“Aap itni door aayi hain is train mein safar karne?” (You have come this far just to travel by this train) exclaimed my driver, when I informed him that I had come from Mumbai to travel by the local meter gauge train from Mhow to Patalpani, Kalakund and back. “Yes” I replied. The century old train is part of our disappearing history, and I wanted to experience at least some of it before it faded into oblivion. It took him a while to digest that logic, and when he did, he came up with another question “Main bhi aapke saath aa sakta hoon? (Can I come along with you?) Amused at the turn around, I agreed, and he went on to tell me that though he had driven tourists across the country, he had never even heard of this little train which passed so close to his hometown!
Now that I have written about Rishikesh, it is time for me to take a break... and write about random stuff for a while, before getting back to my #summertrip. To begin with, let me share with you, as part of Skywatch Friday, a beautiful sunrise at Tadoba.... We were awaiting our turn to enter the buffer zone of Tadoba, when the sun appeared, over the rim of the trees.
A lantern hung on the branch of a tree , its pale glow just enough to find our way around. Our host rushed to light the fire, and details emerged from the darkness – the neatly whitewashed house, with a pretty garden around, a water pump, the kind I hadn’t seen in years, wickerwork chairs that reminded me of my grandparents’ house, and a pair of care-takers, busy whipping up dinner for us. However, there was just one thing that Samhith noticed – the old fashioned charpoy (wooden bed) on the lawn! He needed no invitation to make himself comfortable, and declare that he loved the place! This was to be our last halt at Rishikesh before making our way back home, and I couldn’t have chosen a better place!
Driving through the mountains , I looked out eagerly for my first glimpse of the river. A sharp turn, and the bluish green waters came into sight. I asked the driver to stop, and he did, a little later, at a convenient spot. I just had to get off, and stare at her. Unbidden, tears sprang into my eyes, and I brushed them away hastily. It was an emotional moment, after all, I was setting eyes on the Ganges in Rishikesh, after a gap of over 25 years!
Amritsar wasn’t on the original itinerary for our #SummerTrip. The city was added to our plan simply because we were delayed in booking Shankar’s return flight, and the only convenient one available was from Amritsar! It was then that realization dawned – that Shankar had never visited the Golden Temple! Plans were at once re-modified, tickets booked, and I began to look forward to my third visit to the city! Somewhere on the way to Amritsar...
“Amma, you missed a fort!” cried Samhith. We were on our way from Pathankot to Dharamsala, and I had somehow fallen into a deep sleep. I was still groggy, but the word ‘fort’ was enough to wake me up. Or maybe it was the enthusiasm in his voice. He went on, describing how big it looked, and how it stood atop a hill, and all I thought was – I didn’t know there was a fort here! “Had you heard of the Nurpur Fort?” added Shankar, intruding into my thoughts, and I shook my head. For the first time, I kicked myself mentally for not being prepared enough, and decided we would stop on our way back.
The steep walls of the fort tower over us, and we strain our necks to get a better view. The car winds its way steadily upwards, and we walk into the imposing gates. Our stop at the Kangra Fort is meant to be a short one, tired as we are. As it turns out, the fort and its stories have us enthralled, and we lose track of time! The Kangra Fort, as seen from the road, with a temple on the hill behind