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gd1418 8th March 2010 17:48

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Varun, this will give you a fair idea -

The price is for the body only. I dunno at what price did Parav pick up.


Originally Posted by vkochar (Post 1770907)
How much does a Canon 5D MII cost by the way ? I have no idea. That is why :)

Date: 18th February, 2010

We both slept well, the tiredness of almost 6 hours of drive from Gurgaon and then the function the previous evening was a bit tiring. My wife & I are early risers. Got up as usual and then thought what the heck, and again went back to sleep. This time the eyes opened at 7.

The wedding was in the evening at the Jaypee Manor, Barlowganj, Mussorie. Was wondering as to how the day would be spent, that I noticed the message icon on my mobile flashing. I thought this must be Sanjay Diwan, another classmate of mine who had started from Delhi at 6 for Doon. Checked the message and it was from Amit - " Divya's haldi ceremony at 10. U all b there by 945".

Opened the room door and peered across to see if Sandip was awake. His door was shut so knocked. After a couple of knocks he opened and I showed him the message. The race to get ready started.

We all were ready by 9:30 and drove to Amit's house.

What is Haldi Ceremony?

Haldi ceremony is a major part of the Indian wedding ceremony and is also marked by several customs as well as traditions. India is a colorful nation and most of the celebrations in India are colorful too. In India, people celebrate so many festivals and ceremonies in their own ways by following their own traditions and rituals. Haldi ceremony is one of the interesting rituals of an Indian wedding.

Ritual of Haldi Ceremony:

According to Indian culture as well as ritual, Haldi ceremony is celebrated a day before the actual wedding ceremony. On that day, the haldi paste (turmeric paste) is applied to both the bride and groom by their relatives and friends. This ceremony is celebrated individually in houses of bride and groom. Mainly female relatives or friends take part in this ceremony.

Haldi Ceremony in India:

In many castes in India, the most celebrated ritual of haldi ceremony is celebrated together with the mehendi ceremony, another interesting ceremony of an Indian wedding. Mehendi ceremony is celebrated a couple of day before the main marriage ceremony. It is little bit different from the haldi ceremony. Haldi ceremony is held in both groom and bride's place, while the Mehendi ceremony is held only in bride's place. But, sometimes it is also held in bride's place.

Reason behind the ritual of Haldi Ceremony:

In haldi ceremony, the female relatives of groom's house apply haldi on both groom and bride along with water. This ritual is also followed by several other traditions. The ritual of haldi is intended to sheer the groom of nervousness and as a good sign of fortune and prosperity.

The Haldi Ceremony:

On the day of haldi ceremony, traditionally an Indian bride has to wear yellow colored clothes (any colour except white and black). In India, the haldi ceremony is also known as Ubtaan. Traditionally, this ceremony of haldi is followed in each and every marriage ceremony, so that the bride can have sparkling skin on the bright day of marriage. Moreover, it is a very interesting as well as fun filled ceremony where everybody actively takes equal part.

The preparations were in full swing and it all ended by 12 noon. I shall now let the pictures do the talking:

Mortar & Pestle - traditionally given to bride so that she will pound spices & make tasty food at her in-laws

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Panditji preparing

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Now waiting to start

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Both the Grandmothers - L to R: Renu's mother, Shanno & Amit's mother

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Last minute instructions by Renu

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Ceremony started

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Ritual by Divya's Maternal Uncle

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In deep thought

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To be continued....

rkbharat 8th March 2010 19:18

very nice log GD sir, of a different kind and Bride looks gorgeous. Lucky firang :D

gd1418 9th March 2010 14:55

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Thanks rk.. Lucky indeed..!


Originally Posted by rkbharat (Post 1771642)
very nice log GD sir, of a different kind and Bride looks gorgeous. Lucky firang :D


This narration shall not be complete if I don't mention about Bonzo, the magnificient German Shepherd of the Pandeyas and an integral family member.

I first visited Amit's place in December 2005 to celebrate New Year along with two of my other classmates. One of course was Ramaswamy and the other Dr. (Col.) Ashwini Goel.

I stayed with Amit and my family and I fell in love with Bonzo - and that included my wife who is pathologically scared of canines. All the days that we stayed there, my kids used to play with him only and he too enjoyed their company. Evening time was wrestling time and tug-of-war with a rag with me.

Gauri, Bonzo & Anshu

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5 years later on Haldi ceremony day - siesta time?

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Bonzo remembered my wife and me even after such a long gap and his welcome was full of pure love & affection.

gd1418 9th March 2010 18:01

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Sahastradhara literally means 'thousandfold spring'.

The Haldi ceremony was over by noon and after a delicious brunch we left for the Club to relax. Sanjay, my classmate had not yet arrived. Now, we - my wife & I love to travel and explore different places and also had lots of time in hand. On my earlier visits to Doon, with my parents as a child and then later on my own, plans to visit Sahastradhara never ever materialised for some unknown reasons.

As we left Amit's house I said - "Let us go to Sahastradhara". Sandip and my wife readly agreed and off we headed to the sulphur springs that were just 8-10 Kms away. The road to the springs is a winding single lane tar road in good condition. Should I thank Ramaswamy for this?

It goes past the Doon Helipad and then reaches a cluster of shops & restaurants where a board proclaims that you have reached the cold sulphur springs. I was told that this place has quite a footfall in monsoons when the Dhara is in its full glory. Uttarakhand tourism should put up signs and make a parking place for vehicles that come.

I parked on a small open place near the road and off we went to explore. This place also boasted of some very ancient and old caves that could be approached by crossing the Badli river on a rickety wooden foot bridge. Sandip refused to cross the bridge as he felt giddy & nauseated.

As we approached the springs by climbing down some badly maintained steps, a pungent odour hit the olfactory nerves. The smell of sulphur..!

The sulphur springs emanate from the mountain above while a river or a rivulet flows below. It is called the Badli river.

There is a ropeway at the springs that takes you high up on the mountains where there is a Sai Baba Temple, Restaurant, some Games consoles etc.

I shall let the pictures do the talking:

Location of Sahastradhara

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The Sulphur Spring

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Badli River

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Wooden foot bridge

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The Cave

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The Ropeway

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The Wheel

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People getting into one of the trolleys

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View from the top

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I spotted this temple from the top. Don't know which temple is this

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After having a coffe at one of the restaurants there at the top, we came down the ropeway. In the meanwhile Sandip got a call on his cell from Sanjay that he had arrived and settled in the Club and was going to rest.

We also returned to the Club in a short while and rested, to get ready for the wedding in the evening. The time of the wedding was from 5 pm to 10 pm sharp. We Delhities are not used to this timing. Here the wedding celebrations start at 10 pm..

To be continued...

sammyboy 9th March 2010 18:09

Huh , is this the same Sahastradhara ??? My God, I cant believe how much it has changed, it has a ropeway and all now ..Wow. Thank you sir for this thread, I still cant imagine so much has changed. I havent visited it since 98 or so and I still cant digest the changes

*presses the Post reply button still shaking his head

gd1418 9th March 2010 18:20

When you commercialise, misbehave with Nature, what else do you expect? We, my parents and I first went to Mussorrie in our '73 Amby in 1980. What greenery and what nice smell of various plants & flowers in the air. Over a period of time on our subsequent visits, the fragrance was replaced by petrol fumes, the greenery was denuded and we could see brown mountains. The level of chill in the air reducing over the years..

Today Mussorie is choc-a-bloc practically round the year. There is hardly any snowfall during winters. This year there wasn't any. At least last year it snowed.

So Sammyboy, don't get surprised. Times are changing.


Originally Posted by sammyboy (Post 1773706)
Huh , is this the same Sahastradhara ??? My God, I cant believe how much it has changed, it has a ropeway and all now ..Wow. Thank you sir for this thread, I still cant imagine so much has changed. I havent visited it since 98 or so and I still cant digest the changes

*presses the Post reply button still shaking his head

gd1418 9th March 2010 21:41

Thanks akp... I missed out on your post...


Originally Posted by akp (Post 1771340)
About the same as a base model Tata Nano, I think.

@gd1418, like your style of storytelling, and photographs of course. Waiting for more.

gd1418 10th March 2010 14:39

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Date: 18th February, 2010 - 1600 hrs.

Had set my alarm to 3:50 pm with a snooze of 10 minutes. Got up and wifey went first to get ready. Womenfolk take longer to get ready. Sandip & Sanjay had no such problems. I went in the washroom at 4:30 and was ready by 5.

I came out of the room and met up with Sandip & Sanjay and waited for Shanno. Finally she too came out and off we drove towards Mussoorie to go to Jaypee Manor where the wedding was to take place on the terrace garden. It was going to be cold at 6600 feet above sea-level. I donned a sweater for the first time.

L to R: Sandip, Sanjay & Shanno

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Reached the hotel by about 6, refused to hand the key of my car to the valet and parked myself. Reached terrace garden and was stunned by the scenery all around. On one side was the Doon valley straddled by mountains and on the other was the Queen of Hills - Mussoorie.

The Jaypee Manor is in Barlowganj, which is about 5 kms away from proper Mussoorie and slightly lower. It is a vantage point from a photographer's view.

Guests were coming in slowly and I with the camera slung across was strolling to get some view of the nature. The sun had set and a wisp of fog appeared around the hills and suddenly the sky exploded in orange. The setting sun always brings out something new in the sky and never ceases to fascinate me.

Winding roads

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Orange Sky

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In the meanwhile Ramaswamy had arrived and we all met up. Five classmates from the Class of 1976.....aah, nostalgia and some old school tales.

In the meanwhile the Bride & the Groom arrived and I once again strolled over to the garden's edge. The night had fallen and lo behold, there lay Mussorie shimmering in all its glory in the night.

Mussoorie at night

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You all shall pardon me for some blurred pictures as I had not carried my tripod, but the lure to click couldn't be resisted.

As the clock ticked, the chill increased. We friends with spouses sat near a "anghiti" and waited. The wedding ceremonies were going on.

The wedding area

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L to R: Ramaswamy, Sandip & Sanjay

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When you are clicking and are averse to hand over your camera to others, you loose out on your own photo.

One of the rare ones where I'm present

L to R: Shanno, Self, Ramaswamy & Sandip

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My mind was already thinking of the next day - Chila. Amit had booked the Club till the 19th morning only. I wanted to stay back a day more. Asked him to extend my booking for a day and he did that immediately.

Wedding over and dinner laid we headed for wonderful & delicious vegetarian fare. It was now around 10:20 pm and the Groom & Bride with their respective families sat for dinner. Now was the time to bid good-bye.

After thanking Amit & Renu we left. Ramaswamy's official car with the flashing beacon was leading us. No traffic on those winding roads at that time and we reached the Club in about 35 minutes.

Sanjay was scheduled to leave at 6:30 am the next day back to Delhi and Sandip was hitching ride with him. He had earlier cancelled his return train ticket.

We slept and slept well. Tomorrow was to be an exciting day for me.

Chila, here I come...

To be continued.....!

adc 10th March 2010 15:00

Simple but surely very captivating posts!


Originally Posted by gd1418 (Post 1775279)
Chila, here I come...

Very good, waiting for the next post. Still remember and it is in the archives - the Dudhwa forest travel story.

gd1418 10th March 2010 17:38

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Date: 19th February, 2010

Sanjay & Sandip were leaving this morning back to Delhi. I got up at 6 and after freshening up came out of the room to see them off. Sanjay's driver had already reversed the car and was loading up the luggage in the boot. Knocked on Sandip's room and he opened and was ready. Some last minute packing was being done.

By 6:40 they were off. In the meanwhile Shanno too had woken up and was getting ready. Over tea we chalked out the day's programme. She wanted to go to Mussoorie to do some shopping and I wanted to reach Chila asap. Women have this fetish of shopping everywhere and anywhere. I was very reluctant; asked her what she wanted to buy. She wanted to buy some quilts, warm bedroom slippers etc. I told her that it was off-season in Mussorie, half of the establishments would be shut and no point buying now as summers are approaching and we won't need them now. In any case we had enough of them back at home. But she won't listen.

While going to Doon, nearing Roorkee, Amit had called to say that Chila opens from 2:30 to 4 pm only. I had that in mind and wanted to leave latest by 1 from wherever for Chila. She agreed and off we went to Mussoorie at 10.

BTW, Shanno was not too keen on going to Chila. She was more keen on going to Dhanolti. I was loath to. Had seen enough of snow and it would have been our third visit to Dhanolti if we went. Our past visits to Chila in 2005-6, Sariska & Dudhwa had turned out to be damp squib. Now, like every other neo tourist Shanno had expected exotic and big game to jump right in front of the vehicle, pose for her and vanish.

What she saw in Chila & Dudhwa were pugmarks, some fresh and some a day old. She was disappointed and had said that she wouldn't go to any sanctuary as nothing is visible.

I am not like that. I love jungles. I could chill out for hours waiting for animals to appear. One doesn't see animals in their first visit. You've to visit a sanctuary a couple of times, time your visit well and also have oodles of luck. You've to be lucky to see Stripes. I was hoping that we won't be disappointed this time. The weather was getting warm, animals would venture out to drink water, It would be nearing dusk when we reach the jungle. Good chance of sighting.

With all this in mind I raced to Mussoorie. Was there at 10:40, it wasn't much crowded, and I found ample parking place at the Mall Road. Not all the shops were open and mostly the tourists were newly wedded couples. Her shopping continued, the carry bags increased, and so did the time, we had brunch in between and I was getting edgy. As the clock struck 1, I looked at her and she vanished in another shop saying - one minute.:Frustrati

Though I had my camera with me, there wasn't any worthwhile to shoot in Mussoorie as I had taken many pictures many time in the past. But this one parking lot viewed from the top fascinated me.

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At 1:15 I leaned on the car horn. That mad her scurry with another set of bags and after a short sharp verbal exchange, we were off to Chila...

Chila - I am on my way..!

gd1418 11th March 2010 15:02

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Date: 19th February, 2010 - Chila (Rajaji National Park)

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This was going to be my third visit to Chila. I had earlier visited in 2005 - 06 when I had gone to Doon to celebrate New year with Amit along with another classmate of mine - Dr. (Col.) Ashwini Goel.

I, Amit & Ashwini - no fear of tiger :D

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First visit to the jungle during evening was futile in terms of sightings. Except a few spotted deers, a surprised sambhar, one day old pugmarks and again one day old blood stains of a kill, we couldn't see anything. I had driven in the Safari in the jungle and the drive itself was exhilarating. The second visit was done in the evening again after the closing time in the patrol van of the forest authorities courtesy a DFO friend of Amit. In the darkness nothing was visible except some silhouttes.

I was, at that time using a Nikon F-801 with 35~70 lens with SB-24 and tried taking some photographs with flash. Surprisingly the entire film came out blank. Till date I've not been able to reason...

Since I became a member here in May 2006, there was no travelogue about that visit. But I shall post some pictures taken then for comparison with the ones of this visit.

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Coming back to the current visit, Amit's information about the park timings was wrong. With a bit of vigorous driving and avoiding the Kumbh crowd at Haridwar we reached the entry point of the Park at 3:55. There I learnt that, I was just in the nick of time and was the last one to enter.

The Park timings are 6 am to 9 am and then from 2:30 pm to 4 pm.

You can take your own vehicle in the Park after paying a fees of Rs.250 to the Forest department and @ Rs. 150/- per Indian for entry. I was not going to drive this time. Either you drive or you take pictures. I hired an open jeep driven by Manoj Bisht, one of the best tracker & guide there for Rs.800/- and entered the Park. Total - Rs.1350/-

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To be continued....

gd1418 14th March 2010 20:17

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Suddenly I was swamped with lots of work that kept me very busy, hence I could not continue my travelogue. My apologies.

After the relevant formalities were done it was time to enter the park. This open Mahindra Jeep was going to be our ride into the jungle. It made the loudest possible racket when started and one had to hold on to the railings for your life...!

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A very interesting fact - if you go into a Tiger reserve, you have to take a petrol vehicle because the noise of a diesel engine will keep the stripes hidden in the bushes. But entering a park where elephants are in a majority you've to take a diesel vehicle as the clatter of the diesel engine keeps curious & angry elephants at bay. Though it goes without saying that during my visit to Chila in 2005/6 a maruti 800 was going in front of my Safari inside the jungle.

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Well, the gate to the park was opened and out vehicle entered. There is a pre set track of about 40 Kms designated by the Forest authorities for the tourists and that has to be adhered to.

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After driving for about a kilometere through the foliage we came into open with elephant grass all around. Elephant Grass - so called because this import from Africa, when fully grown can almost hide a full grown elephant.

This what I saw on the track. Manoj, explained that this elephant poo was of today and this meant we had very good chances of seeing a herd or some elephants.

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We drove further and then suddenly Manoj was looking left-right and sniffing the air and exclaimed - "I can smell the elephant. It is somewhere nearby". My wife & I were excited and I with my D300 with the 70~300 was ready not to let go of any opportunity.

You have to have trained eyes and experience in jungle to spot. Two elephants in the grass about 800 metres away and we couldn't see. Manoj stopped and so did the other jeep that was in the front and he asked us to look in the front. Lo behold, there they were. Let the pictures do the talking:

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To be continued...!!

gd1418 15th March 2010 12:35

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In our excitement of seeing those elephants, for the first time in Chila, we forgot to look elsewhere. Manoj tugged at my shirt and with his eyes pointed towards my right. Wow..! A bigger herd with baby elephants was assembling. I think I counted 10 of them.

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What I had read or seen on Discovery & Nat Geo about the strong maternal behaviour of these animals was slowly unfolding before me in reality. The matriarchs of the group huddled together and with their trunks guided the youngs in between them, thus hiding them from view and danger from the the two-legged animals..:D

I asked Manoj to go a little further; very reluctantly he inched forward and all hell broke loose. A chorus of loud trumpeting started accompanied with shaking of head. This was a loud warning to stay away & maintain distance. In between on naughty baby elephant came out of the ring to see what it was all about. With a quick rap on the rump with the trunk and a nudge he vanished into those massive & tall legs. My camera had gone berserk by then.

I don't know if the pictures taken would do justice to what I narrated:

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While we were enjoying this musical performance in the jungle, Manoj slowly started to reverse the Jeep. When I realised this I asked him the reason. A big male or female, I wouldn't know and would dare not to, was slowly in an arc moving towards the vehicles, as if to encircle. Boy, was that scary? No, not to me but it could have been. With the vehicle reversed, manoj increased the distance. That big animal, trotted towards us loudly trumpeting. The jeep moved farther. After a mock charge that elephant stood at one place staring at us and shaking its head. We increased the distance. That seemed to calm the scene. It turned around and then the rest after having their fill of water from the stream flowing nearby walked away into the deep with that naughty fellow following behind.

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After the elephantine show we moved further inside and then suddenly Manoj stopped and pointed to the right. There was a group of boars grazing away peacefully oblivious of our prescence. Generally they are very jumpy and run away at the slightest disturbance..

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To be continued...

hvkumar 15th March 2010 12:48

Exciting encounter indeed!
Do the forest guys offer you rides in petrol Gypsies too? And I suppose this sanctuary is also closed during the monsoons?

gd1418 15th March 2010 12:59

Indeed HVK, very exciting. In all my visits to Chila and in this one too, there are only diesel jeeps owned privately but with permission from Forest authorities. The Forest Patrol is a closed, caged diesel DCM Toyota.

Here are the details about the Park -


Originally Posted by hvkumar (Post 1783381)
Exciting encounter indeed!
Do the forest guys offer you rides in petrol Gypsies too? And I suppose this sanctuary is also closed during the monsoons?

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