Saturday, February 25, 2012

Journey Continues - The Road Trip

Yes, it is, The Road Trip..

We got an amazing driver, his name was Vijay. He is one of the best drivers one can ever come across n believe me you need a good driver in this area as the roads are horrible.

Day 1: Nothing much to do in Manali..Hadimba Temple, Manu Temple and couple of other temples, hot water spring, and some shopping

Day 2: Started at 5:15 a.m towards Rothang Pass. There was traffic on hill section. Beautiful view from there.When we stopped for breakfast, all of us managed to buy some warm clothes to try and keep us warm. These remained on us till the end of our road trip :)

We had lunch at Batal. This place as the rest of the places had an amazing view and has a memorial for the Women Trekking team who died in flash floods there. A silent river behind the small hotel, surrounded with mountains with different textures. Simply awesome place. Very humble people served us food and we hogged like we had not eaten for days..

Then we headed towards Chandrataal lake.(One of the most beautiful lakes there). From a certain point, we had to trek to the lake and its 4km trek but takes about 3 hrs to go. It was really difficult as there was very less oxygen because of such high altitude. We reached the lake only by 4pm.

From there, we went to a town called Kaza. Its about 6hr drive from the lake trek starting point. There are no other villages or towns in between to stay. This is the only town you will find in those dry mountain area.

Stayed at Kaza, Spiti valley. Decent place agian.. cant ask for much there.. 
Shambhala Home stay, PH: 9418357592,94182000183

We spent a couple of days there as there are few nice places around in Spiti Valley.. Old monastries, mini Swiz and Ki Monestry, view point called Lakha/ Lahul. 

Next day we started towards the 1000 yr old Monastery and headed towards Tabo and stayed there. Very calm and beautiful place. There is one monastery there too. Good accomodation and good food :)
Tashi Khangsar, Tabo. Phone:             +919418817761      

Next we headed towards a place called Nacho. The highest village, very difficult to breath for sure..There is a nice lake and some peas fields here.. 

From there we went to Kinnur. For the first time some greenery around... Nice place again... Stayed in hotel called Apple Pie.I dont have the details for this hotel.

From Kinnur we headed to Shimla. Can spend a day or more in Shimla.. nice place agian... 

From shimla we went to chandigarh (cos there were heavy rains in delhi we didnt want to go there and stay) stayed in Chandigarh and visited stone park and a nice lake there. From there we headed back to Delhi and took flight to B'lore.

In all these things, one thing to remember is its very cold out there and have enough clothing like thermals etc.

More than places to see, the entire drive  through such horrible roads and no roads at many place in the valleys is just awesome. The roads here definitely qualify for the most dangerous roads ever.

Its beautiful to know the lives of those monks who live there..  It was a very memorable trip!  

And I finally manage to post this blog after a year and half after the most memorable trip of my life so far ! :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Journey continues - Manali

I guess its time for completing the  story of our journey which began in Delhi Airport :P

Day 1:

Yippieeee!!!  For the first time in several days, we have a destination other than Delhi Airport. I don't think the traffic situation in Delhi is any better than the much hyped Bangalore one. It took close to three hours to wade through the traffic and get out of the capital of our country. Finally called up home to inform that we are heading towards Manali.

As usual, we were the noisiest crowd in the bus and we did invite frowns from few fellow sleepy passengers, who after the dinner got used to it and got back to what best they could do - sleep. Most of us did manage to get some sleep. Pauline was singing for most  part of the journey. Lawrence was on phone for a long time.. with you know whom :) . Giri managed to break the leg support of the seat (he claims to have fixed it :P ) and yet managed to sleep well. Mr.Kumbakaran of the trip title goes to Prashant. 

The journey seemed never ending. All thanks to the landslide near Mandi which delayed us by almost six hours. In the morning, we again turned out to be the most noisy crowd in the bus. This time though, the co passengers - an Englishman, a French lady and two others from Israel, too joined us in our chats. We had long discussions about Indian culture, religious views, Ayurveda, Israel and lots more. We were quite surprised to know the amount of knowledge they had about India and the culture here.

Day 2:
Sixteen hours in the bus on ghat roads with no breakfast, was a little too much to handle. But the scenery around which was serene with tall mountains and a river flowing in the valley all along the route definitely had the calming effect on all of us. We reached Manali bus stop by half past noon.

Vijay , the driver was waiting for us at the bus stop. He is somebody to be remembered for his brilliant driving skills...Will talk about him more soon.. He relieved us of the tiring bus journey and dropped us off at a fairly decent hotel - Hotel Shangrila.

We, the hungriest souls on the planet, ordered our fill and relaxed for a while. 

Larry and Prashant after a small nap went into the town and spoke to some people to figure out the next part of our plan ( was there a plan??) , We spent the rest of the day relaxing and  taking a stroll on the streets of the town, shopping and clicking some pictures. 

Some assorted pics from Manali

Actual trip began finally..
Day 3:
We decided to spend the day in Manali and do a bit of sight seeing there.We paid a visit to couple of temples. Starting with Hadimba temple which is located in a nice place surrounded by trees (Few scenes of Maniratinam's Roja movie was shot here) and is more of a tourist spot where one gets to try out typical Himachal Pradesh costumes. 

Later we continued our small pilgrimage tour in Manali by visiting Manu temple,  Vashisth - Hot water spring (funny one though) etc. 

How can i not mention about our lunch experience? We spotted this restaurant called "Delhi Mughali" (Definitely not recommended to visit) on the Main road of Manali and thought it was where we should have our lunch. The guy there who was trying hard to imitate Bobby Deol did have a surprised look when we entered his restaurant and he did give us considerable amount of time for us walk out voluntarily. Unable to comprehend his reactions, we didn't walk out (oh I wish, we did) but instead placed our order. He reluctantly took our order. Our order included "PEAS PULAO" (courtesy: Sangita) which our Bobby Deol look alike had not ever heard of . Pretty much every one on the table gave their own explanations but failed to make him understand what peas pulao meant. Pauline finally succeeded with "Pulao with mutter and no other vegetables" Kudos to Pauline's explaining skills, we got exactly that. He ensured that all vegetables except peas were removed from the veg pulao and of course he charged us Rs.10 extra for effort he put in to removing these vegetables. Also, for the other orders, he got parcel from other neighboring hotel! What a restaurant it was!

Rest of the afternoon went playing cards, clicking some pictures at the hotel, trying to convince Giri that he badly needed a hair cut and discussing about what could possible the plan from then. 

The sun set was quite early when compared to the part of the country I come from. We finally convinced Giri to have a hair cut and took him to a barber and made him get a hair cut with spikes (Giri might have different name for the hair cut :P). The evening concluded with a nice dinner and not to forget the ice cream followed by walk around the town. 

We spent the night at Manali and at 4:30 AM the next morning we braced ourselves for the next part of our plan.. Yes, finally we had a plan beyond Manali :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Where do we go?

One of my friends just asked me to share my last trip plan and I thought it would be a good idea update my blog and here I am, back with a trip report of my latest trip - the best one so far :)

Though we have been planning for a trip to Leh and Ladakh for last couple of years, it had not materialized. Some time in June'10 we decided to take our first materialistic step towards purchasing the tickets to Delhi. We had the tickets for 19 Aug'10 to Delhi and return 29 Aug'10 tickets to Bangalore (Pauline to Chennai). Let me introduce the "we" here. Its Chitra, Girish, Kumar, Lawrence, Manasvi, Prashant, Pauline and Sangita (Sangeetha).

As days passed, there were a lot of uncertainties that crept up about the trip. It started with "The Cloud Burst" in Leh, the concept that i had never heard of before. It along with the floods washed away our plan yet again! Chitra dropped out of the plan, cancelled her tickets.

We started looking for all possible options to continue with the trip. Last thing we wanted to do was to be in Bangalore on vacation! There were multiple plans, A, B, C etc.. Valley of Flowers, Rajasthan, Leh again for helping people in relief work etc.... We even thought of Sikkhim from Delhi in the last moment. In the mean while there was one new entrant, Pratima to make the gang as Gang of Eight. And there we were, eight adventurous people on 18th Aug '10 packing for all our backpacks without the faintest idea where we were heading after reaching Delhi :)

We decided to take a taxi starting at 5:00 A.M, from Lawrence's place and picking up everyone on the way to the airport.

19 Aug'10:
5:00 A.M:  Unbelieveable thing happened! No.. no... we still didn't know where we were going but the most punctual guy among all of us Mr.Lawrence was not even up till the taxi guy called him waiting near his house! Well.... he was supposed to wake give an alarm call to other people too but luckily everyone had their alarms set...Let me not get into the details of "Why" Lawrence was late by half an hour :P

We all managed to reach airport on time and there again we had the same question in our  minds.. where next from Delhi :)
The moment we reached Delhi and when I was about to step out of the flight, we heard the thunder :) there you go... it was raining cats and dogs in Delhi. :(

We had to wait at the airport terminal till Pauline's flight from Chennai reached, which was delayed by almost an hour. We had biryani at there which really sucked big time! 

Heavy rains, bad food.. even worse no plan yet! Prashant was trying to call the other people from Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh still, hoping to get connected. He and Lawrence had spoken to a lot of people during the earlier planning phase. We spent the next 4 hrs at the airport, sitting near one huge dustbin trying to come up with a plan... 

We planned to go to Jaipur and hire a vehicle from there and visit Jodhpur and all other places in Rajasthan. I called my parents and informed them that we were heading to Jaipur. They were happy that I was moving away from rain hit places.

We were about to start from the airport, just finally Prashant managed to get in touch with the guy from Himachal Pradesh.  That guy suggested that we go to Manali and he would provide us a cook and a guide along and we can trek and camp where ever we can. Sounded like we had a plan finally again and good one too!

I didn't bother to call my parents again because I still was not sure. I decided to call them only after I get out the airport and get into some vehicle which would take me away from Delhi.

We hired couple of taxis from airport to Ramakrishna metro station. The buses to Manali would start from the Gate 3 of the metro station at 5:00 PM. We reached there and waited for the bus. There were many others from different countries mainly Israel, who were travelling to Manali. 

We boarded the bus at 5:30 P.M and finally we knew that we the gang of eight are heading to Manali. I made one more call to my parents and informed them about Manali, the call lasted longer because I had to convince them that I was in the bus and there was no change of plan from now on atleast. :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hampi Trip Photos

Here are some of the pictures I took during the Hampi trip (Aug 15-17 '08)


Sunday, August 31, 2008

What’s the plan???

Hogenekkal, Wayanad, Skandagiri, Yana, Thalakaad ….After 5 successful trips, we were all geared up for the next…11 people, Myself, Sangita, Shylaja, Nidhi, Trishna, Prashant, Lawerence, Hari, Kumar[:) :)], Amit (Prashant’s colleague) and Monty(my colleague) set out on our journey to one of Karnataka’s most famous place in the Western Ghats … “Agumbe” in our very own Raghu’s TT :-)

Wait… it was not all that easy…The day before the trip, Prashant, Sangita and I had an hour long conference call which was basically for deciding the schedule for trip but had more of argument as to why we should go to someshwar … :-) And as the end result of that really long
conference call, yet again the plan as to where to go on Saturday and where on Sunday was not freezed, even after we started or journey…

Apart from this being my first trip with Kumz, I can’t decide what other factors contributed most for my excitement for this trip… break from the hectic work schedule or the idea of adventure… I sure could not concentrate on anything else that entire week…

Rain Gods were also part of this trip and never made us feel left out!!!! It played the key role in the change of so called plan to go to Agumbe first and then to Sringeri to the other way round… this was one of those plans which were not approved of during the conference call but as we all know here, “We propose and rains dispose!!!”

After a brief break, few of us decided to visit the temple in Sringeri whereas rest of them decided to go there on the way back to Bangalore. Though I am not a believer in idol worship, I feel theSringeri Temple is undoubtedly one of the best architected temples in Karnataka with a very beautiful idol of Godess Sharadamba…

Time for breakfast…. And guess wat!! We had a plan for this too…We had hot n delicious homemade idlis (reheated in rice cooker) ... Wondering where we could reheat? Of course….we had carried food n rice cooker along...thanks to Prashant and Sangita for this [:-)]

As per the changed plan, we resumed our journey to Agumbe, for which all of us were eagerly waiting for.... We had rented out rooms at Mallya Residency (I’m sure it doesn’t have to do anything with UB Group ;D), only hotel in that small village....

We headed towards Hebri looking for Nisargadhama or Sitanadi Nature Camp... Nisargadhama, very true to its name is a well maintained camp area amidst the nature and on the banks of the wild waters of Sita River flowing on the rocks and amidst the greenery of Western Ghats… Sounds interesting right? What could be more interesting and adventerous, is the River rafting in that wild waters!!! Exactly! That was the adventure part of the trip…

We waited at the Nisargadhama till the rafts and the instructors returned from the water who had taken another group of people…We took out the camera and clicked pictures of anything and everything around and for some music, we poured our music requests to the official singer of the trip Ms. Nidhi Udupa who was kind enough not to get irritated by our non stop requests and gave us the pleasure of enjoying the wonderful voice and soothing songs with the perfect background... the nature… the sound of the water flowing in the river, birds chirping once in a while and our own koel (Nidhi) singing classic songs ... What more could one ask for!!!

The only thing that could and did get us out of that heaven of music was the arrival of the rafts and the instructors… The instructors were, soon back on job… We were made to sign on a sheet of papers which as usual said, they are not responsible for our lives… Though hardly any one of us knew swimming, we did not hesitate to sign out our lives on that piece of paper!!! Hehe… Then began the instructions which introduced us to the terms used while rafting… like “All Forward”, “All back”, “left forward” etc… and it was time for the instructions which really freaked me out… the ones which we were supposed to follow when something out of control happens!!! Scary that was!! b What the heck… after all I have come so far … now I was all set to break the fear of that childhood experience of almost drowning… The safety instructions were something that was heard to most attentively… never in school or college have I heard to anything with so much attention!!!

Soon we all got into our rafts and were all set to raft in the rapids of Sita river…Myself, Kumar, Monty, Trishna, Nidhi, Amit and our friendly instructor in one raft… Sangita, Prashant, Lawerence, Shylaja and Hari in the other with of course with some one special whom Prashant met over there…

We all religiously and with a slight fear initially (at least I... don’t know about others) followed the instructions given by our respective instructors in the raft and rowed past few small rapids … soon we came across our first huge rapid which gave us the taste of the wild waters… it was amazing to feel that you are taming the wild waters to go past those rapids and whirlpools in a river which is flowing with a fury on the rocks and amidst the bushes on just a air filled plastic raft with a pair of paddles with each one of us… It really gets the adrenaline rush in the body… In simple words, it was truly amazing and out of the world experience!!!

Our instructor did everything to make us comfortable in the water… he insisted on nidhi to be a non stop radio in our raft after he heard her sing once… he wanted us to get the taste of all the fun one can have in water… he made us all stand up and balance on the raft which didn’t happen for long and all except nidhi n myself landed in the waters at the end of that game… he so wanted to overturn the raft so that we get to experience the other extreme of the rafting experience but I was against it…. We were made to float in water where there was no rapids..

On the other raft, though the instructor (kallu) was not adventurous enough, the people in the raft were… we had sangita and shylaja who kept jumping into the river to float every now and then… sangita in fact lost in contact with the raft and kept floating away along the river till their raft went for rescue… on the other hand, Hari’s paddle some how got the tired of him and took its own course in the river which they finally managed to get it back… When we finished our half way of the 25km stretch, we took a brief break near a bridge and Monty shifted to the other raft from where he and hari were thrown out of of the raft during one of those fierce rapids… It was truly an adventurous and thrilling experience…

After the rafting, we were not let go easily... we were made to carry the raft which was definitely a lot heavier than what we had imagined it to be… adding on to it, most of us didn’t have footwear and had to carry that heavy raft on rocky path which was one hell of acupressure experience!!!

It was almost dinner time by the time we got back to our hotel… For dinner we had rice and chapatti which was a treat after all the tiredness we had taking back from the rafting…We did play a game of cards to end the day till the power forced us to hit the bed… The cards game was a serious one till shylaja joined the game… hehe

The next morning was a cloudy, drizzly morning which started with a leachy welcome… Lawerence and hari got the first bite from leach… It was just a beginning of one long leachy day as we started the leachy trekking as termed by Trishna…we had planned to trek down till the Bharkana falls… we took a local guide along to show us the way.. We got a chance to see how dense the forest there was…

The trek started off from a small stream, then through those small bushes and making through the tall trees getting denser by the mile… As there were a lot of leaches all through the way, we had to keep rushing to keep them away from us or stop every now and then to sprinkle salt on them to get rid of them and some of them were busy taking pictures…cos of all this, the group split into two and half of us followed the guide to the falls but the rest of them were left behind … We reached the place from where we should have seen the falls but it was so misty and was raining so much that we found it really hard to spot the falls… After waiting for a while the clouds managed to clear the view just enough to catch the glimpse of the falls…

Even after a long time, the other group hadn’t caught up with us.. we got worried and headed back to the place where we started and just half way we heard voices and realized it was the rest of them who were lost…Finally we all met and got back to the TT and headed to the next falls.. This time around, we could get into the water… All of us were really obsessed with the leach bites and became paranoid of it too…All those leachy feeling vanished after we got on to the roof of the TT and had a roller coaster ride sitting on the roof…It was truly an awesome ride as it was raining and we were going through the narrow roads with trees everywhere, instructing each other in the rafting instructions like “left bend”, “right bend”, “All bend” … it is one of the best rides I have had so far in my life!!!

Since our hotel was situated right opposite to the police station, we couldn’t have had the roof top ride till the hotel… so we got off the roof and Raghu was not ready to let us in to the TT as we were all wet… so we decided to walk for about a kilometer in the rain on the lonely streets of the small village with greenery all around …May be… if I give a li’l try, it might just bring out a poet in me if I try to recall how beautiful the whole place and climate was…hehe..

We were almost reaching the end of the trip before which we had nice snacks at hotel and left to Someshwar… From there we headed to the Sringeri temple where we had our dinner after the darshan (for some of us it was the other way around…) Then began our journey back to Bangalore from a wonderful trip yet again!!!

Thanks to all of those who made it for the trip and made it wonderful…:-) Personally I had a very nice time for the reasons of my own!! :). I couldnt avoid this narration from being long... thanks for having the patience to read it till the end only if u did !! :)

For those of u who are wondering y this is named "Whats the plan".... Its one question which was for some odd reason asked to sangita everytime any one had to speak any thing to her all through the trip and believ me.. she never gave up getting irritated with it!!! "Whats the plan sangita??"