Sunday, November 26, 2006

Xtreme Bikers

For years I was hearing about the bikers' groups operating in Delhi, who perform for fun on the roads of Delhi at odd hours to avoid any disturbance to traffic and to avoid Police. This Sunday morning I got a chance to watch the spectacle, when one of my friends called me and asked me to reach a secluded but well-metalled road in Rohini.
A no. of young boys had gathered to give some trial and to entertain the public.
There was a well organised group of Bikers, called "The Xtremists".
There were some other guys also, who were practising and aspiring to become
"The Xtremists".
But the extremists were very fast and the spectacle took around an hour. This morning hour was worth it.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Lansdowne was on my wishlist for a weekend trip from Delhi, but I always had some doubts about the place, if there can be any activity around where one can spend one full after-noon, evening and another fore noon. Any way this time it was Bh. who insisted on going to Lansdowne alone.
We started on 14/10/2006 at 5-00 AM, in a group of five BH, Dh, Rk, Tw and me. it's good seven hours from Delhi at an easy pace. After crossing Kotdwar we drove along a river up to Lansdowne, it was a beautiful and clean river, actually we bathed for hours in the swift river current near a temple.
It was very cool evening in Lansdowne and we had to put on the woolens. The place is not beautiful at all, the scenic beauty of manali, Simla and Mussoorie (which is due to the location of the stations) is totally missing. You have nothing to look at for hours, almost from any corner of the town. We could not find any specially recommended sun-set point.

Morning was equally quite. Believe me, the atmosphere was very calm here and the sprawling bungalows at the isolated places in the hills along the road are the speciality of this cantonment. After breakfast we took a trip to Tiffin-Top(Tip-n-top?) and it turned out to be the only place of any interest for the tourists. The view of the valley and "CHAUKHAMBA" range is marvellous from here.


Chaukhamba Ranges

Catholic Church

Friday, September 15, 2006

Water Caves around Dehradoon

I have been to Dehradoon and mussoorie a number of times, But could not get beyond Kempty Falls, Sahastradhara, Gun Hill and of course mall road. This time, I did some research on the net and decided to explore Robber's Caves and Sahastradhara and had two full days for this. There was not much information available on the net, I searched some of the blogs, but again a disappointment. I was determined this time to go somewhere deep and still be able to come back by Sunday night. We were a group of Five, all colleagues, Bh, Tw, KKT2 and Dh.We left Delhi via the Bhopura border by 5-30 in the morning in a Santro, reached Meerut. There was not much traffic on the roads, we were cruising. And this is what we got.
We had no jack. Dont forget to take an extra tube, they ask for double the regular price. It took us at least 7 hours to reach Dehradun. We wasted no time and started asking for the Robbers caves but to my surprise almost every one, from the yong to old, was ignorant about the caves, they know this place as Ghuchuk Pani. The road upto caves is motorable and in the OK condition. I was totally disappointed on reaching the mouth of the cave, and regretted my decision to come here and conveyed the same to my partners, it was me who was organizing.There are a few shops just next to the cave and a Tibbetan, Anup Lama, on the rolls of the Topurism Department, remains present, he even runs a small stall. We had some refreshment, Maggi and Omllette is available. It looks some thing like this,It started drizzling and there was a sudden change in the atmosphere. We entered the caves knee deep in water, it was a long narrow cave. After first 30 metres the water rose to the level of waste and we had to put-off our clothes. No one goes beyond this point except a few urchins. Now I started regretting on my regrets. This place is awesome. I could not understand the fact that this place is not on the wish-list of tourists. Its quite safe for the families and even the kids will enjoy, for the tough minds 650 metre long narrow cave is ahead with rushing water and A-grade excitement.
After spending 4-5 hours at Ghuchuk Pani, we decided to head for the Youth Hostel Mussoorie. We got dormatory for 60/- each, went up to have our dinner in mussorie.It was not very cold the night was very pleasant with two blankets. Youth Hostel has arrangements for boarding and we had our breakfast paranthas. After this we started for SAHASTRADHARA it started drizzling the view of the hills from mussoorie to sahastradhara was breathtaking

Sahtradhara has changed a lot during the last 3-4 years but the lower end is still as dirty and stinking as it used to be. Dhabawlas has created artificial water ponds by stopping the natural flow of the brooks just to attract more tourists.
We went up and further up-stream. It was very slippery up there due to the algae, and one has to be very cautious as the flow of water is very fast and a slip can crack your bones. It started raining again and the MONSOON MAGIC was unleashed. That one hour os the downpour was the best part of the trip. We bathed for hours before stopping ourselves.

It was time to take the road to Delhi but before that we wanted to have MOMOS. We searched here and there like a thirsty crow and finally ended up having found a Buddhist Monk chewing on his PARANTHAS.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Mighty Markandey

I remember my childhood days in a small village in the Kurukshetra Disstt. Of Haryana. A mighty river namely Markanda (named after Rishi Markandey) used to flow touching the village. I still remember the volumes to which the river would swell in the MONSOON months. Every second year it used to break its banks and flood the whole region with not only the waters but fertile and virgin soils from the lower Himalayan regions. The river used to be worshipped like the supreme gods due to prosperity that it brought year after year. Monsoons were the months to observe the might of this river, rest of the year it flowed like a meditating SAGE.

I am a frequent visitor to my native place and a spectator of how the Mighty Markandey has been tamed by they lesser mortals. A visit this year has shown how the volume of water has decreased over the years.

Just campare the high flood level in the 1978 flood with the level of water at this time of the year. The water rarely touches the feet of the pillars now.

A local Market at the weekly Sunday fair in Shahbad Markanda.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Around Jaisalmer

Four Days of Solitude.

1/1/2000 No bus service from Delhi for Jaisalmer, took a bus from Old Delhi Railway Station to Bikaner. Departure 09-45 PM. Delhi-Bikaner is 512 KMs.(150/-)

2/1/2000 Its normally 11 hrs. but due to heavy fog we took 15 Hrs. and reached Bikaner 1-00 PM. It was Sunday, Museum closed. Took a bus for Jaisalmer 330 KMs. Spent whole day alone in the company of locals in the bus only. Bikaner-Gajner-Kalayat-Phalaudi-Ramdeora-Pokran-Jaisalmer. Reached 10-00 PM checked in hotel Jay Palace(another below budget level hotel) Bhaskar colony, Hanuman chowk. 100/- per day.

3/1/2000 Went around the city.

Junagarh Fort (very good for the tourists interested in heritage tourism).

Patwa Haveli(main attraction living up to expectations full of local stories).

Salem Singh ki Haveli(almost nothing remains of this monument except stories).

Gadisar Lake (don’t expect much except a museum and more annals).

The last was Nathu Mal ki Haveli.

Don’t forget Bara Bagh, the final abode of the Royal Family. In small hills a very mystic place. U can find some fossils here in the nearby stream. U need to hire an auto rickshaw for Bara Bagh.

4/1/2000 Checked out from hotel. Straight to Aakal Fossil Park, went there hitch hiking, almost no tourist there. Good place if you are interested in the stories about what was Thar Desert like, once.

Came back to Jaisalmer, took bus for Sam Sand Dunes. Camel-ride for 50/-

No frequent buses from Sam, decided to take a jeep, it was rather a hitch-hike.

Changed two more jeeps and some distance on foot and I reached KULDHARA. It was a heritage village deserted by the Paliwal Brahmins some 150 years back and all the stonewalls and wells etc. of the village are in good condition. You get a good glimpse on the life style of the people of those times. Must not miss this. Hitch hiking back reached Jaisalmer. Took a bus for Bikaner in the night.
5/1/2000 In early morning took a Haryana roadways bus from Bikaner to Hisar. Changed bus for Kurukshetra at Hisar. Was back in Kurukshetra by evening.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Meri Amarkantak Yatra

It’s an old story now. I was always fond of traveling all alone. I tried two three times to go all alone, and believe, it was not a bad Xperience at all. Almost every one who happened to know about my plans, discouraged me, but I wanted to give it a try and visited some wonderful and little known places in the most adventurous way, thanX to the budget restraints. My friends are trying to coin a term for the tours at a lower step than the budget tours. The most important thing about these tours was that I never took my camera with me (although I love to click on all occasions now), my idea was that photos tend to faint the memories of the locations from your “HEART”.

My Xperiments started in 1998 and it was Amarkantak first.

I remember a lesson “Meri Amarkantak Yatra” in one of my junior classes, the name Amarkantak remained strucked up in my mind due to the excellent manner in which it was painted by the travelogue writer in that chapter. Anyhow when I started planning no one was ready to take me seriously, actually people are incapable of thinking anything beyond Mussoorie, Shimla, Goa, Srinagar or at the most Jin Corbett. Since no one was ready I decided to make it all alone. I started to look for the exact location of Amarkantak, honestly I did not find any one from my place who have ever heard of this place, net access was not available those days, I kept on looking and at last found a place Amarkantak in the Tourism department’s tourist map somewhere near JabalPur. I had no other information and on the basis of this only I booked a seat in the Mahakaushal Express for JabalPur, ex Hazrat Nizamudin R.S. New Delhi.

On 5 December 1998, Train rolled at around 3-00 PM from H.Nizamuddin. It took 16-17 Hrs. to reach JabalPur. In the train I started doing my homework and started asking some passengers about Amarkantak. They informed me that the route via Shahdol would have been a better option. Any way I reached JabalPur on forenoon of 6 December and headed straight to “BHEDAGHATS”. It was an excellent place full of tourists and water. There was plenty of space to sit idle and certainly the rushes around you don’t disturb you here. White marble rocks are an example of the craftsmanship of the Mother Nature. It took me some time to left this place. Any way I returned back to JabalPur in a Vikram (Auto Taxi), went to bus stand. There were no buses in the afternoon for Amarkantak, First bus was around 8-00 AM and then around 10-00 AM. I decided to take first bus next morning and checked in a hotel nearby. Single room I got for 70-80/- only.

Could not get up early next morning and caught 2nd bus at 10-00 AM. Spent whole day (7 December) in the bus, it took around 10 Hrs. to reach Amarkantak. On the way it was lush green al around. It was dense forest area, it was here that I saw tribal people in their routine life. They were really in poor and miserable condition. There were no cities enroute, the bus stopped in Dindori for some time. Dindori is district HQ but it is smaller than the smallest town in the planes of “SAPT-SINDHU”. No bazaar or anything like that, there were tribal sitting near the bus stand with some goods for selling and that’s all. The route was very beautiful all along small hills all forest laden. I reached Amarkantak at around 8-00 PM. Took a room in the Shiva Tourist Lodge for 70/-. There is also a MPTDC hotel in Amarkantak where rooms and dormitories are available. There are not many options, only one or two lodges. Even the options for food are also very limited; I had a sindhi dinner and dozed off.

In the morning on 8 December, I was woken up by the chiming bells of the Narmada Ji Temple, which happened to be nearby. This was a memorable experience for me and I still remember that eternal sound of chiming bells. It was really divine. The lodge was no better than a Sarai, just workable, after freshening up I started to have a look at the nearby area. This place is the source of NarmadaJi and Son Rivers. Both the sources are with in a circle of 1000 Mtrs. There is a temple on the source of NarmadaJi and is a place of pilgrimage. The source of river Son is at a location that can be said to be designed exclusively for the ASHRAM of some Hindu Rishi. It was a wonderful place. Nature was at its best. Son is visible in the form of a small stream here. This place, known as Mai Ki Bagia is also the source of on other river of central India. This place was more beautiful than the Himalayas, I can tell any one. After this I went straight to a waterfall called Doodh-dhara. It is also a good waterfall but for poor up-keep, they places gives you a bad taste for the apathy of the government agencies.

I was on hot wheels, so I decided to leave Amarkantak same day. I took out my tourist map and planned my way back to Delhi in such manner so that I can touch Khajuraho.

¨ Took a roadways bus to Shahdol. Dinner in Shahdol.

¨ From Shahdol changed in a private bus for Reva. Traveled whole night and reached Reva just after midnight of 8 December.

¨ From Reva took a Mahindra jeep hired for taking newspapers and traveled with chickens all around me. They took me some where near Khajuraho at around 6-00 AM.

¨ Took a bus for Khajuraho. Spent the day in Khajuraho and took a bus to Jhansi in the afternoon. Enjoying the company of locals reached Jhansi at around 8-00 PM.

¨ Jhansi is a crowded station. Luckily a train coming from Bangalore was late by 12 Hrs. and I got a berth without paying even the sleeper charges in the general compartment. I was on my way back to Delhi 9 December.

¨ Reached Delhi on 10 December, I was on leave so headed directly to Kurukshetra.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Majestic Churdhar

My friend KKT2 would say

“Duniya ki sair kar Ghafil,

Zindgani phir kahan;

Zindgani gar rahi to,

Naujawani phir kahan”

Travel Bug bites me now and then. I don’t remember how I got the idea of climbing the “Churdhar” peak. There were only two sources from which I could have gathered information, one was internet and the other was a sole report about a trip to churdhar in “The Tribune”. Any way stage was set and after postponing it for 4 long years, programme was suddenly chalked out and I along with R, B and A started.

We set off from Delhi on Friday evening at 8 and spent night at my place in Kurukshetra 160 Kms from Delhi. Again in the morning got up at 4 and were planning to start by 5, but B was lazy and we could only take-off at 5-45, after that another 2 hrs in the planes and we were past Kalka before heat. Thanks to U for the paranthas and between Kalka and solan we had our breakfast.

From Solan its 65 Kms. To Nauradhar via RajGarh (the Peach Bowl of Hiamachal) churwa-dhar and Deedag, good road but almost no good places for Break-fast etc. It took almost 3hrs. from Solan to Nauradhar. Nauradhar is like all other small Himachali towns, Some Dhabas and local Bazaar. The Dhaba-wala will show you the starting point of the trek. But try to identify and mark the landmarks to avoid any chances of getting lost here. Mind getting lost does not mean that you will get lost in the jungle but that you might miss the regular mule-track and try 10 or 20 different slopes to finally find someone to confirm that you are on the right track. Although there are Gujjars’ huts almost throughout the trek and they are cooperative enough to guide you, but they are always ½ hrs climb away. Any way U don’t get any water for the first 2-3 Hrs. depending on your speed, and during these 2 Hrs. either you pass through lush green jungles (the regular mule track) or the rocky climbs, (we caught the rocky climbs.) But once you have negotiated this initial sweating ordeal, you reach “JamNala”, it’s an open area perfect for camping etc. with a Dhaba, where you can get Tea and biscuits, there are also some scattered Gujjar hutments nearby. After “JamNala” U get a water point after another 30 minutes walk that is not so difficult, and another walk takes you to “Tissri”(perhaps the third halt), again a good spot like “JamNala” with the same facility. It was 7PM when we reached here, here we changed our programme and decided to stay here for acclimatization and rest. Its possible to climb even during night up to the Temple. Bedding is available for 30 bugs in the Dhaba itself and at least U can sleep here. Next morning we started at 6 and were in the Temple by 8. Temple is at a very good location and they say that the place has blankets for at least 1000 persons. The place is very cold at around 3400 meters above sea level. Dharmashala is buildup (pucca) structure and there are 4-5 dhabas that can serve you Paranthas etc.(although the quality was very poor). The Lungar, we missed, would have been the better choice. From the temple it took another one hour to get to the churdhar top, it was a steep climb but rewarding, at least you can say that you have conquered a top. It is said that on a clear day, you can see gangetic planes and Kedar and Badrinath from this top, but I doubt if any day can be clear at this height. Here the view of the adjoining hills a-al-a mountains is awesome, my goodness, Paharis are very lucky. This is paradise on earth. I am not good enough to describe this beauty. It was nature and you alone. But we had to get back and join office on Monday. We started down at 10-30 but the descent also took some time and we reached down at Nauradhar at 4-30 PM at took our lunch (?). After this Solan is another at least 2-2.30 hrs. drive. From Solan we drove back to Kurukshtera and U was kind enough to serve dinner at 11-30.PM. After supper Delhi was only 2-30 AM.

Do remember:

1) Nauradhar to Churdhar is a good 18 KMs. Climb, but its negotiable even with children. Remember no porters and ponies.

2) Don’t forget to take your initial ration of 2 litres of water per head.

3) Take some biscuits with you.

4) The most difficult part is the initial climb, so start early and give yourself time to relax after each 15 minutes.

5) If possible stay in Nauradhar>Rajgarh>Solan for night so that you can start the climb early.

6) If starting early from Nauradhar, go to the hilltop straight and then come to the Temple and stay for night there. If starting very late from Nauradhar (A/N) , then halt in Tissri and in the morning start before 6, go straight to temple and then to the top. From top no need to come back to the temple, rather come to Tissri direct.

7) Do not forget to take a sweater.

8) Try a shoe that has good grips.

9) Rains? It’s a big problem during the trek.

10)Delhi-Nauradhar is exactly 280 KMs.

Some Fotos