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Old 1st August 2012, 13:54   #1
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Cool Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days

Disclaimer: BHPians have been to the places I recently visited and there are a number of pictures of them already on the forum. Thus, I decided to prepare my review from a different perspective rather than it being a collection of technical details of the trip. Though I drive a Linea T-jet, I follow Jazz’s tagline – “One life, why so serious”? Some of you might find my attempt a bit immature but for you, I will put enough pictures so, you can concentrate on the pics instead of the text.

Here’s a travelogue from Crusoe’s perspective.

5

4

3

2

1

I knew something was up. I had seen all the signs. They had been discussing it while I took them around the city for their weekend trips to the mall. I knew the day was approaching soon and I was raring to go. So, here’s the story of my journey to the many hill stations of Dev bhumi – Himachal Pradesh as it happened… straight from the horse’s mouth (so to say).


Day 1 – 26th July 2012


Today, Biraj woke me up at around 5.30 am, which is much earlier than usual. He said we are going to some place called Kalatop. Hope the place is more interesting than the name suggests.

We first went to a familiar place. She lives there. I like her a lot, she is Biraj’s love. Nice girl but needs to learn how to pack. Always carries extra stuff. Just because I am able to store all she has been able to bring so far doesn’t mean she brings even more. Anyway, I pardon her because she is really sweet and I always melt when she says, “Hi Crusoe”. By 5.45 am we were off for what would turn out to be an exciting and adventurous journey.

Biraj explained the following route to me.

Delhi - Karnal - Ambala - Ludhiana - Jalandhar - Pathankot - Dalhousie - Kalatop

Before the long trip, they got some food for me. We went to the BP pump at Preet Vihar. Got a stomach full of petrol. I love eating (I am a bong) petrol.

It was an early start, so I didn’t have too many other cars like me on the road to avoid bumping into. The weather was also great and I felt all nice seeing the clouds reflected in my windows. By 6.50 am we had reached a place called Sukhdev ka Dhaba in Murthal, where they usually like stopping for their type of food. By 7.30 am we were off again and I was enjoying the wind blow through my… well windshield.

We encountered a strange friend on the way. They were calling it the ‘Sada-e-Sarhad’. This huge person seemed to have some kind of problem and needed two police cars escorting it all the way. I guess it didn’t know the way too well. The police people were just not letting me get ahead of it. I was hoping they would go fast because at the cost of tooting my own horn, I am a leader not a follower!

So we stopped at a place where they had refreshments for all of us. Petrol for me and coffee for the lesser mortals! 10.30 am we were off again with my belly full of petrol! Yum! Just can’t get enough of it.

Now, I love travelling on highways. It lets me really loosen up, you know. We were going parallel to a train, the Malwa express going at its peak speed and Biraj felt the sudden urge to overtake it. He looked around and saw an empty road and stepped on the pedal that tells me that I can start rocking and rolling like crazy. I am not the one to let him down. Sure enough, I overtook that train! That was fun! Really got my adrenaline, (petrol in my case) rushing! I don’t know why she kept on bugging him to stop doing that. In his defence, he was very responsible while he was driving like crazy!

So, we had finally reached the place where the first hills were going to be in sight soon. Biraj was trying to figure where I had to turn to get to Dalhousie. She wasn’t helping much. Finally, they figured it out and we were on the right track.

Biraj felt that the pressure in my shoes should be checked before we enter the hills as it was drizzling and we might require better traction/grip. We stopped at a Bridgestone shop before the hilly terrain and got pressure adjusted with Nitrogen. He only gets the best for me.

I really enjoyed the vistas and wished I could always travel in similar surroundings. We crossed Dalhousie at 6.30 pm. Biraj went to the forest office to confirm the bookings and then they purchased some refreshments just in case the food at the forest rest house wasn’t great. These guys love their food.

We then started our climb towards the Kalatop forest rest house through a scary road. It was getting dark and she was really scared. Biraj was careful as always and I was also ready for the road. We finally reached the rest house at 7.15 pm. They parked me at a nice spot and went inside to check-in.

Biraj’s main area of concern on every trip is FOOD. He loves it and most of the miles that we travel are for food. He had to live with the dinner inside the room that was cooked at the Kalatop canteen. One can survive on that but certainly won’t kill for that. I had to stay outside in the cold night.

Day 2 – 27th July

At around 5.15 am, a very interesting wake-up call woke me and everyone up. It was loud and probably some bird or insect. I couldn’t see it and Biraj wasn’t allowed to step out as she thought it wasn’t safe. Biraj stepped out after there was some sunlight and found two likely suspects, a big insect and an angry bird. They clicked some nice shots of the surroundings and then had the breakfast in the room. Finally, we checked out at 10.15 am and headed towards Khajjiar. I was looking dirty but Biraj kept telling me “Crusoe, that’s your rugged look”. We again took the scary road back to civilization. To be honest, it didn’t seem so scary in the day.

The road to Khajjiar is narrow and the surface tested my balance and sturdiness. Biraj seemed very happy at the way I managed those roads and I was very happy at the way he managed me through it. Where would a big green meadow appear out from nowhere (especially such a treacherous road)? But lo and behold, it did.

I occupied a nice space from where I could see all and all could see me. They were confused about staying here or heading to Mcleodganj. They decided on the latter. I guess the crowd of tourists and hawkers didn’t appeal to them. I didn’t like it (the hawkers) one bit either, to be honest. Still, it can’t take anything away from the sheer beauty of Khajjiar. It was a beautiful place and we wished that it was cleaner than it was. These guys usually stuff all the wrappers and papers in the door pockets and throw them out only when they find a dustbin. Hope others do it too.

I also heard them discussing some place called Sach pass. Biraj was extremely excited about it but she kept referring to what the chowkidaar at Kalatop said. As per the chowkidaar, I wouldn’t be able to handle the roads at Sach Pass. I wasn’t impressed and I kept telling Biraj that I would be able to take it. He said “Crusoe, you are too young for this, we will do it next time”. I know I can do it but these guys seem to know more. So, I couldn’t show Sach Pass my mettle. Sach Pass – whoever/whatever you are, I am coming back next year and I will tell Biraj “let me at him” and I am sure that time he will allow me.

On the way back, we stopped for lunch at Dalhousie and then headed towards Mcleodganj via Nurpur. The road had little bit of everything - narrow stretches, scenic surroundings, poor surface, crazy traffic and a number of cyclists out on some yatra (I have seen some walking in UP. Biraj calls them Kawariyas. These guys looked similar but on cycles). Reached Mcleodganj after a treacherous climb up the Khada danda road. I didn’t like that one bit, it made my insides burn. We checked in at Villa Paradiso at around 6.00 pm. The guys seem to know him as he had come here in December 2011. That time he had come with Xing-Kong uncle (2003 Santro Xing). Xing-Kong uncle told me about Khada Danda in the garage but this turned out to be tougher than he explained probably because I have larger feet (wheelbase) than him.

Biraj was very worried because of the burning smell and called up all the places that he could think of to figure out if I was okay. Well, I was. I just needed some rest and I needed to cool down. And we had ended up in the perfect place to do that. It was chilly, hilly and misty and very very beautiful!

At 7.30 pm they left me and headed for the market. I suppose they needed their type of food. Jimmy’s Italian dinner. They came back around 10.00 pm to crash in the room. I too was tired so decided to sleep.

Day 3 – 28th July


We all had a relaxed start to the day but Biraj still woke up around 8 and came in the balcony to say good morning to me. I was enjoying the drizzle and just smiled at him. Suddenly, the hotel manager who was also standing outside wished Biraj good morning and informed him "Sir, poore Mcleodganj mein light nahi hain". Biraj cursed his luck because he thought the power failure had followed him from Ghaziabad. Manager informed him that it will be fine by 11 am.

Biraj asked the waiters to give me a good bath. The guys tried hard but used some shampoo that girls use. I am a boy, I only like my Formula 1 wash and wax. Anyway, had to live with that rose petal smelling shampoo all day. In all fairness, they did make a good attempt. Poor souls even made an attempt to clean traces of my furry friend Angel on the seats and carpet. Angel, being a good Labrador, sheds so much fur that it’s humanly impossible to remove all that from me. Anyway, she loves the rides I give her and I find her the cutest friend I have.

Around 12 pm, they came downstairs and headed towards a small creature named Alto. It was a cab. I was angry as they were leaving me behind. They came back around 2 pm. Biraj then came to me and told me that they had gone for brunch at Mc'llo and the place was nice. He said, they were going for some sight seeing in that cab as the roads are narrow and finding a place for me to rest would be tough. He must have taken the decision for my good. I saw them leaving in that Alto.

It rained very heavily the entire afternoon and evening. I was getting worried about them but saw them return at 7 pm. Then I heard the entire days story.

They first went to a mesmerising but eerie church. Biraj has been there earlier as well and loves that place. Then, they went to Naddi where they couldn't view much as the clouds had blocked all views. From Naddi they went to Dharmashala and had a good time at some tea gardens. Biraj was raving about this place called Norling. It is some Zen type of place where the experience is hard to describe in words. He told me that next time we come here, we might stay at Norling. After spending a lot of time at Norling, they went to the Karmapa monastry and returned to the hotel. In all, they had an eventful day. I too had some well deserved rest after a long time. Weather was just too good.

They again went out for dinner at 9 pm and returned around 10.30 pm. This time they tried some new place for authentic Tibetan food. Biraj told me that we are going to start early tomorrow. It's time to return to the Delhi/Noida traffic tomorrow and back to those boring runs to office and back. Let me enjoy the beautiful weather till I can.

Day 4 - 29th July

We all had to wake up early and we started from the hotel at 7 am. Going down the Khada danda road was like a breeze. Biraj told me that we are going to take lesser stops today and try to reach Delhi at the earliest possible. He was trying to find some Nurpur Bedi Road. We made some steady progress and reached some dhaba around a place called Amb at 9.30 am. I have heard great things about a King called Amby who used to rule this planet but Amb has nothing to do with him. Anyways, I took rest under a tree and these two had some oily paranthas. Both of them didn't seem too impressed.

We then started our journey back to Delhi. Passed some bad roads near Una and then reached a BIIIG dam called Bhakra-Nangal. Biraj was told by a cab driver that he needs to take a right for Nurpur-Bedi road and he will get a nice easy drive from there. We entered the narrow (kept getting narrower) road and encountered a terrible traffic jam (I hate them). After the jam got cleared, we went through the heart of Punjab. I loved the lush green surroundings and suddenly I was airborne... There was a undulation in surface that Biraj couldn't detect due to Mirage (whoa, it rhymes). I came to the surface with plonk/bang whatever that sound is called. Biraj went completely pale and stopped to check if everything was fine. I told him "Don't worry, I am a strong boy (read FIAT)". He was amazed at my strength. He kept raving the entire journey how I managed that plonk/bang, as per him some of my snooty friends wouldn't have come out of it with their legs (suspension) in place.

We then crossed Ropar and reached Ambala around 2 pm. They were trying to find some Puran Singh Da Dhaba. They entered one that some blogs claimed to be the original and came out after an hour. Biraj was saying, it was over-hyped. We started towards Delhi however, Biraj was feeling sleepy (poor man worked entire week at office and then driving continuously over weekend). We stopped at Savoy Greens for Biraj to take some rest and drink a couple of coffees at Costa. I enjoyed my rest in the shade.

Then, it was an uneventful drive back home and I entered my own space at 7.30 pm. I love my home. Angel was there at the gate to receive us. Her wagging tail was like a chequered flag for us.

Biraj told me that I had travelled 1270 KMs in this trip and sipped 1 litre of petrol in every 11.1 KMs. He was extremely happy with the way I managed the roads and especially that plonk/bang. She also praised me for carrying her so comfortably and storing all her luggage.

Thank you for reading.

Time for some pics:

Sada-e-sarhad at a distance

Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-1.jpg

Wonderful roads

Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-2.jpg

Bye bye Malwa Express

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That's some landscaping

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I am smiling

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Bad and beautiful roads

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We really live to drive

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Biraj enjoying the surroundings

Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-13.jpg

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Now that's tight parking

Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-15.jpg

Road to Dalhousie

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Road to Kalatop

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Crusoe at Kalatop

Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-24.jpg

Vegetarian Dinner

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Early Morning

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Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-30.jpg

More pics to follow soon...

Last edited by Biraj : 31st August 2012 at 03:05.
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Old 31st August 2012, 03:00   #2
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Cool Re: Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 day

Amazing Kalatop continued

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Our Cottage

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Angry Bird

Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-36.jpg

Road back to civilisation

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Misty roads

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Interesting roadblock

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Khajjiar

Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-45.jpg

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Always an eye on Crusoe

Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-47.jpg

Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-48.jpg

6194 KMs - Roadtrip toh banta hain...

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Yeah yeah, I know I am handsome

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Another minor landslide

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Nice bridge

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Most people here are unfashionable.

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I walk alone...

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Mighty climbs at Khada Danda road

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Nature flexing muscles

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My favourite shot

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View from Hotel

Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-63.jpg

More pics to follow...

Last edited by Biraj : 31st August 2012 at 03:01.
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Old 31st August 2012, 09:46   #3
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Default Re: Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 day

Note from Mod : Thread moved to Travelogues section. Thanks for sharing it with us
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Old 31st August 2012, 10:39   #4
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Default Re: Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 day

Excellent narration and pics

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 31st August 2012, 10:51   #5
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Default Re: Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 day

Excellently written!!! Crusoe must've loved the cool weather... Did you take your lab along?
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Old 31st August 2012, 17:58   #6
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Default Re: Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 day

Thanks Huricanes!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bharat4ever View Post
Excellently written!!! Crusoe must've loved the cool weather... Did you take your lab along?
Thank you Bharat! Crusoe enjoyed it a lot. It's meant for such weather.
No, Angel (my lab) was at home but her fur is always inside Crusoe. Cleaners have come and gone but the fur remains.
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Old 31st August 2012, 18:46   #7
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Default Re: Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 day

Quote:
Originally Posted by Biraj View Post
Thanks Huricanes!



Thank you Bharat! Crusoe enjoyed it a lot. It's meant for such weather.
No, Angel (my lab) was at home but her fur is always inside Crusoe. Cleaners have come and gone but the fur remains.
Can you pm me a few pics of your lab? I have a black lab too, and I just love to look at the goofy labs' photos.
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Old 31st August 2012, 22:33   #8
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Default Re: Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 day

Ahh Well !! Finally you speak Big Brother Crusoe. Was wondering when the time would come with Biraj all busy notching up 25 posts plus working 24/7.

Fantastic travelogue you got there and amazing pics. Love those 2 blokes (Altos) parked at the side of the road. Looks like they're standing on air. Makes we wanna be there right now. I did a trip to Manali & Shimla recently and have loads to share too.

But Alas !! Jason (my boy) just can't get off his lazy bum and write an Ownership review, let alone a travelogue. And would you believe that its been over a year that am part of his life. Looks like I need to do that now, just like I do almost everything else for him.

He raves & rants about me to everyone but put it down in writing man !! A girl needs something to ward of the insecurity, right?

Anyhoo, would love to take you up on that 6124km drive. Let me know whenever you're up for it.

Till then Happy Driving !!

Love,
Storme (the little Bossanova White Punto from JasonByrne's handle)
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Old 1st September 2012, 01:14   #9
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Default Re: Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 day

Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonByrne View Post
Ahh Well !! Finally you speak Big Brother Crusoe. Was wondering when the time would come with Biraj all busy notching up 25 posts plus working 24/7.

Love,
Storme (the little Bossanova White Punto from JasonByrne's handle)
Crusoe says thank you Storme!!!

Jason - Storme deserves more presence on the forum that what you are providing her. Come on, it's been a long time since you have been compiling your ownership review and the travelogues. Complete them over the weekend and post them. Storme as well as your photography skills need to be shared with other members.

Cheers,
Biraj
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Old 4th September 2012, 01:02   #10
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Default Re: Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 day

Some more pics

Clouds approaching us:
1
Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-64.jpg
2
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3
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4
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5
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Beautiful bird
Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-69.jpg

Crusoe enjoying the rain
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Eerie but magnificent church
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Next time, will try visiting this after dark
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Tea garden
Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-75.jpg

Some wild flowers
Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-76.jpg

Jai Hind!!!
Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-77.jpg

War memorial
Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-78.jpg

Salute to the Martyrs!!!
Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-79.jpg

A walk to remember
Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-80.jpg

Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-81.jpg

Dharmshala Stadium
Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-82.jpg

Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-83.jpg

Divine Norling - It's difficult to describe the experience in words.

Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-84.jpg

Watch your steps as they lead you to peace
Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-85.jpg

Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-86.jpg

Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-87.jpg

Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-88.jpg

Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-89.jpg

Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-90.jpg

Another favourite shot
Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-91.jpg

Wish I could afford a life at this pace

Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-92.jpg

Some prayers for all!
Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 days-93.jpg

Last edited by Biraj : 4th September 2012 at 01:05. Reason: Removed video as it affected the display layout
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Old 4th September 2012, 02:28   #11
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Default Re: Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 day

Biraj,

Lovely trip and pics. Thank you for sharing. Crusoe looks VERY HANDSOME.
I assume it rained a lot.
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Old 4th September 2012, 17:01   #12
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Default Re: Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 day

Very nice travelogue Biraj or should I thank Crusoe for the same

I would not say this was an amateurish attempt - in fact was a very interesting POV read.

The pics were absolutely brilliant - which camera?
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Old 4th September 2012, 17:44   #13
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Default Re: Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 day

Quote:
Originally Posted by PM - B View Post
Biraj,

Lovely trip and pics. Thank you for sharing. Crusoe looks VERY HANDSOME.
I assume it rained a lot.
Thanks PM-B, It rained a lot in Mcleodganj/Dharmashala on 28th July. We were a bit concerned as we observed at least 3-4 landslides. Luckily, the weather was fine on Sunday and we could manage the return journey without any adventure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vkaul1 View Post
Very nice travelogue Biraj or should I thank Crusoe for the same

I would not say this was an amateurish attempt - in fact was a very interesting POV read.

The pics were absolutely brilliant - which camera?
Crusoe has got the message through telepathy. Thank you Vkaul1 for the nice words. With the number of well articulated and detailed TLs on this forum, I was a bit pensive about the reception this "not so serious" TL will get. In the end, decided that Crusoe deserves all the attention so, let him do the talking.

Most of the pics were taken by Sony HX 100V however, some of the pics (especially the ones taken from inside the car) have been taken by Nokia N8 (an equally reliable camera).
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Old 17th September 2012, 13:16   #14
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Default Re: Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 day

Superb travelogue Biraj! Loved every bit of it and fantastic pics to match the writing too.

I'm set to drive in my Jet to Chamba as well. So will bug you soon for some tips. Check your inbox for my PM!
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Old 17th September 2012, 14:14   #15
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Default Re: Crusoe climbs new heights – Kalatop, Khajjiar, Mcleodganj and Dharmshala in 4 day

Excellent place complemented by those pictures. Indian Switzerland, ain't it?
Hearing about these places for the first time. Thanks for the enlightening narration.
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