For this sky watch I am presenting the travel collection of skies from my trips so far in 2015. I got a few nice shots in each trip. I hope on my next one (yes it is in the offing), I will get a bonanza of sky pictures!
Kareri Village, Himachal Pradesh
Kareri is a beautiful village tucked away in a corner in Himachal Pradesh. There is no hotel in the village, the only option is to do a homestay. I was out for a morning walk on a clear day when I stopped to click the mustard flowers. It was a clear day with blue skies, the kind you remember for months after the trip is over!
I remember Sirpur most for is scintillating music and dance festival. But it was also a quiet place, away from the bustle of life. The town moved at a slow place. There were only dhabas in the the town, I like such places. There is only one hotel which belongs to the state tourism department. There was less construction and more open spaces. I love that too.
Cities are more about concrete, but the sky is still there. The rides at the craft mela at Surajkund were immensely popular. As I had left Chhavi at home, they were of foreground and background value to me. For once I was happy to leave my daughter behind because the mela was just too crowded.
All my recent trips to Mumbai have been one night affairs. I have mostly been there to attend events and fly either to another destination or home. On my latest trip I was lucky to stay on the 28th floor of Palladium Hotel and to catch awesome views!
A Tree and Some Sky
There is something about grand old trees that just refuse to fit into my my camera frame. I found one such tree at Shivpuri. The evening sky with colors was a bonus.
Fagu, Himachal Pradesh
When I go with Chhavi to places like Fagu, when I see her walking carefree in such surroundings I wonder if she realizes how beautiful it is ? On a whole I feel she is busy with some mischief but you never know with her. I actually need to ask her about it!
Camping by the Ganges
Camping by the Ganges is a wonderful experience. Rafting is another incredible thing to do on the river. I could stay in this exact spot at least for a month before longing for civilization! And that brings me to the end of trips for 2015 till March. I hope you enjoyed my travel collection of skies.
Both Chhavi and I were quite tired by the time we reached The Apple Blossom Fagu which is a HPTDC hotel. She perked up seeing snow on the side. I was happy that she found something to look forward to in spite of being tired. We spent three nights there and The Apple Blossom Fagu review is based on our personal experience when it had low occupancy in February 2015.
The Check In: We had a smooth check-in as there was no one else arriving that late in the evening. The staff took my luggage to the room. Rakesh the kind person that he was, he quickly switched on the heater correctly guessing that we were cold.
First Impressions: The room was big and spacious. However, it had a carpet as well. Now as a rule I do not like carpets because many hotels do not keep it clean and the room stinks. At the Apple Blossom the carpet was certainly old but they managed to keep it clean, so the room had no funny smell. After that I started breathing a little easy. As the weather was cold they had provided a thick quilt.
The Room: The room had a comfortable double bed with clean linen. It had a mirror and a dressing table, table and chairs for food and a work table. There were side tables by the bed as well which is very handy to dump things like mobile phone, books earrings etc just before going to sleep. However what stumped me was the lack of plug points for charging. In the room the TV socket was the only option for charging gadgets. There was a functional plug point in the bathroom too.
I took the lowest category room and it was a big, clean and functional room. I have no major complaints.
The Bathroom: The bathroom was once again absolutely clean. The amenities were sparse, it had two clean towels, two sachets of shampoo, two small soap bars and bucket and mugs. There was a shower too which we didn’t try. There was plenty of hot water so we were good for our entire stay.
The Food: The hotel has an in-house restaurant and we had all our meals there. They made excellent soup, parathas, paneer, french fries and noodles. They make Maggie too! However the cheese omelet was just about OK. The food was always fresh and as good as homemade food. They were happy to serve the food in the room at night as it would get quite cold out there. They make good tea.
The Ambience: The hotel has a huge courtyard at the back which is an excellent place to sit on a sunny day and do nothing. In a shady area there was a reasonable deposit of snow which was the favorite place for kids to muck about! From this courtyard you can take an exit and start exploring the nearby hillocks.
This and That: I guess on two nights Chhavi and I were the only guests at the hotel. The staff was so well behaved that at no point I ever felt unsafe. I ordered room service for all three dinners and I could confidently do so.
The hotel would get quite busy at lunch time as cabs stop with their guests who were exploring places around Shimla.
Their location is excellent but then government hotels usually have the advantage of the location. There are many birds around the hotel. The bird in the picture is a rock bunting.
The Verdict: If you are looking for a clean and no frills hotel, you would enjoy your stay at The Apple Blossom Fagu. I will happily stay there again. The only thing I want is more plug points in the room, preferably next to the side tables by the bed. If that is not possible then near the work table so that people can charge their various gadgets easily.
I am a big mountain fan and I am blessed that I live in India, the home to the Himalayas. And if I want more there is always Nepal and Bhutan next door. However our ‘main’ hill stations like Shimla, Manali, Nainital etc are extremely crowded, particularly over holidays and weekends. They are over constructed too. However, the solution to the problem is also simple. Just move out a few kilometers from the main hill station and it is all beauty and solitude. Fagu Himachal Pradesh is just 22 kilometers away from Shimla but it is a different world out there. Admittedly there is no nightlife, and other than the HPTDC hotel, I spotted no restaurants as well. There are a few kirana shops and there is nature on a grand scale.
Remember my letter to the mountain gods? Looks like it worked partially. I got an absolutely gorgeous day at the beginning of the trip. After that it snowed and it was business as usual but I am not complaining.
Even though I have been to quite a few places close to Shimla like Chail, Narkanda, Naldhera and Hail Himalayas near Sadhupul, this was my first glimpse of the snow capped ranges. I so wanted to see them glow red at sunset, but then mountain gods had other ideas. Even though it was a clear day, by sunset the whole range disappeared behind a veil of clouds, but even then I am not complaining.
We were staying at the HPTDC property Apple Blossom. There was a temple behind it and a tila (hillock) beyond it. It was our favorite walking ground. I actually liked that stray white cloud because it made the scene even more pretty.
On the hillock was this lonely house which was locked. There were no other accommodations around it. I wonder if this is just a store house?
And even when I got mist, it was beautiful on this trip to Fagu. This year the effort is going to be to go to the Himalayas whenever possible.