Tuesday, October 3, 2006
A trip full of Adventure, nature and Beauty..
One would hardly get four days of holidays continuously in corporate life. We were lucky. Dusshera,sat,sunday and Gandhi Jayanti and off we went on a trip to Mussourie/Rishikesh/Shivpuri.
The plans were being made and re-made since long. People were joining and dropping, but finally Abhinav, Jagan, Sreejith, Pavan (Abhinav's teamy), myself and my old School friend Vikas made it.
The plan was made by Sreejith's roomy who was lucky to be in a adventure trip planning company. God bless him and his occupation. We got some contacts there and started off on Friday early morning 4:00 o'clock straight to Shivpuri. It was a bit tough to get up so early as we had a long game of tennis (me and Raheja) in office from 11:30 PM to 1:30 AM. So after getting a long 2 hour sleep I got up at 3:30 to kick some ....
Shivpuri: A place close to rishikesh famous for Camping, Rafting, trekking, para-gliding etc etc. The journey till Shivpuri was pretty decent. We stopped at one place for Paranthas/Chai and had a bet on the cost of the Paranthas. The bet started from 5 Rs to 12 Rs (mine) but closest was 5 as the paranthas were 15 Rs each. Guess they see the size of the Car to determine the rate. We were travelling in a Silver Tavera, pretty comfy for 6 people and less luggage.
After getting down in Rishikesh we met a dude named JP who was our contact for Camping and stuff. He took us through a jungle to a no-man's land and took Darbari with him on his Bike. We were pretty skeptical about what would have happened with Darbari when we didnt find him at the end of trek. After reaching end of it we had our first encounter with Ganga and we couldnt resist getting in. After some water play we went back to the main market, had food at a Rajasthani Restaurant and proceeded for our first Adventure-Rafting.
The place where we had to start was covered with the shadow of the hill behind. The water was peaceful at some places and thunderous at others. Other than Pavan it was everyone's first time. We had two guides with us to help us stay alive. Finally the time came and we got into the Raft with helmets and lifejackets in place. The water was very cold which made it all the more better.
Finally we were surrounded, by water!! After a brief up of the rules we started Rafting. Ummm! it was some experience. There were different kinds of Rapids all through pushing us all around the Raft. The front seaters were the most lucky in facing the cold water head-on. The best experience was the body-surfing rapid in which we could actually get down the Raft into the cold water. Wow! I can still feel the chill.
The rafting ended directly at our Camp. We were all wet so we didnt mind staying in water for more time. After few photosessions and taking a small bath in the running water we changed and got ready for snacks. We had some Tea/pakodas arranged by the Camp people and got ready for the Bon-fire. Darbari, Pavan and Sreejith went to the market to get some necessary stuff for survival. They were back just in time to have the Tea and Pakoras after which we went to sit around the bon-fire.
It was almost 9:00 o'clock and nobody was hungry. Thousands of stars were shining down at us, a scene which is impossible to view from polluted cities. The gushing sound of water was very soothing. The whole camp area was just open for 6 of us as nobody had come on a friday. We played dumb-charades in which some people had a hard time in making people guess movie names.
After a long bonfire we were decently hungry for dinner and so we had it served for us at 11:30. We had a mix of veg, non-veg and other than the fact that there was less salt in all veg items it was good. After dinner people started retiring to their camps. Sreejith and I sat on the shore looking at the stars and chatted for a long time about variety of topics. We finally left the place at 1:00 o'clock and went to sleep.
We had a good night sleep and the morning was much more beautiful. There were clouds all around and weather was very cold. We got tea served for us and others also got up and joined us. For passing some time we had a small Volleyball game on the shore. More people were now checking into the camps but it was time for us to leave. We had a good breakfast and we left for our second round of rafting.
This was a more challenging one. Darbari and myself were sitting on the front this time. We faced lots of rapids head on roller-coaster being the best one which had almost toppled us. But umm! we dont give up easily ;). Another good round of body-surfing and we finally reached Rishikesh where our Cab was waiting for us. After cleaning/drying up we started off for Dhanaulti.
Dhanaulti is one of those places which hasnt been ruined by lots of human presence. Its a very small non-commercialized hillstation at 2250 Metres height. We had good food at a hotel which didnt have rooms for us :( . After enquiring we came to know of some viewpoint at top of hill so we thought of covering it in evening itself. We started at 4:30 or so down the road. The road was covered with hill on one side and tall trees on other. As Sreejith put it - those were deci-ferous forests ;) a word coined by him joining decidious and coniferous. There was a narrow path going up the hill in the middle of trees and bushes. Hardly 2 feet in width. We started our way up without knowing where exactly we were going and it was getting dark. There was a small closed gate at one point which reminded us of those ghosts movies one sees in late nights. We jumped and proceeded. After sometime we reached the top of that hill and there was fog hiding our view around the hill. The hilltop was very peaceful with lots of farms and greenery. There were some bhoot bangla types houses built which were isolated. We made lots of noises and saw a figure coming out of one of the house. It was the watchman who told us to get lost asap as it was getting dark. He pointed us to a different direction for a shorter route.
We were not sure whether to take the new path as it was getting dark and the way was surrounded by dense forests. We started of happily but just as we entered the forests it became pretty dark. It was impossible for us to see the path with surity and just then we met a deadend. It was around 6:30 PM but inside forests and fog it really gets gloomy. We had two choices: either to backtrack to the hilltop or find a way somehow. We chose second one and jumped around to search for a path and to our amazement we found our way down the road. Huh! what an experience it was. We celebrated our survival with Tea on the road and checked into a small hotel after that.
The room was small but good enough. We played cards with REAL money for sometime ;) and after taking bath we went to sleep. Next day was equally beautiful. I went for a long walk when others were getting ready. I walked into the woods around small houses and was really amazed at the pace of lives in places like these. Nobody was in hurry. A small boy was playing with a monkey. An old guy was placing his stuff for his small tea shop. At lots of places I could see small chimneys producing smoke coming out of Tea Kettles. The road was mostly desolated with some people emerging out of nowhere sometimes. There were hills visible at a distance, tall and green.
Waking others was a task in its own. Sreejith and Darbari sleep like kumbhkarans. Finally everyone got ready and we went to a hilltop restaurant to have breakfast which was great too. We had heard of a temple named Sukonda Devi Temple which was up the hill and one would have to climb 1.5 kms or so to reach the top. A great idea for a trek.
Looking from the bottom of the hill itself was a bit of shock to us as the temple was way too far. But we started and after pushing ourselves to extremes and taking some breaks we reached the top. It was some experience to sit at the corner and look at all the hills surrounding the temple. The temple was good too with lots of religious devotees visiting.
We left the temple with aching legs and broken backs but with great memories. Started off for Mussourie around 1:00 o'clock and the journey was awesome. There were trees and hills all around with lots of cool breeze and good songs accompanying us. Everything was great until we reached Mussourie.
Mussourie, also known as the queen of hills is probably the most commercialized hillstations I have visited until now. We were roaming around in our gaddi for parking for 2 hours searching hotels on the way and didnt find anything great. Finally we compromised and took a hotel on Mall road. The hotel looked more like a purani haveli and I was afraid that it could be haunted. We checked in and changed and left for lunch at 5:00 around o'clock. All through this we were playing lots of games (dont ask what ;)). Mall road was just like Simla's Mall road but more crowded. We sat on the trolley too which was decently boring. After roaming around for 2 hrs or so we went to a pretty expensive and not so good restaurant at the beginning of Mall road for dinner (ask Jagan how good it was). And then we retired to our hotel.
Next morning was also beautiful and it being our last day we wanted to have the most of it too. We left the hotel pretty early and went for breakfast and a quick stroll on the mall road again. From there we went to kempty falls which is around 12 kms from Mussourie and is also worth visiting. We had a great time in the blue/white water (its a color code for sth else ;)) and the view around it. There was another stairway downwards which we didnt dare to take so we took the trolley to go downwards. It was a pretty crowded place and vibrant with energy of people inside and outside water. We left from there around 1:30 and started on our way back to Delhi. The journey back was also eventful with me and Vikas being the DJ, Jagan sleeping at the back and Darbari/Pavan/Sreejith being mischiveous all through.
Finally we are back to office working on all the same old things. And definitely looking forward for a trip like this again.
Brief: Rishikesh is 220 kms from Noida, Shivpuri just next to it (15 kms more). October-November is a good time to visit for Rafting but other sports like paragliding were closed. Planning ahead helps but you can find lots of camp organizers in Rishikesh and get a decent deal. Our night stay at camp+food(dinner/breakfast/lunch)+two rafting trips+bonfire costed us around 1750. Reaching Dhanaulti will take around 2 hours from Rishikesh with a nice view all through the journey. Getting a hotel in Dhanaulti is easy and its worth staying for a day or two to find some peace of mind. Food is good and place is cheap too. Go to Mussourie at your own risk. Getting a hotel/place can get really tricky on weekends/holidays.