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.
There have been occasions when while posting a picture I have thought, “well I probably made it look better than it actually was!” On the other hand for each of the Kareri Village pictures I can safely say that the picture is actually inferior to the scenes. Try as I may, I was not able to truly capture the beauty of this small Himalayan village in my photographs. Still, I have to share what I got and here I go.
1. Blue Fronted Redstart
Kareri was a paradise for birding. The birds would flock around the house of my hosts itself. A red capped waterstart was a regular to the frontyard. It took me sometime to figure out the true identity of this beauty, the blue fronted redstart which was perching shyly on one of the branches a little away from the house. It is my first sighting of this delight.
2. A Poetry in Yellow
I can’t write poetry even to save my life. Barring a few (“miles to go before I sleep” leaps immediately to the mind) I hardly read poetry. But that is slowly changing. I do not run away as soon as I see poetry anymore. Maniparna it is you who changed it for me! And somehow these flowers look worthy of a poetry to me!
3. The Mighty Dhauladhars
I do not know what fascinates me but there is something about the mountains that makes me happy. I was looking at the light falling high up, forming the two lines on the otherwise dark face. I actually wanted to climb and stand there. However, I have no mountaineering skills at all. And yet the mountains fascinate me so, always.
4. The Fairy Fields
My eyes are more used to seeing concrete at a stretch than flowers! So you have to forgive me if I compare it to a fairy field! However, I have a suspicion that the locals who see it daily do not give it so much as a second favored glance!
5. A Cloudy Symphony
If I will be honest, I wanted blue skies and the mountains glowing red in the evening light. But since June 2013 all I get is clouds and mist, for most of the time. I do hope the mountains take me back in their favor and soon.
6. A Frosty Display
The day I was leaving, there was frost on the ground. My feet made such a crunching sound while I walked through the fields. I was a bit scared that I might slip. I am not at all confident even on mere frost, what to say of snow!
7. A Place to Call Home
You cannot call me a romantic. I love to spend my vacation at such scenic places. But I know the nearest hospital is far away and there is only one school in the neighborhood which is up to 8th standard. And yet for a while I did wish that there was a place by the yellow fields that I could call home.
8. The Blue Skies
The blue skies appeared miraculously in the morning on the day I had to leave. I ventured out to spend a few hours walking by, enjoying the view. To me now it seems but obvious that there should be blue skies when I am leaving the mountains, that has been the trend for more than one year now.
9. The Parting Shot
As the jeep started moving out of Kareri, I saw this scene and started fiddling with my cell phone. Guessing correctly that I wanted to click a picture, Sohan ji asked the driver to stop the vehicle for a few seconds. So, that is how the parting shot was captured.
10. Beautiful Outskirts of Dharamshala
This was also one of the jeep shots, where I got down to click this picture. It was still so beautiful on the outskirts of Dharamshala. Now when it comes to the main hill stations, I find them so over constructed!
Do let me know which picture is your favorite!
For me walking is therapy, it almost always works to clear the cobwebs in my head. I guess there is something soothing about shutting everything out and just deciding where to keep the next step for a few hours! Or you can take the other view that my guide Sohan Singh ji is fond of propagating, that trekkers drop a screw from their brain and they keep going back again and again searching for it. For me there is truth in both the views! So a day hike around Kareri Village sounded ideal to me, as it was anyway not possible to do a proper trek due to snow.
Of the four days that I stayed at Kareri I was too lazy to venture out on the day after I arrived, the other two days, the weather ensured that I stayed in.
Three of us, Ravi (the eldest son of our hosts), Sohan ji and I ventured out after breakfast on a clear day. The plan was to take a circular route which would touch three villages Langa, Chattri Mua and Nohli. The population of the villages are 300, 150 and 250 people respectively. Kareri has a populations of about 750 people. When I asked Ravi how could he know 750 people plus almost everyone in the other three neighboring villages, he just laughed and said, he just knows!
When we started there were flaky white clouds in the sky making the whole scene even prettier. After walking for a while, the thick jacket came out, I was getting hot under the collar. However, the mind still kept wandering. Now there is a real risk involved in that. I am not used to walking on mountain routes, particularly if they are full of stones. It takes all my attention to keep my feet on the track and not to fall. A wandering mind is not good at all on a stone ridden trail, I am worse when going downhill. Thankfully I managed to keep walking without twisting my ankle or knee.
The villages were pretty with their neat houses clustered together. Ravi would greet someone every few meters. I would admire the mustard flowers in bloom and wonder why can’t I make the picture look as pretty as the scene. My SLR was with Sohan ji as he was busy shooting birds! I was content with my Lumia1020 which is a pretty decent phone for photography.
We eventually arrived at Nohli which is not very far away from Kareri. But we took two tea breaks in this village as Ravi’s uncle and aunt lived there. It was refreshing to have tea after walking for a few hours.
I was wondering if my going to the gym would make any difference to my trekking? I am not sure what to conclude on the basis of this day hike. I guess I was too preoccupied, the cobwebs were getting more tangled as I walked and I did tire easily.
However, after the tea break I certainly concentrated better on the path and found the going easy. We reached back to Kareri at about 3.00 pm to a late lunch. This hike was puzzling for me as I have never been absent minded on a trek! I guess I need to go trekking again and this time for a few days at a stretch to test out if working out is helping or not!
Sitting by the fire in the kitchen I tell my hosts, I can’t remember when it was last I didn’t eat anything out of a packet for so many days in a row! Kareri is a sleepy little village in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh. I was incredibly lucky to do a homestay at Kareri Village. It was cold in January but people in the hills know how to keep warm in these freezing months.
The original idea was to trek up to the Kareri Lake but due to a lot of snow on the route, the trek was abandoned immediately. I simply stayed at home and took walks around the village when the weather permitted it. It rained on one day, it snowed on another, on other two days I felt too lazy. So, in reality I did only one day hike around the village.
Mostly I sat by the fire in the kitchen and read Agatha Christie novels on Nook, finishing on an average one in a day! As Seshadri and Chhavi have stayed here before, the matter of my identity was simple. If anyone asked who I was, the standard reply was Chhavi ki Mummy (Chhavi’s mom)!
The day I arrived due to the avomine induced drowsiness, I went to sleep and refused to go out even for a walk in the evening. Kareri has phone connectivity. My host’s (Kamlesh and Family) home is slightly downhill, But we used to go up to what I christened ‘internet hill’ where I would get high speed internet connection but it was not reliable. But as it is Himachal Pradesh, electricity supply is like dream. There is no shortage of water as well! Only schools, roads and hospitals come by with a little more difficulty. There is a kaccha road to the village now. I was able to take a vehicle both ways.
I would wake up leisurely everyday and run to the kitchen to get get some hot water to brush my teeth. They do have a gas connection but they cook on wood as well. A big pot of water would almost always be on the wood fire. The chores of the day done, I would sit by the fire and wait for a cup of tea. Soon it would be time for breakfast. After that if it was a sunny day I would sit out and read a book, if not I would do the same by the fire. Thus at slow pace the life would go on.
There were numerous birds that could vie for my attention along with the book. The mustard flowers were in bloom, painting the village pretty. If the weather was good I would go out for a walk in the evening but the view of the hills eluded me till the last morning. When I was leaving, it was of course blue skies!
The family consists of three brothers- Ravi, Kamlesh and Suresh and one sister Anu. Chhavi is a great fan of Anu. I met Ravi, Kamlesh, Anu and their parents. Both Ravi and Suresh work in the tourism industry with Suresh currently working in Goa. Ravi is living in McLeod Ganj though his wife Vandana lives at Kareri. Kamlesh looks after the home, horses, mules and fields. Their parents also live in the same two storied house which has at least 10 rooms! Auntie can still lift so much load and carry it to the fields! They treated me like a princess! So, the next time you see a person handling mules, remember they live in 10 bedroom homes!
As my holidays drew to an end I realized that I didn’t spend a single rupee (other than paying at the end of my stay) as I could see no shops in the village! I was told there was a shop but as it was winters, the supplies were low! It was an amazing experience where two things stood out, I never ate anything out of a packet and I never went to a shop for six days!
If you wish to do a homestay at Kareri village with Kamlesh and Family you could call Kamlesh at +919736246820 or Ravi at +919805934718 They usually charge 1200 rupees per person per night which includes food as well.
The nearest big town is Dharamshala. I took a taxi from Dharamshala to Kareri which cost me 1500 rupees. I had to walk a bit from the road head to the house. There is public transport up to a village called Gera.
As I was new to the region and as I was thinking of trekking, I went with my long time trekking guide Sohan Singh Bisht (his number is +919410365281). However, if I go to the village again I am confident of going alone now.