Chandrashila Chopta: A Learning Experience

It all started a few weeks ago when a good friend of my family told me that I should go for a trip with the Pune based tour company, ‘Foliage’ this summer after my 10th standard board exams. Well, I had heard of the company before from friends but had never really gone for a trip with them on my own. After some mild reluctance in the beginning, I agreed to go on a trek to Chandrashila Chopta with Foliage from the 19th to the 25th of April 2017.

 

Day 1(19/04):

Well, the trek started out pretty awkwardly for me at the Pune Airport. It looked to me like I was the only person travelling alone amongst the 38 people coming on the trek. After reporting at the airport at 6 pm, two groups were formed, one flying to Delhi by an Indigo flight, and the other by a GoAir flight, of which I was to take the latter.

Time passed by, and before I knew it, I was waiting for my flight, eating biscuits and awkwardly trying to make new friends around 8:30 pm. We took off around 9:30 and landed in the capital of India by 12 in the night.

 

Day 2(20/04):

All of us collected our luggage and waited outside Delhi airport for about an hour. At 1:20 in the morning, we climbed into an overnight bus that would take us to Haridwar. After a bumpy bus-nap, we reached Haridwar by 6:40 am and switched to 2 smaller buses to navigate the steep and narrow bends leading up the mountains. All of us had breakfast at the Rishikesh campsite at 9 am. Here, at Rishikesh, we played a quick introduction game and left for the Jayalgarh campsite where we had our lunch at 1 pm. After encountering a mini landslide that blocked the road, extreme heat, irritating flies, stomach lurching turns, beautiful landscapes, disappointing naps and new friends, us ‘ Foliagers’ finally reached the Chopta campsite in the Rudraprayag district of Garhwal, Uttarakhand by 6 pm.

This campsite, surrounded by the Himalayas was stunningly beautiful with no phone network or electricity. Here, we had some snacks after which we were allowed to check out our simple 4-person tents. Having come alone, finding a tent-mate was awkward, but I managed to find some newly found friends to live with. In the night, we had our dinner where we were briefed about the campsite and the next day’s trek. After this, we slept for the night in our cozy sleeping bags..

 

Day 3(21/04):

Today, we were trekking to the Lake of the Legends, Deorital at 7000 feet. The ‘Foliagers’ awoke by 6 am, and after breakfast, we left for the base of the climb. This was a training trek to prepare for the Chandrashila trek coming up the next day. We had to find our own way by asking the locals there. We reached the heavenly lake in about 2 hours after taking regular breaks with our teams, which were made by the instructors. Deorital was just angelic. The view of Chaukhamba peak from there was exquisite and my mind felt at peace at 7000 feet. Here, at Deorital, we spent 2 ½ hours and had lunch, took photos, chatted and played a game.

Around 12 noon, we stared descending from the lake. Luckily/Unluckily for us, we were caught in a painful but never-before seen beautiful hailstorm. Occasional mules walking up and down and blocking the way were very entertaining to dodge and deal with. After returning back to our campsite, we played a fun game of volleyball succeeding which I realized how little I knew about the sport. Subsequently, all of us enjoyed some tea and then collected firewood for a campfire that was to be held the next day. A bright orange sunset and a game of dodge ball greeted us before dinner at the KPRD (khana-peena-rona-dhona), which was the common eating and meeting place. We were also briefed about the next day’s trek to Chandrashila. Personally, this common tent was where I got to speak to new friends. After washing up, we slept for the night in our cozy sleeping bags.

 

Day 4(22/04):

22nd April was a big day for us. We were about to scale Chandrashila, which is located at a height of 13000 feet. All of us left at 6:20 am and drove to the base of Chandrashila. All excited and pumped up, we all started the trek to Tungnath, which is the highest Shiva temple in the world. This temple is en route Chandrashila at 9000 feet. On the way there, we saw several Monals(state bird of Uttarakhand) and many Rhododendron trees. By noon, we reached Tungnath, and after lunch we started for Chandrashila. Soon, we reached Chandrashila and witnessed a 360-degree view of the snow-covered Himalayas. From here, we could see Nanda Devi at 25,600 feet, which is the 3rd tallest mountain in India. After spending an hour at Chandrashila, we started descending pretty quickly and came back down by 4 pm. After returning to the Chopta campsite, we all drank tea and had Maggie. A fun evening with multiple games of volleyball followed. As it became darker, we had soup and dinner. We were all excited for the campfire that ensued where multiple friends displayed their singing and dancing talents. I was sad because it was our last night at the Chopta campsite. Moreover, a friend of mine hadn’t been able to climb to Chandrashila because of a bad stomach. After the instructors briefed us about the next day’s program, we slept for the night in our cozy sleeping bags.

 

Day 5(23/04):

We got our wakeup call later today, around 7. After a sluggish and relaxed breakfast and washing up session, we left Chopta and reached Jayalgarh in 3-4 hours. The campsite at Jayalgarh was fancier then Chopta with electricity and private toilets. Here, we had lunch and then left for White Water Rafting on the river Alaknanda. On the banks of the river, we were given instructions regarding rafting and then were made into 5 teams. Along the river, we rafted for 8 kms as a team. As and when told by the instructors, we even got to jump into the freezing cold water of the river. We reached a sandy mini-beach in an hour where we engaged in kayaking and ducky boating (basically, a ducky boat is a two person kayak where the passenger is asked to jump off the boat in the middle of the river and swim back). After these water sports, we came back to our tents in Jayalgarh around 6:30 pm. Tired and wet; we had our bath followed by tea and pakodas.

While enjoying the beautiful scenery around Jayalgarh, I sat and chatted with friends till dinner. After dinner, all of us danced to some music and heard a vividly entertaining leopard story from one of our most experienced instrutors. I went to sleep at 11.

 

Day 6(24/04):

Although there was no wakeup call today, my naturally acclimated body awoke at 6:15, 2 hours before breakfast. After, enjoying the beautiful scenery alone for half an hour, I found some friends and we played throwball for a while to pass time. Today, we were going to encounter the much-awaited Bridge Slithering, a hair-raising water activity. In this sport, one is tethered to a 55 feet tall bridge and is gradually let down before being dropped into the river from 10 feet. One by one, all of us completed this fun activity and returned to our tents.

After lunch, we had a certificate distribution and camp farewell session.

We bid a farewell to Jayalgarh after this and started our return journey to Haridwar by 2. After a 3-hour long journey, we stopped at the Rishikesh campsite for snacks. Soon, we reached Haridwar and switched back to our AC overnight bus to travel back to Delhi. After another bumpy 4-hour nap, we reached Delhi airport at 3 in the morning.

Here, all of us waited outside the airport for 2 hours along with some interesting wildlife, i.e., crazy dogs and bloodthirsty mosquitoes. While walking around the outside the airport, I noticed a decent pizza place and immediately got a pizza from there. As luck would have it, 15 minutes after I bought the pizza, we were given packed breakfast by Foliage which I stored in my bag. By 6, we all walked into the airport and started the check in. At 8: 10, we boarded the flight and soon, departed from Delhi. We reached Pune at 11:30 pm and then, harboring mixed emotions, bid adieu to our new friends and returned to our familiar homes carrying a bag full of memories.

 

Overall, all the experienced instructors on the treks inspired me. These beautiful campsites pulled us city kids out of the digital dream and taught us the importance of looking outside and taking in the breathtaking scenery. I would like to thank Foliage and its entertaining and experienced volunteers for lifting the mood and taking care of all of us. After attending this trek alone, I can safely say I made better friends than I would have if I had gone with my friends. As one of the Foliage volunteers said,” We went in different groups, but we are coming back as one family”, I went as a loner, but came back with a family.

View from Chandrashila        Nanda Devi

Alandi

Alandi is a city in the state of Maharashtra which lies on the banks of the river Indrayani. A religious place, it is popular for being the location of the Samadhi of Sant Jynaneshwar. It is a famous place for pligrimage and people like to visit the Vitthala-rakhumai temple, Jynaneshwar’s wall, The Jyaneshwar Samadhi Complex and the Narsmiha Saraswati Swami Math.

Here, groundnut cultivation is very popular as this is a rural area and agriculture is one of the major occupations.

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My Trip to Diveagar

Recently, I visited Diveagar, a small village which is a 4 hour drive from Pune. We stayed in one of our friend’s cousin’s  house.

Day 1:

After leaving from Pune, we stopped at a restaurant called ‘Quick Bites’. After a long 4 hour ride, we finally reached Diveagar. We had dinner, watched the movie ‘Black Beard’s Ghost’ and then went to sleep.


 

Day 2:

We woke up knowing we had a long day in front of us. After waking up we got ready, ate breakfast and went to the beach to play. After coming all of us had a bath, ate lunch and then watched the popular movie ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’. In the evening, we went down to the beach and went on some amazing water rides. After coming back, we had a quiet dinner and then dozed off….


Day 3:

After having a good night’s sleep, we had breakfast and then went down to the beach for a stroll during which some of us built a sand castle. After coming back, we lazed around and played some cricket. As soon as we had lunch, we left for Pune. This time too we stopped at ‘Quick Bites’, had a snack and reached Pune only in the night….


Thus, our wonderful Diveagar trip ended……

 

 

My Grandfather: Reliving his Childhood

Recently, my mothers father a.k.a my grandfather visited Disneyland in Hong Kong and Universal Studios in Singapore. He had been planning the trip for a while and looked pretty excited.He went with Kesari and along with a senior citizens group.

He turned 80 recently and I admire him for going on this trip.

Personally, I LOVE amusement parks. But, when you cross horrifying experiences , stomach churning coasters and awesome stimulation, you get-HEAVEN.

When I visited Universal Studios in Singapore, my favourite rides were the Transformers 4D ride and of course, any child’s favourite ride, the Battlestar Galactica, which is a high speed, turbulent ride good enough to make anyone’s day.

Now, my grandfather might have liked the New York storm stimulation, which was pretty cool. Also, he might have liked the water rafting ride by the end of which you encounter a dinosaur and get thrown into the water. :)

Me, i have never been to Disney Land in Hong Kong, so I don’t know much about that place.

But, incidentally, I visited Disney Land in Paris. But, i can’t remember a lot of that place and my experiences, but I remember enough to make me feel jealous that my grandfather got to go….

HE enjoyed the rides and truly relived his childhood.


 

Want to visit the Universal Studios site?Visit:

http://www.rwsentosa.com/Homepage/Attractions/UniversalStudiosSingapore

Want to visit Disneyland’s site?Visit:

https://www.hongkongdisneyland.com


 

P.S: Oh, the envy though!! ;)


 

Daulatabad Fort

This fort used to be one of the most impregnable forts in the early 14th century.This name was given by Muhammad-bin-Tughluq when he shifted his capital here in 1327 A.D. The fort was surrounded by moats full of crocodiles, deadly mazes and awesome defence mechanisms. One of the most important monuments here is Chand Minar, which bears a striking resemblance to the Char Minar.

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For more info,visit:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daulatabad,_Maharashtra

Ellora caves

This vacation,I visited the world famous Ellora caves.

As compared to Ajanta, Ellora is very famous for sculpturing rather than painting.Well known for its caves, Ellora has many Buddhist, Hindu  and Jain rock-cut temples. Most of the caves are over 800 years old and therefore have a very musty and damp smell due to the hundreds of bats who live in the caves. They were built during the Rashtrakuta and Chalukya Dynasties.

Again,I truly recommend  visiting this world class monument.

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For more information,go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellora_Caves

Ajanta Caves

These vacations, I visited the world famous Ajanta caves.

The Ajanta caves  in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India are about 30 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments. The area was covered by jungle until accidentally rediscovered in 1819 by a British officer of the name John Smith while hunting a tiger. He saw the tenth cave and eventually found all thirty.These caves truly are a hub of imagination and handwork.

I truly recommend that you visit these wonderful works of art.

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Learn more at:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajanta_Caves