Har ki Doon- Our first mountain trek

I was about to finish my research and now wanted to go for a break. After exploring at least a dozen of destinations, I had lost all the hopes that I would be able to make it anywhere. Then suddenly, within a day, we made a plan to go for a trek. We looked for mountain biking but I was not sure if I would be able to cycle in mountains. Therefore, we opted for hiking. We did all the last minute shopping and were really excited. We were going to ‘Har ki Doon’ Valley. I had heard of it earlier but did not know exactly where it was and how to reach there. So, we contacted a guide who gave us all the details of the trek. We reached Sankri Village by car and rested in a pre-booked guest house. The view from the guest house was so enchanting that I felt like staying there for a few days before starting our trek. However, next morning we left for the trek, as planned.

 

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View from our guest house

Next morning, we traveled to Taluka by jeep for about 12 km. There are regular jeep services from Taluka to Sankari (and vice-versa) run by locals. During this half an hour ride, we crossed many small and big waterfalls and enjoyed Bollywood and local songs. At Taluka, we tasted delicious local kidney beans, green vegetables, and red rice.

 

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Local food at Taluka

It was time to start our trek. After few minutes, we had to just follow Supin river on our left, for the first few hours. We kept it slow; snacking, photographing, smelling the jungle and enjoying the weather.

 

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Supin River

Climate changes fast in mountains. It may range from sunny to cloudy to misty to rainy weather in an interval of just a few minutes.

 

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Misty mountains

The first day passed smoothly after we trekked for about 10 km. In the evening we took bath in chilly Supin river. Although it was not a good idea because I self-invited fever by doing so. I took medicine and rested for an hour to come out in the dark and see the sky full of shining stars; a sight you do not see in populated and polluted places like Delhi. That moment shed all my temperature and tiredness. We had food and called it a day to start early in the morning next day.

 

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Colours of mountains

On day two, we could see snow-clad mountains. The temperature was changing and also the terrain; it was getting tough to climb. On our way, we saw many famous mountain peaks like Bandarpunch, Black peak etc.

 

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Black peak

Day three was longest and toughest. There was a steep patch called Kalkatiya Dhar, which I could cross fast but because of a sudden change in altitude, I was feeling extremely tired and short of breath. There were clear signs of mountain sickness which demanded rest. I somehow reached the camp when there was still daylight. And we had reached ‘Har ki Doon’. The snow-clad mountain, fast flowing river, chilly breeze and moving misty clouds- it was an amazing site.

 

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Har ki Doon

 

It was getting colder by each passing minute, so we went to the tents and ate inside.

 

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Our tents in Har ki Doon

Heavy rains during the night really tested the durability of our tents. They worked perfectly. However, the temperature dropped down in the night and raindrops turned into the snow at our nearest gray mountain. I spotted some pretty local birds and wondered how fast they could fly in this cold weather. If it was this cold during may end when we have extreme summer in Delhi, what will be the situation in winter? Right now I am not ready to explore that 😉 After an hour, when it was time to climb up and touch the snow mountains, mist covered the entire area resulting us to not able to see even the nearby mountain ranges. We waited for it to clear up but it was already afternoon. Therefore, taking time, environment and health into consideration, we decided to trek down. It was a short and slow day today.

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Our helping staff was really good. They made sure that we got food on time, reached well every day and were safe. They also arranged dry firewood for the bone fire on our request. We had fun lazing around in the lap of mountains. This was one of the best feelings, away from city life and tensions.

 

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View in the evening

The last day of the trek was again long. Firstly because we had to cover a long distance and secondly because climbing down is a real testing of your knees. I could feel swelling in my knees. I was wishing I had done some exercise before making this trip. However, at the same time, the sound of waterfalls,  slow wind, whistling of leaves, sporadic rain, rainbow,  multi-colored butterflies, wild Roses and aura of the jungle made it a perfect place to be. It was a trek overloaded by nature with an occasional encounter with humans and animals.

 

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Herd of sheeps and goats

 

We reached Taluka by the evening to be taken back to Sankari village by the jeep. We stayed in the guest house for the night and started for Delhi the next morning. It was a packed and engaged trek with lots of walking and climbing amidst nature with no mobile or internet connection. All in all, the trek was a complete treat to the senses 🙂 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Beaches and the city!

It was only few days after I decided that I would not travel for the next few months, I happened to plan a journey as soon as I thought of it. Tickets booked for the day after and packing done within an hour. I was on a trip to Mumbai. It is important to give some credit to my friend here who used all her rights to ‘force’ me to go for it. She proved to be a very good host and an inquisitive soul who too likes photography. It is certainly a different kind of pleasure to be surrounded by people who share your interests. Thanks dear friend! Here I get a chance to upload some of the ‘best’ shots that describe my journey and captured a sense of aesthetics as it weaved through my experience of the city.

Any discussion on Mumbai will take you to the houses of celebrities, Haji Ali, Taj Hotel, Gateway of India, Vada Pao, South Bombay and Hiranandani. However, what stood out for me was the water body i.e. the sea. We explored it from all possible directions and I enjoyed the essence of ‘Mumbai life’. We started with Bandra Bandstand and I observed one of the best sunsets of my life.

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As soon as the sun went down I got introduced to the famous ‘Chana Garam’ and I liked this spicy mixture with ground nuts and raw onion. I feel like having it again right now while writing about it 😉

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The word ‘Chaupati’ was almost akin to Mumbai in my mind. The second thing that you would certainly get at any chaupati after chana garam is colourful paper wind wheel. It acknowledges the presence of sea at every moment as the waves form and the wind blows.

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The timing of your visit also affects your experiences. We visited Bandra in the evening when the temperature was down and people were on their evening walks. Juhu, however, was little hot and slow in the afternoon. Since this was an unplanned trip, I did not plan even the places to visit and went wherever it was possible. Consequently, Elephanta Caves became our next destination. We left early in the morning to catch the morning ferry that leaves from Gateway of India. Ferry takes around an hour to reach the Island. The trip would have been boring without the company of Seagulls who followed us as they like the taste of masala wafers that tourists keep on feeding them. Out of about 65 shots, very few came out well, given both the ferry and seagulls were moving. Like Mumbai, this was my first encounter with these clean and friendly birds and I enjoyed capturing them.

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By the time we reached Elephanta Island, it was very hot. So we took the toy train that shortened our journey by about half a kilometre. You would observe small market as you enter the area and climb towards the caves. You get edibles like mango slices, dried mango candies, masala cucumber, Indian berries,  ground nuts, chips and star-fruit. There are other shops that sell fancy decorative items, clothes and souvenirs.

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On our way back after visiting the caves, we tried our tongue over some of the edibles (star of which was the star-fruit) and did some shopping of local art and craft products. It was little tiring by now and we did some rest at Gateway of India. Following is the standard view that you would get from Gateway of India. Certainly, Mumbai is incomplete without boats and ships.

IMG_0350 We spent some time here while photographing the Taj and ships and later moved to Nariman Point. My last sightseeing point in Mumbai. The beach at Nariman point is different from that of Bandra and Juhu. It is quite difficult to reach out to the sea and people can only sit on the concrete boundary and observe the sea. However, it has its own charm and beauty. This site perhaps best resembled the dominant image of Mumbai. Beach and the city!

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Celebrating with friends

For last few years, a ritual I seriously followed on my birthday was to paint. This was to ensure that I do my favorite activity at least once in a year. However, this time, I decided to do photography at a nearby bird sanctuary along with my husband. I had visited Sultanpur bird sanctuary earlier when I tried to take pictures of birds with my basic camera lens. Having birds as your subject at some distance is a challenge with 18-55mm  so I included a 70-300mm zoom lens in my repository. Here’s sharing with you some of the very first pictures taken by my new apparatus.

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Considering the ambiguity about the opening time of the sanctuary we reached there at about 10 Am and figured out that it opens at 7 am now a day. Although, I was fearing that we might not find the birds in variety, given the sun rays had entered in abundance inside their habitat, we got to see quite a variety of them. It was difficult to notice the minute physical attributes from a distance (they all looked brownish or greyish). I realised this even more, after looking at the pictures later.

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The purple or Western Swamphen, Bluethroat, Northern pintail, Gadwall and Eurasian teal were some of the migratory birds that were easily identifiable. Spot-billed duck, Greater coucal, Indian pond heron, Indian night heron, Grey heron, Red-wattled lapwing and Golden prinia were some Indian birds that I was able to capture, along with omnipresent Rose-ringed parakeet, Great egret, Indian cormorant and white-throated kingfisher.

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Domestic antelope was another unavoidable species residing in the park.

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The visit was incomplete without some shots of the park- the grass, the branches, the leaves and the decor.

This was my first trial with the new 70-300mm and I enjoyed celebrating my birthday with such lovely hosts and guests (domestic and migratory birds). Winters is the best time to visit a bird sanctuary, therefore, this is the time for all the bird lovers.

A visit becomes more interesting if you have a companion who shares your subject of interest. I would like to thank my companion for being there with me 😉

 

 

 

Representing the Golden city!

This one is one of my favorite from the trip- I see this as representing the golden city of Jaisalmer. The yellow structure accompanied by wind mills, yellow sand with a pinch of green and moving fans signaling towards the winds. This was our second last point to visit on the last day of trek but for me the trip ended here. Although this was my third visit to the place but I will go again, this time to get a send of the night life during the full moon, looking forward to it :)
This image is one of my favorites from the trip- I see this as representing the Golden city of Jaisalmer. The yellow structure accompanied by wind mills, yellow sand with a pinch of greenery and moving fans signaling towards the presence of winds. This was our second last point to visit on the last day of trek but for me the trip ended here. Although this was my third visit to Jaisalmer but I will go again, next time to get a sense of night life during the full moon. Looking forward to it 🙂

Cycle and the cyclist!

Sometimes the shot taken first becomes the best amongst the lot. I took this shot again and again in order to have that complete cycle tyre, but the flavor never came again. Although I wish to take this shot again after some practice, this still qualifies as sharing the essence of the trip- the cycle, the cyclist, the dessert, and the camera behind :)
Sometimes the shot taken first becomes the best amongst the lot. I took this shot again and again in order to have that complete cycle tyre, but the flavor never came again. Although I wish to take this shot again after some practice, this still qualifies as one sharing the essence of the trip- the cycle, the cyclist, the dessert, and the camera behind 🙂