Travel Diaries

Himachal Trip, Day 5 : Journey to the end of the Trip(Prashar Lake)

With the dawn of 3rd May,2017,we entered the last lap of our journey.Usually,the final leg makes you run faster,as there is an evermore drive to reach the destination.However,that day none of us were in a hurry.We woke up in the morning taking our own sweet time,got ready and checked out of the hotel at around 10.We were just left with one last spot and then it was time to head back home.

Prashar lake is 50 km north of Mandi town,with a three storied pagoda-like temple dedicated to sage Prashar. The lake is located at a height of 2730 metre above sea level. As per beliefs,sage Prashar meditated  here and hence the lake is regarded as sacred.The temple dates back to 13th century and the lake has a floating island,depth of which has not been ascertained so far.

Prashar Lake

According to mythology,the lake was formed by Pandavas (characters from Mahabharata),when they were on their way after the war with Deity Kamrunag and hence the entire valley is called Kamru valley.On the request of Deity Kamurang,Bheema(one of the Pandava brothers) formed the lake by pushing the peak of the mountain with his elbow and forearm and that is the reason it is believed that the lake is oval-shaped.

There are two ways to reach Prashar – a trek of 7.5 Km that starts from Baggi village(26 Km from Mandi) and a motor road that ends half a Kilometre before the lake. Of course,after showcasing my exceptional trekking skills on the expedition to Bijli Mahadev,my friends wouldn’t have taken the risk to make me slog through the trek (also,we were running short of time). So,instead we opted for the motor road and drove all the way to the top of the valley.

The view that you get to witness on the way to Prashar is extraordinarily breathtaking. Surrounded by Dhauladhar ranges,the lake is a hidden gem in the lap of Kullu valley. In case, you want to have an elaborate breakfast, be sure to make a stop at Mandi. However we,in our eagerness to reach the destination skipped our breakfast,after which Geetu literally had to force the driver to halt the car in front a small kiosk while driving up the valley. Even though there were limited options,yet after taking eons we finally decided the menu. Priya didn’t take anything as he was aware of the existence of the temple. Ankur and I,on the other hand,had eggs for breakfast.Later,on getting to know of the temple visit,we were left dumbfounded with mouthful of eggs,not being able to comprehend if we should eat any further. 😛

On the way to Prashar Lake

After having a sumptuous breakfast,we made our move and reached Prashar at around 12.00 in the afternoon. The weather on the top got chillier and we had to bring out our jackets(which we conveniently removed when we had to click pictures with the scenic backdrop).The temple architecture is extremely beautiful with intricate carvings and legend has that it was built from the bark of a single tree. Also,the lake has a patch of grass which moves from one end to the other with the change of weather.

We offered our prayers and after clicking innumerable pictures (as this was our last destination),we had some delicious Rajma-Chawal  in one of the kiosk’s.Even though,we were quite full after the breakfast,yet the Rajma-Chawal  were too tempting to resist ( ‘pahadi Rajma-Chawal ‘ are a must try when you visit Himachal).With this we ticked off the last spot of our itinerary and then made our way back to Chandigarh.On our trip back home,we further made two more stops. First stop was in Mandi to have ‘Dham’ (Himachal meal served in traditional occasions). ‘Dham’ is a ‘thali consisting of a variety of mouthwatering delicacies of the state(again a must have).That was our third meal within a span of 6 hours and I am sure after the trip we all gained our fair share of holiday weight. 😛

We made our second stop at Priya’s place in Sundar Nagar,which was formerly a princely state known as Suket. The name ‘Sundar Nagar’ completely justifies the heavenly beauty that the place beholds.After meeting Priya’s family and having a round of tea and snacks,it was finally time to head back home.The journey back was comparatively quieter, probably because all of us were tired and also because the trip had come to an end. Time truly flies and at that moment the five days felt like the blink of an eye.

Dham (Traditional Himachal delicacy)

When we first started planning the trip,for me the main motive was to meet Bharti and also to get content for my travel blog. Also,in my mind I had outlined this travelogue in a way where it was more about places than the people involved.But,after the trip as I started writing,I wanted it to be more about the six people who were part of this trip,because let’s be honest,in today’s world memories do tend to fade,friends become acquaintances and life moves on.So,I wanted every small detail of our trip to be etched in a way where I could come back and revisit the beautiful moments time and again.

We spent the next day in Chandigarh roaming around the city, gorging on delicious street food and then finally winding up our trip with a movie and a dinner of lip-smacking amritsari naan and lassi. On 5th of May,Harshada and I took our flights to Mumbai and Pune respectively,thus officially ending the trip.I went on this trip with a small duffel bag (after much persuasion from Bharti and Priya),but came back with another suitcase full of timeless treasures of memory.

It has been more than a month since we came back from the trip and yet it feels like yesterday when we all met.Of course, now all of us are busy in our respective lives,heading in different directions and probably won’t be able to meet soon or might take a trip again,yet I won’t be able to forget the splendid days,our sometimes silly and sometimes mature conversations,the laughs,the happiness and the friendship. I dedicate this blog series to the five lovely people (Bharti,Priya, Ankur, Geetu and Harshada) for making this trip happen and giving me some dear memories. 🙂

I hope my readers enjoyed reading the travelogue as much as I savored writing it. I will soon be back with more travel stories.Till then,happy reading .. 🙂

 

 

 

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Himachal Trip, Day 4 :Exploring the heart of Beas and the peak of Bijli Mahadev

I woke up startled, as the earsplitting noise of the doorbell broke my slumber.It was 9.00 a.m. on 2nd of May and having slept at 6.00 in the morning,I was hardly in a mood to wake up.I turned and looked at Harshada who was staring at me through tired and sleepy eyes.We both knew that it was Bharti ringing the doorbell,to wake us up,so none of us actually made the effort to climb out of the bed and open the door. 😛 But,Bharti didn’t give up in just one attempt. She kept ringing the doorbell in every ten minutes until Harshada finally gave up and opened the door. 😀

Even though we were awake by then,yet we didn’t have the energy to pull ourselves up and start getting ready.So, after lazying around for a while,I finally decided to hit the shower (giving Harshada some more time to doze off),since we were already running late.As soon as I got dressed,I went out into the corridor and found Bharti,Ankur and Geetu,all in readiness and deep in conversation.“Oh, did I mention that Ankur and Geetu finally resolved their differences.” Yes, Ankur apologized to Geetu a night before,under the lame and clichéd cover up of returning her towel (the idea was Priya’s brainchild).But,no matter how played-out the idea was,it did end the cold war between them. 😛

By the time Harshada and Priya got ready,we had a round of photography session and then checked out of the hotel. Our first destination was Hadimba temple,in Manali,which is an ancient cave temple dedicated to Hidimba Devi,wife of Bhīma (characters from the epic tale of Mahabharata).The temple is surrounded by cedar forest and is built around a cave,where,as per beliefs Hidimba used to perform meditation.I,personally love architectures/monuments which have some kind of historical significance to them.This 500 year old temple has a wooden pagoda,with beautiful and intricate carved wooden doors and walls.Inside the temple,the imprint of the feet of Goddess Hidimba,carved on a stone,is worshiped.Though,there is a huge queue for darshan,the temple is a must visit for being one of its kind.

Hadimba Temple,Manali

After our darshan,we headed straight for our next venture i.e.river rafting.Now,if you are visiting Kullu Manali,this adventure sport should be on the top of your itinerary.It surely topped our itinerary,after the failed paragliding experience. 😛 You will find various drop points,between Manali and Kullu from where the rafting starts.The prices vary according to the distance covered (you have the option of 3 km, 7 km or 9 km).We opted for the 7 km rafting and paid around 750 bucks per head.

River Rafting, Kullu Manali

As soon as we got down at the starting point,we were unable to hold our excitement any further.After inquiring about the details and making the payment,we made our way to the changing rooms just across the road and switched to ensemble suitable for rafting.The instructors helped us gear up in life jackets and made us sit on the raft,adjusting us according to our weights.What followed next was the do’s and don’ts by the instructor and then we were ready to go.We asked our cab driver to meet us at the end point as we would have no means to contact him once we were out of the water.

The river seemed quite tranquil,compared to the spine-tingling experience awaiting us.With the first splash of the cold water, all six of us shrieked in unison.The water was cold and numbing to the nth degree and the thought, that we have to endure the ice cold water for another 7 km gave us goose bumps. However,the experience was thrilling beyond words. Actually,it would be more apt if I say the entire cruise was maddening. 😀 We were holding on to the safety ropes frantically as the boat moved through the rapids and bumped on the rocks.

By the time we were done with rafting,we could no more feel our limbs.But,the instructor continued to splash water on us until we climbed out of the boat.It was finally a relief to be out of the freezing water and to stand under the sun.We then started searching for our driver as we desperately needed to change into dry clothes.But wait, where was our driver? He was supposed to be at the end point by then.And,there we were standing drenched,in soggy clothes,looking clueless like lost puppies.It took our driver another half an hour to reach the end point (he misunderstood our instruction and was waiting for us at the start point instead) and by that time we had a run down on all the worst scenarios that could have happened. 😛

Thankfully, none of our over imaginative thoughts came into existence and after getting a change of clothes, we made our way to the next destination,“Bijli Mahadev”.Out of all the places that we had visited till then,I believe this trek was the most exhilarating (though I had almost given up halfway through the foot-slog).The trek for “Bijli Mahadev” starts from Kullu and a road of 12 km has been constructed to the temple (we covered the distance by car).This road stops 3 km before the temple,from where the actual hiking starts.Best time for trekking to Bijli Mahadev temple is during day, as the weather is pleasant and amicable. However,as we had other places to visit,we got delayed and  it was 4.30 p.m. by the time we started our trek.

On the way to Bijli Mahadev

 

View from top of Bijli Mahadev

The temple of Bijli Mahadev,is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is at an altitude of 2,460 meters overlooking the Parvati valley.It is said that lightening hits the temple breaking the Shivling into pieces and every time this happens the temple priest joins the Shivling with ghee and satoo (with not a single crack visible).As per beliefs,it is said that Lord Shiva is the guardian of the valley as he bears the brunt of every thunderstorm.

Temple of Bijli Mahadev

At the beginning of the trek,I assumed that I would easily manage the hike.But, soon after 15 minutes I was winded and it was getting extremely difficult for me to walk any further.I looked at my friends who were around 10-15 steps above me and thought of walking back down to the car. 😛 But as they say friends never leave you alone. So they stood there, motivating me,every time I fell back in step.In fact, Ankur literally dragged me after a certain point and kept walking with me till we reached the top (this also gave us the opportunity to click lots of pictures on the way).

The moment we reached the top of the valley, the view became so captivating, that we actually forgot all our fatigue. We were at the peak of the mountain and it was just the six of us,surrounded by distant snow-capped mountains,untouched natural beauty, green meadows and clouds that seemed to kiss the mountain top. Also, as it was time for sunset,the temperature dropped to 0°C and it became extremely difficult to bear the cold weather. Still the mesmerizing view was enough of a motivation to keep us there. After the temple visit,we went to one of the kiosk,where a lady was selling eatables.We gave her the maggi packets that we carried with us and ask her to prepare the same along with some tea. Till the time our food was getting ready,we sat around the fire bustling in the middle of the kiosk to save ourselves from freezing to death. 😀

Once the food was ready, we hurriedly gulped it down,as it was getting dark and we had to climb down the valley (sprawled with pine-tree forest) and also because the cold wind was giving us jitters. As I started getting down with my two left feet,I slipped and fell down,after which Priya had to hold my hands and make me climb down the entire valley (so much for being an independent adult). 😛 We made our way down in the dark with the help of the flash lights from our phones,but every small sound from the jungle was making us scared and jumpy(Ankur even started seeing silhouettes in the dark).

It was 8 by the time we got back to our car .The drive to our hotel in Kullu was a quiet one as all of us were dog tired after the long,venturous day.An hour or so later,we checked into ‘Hotel Aroma Classic’ and straightaway went into our rooms to freshen up and lie down for a while. It was the last night of our trip and from next day onward there wouldn’t be any hotel stays or card games,no late night gossips and no banters.Just one last destination and then it was time to go back to reality. The dreamlike trip was coming to an end and there was nothing we could do to hold back time.

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Himachal Trip,Day3 : And the mountains echoed(From Manikaran to Manali)

It was 12 a.m. on the 1st of May,when we reached Bhuntar. Our journey from Bir to Bhuntar was a quiet one,as Ankur,Geetu and I were asleep for a large part of it.I guess,the three of us were the most bummed out after the epic paragliding failure. 😛 On the other hand,Priya,Bharti and Harshada recovered from the stupor way more faster than us.In reality,Priya already had a hunch about the entire catastrophe(well,you do get that kind of experience after two failed attempts :P) and came back to the happy-go-lucky mode in double-time.I,on the other hand was almost dopey and would come back to my senses only when my head would hit the glass window. 😀

The road from Bir to Bhuntar was so curvy that it was a hard-won task to even sit straight for a minute.However,Ankur well accomplished the job,by not only sitting upright but also sleeping without a headrest throughout the journey(I believe,you are seldom left with a choice when you are sitting in between two girls whom you have met just two days back. And of course,lolling over them while you are asleep,is definitely not a good idea. 😛 ).

We made a stop in Mandi and had our dinner at Hotel Rajamahal Palace. The hotel is located in the heart of Mandi town,near Indira market.The palace was earlier a Royal Family residence and later converted into a hotel in 1982.If you are in Mandi,do make a stop for some comfort food and also check out the market nearby.After having our dinner,we headed straight to Bhuntar without making any further stop along the way, as it was quite late and we all were dead tired.

We checked into Hotel Amit in Bhuntar and as it was past midnight,even the receptionist didn’t bother to go through all the mandatory check-in procedures and simply handed over the keys.Now,you would think that after such a tiring and unfavorable day we would actually go to sleep,but we stayed awake till 2 in the night,playing cards and having fun conversations.Though the conversations did take a bizzare turn,when suddenly out of nowhere,Ankur and Geetu got into a silly fight and didn’t talk for the next 24 hours.If this seems like a serious happenstance,then let me clear out that the next morning the incident took a funny turnabout and till date we laugh at the memory of it. 😀

View from Hotel Amit,Bhuntar

In the morning,we checked out of Amit at around 11 and made our way to Manikaran. Manikaran is located 35 km from Bhuntar and is famous for its hot boiling sulphur springs. It is also a pilgrimage area for both Hindus and Sikhs,which is located on the right bank of blustering Parvati river.Words cannot do justice to the beauty of the journey from Bhuntar to Manikaran. As we drove through the serpentine road along the Parvati river,the view on our left looked exactly like the landscape illustrations from our childhood paintings with gigantic lush green mountains and the bubbling river below it.While on the other side were the rocky mountains making our drive tricky.

On the way to Manikaran

We reached the ‘Gurdwara’ at 12.30 in the afternoon and headed straight for ‘darshan’.After offering our prayers,we went for the ‘langar’ served in the ‘Gurdwara’. The food here is cooked in the natural boiling hot water from the sacred spring and though simple,tastes heavenly.Afterwards,we visited the courtyard of the ‘Shiva’ temple where we could see many hot water springs.The water is so hot that it is difficult to stand barefoot on the temple grounds and hence wooden planks are kept for the devotees to move around.Here,you can buy small rice sacks and boil it in the spring water.You can see many such sacks tied around the hot spring’s opening and also large earthen pots are kept in which the ‘langar’ is cooked.

Manikaran Sahib

Hot water springs of Manikaran

Behind the ‘Gurdwara’ is a bustling market,selling trinkets just like any other pilgrimage place.After strolling in the markets for sometime,we decided to head to our next destination,”Manali”.On our way back,we made a stop at the hippie village of Kasol to explore its markets and Israeli cafes.Though we were quite full after the ‘langar’,yet we couldn’t stop ourselves from gorging on some yummy cafe food and mocktails. Also,while you are in Kasol do check out the small shops selling colorful dream-catchers,jackets,trinkets etc and you might lay your hands on some unique stuff. 😉

After spending an hour or so in Kasol,we made a move to Manali. The drive from Kasol to Manali was again filled with our silly talks,laughter and some soothing songs from coke studio playing in the background. It was close to 7  in the evening by the time we checked into our hotel in Manali.

The beautiful KASOL
Sunshine Cafe, Kasol

Kasol market

Hotel Chetna & Cottages had one of the most amazing views amongst all our stays in Himachal. We had the entire top floor of the hotel to ourselves as all the three rooms were booked by us.It was like having our own personal space, overlooking the pine-tree forests and the snow-capped Himalayan mountains.The rooms were utterly cozy providing us relief from the freezing temperature outside.

Snow-capped mountains on the way to Manali
Hotel Chetna & Cottages,Manali
View from Hotel Chetna

As it was already dark till the time we freshened up,we decided to hangout in the famous mall road market.We walked from our hotel to the mall road instead of driving and on our way stopped along the stalls for some window shopping.Though there are multiple options to shop but everything is quite overpriced and can easily be found elsewhere at a lesser price.

With time,the temperature started dropping further and it was getting extremely difficult to stay out with a single jacket covering us.But like every other group we had two insane people with us (Harshada and Ankur),who were adamant to try out the 7 in 1 flavoured ice-cream and even the bitter cold couldn’t dwindle their enthusiasm.:P After we all had our share of munching,we rushed back to our hotel(this time we took autos).Even though we were extremely tired but as usual after freshening up we settled for our round table conference of late night gossips and card games.

By 2 a.m. all of us were extremely drowsy and Geetu and Bharti finally gave up and called it a night,while Harshada,Priya,Ankur and I kept our conversations going till dawn and none of us had even the slightest hint of sleep in our eyes.That was one of the best tête-à-tête I had in a while and  probably one of the finest piece of memories I gathered in the entire trip,something that I will reminiscence in the days to come. 🙂

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Himachal Trip, Day 2 : The Successful Failed expedition to Bir Billing

The journey of life is not meant to be feared or planned; it is meant to be travelled and enjoyed.”

The morning of 30th April brought heavy rainfalls and thunderstorm along with it.Our plan that day was to visit Bir Billing. Bir,is a small village in Himachal Pradesh which is famous worldwide for hosting the first ever world-cup of paragliding.

As we heard the clouds roaring,our spirits took a dip,since all six of us were insanely looking forward to the experience of paragliding.Still,with hope in our hearts we waited for the rains to subside and prayed for a clear weather.And,miraculously by the time we all got ready to leave,the rains had died away and the sun was shining bright in the sky(weather in mountains can be quite deceiving,so do check the forecast before making your visit).

Soon as the weather cleared,we checked out of the hotel and headed to our destination(though we were still skeptical about the climatic conditions in Bir).On the way we stopped at a small dhaba by the name ‘Osho’ and had a mouthwatering breakfast of ‘parathas’  and ‘chole-puri’. As it was a random stop along the way,I don’t remember the exact location of the dhaba. But,if you are able to spot this joint in between Dharamshala and Bir,then do try the delicious ‘chole-puri’.Once we finished the mighty fine breakfast,we boarded the car and made our way to Bir.

“You know what’s the best part about travelling with friends?”It is the memories that you create in the journey,the sound of the giggles that will make you smile even in your dullest days and the moments that will keep you company when there is no one around.Though we were heading to our destination with the hope of gaining an adventurous experience,but little did we know,that we were about to gain so much more and so much better.

Billing,is a valley 14 kms north of Bir and is the launch site for the para-gliders.It is at a height of 2430 meters (above the sea level).The road to the top of the valley is quite narrow and treacherous and it takes approximately an hour or so to reach the paragliding site.As you start scaling height,the beauty of Bir begins to uncover.So,do make sure you are awake through the entire journey and don’t decide to take an itsy-bitsy nap before your take-off. 😉

As soon as we started nearing the destination,our excitement reached it’s peak.In the beginning we were unable to see any para-gliders(from below the valley)but still we decided to go to the launch site and confirm for ourselves.However,as we started climbing the valley,one by one we were able to see multiple para-gliders soaring high above in the sky.The sight of those gliders made all of us highly optimistic(Geetu and Ankur more as they were seeing the gliders in triplets :P).

Once we reached the top of the valley,the view became even more spectacular and mesmerizing.The green valley,cool breeze and along with it numerous para-gliders getting ready to make their flight created a picturesque sight.The multicoloured parachutes,gave a kaleidoscopic image of various birds flying across the valley and the view from the top was breath-taking.

After few customary rounds of photographs,we approached one of the pilots to enquire about the details of paragliding and that is where the fun began.To our dismay,we were informed that the booking counter was all the way down,next to the landing site and we needed to make our bookings before climbing the valley.This was our first setback.However,we requested the pilots to make some arrangement as it was not possible for us to go all the way down,do our bookings and then come back again. The pilot agreed to assist us and accept the payment on the spot,but for that we had a minimum wait time of two hours( it was already 2.30 p.m by then).

As we had set aside the major chunk of the day for paragliding,we consented with the pilot and decided to wait for the stipulated time.Now,with all the time in the world and nowhere to run,it was best few hours of our trip. All we had was the panoramic view,the serene surroundings,a camera in hand and each other’s company.In future,whenever I will reminiscence about these days,I believe,this is the time I would come back to,again and again.

We spent approximately three hours on the top of the valley and all we did was talk,become an audience to other para-gliders and of course click zillion pictures.It has been more than two weeks,but it feels just like yesterday,when we were chatting,cracking jokes and laughing together while making the effort to know each other.

As the time passed,the weather got chillier and we could see the black clouds making a reappearance.We again started dreading the bad weather and hoped to get done with parasailing before the thunderstorms arrived. At 5.30 p.m.,we called our designated pilots to enquire about how much more we need to wait and just at the same moment they showed up on the spot and announced that it was our turn next.

Though all of us were highly excited,but as the time came to sign the declaration,our hearts started thrumming.Now,no matter how much thrilling and electrifying it may seem,jumping from a height of 2430 meters,will surely give you chills and that is what happened with us( I believe me and Priya were having more of a cold feet as compared to others).

After completing all the formalities,we followed our pilots to the launch site. All six of us were assigned one pilot each and soon they started gearing us up for the flight.While all my friends were fully strapped into their respective parachutes,I was the only one standing with my parachute safely piled up next to my feet(as my pilot suddenly decided to disappear). 😛 And,being the only one devoid of the harness,I had to move around and click my friend’s pictures.

Gradually, all the pilots moved to one corner and started discussing in hushed voices and me and my saddled friends(so glad I was not wearing the parachute at this time) were surveying them with puppy faces.After a while,one of the pilots came back and informed us that the gliding cannot take place as the weather conditions were not favourable and it might start raining anytime.

All hell broke loose as we realised that we won’t be able to experience the thrill of paragliding for which we had been waiting since the day we planned the trip. 🙁 We still stayed back for another half an hour in the hope that the weather would clear but then decided to make a move as we had to visit the “Palampur monastery”.

It felt just like the “successful failed expedition of Apollo 13 to the moon”, failed because we missed the experience for a matter of few hours,but successful because paragliding or no paragliding,the time we spent added many more treasured moments to our “bucket of memories”.

On our way back we visited the beautiful Palampur monastery,which is just next to the landing site.As soon as we reached there,on cue it started raining(with sleet showers) and after roaming around for a while,we headed to our next destination,”Bhuntar”.

Stay tuned to know about further happenings from Day 3 of the “Himachal Trip”.Till then enjoy the pictures from Day 2. See you in the next blog . 😉

 

Palampur Monastery

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Himachal Trip, Day 1: The Magic of McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala

Hello Readers,

I am finally back from my much needed vacation to Himachal Pradesh. Though it was a five day long trip,yet it seemed to pass by so quickly that I was left yearning for more.The mountainous Himalayas,the breath-taking views,the scenic routes and the company of some great friends made my trip mesmerizing.I really wish I had a time machine,so that I could relive the beautiful days again and again. However,this is no Hogwarts,so owning a time machine is quite not possible(neither practical). 😛 But as I write this post, I am getting a chance to reminiscence the picture perfect days of my trip and it feels as good as travelling back in time.

There were six of us in the trip,me,Bharti,Harshada,Ankur,Priyavrat(Priya)and Geetika(Geetu).Before I dive into the details of the first day,let me give you a brief background of the people involved and how we came together and planned the trip. Harshada and I (both of us work together) were travelling from Pune,Geetu(Bharti’s sister) from Hyderabad and Ankur and Priya(Bharti’s friends) and Bharti from Chandigarh. Bharti being our mutual friend,we decided to make a stay at her place(in Chandigarh) before we head on our road trip.So,as per present trip norms,we formed a whatsapp group a month before the trip so that all of us can interact and plan our travel and get to know each other.

A day before the trip,i.e on 28th April,2017,Harshada,Geetu and I took our respective flights to Chandigarh. The one month of excitement,anticipation and day dreaming was finally taking its shape.Also,there was the eagerness of reuniting with an old friend(Bharti) and making some new ones (Ankur,Priya and Geetu).As scheduled,Harshada and I reached Chandigarh at 5 PM in the evening. Geetu arrived the next morning at 4 AM ( 2 hours before the trip started),as her flight was till Delhi and she was unable to find a connecting transport to Chandigarh on time(courtesy to the long weekend).

After a warm welcome and evening snacks at Bharti’s place,we went to Sukhna Lake where we met Priya. The evening passed by chatting and revisiting old days.We returned back home,had a yummy dinner prepared by Bharti’s mom,indulged in some late night talks and then crashed for the night as we had to start early next morning.

The next morning,i.e. 29th April,we all were ready and packed to leave by 6.00 AM.We had booked a seven seater Toyota Innova for our trip. Due to delay from the cab driver’s end,it was 8 by the time we left Chandigarh.This day we met Ankur,the sixth and final member of our trip. As soon as we all met,it felt like we had known each other for ages and no where it seemed as if some of us were meeting for the first time.The road trip started with all of us blabbering,cracking jokes,fighting for desired seats and playing our choicest music.As I look back to the day,it seems I am remembering the scenes of a well-formed movie and such was the start of the mind-blowing five days of our trip.

The first destination was McLeod Ganj,Dharamshala in Himachal. As we were already delayed while leaving Chandigarh,we decided to have breakfast on our way.After all,the trip would have been incomplete without gorging on some delicious dhaba food <3.We stopped at a small dhaba in Una (a district in Himachal Pradesh that shares its border with the Hoshiarpur District and Rupnagar district of Punjab) and had a full filling breakfast comprising of ‘tandoori parathas’ and  ‘curd’.It was 11.00 AM by the time we left the dhaba,so we decided not to make any further stops till we reach Dharamshala.

As soon as we started nearing our first destination,the beauty of the Himalayan mountains began to unfold and we were caught up in the spell of the snow-capped mountains,the cool wind and the Pine tree forests.On our way we also had a religious sighting of a group of married women,all dressed in yellow ensemble walking down the streets carrying ‘matkas’,heading for some traditional ritual.I couldn’t stop myself from taking out my camera and clicking as many pictures as I can of the beautiful roads,the gigantic mountains,the panoramic views and the lovely people.Few of the pictures in the blog are taken from Ankur’s iPhone,where I was not quick enough to take out the DSLR and click the picture on time(Thank you Ankur for helping me out with the same!!).

It was 2.00 in the afternoon by the time we checked into ‘Hotel Aakriti’.All the bookings were done in advance and we had carried enough water bottle crates,juices,energy drinks and snacks to last throughout the journey as we had long travel hours.All these arrangements were looked after by Priya and thanks to him the trip went by quite smoothly.It was 3.00 by the time we freshened up and left the hotel to explore the town.Our plan was to visit the Bhagsunag temple and the waterfall and then explore the markets of McLeod Ganj,Dharamshala in the evening.

Bhagsunag is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and is 2km from the town of McLeod Ganj. From the temple,a trek of about 1.5 km leads you to the Bhagsunag waterfall,where cold water springs out of the fall and the enthralling view from the top leaves you spell bound. Instead of driving till the temple we decided to park our car in the market area and walk to the fall. That way we got to explore the place in a better way.

Before we began our trek,we had our meal in the Mc’llo restaurant situated in the main market square.If you are here,do visit the place for some authentic Tibetan food and take a seat on the top floor of the restaurant for the cool view.Once we were finished feasting on a sumptuous meal comprising of Thukpa( must try),Pizza,Veg Noodles and cold coffee,we started walking towards our destination.Talking, singing, clicking pictures we finally reached the water fall. As soon as we were there,we removed our shoes and dipped our feet in the cold water. The water was so cold that it felt like standing barefoot on shards of ice.However,no matter how cold the water was,we thoroughly enjoyed the part.There are stalls on the top where you can have the famous ‘pahado wali maggi’ and ‘hot coffee’ to beat the cold.

We spent few hours on the top and then made our way back to visit the market area.On the way down you will find small stalls selling trinkets,silver jewelleries,warm clothes,jackets etc. There are many stalls selling colorful dream catchers as well,and if you are good at bargaining,then you can get all this stuff at reasonable rates. 😉

After roaming around in the market for few hours and having a dinner of ‘pahadi momos’,we called it a day and left for the hotel.Later at night we gathered in Ankur and Priya’s room to play the card and board games that we had carried along with us. As the day ended,we bonded some more,talking,making fun of each other,playing and having some serious life discussions. So,at the end of Day 1,we were no more strangers,but great friends in making and with this the first episode of the my Himachal travel blog comes to an end.

There are many other spots like the monasteries and Dharamshala stadium which you can visit.However, as we had only five days in our hand and lots of places to cover,we decided to visit the ones we found the most interesting.Clearly,one day is not enough to explore the beauty of Dharamshala. So, before visiting do research on the places you want to cover and plan accordingly.

As of now I will stop writing here. Check out the pictures of Day 1 below and leave your lovely comments and feedback. I will soon be back with other posts from my Himachal travel diaries. 🙂

Till then,HAPPY WEEKEND !! 🙂 🙂

 

Mc’llo Cafe

 

On the way to Bhagsunag

 

 

From Left (Geetu,Ankur,Priyavrat,Bharti,Harshada)

 

Path leading to waterfall

 

Bhagsunag Waterfall

 

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