Once upon a time Shimla-Manali were the go to destinations for all hill lovers. It offered serenity of mountain, small town charm, wonderful weather and lot of souvenirs to take home. Today there are too many places we know of, some are more commercialized and some are so secluded that reaching there itself is a task. But if I have to pick a place that has replaced Shimla/Manali of olden times that would be Dharmshala/Mcleodganj. I don’t know many people who has been to Himalaya in recent times and hasn’t been to Dharamshala ever. And so for me it was more of a tick box item to go there and see what the fuss is.
I planned my trip in March, when it was still cold enough to chill and not too cold either, and decided to stay at McleodGanj, which is also referred to as upper Dharamshala. I reached McleodGanj on a Tuesday noon and settled there for next few days exploring nearby attractions and devouring food. If you love hills for its raw beauty, Mcleodganj might not be your choice of destination. The place is very touristy with its sightseeing list, souvenir shops and fancy restaurants. And it probably represent a Tibetan town more than a hill station. During my stay I tried doing the regular sightseeing as per my lazy mind would permit, which means I missed out a few… maybe I missed out more than a few. But I definitely tried a lot of restaurants and found many great options. I will talk about both in this blog.complete article
Kasol village had come and gone with little to no impression. The narrow streets crowded with tourists, cafes and souvenir shops lining the road, numerous hotels standing upright between the road and the river – it could have been any hill station. But we were heading towards a different destination. So we went ahead on the meandering road enjoying the tall pine trees and the soothing river down below.
Then came Manikaran. A small pilgrim village famous for its hot water springs. The water is used for pious bath and apparently for boiling rice for the temple as well. For a small patch, the river was lined with houses and hotels on both sides surrounding the Gurudwara. We passed by quickly and stopped a little ahead where the road goes lower and crosses the river by a bridge. The water was cold and the landscape was charming. But we had farther to go.complete article
Finally my north-east trip was over and it was time for me to head home, or in this case travel to Kolkata. The journey was quite straightforward and uneventful. But still in order to give closure to the whole series I decided to write this piece. Even though the journey took me little over two days, I will try to keep it short. So here it goes…complete article
I reached Kohima late at night, at least late as per Kohima winter standard. First view of the city for me was from across the valley while seating in the back seat of a car driving towards the city itself. The hills were illuminated by the lights from the streets and houses. Even through darkness of night I could make out the outlines of the hills as it waved over the community of lights making a sort of roofing on top of them. Looking at the vastness of it one could tell that this was not a hill station, but a city built on a hill. And that fit perfectly with the agenda I had in my mind.complete article
Last night had been cold and painful. A chilly wind blew relentlessly across the field outside and poured inside through the countless holes of my bamboo cottage. On top of that, my leg muscles screamed their presence with rigorous aching, an aftereffect from the cycling earlier that day. My stuff were scattered across the room, some on the other bed, some hanging and some inside the almirah. I knew I had to pack. But neither getting out of bed, nor engaging my legs into any activity sounded appealing at that time. So I gave in and let myself fall asleep under two warm blankets. This morning, however, was sort of a miracle. I woke up feeling neither cold nor pain. I was as fit as I ever could be and the thick fog outside meant that the temperature had increased significantly. I got up, got ready, packed up and walked into the foggy morning outside to start off my long journey for Kohima.complete article
We are always in lookout for something new, something unexplored. There is a constant desire to unfold a mystery or discover something hidden. Probably it’s driven by the same thirst that took our ancestors all around the world. But sometimes on your quest, you stumble upon a place so innocent, so beautiful that you wish it was never discovered. The magic of the place lies in its secrecy itself. And that’s how Chopta made me feel...complete article
It was a cloudy night and there wasn’t a single star visible on sky. But down in the valley thousand stars sparkled through the chilly night air. I sat at a bench near the edge of the hotel and soaked in this view with the silence and darkness all around me. I could see what a beautiful place it had once been. And it still was, somewhere within all the cacophony of people.complete article