Sunday, October 07, 2007


I was longing for a break for the last three months, things were going really awesome at my workplace and the four-corners were making me sick. It was a pure coincident when 3-4 of my friends mentioned that they were planning to go to Hemkund and Valley of Flowers and they had deliberately kept me out. Any way I made up my mind and clubbed my two day leave with Gandhi Jayanti thereby making a long weekend of 5 days, packed our bags and on the eve of our departure, we received the news that the roads towards Hemkund are all blocked due to heavy rains. Things were sinking. Suddenly the idea of going towards Chakrata flashed in my mind, I had no information at that hour except the route plan. Any way we left Delhi at 8 in the morning towards Panipat-Karnal-Yamunanagar-PaonataSahib-Kalsi-Chakrata. On this route are situated Hathnikund Barrage, a very ambitious hydel project of Haryana and Paonta Sahib, a historical Sikh Shrine.

We easily reached Kalsi at around 1 noon and took a break to visit the Rock Edict of “Asoka the Great”. The traffic towards Chakrata is regulated through gates and 2 PM was the gate time when we moved towards Chakrata.

I could not believe my eyes; Chakrata is situated on one of the best locations in the hills. One side of the hills is covered with grass that gives the hills a very special look like the meadows and the other side is forest laden. Really wonderous. The town is very small with no good hotels (except Snow-view) and literally no Hill-Station type Restaurants but the weather was very pleasing.Tiger Falls situated nearby is an excellent excursion for one day you can trek 5 KMs or drive down+ trek 1.5 KMs. They say it is one of the highest waterfalls in India. Be it or not the place is really good. I wonder why Government is ignoring this place. The place can be converted in to an excellent picnic spot.

Kanasar Forest and Deoban are the other places that can be visited nearby. But due to a minor accident we had to cut short the trip and return immediately and could not visit Deoban and Kanasar.

I compare this place with Lansdowne but Chakrata is certainly a better and cool place.

I stayed there for two nights but enjoyed my stay.

Some pictures of the trip are available here: CHAKRATA.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Kanwar Time

Some times cultures change very fast. We never heard anything like Kanwar up till 1995. After coming to Delhi these men started catching my attention.

Today their numbers are growing exponentially, They come pouring in millions. The most amazing fact is that they cross Delhi after traversing some 250-300 KMs. and go even farther.

They are supposed to be the devotees of "SHIV JI" but mostly they are mischief mongers, carrying base-ball bats and hockey-sticks in their hands, hitting and pushing any one coming in their way. They bring the life in East Delhi and Highway Districts, like Meerut and Ghaziabad, of UP to a standstill. The state Govts. set up large camps and feed them on tax payers money.
They are Kanwariyas:

Standing on road and watching the Kanwariya with colorful giant Kanwar is really a feast for the eyes.

I suppose in a year or two they will become a tourist attraction like the "Pandharpur Yatra"
Some more photos of this interesting phenomenon are available HERE.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Rishikesh again

I don't know what keeps me calling back to the mountains and splashing water streams.
Morning and once again I was on the banks of holy Ganga. This time we had plans to spend day 1 at Neer garh, Vashishth Gufa, sandy beaches and day 2 at Nilkanth and Garud chatti.
Fore noon at the Neer Garh waterfalls was excellent and while coming back one of our partners, Phl, fractured his arm badly. We had to cancel all plans and return immediately.
Some of the Fotos of this very short trip are available here.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

A very long morning walk.

Walking is a great pleasure. you can enjoy early morning walk as much as you enjoy your extended weekend tours in the mountains or old forts. For me walking around my place is a great pleasure, I have done long walks around Kurukshetra looking for "Kos Minars", old temples, excavation sites etc.
But this time I decided to explore the country side and walk along the railway track to a full 25 kms., up to Shahbad markanda in hot May. My friend Mj also came.
We started at 4-15 in the morning watched the sun coming up,
villagers going out in the fields, Parakeets and Mynas screaming, Sun flowers blooming

and finally Mj spraining his ankle after 10-12 KMs. I managed to load him on a bullock cart and and then on to a local train and kept walking. It took me around 5 hours but the last one hour aws really hot. Any way it was a great fun.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Village Heritage

It was a free day for me, I had the option of idling my day at my place or to go out and see the newly conceptualised brainchild of the Kurukshetra University : DHAROHAR.
It is a theme museum based on the village heritage of a typical Haryanvi village. It is near the auditorium, in the department of fine arts' old building. The effort is really commedable and has really making a wonderful theme museum. The museum basically has a collection of all the things of use for a self reliant village community. All the implements used for centuries and made from simple available resources, by the local artisans are on display here. It is worth mention here that most of these implements that were used by the farmers, weavers, potters, cobblers, iron-smiths, masons and gold-smiths etc. have totally become extinct(can not use obsolete) and can not be seen in use almost anywhere in Haryana and Punjab at least. Dharohar is the only place to see all these things under one roof. Last generation was totally dependent on thes implements, present generation has seen them disappering in the last 15 years only and the next generation will never see some of these. It is impossible these days to find an old regular wooden plough, leave aside a farmer ploughing his fields. Our children will only see these things in the museums.
Apart from this the museum houses a very well laid out typical and nearly identical kitchen(centuries old design no more used after 1990s) of a Haryanvi house hold.
A variety of Haryanavi wears and wares are on display.
The place is definitely worth a visit for anyone passing through Kurukshetra, 160 kms from Delhi on the GT Road towards Ambala.
The mention of this museum will not be complete without a special attention to the photgallery of one Mr. Raj kishore Nain, he has done excellent work in photographing the culture of Haryana. His phtographs are on display on the first floor.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

To Vaishno Devi

Last weekend I decided to drive down all the way to Vaishno Devi Temple right from Delhi. This drive turned out to be a new experience, new lessons and new self promises for me. I was travelling with my family in a car. Friday evening, I left for Kurukshetra after office. Left Kurukshetra Saturday morning by 8-15, here I Faulted, I miscalculated the distance as 400 kms. but had to drive 500 kms. to Katra, near Jammu, the base for the climb. It was 7-15 PM when we reached Katra but the sight of Trikuta mountain fills any one with fresh blood. Parked the car in a private hotel parking, they charge 50/- per day, and immediately started the climb. We did not take any help, carried our every thing along with a three year old, weather was perfect, reached the destination at 2-30 AM. Had our Darshans and hired ponies for Bhairon Ghati and down up to Adhkuanri and reached there 7-00 AM. From here we walked up to Ban Ganga and then a auto rickshaw for 30/- upto the parking.
Here I decided not to sit idle for the day sleeping but to drive back immediately, I was awake whole night after driving 500 kms for a whole day on the dusty 'work in progress' roads. I had hardly reached kahmir highway that involuntary actions of the body started showing up. I slept when the driver of a following bus woke me up by blowing horn furiously, he even warned me after overtaking by hurling a few abuses. Now I decided to try a new thing I slept five times on my way back, when ever I felt like sleeping. I tried every thing, in car, with AC on/off, on a dhaba charpoy, on a table, kids playing in the Dhaba Complex and in the middle of a car full of family members awake. Any how I managed to raech safely taking 3-4 Hrs. extra.
This time I have finally decided not to test my driving abilities against sleep.
Also I forgot to mention that I for the first time, saw the train track being laid in this valley, train will soon reach Katra from Udhampur.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Is DeLHi rEaLly UnSAfe?

Another news story about the rape of a woman.
They are saying that Delhi is unsafe for women. Every news paper and TV channel display terrifying visuals after each incident where a woman is a victim. The way these incidents are projected chills the bones of all women across India. I have not seen one place labelled as safe for women. I come from a small town and a village but I personally did not find anything of special concern, as far as the safety of women is concerned, in Delhi. If two university students are roaming at midnight on a 200 feet wide high speed road and are encountered by four drunkards with criminal bent of mind, what has a city and the police do with this. It is not that the criminals roam in Delhi only but it is very much a fact that single girls generally do not venture out at 2-00 AM on such roads, at any other place. Had it been any other plalce, it would have been the same end result of abduction and rape. What are the parameters for safety of women?
All I want to say is that if Delhi is unsafe for women, so are Dallas and Dispur and also that all the big cities are totally unsafe for all "men and women, children and adults, young and age-old" alike. Further this un(?)safety is not due to vulnerability to criminal acts alone but also to health, psychiatric and social problems.
This label of "UNSAFE FOR WOMEN" gives me a bad taste.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

One day of Hitch-Hiking in Jaisalmer

It all happened when I was on my solo trip to Jaialmer. I reached Sam, famous for the sand dunes, a little late and decided to return after spending an hour or so but no transport was available for Jaisalmer and I wanted to go to “Kuldhara”, a national heritage site. Suddenly a Jeep appeared from nowhere, but the driver told that he will only go to some village only 5-6 kms. Down, towards Jaisalmer. I asked for a lift and suddenly a sub-Inspector of Rajasthan Police came and obliging the officer the driver agreed to take us further down to some 30 kms. from where we were likely to get transport for Jaisalmer. From here the driver changed his plan and decided to go to Jaisalmer. Now I asked the driver to drop me at the Kuldhara road, as I was to go to Kuldhara in each and every case today itself. I told them that I am a tourist and will go to Kuldhara, they were surprised (the driver and the SI). The officer gave me a lecture that this was not the way to go places in Jaisalmer as I was not supposed to find a transport for Kuldhara from the highway and further back to Jaisalmer. He advised me to got Jaisalmer and hire a Taxi for this visit, a good discussion ensued about Hitch-Hiking. I simply gave two arguments, one that I don’t have enough money to hire a taxi and second that if you don’t have money and want to explore places; you have every right to try all tricks. Any way they dropped me at the turn and when I asked the driver about the fare he simply waived his head and "not from you buddy".
I took a deep sigh and looked at Milestone reading “Kuldhara 9 KM”.
Started walking towards the heritage site. I had hardly covered 1-2 kms that sound of a jeep filled me with anxiety (?). I tried for a lift but the jeep did not stop and went past me. I took a long breath and watched the jeep speeding, 100-200-500 meters, brakes, the jeep stopped and back-gear lights came on I ran towards the jeep and stood speechless by the driver window. They enquired all sort of things from me even doubted that I am a tourist and that too alone. Any how they buzzed and obliged. Some how I found some space to hang on to the outer frame of the jeep as a family with dozens of ghoonghat wallah (veiled) women was traveling in this jeep. Again the discussion repeated itself. The driver again said "not from you buddy". This driver was friendlier and even asked me to come back on the road within one hour as he was to return to Jaisalmer via same route and I was not likely to find anything back to Jaisalmer after that.

I entered Kuldhara and got lost in its charm, visited every corner of the village, all the water wells, streets and temple also talked to a local Bheel for some time to get info about the locals. First one hour and then one more passed, I realized that I have missed my lift. Suddenly a maruti car with a Gujrat no. entered this heritage site and the couple in the car went around the village quickly. I waited for them at the exit gate, again found some space on the back seat. They were very excited to learn the adventures of hitch-hiking. They dropped me on the highway and went away towards Sam. It was already six and Jaisalmer was still around 20+ Kms. away From here. The Jeepwallahs were all right I was all alone and did not see a soul for the next half an hour. And suddenly I heard the faint engine sounds of a Rajdoot Motorcycle, again excitement. The sound seemed to be coming towards me from the other direction and after 5 minutes a man with a Kasmiri topi, riding a khatara appeared. I waived my hands and he stopped. He was going to Jaisalmer. He gave me 100 advices (he was a teacher) but dropped me right on the gate of my hotel. The experience was really very adventurous.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Working Women and Income Tax

Budget is out once more. I would like to discuss my concerns about one concession extended to the women particularly in this budget (like every year). The Income Tax exemption for the women has been extended to 1,45,000; but why? I want to point out some facts regarding the socio-economic condition of the women (read working women who pay Income Tax) :
  • Almost 99.99% of the working women in this country are either married to atleast middle level Government Servants or well-off professional or small business-men.
  • Almost every family that has an I.Tax payee woman at least has one more tax payee member.
  • This simply means more tax free income for the well-off families.
  • These days 100% of the working girls find working husbands.
Now my point is why to extend this benefit to the ones already enjoying affluence? Same is the case with senior citizen. Me 34 with the responsiblity of my parents and children on me with Taxable income have no escape from TDS. But the other ones with some what no family responsiblities(senior citizens) and comparatively much less responsiblities (women) are being allowed more tax-free income,
But WHY?
It can be justified when the concessions are for the needy ones like the widows or the divorcees etc. but what is the justification for extending this benefit to all. Am I expected to earn more than the women at my level?
or do they expect that I being a man will be able to raise a loan more easily if a need arises?
I don't mean to offend anyone.
Any comments?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Naini Taal v/s other Popular Hill Stations.

I got a chance to visit NainiTaal and Manali during the last fortnight of 2006. after coming Back, I could not hold myself back from recountimg my experiences of the two trips. It was my third or fourth time in Manali and Manali was as easy going and approachable, as always. The attitude of the Hotel Walahs the local populace is somewhat tolerable. At least they are ready to talk to the budget travellers but NainiTaal, the hotelwallahs are not ready to talk and buzz. My god, not a good sign for the tourism industry in a country like India where a majority of the travellers are back-packers. I shared this experience with a few others some were of the opinion that its only the rates of the Hotels that are on higher side as compared to some other popular hillstations (discovered by the Britishers), but others were of the view that the hotel lobby in NainiTaal want to mantain the tag of the somewhat superior status of Nainitaal. The hoteliers are not ready to let the rooms for less than what they quote once. They say that a certain class of the tourists will always return to NainiTaal year after years, this strata of tourists often comes from high paying capacity class. It is also my personal experience that generally budget class tourists go to Nainitaal area with keys of some cottages or flats of their friends or acquaintances, just to save the room rent.
Any comments?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Gwalior Fort

I was in Gwalior for one day on some official business. Could not resist my temptation for a solo walk to the Gwalior Fort. This was my first time in the Gwalior Fort. There are certain things that I have noticed during this walk in the sun announcing summers.
Gwalior's Bus stand and the Railway Station (out side) are one of the ugliest and filthiest in the country. Fort area is an excellent place for all interested in forts ruins and ruins. But:
*The fort area is not well maintained,
*Archeology people are not doing anything here,
*You immediately come to know why Rajsthan gets more tourists than Gwalior,
*Almost no arrangements of any eating place,
*Even in the fort either you just watch some dilapidated buildings or take a guide, no sign boards or details of anything.
Any way The sight seeing in the Fort suited my tastes and the photos of the trip are available at:

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Village Life

After years, I got a chance to spend some time in my ancestral village this year. Schools were closed for 10 days and kids were free. Although the villages in North-Haryana are quite advanced when it comes to the basic civic amenities(this necessarily means consumerism only), But still the charm of olden days is not completely lost.
Boys still spend some "unaudited" time, out of the reach of vigilance of their mothers.
They still come out from the warmth of the Charpoy, to warm themselves with the flames of freedom.
Women still use the age-old methods of using cow-dung as the best source cooking fuel.
Sugarcane and Wheat still grow.