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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Summer Time


As I see the calendar, we are in the last week of May, suffering from intense heat and looking forward to the respite in form of rains. Kids will enter very last leg of their much celebrated summer vacations. Summer camps are coming to an end. All the releases meant for kids have been watched: be it Doraemon or Chota Bheem or Chintoo. Mumbai Indians have won IPL. Summer kid’s theatre, fairs, exhibitions, circuses have been visited. In our times lecture series like Vasant Vyakhyanmala or talk sessions like Majestic Gappa were also the valid forms of entertainment for even the youngsters. For today’s kids anything to do with gadgets is the ‘in thing’. Now the kids are looking forward to new books (don’t they smell great???), uniforms and new teachers. They also have started missing their school friends.
Some may have had their annual vacations done and over with. Some unlucky souls may not have had a chance to take any holiday thanks to their duties or for some other reasons. For me, it was Himalayas again as a summer vacation spot. 

Somehow I have a deep fascination for the mountains described as Nagadhiraj by none other than Kalidas. And I am sure if I initiate Himalaya fan page on facebook and promote it properly, I would have infinite members as fans.  Somehow the fold Mountains, as we learnt in geography, unfold very romantically. First you are in plains, be it at Kathgodham, or Kalka or Dehradun, or Chandigarh, or Pathankot or Rishikesh or Siliguri. Then you have rivers gushing in to plains as manifested divinely at Rishikesh. There is no place as romantic, mystic, and myriad as Rishikesh. You need to add few spices of domestic and international spirituality, making Rishikesh a great experience. You wait for something to happen as you camp in Rishikesh and follow uphill trail. Then you start looking at tall hills covered with trees. As you climb, you start getting scared of narrow roads and traffic. It’s tough to drive here. Then you come across typical British hill stations each typified with a Mall road, a lake or churches, houses. Crowds and commercial touts are the only down side of these popular hill stations. But then the weather is good. Now you get to see snow capped peaks. As you drive uphill you start experiencing different terrains, and finally you end up playing in snow (depending on location and weather). For those on treks, the efforts to climb up and down with own luggage on the back and the hardships to camp at  very basic electricity free rest houses, are worth when you take a look at those breathtaking scenes offered by nature in form of flora, fauna and landscape. And you also need to add to that, a divine sound of river flowing, cold weather, taste of hot tea and maggi to make your Himalayan experience complete. Hope I have chance in next few years again to experience same.
Somehow I feel that odd when I see someone declaring coordinates on facebook/social media about their vacation, dining places, etc. Thus am bit shy of posting my own experience on this blog. But after a long debate, felt like sharing travel experiences here as this is my own space and some of travel experiences can be useful for other tourists.
This year we planned Punjab and Himachal. Punjab leg of tour was bit challenge thanks to weather with temperature reaching 42 deg C. Chandigarh was first stop after driving from Delhi where we landed. City is good as you know it’s the only planned city in India. Some sections of Rock garden were worth the walk in the heat even if it was late evening. And boating at Supna Lake was enjoyed by kids. Then we drove to Amristar and headed for Wagah border. The ceremony is bit hyped as actual parade is only for 10-15 mins. The crowd and heat makes it worst. The crowds are so unruly and grotesque. And I also don’t know why on earth they make a way for a dance floor for ladies dancing on patriotic songs carrying national flag. Only exciting part was seeing Pak side of border and one imagines what would have happened during partition at same spot in 1947. How individual egos of overrated politicians supported by cunning British policies led to mass killings and strife?
But then next day had we had a very good shopping of local merchandise. One really feels for people killed at Jailanwalla Baug and my std Vth daughter was so interested to see that same place out of her history text book. Evening visit to Golden temple was great. One really feels peaceful and divine there.
Then we started HP leg of our tour in Dhualadhar circuit. One starts climbing hills as you drive from Pathankot. This year, I added an experience of driving in mountains thanks to some local logistical support from a good friend who lives there. This time I had luxury of having base camp at Baijnath and driving across Dhualadhar range. Baijnath has old Shiva temple which is very divine amidst the backdrop of snow capped mountains. What an experience this trip was?  Waking up in morning, driving through the divine mountains and visit places, then come back to have home cooked lunch. Again go on drive late evening and end up dinner sessions at house till midnight while enjoying windy nights and chill. Khajjiar or mini Switzerland of India was amazing. The road we took was not the conventional one on tourist circuit where you have to pass Dalhousie to reach Khajjiar. We took rod from Palampur to reach Khajjiar first and reach Dalhousie. The road is narrow and had some close shaves. The road is very picturesque but risky.  The Khajjiar landscape is amazing with peaks, deodar trees lining a very big grass field and lake at the centre of the field. It’s like heaven. Dalhousie is like any typical British hill station. We saw Tibetan influence at Mcleodganj which is at great height. I had experience of Paragliding at a great place called Billing (strange) near Baijnath. Kids enjoyed Kangra Toy train till Jogindernagar. Palampur is also a great place with its tea fields, orchards, forest walk (named after Late Capt Saurav Kalia who was barbarically tortured and killed along with 5 Jawans during Kargil war), bustling market and good hotel joints to spend evenings. Weather was great compared to plains but locals were complaining about heat as well. But then it’s all relative.
I had a chance to see IPL stadium at Dharamshala and was surprised how they could find flat land for the cricket ground. That takes me back to the subject of much maligned cricket league. I saw the play off matches out of compulsion faced by a diehard cricket fan like me even if I did not want to. But then the excitement a as I used to feel previously was all gone. One can guess that what we have seen is only the tip of iceberg and the fixing corruption can be much wider. One also should realize that BCCI is just a private body. Government needs to think hard before it jumps into popular mood of regulating BCCI. It might end up like Olympic bodies for other sports. But then public should not be cheated. So ideal solution is to legalize betting as done internationally and make criminal laws stronger to control corruption. But then cricket is just a sport. I really hope international matches are clean as I look forward to champion’s trophy in June in UK. So it was nightmarish end to mid summer nights dream named as IPL. Thankfully MI won. I supported MI fully in first three editions and MI had the next liked team status after PWI in last 3 IPLs. So there is another feather in HIS cap. IPL will no more be same without HIM as ODIs are without HIM. We the fans look forward to a perfect swan song for HIM in the Tests as well and we all know HE missed bus for ODI swan song on 2nd April 2011.
This summer we saw ugly face of Naxalism. It’s time for arm chair philosophers, idiotic novelists (like on Ms Goddess of cheap things as described by a good friend), leftists, JNU based media stalwarts, to stop sympathising with Naxalites. It’s nothing about ideology or social justice or lack of development. It’s all about power by means of violence and terror. Government should come up with strong policies, action and resolve. That’s a very high expectation from current regime. What we have seen is that government only ‘denouncing the cowardly attack and blaming state government. Dear Dr Singh do something more. First thing first is call your HM who is vacationing in US. We also saw bad face of religion based terror in UK. How can any religion subscribe to such barbarism? These guys are very much misled....
Meanwhile back in Pune as we landed at airport there was a kind of cheer when captain announced outside temp to be 25 deg C at 8 pm. As the flight had initiated in Delhi, that was big respite. That is the time you realize value of being in city like Pune. I heard that LBT strike is off thanks so some promises. This is now time for we the people to form pressure groups to stop various parties take us for granted and put us into hardships. As i read there are last 30 days to note objects to New Development plan for Pune. So let’s wake up and drive out lethargy created by weather.
Good news is that Monsoon is on time and expected to be good. But then you don’t believe these forecasts and let’s keep fingers crossed. Let’s pray that heavy rains wash away the famine situation and tears all across.
We are all set for monsoons after a long summer and as you know Pune is really heaven when it rains. With its beauty Sahyadris can match only to Himalayas. But then each place is special. Each season is special and so are summers.....

Author runs a blog http://nayakgiri.blogspot.com

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