Friday, August 25, 2017

2016 - Autumn getaways

Journey never end, as there is always a passion to explore more. This autumn myself with family visited few places. The interesting stuff about these places are - these are easy to go are relatively near by places that we all can try once.

1. Horsely Hills (Eastern Ghats)

This is first time I went to a tourist place in Andhra Pradesh and that too in Eastern ghats area.

Time visited: August
Distance: 150 Km from Bangalore
Things to explore: Kids play area, View points, Paid swimming pool, Stay options, small zoo, pond, good roads to walk around

2. Thirunelli (Wayanad - September)

3. Thusharagiri Water falls (In September)

4. Gundlupet

Wandering in Himalayan Hills and Around

“Many were the Ways of Life that have passed away before you: travel through the earth, and see what the end of those... ” (Surah Al-Imran, 137)

It was a travel planned with brother Riyas and brother Jaseem to participate Kedarkantha trek conducted by Youth Hostels Association of India (YHAI) around Dehradun area in Dec 2016. Jaseem couldn’t join us at last. Though the trip started for a trek, Alhamdulillah it ended up in much more unexpected explorations in North India in short time.

 We reported at Mussorie Youth hostel and stayed there for the day. It is a small beautiful hill station in Utharaghand state. 

Next day we started to Sankri which is the base camp of our trek. The journey to Sankri takes 12 hrs. in bus through different kinds of terrains. Road is full of turnings, sharp bends and good portion of the route is with huge gorges formed by Himalayan rivers on one side and steep Himalayan hills on the other side. Tributary of Ganges River is flowing down the gorge. It is a beautiful scenery around with the scary curves and deeps. Between Mussorie and Sanki there are only selected small villages like hamlet those survive on tourism and farming. The large number of farm lands and small huts and houses in the river bank and that too watching from a distance gives us the full view of the hamlet. It is a stunning experience. In many turnings, we get 180 degree view of this.

Sankri was too cold and windy night in the base camp, we stayed there for a night and returned to Dehradun next day morning (one of us had high blood pressure so opted not to climb up). We had to plan for the remaining days and started looking at travel guides and we came up with the plan. Our plan was to cover Haridwar, Krishikesh, Nainital, Jim Corbett National Park and Moradabad in order. The climate was awesome throughout and the schedule was packed, but pleasing.

Uttarpradesh (UP) has a population of 19.9Cr which is 6 times bigger in size and population wrt Kerala. 16.5% of Indians and 22% of Indian Muslims (3Cr) live in this state. SP is doing great things at grass root level. Lots of social and welfare activities (various pensions and aids) in the state. Presence of Muslims in Moradabad city is 47%. Utharaghand (UK) is slightly bigger and 1/3rd population that of Kerala. It's a modern state with relatively good living standards. Very scenic with lots of hills, valleys, glaciers, rivers etc (86% of this state is mountains and 65% covered by forest). UK is called Devbhoomi and most of the Hindu pilgrimage destinations of our country is here. Ganga and Yamuna originates from here. It's a land of 'land slides'. Good climate because of Himalayas. Temperature was between 3 degrees and 10 degrees.

Haridwar and Krishikesh – cities with various temples, ashrams, yoga centers etc in and around Ganges River. It is a surprise to watch how a community is tied with so many rituals and customs. Nainital is a beautifully maintained lake at the hill top and is a hill station and the area has a European touch. We noted lots of examples for communal harmony during these days. In Nainital, Juma masjid, temple and Gurudwara are near. Jwalapur, which is 3km away from Haridwar city, is a Muslim dominated area. Jim Corbett National Park is the first national park and tiger reserve of Independent India. We went for a safari in search of tiger and though we couldn’t find one, it was a thrilling experience to wait for a specific animal in the jungle. There are 5 different safari routes to explore and a well maintained area. Moradabad is called Brass city and muslim dominated. The brass items and food are very cheap here. We also visited a village that was adopted by Vision 2016 project. All kinds of good quality biriyanis are available for 40 – 50 rupees.

A large city doesn't mean everything is good. Many grade 2 yet big Indian cities has many good things like - very safe, cheap food& transportation and many innovative ideas in public life (electric vehicles, share autos for mass public transportation etc). Three things helped us for a cheap travel - Trains (Low cost travel, Dormitories, waiting rooms etc), Youth hostels (Rs 120 for Dormitory, Rs 40 for breakfast, Rs 60 for dinner) and Masjids. Note that all these places are safe for all. Islam has good presence in above two states and socially muslims have good presence and acceptance in the society. We could find enough masjids across these states. But living standard of the people are very low. We were really surprised with the number of guides and other arrangements at Nainital and Rampur (Jim Corbett tiger reserve).These people care their land and show good hospitality over all. 

Inspired to look out and explore things around, travelling or roaming around with these goals in mind is an awesome experience. In a sense travel is a good way of training mind, as it teaches while taking us through live experiences. Each travel opens up our mind a lot. India is rich in traditions, culture and more. There are many things to learn from various Indian communities. It's not costly, so whoever interested can travel more to learn things. Thank GOD it was another great experience with lots of insights and learning...