Manang, an experience.

Manang Valley

A pristine district of Nepal

Manang is a district of Nepal from where many trek routes start. When I was planning for a Nepal trip one of my trekker friends suggested to visit there. I asked him if one can go there by vehicle because I can not trek due to my health issues. I searched Google and YouTube and got a little information about Manang. But in those videos and articles none discussed the cost and the problems. It may be the cause that very few people go there and mostly they go in groups. They are mostly trekkers, so are strong in every way. It is a popular destination for foreigners who do not bother about expenses because 1 US $ is equal to 123 NC or 1 Euro is equal to 132 NC whereas 5 Indian rupees is equal to 8 Nepali rupees. It is a restricted and natural calamity prone area, so a permit (TIMS Nepal) is required to go there. The permit costs 1000+600 Nepali currency.

Manrsyangdi River

We took a bus from Pokhara to Besishahar at 7 o’clock in the morning. My companion was eternally irritating by nature. She has different health problems. It was a 4 hours bus journey and the bus did not stop for a break. She suddenly started shouting that she needed to go to the toilet. After shouting a few times, the bus stopped at a suitable place and she released herself. I felt a little embarrassed because it was against my culture and one should have control over oneself for hunger, thirst and other issues while undertaking a journey specially of this kind. There were few young foreigners from Europe who came in different groups from different parts of Europe. There was a solo female traveler too from Germany. All young.

Bridge on Marsyangdi River

When the bus dropped us at Besishahar, it was around 11-30 AM. We got down from the bus and had our lunch. After lunch I started searching for a vehicle to reach Manang. They asked for 5000 NC. means 3,129 IC. I was a little shocked, I had no idea that the cost of going to Manang would be so high. I could not check through Google because my Nepali SIM did not have mobile data. BTW, in Nepal most of the hotels provide free WiFi connection.

A huge falls on the way to Manang.

My friend got agitated suspecting that they were looting us. She asked me to bargain and I inquired of to the locals what the true price was, they informed me that it was 2500 NC for locals. I argued with a pick-up van driver and he agreed to take us at 2500 NC ( He was going to Chame, I did not know that the whole area is called Manang which is a district of Nepal and our destination point was Tanki Manang.).

Gangapurna Lake, Glacier, Peak

When we started, the river Marsyangdi was accompanying us. It was a cloudy day and drizzling from time to time. On the way a couple from Tamilnadu joined us. The road was extremely rugged, the vehicle was swinging like a seesaw, but the view was extraordinary. We had a tea break at a beautiful view point where there was a large falls. After that there were three check posts where our permits were checked. The vehicle was carrying loads which it dropped at several assigned places.

Gangapurna Lake

At Chame it cleared all its cargo and the passengers, except us. He announced that he would not go farther. I was surprised because I was quite sure that it was not the place that my friend had described to me. I firmly told the driver that it was not Manang which we wanted to go for. To solve the dispute the driver took us to the tourist police who intervened and made us understand that we had to pay at least another 1500 NC for going to that particular place from there and he arranged another vehicle which luckily arrived at that time with two vacant seats, and we started again.

It was dark by that time. Outside nothing could be seen. My friend who was by nature always skeptical, started shouting at me that she had made a great mistake coming with me, exhausting herself physically, mentally and financially. She doubted that these people could kill us and throw our bodies into Marsyangdi. None would be able to trace us. I was already upset and tolerating her tantrums on different issues since the beginning of the journey, lost patience and threatened her that when she had come with me she had to endure things till we catch our flight.

Jeep Stand, Manang

When the car reached Tanki Manang it was 10PM. The village was sleeping. The moon was peeping through the clouds. Luckily our driver previously had informed a hotel nearby jeep stand to arrange dinner for all 6 passengers that he was carrying including himself. My friend was so ill mentally and physically that she was unable to stand properly; the driver and another person carried her and her luggage. She was hungry, scared and tired. She slept on the sofa of the dining hall. She could not eat properly and was out of breath. I kept myself calm and served her like a typical manager of a travel agency. She met me on a place during Rupkund trek, she informed us that she had done a few treks, it was unexpected to me that she proved herself so vulnerable in every way all through the tour. I lost my water bottle in the jeep during this chaos.

A Monastery at Manang

Next day was a sunny day. My friend was happy to see the natural beauty of the place and did a volte face as if nothing serious had happened previous night. Together we went to Gangapurna lake, watched Gangapuna peak and glacier and strolled in the village. Food was very costly. Even two fried eggs cost 320 NC. The name of the hotel was Hotel Yeti where we stayed. It was convenient for us due to its proximity to the jeep stand. We inquired about the jeep time and the rent after lunch. It was 4000 NC for going down to Besishahar. During dinner my friend asked for a green chilly. The manager of the hotel laughed and said he had not seen green chilly for a month. Instead he offered her chilly pickles.

Braga Village

Tanki Manang is a beautiful village with many snow peaks of Himalayas like Mt Annapurnas, Mt Gangapurna, Mt Tilicho, Mt Khangsar Kang etc. It is situated above 11,500ft/3500 meters from sea level. River Mansyangdi is flowing through the valley. Though arid by nature there are many apple orchards. The apples that grow here are of a different type. Many trek starts from here.

Pisang Village

In the afternoon we went nowhere because my friend was neither hardy nor a travel freak, she loved binge watching on her phone most of the time or sleeping. I was also lacking enthusiasm after a few altercation from the beginning of the tour and was waiting for the end. Next morning we woke up early and I reached the jeep stand before 6-30 AM as per instruction of the driver. My friend reached there at 5-45 in the morning. When my friend went to the toilet she found my water bottle in the office cum tea shop at the jeep stand. I was happy to get it back. Ultimately the jeep started at 8AM. Then it stopped at Braga and Pisang to pick up local passengers. Both were small beautiful villages.

Chame Village

At Chame we had breakfast break. Jery (Jalebi) Puri of Chame is famous in Manang. When we went upward we could see nothing as it was cloudy. This time I looked around at Chame, a beautiful village. Manaslu peak was visible from there. From Dharapani the whole Manaslu range was visible, but I had to capture it only on my mobile as I lost my camera lens cap at Jomsom, I had to keep the camera under packing for its safety. We reached Besishahar in the afternoon, nearly at 4 o’clock and boarded in a hotel with the help of our jeep driver. Next day we reached Kathmandu.

Manaslu from Dharapani

My Experiences of Recong Peo and Kalpa.

Recong peo is a small transit town on the way to Spiti and Kinnaur. I happened to stay there twice on my way to Spiti ( Himachal Pradesh). First time I went there in September 2019 from Shimla by bus and reached in the evening. I only watched the beautiful Kinnaur Kailash peak from my hotel window. Next day in the early morning I set out for Kaza. Next time I went there in 2020 March at noon time starting early morning from Shimla by news paper jeep from old bus stand. It dropped me at the market. I went to the bus stand by a local bus.

All hotels were mostly closed due to Corona and March is not proper season for Spiti trip. I went to a hotel at the bus stand and had lunch with rajma chawl. I asked the boy, who was serving food, that I needed an accommodation to stay at night. He was a bit hesitant because the rooms were not cleaned properly as there was no tourist. I agreed to wait for cleaning. He cleaned the room and bathroom, changed pillow covers and then I settled there. He took only Rs 500 from me. The owner was away to Shimla.

The water was so cold that I started sneezing as soon as I washed my face. He said that they had solar heater but as it was not functional, he could give me hot water next morning. It was 4/5 degree temperature then at noon time. In the afternoon I went to the market place taking a short cut behind the bus stand, I bought some extra vitamin tablets for myself to protect from cold and Corona. The taxi stand was full of empty taxis. Next morning I went to Nako and had to return to Kalpa spending one night at Nako as Spiti hotels declared closure due to Corona Pandemic. I came back again in the afternoon to Recong Peo by Kaza -Peo morning bus and caught a local bus to reach Kalpa.

When the local bus dropped me at Kalpa bus stand in the afternoon I saw no one in the road. All hotels were closed. I saw an old lady working in their cowshed, collecting cow-dung for making fuel. I tried to draw her attention but either she was deaf or she did not understand my language, she kept on muttering something that I could not hear. I felt puzzled and started walking slowly towards the market. I saw a traveler bus full of tourists. I asked them where they were going to stay, but they were also in search of a hotel. Suddenly I saw 2/3 people in a balcony of a building. I proceeded towards it, it was a hotel, named Hotel Destination. I went up and asked for a room and got one. Those tourists in the traveler bus also came there later. They had ladies and kids with them. They were a group of 13/14 people including kids.

In the evening I was informed by one of my Himachali Facebook friend that Himachal Pradesh hotels were going to close for tourists from the day after the next day for unknown period. I called my son and arranged my return flight ticket for the day after the next day. At night there was light snow fall. In the morning when I woke up there was fresh snow all over which started melting with the rise of sun. Next day early morning I visited the local temples and monastery. Narayan Nagini temple was built up of wood and its carvings were unique. After breakfast I went to the bus stand to catch the bus for Recong Peo. There was a bus for Shimla at 11 AM. The group of people that came by traveler bus they remained there. Their leader informed me that they would continue their journey to Manali and then Amritsar and would not give up the tour in any case. He was looking very confident. I reached Shimla in the evening and spent the night in the same hotel where I stayed previously. They gave me a warm welcome. I reached Kolkata on 21March evening. I still remember that group and wonder when they did manage to come back and how?

My experience of Nako.

Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, March 2020.

Spiti is a cold desert mountain valley located above tree line in the north-eastern part of Himachal Pradesh. The name “Spiti” means “The middle land”, i.e. the land between Tibet and India. To enjoy winter Spiti by public transport March is considered as the best month because in March chances of road block is less due to snowfall. Though temperature remains subzero but not as severe as January/ February. Buses keep on plying on the routes regularly. There is plenty of snow around. I went Spiti in the previous year during September to Visit Chandratal crossing Kunzum pass. This time my target was to go to Mudh Village, enjoy the beauty of Pin Valley National Park, and on the way back visit Nako lake and Kinnaur Valley.

I went to Recong Peo by a shared jeep that was carrying newspaper in the morning and reached Recong Peo at 12 noon. Next morning I went to the bus stand to catch bus for Kaza. But the bus was full with the students whose institutions in Shimla suddenly closed due to Corona pandemic. It was the only bus from Recong Peo to go to Kaza. I was a bit disappointed. I came to know that there was another bus at 11AM which was going to Samdoo. I thought it would be better to go to Nako without wasting time at RecongPeo. Nako was in my itinerary but on the way back. So I bought ticket for Nako and boarded the bus.

I reached Nako in the evening at 6 o’clock. There was a hotel at the bus stop. I asked for accommodation. The landlady said that they were going to close the establishment from next day, so I have to leave by next day. It had been decided by all hotel and home-stay owners of Spiti that all the hotels and home-stays would remain shut for the tourists from the next day onward. I got into the room. Room was cozy and almost clean, but the toilet was locked. I asked the lady about the toilet, she informed that it was not functional because the water pipe and sewage pipe both were choked with ice. There was a bio-toilet outside the building. I requested her to open the toilet for at least at night and to give a bucket of water. She firmly disagreed. I could neither eat properly nor drink as I was afraid to go out in the mid night in such freezing cold and I was afraid of the hill stray dogs too.

Next morning I woke up at 6-30 AM. It was pretty cold, my fingers became blue as soon as I took off my gloves to take a snap of sunrise. When I asked about the lake to the land lady she informed casually that there was nothing much to see because the lake was frozen, it did not lower my spirit to visit the lake. After taking a cup of tea I went to visit Nako lake. No one was there on the road. I asked a small local girl to show me the way to the lake. She took me near the lake. There were three guys who also came to visit the lake. I am a person from plainland. The beauty of white frozen Nako lake in the morning was mesmerizing to me. I took few photograph of the lake. I requested those visitors to take few snaps of mine. Then I came back and had breakfast. In the cafe I met three bikers who stayed at Dhankad as they were refused accommodation in Kaza the previous night. I caught the morning bus for Recong Peo. I reached Recong Peo in the afternoon and from there I went to Kalpa.

My experiences of Ukhimath.

I reached Ukhimath one April morning of 2018 from Sari by a shared jeep. It is a transit point on the way to Madmaheswar and Kedarnath from Haridwar. Ukhimath is famous for Omkareshwar temple. According to Indian Mythology, Usha, the daughter of Vanasur and Anirudh, son of Krishna, got married here. Ukhimath is probably the distorted form of Ushamath.

In this whole trip I did not get proper views of Himalayas due to haze and fog. My Deoria Tal trek was good but neither I witnessed Himalayan range nor reflection of Chaukhamba peak in the lake, for which most people visit that place, so I was a bit disappointed, but I was happy after reaching Ukhimath meeting Kedarnathji and Madmaheshwarji at Omkareshwar temple and felt blessed. After the closing of Kedarnath temple and Madmaheshwar temple, on the next day of Deepavali, the deities remain here till the temples open again after Akshaytritiya

There is Bharat Sebashram Sangha where many people prefer to stay. It is situated on the highway, a bit away from the center of the town. I preferred to stay near the market because bus stand and jeep stand were there. So it was easy for me to catch bus or jeep for the next destination. I got a suitable accommodation very near to the market. As it was off season and I was the only boarder, they informed that they could not provide me food.

In the afternoon, I went to Omkareshwar temple through a shortcut, guided by the local people, which was quite steep. Coming back through the same way was stressful and risky for me specially after sun down, because there was no light. So I took the regular path. On the way I met a woman of my age. We were walking on the same way. She introduced herself and said that it would be easier to walk if we talk and walk together. I made friendship with her. She informed that she was a widow and stayed with her daughters. She earned her livelihood making woolen garments on machine. She came to the temple gate to deliver her goods in a shop. We talked a lot about our personal life, shared feelings and thoughts as if we had been known to each other since ages. It was a one and half kilometer walk. When we parted at the market, it seemed to me that I was leaving an old friend of mine. I always revere these hill women who are simple and hardworking but full of knowledge and philosophy of life.

My Experiences in Shimla.

It was my 8th solo trip and 3rd solo trip to Himachal Pradesh, so I should say I was not very nervous. My first destination was Kaza. Initially I planned to go to Kaza via Manali. Later I thought it would be better going via Shimla, then I would not have to travel through the same road twice and I would also be able to see some parts of Kinnaur Valley. I bought the ticket for Himsuta, the HRTC Volvo bus from ISBT Kashmiri Gate to go to Shimla after reaching Delhi by Rajdhani Express. The bus started at 12-30 PM. There was lunch break at Panipath. There I marked a family of three , a middle aged couple with their young son. There were other people too.

When the bus reached near Shimla, people gradually started getting down from the bus. The conductor called out at every stoppage and checked the bus if they had left anything or if any one had missed his/her destination. At that time I asked the conductor if there was any hotel near the bus stand, he replied in negative. I again asked if there was any accommodation at Shimla ISBT, then also he replied in negative. I was insistent on this issue, because I had to get accommodation to spend the night in Shimla to get the bus for RecongPeo next morning, I came to know there was not even any conveyance from the bus stand after 8-30 at night. I bitterly said to the conductor that what should I do then.

A woman came from the front seat and sat beside me. She politely informed me that her son had asked her to help seeing me in plight. If I did not have problem they could accommodate me in there home. I hesitated at first. Then her son came, he said there house was a kilometer away from the bus stop, whether I should be able to carry my luggage that distance. I agreed reluctantly because I had no choice. I went with them, the boy helped me carrying my backpack. We reached their home.

It was quite a large house. They spared me a room and a bath room. I took a nice hot water bath and got refreshed. They showed me their whole house. I ate a tasty dinner there. The boy was very enthusiastic to keep me for another day with them and wanted to learn cooking Bengali fish cuisine, but I had to leave because I could not take risk to waste one day at the beginning of the tour. At night I had a deep sleep in that cozy bedroom. In the early morning the lady woke up and made tea for me. She offered me a packet of apples of their garden. I could not take them all because that would make my luggage more heavy. The boy took me up to the bus stand in their car and helped me to catch the bus for RecongPeo. It is needless to say that I shall never forget their sincerity, kindness and kinship.

My Experiences at Batal

Batal is a transit point on the way to Manali or Keylong from Kaza or vice versa. Here the road bifurcates for Chandratal also. There are very few halting places on this way for refreshment. So those who go through this road normally halt here and have morning tea or snacks and soft drinks or breakfast or lunch. Here the only Dhaba that exists is Chacha-Chachi’s Dhaba.

When I got down from the traveler bus at 9-30 AM, the driver told me that they would pick me up from the same place at the same time next day, Chachi welcomed me. I informed her that I wanted to go to Chandratal and I was alone. She assured me with a smile that I must get a lift from someone and it would not be a great problem as I was alone, but I have to keep patience till lunch because people come for Chandratal from Manali then. I sat at their Dhaba where Chacha and his daughter-in-law were attending their customers continuously with a smile on their face. I ordered a cup of black tea and watched tourists. The clock kept on moving forward.

At 12 noon I ordered my lunch, rice, aloo ki sabzi(Potato curry) and fried eggs. They also had daal(pulses) and rajma curry(Kidney beans). But I avoided it because I was worried about my next plan and also about getting proper toilet. There was a toilet at Chacha-Chachi’s Dhaba which was work-ably clean and water was available there. But many people don’t have a habit of thinking about other people, they are just satisfied after fulfilling their own requirements. So the toilet was smelly.

I became very impatient after 1PM, but Chachi again consoled me telling to have patience. After trying few groups, a generous couple agreed to give me a lift for Chandratal. Chachi gave me the card of Tenzin Camp and requested me to stay there. I kept my rucksack in the custody of Chachiji and took only my small backpack with necessary things. I reached Chandratal, enjoyed the heavenly beauty of Chandratal and again got lift from two good Mongolian women, who were friends and came to visit India, while coming back to Batal next morning.

When the two Mongolian friends dropped me at Batal it was 6 o’clock in the morning. They had breakfast there and then they left for Solang valley. I kept on waiting. In the mean time I asked for my rucksack which I had kept there previous day. Chachaji said with a serious face, “Someone has asked for it on behalf of you and I gave it, didn’t you send him? ” I became puzzled and said, “I told you that I am alone. why did you give my luggage to a stranger ?” But suddenly I watched that Chachaji’s eyes were twinkling with humour. I understood that he was joking with me as he did regularly with his customers. If someone had a bill of 500 rupees, he asked him to give 5 thousand and when someone challenged he said, zero had no value, so what if he added an extra zero !!! I enjoyed there watching their activities and had breakfast.

Chacha Chachi are famous in that region. They gave shelter and food to hundreds of people last year (2018 September) when tourists got stuck during a sudden natural calamity. They got several accolades from different organizations and famous people. There was an unceasing smile on the faces of this industrious couple. They called every customer “beta (child)”. Watching them I realized that inner beauty and complacency are the two invaluable possession which they own.

As usual the bus was late. But Chachaji said not to worry if they had taken money they would definitely pick me up sooner or later. At last the bus came and picked me up from Batal for Keylong. That is another part.

My experience at Bharmor (Himachal Pradesh )

Bharmor is a small hill town in the district of Chamba and the starting point of Manimahesh Yatra. Bharmani Mata is the goddess of the place. One should visit Bharmani Mata before visiting Manimahesh. She is the Shakti of Manimahesh Shiva. So after reaching Bharmor I visited Bharmani mata temple, it was accessible by car as well as by foot, I took a shared jeep to reach there. At Bharmor HPTDC hotel I met a congenial doctor couple who visited Bharmor thrice with the intention to go to Manimah by helicopter, but every time for some reason they missed it. They also accompanied us to Bharmoni mata temple. They are still in contact with me. There is another temple in Bharmor which is called Chaurashi temple. It is said that the temple was built 1400 years ago, it is at the center of the town. There was a fair during that time when I visited Chaurashi temple.

Bharmani Mata Temple

In the premises of the Chaurashi temple there were several small temples. Chaurashi means eighty-four. I visited Shiva temple, Ganapati temple and few other temples. I took several photos of the temples and the idols. When I entered the Narasimha temple I asked the priest if I could take a photo, but he denied, I bowed and put a ten rupees note in the donation box and came out.

Temple Fair

A wicked idea came into my mind. I thought I must take a photo of Narasimha from outside zooming my camera lens hiding behind the eyes of the priest. I took the photo. Then a strange incident happened. I could not take a single photo after that in the temple yard. My camera showed that the memory card was full. I remembered that I had forgotten to clean the memory card of my camera before this trip. One can say this was a coincidence. But I was scared. How could I take photos after this, the main part of the journey was still left for which I had been craving for long ago.

Shree Narasimhadev

Eventually I found a man with a computer doing photo editing in a shop in the market. I asked him to clear out my memory card. He did so, though I lost some of my photos of Bharmoni mata temple. I felt relieved and thanked God that if it had happened on the way to Manimahesh, it would become a disaster for me as I could not get even a single snap of the places till I reached Dalhausie. Manimahesh was one of the most difficult pilgrimage and I could not think of going there for the second time in my life at this age.

After that experience I never try to take a photo of any idol where taking photo is prohibited. One may call me superstitious but I am not ashamed to say that I am superstitious when I am traveling to Himalayas and I do not want to take any risk with anything. If I don’t take a photo of an idol it does not matter much to me because my intention is to see the places and the beauty of the nature. I keep the images of those gods in the memory card of my mind with due reverence. I consider Himalayas is itself a god. Going there is always a pilgrimage to me.

My experiences at Lachen(Sikkim)

Lachen is a small village in North Siikim. People come here not only for its natural beauty, but also to halt one night here to go to the holy lake of Gurudongmar. I visited Lachen few years ago, but I could not reach Gurudongmar due to heavy snowfall. When I suddenly planned to visit Dzongu I thought I should try again to visit Gurudongmar lake. So, from Dzongu I hired a taxi which dropped me at Lachen.

I reached Lachen at 1 PM. I did not have any previous booking for accommodation. It was the season of Durga Puja, so there was a huge rush of Bengali tourists in Sikkim. Though Gurudongmar is not very much popular due to its altitude, many people do not feel comfortable at the high altitude of 17,800 ft, but still there were many groups of traveler. Not many hotels were there in Lachen, so getting down from the car I entered into a hotel which was in front of me. The owner was not there. A hotel stuff was there, he called up the owner. The owner was a young fellow. He said that his hotel was completely booked but he could accommodate me in their house. There was a home-stay run by his mother.

The home-stay was also booked but the lady somehow managed a room for me. We were of the same age. When she came to know that I have severe pain in my legs and knees, she massaged hot oil mixed with local herbs for a long time sitting beside the fireplace in their living room. It worked miraculously. I felt very much comfortable after that. A neighbour woman came there to talk to her. When she learnt that I wished to visit Gurudongmar lake next day, she arranged a Scrorpio car at a reasonable price for me talking to her husband. She was very young and never came down from the hilly region. She asked me lots of questions about my city, she was surprised to know that no one in Kolkata lived in wooden house. I had Sikkimese cuisine there cooked by my home stay owner.

Next morning at 5 o’clock I went to Gurudongmar lake and came back in the evening. A group of visitors from Assam was there, the lady of the home-stay was busy preparing food for them. Her grand daughter was helping her who came from Gangtok with her brother in law. Her brother in law was surprised to hear that I came all alone. He rebuked me for taking such kind of risk and advised me to come with someone next time. He eagerly arranged my return to Mangan next morning, and while leaving he warned me that if I would come with someone then only I would be accommodated.

My experiences at Gopeswar (Uttarakhand)

I boarded a shared jeep from Devgram with the intention to go to Gopeshwar. Gopeshwar is a small transit town and the administrative headquarter of Chamoli district. It had not been in my plan previously. But I understood, after staying one day at Helang, that it would not be easy for me to reach Chopta from there getting a seat in the bus or in a shared jeep in the middle of the way, for that I have to go either to Joshimath or to Gopeshwar. Gopeshwar was the better option for me being nearer to Chopta. So I told the driver of the jeep that I wanted to go to Gopeshwar. One fellow, who was in that jeep, heard our discussion and took initiative to stop a jeep on the way that plied between Joshimath to Chamoli so that I could reach Gopeshwar earlier. They transferred my luggage in that jeep. After reaching Chamoli I took another shared jeep for Gopeshwar, which was 25 kilometer away from there.

Gopinath Temple

When I reached Gopeshwar it was almost dark. I asked the driver if it was the destination. He confirmed that it was the market and the taxi stand of Gopeshwar. The person who sat beside me in the jeep asked, ” Are you alone ?” I replied in affirmative. He became agitated and scolded me severely for coming alone and said that I had to come with a male guardian. When he knew that I did not have a male guardian to accompany me he himself took the responsibility and took me to the GMVN tourist rest house. He called the manager and told him to make an arrangement for my stay. After that he advised me to take shelter in the government rest houses always because that would be the safest place for a solo female traveler like me. I felt overwhelmed with his concern about me, as if he was a very close relative of mine. I shall remember him as long as I live.

Gopeshwar is famous for Gopinath temple. In the next morning I visited Gopinath Temple. The manager of the rest house informed me that the only bus for Chopta would start at 12 PM, if I wished to catch the bus I should book ticket from the ticket counter at 10 AM. After having early lunch I went to Chopta by the bus that went to Ukhimath.

My Experiences at Periyar.


coffee beans

Kerala is not only famous for its natural beauty and cultural activities but also for home-stays and Ayurvedic spas. When I planned for Kerala trip I thought we should stay, at least once, in a decent home-stay to experience their hospitality. So while going to Periyar I told our driver to take us to a home-stay. He had many acquaintances in Periyar. It was peak season being Christmas holiday, so there was a rush of tourists. One of his acquaintances agreed to accommodate us. The room was clean and large.

Our Home stay

Periyar was the last destination of our trip. I had been tired of drinking coffee for more than a week. So I requested the owner of the home stay to give me a glass of black tea. His wife did not know how to make black tea. She did neither understand English nor Hindi, so I explained to her son how to make black tea. After some time her daughter brought a jug of black tea and some sugar in a separate pot. My son and I became very happy and drank the tea to our heart’s content after a long period.

Black pepper plant

We stayed there for two nights and whenever we asked for tea they gave us a jug full of tea and a separate container of sugar. I talked a lot with out hostess and exchanged information, thoughts and views about each others family, tradition and culture. Her daughter was our interpreter. The lady was a very simple but intelligent woman. They had few rooms for guests. All of their guests at that time were foreigners except us. They had a small garden where they grew cardamom, coffee, black pepper etc. She informed that in Kerala people grew spices for their daily consumption in their own garden. Malayalam cuisine is normally very spicy.

At the time of leaving when I asked what would be the charge for tea, the lady of the home-stay thought for a few moments and demanded only fifty rupees, she explained that for making a jug full of black tea she hardly needed a teaspoonful of CTC tea leaves and we took very little amount of sugar. We were happy. We enjoyed the time there very much.