Either you are not as good as you are, or you are better than you thought you were. Either ways, who are you?
We live in world where deadlines are getting shorter and the list of aspirations is just getting longer. Everyone wants to support peace but there is no peace whatsoever, not in the world outside, not inside your own mind.
Everyone is looking to try something new, get a new experience, a new photograph, a new story in this never-ending race to be different. Travel has always been there as an option, but it has been expensive so far. Not so anymore.
Thanks to our photographers, bloggers, story tellers, social media stars, travelling is not an unaffordable luxury anymore. One can travel the whole world sitting at home without moving an inch and even better without spending a naya (new) paisa. Even if you have not been to the leaning tower of Pisa, or the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Safaris in South Africa or experienced the chill in the Himalayas; you exactly know what the place looks like, smells like, feels like or even tastes like. You have seen so many pictures again and again especially of the landmarks and even the off-beat places that you already know what to expect where and what to do when a plan B is called upon. You may not like it if you actually visit the place. Fiction is better than reality and its free.
It is being hammered into your mind at each social media platform that experience is the new currency and if you do not know about it, you are losing out. Brands are already portraying their products, services as an excuse to feed your never-satiating hunger for new experiences. Society is made of all of us, each one is a story teller and nobody wants to listen to the same story twice, doesn’t matter if you have the same story with a different experience, you will be written off at the beginning itself.
So, there are ones who want to tell you about all the experiences you are missing out on and make your already difficult life even more miserable. And there are those who are yelling at you to do your own thing, even if you do not know it. They are asking you to quit your job, jump off the building while calling it a leap of faith. Who would you believe?
Either you are not as good as you are, or you are better than you thought you were. Either ways, who are you?
We are reading, watching stories each day about people who are doing well, not-so-well, failing or making it big because they dreamt big. There you are also being reminded about writing your own stories and making it big for yourself.
Some of us travel to find peace, some go till Nainital, some till Ranikhet and some take the literal pain to reach the foothills of Himalayas while a select few climb it too. No matter how far you go, you will still have to pass through the traffic snarl at Ghaziabad, then Meerut, Hapur and so on both on your way to attain peace as well as on your back after having attained peace.
What is cruel is the restlessness of the other car which overtakes you wrongly at the toll point just to save that extra 10 seconds and then, there you drop the peace you had travelled all the way for. It must be true that peace comes from within but then some of us need to travel to find fresh air to find that peace within. There is a strong correlation between peace and things like fresh air, no-honks quiet, nature, innocent smiles etc. I am still trying to decode the same and I am told many people are trying to find a solution to attain peace at home. I hope someone cracks the code soon so that there is less traffic on the city borders for regular travelers.
I do not have a solution to any of the problems, no one has, probably each one of us has and we must try to find ours. If you keep searching for it on social media or in stories, that solution may not work for you. Either ways, just take a deep breath or not, drop that damn social-media-marketing-products-selling-device from your hand and find out what the problem is. There probably is none and just anxiety being caused by the thing you just dropped.
From Line of Control to Line of Actual Control and that night…
India has a coastline as long as 7500 kms spanning 13 states, UTs as well as islands while the border line with 6 nations is almost the double at over 14000kms which is known as LOC, LAC as well as international border based on the relation with the particular country.
Ladakh is one region where you can move from one international border to another in a span of hours through terrains so surreal, that it feels out of the world. The road trip from Thang – northernmost village before LOC; Pakistan occupied Kashmir is a hours drive from Chushul – village on the eastern side of Ladakh close to LAC (Chinese claimed Ladakh). Both the landscapes are vivid and have a different vibe to each and what connects both is the road rarely taken.
We started from Diskit late morning and took the Agham – Shyok – Durbuk – Pangong – Spangmik – Man – Merak route to reach Chushul. The narrow passage runs through plains and mountain terrains while never letting go of the Pangong lake view making the drive more adventurous than daunting. As soon as you cross Spangmik village, you are on your own with rare sightings of gulls flying over Pangong Tso, kiangs (wild asses as tall as horses) and yaks grazing but rarely a human.
The farther you move, the closer you get to wilderness. By the time we spotted Chushul it was getting dark and we were getting restless if we were in the right direction or not. Vast lands with no sign of human life eventually get to you. Preparation for the worst is the only key to survival and our caravan is generally prepared for worse. As soon as we spotted Chushul village at a distance, there was a sigh of relief as dusk had just started spreading its gloomy wings across the valley.
By the time we made it to Chushul village, the darkness and the chill in the air alongside hectic drive throughout the day made us cancel our pitch-our-tent-where-we-like plan. All we needed was a comfortable place to stay, not fancy – just basic but cozy. As we spread out to fetch something to eat from the shops nearby, local children surrounded our cars, all staring at us. Most of the stuff at the general shops was well past its expiry date. Only after lot of looking around and being refused by a couple of locals to stay around, we realized staying at Chushul might be a challenge. The culture of home-stays is not common in the village. Thankfully, one good samaritan offered to help and made a call to one guest-house nearby. It was pitch dark by now and if the caretaker had not answered the call, we were in deep sh%$.
After waiting outside the guesthouse for what seemed like eternity, an old man walked out with a solar lamp on his head. He stared at all of us for a while and said, we need to get approval from the local authorities to be able to stay the night. Thankfully, he agreed to accompany one of our vehicles to the police station at night. Even waiting outside on plain road was difficult as the chilly wind would find its way to tease us one way or the other. When they returned with permission, our dear friend brought along some strict instructions from the local police station.
This place was a couple of kilometers from the Chinese border
Our purpose of visit to Chushul was seriously questioned
We were instructed not to roam around at night and under-no-condition with a torch (the Chinese troops kept a close watch at all night activities)
The officer joked about offering target practice opportunity to the not-so-welcoming neighbor and we were in no mood to defy his commands
As soon as we started to settle in one section of the guest house, the care-taker seemed to be in a hurry to rush back to his place. He was in no mood to share pleasantries, never told us his name and gave hurried directions on what’s kept where. He allowed us to use his kitchen at an additional charge and quickly got us two gallons of drinking water which was clearly filled from a running stream nearby. He demanded to be paid the complete amount in advance and retired for the night. It was barely 9pm, but somehow the day already seemed long.
A couple of us got into the kitchen to prepare maggi, toasts and thankfully we were keeping extra water bottles with us for odd days like this. One look outside and you would feel like you are in a completely different part of the world with grim borderlines of large mountains at a distance, a handful of stars hiding under dense cover of clouds and just one gompa completely lit-up in the middle of nowhere. We were busy talking about the day, food and time passed until dinner was to be served. The walk from the kitchen till the dining area was barely 15 steps but something was not right. It was an old low-roof structure where the passage from kitchen to dining room involved a 10 steps walk out in the cold.
The last person to enter the room felt someone walking besides him almost running through him while he was holding food in his hand. Downplaying his excitement and retaining his calm, he requested someone else to get the remaining spoons from the kitchen. The girl volunteered to fetch them and returned back to the dining room all out-of-breath and announced that she is not stepping out for the night.
It was soon clear that something about the place was not right and we all finished dinner and tried to divert attention to other subjects in whispers. Just after dinner, as we were to keep the leftovers in the kitchen, we all ventured outside with caution. It was a pitch dark night with cold wind making weird sounds. There was this little old room at a raised platform where the wooden door was dancing to the tunes to wind making a loud creaky noise. We took charge of shutting the noise as it would have made sleeping impossible. As soon as I moved my hand to shut it, the door suddenly opened completely with a loud thud and two people had to pull it and bring it close to the lock (making sure that none of us peeked inside). It took three fully grown men to control the door and tie it with a metal wire to suppress the noise.
In the entire Ladakh region, electricity is shut off at exact 11 pm, reminded one person and it was 20 minutes for absolutely no light in the area. We all retired to our rooms, this time placing our beds next to each other. It was very brave of two of us to fetch sleeping bags from our vehicles parked next to the rooms, however the few seconds long excursion left us breathless with an abnormally high adrenaline and the fear that we were being followed.
Throwing layers of blankets over us, we all pretended to sleep that night and no one said a word.
It was suddenly very bright at 5 am as if it was noon already. We had to wait for the caretaker till 0830 while I strolled and clicked a few pictures of the area seeing the vast landscapes in broad day light. It was just open lands and hills as far as the eye could see on one side and mountains on the other side. The all-lit gompa stood at a distance all pretty.
As soon as we saw the caretaker we were in a rush to leave and start our journey onwards. He demanded that we place the beds in the same order as we had found them previous night. We quickly heeded to his instructions and left the place all relieved.
Nobody looked back at the place or spoke about it, till we reached Rezang La, the site of the last stand of 120 brave soldiers of 13 Kumaoni Regiment who crushed waves of Chinese attack during the India-China war of 1962. They fought till the last man, last bullet and last breath. If not for them, Ladakh would be under Chinese control right now. For the first time in the last 24 hours, there was something sad but positive about this region.
In that moment of comfort we started discussing about the previous night. None of us could sleep properly the previous night. My bed had a slant making me pull myself back up every 5 minutes. Henna kept feeling cold and hot at sudden intervals.
She asked me why did I tap her head repeatedly last night and I didn’t try to convince her that I did not. I was feeling sorry that I pulled back my hand and slept while she was feeling scared, but she thanked me for offering her comfort and support throughout the night.
Just as were joining the dots, Achal mentioned that he did not believe in anything until he was shaken awake thrice last night. Sunanda and Rahul did not flinch their eyes for a second and kept pointing their torches towards the weird noise that kept emanating from the broken window of the restroom. While at the pass, Sunanda revealed that she sensed Chinese soldiers in the room and I had dreamt of them in my short sleep.
It has not even been a week and we are still discovering newer facts about that night. The contact number of that caretaker has been switched off ever since.
I took an impromptu trip with my two childhood best friends, two years back. We witnessed a rare meteor shower, among other things…
It was a journey full of thrill, fun and amazement. One of my friends is a Wildlife Filmmaker & Photographer and wanted to shoot the meteor shower of the Eta Aquarids created by debris of Hailey’s a phenomenon that happens once in 76 years. As she told us about this, the two of us at once decided to join her and this impromptu plan turned into one of the best trips of our lives.
We started for Dhanaulti the next morning and reached in almost 7 hours. The first place we visited was Dhanaulti Eco Park, amidst thick Rhododendron, Cedar and Pine. We trekked towards the park and reached on the top from where we enjoyed a spectacular view sitting on the swings. These little joys make a trip worth cherishing and so we did whatever we could to make the trip memorable. We also stopped by to have some hot spicy Maggi and realised that “pahado ki Maggi” is indeed the most delectable thing one can have.
Now was the time for all the challenges, thrill and chills as our hunt for a secluded and peaceful place to set our camp began. We were not looking for a proper camping area; instead an untouched place at a certain level from where we could have a clear view of the starry sky. In order to shoot the meteor shower, we needed a dim spot where light wouldn’t reflect.
A little ahead of Dhanaulti in Kanatal, with the help of some locals, we found the perfect place in the wilderness to set our camp. The place was far from the village with no or little sign of human intervention. The locals also warned us about the place being a little risky being a remote forest area but we were all ready for an adventurous night. Little did we know that the night would be more thrilling than expected. As soon our tent was set, mother nature surprised us with heavy rains, thunderstorm and lightning. For almost four hours we had to lock ourselves inside with zero hopes that our tent would be able to survive the weather but when it did, we were thankful. The night grew so cold that we almost experienced what it would be like to freeze.
By this time, the possibility of shooting the meteor shower was washed away by a thick cover of clouds. So we decided to sleep in turns with alarms set for every half hour to check on the weather. We were well equipped with torch & lighters and pocket-size safety equipment like pepper spray, swiss knife and paper cutters to protect ourselves from wild animals and also unwanted humans. The night was quite scary; we could hear and feel every little sound of nature, even that of silence, in the forest area.
It was only after midnight that the thunderstorm and rain stopped. The stars became a bit visible and the rain-washed sky looked extremely beautiful that the three of us couldn’t help but admire it all with just our heads popped out from the tent; it was too cold to step out and we weren’t backed with enough warm clothes . (Tip for last minute travel plan to the hills: do not leave without a big thick jacket).It was around 3 am when we jumped with joy and could not believe our eyes; we were looking at the meteor shower!.. We gathered some courage and finally moved out of the tent. While my friend was busy capturing the spectacular view in her lens, me and my other friend guarded ourselves by keeping an eye on all sides.
Once the shoot was done, we could rest our eyes with a little peace. Mornings in mountains amidst forest are peaceful and so unlike waking up to alarms, we woke up to the chirping of birds. The realization that we survived a terrifying night brought absolute relief and we gave each other a pat on the back. In difficult situations like these, positive attitude and encouragement means a lot and that is what the three of us kept doing to each other the entire night. When the locals heard about us they were amused as not often they see young girls doing something adventurous in the wild. One of them even told us that he will tell his daughters about us and that how brave we were to overcome our fears. Hearing this brought a sense of achievement for all of us in the true sense.
On our way back, we also visited the Tehri Dam and were mesmerised by the beauty of the region. We kept talking about how tranquil the morning was, in contrast with the night we left behind. Perhaps, that is how you feel after coming on the other side of a spine-chilling adventure.
For a perfect weekend, Escape Route picks up these ten destinations around Delhi that make for stunning weekend escapes…
For those who love to travel, a perfect weekend is about escaping the daily grind and exploring new destinations. From historical marvels and wildlife sanctuaries to picturesque hill stations and cultural havens, pick the destination of your choice along with a suggested stay option and escape for a road trip! (Please note: The distance to each of the following is as measured from Delhi.)
Bhowali – 307 kms
In the vicinity of many popular hill stations of Uttarakhand, beautifully secluded Bhowali is a relaxing weekend escape. You will find the beauty of nature in abundance here; it is one of those destinations to go to and do nothing at. If travelling between June and August, you must get your hands on freshly ripened apples, apricots, peaches and plums indigenous to the area. Other than that, explore an existing nature trail or discover one of your own, hike to the famous Tiffin Top to see what the view from their looks like.
As you arrive in the capital city of Rajasthan, its vibrancy, culture, and people make you its own… The famous forts and palaces are the heart of the Pink City; be it experiencing the sunrise from the top of Nahargarh Fort, an elephant ride in the Amber Palace, a walk through the heritage Hawa Mahal or the sunset view from Jal Mahal built in the middle of Man Sagar Lake, each has its own charm.
On the other hand, the hustle-bustle in the colourful streets of Baapu Bazaar and Johari Bazaar keeps the city alive and is something to be experienced. It is a paradise for shoppers as a range of artefacts, jewellery, traditional footwear, apparels and leather items etc., can be found here as you walk through the lanes. For the foodies, local delicacies such as daal bati churma, ghevar and pyaaz kachodis in the bylanes of Jaipur must be relished. The city has been one of the most convenient weekend escapes for the people of Delhi and we see no reason why it shouldn’t be!
To travel to the city of love, take the route through Yamuna-Agra Expressway and enjoy a smooth and comfortable road trip. Chances are that this will not be your first time in Agra and you might already have plenty photos with the Taj Mahal. Whether or not that is the case, this time, try and look at Agra as the capital that it was during the Mughal Empire. Trace the walls of the Red Fort,
The city owns the most magnificent architecture, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Taj Mahal, built on the banks of river Yamuna. It is the royal beauty of this monument and picturesque location that attracts travelers from across the globe.
While Taj Mahal is built from the precious white marble, its sister monument – the Agra Fort – is beautifully built in red and white sandstone. Don’t forget to try the popular “Agra Ka Petha” while you stay in Agra. 35km ahead of this is Fatehpur Sikri, a city with grandeur indo-Islamic architecture, culture and Mughal heritage worth exploring.
Apart from the adventure activities, Rishikesh, is also a center for spirituality and pilgrimage as the scenic view and holy atmosphere detoxifies the mind and soul. If you like solitude and introspection, then Parmarth Niketan is a must visit for meditation and spiritual healing. Well, the Beatles Ashram is also a place to be at, the famous music band visited the place back in 1968 to learn Transcendental Meditation and since the last few years it has become a famous tourist spot. Small shops offer head massage and body massages while restaurants like Chotiwala, street food and small bakeries will entice your taste buds.
*Please note that Shivpuri has been shut since the beginning of June and rafting activities have been discontinued until further government notice.
The paradise of bird watchers, Bharatpur, is the ultimate destination for exotic bird watching and nature photography in the popular Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary or Keoladeo National Park. Come here to listen to the songs of nature and enjoy the magical flora & fauna. Rare and endangered species of birds right from Sarus Cranes, Herons & Egrets to Indian Darter migrate here during different seasons. It is not advisable to cover the entire area on foot instead you can opt for a cycle or Tonga ride as well as jeep safari and elephant back safari, which are more fun amidst the nature.
The Lohagarh Fort in Bharatpur is magnificent and strong architectural structure ever built in India and this is a place often explored by curious travellers. The lovers of history often discover their “bliss” in the Government Museum of Bharatpur, where they find illustrations, sculptures, artifacts, weapons of the Jat rulers, zoological preserves and manuscripts paintings all under one roof dating back to second century.
Bhimtal, The Lake City, is an ideal getaway for a peaceful and pleasing stay amidst hills and lake. Nature lovers find this picturesque location their abode for the variety of activities they do here to stay close to nature such as exotic bird watching, nature walk, boating and much more. Unlike its more popular cousin Nainital, Bhimtal is more peaceful and less crowded which makes it more striking to nature lovers looking for an escape. There are these little tals around Bhimtal easily discoverable on foot, each with a story to tell.
Do not forget to pay visit to the Butterfly Research Centre, the fourth largest reference collection centre in India for butterfly and moth. It is believed that in Bhimtal alone, around 240 species of butterflies is found of the total 1300 species present in India. Also, what adds value to a place is the charming stays and the hospitable staff, giving you the best of services and local guidance during the stay.
If you are looking for a relatively less crowded and unspoilt hill station then, Lansdowne is the place to be at. The road journey from Delhi to Lansdowne is about 7 to 8 hours with well-connected roads, so for a relaxing weekend escape, it is one of the pleasing hill stations to be at. A perfect escape from city life, Landsdowne is an easy option to rejuvenate your soul.
One of the tourist attractions here is, The War Memorial, at the Parade Ground of the Garhwal Rifles Center, for which you will need permission from the military authority. With a short walk you could get a panoramic view of the Garhwal Hills with the backdrop of magnificent Himalayan Range., During monsoons, this hill station witnesses devotees of Lord Shiva from all over paying visit to its most famous temple, Kaleshwar Mahadev Temple.
Get lost in nature amidst mountains and dense forest of tall oak and deodar trees and explore the serenity of this peaceful hill station. Unlike many other active hill stations of Uttarakhand, Dhanaulti is peaceful and untouched which is why travelers dwell to this place for solitude during weekends. For the adventurous kind, there is a lot Dhanaulti has to offer, such as hiking in the lush green forests of Dhanaulti is the perfect thing to start your day with. Rappelling, Burma bride, horse riding and various other adventurous activities can be enjoyed in the Eco Park. The hot & delicious Maggi and tea served right at the entrance of the park will calm your hunger pangs and relish the taste buds in the mountains. Dhanaulti has less of luxury accommodation options, so camping under the open sky with stars twinkling right above makes the trip an everlasting experience. Tents can be availed on rent as well.
Rejuvenate yourself completely in this calm and beautiful hill station, Landour. Almost 5kms, away from the crowded bazars of Mussoorie, it is a more serene place to be at. Prefer a walk between the bazars of Mussoorie and Landour and enjoy the tranquility of life. As you move towards the Laal Tibba Hill, which is the highest point in Mussoorie, hold your breath because from here you experience the most charismatic sunrise and sunset.
Landour’s Chaar Dukan area is quite pretty and a popular spot, where tourists often stop-by for lip-smacking sandwiches, ginger lemon honey tea, Maggi, juices and more at Anil’s Café. Landour happens to be the hometown of Ruskin Bond, so you might get a glimpse of him. It is one of the first places in India where Peanut Butter was made commercially so do not forget to carry some fresh homemade peanut butter back to your homes.
Sarika Tiger reserve has held its fort for tourists over past many decades. The population of tigers might have been in question once in a while, but the place is the nearest getaway for wildlife enthusiasts from Delhi. Here, you will find a variety of wild animals such as jackals, leopards, jungle cats, wild boars, deer among many other not so wild species such as sambhar, spotted deer, lots and lots of peacocks. Some of the rarest species of birds migrate here, so for bird lovers this place has to be in their bucket list.
Though whenever one hears about Sariska, it is The Sariska National Park they think about but it has many hidden gems as well that are worth exploring such as the magnificent Sariska Palace, which was once the home of Maharajas of Alwar. The ruins of Bhangar fort, which is believed to be haunted is the most explored places when people visit Sariska. There are endless haunted stories of Bhangarh that catches people’s interest.
Please note that Sariska Tiger reserve is open for the public every day from October till May from 6 am till 3:30 pm.
Just like the beginning of life, each trip begins with an idea of hope, happiness and a new start…
A trip through unexplored routes fills us with freshness about an escape from the mundane. There is a start with determination that things will never be the same again and only better from thereon.
Sometimes you meet roadblocks in the beginning but those are soon overcome with the unending quest to explore something new, give our ideas the reality they deserve. As we grow, as we move forward in our trip, we meet new people. Each route, each person offers a new sight and new perspective. Every new stopover, every new interaction offers a new experience.
Each personality is developed by the perspectives we have built, experiences we have earned and that makes us decide what we like and what we will seek.
We have minimalists and glam packers, we have adventurists and comfort seekers, we have those who seek isolation and we also have story tellers, we have a variety of personalities, some seeking the same comfort everywhere and some seeking a new experience at each new turn. Technology and social media has coined a term for each and we have all become comfortable with our kind of personality whether it is in social life or real life.
While you are busy exploring newer terrains and yourself, you realize no matter what all you know and how good you are, there will always be people who face hardships better than you do. Those who embrace good parts of the trip, each new turn, condition, interaction, experience etc and you wish that you could be like them as well. You also learn that one trip is not enough to cover this big vast world and you start growing restless about what all you are about to miss.
There are challenging routes and there are fun routes but both are important for else, it will be meaningless to have a trip which did not present any hardships. By now you have realized that hardships make the best of stories, fun is just okayish.
There are also these parts of the trip where you are thankful to everyone for all that you have been able to cover and witness. There are these moments of eternal happiness and grave sorrow and sometimes they are too much to handle. But that’s just how it is and has to be dealt with.
While you are busy figuring out the answers to your own quests, discoveries, you realize the trip is already over and you must head back to where you came from. This generally results in an outbreak of emotions. Good or bad, ugly or beautiful, you realize that the trip was important. After all, all’s well that ends well.
“At last, we reached Komic; the signage read a height of 4587 meters and a village population of 114 inhabitants”…
The road that turns left from Koksar towards Spiti Valley does not look anything like a National Highway. It is full of challenges, adventure, risk and yet breathtaking landscapes. If you have covered the stretch from Jammu to Leh passing through the mud mountains, lunar landscapes, magnetic hill and more, you cannot expect Spiti Valley to surprise you, yet it enchants you like never before.
Our intention was to have evening tea at the highest motorable village in Asia, Kibber, and we crossed all hurdles with a smile. It was only at Key Monastery that we realised that the road now extends to Komic Village and the tag of the ‘highest motorable village’ had moved. The thing with tags such as highest, longest and brightest is that they can always be challenged. Unfazed, we changed our direction and set course towards Komic which was 21kms farther and much higher than the erstwhile highest village, Kibber. Not sure of what to expect, we were greeted by a narrow tar-less road uphill and a lot of dust, enough to change the colour of everything it touched. As we escalated up, the landscape kept getting more appealing and colourful. At last, we reached Komic village, the signage read a height of 4587 meters and a village population of 114 inhabitants. There was still no sign assuring of the highest-village-in-Asia claim. It was only after exchanging words with the indigenous lamas that the title was confirmed and we swell our chests with pride. Komic Village has a total of dozen odd houses and a 14th century old monastery which is the abode of Lamas. Most of the lamas keep shuffling between the Komic and Kaza as Kaza is the activity hub.
Komic means Snow Cock Eye. There are legendary stories associated to the village as robbers trying to steal the main deity but were unable to lift it after a point as it kept getting heavier, hidden treasures such as egg of the dragon, horn of a unicorn etc. Even the carving shapes of some stones will yell of delight. The earthquake in 1975 shattered the whole place around yet the deity statue at Komic held its place.
With one look around at the settling sun flickering over the Kaza mountain range, the thought of having tea at Asia’s highest village soon turned into the will to have dinner. We requested the head lama to let us stay the night and we were offered a room. We can never forget the delicious vegetable rice ‘pulao’ that the lama cooked up for us learning that we were hungry. We also gorged over vegetable ‘thenthuk’ for dinner. Well for tea, we are not sure how much we consumed as it tasted better than any other elixir in the world.
The village remains disconnected from the rest of the civilization for half the year due to heavy snow and lack of proper roads. The villagers are hospitable and are undaunted by lack of infrastructure or public services we, city dwellers, cannot live without. The trip to Komic is an essential escape from our worldliness to connect with the Lama life, to lay sight on landscapes and mountain ranges at same height as yours and more so to understand the true meaning of minimalism which cannot be taught better by anyone but the inhabitants of Komic village.
We are once again escaping to Spiti, in August this year. Know more about it here.
Everybody who used #hills #travel #fun #heaven and never thought #responsible is to be blamed…
‘Shimla locals ask tourists to stay away’
‘Congress MLAs have threatened to gherao the Municipal Corporation office, CM holds review meetings with different departments’
‘Mid-night protest march – citizens demand registration of FIR against the officials responsible for allegedly supplying sewage-mix water’
‘7 days of no water leave Shimla locals angry; tourists asked to stay away, find other options’
‘Government swings into action, divides Shimla into three zones to tackle water crisis. All are equal, no tankers for VIPs’
‘Court appeals residents to not wash cars,
‘Shimla’s daily requirement is around 42 MLD (million litres/day) water but supply fell to 22 MLD’
These are some of the headlines about the water crisis in the capital of Himachal Pradesh over the past one week. The Shimla water crisis that started as water shortage is over a week old and if reports are considered, it will loom over the next couple of weeks.
It is the worst thing to have happened to the hill station after the concretization. Exactly how big the problem is and which other regions are affected will be known later as the pundits have just begun their calculations.
I recently visited Shoghi for a small cleanliness drive on the Tara Devi temple route with one of our partner properties and couldn’t help but observe and capture the concrete jungle that Shimla has become. The thought of endless honking during traffic jams at the entry of Shimla city has filled me with restlessness over the years, so I would only look at it from a safe distance. The images gave me the same restlessness; mountains covered with more concrete than trees… they have been in mind ever since. And now the current Shimla water crisis only adds to the sorrow.
This is not a post full of crisis information, tips to recover from the Shimla water crisis or talk about how bad things have become. This is to remind us all that we are all responsible for this crisis. Anyone who has ever been to Shimla and been mesmerised looking at the green while overlooking the impending crisis is to be blamed. Everyone who got inebriated with the beauty of hills while honking endlessly at other vehicles in a never ending traffic jam is to be blamed. Everybody who used #hills, #travel, #fun, #heaven and never thought #responsible is to be blamed. Anyone who never cared about using the natural resources judicially is to be blamed.
Is it soon enough to respect Mother Nature and not feed on its carcass like wild dogs? What next after Shimla?
If we are still not doing our bit, we may never need to…
Day trips are more like power naps; you feel recharged and refreshed in no time…
Having said that, we also realise that living in a metropolis only leaves you with so many options for a day trip! For day trips near Delhi, one mostly needs to travel at least a hundred kilometres to begin to feel the escape. But with these options listed below, you’ll realise why hidden and gems are two words that go together. These are all interesting destinations great for a ride with your gang.
Please note: Distance to each destination is as measured from our Travelers Café & Motorcycle Garage in Noida, which is also the beginning point for all our Sunday Rides.
Bhardwaj Lake, Asola Wildlife Sanctuary, Delhi – 85 kilometers
Not many people know that the Asola-Bhatti forest range ahead of Chattarpur it is a natural habitat with a variety of birds, butterflies, mammals and lakes – of which Bhardwaj Lake is one. Ride to this place for an exploratory hike; be here with a group to ensure safety. It is advisable to carry plenty of drinking water and some quick breakfast options (sandwiches/ paratha rolls) with you.
Choose Garhmukhteshwar for a ride in the rain. Start early and discover this simple little town blessed with a close proximity to Ganga River. When here, Ganga Ghat and Nakka Kuan are two places you must visit. You’ll find plenty of breakfast options on the way and around the destination as well.
Situated just outside the city, it is the perfect spot to ride to. Take your breakfast/brunch spread along and cherish a Sunday picnic with family/friends. It is “an easily accessible bird paradise” (as described in a Nat Geo article). Go find yourself to know more.
Sultanpur National Park, Gurgaon, Haryana – 69 kilometres
Another haven for bird watchers on the other side of the capital, this site is plush with exotic migratory birds during winter, and makes for a charming picnic spot otherwise. It might be useful to note that it is open from 7 am to 4.30 pm. Find more information here.
Murthal, Sonipat, Haryana – 90 kilometres
This one’s obvious, and certainly not hidden, but the list wouldn’t have been complete without it. Murthal continues to be one of the favourite spots for bikers for a spin on NH1. Popular for the tandoori parathas served at its many dhabas, you need not worry about finding breakfast options here.
Damdama Lake, Sohna, Haryana – 60 kilometres
Damdama Lake is easily discover-able through Google Maps. However, owing to the reservoir’s irregular shape and size, there is more to it than just the main site. Best explored on motorcycles, the terrain is mostly raw and uneven, like most regions that fall in the Aravalli range are. It is recommended that you carry plenty of water and quick bites with you. There’s a restaurant by the Haryana Tourism board at the site. *Includes off-roading
Did you know you can find Dolphins in North India? Yes, you can. All you need to do is plan a ride to Unchagaon. 100 kilometres via Bulandshahr, Unchagaon in Uttar Pradesh is known for its Gangetic Dolphins and an ancient temple of Amantika Devi. Owing to the fact that Garhmukhteshwar is merely an hour away from Unchagaon, one may cover both in a day’s time.
Bhola ki Jhal, Meerut, Uttar Pradesh – 60 kilometres
Take a left from the Delhi-Meerut highway, just before Meerut, and you are in for a beautiful 25-kilometres-long stretch with the Ganges flowing alongside. Around Bhola ki Jhal, you can indulge in some fresh juice, pakoras, chai, bread omelette etc for breakfast. Our gang of riders played a match of cricket at the site to add some fun to the day.
Nuh, Haryana – 84 kilometres
Nuh is an ancient town in the state of Haryana. According to Mahabharata, the area was granted by Yudhisthira to their guru Dronacharya. If you’re a history aficionado, you must visit the ruins of the Ghasera Fort and the Chui Mal ka Talaab, when you ride/drive to this destination. Have breakfast on the way.
Pratapgarh, Jhajjar, Haryana – 110 kilometres
If you’re looking forward to an eventful day post riding, Pratapgarh can be an ideal destination for your group. You and your gang can immerse yourself in a range of activities at the popular Pratapgarh Farms here. Explore breakfast options on the way.
While most traces of the Mughal rule in the historic city of Panipat have faded, this one treasure still stands strong. Named after Kabuli Begum, Babur’s wife, the Kabuli Bagh Mosque was built in 1527 by the emperor Babur to mark his victory over Sultan Ibrahim Lodhi at the first Battle of Panipat in 1526. A halt at Murthal for breakfast mid way can be a good idea; there are enough restaurants on NH1 ahead of Murthal as well.
It is best to carry a basic tool kit and a first-aid box at all times.
Escape Route’s Sunday Rides are accompanied with an experienced road captain and a mechanic. _______________________________________________________________________________
If you think you have another interesting suggestion for day trips near Delhi, do let us know! We will update the article with your contribution. Meanwhile, join our Facebook group to stay updated about our Sunday Rides and other trips.
Forget about future generations, it is tough for this generation itself to find beauty in a hill covered with plastic bottles and packets
When was the last time you were actually planning a trip and surfing through different options? So you think of Shimla ─ mostly a concrete jungle, McLeodganj ─ brimming with humans all the time, Nainital ─ even the tal isn’t enticing anymore, Agra – ideal for a stampede, Jaipur – not so pink anymore…the list of places you don’t prefer going to anymore is endless. The reason is us ─ the travelers in all our glory.
We have not been respectful enough of the natural gifts. All these locations have been covered with concrete and are mostly man-made disasters waiting to happen. We cannot do much about the damage already done, can we?
At the same time, if you look around carefully, each off-beat location is getting polluted by humans into a garbage dump with plastic, used belongings, perishables etc. Social media is a culprit too, with all the amazing filters, it calls all viewers to visit the beautiful locations but never tells you about your ingrained responsibility to preserve that space.
Forget about future generations, it is tough for this generation itself to find beauty in a hill covered with plastic bottles and chips packets. We are all aware of the scarcity of natural resources, depleting clean water, less and less of fresh air and definitely lesser green areas. We also see hordes of warnings about not polluting the environment and caring about the landscapes, but who cares.
Picture this, at present one has to travel at least 200 kms and more from the nearest metro city to be in the lap of nature. Passionate bloggers and photographers are covering more than double the distance to show you how the clean world looks like. It takes you minimum of 4-5 hours to leave the grime and dust of the city to start breathing fresh air. What matters is how you behave while you are breathing fresh air in that area.
Some facts to get your attention:
Over 62 million tonnes of waste is generated annually in the country
Task of value extraction is left to the informal system of garbage collectors and recyclers
Only 80% of waste generated is collected and merely 28% processed
Swachh Bharat focuses too narrowly on individual action to keep streets clean without any pressure on State and Municipal authorities
There are stark threats to the world like the climate change, global warming etc. we cannot do much about it, but we can do what we can. We are listing out a few points for travelers to help conserve Mother Nature as we trot her majestic mountains and beautiful valleys:
Just stop littering – Please stop throwing while you walk and look all fancy. It is just not cool, is bothersome and affects everyone around you. No natural spot ever looked exquisite with discarded food cans, plastic bottles and other used stuff. Please stack the used items in a disposable bag, just carry it a little distance and place it in the dustbins. There are organisations like Waste Warriors and Clean Up Himalayas doing their bit, you need to do yours.
Act local – Locals do not pollute the environment they live in.
Conserve resources – One thing we must learn from our villages – Take only as much as you can consume, whether it is food or resources. What is the point of going to new places and not picking up their best practices?
We don’t have all the gyaan for you, but hopefully you get the thought. Please share what else do you think can be useful in maintaining the sanctity of all travel zones. We will update the article with your propositions.
PS – For each of Escape Route trips, we carry our own garbage bags and ensure that our fellow travelers make use of it for any kind of leftovers/throwaways. Littering is just not done.
It was early 2014 when we chanced upon Neemrana ki Baoli during a short detour from the NH 8 Delhi-Jaipur Highway…
Hardly a kilometre from the celebrated Neemrana Fort Palace, rested an unknown historic marvel. It was difficult to find the place as no one cared about it, forget about the direction signage. The locals seemed perplexed on why would anyone want to see a forgotten place!
When we finally arrived here, a conversation with the local youth smoking pot at the site revealed details about the historic site.
A ‘Baoli’ is a stepwell that functioned as a water reservoir and a resting place for travellers till as late as early 20th century. Neemrana ki Baoli is a nine-storey-well with each storey as high as 20 feet. It was built by the king, Rajinder Singh Chauhan, a descendent of Prithvi Raj Chauhan and is generally referred to as Rani ki Baoli and/or Neemrana ki Baoli by locals. The fate of the erstwhile ruler and his family is unknown after they sold off the property to be run as the Neemrana Fort Palace.
The NH8 Delhi – Jaipur highway is mostly a dud till you reach the pink city, but a detour towards Neemrana ki Baoli will surely help you reminisce the golden days of our rich history. Once you’ve travelled 120 kms from Delhi, you need to take the right towards Neemrana Fort Palace. One must pick up some kachori, samosaand dhokla (light Indian snacks) along with sweets and fruits from the small market on the way. The ‘Mishthan Bhandar’ on the left corner is the best bet for onion kachoris.
Driving through the old lanes now covered with concrete, towards the Baoli is an ideal escape from city life. First glimpse of the dilapidated Baoli is still refreshing and the Aravallis in the background give it the perfect timeless appeal. It is our favourite place for a breakfast stopover during any of our trips through the NH8. The Neemrana Fort Palace is a clear sight from the Baoli and it is very interesting to note the borders of the fort and how this Baoli would have fit in in the scheme of things back in time.
Some travellers have reached here over the years and have written about their sympathies towards the historic marvel. The authorities have surely taken cognisance of the historic significance it holds. A concrete road has replaced the muddy terrain and we recently witnessed a small signage welcoming you to Neemrana ki Baoli.
We would urge you to take the road less travelled and visit this beauty. A snacks-break at the Baoli is a must-do, just do not forget to dispose of the waste materials properly and not treat the site as a garbage dump. Do share your experience with us in the comments below.