanda for the first time was an anti-climax. It is a small non-descript town, with hardly any tourists during the monsoon season. After Narkanda, it was a steep downhill journey with never ending zigzag turns and U-turns.

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The deep forest behind Subhas bowli

Chamba and Mani Mahesh got replaced by Dalhousie

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While checking out from Hotel Asia, we were surprised when we were asked to pay the bill. We told that rooms were booked through Travelguru long back and we handed over printout of booking confirmation with my ID copy. But hotel authority told that they did not receive payment from Travelguru, so we must pay before we leave.

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CHITRAKOOT DHAM : Janaki Kund, Sati Anusuya Asharm and Gupt Godavari

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This is a lovely stretch of water where it is believed that Sita Maa used to take her bath during her exile at Chitrakoot. Janaki kund poses extreme serenity and tranquility to the pilgrims coming here . Pilgrims visiting Chitrakoot seldom spare the chance to take a dip in Janaki Kund since they strongly believe that these waters are blessed to be the bathing ghat of Sita devi.

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VAISHNO DEVI : Hotel and Helicopter Booking Information & Trek to Bhawan

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Next day early morning we woke up and headed towards the Banganga the Entrance to start the Vaishno Devi climb or Trek or foothills of Vaishno Devi Mountain. Before moving towards Banganga to start the Trek , one has to take a darshan receipt (parchi). For that the Shrine Board has made a separate counter. Unless you take the receipt ( parchi) you are not allowed to enter the trekking path or at Cave entrance. Sometimes in festive seasons even to get the receipt ( parchi )requires 2 – 3 hours. Yatra Registration Counter is located in a Town’s main circle called Main Chowk. From here itself one can go to Banganga which is around 1.5 to 2 kms. Here there are lot of Auto rickshaws available to go near Banganga at the rate of Rs. 50 .

After taking receipt we headed towards Banganga to start our final yatra. Initially we wanted to go via helicopter, but due to bad weather Helicopter services were stopped. So we thought of climbing 14 kms on our feet itself.Trek to Vaishno Devi is very steep but smooth till Ardhkuwari ( 5 kms ) . One becomes really tired climbing till here . After Ardhkuwari the road is less steep and can be covered by walking at a constant pace easily. There are two ways of reaching the main Shrine 1) Himkoti Marg, New one 2) Hathi Matha Marg, Old one . In both the paths again there were two bifurcations a) via plain slanting road b) via steps. We chose Himkoti slanting road for climbing and Hathi Matha marg via steps for climbing down.

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