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The vehicles stopped near an old suspension bridge – ‘Jhula Pul’. The bridge was erected in 1910, more than 100 years ago and is still in pristine condition. Though the village was inhibited in 1930s, there is no real explanation for this bridge to be commissioned in 1910s.
This is in Village Chanfi, 10 kilometres from Bhimtal ,Uttarakhand, our destination for a weekend getaway. This bridge is the last point of motorable road after which is a trek for around a kilometre along and through Kalsa river to reach our home for next three days. The place of stay is aptly named ‘ Soulitude by the Riverside‘
Village Chanfi is sparsely populated with farming as the main occupation of the inhabitants. The trek on the rocky terrain through the forest land is not strenuous, rather it is a pleasant stroll in the company of chirping birds, stridulating crickets and occasionally croaking toads. The water in the river is so clean that small fishes can be seen swimming at leisure . It takes around 20 minutes to reach the resort and as the name suggests it is situated by the riverside. During monsoons this path is closed as it gets filled with water and there is an alternate way to reach the resort.
A small gate literally opens the door to heaven. A beautiful property on the foothills of mountains takes the breath away.
It is not a big property in comparison to other properties in hospitality industry, just has 7 rooms currently. Three rooms are part of the original house which was made many decades back. It was a typical village home with a cowshed,a kitchen and a bedroom which now is converted into a single storey suite consisting of 3 rooms and a lobby. The roof has skylights which fills the place with dramatic interplay of light and shadow. Other 4 rooms are housed in 2 double storeys structure.
The tasteful interiors are bright,colourful and inviting. The styling is a perfect mix of traditional and contemporary elements which are complementing each other. Nothing seems out of place, every object including furnishing is handpicked and curated in a very inspirational manner.
The centre of attraction is the spacious lounge in the wilderness. An almost circular structure with hardly any walls,big windows all over with skylight gives a feeling of openness in the enclosed space. Again a perfect mix and match of colours and various elements with the two ceiling fans seeking attention .A perfect place for relaxing in the afternoons when the sun is hot, the construction is such that hot air goes up naturally leaving the place cool during summer. An ideal location for reading a book or just chilling on a rainy day( missed rain this time but a trip during monsoon is on the wish list ). Next to the lounge is a small bar area in the open to make the evenings enjoyable and not to forget is a place.a pit earmarked for bonfires during the cold nights.
For eating,two spaces are earmarked . The open air space under a tree is built like a dhaba is most suitable for a relaxed and sumptuous breakfast or tea in the evening. And then there is a covered cozy area where lunch and dinner are served.
Along the river,benches have been placed where one can just go,sit and enjoy the nature,through the serene visuals and through the sounds of nature.
Besides just going into hibernation for a few days, one can indulge in a trek to the mythological “Pari Taal” . It is around 2 kilometres away and takes around half an hour to reach. Situated in the forest land, Pari Taal or “the lake of fairies” has a story behind its name. In old times logs of wood were put into the river for transportation to plains to a place called Kathgodam ( Godown for wood) . It is believed that before putting the logs in the water,a ritual involving sacrifice of an animal was performed for the safe journey of logs. One contractor refused to perform this ritual and according to the folklore around 5000 logs disappeared in the water. When the contractor realised his mistake,he went ahead with the sacrifice and asked for forgiveness. This resulted in miraculous appearing of all the missing logs from this lake and people saw fairies also coming out from the water. The lake is still considered auspicious and people refrain from taking a dip here. The depth of the lake is not really known.
The locals mention of another interesting phenomenon which takes place in the mountains surrounding the lake. Some of the rocks are blackish in colour. These are presumed to be the rocks containing Shilajit which is supposed to have medicinal properties for Anti ageing and providing strength . Every year in January and February hundreds of langurs come here and stick to the these blackish rocks basically to suck Shilajit.
Besides the presence of natural beauty in abundance, the place looks even more beautiful because of the personal touches by the owners and excellent hosts Ratna & Manish Chandra. Each spot is carefully chosen and interesting elements which are well researched and handpicked add to the beauty of the spot.
A lot of food is grown within the resort for internal consumption. Mint and Lemons used in the welcome drink are in-house produce. Plants and trees of a lot of fruits, vegetables and herbs merge well with the wild plants which grow in this area.
All good things come to an end and so does our trip. It is time to head back home, heart is not allowing but mind is pressing hard. It is the victory of mind this time but given a choice,the heart should have a major say in all the decisions of life. So it is the beautiful trek again back to the suspension bridge where vehicles are waiting to pick us up to take to the Kathgodam Railway Station.
Though we are back,our souls still remain there refusing to accompany or rather we left them intentionally for another visit, for a much longer duration for sure.
© All Rights Reserved Ravi Dhingra
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Jodhpur in Rajasthan is also known as the blue city, for the blue painted houses. Old photographs of the city prove beyond a point the presence of such a riot of blue. But today the city is in a confused state of mind, caught between the modern and traditional way of existence. Like any other city in the world,traditions are being overtaken by contemporary models of survival. Both co-exist but for how long and who wins the battle is anybody’s guess.
So here I was in the city but only for a very short duration. For some reasons all my trips to Jodhpur have been very short ones. Sometimes I have just taken the flight back from the city,but all the times I have been able to get some kachauris packed for home. I have not got much opportunity to explore the city,last visit involved just a drive to the Mehrangarh Fort and that too in the evening when the place was about to close for the day for visiting.
This time I could manage half a day in the second half of the day to roam around and briefly scan the place. And then someone suggested to walk up to Mehrangarh Fort through the city which was a brilliant idea. Moving through the narrow streets to reach the spectacular and massive lanmark, experiencing traditional city undergoing change to meet the history. This was a long,slow and interrupted walk where journey was as interesting as the destination. It was a quest to find blue,a search for identity of the city which is in the process of vanishing .
It is always advised to start the journey with a full stomach and I strongly believe in this.
And when in Rome do as the Romans do, so it is best to stick with the local street food and the humongous cooking-pot full of samosas getting deep fried was mouth watering.
The confused state of city is evident in the new structures which are coming up with a mix of old architecture.
The city features in the list of must visit places in Rajasthan and being a place frequented by travelers,the dwellers are quite tourist savvy and not camera shy.
Ghantaghar, Clock Tower is the place which connects to the road leading to the Fort.
The narrow streets are lined up with houses of different architecture and different look of exteriors. Not every house is blue,some have patches of blue and in some the clolour blue trying to peep out of a freshly painted coat of a lighter tone.
After almost an hour of maneuvering in the congested yet quite clean lanes and bylanes, the boundary of Fort is visible and this happens to be the last house on this street and it is a big blue house.
By now the samosas are fully digested and it is time to try out something new. Freshly made bhujiya , is another must have in Rajasthan though Bikaner is more known of this delicacy.
The sun has started to set giving indications to me to end the quest. Some quick shots before calling the day.
Well it said that journey never ends and the quest also continues. Find some more blue at the airport while waiting to board the flight. A bonus….
All the photographs here feature some tone of blue in the various elements,blues walls,blue skies,blue clothes. Half a day is too less to explore and enjoy a place but this half day was well spent and gave good insights and an unforgettable experience.
© All Rights Reserved Ravi Dhingra