Travel

Sunsets That Made Me Sway

Sunset brings with itself melting emotions of bygone days;

Golden days that make you sway to an unheard tune;

Tunes those were once the songs we hummed;

With our fingers intertwined only to watch it give way to night;

Those sunsets were different than the sunsets of today;

Sunset was an emotion then, it is just another evening today;

Each sunset was then captured in the eyes and saved in our souls;

Today I capture it with my camera to praise it as nature’s galore;

Sunset is an emotion, I remind myself again;

Lost in its beauty, I go down the memory lane.

Pinewood Cottages Kasauli: A Jungle Retreat


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Pinewood Cottages-Travel-Anupriya Mishra

Photo Credit: Ashish Verma

Pristine, serene and majestic! These are the adjectives that completely define this place.

Pinewood Cottages Kasauli is a place to be. Located in the outskirts, these cottages are situated with village on one side and jungle on the other. The deep valley, the curvacious narrow lanes, the abundant greenery makes for the picturesque beauty.

Weekend Getaway

Pinewood Cottages-Travel-Anupriya Mishra

Photo Credit: Ashish Verma

We planned to visit this place over a weekend. Provided, the stay was short, we had an amazing time. With me was my spouse, his friends and my pet. Yes, this place is pet-friendly and to my relief there were no other visitors than us, and my dear Labrador, named Dollar, had the best time of his life. We were not untouched with all the magnificent beauty of this place. The silence was overwhelming. Our senses could now unwind to a completely non-polluted hill station.

Pinewood Cottages-Travel-Anupriya Mishra

Photo Credit: Ashish Verma

The Journey Began

We left at 5 in the morning from Delhi on a Saturday and reached the destination around 2 PM. We booked a tempo traveler that cost us around 14 grands, but gave us ample space to even lie down and keep our bags. It was a smooth journey throughout. With a halt at Sukhdev Dhaba, Moorthal in Haryana where we had rich and most famous parathas served with excessive white butter. They were even more delicious when followed by tea. Without any other major stop, we finally reached Pinewood Cottages in Kasauli. The last 4 km stretch was a bumpy ride, as there was no pakka road.

Pinewood Cottages-Travel-Anupriya Mishra

Photo Credit: Ashish Verma

Beauty of the Cottages

On the right hand, I saw some varnished cottages. These cottages were looking all the more beautiful because of the sun rays, which made them look golden in color. There was abundant greenery and huge pine trees, the spiky needle like leaves shined splendidly. On these trees were found cones scattered here and there. These brown cones added to the beauty and I badly wanted one of them to take back with me as a memory. Unfortunately, these pine cones were too high from our reach and I could only bring back the ones I found lying underneath.

Pinewood Cottages-Travel-Anupriya Mishra

Photo Credit: Ashish Verma

There were around six cottages including the tree house. Each one of us picked the cottage and dumped the luggage. The rooms were neat, made of wooden logs, including the furniture. There were lights and a fan, but no electricity. The washrooms were clean and spacious, but the water was freezing cold. Since, there was no electricity, no point of expecting a hot water bath.

Pinewood Cottages-Travel-Anupriya Mishra

Photo Credit: Ashish Verma

The Stay

It was sunny at the time we reached this place, but with the setting sun the temperature fell down considerably and we had to put on our woolens. We sat on the front lawn where there were chairs for us and demanded for a bonfire arrangement. The two caretakers Inder and Ganesh arranged it for us and we were highly pleased with Inder; he was spontaneous. However, later to our surprise we were told that there was no milk for tea and no food. Each time we would ask for something, they would go to the market in main Kasauli and get it for us. And, it took them almost one to one and a half hours each time they went uphill to the market. There was always a probability that we would have had to stay without food. We were lucky enough to have stayed only without tea. Of course, we drank tea; without the milk.

Pinewood Cottages-Travel-Anupriya Mishra

Photo Credit: Ashish Verma

As it went dark and cold, we were at our best. The bonfire kept us alive under the open sky. Oh! That reminds me of millions of stars I saw after ages. The last I saw them was on one of the camps I stayed in Rishikesh, some two years back. It was marvelous. Imagine the soft cushion like grass under your feet, cold breeze caressing your cheeks, fire to warm the place and snacks and beverages to accompany you in your chit chat session with friends. Right in front of us was a valley and little farther, a mountain with trees symmetrically arranged that looked pitch black in the night.

Pinewood Cottages-Travel-Anupriya Mishra

Photo Credit: Ashish Verma

Finally, we had dinner, which the poor chaps had arranged from the market. The food wasn’t excellent, but good to satiate your stomach pangs and taste buds.

The only drawback was that we could not charge our mobile phones, which were completely dead by then.

The Caretaker

Inder was an extremely benevolent  and humble being, who had been on his toes throughout. He made the best arrangements to his capacity and told us stories about leopards that visited the cottages late in the night. He added to the thrill as the place was pitch dark, the only light we had was of the bonfire which was sure to die. He also promised to take us to the waterfall early morning. With this, we left for our cottages to wake up early morning.

We all managed to sleep soundly.

We woke up in the middle of the night to look out for leopards without stepping out of the cottages as instructed by Inder, till we saw the morning light.

The Dawn

The sun rise was splendid. The beauty of the sun cannot be ignored at the time of dawn. The sun rose beautifully behind the mountains and spread its redness, near and far to its circumference just like a deep red dye spreads across a white fabric–deeper towards the center and lighter towards the periphery. The pine trees in the front, still looked black, but distinct.

Pinewood Cottages-Travel-Anupriya Mishra

Photo Credit: Ashish Verma

We planned to go to the waterfall, but it was nothing but a stream of water and we came back a little disappointed. On our way back we met the villagers and local people.  They were quite welcoming and had a warm smile on their faces.

We then decided to go down the valley, which were the farms of the villagers, their bread and butter. We must have touched almost the end of the valley and found a variety of plantation. Some of them were the citrus fruits, red hot chillies, ripe tomatoes, radish, bamboo shoots, cucumber and lots more.  After the trekking to the valley plantation, we decided to rest a while and eat breakfast.

 

Travel-Blog-Anupriya Mishra

Photo Credit: Ashish Verma

We also went to the market in main Kasauli to curb our tea cravings.  Tea was exceptionally sweet for people like me who do not have a sweet tooth.

There is nothing much to see in Kasauli. Despite the drawbacks like lack of basic amenities and poor service, we enjoyed our stay because we were on our own. It was an overall thrilling experience to stay in the wooden cottages amidst forest.

Far from the maddening crowd

Pinewood cottages are worth a shot if you are in a large group of friends and family. The best you can do is to keep a backup for everything, be it torch, lighter, extra water bottles and food or snacks to munch. You’ll enjoy this place completely if you wish to while away with the traffic, honks and fast life. The beauty of vicinity, the silence of the mountains,  cottages amidst deep dense forests would make up for all the shortcomings. Try it out!

Tariffs:

One Night Room Tariff Only

Deluxe Cottage : Rs.3600

Super Deluxe Cottage :  Rs.4200

Duplex Cottage : Rs.5400

Tree House Cottage : Rs.6000

Child 5-10 years : Nil

Child (10+) / Adult : 500

without extra bedding

except in Deluxe and Tree-House

 

Website: http://www.pinewoodcottageskasauli.com/

Disclaimer: Do not go by the services and facilities mentioned on their website as they have none. It is believed that the place is now owned by a new person since couple of months, who does not take an interest in the property apart from the monetary aspect.

 

Surajkund sans Mela

Surajkund Reservoir-Anupriyamishra.com-Blog

Surajkund Reservoir

Usually when your travel plans don’t work and you have no good reason to stay back at home, the best idea is to go exploring your city. I did the same this weekend when my plans turned out to be sour and the place I chose was Surajkund in Faridabad, Haryana–an ancient reservoir of the 10th Century as it is known to be.

Surajkund is known for its traditional crafts Mela, held every year.  The fair attracts people from across the world and is popular for handicrafts. You get to see a blend of various regions across India with the displayed artifacts, people draped in traditional clothes, traditional dances and songs that keep you mesmerized and a whole lot of fun.

The place is fun to be at this peak time. However, I decided to visit it now, i.e. in August, when I wasn’t really sure how the place would look like without the crowd, colorful shops and painted faces charming you in their unique way.

Surajkund at its Best

On arriving the place I realized that I never noticed the beauty and tranquility of this place. The place was so sumptuously crowded at the time of its famous handicrafts mela that you’d tend to miss on the intrinsic beauty and detailing of the place.

The Surajkund Village Entrance

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Danteshwari Devi Gate, Madhya Pradesh, 1992

On reaching the destination I realized there were two entrances to it. One on the right hand side and the other on the left hand side. Without realizing the difference, I chose the right entrance over the counterpart and this turned out to be the Surajkund Village. The main gate with unique artwork from Madhya Pradesh since 1992 is named Danteshwari Devi Gate. These were some eclectic pieces welcoming you at the entrance and leaving you in awe to explore further. There’s a huge main gate in the form of a lion that would endure you to take you in.

Vishnupur Gate

Vishnupur Gate, West Bengal, 1990

A little beyond these oeuvres was another huge gate named as Vishnupur Gate dedicated to West Bengal since 1990. This particularly has fine carvings representing traditional dance forms and structures. Beautiful in red, the entrance welcomes you in full grace.

The Enchanting Beauty

Surajkund Village - anupriyamishra.com - blog

Captivating Beauty of Surajkund Village

The captivating beauty of this place is worth seeing. And, this cannot be done at the time of Crafts Mela. The lush green trees, hatched huts giving the amazing sense of a village that holds beauty of its own. The craftsmanship encapsulating the uniqueness of different states, be it Badrinath Temple of Uttarakhand, colorful house from Goa, Replica of Shah Hamdan Dargah (J&K Gate, 2000), Gujarat Gali (Gujarat 1997) and more. The place is well kept and have farmers and villagers taking care of it.

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The Smiling Faces

The villagers welcome you with a warm smile if you get a chance to speak with them. Their sweet and welcoming conversation would make you feel like spending more time and being around.

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Villagers at Surajkund Village

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Monkey’s Paradise

The place is absolutely a paradise for monkeys. You’ll see plenty of them in every nook and corner. They look healthy, happy and completely in love with the place. Jumping here and there carelessly from one tree to the other, I was bewildered to see how none of them were creating chaos or disturbing the visitors. They were happily engrossed in their various activities and one of them was actively swinging to and fro, holding a straw from the roof of a hatched hut. It was a delightful view indeed and I tried to capture it somehow.

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Marching together

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At a swing of straw

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Posing

 

After spending some good time in the village, I decided to move to the next entrance that was on the left of the parking area. Now, this was actually the Surajkund reservoir. I was quite excited to see this as I’d never seen or much heard about it before.

Entry Ticket

The entry ticket of Rs. 10/- is applicable only for this part of Surajkund i.e. Surajkund reservoir and not for the village entry. In fact, there were no additional parking charges.

Surajkund Reservoir

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On entering the main gate of the reservoir you will have an impression that it’s just a well kept park that you are going to visit. However, after a few steps up the slope you’ll see a marvelous sight of the steps around the huge circumference made of rocks. The steps are interestingly laid down that adds beauty to the entire site. You can step down, walk along the circumference or even run on some of these steps as they give you ample space and are broad enough. The view is completely breathtaking, especially at the first sight as it comes as a surprise to you. You can also sit on the stairs and spend some wee hours with your friends and family. Truly an amalgamation of beauty and serenity.

All in all, it’s been a great experience. If you’ve to experience the quintessential  charm of this place, you must visit it on any day but on the days of Surajkund Mela. Surajkund Mela has a fascination of its own that’s undeniable. But, the true beauty lies in the first time experiences of the things that are untouched and unexplored. So, plan your visit soon over a weekend and would like to hear your views as well. Hope you have a great weekend. To find more images of Surajkund visit: http://tinyurl.com/pwnd4y8

 

 

 

 

McLeod-Ganj-City-Market-Travel-Anupriya Mishra

McLeod Ganj: Heaven on Earth

This divine hill station is sure to enchant you and gift you ample of refreshing memories that will make you come back for more. 

Mcleod-Ganj - Travel - Anupriya Mishra

An eagle’s eye view of McLeod Ganj

Far from the maddening crowd, midst the lush greenery lies the abundant serenity. Have you ever thought of being in a place where you find silence in culture, unbound beauty in surroundings like gushing water, chirping birds, misty weather, clouds beneath and a mystique aura? If yes, this is the place for you.

McLeod Ganj, a community of Dharamshala in Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh, India is a wow place to visit. It’s a hill station that can be well described as a poet’s best poetry, a sculptor’s favorite piece of work or for a traveloholic (travel enthusiasts) like me; it’s simply the heaven on earth. There’s something about this place which urges you to stay. Some strange divinity with enchanting beauty, blended with surreal silence makes you nostalgic. You must break free and let the splendor engulf you.

Mcleod-Ganj - Travel - Anupriya Mishra

Beautiful sunrise

The mornings of this place are magnificent and the evenings give them a tough competition by being equally captivating. The sky seems to have draped an opaque sheet, partially made of fog and partially of clouds. At some places you would be bluffed to believe that you are on top of the clouds. The abundant greenery will be a soothing balm to your tired nerves.

Mcleod-Ganj - Travel - Anupriya Mishra

Morning glory

Though McLeod Ganj may outshine the city life that’s more contemporary, the sobriety of this place has enough to offer. The petite colorful handicraft shops and stalls along each step will raise an urge to shop till you drop just like you would do in any city mall. There’s lot of stuff for girls who have fascination for jewelry, handbags, shawls or stoles made of pure sheep wool and lots more–so much so that you’ll be scandalized to see. For guys too there’s plenty! If you are fond of fragrances, McLeod Ganj is the place. You get variety of aromatic candles, oils, and incense sticks. Silver and gemstones or semi-precious stones seem to be the USP for the villagers. And the best part is that they are crafted beautifully and each piece you hold is different from the rest.  Then you can also look for prayer flags, Tibetan artifacts, bronze statues, thangkas, small prayer wheels, cham-dance–masks which look quite interesting.

McLeod-Ganj-City-Market-Travel-Anupriya Mishra

Mcleod-Ganj - Travel - Anupriya Mishra

Mcleod-Ganj - Travel - Anupriya Mishra

McLeod-Ganj-City-Market-Travel-Anupriya Mishra

McLeod-Ganj-City-Market-Travel-Anupriya Mishra

McLeod-Ganj-City-Market-Travel-Anupriya Mishra

McLeod-Ganj-City-Market-Travel-Anupriya Mishra

The amazing food joints and coffee shops will make you forget the Mocha of the world. Imagine yourself sitting in a coffee shop that offers the Tibetan delicacies ranging from the popular Thupka to Momos for those who would want to try some local food, while all sorts of Italian, Chinese, Japanese and mouth smacking Indian dishes too. The restaurant has an antique touch with hanging lamp shades throwing some dim yellow light, and the restaurant is constructed out of wood. The big windows on all the sides give you a sneak peek of the mountains and pitter-patter of rain drops; a perfect backdrop for romancing. How do you feel? If just a shot of imagination can make you glee, think of having a real life experience.

McLeod Ganj - Travel - Anupriya Mishra

Apart from this, McLeod Ganj offers some must see destinations for tourists like us. Bhagsunag temple and the waterfall is one of the mesmerizing spots. To ascend to the waterfall you pass through the temple. Known to be the first Himalayan trek, Bhagsunag waterfall is exceptionally superb if you are visiting at the right time. Try to carry as less belongings as possible because the route to the waterfall is somewhat unruly. If you get a chance to dip in deep waters then you will feel the chills and shivers in your body as the water is freezing cold. The gigantic grey rocks add to the beauty of this place and leave you in awe for a while. The place also offers some strategically placed cafes and the popular one seemed to be the ‘Shiva Café’, the last stop. For the liquor lovers, this place is truly a heaven as alcohol is available under these hatched roof shops.

McLeod Ganj - Travel - Anupriya Mishra

Bhagsunag waterfalls

McLeod Ganj - Travel - Anupriya Mishra

McLeod Ganj - Travel - Anupriya Mishra

Prayer Flags

The Dalai Lama Temple is aesthetically constructed. The architecture is in such a manner that just the right amount of sunlight is permitted to enter the temple. The place is glorified with chants and sermons recited by Lamas as part of rituals.

McLeod Ganj - Travel - Anupriya Mishra

Prayer Bells at Dalai Lama Temple

McLeod Ganj - Travel - Anupriya Mishra

While tourists hire a taxi to visit Naddi, one of the highest points of Dharamshala, we chose to trek all the way. You can try it out as it wasn’t exhaustive at all. We enjoyed the path with each footstep and clicked some amazing flicks to cherish for the lifetime. The scenic beauty along the way was magnanimous. From the main McLeod Ganj town to Dal Lake, a beautiful artificially constructed one, we covered a distance of 4 km, wasn’t cumbersome at all. We were not the odd ones out; there were other foreigners too who preferred trekking over taxi. Dal Lake is surrounded by humongous conifers and one side of it has good arrangement of benches at some intervals. You can sit for hours and let the beauty of silence seep within.

McLeod Ganj - Travel - Anupriya Mishra

Dal Lake

Then there’s Triund known best for trekking, is one of the finest spots to capture the panoramic beauty. It is suggested to hire a guide for this place as way to Triund is midst forests and there’s always a risk of wild animals especially bears. These guides take with them their faithful dogs, which help keeping away these animals. Not too sure, if that’s true as we were not lucky enough to visit this place because of the rains.

McLeod Ganj - Travel - Anupriya Mishra

If you are looking for some more peace and somberness, you must make a visit to Norbulingka Institue, further down the McLeod Ganj towards main Dharmshala. This institute primarily depicts the Tibetan culture through excellent works of art. The greenery, the pond, the flowers; colorful flags and the dazzling prayer bells in bronze, seem to have a story to tell you. The gentle breeze would kiss your cheeks silently, whispering something harmoniously.   

McLeod Ganj - Travel - Anupriya Mishra

Further down the McLeod Ganj towards main Dharmshala, lies the Dharmshala cricket stadium, one of the highest cricket stadiums and main tourist attraction. Watching sportsmen play with Himalayan ranges at the backdrop was an overwhelming experience and an experience for the lifetime.

Dharamshala Stadium-Travel-Anupriya Mishra

Dharmshala Stadium

So, do not waste time and plan your next trip to the holy land of McLeod Ganj. Capture the breathtaking views and enjoy to the fullest. Take a break and leave behind the chaotic city life to revive yourself.

Quick Facts:

Distance from New Delhi: 480 km (Approx.)

Travel Time: 10-12 hrs (Approx.)

Best time to visit: Anytime between April to December. Spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit.

Hotels and stay: The hotels in McLeod Ganj are dearth cheap if you are not visiting during the peak season. The good reasonable ones would range somewhere between 800 INR – 1000 INR while they can go up to 8000 INR per night.

Suggestions: Carry some woolens, an umbrella or a raincoat depending on the season of visit. If travelling by road, be prepared for the bumpy ride as there are horrific patches of road with endless potholes.

 

Photo Credit: Google

Adventure - Travel - Anupriya Mishra

Play It Safe

Adventure - Travel - Anupriya Mishra

It was a daunting evening and a bumpy ride on a silent road of a far-off island. That unforgettable experience still gives me Goosebumps. My husband and I had planned a trip to one of the most popular islands in a foreign land. Since, we were not familiar with the place, we decided to buy a guide book from a local shop, nearby our resort. With excitement at its peak, we planned to spend some good buck and take a car on rent for one day and a bike for another. Smartly, we circled down on the map some interesting spots to visit the consecutive days. I would merely talk about the first day when we took a car on rent as we had good amount of fun in exploring a new place all by ourselves. But, the second day when we somewhat over-confidently, after a day’s successful adventure and exploration, took a bike on rent—oh! How can I forget?

So, it all started the second day of our expedition. Close to the resort was a local market where we saw some shops giving away bikes on rent. Being on an island, we were flown in emotion and thought to have some added adventure. We immediately took out the local currency and took few seconds in ensuring that we offer the vendor correctly. The vendor did some paperwork and asked us to choose a bike. I still can feel the adrenaline rush that I was going through to ride a bike in a new country, moreover island to be precise. I chose blue; bright and stood apart from the rest. The vendor again did some usual bunch of formalities as a religious act and handed over the keys and funny looking white colored helmets.

We were all set and thrilled for our ride and decided to cover all the leftover spots–spots, which could not be covered the first day. And, there we go to a crocodile park, some ancient wells, beaches, and local markets trying variety of food and art pieces. We got so involved in the uniqueness of the culture that we forgot to keep a tab on time. However, my smart husband realized well on time, right before the sunset that we must be heading back to the resort and enjoy the places in the vicinity. To which I agreed, like an obedient wife, of course.

On our way back, my husband took the charge of riding me back safe and sound (as he’s not too confident about my driving skills, I must mention though that I own excellent ones. No, seriously!). Back to the point; while he was riding the bike with complete focus on the unfamiliar routes and signboards, I was thoroughly enjoying views sitting behind him, trying to capture almost every useless thing in my camera. Suddenly, he asked me if we have to take a left turn or go straight (One thing he agrees is that I’m better at remembering the routes). This time I wasn’t too sure, mutually we decided to take the left turn. A decent busy road gave us some relief.

The fuel needle was dropping and we had it in mind to refuel the bike at the first petrol station. After covering some four kilometers we realized that this road seemed endless. We looked around and couldn’t find anyone else within the proximity. The sun was bidding adieu, the fuel needle was drooping down and now even at a faster speed. Both the sides of the street were thick forests. We were badly stuck. If we go back our little blue bike would certainly ditch us, if we move ahead, we were not sure whether this road would ever end and where to.

Finally, it was pitch dark after fifteen minutes. The road was getting narrower. We could not bet on the existence of human species as there were none. Both of us acted to be bold and brave enough. We started convincing each other, “This road will lead somewhere, definitely.” After covering few more miles, again my smart husband stopped; took a u-turn and said firmly, “OK, we are not going farther”. To which I agreed, again like an obedient wife. But, this time I certainly did not have a choice.

Somewhere, my inner self was praying to God for our safety. Still, we kept each other distracted till the time we saw a beam of light at some distance. There was such a sigh of relief, I can’t express in words. Finally, we could see some human like species and machines on wheels. And, we behaved as everything was normal and none of us were scared–I knew I was.

The next day, my husband admitted that it was a spine-chilling experience for him, even more because I was with him. After all, men will be men.

The next day, early morning we went back to the same road exploring where we could have landed if we had taken that road. And, we found a huge shipyard with gigantic ships. It was a beautiful sight of course and a wonderful lesson for the adventure freak couple.

Till date, I appreciate the decision we took that day of taking a u-turn. However, life doesn’t always offer a u-turn.

Hence, it’s important that you:

  • Plan your trip well in advance
  • Inquire about the place before you actually land
  • Chalk down the key places or tourist spots
  • Stay at places which are crowded
  • Ask for a local guide
  • Do not go exploring outskirts
  • Always keep your fuel tank full in case you take a vehicle on rent
  • Keep some important numbers in case of emergency like hotel, vendor, guide, local friend
  • Always keep a torch handy
  • Avoid carrying expensive items and too much of cash
  • Avoid wearing too much of jewelry
  • Do not experiment and explore beyond limits
  • Be adventurous in doing things that you are confident about

Safety comes first. So, next time when you plan a trip to such a happening place, remember these little things. Stay adventurous, stay safe and keep travelling.