We (myself and my husband) started our journey to Delhi by flight 0n 14th May 2016. On 15th May we went for a local trip at Delhi and visited Humayun’s Tomb, Gandhi museum and Akshardam temple. Every Indian should visit Gandhi museum atleast once. Next time we have planned to spend one full day there. We are not at all impressed by Akshardam temple. We returned to Karol Bagh by Metro rail.
Next day i.e., on 16th May, we started our 8 days trip. We went by Panicker’s Travel and the tour indeed was good. They have made proper arrangements for our stay but the food was good at some places(Sri Rathnam group of hotels) only. The programme for visiting sight seeing places could have been better as we had no time to visit some places and visited some places in the hot sun, with much difficulty. All the minus points in the trip were compensated as we had excellent companions with us. There were 40 people with us from different parts of India, some from Karnataka, some were from Kerala, some from Maharashtra and others from Tamil Nadu. We all became friends on the first day itself and it is appreciable to note that all are helpful to others. There was no delay anywhere as everybody was alert always. The plus points of our companions made our tour very successful.
On 16th May, we visited Kurukshetra. This city is in Haryana. It is known as holy place ie., dharmakshetra. The war of Mahabharatha between Pandavas and Gouravas took place here only. Then we went to Jothishar theerth and saw the big banyan tree. The Bhagavat Geetha was preached here by Lord Krishna to Arjuna. We visited Bhimghat Brahma Sarovar (dedicated to Lord Shiva), where many people come here to take a holy dip. It is believed that Lord Brahma created the universe from this beautiful place.
Then, we came to Chandigarh on the same day. Chandigarh is a Union Territory that serves as a capital of 2 states Punjab and Haryana. This city has won the award of “Cleanest city” many times. Chandigarh is a planned city where we see greenary everywhere. The entire city is divided into many sectors and sub-divided further; so locating each small place in the city is very easy. We visited the artificial lake Sukhna and Rock Garden. The Rock garden has many sculptures made by using discarded waste materials like frames, mudguards, forks, handle bars, metal wires, play marbles, porcelain, auto parts and broken bangles. We passed through Rose Garden and didn’t go inside as there were no roses at that time. We stayed at Park View Hotel in Chandigarh that night.
On 17th morning, we started our journey to Manali in Himachal Pradesh. On the way, we saw Beas and Satluj rivers. The valley of Kullu was also wonderful. In Kullu, we visited Hanogi matha temple (duplicate). The original temple is situated on a small peak nearby where some localites visit. Then, we continued our journey to Manali. On the way, we travelled through a 9 KM tunnel. We stayed at Astha Regency at Manali.
The next day i.e., 18th is the most horrible day for all of us. We got ready early (as usual) and started our journey to Rohtang pass/Gulaba. They took us through jeeps and hired woolen clothes, boots and purchased gloves to face any tough climate. Just one KM before Gulaba, we were asked to get down from the jeeps. Wearing all the heavy dresses, we were asked to walk through a hilly path (many ups and downs) and with much suffering we reached the other side of the hilly area where there was a road which leads to Rohtang pass. We were made to sit there for more than two hours without anything to eat and even without drinking water. Our group people have somehow arranged for water. At last the jeeps were arranged to Rohtang pass. Rohtang pass is a high mountain pass in the Himalayan mountain ranges. The pass lies on the watershed between Chenab and Beas basins. It is about 13000 feet from the sea level. The place Kargil is about 650 KM from here. Actually tourists were allowed to Snow point at the top but for the past two years, this was stopped. It was told that adventure sports like skiing, snow scooter, zorbing and paragliding were famous there but we didn’t see anything. The winter clothes were giving us trouble as it was very hot there and so we removed them. There was nothing available to eat also. At last we returned to hotel and had lunch at 5PM. Immediately, we went to visit Hadimba temple. After return, we stayed in the same hotel after dinner.The food and room were not at all good at Manali.
On 19th, nobody showed interest in going for river rafting at Manali. Then, we visited Jwalamukhi temple at Kangra, Himachal Pradesh. The deity Jwalamukhi has flaming mouth. There is no idol and the Durga devi is worshipped in the form of flames, which come out naturally from the crevices of the rock. Then, we went to Kangra highways. From there, we visited Kangra devi (Prajeshwari) by taking auto-rickshaws. Then, we came to Chamunda from Kangra highways by our bus. We stayed in Athithi hotel at Chamunda, Himachal Pradesh.
On 20th early morning we all went to Chamunda temple by walk to see Goddess Chamunda. Then, we started our journey to Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh. On the way, we saw the famous HPCA cricket stadium through the bus. We proceeded to Dalai Lama Monastery next. It is a beautiful and peaceful place in Mcleod Gunj. Many Tibetans visit this place and it was nice to do prayer with monks. From there, we went to Katra and stayed in Bali Palace hotel at Jammu. Only post-paid connections work in Jammu and Kashmir. We informed our relatives that we won’t be able to contact them for 2 days as we carried prepaid mobiles only.
On 21st we caught an auto-rickshaw and went to helipad at Katra. The checking formalities were more and we got boarding pass after an hour. The flying time was just 5 minutes to Vaishno devi. There are 2 helicopter services available, one is Global Vectra and another is Himalayan Heli services. The booking can be made 60 days before the journey through online. We can book for one way or both ways. From the Vaishno devi helipad, we had to walk about 2.5 KM to reach the Bhavan (temple). Those who travel by helicopter get priority for darshan. We had darshan after 2 hours as we book for one way only. Those who booked for both ways had darshan even earlier. We cannot take eyes from the shrine of Goddess. Vaishno devi is a manifestation of Goddess Mahalakshmi, Goddesses Durga and Saraswathi are sitting on the both sides of Vaishno devi. Our mind became cool and pleasant after having the darshan. Our bus mates didn’t get helicopter tickets and travelled by horse. We felt very sorry but couldn’t help them in anyway. As per our plan, we performed our return journey by walk (13 KM). On the way, there are restaurants, drinking water and toilet facilities. So, the journey was comfortable. After making small purchases, we caught an auto-rickshaw to return to the hotel.
On 22nd we commenced our journey to Amritsar. The bus was stopped at one place and we caught Tonga (horse cart) to visit Golden temple. It was very very hot there. Since, it was a Sunday, the crowd was more in Golden temple. We had to stand in queue for about 3 hours and got pushings from all the sides. We couldn’t enjoy. We came out happily. Even though the famous Jallianwala bagh was nearby, there was no time for us to visit. We rushed for lunch. After lunch, we went fast to Wagah border. The gate opens at 4 PM. We reached there by 5 PM. Oh, what to say. We saw many people returning. We wondered and after reaching the inner gate, we came to know that it was already closed. The gallery’s seating capacity is 7000 but the crowd was more than 10 times. We also returned without seeing the parade. We reached the Park Inn Hotel (Five star hotel) where we stayed that night. The hotel people treated us badly and we felt hurt. The room and food are not at all good. Many of us had stomach pain the next day. That was indeed a bad day for all of us.
On 23rd our journey back to pavilion (Delhi) started. The climate was bad and we saw dust storm & rain on the way. We reached Delhi by about 7 PM. From Panicker office at Karol bagh we reached the hotel already booked. But, we were asked to move to another hotel nearby. In the rain, we had to walk in the rain for 5 minutes with the luggages.
On 24th morning we reached Delhi Airport. We learnt that many of the previous day flights were cancelled and some were diverted, due to thunder storm. But, by God’s grace, our flight was delayed for one and a half hours. No other problem, we faced. We reached Coimbatore safely and entered our sweet home at 12 Noon.
I want to make some special mention about the trip. There were 25 people from Nagercoil group, 10 people from Mangalore group, 4 from Chennai group, 2(we) from Coimbatore and one from Pune. We all wish to thank Mr. Venkataraman Potti first. Being a hotel owner, he is very simple and moved freely with all. He took care of not only his group but also all the people in the bus. There was no tea master at one place. Without hesitation, he entered the kitchen and prepared tea for all of us. Hats off Sir. Next, the children in the bus made everybody happy by their good behavior. They engaged everybody in the bus by starting Antakshari, which helped us to hear songs of many languages. We thank God for giving such good companions during this trip. I hope we will meet them again in some other tour.
Finally, I end my blog with the poem hurriedly written by me in the bus.
We busy bees have gathered here together
To perform a successful tour altogether.
God has blessed us to multiply our happiness
By grouping us to shred our loneliness.
Having come from different places of the country,
The love bondage made us to unite as one family.
Our companions made this tour delight some.
We parted with them, bearing sweet memories to home.