Komic

The road to Komic: It does not get higher than this

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“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.

A rendezvous with history, at Neemrana ki Baoli

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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 kachorisamosaand 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.

Escape from monotony!

 

What to eat on a road trip

What to eat on a road trip?

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An endless open road, clear or in some preferences cloudy sky and no particular destination in mind; is an idea of freedom epitomised by the happy movie endings and we all wonder what fun it must have been. Nobody follows the car post the happy ending to see if the driver got a stomach upset in the coming days because he did not pack the right food for the road-trip. It gets even trickier if you are in a country like India; all thanks to the scorching heat, dust, unbearable cold, fog etc. alongside many roadside eateries who have sworn on not giving you fresh food ever.

What to eat on a road trip is an integral part of the overall experience. Make a mistake and you will be searching for the next relieving facility throughout the journey or would be cranky for reasons unknown to others. There can be other disturbances too, better left to the imagination of our discerning readers.

How light is light enough and is fried really bad? Is Mac’n’Cheese with iced tea a good idea and how can the Dhaba food be bad at all? You will never know unless it happens to you. Keep these following recommendations about what to eat on a road trip in mind to be rather safe than sorry:

  • There is no substitute to water – you can add lemon to it, but no masala and no soda please. Fresh Juices are excellent fluids and great companions for road trips. Green teas keep it all clear and happy.
  • If you have difficulty finding fresh fruit juice, opt for fresh fruits. Tip – try and find new fruits other than apples and bananas.
  • So you cannot do without snacks and salt – here are some healthier options: baked banana chips, whole wheat pretzels, dry museli or with curd, fresh cut veggies and dips
  • Some of us just cannot do without breads when thinking of what to eat on a road trip and hence, a peanut butter sandwich, jelly sandwich and/or cheese sandwich with sliced cucumber and tomatoes does the trick.
  • The only problem with boiled eggs packed in a container is the stench it leaves. So keep the shell on till you are ready to eat. You need your protein.
  • Granola/Protein bars are not for everyone. But if you dip your granola bar in yoghurt, it might be an all new experience for your taste buds to relish.
  • Home-cooked Indian breads aren’t a complete no; baked and not deep-fried fenugreek parathas will help you every time you crave for salt. Curd, again pitches in for the rescue.
  • A lot of us are lactose intolerant and it is bothersome, at least in the head. So avoid milk and try soy milk or curd instead. Have black coffee wherever necessary.
  • Nuts aren’t really that boring; Mix almonds, cashews, figs, dried apple, walnuts, drip apricots, pistachios etc and it tastes great.
  • If motion sickness bothers you, try mint/ginger/cinnamon tea (you could also chew on mint leaves). Mix pepper and lemon juice in a bit of warm water to get rid of headache and dizziness. Cloves are tried and tested too.

Quick-tip: Please carry reusable water bottles and do not have tap water if you are not sure. Always keep a multi-purpose knife handy for fruits and other brief preparations. Bread and your favorite seasoning always come in handy. Rather than eating too much in one go, eat little many times.

Cheat-tip: If nothing of the above really works for you. Pull over to the next road-side dhaba and ask the guy to make fresh baked breads (rotis) alongside dal tadka. Add green salads and curd to the same and you will be good to go for another few hundred kilometers. Just don’t overeat.

When it gets unbearable, I make samosa sandwiches, by pressing a samosa between two bread slices and a slice of cheese and it gets me going till the next salt craving.