Friday, July 17, 2009

Birth of Ganges at Gaumukh

video

The video is not rotated i tried my best to ficx the technical glitch but couldn't. The cave which you can see is called Gaumukh glacier, where Ganga takes birth. Unfortunately due to global warming its been melting at a fast pace and a local told me that, the glacier has gone 2kilometers back due to global warming. You need to trek 19kms to reach this point one way.

FRIDAY NIGHT:
It all began at Inter state bus terminal in Delhi after a softee at Mc Donalds restaurant. I boarded a state government bus and reached Uttarkashi by next morning 10AM. Uttarkashi is a district headquarters and a transit point for all the major tourist spots. I found a guy a local taxi driver Jeetan and convinced him to take me to Gangotri, Which is 105kms from Uttarkashi. It’s the most dangerous, scenic, spiralling and only road to reach Gangotri. The travel requires 4.5 hours of travel. One wrong decision will lead you straight into mighty Ganges and the game is over. Thankfully, our driver was a smart chap, who navigated the curves with a precision and drove safely. Enroute to Gangotri, my journey got delayed because a bus had fallen into Ganges killing all 60 passengers and the road was blocked for clearance from the road authorities. For a moment I was shaken and decided to drop the idea of travelling and getting back to Delhi. I spoke to my taxi driver and asked him about travelling in these places… Jeetan said "don't think too much. Its normal here just relax"(loosely translated from Hindi). I kept a straight face not thinking too much and shut my eyes and sat in a corner of the jeep. Thankfully, I was delivered safely to Gangotri by 3PM. All thanks to Jeetan.

Day I at GANGOTRI:
Gangotri is a small beautiful place nestled in midst of mountains filled with white clouds at an elevation of 14,000 ft. The place is filled with pilgrims, beggars, small shops selling all sort of religious items, orange coloured bhang laced sadhus and hotels to serve the floating pilgrims. I was really tired after gruelling 18-hour hairpin curve travel and finding a place to stay was the last thing I wanted to do. I searched couple of places and found Birla guesthouse and negotiated a price of 100 rupees for a night and checked in. In the evening I strolled around the by lanes of Gangotri and shopping gloves, a walkig stick and couple of other sundry items for the next day's trek. Meanwhile, someone informed me about the pass required for trekking, which has to be procured at Uttarkashi itself. I wasn't aware of all these formalities and headed straight to the forest official office and spoke in crisp English just to confuse the forest guards. I politely told I am a journalist and do not have a pass and I required one for understanding the life in mountains. The guards gave a deep look and spoke for five minutes among themselves and later obliged to give a pass. I collected my pass dutifully and handed 10 rupees for chai paani and left the place. The longer you hang around with them the more trouble you invite. I had my dinner at a small restaurant with an expensive bill. Everything in Gangotri is 20-50% than the retail price. For example a roti costs you 10 rupees, Parle-G biscuit pack is 7 rupees, Aloo Parantha is 18 rupees and so on. Only water is available free of cost. I went back to my place and slept early as I had a long day the next morning. I was happy with the quilt provided by Birla's to beat Gangotri cold weather. The temperature was around 8 degree at night. I slept well.

Day II GAUMUKH GLACIER TREK:
I woke up at 5AM. I dropped the idea of taking a bath, as it was very cold and a bucket of hot water costs 30 rupees. Which, I think is not worth it. I got ready with a backpack; track pants, warm jacket, woollen cap, trekking shoes and my ID card neatly zipped in my track pants. So that if any accident occurs my body needs to retrieved and handed over to my folks back home. This sounds filmy but this is how all trekkers do. I started my trek from Gangotri at 5:30AM after offering my prayers at the temple. I paid entry fees of 40 rupees for the trek and started my trek slowly and paced it accordingly. As there are high chances of developing high altitude sickness and I did not have anyone to take care if anything happened. I walked slowly crossing the high mountains dotted with pine forests, small water falls, skies filled with white clouds, fresh air and the roaring sound of Ganges flowing mightily. The Gaumukh glacier trekking route is very narrow just 2.5 feet with gigantic mountain on one side and Ganges flowing the other side. One wrong step can take you straight into Ganges, which is 300 feet below. Every step has to be watched. En route I did meet few travellers who were smoking up weed and taking rest under the pine trees. I safely avoided all those guys and just walked my way. During the course of my trek I managed to gang up with few army guys to walk fast and have small conversations in between. After walking 14 kms I reached a place called Bhojbasa but was too lazy for a stopover. I continued with my trek to Gaumukh glaciers. Finally, I reached the glaciers by 10AM sharp. I was stunned by the place. Honestly, the glacier is not that great but the atmosphere and the location took the cake. Its all mountains, mountains and mountains. I stood there watching the clear blue sky and the green mountains and saw the Ganges take birth from a cave. The water was really cold so I had to drop the idea of taking a dip. Like I said earlier, too much of adventure lead you somewhere. I gently stayed away from venturing in and observed the Ganges take birth. Meanwhile, I met two travellers from Europe namely Lisette and Matteo. I explained them the importance of the river Ganges and how important it is for a Hindu. After spending an hour at Gaumukh Glacier it was time to head back. I ganged up with these travellers and started my journey back. We walked back swiftly and cautiously. After trekking 9kms there was heavy wind blowing from the mountains, which led to a blockage of the route. There was heavy stone falling from the mountains and we were struck. We sat there patiently holding each other's hand and waiting for the wind to subside. After 20 minutes the situation had eased and we ran through the narrow stretch to cross over. As soon as we had crossed over the stretch, stone falling continued which led inconvenience to other trekkers. Me, Lisette and Matteo rested for while shared some biscuits and water. We were really tired folks but continued trekking. After trekking nearly 37 Kms I was not able to move my legs for the last one kilometre. I literally cried leaning over a pine tree and screamed out of frustration. My head was spinning, thighs frozen and legs looked like wodden pieces. I somehow managed to reach Gangotri limping with Matt and Lisette's help at 3:30PM. We had some good food at a nice restaurant and chatted up and decided to meet up for a dinner. I returned to my room and rested till 7:30PM. I stepped out of my room to see the weather and it was raining with heavy winds. I took a cold bath and wore my woollens and set out for a dinner with Lisette and Matteo. I dropped the idea of beer hunting because I knew I could not get it. We met at the same restaurant and had some good food. We ordered 12 chappatis, Shai Paneer, Dal fry, shimla and some rice. We shared our food and our bills equally. After dinner we sat chatting up with life in general and exchanged our mail id and promised to see each other at Facebook terminal. We parted ways with a formal hug and handshakes. I walked back to my room and crashed off.

Day III HEADED TOWARDS YAMUNOTRI:
I woke up 7:30 AM and took a cold bath with lot of hesitation. As I had to visit the temple for the last time and offer my prayers. I had aloo parantha with a cup of chai for breakfast and felt happy at a local hotel. After sometime I was wondering the change in food taste at Gangotri and later figured out that not only alcohol but also onion and garlic are banned in Gangotri. I left Gangotri by 9AM and reached Uttarkashi at 2:30PM, which clearly meant I did not have a bus towards Delhi. I was not in a mood to stay overnight and waste my time. I had to decide upon something and arrive at a decision. I decide to visit yamunotri and do some more trekking. I took a bus towards a place called Barkot 86 kms from Uttarkashi, which took me 4 hours to reach Barkot, that means I missed the last bus towards yamunotri. I took up a room at Barkot and decided to stay overninght and travel to yamunotri next morning. I wondered aimlessly on the street of Barkot and bumped into an Australian traveller Tom and Jemma. Out of curiosity I asked their travel plans and realised that they were also travelling to Yamunotri. After speaking to locals we managed to find some beer and drink at my room. We chatted up over the drink and spoke about Indian politics and I for the one was all excited to explain about politics. The Australian travellers looked pretty decent and relaxed folks, so I decided to travel to Yamunotri next day and share the jeep.

Day IV YAMUNOTRI GLACIER TREK:
Destination Yamunotri: we left Barkot at 7.30AM in a jeep with our driver Bhagat Singh Rawat. Our driver was looked smart and knew the terrain well. The reason I emphasis on driver is because all the roads are very narrow and a small mistake will land you into the river and your life take a U turn. We drove past small villages and thick forests. It had rained the previous night and the route was slippery filled with slush at some places so we were a little scared. We stopped by the forest for some pictures and some fresh air. The mountains looked magnificent. We crossed Hanuman Chatti hoping to reach Janaki Chatti and begin our trek on time but god had something else in store for us. We crossed Hanuman Chatti and there was a landslide with big rocks rolling from the mountains and blocking the road. We were stuck at 14,000 feet altitude not knowing what to do and where to go. Me, Thomas and Jemma looked at each other and juss kept a straight face. Honestly, I blank but put up straight face thinking everything happens for good. In some time couple of more pilgrims joined us as they were also stuck. We spoke to our driver and he advised to take a horse but it was an expensive affair. The rate was 680 rupees for a person and we did not like the idea of travelling on horse, because its expensive and we travel on budget. We crossed the spot of landslide and started walking with our backpacks for next 2kms in midst of high mountains and cold weather. After sometime we flagged off a local jeep and requested him for a drop. The jeep was packed to its capacity and there was no place inside and all the passengers made drama, saying there is no place inside to sit, where will we accommodate these people. In nick of time I requested the passengers to accommodate only Jemma in the taxi, because I knew for a fact we Indian people are nice to firangs. Thomas and me sat on the roof of the jeep and started off. The moment we got on the top there was slight drizzle and wind blowing fast making it even scarier. I was scared but I didn’t have choice and waiting for another taxi would take lot of time. We held the bar hard and sat tightly on the top and reached our JanakiChatti in 20 minutes. We took a room at Aravind Annexxe kept our backpacks and decided our trekking plans, but found out Thomas and Jemma weren't interested for a trek to Yamunotri. As I was falling short of time there wasn't much time to think about my fellow travellers. I unpacked my backpack and stuffed it with a jacket and began my trek towards Yamunotri. It’s a 12-kilometre trek to and fro, from Janakichatti. The route is cemented with safety railings to prevent you from falling off; some stretch of the route had Horse shit around which makes it little unbearable. The slight drizzle around, cold winds and horseshit getting mixed with rainwater worsens your trek and makes the stretch a little slippery. On the whole the route is fairly well maintained by the Uttaranchal government and I would rate 8 on 10. Enroute I saw lot of my fellow countrymen walking the stretch only to realise that it was a religious obligation and they weren't actually enjoying the walk, which is really sad. After trekking five kilometres, I was feeling uneasy and was showing up some fatigue and there was no more sweat from my body only salt granules all over my forehead. I did not understand this condition but it got me worried and jittery. Meanwhile, I reached Yamunotri with lot of fatigue and an empty stomach. I offered my prayers and just went around the place for a while and rushed to have my lunch. I had Allo Parantha and a chai at a local restaurant and rested for sometime. One of the reasons to have Allo parntha during a trek is that paranthas are stuffed with potatoes, which are rich in starch, and gives you lot of energy to trek long distances and is economical. I reached Janakichatti by 2PM and packed my backpack and bid an adieu to Thomas and Jemma and reached Hanumanchatti by a taxi. The moment I crossed landslide spot by foot there was no vehicle to ferry me to Barkot. I was stuck in midst of heavy rains all alone. Not knowing what to do and where to catch hold of a taxi I was lost. I was really tired and I didn't have any energy to move further. Finally, I spotted a jeep (not a taxi), which distributes FMCG goods such as Parle-G biscuits, washing powder, toffees and other sundry items to local stores in villages. I managed to convince him and hitch a ride till Barkot in his jeep. The road was bumpy with cold winds blowing all over but that deter me from having a good nap. Probably, the fatigue factor had shadowed the bumpy ride and cold winds. When I opened my eyes I had reached Barkot. I found a place to stay and woke up the next day and left towards Dehradun by 5:30 AM.

Day V BACK TO DELHI: There was heavy rainfall the previous night at Barkot, which was making my travel really uncomfortable. I took a bus towards Dehradun, which was really shabby and stinking as some had thrown up last night and was left unclean. I put with that piece of shit as roughing in the hinterland involves all this. I reached Dehradun via Mussorie by 11AM and boarded a bus towards Delhi at 12PM. After 15 hours I managed to reach my place totally exhausted with loads of experience and memories to cherish.

TRIVIA: My travel involved 44 hours of bus travel comprising 1,200kilometers, 50 kilometres of trek and spent 2,433 rupees over five days.

Monday, June 1, 2009

M for MANALI


After fifteen hours of spiralling trip in a government bus with random stops and a mad co passenger falling over my shoulder throughout the journey and feeling the scent of fresh air, the Sound of Beas River and snow capped mountains at your disposal you know you have reached Manali.

Manali is a gateway for a backpacker, with some really interesting things to offer, provided you know where to look out. It is a point for all the seasoned trekkers, good place to smoke up and swing to the trance beats, very pleasant weather, a transit point to scenic Ladakh Mountains and a great place for all the first time Indian love makers (read honeymoon).

I reached Manali on Friday Afternoon with a pleasant temperature awaiting me at 17-20degree temperature. It was bliss for a person coming from Delhi's sweltering heat. I quietly made my way to a place called Vashishat, which is 3 kms from Manali city for an accommodation. It was a calm place with only cheap backpackers with lot of European travelers. After finding a place to stay at Hotel Valley View and some haggling over the room rent with Chaman the hotel guy for 250 rupees per night. I settled down for a hot shower and set off for lunch.

Meanwhile at a local restaurant I met Rene a Italian traveler and we spoke for sometime and got along really well. After a nice lunch it was time to explore the place. My first stop was at Vashishat temple, where you have hot spring showers through out the year. i didn't take a bath very unlike me but i refrained from taking a dip as it was very small and crowded. I did capture some pictures and left to Manali town. After searching through the lanes i found out a tourist centre where we can take a cab on sharing basis to Rohatang Pass. I negotiated the price for 300 rupees and reserved a seat.

In the evening after walking around Manali town and catching up with hot samosas and hot chai at Manali Sweets centre, i left to vashisht. I caught for dinner with Rene at Rainbow Cafe overlooking the Rohtang Pass Mountains and the alpine trees. It was really nice feeling. We washed our throat with some beer and a nice Nepali thali. We spoke about travelling and backpacking on budget for sometime. It was really cold in the evening with clouds hovering over you. We exchanged our e-mail Id and parted ways.

I returned to room at 9:30 only to find Chaman the hotel guy asking me to join him at World Peace Cafe. The cafe offers you Hollywood movies on big screen with some nice booze and good food. They play only movies nominated for Oscar or any big awards, apparently when we checked in Slum Dog Millionaire had just begun. I watched the foreign travellers closely when they patiently watched the movie. I was bored after sometime and left the place as i had an early day to start the next day. I returned to my place and slept at 11 PM. good night.

Day II
I woke up at 5:30 as i had my cab picking me up at 6:15 to Rohatang Pass from Vashisht Chowk. I walked 1.5 kms in the cold to catch the cab, as he wouldn't pick me up from my place. I joined a great Indian family in the cab to travel to Rohatang.
Rohatang Pass is 50 kms from Manali and takes 3 hours to reach the peak. We set off in Tata Sumo enroute we stopped to pick the warm clothing to beat the spine chilling cold. Initially, i relented to pick warm clothing because it would cost 200 rupees, which I felt was ridiculous sum to pay. My driver requested me to pick one and not act like a fool. All thanks to god, my good sense prevailed and some one had said me listen to locals always and it really helps. I picked one set of warm clothing and we left.

Folks, the route to Rohatang Pass is a treat for every traveller. The roads are cuvaceous as Shakira and smooth as butter except for last 10 kms stretch. It is filled with pine trees lush greenery, fresh air, and blue sky and really very picturesque. Teh temperature drops as you inch further up and the roads are really narrow and spiralling and snow scattered all over teh place. Driving through this terrain is an art, which not everyone can master. In midst of this treacherous route there is a point call Bhuri a meadow overlooking the Rohatang valley. Everyone must stop to warm up for the famous Aloo Parantha with a hot chai. I ganged up with some taxi drivers and got a free breakfast. Probably, the hotel folks thought I am also a driver and they didn't charge me. I walked out as a happy man.
The travel continued in our Tat Sumo with the aimless chatter with the Indian family. I was just having some fun. As we inched further to Rohatang Pass the road was filled with silt because the ice melts at a greater speed and becomes water, which in turn falls on road and due to heavy vehicular movement the roads become wet and slushy. This makes all the vehicles a tough job to navigate. To aggravate the condition we had clouds hovering, which led to poor visibility. However, despite all odds our driver knew the terrain and he did a marvellous job of taking us to Rohatang Pass.

ROHTANG PASS:
The moment i reached Rohatang the first thoughts, which crossed my mind, was ROJA movie. My first memories of snow began with Aravind Swami romancing Madhoo in the song "china china asai". Post 2009 I was in Rohatang Pass watching a snowfall. The weather was 1 degree and it was spine chilling. I wore my warm clothing, which was really helpful. i wandered alone in the valley watching people playing with snow. I walked all through the Pass and was stuck by the snow-capped mountains sitting pretty. For a moment I felt these places are still like this because they are not easily accessible to human inhabitation. Otherwise you all know the consequences. I personally didn't like the Rohatang Pass per se due to lot of tourists crowding the placs and spoiling it but the route to Rohatang is just amazing. Amid the snow fall some amount of ice went in my shoes and my feet was wet. I was feeling numb and I almost had a frost bite. I ran to my taxi but couldn't spot as i was in need of some heating. After some anxiety I found the cab and warmed myself. It was really scary but very memorable.
I returned back by 4PM and rested in my room for some time. I took a hot shower and set off to Old Manali as i was told that true Manali culture lies in old Manali. I walked through the narrow lanes amidst shops selling various sort of things and crowded with only hippie travellers. Old Manali has old houses and the place hasn't changed much unlike its neighbors. It still retains some charm and you feel the change. I had a cup of Mint tea at a local cafe and read Indian Express and just relaxed.

SHOPPING:
I went searching for a warm wollen cap but ended up picking up 2 jean pants for 1400 rupees at a local store near the bus stand. The last time I shopped was in IIJNM and I really enjoyed the bargaining.

TRANCE PARTY @ YETI:
I attended a trance party at Yeti Restaurant on Chaman's recommendation. Entry to all parties in Manali is subjected to the kind of contacts and setting you have. I had a beer and chilled out. I saw all European tourists doing weed and all sorts of substances. I spent time lazing around the cushions and helping fellow traveller in preparing a joint. The time was late 1:30AM everyone was high and attained nirvana. Suddenly, a fight broke out between two local guys over a firang girl.. .. This was waiting to happen. I saw them fighting and everyone fled from the scene, including me. I returned to my place at 2AM and slept off...

DAY III:
I woke up at 9AM in the morning and freshened up with a nice shave from a local barber and left to Manali town. I had scrambled eggs for breakfast at a local hotel. I got my tickets reserved, which was very painful thing to do. As i wanted to stay for longer time in Manali and chill out. I left Manali at 2:20PM with a heavy heart and reached Delhi at 5.30 morning.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Finally TAJ MAHAL


Reaching Agra in the wee hours of morning amid the silent bylanes of Agra city, with only few chai wallahas to keep your company, local cycle rickshaw pullers and some vendors shouting "Agra Peti" (Its a famous sweet in Agra) you know for sure you've reached Agra. yes, The land of Taj Mahal.
As a kid i always had read in the textbooks, general knowledge classes, seen it on TV and heard more about it when Bill Clinton visited and Yanni performed live. so far my knowledge about Taj Mahal was limited.
Reaching early morning without a plan of future course of journey is sometimes not a good feeling. I spent nearly two hours having a chai at the local bus stand and chatting up with rickshaw pullers and geeting soem information about the place. It is always wise to speak to locals when you are travelling as they dish out some really interesting information free of cost.
I found a passenger rickshaw and hitched a ride for 20 rupees to Taj Ganj area, as that is a place for cheap hotels and food. Upon my arrival to Taj Ganj I bumped into two Spanish tourists namely Ursula and Mifua at a local coffee shop. We had some conversation about general stuff till we became familiar. I freshened up at the local restaurant and set off to see Taj Mahal with these Spanish tourists. After the conversation I found out that Taj Mahal looks different during sunrise and sunset. So I also decided to see the spectacle with these folks. The auto wallah realising the urgency and need of our sunrise took us around the city and later told us that this is a shortcut and charged us 200 rupees. I was stunned. Meanwhile, Mifua intervened and said in broken English only 40 rupees if you want you can take it or else leave. The idiot auto guy just took 50 rupees and vanished.
We walked through the banks of Yamuna River to see the sunrise but unfortunately it was partly cloudy and had to be content with streaks of sunrays. We sat on the bank for sometime waiting for the boats to cross us over. We crossed the river to reach the North entrance of Taj Mahal at 6:10AM.
As soon as I entered TajMahal I really didn't feel any different. It was a plain white building with Mughal architecture. I stood for a moment to see what is there in this building, but honestly it was average. I walked around the monument to discover the place. I saw the four minarets they reminded me of lighthouse in Mahabalipuram. I spent time looking at the intricate paintings on the walls which depicted about Mughal architecture in India. I spent time looking at foreign tourists, holding hands with their partners and getting the best picture clicked. So it will look nice in their drawing rooms. It was a nice feeling as I finally saw Taj Mahal.
I left the place soon with these guys and took a train to Mathura. I spent time chatting up with these guys about India and their experience. I did receive dirty looks from fellow passengers as Mifua was wearing weird dresses and smoking beedis. I gave some tips to handle the looks and dress moderately when you travelling in India as you invite troubles unnecessarily.
I reached Mathura by 10AM and bid a good bye to those Spanish tourists. Mathura is a small town and a holy place for Hindus with narrow roads, friendly people and humid temperature. I took a place at Sri Krishna International guesthouse at 75 rupees for a night. The rooms were clean and common bathrooms. Very well maintained and suits travellers like me who live on a budget.
I went around the town visiting all the temples under the hot sun. I was really tired going around the temples as the temperature was hovering around 44 degree. Despite the heat I did manage to go to Vrindavan 12 kms from Mathura. Honestly these places were dry and there is nothing, which really catch your attention. I mean to say it's just a sleepy town filled with temples and pilgrims.
I was really tired by the end of it, mainly due to humid weather and dehydration and decided to call of my trip to Fathepursikri. I had a good dinner at guesthouse for 50rupees, which serves hot butter soaked rotis and nice vegetable curry with the best dal. The food is unlimited and try it out for yourself when you visit the place. I slept early, as I didn't have any energy to venture and explore the place.
Next morning I took a early train and returned to Delhi.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Chronicles of McLeod Ganj


Desination McLeod:
Arriving at ChakkiBank train station at Patankhot at 5AM after a long 8-hour journey of travel on the floors of Indian Railways, as I didn't have a reservation ticket for my journey I was really tired traveller. I took Himacahl Pradesh local bus to reach McLeod Ganj, which is 90 kms and consumed nearly 3.5 hours to reach my destination due to the hairpin curves and the ghat sections of Kangra district. I arrived at McLeod Ganj by 9:40 AM.
McLeod is a sleepy, chilled out, cool and laid back town filled with Tibetan settlements coupled with Burgundy coloured robe Buddhist monks who swear by Dalai Lama, the local hilly people and filled with western tourists, who flock to learn yoga, trek and smoke up and attain nirvana.
McLeod is a blessing for a traveller from Delhi given the harsh weather conditions in Delhi. I found a place to stay at Green Hotel on the Bagsu main road after a hard bargain and charming the Tibetan lady owner at the counter at cheap 150 rupees per night. After a cold shower and freshening up I decided to explore the town on foot, because I believe that talking to locals and walking around the place helps you understand the city and culture much better. After walking around I the town it was time for a brunch at a restaurant called Qigy, a small restaurant filled with western tourist, which offers one of the best European and Tibetan food at a cheap price. I had Tibetan fried rice with some egg garnished on it, very well prepared and stomach filling at 40rs per dish.

BAGSUNAG MANDIR:
I visited Bagsunag mandir 2kms from McLeo. It is situated below a mountain with Bagsu falls above flowing in full form. The sweet water of Bagsu falls is really respite for the water starved McLeod. I walked 1km to the top hill to see the falls and spent time standing in the cold water and giving my foot some good treatment. Enroute the falls you find many cafes, all you need to do is stop by and ask "bai,kuch special milega" and there you get some good dope at decent price. It depends totally on your negotiating skills. I returned to my room by evening still not knowing what to do in the city.

MCLEOD TOWN:
I walked around the narrow lanes looking at the shopkeepers selling Tibetan wares, cooking momos, massage parlours, cooking classes, yoga centres, shops selling Buddhist beads, Indian shopkeepers trying to lure foreign travellers to make some purchase. It was 7:30PM at McLeod and time to retire after a hard day roaming around and exploring the place. I hit off to the famous and a very good restaurant named McCello Restaurant, which serves chilled beer on the rooftop with a good view of the hillock town, ambience, crowd and nice service. I returned to my room at 10 and slept early.

DAY II
I really did not have any idea as what to do on second day. I visited the local Tibetan monastery, which I think is really nice. It gives you an insight to Buddhism and their religious teachings. I spent time looking at Burgundy monks reciting shlokas from old scriptures and their devotion to their religion. It got me thinking, as how religious people can be. You should never miss out this monastery if you are visiting McLeod.

DHAULADHAR MOUNTAIN TREK:
I never had any plan of trekking this mountain, but I had heard lot about it from one of my friend Hari. I went around the town asking if there is any village called Dhauladhar? I got only one reply NO there is no such place. Only later, when I bumped into a mountaineering guide Onkar I found out that Dhuladhar was a mountain range and not village. I bargained hard with Onkar and settled for 500 rupees charge to accompany me to Dhuladhar Mountain. The minimum going rate for a guide is 1800-2000 rupees per person. I got a good deal all thanks to my bargaining skills. We set off to Dhuladhar at 9AM with another trekker Navneet with a chai break at Dharamkot. The mountain range is 30 degree steep with full of boulders surrounded by dense forest and temperature drops every step you go further. We began to trek slowly so that we could acclimatise to the high altitude and feel normal throughout the trek. The trekking got tougher as we moved up the hills as path was filled with heavy boulders and the route being very narrow.
My fellow trekker Navneet was going through excruciating pain in his knees due to the steep mountains. I could see the pain and agony he was going through poor fellow but we had told our self that we would complete the trek. We stopped by a café enroute for 10 minutes and then we continued the trek. We reached the first base point called Tirund, which is 9kms from McLeod by 1:30PM. I was really tired but I still had 4.5Kms trek still ahead of me to reach Snowline or Dhualdar range.
I was badly in need of water and a Japanese tourist Ying offered me some, which gave some energy.

SNOWLINE:
After a break off 45 minutes I set off to Snowline with Onkar as Navneet dropped out as he was suffering severe cramp. I trekked along the steep boulder filled path with temperature dropping every step ahead. I kept asking fellow trekkers how far is the café? They all said replied just nearby, but nearby seemed really far. I was getting exhausted with energy drained out of my body. In midst off all this I saw few shepherds who live in this region-grazing sheep. The sheep's reminded me of my village but these were a little different and huge compared to what we see in south. But it was nice interacting with them. After a long trek we finally reached the Snowline or the Dhauladhar range. It was a crazy feeling seeing snow for the first time in my life. I stood for a minute dumb and looked at the snow-capped peaks sitting pretty. I sat alone for sometime in peace and observed the mountains. I loved every moment of it and my mind couldn't think straight for a while.
We returned back with a German tourist Robin and his girlfriend, we discussed about Indian politics and time flew by. I reached McLeod by 8PM.
The entire consisted of 13.5 km one way so we had trekked 27 kilometers by the end of day. I felt fit great about it.

DINNER:
Me and Navneet went to Jimmy's Italian Kitchen for a beer and some Italian dishes late in the evening. We caught up with lot of sundry issues and discussed about our previous girlfriends. We bonded really well. It was a nice experience.

DAY III:
I went around McLeod shopping for my friends. I found some things really pretty but didn't have the cash to pick them up. But next time I plan to do something about it. Well, I reached Delhi by 5AM, I didn't have a reservation ticket but bribed the TTE with 50 rupees and got a berth and reached home.

I loved every moment of McLeod Ganj trip and wish to keep going back.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

BLANK........

It's late afternoon here my stomach aches very badly after a lunch at Taj Palace. Delhi's temperature is soaring with temperature hovering at 41C and people say this a prelude to the actual Delhi summer. I don't know how I will handle this season. I have been suffering from severe lack of sleep and my eyes are swollen like a tea-bag and a severe body ache. If given a chance I will crash at any random place. On the other side lot of thought just crowding my head randomly I feel I am stuck not knowing the way out and need directions but very particular with whom I offer to take one.
As much as I try to handle the situations they slip out and find their own way, which is sometimes very annoying. I fail to understand things and when I put up an explanation my folks don't get it and I end up looking like a moron. These sorts of things haven't happened in the past and it's all new to me and I am still learning my way out. I try my level best to put across my thoughts but I am unable to convince them. I sometimes feel life is an illusion and things are not like what they seem and I need a damn reality check. I try everyday to understand how people think, function, conduct, observe and react to a particular situation, but still I am back to square one where I began in the morning. I don't understand the logic or probably I am not able to figure it out or I am not looking at the right place. Hope this is a phase which will pass soon for better things ahead….Let's what awaits me in the future. As they say he future has a way of arriving unannounced.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

EVERY VOTE COUNTS

Pic Courtesy REUTERS