Tag Archives: Trip

Trip To Remember – Amritsar, Delhi & Agra – Part 4

A quick recap from the blog post in this series. Taking off from Chennai, we landed in Delhi. From there, we embarked upon a journey to one of my dream destination, Amristar via train. Visiting the golden temple was definitely one of the blissful experiences in my life. Then, a long day well spent roaming around Delhi visiting the Lotus Temple and the Akshardham Temple. The last thing I could remember was sleeping on the couch in the hostel’s common area exhausted.

Day 4 – 31st March 2018

We woke up around 3 am and departed to Agra by cab around 4 am. Both Alex & Ali got other plans, but Daniele & Justin paired with us for this trip. Sincere thanks to countless movies and songs references as the symbol of eternal love. Not to mention, the numerous portraits and souvenirs I see in the houses I visit. All these got me curious about this place and always wanted to visit there since my childhood. No introductions needed and yes, you guessed it right. It’s none other than one of the seven wonders of the world, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Taj Mahal.

The Taj Mahal, meaning “Crown of the Palaces” is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan, the builder. The tomb is the centerpiece of a 17-hectare (42-acre) complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall. – Wikipedia

We started quite early with an intention to catch the sheer beauty sun raise over the dome of Taj Mahal. But, unfortunately, we marginally missed it as we reached Agrad only by 7 am. The 230 km long drive along the Yamuna Highway was bit consoling as I got to catch up with some sleep.

Silhouette of the beauty as seen from the Yamuna Highway

No wonder it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. In spite of being there quite early in the morning, we had to wait in a long queue for tickets and security check before entering the premise. It felt overwhelming to see tourists around the globe traveling all the way to catch a glimpse of this beauty. In the meanwhile waiting in the queue something interesting happened. One of the CISF officers managing the security check casually enquired about our whereabouts. After a few mins of conversation, it turned out that his in-laws were the neighbors of Remya and they started discussing the common people they know. Such a small world, isn’t it?

Ticket to the paradise. With QR code.

A few steps ahead welcomed us the gigantic and tall Grand Gate, made of red stones with beautiful marble works. My excitement skyrocketed as we passed the main gateway.

In no time, I got lost in quite a familiar view composed of gardens, fountains and pathway leading to a giant white mausoleum. The same view that got featured in millions of photos, postcards and wallpapers. That’s the mighty Taj Mahal, I told myself for a reality check.

The most familiar view – The Poem Of Eternal Love On White Marble

Here comes the best part. When you go near and realize that it was nothing like what you have imagined all your life. Actually, it was much more huge and majestic than what I have imagined. OMG, the large main dome and the tall minarets, I stood there awestruck by its splendor. My thoughts weren’t around either Shahjahan, not Mumtaz or their eternal love. Rather on the hard work of those awesome artisans, craftsmen and builders who worked relentlessly to create this marvel.

Up close the beast with the beauty

White marbles and intricate inlay works made it look like a poem. As they say, the poem of eternal love on white marble. Our curiosity made us stand in the long queue that leads to the inner chambers of the mausoleum where Shahjahan and Mumtaz rest forever.

The Gang – Smiles on, in spite of a tiring day

By noon we were out of the super crowded Taj Mahal campus tired and hungry as always. After done with our lunch at a nearby restaurant, we headed straight back to Delhi. Wait, there is no way I am leaving Agra without getting some mouthwatering Agra ka Petha.

Back to Delhi, my self and Kavin took a short trip to Connaught Place (CP) to meet her friends in a resto-bar. Back at the hostel, we had a relaxing evening at the rooftop garden with fellow hostelers. Finally, a well-rested night in the last 5 days and that’s how an awesome day came to an end.

Fun time – Clicked using Danielle’s Polaroid

Day 5 – 1st March 2018

Woke up, packed our bags and checked out of the hostel. Then straightaway rushed to the airport to catch our morning flight en route to Chennai. It was one hell of a trip and was quite sad that it came to an end. Back at the Chennai airport, I decided to end my trip with a Biriyani as a tradition. While Remya, Shashi and Shalini decided to head back home, Kavin joined me for some yummy Biriyani. With multiple choices, we narrowed upon Sukkubhai Biryani that’s known for its Beef Biriyani and it’s proximity to the airport added to our advantage. On our way to the restaurant, Kavin surprised me with an awesome northern light painting and a hand-painted bookmark. Thanks a ton, Kavin, means a lot.

Oil painting and Bookmark

 

After munching on the succulent Beef Biriyani I headed back home and that’s how yet another awesome trip came to an end. Definitely, it’s a trip to remember.

The End.

Advertisements

Trip To Remember – Amritsar, Delhi & Agra – Part 3

A quick recap from the blog post in this series. Taking off from Chennai, we landed in Delhi. From there, we embarked upon a journey to one of my dream destination, Amristar via train. Visiting golden temple was definitely one of the blissful experiences in my life. Then, departed to our next destination, Agra via Delhi.

Day 3 – 30th March 2018
It must be around 12 am the information board just outside Hazrat Nizamuddin station notified that our train to Agra was delayed by more than an hour. In the meanwhile, we decided to relax with some tea in a nearby shop. The main reason behind our visit to Agra was none other than the most famous Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world. Our train was scheduled to arrive at Agra quite early in the morning, we checked for the opening visiting hours on the official site. I noticed something that momentarily broke my heart, highlighted in red, it read, Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays for general viewing. It’s a moment of realization and how true when they say The devil is in the detail. Just missing a tiny detail has put the whole pan jeopardy. As a result, we were cluelessly stuck at a railway station in the outskirts of Delhi, that too in the midnight.

So, we decided to shuffle our plans to roam around the Delhi that day and catch up with the Agra plan the next day. As Shashi suggested, we called the hostel that we booked for the next day to check if they could be of any help. How lucky, in spite of being a popular and a busy one, to our surprise, they had a few empty beds to spare to squeeze us in. It was around 2 am when we reached the most awesome Madpackers Hostel, New Delhi. If you are traveling to Delhi and keen to meet interesting travelers plus a great place to stay without burning much cash, this is the one to go for. After a long and tiring day, you would have expected us to knock ourselves off on the bed. But to the contrary, we went up to their relaxing rooftop garden and chilled out with some drinks that we got at the Delhi airport. Close to the dawn, Remya and Shalini decided to catch up with some sleep. On the other hand, Shashi, Kavin & I woke up all night chit chatting and even took a morning walk in search for some hot tea.

Back to the hostel, post munching our complimentary breakfast we sat down at the common area to plan for the rest of the day. That’s where we met Danniele & Justin, 2 friends from the USA and Alex & Ali a couple from Germany all planning for the same. So, we teamed up on the common cause to explore Delhi. To our comfort, the Hauz Khas Delhi Metro Station was just a walk away from our hostel. To cut down on the cost, we bought the One Day Card at a Rs 150/- (Rs 100 + Rs 50 refundable security) which gives us unlimited metro rides for the day.

Delhi Metro Day Card

About an hour of traveling in the crowded Delhi Metro and a short walk from the Kalkaji Mandir Metro Station, we arrived at our 1st destination for the day, one of the prominent landmarks in Delhi, The Lotus Temple. It’s a Bahá’í House of Worship, primarily the place of worship of the Bahá’í faith, a religion teaching the essential worth of all religions, and the unity and equality of all people. So, this temple is open to all humans irrespective of their religion, caste, color or qualification. Surrounded by the garden, stood a beautiful Lotus shaped structure. No wonder this temple has won numerous architectural awards for its unique Lotus shape with 27 pure white marble-clad petals. Inside the temple is a large auditorium with tall ceilings where no one is not allowed to talk. I totally got immersed in my own silence and the peace that surrounded that place. Though no photographs were allowed, I did manage to click a few. For me, this place conveys a strong message of peace in unity. It was already around 3 pm when we came out of the temple.

After munching on some snacks and tender coconut, we resumed our journey to the next and the last destination of the day. Yet another hour of a ride in the metro, we reached the Akshardham station. By then we all were a bit tired and super hungry as we were yet to have our lunch. We just managed with some short bites that we could source from the station kiosk as we had to rush to our next destination that was due closing in a few mins. A few mins of walk from the station took us to the famous Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple.

One of the huge drawbacks of that place is that they don’t allow you to carry mobile phones, camera or any gadgets inside the temple. So, we had to stand for more than an hour in a long queue to deposit our mobiles and bags in their cloakroom. It’s quite safe as the mobile phones and valuables are photographed prior depositing. Finally, we entered the temple complex after passing a security check that involved frisking. There stood a marvelous marble structure that felt worthy of going through all the trouble. This magnificent temple made of pink stone and white marble is a result of more than 300 million man-hours of hard work by 11,000 artisans and volunteers. I was totally awestruck by its sheer beauty. The intricate patterns and sculptures are definitely a treat to our eyes. Though not a big fan of temples, I must really thank Shashi for recommending this place. The below pics are from the official temple site. I don’t own them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Then came the best part of the day, the water fountain show, AKA The Sahaj Anand Water Show. It was such an immersive experience mixing multi-color lasers, video projections, underwater flames, water jets and surround sound. I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. After the show, we had our dinner at the temple food court. To my surprise, our foreign friends loved the masala dosa.

I was totally exhausted when we reached back to our hostel after riding the last metro of the day. I even dozed off on the common area couch as Remya gave me a nice massage and that’s how a yet another awesome day came to an end.

To Be Continued …

Trip To Remember – Amritsar, Delhi & Agra – Part 1

If you are curious about the reason, me penning down this post about a trip that I took nearly 6 months ago? No worries, I can completely answer it all in a couple of points.

  1. I am a master procrastinator.
  2. I love to get nostalgic.

There had been several inspirations behind my trips such as Friends, Food, Nature and Adventure. But, what if the main inspiration for this trip is a song from a movie that got released way back in 2006.

Yes, ever since I saw the movie Rang De Basanti, visiting Amritsar has become a dream. Unfortunately, my multiple plans to visit Amritsar never realized until this trip. Initially, I intended to travel solo. But, later chose to go with a bunch of friends. Isn’t more the merrier Firstly, let me introduce you the gang. Shashi, Remya, Kavinnila, Shalini and yours truly.

Day 1: 27th Mar 2018

As planned, all of us assembled in Chennai Airport to board our flight. As we were all a bit early, it was perfect to catch up over some food and coffee. Around 8 pm, we boarded the Indigo destined for Delhi. The flight wasn’t a long one, so we reached our destination Delhi by 12 am. We had to spend our night at the airport as our train to the next stop was scheduled to depart the next day morning. We killed most of the time conversing diverse topics over Momos, Tea and some occasional walk around the Airport. Finally, I felt a lot of excitement burst into me when the dawn broke.

 

Day 2: 28th Mar 2018

Early in the morning, we took a metro to the New Delhi Railway Station. From there, we boarded SWARNA SHATABDI around 7.30 am, our train to Amritsar. To my relief, they served us Tea and Breakfast on the train. We were expected to reach Amritsar by 1.40 pm, but the train got delayed and arrived around 3 pm only. That almost put us on the verge of spoiling the entire plan for the rest of our day.

You can call it all luck, and there is always someone for the rescue when in trouble. This time it’s an auto driver whom we hired to drop us at the hostel from the railway station. My bad, I even forgot his name. After hearing me stressed up and discussing options to reach our next destination on time, he came forward and offered to take us to Attari – Wagah Border and back at quite a nominal price. That’s so kind of him.

Yeah, you read it right. How come I come all the way to Amritsar and miss the beating retreat ceremony at Wagah border. Even watching it on TV or YouTube would give me goosebumps. Our initial plan was to go to the hostel, drop our bags and immediately start to Wagah. But, few of us prioritized taking a shower and getting freshened up. That pissed me off as we had a short window of time. Considering the usual crowd there, we had a high probability of denying entry.

Our Auto Anna drove awesome that day. He was swift on the road overtaking other vehicles. It was such a nail-biting moment. Finally, we reached the border entry almost on time. Shashi chose to stay back as he had a business call to take care. We ran to the security check area so that we could secure a spot. As the ques are different for men and the woman, I lost track of my friends. All my efforts to search and reach them went in vain. Even the calls didn’t connect due to no cellular network. Just hoping that they were safe, I continued to the stands to witness the ceremony. The following is the excerpt from Wikipedia about the ceremony.

The ceremony starts with a blustering parade by the soldiers from both sides and ends up in the perfectly coordinated lowering of the two nations’ flags. As the sun sets, the iron gates at the border are opened and the two flags are lowered simultaneously. The flags are folded and the ceremony ends with a retreat that involves a brusque handshake between soldiers from either side, followed by the closing of the gates again.

Amidst a large crowd, I somehow secured a spot at the bottom-most level of the stand. Continuous slogans such as “Jai Hind” & “Vande Mataram” and playing of patriotic songs made my blood rise and beam with patriotism and pride. One must be there to experience the intense energy around. Then started the actual ceremony and our Border Security Force put out a spectacular show. They marched with Pride, Patriotism, and Aggression. India would easily outrun Pakistan when it comes to cheering for their soldiers at the ceremony. While trying to click some pics, I got stamped in the crowd. Luckily a woman BFS officer came to my rescue and lifted me up. My sincere thanks to her. It was such an electrifying atmosphere. I am currently in the deficit of words in expressing the same. Finally, the ceremony got over with the flags lowered on both the sides and it’s unquestionably one of the experiences of the lifetime.

Then again I resumed my search for my friends. I had to move away from the border gates to gain some signal and contact my friends. Finally, after a few calls and text messages, we got united. Phew, what a relief to know that they were all safe. We were all super hungry as we skipped our lunch in a rush to get here on time. So we temporarily filled our stomach with some Aalo Tikki and Pani Poories.

Our Auto Anna was awesome. He stopped by a lush wheat field to click some pics. He even took us to a nice Dhaba that served yummy Rottis, Naans and Butter Chicken for dinner.

Post dinner, we were finally back to our hostel. All we wanted was to rest after quite a long day. As always life had a twist for us, but there was both good and bad in it. The bad part is, the dorms got double booked due to some software glitch and got allocated to the other foreign guests. Now the good part, We were provided dorms at a hostel quite near to the Golden Temple and got transported there free of cost too.

That’s how an awesome day came to an end.

I am concluding here, as our next place deserves a dedicated blog post.

To Be Continued …

Trip To Remember – Trekking Sar Pass – Part 6

Finally, will get myself done with this blog post series. Here goes the final one.

Day 11 – 28th May 2017

I woke up with a mixed feeling, on one hand, I was happy about completing the trek successfully, on the other, I was sad that it came to an end. Once done with our morning routines, breakfast, group pic and one final batch roll call, we left the most beautiful camp of the whole trek around 8 AM. The route was a bit steep and felt like never-ending. We had to lose an altitude of 1400 ft in less than 5 km. I stuck with Lavanya for the whole route. Once we even lost our way in the middle ignoring the route markers and was screaming for help. Luckily, one of the fellow trekkers responded and that helped us be back on the route.

A couple of hours later, we reached a small eatery down the Barshani Village (6600 ft), finally some place to rest. In the meantime awaiting Nigilan and Buddy to return, I indulged myself in hot Maggi and refreshing lemon tea served there. It was already 12 PM when they both joined us. Then, we took a short walk to catch the bus that would get us back to Kasol. In the bus, we noticed a couple of guys smiling and laughing at the silly things that we spoke in Tamil. Then came that magical words, “Neenga Thamizha?” (Are you Tamil). That’s how we meet Anirudh and Mukund, 2 civil engineering guys from Bangalore working on a construction project in the valley. It was awesome conversing with them.

Around 4 PM, we reached Kasol, should blame the terrific traffic at Manikaran for the delay. We were too hungry by then and the Tibetan Eatery nearby the Kasol Market came to the rescue. We had amazing Thukpa and Momos there. It was already around 8 days since we took a bath. So, we found a natural hot spring bath area and took a relaxing bath. OMG, the hot water in the cold weather felt like being in heaven. All the others in the group decided to reach Kullu the same eve, but for various reasons, yours truly decided to stay back for a night at the base camp and start the next morning. It was a great experience at the base camp, was awarded the trek completing certificate and was asked to share my experience to the upcoming batches. Everyone at the campfire gathering laughed when I ended my note with, “These mountains got some serious ALTITUDE problems”. As usual, I had my dinner and dozed off early, that’s how an yet another awesome day came to an end.

One heavenly Thukpa

 Day 12 – 29th May 2017

I was informed that the 1st bus of the day to Kullu will be by 6.45 AM, So was all set by then to leave the camp. The bus came spot on time and I boarded it just opposite to the base camp. The bus was mostly filled with students and locals. The best part all along the ride was the songs played in its music system, just loved it.

Around 9 AM, I reached Kullu and rejoined with my friends at the famous Sapna Bakery for the breakfast. There we ordered SIddu, one of the most famous and typical dishes of that region. It kinda looks like an enlarged MoMo but tastes entirely different. The one which we had was awesome and I loved it. Then we headed to the hotel when my friends were staying so that I could keep my hefty backpack and continue roaming for the rest of the day. There I met the retired defense personnel, whose son owns that place.  He was too courteous and patiently gave us the direction to reach the Naggar Castle, our next destination.

From Kullu, we reached Naggar by bus and from there we reached The Castle by taking an Auto Rickshaw. Naggar used to be the ex-capital of the Kullu region and the King ruled from the castle.The view from the castle was spectacular and it exhibited some of the old artifacts and objects used during the King’s period. We had our lunch at the in-house restaurant itself. The food was pricey but the taste wasn’t that great as it looks.

What came to rescue is the Home Made Bakery, just outside the castle. They served yummy Apple Pie, Brownies and Tarts along with refreshing homemade fruit juices.

In the meanwhile, this awesome Lost & Found incident happened and have already written a separate blog post on it. Then we returned back to Kullu in a crowded local bus, got freshened up at the hotel and left to the bus terminus to catch our bus to Chandigarh. I immediately dozed off as we boarded our bus around 9 PM, that’s how an yet another awesome day came to an end.

 Day 13 – 30th May 2017

It was quite early in the morning when our bus reached the Chandigarh bus terminus. We spotted a Maggiwala (the one who sells Maggi) a few meters outside the terminus and decided to get done with our breakfast there. He sold sandwiches and tea along with Maggi and I ordered an egg Maggi for my breakfast.

As our flight is around afternoon, we had a lot of time to spare. With not much energy to explore the city, So, we went to the Rose Garden, took some rest, listening music and again went to the famous Pal Dhaba for lunch. OMG, the food was awesome there. Their Butter Chicken is definitely something to die for.

Later, we took a cab to the airport and boarded the flight back to Chennai. Outside the Chennai airport, the harsh Sun kissed my skin to remind me that I am back home. Just as a kinda ritual, I brought home some Biriyani concluding the trip. That’s how an awesome trip came to an end.

 

With a lot of fun, food and awesome experiences, this is indeed a trip to remember.

The End.

Trip To Remember – Trekking Sar Pass – Part 5

Dear Reader,
If you are growing impatient about this ever going series and wondering when would this end? Just be patient as always, probably one more post after this one. All you have to understand is, yours truly is neither creative to come up with new content frequently nor blessed with frequent awesome trips like this one. So, got to manage with this for the love of blogging.

Day 10 – 27th May 2017

I woke up wishing someone would wish me that morning. Wondering why? It was my birthday. The day started with a great disappointment as my only expectation wasn’t met. I was absolutely fine with the fact that others in the camp had no clue about my birthday. But, what let me down was my friends forgetting the same. Can’t blame them either, it was actually a bit hard to keep track of the day and date during the trek.

The only thing that I gave me comfort was a bunch of candies that I carried all the way from Chennai. Sudeshna, my pen pal sent me some chocolates and candies for my birthday all the way from Guwahati, Assam. She also made sure that it reaches me before I leave for the trip and in her letter, she instructed me that I must have them only on my birthday. Being a sucker for chocolates, it was too hard for me to resist having them all along the trek and save it from myself for the D-Day. With a strong will, I made it happen. Thank you Sudeshna for all the love. Following is a small video I recorded to thank her.

For the first time on my birthday, I felt lonely without anyone around wishing me. I restrained myself telling my friends that it’s my birthday. On the contrary, the narcissist in me acted otherwise and let them know by my own mouth. They served noodles for breakfast along with some hot tea. As usual, we cleaned our tents, packed our bags and assembled for the count before leaving the camp. To my surprise, all of sudden, everyone sang the birthday song and wished me. Wow, isn’t that awesome?. Once complete strangers are now my friends and wishing me for my birthday, this is what I call the beauty of traveling. These sort of instances make me realize that traveling is definitely not about the destination, but about the journey and the people whom we come across. Think it’s enough talking about my birthday, let’s move to the trek part.

We were excited about the next camp not just cos it’s the last camp of the trek. Since the induction, have heard plenty about the serenity and beauty of this place from the camp leaders and the batches who have completed their trek. I would say, this was the easiest leg of the whole trek. All we got to cover is 12 km with an attitude change of just 3000 ft. The only exciting part of the route was doing rappelling that too with a minimum vertical drop. Other than that, It was more like walking in midst of the woods all the way. Not soon after our lunch, an excited bunch of us, including me, lost our way to the camp and got stuck in the pine forest. Thankfully, our guide came to the rescue and directed us to the camp.

One of my most fav pic from the trek

No wonder every one praised the beauty of this place and call it the Switzerland of India. Around 2 PM, we finally reached the most beautiful camp of the trek, the Bhandak Thatch (8000 ft). It’s grassland and a grazing land where the cattle are reared in the summer, everything there seemed lush and green, surrounded by snow-capped mountains. I haven’t been to Swiss yet, but this place made me wonder if Swiss is as beautiful as this one. We were able to spot Cows, Horses and Sheep. With plenty of time in our hand that day, we played UNO, Kabadi and did some funny Dubmashes too. At times, I would just climb up the slopes, spot a silent spot and get myself immersed in the mesmerizing beauty of the mountains.

The guys managed to arrange for the campfire after getting permission from our camp leader. Later that evening, we had our dinner early and gathered around the campfire. The burning pine logs gave a distinct pleasant sweet smell uplifting the mood around. From there on, it was all fun. We sang, danced crazy and everyone wished me again for my birthday. The craziness continued until the rain disrupted the fun. With half a heart, we dispersed into out tents and dozed off.

IMG_20170527_195147389

One best pic of the trip. Still feels like a magic

Started with full of disappointments, it turned out to be one of the best birthdays in my life. That’s how a yet another awesome day came to an end.

To Be Continued…

Trip To Remember – Trekking Sar Pass – Part 4

I know it ain’t right, but I enjoy finishing my tasks in the nick of the moment, just like this blog post. It does give me a kind of rush.

Day 8 – 25th May 2017

It seemed to have rained the last night also. The place was damp and much colder when I woke up. In spite of sleeping bag and blanket, I felt my body struggling to cope up with the cold temperature out there. Though I got up early, I didn’t dare to step outside our tent until the sun showed up. Some hot tea and Chole Bhature made things better for me. It wasn’t only us from YHAI who were camping there, there was also a camp by another organizer nearby. Why I am mentioning this is, while I was returning to my tent after my breakfast, I saw folks from both the camps happily dancing the Garba (a traditional Gujarati dance) outside our tent. It was fun watching them go round and round dancing those simple yet elegant steps in total sync. Then we cleaned out tents, packed our bags and started to the highest camp of this trek.

The dawn breaks

With no doubt, it was the steepest route uphill on this trek. Though the altitude change was only 1300 ft compared to 1900 ft and 1600 ft in the last two days, we had to gain it in the short distance of just 5km. That was definitely a challenge. After a slow and steady climb, we reached our lunch point. Unlike the other lunch points, this one was tucked in between a crack on the mountain. The only common factor was a tiny shop that sold Maggi and Biscuits. Seems Maggi is inevitable in the mountains. Totally, the most frightening lunch point on the whole trek. We were even able to view our Mingtatch camp and the other trekking groups from there. Our guide pointed to a flag, not so far away and told that’s our next camp. With a clear target, we marched towards it. In not more than an hour, we reached the highest camp of this trek, The Nagaru Camp (12,500 ft).

View from lunch point

Once reaching the camp, everyone began calling their parents and their loved ones as they had the cellular reception in one particular spot. But, yours truly was quite stubborn not to use my mobile until the trip gets over. We were served Guava juice as the welcome drink and served tea and fried peanuts later. As we reached quite earlier, we whiled away the time singing and chit chatting. While I was in my tent, I heard some splashing sound. Initially thought it was raining. But to my surprise when I opened my tent flaps, I witnessed the first hailstorm of my life. It’s not just that, we were lucky enough to witness a double rainbow too. Wow, what a mesmerizing view it was. Yet another goosebumps-inducing experience of this trip. We slept early by 7 pm post our early dinner by 6 pm cos we must rise as early as 2 am the next day for one of the most exciting parts of the trek. That’s how an yet another awesome day came to an end.

The double rainbow

Day 9 – 26th May 2017

Waking up at 2 am is absolutely fine, but how about having your least favorite Rava Upma for breakfast at 3 am. My taste buds might have instantaneously rejected it, but my survival instinct thought the other way. The snow melts when the sun starts to shine and that would make the trek extremely difficult. So, we had quite an early start around 3.30 AM that day. Initially, it was too dark and most of us had torchlight or headlamp for the rescue. I was fascinated by the scene when the dawn broke. We were surrounded by snow and for me, the first snow of my life. It was my dream forever to see, touch and feel the snow. My excitement level was high and was overjoyed to realize my dream. That was one memory that will be etched in my memory forever.

After more than a couple of hours of trek, we reached the summit of the trek, the highest point of the Sar Pass (13,799 ft). With all the sides covered with snow, we took a lot of pictures. The joy of reaching the summit is beyond description and you feel just being on the top of the world. I would say, that joy is worth going through all the pain.

The Sar Pass is the route that connects the summit of Tila Lotni and Biskeri Ridge. So, we had a lot more to cover to reach our next camp Biskeri, predominantly on the snow. The snowy ice surface was very slippery and the poles helped extensively. In the middle, we halted at a shop that sold tea and Maggi for some rest. To the contrary, being surrounded by the snow, we were all totally restless and started playing with it. Either be it throwing snowballs at each other or making snow angels, I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. It was all fun, fun and fun. That place also had a small lake and the view of the sky reflecting on it was priceless.

After an hour from there, we reached the edge of the Sar Pass. Here comes the best part of the whole trek, an 800 Mts free slide down the snow. I was anxious when I saw my friends sliding down. It even worsened when my buddy rolled down instead of sliding. Then came my turn and I felt the adrenaline rush. Wow, what an experience sliding down the snow and the cold wind caress the skin. We were too tired by then and somehow pushed ourselves to reach the lunch point a kilometer ahead. We could see the snow around slowly being replaced by rocks and grasses.

Out of hunger, I munched the packed lunch and took a brief rest at the lunch point. My legs were sore and the rest was highly relieving. I also met a few porter women. In spite of carrying heavy backpacks of the trekkers, anywhere between 20 – 30 kgs per person, they had their warm smile intact. So much respect to them.

From there, within an hour we reached our next camp, Beskari (11,000 ft). It felt like an accomplishment completing the most grueling and demanding day of the trek. To give a snapshot, it was a total of 14 km and an elevation change of 1,300 ft uphill and 2,800 ft downhill. That’s quite a lot for a single day. We were served hot tea and Pakodas for the evening snacks as soon as we entered the camp. The rest of the time was spent on playing UNO. Then, as usual, sleep followed the dinner. I dozed of badly wanting the next day to begin, one of the significant days for me in the year. That’s how a yet another awesome day came to an end.

To Be Continued…

Trip To Remember – Trekking Sar Pass – Part 3

As you guessed, it’s my monthly target that pushed me to write this blog post. But, I love to write about my travel. I just love to revisit those beautiful memories and feel nostalgic about the same.

Day 6 – 23rd May 2017

As usual, I woke up early that day. As it was still dark outside, I spent time listening to music inside the tent until the sun showed up in the east.  To my surprise, no one except the kitchen staff was awake and they served me some hot tea. Then, I found myself a spot and got lost in the music and the serene nature. Slowly my trek mates started coming out of their tents and the kitchen staff served delicious Poha along with some hot tea. We didn’t just stop with the Poha, a couple of rounds of MoMos went on too, courtesy Mrs. Tarkur (I call her The MoMo Aunty). It wasn’t just the hot MoMos that added warmth, the burning woods inside her shop made the cold morning much pleasant.

A little later, we packed our lunch and was all ready to leave the camp. Our camp leader gave us 2 choices. One, an easy route and nothing much exciting on the way. Next, a relatively tough route with a waterfall along. Can’t expect anything less from our energetic group, we unanimously voted for the tough one. The best part was, our camp leader Mr. Bharath even agreed to accompany us to the waterfall. It was a bit steep route with a couple of small streams on the way. Walking further we stumbled upon a small waterfall and started clicking pics assuming that it was the one that our camp leader mentioned about. Then we realized, it was just the trailer and the main picture yet to come. I was simply awestruck by the view when we reached the waterfall. The sheer force of water and the sun rays escaping through the dense trees made the place look magical. The feel of cold water droplets splashing on my face is indescribable, even just thinking about would give me goosebumps. We spent some time there enjoying the nature and clicking some pics. As our camp leader headed to Grahan getting farewell from us, we continued trekking to our higher camp.

The route was a bit steeper than I imagined, but the energy in the group kept us going. As usual, I enjoyed trekking in my own phase. Out of nowhere came our lunch point, a tiny shop where we ordered some hot Maggi and had it along with Chapatti and Potato Curry, the ones we picked from the camp. We resumed after our lunch followed by some rest. From the lunch point, it didn’t take us much time to reach our next higher camp Padri (9300 ft), actually quite earlier than expected. Cant expect anything less from our young and energetic group.

Padri is like a valley cleared for cattle grazing. One can see mountains with snowy peaks surrounding it. Cattles passed by the camp all the time, can’t blame them, after all, it’s their place we were occupying.  We had a lot of time to relax that day with most of my time spent in the company of music lost in thoughts. Soup, tea and dinner were served in the meantime. Post dinner something really interesting happened. As a tradition, signals were exchanged between our camp and yet another higher camp Nagaru using torchlight. All we could see was a tiny spark of light flickering in a pattern far away from the mountains. Nagaru is the highest camp in this trek and it would take us another couple of days to reach there. In my case, sleep comes out once the food goes in and it was cold to stay out. On the contrary, my tent mates were wide awake with playing both Uno and music. So, I switched to another tent full of similar sleepy souls and dozed off to glory. That’s how yet another awesome day on the trek came to an end.

Day 7 – 24th May 2017

The day started witnessing one of the best sunrises ever. The view of Sun rising over the mountains from the camp was stunning and the lighting was perfect to click some photos and selfies. To our surprise, they served Penne Pasta for breakfast along with some hot tea. We resumed our trek after bidding our farewell to the camp leader.

This one lovely view ❤

The route was initially steep downhill. With a bit of rain last night, it was damp and slippery. We had to carefully watch each of steps, luckily the Bamboo stick (pole) that I carried along came in handy. We came across a stream, think I can call it a small waterfall, from there the route elevated steep uphill, crazy mountains I must say. Out of nowhere on the route, we encountered a small tent shop which sold chocolates, chips and packed juices. Though the prices were up to thrice the MRP, it seemed fair to pay considering the location and the fact that we would be their only customers for the day. Energized by the brief rest along with some snacks, we continued our journey.  The route was a bit flat until our lunch point, I even saw a  tree burnt by lighting and my favorite Rhododendron flowers on the way. The lunch point was the most scenic of all. A perfect place to take a lot of pictures with mountainous background and I didn’t miss it either.

Panorama from lunch point

It was all fine till then, the route was kinda flat until we reached this spot which I call the great wall of Mingtatch cos it looked like a wall between us and the camp. It was a highly steep zigzag path uphill, so steep that they even had supporting ropes to hold and climb. It was not just the tough path that caused trouble, the most unpredictable mountain weather had also decided to join the party uninvited and It rained all of sudden. We took shelter under the tree covering ourselves with the rain cover and Pancho. Added to the steepness, rain made the path slippery too and that wasn’t fair at all. Just a slip and we would be dead in the valley few thousand foots below us. That was one of the scariest parts of the trek for me. Somehow we safely managed to reach Mingtatch (11200 ft), our next higher camp.

Within a few minutes, the clouds disappeared, the sun shined back and there wasn’t a trace that it rained. Mysterious mountains, I must say. The hot Tea and Potato Pakodas they served felt heavenly. The dispersion of sun rays through the clouds at the time of sunset was an awesome view to watch. I whiled away clicking pics and playing our favorite UNO. Then, as usual, sleep followed the dinner and yet another awesome day on the trek came to an end.

To Be Continued…