Saturday, April 14, 2018

Balle Balle in Apple town

When the alarm went off by 12:15 AM, I could not fathom as to why it was going off at that unearthly hour when it is not even Diwali, to get up so early. Some stabilization brought sanity in the thoughts and I leaped out of the bed realizing that we need to catch the 5 AM flight whose check in closes by 4:15 or so! It was heartening to see another 30 pairs of bleary eyed people with back packs and blue caps at the Kamaraj domestic airport at Chennai. Though deprived of sleep, there was no dearth of cheer as the entourage was all set for a six days sojourn in the land of apples and Bangra.

Chennai Airport
Despite the unearthly hour of takeoff, the team was quick to devour the tasty Idlies and caught up with the lost sleep when the Indigo pilot deftly eased the big bird on the tarmac of Indira Gandhi International Airport at Delhi. After capturing some parts of the tastefully decorated airport into the meager storage of our cell phones, we moved on to proceed to the bus, waiting to take us to Chandigarh.

New Delhi Airport
New Delhi Airport
The (very) early morning breakfast by then had become a thing of the past but the thoughtfully arranged sandwiches and Patties were enough for the group to munch through the bumpy Delhi highway, which seems to have been more patched up than laid. The road to Chandigarh was wide but void of trees and if only some one had thought green, the ride would have been enjoyable. After a tea stop at the 'much found'  Haveli near Sonepet we sped aimlessly on the North Indian highways that was distinctly different from their southern counterpart more on the road signs and kilometer indications, until we reached the picturesque Velvet Clarke Exotica hotel   ( ) by around 3 pm.

After a hurried lunch that stretched into the evening , we set out to the first tourist spot of Chandigarh namely 'The Rock Garden'. Though I had seen this elaborately in 2013, the thoughtful park by Nek Chand again created awe in the minds of the tourists as to how every scrap could be made into a piece of art !

Rock Garden, Chandigarh
The tiresome journey through the bouncy road to Chandigarh and the subsequent leg work did not permit the group to venture out anywhere else other than the delicious dining hall before retiring for the day.

Day-2: (02-Apr-2018):

Chandigarh hotel Dining area
Having rested the aching heels under the embrace and comforts of the linen of the well decorated Velvet Clarke Exotica, the team was up early and to cover the vast expanse of road travel planned, we set out early on the road to Amritsar, after a filling breakfast at the tastefully decorated open dining area of the hotel. With the road better than the one from Delhi, the satiated crowd looked ahead to plan for the day at Amritsar, little realizing what has been ordained just few minutes ahead. The nightmarish experience that was experienced as we sped past Phagwara could better be read , more in detail, at my exclusive blog post: Cabbana, the Savior

Stunning Brilliance 
Having lived out the nightmare under the protective arms of Cabbana, we set out to Amritsar at last, to reach the gleaming Golden temple by around 7 PM. The place in addition to its reverence is always a photographer's delight and a visit late into the evening is merrier for the eyes behind the camera. The sheer brilliance of the gleaming golden dome under the powerful arc lamps, the hovering security intercepting women the moment the duppatta round their heads slip and the smell of ghee soaked prasad inviting the devotee's second glance even before dharshan is a sight to behold and an experience to undergo. But, all these fade into insignificance the moment one enters the main pathway leading to THE place where the revered scripture is placed, to the soothing voice chanting the holy hymn with the actual words also being shown on the closed circuit TVs placed around.

Feeling Blessed 
After a day of myriad experiences-some scary and some delightful to the soul- the cool comforts of  Golden Tulip Hotel  embraced us to put us into sleep the moment we hit the sinking foam of the King sized bed.

Day-3 (03-Apr-2018):

Adding to the excellence of the hotel room and a breakfast that was challenging the taste bud, is the sense of celebration around. Generally around Amritsar, one could see quite a number of colorfully  decorated marriage halls and the floral arrangements at the hotel enticed the group to have an extended photo session, before we hit the road for Dalhousie.

 Buoyed by the numerous memories captured,  the team sped through the dusty roads of Amritsar and the scenario improved for better on the road to Dalhouse with more greeneries.

After the customary forty winks supported by the rich breakfast, there were gossips to the earful from those we couldn't keep their mouths closed even away from the dining hall, but all was done in good spirits.  A Punjabi 'Chaai' en route was gulped more for the grandeur of a cane furniture shop nearby and again the cameras went overboard with clicks and flashes.

As the bus panted its way through the steep hill, there were scenarios galore that begged to be captured and that deterred the people from dozing off again!

En route to Dharamshala
Given the high standards set at earlier places, the room as well as the food were a mild disappointment at Dalhousie we realised, when we checked in to Indraprastha resort at Dalhousie  by around 2 PM. After a quick lunch of whatever available, we set out to Khajjiar , where the picturesque and green carpeted viewpoint reminding one of the greens of the Ooty Botanical garden enthused all. The team merrily went on a photo shoot spree until a light drizzle drove them to the cover for a hot tea that tasted heavenly in that chill.

Khajjiar, Dharamshala

Khajjiar, Dharamshala

Khajjiar, Dharamshala

Khajjiar, Dharamshala

After visiting a pitch dark Nag Temple, the group rushed back to the warmth of the van , the cold being aggravated by a mild drizzle.

Nag Temple, Khajjiar
 Any thought of visiting a temple on the way was quickly dismissed as the team went ahead to the Mall road for a shopping spree.

The mall road is similar to any other mall road on a hill station with the quickest to buy an article for Rs 150 was left to rue his speed as the last one bought the same article for less than hundred rupees !!

But the weather did not disappoint , as the temperature kept falling and the hot and delicious soup at the dinner table was the much sought after item over others. The gossip session that followed amongst the bankers around was one to be remembered at all times, as only the next day early departure drove the reluctant gossipers to bed.

Day-4 (04-Apr-2018):

After a slightly better quality breakfast , we set out early as we had to catch up with a missed spot of the previous day. The Punchpula water falls disappointed as there was neither water nor anything other than the rolling rocks under the tourists legs that fell. But the place amply compensated the disappointment with some exquisite photo spots that warmed the hearts of the guys while the women folk chose to visit the nearby rickety shop to burn some holes in the pockets of the folks posing for photographs blissfully ignorant of the silent loot happening nearby.


Clearing the arrears of yesterday, the bus set on a long journey when it climbed up and down the hills and at times went through mountains but the varying altitudes also brought in some warmer temperature and by the time we stopped for a tea, we were even mildly sweating. But the deft handling of our driver needs appreciation as he kept on whistling and maneuvering the tricky turns  as we at times sped past some breathtaking views too.

En route to Dharamshala

After deceiving us of having reached many a times at the sight of a bigger looking town, we finally reached Dharamshala by around 4 PM and despite a mild rain dampening the spirits, for fear of impeding our already tightened schedule, we had a hurried but filling lunch at the rich looking and promising  Indraprastha spa  .

As we finished the lunch, the rains relented and we immediately set out for sight seeing  the first being a place called Naddi, which provided a wonderful sight of snow capped mountains

Naddi, Snow view

Naddi, Snow view

Realizing that we need to catch up with two more spots before they close, the jeep sped through narrow alleys of Dharamshala and the Bagsu Nag temple we visited next was small but attractive temple made of marble with a swimming pool view behind.

Bagsu Nag Temple
Bagsu Nag Temple

Then we hurried to the Dharamshala Tibetian Monastry with barely ten minutes for the closure time but then on seeing the visitors, the place rolled out a carpet and to our surprise there was no restriction on taking photos too !!

Tibetan Monastery
Having completed the itinerary for the day, we relaxed to a luxurious dinner and wandered through the superbly maintained poolside and lounge for some customary photos!!

Dalhousie Hotel Lounge

Dalhousie Hotel Poolside
Day-5 (05-Apr-2018):

With the tour entering the final lap and body protesting due to unprecedented travel almost every day, the fifth day dawned with the renewed hope of heading home, though still far off. 

Dharamshala Balcony View

Dharamshala Balcony View
The team after a healthy breakfast, had another flurry of flashes and headed for the Dal Lake at Dharamshala.

Dal Lake, Dharamshala
The War memorial at Dharamshala is a cool green place to visit at any time and the early morning weather added to the gaiety of the mood. 

War Memorial, Dharamshala

War Memorial, Dharamshala
While it was certain that we could never hold the bat or ball and stand in the middle, the team decided to atleast pose in front of the beautiful HPCA cricket ground at Dharamshala, one of the best cricket grounds in the world and a dream for any cricket lover. Personally for me, my disappointment of not being able to enter Sydney ground (due to maintenance closure) was somewhat satisfied by this visit to one of the world's best cricket ground.

HPCA Cricket Stadium, Dharamshala

HPCA, Cricket Stadium, Dharamshala
The bus then proceeded towards Chandigarh with the temperature rising higher as we sped past every bend and though we were touching distance of Jwalamuki , the tight schedule did not permit a few hours of detour and as if to compensate the disappointment visited the Bagaladevi temple, a simple but beautiful one and later came to know that it is a Siddhar peetam !
Bagala Devi Temple
We were lucky to spot a hotel that served good south Indian items , a surprise packet at that remote place in the northern part of the country. Though I was not looking for it, the coffee served reminded me of the filter coffee back home!


With a sumptuous lunch, we were unable to sleep in the speeding bus, due to the strange rule prevailing in some parts around here that after the tragic Nirbhaya incident, vehicles were not allowed to have curtains !! Appeared to be cruel in that people exposed to the sunny side of the travel are roasted in the afternoon sun and the driver was very insistent on this as booking for violation could invite a hefty fine ! As we touched ground level at Unna and passed through Nangal, it was also a pleasing sight to see the water gushing out as we reached the last of the Havelis of this tour with more attractions for the tourists than the Punjabi chaai !

Haveli Attractions !

Haveli Attraction

Energized by a hot tea, as the bus crawled through the evening traffic towards Chandigarh we utilized the time to have introductions and an useful discussions and feedback to the tour organizers , as we reached the attractive Velvet Clarke Exotica for the second time in this tour. After a leisure dinner, the IOB trio managed to have a chat session , one last time on this tour. 

Day-6 - (06-Apr-2018):

Eager to catch up with the lost time on the first day of the tour the team hurried through Breakfast and took some customary photos at the hotel lounge before rushing to the Lake.

Chandigarh hotel Lounge
At the Sukhna Lake, with the cool breeze flowing across and the Chandigarh sun yet to rise, we chose to walk along the lake while a section took to boat ride. The lake pathway and the adjacent park were well maintained with neatly pruned garden making the walk a heavenly experience that also gave us some more time to remain close knit.

Sukhna Lake, Chandigarh

Sukhna Lake, Chandigarh

Sukhna Lake, Chandigarh
The last visiting spot was the famous Rose Garden of Chandigarh and it was astonishing to see so many types of roses across a vast expanse of land, right in the midst of the town. Not willing to be deterred by the blazing sun, we managed to take some wonderful pictures of the garden.

As the entourage prepared to part , there were hugs and parting back pats and it was time for the trio , not only to have a frozen memory, but also the delve deep into the past six days.

The trio that made the tour a better meeting experience
Over these six days when we covered some wonderful spots of Punjab and Himachal Pradhesh, we were exposed to the high standards of comforts carefully chosen and the food too was nearing the top notch. Kudos to the Tour organizers, Sree Janaki tours , with whom we have been travelling since 2012 and I am able to notice some niche areas of comforts being carved by them for their customers. I am sure  this is bound to increase in the days to come putting the customers in a spot wondering what more to ask for. A week well travelled, well exposed to the vagaries of nature, emotions of people across my own country but more importantly enabled me to add some more to by friends list which is happily swelling !! 


  1. "Thanks for your wonderful Blog ...few minutes of reading thru & seeing ur picture perfect Photos was jus like a time travel..Thanks again for writing a blog on all our travel.. U R TRULY AN INSPIRATION"- Sripriya Ramesh

  2. "Nice one Kapali. Wishing you all the best. As usual another feather in your cap. Great Kapali. Enjoyed reading it. 👍👌👏. "- Venkatesh Jagadessan

  3. "Took us on a tour 👍wonderful blog Kapali . Even the travelogue will not give us so many details."- Hemalatha Sundarrajan

  4. "Excellent Mamma no words ....very eager to see those places ..soon will make out...."- Gayatri Anand

  5. "Very interesting with beautiful pics and well narrated sir."- Dr Alagammai

  6. "👍👏glad u enjoy travelling. Good for u" - Doris Cunningam

  7. "Very interesting to read your blog post.keep rocking..." - Uma Devi

  8. "Good Day Uncle..It was really interesting to read and was lively.. Made me feel that I'm also a part of the tour.. 👍"- Ramnaarayan H

  9. "Super Kabali. Let God gives you more strength to visit many such places and bestow His grace to keep on writing with your beautiful language with style. All the best. I recollect the memories on our trips and the jokes shared."- Panchatcharam Radhakrishnan

  10. "Picturesque account of the tour. I almost went there as I was reading"- Ms Aruna Balachandra

  11. தங்களுடைய சுற்றுலா அனுபவங்கள் மற்றும் புகைப்படங்கள் மிக அருமை

    உங்கள் பழைய பதிவில் ஒரு சிறு திருத்தம்

    பிறப்பில் வருவது யாதெனக் கேட்டேன் - பிறந்து பார் என இறைவன் பணித்தான் . இறப்பில் வருவது யாதெனக் கேட்டேன் - இறந்து பார் என இறைவன் பணித்தான். அனுபவித்தே அறிவது யாதெனில், ஆண்டவனே நீ ஏன் எனக்கேட்டேன். ஆண்டவன் சற்றே அருகினில் வந்து அனுபவம் என்பதே நான் தான் என்றான் - பாலகுமாரன்

    பாலகுமாரன் அல்ல

    எழுதியவர் கண்ணதாசன்

    1. உங்கள் பின்நூட்டத்திற்கு முதற்கண் நன்றி . தாங்கள் குறிப்பிடுவது என்னுடைய 27-ஜூலை 2010ல் பதிவான "ரசித்த தமிழ்க் கவிதைகள்" என்ற பதிவு என்று நம்புகிறேன் . அந்தக் வரிகள் நான் முதன் முதலில் படித்தது பாலகுமாரன் அவர்களின் 'பச்சை வயல் மனது' என்ற 1984ல் வெளி வந்த ஒரு வாரப் பத்திரிகை இணைப்புடன். ஆனால் அது கண்ணதாசனின் கவிதையிலிருந்து அந்தக் கதைக்காக ஆசிரியர் உபயோகப் படுத்தியது பின்னால் தான் நான் தெரிந்து கொண்டேன் . முதன் முதலில் அந்த ஆழமான வரிகளை அந்தப் புத்தகத்தில் படித்ததால் அவர் பெயரையே கவிதாசிரியர் என்று குறிப்பிட்டது தவறே .
      தவறைச் சுட்டிக் காண்பித்தததற்க்கு மிக்க நன்றி.

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