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Himachal Pradesh

A Trip To Himachal Pradesh

INDIA | Tuesday, 21 February 2012 | Views [2249]

Kuala Lumpur LCCT (KUL) to New Delhi (DEL) 

Depart Kuala Lumpur International Airport (LCC Terminal) (KUL) at 17:15

Arrive in India Gandhi international Airport, Terminal 3 (DEL) at 20:40

Wednesday, 23 Mar 2011   Flight D7 2506

Return :

New Delhi (DEL) to Kuala Lumpur LCCT (KUL)  

Monday, 04 Apr 2011 Flight D7 2507

Depart Indira Gandhi international Airport, Terminal 3 (DEL) at 21:45


 

We landed in Indira Gandhi International Airport, Terminal 3 at 9.30pm local time, 40 minutes early then scheduled. But we have to stay inside the new and stylist airport to wait for the arrival of lovely Sally and Noi at 11.00pm. We finally met up with the patient India Odyssey Manager Tek Chand (Tekkur), who likes to speak with “lah lah lah” a lot….

  

Early in the morning at 7am, we headed to New Delhi railway station to catch the Shatadbi  Express Train (STB) to Chandigarh (the capital of Punjab), the train ride took about 3 hours and 10 minutes of spectacular journey passing through fertile and agriculture rich states of Haryana and Punjab. This STB provides 2 meals i.e. tea break and breakfast. All meals have choices of vegetarian and non-vegetarian.

 

Upon arrival, Stich (our driver) and his Toyota Innova were waiting for us outside the train station; from there we headed to a homestay in Gushaini. Throughout the long, rough and winding road drive to Gushaini, Sally and Noi had vomited numerous times; Ming and I were seeing billion of stars as well. Gosh, it was quite a bumpy ride for all of us. But, of course, the road to heaven is always hard; however, the rewards we received were the spectacular sceneries along the road. The road was bumpy and with many sharp turnings; the driver was driving so fast and our hearts were also beating so fast probably with rising blood pressure and believe-it-or-not ~ our tired legs were “breaking” together whenever Stich pressed on the car brake.

 

        The Beas River, on the way to Gushaini. 

Around 8pm at night, 4 of us were desperately looking forward to reach our home-stay as soon as possible but it seemed Stich was still continuing to drive on the MUDDY, DUSTY and BUMPY trunk road, no sign of stopping and he has lost the way once. I prayed to Almighty, asking Him for a safe and quick arrival. Aiyo, our heads were spinning and our ‘pi gu’ (butts) were aching…..

Suddenly, Stich stopped the car at the road-side of no way and sounded the car horn. I saw some light rays from the right hand side which quite a distance away. Once I got down from the car, the chill and cold air engulfed me “It is very cold outside the car” I informed the rest of the members.

“Hey, you please follow me” a sound came from a dark place, I heard loud pitter-pattering water sounds but I had no idea where we were due to the dark surroundings. We were asked to walk down a narrow path to the dark riverside, we’re not prepared with torchlight at that moment and apparently we just made our way in the darkness. “Sit here and hand dun hold here”, said the man. From the glimpse of his torch light, I saw a steel basket hanging onto a steel railing rope. Gee……

I was literally shoved in the metal seat and before I can figure what to do, I ‘flew’ across the ‘river’ in darkness and the strong wind was blowing on my face. It was very cold indeed.

A handsome gentleman helped me out from the basket and returned it to other side. He is Varum, son of the owner of Raju’s cottage. Everyone got excited about the ‘flying crossing’ the Tirthan River. After that Varum lead us to our rooms. Luckily portable heaters and thick wool blankets were provided to each room, we needed it so much that night.

 

   Raju's Cottage.                                                          

 

   Our guide dogs.  

Raju’s Cottage nestled amidst a gurgling Tirthan river and blessed with the charm of orchards, the cottage is located at the base of Tirthan Valley in Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh. The wooden cottage is very nicely decorated; it gives you the home away from home feeling. Plabu – a very welcoming black dog was following us in and out from the rooms and even slept in the room with us.

That night for dinner, we had the most delicious fresh baked local trout prepared by Varum’s mother and caught by Mr Raj, and the dishes came one after another, masala mutton, vegetarian dhal, curry chicken, banana custard, and rice so on and so on. And for breakfast we had sunny side-up, toast, fresh apple juice, hot milk, cereals, aloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflowers), prata, toast etc, etc. Hmm, but look at our SLENDER bodies, how we can put in so much food….. What about the plan to lose weight? #@!~%&%@!~$%. Oh, not to mentioned, while we enjoyed our dinner, those guys were watching cricket match in the TV room, well, Indian=Cricket. Whenever Tekkur talked about the cricket match, his face was literally lit up.

Gushaini, on the banks of River Tirthan, a tributary of Beas River is beautiful beyond the wildest dreams of nature lovers like me. Tirthan is also one of the best places for trout fishing in India. Trout, one of the favorite game fishes of the Brits, was introduced into the fast flowing rivers of Himachal Pradesh by the Brits, but now Himachal is a better place for Trout fishing than Scotland. The fast flowing river of icy cold, blue waters striking against numerous boulders create a romantic hiss which forms a constant background for all activity. Raju’s cottage situated right on the banks of Tirthan can be accessed only through a basket slung or flying bridge as local claims on a steel rope tied across the river. Most intimidating, but oh-so natural for those used to it, the cable car ride to the cottage is a fitting introduction to the luxury of living without the trappings of modern living.

On the very same night, we started to share the same opinion to extend our stay at this lovely cottage but due to its full occupancy and we decided to explore other new places e.g. Dharamsala.  We will be back to Raju’s Cottage that is for sure.

Next morning, we had only 2 hours to stroll around the cottage, the river and fruit orchards, as it is beginning of spring, there were apples, apricots, peaches, cherries, almonds trees blossoming with flowers. Just Beautiful. Believe me, this is one of the best home-stay I ever stayed in. We fell in love with this lovely little heaven.

With a very heavy and reluctant heart, we have to say goodbye to this cottage and continued our adventure. On the way to Kullu, we stopped by a Tibetan monastery for a ‘pi ku’ break, and then we stopped again at Naggar Castle at Naggar for our lunch. Naggar was the old capital of Kullu state before it was shifted to Kullu town in 1660.

 

Kullu valley is located in the Lower Western Himalayas. Blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, Kullu Valley is rightly celebrated as the valley of Gods. Nestled between Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal ranges, it is the cradle of great river Beas. . About 80 km long, this lush valley extends from the gorge at Aut to Rohtang Pass. It harbors evergreen forest, alpine meadows, beautiful rivers and orchard laden with fruits. Its inhabitants are joyful and gentle.        

We further continued our undulating drive (thanks God, no more vomiting and stars, ahem…) and finally into the valley of Gods, The Kullu Valley. The drive was more spectacular, as you will be gradually ascending above sea level and then you could feel the mountains getting nearer. Before reaching Manali, we also visited Tekkur’s cousin house, he introduced us to strong local brewed wheat wine; I guess it’s about 50% alcohol level. The friendly and very hospitable family welcomes us with some freshly cut fruits and veg. We had a good time here.

We were so lucky, there was a local ceremony that evening, Tekkur brought us to join Kullu Fair which is a great annual event, everyone in the valley will come to join and watch the local folk dance. We were welcome by locals to join in with the most friendly smiles and welcoming arms. We experienced this special custom and culture that evening. Later, we joined the folks for the dance and everyone had a good laugh. Thank you Tekkur, we appreciate it very much.

After the fair, we arrived in Manali around 9.00pm and met up with Mr. Khem of Snowland at the Tibetan restaurant named Chopstick.

Next day, we started our acclimatization trek by first visiting the ancient temple dedicated to Goddess Hidimba. According to Hindu mythology nature has its cycles and once the cycle completes a big catastrophe occurs and then the world restarts. Due to the reason Manali got its name after Manu, the 1st survivor. We trekked by village of Goshal, cross the river to Jogni fall and further to Vashishat village.

Aha…. It was good to see Stich waiting for us at Salong Valley after 5 hrs of walk. Continue to Salong Snow Peak and we had a great fun and happy time at the snow peak. We also shopped at Manali town for lips balm, cold cream, shawl and etc for our trek tomorrow onward.

That night, we re-packed our bags and we were excited and enthusiastic for the real trek up to Manala Village.

6 porters, 2 cooks and 1 Odyssey Manager = 9 persons for these 4 东瓜….. My 1st taught, a very “luxury trek la”

 

On the first day, we started from Jana (1,750m) a historic village to Matikochhar (2,591m). The most exciting part was the snow trail for me, 1st time in my life I walked across the snowy path, climbed over the fallen pine trees.

On second day from Matikochhar (2,591m) to Bijli Mahadev (2,460m), a relax and blissful walk through the beautiful thick pine forests, crossing more snowy paths and taking many pictures and either we walked faster than yesterday or the trek was shorter as we reached our destination rather early that day. We reached our camp site at 2pm, after setting up our tents, we took a 45 minutes walked to the nearby Shiva Temple for offering. It was a very relaxing day; we hanged out at the local mama stall for drink and instant noodle. After sunset, our camp site was very windy and that night was a very cold night.  Noi decided to quit the trek for the next day.

   

Third day, from Bijli Mahadev to Chowki Village (1,750m). Today we expected to walk around 10 hours to our next camp site. The trek was open and rocky, the sun was scotching and we even had to cross a loose rocky detour due to land slide. We trekked across few mountains, may be 4 or 5, and a lot of descending, which hurt our legs. At that point we wished for ascending and not descending, hahaha. Finally after 7 hours of walked, we passed some villages, apple orchards and mustard fields and nice rocky river. By the time we reached our camp-site (which is a disappointment because it was next to the main road); we were so tired that we couldn’t make up our tents.

 

Forth day, from Chowki Village to Manala (2,650m). Today we started our trek from the road side up to Manala Village, the trek was steep, rocky (loose rock) and full of sheep droppings, cow and mule dung, quite a “fragrance” trail. Half way through we started meeting the Manala Villagers, our guide kept reminding us not to touch them and we were getting excited to reach our destination. At noon, we camped outside Manala Village; the view was stunning from here. We visited the village and took many pictures of the children with European Resemblance. These villagers were the descendants of Alexan dra The Great’s soldiers.

Firth day: the last day of the trek. We descended the same way we came but our porters took a much steeper and shorter descend, by the time we got to our pick-up point; our porters were waiting for us with flowers, such a sweet gesture. We’re all happy and satisfied that we accomplished our trek and our body strength got stronger each day.

Throughout the trek, I have also learned to set up tent. I have so many unforgettable sweet memories of the trek; like the Shiva Temple on top of the hill; the lunch box that the cook prepared for us; trek with my heavy camera; the friendly villagers and kids; blossom flowers; snow peas; rivers; the fall I had; the bollywood stunts picture taking; super fast weather changes on the mountains; nose bleed; also auto 流的鼻滴(running nose that we’re not aware off); land slide; heavy ZZZZzzZZZZz; raining at night; icy cold nights; non-stop praying to Mountain God for a safe trek and good weather; the delicious meals prepared by our cook; the camp-fire; 鸡婆 (feather all over our body from the down sleeping bag); walk till legs were numb; learn to make roti (but tak jadi); blisters on my toes and foot; muscle pain; plenty of join rubs; Sally and Noi 1st pee in the great outdoor; enjoy pooing in the temporary toilet; full of horse+cow+yong meh meh shits smell; beautiful flowers given by our porters at the end of trek; miss my son and etc etc etc.

As soon as we reached The Ambassador Hotel at Manali, we became the dobhy, wash wash + clean clean… gosh , I couldn’t  believe the strong ++羊屎臭味 (smell of mule, cow & sheep droppings)…. Heheheheh….. And the socks, yukkkkkkkk…..pukkkkkkkke…….

 

The next day we were on the road again…10 hours to Dharamsala… shhhhhh…. Thank God no vomiting case reported this time. Oh ya, we passed by the oldest tea plantation in India, the Kangra Tea Plantation, supposedly the tea trees are 500 years old since the British Raj. Along the way, we made a short visit to one of the rock Temple at Baijnath, which dates back to 12th century A.D. Noi contributed a nice ‘laugh’ to us, sorry  Noi.  Sorry, please do not repeat.

Our driver Stich invited us to his home on the way to Dharamsala, we met up with his beautiful wife, 4 angels (daughters), parents and his fierce dog. I’m glad that his children grow up in this scenic place with a river close by (I pee at the river side too, no toilet ma). Stich has a wonderful and capable wife, due to his nature of work, he mostly travel outside and unable to spend time with his  family, all the domestic matters are solely taken-care by her only.

Finally we arrived Dharamsala at 9pm, our long anticipate destination. We noticed that this is a place full of the Ang Mos, Arigatos and Kim Chees. We agreed that this is a very “commercialized holy place”.

Next day after breakfast at our hotel, we started to explore this little town well known after his holiness “The Dalai Lama”. We all quite disappointed with the monasteries, temples and the closed museum. Our mind was still back at the mountains, not here. Tekkur got panic with our re-action and tried very hard to cheer us up. Hehehehe…..

Ahem, after lunch at a western restaurant, we strolled around the McLeod Ganj Square; is also known as Little Lhasa on the hillock. We went shopping for rings, pendants, shawls and home decor. Tea break, we had some tea and coffee and delicious chocolate fudge cake. You know what, we ALIVE again!!!! And we had not enough time to shop for more. Dinner was postponed….. How wonderful.

The following day after an early breakfast, we embarked on our looooooooooooong journey to Amristar to visit the Golden temple in Punjab.

Amritsar - the holy city of Sikhs has grown from a sacred village pond into a spiritual temporal center of Sikh culture. The city gets its name from the pool - Amritsar (Pool of Nectar), which constructed by the fourth religious preceptor of the Sikh faith. Golden Temple or Darbar Sahib is the most sacred temple for Sikhs. It is a symbol of the magnificence and strength of the Sikh people all over the world. Its architecture includes, symbols associated with other places of worship. This is an example of the spirit of tolerance and acceptance that the Sikh philosophy propounds.

As it was a Sunday, there was ocean of pilgrims, and it was a big feat just to deposit our shoes at the counter before entering, but you have to admire their efficiency of handling shoes as there were millions of pairs of footwear being shuffled in and out. As soon as we entered the temple we were literally being shoved into walking clockwise around the temple. After all the ‘knock here knock there, lost here lost there’ we made our way out after only one round. My God, this was a ‘disaster’ for me; the mountain of pilgrims is over whelming. It is very amazing to understand the power of Sikh spirit to their religion, especially with the gold plated temple.

A short walk around Amristar after lunch. Well, I haven’t adapted the ‘thousand flies’ flying around us, strong urine and poooo smells (hey, not the horse+cow+goat type) kind of environment. And it disgusted my mood and stomach.

I wonder if India or Punjab allows carrying guns? This is because a shop behind our restaurant is selling guns and other weapons. I need an answer for it.

We headed to Amritsar train station and took the STD express train to New Delhi, tea-break and dinner were served on board again, we never had lack of food throughout the holidays.  We arrived in New Delhi at midnight.

We woke up late 10am and had breakfast at the hotel roof top restaurant. We had a “spectacular view” unlike our trek in the mountains……. the view was of ugly roof top and messy + dirty buildings.

Before we departed home, we had a short visit to The Red Fort (closed for entry again). But it was fun that we hired rickshaws to wonder around Old Delhi, we went to the spice market (ended up thousands of “Arh Choo” (sneezing) and we had good curry fish and Tandoori Chicken for lunch. After that we shopped at JanPath market, Ming, Sally and I bought some souvenirs. Our journey ended here as we were headed to the airport for our departure home.

We hugged each other tight at the airport and I knew I was going to Miss Sally again, as usual, I always got red eyes whenever we bade farewell. Ming had breakfast (wan tan mee) with me upon arriving home. I truly appreciate his effort in taking good care of me and being patient with an old lady during this wonderful trip, thank you again, great guy.

 

Tags: golden temple, himachal pradesh, homestay, kullu, manali, pine tree, raju cottage, solang valley, sunset, trekking

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