Lately I was reading the book ‘Butter Chicken in Ludhiyana’ by Pankaj Mishra which is about travels in small towns of india. The towns mentioned here are not on any tourist map but most of us come from places like this. So when the opportunity to go to Sagar which is around 350 kms from Bangalore came I readily agreed to it. This claim of fame of this place is Jog falls which is highest water fall in india.
The route was to hit Tumkur road through NICE road then tiptur, birur, tarikere,bhadravati, shimgoa and sagar.I had not seen so many distractions along any other route I had been to. You see the diversions for belur, halebid, shravanbelagola, kemmanagundi, chikmaglur, shivgiri, Bhadra tiger reserve and few bird sancturies.There were many impulses to take one of those routes but going by the planned way we were expecting to reach sagar around 11 o clock in night so did not took any chances. Marked Bhadra tiger reserve for return journey which we could not do.
Our sighseeing and everything was planned by our Local hosts. We had thought for varadapura, Jog falls and Holebaagilu for which one has to take a boat ride on backwaters. This was not a good time to visit Jog falls and it was looking to be stripped version of its usual self. There are 4 falls named Raja, Rani , Rocket and roarer which are named based on their speed, how they fall and how they look etc. Great place to visit in monsoon and there are quite a number of places to stay around the fall which we could not find on internet. Due to logistical issues we could not visit Holebaagilu.
In the night we went to visit the local shops looking for wooden carvings hoping to find them at bargain but either they were at normal prices or made by artists who are still at learning stages.
This place is also famous for sandalwood carving and arecanut or betelnut plantations. One of the interesting things we saw there was a well in a room in every house. In the villages we saw arecanut plantations. There were few sandalwood trees also. It was quite different than what I had in mind. They looks to be ordinary tree. The core have actual sandalwood and it takes years to develop the core so that they can be put to commercial use. Each tree can grow to fetch in crores but in most of the cases it is stolen by thieves for few thousand rupees. Till now these were the property of government and were not allowed to be grown by individual but now a days they are providing the knowhow and allowing it on profit sharing basis. Considering the risk most people tend to stay away from growing sandalwood.
next day after a quick breakfast and a stroll around the YOL camp campus we started for Norbulingka institute. This is a place which was founded to preserve and give training of Tibetan art. I was more interested about Thangka paintings. We reached so early that most of the place was just opening up. And Thangka painting section was closed .There is a shop inside from where you can buy other artifacts , the quality of which is good but was expensive for me. There is a doll museam where tibetan life is depicted through intricately crafted dolls.
Mcleodganj is situated at some height from Dharamshala and all along the road there are army cantonments. The place has everything on a 200m stretch of road. All along the road there are shops selling tibetan artifacts, restaurents and coffee shops. At the end the temple is there adjacent to which Dalai Lama also lives. There was huge security to enter the temple and everyone was frisked which I learnt was a new phenomenon, though the security personals were in plain clothes. The whole temple had monks and people waiting to see Dalai Lama. I assumed there would be restrictions in moving around the temple but I was wrong. We took place near the entrance of Dalai Lama residence. Probably he has a very common face but atleast 3 times I thought that the person I am seeing was Dalai Lama. When he came out also in the group there were few lookalikes. Not sure whether it was intentional for security reasons or my mistake. He preaches in tibetan but there are many sections where volunteers are there to translate for you in other languages.
After some time we came out. There is a tibetan museam which educates about their struggle and problems. Picked up few thangka paintings and strolled around in the market. Mcleodganj looks out of the world place, and when monks starts coming out of the temple and they are all over the place is a very photogenic moment. Any writeup about this place wont be complete without few photographs which I missed to take.
after returning from there even if I tried to forget that place I could not with that place getting so much media attention. And the place was so small that I could recognise every corner in the images coming out of there.
next day we started for YOL camp which is nearby dharamshala. YOL stands for Young Officers Leave camp and is mainly a army cantt. It has a interesting history. It started around world war II as a POW(Prisionor of war) camp and mainly Italian prisionars were stationed here. But unlike other camps here prisionars were allowed to move anywhere , even to outside villages. The prisoners enjoyed their stay here. Later on it was used for many purposes and recently it houses one of the youngest battalians of Indian Army named Rising Star. This is a interesting write up about YOL.
almost all the structure at YOL was made of wood and is still standing. Our stay was arranged at hospitality cell there which was barrack kind of structure converted to very comfortable guest rooms. The amenities there matched any 5 star hotel and the cost of stay for 2 rooms came there to be less than one time meal at a decent hotel.
the mighty dhualadhars which is part of Himalayan ranges form backdrop for this place. In the night there was snowfall on the mountains and on getting up everything was covered with snow. Till now I saw the himalayas only in photographs which looked very monotonous to me due to single color but it is the scale which makes the impression if you are seeing it for the first time. That sight is the single most thing which remains in memory about this place for long time.
in the night we took drive upto Mcleodganj so that we can plan for next day. We came to know that Dalai Lama is there in Mcleodganj and he preaches daily for monks and external audience. For next day we decided against normal sightseeing and set out only 2 places to visit and just roam around and soak in the place. We visited some Tibetan artifact shops , Thangka paintings were the only things which were unique to that place.We enquired about the prices and tried to understand the paintings so that we can pick up the right one. For dinner we went to Hotel Mclo which is a cosy and nice place and just at the main crossing. Momos are speciality in Mcleodganj. This was the only place where I found a Israely food section in the menu which I wanted to try but nothing was available.
the blog entry for this trip was due since long so before I forget about this here it is …
the journey was comfortable. Searching for mirthal on internet gives me following information –
mirthal cantt was a small, clean and peaceful place as other army areas. The only sign of turbulence was one of the roads used by civilians was chaotic due to shivratri fair at a ancient temple in nearby Kathgarh. Later in the day we also visited that temple which is at the confluence of Beas and Choch river. This is the same place from where Alexander retreated.
For an outsider the high points were people giving a disciplined salute everywhere in the cantt, the traffic being stopped to make way for your vehicle. Obeying orders without any question or expression. The officers mess was also a different place to visit due to the history and the traditions it has and the mannerism which is better than any star hotels. You cannot enter few areas without proper dress code. The beer glasses were of silver with all past commanding officers name engraved on them. The lunch there was good and overall it was a very relaxed day…
next posts : YOL camp, dharamshala and mcleodganj
just realized that I have not been blogging for more than four months now. Partly because of no internet connection at home and partly because it needs more attention span than twittering.
Past four months has been some travelling. The places I went –
art of living ashram, bangalore – this is most comfortable place to take around guests due to NICE road from bannerghatta road.
bangalore – kolkata – darbhanga – picked up some mithila paintings. And visited kolkata. Still the same except metro is getting older but still very comfortable unlike Mumbai Local trains. Came across – Russel Exchange on russel street which is oldest auction house(?). Most of the things looked like they are from demolished old havelis. Lunch at Trincas. Victoria memorial and the sorrounding greenary is still the most shining part of calcutta.
Golden Temple – Vellore – Good place . made of copper sheets and gold. Looks like whole temple is made of gold, but it is made in such a way that it will cost more to extract the gold from copper sheets than to buy it in open market. Overall worth the visit and can be completed as one day trip from bangalore on comfortable bangalore – chennai highway.
First week of March we are going to Noida. Followed by a visit to Mirthal which is an army contonment in pathankot. The visit to Dharamshala and Mcleodganj was always on my minds which seems to be realising as this is just 90 kms from pathankot.
and few books. Below is the list of books I have read-
India – A Journey through a healing civilization”, by Shashank Mani
The Elephanta Suite – Paul Theroux
Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur’s Odyssey to Educate the World’s Children‘ – John Wood
The backroom brigade – Seetha
Kama Bhog – Foods of Love – Jiggs Kalra
most of them was picked up at Strands book exibition, Chinnasway stadium bangalore
after a whole lot of social networking sites which are center piece of web 2.0 phenomenon , here comes a dedicated place where you can discuss what you did on weekends and more what you plan to do on weekends. Weekends as they say too in their blog accounts for 29% of our life. So they are as important as anything else.
Here are the reasons I could think one would use this site for –
- first site where one could discuss about what to do on weekends. It might not become a global phenomenon but great place to find local information about the options available for weekends. Which means a very targeted place to find information and to advertise.
- there are dedicated travel websites but for weekends , no one writes there. The hotel sites normally offer booking for hotels only and they are not updated regulary. It would bring uptodate information.
- people are already blogging about what they did on weekends but we have to depend on mercy of search engines to give us the information. There is no common place. It fills that gap.
- if I am the one which own a resort or offer any such activity for weekends , this would be a great place to advertise considering the low budget I have for this and the audience I would find for my money.
- find answer to what I should do this weekend if there are enough ideas on this site.Right now there does not seems to be much participation but could become very useful if it catches up.
this weekend we have been to yelagiri.to go to yalagiri follow hosur road to reach krishnagiri and then take left turn towards chennai. Go straight till almost Vinayamwadi where you can see the sign for yalagiri. Follow the signs and the next prominent left turn which is almost 15 kms goes to yelagiri hills. Though we missed this turn and went to jolarpettai raliway station to come back. overall the drive is very comfortable.
the place is very small, so small that on foot you can cover it in 20 min. there is nothing besides a lake. Market is also very small. No glitzy resorts. All resort looks from back days. we found a place to stay in one of the newer places which was clean and in main road of yelagiri, close to lake.
what the place has is good views, good climate – though a hill station yet less colder than bangalore, clean roads, fruit trees on the road – jackfruit, mango, jamun, guava. you can visit around nurseries and pick some plants. There was no decision to make , just go around the place and do everything there still you have lot of time left. could find only one restaurent where we spent long lunches and dinners.