Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Hill Sojourn Part IV Day 03

Our alarms and phone started buzzing and a new day, new dawn welcomed us…… The night was truly cherishable after all we chatted for hours altogether apart from the usual official stuff.. Today’s itinerary was to visit the Army Temple and the Bhagsunag Waterfalls and straight away leave for Dharamshala… So, accordingly, we asked the manager to escort us to Bhagsu as the local guy knew a shorter route…. We check-out of our rooms and left the hotel at around 0900 hours..

Since, it rained heavily last night, the roads were slippery.In the dewy, pleasant petrichor of the post-rain morning, we made our way through the lush green forest (which was devoid of Komorebi as the weather was still ‘bad’ for some but not for ME) and breathed the natural fresh pollution-free air. In a few minutes’ time, we were at the temple and after doing the pradakshina around the path, we clicked photos (as usual)… There was a pool few steps ahead of the temple and we (read ‘I’) just couldn’t resist from clicking….

Then, we had our breakfast in the local Bhagsu Market and I was telling the group that I want to try THUKPA from the day we reached there… First we ordered the usual North Indian stuff – THE PARANTHAS.. Though they were good, but I like trying the exclusive thing which I will not find here at my place… So, Arpit asked me whether I was willing to have one? I responded in YES, but since I was full, I won’t be able to finish it and someone has to give me company in finishing that THUKPA (as I don’t like wasting even an ounce of food). So, we ordered and it was such YUM that none could resist eating it..

The restaurant was lake-side facing and we could see the towering mountains from the window… As we were having our breakfast, series of clouds passed through and instantly I recalled the day when I landed in Manali 8 years back… As our bus entered Manali, clouds were so low, we could even feel them with our hands.. Same was the case here but the glass window became a hindrance and I was devoid of feeling it… LL

The Captivating Scene From our Restaurant
So, after breakfast, we thought to meet the other group (Prasoon, Ankita, Ashmeen and Dahiya) to ask them if they are willing to come but since they were having their breakfast we decided to head straight to see the Bhagsu waterfall which was just 2 kms away from the place we ate. As we walked, I sensed that something was missing, Bhagsu was not the Bhagsu which I had seen 5 years back… The cute huts where we had our selfies then, were nowhere to be seen… Finally, we reached there and the place was fully COMMERCIALISED…

Sonia, Me, Arpit - CRAZY US... AGAIN!!
People were selling Maggis, and even there were shops.. Imagine shops at waterfall…. What we are doing to MOTHER EARTH and then they say it is causing havoc.. Of course, it will! It will find a mechanism to lessen the population burden… Perhaps, it is too easy to romanticize the natural world because it is one of the most enduring characteristics… Fortunately, there were just three huts left and we posed there emphatically..

Bhagsu Waterfall
Finally, we returned at the main Mcleodganj Chauraha and Dhirendraji and Arpit went back to pick up the luggage… While our gang of four girls (ME, Sonia, Mona, Rajput) were strolling in the market… The scene which we next saw is undescribable and is best in our memories…. :P :P

Finally, when the boys came, we moved forward to reach Dharamshala (…again in a local bus)… As the bus snaked through the Army Cantonment Area, I was being nostalgic as IT WAS TIME to bid adieu to Mcleodganj…. So, in about half an hour, we reached the Dharamshala bus stand and we were welcome with a nebulous atmosphere… We couldn’t see an inch and it was like heavenly….

If I could ever search for ‘Heaven’, it was then… THERE…… The fog, the cloudiness, the cool pleasant breeze… Mensch, it was truly experience of a LIFETIME…. So, me, Mona and Arpit were game for walking towards the Dharamshala Cricket Stadium (which is one of its kind in the midst of mountains)… While others were earlier reluctant, but later on they agreed and we started walking… And I just can’t tell you how I was feeling THEN…. THERE at that moment….


We asked for our way from the localiites and we were walking in the Government zone just like the Aurangzeb Road of Delhi…. After walking few miles, Lord Indra became happy and started showering… And it was simply WOW-WALA-Experience…. So, Sonia, Rajput and Dhirendraji decided to take a bus to Dharamshala.. while me, Mona and Arpit decided to walk.. because it was just drizzling then so we were actually feeling the place that was Dharamshala….

We passed a large medical institution cum hospital, an ancient colonial-era structure, house of IFS, and many such prominent buildings passed by… As soon as the rain started heavily downpouring, we decided to halt near a bank and then, finally took a bus to reach the destination… The other group was waiting for us and then as Lord Indra calmed down, we began moving finally to reach the Cricket Stadium.. The entry was FREE and open to all… I wouldn’t say that it was the best sight because the dark grey clouds came in the passage of hills.. but undoubtedly, it was a good experience…

Dharamshala Cricket Stadium
Afterwards, it was time to have our lunch and we decided to sit in a comforting place without eating too much.. So, we had hot chocolate, momos and lots of other stuff… and finally we boarded our bus to reach the Dharamshala bus stand..

The other group would meet us there and so we pre-arranged seats for them… They arrived and we were dead tired… A pinch of nostalgia started running through my veins as on the one hand I was hiraeth of the fact of leaving the wondrous place.. on the other, I wanted to go home and meet my niece that was waiting for me at my place…

So, we boarded the bus that dropped us at Pathankot around 1930 hours…

The Return Journey Will Be TO BE CONTINUED…….. 

To read what we did the other three days, visit page -

Monday, 27 April 2015

Hill Sojourn Part III Day 02

Well, majority of you must've lost interest in reading this... But, I was recounting that day today while returning from office and so I thought to pen down my thoughts...

On day 03 of our trip, Vivek, enthusiastic of all...  woke us all up and as soon as we opened up our balcony doors, the morning sun embraced us with its wide sunrays - stretching out arms only to give us a wide hug.. It was one of the most beautiful sunrises I've ever seen till now... After a chit chat for about half an hour, we got up and it took us like about an hour or so to get ready for one of the most challenging treks to Triund. We all were super excited and after taking a few photographs, we began our journey.

This trek undoubtedly was difficult! After having an experience of about 6 treks, I couldn't complete this one.. (Well, I'll tell you the story below). So, after climbing up a few miles, we finally arrived at our first stop - THE TEMPLE...

The Temple @Gullu, Himachal Pradesh

Since none of us had breakfast, the next thing to do was EAT.. Prasoon knew a place and so we had our sumptuous breakfast at the Thapaji. The place was tranquil.. and yes, I forgot to mention that we found the first glimpse of snow fall at the Temple. Though, we couldn't see it falling (which I seriously wish to see it once in my lifetime).. But, Rajput created that effect by rubbing it through her hands over my head. :P :P

The Sumptuous Maggi @ Thapaji, Gullu

IM Team Knows What Fun is All About - WOW!

After having delicious Maggi, sumptuous Omelette, we were full and began our journey towards our destination - TRIUND. En-route we took short pauses, clicked selfies, Arpit shot a video, held each other's hand whosoever was in need of one, we stopped for each other - That's how the bond between all of us strengthened even more. So, after reaching a point, I decided to give up... Maybe, because I had too much of food at the Thapaji's store. Before reaching to the top, the last food outlet, passed by.... the shop owner said, it might snow in an hour as the weather was bad..

The Last Shop Before we Parted Ways - the Group!

Arpit, Ashmeen, Dahiya, Sonia, Me - Somewhere Towards Triund

On hearing this news, the group was then divided into two - the one who was willing to take that risk and see the Dhauladhar range atop and the one that didn't pressed for taking that risk (fortunately or unfortunately I was amongst the latter group as immediately my father's face came to my mind and I decided to step back from going uphill).

On our return, only Me, Sonia and Arpit were there the other group went to the top whereas, Rajput and her family were already down in the Mcleodganj market. On our return, I asked both of them to stop twice as I wanted to feel the nature I was in. That tranquil and silence.... I can still hear it with my eyes shut. That was just fabulous! As the kacha road snaked through, I picked up two exquisite dry flowers from the road.. (I know both of them Sonia and Arpit thought that I am crazy but that's the way I am...) So, we paused for a few photo shots and selfies.... The cool breeze that kissed my face and the faint sounds of birds chirping was just music to my ears..... Seriously, words will fall short if I start describing that phase. So, let me just pause and get back to the trailing down series of three of us.....

Sonia, Me, Arpit - Crazy US

Then, after reaching our hotel, we called up Rajput who was chilling with her family in the market and so we too decided to join her and began our journey towards Mcleodganj which was 2 kms from Dharamkot Inn, our hotel.

After meeting them, we thought to visit the Sunset point. As I've already been there and remember our trek from that point towards our hotel in Bhagsu way back in 2010. But, the weather wasn't clear so there was NO SUN and dark grey clouds were hovering on top of our heads.. So, we asked a few localiites as to what would be the best option to do with the limited time that we had in our hands. They suggested to take a stroll in the market and visit the Dalai Lama Temple and accordingly, we did likewise.

Is this a Dream Come True? Can something be so Surreal?

As we roamed freely on the streets of Mcleodganj, we saw a gol gappa vendor and gol gappas in the hills is like one of its' kind like experience. I urged them both (Sonia and Arpit) to stop and have one... So, we had that amazing spicy gol gappas and continued walking towards our destination. Midway, I found a guy selling these amazing neckpieces and I couldn't resist myself from buying a piece or two and so I bought 4 neck pieces and loved adorning it.

Then, finally we stepped into the temple and we traversed the Pradakshinapath and came out to meet Rajput. Moving forward, we had our lunch+dinner at some Punjabi restaurant (offering FREE Wi-Fi facility :P :P)... We immediately entered in and as always I was the first one to ask for the Wi-Fi password (as I have disabled the data card facility)..... After chilling there for about an hour or so, we came back to our hotel and after relaxing... we decided to have bonfire.... So, it was chilling cold that day and it rained heavily.... so, we just relaxed, sat, listened to some of the most amazing songs from Arpit's playlist till the battery of his phone was all lost...

Burning in Bonfire

About 2000hours, the second group returned leaving just Pallavi and Vivek behind as they decided to camp on the hillside. So, their experiences were worth recounting... They all were soo excited on their return and Prasoon said that the group missed my "WOW" factor.... So, I missed that too... But, never mind, I will complete that trek too soon with all the basics cleared in my head and will even spend a night out there in the midst of the mountains where I can experience THE REAL VIEW OF THE SNOW FALL.

When they came back in front of fire, they narrated their trekking experiences and finally, rain drops started pouring in and in nick of time it turned into a heavy shower. After that, we thought to chill in Arpit's room and have a chit chat till the time the rain shower die down...... But it refused to stop and as we gathered our courage to leave the room..... suddenly, someone knocked on our door and on asking, no one replied from the other side... This was the scariest part...... And then rest is all history - It was the best night spent of all the three nights... We (Me, Sonia, Monika, Arpit) chatted for about till 0300 hours and played PERCEPTION (My favourite game).... And the night went by just with unlimited chatter, chilling, clicking and of course leg pulling.... :) :)

That's how comes the end of Day 02 and will let you know about the final day in the hills Day 03 laterssss........

To read what we did the other two days, click on the following link-

Thursday, 9 April 2015

A Clash of Civilizations Through Nuclear Arms Race

Pakistan has taken a leap forward in the recent week by brokering/chequering a deal with China to have 8 more diesel powered submarines. This has aggravated the arms race between India, China and the Pakistan. Although, the world was glad when P5+1 sealed the deal with Iran to put its nuclear program at halt but the world powers failed to stress on South Asia. What China has done (and it always does) in partnering with his ‘all-weather friend’ is not seen in any good light in the Indian Defence circle. China is trying to widen its footprint in the Indian neighbourhood with its proactive (read aggressive) diplomacy through military, political and economic cooperation. If I may remind you, way back it had taken away Myanmar oil pipeline contract from India apart from constructing naval ports in Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the name of boosting economic and trade ties.

India is wary of China’s military intentions and the recent developments in Pakistan have made India all the more nervous. If we talk about the current Indian Navy fleet, it has 8 nuclear capable submarines when compared with Pakistan’s 5. Though by 2018, India will have 5 more nuclear powered submarine in its kitty but the most troublesome situation for India is –

This Yuan-class Type-041 conventional diesel powered submarines has the capability to remain underwater as long as four weeks. So, in a war-like situation, it can keep away from ‘enemy’s’ eyes and can win over easily. If the submarine gets mounted with Babar cruise ballistic missile, it will attain second strike capability – which again is a threat to India.

Other threats posed when Pakistan possess such deadly weapons are –
  • ·         Pakistan is a ‘safe’ haven for terrorists and non-state actors. The state of affairs in the country is already very tumultuous and concerning. In such a situation, if the arsenal falls into terrorist’s hands, they can bring havoc to India and the regions where Al-Qaeda and Islamic State are reigning.

  • ·         The Afghan neighbourhood is as porous as the Pakistan itself. With the West discriminating between the ‘good Taliban’ and the ‘bad Taliban’, one is still unsure of the adverse consequences of the expanding arsenal.

Today, Pakistan is engaging itself into a mad race of acquiring nuclear weapons. Insider reports suggest, today it is equipped with 120 nuclear weapons which will be three times in a decade’s time. To make this come true, China is funding heavily and supporting Pakistan (as it has always done). Way back in history, it was China who ‘secretly’ gave atomic weapon designs and uranium to Pakistan. With Chinese help, they were able to design their first atom bomb which was test-fired on the Chinese land. It has even asked its 'friend' North Korea to supply long range ballistic missiles to fill in the Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

Given the close defence collaboration between the two countries, the recent deal was agreed on a long-term loan with low interest rate. [Pakistan give a damn about maintaining law and order in the country – It is just bred with a sick mentality of SACRIFICE in the name of JIHAD (shahadat – I know I am going off track... but it’s true!)]. Therefore, the ulterior motive of China is to encircle India with naval bases and that is why India is concerned upon expanding its fleet because it has two major threats near the borders – Pakistan and China. Though the West argue on treaties like NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) but they stand mute against such provocative steps initiated by China. Hence, it is to  be seen what and how nuclear race will shape up South Asia in the coming decade. 

Is the new world order heading towards a ‘clash of civilizations’ pitting West, India, Iran versus China, Russia, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries? Will the world see another era of World War installing a new hegemon?