Saturday, 30 November 2013

Please Mind the GAP

Clean Ganga?

Recently I had gone to Rishikesh to do some river rafting and after completing the rafting near Muni-ki-Reti in Rishikesh I was just walking along the banks of the Ganga (or Ganges) and I was shocked to see a funeral pyre right on the banks of the river from which ash and other pollutants were entering the river directly.

Now the Government of India along with various state governments have been pumping millions of tax payers' rupees right from 1986 under the Ganga Action Plan (GAP) to clean the river. I wonder where all the money is going (You & I of course know) if they cannot even shift the burning of bodies away from the banks even from main tourist towns like Rishikesh. Think about all the other places where the industrial effluents are being released in the Ganga with impunity.

We definitely have to mind this GAP!

Also read earlier posts on Rishikesh -
Rafting Down the Ganges
Garud Chatti Temple, Rishikesh
Neergarh Falls: Rishikesh
Garud Chatti Waterfalls in Rajaji National Park

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

A Walk in the LAKES - The Windermere Walk

Most people who visit Windermere normally either go to the main pier or take a boat ride but that is not what I had in mind when I went there.

Panoramic view of the Lake District

I decided to go for a small trek and that also on the other side of Windermere as it is the opposite side that attracted me as it has hills, serenity, less tourists and some trails through thick vegetation amidst picturesque scenery.

Dense vegetation on the Windermere trail

Windermere is a small town in the Lake District of England that can be reached either by bus or the train and can be a base for venturing further into the Lake District. Lake District is a vast area abounding outstanding natural beauty, several big and small lakes, hills and undulating plains.

View of the Windermere Lake from higher up

Once I reached the main pier of the Windermere I walked further along the edge of the lake and reached a point from where one can take a ferry to cross the lake. And unlike the boat ride for the tourists the ferry only charges 50 pence to take you across. There is only one ferry boat which goes and comes back at a point that is narrow and therefore takes only 10 minutes to cross.

Wild Flowers on the trail

After crossing the lake there is another short walk along a pond. The pond, though adjoining the lake, should not be confused with the Windermere lake as the lake is almost 17 kms long (probably the largest in UK) and due to action of the wind there is always tides like in the ocean. The pond's water is shallow comparatively and therefore still and serene.

A beautiful reflection

After leaving the road there is a steep trail that I took for my trek which took me through dense vegetation. Once I reached the top I could see vast stretches of the lake and the surrounding beautiful countryside.

Way to go

One can, if one is used to finding ones way, make their own trail. I saw a beautiful reflection in a very small pond formed naturally near the highest point of my trek. Also climbed further up some hills where there was no trail also.

Angling by the Windermere Lake

After covering a distance on the ridge I climbed down to the lake. Now this side of the lake is less crowded and people use this side for angling, camping and other leisure activities.

I would definitely recommend this side of the lake and the hills for any leisure or adventure activities.

Also read: A Walk in the LAKES - The Keswick Walk

Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Unique Gurudwara at Sussaan

On the occasion of Guru Purab I present to you a unique Gurudwara - Baba Jawahar Dass Ji- at Sussaan.

Gurudwara Baba Jawahar Dass Ji

The Gurudwra is located at Sussaan in the district of Hoshairpur in Punjab. A huge fair in remembrance to the saint is held every year and devotees visit this place in thousands.

Lower portion of Nishaan Sahib

The Nishaan Sahib's lower portion has some very interesting artifacts like bangles, babies tricycles, chuda and parandi etc.that the devotees tie on it to make a wish

Nishaan Sahib

It is believed that when the Nishaan Sahib is raised it is only partly done so by men and the rest gets raised on its own (This is a belief of the locals).

Inside the Gurudwara

Unlike other Gurudwaras it also has the statue of its local Guru (Baba Ji) which is revered by the locals a lot.

Baba Jawahar Dass Ji
The devout come from far off places to make a wish and when their wish comes true they again come here to thank the Baba Ji.

Sussaan Gurudwara from outside

This Gurudwara is not much on the tourist radar (except for the locals who visit in huge numbers) as it is quite far away from any major town although it is located in a beautiful village setting. Interestingly there is also a Sufi Mazaar inside the Gurudwara compound.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Why I love to go to McLeodganj

McLeodganj is a place that offers solace not only to those who are of religious bent but also to those like me who look at nature and food as an alternative means of solace. And McLeodganj has plenty of the latter two of these.

McLeodganj - Himachal Pradesh

Now there are lot of eateries in Delhi that do offer Tibetan food but the quality of food in McLeodganj is far superior and within a short distance there are so many restaurants that offer good quality Tibetan food and that also at very reasonable price. In fact compared to Delhi these are very cheap.

Amdo Momo with Rice Soup

One can have very good quality of Momos or Amdo Momos, Thukpa etc. Normal Momos are crescent shaped whereas the Amdo Momos are roundish. I also had Rice Soup served with the Momos for the first time.

Pizza Humpty Dupmty with another dish at Namgyal Cafe

The surprising thing is that I normally take the non-vegetarian Tibetan food but even the vegetarian Momos and Thukpa served here in several restaurants is exceptionally good especially the Spinach Momos.

Pizza Whale at Namgyal Cafe

But the most surprising part is that one can have the best of the pizzas here especially at the Namgyal Cafe whose thin crusted pizzas are definitely much better than any pizza offered by Pizza Hut, Domino's or any other multinational outlets in Delhi and elsewhere.


Earlier Namgyal Cafe was on the Temple Road and was part of the  Tsug-Lha-Khang Complex but recently has shifted to a lane close to the main town square.

Spinach Momos

McLeodganj can be reached by Delhi in about 12 to 14 hours. It is the headquarters of the Tibetan Government in Exile and the Dalai Lama (the spiritual head of Buddhist across the world) lives here.

Also read my earlier post on McLeodganj.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The Hidden Gem of Lancaster University

Besides the fact that Lancaster University is among the top rated universities of England it has another jewel in its crown.

Woodland Trail, Lancaster University

The Woodland Trail that encircles the University is superb for both the nature and the sports enthusiasts.

A canopy of trees, Woodland trail, Lancaster University

This beautiful 4.3 km walk amidst the woodland canopy has mainly trees of beech, oak and sycamore. The earlier plants were planted in 1841 on the Bigforth Estate and later additions do include maple and poplar trees.

View of countryside from the Woodland trail

The walk takes you sometimes amidst dense foliage of trees and sometimes gives you the view of the open countryside.

The Lake on Lancaster University Campus
The south-eastern part of the woodland trail takes you next to a lake that has lotus flowers blooming as well as several ducks on its water body.

The Bailrigg House, Lancaster University
The north-eastern part of the walk next to the sports centre takes you near the beautiful old building - Bailrigg House - that has been built around 1899.

Flowers on the Woodland Trail
The woodland is home to several birds and on several trees I saw the bird houses built by the University. The undergrowth also had several kinds of wild flowers blooming making the walk even more beautiful.

Wild Flowers
One of the best parts was to enjoy the beautiful sunsets sitting on one of the benches in the south-west part of the campus.

Blazingly beautiful sunset
During my stay on the campus I did the walk several times and enjoyed it thoroughly each time. With such a beautiful woodland trail within the campus what more can one ask? 

Saturday, 2 November 2013

A Beautiful Fort in Rajasthan

While travelling from Jahazpur to Tonk in Rajasthan I noticed this beautifully located fort. The fort is located on top of an almost perfectly conical hill.

Strategically located fort

When I saw this I wanted to climb up the hill to explore the inside of the fort but came to know that the fort is not only closed but is in a dilapidated state and no one looks after it anymore. The location gives the fort not only the view of the entire surroundings but also due to it location on top of such a hill it would have been very difficult for the enemy to climb up facing the barrage of artillery and other weapons to launch an attack.

Difficult for the enemy to attack on such a fort

Now I wonder why such a beautifully located fort has been neglected either by the archaeologists or if it is owned by an individual why not maintain and renovate it and turn it into a heritage hotel.

If any of the readers of this post know the name of the fort then do let me know.