Sunday, January 15, 2017

Agra Excursion

Agra Excursion


The Taj Mahal, one of the modern seven wonders and one of the exquisite monuments in the world. Each day the monument is visited by thousands of people from all over the world and on some days this number gets escalated up to lakhs. People come and get overwhelmed by its magnificence.

In India, if you live in a tourist city like Agra then there is a 100% chance that you become a guide for your relatives and take them to places/monuments such as Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, etc. Neither you can say no nor you can make excuses to them. Hence all these circumstances make you less attracted towards these places. 

Being a resident of Agra a.k.a Tajnagri since birth, it was like no more extraordinary thing for me to see the Taj Mahal. I could get a glimpse of it from my house terrace (during clear weather). All the visits to Taj Mahal that I paid were during my teenage. Due to less maturity, I could not understand the beauty of this masterpiece. There was a time when I had frequent visits to Taj Mahal with my relatives and slowly it became a usual thing for me. 

Now it had been more than 5 years that I visited Taj Mahal. After such long duration, I was wishing to revive my memories of Taj, so I planned to visit it again and wanted to experience it fully. Visiting Taj Mahal solo was seeming a little boring thing for me. So I was waiting for someone who could be my travel mate. My wish got fulfilled when my colleague (Vibhor Bhaiya) told me about his plan of coming to Agra to see and explore the place. After he arrived, we made our plan for the next day morning. Our plan consisted of visiting 3 notable historical destinations of Agra, i.e., Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. 

We started our day with the delicious breakfast that my mother cooked. Kicked on my bike and began our journey at 9 AM. Fatehpur Sikri is around 40 km from Agra main city. As I ride fast, it took around 40 minutes to reach there. I had seen Fatehpur Sikri for only once and that too during my school picnic in 4th standard. After that picnic, I never got any opportunity to visit this monument so this was the reason that I was more eager to see Fatehpur Sikri than the Taj Mahal. The monument is situated near the border of Uttar Pradesh & Rajasthan in the Fatehpur district. It is a monument built by Mughal emperor Akbar. He shifted his capital from Agra to there when he blessed with a son due to blessings of Salim Chishti.

Fatehpur Sikri

Tomb of Salim Chisti


The weather was scorching hot there, but it was tolerable due to continuous breeze. I parked my bike and bought tickets for two. We hired a guide and started exploring the monument. First, we saw the shrine of Salim Chisti and then explored the main mahal. The monument was clean and tranquil as there were quite less visitors. We saw Diwan-i-Aam, Ibadat Khana, Naubat Khana & Panch Mahal. After spending some time, we came back to Agra and had our lunch in the Hotel Solitaire, located at MG Road. The food was good and cheap.


Panch Mahal
Later, we continued our journey and visited our next destination, viz, Agra Fort. We reached there at 2:30 pm and started exploring without any pause because we were short of time and we had to visit Taj Mahal also on the same day. It took around 2 hours to explore the fort. We explored Diwan-i-aam, Diwan-i-khaas, gardens, etc. Also got our first view of Taj Mahal through a window. We got tired & completely exhausted after exploring the fort. Our legs started paining. To turn up the energy level, we drank coconut water from outside the fort and then moved to Taj Mahal.

Entrance of Agra Fort






View of Taj Mahal from Agra Fort
Reached Taj Mahal at around 5 PM and as usual, it was filled with its lovers. In the evening the weather turned little cool. Now it wasn’t warmer. We started enjoying in roaming around the monument. As usual, it was looking splendid and due to ideal weather our experience became better. After roaming for some time, we relaxed there and enjoyed the back side view of river Yamuna during sunset. Later we had our dinner at Sadar Bazaar and got back to our home.




Taj Mahal

River Yamuna behind Taj Mahal




Me & Vibhor Bhaiya

Tip: 

If you are visiting Taj Mahal in the summer season (not in monsoon) then try to visit it in the evening. It gets more beautiful in the evening and the marble floor gets cooled. So you won't feel uncomfortable in moving around.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

An Informative Guide To Indrahar Pass Trek, Mcleodganj

A view of the Indrahar Pass covered with snow.
Pic Credits: www.tripoto.com

Trekking has now become a popular activity among youngsters and adventure freak people. Due to a vast variety of Himalayan terrains, India is often considered a paradise for trekkers.

In India, either one can trek by taking a package from any trekking company or one can also dare to trek on his/her own, which is indeed a more adventurous way to play in the lap of mother nature and this is the main reason I always vouch for doing independent trek. The advantage of taking a package is that you don't need to worry about logistics and other things such as mules, guide, tents, etc. Everything is arranged by the organizer. You just have to pay the required amount and wait for the dates to join the trek. In case of doing it by own, you have to arrange a guide, ration, tents, etc. by yourself. Of course, it is a bit effort needed and difficult task, but as the saying goes "efforts make the destination more beautiful", so trekking by own can give you a unique experience and a true adventure feel that you cannot experience by going on a trek with any community/organization. Also, it costs cheaper than doing it with any trekking organization unless you are not going on any exploration.

Here in this post, I will tell you about how you can trek to Indrahar Pass in a best and cheaper way.
Indrahar pass is a high mountain pass situated at an altitude of 4342 m in the region of Dhauladhar ranges of Himalayas. The trek starts from Mcleodganj, a suburb of Dharamshala. From the pass, one can get the majestic views of some remarkable peaks such as Hanuman Tibba, Deo Tibba, etc and Kangra valley.

The trek to Indrahar pass can be done via two routes.

Mcleodganj->Triund->Ilaqa Pass->Lahesh Caves->Indrahar Pass->Lahesh Caves->Ilaqa Pass->Triund->Mcleodganj

Mcleodganj->Triund->Ilaqa Pass->Lahesh Caves->Indrahar Pass->Chatru Parao->Kuarsi->Chamba

I will tell you about the first one, viz, from Mcleodganj to Mcleodganj.

Preparation before the trek:

The difficulty level of the trek varies from moderate to difficult. The trail till Ilaqa pass is easy except some sections. Further from Ilaqa Pass, it gets tough. It would be better that you start doing exercise at least before 2 weeks from the trek dates to increase your stamina and endurance and to strengthen your muscles. Leg and thigh exercise are must because your legs always play a major role while trekking. If legs are gone then all over.

It is recommended that you practice yoga such as “alom vilom” and “kapalbhati” so that you would not have any breathing problem at higher altitude.

No special permits or forest permit are required to do this trek. Do carry your photo identity proof to show at the check post at Galu Devi temple. Liquor are not allowed to carry, so better you don't bring it.
Snowline cafe
Best time to visit: 

The trek can be done in any month. If you are looking to see snow, then visit in the months of March to June and to get a lucid weather, September to November are preferable months. It is advised not to trek in monsoon season because the trail gets slippery and these months are prone to landslides. Also, you would not get scenic views as it remains cloudy most of the time.

Things to carry:
  1. LED torch
  2. Powerbank
  3. Trek pant
  4. Trekking shoes (hiking shoes will also work)
  5. Voilini spray
  6. Raincoat/poncho
  7. Hat
  8. Sunscreen Lotion
  9. Sunglasses
  10. Warm jacket (during winters)
  11. Mattress (if you are bringing tents)
  12. Rucksack cover
  13. Trek Map
  14. Energy supplements (chocolates, juices)
  15. Water bottle
How To Reach Mcleodganj:

By Air: The nearest airport is Gaggal airport and the major airport is Pathankot airport. From these airports, taxis and buses are easily available for Mcleodganj.

By Train: The nearest major railhead is Pathankot railway station. It is connected to all the major railway stations of India. From the railway station, either one can hire a taxi or board a bus to reach Mcleodganj.

By Road: There are several buses that run daily from Delhi and Chandigarh and takes around 11 and 7 hours respectively to reach Mcleodganj. One can also hire a taxi, but it is a costlier option. If you do not find a conveyance directly to Mcleodganj, then first reach Dharamshala and then Mcleodganj. Shared jeeps and buses are frequently available from Dharamshala at a nominal cost.

Itinerary:

Day 1: Reach Mcleodganj
If you are a Delhiite then it is good otherwise, you have to reach Delhi as there are several options available to reach Mcleodganj. You could take an overnight bus to reach Mcleodganj but I would recommend you to travel in a day so that you can relax and take a good sleep in Mcleodganj.

Day 2: Trek from Mcleodganj to Triund
Start your trek in the morning by 7 am. It starts from the main chowk. If you don’t find the route just ask from any shopkeeper there about the way to Triund. The initial trail comprises of a steep road and rocky uphill path. There are three milestones that arrive in between today's trek viz Dharamkot, Galu Devi temple and Magic view café, which are 1, 2 and 6 km respectively from Mcleodganj. If you don't want to trek from the beginning then you can hire a taxi to reach Galu Devi temple. The only option at Galu Devi temple you have is either you start your trek from there itself or you return back to Mcleodganj. I recommend that you start trekking from Mcleodganj itself. The initial trail works as a warm up for you. It takes about 4-5 hours to reach Triund. The route isn't marked but could be identified easily. The last leg of the trek is a bit tough and steep. It is called “22 curves”. After reaching Triund, pitch your tent and have your lunch/dinner at any shop/hut.

Day 3: Trek from Mcleodganj to Ilaqa Pass
Wake up early, eat your breakfast and start your trek. If you have some confusion regarding the route then ask from any shopkeeper or hut man. They will give you the directions. The route to Ilaqa Pass is well marked with yellow arrows. In around 2 hours, you reach Snowline café which is the midpoint of today's trek. Take some rest and resume your trek to Ilaqa pass. If you have time then you can explore a beautiful valley which is situated near Ilaqa Pass. To reach the valley, you have to descend down the hill. The terrain is difficult. It is advised not to go in that valley alone because there are some points where you need external support or hands to climb up/down. It takes around 2 hours to reach Ilaqa pass from Snowline cafe. Have your dinner there and take a good sleep because next day is the main day.

Day 4: Trek from Ilaqa Pass - Indrahar Pass via Lahesh Caves - Ilaqa Pass
Begin your trek early in the morning. Today's trail is longer and the most difficult part of the whole trek. The first point that you reach is Lahesh Caves. Lahesh caves are naturally built caves. The trek to caves is a one-hour steep climb. After taking some rest, resume your trek and enroute to Indrahar pass. From Lahesh caves, it takes around 4-5 hours to climb up and another 2-3 hours to get down. The trail is strenuous and confusing. It is advised that if you are an amateur or you don't have much experience then it would be good that you hire a guide from Mcleodganj. Guides are also available at Triund. You can ask for them from shopkeepers. In case if you think that you have enough experience and don't want to take a guide then at least purchase a map of the Indrahar circuit for a better understanding of the trail. Enjoy the magnificent views of the Dhauladhar ranges and Kangra valley. Start descending as early as possible so that you reach Ilaqa pass before the sun goes down.

Day 5: Trek from Ilaqa pass to Mcleodganj
Descending down is easy and it takes around 4-5 hours to reach Mcleodganj. Don't move too fast otherwise you might get slipped as the trail is rocky that makes it slippery. You can also visit Dharamkot waterfalls, which is 4 km from Galu Devi temple. It is a 2 hours trek from the temple. The route is narrow, which passes through dense forest and a mixture of uphill and downhill paths. The waterfall is good. After all this, either return to Mcleodganj and board a bus if you want to end your trip or take a room and plan your itinerary for the next day and explore Mcleodganj.

  • Mcleodganj is small but a great place with its colorful Tibetan culture and vibrant markets. It is like a little Tibet in India. You can explore its markets and visit nearby sites such as Bhagsunath waterfalls, Namgyal monastery, Dal lake, Kangra fort, etc.

Things To Remember:
  1. No need to bring tent. Tents are available at Triund, Snowline cafe and Ilaqa Pass at a cost of ₹500 per night for one person. If you want a cheaper option then you can rent it from your city. It costs you around ₹200-400 per day in which 2-3 persons can stay. Dome tents are light in weight and are more stable as compared to alpine one.
  2. Don't bring much food or eatables with you. There are shops/huts available at Galu Devi temple, Magic view cafe, Triund, Snowline cafe and Ilaqa pass where you can have Maggi, tea, dal rice, omelette, etc. So just carry water and some small amount of energy supplements such as chocolate, juice, etc.
  3. If there is rainy weather then don't forget to make a moat around the tent. This helps in eliminating water around the tent.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

6 Must Do Himalayan Treks

Himalayas are considered paradise for trekkers and adventure junkies due to its vast variety of terrains. The height of adventure on the Himalayan ranges can't be compared with any other destination. The ranges are blessed with ample opportunities for hiking. The terrain on the Himalayas comprises of narrow passes, steep ascends & descends, snow clad mountains and dense thickets & forests. With more than hundreds of trekking trails, these stunning ranges captivate experienced as well as novice trekkers. Here is a list of some fabulous treks that will give you a totally different experience and will offer an opportunity to encounter the true beauty of the Great Himalayas.


1. Everest Base Camp

Pic Credits - www.gadventures.com
Well, the name "Everest" doesn't need any introduction. Many people dream of climbing the Everest but very few summit it. The climb to Everest is not an easy and everyone's task, but one can reach to its foot by trekking up to its base camp. The Everest base camp trek is an 11-day trek that starts from Lukla in Nepal. The trek offers great views of Everest and other tall peaks in the world. The base camp is situated at an altitude of 17,598 feet and from the base camp, one can have enthralling views of the Khumbu Icefall. Best time to trek is from September to June.

2. Pin Parvati Pass

Pic Credits - www.wanderthehimalayas.com
Pin Parvati Pass is another enchanting trek that lies in the region of Pir Panjal ranges of Himalayas. The Pin Parvati pass connects the beautiful Kullu valley to the barren Spiti valley. The pass is situated at a height of 17,450 feet above the sea level and the trek is considered one of the most challenging treks due to its terrain and altitude. Apart from this, the trek is known for its changing landscapes, pristine lake, alluring lush green valleys and arid beauty of Spiti. The trek starts from Barsheni village in Kullu and terminates at Kaza in Spiti.

3. Valley of Flowers

Pic Credits - www.flickr.com
If you are looking to trek through heaven then Valley of Flowers is one destination for you. The trek to Valley of Flowers is a mix of an easy and moderate climb on a well-laid path. It is an 11-kilometer valley full of high altitude Himalayan blossoms, which bloom during the short period of the monsoon season. During this monsoon period, the Valley of Flowers changes colors every night. The maximum altitude of this trek is 14,202 feet and duration is 5 days. 

4. Goecha La

Pic Credits - www.adventuren.com
Goecha La is another amazing trek in the Himalayas that fascinates thrill seekers who are looking to trek on the land of Sikkim. The trek is known for its amazing highlights such as majestic views of Kanchenjunga (3rd highest mountain in the world and highest in India), Mt. Pandim & Tenzing Khang, dense vegetation of Kangchendzonga National Park, pristine Samiti lake and vibrant culture of Sikkim. Situated at a height of 16,207 feet, the trek joins the conventional Dzongri-Goecha la trail. The trek to Goecha La starts from and ends at a scenic village Yuksom, the erstwhile capital of Sikkim.

5. Stok Kangri

Pic Credits - www.cloudinary.com/
This trek has an all-time charm of being the highest trekking peak in the Himalayas. Standing at a height of 20,187 feet, the peak offers panoramic views of Stok and Ladakh ranges. One can even have a sight of K2 (second highest peak in the world) in the lucid weather. Despite all this, the trek doesn't require any climbing techniques to summit it. The trek starts from and ends at Stok village in Leh. The months of July to September are the best time to go trekking in Ladakh.  

6. Chadar Trek


Arguably the most exhilarating trek in the region of Himalayas. This is a trek in which one gets an opportunity to walk over an ice sheet of frozen Zanskar river. Chadar trek lets you trek through the Zanskar valley with the freezing weather and the temperature dipping from zero by several degrees. This frozen river trek entices thousands of trekkers from all over the world. The best season for this trek is from Mid-January to February.

Check Out Other Amazing Treks - www.mojhi.com

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Ilaqa Pass Trekking Experience - Day 5

Day 5: Triund - Mcleodganj - Delhi

Woke up at 8 o'clock, wrapped up all our belongings and got ready to leave for Mcleodganj. In around 2 hours, we reached Galu Devi Temple. The downhill trek was easy and not tiring. While coming down I got slipped twice and my ankle got twisted due to the slippery path, but it didn't cause any trouble because we had brought our first aid kit with us. At Galu Devi Temple, the policeman told us about the Dharamkot Waterfall. To add some extra fun and thrill in our trip, we went to see the waterfall before going to Mcleodganj. The waterfall was situated 3 km away from the Galu Devi Temple. The route to the waterfall was a blend of uphill & downhill and it was quite narrow and tough. The route was marked perfectly so we didn't face any problem in reaching there. It took around one and half hour to reach the waterfall.

Fresh morning at Triund


Mild rain in the morning

Rainbow after a mild rain

A view of Dhauladhar ranges

A view of Triund


Bird's eye view of Mcleodganj from Triund
The waterfall was good, but it was little isolated and wasn't easy to reach. The was one shop located at the waterfall where we had some snacks and tea. While coming from Galu Devi temple to Mcleodganj, it started raining like cats and dogs. Though we had raincoats, but they weren't working due to heavy rain. In just 5 minutes of rain, we got completely drenched. We decided to take a halt in the shelter and wait for the rain to slow down. At around 4 PM, we reached Mcleodganj, changed our clothes and did our lunch at a restaurant. As it was raining, we couldn't explore the markets of Mcleodganj. We booked our bus from the Mcleodganj bus stand and at 6 pm, our bus left from Mcleodganj and arrived Delhi at 5 am. The return journey was good and relaxing. Also made one friend named Liat from the USA, who was also coming from Triund.

Going down from Triund

On the way to Dharamkot waterfalls

Descending the irregular path to reach the waterfall


Path full of stones

Dharamkot Waterfall

Signboard at Galu Devi temple

Woods in the clouds

On the way to Mcleodganj

Reastaurant in Mcleodganj

Bus tickets (Semi Sleeper), Mcleodganj to Delhi- ₹ 700/-

The overall trip was amazing and a memorable one. We had a great fun. Apart from this, there are also some tragic moments that happened with us like the starting trek to Triund that made us drained out, rain in the night, etc, but the good thing was we surpassed all those moments with fun. As it was our first multi-day trekking trip, we learnt so many things from this trip which will definitely help us in our future trips.


Happy Travelling! 


Friday, September 16, 2016

Ilaqa Pass Trekking Experience - Day 4

Triund - Ilaqa Pass - Triund

Triund in morning
Opened our eyes with the fresh and cool morning, unzipped the tent and found what? A mesmerizing view of Dhauladhar ranges. The sky was bit cloudy and slowly the ranges were getting clear. It seemed like a giant object was coming out of the curtains in the spotlight. I quickly took out my camera and started the photo shoot.





After having our breakfast, we decided to leave for Ilaqa Pass at 9 AM. Almost all the trekkers were going back to Mcleodganj excepting us and some other groups. We reached Snowline Cafe in 1 hour. The snowline cafe was situated at an altitude of 3200 meters above the sea level. The route to snowline was mostly uphill. Amidst the trek, we saw several small valleys of flowers. After 15 minutes of rest at Snowline cafe, we continued our trek to Ilaqa Pass. The trail leading towards Ilaqa Pass was slighly uphill and mostly consisted of flat green pastures and big rocks. The view was magnificent from there. We were not able to see the complete ranges due to dense clouds, but still we enjoyed a lot due to awesome weather. It took around 2 hours to reach Ilaqa Pass and then we did our lunch there. The hut was available on Ilaqa Pass too. The rates for food and equipment were higher than at the triund and Snowline Cafe. On the mountains, the price for service increases with the altitude, but we did not need it because we had our food. 

Alluring blossoms




On the way to snowline cafe

After about 45 minutes, we started going downwards to Triund. While coming down, we saw a huge valley with a tiny water stream that was coming down from the glacier in Ilaqa pass. So to recharge our adrenaline and add some extra thrill to our trek, we decided to go into that valley. Now the question was that how we go in to that valley as there was no route which could lead us to that valley. We decided to find and make our own route. The valley was completely downhill with an inclination of about 60-70 degrees. The initial route consisted of trees, so with the help of them we managed to got down. After passing the trees, there were two routes one was full of stones and rocks and other one was the slope full of plants and flowers. We chose the rocky slope to go down and reached the valley after facing many difficulties. 

The valley situated in between Ilaqa Pass and Snowline cafe




From Left to Right: Me, Rishabh, Ashwini



The view from the valley was spectacular and it was giving the true adventure feel. The fresh water flowing in the valley was coming from the Ilaqa glacier. The water was so chilled that when we landed our feet in that water, it was feeling like our feet were getting frozen. The experience we had in the valley was amazing and it was the best part of our whole journey. It was also the toughest part of our trip. After spending some time, we started climbing up the valley. Climbing up was easy as compared to going down. While going upwards, we saw many snakeholes and Rishabh even saw one snake also. We got little scared, so we started moving quickly. 

Climbing up the valley



A view of valley

Triund seen from Snowline cafe
At around 6 PM we reached Triund, pitched the tent and slept after having dinner of Dal Rice. With the night, the climax of our trip arrived. The weather became worse in the night and it started raining like cats and dogs. We were inside the tent that is why we were not worried at all. Suddenly, the water started coming inside the tent and our mattress started getting wet. When we checked, we found that the base of the tent had some pores through which the rain water was coming inside. Till 2 AM, we passed our night by sitting inside and waiting for the rain to stop. Instead of stopping, it was getting bad. With the help of raincoats and polythenes that we borrowed from a hut, we got able to sleep. 

Triund in evening