Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Great Himalayan Odyssey begins tomorrow!

Ok the D-day has finally come. I would be on my first ever solitary voyage to the mighty Himalayas from tomorrow which would last for the next 15 days. I would be away from the civilization surrendering myself completely to the laps of the great mountains. My excitement in all these days of awaiting has reached its zenith and is now mildly replaced by tentativeness. Because I havent travelled this long ever alone. But even that feeling is tantalizingly alluring. The reason I picked Himalayas was because of its enormity and magnanimity. The stillness and giantness of its presence is so self assuring that you would want to see it eye to eye and get all your questions answered from it. That’s exactly what I intend to get. To find answers to all my questions that have been plaguing me all my life. Because its the Himalayas who have seen it all for 5000 years. The bear testimony to the changes in civilizations that have come and gone. Be it the Aryans Be it the Mongols or the Indo Europeans. I want to recharge my batteries and come back afresh to lead the next course of my life. To shake myself up of all the drudgery and mediocrity and start living again in all its truest sense. A big influence for me to take this trip the book, “Autobiography of a Yogi”, which speaks about the great sages and yogis of India who walked these mighty mountains and glorified India. I hope to meet someone from their lineage and attempt to gain some sagely wisdom. But I am unsure if mortals like me can actually be blessed with such divine serendipity.

So where all I intend to go. I have no fixed agenda. There is no fun in planning when you visit such places. You should follow your instincts and surrender to the force. I would take a train till Delhi. But after that I have no prepared plans. Bus, hitchhiking, biking, walking? I have no clue.

So here is where all I plan to visit.:

From Delhi—> Haridwar—>(give a miss to Rishikesh on my way up)—>DeoPrayag—> Srinagar(nope this is not the Kahmir waala Srinagar)—>Rudraprayag—>Chamoli—> Joshimath—>Auli—>Valley of Flowers—> Badrinath—>Mana

Of the above places, Deoprayag is the place where Alakananda and Bhagirathi merge to form the Ganges on the way to Badrinath.

In Rudraprayag, Mandakini and alakananda meet.

Joshimath: The religious centre, established by Adi Shankaracharya, which he called Jyotirmath,

Auli is a skiing resort which hosts the skiing festival every year.

Mana village is the last Indian village before Tibet . Mana village has the Ganesh and Vedavyas caves, where veda Vyas penned the Mahabharata.

From Mana—> Joshimath—>Gaurikund—>kedarnath—>Uttarkashi

I will give their details when I be there. But with whatever little I researched , each of these places are special and exciting in their own ways.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ramzan, Hyderabad and Haleem : Deadly combo

I am sure most of you would have heard about Haleem. Haleem is the buzzword and the flavor of the season for the holy month of Ramzan.

(A haleem counter)

Haleem is a non vegetarian dish made with either minced chicken, mutton or camel meat. It takes somewhere around ten hours to make this dish.

( A Pista House outlet at Mehdipatnam)
I fell for it last year when I had a chance to try at Bangalore during Ramzaan. But I was told that Hyderabad is the place to have Haleem if one has to appreciate it honestly.
(waiters who serve people on the road. they walk upto the cars and deliver them, without the customers having to go till the counters)

And as luck would have it, I am at Hyderabad to witness its magic all by myself. I was eagerly awaiting for Ramzaan to begin. I was growing curious to see the whole city being decked up like a bride as the days approached. Building and shops were spruced with decorative lights. And numerous new makeshift stalls are installed that read "Fresh Haleem available". Shops had set up counters that counted number of days left for Ramzaan. I picked up my camera to record this fervour. I was told by a fellow Muslim colleague to visit Charminar old city to catch the mood. And that too just a day before Id, that marks the end of the holy month. But sadly i would be in my Himalayan odyssey during Id. So I picked last Friday. I was disappointed because I couldn't the crowd that i wanted to see at Charminar. And I wish I could be here during Id which turns into an ocean of people. Shops stretch to the roads. vehicles are blocked with barricades. People throng to the streets with their families to shop and gorge on delicacies of all varieties. (See the pic above)
(Hotel Shadaam )
I did my bit of research on Haleem and came to know that Pista House has been a brand at Hyderabad for delivering quality haleem year after year. The other famous Haleem offerings were from Hotel Shabad, Hotel Medina, all from Charminar.
( Hotel Madina)
I got a taste from Pista House at Charminar and was not disappointed. A word of caution though. Haleem is a high calorie dish, rich with fats and is so filling that wouldn't feel hungry till the next day. I found hundreds of other Haleem shops dotting the city around.
( Medina staff)
Never have I seen such fervour in any other city as Hyderabad during Ramzaan. Not even Delhi. Njoy the pics.

Veg Haleem for a change ;)

The orginal Pista House Outlet


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Srisailam: 600 kms in one day

Destination profile: Srisailam
State: Andhra Pradesh
Travel: Hyderabad to Srisailam
Distance: 240 kms
Mode: Bike
Number of days: 1

Ok. So did your jaws drop. Yes Srisailam is 240 kms from Hyderabad. But I drove an extra 60 kms after taking a wrong road towards Vijaywada while on our way back.

So let me begin. It was the Ganesh Puja day, which we picked to visit Srisailam. And we executed the plan with clockwork irregularity ;). We planned to start at 5 am. But we couldnt make it till 7:30 am. Once on the road, we thanked the gods for the amazing weather that day. (Have a look at the white clouds all through the pics)


(Hyderabad International Airport)

Picked the Shamshabad Srisailam road crossing the International airport. The whole stretch covering the airport would easily passoff as freeways in the US. Awesome.

( Had a quick breakfast at Dindi)

Dindi is around 100 kms from Hyderabad.

( Gypsies from Rajasthan)
( A mini dam on the way)
( Road leading towards the Nallamalai Ghats)

( Srisailam Tiger reserve)

The drive on the Nallamalai hills is most interesting of the entire journey. The roads are winding with jungle either side. It gives a creepy feelign and you cant help realising that you are all alone in the jungle. Occasionaly a car or a bus would cross you. But no two wheelers. Not everyone is mindless ;). But again, the feeling of biking on such roads is matchless to nething else. Car or a bus would kill that effect.

( Road from the top)

( The Annamalai Ghats are infested with monkeys.)

I was focussing on one monkey for a photo. I didnt realise all the while I was being sorrounded by a swarm of other monkeys.

( Srisailam Tiger reserve)

The Srisailam Tiger reserve at Nallamalai hills offers daily safari services. We did not have the bandwidth to go for it. But surely will someday.

The roads on the hills are dotted with billboards on, "Project Tiger" and "Save Wild Life".
( First view of Srisailam lake.)

We went to see the model of the Srisailam dam. The engineer was cordial to talk us through the intricacies of the giant engineering marvel that man has made. The facts that he shared with us were startling. One cannot marvel the site just by the look of it. It was a lesson for us to learn how mankind has tamed nature for its own welfare. It took 22 years to construct the dam and the tunnel below that carries water is a circtutous 70 kms stretch. Isnt it amazing. The dam takes care of 90 % of state's electricity needs. ( Reached Srisailam at 1 pm)

(Front view of the temple)

Photography inside the temple premise is not allowed

You can cruise on the Krishna basin with a launch. A ropeway carries you to the basin.

View from the launch

Isn't it amazing!

Back home with wonderful images and a painful ass.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ganesh Puja: Captured on road

Caught the festive mood on my way to Srisailam on bike. Enjoy!