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Archive for July, 2009

We reached Gangotri at around 9:00 AM. Being a very important pilgrimage center and one of the 4 dhams important to Hinduism, the facilities leave much to be desired. There was a traffic jam in the morning and it took us time to find a parking place there.

There was no designated parking place but cars were parked on the edge of the road. As Vijay and Raju sat in the car, Mathew and I went looking for breakfast. We selected one of the many hotels to have some hot alu parathas. We packed some for Vijay and Raju.

After we found a place to park our car, we decide to start right away. I was carrying lots of luggage with me. I was in for an overnight stay but Vijay convinced me to give up most of it. Finally I was carrying only some biscuits and my camera accessories. That was a wise decision because I was still considering the walk like any other treks in Sayadris in Maharahstra.

Gaumukh is inside the Gangotri National Park. Everybody had unrestricted access to the region and people were allowed to roam everywhere and people started abusing the freedom. People started dumping waste on the mountains and the government had to intervene. Now only 150 people are allowed inside the Gangotri National Park. Special permit has to be applied for.

Bags are strictly checked for plastic. Each plastic article has to be accounted for on return. Even a wrapper of the eatables are to be accounted for or you will be fined.

The board said 18 Kilometers to Gaumukh

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We saw the river Bhagirathi flowing down as we walked toward the gates of Gangotri National Park

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The entrance to Gangotri National Park. Guards on this road check your permit, belongings. Plastic is banned in the park and every plastic item in your belonging should be accounted for. The gate is actually almost 1 kilometers from Gangotri town. The real trek starts from this gate

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Bhagirathi rushes down the Himalayas around stones the size of 1-storied buildings

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The grand peaks along the way to Chirbasa, the first major stop toward Gaumukh

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The path is a continuous uphill climb and uneven making it difficult to walk if you do not have practice of such treks

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Most of the route is open with little or no cover and then you have this natural covers formed by rocks.

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Bhagirathi/Ganga has a place of worship in Hindu Mythology. We found this person sitting near the banks praying.

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The river is not only made from melting snow from glaciers in Gaumukh but also these small streams that flow down various mountains. The river caries lots of mud from the glaciers but these streams have clear water and very tasty too.

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The roads had turned dark as Raju steered his way on the serpentine road. The moon was full and the roads were lit by the moonlight. An army van travelled in front of us and we had already broken the 8:00 PM curfew deadline. However we were not close to Harsil yet.

As it became more darker, reaching Gangotri was out of question. The milestone still said more than 25 Kilometers to Gangotri. Finally we wanted to reach Harsil before the 8:00 PM deadline is implemented. We were not sure who will implement it because there were hardly any cars on the road, forget police cars.

We missed one turn to Harsil or we thought it was Harsil but we finally found an army camp which was near Harsil. It was already 9:00 PM and Raju had been driving an incredible 19 hours at a stretch. The way he was on the wheels being alert all the time was indeed incredible.

Harsil is a small hamlet and shops were already closing down for the day. We found accommodation in a small hotel and food in the restaurants. We had not had proper food since we left Delhi and this was our first proper food.

There is one important lesson to be learnt from Raju while ordering food in a new location. Don’t Experiment

The simple dal-roti is the best bet and the least some one can  screw up with. The more fancier the name, the more experimental the cook can be and the more disappointed you are.

After a fulfilling hot meal, it was time to retire for the night for a good night sleep. The hotel was not that good and the rooms were ok. Rooms at these part will not be that good. It was just a question of one night. We set the alarm such that we can leave the hotel at 7:00 AM.

We wanted to make an early start to Gaumukh. Vijay wanted to go up and come down the 14 kilometers to Gaumukh in one day. That is 28 Kilometers in one day. I was not so sure about that plan.

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As we woke up and got ready, the snow-capped mountain greeted us from the room’s window.

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We started on our last 22 kilometers to Gangotri. The morning traffic to Gangorti was just starting on the road until we were caught in a traffic jam

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We were moving slowly while the goats hardly moved. The person who managed them came to us and said “Horn bajaoo”

After a lot of horn blowing, we finally managed to get them out of our way

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The lush green pine trees on the mountains surrounding gangotri

Finally after travelling for more than 20 hours on road and after more than 24 hours since we left home we finally reach Gangotri. Journey from here would be on foot, a grueling 14 kilometers uphill. We just wondered if we could make it.

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The detour from Tehri took an extra 2 hours and it was almost 4:00 PM when we reache Uttarkashi

Gangotri is 92 kilometers from Uttarkashi and Uttarkashi is the last town before you make an uphill climb to Gangotri. Uttarkashi is also the town where you collect your permit to enter Gangotri National Park, the home of Gaumukh.

Gaumukh is the birth place or starting place of River Bhagirathi. River Bhagirathi joins more rivers to become River Ganga.

It took us time to get permit. By the time Raju had been driving for 14 hours with the most shortest and minimum stops. He wanted to reach Gangotri that night at all cost. We had travelled 100s of kilometer to reach Uttarkashi and the last 92 Kilometers was all it had. Even with the tough uphill narrow roads, we anticipated that it might take us 3-4 hours to reach Gangotri.

If for any reason we were not to make it, we would stay in Harshil, a hamlet just 22 kilometers from Gangotri. We were very tired making the journey. We could only imagine how Raju must have felt driving those 400 kilometers.

We took our permit, filled up the tanks and started for the final leg of the journey. We had travelled couple of kilometers when we saw the first view of Ganga.

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13 kilometer from Uttarkashi is Maneri, a lake formed by a small dam built on the Ganga. Water is used to generate electricity and also serves as a tourist spot. VEry close to Maneri Ganga water is left from a big canal.

The water comes out from the mountains in such a great force and hits the banks opposite to the canal. Its a great sight to see.

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The water rushing out of the small canal.

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The roads to Gangotri are very narrow. An inexperienced driver will find it very difficult to drive through the roads. Its filled with potholes making all the more difficult to drive.

Landslides on the road is known to stall traffic too.

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The evening was approaching fast. The signs on the road said that driving after 8:00 PM was not allowed. We had to get to the nearest hotel in the hamlets between

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Finally the moon came in the sky and it was another hour when we finally reached Harsil, tired, hungry and ready to sleep

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The 800th one

Asuph recently wrote a post about blogging. Understanding the way asuph write, he has written a very comprehensive and detailed post on why one blogs and the motivation behind one’s venting one’s personal thoughts on public space.

It sure does makes for an interesting reading. I may or may not agree with everything he says but most of it I do agree.

Which brings me to the basic question he had asked

Why do I blog?

The basic reason I do blog is because I can. I can vent my anger, my thoughts, my frustration and my crap. But who am I blogging for? There has been a time when I would blog to share my thoughts and find like-minded people as asuph said. There was a time when I did just to get appreciated. Sometimes to just record life so I can playback later and sometimes for no obvious reason

But since the last few months, the blog has changed to being a travel blog.

The posts have changed from sharing my thoughts to describing my journeys. The audience have reduced and I doubt people who were reading me few years back are still reading me at all now. I hope they are but the comments don’t show it and neither does the blog statistics.

And yet, I feel guilty of not updating Full2 Faltu. Its been a part of my life all these years. Every time I switch on my computer, I follow a fixed set of procedure which includes logging to my mails and then to my blog. Most of the time, the page is opened to the blog’s dashboard.

The comments have not increased, neither has the blog viewers so it means that maybe I am not looking for an audience. I just say what I want to say. If its written, it will find a reader, someday.

Its an addiction which I cannot stop.

I still enjoy the anonymous nature of my blog. I guess many of my friends/people who know me read this blog. But its not famous so they don’t care either. Or maybe they don’t care much. So to a certain extent its still anonymous.

I look around me and there are moments when I say, I need to blog about this. But I don’t. Mostly don’t. Call it laziness or call it writer’s block. Have I lost the passion of writing or as they call it writer’s block. I cannot tell.

Which still does not answer the important question. Why do I blog?

I do and thats the truth. Maybe I need to bring the groove back. Maybe I need to mix and match my posts. Maybe I need to look back at older post when I searched for topics and did a pretty good job at that.

I am not looking for readers or for people who agree with me. I just want to write and now even I am not so sure why.

I guess as Bryan Adams said “Can’t stop this thing we started”

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Full2 Faltu has reached 799 posts. It will be 800 posts tomorrow. I normally give the statistics after the 100th post but the person I expected to give 799th post did not deliver and I had no post no 799 so here are the useless statistics. Over the years, the number of visitors have decreased and so have the variety of post. But there are still statistics

But still statistics are statistics.

  • Total Number of post : 799 (including the current one)
  • Guest Posts : 49
  • Forwarded Emails Posts: 3
  • Short Stories: 61
  • Short Stories by Guest Blogger : 7
  • Movie Reviews: 87
  • Categories : 50
  • Categories with the highest number of posts: Personal (414 posts)
  • Categories with the lowest number of posts : Books (2 Post)
  • Total Number of Hits since 21st February 2006 : 665,441
  • Best day ever in terms of Hits: 1414 (Friday, March 2, 2007)
  • Average hits per day : 350
  • Total Number of comments: 4879
  • Total Spam comments : 110,234
  • Top three months with highest number of posts: August 2005 (29 posts) June 2006 (28 Posts) and July 2007 (23 Posts)
  • Total posts in 2004 : 31 (0.5 posts per week)
  • Total posts in 2005 : 165 (3.1 posts per week)
  • Total Posts in 2006 : 176 (3.3 posts per week)
  • Total Posts in 2007: 194 (3.7 posts per week)
  • Total Posts in 2008: 151 (2.9 posts per week)
  • Total Posts in 2009 till date: 81 (2.7 posts per week)
  • Average Posts per week since creation: 4.9 posts per week
  • Completed 700th Post on: 23rd November2008
  • Completed 600th Post on: 1st March 2008
  • Completed 500th Post on : 22nd August 2007
  • Completed 400th Post on : 26th February 2007
  • Completed 300th Post on : 8th August 2006
  • Date when reached 1 Lakh Hits : 25th December 2006
  • Date when reached 2 Lakh hits : 3rd May 2007 
  • Date when reached 3 Lakh Hits: 9th September 2007
  • Date when Reached 4 Lakh hits: 16th January 2008
  • Date when Reached 5 Lakh hits: 18th June 2008
  • Date when Reached 6 Lakh hits: 19th January 2009
  • Started blogging in WordPress: 21 Feb 2006
  • Time taken to reach 100 Thousand hits: 11 Months and 4 days
  • Post to reach 100 Thousand: 366 Posts
  • Time take to reach the next 100 Thousand (200 Thousand): 5 months and 8 days
  • Post to reach Next 100 thousand (200 Thousand): 66 Post (post count: 433)
  • Time to reach Next 100 Thousand (300 Thousand): 4 months 6 days (129 days)
  • Post to reach Next 100 Thousand (300 Thousand): 73 Posts (post count 510)
  • Time to reach Next 100 Thousand (400 Thousand): 4 months 7 days (129 days)
  • Post to reach Next 100 Thousand(400 Thousand): 65 Posts (post count 575)
  • Time to reach Next 100 Thousand (500 Thousand): 5 months 5 days (155 days)
  • Post to reach Next 100 Thousand (500 Thousand):  78 Posts (post count 652)
  • Time to reach Next 100 Thousand (600 Thousand): 7 months 6 days (215 days)
  • Post to reach Next 100 Thousand (600 Thousand):  71 Posts (post count 723)

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More than 5 years now and almost close to 800 posts, its been a long time. Now close to 800 posts, I try to continue with the tradition of inviting guest writers for charity. The response hasn’t been as expected but still some of them did respond.

Presenting a break from my travel blogs and something different

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Long back Vijay had introduced Pray Foundation. He is the founder and the brain behind Pray Foundation. It has been more than a year since then and Pray Foundation has grown as an initative, as a dream and slowly and steadily making its way to reality.

This is the progress of that dream

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An update of PRAY (Project Relief & Aid by Youth (PRAY) Foundation projects since last year

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I promised that I will provide you with an update and am awfully sorry that it has taken some time for me to pull together some interesting information for you and your blog readers.

Since the last time I wrote, quite a few new initiatives have been launched both in Netherlands and in India.

For those readers who are reading it for the first time, let me quickly explain who we are. We are a charity organization based in Netherlands and have a Trust registered in India. The aim and the objectives of the organization to work with the underprivileged for their socio-economic development.

We have been involved in sponsoring children to bear the cost of their education and also helping in treatment of disabilities/medical assistance.

In the year 2007, PRAY conceived a project to build and operate a primary school – as a part of the plan to consolidating the spread out activities and higher level of focus.

The first project is envisaged to go live in the academic year 2011-1 in the District of Bulandshahrd (Close to Narora), state of Uttar Pradesh. We put together a project plan with the following broad guidelines:

  • Land acquisition – 2008
  • Fund raising to the tune of Euro57K (end of 2009)
  • Construction to be completed – (Mid 2011)
  • Academic session to start – 2011

So far we have successfully completed the first major step i.e. Land acquisition. This was donated by one of our Board members.

Right now, the heat is on to meet the fund raising target. I am happy to announce that we expect to reach the level of ~40K by the end of this summer, August,09. We are vigorously following up with individuals and other Development Aid organizations in the coming weeks and months to reach our target.

In the meantime, we kicked off the construction of boundary wall and successfully completed it. We have made the provision for a Store Room and Drinking water on the site. A portable generator to provide power when needed has also been acquired.

A Shirdi Sai Baba temple is currently under construction in part of the land to honor the desire of the individual who has donated the land. The construction of the temple is fully funded by them. PRAY Trust in India will have the privilege of maintaining the temple for the use of Public. Temple will be provide the facilities of drinking water for the use of general public who are passing by on the busy road leading to one of the ghats on the river Ganga (about 6kms further on the road). It is looking great on the site – already helping in generating employment for about 8 workers and coming up as a landmark in the region. The place is becoming a regular stop now for the locals and the people from the neighboring villages/towns are looking forward to this marvelous piece of work coming up. They are aware of the development plans of PRAY trust.

We have launched a program  – support a child here in Netherland and will like to replicate the programme in India as well as soon as our Special Tax status formalities are completed (Expected by August,09). We are seeking sponsors who will contribute on a monthly basis to support a child’s education in totality. It is circa ~Euro10 per month for each child. The program will commence here in August,09. Though we already have about 10 sponsors and aim to bring the number to 50 by the end of this year. This will be a continuously running program.

The team has worked very hard together with our Web designer over the past few weeks and a new look website is coming up soon. This is being designed and developed keeping in view our long term goals – online availability of information on students being sponsored/assisted, updating of the contents via a Content management system, an online shop of souvenirs and other articles of interest etc. It has a set of all novel features we will like to exploit in the coming months.

The executive team is getting strengthened and so is our media team. We are very fortunate to have Keerthana with us, who has volunteered to help to manage our communications and contents. She will be a regular feature on various portals/blogspots in the coming months. She has worked in the past with a reputed Indian News TV channel and is currently in Netherlands till the end of this year. She will continue to manage this role after moving back to India. We are very excited to have her on board.

Having said that, in the coming weeks and months, to meet our goals and objectives, we will plan to strengthen our executive board in India as well. We will like to talk to like minded individuals who can add value and are aligned to our ideals and ideas.

So much for now, Punds, and below are are some pictures from the site including the one from the community lunches that we do regularly in area.

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More than 5 years now and almost close to 800 posts, its been a long time. Now close to 800 posts, I try to continue with the tradition of inviting guest writers for charity. The response hasn’t been as expected but still some of them did respond.

Presenting a break from my travel blogs and something different

===============================

Abhijit writes about the magic of  monsoon and incidentally its raining cats and dogs in Mumbai.

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It’s 9th July and I am still waiting for proper monsoon here [here-Hyderabad]. I just hope by the time this blog is posted, there is plenty of rain all over India. Today central government declared drought in Madhya Pradesh. That’s bad and makes me more worried about coming days. There is Marathi movie releasing soon named "Gabhricha Paus" [the damned rain], which talks about farmer suicides in Vidharbha, lack of sufficient rainfall is one of the reason for such suicides.

It hardly rains in Hyderabad during daytime, and even at nights it’s mostly lots of lightning and drizzles. I really pity for school kids here, they hardly get any holiday due to heavy rains. That is what I like about Mumbai rain and makes me more nostalgic. I often sing a song during monsoon season "Meri 2 takiyedi naukari mein, mera lakhon ka sawan jaye!!"

There is nothing rosy and romantic about Mumbai rain in fact it makes city filthier, still I love ‘Mumbai Rain’. Mostly it is untimely and creates lots of havoc but the best thing and (what I m missing most) are the monsoon treks and monsoon weekend trips (fondly called as Varsha-sahals). Maharashtra truly blessed with some of bestest forts in the world and equally gifted with the people who know how to enjoy it.

In Hyderabad when you ask for a trip in Rain they often reply (and reject) saying "No yaar, tabhi to barish hogi."

Go for a long drive on Mumbai-Pune Highway in rainy season it’s an awesome view, Rain can make any place beautiful if you don’t believe me check out "Sawaan barse tarase dil" song. It has been shot on roads of Mumbai in rain, two lovers dying to meet each other but rain playing spoil spot. But even rain can not stop the true lover "Barkha mein bhi dil pyasa hain, yeh pyar nahi to kya hain?" that’s my most favorite song for rain.

I heard that Tansen’s singing was so magical that his raags used to make rain but I believe that rain itself is magical. C’mmon, we all start humming our favorite song when we are sitting on our couch with cup of hot tea and there is rain outside. Yes, rain is magic. Alas! The only synonym for rain in English is ‘precipitation’ (Gosh! this language is so incomplete.)  Mohd Rafi and Hariharan are the best companions for rain. You can pull out any Rafi-Dev Anand or Rafi-Shammi combo and have best rain of your life. Or rely on Hariharan and rest is assured. Surprisingly he has some of the best rain songs ever "Tu Hi Re", "Nahi Samne- Taal" and "Sawan Barse" , Hariharan you are my Taansen.

Bollywood delivered really good movies on Rain but surprisingly both new Barsaat (Bobby Deol featured in both the movies) has nothing related to rain. On the other hand ‘Lagaan’ brought the killing monsoon wait and agony on silver screen. “Baarish ho na ho, baarish ka intezaar toh hona chahiye” the dialogue from my favorite movie "Thoda sa roomani ho jaye" sum up the spirit of our Indians.

If we are talking about rain, 2 people have to be mentioned. Duckworth and Lewis, you love them, you hate them but you just can’t ignore them. Whenever there is rain in cricket. You will find these 2 guys just around the corner. Rain can be really annoying ask Roger Federer, he has been through 2008 final. It can be devastating ask every Mumbaikar who has been through 26th July. Rain can be real fun; we all enjoyed those paper boats don’t we?

But rain should be there. Global Warming, Green House effect or what ever it is. Ultimately we are the one at receiving end. Just wanted to end this post saying

"Bijli ki talwaar nahi,

boondon ke baan chalayo

kale megha kale megha

Pani to barsao"

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