Sunday, May 8

Vacation ... Part 2

(This is the second part of my travelogue. You can view the first part by clicking here)

Moving on to the details of our awesome holiday...
Here's more about the sightseeing stuff we did in Binsar, Uttarakhand.

Exploring the resort is a task in itself. There are beautiful flowers and pleasant viewing points to feast your eyes on the Himalayan ranges, among them Trishul, Kedarnath, Shivling and Nandadevi. You can see the same from Zero Point a short distance away which is situated in the Binsar Sanctuary that claims to have a variety of fauna, but doesn’t quite live up to the hype.

Most tourist locales are 25-70 kms from the resort, so they take anywhere between 1 to 4 hours by car one way. You can’t really drive any faster in the ghat, and the journey becomes soporific after a bit. (Having visited the more marvellous Manali and Darjeeling, valleys and rivers don’t stimulate me a great deal.)

Most sightseeing places boast of temples (chiefly Shiva or the local Golu Dev); among these we visited the temple at Bageshwar, Mallika Gananath and Jageshwar. The first was not really worthwhile, but the other two were fantastic. Gananath is as peaceful a place as can be, and Jageshwar has 125 lovely stone temples dedicated to lord Shankar and others. We also crossed Almora and Lakhudiyar on the way. The Bal mithai (sweet) at Almora is famous as are the (almost invisible and in my opinion, elementary) rock paintings at Lakhudiyar.

The Golu Devta Chittai temple is nothing less than magnificent, not for its looks but for the faith it commands. There are thousands of bells in the modest shrine, some attached with lengthy letters from devotees sharing their woes and wishes with the deity. Folklore says that for every fulfilled wish, a devotee ties a bell in the temple campus. Going by the number and size of the bells, Golu dev sure has been super busy working on the wishes of his disciples. Jai Golu Dev!

(I made a wish too, and tied a bell in advance. I’m not one to doubt the lord and his powers! Jai Golu Dev!)

I wanted to see Patal Bhuvaneshwar which has temples in caves and stuff like that. But it’s 120 kms away – a factor that substantially and sufficiently diminished my zeal. Who’d travel 12 hours to visit 65 underground temples? Not me… I’d have gone to Corbett as originally planned had I been that avid a ghat-drive-enthusiast.

There are other places, too, apart from the ones mentioned above. Do ping me or check online if you want more details. The above are all that I was eager to see in my tour.

Another place we managed to visit apart from the local sightseeing, was Nainital that lies on the way to Kathgodam - the closest train station to Binsar. Well, it's not really on the way, it's an hour detour from the actual route. Yet, it's quite worth it. The market is by no means a contender for the Shimla Mall Road, but the Naini Tal (lake) is prettier than words can describe. Especially at twilight.

Folklore says that the lake was named thus coz Goddess Parvati's eyes fell into the lake when her corpse was being transported by Shiva. I do not have the details, not having read this for myself. But it sure sounds interesting. We did visit Naina temple, that again is decorated, not by bells this time, but by red chunni's that are famous for Devi temples. I would have liked to spend some more time in the street/flea market, but we were running out of time, and would have missed our train to Delhi. Another time...

Well, on to our next topic...

Adventure sports.

Now that’s what was definitely the highlight of our holiday.

I did rock climbing, rappelling, valley crossing and water zorbing. And what’s even more awesome – mum did all these too. Damn, she’s a superwoman! Admire her spirit and passion, yaar! Touch wood.

(Muaaaahh, love you Maa. Happy Mother’s Day – you’re in Binsar today, away from me. Miss you.)

So, for the uninitiated, rock climbing is when you climb up a rock and no, the rope does nothing but dangle with you; you have to pull yourself up with the help of various holds on the rocky structure – something I didn’t know. I thought the rope eases your ascent by assisting in some way or that you pull the rope to bring yourself higher. Apparently, the purpose of the rope is just to ensure that you don’t fall down. Of course, it doesn’t save you from banging your head or any other body part… Bah!

Rappelling is the opposite – climbing down the rock. It is definitely more exciting than the climbing bit, and easier than it appears. Chances to break your nose and jaw still persist, so you gotta be careful. Once you get the technique, it’s exhilarating. You’ll want to do it forever, which you certainly can’t coz the rock ends sooner than you thought or wanted :-)

Rock climbing is harder and tiring than rappelling. Obviously, you have to follow instructions to the T and not mess around if you want to be safe and sound. Just trust the instructor and enjoy your experience! There shall be phases where you are keyed up and confident, then you give up out of the blue coz you just can’t seem to get it, then you are determined, scared, and finally victorious, self-assured and pleased! A must-do activity for everyone, young or old.

Valley crossing is the toughest of the lot. The fall is easy if you’re cruising downhill - your weight on the pulley carries you some distance. But after that, it’s a difficult journey. You have to keep pulling yourself semi-horizontally, and your own weight appears to break your back. It’s the simplest and most attractive thing to give up and say “get me off this”. But the crucial fact is, nobody can. You have to hoist yourself off the rope and that’s a herculean task in itself. I somehow survived it, but a few folks begged for assistance and were rescued midway. Not something I’d recommend for everybody – this is strictly not for the old, plump or frail.

And finally, water zorbing…

But let’s save that adventure for another day!

Don’t forget to come back!


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