Marvellous Manali !!!!

Situated in Beas River valley, Manali is a magnificent tourist destination. Surrounded by stunning snow- capped mountains, it is famous for its picturesque beauty and tranquility. The best time to visit this place is from April to late June and mid September to early November, however one should avoid winters as weather is harsh during this period.

Apart from its beauty and serenity, Manali is also famous for its Adventure Tourism and it offers a wide range of adventurous activities like Trekking, paragliding, Rafting, Mountaineering etc and the opportunities are endless for adventurous lovers. I visited this splendid place in May last year with my friends and it was a trip that we will remember for years to come. We reached Manali by road and truly speaking the journey was really exhausting, however after reaching the place, the tiredness vanished and we were all fresh to explore this place.

Places we explored in/near Manali:

1) Van Vihar:   Situated in the middle of Manali, Van Vihar is an amazing place to hang out with friends and tall Deodar trees makes it more astonishing. We took pictures of each other and had lot of fun and moved ahead to discover more. To our surprise we were at the bank of River Beas. The view was spectacular; we had never seen such a mighty river before and standing beside it was a wonderful feeling. But this was not enough, we wanted something more and before leaving this place we made it memorable. We did river crossing on Beas River and OMG we never thought that we could. For the first time we were over a gigantic river and at one point I felt as if this world comprises of only two things- River Beas and Me, I couldn’t see anything else around. WOW what an experience it was.

2) Rohtang Pass: Rohtang Pass is 51Kms from Manali on highway to Leh and one can have a panoramic view of snow-capped mountains from here. We hired a cab from Manali and reached Rohtang in around 2 hours and the journey was beautiful with greenery, waterfalls, and mountains all round. When we reached Rohtang we couldn’t believe our eyes…Snow…Snow…Snow all round. We couldn’t stop ourselves and started walking, we had never seen snow before and walking over it was unbelievable. We enjoyed the moment to the fullest, clicked pictures, slided on the snow, became little nostalgic (We all were talking about our childhood days), made snow man, had Maggie. We actually had unforgettable time there.

3) River Rafting near Kullu: River Rafting near Kullu was simply superb. Nothing was near its comparison. I was already in love with this river and now was floating on it and the experience was exhilarating. Water was splashing on us and we were totally wet. We were screaming, shouting and this experience was purely thrilling.

Other places of interest in Manali are Tibetan Monastery, Hadimba Temple, The Club House, Mountaineering Institute (if you are interested in joining Mountaineering courses). Manali was an enjoyable trip with friends and I would surely come back to explore more adventure here.

 

Mesmerizing Binsar !!!

 It was my college trip when I first got a chance to travel Kumaon in length and breadth and with friends it was an unforgettable experience. Since then I have been traveling this region and with every visit my bond with this splendid place is getting stronger.

Today I would like to share my traveling experience about one of the most beautiful places of Kumaon which I recently visited, and the place is Binsar.

Binsar is a scenic spot near Almora and is well-known for its Wildlife Sanctuary. Full of dense forest and natural surrounding, this is altogether a different place for people who are lost in mundane life of metropolitan cities.

We were five people in total for this trip- My two sisters, brother, brother in-law and I. To reach Binsar, we started our journey early in the morning and after reaching Almora it took us around 45 minutes to reach the entrance of the Wildlife Sanctuary and from there we took the narrow road through the jungle to the Tourist Rest House of Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN) and this 45 minutes journey was like a “long drive” in the jungle and we fully enjoyed it with some Kumaoni songs (regional songs of Kumaon).

We reached the Rest House at 11:50 AM and after relaxing for some time we started a small trek in the jungle with a guide. The trek was of 5 KMs till “Zero Point” (chief attraction of Binsar) from where we could see the 300 km panoramic view of the Himalayan peaks like Nanda Devi, Trishul, Panchchuli etc. While walking through the jungle we could feel the serenity of this place and I think our presence was disturbing the calmness. It was for the first time that we were walking through a dense jungle and its beauty was so captivating that we could not stop ourselves from taking the pictures of this marvelous place, after all photographs help us in nurturing the memories for our lifetime.

In the midst of the serenity we could also hear the chirping of different species of birds and sometime jumping Langurs from one tree to another and it looked as if they are no less than “KRISH”.  Surrounded by rich floralike hanging moss, ferns, different species of wild flowers,the place looked “beautiful” and we might have seen something like this only in National Geographic Channel.

Walking up and down finally we were at “Zero Point” from where, we could view the snow-capped peaks of the magnificent Himalayas, however it was not very clear at day time and our guide advised us to come early in the morning to see the spectacularview. After spending some time there, we thought of returning to the Rest House; however our guide was smart and he wanted us to enjoy the place to the fullest, so while going back, he took a different route altogether. We started walking down and there were leaves all around which had covered the path and we were supposed to walk over those leaves and find our ways. Initially we were extra cautious while walking however gradually we started enjoying. Finding our ways, some times slipping and then laughing and teasing each other, we were having our fun. Suddenly we started drawing similarities between the jungle and the jungle of “Ravaan” movie and in our imagination we felt as if we have been locked up in the jungle and we were trying to come out of it.

At last we discovered that we are out of the jungle and after ten minutes we were back at Rest House, exhausted & hungry and wanted to have something badly and we ordered for snacks. After having snacks we went out, took our chairs and relaxed under the mild sunlight and I know we will never forget the kind of peace we all felt at that moment of time. In the evening after having our dinner we all went to sleep.

Next morning we got up early to see the beautiful sunrise and the Himalayan peaks. Watching sunrise over the mountains was exceptionally beautiful. Slowly and steadily an orange-colored ball rises from the mountains and then gradually it spreads its light all over, making the peaks look like they have been coated with golden color. I was completely mesmerized in the beauty of the moment and could only say WOW !!!.

Finally the time came when we had to say goodbye to this amazing place, which gave us memories to be cherished for our life time and a feeling that we would love to come back to this place.

 

 

Memorable Experience !!!

Traveling has been an integral part of my life. Coming from an Army background, I was destined to move from one place to another and this chain hasn’t stopped yet. The only difference is earlier I had no choice but today I enjoy traveling places of my choices 🙂

 I was in fourth grade, when my father was transferred to Kerala (Cochin to be more precise) from Udaipur. Cochin is a beautiful place near Arabian Sea; however I was able to appreciate its beauty only when I grew up a little older. For the first time I asked our father, “Why did we come here? I want to go back”. Though we had traveled quite a few places before, but Cochin was altogether a different place for a north Indian who was coming to south India (with his family) for the first time. The language, the food, and people everything was new for us and we had to familiarize ourselves to this new surrounding.

 Making ourselves accustomed was not easy. We had to face our own obstacles. It’s been said that children should feel comfortable in their surrounding and language was our biggest barrier for the first year in Cochin. We couldn’t mingle with other children as we were not great in speaking English and we had no idea what Malayalam (the regional language of Keralites) was and this made our school life tough. But slowly and steadily things started changing. Children have an upper hand when it comes to grasping any language and we were no exceptions. With in a year our classmates (who earlier used to make fun of us) were talking and listening to us and we were playing, dancing and singing together.

After spending three years in Cochin, when the time came to bid adieu I had treasured memories of this place in my heart and one of those was celebrating “Onam” in school.

Onam is one of the most auspicious festivals of Kerala (celebrated for ten days) and it commemorates the homecoming of their renowned king Mahabali. Mahabali was a legendary king and Kerala witnessed its golden era during his reign. People were happy and prosperous under his rule and this made Indra (the king of gods) jealous of him. He was scared that one day with his righteous qualities Mahabali will become the king of Gods and two Indras can create imbalance. So with other gods he approached Lord Vishnu who promised to help them. In order to help gods, Vishnu assumed the form of a dwarf: Vamana and requested Mahabali to give him three steps of land to live in and Mahabali didn’t disappoint Vamana and promised him the same. Hearing this Vamana enlarged himself and became so huge that he could step from heaven to earth, and earth to the lower worlds in two simple steps.  King Mahabali unable to fulfill the promise of three steps of land to the Lord offered his head for the third step and Vamana placed his foot on King’s head and sent him down to the Patala. Being worshiped however by Mahabali and his ancestor Prahlada, he approved to them the kingdom of Patala. However, as Mahabali was equivalent to Indra, he had to wait until the next Yuga where he would be the Indra. Meanwhile, with the grace of Vishnu, Mahabali visited his people on an annual basis. Thus, it is this visit of Mahabali that is celebrated as Onam every year and people celebrate it in a grand way to tell their king that they are happy.

A day before Onam we had to clean our classes and make a design for flower Rangoli known as Pookalam and on the first day of Onam, we were asked to bring  lots of flowers from home and decorate the design and our teacher’s used to help us in this task.  Another popular feature of Onam was the Boat Race where hundreds of Boatmen used to row the decorative boats and we too never stopped ourselves from cheering them with full enthusiasm. The kind of fun we had and the energy and zeal with which we celebrated this festival will be remembered for my whole life.