Gurgaon - Doon - Sahasradhara - Mussoorie - Chila - Gurgaon
How kids grow-up? Specially the girls. Till yesterday they would be in skirts, sporting two pleats of hair and playing with boys & girls with abandon and suddenly the next day they are of marriageable age.
L to R: Amit, Divya & Amit's Mother
Divya a.k.a Arundhati Pandeya, daughter of my School classmate & erstwhile Headboy Amit Pandeya, announced - "Uncle, I'm getting married and Nico is a wonderful boy". I was like - "Nico? Who is Nico"?
Well, Divya was studying at the Singapore Business School and there she met Nico a German from Munich who worked with BMW and had been sent by his company to study Business Management.
Amit had called me up in late December '09 inviting the family. I mumbled something about my daughter's impending Xth Boards and was sternly told by him that he would not take very kindly to any excuse and that we had to be there for the celebrations in February '10. Now, you can't disobey your School Headboy, can you? I, toungue firmly in cheek, said we will be there.
The dates were 17th & 18th of February, 2010. I was excited. This would also give me an opportunity to have a mini class reunion. Amit had invited other classmates and I was given the responsibility of distributing the cards & getting them to Doon. The other added attraction for me was the opportunity to visit the Rajaji National Park (Chila) that was about 60 kms from Doon.
As the date neared, it became evident that only my wife and I would go as my daughter was not yet through with her revisions and my son would also stay back to assist and take care of her. By the 10th Feb everything was clear and I had planned to leave at 4 am in the morning of 17th so that I could reach Chila by about 8. Man proposes, God disposes.
Date: 17th February, 2010
In spite of out best efforts we left by 5 am.:Frustrati There was no way I could reach Chila by 8. But I thought that I could enter any time and as the days were getting warmer, would be able to see some wildlife as they would venture out to drink water. Since the plan was to visit the sanctuary, I took the route via Meerut. Early morning, very little traffic and by 5:45 was at Mohan Nagar and then was zipping on the Meerut by-pass road. First road-block - as I neared the outskirts of Modinagar saw a huge traffic jam on the by-pass. Rows & rows of trucks were parked and there was no signs of movement. Frustrated at wasting time, reversed and then went through some winding by-lanes of a village and emerged on the old Meerut-Haridwar highway and reached Meerut after crossing Modinagar. It was day-break and the traffic movement had picked up and it was 6:40. Raced along and made my first pit-stop at Cheetal Grand. Spent an hour having breakfast and moved forward. Although roads were good till this point, nearing Khatauli we got stuck again. The flyover work is incomplete and is the cause of the bottle-neck. After negotiating that we were again cruising. I cursed myself for not having taken the canal route before Cheetal. That would have been faster. Reached a junction, where turning right would have taken us through Roorkee and going straight would have taken us through Saharanpur. It was around 9 am and I received a call from Amit asking for my location. After listening to me he asked me to drop the idea of going to Chila as he said that it opens only from 2:30 to 4 pm and if I decide to go then, I wouldn't be able to make it to the evening function of Mehendi, Sangeet & Cocktail-Dinner.
It made sense and I headed straight to Doon. Driving through that lovely road which bisects the Rajaji, reached Doon around 12:15 and by 1 pm was ensconed in my room at the Doon Club. Amit had booked rooms for his classmates at the Doon Club. A stunning colourful sight welcomed me at the Club.
My Room with steps leading to the patio
My another classmate Sandip also had left Delhi the same morning by Shatabdi and was expected to join me at the Club around the same time. His train was late by 30 mins and by 2 pm he too had arrived. My wife, Sandip & I sat on the patio of my room and had lunch while reminiscing old times..
After finishing lunch and chatting for some more time we retired to our rooms. We were supposed to reach the venue by 5.
To be continued....
Guru, why is this Modinagar section always this bad?
And is there any hope for improvement in the overall road condition?
What is this canal road?
And where is Chila?
Nice Guruji. Waitin for more.
Amazing colors in the flower pic.
Guruji am hooked on to this one, after all it has my hometown in it :)
Nice start, wonderful teaser pics, now speed it up a bit!
I've done this section umpteen number of times and have yet to see an improvement on the road conditions. Year round the road is choc-a-bloc with 100s of carts laden with sugarcane headed towards the Modi Sugar Mills. They move at their own pace and the loudest of horns, the meanest & biggest of wheels have no effect on them.:Frustrati
While approaching from Meerut, as you near Cheetal Grand, you will first see Ganga flowing in a canal on your right and an almost missable turn before that small bridge. Now this road is about 110 Kms to Roorkee with the Ganga flowing on your left. A single lane tar road in good condition. A very picturesque drive.
Chila is the Rajaji National Park so christened in 1964. But still known as Chila. I can give the Lat & Long if you so desire..
Date: 17th February, 2010.
In a strange way, Divya's wedding celebrations had a touch of Benaras. Amit too, like me, belongs to Benaras and so do the Hindustani Classical exponent duo - Rajan & Sajan Mishra. Intrigued??
Well, Amit & the Mishras are great friends and neighbours. The Mishras graciously offered their place (located on a 1700 yard plot) to the Pandeyas to hold the Mehendi, Sangeet & the cocktail functions. This was that serene and wonderful venue for the day. Pandit Sajan Mishra & his family personally supervised all arrangements and were at the door to receive the guests.
Incidentally, Kavita (Maharaj) Mishra, daughter of that legendary Kathak exponent Birju Maharaj ji also happens to be a childhood friend of my wife and from the same school as I.
In a way this was turning out to be a School re-union...:D
A great ambience and a lovely weather, Sandip, my wife & I reached the venue direct by 6 pm and as I was parking my truck, could hear the Dhol beats in a distance. We were warmly greeted by the Pandeyas & the Mishras.
Kochs (groom side), reserved their warmest & tightest hugs for me. It was I who had received the "baraatis" from Munich here at the Delhi Airport, applied tilak and garlanded them and then put them on Kingfisher flight to Doon. Nico, who was on the dance floor, was dragged by Renu (Divya's mother) to come & greet his "father-in-law" from Delhi.. What fun and revelry.
The Kochs - Mrs. Carin Koch (extreme left) & Dr. Peer Koch
The entire evening was very very colourful - the decor, the guests in their colourful attire & finery.
Sandip & I were waiting anxiously for the arrival of one more of our classmates who stays in Doon and is a senior bureaucrat in the Uttaranchal Govt.
Mrs. & Mr. Ramaswamy & Sandip
S Ramaswamy, is a senior IAS officer and the Principal Secretary & Commissioner transport in the Uttaranchal Govt. Poor chap was working late and could only come by 7:15.
The Pandeyas had called a troupe of Langas singers from jaisalmer in Rajasthan for the evening. The highlight of their performance was the jugalbandi between the khadtaal & morsing players.
I shall let the pictures do the talking...
Nico & Divya with others
The Langa troupe
Sindhi Sarangi & Dhol player
The food was laid out in earthen pots in traditional Benarasi style. Delicious food and the Gajar ka Halwa was the best that I had eaten till date...
It was nearing midnight and getting colder and was also time to disperse. My wife was given boxes of bangles from the Pandeyas. Returned to the Club along with Sandip and went off to sleep in anticipation of the next day of more fun & revelry..
To be continued.....
Some more pictures of Mehendi-Sangeet night:
L to R: Amit, Shanno (my wife) & Sandip - why so glum?? A smile would have looked better..!!
Nico & Divya
Nico & Divya - Dr. Koch trying to match steps.. Nico is that a Bharatnatyam Mudra??
Divya & her mother Renu - Nico looks on amazed at the Indian wedding dance moves
Nico & Dr. Koch clap after the performance - well done Mom-in-law, well done Samdhan ji
A lovely couple - Divya & Nico
A liitle information about Langas of Rajasthan:
Langas are traditional singers found in Barmer District in Rajasthan. Langa means 'song giver.' These people are regarded as descendants of Rajputs and converted to Muslims from Hinduism in the 17th century.
This folk musician caste includes poets, singers, musicians and genealogists. They are versatile players of instruments such as Sindhi Sarangi and Algoza (double flute), which accompany songs. Earlier, Langas played only for Muslims. But now the performances are seen on events such as birthdays and marriages.
Thanks v&v. I did visit Rajaji. This was my third visit. I had visited earlier in 2005 & 6 in my Safari - and both times along with Amit..:D
Excellent Pics guruji ! And what wonderful & colourful wedding attire :)
Thanks Varun. I wasn't the official photographer for the celebrations though Amit had asked me to be one. I had declined. But had carried my camera like I always do. Amit had engaged a professional Ad cameraman - Parav Soni from Delhi to take the pictures. Parav had a mishap at the Delhi station while waiting to catch the train to Doon. Somebody ripped open his camera bag with a knife and stole his Canon 5D MII:Shockked:. Left the lenses alone. Parav had to use his contatcs to get the Canon shop opened at that hour and picked a brand new 5D MII. I was salivating looking at the camera.
Now my mind is set towards a D3, D3s or a D3x. Looking for any rich uncle to die and name me as the beneficiary in the will.:D
The myriad colours fascinated me to no end. I couldn't help clicking. Incidentally, Amit asked me for a CD of the pictures taken by me.
How much does a Canon 5D MII cost by the way ? I have no idea. That is why :)
@gd1418, like your style of storytelling, and photographs of course. Waiting for more.
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