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Exploring Himalayan Valleys

It’s been more than a month since I already returned from the vacation, but this summer reminds me to write and ruminate about it!

Yes, already excited since planned. The journey began from Chandigarh, a shared capital of Punjab and Haryana, 2 neighboring states. We reached Chandigarh on 28th March, 2010 morning.

Plan was to catch booked taxi and have a quick city tour of Chandigarh. But the taxi operator had some problems with the reserved taxi and driver. Also he could not manage for alternate.
With another contact of my uncle, somehow managed to get another taxi, fortunately, with that delay we could adjust the schedule to reach Mandi, by skipping Chandigarh sight seeing!

We reached Mandi, a pre destination place for halt on 28th late evening. Almost everybody was tired.

We again started for Manali on 29th morning. On the way to Manali, we found one of the best utility of gravitation force, an automated ropeway to transfer goods – between higher peak to lower peak in diagonal distance!

Automated Ropeway 1

Automated Ropeway 1

Automated Ropeway 2

Automated Ropeway 2

Idea was simply good. Use of 2 trolleys, one for carrying goods, another (with heavier water containers) for pulling goods to upper side!
Passing appx. 5 KM long tunnel and beautiful mountain ranges, we were following Beas river almost throughout route.

Tunnel

Beas River

Beas River

Rope Bridge on Beas River

Rope Bridge on Beas River

During this, I realized the value of rope, especially in mountaineering. Be it making a bridge or transfer of goods, ropes make these things dynamic!

View from Hotel @ Manali

View from Hotel @ Manali

We touched Manali by evening; found and finalized stay at a hotel, little away from main city and market, but closer to nature, a very peaceful area.

Hidimba Temple

Hidimba Temple

The next day we visited Hidimba Temple. The design was very different, had a touch of Mongolian building style.

Apart from this, its an historical place. The building design was different from what I had seen so far, it was constructed with both stones and wooden slabs as packing. Possibly this combination is an invention to protect against earthquake shocks and frequently changing weather.

Yak, near Hidimba Temple, Manali

Yak, near Hidimba Temple, Manali

I saw ‘live – moving’ yak, for the first time in my life!

The owner asked for Rs. 50 for taking photo, after it was captured!!! The owner should not keep his yak in public then!!!! 😀

Evening @ Manali Market

Evening @ Manali Market

Manali was beggar free, one good point especially being a tourist place.

Way to Rohtang Pass

Way to Rohtang Pass

Snow fall @ Rohtang Pass

Snow fall @ Rohtang Pass

Snowsuit

Snowsuit

Get ready to ski

Get ready to ski

Bhojpatra

Bhojpatra

On 30th March early morning started for Rohtang Pass, probably most exciting, adventurous and beautiful place.

Rain wear was available on rent on the way to Rohtang Pass. Gum boots and snow resistant suit made all look fatty. I made some attempts to learn skiing, but low air pressure and suddenly started snow fall stopped me for more attempts. But experience and feeling being under snow fall was amazing!

The icy hills are best condition for Bhojapatra – an ancient white tree to grow self. These trees’ skin was used to write notes in old days.

My evening was bit boring as elders were busy shopping in Manali market. I passed time by updating through tweets.

The financial year may although passed with a tag like ‘recession’, but end was definitely going to override such tags as I was enjoying vacation at heavenly places.

On financial year end day, we visited Naggar, a nearby place to Manali. It has renovated and hotel turned castle. Although castle is not gigantic viz campus, the structure and design is perhaps unique.

Naggar Castle 1

Naggar Castle 1

Naggar Castle 2

Naggar Castle 2

Naggar Castle 3

Naggar Castle 3

Naggar Castle 4

Naggar Castle 4

Next visit was a Buddha Monastery and Manikaran, a holy place for the Sikhs, situated on the banks of river Parvati.

Buddha Monastery 1

Buddha Monastery 1

Buddha Monastery 2

Buddha Monastery 2

Buddha Monastery 3

Buddha Monastery 3

Buddha Monastery 4

Buddha Monastery 4

Manikaran

Manikaran Gurudwara

Rafting in Beas 1

Rafting in Beas 1

Rafting in Beas 2

Rafting in Beas 2

By evening, shopping of shawls from Factory outlets in Kullu highway was finished. Thereafter I enjoyed water rafting in Beas river with my daddy and rafting crews!

For safety measure, the authority was running a parallel raft boat with ours! This was probably next major adventurous and exciting experience for me, next to Rohtang.

On fools day, morning we left Manali and started for Dharmashala, another place with scenic beauty and closest place to headquarter of the Lamas. Highway was beautiful as Tea gardens passed by.

We settled at a hotel in Dharmashala by evening.

On 2nd April only plan was to visit McLeod Ganj, the most important and famous place, especially for Buddhist. This place in fact was giving essence like a capital of Tibet, too many Tibetians and foreigners.

McLeod Ganj 1

McLeod Ganj 1

McLeod Ganj 2

McLeod Ganj 2

McLeod Ganj 3

McLeod Ganj 3

McLeod Ganj 4

McLeod Ganj 4

3rd April was driving us towards end of vacation. We reached Pathankot railway station to catch train for return journey, by noon.

Visit to such places definitely expects good driving skills for any vehicle owner. The only thing we could not enjoy much is food, either traditional food in Himachal Pradesh consists more of non veg or that food is not much in focus. The only served Punjabi dishes, that we ate, were also not always satisfactory. But we did not go to such places to have food, so was ok to compromise at.

We had Ramesh & Bharati Dave, a known couple in Gujarati literature, with us, during the trip. To us, they are living encyclopedia of trees and flowers. Having them with us was another angle of fun and chance to grab some knowledge about nature! Sapling and shawls were the only shopping that they did!

Photos of trip are available at here, credit goes to my dad, brother and me! 🙂

Wake Up call for Indian Consumers

CERC has started consumer grievance helpline – 1800-233-0222. This helpline is toll free for BSNL Gujarat users.

This is really a welcome step by CERC in association with Consumer Affairs, Government of Gujarat. This helpline is available from 10.30 AM to 5.30 PM as per IST. (GMT +530)

CERC is very reputed non profit NGO serving and solving sonsumer complaints / grievance for its members. Its membership detail is here. You can become member by paying online instead.

To add few lines about the organisation’s prestigeous standing I can summarise few of my experiences:

  • When Vodafone Essar was Hutch, in undisclosed billed amount about Rs.500 for my postpaid mobile connection, I requested for justification and company ignored. I stopped using mobile services by paying genuine amount along with accounting statement which was genuine. Later, the company sent a legal notice that drove me to CERC. I have been member since then. CERC did some correspondance on my behalf. Company failed to respond and that proved the legal notice was no more legally valid or important!

  • HP refused to replace damaged front panel, damaged due to its design defect. Legally and as per company’s terms it is possible to replace such parts under cosmetic damaged parts category. Again, approaching CERC solved, front panel get replaced without any legal procedure.

  • In the matter of unsolicited call from ICICI Bank, I did some correspondence with bank and just by sending copy of the same to CERC taught the bank. The bank sent letter of forgiveness through courier!

Some points about CERC:

  • Complaint department listens and guides to complaint very genuinly. Consumer can feel free to express whatever his / her experience is / was.

  • Complaint department has very systemetic approach from receiving and registering complaints from its members to dealing with associated parties / business houses.

  • Genuine complaint can be registered through email to CERC as well. CERC’s method for dealing with non local complaint is really appreciative.

  • Insight, a bimonthly magazine from CERC is really worth to read. It is a leading publication in India for consumer awareness.

  • One membership serves complaint registered by his / her family members. (of course, not a joint family! :P)

  • Membership fees are normal or perhaps nominal for the kind of activities CERC does.

  • Most importantly, an Indian can be a member, get free Insight magazine and register for grievance too.

  • Different consumer product surveys carried & published by CERC are added advantage for consumers.

I highly recommend to become member of CERC, to boost its activities, to have Insight knowledge of consumer laws and if required to solve your complaints being a consumer.

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