Monthly Archives: July 2011

Valley of Flowers – Yet another SriniOnTour…

Valley of Flowers - Backpacking Begins...
Valley of Flowers – Backpacking Begins…

So, I’m all set with my backpack  and with a lot of hopes from this trip. This journey has long been on my bucket list and I’ve been working quite hard to make it happen. Finally, this is part of my first ventures as a part time travel writer, and beginning my career into a whole new dimension. Yes, there are a lot of ifs and buts still, as far as my whole plan goes, but that’s the best part about it…

As far as this trip is concerned… I’m sure there isn’t any doubt, that this is going to be another #SriniOnTour that will rock. This time around, I may not be able to blog on the go, due to connectivity and rains, I’ve decided to  avoid carrying my laptop… besides my backpack is already about 10 kgs… which we would carry all the way up to the West Himalayas. So I’ve decided, I’d upload a lot of photos on twitter and facebook and showcase my journey as a live photo-blog.

http://facebook.com/srinistuff

http://twitpic.com/photos/srinistuff

Also joining me on this trip are a some of my close friends with whom i regularly go on trips/treks.. Swapnil, his wife, Mangesh and his friend…

From the twitterverse, my new found friends @irohan and @_vishalg would be part of this trip.

This journey is also inspired by my conversation time and again with Chris Collins – (http://nicolaskumar.com/) Author of (Valley of Flowers)  – Chris, thanks for all your advice and help… As soon as I’m back from this trip, the first thing on the agenda is to get the book and read it… That way, I’d be able to relate to everything in it much better. 🙂

So here’s the plan (Some details might be helpful for others who plan to travel here)

Leave for Haridwar via Dehradun Express tonight…

Reach on the 31st July, just in time for the Maha Aarti.. Which is a beautiful and a spectacular sight and something that we should not miss… Hari-Ki-Pauri as it’s popularly known…

Haridwar

Haridwar

1st August

A few more locations in Haridwar, mainly…

Maya Devi Mandir , located on upper road. This temple is one of the 51 “shakti peeths” and its the presiding deity of Haridwar. It is from this temple Haridwar derives its other name Mayapur.

Maya Devi Temple

Bharat Mata Mandir, 5 km north of the center. Dedicated to Mother India, this is half temple, half nation building exercise, with seven floors stacked with deities, saints, and secular heroes of all Indian faiths. Some signage in English.

Bharat Mata Mandir

Bharat Mata Mandir

Bilkeshwar Mahadev Mandir , Shiva temple located on a hill.

Depending on how much time we have on our hands, we’d plan to see these places.

2nd August

Rishikesh

We take an early morning train to Rishikesh. Hemkunt Express – Leaves Haridwar at 6.50 AM and reaches Rishikesh by 8.00 AM. That’s the only train available in the morning. Else we might have to take Vikrams/Rickshaws costs (Rs.60-70) max per rick.

I checked out info for white-water rafting and most places say the season is September-November and March-April-May ideal for rafting. But we can get to know once we are there….My friend Swapnil has also got a few contacts, who say they might be able to arrange for the rafting.

White Water Rafting

White Water Rafting

 

Let’s see how it goes. Besides River Rafting we can visit these places on the 2nd at Rishikesh…

 

Lakshman Jhula, Trayambakeshwar Temple, Lakshman Jhula. is 13 stories high, with different deities throughout.  edit

Lakshman Jhula

Lakshman Jhula

Triveni Ghat, This is a bathing ghat. Daily in the morning and evening there are thousands who take bath here and enjoy the Maha Aarti being performed. It very soothing to sit on the banks of the river and enjoy the cool breeze from the river.

3rd August onwards we report to YHAI Basecamp and follow their itinerary…

4th  August – We take a bus from Rishikesh – Joshimath

Enroute Joshimath

Enroute Joshimath

5th August –  Orientation walk / Visit to Auli and Tapovan

6th August – Joshimath to Govindghat by Bus…

Joshimath to Govindghat by Bus

Joshimath to Govindghat by Bus

6th August – Govindghat – Ghangaria Ghat (A trek of 13kms) This one’s going to be the real test as the place that we would trek would have rain, and there are some really slants that we have to overcome carrying at least 10kgs of backpack is certainly going to be a challenge. While we have trekked over 20-30 kms in a day, this 13km trek would be with full supply backpack and the altitude would be quite challenging, add to that the cold and rain… Should be fun at the same time.

Govindghat to Ghangaria Ghat

Govindghat to Ghangaria Ghat

7th August – Ghangaria Ghat to Valley of Flowers… Now this is the most beautiful place that we hope would really make the 13km trek the previous day, worth it’s while… It’s about 8kms to and fro. This should be easier as our backpack would be at the camp and the trek is much lighter. But the beauty of the park and the flowers in the valley… would really be amazing.. The photos will tell you for sure 🙂 Stay tuned… In the meantime you can also read my poem about the Valley of Flowers here

Valley of Flowers

Valley of Flowers

8th August – Ghangaria Ghat to Hemkund Saheb – This is another amazing place, a worshipping shrine for Sikhs, this place is divine and much more beautiful in terms of the scenic locations and I hope to get a glimpse of some glacier / Ice as well…

Hemkund Saheb

Hemkund Saheb

9th August – We trek back to Govindghat.. The 13km trek.. This should be easier as it’s downhill…

10th August – Govindghat to Badrinath is around 25 kms and this would be a bus journey. Some rest to our ailing legs 😛

Badrinath Temple

Badrinath Temple

11th August – Badrinath – Vasudhara falls around 16km trek to and fro. This is a beauty… In the cold and the rain, it’s quite a pretty sight I’ve heard.

Vasudhara Falls

Vasudhara Falls

12th August –  Badrinath to Rishikesh and check out after breakfast…

Post that, since it’s a long weekend and we have a couple of days on our hand we may just chill in Rishikesh and then head back to Delhi on 13th or 14th August, from where we catch a train and reach Mumbai by 15th August and celebrate Independence Day at home 🙂

All this ordeal would be quite an experience and certainly a journey worth sharing… For now, I’d be updating pictures at

http://facebook.com/srinistuff

http://twitpic.com/photos/srinistuff

 

So stay tuned and hope you enjoy the updates.

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Ritz to Rajmachi – Off-roading Adventure

Foggy Morning

These are one of those trips that you always wish you had taken a while ago, and at the same time, not taken at all… Many a times we’ve been trekking to various destinations and most of the times, we take a car to the base-camp… Earlier it was a bike and now it’s a car, thanks to my friend Swapnil… His Ritz I must say has done a lot of miles in the couple of years that he’s been on the road with it. Long stretch of lands across various states to weekend getaways that have been really bumpy and super sleek at times. From grazing dirt tracks inside villages of Vidarbha to stretching a two day trip all the way to Indore and back to Mumbai.  And of course, the Alibaug, Kashid, Murud-Janjira is something which has become a routine. Lonavala – Tiger Hills is of course a destination which we do most of the times in the monsoon, but this time around we did something else… And of course, this had to be the brainchild of my ever enthusiastic best friend, also my college mate Swapnil himself. For those who don’t know him yet, well, we’ve been friends for over 12 years now and right from college both of us have been auto enthusiasts, me being the lesser one and almost every other time just being on the listening end of his aspirations and stories from various rallies, so much so, that I’ve taken up interest in Formula 1 only cause of our animated conversations and his total interest in the sport which he rubbed on to me way back in 2001.

Most of the times our trips have been adventurous, luxurious, crazy, tiring and bewildering… But none like this. It was a Saturday morning and Swapnil, Mangesh and I decided to leave early in the morning on this trip in his Ritz…

Swapnil & Mangesh

“Let’s take this baby all the way up to the basecamp.” That’s what Swapnil said…

“What?? You really hate your car don’t you?” was my first reaction…

Apparently not… Now this could certainly be a good exercise for Maruti guys to test their vehicles and maybe build an entire campaign around it… Anyone seen the Woodland shoes ad?? 😉

For regular trekkers, they take a 15km hike to the basecamp or most of the times we get people bike it up till the base camp. Of course, the villagers or people who have to go back and forth, might at the most have Jeeps which can take them that far, especially during the rains…

For a Ritz to go up there…. Was quite a task, a task like most others, which we always end up achieving… This is where we went and boy o boy, don’t ask us How??

Bumpy rides, dirt tracks, steep turns and a whole lot of rocks and stones to test us… This was quite a ride. There were uphill and downhill roller coasters on our way, so much so, I couldn’t shoot or take pics. Steady is not what I could expect at all…

Most of the time it didn’t rain throughout our uphill journey and we finally did reach one spot, where there is a small stall. That’s not even the base-camp. A guy usually cooks Maggi, Bhaji-Pav and stocks loads of biscuits and other snacks. Well, since we reached this spot at around 7 AM, we had to wait…

As luck would have it we discovered, there was a small waterfall near this place… But we had to go down to really get below / under the water and it was a downhill slope and had to trek down a few yards to get there… Well…. IT HAD TO BE DONE!

That's where the falls were...

…And when we say ‘IT HAS TO BE DONE’… we 99% of the time mean it…

Well, It had to be done... 😉 so...

So, anyways, that’s just the half of it… We haven’t even got started… Thankfully, by the time we were done with playing around the waterfalls, getting soaked in that foggy morning and enjoying the cold water and by the time we came up… the guy from the hut had opened his shop… What more did we want?

Mr. Kekda Khan

Certainly not this crab to bite us… 😛 Meet Mr. Kekda Khan, who happily posed for my camera.. Add to that he was really enthusiastic when the camera zoomed on to him. So much so he did the Kekda Dance, moving his claws up and down…

Maggi... Never fails you... wherever you go

But yes, eating HOT Maggi early in the morning is certainly what we wanted… Well, that’s what we thought at that time…. We really didn’t know what was in store for us…

So we move ahead and head towards the base-camp… Lo behold… There was this huge rock on the road… Mangesh said it wasn’t there last week. He’s a regular trekker and was there by foot last week. It was a landslide and there was very little space for the car to squeeze through… On the other side of the road was a cliff… and it was also blocked by rocks, if not as huge as the one fallen, at least huge enough for us to make them budge…

“Every problem can be solved…” That’s always our motto when we go out on these adventures…

We tried moving smaller rocks, whichever we could squeeze through and tried to make some space… Well, it was a little better than before, but not enough to let the car go by… If nothing else, the car would just go down the ravine or scrape some metal on the huge rock… Now, that’s something we didn’t want to happen. Add to that, it was a muddy track, so couldn’t quickly skid through that part.

Then we took on the task to move the bigger rocks on the side… Tried sliding it, lifting it… Reminded me of that episode of Dhani Tackles the Globe, where he goes to Scotland and lifts huge rocks as part of a competition. Heck you might even have watched Worlds Strongest Men doing these antics for a living… But we certainly weren’t them and we needed some one else to help us out on this…

What more do you want?? Of course, we needed a few people to help us… There were a couple of guys who came from the other side… the village or the base camp, but they were villagers who were going to work in town… We sure didn’t want their hands dirty 😛

As luck would have it, just like our most other situations, we met a bunch of trekkers who thankfully agreed to help us out… And within a jiffy, we moved most of the huge rocks making enough space for the car to go by…

Between a Rock and a Hard Place...

What happened after that is not for me to tell you in this off-roading chronicle, but certainly this experience was quite different from most of the trips we’ve ever taken. Have you ever been in any such situations?

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