My Travel Destinations across India and Germany in past two months
It has been almost two weeks now, since my return back to India from Germany. I had been to Ulm(Germany) on an official three week trip. Normally, it takes me around a week to adapt myself to any change of surroundings. This time it has been a wild goose chase since past 2 months, and my body seems to have got confused to where exactly it belongs to. I am still carrying on the digestion issues and fatigue with me. In essence, I am not keeping well - the end (that means no more health talks now!).
On a positive note, in past two months I got to see some places in India like Dehradun, Musoorie, Haridwar, Rishikesh, followed by my trip to Ulm in Germany. Another positive thing is that I had a nice outing and get-together with my family and relatives. I could buy some nice goodies from Germany (I still have to decipher the instruction and usage manual of some of these products, all credit to my poor hold on German language).
The whole journey started right from Bangalore on May 15th, 2010, when I boarded my flight to Delhi. This was followed by a 4.5 hours bus trip to Chandigarh. My parents received me at Chandigarh and we all made a night halt there. Next morning, we were supposed to start for Dehradun by our cab. We had to pick my younger sister from her college at Paonta Sahib on the way to Dehradoon. It was a nice pleasant journey, despite the heat outside - thanks to our cab and its air conditioner. Me and my sister were in great moods of fun and frolic, and had big plans on what to do at each of the locations. We were also highly anticipating our get-together with our relatives at Dehradoon.
Dehradun Sahastra Dhara
Sai Baba Devasthanam
It was around half past noon, when we reached Dehradun on May 16th, 2010. I was particularly shocked when I reached the place - first, by the heat and second, by so much negligence, dirt and garbage. I always used to fantasize Dehradun to be some kind of hill station - clean, green and beautiful. The place simply put my mood down. Anyways, it was impossible to stay in bad mood for a longer time, with so many exciting people around. Even cribbing becomes fun.
Regardless of what we had there, our plan was already set and we marched towards the famous "Sahastra dhara" there. I liked it for the way it was built, and I was put off - again by the dirt. Still, the wondrous caves and distilled water mountain took my breath away. I felt happy to see such things while they were still there, in somewhat normal form, and sad too because with the way things had been kept there, I don't know if my kids or grand kids would ever be able to see these things.
Anyways, next day we were supposed to go to Musoorie. We started our day early, visited the "Sai baba temple" on our way, which was quite beautiful, calm and cool place. Next stop was the "Deer's park". It was more like a zoo. I could see only two deer there, that too were kept in a cage, so that people couldn't complain that they couldn't see anything. Most of the cages were deserted. The zoo had some 2-3 tigers, peacocks, ducks and some other wild birds. We had fun imitating the peacock's voice, which made him think about some new entry into the folk. We even made him have an argument with his mate and by the time we'd left, he seemed to be quite frustrated and embarrassed ( his peahen still sitting with her back towards him!).
We reached Musoorie by evening and had some fun at the mall road. The place was indeed crowded, but much cleaner. Besides, our hotel was located at the very heart of the mall road, so we could easily simply step out and enjoy the whole view, shops and hustle and bustle of the streets.Next day, we went to the famous Kempty falls. The water was freezing indeed, yet we all plunged into it and had much of water fun for the rest of the time. The only things I remember about Musoorie after Kempty falls, were a trip to a local garden, mall road and some bargain shopping.
The next stop of our journey was Rishikesh. I was particularly surprised and enthralled by the peace and serenity of the place. It had some weird aura, which I could not comprehend, but I was sure that everyone who goes there must feel it in someway or the other.
The place was spotlessly clean. You can find amazing restaurants with "World cuisines" almost everywhere. There were proper banks around the Holy Ganges for people to peacefully sit and take bath in an organized way without overcrowding any location much. The main temple and all the temples that followed it were somewhat magical in their own ways. Even we stopped talking much and simply walked, watching the beauty, feeling the aroma and sanctity of the place.
We all went to see the "Grand Aarti" at the main bank. It was conducted by some elderly holy saints and the ashram boys - their clothes spotlessly clean and ironed. I had never expected anything with this much magnitude of crowd (5000 people or more)to go so smoothly. And it was all done, in an extremely peaceful manner.
Trip to RishikeshClick thumbnail to view full-size
Once the "Aarti" was done, we dispersed to our next destination - Haridwar. Haridwar was a much bigger form of what you could see at Rishikesh. This means more temples, more banks and more people. The whole layout of the city has been built to support the "Great Kumbh Mela".
Though, we went at times when there should not be much crowd. But, still Haridwar was a place by the people, of the people and for the "Ganges". I was actually scared when I saw the river from the bridge I was walking on. I could never imagine Ganges to look so fiery. The water, the waves, the width and the vastness literally shocked me. And, this shock was overpowered by the freezing water and the speed, when I dipped my legs into it at the bank. Now, I understood the reason of those iron chains around the banks. You REALLY REALLY need them, or else you would just flow away. I had to struggle a lot to just keep my feet stable on the stairs inside the water. The speed of the flow could easily pull my legs and me along with it.
I was getting used to the water and the place, slowly absorbing the essence of being in 'Haridwar', thinking myself to be a part of it and as I happily looked around, another shock made me scream. The place definitely had so many shocks and surprises in store for me. What I saw, was the head of a small kid of around 8-9 years old, just in the middle of the river bouncing up and down. Before I could shout for help, the kid raised his head, laughed and waved to his friends. I was too stunned (probably from freezing water and shock!) to say anything. He simply floated with water to some distance and then swam across in the direction of the waves to the other bank. After that I saw many other kids doing the same thing. I was simply speechless. I could not dare to even stand in water, just leave getting a dip itself. And there these kids were mocking me by doing such stunts. Whatever, I knew I could never belong to this place, so I allowed myself to just be a visitor, enjoy my time here and cherish the memories later.
We still had time for the "Grand Aarti", which was supposed to be performed at dusk, so we spent our time enjoying our part of some water fun there. My mom was happily dipping in the freezing water, forgetting all about her arthritis pain, rants and cries. I was still too cuckoo to go inside the water, not sure of how long would I be able to hold my feet there, so I simply sat on the stairs at the river bank and stared at people and waves. By evening, I could see small children walking along the river banks carrying some magnets attached to a string, which they would dip inside the water to grab some coins. The "Grand Aarti" was already getting prepared and people had started crowding the place. We also took our seats , and saw the Aarti of "1000 flames". It was a kind of scene for a life time; you would never want to miss.
Next morning, i.e. on May 25th, 2010, we left Haridwar to head back to our original dwellings. We were all thoroughly exhausted with the journey and the trip. But, there was one big event left for us to organize at Chandigarh and that was the house warming ceremony of my dad's new flat, supposed to be conducted on May 28th, 2010. We had invited many of my dad's colleagues and their families and there were loads of arrangements to be made. The next two days were gone in preparing for the ceremony and all necessary arrangements. All was done well and with proper procedure. The weather also supported us, by pouring some relief showers after a long span of experiencing blistering heat. I came back to Bangalore on May 29th, 2010 - thoroughly exhausted and excessively tanned, yet pleased with the way my past ten days had gone.
Now, was the time to prepare for my upcoming trip to Germany, which was scheduled from June 6th to June 26th.
Trip to HaridwarClick thumbnail to view full-size
The time from June 1st to June 6th was all spent in preparing for the trip. And, that included all necessary travel based shopping, paper work, packing and making official presentations etc.
My flight was booked in Lufthansa from Bangalore to Frankfurt. I was traveling with three more colleagues of mine.The eight hours trip from Bangalore to Frankfurt was much pleasant. It was more or less like an overnight bus journey from Delhi to my hometown in Himachal Pradesh. We boarded an ICE (Intercity Express) train at "Die Bahn (Railway Station)" from Frankfurt to Ulm, which took another 2.5 hours.Ulm was absolutely the same, the way I saw it last time when I came here in November 2009. The only difference was the weather, which was much pleasant this time. There was Sun, for a change. I could see greenery all over my way through the train. My hotel booking was done at the "InterCity Hotel", which was just next to the "Hauptbanhof" (Main Railway Station) at Ulm. The hotel was quite good, provided complimentary breakfast buffet and a complimentary bus pass for free travel across the city in "Ding" buses and trams.
My office was located at Wilhelm Runge Strasse which was just 15 minutes away by bus from my hotel.The main city center was located just next to my hotel, and that included all the big shops like Muller, Galeria and C&A etc. The shops and all the eateries, basically surround the famous Munster church, which is till date the longest church in the world. It was fun to roam around the place, doing window shopping and (sometimes) actual shopping there.
Ulm is a calm and peaceful city, and my stay of three weeks there was almost consistent, without any major shocks and surprises. The only thing that changed for me was the weather, which was quite bright for the first week, but became rainy and colder in the following week. I didn't notice much of my last week's weather there, as I was busy in wrapping up things and doing my final round of shopping. :). Below are some of the captures I made at Ulm. I may upload some more soon.
Trip to UlmClick thumbnail to view full-size
All said and done, I have had enough trips that would make me stay peacefully at home now, for at least another couple of months. I am at home now, and it feels quite comfortable and safe here, despite my daily monotonous routine. My last two months gave me an insight to varied cultures, religions, cuisines, people and other dynamics, which has left me spellbound by the diversities in life forms. Even though I come from a background of "travelers and nomads", things never stop to amaze me with their vividness and distinctive features, every time I go out in the world to see something.
Life is a journey, and what else can I say now - Just keep going on!! :)