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Old 24th February 2013, 13:55   #1
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Default Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon

31st Jan, 2013

My friend and fellow TBHPian n.devdath's brother-in-law, Deepak Rannot was getting married on the 1st of Feb, 2013 at his ancestral village Patti, Jogindernagar, Lambagaon, Dist. Palampur. Dev had invited my family & I and had insisted on coming.

Dev's Father-in-Law works for CSIR, Delhi. CSIR has a unit in Palampur called the Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT). A few rooms in the Institute's guest-house were booked for the wedding guests. Dev had asked me if I would require two rooms, but I said we could easily manage in one.

Had heard that Palampur nestled in the Dhauladhar ranges was a serene picturesque place and 5 most famous Devi temples, Dharamshala & Mcleodganj were nearby.

I've always believed that visit to divine places is possible only when the Almighty wishes so.

Way back in 80s we three friends were sipping tea in a restaurant in the evening, that suddenly one of them said & I quote - "Can we go to Vaishno Devi"? In a chorus we answered in the affirmative and started pooling whatever money we had in our pockets. Informed our parents and boarded a train to Jammu at midnight. We were college students then.

Well to cut the story short, we had a fantastic sighting (it was lot easier those days) and came back spiritually satisfied.

Today I have the means, the resources to go to Vaishno Devi whenever I want but till date the "call" has not come.

Anyway, coming back to the journey, I checked for the route on the net and settled for this:

Gurgaon - Chandigarh - Anandpur Sahib - Una - Amb - Kangra - Palampur.

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-map.jpg

I had decided to leave by 4 am and had hoped to cover Mata Chintpurni, Brajeshwari Devi, Chamunda Devi & Jwala ji enroute to Palampur. That would end my pilgrimage and leave me free to roam around Palampur during the stay.

Man proposes and God disposes. This saying fitted well; atleast in my case. As scheduled, wife, daughter & I left Gurgaon at 4 in the morning. I was very apprehensive of the Mukerba Chowk near Azadpur as that is a known traffic bottleneck. Leaving early would have helped me beat the traffic.

The weather signs were a bit ominous. There was haziness in the air and though fog had not settled, visibility was little low. But nothing to worry. How would I know what lay in the store for me.

Reached Mukerba Chowk in about 40 minutes and felt very happy. Had planned a pit-stop at Oasis, Karnal, that I had hoped to reach by 7 am latest.

And then disaster struck. As I reached Narela, hit a white wall. One of the densest fog that I had ever seen. Dev had left for Palampur two days back and hadn't reported anything of this sort. The drive became a crawl with following the vehicles in front.

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-fog.jpg


A boring & frustrating drive with no visibility at all. It also was tiring because all faculties were on the alert while concentrating hard on the road. One slip and it would be dangerous. I was desperately waiting for daylight as that would improve the visibility. Reached Karnal two hours late than scheduled. The flyover is not yet completed and the traffic was very slow on the side road. Fog was unrelenting and daylight made it worse. Did not stop at Oasis as that required a u-turn and I was not taking that risk in zero visibility.

Just after Karnal spotted a roadside tea-stall and stopped for a hot cup of tea and loosening of the limbs. I was feeling lethargic too. Switched on the hazard lights & the parking lights along with the DRLs. Didn't want anybody to crash into me from behind. After that brief stop-over proceeded to Chandigarh. Ambala was crossed in the fog and I was wondering when would it dissipate. The fog started clearing near Dera Bassi and I could see the Sun and its fain rays trying to warm-up the atmosphere. The visibility improved a lot (almost 3000 mtrs) and now we could see heaps and mounds of Kinnow fruit on the roadsides.

Kinnow (taken from my wife's mobile)

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As I was about to enter Chandigarh I made a phone call to my friend Vikram (wanderernomad) who was based in Mohali. I needed a route bearing. He was thrilled to hear from me and insisted that I should proceed further only after meeting him. So, an impromptu mini TBHP meet in Mohali. The clock read 11:30 am. Seven hours to Chandigarh from Gurgaon...aaarrgghh!

Reached Vikram's office with route directions being relayed on phone and he had sent his assistant to fetch us to his cabin. Unfortunately I did not read the name of his office. With a a warm hug & a big smile Vikram welcomed me and we started chatting. Soon hot cups of aromatic coffee arrived and that lifted the spirits. Since we had lost enough time, Vikram suggested that we should visit Chintpurni Mata and then proceed straight to Palampur as it would be quite late by then. The rest of the Devis could be done on 2nd Feb. That was a sensible advice.

Vikram then asked where in Palampur we were staying and I told him that it was the CSIR-IHBT guest-house. On hearing this he burst out laughing. I had a puzzled look on my face. He said and I quote - " you are staying in my house only ". This puzzled me more and seeing that look he explained. Vikram works for CSIR-IHBT in a senior position and the Palampur unit is controlled/administered from Mohali. He asked his assistant to call Palampur and instructed them to take good care of us as we were his personal guests. I was earlier scheduled to return on 2nd, but then I requested Vikram if our stay could be extended by a day. He immediately issued instructions to that effect and we had one extra day in Palampur. Niceties over, I bid good-bye to Vikram and told him that on my way back if I find time then would have dinner together in Chandigarh.

Filled diesel on the outskirts of Chandigarh & found that it costed Rs.46.04 to a litre; Cheaper than Gurgaon. Inspite of driving slowly in the fog, I got a mileage of 13.2 kmpl.

Clear weather, the Sun warming up raced towards Anandpur Sahib and stopped just a few kilometres before at a road-side Dhaba for lunch. Awesome Gobhi aur Aloo ke Paranthe with makkhan, curds, Yellow Daal.

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-dhaba.jpg

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-dhaba1.jpg

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-dhaba2.jpg

After that sumptuous lunch crossed Anandpur Sahib, Nangal Dam and reached near Una. Saw this horrible accident on the road - a bullet m/cycle was hit by a car and a man & woman on the m/cycle were badly injured. people were putting them in passing-by cars to take them to a hospital.

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-mishap.jpg

The Una - Amb road was the only bad patch on the entire journey. Expansion work is being carried out and once that is over this stretch should be nice as well. Crossed a small tunnel on the way.

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-tunnel.jpg


By 3:15 pm we had reached Mata Chintpurni and was parking my vehicle. Parking fees - Rs.50/-. Vehicles are not allowed right till the temple gate. One has to walk almost a kilometre to reach the temple. Photography inside the temple is prohibited.

Miss Scowl at the parking

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0717.jpg

Temple entrance

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0715.jpg

There wasn't any crowd at all and on enquiring I got to know that this was off-season and during cold weather the foot-fall decreases. After having a nice satisfying "darshan", we proceeded towards Palampur. It was getting dark slowly. I searched for the CSIR-IHBT on my Garmin GPS, but couldn't find it. Entered Palampur around 8 pm. Like all other hill stations Palampur is no different. Devoid of any night-life the town wore a deserted look. Passing through the market found a lone policeman. Asked him for directions and he guided me to the Baijnath road. The Institute was situated on that road on the outskirts of Palampur. After some time found the board and then the gate. Turned in and the guard came running in. Told him about our bookings in the guest house. He confirmed the same with the guest-house, made entries in the register and allowed us in.

Reached the guest-house, was shown to my room that was on the ground floor, luggage transferred and we settled down. The geyser & room-heater was switched on. Ordered dinner that was a simple fare of aloo-gobhi, daal, chapatis, rice & curds. Had dinner in the dining room. We all were tired and the next day was the wedding. The room was cosy & warm when we came back after dinner. Went off to a deep slumber.

Before sleeping I asked the caretaker about the Dhauladhars. He said, it is visible from the terrace. Made a mental note to get up early at the crack of the dawn to capture the peaks in the rising Sun....

to be continued.../-

Last edited by gd1418 : 28th February 2013 at 20:49.
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Old 28th February 2013, 23:18   #2
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1st Feb, 2013

Had left Gurgaon at 4 am the previous day. To leave at 4 am I had woken up at 3 to get ready. By the time I slept last night it was 10:45 pm. I was awake for 19 hours. So the resolution to get up at the crack of dawn today went for a toss. I got up at 8. The opportunity to capture the peaks in rising Sun was lost. I did not know then that I would repent later for my laziness.

Anyhow rushed to the terrace wrapping a shawl around myself with my camera. And this is what I saw:

The first look

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0718.jpg

The snow laden peaks

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0720.jpg

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0721.jpg

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In the meanwhile Dev called and said that he was coming to Palampur to get the Groom's car decorated and that we all should be ready to accompany him back to his village which was an hour's drive from Palampur. As I came down from the terrace, I found that wife was already ready and daughter was still lazing in the bed. I went for a shower, got ready and came out of the guest-house with my camera.

Took some random pictures:

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0738.jpg

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0748.jpg

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0757.jpg

In the meanwhile Gauri had showered and came out in the balcony to dry her hair.

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0741.jpg

Dev had asked us to get our evening clothes with us as we had to get ready at the village only since it was not possible to come back to Palampur, get ready and go back. We left for the market where he was waiting for us. Had breakfast at Gobind Sweets and proceeded to village Patti.

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0758.jpg

The groom's car had a flat that needed to be fixed. Enroute we found a puncturewala and stopped for fixing the flat. I too had a minor fuse issue that I fixed while the tyre was getting repaired.

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-fixing.jpg

Palampur is famous also for its tea-gardens and the Kangra Tea. When you drive around Palampur, one can find the tea-gardens on either side of the road.

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-teagarden.jpg

The drive to village Patti is very picturesque with the road winding through the hills. The last mile approach to the village is almost like a jungle safari on a non-existent road. Reached in time for lunch.

to be continued.../-
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Old 1st March 2013, 12:19   #3
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 1st March 2013, 14:52   #4
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Guru ji
Nice travelogue.
Jodhpur-> Sariska -> Himachal.
Quite a few successive drives in last one month.

How was the road conditions all through compared to the Solan/ Shimla route ?
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Old 1st March 2013, 17:20   #5
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Thank you KP. The road conditions are good except the Una - Amb sector.

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Originally Posted by kpzen View Post

Guru ji
Nice travelogue.
Jodhpur-> Sariska -> Himachal.
Quite a few successive drives in last one month.

How was the road conditions all through compared to the Solan/ Shimla route ?
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Old 1st March 2013, 23:49   #6
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It was a sit down lunch. I had a muscle pull in the left thigh but I chose to sit on the ground, awkwardly.

Aaahh.. the muscle pull acting up

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0808.jpg

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0811.jpg

It was a typical vegetarian Himachali lunch; Boiled rice, several types of pulses cooked in various ways etc.

As soon as the lunch got over, it was time for some ceremonies before the wedding procession left for the bride's place.

Deepak Rannot - the groom

somebody burst a "rassi bomb" forcing the women to cover their ears

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0763.jpg

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0767.jpg

Sir, you forgot to remove the plastic..!

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0781.jpg

Deepak's father on the extreme left

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0768.jpg

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Deepak & his sister Priti Devdath

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0775.jpg

Mrs. Rannot, Deepak & Priti

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0779.jpg

Womenfolk enjoying the wedding revelry

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0780.jpg

to be continued.../-
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Old 2nd March 2013, 04:19   #7
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BCG, as usual nice account with good pictures, nice blue sky, loved the rose picture. Looks like you had a swell time at the wedding.

Never thought you're the muscle pulling kind I thought you pull the muscles!

Brings me memories for me when I covered all temples you did, though we did in a more leisurely drive. Link here of the short T-Log:

http://www.bcmtouring.com/forum/trav...4k-kms-t28740/

Looking forward to more photos and story.

--Ramky

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Old 2nd March 2013, 10:05   #8
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Thank you Ramky anna for the appreciation. This is the kind of blue sky that we city dwellers long for. The fresh air, with various scents of the plants around, does wonders to your lungs.

My family & I enjoyed the wedding revelry immensely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post

BCG, as usual nice account with good pictures, nice blue sky, loved the rose picture. Looks like you had a swell time at the wedding.
So long I don't jump 10 ft in the air from a static position, muscle pulling or pulling the muscle doesn't matter.

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Never thought you're the muscle pulling kind I thought you pull the muscles!
A very interesting travelogue. Shall read in leisure. You seem to have covered a lot more places than me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post

Brings me memories for me when I covered all temples you did, though we did in a more leisurely drive. Link here of the short T-Log:

http://www.bcmtouring.com/forum/trav...4k-kms-t28740/

Looking forward to more photos and story.

--Ramky

Last edited by gd1418 : 2nd March 2013 at 10:07.
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Old 2nd March 2013, 11:58   #9
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Thanks for sharing. Have to go for the same route for same reason probably in November first week but have to start all the way from south rajasthan.

It will be winter, SO best time to visit. Anything is good to go in winter for me. Cant bear the summer of plains.
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Old 2nd March 2013, 15:39   #10
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Lovely write up as expected from you. The Dhauladhars as seen from your lens look even more beautifull.

I have fond memories of Kangra as a kid. My dad was posted at a military station called Ahlial just ahead of Palampur. Lots of tea gardens around and lots of rivulets where we used to fish for trout. Good fun!!

Also that year they had a hang gliding competition at Billing - Bir and lots of these hang gliders had to land in our units filed as the weather was really bad at Bir (the landing site)

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Old 2nd March 2013, 23:59   #11
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The outside ceremonies were over and the groom was taken inside for a shower. Dev & Priti took us for a round of their village, showed us their family deity, the cattle house and the vegetable garden. I also saw two trees of Galgal (Citrus pseudolimon), commonly called the Hill Lemon or the Kumaon Lemon, laden with ripe fruits. Wife wanted some to take back to make pickles. The Rannots gave us 10-15 pieces.

Galgal

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-galgal.jpg

When we returned from the village tour, the groom readying ceremonies were about to begun inside. Witnessed some typical Himachali traditions & customs. Let the photographs speak:

Maternal uncle gives the "saafa" to the groom

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0785.jpg

Sister & Brother-in-law give the Sherwaani to the groom

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0787.jpg

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Dev (oh my God, what a wasteful expenditure) & Priti (brother is looking so handsome in this sherwaani)

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0791.jpg

There is an old Indian saying - "सारी खुदाई एक तरफ, जोरू का भाई एक तरफ" (the whole world on one side and wife's brother on one side)

Dev helping Deepak with the sherwaani

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0796.jpg

Hmmm..worn & ready

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The "saafa" being put on groom's head

Dev & Priti, Maternal Uncle, Deepak's father & Mother

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0802.jpg

Sehrabandi

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0804.jpg

The groom was ready and now it was the turn of others to get ready.

I

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-sherwani.jpg

Daughter & I

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-wdng.jpg

The wedding procession left from the village to bride's place that was near Palampur and an hour's drive. By the time we reached it was late evening. The bride's family had arranged refreshments for the wedding party that was to assemble some distance away.

After the refreshments, we proceeded towards the bride's house. Now this had an interesting aspect. We were told that the vehicles couldn't go till the bride's place as there was no approach road. So we had to park all our vehicles near a railway crossing that was the nearest approach point. From there we had to walk a few meters on the rail track and then cut across to reach the place. The bride's house was a surprise to me.

When I was told that there wasn't any motorable approach road to the bride's place I thought that bride's family stayed in a very backward village and not well to do.

I was way off the mark. It was a huge house with all the modern amenities and very tastefully built. And so were the other houses in the neighbourhood. The only way to approach was on foot.

The groom came on a "paalki". We were welcomed and ushered in. Now a different set of ceremonies began. The groom was to be worshipped, bathed & clothed in a new set from the bride's side. After that was over, Deepak was escorted to the stage. After a while Ritika came escorted by her family. The garlands were exchanged and they sat on the stage for people to come, greet them and get photographed.

Gauri & I went up the stage, wished the couple, gave our gift and went for dinner. The "pheras" were to happen quite late. After dinner we bid good-bye to our hosts & went back to our room.

Tomorrow was to be an another day and a different programme. As I left for the CSIR guest-house, I saw that the sky was over-cast. My heart sunk. If this remained till the morning then I would not get my shot of the peaks in the first rays of the Sun.

to be continued.../-
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Old 3rd March 2013, 09:54   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gd1418 View Post
I

Daughter & I
You were looking like true Rajput in your attire and that Jodhpuri "Lahariya" turban was the icing on the cake.

I wore my turban that you gifted me for more than 8 hours continuously, it was extremely comfortable and I felt like I could keep it on and on.
On the contrary, the turban that I had purchased for my wedding (the typical Delhi baraati/dulha kinds), was a pain in the head, the ears and wearing it for more than 10 minutes was a torture in itself.

A big Thank You to all of you for making it to the wedding and giving us such fond memories..!!
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Old 4th March 2013, 23:27   #13
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2nd Feb, 2013

I must share something. While returning back from the wedding the previous night, I noticed that the sky was clear & stars were visible. It gladdened my heart.

Paush Poornima (पौष पूर्णिमा) was on 26th January and today was the 6th day after. The moon disc was still 80%, bright and high up in the sky. I knew what I wanted.

Changed my clothes and went up the stairs to the terrace with my camera. What I saw made-up for not being able to capture the peaks at Sun-rise.

The Dhauladhars in moon-light

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0720bw.jpg

The alarm rings at 5:45 am and I'm up in a jiffy. Photographing the peaks at the crack of dawn..! No sooner that I reached the terrace, my heart sank. It was grey all over. Opportunity comes only once. I should have photographed the peaks on the morning of 1st.

A heavy cloud cover had descended over Palampur.

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0815.jpg

Disappointed came down to get ready. The agenda for the day was to visit Chamunda Devi, Dharamsala, Mcleodganj etc.

Told the guest-house caretaker about breakfast. By the time we all got ready the breakfast was ready to be served. We all went to the dining hall.

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0817.jpg

By 11:45 we reached Chamunda Devi. The temple wore a deserted look that surprised me. The story was same as that of Chintpurni; off season. So the God & Goddesses too had "devotee" season.

Temple timings

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0819.jpg

Temple entrance

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We had a nice darshan and while coming out of the sanctum-sanctorum saw a young handsome priest with a covered utensil waiting. I asked if this was the "bhog" for Chamunda Devi and he nodded his head. Oh boy, what luck. I waited till the "bhog" was offered to the Devi. The sanctum-sanctorum is closed for a few minutes during this period. The priest came out with the "bhog-prasaad" and I requested if I could partake Devi's bhog. He asked me to follow him and I went to the priests's quarters inside the temple complex. There I was given the Devi's "bhog-prasaad" that was sweetened yellow rice. I ate that and felt fulfilled. A divine experience.

Exited the temple. On the way saw this exotic bird perched on an electric point inside the temple. I had never seen this type of bird anywhere.

Wire-tailed Swallow

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0822.jpg

A fellow TBHPian Aravind Venkatraman helped in identifying this bird. Thank you Aravind.

Drove towards Dharamsala & Mcleodganj. Both places were crowded. I could see lots of foreigners & Tibetians including monks. My destination was Bhagsu Nag in Mcleodganj.

Bhagsu Nag Temple

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0830.jpg

Again had a peaceful darshan and I hesitatingly asked the priest if I could click some pictures. He agreed and I clicked the idols in the sanctum-sanctorum.

Bhagsu Nag Mahadev

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-0827.jpg

After this we had lunch in a restaurant located near the parking lot. It was 3 pm by the time we finished. We started our return journey to Palampur.

There was one more small celebration this evening at the Groom's village. The bride was brought home in the morning and there would be a non-vegetarian party at the groom's where the entire village would eat. Normally this is done at lunch but they decided to do at dinner.

We came to our room, relaxed a bit and then got ready to leave for the village. Though we were supposed to reach by 7:30 pm, we managed only by 9 pm. The drive was eerie & exciting. Not a soul on the road.

After the dinner we left for Palampur. It was almost mid-night. God forbid if your vehicle breaks-down. You shall not find any help at that time. So, keep your vehicle in top condition. And then there were wild animals to contend with. Leopards were known to roam the hills and are occasionally seen in the villages to lift cattle & livestock. Sambar deer is also found in abundance though I had not seen any during my stay. However, at the institute's guest-house I was warned on day one itself not to be too adventurous and take walks in the night.

I drove back slowly keeping the vehicle's headlights on high-beam in the hope of catching some action. And I did. I saw a female Sambar that froze on seeing my vehicle and then bolted back into darkness.

A jungle hare ran across the road in front of the car and melted into the darkness.

And then I had a very very rare sighting. As I turned a bend I saw shining eyes illuminated by the headlights. That animal had frozen for a second and vanished in the bushes. It was a Pine Marten, a highly nocturnal and shy animal.

Pine Marten

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-pinemarten.jpg

I could not photograph any of the above as I was driving and all of them appeared suddenly. The picture of the Pine Marten has been downloaded from the net for illustration. As I entered the campus I saw another Pine Marten that too slinked away. By the time we retired to bed, it was 1:30 am. The sky was heavily overcast and there wasn't going to be any chance of the peaks in Sun-rise in the morning. Decided to take it easy as we had to check-out in the morning and visit to Kangra Devi & Jwala Devi was due.

to be continued.../-
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Old 5th March 2013, 11:08   #14
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Thanks for the insights into a Himachali wedding! Your photo of the Pine Marten has made me curious as to the identity of the animal I once saw scurrying away. Hope you can identify it for me.

Gurgaon - Palampur - Gurgaon-mysterious_animal.jpg
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Old 5th March 2013, 12:59   #15
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Lordofgondor : Yours is most probably a Himalayan Weasel I did sight the same on my way from Pooh to Chail. This was somewhere close to Jeori (HP). Here are the pics I mamanged

Himalayan Weasel 1

Himalayan Weasel 2
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