"Trees are Earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven." ~ Rabindranath Tagore



Travelogues

Honeymoon on the Road


Sudhakar Vishwanath hails from Chennai, has been born and brought up at Pune, where he works as a Company Secretary. An ardent fan of the Indian Railways Network his ambition, he writes, "is to traverse India in all its entirety with my wife Jayashri, who shares this enthusiasm. In the meantime I read the travelogues at this site and travel vicariously."

Day One: Monday 16th July, 2001

Commenced our honeymoon early on a Monday morning. As instructed, we reached the starting point near Karol Bagh well before the scheduled departure time. We were greeted by the pleasant news that the scheduled departure had been delayed by around 3 hours. The art of killing time was put to use straightaway. Holding our heavily packed luggage and spirits we sat at the lounge of our travel operator. In between I made conversation with my F-I-L, who was seeing us off.

The bus did finally start as we headed towards Chandigarh, our first destination. Enroute, the bus stopped for lunch at a plesant Hotel where we disappointed the waiter by ordering tea.

More About:
Himachal
Punjab
Chandigarh
Jammu

Travelogues
Honeymoon Paradise
Honeymoon in North
Return to Manali

Impressions
Amritsar
Palampur
Dalhousie
Dharamshala
Chandigarh


The bus reached its first destination Sukhana lake in Chandigarh. I reached for my newly purchased camera and went on a clicking spree (ignoring the muddy lake in the background). From thereon we headed to visit the Rock Garden. The creator of this Garden, Mr.Nek Chand, has taken immense pains to use discarded items to make this unusual spectacle. As an art lover I was quite generous in my criticism and witticism. The walk here gave me the opportunity to work om my promising photographic talent. My newly-wed wife, Jaya, decided to buy my silence with a hard bhutta (corn stick) to munch for an hour. We went on to visit the Rose garden and had a great time viewing several varieties of roses and thorns. In the garden, there were gun-toting security men who gave us the distinct feeling that they would pump bullets into us if we dared to pluck flowers. We proceeded to the last spot of the day, the Pinjore Gardens. This garden was quite grand and the view from the entry point was as good as you can get .We enjoyed every moment here. After dining at a road side dhabha we reached our Hotel and checked in for much deserved rest.
Day Two: Tuesday

Early next morning we were on our way to Kullu.The city of Chandigarh as viewed through the bus window was splendind: greenery and fountains at all junctions. Divided neatly into sectors, it would be easier to locate an address here than most cities in India, with their haphazard or non-existent planning.

All but two of our 36 co-passengers were from Andhra Pradesh. If we had prior intimation we could have armed ourselves with, "Learn Telugu in 21 days".

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We reached Kulu just after noon having travelled through a long stretch of villages in Punjab and then Himachal Pradesh. Kullu was quite brilliant with lush green pine trees in the background and ice cold flowing rivers in the foreground. We could see apple trees laden with fruit. My wife and I stole a few moments away from the others, by walking on a dangerously dangling wooden bridge over the gushing River Beas. We shifted into a mini bus to visit Manikaran, wending along a narrow road, through deep valleys past countless waterfalls. At an altitude of 1,740 m and at a distance of 50 km from Kullu, Manikaran was worth visiting.

There is an ancient temple of Lord Rama with a Gurudwara where there are bubbling hot springs. Jaya discovered a cave near the Gurudwara which was worth sitting all day long at. The folklore we were told is that Mahadeva was once bathing here with his consort, Goddess Parvati. She laid her ear-rings on the river bank. Nagaraj, the serpent god, stole them and took them home beneath the earth. An angry Mahadeva threatened Nagaraj who snorted with rage, blowing the jewels out of his nostrils, with such force that they passed through the earth to reach Parvati. The holes so made, have resulted in springs that have bubbled ever since.

In the evening, we returned back to Kullu and boarded our original bus to Manali where we reached late, and were grateful to know the next day would be a late start.

Day 3: Wednesday

I woke up the next morning to the sound of the River Beas gushing ahead, visible from our balcony. We hurried out to view of the snow-clad mountains. We made quick calls home to say how much we were enjoying ourselves, each other and nature.

Despite the late start, some of the contingent took the liberty of being late, again. We wondered whether our escort needed to learn Telugu and explain the scheduled departure time in no uncertain terms. The punctual always rue their punctuality when forced to cool their heels in the company of the tardy. Before venturing to Rohtang pass, we had a south Indian breakfast, which would have promptly been trashed at home.

The 51 Kms drive to Rohtang Pass through dizzying heights and turns was splendid. Soon we had our first ever glimpse of frozen snow within touching distance. Two huge blocks of snow were not enough to whet our appetite. We were clothed to shame the average Eskimo so we decided to trek and find some more exotic locations. Our walk was well rewarded with breathtaking views.

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Day 4: Thursday

On the long route to Dharamshala, we stopped at a beautiful ancient Shiva temple, Baijnath, near Palampur. The temple overlooks the Kangra Valley. We also saw a temple of Chamunda Devi. Legend states that the two demons, Chanda and Munda tried to harass the goddess Ambika. Enraged, Ambika knitted her brows and from their folds emerged a terrifying Goddess Kali, who chopped the menacing demons.

As the rainy season was just commencing we could see several beautiful streams and brooks criss-crossing the grand landscape. The road to Dharamshala was quite treacherous with landslides and falling rocks en route. We were praying to countless gods/ goddesses and to the Dalai Lama, to take us through this journey safely. Passing through the Dhauladar range we arrived at Dharamshala (Macleodganj ) very late in the evening. We visited the monastery. I had been knowledgeably telling Jaya how quiet the monastery would be, with meditating monks. To our horror we discovered that a monastery could give a fish market severe competition. The student monks sat together in groups of two discussing and clapping in a loud interchange of ideas. The beautiful thangkas and idols were worth viewing. We returned to our hotel to the the sound of the thunderous clapping.our hotel for the nightngs and idols were worth its view and we spent considerable time to unveil the meditating habits of the mysterious monks. A kilometer away was our Hotel Spring valley (we could still hear the claps) and we resigned for the day.

Day 5: Friday

We woke up to a very cool Dharamshala morning and packed our bags for Dalhousie. Enroute we halted for breakfast at Trilokpur, 41 km from Dharamsala, on the highway to Pathankot. There is a cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva near a splendid waterfall, with stalactite and stalagmite formations. After reaching Dalhousie we went to Khajjiar in a Sumo. Viewing the misty mountains on the way we were quite sure that a surprise awaited us at Khajjiar. Lush green, it was straight out of a Yash Chopra film set in exotic locales. Easier to view than describe, nature was at its very best, and the climate was perfect. I will never forget this view. The same night we headed towards the sacred Vaishno Devi.

Our first overnight drive took us to Katra (in Jammu) where we reached in the wee hours of Friday. Before reaching, we had a midnight meal at a Langar in a village of Punjab, organised for the Amarnath yatris. I could not believe that such hospitality and warmth for strangers is possible.

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Day 6: Saturday

After checking in at the Jai Maa Inn at 4.00 am we rested for 3 hours before embarking on our trek to Vaishno Devi. After 4 hours and 13.5 kms uphill, we reached the Bhawan and took darshan amidst the chanting of Jai Mata Di. It was an enervating and exhilarating experience. Trudging back to our hotel, we were asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow. Visiting Vaishnodevi for the first time was a humbling and gratifying experience. The temple is relatively well organized with heavy security from the Indian army and J & K Police.

Day 7: Sunday

We woke early, ravenously hungry. Passing beautiful villages in Punjab, we reached Amritsar at 2.00 pm. Our spirits rejuvenated by our trip to Vaishnodevi, we now visited the blessed Gurudwara, the Golden Temple. Chanting verses in Gurbani we had prasad which still tastes fresh in my mind.

Thereafter, we visited the famous Jallianwala Bagh where the Martyrs Gallery and the bullet ridden walls evoked patriotism and agony for the martyrs of the freedom struggle of India.

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The last destination of our vacation was the Wagah - Attari Border. The Flag Retreat is at handshaking distance from a Pakistani soldier. The march past of the colourful BSF jawans and the fluttering tri-colour generated enormous patriotism.

That night we boarded the bus back to Delhi where we reached in the early hours of the morning, having traversed through a wide variety of different destinations through the four states of Delhi, Punjab, Himachal and Jammu in a short and amazingly memorable span of seven days.


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