Monday, December 26, 2011

Chilling in Chakrata – from Delhi to Chakrata

View of the Himalayan ranges from Chakrata
The cold wave in Delhi was intensifying by the day and my children were insisting upon visiting a hill station where they could experience snow. I, as usual, was trying to avoid any of the popular hill stations, which would not only be over-crowded, as also the chances of getting a decent accommodation at reasonable prices would be sparse. I therefore zeroed in on three destinations that would suit my temperament best, namely Lansdowne, Khirsu & Chakrata. I chopped off the first two choices, as Khirsu was a destination I am planning to visit in future alongwith Tungnath & Chopta, whereas Lansdowne did not offer a view of the Himalayan ranges. What added & weighed in for the decision of going to Chakrata was that I got my Hotel bookings in Chakrata at really cheap rates. Thus, we started for our encounter with Chakrata on 5th of January, 2011 and it was really cold and reading the morning Newspaper gave us the chill.
Brr'ng - It was a really cold day
We started late at around 7.30 A.M. in the morning so that we could avoid fog on the highway as far as possible. We had a smooth ride and had reached the Delhi-Haryana border by quarter to nine. The expressway from the border onwards was a joy to ride on, with no hindrance of small slow moving vehicles whatsoever, till we crossed the toll plaza at Panipat. Thereafter, there were intermittent stretches of roads in poor condition due to relaying of the National Highway No.1. After having driven for around another two hours of so we reached Karnal and stopped at one of the known road side Dhabas for Breakfast. We had a sumptuous one, of baked stuffed Paranthas & white butter. After sauntering for a brief while and children stocking up their supplies of Chips & confectionaries, we proceeded further.

Stopping for B'fast at road side Dhabha in Karnal - (from L to R) My man-friday Manoj Kumar, my wife & Kids
Passing by Karnal, we reached Pipli junction from whence we took right turn towards the State Highway heading towards Yamuna Nagar via Ladwa. There were some signs of the carpeting of the road having been worn away by the recent floods, but the major pot-holes had been temporarily repaired and we could maintain a reasonable speed, except for a stretch of about 4-6 Kms. Having gone past the densely populated & over-crowded Yamuna Nagar and Jagadhari, we headed towards Tajewala and after having crossed the same, reached the outskirts of Kalesar National Park, situated along the banks of river Yamuna. The sight of Yamuna here is to be seen to be believed, unlike the dirty muddy stretch we find at Delhi. There was a conglomeration of Rehus monkeys of the road side in the National Park all waiting to be fed by the passing Cars. The monkeys, it appears, have taken up the human trait of laziness, as they prefer to feed sitting by the road side rather than gather from the abundant forests all around. Having got past the National Park we reached Herbertpur from where we turned towards Paonta Sahib.

Monkey's trying to gain access into the Car at Kalesar National Park
Inside the Kalesar National Park

View of river Yamuna at Kalesar National Park
Paonta Sahib is a reverend destination of the Sikhs, whereas mythology states that the ‘Leg ornament’ or ‘Paonta’ of Guru Gobind Singh was washed away in the river Yamuna and thereafter, the Gurdwara was erected at this site. However, as per the Historians account, Guru Gobind Singh Ji after his sojourn at Nahan came to this destination on 14th April, 1685 and camped on the banks of river Yamuna. Here he held his discourses regularly and also built a Gurdwara named ‘Harminder Sahib’, where the recital of ‘Asa-di-Var’ took place on daily basis. Many of the armaments used by Guru Gobind Singh are displayed here. It is stated that Guru Gobind Singh moved to Anandpur Sahib from here and founded the ‘Khalsa Panth’. Paonta Sahib is also credited to be the birth place of Sahib Baba Ajit Singh and thus, the festival of Hola Mohalla is celebrated with much fervor at this place. Behind the main Gurdwara is the famed ‘Kavi Darbar Asthan’ where Guru Gobind Singh along with his band of 52 poets and credited with creation of the holy recitals of Jaap Sahib, Sawayyas Patshah Dasvin & Chandi-di-Vaar are stated to have been composed at this spot. We too had our darshan of this holy place and after partaking the Prasad, we moved on towards Vikas Nagar.

The outer facade of the famous Paonta Sahib Gurdwara

Kavi Darbar Asthan - behind the Gurdwara
One has to cross the Yamuna after Paonta Sahib to reach Vikas Nagar and passes by the mighty Asan Barrage, which has resulted in creation of man made reservoir where many birds flock during the winters. Having got past Vikas Nagar, we reached Kalsi and thereon to Sahiya and finally to Chakrata after driving for around 10 hours or so. The upward gradient of hill driving starts from Kalsi itself, but the gradient gets steeper after Sahiya. We got a rude jolt just before reaching Chakrauta because of ground frost on which the tyres of our car skidded on throttling up the engine. But the effort was rewarded with the first glimpse of the snow covered Himalayan ranges that greeted us on reaching Chakrauta.

Just managed to avoid skidding off the road because of ground frost
Here is a short video clip of the journey
(I will cover the Chakrauta circuit in my next blog)

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