2-3 May 2009
Renukaji - Himachal Pradesh
"We should plan at least 2 trips in the month of May. That's excluding the Delhi visits and the weekly 'Friday-night-chuski' trips to India Gate!. We will plan somewhere in Uttaranchal or Himachal Pradesh. We need something like our last trip to Haridwar & Rishikesh that had everything we needed. It was wild, with lots of adventure and a bit holy! (Well... we can compromise on the last one, but the other factors are must!)
Please guys, we need to plan it soon!" Shankar said.
He was planning to move back to Chennai after completing 1 and a half years in Gurgaon. Initially he thought it would take at least 2 months to finalize. However the process completed pretty quickly and he was to report in Chennai on June 1st week. So that left us with only 1 month!
Wasting no time, we started planning the trip. We wanted a place that’s close enough to drive, has some scope for adventure (preferably in water), good climate and most important. is less crowded! After a through search over the net and Outlook Traveler, we (Shankar, Varun, Prem and myself) decided to go to Renukaji.
Bit of Geography:
Renukaji is a mainly a religious destination visited for its lake and temple. It is located in the southern part of Himachal Pradesh at a distance of 22 km from Nahan. The main attraction of the place is the Renuka Lake and is considered to be a form of Renukaji, wife of Jamadagini and mother of Parashuram. All of them have their own temples and for those who are in search of spiritual enlightenment can have a field day visiting each of them and attending Puja. On top of that there's Aarti in the evening!
Now... that’s not our department (at least... for the time being!!!) So for us, humble adventure seeking mortals whats in store? There's is a lake to swim, a peak to climb and a Lion sanctuary! Won't that be enough to keep us busy for the weekend? (Also we need to keep in mind that, we are driving there)
So it was Renukaji then! On saturday, we started from Gurgaon at 4 AM and reached Renukaji at 11 AM, with 2 pit stops and a traffic jam for about 15 min near Azadpur. The way we took was:
The drive was smooth except for traffic jam and a few patches of bad roads. Even the hill road was in good condition. From Nahan to Renukaji we were disappointed to see dry hills with leafless trees and dry riverbeds. We were even wondering whether we had chosen a wrong destination for our weekend! So it was a real surprise for all of us when we reached our hotel. The lake was a wonderful treat to our eyes after the last 2 hours of disappointment!
We checked in, freshened up a bit and decided to have a look around. We watched the fishes in the lake, fed the monkeys and the fishes with 'aatta' and walked along the side of the lake for some time. We decided to have lunch and take some rest before going for the safari.
Around 4:00 pm, I woke up and started waking up the others and we all were ready for the Lion Safari. We thought we would be late if we walked to the park entrance, so we took the car. As we were expecting the park entrance to be like Rajaji NP, or Jim Corbett NP, the board that said "Simha Vihar" (Lion's Home) was ignored by all of us.. (Our expertise in Hindi should also be blamed) Anyways, we went uphill at least 2 km before we realized that we are on the wrong way!
When we came back to the 'Lion's Home' gate, it was almost 4:50 pm and the gate keeper told us that, its a waste of our money if we are taking the car inside! We can take a walk any time as long as there is light and it was free! And if are taking the car, then we had to pay Rs 250/- and we had to come out by 5. pm." (thats 5 mins from now) So we decided to go back to the hotel, park the car, and then come for a walk.
We didn't have much expectations when we started walking inside the park. It's going to be a another zoo with some smelly residents. And the 'Lions'! who knows .? whether they are still alive or not? (Most of the Bloggers who had visited this place were not very optimistic that they'd survive long!)
Anyways the climate in the evening was not that hot anymore and the nature around us was so beautiful. We started enjoying the walk. We started clicking photos of the lake, the trees and the setting sun all the way. First came the cage with some 'goat like deers'! And then there was the Sambar and the Nilghai.. The cage even had the Salman Khan's best friend - the Black buck!
The trees were full of bats and it was a bit scary walking below them. Since it was wakeup time for them, a few already started flying above our heads.
Moving ahead we reached a watch tower. As we started to climb it, we saw the first Lioness lying near the fence! Pardon my excitement, but I had not seen a lion this close for a long time! The last time I saw a lion was 10 or 15 years back in the circus in my home town. However, I wont say it was this much close. This was really a hair-raising experience. We started clicking the snaps and the lioness just lay there without even bothering to look at us.
Varun and Prem decided to make her a bit active and started making all sorts of noices and gestures! However the lioness was still uninterested and lay there as if saying.. "The monkeys are back again!"
After some time, Varun went down, close to the fence and started shouting at the lioness. This made a small effect and she satup and started looking here and there. One by one all of us stood in that place and clicked the "dangerous" snap for our individual Orkut profiles :-)
After some time we decided to move ahead and saw atleast 4 more lioness and 1 Lion himself! Unlike any other zoo or National Parks, where you will be always monitored and warned, this place had not one to say "DON'T" or "STOP". Its all left to you to take care of your life!
But what to do? 'Danger' was our middle name from the begining... right?
So after 'playing' with the big cats for a while we moved on to see the other inmates.. There was beer.. (oops.. bear!) and leopard, in seperate cages..
By the time we reached the exit, we realized how wrong we were about this place and were happy we selected this weekend destination!
In the evening Varun, Prem and Shankar decided to play it holy. So getting rid of their sinful thoughts and 'me', they went to Renuka ji Temple. Unlike other temples I've seen, here the main instrument used was drums. The rhythemic beat of the drum was echoing all over the place.
After the dharshan, we decided to get some snacks. But by that time (7:30 pm) the shop near the hotel was closed and we went 1 km and got all the required stuff from there. After our experience at 'lunch' we learnt that we have to order food well advance. After a good dinner and some wonderful time playing in the swing and see-saw other kids stuff we slept peacefully!
The next morning we woke up to see the wonderful sunrise and went to have tea from the shop near water shed development office. Our plan was to go to the Jamu peak from where we could see the Renuka Lake and visit the Parashuram Temple.
The climate was cool compared to the previous day and we went up in the car asking directions from everyone we met on the way. Shankar drove very well even though it was his first hill drive (no to mention the dangerous terrain we were driving through) Our only concern was the tyres and the condition of the car. But luckily his Swift didnt give us any trouble at all. However at one point we decided to stop the car and trek uphill. The road condition was very worse and we didn't want to have any puncture at that place.
The walk up hill was a very nice experience with beautiful view all around. The climate was also in our favour so we didnt mind the walk at all. After walking for around 1 hr (we had already covered much distance in car) we reached Jamu peak. There was a small hamlet near the Parashuram Temple and we met the pujari ji on his way to the another temple. He was happy to take us back to the temple and offer some prayer.
For entering the temple we had to crawl through a small door and then climb a narrow ladder. The temple was like on an attic and there was the idols of Parashuram and his family. After some prayers we came out and started our return trek. On our way back we met Vijender singh ji and his 2 children Monika and Anil waiting for some vehicle. We were more than happy to get someone to gather information about the place and the life there. However there was a problem. The language was 'Pahari' which was very difficult for us to understand. Anyways when we were dropping him at Dadahu village he showed us a good spot in the Giri river where we could take bath if were interested. How could I miss such a chance!
We took our 'brunch' from the hotel and we went to checkout our rooms. On our way, we stopped and washed the car in the river, and after that Shankar and myself took a refreshing bath in the river!
At 2 pm we came out of the water and bid farewell to Rnukaji. We planned to reach Delhi at 8:00 pm. Unfortunately, we royally missed the road we took while coming, and that cost us almost 1 hr and 30 min to hit the NH 1. Each time we asked someone we were given different directions and at last when we reached Delhi it was 9:40 pm. Thanks to the trucks, once again we were stuck in traffic jam for almost an hr and when we reached home it was 11:00 pm!
Anyways the weekend was different from our usual idle and hot gurgaon weekends. For a great weekend break from Delhi with family (and also without family) Renukaji is a good choice. The roads are good, so if you don't mind driving 6 hrs, do try this lesser known destination of Himachal Pradesh atleast once! It offered us many surprises, who knows... it will have something in store for you as well!