Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Heading North

             A 5 day Long holiday on my september calendar poked me every time to plan for a long tour. And the first place than I think of was to Delhi. I wanted to visit this place when my sis Shilpa was in delhi but things dint fall into place. I dint pool many people as it was during Ganesh festival so it was only me & my bro Sumanth. Boarded early morning flight on Aug 31st morning to reach delhi around 9:45AM. We were shocked by the weather which showed 33 degree when we landed. We took a taxi to one of my dad’s frens place in gurgaon with a plan to fresh up and start our local visit in delhi. But the heavy baggae & the hot sun dint help us gather the strength to step out till 4PM.
                By around 5 we were in front of India Gate. My attention naturally went to Amar jyothi and the script written on the walls of the gate. The names of those soldiers who lost their life in the world war II were carved on it. I used to see this place on Doordarshan every year on Republic day parade. I wish to see this place live during the parade. Lets see!!!
                Boarded Metro to reach New Delhi railway station to start our journey to JAMMU!!! Vaishnav devi temple in Katra was our next destination. Rajdhani express reached Jammu tawi at 5:45AM where Balakrishna Khandhari Sir(BK) was waiting for us. He helped us board the bus to katra which is almost 2 hour journey. On reaching, we took our darshan tickets which is free of cost, room in Keshav Ashram was suggested by BK sir. After freshing up & filling our stomach we started trekking the beautiful shrines of Vaishnav devi at 11:15AM. It was hot weather so not many pilgrims during the day. By 3:30 we lined up in the queue for pindi darshan. The temples in north india are much different from those here in south. This one too was different, there are no idols of god but the pindis or rock structured which are worshipped as god. Shops are lined up almost till the top selling every needs, of best need is water bottles. People can reach on top in several ways – walk, ponis, Horseback, battery car, Helicopter. We somehow preferred walking both the sides. Helicopters have to be booked online, it is mostly difficult to get a ferry without prior booking also depends on the weather conditions. Rooms during off season are easily available for Rs 200 to 250. You can check in n check out at any time. We reached back room at 9:30PM. After a lil pampering to our dead legs we dozed off. As alwys I had bed bugs all over which dint let me get sleep till mid night.
                Next day we dint force ourselves to get up early as we were tired. Around 10AM we set our journey back to jammu. We got down in Nazrota few kms before Jammu city. BK sir was waiting for us near Hari Mahal, which is a museum displaying the paintings of all the kings who ruled jammu in the past. There was one section of modern art of all the 9 avatars of Vishnu which I liked me very much. We visited few local temples in jammu after this. Shiv temple, Bagh-E-Bahu fort which has a beautiful garden streched several kms and a large fish aquarium , Ranbireshwar temple, Raghunath temple which is a very temple which thousands of lingas and periphery of this temple has the idols of 9 avathars of Vishnu. The idols in north indian unlike here are white in color and they are beautifully dressed. We purchased few strolls in one of the shopping complex behind this temple. By 3PM we boarded a bus to Amritsar. The bus showed us the local punjab. It was almost jusk when the bus was passing between the green wheat fields of punjab. The green strech vanished as we reached the busy city of amritsar. A rickshaw for Rs20 takes you to golden temple also called Harmandir. Be careful about your luggage when you hung it behind your cycle. Might get vanished or fall off because of the bad roads. Getting a room in Golden temple is no easy task as people there would say that there are no rooms available only after making you run around 2-3times from one nivas to other. We can dump our luggage in lockers which are easyily available for Rs20 and can easily spend night in the temple premises. Many people sleep here. As we were tired and wanted a good night sleep, preffered a room just outside the temple for Rs450 on the third floor. Langars are open 24x7 which serves the best prashad. As there was hardly any crowd we strolled around the temple and finished our darshan within no time. We drank Amrit here. The beauty & the history of this temple cannot to be bound in words. Hundreds of sikhs perform seva everyday in this temple. This was the best part which I never have seen here. Service to god our temples is more through money seva than anyother form.
                Morning we visited the temple again. Jalianwallah Bagh is walkable distance from golden temple. There is no entry fee to this memorial. Needless to mention about the tragic history of this place. We kinda did a revision of our social syllabus reading about Udam Singh & general Dyer, few other incidents collageged on the walls of this memorial. The well where hundreds threw themselves during the firing is well barricaded with grills. The gun shots are marked on the wall. A monument stands in the middle of the garden which remarks those who lost their lives in this place. We visited durgiyana mandir, 20mins from this place. This mandir also resembles golden temple with a lake around the gold-plated sanctum. Rickshaws are the best mode of transport as you can enjoy the crowded city more closely. By 2:45PM we had reached the place to which I was eagerly waiting since years. WAGAH BORDER or attiri border is 29kms from the city. Taxis, auto are available. Best way to reach this place is to board the temple bus which leaves from temple at 3PM to reach border by 4PM and charges Rs80 per head. Only concern is the traffic jam while returning back as the city traffic is bad during weekends & late evenings. We had to board a train the same night to delhi so we took a rickshaw paying him Rs450(very expensive I know) to drop us n our luggage till railway station. No bags are allowed inside the border. Only Camera, wallets, mobiles are allowed.
                WAGAH BORDER - come to this place and you ll automatically feel the indian inside you waking up. The crowd is too huge during weekends. The gates will open anytime between 4:30 to 5PM. Ladies and gents are made to sit in separate lot. The early to go & sit in the front or even better is to fetch a VIP pass and sit closer to the border gates. I wonder how to get one for my next visit ;) The treat was to start at 6PM as sun sets in the west. The moment I entered I heard a lovely track being played from the other side of the border. Allah Allah .... huu Allah... I still hum this tune. I managed to get the front seat. Within no time the whole stadium was thronged with cheering crowd with tri-color flags and bands. Soldeirs constantly cheered the crowed shouting slogan like VANDE MATHARAM, HINDUSTHAN ZINDABAD and BHARATH MATHA KI JAI!!!! The crowd was no stopping. Both the sides tried to out do the other. Crowd cheered the indian fans running with the indian flags. Girls and school children queued up to bear the flag with proud. I patriotic songs played on both the countries kept the spirits high. MERE DESH DHARTHI, BHARATH DESH HAI MERA, SUNO GAUR SE DHUNIYA WALON, YEH DESH HAI VEER JAWANO KA and many other  tracks lined up to keep pace with the dancing girls on the parade path. It was a celebration. The country was celebrating. Hence it rightly called BEATING RETREAT. The parade is eligent with several rounds of commands shouted on both the sides. The crowd unknowingly rose to their toes when the gate between the two countries were opened. Soldeirs face each other, exchange certain excercises and the flags of both the countries are brought down. The parade goes for 45mins. My dream was fulfilled. We were overjoyed. Hangover still persisiting....we picked up the luggage from the golden temple clock room we boarded the Golden temple express to reach Nizzamuddin station the next day morning by 7:05AM.
                With little difficulty we manage to book a room in Karnataka Bhavan Sharavthi which is in Chanakyapuri. I can say the heart of Delhi. With numerous circles and plenty of marghs named after every possible netha of our counrty. Few were named after international figures like Mother teresa cresent, Leo tolstoy Road. This part of Delhi where Rashtrapathi Bhavan, Indian gate and other prominent monuments are present is very beautiful proving to be the capital of the nation. Sharavathi where we stayed arranged us a local delhi tour for the day for Rs200 per head. We were not there to waste any chance to hang out. More over the weather was very pleasant with light showers unlike the first day of our trip. We visited Birla temple, India gate (again worth it!), Rashtrapathi Bahvan, Indira Gandhi's museum, Qutub Minar, Lotus temple, Raj Ghat. Reaching back in our rooms we had yummy dinner served in Sharavathi. I was tempted to see the pics captured in my camera which I never do. I dint know that this would be the last time that I ll have it with me. Dozed off after booking a cab for next day early morning at 4AM to catch 6:45AM flight back to bangalore.
                With Sleepy eyes we checked in our luggage and hogged on burger in Mc D. As always I could not stop myself from picking up few books on travel(to feed my new interset in reading books on travel) in the airport. We again dozed off in the flight only to wake up when it was flying over Hyderabad. The temperature showed 23 when we landed here. I reached my office by 10:30AM without any break till 9:00PM. On reaching home at 10PM I was shocked to realise that I had lost all the memories my camera had beautifully captured. I could not figure where I lost it. I was my mistake to check in my buggage without locking it. Hmmm!!!! Dont ask me for the pics. I can only say, there were few amazing stills. Rest I have it with me for my lifetime!!!!

Must say - It was more learning than fun. Lot of risk factors. New place, language, people n many such factors against only the two of us. Great Experience with amazing sights of Vaishnav devi shrine, heart warming stories of jallianwallah bagh, great action of our knights at the border, amar jothi and ecstasic beauty of the golden temple.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Davangere – Chithradurga – Harihara - Sagara during mid Aug

It was long time demand that I should visit Suma’s hometown D’gere. The demand was mine, hers or her families I have no idea. But finally I made it to their place this August. I could’nt make my presence felt at their home as I was more on wheels than at home.
                Me  & Suma reached D’gere in the early morning. I fought for a sleep but it was soon disturbed to start to C’durga. Started around 7AM towards durga, masala dosa left its aroma on our hands on the way. Durga has lots of history – I wanted a guide to help but the crowd I guess dint bother much about it as they had heard of its stories from their parents or elders. So I heard their versions narrated for me. The story mostly linked not with the history but with the NagaraHaavu movie. Durga is believed to be more famous because of this super hit kannada movie. I am scared of heights. I realized it better here while climbing those almost erect rocks with no proper steps. All of us easily crawled through Obavana Kindi.
                We drove next to Vani Vilas Or Mari Kanive dam near by. This is constructed on the sharavathi water by one of the Mysore Rajas. From here we visited Chandravalli Caves where Ankali swami stayed long ago. This has a beautiful history you get to hear from a guide who charged Rs 20 per person to take us inside & take us back in history.
                By evening we decided to visit harihara temple. The temple is small & beautiful with pillars carved round in shape. These pillars are so prominently visible adding to the beauty of the temple. The temple is covered with houses facing the temple. You get to see children playing in the ground outside this temple. Close by this temple is the Harihara lake which has a bridge constructed across for the vehicular movement. People lay around fishing, washing clothes & others like us embracing the nature around.
                Reached home back at 7:30. A delicious dinner served by aunty forcing me to have a good sleep. The next day we had plans to visit Shimoga. The place which is so close to my heart for several reasons like its nature, food, people & for being my birth place.
                I must mention that for the first time ever of all my travels, I loved the journey more than the destination. The route D’gere - Honnali – Shikaripura – Sagara is amazingly beautiful. A fast drive of 2:30 hours took us to Sagar. After Breakfast, we left to Sigandur. This is back waters of Sharavathi with a Sigandeshwari temple on the other side of the river. Being a weekend there was huge crowd not letting us enjoy the launch ride to the other side of the river. By afternoon we reached Varadahalli sridhara mutt. I had been to this temple twice in the past. Things had changed after all this visit was after 9 long years. Prashad offered is excellent.
                Our next destination was jog falls. Around 30kms from sagara. Releashing few pineapples on the way, we reached the falls close to dusk and clouds played games hiding the falls from view. The last time I came here there was hardly any water so I never knew its splendor by myself. I had be happy listening to others explaining its grandeur when there are rains. This time it was a treat to see the falls.
                We had to force ourselves to turn around and walk back to our vehicle. Reached back by 10:15PM to catch train back to mysore at 11:15PM after yet another yummy dinner by aunty. Regret for not having D’gere benne dosa in this trip I promised for another visit just for it & to spend time with suma’s family.