Pro Kabaddi League 2014 Champion – Jaipur Pink Panthers

At the end of the Pro Kabaddi League 2014 final when Abhishek Bachchan and Ronnie Screwvala hugged, no one could guess whose team was the champion. That one moment can very well define the entire Pro Kabaddi League 2014. There were 8 teams, over 90 players, over 50 matches, lakhs of fans, an extravaganza spread over 1 month, 1 champion and on top of all this, the real winner perhaps being the game of kabaddi.

And they say kabaddi (read Pro Kabaddi League 2014) was the second most watched sport, that could sum it all up too.

Jaipur Pink Panther were on the roll in the final

The line-up for the semi-finals of Pro Kabaddi League 2014 was on the expected lines. Jaipur Pink Panthers, Bengaluru Bulls, U Mumba and Patna Pirates. Personally I thought the final would be between the Mumbai and Bangalore teams but that didn’t happen. In fact it was a little disappointing to see both my favourite teams losing their last matches of Pro Kabaddi League. Anyhow.

The way Jaipur Pink Panthers played in the finals, they deserved to win the match. But the way U Mumba played throughout the Pro Kabaddi League, may be they deserved to be the 2014 champions. But can’t take anything away from the eventual champions Jaipur Pink Panthers, they were on a roll and they won fair and square. The final score read 35-24 and there was that much difference between the two finalists.

Happy and proud faces of owners and players said it all

The excitement and smile on the faces of owners of Jaipur Pink Panthers; Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and of course the pride on the faces of the team members of the PKL champions lead by Navneet Gautam said it all. Congratulation to the Pro Kabaddi League 2014 Champions, Jaipur Pink Panthers .

U Mumba did all they could but fell at the last hurdle of PKL. But nothing can take away the success they achieved and the manner they played. Congratulations to owners Ronnie Screwvala and the team led by my favourite player of the Pro Kabaddi League 2014, Anup Kumar. You guys were awesome.

Bengaluru Bulls and Ajay Thakur came up short in the semi-final

In the other match of the evening, the match for the 3rd place in Pro Kabaddi League 2014, Bengaluru Bulls lost to Patna Pirates – a match they should not have lost. But from the word go, Patna Pirates were on the top of their game and never allowed Bengaluru Bulls to come even close to matching them.

It was a really off day for Ajay Thakur, my second favorite player (am a little biased too, Ajay Thakur is from Himachal Pradesh, my home state) and their captain Manjit Chillar. Both of them did try and so did their team mates but the day belonged to the Patna Pirates. They played like they had come to win and they succeeded too. The final score read 29-22 and it was a fantastic match.

Pro Kabaddi League season 2 in March 2015

Among all the raids and excitement, the biggest announcement came at the start itself as Anand Mahindra announced that the season 2 of Pro Kabaddi League is closer than many of us thought. The date is now set, it’s just 6 months away. Come March 2015 and we’ll see these teams fight it out again for the trophy of Pro Kabaddi League 2015. I am already feeling exited.

Thigh Five for the game of Kabaddi!!

Pran, the ‘Pran’ of Children

* Kyun ki Chacha Chaudhary  ka dimag computer say bhi tez chalta hai. (Because Chacha Chaudhary’s brain works faster than a computer). Can you believe this was the reason Pran gave for Chacha Chaudhary being the smartest? And this was 20 or may be more years ago. Who can beat that?  Well, he is Pran, the cartoonist and writer Pran Kumar Sharma, for you.

And not just Chacha Chaudhary. Billoo, Pinki, Sabu, Raman, Shrimatiji.. These names, their lives and that humour.. Pran, an outstanding and perhaps the most lovable writer and cartoonist gave me and so many like me some of the most unforgettable childhood memories. He was such an integral part of our childhood. Him leaving this world has made countless Indians sad and refreshed so many of innocent memories from a not so distant past.

An “influence” like none other

Pran fondly made so many children “happy and innocent liars” and I was one of them, a proud one too. Being two brothers almost of same age meant our home never witnessed a quiet moment. But whenever there would be pin drop silence in our room, my parents could easily figure out that we would be reading Pran’s comics. And when they would ask, we would say in chorus “padhai karr rahe hain” – we are studying. Of course a big sized book always came handy to hide comics in it.

The strongest “bond” among friends

If you had a few Pran’s comics, you would be sure to make a lot of friends. Whenever a new boy would join the class, he could not only make instant friends among strangers, but he could become popular too if he had a few comics by Pran which others didn’t.

Exchanging Pran’s comics was a very common phenomenon. The number of comics that were shared between two guys was directly proportional to the level of their friendship. Similarly, if you didn’t like someone, all you had to do was refuse to share Pran’s comics with him.

Interestingly, talking about Pran’s comics is something that is not uncommon among colleagues in offices, provided you have colleagues who are also more of a friend.

The biggest “leverage”

Having lots of Pran’s comics gave you an edge. You could manipulate so many people. I still remember when I was in 9th class I allowed one of my classmates to copy my English home work for the summer vacations and in exchange he lent me all his comics. Those were the days. I can still remember how many of my classmates who could afford more comics could have their way.

The “innovative” characters

And the characters that Pran created, they were lovable especially Chacha Chaudhary who was awesome. His dog was called “Rocket” – that was so ahead of times. Sabu was an alien from Jupiter – can you believe Pran’s thought process? And “jab Sabu ko gussa aata hai to Jupiter mein jwalamukhi fatata hai” – when Sabu is angry, a volcano erupts at some distant place in Jupiter. This was a classic line.

Billoo, Pinki, Raman, Shrimatiji.. We grew up with these characters. They were such an important part of our lives. And so was Pran. He no doubt was the “Pran” of innumerable happy children. His creations and the memories they gave us will always stay in our hearts and lives.

Pro Kabaddi League – raids, defences, all outs, points and unlimited fun

“Isko nahin dekha, to kuch nahin dekha” – if you haven’t seen this, you haven’t seen anything. Pro Kabaddi League has arrived, period. And you don’t have to believe me, rather I hope you don’t. Just tune in to Star Gold or Star Sports every night at 8pm and get hooked.

It’ll take you one minute to get interested, three to get the adrenaline rush and in five you would have fallen in love with the game of Kabaddi. And if you have played or watched it closely while you were in school, you would be transfixed and be left asking for more.

The teams and the tournament

Pro Kabaddi league, as they are calling it, has eight city based teams and matches are being played across these cities. The team have some catchy names like Patna Pirates, U Mumba, Jaipur Pink Panthers, Dabang Delhi, Bengaluru Bulls, Bengal Warriors, Telugu Titans, Puneri Paltan. And their owners are the who’s who of Indian celebrities; Abhishek Bachchan, Ronnie Screwvala, Kishore Biyani and few others. You can see the owners shouting and encouraging their teams. And you could see Aamir Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and many other celebrities in the audience too.

The passion, the excitement, the zeal and the craziness that the players, the coaches and owners are showing in Pro Kabaddi League will surely rub off on you too.

The local strength and the global angle

Most of the players in Pro Kabaddi league are Indian and are from all over the country. But you can’t miss the South Koreans, Iranians, Japanese and even Turkmenistan players who stand out for not only their nationalities but their strong game too. The Top Raiders like Anup Kumar, Shabeer Bapu Sharfudheen, Ajay Thakur and Jang Kun Lee and the Top Defenders like Surender Nara, Dharmaraj Cheralathan and Manjit Chillar may not be household names, but trust me they are as amazing a sportsperson as one can be. They and many more like them are absolutely fantastic and their game a treat for the eyes.

Give them time and they’ll be the new id0ls, heartthrobs and rock stars of not just the Pro Kabaddi League.

The favourites and the underdogs

This is only the first edition of Pro Kabaddi league and the talk of the favourites and the underdogs seems a little unfair to me, honestly. Though the tournament is no where nearing the end of 2014 edition, yet there is a clear winner, and that is the game of Kabaddi. I have been thoroughly enjoying every minute of it, and I am sure so will you.

Just watch Pro Kabaddi League once! And your high fives will become Thigh Fives!!!

What shall you remember FIFA World Cup 2014 most for?

As Germany gets ready to beat Argentina tonight and in the process denies my favourite player Leo Messi the World Cup trophy, I thought this could be the apt moment to think back and ponder over what shall we remember FIFA World Cup 2014 most for? Once the final is played and World Cup champion emerges, the whole talk will be only about the winner, its players, its journey and its moments and how they got it right, so right now is perhaps the time for “what else?”

The things that pop right up in my mind are the humiliating 7-1 defeat of Brazil, Twitter-mania that followed the match and otherwise, Neymer Jr getting injured and sobbing at the press conference, Luis Suarez relishing Cellini’s flesh and a few other things.

Brazil’s Misery, Neymer’s Injury

The way Germany pumped those 7 goals past Julio Cesar would have not only crushed Julio’s spirit but the spirit of an entire nation. The hosts were left crying on and off the field. Many people just wished and hoped that what if they could turn back time, I mean Brazil had one bad day in the field but they still were the star team, till they faced the Dutch who reminded them once again that FIFA World Cup 2014 could never have been their Cup to keep at home.

Interestingly though the misery that Neymer Jr. was in due to the injury he got, well many felt he was lucky. After all history will show that he was not one of the Brazilian players who let a nation and countless fans across the world down. Though I personally felt worse when he shared the fact that had the injury been 2cm above, he would have been in the wheel chair.

Twitter Count Mounts and Luis Suarez wins Golden Teeth  

And the way Twitter’s tweet count kept mounting up during FIFA World Cup 2014, that surely broke records, even bigger than Germany’s triumph over Brazil itself. I myself tweeted, ‘RT’ed and ‘favourite’d quite a few times and made my contribution. As a matter of fact Twitter jokes were funnier when it came to the hungry Luis Suarez, though thankfully it did help him win the “Golden Teeth” trophy. And poor Suarez’s appetite was perhaps taken care of by the ban that FIFA imposed on him. It did him some good too, like giving him time to sign with Barcelona.

Like it, don’t like it; you couldn’t miss it

The other very interesting thing about FIFA World Cup though was the fact that non-stop news coverage through TV news channels, so many advertisements, Facebook updates, likes and shares, Twitter’s tweets, RTs and #tags, newspaper articles and commentaries, and something or the other in every other media made sure even if you didn’t like football, or u liked but were unable to follow the World Cup, you never missed a thing and found something of your own to remember FIFA World Cup 2014 for many years to come.

Andhra Bhawan Canteen – the best south Indian food in Delhi

Whether it’s what they serve or how the serve it or a combination of both, nevertheless, Andhra Bhawan canteen serves the best South Indian food in Delhi, arguably. I have been going there for as long as I have been in Delhi and that’s over 10 years now. And I have eaten South India food at quite a few places in Delhi and there are many which serve tasty food but no one can beat what they serve at the Andhra Bhawan canteen, and that’s for sure. And my recent visit on 21st June for dinner confirmed the same once again.

Served with affection and without wait – unlimited and best south Indian food in Delhi

And it’s not just the taste, when it comes to eating how you are served is also important. And that’s another great thing about the Andhra Pradesh Bhawan canteen. The moment you sit at your table, someone will right away get you your plate and papad and a few other things. And if you are eating a South India meal (thali) then soon will start the unlimited supply of south Indian delicacies; daal (pulses), sabzi (vegetables), chutni (well…), chawal (rice), poori/roti (hmm…), sambar, rasam, kheer or halwa (sweets). Ghee, aachar (pickle), and few other condiments are always there on your table. And everything that they serve is unlimited except the papad and I have always wondered why. Although when I went there tonight there was an exception to the rule – they didn’t mind serving extra papad to my friend’s 2.5 year old boy and he liked it a lot and so did we.

The options are limited, but mouth-watering

If you are going for lunch or dinner, you’ll only get one option – South Indian meals, i.e., if you are vegetarian. Non- vegetarians also have the option of biryani and chicken. The advantage of more options is something non- vegetarians have always enjoyed and Andhra Bhawan canteen is no different. For breakfast you get the usual stuff; dosas, idilis and vada. I never went to have breakfast at Andhra Pradesh Bhawan canteen, but I am sure it’s very tasty too. What will delight you further is; it’s all very reasonably priced – just Rs 110/- for the vegetarian meals. In fact, as compared to others it’s cheaper. Only road side options can beat them in prices.

Though wait for table can be frustrating – the whole world goes there

Now while I am claiming that Andhra Bhawan canteen serves the best south Indian food in Delhi, I could be wrong too. What if I told you the place is so popular that on weekends the wait for the table can be so long that out of total frustration even a fan like me would go away without eating, would you buy it? Well, that’s how long the waiting period can be and that’s what I have done once. But those who are real fans find the solution too, and so did I.

When you plan to visit Andhra Pradesh Bhawan canteen over a weekend, go there well in advance. Since this is a “canteen”, they have strict timings during which they are open – see the pic for the timings (click here). So if the lunch starts at 1pm, reach by 12:30 latest. Once the clock hits 1, its total madness outside. It’s really hard to even get inside to get the coupon. They have plenty of folks to manage the crowd, but still if you are hungry, it’s agonizing to wait for your table.

And the place is popular among people from all walks of life and all countries who wawpid-img_20140621_214753361_hdrnt to eat the best south Indian food. You can be sure to find people from all over not just India but the world enjoying the best south Indian food in Delhi at the Andhra Bhawan canteen.

How to reach Andhra Pradesh Bhawan canteen and where to park?

Another good part is, Andhra Bhawan canteen is not too difficult to locate. You can take the Metro, get down at Patel Chowk and take an auto rickshaw from there, that’s one option. If you have your car, then also it’s easy to reach. Andhra Pradesh Bhawan canteen is on the Ashoka Road and is very close to India Gate – at the first round about on the Ashoka Road. In fact, you can enjoy your evening at India Gate and then have dinner at Andhra Bhawan canteen.

To find the location of Andhra Bhawan canteen, click here.

To find the directions to reach Andhra Pradesh Bhawan canteen, click here.

Parking at Andhra Pradesh Bhawan canteen is a little tricky in a way since there is no place ear marked for it. The common practice is to park on sides of the Jaswant Singh road. Everyone does that, I have been doing it and I think you can do that too. After all you have to enjoy the best south Indian food that is available in Delhi.

PS: Change of Name?

In light of the fact that state of Andhra Pradesh has now been bifurcated into two states, not sure which state will now have Andhra Bhawan as its state house in Delhi and subsequently the name of the place/canteen may change too. Hopefully the taste will remain the same. As for my recent visit, the house is still called Andhra Pradesh Bhawan and place Andhra Bhawan canteen.

 

 

Musings on Sunday Mornings

Sunday mornings, esp. early ones; that’s the usual time to be in deep deep sleep, no concerns in the mind – just dreams, relaxing, not-to-be-disturbed with anything including time, sleep. That could be your Sunday morning, not mine.

My sleep turns into slumber, late morning wake up into early morning, and a sleepy mind gives way to musings. And at the centre of this all is my urge to gather my thoughts coherently, grab the laptop and put these down lucidly and share with all unabashedly.

It’s different than others, or so I think

When I talk to my near and dear ones they all, almost, wake up late on Sunday mornings or at their usual times, definitely not before. In fact Sundays are the days when no one would want to wake up at all or get out of bed, everyone wants to just keep sleeping and relaxing, and their minds and brains agree too. Not me and mine. I could be the only one getting up 1 hour earlier than the usual wake up time and if 6am feels like early morning than I do get up quite early.

Thoughts are not just random, or are they?

And my brain is so active and mind so relaxed that my sleep goes for a toss and I am awake and eager to gather my thoughts, think with an absolutely free mind – a mind that is thinking with no given directions, no goals to accomplish, no pressure – it could be the subconscious taking control . It surely feels like that bird floating in air in a storm, not using its wings to fly but only to steady itself and letting the wind take him around. No one knows whether that bird is doing it deliberately and/or feeling happy and great but I believe my mind is just being itself, pure and perfect – if that makes any sense.

And why only Sundays, I mean Saturday is my day off too

Then there is a little more to it. If this was just because Sunday is a day off, then why not Saturday. In fact in the past I have been deliberately getting up quite early on Saturdays irrespective of the time I would go to sleep the night before and that usually used to be really late. And they say mind is a creature of habit. Ironically now on Sundays its my mind that takes control and gets me up early.

I guess Saturday becomes the day when the mind unwinds, when the tiredness of the week gone by starts to wear off. Though it’s on Saturdays when there’s a lot to do too, house chores. The day isn’t really spent in doing ‘nothing’, it’s usually the opposite of it. But its effect on Sunday mornings is different.

And I enjoy it too, weird

The best part though is, I enjoy it, I like it, yes, just love it. Sunday morning is the only morning when I don’t wake myself up, it’s my mind that takes care of that – not making sense, right. I mean how you make that differentiation. And while on rest of the mornings I turn off my alarm and then think let me sleep for 2 more minutes, on Sundays, I am awake and lively immediately and earlier than my usual time, my mind is feeling free and I am raring to go. And I wonder, why, and my mind thinks musings, why not!

FIFA Football World Cup 2014: Time Schedule that works for Indians

As if the power cuts and load shedding wasn’t making our lives (residents of Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida and surroundings) miserable with no AC, no fans, no cold water and no chilled beer, now the fear of no TV read no Football World Cup matches could make Delhi’s summer absolutely unbearable for many of us. Unless you have power back up that you save for the matches (if you use your own inverter) and you use DTH (cable TV might fail).

Match Schedule is complicated

And the fact that matches are going to be played in Brazil adds one more irritant – timing. Latin America is so far off from here that for us the world cup doesn’t even start on 12th practically and most of the matches are to be played at mid night (00:30am), a little later the next date (03:30am) or early morning (06:30am).  What to do, since it can’t be cured – changed, so it’ll be endured – enjoyed. However, there are a few matches that will be played at 9:30pm our time and that fits right into our most suitable time zone.

What we can still watch comfortably

For the benefit of everyone, here’s the schedule of matches which we can watch fairly comfortably.

FIFA Football World Cup 2014 Schedule

FIFA Football World Cup 2014 Schedule

In case you have decided you’ll not miss any match of the team you are supporting or any match of the Football World Cup, here’s the complete schedule for you (click for Football World Cup Schedule).

Who will win?  Whom are you supporting?

The last time, i.e., Football World Cup 2010, I had predicted that either Spain or England will take the cup home. This time, I don’t know.

My Prediction for 2010 Football World Cup

My Prediction for 2010 Football World Cup

Who do you think will win the cup this time? Spain, Germany, Brazil or some other team will surprise the world.  Which team are you supporting?

Who will win the Golden Boot? Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, or here too someone will surprise the world.

In your football expert or crazy fan views the winners will be…

Himachal Pradesh in Pictures

An uncontrollable, somewhat premature; “I-can’t-help-but-share-now” kind of an urge. Some memories, some pictures, some moments will just stay in your mind forever. Thankfully I had stolen, captured and saved some of those from Himachal Pradesh.

Not good camera work – not even decent, not worthwhile locales – just random, not a moment from the history – just pure and simple memory.

From my home town Bilaspur to Dharamshala, McLeodganj, Chamunda Devi, Manali, Palampur, Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti, here are some moments from my own life and time – Himachal Pradesh in pictures for you:

 

Unexplored, Unparalleled and Unique Himachal Pradesh – Lahaul and Spiti

Dear  Globetrotters, it had been over a week of my parents circumnavigation trip and they had been experiencing a different kind of world (click here for Part I, Kinnaur). Even though I was some 800km away, I was having my own share of their experiences. Sitting in increasingly hot summer of Gurgaon I was jealous of the increasingly cold weather they were facing. They were spending money on buying more woollens like caps and pullovers since the ones they carried proved to be insufficient and I was eating 5rs ice cream bars after lunch. Then they were struggling to stay in touch; fortunately my mom’s BSNL mobile came to the rescue but my dad could use his Airtel neither to make calls nor to access internet. In fact it was after ages that they had to use the PCO to make a call to me.

Kaza, Lahaul and Spiti and a World of its Own

That PCO call came from Nako lake (Read Part I, Kinnaur to find more, click here ) and my dad told me that they were then planning to go to Kaza (click for location and how to reach Kaza) the next day and that part of the journey was perhaps the most exciting of their entire trip. The road was along the amazing Spiti river and their bus took almost 7 hours to cover a distance of 100km and once they reached Kaza after 9pm, it was pitch dark with no soul to help them go anywhere. Thankfully two bank officers just happened to turn up and became the rescuers. The nice chaps in fact had a torch with them and actually took my parents to the rest house where dad had made their reservations in advance. Had they not turned up, my parents would have had the worst experience of not just the trip (spending two hours in rain in a broken rain shelter two days ago would not even come close) but perhaps the life.

The beauty of Kaza (click for location and how to reach Kaza), which is situated at an altitude of 3,650m/11,980ft in the Spiti Valley of Lahaul and Spiti district, that they experienced the next day took away all the tiring experience of the day before and they felt content considering they had now reached the exact middle point of their circumnavigation trip (510km from Bilaspur). This was definitely going to be the point of return since the road beyond this place was closed and as dangerous as it could get. The weather may have played spoil sport with their circumnavigation plans, but while visiting such terrain, you must always be prepared for the worse things to happen.

The adventures continued even during journey back home

They started their journey back and stayed the night at Reckong Peo and the adventure was not over yet. Their plan was to stay the night and take early morning bus to Shimla where they would have reached in like 11 hours after travelling 225km and then take late night bus to reach home at Bilaspur after another 3.5 hours and 90km. But some surprises were still left. The road was closed thanks to a landslide and they had to stay out for one more day. Even when they started the next day, they first had to take a bus to the point of landslide, then shift to a smaller vehicle that could only cross the affected area, then again take a bus to finally reach Shimla.

And then eventually they reached home in Bilaspur at midnight after 11 days and 1020km. The call that I got from my dad once they entered home brought relief to all of us considering the challenges that were thrown at them by the ever changing scenarios. But my dad’s voice had another story to tell – it was filled with satisfaction of having seen so many places, excitement of having lived those moments, sadness of having missed completing the circumnavigation and above all anticipation of looking forward to his next trip.

How to reach and where to stay in Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti?

If you are a frequent traveller then you know this and if you are not then take note of this, visiting offbeat tourist destinations can be tricky, always full of surprises and devoid of usual facilities and that is something that adds to the excitement.

To reach there, only option is by road and best way is to use state road transport buses. The roads are scary and difficult to drive on, you never know when snow or landslide will force you to abandon your own vehicle and shift to another one and it’s so far off that driving can tire you off. One more thing, these buses are not tourist buses so don’t expect any kind of luxuries at all.

For stay, you’ll easily find hotels in all the places that I have mentioned. These may again not be the luxury hotels you may be used to but are neat and clean and reasonably priced. And I don’t think you can make reservations online, but no harm in searching and trying. My parents were able to find a hotel everywhere easily after reaching there and I don’t think they had to pay much for any of those.

One trip in one life time, that’s bare minimum and will do too

I know these places are so far off and do not promise a smooth trip but I think they deserve to be visited. One trip in one life time, that’s a must. My dad had been to most of these places before, for my mom it was the first time and frankly their age is not really on their side and they were travelling alone too. But for travel aficionados like them visiting new places is one of the things matters, rest all is secondary.  Proud of my DNA, proclivity for travelling and inspired by them, I’ll definitely make this trip my own one day and share my first hand experiences, something I like more and never miss a chance of.

Unexplored, Unparalleled and Unique Himachal Pradesh – Kinnaur

Attention Globetrotters: I had never done it in the past, I am not sure whether I’ll ever do it again but I am sure by the time, as a true travel aficionado, you are done reading this two part series (click here for Part II, Lahual and Spiti) and looking at the pics; you would have done more Google ‘research’, started making some ‘travel plans’ of your own, and hope to ‘be there’ one day.

it’s Different… 

Here the scenery is not always green and often black; roads can be dangerous and frequently blocked, accommodation at times sparse and just about OK, mobile and internet connectivity mostly only on public carrier and scrubby, even then I can bet that you would die to be at Kaza town, Spiti river, Nako lake, Sangla valley, Kalpa town, Spiti valley, Reckong Peo town, and so many more of similar absolutely awesome places at least once in your life time and possibly many times. What’s intriguing, till not very long ago in the past, outsiders needed special Government of India permits to visit many of these places considering the nearby Indo-Tibet border. We are now lucky that way…

What did I never do in the past?

Let me first set the context. I write my first hand experiences of places I visit, but this time it’s borrowed or a better word could be ‘vicarious’. My parents went on their umpteenth travelling trip at the start of this May and as they started sharing their experiences from day 1, my desire to be with them and be part of their trip started multiplying with each new place they would visit and describe. And looking at the pictures, I already started planning my own possible trip in the nearest possible future.

Interesting but not really surprising, in fact fairly obvious is the fact that my parents, especially dad, are the primary reason I fell in love with travelling and visiting new, different, distant and not just popular places. Thanks to them, by the time I passed out of college, I had been to at least one place in Assam, West Bengal, Orissa (Odhisha), Andhra Pradesh (Seemandhra and Telangana), Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Goa, Maharashtra and UP, and all this even at the cost of exams at times. Since I am from Himachal Pradesh, I am not including that in the list (just did).

Not just a trip – a 1000+km 15+day circumnavigation

Coming to the current point, one fine evening I got a whatsapp message from my dad mentioning they were planning a trip. And it was an audacious plan of “completing a 1000+km 15+day 12000+feet/3650+m altitude circumnavigation through route Bilaspur – Shimla – Rampur – Reckong Peo – Kaza – Keylong – Manali – Kullu – Bilaspur (click here to see and appreciate it)”. I have myself been to Shimla, Rampur, Kullu and Manali. But rest of the places are in Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti districts of Himachal Pradesh, places not sought for by the usual travellers, some due to lack of knowledge perhaps and also due to its distance, but places which have so much to offer. I said, go for it and there started an amazing journey, full of loads of excitement.

Rampur Bushahr or just Rampur, the popular new town and the old principality 

With everything else in place, my parents started their journey one Saturday morning. After over 220km day long state road transport bus travel from Bilaspur to Rampur, which is in and about 130km from Shimla, my parents made their first night halt. It was dark, raining and a little cold. But they had started enjoying their trip. However, rain and cold in the month of May can be a little worrying too when you are about to make your trip to places which are not easy to approach due to possible landslides and could get really cold due to snow – and all that was waiting to happen and happened over the next 10 days.

In Rampur (click for location and how to reach Rampur), my parents visited the small but impressive palace of the erstwhile rulers, appreciated the mighty Sutlej River and moved on to their next possible stop. Considering the weather they set aside their audacious circumnavigation trip for a while and decided to take it one day at a time. It was an important moment in what was bound to be once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it did turn out to be same albeit they had to return half way from Kaza but with no regrets.

Sangla, Reckong Peo, Nako lake: the unexplored Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh

My parents who had decided to see how far they could reach – a wise decision that stemmed from their vast travelling experience, understanding of the region and my dad’s past trips to some of these places, were now ready to leave Shimla and enter Kinnaur.

Sangla Valley (click for location and how to reach Sangal Valley) located about 100km and 5-6hours away became their next destination. A very important tourist destination with river Baspa flowing through it, this is one place that must be on your travel itinerary. Places like Jhakhri, Nichar, Wangtu fall on the way and are beautiful and important in their own ways.

From there they moved on to Reckong Peo (click for location and how to reach Reckong Peo), more famous for being headquarters of Kinnaur district and known for tourist destination Kalpa. Located at the height of about 2,290 m/7,500+ft, this is important from commercial point of view as well. What is also interesting to mention here is, though the district is called Kinnaur, there is no place by that name.

With rain and cold playing hide and seek they now contemplated starting their return journey. But then the weather report for next couple of days turned out to be favourable and my parents decided to stick around and move forward, a decision they didn’t regret one bit.

Poo or Puh (click for location and how to reach Poo or Puh), a place located at an altitude of about 2,660m/8,700+ft and about 70 km and 3-4 hour drive away became the next stop. From there they went to the beautiful high altitude Nako lake (click for location and how to reach Nako lake), which is located at more than 3,660m/12,000+ft above sea level. My parents told me this was a sight to behold amidst the mighty cold, I couldn’t help but wish I were there.

Alas!.. Hopefully, may be sometime soon…

Unexplored, Unparalleled and Unique Himachal Pradesh – Lahaul and Spiti

The story doesn’t here. Go on and continue with the journey, click here for Unexplored, Unparalleled and Unique Himachal Pradesh – Lahaul and Spiti.