Flirting With The Light..

Hiding behind the majestic mountains,hills,trees and sometimes behind the concrete buildings she shines lustrously for a sort while. Under the great canopy of the orangish sky everything she is reflecting upon looks beautiful. “Flirting with the light” was something that struck and stayed with me since my days in Jammu. Almost everyday some kids and I would trek to a place to watch the sunset.  There as we trekked up to our usual place,the babble of  mighty Chenab River flowing on its way to Pakistan would slowly fade away. Silence would hung in the air and we would further retreat in stillness,watching the sunset till it was  engulfed by the hills.  Since my days in Jammu I have fallen in love with the sunset more and this is a series dedicated to her,the sunset. DSC_0549.JPG

 

 

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Memories and Faces 2017…

‘There is much more to the world than meets the eye’ is a sentiment I have held onto, and traveling merely reinforces it every time. The untold stories is what I come back with, the exquisite thread with which I attempt to weave a tapestry of unimaginable beauty. The bitter sweet memories of new places are something that leaves an imprint upon one, an indelible mark  that finds its echo in even the smallest aspects of one’s life. Memories and faces…

 

 

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                     I was finally travelling again…My taxi was stuck in the lane opposite to the railway station and this time I was determined to take the taxi inside the station . I thought I had time,but after being stuck there for a while and my car moving only 100 meters ahead and little away from the station to make the U turn. I suddenly realised i was running late….through the hustle and bustle of Old Delhi, I found my self running with a luggage bag,dodging the people, crashing into some, running towards the railway station. My train was on the move by the time I reached my coach and boarded it. I knew that I would not miss the train. I was going to Uttrakhand….Ramnagar….. AAHANA to be precise..

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AAHANA(the first rays of the sun)…….. Aahana is a resort located in the midst of thick forest of Jim Corbett National Park and has been continuously awarded as one of the best hotel in its category in India for last couple of years. It is just a drive or a train ride away from Delhi. It is located in the periphery of Bijrani forest and is about 7km away from Ramnagar, which is a small laid back town and is also the gateway to India’s oldest and the most famous National Park, The Jim Corbett National Park.

 

     “Sustainability is at the core of what we do” as quoted by the director of Aahana Ms Ayu Tripathi is something that has brought much recognition to the resort among the hoteliers and the travellers. Their unique ways to make sagacious use of  the sources available and the goal to preserve as much as possible is something that has inspired many.

The first foundation for it was laid around 8 years back by a famous business man, Mr Kamal Tripathi, hailing from the neighbouring hill station, Nainital. Well he is a man with a vision. According to the villagers the land where Aahana is built was actually a barren land. It was after he bought the land and worked on it,the topography of the land is said to have changed magically. Now there are more than 300 different varieties of trees (total of 4000 trees)and its home to 100 plus varieties of birds.  The property is covered with groaning green in it all its sides. Aahana is an imperative for fine architectural work,  and its spacious and aerial foyers, restaurant and the rooms talk for themselves.

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    During my stay there it felt like as though we were part of a huge craft,or lets just called it a “humongous” ship. Beautifully crafted with wisely chosen floating vessels with unprecedented complexity and cost. Here the shipwrights were men who were very experienced, with equally great qualifications. 

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          This ship was sailing towards the never ending forest which were alive with the sweetness and the songs of the wild.

    Like a ship, Aahana has a small life of its own.It is a destination for itself.If you are a “wee hours” kinda person you wake up to the melodious chirping of the wide variety of birds and if you are lucky enough the king of the jungle might be seen outside  your  window. (Trust me that would be intense) If you have registered yourself for yoga classes the courtesies call from the reception will wake you up for yoga. And if you aren’t the  morning person the last call for breakfast will surely wake you up. And trust me you wouldn’t want to miss that food.

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                   The restaurant at Aahana  is called the ‘Dhikala’. It is aerial and spacious and has been delightfully contrived. The beautiful open air swimming pool in a leafy suburb  with the notable jungle that serves like a background is clearly visible from Dhikala. The multi-cuisine restaurant has a variety of authentic menu items including both international and local cuisines.

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          The villa where my friends a I was staying was called Ramganga. The rooms were equally brilliant,spacious yet cosy. With the view of lushes of greens from almost all the  French windows and there is nothing like waking up to the sound of the jungle and so much greenery. (Green spaces are suppose to  enable us to think more clearly and cope more effectively with life’s stress.) The balcony which faced the bijrani forest was my favourite and we spent most of our evenings just lazing there.

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There are plethora of actives one can engage thy self with inside Aahana depending on the mood or nature of thy self. There are sports facilities like badminton,swimming,basketball, carom,table tennis, snooker room and an additional playing area designated for the kids. Well if you are towards the delicate or flabby side you could enjoy bird watching or keep your self engaged inside the library.

           Aahana is also popular for it’s Naturopathy Centre which is amongst the first of its kind, in such a luxurious ambience. Aahana Naturopathy Centre provide you a complete health package; a mixture of, Ayurveda, Nature Cure , Yoga , Western Spa therapies and array of other therapies for relaxation. The therapies are provided under the guidance of Wellness experts in a hygienic, eco friendly and luxurious environment.

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    The organic farm along the side of the walking trial was something very impressive. Most of the vegetables served at Dhikala and most of the herbs used in the Naturopathy Centre were home grown. Somewhere close to the organic farming was the cattle shed (Gaushala). It was one of the neatest cow shed I have seen. I milked my first cow there.

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     The evenings at Aahana were my favourite.. Everything would be  under the great canopy of the orangish evening sky and the way the light shone upon the forest and the property was surreal. The West side of the property was silhouetted against the feeble light of the sun. The birds chirping,the callings from the cattle and some animals nearby and faraway all returning home,the lilting sound of the flute being played in some corner of the property resonating the air and the sudden burst of  babel within the property.They all fused in together perfectly making the evenings even more beautiful.

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     As the day grew darker the staffs prepared tables and chair outside near the pool for the dinner. Dinners were either served inside Dhikala or you could savour them outside on the deck. I preferred outside under the starry night,with the moonlit surroundings, bonfire and some nice live music to soothe and mellow everything.

            With passage of time, a day turned into two and two into four. I had reached my shore and my stay was over. The ship (AAHANA) is still sailing towards the never ending forest catering to all those who have boarded the ship.

      

Food..

To all the foodies and momo lovers. I recently did a photo shoot for  Momo Queen, a restaurant which is in Vashant Kunj B1. They specialise in Eastern Himalayan Oriental Cuisine..

I can personally vouch for the food since I got a chance to taste almost everything that I clicked. The restaurant is personally taken care by the lovely couple  Priya Pradhan and Rupak Pradhan. They personally cater to all you needs. It was indeed my pleasure to work for you guys.

More details please check https://www.facebook.com/pages/Momo-Queen/1722953114698556  ..

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1.Royal Bouquet

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2.Chilli Chicken & Crispy Lamb DSC_0075

3. Classic Hakka Noodles DSC_1687

4. Crispy chilli honey potatoes DSC_1692

5.Creamy garlic fish DSC_1697

6.Chicken Fried Momos DSC_1715

7. Taipo DSC_0048

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9. Wanton Combo DSC_0097.jpg

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Simikot..

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In the month of July while fighting my own personal battle,I wanted to be distant,far away in space and time; I thought distancing my self would obviously make things smaller.. During the end of July my desire seemed within reach when I got a call from my cousin who was planning to visit Simikot. I received the call during the wee hours of  morning and without much delay I told my dad about the same. He gave an approval instantly and I found myself having dinner in Kathmandu that very same day.. I was in Kathmandu for a week and all I did was roved like a snail throughout the city,thanks to my array of North Point brothers. I knew that Simikot would be happening sometime soon but the dates could not be confirmed.

          Then finally when everything needful fell into place we were on our flight to Simikot;well at least that is what I had thought.The truth was we were flying to Nepal Ganj first and then we would be boarding the connecting flight to Simikot. Excited,hungry,sleepy and travel bound we  reached Nepal Ganj just to hear that we had missed our morning flight to Simikot and there would be no afternoon flights for that day because the weather up somewhere in Simikot had decided to go horribly wrong for our sweet arrival.After a long boring wait in Nepal Ganj we were ready to fly to Simikot, finally!…The best part about Nepal is their flights.It was a light aircraft not carrying more than twenty something people. I could see and hear the pilot and the cabin crew were seated right beside me .

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Fighting “a very normal turbulence in the air” we landed in this small beautiful airport which had nestled itself in this small patch of flat land and was surrounded by marvelous white mountains on almost all the sides. I knew it then and I know it now that she(Simikot) was the one my body and soul had longed and searched for. Simikot is one of the most remote Himalayan regions of Nepal.It is the headquarters of Humla District Karnali Zone in the mountainous region of North Western Nepal at an elevation of 9,950ft..

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My idea of bliss was being in a place surrounded by mountains,rivers and forest;away from you people ha ha and there I was doing the same.My stay there for a month was definitely one of the best experiences I have had. With it I transcended into this perpetual blissful high.

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I would wake up seeing the majestic mountains and the river Karnali flowing with all its glory. She is the longest river in Nepal and she starts her beautiful journey from the Tibetan Plateau near lake Mansarovar. Touching and influencing thousands of lives, flowing under the beautiful bridges,saying aloha to those magnificent hills and mountains. Later joining the Sharda river,together they form Ghaghara river,henceforth they start their journey together towards India forming the major tributary of the Ganges.The best part about the rivers are that they flow and travel across districts,states and even countries without any possible restrictions.

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During my stay there I was very lucky that I got to be a part of a small school program in a small village called DHARAFAYA which was about ten kilometers away from where I was staying. Being amidst those children was one of the best experience I have ever had. I learned more about the whole idea of Happiness too and realized that it was just a state of mind and it varied everywhere and in different time and space. In my world I would still be complaining about the three wholesome meals ,I would be worried and was worried and I still am worried about my bloody career which itself is just a 20th century invention,would be complaining about the road,the car ,the phone,the laptop,the life.I am not saying that they had a euphoric world out there,just that they had so little (relatively) but seemed much happier than I was. I can also assure you that those kids in the school had never seen a television set or sat in a car or even seen one..

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During our stay there we trekked to random places,mostly to the banks of river Karnali. On our way down to the bank we would meet  group of ladies on their way to the town to deliver their seeds of hard work. Almost everyday they would walk up to the town on those almost “un-trekkable” roads,to deliver the gifts of the mountains and the seeds of harvest so that they could earn money to feed their family and to live their peaceful lives..

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In the evening I would join the locals for football then later I would join my sister and her husband in one of the small cafes in town.

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I also got to experience and be part of DHORE during the Swarni Purnima (dhoree-is similar to rap battle like  music scene which is very much in practice in different parts of Nepal. It is mostly contested between men and women) Some locals also told me that it was during the Dhoree a man chose his wife and if he was able to convince her they would and could get married. People from different villages in the vicinity had traveled to Simikot for Swarni Purnima and it lasted for almost a week. It was a festival more celebrated and more significant than Dussehra.

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Shamanic practitioners from other villages too had gathered and displayed their famous “JHAKRI DANCE” for the public.

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People in general were very welcoming and warm. They always smiled and were ever ready for photographs.

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IMG_9501IMG_1882image2Interesting fact about the place was that rice was not very easily available and people could not grow it because of the altitude. The rich ones could afford it,other wise people survived on CHAPATIS made of PHAPER.

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 One bag of cement was twelve thousand NC so the stone houses were the only kinds  seen there.People mostly engaged in agriculture in the outskirts and most of the people in town were into business. They got there goods directly from China which was two days of intense walking from SIMIKOT. Well i loved the town planning which might have been planed or was established involuntarily. The residential areas were seen in the upper and middle town and most of the government offices and houses were in the lower town. The hospital too was located away from the hustle and bustle of the small town.

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On the left are the glimpse of the Government buildings and on the right is the Hospital..

Five or ten outsiders were spotted almost everyday. Simikot served as one of the stoppages for the religious Mansarovar trip so the place was slightly more commercialized than I had actually imagined but it was just the right amount, just the amount needed to bring in more money for everyone.

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Well if anyone of you reading this article would love to visit the  place,please do visit her,she is a beautiful little town with equally beautiful souls. I was lucky that I didn’t have to worry about my stay because my brother-in-law had just been transferred there. But if you guys really want to visit this place then I would suggest you all to stay at Sunflower Resort one of the best there. They have the craziest light room which turns into a fire room during winters. Or if you like the concept of home stay you could try Bijay hotel. It won’t be tough to find these places there… As I am sitting here writing this article, fighting the heat,lost in the forest of bodies and concrete structures I think and dream about Simikot…

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