Saturday, May 21, 2011

Glimpses of Palampur - Himachal Pradesh

Source :- Google search
The plan to make a visit to Palampur was followed up by a tiring day full of trek from Mcleod ganj to Triund. My day started early in morning at 5:00 AM with beautiful run in serene and soothing Mcleod ganj. I wonder if people of Mcleod Ganj have any complaints in life, people seemed chilled out attitude and fun loving. Morning breeze of this paradise fills mind and soul with freshness and happiness. I never felt like coming back from this place. I made all the efforts to enjoy every moment of this morning. However time keeps running. So soon it was the time to head back to Hotel to execute our next plan, which was Mission Palampur.

Keeping our Taxi cab aside, we hired Royal Enfield Thunderbird for a day. I rode it down nine kilo meters to fill the petrol. The thump of this old bird was unique and fascinating. For that matter, it has been the feature of Royal enfield bikes that every bike has different thump even within the same model. As it is I am Royal Enfield fan so riding this bike was altogether different experience on Dharamshala’s steep roads. I picked up Anand from Hotel and started the ride towards Palampur which was just 40 KM from Mcleod Ganj.

The drive down hill was awesome but It was to my surprise that Palampur is not situated on high altitude so we kept riding down and down till the time we rode more than half the distance.

Suddenly flow of vehicle increased from opposite side. One left curve and there was huge traffic jam due to some religious ocassion there,so we were stuck. The day had grown up so as the heat. It became tough to ride the bike in that traffic with continuous usage of clutch and breaks. In a matter of minutes, I sensed that there is something wrong with the bike. I almost had hit a car ahead of me, managed to control the bike from falling down and finally manage to start its ignition countless time. Finally I realised that this bike is not in ridable condition in heavy traffic because of its old engine and dead clutch. So decided to park at roadside and go back.

I thought of giving last try and turned back towards Mcleod Ganj. It was downhill drive for half a mile. After that the traffic jam was relatively lesser so I thought of starting the ignition. As I kick started the bike, the kick got stuck below silencer and that was the last thing to happen. Someone pushed my bike towards roadside. By this time we had wasted almost 3 hours struggling with old bike. We called the owner of bike and told him to pick up his bike from that place. Simultaneously we called our cab to pick us up from that place.

Our stopover was at a place called Darang. It was flooded with thousands of people moving towards only one direction. These people made our wait quite interesting and busy. We ended up drinking Sugarcane juice countless times. My never ending quest to eat took me to Sweet shop nearby and ate Jalebi, Anand controlled his emotions and did not eat Jalebi, may be callory concious. I did not stop here, I ate few cucumbers and tried searching for Dhaba but it was not available. Disappointed !!

Our cab and bike owner arrived almost same time. After handing over the bike, instead of heading back to Mcleodganj, we started our journey in Innova to Palampur. we crossed all the traffic for next 10 KMs and then the road was clear for driving. After five hours wrestling with old bike and struggle with hot and humid day, the Air conditioned Innova helped me sleep well for a while. I woke up when we had reached Palampur.

Unlike McleodGanj, Palampur was not showered with greenery yet. The town is situated in the foot of mountains in its surroundings. Palampur feels like a God's Home with walls made of mountains around it and Sky the roof. The view looks incomparable when sky is covered by thick clouds covering peaks of mountains and roof of cloud feel like much closure.

We chose to eat our lunch at 4:00 PM in a Restaurant of Himachal Tourism department. The food was not great as expected. We started our drive back to Mcleod Ganj at 5:00 PM and chose different route. Next 25 KMs made me realised why people say that Palampur is very beautiful. The road has some spectacular terrains and views. As we kept climbing the town looked more and more serene. This way had some awesome tea gardens of both sides.

The surprising thing was that in the entire day which was full of events I did not take out my camera at all. Hence I promised myself that I will go back to this place again and spend few days there which this place deserves.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dharamshala - Mcleod Ganj - Green lush paradise on earth

First time ever in my life I reacted, "Oh My god, this place is way beautiful than my hometown in Chamba". This happened when we reached Mcleod Ganj. Anand and me traveled by Cab all the way from Nangal (Punjab) to Dharamshala to spend a day there. The drive from Una to Kangra was quite hot but beyond Kangra a magical change is weather brought a breath of relief for us.

The best part of trip was that we had no plans about how to spend a day and where to stay. By the time we reached Mcleod Ganj it was an evening time on Friday. The view of Mcleod Ganj in an evening looked serene and soothing to eyes. Green lush valley with almost no pollution and relatively less crowd was blissful experience. This magical paradise took away all the tiredness we had accumulated during the hectic day in which we travelled from Gurgaon to Nangal  (Punjab) followed by few hours in hot day of Nangal and finally four hours long drive from Nangal to Mcleod Ganj.

We landed at hotel named M Hotel through an agent and got a good deal for room facing Green Lush valley of Mcleod Ganj and Dharamshala. We off loaded our luggage with few minutes break and we were back on the streets of Mcleod Ganj.

Unknowingly we chose to explore the road connecting a place called Naddi, later we learnt that on the way of it there is very famous and sacred lake called "Dal Lake". The road was covered from both sides with symmetrically grown Oak and pine trees. Each curve of this road broke the whole view and brought an excitement of "What next?” So we ended up walking 2KM on that beautiful heavenly road with enjoy full cold breeze unlike our day journey.

Now the time was for food. We inquired few people and a common suggestion came up was "Restaurant Mcllo". The restaurant is situated in the very beginning of Mcleod Ganj town and easy to spot. The restaurant had Indian and Chinese preparation in its specialty. The ambiance of the restaurant is really super awesome with eye catching dim lights, natural air flowing from outside and beautiful view of Green lush valley under it. The food lived up to our expectations and would suggest everyone visiting McLeod Ganj to experience awesome dining there.

Our plan took another turn while we were waiting for food in Mcllo wherein we realised that one day is not enough to explore this place and we agreed to extend our trip by a day.

The second day of the trip started early at 5:30 AM for me. I chose to enjoy the run on Mcleod Ganj Naddi road to explore those mysterious and beautiful terrains. It was the most memorable run of my life ever, in middle of dense forest with no one around and cold breeze accompanying me throughout my run. Few KMs and I felt the low oxygen levels and steep uphill run added more spice to it. Somehow I managed to reach Dal Lake and to my disappointment Dal Lake was empty for cleaning purpose. I decided to go further uphill and see what is on the other side of the mountain. Few steep curves and I reached Naddi. The view from Naddi was breadth taking with snow covered Tall & Giant Mountain just behind it. Spent few ten minutes there and I started downhill run back to Mcleod Ganj.

The most beautiful time of the day at this hill station is morning few hours. So I decided to see the other side of this place which was Bhagsu Nag temple road. This side is completely in contrast with Naddi road with no trees around it, one can see the wide view of valley and high peaks of Dhauladhar range of Himalayas. In calmness of morning, Mcleod Ganj looked more spiritual.

We ate our breakfast at small dhaba because our Hotel restaurant was not open at 8:00 AM; hang over of late night party (till 2:00AM) which disturbed our sleep to large extent.

Now the time was for some stress and test of our stamina. Yes, we had a plan for trekking. The route we had chosen was Mcleod Ganj to Triund, which was 13 KM one side with steep climb to the peak of the hill. Our guide reached dot on time at 8:00 AM, so were we ready at that time. The day was cloudy which helped us climb faster. This route further leads to a place called Illaqa which is the last destination for trekkers. It’s a two days trek from Mcleod Ganj.

As we kept climbing each KM, the view of Dharamshala looked more and more serene. We met lots of foreigners on the way. We took few halts before we finally reached at the Triund in four hours. The weather at Triund was too cold with clouds all around and quite fast wind.

Triund is situated at the peak of the mountain and behind it is another giant mountain which was full of snow. The place was full of greenery all around. Triund has few guest houses for stay and limited shops having basic need stuff. The enjoyment of tea lying down on green grass facing snow covered mountain was priceless.

Since it was lunch time we asked a tea shop guy to cook something for us. He offered two things to us, Maggi or Rice & Dal. Of course we opted for Rice and Dal because we wanted to taste the preparation of Triund.

As we ordered the lunch, suddenly it started drizzling and soon it turned into rain. We ran into the Tea bhaba to take shelter. The view outside was spectacular with clouds crossing the mountain. Temperature dropped to almost 10 degree celcius. Soon Tea Dhaba was full of people to take shelter from rain like us. We spent more than half an hour watching view outside and enjoying cozy weather. It felt as matter of few moments. Then came freshly boiled rice and nicely cooked yellow dal with almost no spices in it. This combination at Triund tasted the best ever. The apatite of stomach was addressed by Rice and Dal however apatite to stay and enjoy the climate never ended for us. A cup of hot mild coffee followed by the meal worked wonders and provided the energy to go out in fast wind after rain. It was dam cold. The view immediately after the rain was very clear and Giant Mountain behind Triund peak was crystal clear.

We started our trek back to Mcleod Ganj in Cold winds all around. The weather magically changed very next moment we climbed down from Triund Peak. The trek back looked too long than it felt when we climbed up.

That day we slept so deep that we did not even realise that the party in Hotel went up to 2:00 AM in night.

Mcleod Ganj is one among few places where I promised to come back and spend more time to enjoy the nature. One more reason why I fell in love with this place is that people from Chamba (especially Bharmour and around it) are settled here and they speak my native place dialect. So I felt like coming home.

Dharamshala - Mcleod Ganj are well connected with road and air. There are Volvo buses connecting this place with Delhi and an Airport Gaggal 15 KM away from Dharamshala. Few things among must do is to see here are Bhagsu Nag Temple, Bhagsu Waterfall, Dal Lake, Naddi and Triund Trek. And yes, one must try food in Mcllo restaurant. The best months to visit this place are monsoon months viz Jun to Aug.


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