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Kasauli yet again…

July 20, 2009 2 comments

Ok I have written enough about Kasauli and you have all got either bored of it or a little zealous or have added it on to your travel list or a have become little wishful… but hang on … there is still some more left to tell!!!

And being a foodie it has all to do with yummy delicious mouth watering dishes…

As said earlier, Kasauli is a small city and as such has very few eating places… barring the elegant restaurant at the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Hotel it is more of a Momo and noodles place!

But there is one place here which if missed would be a loss … to your taste buds.

The place is a small shop called ‘Daily Needs’… bang opposite to the gate of the hotel R. Maidens and sells everything from fruit juice to ice cream to band aids to local wine. But its specialty is something else … which we discovered by chance… the place serves amazing ‘Mint Kebabs’ … cut into rings shelled out with hot red sauce. The kebabs are mind blowing and certainly leave you asking for more. (we ordered two servings on the second day)

They also make various kinds of sandwiches and burgers and have been doing so for … guess what … eighty nine years… yes 89 yrs. The shop is 89 years old and would be completing its 100 years in 2020!!! Currently it is being managed by the fourth generation of the family and seems to be going pretty strong. In the honour of the kebabs, I’ll like to remember it as ‘Kebabs- a Daily Need’

In our malls shops change with seasons so it was quite an experience to see that at same places things still last forever!

Olrite now done with Kasauli (for time being … !!!) and over to yet another place which left us with a taste to remember.

On our way back, we came across a small roadside dhaba… very close to the ‘Hanging Mc Donalds’ near Dharampur.

This dhaba was a small non-descript place with nothing fancy… in fact it was pretty bare minimum standards but the food was simply delicious. The menu is restricted … it serves only Razma rice, Chole Rice and Mutton curry rice!

We ordered one Razma rice and one Mutton curry rice and were served both the dishes in a piping hot state… with steam coming out of them.

Both the preparations were simply amazing and could compare (and excel!) with any fine dining restaurant. The mutton curry was just perfect – spicy hot and the rice was fresh and rightly cooked. Giving the credit to Mutton Curry rice I ll like to call it the ‘Mutton Curry Dhaba’

In toto we had an amazing lunch at throw away prices … once again confirming my view that all good things don’t come at a price!


Hanging Mc Donald

July 17, 2009 Leave a comment

On the way to Kasauli I came across a food joint… a rather common site for all metros. But there was nothing common about the Mc Donald which I saw near Dharampur.

We had had a Punjabi breakfast – Paranthas at Murthal in the morning and were looking for something to make us active again by noon. But we were in two minds – whether to stop somewhere in between and eat or eat when we stop in Kasauli. We were still wondering when we saw a familiar logo…Mc Donald. Now I know u must be thinking that I have gone nuts … going gaga over Mc Donald… but wait till u hear what I saw.

The Mc Donald here is same from inside but it is not on a plain surface rather is hanging in between two hill sides … on an old style bridge, with arches and no pillar in between, which is connecting the two parts of a mountain, with water flowing beneath it. Try remembering the video of Marc Antony’s song ‘Deep Blue Skies’ and you’ll get a view of the bridge I am talking about!

Green Mc Donald

Green Mc Donald

We can also call it a green Donald as there is a lush green garden just underneath the place maintained by the joint.

It was a treat for eyes and of course the steaming hot coffee and the French fries added the right flavor. A perfect setting for a day out… in our case enhanced further by the drizzling rain which followed us all the way back and forth.

I would like to call it the Hanging Mc Donalds…which was feast both for our stomach and eyes…it would be good to just sit and spend some time there gazing out….or reading a book…sipping coffee!!!

Some facts

Mc Donalds is very close to Dharampur and can be missed only if you are sleeping which would be a crime in itself on such a route.

A trip to Kasauli

July 16, 2009 4 comments

Getting away form the heat crowd mundane chores was the idea and as it got piled away and kept on being postponed the wish became a priority. Some might think of it as a luxury – to go out of town… but to me it was a necessity or rather it became one. To get away – from the entire chaos that engulfs all of us at all points of time … the routine which is important to succeed… the everyday process of home to home called life – was my only hope to stop existing and start living once again.

Thought of many places but all turned out to be either too busy or non-accessible and I was almost at the verge of giving up and postponing once again when my sister suggested KASAULI. And as it turned out it was neither busy nor non-accessible.

The plan was proposed on Thursday and Friday morning we were on the way to Kasauli.

Some facts

Kasauli is in Himachal Pradesh, about 316 kms from Delhi and can be reached both by train and by road. It is 61 kms from Chandigarh.

We took the road route and started off early morning at 5 am…well we aimed for 5 and did manage to leave the Delhi city boundaries by 5:45 am… not bad at all. The road is excellent at most of the places … though if some of the flyovers could have been completed by now (we had taken the same route last year also) we could have covered more distance. But anyways … it wasn’t bad… infact a drive through the Panipat Flyover that bypasses the entire Panipat city was a marvel. We had a Punjabi breakfast – Paranthas at Murthal and then carried on.

We continued till we reached Dharampur from where we took the left cut from the main highway for Kasauli. Now there are two ways of going to Kasauli from Dharampur; one which has a pointer saying Lawrence and the other one a little ahead… don’t take the Lawrence one.

The road is fine but the scenery is just beautiful … nothing to be missed on both sides. We reached Kasauli at around 1pm and after some hotel hunting checked in to R.Maidens.  Now the place is too small and the main Kasauli boasts of just a handful of hotels. There are 4 hotels in the lower mall which is like the heart of the city and few more scattered just before the main entrance of the city.

After checking in and making sure all was well we left the hotel and started our sojourn on foot.

As I said before the city is too small… it’s divided into Upper Mall and Lower Mall. Upper Mall is more like a cantonment area with military offices and residences and the lower mall has market, hotels and local residences. There is an air force station also which is located towards the lower mall.

Any ways so we left the hotel and went for an evening stroll towards the … yes the upper mall…the cant. Area. It was a good walk … the road playing a game … sometimes going up and then going down…sometimes we were looking at beautiful valley and sometimes at far away high peaks…sometimes the clouds would hide everything from view and sometimes they would be all around us soaking us completely! And in between all this the pride of Cant Area… the green shiny gypsies zoomed in and out all around with their silver like shining wipers!

We are not always looking for non conventional things to do but just land up doing them … while walking through the upper mall road we came to a small picnic point and realised that we have reached the Sunrise Point at the Sunset Time! But it was still beautiful and the place had some tourist families and some local couples. (easy to make out the difference!)

Continuing further we realised that we have reached a point beyond which there is no entry for us – the civilians and thus started back. But as I said no conventional things for us … so instead of taking the same road … we decided to do some trekking and take the un-traveled road back. We had reached a point which was the tapering end of the city and where there was just little distance left between the upper & the lower mall road – a small bushy area with damp mud, cactus like plants on a steep and steep slope part of the mountain and so we took the challenge and climbed down from there. It was not as easy as it looked from above and all three of us had our moment of glory during that half hour trek to the lower mall. But it was worth it …its moments like this that makes us realize how much more we are capable of … its just the matter of pushing a little more and not only taking the first step but also ensuring to keep the steady last step too.

View from Hotel

View from Hotel

After the big achievement there was nothing to do but to celebrate and so we headed back to the hotel and found a nice enough place on the terrace which overlooked the mountains. We could see at least 7 – 8 layers of mountains one after the other … a breath taking view good enough to keep us engaged till late night.

Here if I don’t mention the TV tower it would be unfair … well there is a TV Tower which stands tall on one side of the city but coz of its height it looks like its stemming out of the middle of the city and touching the sky. Actually the tower looked different at different points … at night it looked as if the sky has folded a little and was resting on its shoulders and all the stars had gathered around the tower to be in vicinity; early morning the tower looked further away from the blue sky and gave an impression as if it was growing in height in west just as the sun was rising in east! I have some more connotations for the tower and stars but I ll leave it for now…

Way to Manki Point

Way to Manki Point

The next morning we set out to do what all tourists do there… visit the ‘Manki Point’. Now just like others we also thought that the place is known as ‘Manki Point’ since it has a Hanumanji (Monkey God) Temple. But ‘Manki Point’ is literally Man Ki Point which means ‘As per your wish’. Its an old temple perched on the top of a hill and can be reached only after crossing the air force station … a high security area. The entire drive way which takes to the temple, has to be crossed on foot, is spick and span, has enough places to sit and is alive with loudspeakers playing good old music, courtesy Worldspace Radio! Good music and the cool breeze was enough to keep us going.

But just as the old proverb goes that it’s not easy to get anything … the trek up to the temple is a steep one and goes on and on… trying the patience, the courage and the drive. We had another distraction – the rain … which kept on pouring through out our journey up towards the peak … but we were determined and didn’t let it stop us or dissuade in any manner. And believe me it all became worthwhile once we reached the top.

The temple is a neat and decent one, good enough to make a person go down on his knees, sit and contemplate and communicate with the almighty directly. May be it’s the surroundings or the fact that there was no crowd or the mere serenity of the place which does make one feel like praying … a distant cry from the crowded, dirty, full of greedy middlemen (pandits) city temples.

It is quite an old one and as per mythology the temple came into existence when Hanumanji touched the mountain with his feet on his way back from Himalayas carrying the Illustrious life saving Sanjeevani Buti for Lakshman the younger brother of God Ram. Sine then the hill top has taken the shape of His foot and has remained so. The story goes so … that his foot touched at two places one in Shimla and the other here in Kasauli.

True or not the place is awesome with some magnificent views and being a Hanumanji’s devotee it was a feast for me through out!

Some facts

The temple is inside the air force station and hence the security is very high and nothing can be taken inside except for wallet. Everyone is thoroughly frisked. The place also has two café’s with some seating arrangement.

The trek up and down made us hungry and we attacked the nearest place to eat … a restaurant at the Himachal Pradesh tourism hotel. The place has terrace seating with panoramic view of the mountain range and good food. The combination was lethal and we spent some good three hours there itself. The rest of the day was spent roaming around the small market on the lower mall, doing some shopping and once again sitting on the terrace looking out to the mountains. This time the view was not as clear as the previous day because of clouds. But if clouds marred our view of mountains they made the moon even more beautiful… just as they always do. The everlasting game of hide and seek between the clouds and moon was at its zenith giving us some of the best scenes … wherein the moon would be sometimes glowing, shining, retreating, coming out of the shadows … each time more beautiful and endearing then before!

But that’s my moon… simply speechless and special always…

Now though moon is my favorite but I know Sun is no less… for without the Sun the moon would loose its glow and so I decided to pay my homage. I got up at around five am the next morning and did two remarkable things… saw the Sun rise and went for a morning walk!!!

Looking at the rising sun was beautiful and a memory that I will hold till I see it the next time … ( which would be a fairly long time since I know this wont happen soon again or till I am out on a vacation again!)

And the morning walk was amazing … I went alone as no one else was up yet…

But it was worth it… such silence and such calmness…the stillness…in the beautiful settings. I was out for an hour and they were the best spent 60 minutes in a long time. All I can say is that I came back refreshed more than it’s possible for a spa and a massage to do jointly.

Clearly this was the highest point of the entire trip… those 60 minutes when I was with myself and the nature… communicating silently…nature imparting its qualities of strength, perseverance, patience, sacrifice, love, care and most of all of being grounded in all circumstances to me. I felt an achiever, a hermit… completely at peace… and in harmony.

It just gave me the strength which I was looking for … which I felt had got depleted due to the stress and the strain of the day to day life. It left me feeling truly refreshed and rejuvenated.

This was Day 3 and we left Kasauli and doing a brief tour of Sabathu – an old Gurkha regiment army town and a non existent river… we drove down back to Delhi.

The entire trip was amazing. I had promised myself two things before starting… one that I will enjoy it upto the brim and not let my eternal enemy Mr. Doubt enter anywhere in scene… and second that I will think less and just be there… living every moment and voila I succeeded in both.

Not once did I let myself down!

Thus a truly encouraging, refreshing, engaging, learning journey both within and outside.

Karmic Connection

June 17, 2009 4 comments

I cried and cried and didn’t know what more to do…

After reading the article about the survivors of the bomb blast victims, tears just didn’t stop. The restlessness, helplessness was so acute that the thought never left me.

It was one of those moments which compels one to do something and not just sit, crib or cry!!!

So I did some research, got in touch with the Journalist who wrote the article and through her got connected with another person who had some details. This person appeared to be yet another shop keeper but as it turned out was much more than that … he was a conscientious, active member of the society who had taken upon himself to help the unfortunate and less privileged.

Mr. Ashok Randhawa has a shop in Sarojini Nagar Market, Delhi and is himself a survivor of the Delhi Bomb Blasts of October 2005. But as is the case with most of us he didn’t let this horrific event become a deterrent, instead he took it as a challenge and a thought provoking incident. He began his journey towards helping all those who were affected by the blasts. He collected the necessary information from the Government Authorities and made efforts to ensure that all the survivors and the families of the victims at least get what is due to them monetarily. Since then he has been continuously working towards this end and has helped many a victims and survivors in Delhi and outside.

Through Mr. Randhawa I collected information about some of the affected families (featured in article). After gathering this information and underlining the needs of the families, started looking for some kind of support – in kind and cash for them.

It was a moment of excitement when, with the help of my official contacts, I was able to connect the need with the resources. Shikhar, an NGO came forward and took the responsibility of the education of the affected kids.

Manisha and Mr. Ashok Ranndhawa (Left)

Manisha and Mr. Ashok Ranndhawa (Left)

After due diligence and need assessment, six kids were chosen and Shikhar has pledged to support their education. The first installment of the support was handed over to these kids in an event organised to felicitate the Heros of the Terror Attacks on 28th March 2009.

That was also the first time that I met Manisha, 13 year daughter of Michael and Sunita. Manisha lost both her parents and her brother in the 2005 Sarojini Nagar blast. She stays with her Grandparents and is not their only hope but also the strength of pillar for them.

Because of the event going on, I could not talk to her but seeing her there… all decked up like any other teenager oozing out the confidence uncommon at her age… I felt connected with her… the same connection which I felt when I read that article in the newspaper…and felt the need to do something for her and for others like her.

This couldn’t have happened with out the support of my colleague Ms. Ananya Datta, the journalist Neelam Raj, Nadeem at Shikhar among some others… thanks guys for your help and assistance!

Related Links

News Article Published on 21st September ‘08

Website of Shikhar

Khoob ladi mardani woh to jhaansi waali raani thi

May 13, 2009 5 comments

An old poem which I read some decades ago… but still is fresh and have become more meaningful…the first seeds of feminism or shall I say being an independent liberated women must have come from here…

Khoob ladi mardani woh to jhaansi waali raani thi

A poem by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan

Sinhasan hil uthey raajvanshon ney bhrukuti tani thi,
budhey Bharat mein aayee phir se nayi jawani thi,
gumee huee azadi ki keemat sabney pehchani thi,
door phirangi ko karney ki sab ney man mein thani thi.
Chamak uthi san sattavan mein, yeh talwar purani thi,
Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,
Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.

Kanpur key Nana ki muhn boli bahen chhaveeli thi,
Lakshmibai naam, pita ki woh santaan akeli thi,
Nana key sangh padhti thi woh Nana key sangh kheli thi
barchhi, dhal, kripan, katari, uski yehi saheli thi.
Veer Shivaji ki gaathaayen uski yaad zabani thi,
Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,
Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.

Lakshmi thi ya Durga thi woh swayan veerta ki avatar,
dekh Marathey pulkit hotey uski talwaron key vaar,
nakli yudh-vyuh ki rachna aur khelna khub shikar,
sainya gherna, durg todna yeh they uskey preeya khilwad.
Maharashtra-kul-devi uski bhi aaradhya Bhavani thi,
Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,
Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.

Huee veerta ki vaibhav key saath sagai Jhansi mein,
byah hua ban aayee Rani Lakshmi bai Jhansi mein,
rajmahal mein baji badhai khushiyan chhaee Jhansi mein,
sughat Bundelon ki viroodaavalee-si woh aayee Jhansi mein.
Chitra ney Arjun ko paya, Shiv sey mili Bhavani thi,
Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,
Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.

Udit hua saubhagya, mudit mahalon mein ujiyali chhayee,
kintu kaalgati chupkey-chupkey kali ghata gher laayee,
teer chalaaney vaaley kar mein usey choodiyan kab bhaayee,
Rani vidhva huee hai, vidhi ko bhi nahin dayaa aayee.
Nisantan marey Rajaji, Rani shok-samani thi,
Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,
Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.

Bujha deep Jhansi ka tab Dalhousie man mein harshaaya,
Raajya hadap karney ka yeh usney achhaa avsar paaya,
fauran fauj bhej durg par apna jhandaa phehraya,
lawaris ka waris bankar British Raj Jhansi aaya.
Ashrupurna Rani ney dekha Jhansi huee birani thi,
Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,
Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.

Anunay vinay nahin sunti hai, vikat shaasakonki maaya,
vyapari ban daya chhahta tha jab wah Bharat aaya,
Dalhousie ney pair pasaarey, ab to palat gayee kaaya
Rajaon Nawwabon ko bhi usney pairon thukraaya.
Rani daasi bani, bani yeh daasi ab Maharani thi,
Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,
Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.

Chheenee rajdhani Dilli ki, Lucknow chheena baaton-baat,
Qaid Peshwa tha Bithur mein, hua Nagpur ka bhi ghaat,
Udaipur, Tanjore, Satara, Karnatak ki kaun bisaat?
jabki Sindh, Punjab Brahm par abhi hua that vajra-nipaat.
Bengaaley, Madras aadi ki bhi to vahi kahani thi,
Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,
Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi

Rani royee rinvason mein, Begum gum se thi bezaar,
unkey gehney kapdey biktey they Calcutta key bazzar,
sarey aam nilaam chhaptey they angrezon key akhbar,
“Nagpur key zewar le lo, Lucknow key lo naulakh haar”.
Yon pardey ki izzat pardesi key hath bikani thi
Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,
Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.

Categories: Trivia