A PEEK INTO THE PARADISE

Travel is not just a word, it is a recurring emotion, a hunger to explore more & experience more as we have got only one life. So, this time we planned to go to Jammu (another beautiful state of India). When we talk about jammu, the first thing that clicks in anyone’s mind is the holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi. Thus, we decided our first stoppage to be katra.

Firstly, we checked up the covid guidelines (RAT/RT-PCR report/Vaccination certificate) set by the state government along with the mandatory online yatra ticket through https://www.maavaishnodevi.org/ website. You just require a government ID proof (Aadhar card, Pan Card, Voter ID etc.) and the yatra ticket will be generated directly from shrine board at zero cost. Then we started our journey from New Delhi Railway Station and boarded Vande Bharat train at 6 in the morning and reached Katra by 2 p.m. The train covered major stations like Ambala Cantt, Ludhiana Junction, Jammu Tawi and finally Vaishno devi Katra. The synchronicity in the emotions, vibes and excitement of each and every fellow passenger made the ride more beautiful and memorable. To get rid of our travel exhaustion, luckily we found a decent and affordable place named ‘Hotel New Chintpurni’ to stay in.

 At around 6 p.m. we begin to ascend towards ‘BHAWAN’. The weather was good and quite chilly in the night time. The chants of ‘JAI MATA DI’ will give you enough power to overcome your fears and fills you with strength, pleasure, joy and above all blessings of Mata (mother). You would find yourself to be automatically connected to the essence of the holy place. We continued our trek with timely halts to refresh our energy and enthusiasm. It started raining heavily when we were about 4 kms away from the bhawan. We covered that distance barefoot thinking god might be testing us in the final acclivity. After reaching in the vicinity of the sanctum sanctorum, we first put all of our stuff in a locker as things like wallets, belts, mobile phones etc. were not allowed inside the bhawan premises except the prasad and cash. There was a huge crowd of devotees everywhere for the DARSHAN of MAA. We did darshan in the early morning at around 4 o’ clock and the view and feelings at that time were really indescribable. The spirituality, devotion and the faith in MAA will awaken your inner spirit. We were totally mesmerized during the darshan.

 Thereafter, having a small break for food, we moved towards Bhairav Nath Temple as there is a saying that your yatra would not be completed if you won’t visit Bhairav Baba Temple. It was another 4 km stretch of steep slope. It was raining the whole time, but we did not stop as we wanted to complete our journey in one go regardless of any obstacles. This whole 14 km expedition was worth experiencing. Finally, our journey was successful and a memorable one too. Afterwards, we descended back to our hotel with lots of happy and joyful memories.

Our next destination was Patnitop, a hilltop tourist location nearest to katra. We booked a cab from one of the travel agency in Katra. Patnitop offers a no. of treks, temples and certain gardens to enjoy the vacation with your loved ones. We encountered the following major attractions of patnitop:

  1. Kud Town and Market: We got to know from locals that patnitop’s PATISA is a famous sweet that everyone talks about. So we bought the sweet for our friends and family.
  2. Skyview Point: It offers various outdoor activities like zig-zag zipline, tubing sledge, magic carpet, gondola ropeway etc. We did gondola ride and came across with the enthralling landscape of patnitop.
  3. Mahakali Temple
  4. Apple Garden
  5. Children’s Park
  6. Patnitop Park
  7. Nag Temple
  8. Shani Dev Temple

A few wonderful pictures from our trip:

We spend our last night in one of the patnitop’s hotel and returned back to katra in morning to board a direct bus to New delhi taking all the blessings, experiences and memories of lifetime with us. We wrapped up another beautiful and spectacular trip on a really sweet note.

Approximate budget breakup per person is as follows:

  • Vande bharat Train fare from Delhi to Katra: Rs. 1300
  • Auto fare from Katra Station to Hotel: Rs. 50
  • Hotel Price in Katra: Rs. 700-900/night (exclusive of food charges)
  • Travel package (round trip from katra to patnitop): Rs. 4000 (Inclusive of one night stay, sight seeing and cab price)
  • Gondola ride cost: Rs. 900
  • Bus fare from Katra to New Delhi: Rs. 900

Our total expenditure on this trip was approximate Rs. 8k per person.  The above mentioned prices are according to our travel experience. It may vary with respect to hotel and travel choices one may make.

Hope you find this blog interesting and till then stay safe and stay happy!  

JOURNAL OF A BOOKWORM

Ernest Hemingway said that there is no friend as loyal as a book and I totally agree with this. I was a bookworm since my childhood and fortunately, that endearment towards books is still alive. My parents bought every comic book of my time (yes, I am a 90s kid), be it Champak, Magic Pot, Archie, Chacha Chaudhary, Panchatantra, Akbar and Birbal, Tintin and short stories books like Little Red Riding Hood, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, The Jungle Book and many more. So, when I set foot into my teenage, I spend most of my free time in the school library to read out the popular novels of mostly Indian authors like Premchand, Rabindranath Tagore, Sharad Chandra Chatterjee etc. Among the Indian writers, Premchand was my all-time favorite because he portrayed Indian women of early 20th century so beautifully that you’d be forced to put yourself into their shoes at some point of time or other while reading his masterpieces like Godaan, Nirmala, Kaphan, Sevasadan and so on. At that time, I was so into reading that I’d be completing a whole novel of 300-400 pages in merely two days. For me, they are not just some storytelling books, but they take me into a whole different world altogether. You can confide and find peace in them. They engage you and bind you in their magical spell. The habit of reading continued as I grew up into an adult and I craved for more books of different genres to explore. Therefore, I extended my hobby and started to read classic literatures of foreign authors as well. So, this blog is all about the books and here are my first three amazing encounters with the classic English literature which I would recommend every book lover out there to read these once in their lifetime.

  • Pride & Prejudice

Author- Jane Austen

Publishing Year – 1813

Genre- Fiction

Pages- 407

Cost- Rs. 210

 Jane Austen is one of the most well – known and widely read English novelists of all times. She wrote a number of classical masterpieces like Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Mansfield Park, Persuasion. This novel described a turbulent relationship of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. They were inclined to see bad in one another initially but as life pitted them against each other again and again, Darcy began to fall for Elizabeth’s wit and intelligence and Elizabeth began to question her feelings about Darcy. But when Darcy saved her youngest sister Lydia from a scandal, Elizabeth started to wonder if her pride had prejudiced her opinion of Darcy. Through this tale about two warring hearts, Jane Austen weaves a witty satire about life in 18th century England. After reading this one, I really didn’t think about it as an English fiction, but another romantic story of a bollywood film. But it’s primary core is that one should never be prideful or judgemental toward others. If you are a hopeless romantic, you’d connect with it.

  • Wuthering Heights

Author- Emily Bronte

Publishing Year – 1847

Genre- Gothic Fiction

Pages- 300

Cost- Rs. 150

This is an epic novel of love, envy, betrayal and revenge.  It is a gothic fiction as it covers horror, death and at times romance. It involves around Heathcliff and Catherine passionate but doomed love that destroys them and those around them. The story begins when the new tenant, Mr. Lockwood, seek shelter for a night at Wuthering Heights, the home of Heathcliff. As the night passes, Lockwood learns the past of Wuthering Heights and of those connected with it……of how a homeless gypsy boy had been fostered here, of how the owner’s daughter had fallen in love with him, of how their love had ended tragically and finally, of how that gypsy boy–Heathcliff–had taken a terrible revenge that ruined them all. The story will definitely engage you to the very end and force you to turn one more page around before giving it a rest.

  • The Diary of a Nobody

Author: George & Weedon Grossmith

Publishing Year: 1892

Genre: Comedy

Pages: 169

Cost: Rs. 240

I came across this novel when I was going through the books section of the Amazon. The title of the book intrigued me and I wondered how could somebody write a diary on a daily basis as a NOBODY.  So, when I read it, I got to know that it is an accidental masterpiece. It depicts an accurate account of lower middle-class life, attitudes and aspirations in the late 1880s. Now I understand why it is being called ‘The Diary of a Nobody’ because the character of the diarist, Mr. Pooter, is a nobody even in his own eyes. He has faced every small impulse of self-congratulation being undercut by a small embarrassment. One of my favorite and most relatable line from this novel is: ‘I left the room with silent dignity, but caught my foot in the mat’, which is a thing that has happened to me hundreds of times (really). We may not make Pooter’s mistakes, but we make our own. In that sense we are all Pooters, aren’t we? To summarize, it is a light hearted novel with illustrations holding humorous yet strikingly familiar everyday situations. Give it a try and test your sense of humor.

Surround yourself with good books and grow infinitely. Do share your experience with me after reading any of these books.

KILKARI: A SWEET RHYTHM OF LIFE

‘We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone’. – Dr. Loretta Scott

They say keep up the good deeds and good will come to you. To make the world a better place, we all should add a little something to this society on our part. So, this time we decided to visit an NGO. Since NGOs are created for different causes such as child rights, poverty, social injustice, environment conservation, human rights, care for elderly people, women empowerment, wildlife conservation etc., so it is really necessary for an individual to address such issues and take steps for the betterment of the mankind as a whole.

Thus, our first step was exploring a couple of NGOs/orphanages of Delhi (via online platform mostly) and talking to some of the concerned persons over phone calls to check whether we are connecting with the authentic teams or not (at our end, we wanted to be sure). On account of all the well-researched NGOs, we selected KILKARI RAINBOW HOME which is located in Kashmere Gate, New Delhi. It is especially for girl children aged 6-18. At present, they have 100+ children to whom they provide all kinds of basic life necessities like shelter, food, education etc.

It was around 1:30 PM in the afternoon when we reached ‘Kilkari Rainbow Home’. As we entered, we saw the girls were playing and then they looked at us with a twinkle in their eyes. That spark would make anyone’s day pleasant (it really was an overwhelming feeling). For us the most important part was to meet the kids and spend time with them. The vibes there were so positive that we instantly bonded with them, some of them greeted us by saying Namaste while others met us with a swirling handshake (one of their own modified form of handshakes). They all were so happy with each other and us as well.

Before interacting more with the kids, we first met to the official head of the Home, Ms. Sadiya. She was such a nice and generous lady who gave us some important information regarding this NGO, how it got established in 2008, how efficiently she and her team manage the whole program, what challenges they face in monitoring this organization during the covid-19 pandemic and how people can connect with their NGO either individually or as a group.

Then we went and talked to girls. Initially we were wondering if anyone among all would be interested to talk to us or not. But amazingly all the kids were so sweet and welcoming that we automatically connected with them. We distributed several items including slippers (of various sizes for all age groups), stationary (pens and pencils) and Snacks (juice, chips and chocolates), which everyone accepted with all the love.

The children were beaming with real warmth and that gave us the prime satisfaction. Being with them, we felt how privileged we are in our life and how much more we can contribute to this world. They all are living like a family, helping and taking care of each other and it teaches us this is how we can grow and uplift the mankind altogether. We were in a jovial mood knowing they all liked our little gifts that we offered to them.

If somebody wants to understand the real meaning of optimism, one must meet these kind and beautiful children. You will definitely appreciate all the little things that life is offering you.

Spread love, kindness and be content in life. Just remember, you exist for a bigger purpose in life, to serve to this humankind at your very best.

Sach Mein Kar ke Dekho Acha Lagega !!!!!!!

Some glimpses of our experience:

TRIP TO MANDAL AND CHOPTA

After the exhaustion and mental trauma from the second wave of Covid -19, a trip to Uttarakhand was a much needed one. It was a totally unplanned trip to Mandal and Chopta with no prior bookings of any buses/ cabs/ hotels etc. This journey had a lot of colours just like the blooming period of every little thing of nature during the monsoon. So, we packed our bags keeping all the guidelines stated by Uttarakhand Government for Covid -19 in mind (i.e. most essentially a negative RT-PCR/RAT report).

Our meeting point was Kashmiri Gate and we booked a bus from Delhi to Rishikesh via an online platform. This travel had one stop where we had the special “KULHAD TEA” at a dhaba. It started drizzling in the middle of the night following which we also witnessed the scenic view of sunrise realising that it is always the most miraculous part of the day and VOILA the destination came in just 5-6 hours.

Later on, we got a bus towards Gopeshwar /Mandal directly which would drop us at our destination in 10-12 hours covering the major cities namely Devprayag, Srinagar (not the one in Jammu, of course), Rudraprayag, Gauchar and Karnaprayag. But unfortunately, due to the landslides, the roads were a bit blocked and took more time to reach Gopeshwar than usual.

From there we got to know that at around 5:30 p.m., HRDI (Herbal Research & Development Institute) bus comes. We boarded that and reached Mandal in about an hour. After a long tiring yet exciting journey, we finally found a Lounge, stayed there and relaxed so that we can start afresh our exploration next morning. While our stay at that lounge, the views of nature were really mesmerizing and we enjoyed every bit of it. The clouds over your head, river under your toes and mountains in your heart make you ache for more, make you believe that nature is beyond the ordinary human understanding.

Mandal

The next day in the morning, we booked a local cab to Chopta for Tungnath Temple. It was an hour journey. The ride consists of the beautiful roads, gorgeous mountains, spectacular waterfalls and what not. We were awestruck the whole time. Everyone should experience this at least once in their lifetimes.

Around 11 we started our trek to Tungnath temple with a small bag having few snacks and water. The trek was of approximately 8 km long. Now the best part started, the path of the trek is the one leading you to the heaven actually. Here every steps count. Those paths tested us a lot but we were strong headed to reach to the temple. Every breath was chanting SHIVA’S name. What beautified this trek more was that you would find people of every age group which motivates you to your very core.

Tungnath Trek

When we reached at the top, the temple was closed due to Covid-19 norms but still we were happy that we got the glimpse of the sacred place and prayed to Lord Shiva. We stayed there for an hour, clicked random pictures, tried our photography skills to show off some on Instagram (hahaha), seized the heavenly views, introspect our inner self in peace.

Tungnath Trek

Then we wanted to continue our trek to Chandrashila Peak as well but owing to rainfall we couldn’t do it as it was really dangerous to do summit in a weather like that. So, we descended to Chopta Village and interestingly a dog followed us the whole time, we grew fond of him and named him ‘JOGGO’. Fascinatingly, ‘JOGGO’ too responded to this name (we still miss him). After coming down, we roamed on the roads of chopta, captured images of nature, birds and animals, had our lunch and returned back to our hotel.

We did a short visit to HRDI (Herbal Research and Development Institute) the next day, saw different varieties of medicinal plants in their nurseries and met some of the professors there.

Anusuya Temple

From here we got to know about another trek from locals named Anusuya Temple Trek of 10 km stretch. This trek is from Mandal only. The trails of this trek were quite different than the other ones, we encountered both major and minor waterfalls after every 400 m. It was another overwhelming experience till we reached the temple. We did a little pooja in the temple and had an amazing lunch in the “VAADIYAS”. Having surrounded by the mountains really give you an over-the-top feeling. Then we came down to the Mandal in the evening and chilled at our hotel for the rest of the day. This was our final exploration for this time in Mandal.

On the very next day, we took a direct roadways bus of Uttarakhand at 5 in the morning from Mandal to Rishikesh to come back to our normal life one more time. Rejoicing all those sweet and somewhat tiring experiences over and over again will definitely lead us to crave for more such trips. Until then, this trip will last in our memories.

Here are some further details about the price/fare which will help anyone to get some approximate idea how we did our budget travel:

  • Delhi to Nepali Farm Flyover (outside Rishikesh Bus stand): Rs. 750 (AC Sleeper Bus)
  • Nepali Farm Flyover to Rishikesh Bus Stand: Rs. 50 (Auto)
  • Rishikesh to Mandal: Rs. 500 (Bus)
  • Mandal to Chopta(round trip): Rs. 1500 (local cab)
  • Mandal to Rishikesh: Rs. 435
  • Rishikesh to Delhi: Rs. 735
  • Stay in Mandal: Rs. 700 – Rs.1000 (single room for two people)

For us, the total cost per person excluding food is approx. Rs. 4500 for 3N/4D.

Let us know your experience and how you managed everything.

Enjoy Life and make it worth experiencing. Till then Stay Safe!