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Old 10th June 2013, 23:08   #1
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Default Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali

"Next week this time you will be here experiencing 47 degrees" the message came from Prosad-da, my cousin in Noida, the day when Delhi experienced hottest day in May in now-I-forgot-so many years. Hmm, not so welcoming thought, but then we will be in Noida for a brief period and head to hills

Prologue:
We thought of taking a much needed vacation in May. First thought of doing the Kanchipuram - Chidambaram - Tranquebar - Darasuram - Thanjavur - Trichy circuit from Bangalore but was shot down due to the hot weather. Same was the fate for a tour around Jabalpur where one of my cousin is posted and inviting us. We briefly also thought of a europe tour, but was not economically viable in last minute planning. Then we thought of Himalayas, I have never visited northern part of it, and hence the decision was on the most touristy destination of Shimla-Manali.

Though Prosad-da has been in Noida for last 16 years, they hadn't gone to Manali, so he alongwith his family (Prosad-da, boudi and Abhishek) decided to join us (self, Gargi and our daughter Aankhi) and we decide to travel in his Ford Fiesta.

After few mail exchanges with HV Kumar we decided the following route:
Day 1: Noida - Shimla
Day 2: Shimla sightseeing
Day 3: Shimla - Tirthan Valley
Day 4: Tirthan Valley - Manali
Day 5: Manali Sightseeing
Day 6: Manali Sightseeing
Day 7: Manali - Noida
Day 8: Reserve day in case we do not do the entire stretch on Day 7.

We booked the hotels well in advance - Clarkes in Shimla, and Himalayan Trout House in Tirthan Valley. In Manali, Gargi's relative have a house and we didn't need a hotel booking.

Last edited by arindamray : 10th June 2013 at 23:09.
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Old 10th June 2013, 23:21   #2
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Default Day 0 - 31st May: Bangalore - Noida

Our flight from Bangalore to Delhi was at 6:30 pm. Till the taxi came for pick-up at 3:30 I was furiously working on the laptop (so was Gargi), to make sure we are disturbed less from work during our vacation. Finally put the out of office auto replies on and shut the laptop down.

Got the Suitcase and the duffel bag and a small bag and the camera bag and so on to the taxi. With a grin sat on the taxi, as it rolls out of our apartment complex in Bangalore - the vacation started.

Except the heavy downpour which started while we board the plane, the journey was uneventful, and we touched down at Delhi airport at 9:10 pm. Prosad-da came to pick us up. After having dinner and exchanging pleasantries, we crashed to the bed with a plan of starting by 5:00 am next day.
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Old 20th June 2013, 00:25   #3
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Default Day 1 - 1st June: Noida - Shimla

The morning activities took longer than expected (as usual) and when we are about to start, thought of having the second key of the car also with us. That took re-opening the locks of the house, searching for it, locking and cross-checking the lock. Another 10 minutes delay, but it is always better. So finally we rolled out of the apartment complex at 5:40 - a delay of 40 minutes, not bad.

Oh forgot to mention, managing the boot space was a real optimization theory. One large suitcase, one medium suitcase, two large bags, one sleeping bag, two blankets, 3 jackets, and 1 or 2 plastic covers all jostled for space in the ford fiesta dickey. By the way, with every stop we got better, and it neither took that much nor that much space when we started our return voyage.

Surprisingly did not encounter much traffic and I think we were out of Delhi limit within an hour. We stopped in a dhaba near Karnal for breakfast around 8:00 am. Hot Alu Paratha with dollops of butter melting on top of it was delicious - miss these on the trips in south. Ended it with two cups, err glasses of chai.

Turn off towards Shimla from Zirakpur was at 10-ish, and we were very happy on the progress and was thinking we should be reaching by 12:30 pm. But once the ghat started the average speed dropped down drastically, also we needed few stops to get people relieved from their nausea. And with lots of "are we there yet"s, finally we got our car in the parking lot around 2:00 pm.

For the people who have not visited Shimla, the main attraction Mall road and Ridge are out of bounds for vehicle. Our hotel being on Mall Road, we had to park our car in Municipal Parking in Lift, from where two lifts (public: 10 rs /head each way) took us to the Mall road and then a short downward walk get us to Hotel Clark. By that time the porters got our luggage through the pathway to the Hotel reception.

The first thing after we gave our details of booking to the hotel reception was to ask whether the restaurant will be open. Answers in affirmative, and we just get to our rooms, freshen up a beat, and head towards the restaurant for lunch.

The hotel we stayed was the Clarkes.
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image10.jpg

As the plaque says, this was the first property of Oberoi
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image11.jpg

Quoting from wikipedia on Oberoi Hotels & Resorts
Quote:
The foundations of the Oberoi Group date back to 1934 when Rai Bahadur Mohan Singh Oberoi, the founder Chairman of the group bought from an Englishman; two properties - The Clarke's in Delhi and The Clarke's in Shimla. In the following years Oberoi, assisted by his two sons, Tilak Raj Singh Oberoi and Prithvi Raj Singh Oberoi continued the expansion of their group with properties both in India and abroad.
The rooms are huge, with sitting area, double bed, anti-room. The entire gang having nice time in evening.
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image46.jpg

Last edited by arindamray : 21st June 2013 at 00:56.
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Old 21st June 2013, 01:29   #4
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Default Day 1 - 1st June: Noida - Shimla (Contd)

After the lunch (the food pricey and tastes not so good - tripadvisor reviews were bang on), and little rest and freshen up, we decided to have a stroll at the Mall Road and Ridge.

We came across the fruit vendors selling cherries, apricots, plums, apples...
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image05.jpg

The plums were inviting
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image04.jpg

However we bought a box of Cherries and a box of apricots.

We looked at the busy side of Shimla
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image45.jpg

and also at the not so busy side
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image07.jpg

The Mall road was crowded, but there is something in the air which makes you feel good. We walk towards the other end of Mall road to this building
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image08.jpg

and took some customary pictures
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image52.jpg

We took the stairs by the side of the building to Ridge, but half of it was cordoned off for summer festival with blaring musics disturbing the peace and tranquility of the place.

Kiddos enjoyed the place, be it horse-riding
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image53.jpg

or playing with balloon
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image51.jpg

We saw the church, the first building of shimla
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image06.jpg

and the state library
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image01.jpg

Later we captured the church in night
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image02.jpg

also the glimpse of shimla from hotel
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image12.jpg

which looked different from the day
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image09.jpg

We ended the day with a dinner at non-descript bar and restaurant (more bar than restaurant) and post dinner exercise - walking up and down to the car park to fetch wifey's phone.
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Old 22nd June 2013, 21:00   #5
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Default Day 2 - 2nd June: Shimla

We took a leisurely breakfast and then thought of visiting Tattapani, however my daughter was not feeling well and threw up couple of times even before Mashorba, we dropped the plan, and returned back to Shimla. The day was spent on Mall road mainly trying different food places - Tripti, Indian Coffee House, Baljee's and finally dinner at Jashan.

Duaghter enjoying the breakfast
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-dsc_0079.jpg

With a plan to start around 8:30 from Hotel next day for our jouney onwards to Tirthan Valley.

Now, a little bit of backgorund...

With Shimla to Manali journey estimated at 8-9 hours, we thought of breaking the journey somewhere in between and the direct route through the mountains looked inviting. HVK suggested Tirthan Valley, and it really fell in place. We also considered Shoja as an option (Banjara Resorts), but finally opted for Himalayan Trout House in Nagni.
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Old 22nd June 2013, 22:27   #6
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Default Day 3 - 3rd June: Shimla - Tirthan Valley

Though we thought we will start by 9:00, by the time we could take the car out of the parking lot was around 9:40. The parking lot was jam packed, and the attendants had to move 3/4 cars out to finally make the way for our car.

Somehow I was under the impression that the distance is around 120-25 km, and was thinking it will take max 5 hours to reach. We did good time till Kingal (reached around 12:30), but was surprised to hear that it will take around 4 hours to reach Banjar from there. Checking the maps, and route directions given by HVK confirmed that the distance is actually around 170. We finished our lunch at Kingal in a small restaurant - a good decision at hindsight, as we didn't find any other good place on the road.

In Sainj we take deviation from NH-22 and cross the Sutlej, the road became very narrow, every time a vehicle comes from opposite, one need to stop at a wider section, to allow the other pass. Sometimes it needed reversing of one of the vehicles to reach such a spot. The average speed took a huge beating.

Add to it, the road 10 km either side of Jalori Jot (pass) was unmetalled, and turned slushy in couple of places. But the views definitely worth it.

Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image13.jpg

Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image14.jpg

Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image15.jpg

Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image16.jpg

Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image17.jpg

80 odd km to Banjar from Kingal took 4 hours of time and then we took the turn off towards Gushaini. Our destination Himalayan Trout House is in Nagni, which is 6 km from Banjar. Finally around 5:30, we reached there.

We didn't get the same type of rooms. My cousins stayed in Mud Hut.
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image50.jpg

We stayed in Stone Cottage.
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image20.jpg

My daughter enjoyed the swing
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image48.jpg

The view of the Tirthan river from the resort
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image18.jpg

Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image19.jpg

Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image21.jpg

The river was so inviting that we did not waste any time, freshened up a bit, and then headed straight to the river. The water was icy cold, we could keep our feet in the water only for few seconds but sitting on the rocks in the riverbed, occasional dips of the toe, the gurgling sound, and the gentle breeze was very soothing to the soul.

Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image47.jpg

Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image03.jpg

The dinner had to be pre-ordered, and obviously we didn't miss that before heading out. The chef was amazing, both continental and Indian dishes were made to perfection.

Last edited by arindamray : 24th June 2013 at 00:56.
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Old 22nd June 2013, 23:50   #7
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Default Day 4 - 4th June: Trek to the waterfall and Tirthan - Manali

Previous day Christopher (owner of HTH) suggested us a trek to a Waterfall and we agreed for that. After breakfast (Alu Paratha, Omlette and Tea for me), we took the directions from Chirstopher and headed out around 10:15 am.

After 15 minutes of walking we got this view of the Tirthan
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image22.jpg

The trek was of around one hour. For the three and half year old it was little tiring, and carrying her was for the person carrying and also at some positions a little difficult/risky. So my wife and daughter abandoned it mid-way (or more like 3/4th way). However a guide was taking another couple from same resort, and he carried my daughter, they could also finally join.

We finally get to reach the fall.
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image23.jpg

We even ventured out under the fall and spent some time at that location.
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image24.jpg

We were in hurry as we were to leave for Manali shortly, and could not wait for the other group who were staying back that night also in Tirthan. This meant we could not get the service of the guide and it was difficult to carry her down.

We reached back around 1:30 to the hotel. Checked out, fed lunch to our daughter and left. We didn't order our lunch as we planned to leave earlier than the typical lunch time at HTH at 2:30, however we actually started around that.

On the way just before Aut, we crossed the sangam of Tirthan and Sainj rivers. You can clearly see the difference in color of the two rivers.
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image25.jpg

We crossed Aut Tunnel (2.8 km long) and stopped near Bajaura for a late lunch (3:45 - 4:30). Took an early turn and went through the town of Kullu, instead of NH-21 on the other side of the river and reached Manali around 6:30 pm.

We took a small walk on the Mall road, and bought some provisions to cook - we were staying in a relative's vacation home and thought of having home made food. Mall road in Manali is heavily crowded and also does not offer any view unlike Shimla/Darjeeling.

A simple dinner ends the day.

Last edited by arindamray : 24th June 2013 at 00:57.
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Old 24th June 2013, 00:54   #8
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Default Day 5 - 5th June: Solang Valley

We wake up to another lazy morning. The house we were staying at was marvelous. This is the first building on right hand side as you enter the Manali town. Took the camera out, and go out to capture the beauty of the place.

As soon as I step out, we catch the glimpse of the white mountains
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image26.jpg

Zooming in
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image27.jpg

Walking on the lawn, to capture the house
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image28.jpg

The house from another angle
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image29.jpg

View of beas from the end of the lawn
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image30.jpg

The inside was equally good with wooden floors, stone walls complete with fireplaces, however have not taken any photos inside.

We went out for Solang Valley after late breakfast. The beautiful vista.
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image31.jpg

Tried paragliding unsuccessfully - 2 attempts and falling down - the first one face down. The guide told I am too heavy to do it and not running properly.

My daughter had a whale of time jumping on the trampoline though. Post that there was a session of photography on traditional dress of himachal.
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image32.jpg

We went to chopstick (referred by our relative and also by Lonely Planet) for a late lunch. It was still full, and when we get the food we knew why - they are just marvelous. Only thing you need to be careful is its quantity, they are huge. Our order was off by at least 50%.

A little walk on the Mall Road again, taking the picture of Durga temple
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image49.jpg

shopping (bought a himachali cap ) and window-shopping.

The evening was spent by playing hangman. The taxi for the next day's visit to Rohtang has been arranged and he will come at 4:30 am.
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Old 24th June 2013, 01:48   #9
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Default Day 6 - 6th June: Rohtang Pass

We are ready by 4:25 am, and checking for the taxi at the main gate and he comes exactly at 4:30. We are all covered up well, daughter still sleeping start our journey towards Rohtang. First stop was to get the gears for Rohtang, a full suit, woolen socks, gloves, boot (@ 300/head), and we continue.

The first checkpost at Kothi was not set up at that early morning, so the first stop was at Marhi, where there was a queue of car, to get the numbers noted for the cars going up.

There was a huge number of cars going uphill, with occasional few coming in the opposite direction.
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image33.jpg

That's our destination.
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image34.jpg

Except for Rani nullah, road condition was good. We reached at the top by 7:30 am.

There are few activities one can do over there, and we did sliding on snow in a tube, riding on a snowmobile, riding on a ATV and ski for dummies. And some photos of same.

Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image54.jpg

Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image55.jpg

Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image35.jpg

Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image43.jpg

The ATV took us to the zero point - was it the highest point there, not sure. We looked back at the point where we came from.
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image36.jpg

We stopped next at Vyas temple. It is the place where the vyas nullah starts.
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image41.jpg

The small idol inside the temple
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image40.jpg

This is how light comes in, through the hole on the top
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image39.jpg

Daughter and wife at the steps of the temple
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image42.jpg

The "action area" down below
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image37.jpg

Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image38.jpg

By 10:00 we had done with all the activity and also polished off the plates of Maggi and cups of tea/coffee. Started down at around 10:10-10:15. But we were not so lucky while going down, there was a small landslide, though the road was cleared for one vehicle to move, the movement was very small. The uphill traffic was stopped. We crawled down to Marhi. Even after Marhi, where the upward bound vehicles were blocked, they had been parked haphazardly, and it was difficult to pass through.

In one of those long stops we took the photo of this waterfall
Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali-image44.jpg

Finally we were in Manali around 3:30, and we head to Johnson's Cafe for lunch. We spent almost one and half hour over there (a wonderful place, most probably best suited for a leisurely brunch). Came back and it's time to pack our bags.

We also had a discussion on whether to break the return journey to Noida in two days and when to start. It was decided to start by 6:00 and to complete the journey in one day itself.
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Old 24th June 2013, 01:58   #10
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Default Day 7 - 7th June: Manali - Noida

It is a drive day. Got an hour late to start but a significant amount of time was spent to clean the glasses of the car, which was parked on the roadside, and had a layer of dust all over it.

We started at 7:00, with me at wheel, crossed Aut at 8:30, could not stop at the numerous dhabas just before the tunnel as most of the people at the back seat were sleeping. We also measured the length of the Aut tunnel at 2.8 km. After crossing the tunnel, the roads were winding, and all got up, we stopped in a small roadside dhaba just before Pandoh at 9:00. We took an hour-long break in finishing our breakfast. So we were contemplating where to have the lunch, and as we reached Bilaspur at noon, we decided to stop at Swarghat for lunch. We reached Swarghat at 13:30, and had our lunch in HP tourism hotel Hiltop.
We resumed our journey at 14:30, and reached Kurukshetra at 17:30, where I handed over the wheel to my cousin. We reached Delhi border at 19:15, and after a massive jam in Ring Road bypass reached Noida home at 21:00.

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Old 26th June 2013, 00:50   #11
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Default Re: Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali

Day 8 - 8th June: Reserve Day
This day was kept as a reserve day, in case we need to break the journey between Manali to Delhi in two days. So we just relaxed on this day in my cousin's home in Noida.

Day 9 - 9th June: Back to Bangalore
We had an early morning flight (6:30 am departure). The Indigo flight was on time, and when we landed at 9:10 am the captain announced "the outside temperature is 19 degrees", same as Manali's during the same time of the day.
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Old 26th June 2013, 08:36   #12
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Default Re: Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali

Arindam - You guys had a fun filled vacation, no doubt. Kiddo will always have these snow filled days in her mind.

Being a trip in radar as soon as my younger one gets little more used to travel, I really placed myself into the context and enjoyed reading the complete travelogue.
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Old 26th June 2013, 13:38   #13
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Default Re: Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali

Very nice pictures Arindam. Sure you had a fantastic trip to the hills. The snow capped mountains are looking splendid.

Thanks for sharing the pictures & your experience.
Regards,
Saket
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Old 5th August 2013, 23:37   #14
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Default Re: Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali

Quote:
Originally Posted by jacs View Post
Arindam - You guys had a fun filled vacation, no doubt. Kiddo will always have these snow filled days in her mind.

Being a trip in radar as soon as my younger one gets little more used to travel, I really placed myself into the context and enjoyed reading the complete travelogue.
Thanks Jacs. Not sure if they can remember this young - she does not our earlier trips.

How old is your younger one? My daughter is motion sick which has reduced our trips drastically - though my wife does not agree

Quote:
Originally Posted by saket77 View Post
Very nice pictures Arindam. Sure you had a fantastic trip to the hills. The snow capped mountains are looking splendid.

Thanks for sharing the pictures & your experience.
Regards,
Saket
This was my first trip in Himalayas in the North India (have been in North Bengal and Sikim though) and white mountains definitely are charming. I was tad disappointed not to see them till we reach Manali. The experience in Rohtang took away all of that.
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Old 6th August 2013, 09:12   #15
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Default Re: Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali

Quote:
Originally Posted by arindamray View Post
Thanks Jacs. Not sure if they can remember this young - she does not our earlier trips.

How old is your younger one? My daughter is motion sick which has reduced our trips drastically - though my wife does not agree
My elder son is 4years and younger one is just 6months now. Elder one is trained to travel, from 4 months onwards he got included in the Kottayam - Bangalore travels and had taken him to Goa when he was 8 months .

Planning a Velankanni trip this weekend to train the younger one! If he is fine, more travels to follow.
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