Saturday, May 30, 2015

Grilling the Summer!

Okay peeps..its getting hot hot hot here in north India! May has been excruciatingly painful with the number of cases being treated for heat stroke and constant warnings to corporates to cut on electricity consumption steadily rising  ! The mercury has touched a whopping 45 degrees.

I watched  the movie MAD MAX FURY recently and the whole concept of the movie  i.e., wars in the future for water as most of the cultiviable land turns into desert on earth and water becomes scarce, makes sense. An out and out action flick, it was a pleasure to watch it in a 3D theatre and there could not have been a better time for its release than the months of peak summer. Oh wait, June is going to be worse! But the met department is predicting that the thunder Lords might be a little generous and we may get a few showers in June! At least a few days with a couple of degrees less on the mercury barometer!

Summers may be painful but the optimist in me has decided to dedicate this post to the good I see in summers!

First and foremost I have to begin with food! Nothing gives more happiness than a swelled,  hyperglycemic tummy.

The juicy , sugary fruit that I relish i.e., watermelons, mangoes and litchi are summer delights!

Image from Google

Second,  It only seems fair to bring up exercise after talking about food..

What I love about summers is that I can swim like a mermaid. It's just so relaxing to be in the pool on a hot day and it is such good exercise for the whole body! Just perfect for losing those extra pounds that were put on in the winters plus if you have a nice pool , all the more nicer..
Nothing like watching the starry sky while creating ripples in the water at night.

Third is a passion that I can fully exercise in summers i.e.,to paint and smother my hands with colour. I love to paint with oil colours and winters is  not a very supportive season for this activity as it takes days for a painting to dry. So here are some of my experiments..

I know I am not quite there yet but if I keep on it , it can only get better.

Fourth, includes travel. The best part about summer travel is planning a trip to the mountains to enjoy the weather there. A few days away from the scorching heat and in the serenity of the mountains can indeed bolster confidence to face the rest of the summer with a smile! Indeed the trip I planned this year was memorable.. a sweet 10 days off work and into the curvaceous hilly streets of Himachal.

A cup can be viewed as half full or half empty! Choice
 Is yours!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Road Trip Part 3- Delhi to Mcleodganj

The last leg of my trip included the journey from Palampur to Dharamshala to Mcleodganj. A total distance of approximately 2 hour on road.

The drive from Mcleodganj to Dharamshala is on a beautiful hilly road which takes you closer and closer to the magistic Dhauladhar Range of mountains and is lined by lush green tea gardens.

On way to Dharamshala from Palampur

Dharamshala is a small hilly  town snugly sitting on the base of the Dhauladhar and is an hour away from Mcleodganj. It has its own airport and cricket stadium.

A slated house in Dharamshala


 Mcleodganj  is the current base of the Tibetan Spiritual leader,  Dalai Lama who took refuge in India after conflict with Chinese authorities in Tibet. The town is teaming with visitors from inside and outside of India. Small little restraunts and shops line the busy streets of Mcleodganj. The shops mainly sell Tibetan art, stones, woollens etc.


A famous temple that is situated at one end of the town is Bhagsuna Temple.

A beautiful waterfall is about a 20 minute trek away from the temple.
Bhagsuna Temple

Bhagsuna Temple

Trek upto Bhagsuna falls

A Tibetan monastery is also situated in Mcleodganj . It is also the abode of the tibitian spiritual leader, Dalai Lama.

I believe in treating my journey like a friend. There should be planning for the meeting, choosing the right clothes, looking forward to the fun together. So for this road trip, I decided to colour my hair. Here's a pic!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Road trip -Part 2 (Palampur)

This post describes the second leg of my road trip from Delhi to Mcleodganj. For the first part read here Part 1 Road trip to Mcleodganj

After 7 hours of road travel from Chandigarh to Palampur,  we were finally ready for a day stop before we headed to our final destinition i.e., Mcleodganj. Mcleodganj is based in the foot hills of the magnificent Dhauladhar Mountain Range and is the current base of the Tibetan Spiritual leader,  Dalai Lama who took refuge in India after conflict with Chinese authorities in Tibet.

Palampur is 2 hours away from Mcleodganj and is another hill station worth exploring. Every house in this bustling town can boast about the beautiful backdrop of the stunning Dhauladhar Range. Just walking around the streets of this town is a beautiful experience as humongous ancient deodar and pine tress line the narrow hilly streets and green tea gardens can be seen everywhere. The ancient houses with wood work is another treat to see.
A hilly road in Palampur

An old house
A view of the beautiful trees and mountains

Green fields , wild roses and mountains in the backdrop

An old house with slated roof
Tea plantations

Humongous Deodar
Places to visit in Palampur:
1. Local market : great place to pick up locally made Organic Kangra tea or woollens
local market

2. The Taragarh Palace : it is located a bit on the outskirts but the drive to the palace is beautiful and gives a feel of the Royal luxuries.  The palace belongs to Maharani (Queen)Tara devi. The palace has been converted into a hotel and rooms are available for stay.

The royal dining hall at Taragarh Palace
Portrait of one of the Royal ladies

3. Neugal Park: This is a small park with a cafe and a beautiful view of the mountains
Neugal Park

4. Saurabh Van Vihar: another park with a lake and a beautiful view of the mountains. This park is dedicated to a local martyr, Captain Saurabh Kalia (1976 – 1999). He was a brave  officer of the Indian Army who lost his life as prisoner of war, while fighting for his country against the Pakistan army during the Kargil war.

5. Drive down to the Neugal river or Beas river and enjoy waddling it water.
Neugal River

Beas River

6 . Norah Richards house: the remains of the mud house and theatre of a European lady , Norah Richards, who decided to settle in this beautiful town have been preserved and are open for visitors to see. She was a theatre artist and a writer.
Norah Richards mud house
Norah Richards theatre

Insides of the mud house

Indeed this small  hilly town is breathtakingly beautiful and a must for travel enthusiasts to visit. It offers a lot fun activities to do or just relax and enjoy the beauty from one of the many hotel stay options available.

Lastly, a photo of the guest house I stayed in... We stayed in the of new wing but the interesting part is that the old wing is a 100 years old and was built by the British during their colonisation of the area. A church and a cemetery  were located close by.

New wing of the guest house
Old wing of the guest house (over a 100 years old)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Road Trip to Mcleodganj -Part One

Finally the much awaited road trip was happening and I was on a week long break from work!  The travel destination was a hill station, Mcleodganj in Himachal Pradesh. A logical choice for vacation at this time as the temperatures are consistently rising in Delhi with summer gradually seeping in.


First part: travelling by train from Delhi to Chandigarh (approx 250 kilometers). Various trains connect Delhi to Chandigarh however, the Shatabadi Express is the fastest and the most comfortable train to travel by and it covers the distance in about 3 and half hours . The train  offers air conditioned chair car bogies and food and beverages are served during thr journey. Other modes of travel include travel by road (the Grand Trunk road) or by air. The Grand Trunk road  is a multi lane highway and is a good road to travel by. A number of comfortable buses ply between the two cities and the duration is generally around 5 hours.

Second part of the journey: travel by road from chandigarh to Mcleodganj ( distance about 270kms)
 Cities and towns covered-Chandigarh-Una-Nangal-kangra Mcleodganj.
The Highway is again a good road and the journey is comfortable.  It takes about 7 hours as the last 1/3 portion of the journey is hilly.

Two well known and historical temples to cover during the journey are : Chintpurni Temple and Jwala Ji Temple

Chintpurni Temple
Jwala Ji Temple
Jwala Ji Temple

Jwala Ji Temple

Jwala Ji Temple

Jwala means 'flame' in sanskrit and the unique feature of this temple is a flame which never dies out and which is considered sacred. The legend goes that, emperor Akbar wanted to test the authenticity of the claim of the undying flame and personally came to the temple. He placed a metal shield (photo above) on the the flame in order to extinguish it. However the flame burnt through the metal and came through and this convinced the emperor.  He gifted much gold to the temple.

Jwala Ji Temple

Jwala Ji Temple

This completes my first part of the part soon to follow!