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.