Friday, April 25, 2014

On Our Trip To Ooty.

During our  recent trip to Ooty,  with friends, we had the good fortune of visiting two Farms: an Animal farm in Mysore, and a Floriculture farm in Coonoor.

Animal Farm In Mysore:

We visited this farm on our way to Ooty. This farm belongs to one of my husband's classmate from IIT Madras.
Since we were all going as a group to Ooty for a short break, he invited us to his farm for lunch,  which was just on the way. 
It was a lovely farm with  goats, cows, rabbits, and horses etc. We were amazed to see how attached he was to  all the animals. They had such pretty names. He also had a dog named Jimmy, who was so thrilled to have so many visitors barging in the farm  which would otherwise be so quiet and peaceful. 
Jimmy was an absolute darling, he didn't drool over all the snacks made for us (dogs generally do, and it is difficult to control them).  One could see absolute bliss in his eyes as he sat quietly among  us posing for photographs and having his snacks which was catching all the flies, that dared to come within his reach, with his mouth. He was really cute. ( to think he was a pie dog, no fancy breed)
                                            This Jimmy the dog

Then there was this whole gang of about 15 goats, the little ones were so cute,  and all of them jostling for our attention, giving us their cutest looks.

                                                         They were all so sweet

                                      They are cute babies expecting to be petted and loved
                                                       Aren't they really adorable?

Then there was a family of Horses too, looking quite handsome and beautiful : father, mother and their child.

                                                                     The mother

                                                            I loved her French cut 

                                                          Mother horse and the child

                              The baby was feeling very sleepy : when I next saw him he was fast                                                                                       asleep lying on the ground.
                                                                   The father horse
 We had a  really enjoyable time in the farm. His farm house too was quite compact and comfortable.
Sometimes people take up engineering and later on opt out of it  to pursue their other hidden passions.
Another classmate of my husband, who too  is from IIT Madras, is doing floriculture business in Coonoor.
                                               This is his house on top of a hill
                                                One of the houses on top of the hill
                           There are just about 3-4  houses on top of a hill away from the Coonoor city.
                                 We also saw Gopal Gandhi's house. There is so much peace and                                                                                                 beauty all around

                       They get to wake up everyday to feast their eyes on such gorgeous views

                                                        Bunches of Carnation given to all of us
                                                 Even after a week they are still so fresh
                                                                Such lovely colors

We really enjoyed visiting his farm as well as house. It is always good to see people, branching out to various fields. And every field needs dedication and hard work to be successful.
In these modern  times, it is not unusual to see our mindsets changing for we no longer feel the need to be stuck in  one field alone for the rest of our lives. These people are truly inspiring. 
Hats off to such successful people!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Incredible, Magnificent, India: Sikkim

 Sikkim: a must visit place, where people are very simple and very helpful too.
We went there for our 25th wedding anniversary, that was almost 9 years ago. We were there from October end to the 1st week of November. It was very cold, but very good, it was not yet snow season,  but was just a month away.  We were at the right time, although we could see and experience snow, walk on snow covered mountain paths, but only when we reached a little higher, not from where we had started our journey of Sikkim. For Pelling to be covered with snow one would have to wait for one more month.

 Sikkim is huge  we cannot cover everything within ten days. There are many beautiful places to visit in Sikkim, you have to choose what you actually want to see and then plan accordingly.
 We started our journey from Pelling.
We booked ourselves in the famous Tashi Gang Resort.
It is a lovely hotel, in the sense one can have the best view of the beautiful  Kanchenjunga, said to be the third highest mountain in the world. Imagine it is right across your room, almost as if you can touch it. Everyday you can just keep looking at the most mesmerising mountain  right from your balcony.  
The room was comfortable but other than that we did not feel like trying their food, as I think during off season, people there tend to look as if it is asking for too much. The reception and the staff looked like they could surely do with make over. It is a shame, to have a hotel in such beautiful calm location, with beautiful views, and not have an enthusiastic staff. I suppose all hill stations are like that only in India, now of course things have improved with the setting up of such classy resorts like the Mahinderas, etc.
Anyway we, found a nice homely place to eat nearby, which was quite good. Also we could walk a few miles maybe for 20 to 30 minutes, and reach the local market place where you can find some good Marwari restaurants serving you good meals, good samosas, and momos, excellent tea. It was good walking down the hill watching nature, exploring, taking in the fresh mountain air, and then climbing back,  which used to be a little tough, but we soon got used to that.
This was the hotel we stayed in Pelling: it belongs to the famous  Indian actor Danny Denjongapa's (Danny who acted in the movie Seven Years In Tibet) brother
The view from the entrance of the hotel 

Literally, the Noble Heaven- Reaching Mountain. A lake so calm it is said to be protected from all disturbances. Locals insist that not even a leaf falls on it to disturb its placidity; and if one does, a bird immediately swoops down to carry it off.
It was indeed a beautiful sight. There is monastery too there. It is very peaceful and serene.
There are a few other places too like Rimbi Falls and Kanchenjunga Falls and Pemayangtse Monastery,
Singshore Bridge which is second highest suspension bridge in Asia. A chill down your spine is ensured when you look down from center of the bridge. All this can easily be seen by hiring a Sumo jeep whose drivers themselves are guides too, in a single day
You would be surprised to see young boys in the age group of 15 to 18  handle these jeeps and rough terrain beautifully Unfortunately I have lost the pictures of the falls and the bridge, but you can look them up in the net.

We were lucky we could always see the majestic mountain from everywhere in Pelling.

We then left Pelling and travelled all the way up to Lachung,( which is much higher) where we stayed in a beautiful looking hotel. The room was just okay, but the food they cooked specially for us was really great, and since it was off season, they would make whatever we asked them to make.

It is called the Snowlion Hotel. It has dragons in the entrance , and is also the tallest building, and very grand too from outside.

                                                           This is a borrowed picture from the net

 For this hotel , we had to book only through their official agents known as the Marcopolo travels
Once again I have lost the picture of this hotel, which has a typical Chinese architecture, and very colorful too.

Here it was much, much colder than Pelling.

More about Lachung:
Lachung is a town located in the state of Sikkim. It falls under the north Sikkim district and is not very far from the China border. At an altitude of about 3,000 m above sea level, Lachung is located at the confluence of River Lachen and River Lachung, which are tributaries of the Teesta River. A forward base has been set up in this town by the Indian Army to guard and protect the borders.
From here it is a must to see Yumthang, which is about 2 hours from Lachung. 

The tropical lushness of the ever flowing Teesta River

The river Teesta behind me: since it is winter, you see very little water flowing through it. In some places the flow is heavy, and as we travel through Sikkim it is always by your side , one can never get tired of watching this lovely river flowing by. In the summer months people do river rafting. The icy cold waters of the rugged Teesta have a series of rapids with varying intensity and character. It offers one of the finest rafting stretches in the world. Rangit, a tributary of the Teesta, has more turbulent waters and offers many challenges to more experienced rafters.

Gurgling mountain streams are almost constant companions on the journey through North Sikkim.

A view to die for

Next we travelled to Yumthang in the Bollero provided by our Hotel in Lachung.

A brief stop to see the natural Hot Springs.

Near the natural hot springs:which is believed to have high therapeutic values. Saline in taste, the water of the spring emits sulphurated hydrogen gas and its temperature is 106 degree. The water of the spring with such composition is believed to be beneficial for skin diseases. 

Yumthang also has the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary with antique species of orchids and rhododendrons, which we could not see because they bloom only in summer.

Amazingly beautiful Yumthang: at other times river Teesta would be rushing in full force behind me

A brief stop to see the hot springs here. So close to these mountain ranges.

Chocolate lovers would immediately be reminded of Toblerone when they see these mountains.

A lone forest rest house in the middle of no where

The two drivers : so young, and such expert drivers and very friendly too.

Near the Hot Springs : although it was a bright day with sun shining, yet it was very cold with the cold breeze literally freezing me

The icy source of Teesta, Sikkim's mightiest river...
from November to March, Yumthang is all white and a perfect site for trekking and skiing.

Pure Heaven

Yumesamdong: set on the brink of the Chinese border, this place is actually a land of perennial snow. It is well known for its hot springs, there are about 14 of them around Yumesamdong.

This is the Zero point, where the road ends, as this point is the end of India and beyond is Indo- China border.... it is really awesome. Nobody to bother you, it is just you and the snow covered mountains.

I felt like staying there for ever.

After this we came down to Gangtok

From its perch on a hilltop facing the city of Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, the monastery complex at Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre embodies the vision and aspiration of the Sixteenth Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, to establish his seat-in-exile to help spread the teachings of the Buddha throughout the world.

I did not like Gangtok very much, although the hotel where we stayed was very good, it was a 5 star hotel, their rooms too had very good view of the far away Kanchenjunga mountain. I felt we could have planned better and could have seen some other beautiful places in Sikkim, instead of Gangtok.

Our trip to Sikkim ended here. It was the most unforgettable trip and I would always cherish it.

I have started a new blog on cooking, please visit it if you can :