Monday, May 28, 2007

Weekend trip - Chail hill station

After lots of plans varying from going to Jim Corbett National park to Nainital to Ladakh we were still undecided. One thing we were sure of was that we were going somewhere in the weekend. So myself, my jijaji (Kapil) and sister (Priya) and my cousin (Ridhima) finally decided on thursday to go "somewhere". We gathered at my place on Friday night and were supposed to start early saturday morning. Till 10:00 o'clock we had Mussoorie in mind.

We were chatting after dinner and I was trying my best to drop the Mussoorie plan as the place sucked when I went there last time. Moreover, we were not permitted to travel in the night to Mussoorie area as the roads are not supposedly safe. So I was trying to sell them the idea of going towards Simla (or Chail, had heard this place for the first time on Friday from office friend). After long conversations, drawing KM maps and even using chits to decide (idea courtesy my cousin) the place we decided to go was towards Simla.

It was not too late (1:45 AM, Sat morning) when we left after some quick packing. My jijaji was driving the car (his Esteem LXi) as we were chatting and chatting and chatting some more. Discussing topics ranging from some "statistics" in "BPOs" to "relations" to some real short stories we had to share. I was even made to answer some awkward questions thanks to my cousin :@. We stopped at Gulshan Dhaba at Murthal (a place really famous for its dhabas on highway towards Chandigarh) and grabbed some paranthas. The weather was pretty good for May end and the journey was interesting. My cousin and sister slept in the backseat in the later half of journey and we reached Chandigarh around 7:30 AM.

After a quick breakfast my sister and jijaji slept as me and Ridhima went to a park nearby to enjoy the weather. It was the same park that we used to visit frequently in our summer holidays at Nanaji's place when we were young (long time eh!!)- Topari park. It drizzled a bit and stopped as we were discussing "lotsss" of different things sitting on a see-saw :P.

Nanaji tricked us into having lunch at his place though we had plans of leaving early. After a good meal we left around 2:00 o'clock towards Simla. Our first stop was at MacDonlads where we had burgers and fries and we were definitely 'loving it' :). Kapil was mixing icecream and burger to irritate Priya. I was still pestering everyone to know which place we were finally going. Everyone of us had seen Simla multiple times and it was quiet boring to go there again. Kufri also didnt have much to offer. None of us had been to Chail. So after a 5 minute discussion (on the diversion between simla/chail) about these options we took the turn towards Chail. We asked the first 2 people on our way to Chail to inquire about the place and the response was "its a beautiful place, worth visiting. No, I havent been there just heard that its beautiful". Umm well! we thought of taking a chance.

It was already 5:00PM or so when we were 29 kms away from Chail and the road was totally desolated of human presence with very few cars (no trucks for the narrow road please) appearing out of nowhere once in a while. We came across a fort like structure which was too small to be a Fort or a resort and too big for a restaurant and there was nobody around to ask about it. After a nice 2 hrs drive on a road surrounded by dense forests with greenery washed with recent rains we finally reached Chail around 6:30 PM.

We were told by Nanaji that the hotels will be overpriced as it was the peak season and so was our experience. After a bit of searching we finally found a decent hotel (Hotel Kailash) with a very welcoming owner at very acceptable tariff (450+taxes for a room with Geyser, color TV with Cable and offcourse a bed :P). We got ready after checking into the hotel to leave for Maharaja palace which was under renovation but had the restaurant open. It was raining and the temperature was close to 15 degrees as we had put on our jackets/shawls. Drive to Maharaja palace reminded us of those movie scenes that are shot in jungles with rains and people driving in the dark on steep roads. The place looked too shady to me as it was very dark and rainy so we went back to the main market.

We were quiet hungry as we went inside a nice looking restaurant/dhaba where the food was more than horrible. If we had not been hungry , we would have left all of it. We wanted to go for a walk as it was just 8:30-9:00 but rains did not allow us and we were forced to go back to the hotel. After watching laughter challenge for sometime we all slept. I was pushed down from my bed by my cousin in the middle of the night and I have to take revenge :P . Everyone had a nice sleep otherwise ;) and we got up pretty charged on Sunday morning for a great day ahead.

We left the hotel at 8:30 to visit the highest cricket ground in the world (at 7500 feet) . We came across a set of temples also on our way. The road was very steep at around 40 degrees and was mostly broken. Thankfully my Jijaji drives pretty well that we didnt get any trouble in climbing up/down. Gods really give a hard time to followers by sitting at such secluded places. The place was really awesome with no sound to be heard from anywhere. There were 4 temples - Ram Temple, Durga Temple, Shiv Temple and one more and there was absolutely nobody around except 4 of us and the only panditJi. . This was one of those places where one can hear silence. We stayed there for sometime, clicked some snaps and left for the cricket ground. We would have definitely spent more time there if we had some.

The cricket ground was closed. We could have trespassed but it didnt really looked worth it so we just took a snap of the board that said 'highest cricket ground in the world' to prove that we were there :P and left. After this we went to Tarika Jungle Retreat

Tarika Jungle Retreat is simply a fantastic place. Staying at a place like that for few days can make somebody a better person. Tarika is a resort that is made on one complete hill (or may be more) with 65 rooms in total that vary from Premium to luxury to cottages to presidential suites. A gym that overlooks the lush green hills and is fitted with Jacuzzi, massage chairs and treadmills etc. Though I didnt see but they say there is a tennis court/golf course etc also. They also organize Treks and more events for residents. I seriously gave a thought of coming there for my honeymoon :P (whenever it happens that is) for few days. The place was very clean and serene with a joggers track that surrounded the whole Resort. As this is the peak season , all the 65 rooms were occupied.

We came back to main Chail and checked out of our hotel after eating good veg sandwiches and paranthas. On our way back we came across few kids selling some fruit. We stopped and checked it out. Nobody among us was really
interested in eating so we thought of leaving and one of those kids shouted 'kadke hain saale'. That was mind-blowing. We ROFLed for like 1/2 hour after that :D . Kapil got into details and proved that the comment was actually pointed at me as I was the only 'saala' in the car :P. We came across a hand-pump on the way and threw water at each other, washed feet etc. We also filled one bottle with that water which turned light brown in sometime so we had to throw it huh!.

Our next stop was SadhuPul which is basically a pull over a river. The flow was very light in this weather (May end) and we could stand in the middle of the river. Kapil parked the car very close to river and we all got into the water. We played for sometime throwing water at each other and were fully drenched in water. It was quiet cold here with cool breeze but it was still sunny. A restaurant nearby had kept few tables and benches in the middle of the river (innovation eh!!) to give a different kind of experience to visitors. We sat there for sometime and left after having few sodas. Another thing that we cant forget about
this place was the Sardar family which had around 30+ people and 3+ cans full of food and water. What a treat!! We were thinking of exchanging our Hide-n-seek and some chips for some home food :P but didnt really implemented this great idea.

While coming back we visited Cafe Coffee day and MacDonalds again. Thanks to these brands that we get good hygienic food at hills too :) (to MacDonals and CCDs - guys we need more food joints in places like Chail, Dhanaulti, Rishikesh, Sri-sailem etc). We stopped for some more time in Solan to feel the last few moments of cool air as we were nearing Chandigarh.

After spending some 20-25 minutes at Nanaji's place in Chandigarh we started on our way back to Delhi. Our next stop was Haveli (a nice complex in Karnal with lots of food joints and fun things to do , recently added Karting and boating) . We were speculating for around an hour that we had missed Haveli on our way but we were thankfully wrong :) as we finally arrived at Haveli.
After eating a little we started again and reached home after dropping my cousin at around 1:00 o'clock. I dumped all photos/videos on my laptop and showed it to everyone. While watching those we were actually taken back in time to all those places / events and experiences.

Thanks to Kapil, Priya and Ridhima for such a great trip. I just hope to re-create such an experience sometime again :) . The sooner the better :D.

More info:
- No petrol pumps in Chail after taking the diversion from solan. You would get petrol at 70rs/litre if required so better fill up your tanks.
- Finding a decent hotel in peak season is difficult so some pre-planning is always better. Though there are enough hotels / lodges of varying tariffs its likely that in peak season most of these will be full.
- Dont go to Chail as a tourist, its definitely not a tourist spot. Visit Chail for the experience of a serene, quiet and peaceful place. It doesnt have the hodge-podge and mall road of Simla/Mussourie but one can definitely take long walks on the roads around the market and treks on hills.
- Overall Rating 4.25/5

Monday, May 7, 2007

A different weekend ..

Last week was really tiresome for me. I had got these two Crashing bugs unexpectedly and they drained all the energy I had. We had big plans for Friday night and guess what, I was sitting in office till 10:15 when I had to catch SpiderMan @ 10:20 . Huh! thats life afterall. I finally made it in time. Movie was disaster atleast as compared to the expectations.

I was damn hungry when movie got over, didnt actually had my dinner. Thanks to Jagan and Raheja for accompanying me to the Dhaba where I had a parantha and Tea at 1:30 in the night :) . Reminds me, I drink Tea only on that Dhaba nowadays and nowhere else. Anyways, I went back to Office to attend my unfinished business.

It generally feels good to be in office late night (or early morning) when nobody is around. I changed to my payjamas at my desk itself as I knew there was nobody around and there are no cameras too (atleast AFAIK :D).

Around 5:30 when I was feeling elated because I had found the problem and the day was breaking slowly. Jagan had already slept in his cubicle :D. I put on my shoes and went upstairs to see the Sun. I dont remember when I had seen the sunrise last time so I stayed at the terrace until the beautiful sun started showing itself . It simply felt good :).

Finally I sent few mails (to prove that I was in office till morning eh !! ) and went home after dropping Jagan. I dont know when I slept after reaching home but I got up only around 12:00 o'clock.

I just wanted to give myself a break, and so it started. I watched 4 movies back to back. Apocalypto - 4/10, School for Scoundrels 7.5/10, Sleepless in Seattle 6.5/10, and another one which was so pathetic that i wont even rate it. Wow! that was some experience :D .

I also watched My Boss's daughter - 7.5/10 again on Sunday :D. So in all 6 movies in a weekend :D. Not bad!! It also rained on Sunday and the wind was mindblowing at 72KPH as reported by TOI. The rains always remind me of those refreshing memories when I was young. I have always loved rains . The whole earth looks so green and clean after it rains which is very refreshing. I went to the Veranda at the back of my house and bathed in the rain for more than half an hour. It was a fantastic experience. Thanks to these rains that temperature also came down by 10 degrees :D.