I took a break from the Deoriatal story as I went to Pench and saw a tiger too. I am back. When I went to sleep at Sari village I was not too thrilled. The sky was overcast and that meant no view. There was no change in the morning too. Chhavi however woke up in a sunny mood. She was going up to the lake on a horse!
We went down to the shop to have breakfast. Sari village to Deoriatal was a pleasant 3 km walk for me, some do find it tough. Pkanti at Indiamike writes:
“Sari Gaon to Deoria Tal is about 2.5 km only. But the entire trek is elevated 70 degree. So its too tough and takes time for the un-hardcore trekker like us. Do carry water and chocolates. But dont worry non-trekkers! Pony available from Sari Gaon cost between 400-600 bucks.”
It certainly is not a 70 degree, that much I can vouch for. Before setting off, I asked Chhavi how will the horse arrive and here is her answer.
Soon all of us were set to walk. Chhavi started a little ahead on the horse, Sohan Singh ji and I followed on foot. Some people in the village asked if I would also use a horse? I told them I am used to walking. Within a kilometer of walking we reached the local temple. I am not much of a temple person but I like visiting such out of the way temples as there is hardly a soul around.
The walk to the lake didn’t take much time, just about one and a half our. Chhavi reached a little ahead of us on her horse. We were staying at a basic lodge called Surya Lodge which is just outside the lake. We just dumped our luggage inside the room and ventured there again only after dark. You can see from the picture that the room is basic. It had a toilet attached. We could have stayed in a tent but with the weather unsettled we decided to stay in the room.
After dumping the luggage out first task was to ask for Maggi and Tea. I actually like Maggi even in the plains but on mountains it just tastes divine. As soon as we were able to gulp it all, we ran to the lake.
After a while, Chhavi took to walking backwards. I can never be sure what she will do next! Sohan ji and I were quite disappointed about the view. I was glad to have Chhavi who didn’t give a damn about what we were missing. For her whatever was there was enough. We had an interesting conversation by the lake. A very common talk between me and Chhavi is that she will spot a monkey on the road and say- mamma look monkey. I say yes and tell her I have seen a bigger one. When she asks where I point to her! At Deoriatal she asked if there were crocodiles in the lake. I said yes thinking that way she won’t try to go into the lake. She told me she had seen a bigger one. I was surprised and I asked her where? She coolly pointed a finger at me!
We walked around the lake on the well maintained path. We met a lady who was probably a contract employee with the forest department. She gave Chhavi wild chestnuts to eat. Both of them were breaking them open with stones. I was quite afriad that Chhavi would hurt her fingers but to her credit she didn’t. We gave the lady a pack of biscuit in return. The tea stall owner, Shailendar gave her a cup of tea. Talk to anyone in Uttarakhand and they have lost someone or know of someone who has lost someone. My heart goes out to the people of the state who were affected in the massive floods.
Three foreign women did Deoriatal as a day trip. Within half an hour of our arriving two tents were up by the lake. They also belonged to foreign tourists. With Chhavi at her chattering best I had some sympathy for people around us who came looking for peace. But the place was big enough to accommodate all of us. And then there were real birds chattering all around us as well. Sohan ji and I took turns for clicking them. By evening a big group of Indian trekkers arrived.
The weather completely refused to lift its cloud cover. Sohan ji and I debated whether we should stay one more day. Chhavi told us in no uncertain terms that she wanted to go back to her Masi’s (aunt) place rather than stay at the lake for another day. As the weather didn’t improve the next day, her wish was granted.
Chhavi had no problem with the lodge room. I too was fine. She fell asleep within no time once we settled in after dinner. Anyway in the hills as soon as the sun goes down it becomes quite cold. Soon I too fell asleep but I was woken up by a strange noise. I thought it was a rat. Then I dismissed it and fell asleep again. I woke up suddenly because I thought something walked close to my hair. Now my sleep was really disturbed. I could not fall asleep for the next three hours. I didn’t like it one bit. I passed sometime by looking at the pictures on the camera LCD. I took a look outside, it was still a cloudy night. By the time I fell asleep again it was nearly 3.00 am.
In the morning I asked Shailander if there were rats in the room, he said with a smile- many! No wonder I found it difficult to sleep. I am as sacred of rats as Doraemon. The next time I go to the lake, I am opting for the tent!
If you peer hard at the background of this picture you can see the faint outline of the snow capped peaks. On a clear day they reflect in the lake and glow red at the sunset. I have to go back some other time. I wonder if Chhavi will agree to come with me?
I did not sleep well in the night at Rishikesh. Initially I thought it was traffic noise that was waking me up. But after a few hours of waking up intermittently I realized there was a stiff wind blowing outside. The noise was the rustling of peepal tree leaves near my window. The auto driver who dropped me to the hotel was supposed to come and pick us up again the next morning. I tried his number at 5.30 am and it was switched off. I decided to wait for the daylight before hailing another auto. That gave me much needed half an hour more to laze around.
At 6.00 am Chhavi and I came out to find an auto. The good thing with Chhavi is that she gets up at any hour you wake her up and will fall asleep if she gets a comfortable seat next to me. We found an auto in less than a minute from our hotel. We went to the bus stand and took a bus to Rudraprayag. Our guide Sohan Singh Ji would meet us there. The bus was not full so Chhavi sat comfortably next to me and fell asleep. She woke up in a while and unexpectedly complained of vomiting sensation. We thankfully stopped for breakfast and I gave her medicine (as I anyway have motion sickness) but the poor child vomited after the breakfast. I was one worried mom now. Thankfully she slept till we reached Rudraprayag. Rishikesh to Rudraprayag took us about four and a half hours. The roads were reasonable.
We had about an hour before Sohan ji arrived. Chhavi settled down in that one hour. We ate lunch and I gave her the medicine again as we were traveling further to the Sari village. From Sari Village Deoriatal is a 3 km trek. By the time we boarded the shared jeep to Ukhimath she was happy and her chirping self. However as we reached a place called Augustyamuni my heart started beating in my mouth. The road was so narrow, in places of dirt. There were stretches where the edges were broken like a crumbling cookie. I looked at the road and I looked at Chhavi and I was left wondering what the hell was I up to?
If my father or sister saw that road I am sure I would have got sound scolding for taking Chhavi there, heck for even going there myself. However the people used it with great care, stopping for each-other to pass. We reached Ukhimath without any incident. It was still only 3.00 pm or so.I was left wondering about the nature’s fury that Uttarakhand witnessed this summer. It literally felt like someone broke the edges of the roads by drawing curved lines.
We took a jeep to Sari village and by 3.30 am we were there. After a cup of tea we walked to our lodge within the village. Sari Village has more than one basic lodges with attached bathroom. There were fruit laden orange trees behind our lodge. Chhavi told everyone that she wanted oranges. The women of the house took her and plucked two oranges for her. She kept roaming around the premises even though I knew she was very tired. The sun was already trying to set.
We sat down in the shop below our lodge waiting for dinner. Chhavi was jumping over a small ditch in front of the shop. I told her not to do it but she ignored me. I was too tired to get up and drag her in. In a while Sohan ji got out fast from his seat and even before Chhavi could cry, got her in. She fell in the ditch, thankfully standing and not hurt. With all her tiredness and shock of falling she started crying. She told me she wanted papa and she anyway never wanted to trek! She wanted to go back then and there. I was able to pacify her in a few minutes. After food we decided to retire for the day even though it was just 7.00 pm. In the hills, particular in the colder months there is not much to do once the sun goes down.
In our room Chhavi happily settled in and demanded a bedtime story. There is one ghisa pita story about a butterfly I tell her. Storytelling is her father’s department. She still listened to it and fell asleep in less than a minute. Even I was pretty exhausted and wanted to crash. But I took one last look at the sky and didn’t like what I saw. It was quite overcast and I was worried about the weather and the views for the next day.
Link to other Deoialtal Tales
My Deoriatal trip happened at a short notice. I knew there was no teaching in the week following Diwali at my workplace as it was off for students. But I was procrastinating about taking the whole week off. Then my institute declared it a holiday for everyone! Now here I was with one week of leave and no plans for travel!
I had just come back from Madhya Pradesh and my back was protesting against my constant short trips. I almost decided to take it easy and not travel anywhere. But my husband really pestered me to take Chhavi out on a trek and Deoriatal happened. He could not join us as he had some work.
The first task was to try and secure a tatkal (current) ticket for Haridwar. Now there are plenty of buses to Rishikesh but with a child it is easier to travel by train. I dutifully tried logging in to IRCTC at 10.00 am a day before so that I could book the tatkal tickets but I had no luck initially. I could not even log on to the site till about 11.00 am. But even at 11.00 am there were 122 seats available in the Dehradoon Shatabdi for the next day. I was able to book two tickets easily. Now we were traveling the day after Diwali and my father told me it would be very difficult to book a local cab as no drivers would be available. I tried my luck with Meru cabs and there was no hitch with the cab.
Soon Chhavi and I were at New Delhi Railway Station, sitting comfortably inside the train. I have been with her to Pushkar before and I knew her penchant for “mummy kaab aayega” (are we there yet). I warned her it was not a question be to be asked this time. She asked me anyway but not her usual 160 times but only 30 times are so. I am be patient 30 times and we had no major fight over it. This time thankfully slept off as well.
We arrived at Haridwar relatively fresh. We took a local bus to Rishikesh which Chhavi called khadbad khadbad bus (rattling bus). It was a run down local bus alright. She went quite wide eyed as we entered but sat quietly by the window for the entire journey. People who know her know what rarity that is!
At the Rishikesh bus station we hired an auto and asked him to take us to the Lakshman Jhula area. He deposited us at Hotel Shivanta (which is on the road and opposite a small police station at Muni ki Reti). They had a big and reasonably clean room for 600 rupees which I took. The auto driver and the hotel boy had a chat and suddenly the hotel boy told me he misquoted the price. The room was really for 1200. I told him I knew of no one who was that absent minded. I would rather walk away than pay the inflated price. The room rate was settled at 600 rupees.
In a while we walked down the Lakshman Jhula lane looking for food. We went in a cheerful looking restaurant called Divine Cafe. It was full of foreigners. By now it was approaching 2.00 pm and I was really hungry. There were only 3 tables going and yet no one from the standing army of waiters was attending us. I actually got up and asked the person at the cash counter why were taking so much time when only three tables were busy? After that I got good and prompt service.
We attacked our food (which was more for the palate of foreign clients) as we were hungry and it was OK, passable roti and kofta. Chhavi wanted a pastry and she got it. It was also just about OK. Stomach full, I was looking forward to sleep.
I was happy that the room at Hotel Shivanta had a table and chairs. I put on Doreamon for Chhavi and gave her strict instructions to do her drawing only on the table. Then I dozed off. Chhavi was quite excited with a toy she picked up from roadside. She kept jumping from the bed to the table and in the process kept kicking me. I still dozed off.
Then in the evening we went to the Lakshman Jhula and got lost! After we reached back to your hotel area we went for an early dinner. Both Chhavi and I didn’t eat well. Then it was time for cartoons and sleep.
The next day we were headed to Sari Village via Rudraprayag. We were getting up at 5.00 am or so.
Chhavi and I are back from Deoria Tal. It was one roller coaster ride from here to Deoria Tal and back. Traveling with a child makes it all the more fun and unpredictable. There are a lot of dos and don’t for my travels. A child makes them go haywire without even trying!
Traveling with a Child
5. Avomine and Sleep: I have motion sickness on the mountain roads. Do you see the irony? I love mountains and yet to reach there either I puke or I take Avomine and get zonked on it. I miss out on the scenery completely while I am on the road! After taking the medicine I fall asleep and I wake up only when we are close to the destination. There were times when the cab driver had to wake me up saying you need to get down now! So my theory was that you cannot keep awake after taking Avomine. It took a child to prove the theory wrong! This time even after taking the anti-nausea medicine I was wide awake most of the time because I had to make sure that Chhavi was comfortable. While coming back from Deoria Tal to Haridwar I didn’t sleep a wink and that is a personal record. This was the first time I could see some of the views on the route. There are unexpected benefits of traveling with a child!
Chhavi Walking Downhill with our Guide Sohan Singh Bisht
4. Shelling Out Money: We started from Deoria Tal on foot. After walking downhill for 3 km we reached Sari village. Chhavi walked down for most of the way. It was for less than half a kilometer that Sohan Singh ji carried her down. Then we took a booked jeep to Ukhimath, after that a shared jeep to Rudraprayag. Then we said bye to Sohan Singh ji who was going to Joshimath. We boarded a bus to Haridwar but realized it was going up to Srinagar (there is one in Uttarakhand too) only. Then we took a bus to Haridwar. We started at 8.00 am and reached Haridwar at 8.00 pm. Imagine doing that with a 6 year old! It is my motto to do budget travel (unless invited!) but I broke it this time. I asked for the phone number of Country Inn and Suites at Haridwar from my sister. Then I called them and asked if they had a room? When the reply was affirmative I told them to hold a room for me. I spent on the room, food and cab to the railway station in one night what I did on the entire trek! But Chhavi was so tired that I didn’t want to get down at the dark bus station in Haridwar and search for a reasonable budget hotel. She loved the room and I think once in a while it is OK to break my cardinal rules!
Sari Village at Dusk, Uttarakhand
3. Chhavi and Motion Sickness: We have taken Chhavi to the hills many times before. She never felt motion sickness. So we assumed that she is lucky she doesn’t get it. All our previous trips have been overnight where she slept like a log within no time. This time we were on the mountain roads during the day as well. On our way from Rishikesh to Rudraprayag she told me she felt like vomiting. I was quite surprised. Thankfully the bus stopped for breakfast soon after and I gave her less than half an Avomine. The bus started and she vomited within no time. You know how bad it feels when kids become unwell. She had vomited the Avomine too. But my little one slept after it. Thankfully we had an hour’s break at Rudraprayag where she settled down. I gave her less than half an Avomine again and she managed fine till Sari Village. There is one thing about Chhavi that makes traveling easy with her. When we are in a real crunch she will never trouble me. But give her a nice seat in an AC coach and she will be up to a thousand pranks!
Chhavi Making Paratha at Deoriatal
2. Making Parathas at the Tea Shop in Deoriatal: The young boy running the canteen invited Chhavi to sit near the fire in the morning as it was cold. She wanted to help in preparing the breakfast. And they gave her an opportunity to roll out the parathas. I was surprised how well she did it! The boy actually used her creation to make the breakfast!
Chhavi Selling Tickets to Haridwar!
1. Selling Bus Tickets to Haridwar: When we boarded a bus at Srinagar which would take us to Haridwar, I was quite worried. It had already been a long day and we had 4 hours of bus journey still to complete. I bought two seats so that Chhavi sit in peace and sleep as well. She had other ideas. If you have traveled on Indian buses you know how conductors shout the name of the destination where the bus is headed to. Chhavi decided to join in and tried her hand at selling tickets to Haridwar! She took the conductor and me completely by surprise. You never know what will happen next when you travel with a child!