Temple Bar

Temple Bar – Lively street with euphonious music

Written by sreedev

Temple Bar
Talented guys in merchant Arch
Stories about this place made me curious ever since I heard stories about this place from my friend who went to Temple Bar. From  airport I reached my Hotel Cork International in a taxi, which is located on the northern side of Dublin. At entrance, receptionist was waiting to receive me with her gorgeous smile, advantages of luxurious business trip. I checked in and she pushed a street map of dublin in my hands as she was walking out of my room after showing me around. I wowed around room for some time. It was the first time I was staying in such a huge room and I hardly knew the functionalities of fecilities provided to me. After that I dove in to street map of dublin in search of Temple Bar.  I was expecting my friend Sunil to reach Dublin on my ninth day in the city. I was not in a mood to visit temple bar alone,  so was waiting for him to come along. Temple Bar is a small street at southern bank of river Leffy jam-packed with pubs and bars. Its one of those rarest place in Dublin where you can find lively crowd till late nights. Lucky me; I was here during the most happening months, November December and January. I was restlessly waiting for Sunil to reach Dublin.

Temple Bar
Leffy Bridge
Sunil reached on date as expected. Our first Saturday we set out for shopping in Dublin city center and then planned to visit Temple Bar. Temple bar is exactly on the other side of Leffy bridge so we walked from City centre to Leffy bridge. Lefty bridge is a pedestrian bridge built over river Leffy, which has high traffic levels on most of the days. Since it was made centuries back there are many stories related to this bridge. One such story one a cab driver told me is, “Decades back when this bridge was the only way to cross river Leffy, government use to charge hefty amount on each person who uses the bridge. At those times, couples used to carry one of them on others back to skip the charges”. Storming these stories in my head I walked through the bridge, I could smell the cast iron which the whole bridge was made of. The side grills of the bridge was designed in artistic shapes. After crossing the bridge we entered a narrow aisle. The floors of that Aisle was made of black stone bricks and all the buildings has s vernacular architecture. We couldn’t find anyone tottering around as I was expecting, but the street was filled with country music and people attired in characters(Ice man, Dracula etc). We found the main temple Bar and we went in. An amazing country Irish music from a corner snatched my whole attention. A beard muscular man in blue denim sleeveless  jacket doing  Irish music flawlessly, he was holding his reddish-brown Guitar in style. He reminded me of cowboys in Hollywood classics of 80’s. He hardly had space to sit, But sitting on a tall stool he was making the whole crowd bounce to his music. I tried to shoulder a way through the dancing mass, but I was jammed, and failed miserably to reach the bartender. I haven’t seen a bar flooded with such insane crowd. It was impossible to even move in that crowd. The whole space was filled with ecstatic dance, smooches, cheers and howls. That ambience was passing exquisite shivers down me, but for obvious reasons, we had to leave that place. 

Temple Bar

We came out and sauntered in quest of another good bar. A very less crowded space lighten up in red, pink, blue and yellow came to our notice; it was Merchant arch Bar. The ambience and the slow Irish music pulled us in. We found a nice place to sit and climbed up the high chairs facing the two handsome boys who were doing traditional Irish music sitting in a case like podium. A beautiful blonde came to us with a dazzling smile and gave us the menu. Most of the dishes where out of our knowledge but I was pretty sure about what beer to order. We ordered a set of Smithwicks(Irish beer, One of the best and finest beer that you can get in Ireland. Its smooth and sweet), a meat burger with french fries and a roast Turkey with sweet sauce(Turkey dishes are very common in Ireland). The order took around 10 min and mean while we got in synced in with the music and the crowd who were cheering. Our gorgeous waitress came and served our order with all her sweetness. I was all lost in her charm while she was serving the dishes with a smile. Boys were puping up the music and we started taking our gulps. Some how the tempo of the music was charging us to swig the beer and order next one. Thats the magic Irish traditional music, its really goes fine with beers. These boys started taking request from crowd and started singing improvised. A bunch of girls sitting on the corner cuddling up with their wines started cheering loudly as the boys started a fast number. When the tempo started to catch up, these girls came out and started dancing. Then the scene gradually changed and most of them came out from their seats and started dancing around their respective tables. A man in Ice man attire knocked on the glass door noticing the shouts of these girls. Girls pulled him in and one girl in them requested me to take their video dancing with iceman, my cam was already on roll. Iceman ran out when the girls started giggling him. Lena, the girl who requested me to take their video, though its not her real name but here I will mention her as lena. Later me and Lena talked and I watsapped her their video. She was elegant, notably tall and so friendly. I was so delighted to talk to her and was astonished to see how people in these cold countries celebrate their Christmas, for it was my first experience too. From that bar I became a huge fan of Irish traditional music and till now am a keen follower of the same. It was getting late, so we finished our beer and came out half minded. Christmas days were never been this awesome to me. Me and Sunil took the cab and went to our respective hotels.

Whatever, Temple bar is one of the most costliest place in Dublin, food and drinks costs around double than elsewhere in Dublin. Yes its over hyped for those who are expecting a mini Amsterdam from this place. Otherwise it’s nice place to chill out and I don’t think there is any other place like Temple bar in Dublin you can spend the nights. Most of the cultural and traditional Irish music can be encountered here. The lively crowd and the variety of pubs makes this place a must visit for anyone visiting Dublin.

Cabinteely Park

Cabinteely Park, Ireland – Green meadows where zephyr whirls around

Written by sreedev

Cabinteely Park
A lady with her dog in my backdrop!!
Cabinteely is a small town located  along side of bray road in Dublin. There  is a park located in the heart of this town. A wide open space with lovely green meadows all around with well tarred roads, a pond and a church. I was in an official visit in Dublin and my office was in Cabinteely near this park. I spotted this park on my second day   while I was doing my noon-walk after my lunch(Chicken-lamp sandwich and coffee). This park struck me surprisingly when I was sauntering through the sideways of road. Devoid of gaggle, this place appeared so attractive and peaceful to me.

Cabinteely Park
Withered trees
I walked in through the tall gates which one was kept open. No one around, I felt absurd, but I kept exploring in. The entrance of the park welcomed me  with three roads perpendicularly splitting to three directions, Left, right and one straight. The road to left leads to woods filled with rotten bushes and groves withered in the winter frost. I don’t know its because I watch a lot of hollywood movies, walking through this road leaves me in vibes of horror. Rusty seesaw, slides and merry go-round and spin amidst rotten bushes and mosses covered trees. These rides makes that erring sound when the zephyr passes on. I always stay away from this path to my best. There is an arm-chair which is placed at the starting of this road which give a better wide angle view of the whole park including the church and the pond. I usually sit there and have my sandwich and coffee(Lunch). The view from that arm chair is something which I want to have it every day and that view never bores me. Since Dublin is near Black sea a frequent zephyr will always whirl around. At times these zephyr wear the gusty attire and rushes in unexpectedly, even at those times I used to hold my coffee cup tight between my thighs and have my sandwich holding with both my hands sitting in that arm chair. But I won’t spare to miss the sit in that armchair.

Cabinteely Park
A little guy playing with ducks and albatross
The straight road goes alongside of a pond and leads to a Church which is at a distance of 400-500m from the entrance. That Christian church was built in early ages, I don’t know the exact century but its English Christian architecture clearly reflects its age. I never got a chance to go inside and have look,so nil idea about how the nave of that church looks like but the facade has two elevated cone shaped roofs. Whenever I take this path, there will be a mass of albatross and duck swimming in or walking through the verges of the pond. Arm chairs were mounted around it and I always get to see some golden-ages feeding these birds with the grains they bring with. May be that's the reason these birds always hang around this pond. I feels like to join them, but because of not having anything in my hand for those birds, I hesitate to show up. The road which leads to the right from the entrance has nothing along but it stretches around the wavy green meadows. I am pretty sure these roads will have a meeting place somewhere on the back of this park. I never got enough time to go round all the way since I visit this park at my lunch timings, I regret.

Cabinteely Park
Wavy green meadows
The wide angle view from the entrance is mind blowing with green meadows, church and white albatross flying around. Mostly people visit this park to sweat a bucket, in a cold country like Ireland it’s very important. If you are lucky enough, you would meet some pretty Irish ladies jogging with their tiny dangling dogs tagged up with them . I can only relate this place to a space perfect to meditate or contemplate. The ambiance of this place will loose out anyone from the consciousness of time and make them absolutely eternal. May be you will find this park in marathon or cycling websites but not in lime light. None will find this place in any of those mainstream Ireland itineraries. There are many other parks in Ireland huger and greener than Cabinteely park. Like Phoenix park, which I visited on my last day in Ireland. The size of park in Pheonix has no comparison with the one in Cabinteely, its such huge. But Cabinteely park would win the run for its solitude, calmness and its middling human presence. This place has won my love with it.

Cabinteely Park
View of entrance from the bridge near the church

Goa - Oblivious boy

Goa - Oblivious boy amidst new year celebrations

Written by sreedev

Goa - Oblivious boy
Me, Sandeep(Middle) and the boy.
30 Dec 2015, the day we were planning to visit Panjim Goa, it’s a part of Goa dense with casinos and beer clubs. Day was pleasant and the whole town was gearing up to welcome 2016. We started from Vasco hardly knowing the route to reach our destination. Throttling through the nice tarred road with beach on both the sides spirited with wet green trees, we reached near a bridge which connects highway to Panjim town. We pulled over to ask for a go-ahead. We couldn’t find anyone other than this boy who was sauntering through the footpath. A lean, 5 feet tall boy with yellow drowsy eyes, wearing a sooty shirt and a school bag. We stopped and asked him the route to reach Panjim town. He took out a piece of paper from his pocket and checked if the name we asked is matching with the one he have in that piece of paper. Then he vaguely nodded his head and replied us to give a try going straight over that bridge. That made us skeptical about what he is up to. I asked "Where are you from?” .He replied that he is from Hyderabad. Then we continued asking him more questions and he kept answering us elaborately and genuinely. 

This boy ran away from his house 2 days back. His father who is a Sub-inspector of Police used to beat him regularly. One day while this boy was returning from his friend’s house, his dad came and started beating him on middle of the road which made him decide to leave his house on the same day. He reached Goa and was planning to get in to some job, of course he was out of cash. He was starving since a day and was sleeping on a chair at a park near Panjim. He was surviving in a bottle of Limca since a day and we could figure out his dwindling health. He feared we would hand him over to Police but still he was asking us to take him with us and give him a place to stay. We checked his bag and found some books related to medical entrance and some tuition notes, he was preparing for medical entrance after Plus two. By the time he detailed about the joint family and situations he was going through when he was back there in Hyderabad. After 15-20 minutes of conversation we understood that he is so brilliant and good performer in curriculum. On the way to Goa he contacted his mom once to inform that he is going away from home, we both where wondering thinking about his mother’s condition. A day back he met a taxi driver in town. This boy might have discussed the same story with him; that taxi driver gave him a Club owner's number and advised this boy to contact that owner for a job. He was planning to visit the owner on the same day at evening 3 and was on the way to find this club when we met him. The piece of paper he took out of his pocket was the address and number of that club owner. We tried called that owner and he replied to come to club at 3.
Goa - Oblivious boy
Waiting for the team to arrive.

We were in dilemma and was feeling uneasy to leave that boy like that. Frankly, I was not that mature enough to handle the situation, but Sandeep was stern and was suggesting me to take this boy to nearby Police station or church. But I felt that plan is not going to work anyways. We realized taking him to Police station will be a bad idea, because his father is a Sub Inspector and it would be like giving back to beast’s hand. Sandeep started surfing through his contact list to ask someone for a sensible advice. One of his senior Rahul has worked in many NGO and he is well versed with such situations. Rahul told us to contact child helpline (1098). We called child helpline and detailed them everything that happened. The team asked for details like, how we met? How old is this child? What’s his condition? etc. Then they told us to wait near the Park at Panjim. Within half an hour, one team with 2 women and a men came walking to us and took him to their office which was nearby. We joined them just to make sure that the boy is in safe hands. Once they reached their office, they started intriguing the boy to understand more about boy which was their regular procedure. After some time this boy started bursting out in to tears and started thanking us for taking him to a safer place like that. The head of the team was an old lady and her name is Susan. She gave us her word that they will take necessary action to ensure the safety of that boy. She thanked us for helping them for pulling this boy out of danger and told that this happens very often, in festive seasons the rate of child abuse goes high in such happening areas. She told us some similar stories happened in near time. That boy came and hugged us while we were about to leave and told us to stay in touch with him, then we thanked the team and walked out.

Living in a country with such a substantial population, there is greater chunk of children who are struggling to get their daily meal done or a roof to sleep in. In this same boscage there are chaparral who takes advantage of these little ones. We should be sensibly aware of these mis happenings around us and should be capable enough to respond. Official figures says, 12 million children works daily in India, but many NGO claims its 60 million. Studies says, around 53.2% children reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse. When the numbers are such huge, the possibility of bumping in to one of these victims is really high when we are visiting a place in India. If that happens, be wise with how you act and should make that fortunate for that child. There is a child help line which works all over India - 1098. This is an initiative by Government of India and this team is nowhere related to Police or military wings. There is an efficient team working 24x7 in search of such victims to catch and move them to a safer zone. If we find a child below 16 in a weird situation, anyone can dial to this number. The team will arrive in spot without any compromises in an hour. You don’t have to provide your details to them while taking that child, you won’t get fastened with any Govt documentations. Never think you are wasting your time doing all these in between your tour or travel, you are gifting a new era of life to a child by doing this. What else you want to be happy to take back home. So be wise when you travel and be prepared to act up on situations like this. As this situation was an eye opener for me.

1098 is the child helpline which works all over India. Anyone who finds a child getting abused or labored can dial to this number. The team will be on the spot within an hour. 1098 will be live 24x7.
Goa - Oblivious boy
On the way to Panjim


Mcleod Ghanj - A night with the ripping glare of Triund

Written by Sreedev

A morning tea with Himalayas!!

Filled with feeling of disappointment, I was lying on my sofa. Two of four friends who were supposed to join me for Auli,Uttarakhand ditched the plan. It was too hard for me to spend those 3 holidays laming around in room regretting about it. My “Plan B" was to do a solo ride to Mc leod Ghanj and trek to Triund. The third person(Bhupesh) in the group was in a half mind, when I shot him with my “Plan B",  he told me to pick him up from Ambala which comes on the way to Mc leod Ghanj. Next day morning I started riding from Delhi, reached Ambala within 4 hours which was bit drenching but a good stretch well ridden. I picked him up from Ambala cantonment and resumed our ride towards Dharamshala.
RIding to Dharamshala
We reached Dharamshala around 8 pm at night taking 2 3 breaks in between. I am getting tempted to write more about the route filled with astonishing vistas but I think its better to keep that for my future blog since it is such a worthy content.We checked into a budget hotel, it was around 700/day. Room was well equipped for a smart sleep and the view of stacked up concrete houses on the terrains of Dharamshala was coming in through the windows of our room. It was a dry-day in Dharamshala since election was happening in Himachal, but we managed to get a bottle of Royal Challenge through the back doors of a shop in convincing price. After having 4 shots from it, we settled in for the day rejuvenating ourselves for the trek. Having rambling aimless conversations we slipped in to snoring sleep. 
To Gallu Mata temple in Auto

We woke up next morning around 8 and rode to Mcleod Ghanj where we are supposed to park our Bike and go to Galu Mata temple where the trek starts. After grabbing a Himachali hat and essentials for the trek from the Tibetan market in Mcleod, we took an auto to Gallu Mata temple. But I would strongly suggest to start the trek from Mcleod Ghanj, I was actually regretting when trekkers were derisively laughing at us when we were going in Auto, I was feeling a bit retarded. From Gallu Mata temple we started trekking towards Triund at 1 pm which was too late, at least you are supposed to start the trek at 9 am so that you can visit ILAKA, a summit 1 hour ahead of Triund and you can come back to Triund to stay there. Lack of time forced us to drop the plan for Ilaka. We slowly started trailing through the rocky paths from Gallu Mata temple. As usual after 10 minutes of walking we started feeling breathless reminding me of my fatty metropolitan lifestyle. We stopped and decided to take a sit every 15 minutes to get us physically up for the walk. Since it was Holi holidays the paths were too rushy with lots of collage students and Delhites. Triund is a treacherous 4 hour trek through 8 km. May be because we are not well experienced trekkers, we found it little difficult.
Exotic view from the top

A 10 minutes climb through the cliff will make a good altitude change since the whole path is so steep. While walking we could spot people on the top of the other side of mountain ahead of our path, apparently it was giving us vibes of the hard times waiting for us. On the way we encountered rare spicies of birds and splendid flowers in different colour’s, thats when the feel of “trekking to himalayas” synced in. Due to the steepness, after 3 hours of trek, altitude changed to a great extend and the view of Dharamshala from there was breathtaking. In between we stopped in small shops and had something light, not kill our appetite but to energise our exhausting body. It was very expensive(1 plate Maggi- Rs 60). We made friends on the way and a guide of another team was helping us with the info about the path ahead. There was also a girl with rose pink cheeks and baby cute eyes tailing behind us(actually we were tailing her). These are those little eye rings you get when you travel. A look on her was giving us(me at least) the energy to walk for next 10 minutes. It was like; walk for 10 min, wait for her, when she arrives take a look on her and continue. She deserve a thanks from us for energising us with
Waiting for that eye catching beauty!!
her eye catching beauty. I believe its always fine to enjoy beauty weather its nature or the people. Last one hour trek was refreshing with exotic views of horizons. After 4 hours of trek we reached at the summit of Triund at around 5:30 pm.

"Travelling is not about the destination but about the journey itself” - Unknown

But the magic of the Triund trek was its destination and I will put this bluntly. I was scrawling though the last 5 min climb, Bhupesh started yelling from the top to go fast and witness something mind throbbing. I rushed to the top with all the energy left in me and I don’t know what feeling was syncing in to me, it was like switching on a set of HID lamps right in front of me. It was difficult to take those glare with bare eyes. Giant ice covered Dhauladhar mountains standing tall and erect right in front of me so close, then I realised this was triund all famous for. That glare was repairing the imbalances in my body which the trek had done to us. My eyes got wet when I saw that view for first time, it was that beautiful.

Last stretch!!
I believe these are the moment which makes a travel worth. That night we were planning to stay at the top because it was too late to climb down to Mcleod Ghanj. Most of the people on the top had taken a package of Rs 1800 inclusive of tent and food. We were not having any package so we started enquiring the shops for tent. There were 3 4 shops at the top where you can rent a tent inclusive of sleeping bags and mats. Food is very expensive especially in the time of long holidays, one dhal-chval was costing us around Rs.120 . Also if its not long holidays or the rush is less they will cook us if we gave them Maggi or chicken. But you need to do a bit of talking with the shopkeepers. First shop refused to give us tent leaving us disappointingly desiring but the second shop was kind enough to get us a tent costing us around Rs.900 for a single tent. It will only cost less if its not a holiday season. I would strongly suggest to rent a tent from Mcleod Ghanj and take it all the way up to the Triund along with you.
First view of Dhuladhar

At night the temperature was dropping down making us difficult to go out and take a look at that combination of clear sky, charming starts and bluish white snow covered mountains. But my crave for a look at that vista took me out of the tent. Lack of oxygen molecules in air was making our inhalation difficult and bearable fluctuation in our blood pressure, making us chock. Triund is situatied in an elevation of 2875m. We stayed inside the tent having shots of whisky that we brought from Dharamshala and uncooked Maggi as sidings. Its really tasty, Bhupesh told me to try that and I don’t know is it because I was hungry but
I couldn’t stop having it.  In between I peek out and have a look at those bluish illuminated mountains and the twinkling stars on the sky keeping my remaining body in sleeping bag. We slept that night in the hopes of waking up early and watch the sunrise. Songs, screams, cheers and moans where coming from our near by tents but we forced ourselves to sleep. 
Sleepless inside tent

At morning around 6 o clock I heard someone shouting “Sunrise,Sunrise”. With no second thoughts I jumped up and opened the tent. The whole scene was setting up to welcome the sun out of those snow peaks with the electro colours in the sky. I came out of the tent, went to a rock little away from our tent and sat there to see the whole show. I sat there till those fresh rays of a new day covered my whole body warming me up. Bhupesh was enjoying the same scene sitting inside the tent. For the nature calls, there is no manual set up at the top, you can go out to the open places behind the rock and do a squat. Till 9’o'clock we roamed around the green meadows on the top and then we packed our rack sacks to climb down to Mcleod Ghanj. Trekking back was pretty easy and we had covered the whole distance in two and half, three hours. While coming back we trekked back till Mcleod Ghanj which was around 10km precisely. We ate like horses after reaching Mcleod Ghanj. This visit to triund was by chance, but every detail of the ride and trek worth a lifetime.

Cheat sheet for trekkers going to Triund
1. Its a moderate level trek.
2. Its better if you can carry the tent from Mcleod Ghanj.
3. On the top there is a forest department guest house but most of the time i.
t will be closed
4. Take some fruits and raw food items which can be prepared easily.
5. If you don’t want to carry your baggage, you will get potters from Mcleod Ghanj where they will take to the top over the horse. 



Shimla- Experiencing a childhood dream.

Written by Sreedev

Sukdev ka dhaba, Murthal
A ride to a childhood dream is always heartwarming, I still remember watching some telecom ad and dreaming of visiting Shimla. We started around 7 in the morning from Delhi. After mugging up the delicious Parathas and desi ghee from Sukdev ka Dhaba, Murthal; we resumed our ride. Entering the 8-liner Himalayan highway for the first time was a massive experience for me. The road was wide and thick, it felt like the Royal Enfiled was rolling over a sponge and the slow movement of horizons was in absolute as-sync with our meter speed. As the road started we spotted a Royal Enfield service center with a small attached restaurant. We dropped by to kill our appetite and gave a quick service to our bikes. The dhaba was expensive but the dishes served was tongue melting which doubled our orders.  From that place its around 133 km to reach Shimla in which almost 80 km is through climbing curvy roads in mountain. While riding up the mountain a big statue of god Hanuman flashed on us. I remember someone telling me that when ever that statue comes to your notice, believe that you are in Shimla. So we got showers in our mind to put the over strenuous ride to an end.

Resting at the farms of Ambala
I was expecting Shimla to usher us with its off beat mountains. Disappointingly Shimla welcomed us with a heavy traffic. That hardly moving traffic wrecked the whole concept of mine about Shimla. I never thought Shimla would be this commercial and rushy. Most of the crowd was from Delhi and nearby cities. Vying through that traffic we managed to reach the hotel. I don't know weather its my destiny or any mere coincidence, there will always be some festival when ever I am visiting a place for the first time. After reaching hotel we came to know that Shimla was celebrating her 150th years and  the whole city was high celebrating. 
Pitstop at the dense deodar forests

Shimla is a place replete with hotels and it costs from Rs 700/day to Rs 1000/day, but I suggest if you are planning to visit on long holidays, its always better to book online and go. We checked in to a cheaper hotel with minimal arrangements. One of my friends brother was there in Shimla, he came to meet us and asked about joining a concert happening near by, but we ditched the offer since we were so tired. The view from the terrace was feasting us with spectacular view of houses, terraced from top to the bottom of the hill and we were somewhere at the middle of the whole arrangement. We boozed in sitting at the balcony and drain ed out all the exhaustion to make the body swing to sleep.
On the way to Chail
Next day we packed our rucksacks and set out with our bikes to Kufri. We hardly had a long list of places to visit, but we decided not to skip Kufri, Chail, Mall road, Ridge and Hanuman temple(lol that's a list) . We started riding up the hill and suddenly a dead end smashed in. Some localities where standing there with lighted bidis in their hand, one guy came and said this is Kufri view point. That place was maddened with people, tourist and horses. We figured out and decided its better to ride around than visiting these crowded view points and commercial museums. Then we resumed our ride to Chail. The road was well maintained, at one side it was muscle rocks and on the other side it was lush vitality of forest. The whole way was gifting us with mind blowing views of green meadows, tall oak trees and traditional houses. I was happy about finding some offbeat places on that way. We took pit-stops in between when the surroundings become so intense with tall oak trees on both the sides.  While my friends booze I lie down amidst the dense forest enjoying the light and breezy silence of nature. 
Off road from Chail to Shimla
We started riding from Kufri to Chail suppressing the call of stomach. It was around 3, we were riding around the whole city taking no care of our routine. Lunch time was over, we were not getting any good restaurants to have our lunch. While coming from Chail we inquired 3 4 shops to have our lunch but they refused us with no mercy. Then in one shop we stopped and almost begged to cook something for us. Such a sweet lady, She gave us a good smile and asked us to wait . Meanwhile she prepared some fresh recipes, her daughter joined her to get it done. That taste of chulha Roti dipped in those lightly spiced Kadi is still there in my tongue. We ate like horses and our eyes where dozing because of the surfeit of food in our stomach. 

The sun was about to slide down through the mountains at the horizon. We pulled on the parking lights and started riding back to hotel. Making the horizon appreciably low we were riding, the techni colours of the sky was making the whole scene dark and the hills ambient. We took a off road while coming back from Chail, there was no sign of civilizations on the way. We almost thought we were riding astray. At around 6 we encountered a breathtaking view of sunset in Shimla. These are the moments which makes you feel the whole effort was worth. But soon that way took us to a main road putting smiles on our face. At night we parked our Bikes in hotel and we set out for a walk through mall road and Ridge. Most of the hill stations in north India will have a church and a mall road. Ridge is an old church which was made at the time of British establishment. We bought some food from Sher-E-Punjab, one of well known restaurants all over north India. Went back to our hotel, had food and slept. Next day morning we were planning to ride back to Delhi. When we woke up it was raining heavily. I went out for a walk since I am a mad lover of rain, its was spine chillingly cold. But we all didn't hesitated to ride in rain, so we started riding back to Delhi drenching in rain.
Mai who cooked delicious food for us, and that cow is trying to photobomb!! ;-p

For a person like me who is coming from south India, visiting Shimla is like getting in to a telecom ad scene of 90's, where old Dhaadu's wearing traditional Himachali hats, smoking chillums and sipping a smokey cup of tea while watching Ind-Pak match in TV sitting on Verandas of shops.  The city of Shimla was made by Britishers established in colonial India for doing their business. After India became free, Gradually Britishers started to leave this place and people preserved the whole set up and enhanced. Now the population is so high that the whole place is getting commercializing and the beauty of nature is been disturbed as well. People who loves shopping and visiting crowded places would love Shimla but I fall for those off beat places around the city.

Sunset at Shimla


Rishikesh - Silver sands of Holy Ganges

Written by Sreedev

A view from the top of a hillock
One of the most famous adventurous destinations, the well known Rishikesh doesn't need any dance of words for intro. This place is located on the head of Uttarakhand, in the Himalayan foothills besides mighty Ganges. Rafting, Zipping, trekking, Bungee jumping and para gliding are some of the adventure activities you will get to experience here. Rishikesh is commercialised town mainly for tourists. Most of the people in and around Rishikesh comes here to spend there weekend in these silver shores of Ganges. The whole place was flooded with DL or UK registered cars when we visited.  We started from Delhi at night and it was a over night drive. We reached Rishikesh at morning 7 am,  perfect time to enter this place. On the way to Haridwar there is a bridge where cops will check the nooks and corners of your car for liquor bottles. After that check post the liquors are not allowed because Haridwar is considered as one of the famous religious destination,  added it is possible to get through if you are smart enough to crack the cops. 

Heading to Camp site
One of my friend Divyesh personally knew a camp owner, so we headed straight to the camp. Most of the stay comes as a package with a adventure activity which you can customise according to your needs. Our plan was precisely to do rafting, camping, party at night on the river bank, have a good sleep at night and drive back next day. For obvious reasons I kept my personal priorities as Rafting, A Dive in Ganges, Sunset and sunrise(Obviously) at that place. We had a buffet type continental breakfast and parathas which was delicious. Since our appetites where accelerated with beer, we ate like a horse. After relaxing for half an hour we drove to the point were rafting starts. At the starting point one person welcomed us and registered our names for rafting. He started giving us instructions, geared us up and showed us the voice signals to use while rafting. It was more of a crash course. Many videographers and photographers were roaming around to film us while rafting. It will cost you around Rs 1500 for a video. We opt not to make a business with them. We geared up and step in to our raft, 2 teams where there in our raft including us and the guide. After settling down, everyone in the raft started cheering loudly “Jai mada di”(Cheers for Goddess) and the guide pushed on the rock with his oar and we started moving down.

Gearing up for rafting
Keeping apart my massive expectations, my first rafting experience was mind boggling and it did gave me adrenaline rush in rapids. There are may types of waves and swirls you will encounter when your are rafting down the way. The most dangerous ones are called rapid. Big rapids can hit on the front tip of raft flipping the raft upside down and small rapids can take your raft perpendicular. The guide was shouting at us to keep rowing and swaying for a better experience. At times guide deliberately hit the raft to stones and will stay there for some minutes suggesting us to jump in to Ganges and take a swim. A rope was tied to the raft, we can hold on to that while jumping in to the river. Even if I was bit scared, with the belief in my life jacket I gave a try jumping in to deep Ganges. The ice cold water from glacier will make any one scream there lungs out on first jump. It took around 1.5 hours to raft 16 kms. Our bodies were craving for some nutrition when we reached the finishing point. At the end point there are lot of small shops where you can have Maggi and lemon water we had both added it was expensive.  Then they took us in a van and came back to the starting point were our car was parked and we drove back to our camp.

Arun diving to Ganges(See the orange rope tied to those rocks)
Note: Its very important to follow guide rules and wear life jackets before going to Ganges. The water flow is so aggressive that it can kill you drowning. One girl was taken away by the river near to our camp, she went to Ganges without life jacket. 

At the end point of Rafting
Camp welcomed us with delicious non-veg lunch. We gobbled down what ever we got in hand and went again for a short nap. When I woke up, my friends where playing volley ball on those silver sands. It was a stress relieving first glance straight from sleep. Those silver sands, Volley ball court and the loud laughs, which gave me vibes of another world away from all those societal hoax’s. I joined them and had a quick warm up for the bonfire party which was planned for night. The innkeepers already set up chairs, table and night lamp alongside of Ganges for the bonfire party. I think there is no place in this world where you will get such an ambiance for bonfire which will sim you down and unlax (at least to me for that time being). We sat there boozing up with some beer and a bottle of vodka for around 5 hours. It was around 2 am, then the feeling of night camping started to sync in. Clear bluish dark sky with twinkling stars, silver sands reflecting the blue sky and the huge mountains standing heads up all around. The whole scene is still a snapshot in my mind which I can catch hold of and smile. My friend Arun came and gave me an groundbreaking idea of sleeping outside the tent at night. He made a sand bed with a  bed sheet over it alongside of river. Off coarse with such ambiance anyone who loves nature would love to sleep on those silver sands. I laid there and I remember, stars were sneaking from position to position and I kept staring at them with my tipsy eyes and deep thoughts gradually slipping in to sleep. Morning I woke up early and I could see crack of dawn with a spectacular aurora. I could feel the rays of sunshine grooving in from my chilled toss to knees to hips to neck pulling my eyes wide open wishing me a good morning with an astonishing view(Thanks to Arun for getting me this idea). I was lucky that I didn’t missed the sunset and the sun rise at Rishikesh

A snap of our camp at night. Bonfire, beer and bone chilling breeze
The tent was having latrine but not bath rooms, so Ganges was our last resort for bath which was a nice like there is no option other than awesome. We took swims at mornings evenings and in between. There are many spots where you can dive in to the river catching hold of a rope tied to the rocks. I am a person who hates free falls and I hesitate to do long dives which I am gonna change it in near future :-p. One of my friend Divyesh was crazy enough to take a summer sort from heights and Arun too. Rohit(Dude who saved me from getting trolled for not diving) was actually clinging on to rocks wetting below his neck. I was brave enough :-p to jump in for a swim holding that rope but didn’t had the gut to dive. 

View of sun rise from our camp
We started our drive back to Delhi at morning 11 and we reached Delhi at night 8. Rishikesh is a one of the rare places where it is commercialised in one hand and in other hand its very pragmatic to any type of people. Its the perfect place for those who seeks adventure and also for families who wants to still and chill. The food and stay is also not that expensive, but at times in some season it goes high. October-November are the seasons which the adventure seekers mostly pitch in because this is the best time for rafting as they can encounter aggressive rapids in Ganges and perfect ambience in woods. No matter what, Rishikesh is not going to let you down. Nobody will return from Rishikesh without having some screaming memories and dazzling vistas to cherish.

Lunatics back form Rishikesh
Cheat sheet for those who are planning for Rishikesh.

  1. Adventure Activities - Rafting, Zipping, Group Zipping, Camping, Trekking, Para gliding, Bungee Jumping and exploring.
  2. Try to take tents which is in off beat sides of river so that you will be served good and you can avoid the crowd.
  3. Make sure you are not missing sun rise and sunset at this place.
  4. Follow the rules and suggestions from locals and Guides. It is true and It does matters.
  5. If possible at evening you can go to Haridwar and witness Arthi given to Ganges which is a very famous offering performed every day at evening in Har-ki-pauri ghats.(I missed it).
  6. Check your bathrooms before taking camps and check weather they allow swimming in Ganges.
  7. Nowadays its even hearing that the camps has been removed for reducing the pollution in Ganges. So it will be good of you can give it a check before hitting the place.


Bhangarh fort, Rajasthan- Not Ghostly but intensely tranquil!

Written by Sreedev

I use to have debates about random subjects with colleagues in my office, One day this place came between the discussion and my friend was enthusiastically explaining the horror stories regarding this place which I was resisting to believe it . Since then I was curious enough to visit this place and reveal the genuienity of all the horrifying happenings which happened at this place.  I am was in Delhi, one day my friend Amit called me and asked to plan a trip when he comes down. So me with my two friends Amit and Zeno planned to visit this place.  Bhangarh fort is located at Bangarh village in the Alwar District of Rajasthan which is hyped for the presence of supernatural energies(Ghosts). There is about 7 stories related to this fort which is horrifying and its said that around 4 stories are almost proven. I was curious enough to explore the reality of all those paranormal stories. Is this place really haunted? How people end up their life here at nights? Why the Archaeological department closing this fort after 6 pm? All these questions were haunting me before visiting this place.

Ruined Temple

Map Board
After visiting Agra and Jaipur we drove to Bhangarh. We started from jaipur at around 11 o clock morning and it took around 5 hours to reach the Bhangarh Village, till Dausa the roads are really broad and nice but as we went off the highway it was getting bumpy. From Dausa both the side was covered with dwarf mountain ranges and wide spread deserted land. Bhangarh fort was made in 14th century and it became ruins at 18th century. We reached Bhangarh at around 4:30 pm which was the perfect time to visit this place. I would suggest to visit this place in winters because it will be too hot and humid in Summers. We started walking towards the entrance of the Fort. The entrance for visitors is only allowed till 6 pm. There is a big map board kept at the entrance detailing all the Havelis, temples, watch towers and ruins inside the compound wall of the fort. The boundary wall of this fort surrounds 3 huge mountains. The whole fort is very poorly maintained and most parts of the ruins are almost destroyed. In the entrance there is small temple which was open and one pandit was doing offerings to the idol when we were entering. I tried to have a friendly conversation with him and the one accompanying him. First I tried to ask the real stories of the fort so he pointed his fingers to the board ordering us to read that map board before proceeding. With a smile in face I bluntly asked about the ghost stories related to this place. Both of them looked at each other and denied laughing. That laugh made all the stories which I heard about the place sceptical for me. I didn't gave up, we continued to walk though the long stretch with ruins of bazar and houses on both the sides. We started exploring the whole fort in foot in curiosity for witnessing some paranormal activity. There was a watch tower on the top of a hillock, people were hiking to the top towards watchtower. Due to time constraints we were forced to ditch that plan of going up because it takes at least 3 hours to reach up and come back. We continued towards the summits of fort at the foot of dwarf mountains.

Is this place haunted?
Streach with ruins on both sides
We explored the palaces, Havelies and the dark rooms with the help of flash in our DSLR. I could smell blood in some closed corners but it was obvious since its dark and undisturbed, many animals might use this place to store their food, hence it was not that spooky for me. But unexpected deep pits inside rooms scared my gut out, you will only come to know about these pits after making few steps towards the room which was dangerous. I even tried going alone inside the small holes inside these rooms. Since I was not having any previous experience of paranormal activities, I was craving to have one. People were amidst the excitement of the horror stories they have heard, students where also shouting out having fun pranking each other inside the huge havelis. I had a conversation with one of the localite I met. He explained that they have never experienced anything supernatural even at nights inside this fort. They have seen wind animals in the vicinity but never had any paranormal experience. That was pretty convincing answer for me since I felt the same after visiting the place. I can never imagine this place could be a place for ghost.

Ruined Houses
How people end up their life here at nights? 
The facts from that localite was pretty convincing and realistic apart from all the stories I have heard  and read about this place. The archaeological department had taken control over the fort identifying the presence of treasures in some parts of this untapped ruins. Many people come here at nights in search of these treasures. Since these ruins doesn’t have any roof at top, stairs leads to free falls. This fort is located at the edge of Sariska National Park so at nights this fort becomes a hunting ground for wild animals. These people who visits at night become food for wild animals or they fall off from tall roofless buildings. Being habituated with wild variety of snakes, many people die of snake bites too. Some people even get trapped inside the deep pits inside the dark rooms and end up breathless. Apparently there is no proven or witnessed stories of anyone dead by the attack of supernatural energies or ghosts.

Why the Archaeological department don’t allow visitors after 6 pm?
All ASI monuments have time restrictions. May be that's why Bhangarh board states that "Entering the borders of Bhangarh after the sunset is strictly prohibited". Localities also wont allow visitors inside at night because of the presence of wild animal in the vicinity. 

Dark deep pits

When we were roaming around at 6:30pm a group of people where siting at the top of the fort, playing poker laughing there lungs out, That shows this place is not a big deal for the local people living there. All those spooky stories regarding this fort where cooked up to attract the tourists. Since its an offbeat place, we spotted very less tourist coming to this place were most of the groups were families and student from Delhi and Jaipur. For a person like me, abandoned forts like this give me chills. It takes me years back and make me feel like am experiencing the people who once sweat out to build this huge architectural excellence with limited technology and their proficient skills. 

I felt the same when I visited Dhanushkodi which is another ghost town in India located in Tamil Nadu, the feel of visiting all these places are just beautiful and tranquilising. 
Exploring the bushes around
Bhangarh is a hub of wide variety of wildlife, flora and fauna. There are thousands of monkeys habituated here and people demand that monkeys know all the in and outs of this fort more than anyone. We encountered many peacocks and birds around the fort. The view of sunset from the  top of this fort is breathtaking and the magnificent dwarf Aravalli hills will make it more ambient. This place is worth visiting for those people who seeks adventure out of exploring the untapped ruins which was made centuries back. Experiencing this place untangled all the paranormal paradox about this place and I suggest every adventure seekers to spend one day at this place for its history, wildlife and exotic nature. 

Enjoying sunset at the top of a roofless Haveli
Cheat sheet for those who are planning to visit this place

  • When visiting this place try to go in Bikes if your are a Bike freak. The roads and deserted land on the both sides of highways are ecstatic. 
  • This fort has a parking lot which you have pay for it. 
  • Try visiting this place on monsoons or winters. Since this place is Rajasthan there is no question about visiting this place on Summers because it will hot and humid.
  • The best route to drive back from Bangarh is via Sariska National Park. You get to see a wide variety of wild animals on that way. i suggest to take this route at evenings. 
  • Carry a torch light with you while visiting this place so you can explore more around.