Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sattal : Absolute calmness

March issue of Outlook Traveler had a small booklet about adventure holidays in India that I read when I was going to Bhimbetka on 2nd of April 2011. From all the entries "Sattal" nearby Nanital was stuck to my mind. It seems to be a quite promising place with possibly lesser tourist at sight. So, finally on April 16, 2011 it was decided by me and my friend Ravinder to give it a shot. I visited the www.kmvn.gov.in and got the number of KMVN Sattal (05942247047, 08650002529). Due to off season the rate was already discounted with INR 1125, 1425 and 1675 for the three categories. Breakfast and dinner are included in this for two persons.

So finally we started at 12 in the night from Sahibabad and drive through NH24 via Ghaziabad, Hapur bypass, Moradabad, Rampur then on NH87 to Rudrapur, Haldwani, Nanital and finally Sattal. Total drive was around 320 km. Nanital to Bhimtal road takes a right diversion to Sattal, which has the best view of entire route.

Beautiful skyline of Sattal

We reached here by 7 in the morning. Nestled by small hills this is actually one lake which has total seven corners that is why it is known as Sattal.

Staying option also included YMCA lake side camps which charges 2500 Rs. including complementary breakfast for four bedded camp, however in off-season it was available at 1800. But we liked the KMVN room much. There are no houses and most of the people came here for day trip from Nanital.

YMCA camps
Deluxe cottage of KMVN
After taking some rest we started with boating. Although one hour time is not adequate for boating but we enjoyed every moment of it. Boating facility is also available in moon night if somebody like to.

Boating experience is just superb

In these pics camera is mounted on binocular lens

After that we purchased two small torches available at nearby shop and trek till YMCA hill side cottage.

YMCA hill cottage
It was all vacant and we stayed there till dark, enjoying our little adventure and complete darkness and calmness which is no ways to feel in cities.

Finally we can't resist to set timer
Complete calmness and listening the voice of forest
Back to hotel we asked for bonfire. There we learn how to use the Pine tree flowers, its leafs and Pine wood to lit the fire.

Ravinder is very good in these kind of stuff
There is no reason that everybody should do work

Dinner was served in room on request which was very good. We stayed till 12 to enjoy the complete silence and our privacy with nature.It was constant drizzling but still we managed by taking dining table plastic sheets from hotel staff.

Next day by 7 AM we started from there and this time took the route of Sattal, Bhimtal, Haldwani then same as earlier. This way Haldwani is just 32 km and one will get to drive along Bhimtal which is quite pleasant experience. We reached Delhi by 2 PM to attend the office, thanks to media job if we don't get leave easily then at least can manage our shifts.
No regrets we are completely rejuvenated and ready to take the world for another week.
Few Statistics:

On CNG we run till Haldwani i.e. 240 km         
Total Petrol Cost was 1500 Rs.
Driving time 7 hours approx. considering the traffic jam due to few uncompleted flyover on NH24.
Deluxe cottage costs 1425 Rs (Off season is till 30th April).
Boat ride 190 Rs for one hour.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Dhanaulti: A little Paradise

Last year I planned my Christmas vacation to Mussoorie in and around. Although I never been there but I had this feeling that Mussoorie is gonna to be so crowded and I'll not like it. So, I search more about nearby excursion and I came to know about Dhanaulti.

Situated at an altitude of 2286m
Through overnight bus I reached Deharadun. The hill bus station is within the Dehradun railway station premises. Some 30-40 bucks and 35 km something drive will take you to the queens of hill through a bus. The journey was quite pleasant and one have to make choice that where to get off because usually buses are ply to distant route. Most of the buses will take to famous Campty fall.

First Glimpse of Mussoorie
May be due to Christmas or probably its proximity to Delhi and other major cities, Mussoorie was over crowded. So I decided to move to Dhanaulti which I already had in my mind. Before that i had great breakfast in highly recommended Kalsang restaurant.

Must visit Place : Kalsang Restaurant
Table top of Kalsang Restaurant
Waiting to get served
At Gandhi Chowk in Mussoorie there is a Garhwal Tourist information centre but that day unfortunately no trip for Dhanaulti was planned because of lack of tourist on that route, so I asked about alternate ways and someone suggest me that you go to Tehri Bus stand from there you'll get the bus for Dhanaulti. Also they said lightly it is just 30 minutes walk. A word of caution, never trust on Hill people on distance related matter, because they probably measures the Arial distances. Steep paths will easily take just double or may be triple time for people belongs to plane. Anyways I clicked few more photographs while walking and reached Tehri bus stand uncomfortably.

The bus charge was another 35 bucks for Dhanaulti which is relatively on much higher altitude. You can see breathtaking views en-route.

It is a very small place; just few 100 meters stretched but like a jewel in crown.
Rooms are available here from 6000 to 350 Rs, being alone I choose the least one, which was yet decent with a TV and Geyser. Except 'Star Utsav' and 'Zee Smile' all channels were from Doordarshan network which one has to bear to save some money. I slept for few hours then stroll with locals on tea shop and dhabas to get the first hand information about the place. One thing I always felt in hill people that although they are keen to know about the life of big cities like Delhi but still feel satisfied about their hustle free cozy lifestyle. And when we confirmed that we are getting uncomfortable with fast pace of our life and came here in search of peaceful moments they always welcome us with a sense of proud.

Next day I woke up early and clicked lots of photographs. What to say just have a look;

Skyline of Dhanaulti
Hawa se baten karte
Around 8 in the morning and you can still see moon
Dawn is mesmerizing in Dhanaulti
You will followed by nobody
This image is my favorite

Completely mesmerized with the charm of this magical tiny place I came around 4 pm to Mussoorie. I had little spare time but not sufficient to visit Campty falls so I visited to Company Garden, which was a real disaster for lone travelers like me. It was so much crowded, offers absolutely nothing and was like a family picnic spot.

Mussoorie as seen from Company Garden
You can be at this place through Rickshaw for 150 bucks to and fro, which is actually a pleasant surprise because I have never seen Rickshaw before in a hill station. Lal Bahadur Shastri IAS training academy is also close to it.

Finally I back to Dehradun by 7 pm to catch my train Mussoorie express.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Paint your imagination

Hello fellow travelers. This time I really proved to myself that “I can do anything for traveling”. Because this time I traveled on the day of World Cup Final i.e. 2nd April 2011 to Bhopal. I thought if India wins, I’ll feel equally happy whether I witnessed it or not but if we proved unfortunate then at least I’ll not feel much pain because I’ll be at one of the most attractive and least visited UNESCO heritage site in India called Bhimbetka.

So, ladies and gentleman here goes my story;

As all of you must heard that “fortunes favors brave”, I experienced it at Habibganj station, Bhopal. After de-boarding Nizamuddin-Bhopal Express I started negotiating with autowalas to take me to Bhimbetka. They were asking 700-800 for a round trip with stay of maximum 2 hours. Suddenly a guy of my age came to me and offered me a ride to Bhimbetka and in around for 1000 bucks. Finally we settled for 500+all day expenses (like food, drink, cigarettes etc.). Here starts the enjoyment, I myself drove the bike (that was a passion pro) entire day. The guy Arun told me that most of the day he came to Railway station and pick someone like me on his bike and drove to Bhimbetka, Sanchi, Bhojpur or any nearby places. A true angle! What else I can ask for. Even if any of you want his number I can provide the same.

So, here we are, this is an ancient cave temple.

Wondering who wrote this? Is it Bhim himself given an autograph?

Only Bhim at site ?

Behind me you can see the vast landscape of Ratapani Forest, where recently 14 Tigers were located and soon it is going to be declared as Tiger reserve.

These are little information if you like to…

Now this is the gateway to history…

For a moment I am going to keep silent because an image is worth of 1000 words and if it is 5000 years old then you can multiply the result.

Don't forget the caves...

Looks like Dinosaur to me…

This one is like turtle…

And it looks like frog …

Now little rest

Back to work

After taking lunch we decided to go Bhojpur. The landscape was just great. Arun told me that Sunny Deol starrer Dacoit was filmed here.

This was Arun's bike behind me.

I am not going to bore you with history stuff, if you wish you can read it yourself.

I haven't seen such a massive Shivling any where else. The priest is used to pour water to make the lord calm I guess.

This is for lord Shiva that when I'll visit him on Mount Kailash (my utmost desire) he will recognize me.

Still some time was there and my train was@9 pm so we visited Birla temple from where whole Bhopal including Bada Talab can be seen.

Finally we went for dinner @ New Hakim restaurant in Bhopal which was pathetic. Sorry Bhopali's but you people must visit to Karim in old Delhi then you will know what the authentic non-vegetarian food is all about. Even the Tandoori roti they offered was worst I ever had, and Arun told me that it is like this in most of the Bhopal, I really feel good about Delhi where muglai food is out of the world. Before going to Bhopal I had seen NDTV's famous program "Zaika India ka" video about Bhopal in which Vinod dua said that Bhopal doesn't have its own food culture. And every ruler who came here bring his own way of eating.

So this is how I spent my day, quite hectic but rewarding.

Statistics :

Hazrat Nizamuddin to Bhopal – 700km – 234 rs in sleeper class one way
Bhopal (Habibganj) to Bhimbetka – 45 km
Bhimbetka to Bhojpur – 40 km approx
Habibganj to Birla Temple – 15 km round trip
Lunch – 178 (Vegetarian)
Dinner – 200 (Non-Vegetarian)
Guide Arun Charged – 500 Rs.
Bhimbetka entry fees – 30 or 40 Rs/vehicle (I don’t remember exactly)
Total 200 Rs petrol was used.