Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Happy 60th birthday to nani!

We celebrated naniji's 60th birthday last week. The highlights were Kabir's piano recital dedicated to naniji and karaoke singing by family and friends. Will soon upload videos.

(Photo courtesy for above: Ravi Hazra uncle)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Prashar lake

We're back in Mumbai now after spending Thursday and Friday at Prashar lake in Mandi district. Prashar is about 50km from Mandi and at an elevation of 2700m. This was the highest point that we visited during our travels this time. The place is covered in snow for most part of the year and is a popular winter trekking destination.
Our experience visiting Prashar was a mixed bag. We took the morning bus from Mandi to Prashar on Thursday. At first it wasn't clear if this (only) bus to Prashar was going to go that day at all, but though it did go, it broke down half way in a village called Kataula. We decided to rent a taxi from here together with two other locals who were in the bus with us headed to Prashar. When we reached Prashar, we got into a huge argument with the two locals who didn't want to pay up for the ride and expected us to pay the entire fare. The caretaker of the forest rest house (where we stayed) later explained to us that the two locals (they were poojaris who had come to pray at the Prashar temple) cannot be expected to pay the taxi-waalah more than what they desire due to the caste equations in place in the region. 
To add to this unpleasant incident, the weather in Prashar was extremely windy, cloudy and cold. We decided to walk up to the lake and at first I was quite disappointed with the lake (I hadn't expected it to be so small!). But the place gradually started to grow on us. The weather started to clear up and it got much warmer by the evening. As the skies got clearer we got a clear view of all the snow-peaked mountain ranges of Himachal - from west to east:  Dhauladhar, Chamba, Manali and Rohtang and Kinnaur. 
The stay in the rest house was good and Roop Singh ji let me use his kitchen to cook dinner and breakfast. We had brought vegetables with us from Kataula for dinner and oatmeal, eggs and bread for breakfast. The morning was absolutely gorgeous. We decided to trek down the 7km long (but steep) trail to Baggi village. We got fooled by the pahadi locals who told us that it won't take more than 2.5 hours. It ended up taking us 4 hours! But we were right on time to catch the 2pm bus back to Mandi. In fact, Saurabh got off half way at Kamand because he had to teach a 1.5 hr class after all this adventure!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Shiva Cafe - Mcleodganj

Located above the Bhagsunag waterfall, the Shiva cafe was one of the highlights of our trip to Mcleodganj.  The ~2 km trek upto the waterfall wasn't too enjoyable because of the crowd, but the decision to continue going up about the same distance turned out to be very good as we found ourselves in this fun cafe. We couldn't help clicking away.

Tarna Devi temple

One of the many famous temples of Mandi is the Tarna devi temple. One of these mornings we went up the Tarna hill, which is the hill right next to the one our guest house is on. The path is essentially a long long stairway with steep steps. Since we went in the day time there were very few people there - only a group of ladies that were singing bhajans.

Sand art

Some art work to keep the mornings busy - made using coloured sand, glue and ready-to-fill sketches.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Barot - Lohardi - Swaar photo journey

Who: Anurag, Kabir, Vishal, Saurabh and me
When: 9, 10, 11 May 2015
Route: Mandi -> Ghatasni-> Barot-> Lohardi-> Swaar and back

At the Mandi bus depot waiting for Vishal bhaiya to appear so we can catch the bus to Ghatasni

At a dhaba in Ghatasni from where we caught the connecting bus to Barot

 At Sachin homestay in Barot where we spent one night
 outside the PWD rest house in Barot

 A view of the Barot barrage constructed by the British.  Uhl and Lumbha Khad rivers meet here
 Trying to race up the tracks of the trolley built by the British while constructing the barrage. Vishal is already up at the incline which is probably about 60 degrees or so

 On the trail from Lohardi (which is a short bus ride from Barot) to Swaar

 We stop for a chat with a local shepherd

 Tasting the mountain water
 The forest rest house

A walk in the village in the evening
Do you spot a sheep?
a warm room in the night

 Breakfast in the morning (Pradeep tau even arranged for a gas stove and cylinder for us instead of the chulha)

 And the walk back (a smiling Anu even though he felt sick in the night)
Mules carrying bricks for the new school building in Swaar