Climbing a Bamboo Skywalk: Best things to do in Meghalaya

“What did you say name was again- Prophet Star?”
“Yes.”

“As in P-R-O-P-H-E-T  Star?”? I enquired.

“No. You’ve got it wrong- It’s P-R-O-F-I-T Star. And by the way, you need to pay my 20 rupees as an entry fee before entering this Bamboo Skywalk- Hurry up, I don’t have much time.”

I paid up, of course, but not without reconfirming his name a couple of time. It’s not everyday you meet a man with a name so apt. for his job was to sit at the entrance of this amazing Bamboo Skywalk in Meghalaya, collecting profits from keen adventurers–here to witness one of the most spectacular scenes that the wettest place on Earth had to offer them.

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SlowRover Snapshots #22

Bamboo Skywalk (Meghalaya)

Title: The Bamboo Skywalk
Location: Nohwet Village, Meghalaya, North East India

You’ll rarely find its mention in any Meghalaya itinerary found online or in travel guides. Neither will the locals persuade you to give this hidden gem a visit.

But find it, you must!

This Bamboo Skywalk is located  in beautiful Meghalayan village called Nohwet, at a distance of about 80 kilometres from Meghalaya’s capital city-Shillong. Sadly, this village is often skipped by tourists who prefer the proximate (and more famous) village of Mawlynnong (Too mainstream, I tell you!).

Each year, two brothers build a bamboo skywalk/view point, more than five stories above the ground, with their bare hands.  For a nominal fee of 20 INR you can, from atop this skywalk, witness the true consequences of the world’s most profound monsoon (this is the wettest region in the world!)- a 180 degree view of numerous waterfalls, more than you can bother to count,  and the mirror-like the flooded plains of Bangladesh.

Intrigued? Know more about this place in our Meghalaya Series!

SR Travel Tip: If you ever get a change to visit the godly Indian state of Meghalaya, keep a day exclusively for Nongriat Village- home to the double decker living root bridge of Meghalaya!


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Experiencing India: Sounds and Sights from an Indian Train Journey

It’s surprising how train journeys closely mimic the cycle of life. We meet people, make friends, only to let them go and find new ones- thereby knitting an endless chain of emotions- only to be felt but never to be broken. But again, what is life, but a collection of such journeys.

The following passage is an ‘as-it-happened’ description of a journey with the Indian Railways (the 12.30 Passenger train from Madurai to Rameshwaram, both of which lie in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu). Try not to find for a story in here, rather, seek to experience the billion personalities that make India Incredible. Here it goes.

Chug, Chug, Chug! The 12:30 passenger train from Madurai has just started to sing its rhythmic song, a melody it will sing for the next few hours till it reaches a mystical island called Rameshwaram. It is an overcast day of November 2015, the rain clouds looming over the horizon as I attempt to traverse, and hopefully document, the lush green landscape of Tamil Nadu, India.

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Tamil Nadu country side with the looming rain clouds

I yearn for the rain, as I am aware of the power of the raindrops to elate even the most dolorous environs.

As I try to get comfortable in my cozy window side seat, I am greeted by a distinct sound. ‘Wooooooo…’– a loud cheer, emanating from the far corner of my train bogie, surprises all the five occupants of the compartment I am in. The train had just passed over a small river causing a group of seven children, sitting at a corner of the bogie along with their parents, to let out a loud “Woooooo..” sound in a seemingly pre-planned unison. From that moment onward, the children failed to hide their excitement towards any river, tunnel, or even an old bridge that our passenger train crossed.

Ah, the perks of the young age. When the whole world is an adventure, where everything you see is new. When even the sight of an old corrugated bridge is a spectacle to behold. When even the gentle stream of water galvanizes your “Wooooos” of excitement. All this, without being judged by the the mean world. Time of your life, indeed!

The dawn of technology brought forward a new contender for the most heard sound of a train journey. The sound of people talking (or at least trying to talk) on the phone. A co-passenger sitting diagonally across my seat has been trying to talk on his phone for a while now. Unfortunately, all his efforts are being drowned in the cacophonous symphony of the exhilarated kids. No matter how far he pushes his vocal chords, a sight of an impending bridge, or river, or tunnel, and sometimes even nothing, washes away his attempts at modern day communication; just like the rain that has just started outside.

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The first sight of the rains!

Within seconds the landscape has become saturated with an intense hue of green. As if god took out his shade card and presented us with the most delightful shade he could find. The smell of the rain, the Petrichor, treats my olfactory senses with nostalgia, while the cold droplets gently caress my outstretched hand. Eternal bliss. Who said happiness cannot be found in small things?

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We have crossed a few stations now, the train is losing speed to halt at another one. Tiruppuvanam, I read the station name aloud, and why not, it is the first railway station on this route whose name has been mentioned in English (all the previous ones on the route had names written in Tamil, a language I have no knowledge of). One of the little benefits of travelling in a passenger train is that they halt for a short duration – usually a minute or two. But such small halts are no hindrance for locals intending to board the train, for they have mastered the art of hopping on to the train at lightning speeds. They throw in their luggage in one swift motion and climb in through the door of the bogie with minimal efforts. Practice maketh perfect! The train moves on from Tiruppuvanam and I gleefully go back to the cinema of nature showcased through my window.

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The number of people in the passenger train has been increasing with each passing station. My compartment is evidently more crowded now, but is far from being uncomfortable. Good- I say to myself, more sounds to hear, people to observe and personalities to uncover.

I have always been amazed by the Indian ability to adjust and find comfort even the most constricted spaces. Take for instance, the uncle sitting in the adjacent compartment. The plump man, due to an unexpected influx of passengers, is being forced to sleep in what seems to be a highly uncomfortable position. With one hand dangling above his shoulder, the other wedged between the grills of the window; his legs curled in a peculiar shape resembling the alphabet ‘S’. Yet, he shows no signs of discomfort, his lips curled into a satisfactory smile as he enjoys his siesta.  I bow to you, Indian spirit.

I try to guess the various facets of our unperturbed sleeper, his age, his life, the work he does, or how he acquired his superhuman contortional abilities. But I fail miserably, not because of my weak hand at the science of deduction, but because the passenger train just sailed past another river. The volcanic army of children (who had been quiet for a while now) erupts to destroy the silence of our Pompeii. I shift my focus to my window again, peace ensues.

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The Manamadurai Junction

Manamadurai junction station is here. The industrious coffee sellers of the station, who must have been patiently awaiting the arrival of Madurai-Rameshwaram passenger train spring into action.They raid each bogie of the passenger train with cries of ‘Kaapi, Kaapi, Kaapi’, a colloquial term for the world’s most famous beverage. The windows facing the station platform act as their makeshift shops, as they hinge their coffee bins against the horizontal window bars with a smartly designed lever. They need to sell as many cups of coffee as they possibly can with one eye, for their other eye is affixed to the distant railway traffic signal, hoping it doesn’t turn green soon. Somehow, the sales pitch of the coffee sellers manages to calm the noises within the passenger train. The children are quiet, not a soul seems to be talking on the phone, the contortionist sleeper is wide awake. Everyone’s attention is reserved for the coffee sellers, handing out the eagerly awaited coffee cups to the parched passengers. But the coffee seller’s moment in the sun doesn’t last long- the signal has turned green. And once again, I inch closer to my window sill, with a cup of coffee in my hands, eager to see what this journey has in store for me next. 

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The ‘Kaapi’ Seller

The compartment is surprisingly quiet now, which makes the outside scenery even more delectable. Outside, I catch a glimpse of a flock of white doves flying in a backdrop of the green earthly blanket intersected by the passage of the blood red engine, all with the saturated clouds marking the horizon. How does one not fall in love with the Indian country-side, where such sights are ubiquitous?

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While the children haven’t spoken much for a while, the silence is occasionally broken by train vendors which frequent the bogies attempting to sell home-made goods to the passengers. The cycle of their visits was initiated by Mr. Chick-pea seller, trying to sell his self-proclaimed ‘best chick-peas in India’ with tactful slogans. A few minutes later, the entire bogie is filled with exotic aroma of sandalwood, leaving everyone confused about the source. Enter the incense stick seller, making his grand aromatic entry into our compartment. He, just like his predecessor, claims that his hand rolled incense sticks are the best in the region.To my surprise, his sales ploy seems to be working as he has already managed to sell a dozen packets within a span of few minutes.

Next in line is the Murukku lady. Draped in a bright yellow sari, she offers the passengers an assortment of her special murukkus (a South Indian snack) that co-incidently match the colour of her sari. For some reason, she makes me the target of her sales pitch and almost forces me into buying her murukkus (By the way, those crunchy and flavorful murukkus were one of the best snacks that I had in 2015. I regret not buying another packet from her!).

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The Murrukku

We have arrived at Paramakkudi, one of the last stations before we cross the legendary Pamban Rail Bridge and reach Rameshwaram. Sadly, most of the passengers who had started their journey with me have risen up and have started collecting their belongings to deboard the train at Paramakkudi. The contortionist sleeper just left, so did the noisy choir of children (thankfully). The old woman who had been who had slept her way through the entire length of the journey also rises to take leave. And like always, I have already started to miss their company.

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But all is not lost, for the compartment is almost immediately refilled with a plethora of passengers who had boarded the train at Paramakkudi. One of them is a drowsy uncle, who I am sure will immediately doze off in an awkward/uncomfortable position. Also, two more families with six noisy children have taken refuge in the adjacent compartment. Life coming full circle again?

It’s surprising how train journeys closely mimic the cycle of life. We meet people, make friends, only to let them go and find new ones- thereby knitting an endless chain of emotions- only to be felt but never to be broken. But again, what is life, but a collection of such journeys.

The passenger train is finally crossing the mighty Pamban railway bridge, the moment around which I had planned my trip. The Pamban bridge, built during the colonial time, is an engineering marvel spanning over a distance of 2.3 kms over the Palk strait.

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A sight of the adjacent Pamban Road Bridge from the passenger train

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The visuals of of this rusty cantilever bridge is nothing short of overwhelming. But sadly, it also marks the end of my journey with this passenger train and its people, for the island of Rameshwaram lies at the other end of the bridge. My eyes scouts the distant island in hope of finding more stories to tell.

And finding my self through those stories.

 -Vibhav Bisht


The author loves to sail paper boats during the monsoon rains.
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Bhangarh : The Ruined City and The Ghosts I Met There

 

Ever been compelled to watch a horror movie in the dead of night even though you know it would lead to countless sleepless nights? Ever been infatuated with the idea of exploring a haunted house? No? Yes? I was.

So were four of my friends. The big question was – where? Residing in Delhi which has seen its share of cold-blooded assassinations, bloody battles and betrayals, we thought it would be easy to spot restless, revengeful souls here. After making trips to the Khooni Darwaza, the Malcha Mahal, Agrasen ki Baoli and even a neighbouring house in the residential area of Lajpat Nagar, and not meeting any ‘other worldly’ (just because it is an accepted term, if they are in this world, how are they other-worldly? Anyway more on that later) creatures, we couldn’t decide where would our efforts find fruition. We finally zeroed down upon Bhangarh. What better place to get the thrills than a ruined city which is famed to be India’s most haunted place?

Archaeological Survey of India board

Archaeological Survey of India has put up a stone inscription outside the fort describing the construction

On the D-day, we rose early and started preparing ourselves according to the lengthy to-do list put together by our friend. She insisted that the place was infested with djinns who cling to open hair – which made all of us pull our hair into tight buns. Applying perfume or fragrant shampoo was a definite invitation for ghosts – hence, avoided. We had breakfast with an uneasy sense of foreboding and then drove away. Throughout the 60-odd km drive to the destination form Jaipur, we were excited and discussing details with our jolly driver – Param bhaiya (In India men are ‘bhaiya’ until they become ‘uncle’ at about the age of fifty or so. It is the polite way of addressing them).

It was a bright December morning. As the majestic ruins loomed towards our eyes, the Sun warmed our souls and we walked on towards the fort from our car. And I thought, would it be just as beautiful had it not been chaotic? If this is its state in abandonment, how did it look at the peak of prosperity?

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The stairway leading upto the main fort complex of Bhnagarh

Immersed in thoughts, we came upon a notice by the Archaeological Survey of India, prohibiting anyone from staying inside before sunrise and after sunset. After reading this proclamation of the dangers inside, we ventured onwards into the realm of ghosts.

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2015 Travel Logbook – ft. Fantastic Indian Foods And Where To Find Them

Given our love for food, this post was long coming. It is a proof of how nice things happen to you when you travel.  2015 was a year of joyful travels for the Slowrover team. Individually, we travelled to distant parts of this beautiful country, getting unbelievably lucky when it came to food, This post celebrates our love for Indian Food, and we share with you, the best treats we had in 2015 (and where to find them). Here it goes

Disclaimer : You will feel very hungry. And you will need to travel.

Omelette Indulgence at Lovely Omelette Centre, Mussorie
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Cheese Omelette at Lovely’s

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Foodgasm in the making

Lovely Omelette Centre is considered to be one of the best omelette experiences in India. Extensively covered by all the leading travel/food journals of India (Lonely Planet, Outlook Traveller, Trip Advisor, Highway on my Plate), this Omelette paradise is adored by all. It offers a limited variety of omelettes (Oil/Butter/Cheese being the prominent ones).

Location: At the Picture Palace end of the Mussorie Mall (Uttarakhand), near the Church.

 

The Joy of Looking At Fresh Banana Chips Being Prepared 

Travelling through Kerala meant being exposed to both banana chips and coconut water in plenty. And they don’t love their banana chips for nothing. Check out a fresh batch being prepared in Thekkady :

Location : Malabar Chips, Thekkady. There is lots on offer here – sweet, salty, tangy banana chips and several kinds of other specialities like tapioca chips.

 

‘Tikki-Chaat’ of Vrindavan
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Tikki Chaat, anyone?

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Petrichor- The Smell of Childhood

I don’t remember my childhood.

Nothing except the smell of the monsoon rains, right before they lashed onto the verandah. Me, the solitary crawler, both enchanted and perplexed by a sudden downpour, would rush indoors to the safety of my mother’s lap. Such memories are vague, rather loosely etched on my mind. But the smell of the rains, the Petrichor, is something I can never forget.

I suspect that the ravishingly beautiful Petrichor is hard-coded deep into the minds of every human being. It is passed onto an individual through an infinite chain of forefathers. Or maybe it is simply a gift from heaven. After all that’s where the rains come from!

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Rains-Monsoon in India

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SlowRover Snapshots #21

Tibetan Monks of Nepal

Title: The  Monks
Location: Swayambhunath Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal

You need to traverse a total of 365 stairs to reach the Monkey Temple of Kathmandu- ‘The Swayambhunath’. The climb is  steep, often disclosing an impossible to climb gradient of ascent. But once you reach the top, it is a sight to behold. The entire city of Kathmandu is in front of you, showcasing its sea-like expanse against the background of the mighty Himalayas.

Despite being a Hindu temple, the temple complex is usually maintained and frequented by Buddhist monks who perform their traditional rituals daily. The ceremonies are not only elaborately orchestrated, but also colorful.

-Vibhav


SR Travel Tip: Another must visit place in Nepal is the town of Pokhara. Located beside the beautiful Phewa lake, Pokhara boasts of magnificent landscapes and exotic eateries.


Want to see/know more about Nepal? Click here
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SlowRover Snapshots #20

Ross IslandTitle: Old and New
Location: Ross Island, Andaman, India

Beauty, it is said, lies in the eyes of the beholder. All things are beautiful, however, it is us who should be able to see the magic within.

Ross Island is a perfect example of this apparent subjectivity. An island, which was once the seat of the mighty British Empire, now lies in ruin. But they say the ruins have an ability to speak to your soul; to fondle the emptiness within.

And Ross Island does just that. The island, deserted decades ago, is now full of dilapidated structures reminiscent of the glorious past.

However, if you look close enough, you’ll manage to find beauty in this negative place.

-Vibhav Bisht

Want to see/know more about Ross Island? Click here!


SR Travel Tip: Andaman is a treasure trove of travel escapades. We highly recommend an sunset dip in the most beautiful beaches of all – The Radha Nagar Beach of Havelock Island.


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SLOWROVER SNAPSHOTS #19

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Title: Colours of the Dal Lake
Location: Srinagar, Kashmir, India

Cozily perched in the lap of one of the most beautiful valleys of nature, the Dal Lake possesses the wizardry to enchant even the most reluctant tourists.

The ‘Shikaras‘, or the small boats, that ply across this calm body of water are considered the highlight of this region. A sight of a distant, yet visibly colourful, shikara with its reflection etching the mirror-like surface of the Dal lake, and the hues of setting sun being reflected in the background. It seems that the term ‘Heavenly‘ was coined exclusively for such experiences.

 

-Vibhav

SR Travel Tip: If you get a chance to visit the Kashmir region of India, make sure you try the renowned ‘Wazwan‘ multi-course meal of Kashmir. Being a foodie myself, I can vouch for ‘Wazwan’ being one of the best food experience in India.

 

Want to know more about Kashmir, India?
Feel free to post questions/suggestions for the author in the comments below.

Also, if you liked this post, you’d love this page as well. Click to check it out!


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My Sojourn in Kolukkumalai (Part 2) – The Tea Factory, The Workers And Some Conversations

If you missed Part 1, read here – My Sojourn in Kolukkumalai (Part 1) – An Early Appointment With The Sun and Suicide Points

Alam (our driver) was telling us about his daily life before we stopped at the suicide point. He was used to making three, sometimes four round trips to the Kolukkumalai factory. That is six to eight hours of driving on the rocky terrain at a tardy speed of 5-10 kmph with frequent stops to let other cars pass and to click pictures. He was from a village in Tamil Nadu from where he and his parents would come to work in the tea estates in Kerala every day. Sometimes they took thirty minutes to walk from their village, small village problems he said, not like the cities with roads and highways. I thought about myself, spending an hour stuck in bumper to bumper traffic to reach the glass windows, the claustrophobic steel of my office. Well, this did look like a tiny village problem.

This pretty meandering path running between the plantations is the rocky road we traversed at a speed of 5-10 kmph

This pretty meandering path running between the plantations is the rocky road we traversed at a speed of 5-10 kmph

Now that the day was ripe, more jeeps had joined us on the rickety road. Alam turned up the sound system and then we realized how very special our jeep was in comparison to the others. He was a fan of Pop music and was humming to Justin Bieber’s hit single ‘Baby Baby Baby ooooh’. Akon, however was his favorite star. Conversation was stemmed because of the music so we lifted the flaps which acted as doors of the jeep to let in the sunshine and the view. Everything was surreal, the rocks, the endless cover of green symmetry. There were the dreamy, so-clean-it-could-hurt-your-eyes-if-you-stare-for-too-long jade inhabitants of the plantation our aim was to explore today, lined up all about us in a surreal symmetrical fashion. The tea gardens were a reminder of order, that was absent in my daily, chaotic existence of caffeine fuelled writing and sleep held ransom by internet.

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SLOWROVER SNAPSHOTS #18

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Title: Her First Smile
Location: A village near Munsiyari, India

Her name is Keenu. She, alongwith some other naughty kids of her village, had come to visit us, while we were camping a few hundred meters away from their remote Uttrakhandi Village near Munsiyari.

While the other kids were busy running around our tents, little Keenu had her eyes fixated on my cell phone. It suddenly dawned upon me that it was probably the first time that she had come across this miracle consumer product. Not only was she delighted by the bubble like icons on my phone screen, she giggled each time the phone made sounds.

Perhaps her major delight was reserved for the last. For when I finally started my phone camera on ‘selfie mode’, she gave an expression that was part happiness and part disbelief. After all, this was the first time she was watching her own face on a phone screen! I’m glad I pressed the click button right then.

Not all selfies are bad, ay?

 

 

SR Travel Tip: If you ever visit Munsiyari in Uttarakhand, India, do not forget to visit the ‘Master Ji’s’ Museum. An overnight trek to the Khaliya Top is also highly recommended.

 

Vibhav

Want to know more about Uttarakhand, India?
Feel free to post questions/suggestions for the author in the comments below.


 

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My Sojourn in Kolukkumalai (Part 1) – An Early Appointment With The Sun and Suicide Points

“And that is the suicide point”, our driver said and allowed the jeep to splutter to a halt so that we could scramble out. A tall rock, smooth and majestic, which reminded me of the hacked torso of an unfortunate lone messenger who dared to carry a peace treaty to the enemy barracks, was the addressee of the name. There’s this thing about India, every hill station has a ‘suicide point’ and an ‘echo point’. We stood at one of those, somewhere in Munnar, a town in Kerala, on our way to Kolukkumalai Tea Estate, which are the world’s highest tea plantations producing flavorful Orthodox Tea.

Board guiding visitors to various points of interest in the Kolukkumalai Tea Estate

Board guiding visitors to various points of interest in the Kolukkumali Tea Estate

I found myself uttering the meaningless question to our driver – “Do many people come here to die?” I think I sounded stupid, but he exclaimed “No! No! No one has ever committed suicide here”. So it was baptized ‘suicide point’ for no apparent reason just like all its other namesakes in India.

While we clicked pictures, the minimal amount of knowledge that I have in Physics told me my voice would echo better here than it had at the Echo Point where we stood to watch a new day dawn some minutes ago. In spite of the severe insistence of our driver that our voice will reverberate and probably wake up all the village folk in the valley down below, even our loudest shouts feebly regurgitated for a second or so before dying out in the endless chatter of birds. The only thing which had echoed at the Echo Point was the image of the Sun, rising from behind the mountains, like a shy child rising from the crib. It must be painful for the Sun, waking up before the rest, assured of your return to the same bed. Was constancy a curse?

And the Sun had finally risen like a shy child rising from the crib, scattering its glorious warmth

And the Sun had finally risen, scattering its glorious warmth

But we had beaten the child today. We had risen before the Sun, set out in what seemed like the hour of death on a wobbly road, in the throes of the cold wind which wanted to embrace us like a jilted lover while the whole town snored in deep sleep down below, to witness one of the most beautiful early morning spectacles we have ever witnessed.

The Sun took its time, rising lazily from behind the clouds. And as it made an appearance, clouds were scattered like a mob before the cops

The Sun took its time, rising lazily from behind the clouds. And as it made an appearance, clouds were scattered like a mob before the cops

And after paying a visit to the punctual host we were brought here, to the suicide point. Maybe they called it suicide point just to preach caution to the travelers? A misplaced step around there would lead to a steep fall. I think I’d rather die somewhere like that. I mean if it has to be my last experience, I’d want it to be beautiful. And settings like these are definitely numbered

A view worth dying for! - Sunrise at Kolukkumalai

A view worth dying for! – Sunrise at Kolukkumalai

There’s more coming from me about Kolukkumalai and Kerala soon. Stay tuned! 🙂

Update – Read here for Part 2 – My Sojourn in Kolukkumalai (Part 2) – The Tea Factory, The Workers And Some Conversations

-Swetambara

Want to know more about Kollukumalai or Kerala?
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The author served as a staff writer at Scoopwhoop! and is a freelancer
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Barfani Baba And The Art Of Seeking Alms

There is something I have been concerned about since I turned 6 – the mystery which is the River Saraswati. It is kind of there and kind of not. Supposedly the entire Rig Veda was composed on its banks before it vanished from the face of the Earth (or started flowing underground if Hindu religious texts or Puranas are to be believed) . For some it is a mythic river which symbolises the Milky Way, while for some historians it is a case of misplaced identity. Mostly all Hindu kids learn Saraswati’s name as one of the three major rivers of India (the other two being Ganga and Yamuna) and have spent a lot of time trying to distinguish the river from the other two at the sangam in Allahabad.

I was intrigued by how it had managed to become an underground river and for most of my childhood it came to symbolise the gangster of the river world (because gangsters are supposed to be underground – I know, lame, but I was a kid!) Now, so this particular river has something of a Bond status in india, seems like every river wants to be Saraswati. Because of its ‘invisible’ nature and mythological importance, several rivers have been named ‘Saraswati’ and there is a lot of confusion over which the real one is. This story concerns one of the many Saraswatis in India – the Saraswati which originates near the Mana village (famed to be the last village of India, but not quite) in Uttarakhand and is a tributary of the Alaknanda river.

River Alaknanda keeps you company through most of the 9 km hike from Mana village to Vasudhara Falls

River Alaknanda keeps you company through most of the 9 km hike from Mana village to Vasudhara Falls

My aim was to hike up to the 400 ft tall Vasudhara falls. All the other landmarks like the Vyas Guha (where the Epic ‘Mahabharata’ was supposedly written), the Bhim Pul and Ganesh Guha were wonderful distractions on the way. But as is usual for me, I was distracted by something not so obvious on the 9 km stony trek from Mana to Vasudhara falls. It was this section in the stone wall painted red, right before the Bhim Pul. It carried a message by Barfani Baba. Roughly translated to English, it said, “Baba Barfani, Naga Baba – doesn’t demand donations, devotees are free to donate”.

The message outside Baba Barfani's decrepit cave

The message outside Baba Barfani’s decrepit cave

Now if you have spent any time roaming the narrow lanes of India, you will know how pushy saints can get. It can be anything from ‘Bhagwan lambi umar dega beta, babaji ka ashirwad lete ja’ (The Almighty will bless you with a long life if you seek my blessings), to ‘Babaji ka ashirwad thukraoge toh paap chadhega’ (If you don’t seek my blessings, you shall be doomed). I have heard them all. So, Baba Barfani’s method of seeking alms really stands out. He come across as a maverick of the world of Indian saints. I wanted to talk to him. Find out whether the message was written by him or some devotee helped him or if it was from some organisation responsible for Naga saints. Unfortunately, he was lost somewhere in his cave, concealed by the red-painted asbestos sheet.

I was taken by this show of brilliant salesmanship. Many people who would not bat an eyelid at a saint could be seen donating generously. I was impressed. And thought much about him through rest of the climb.
Don't be fooled by the seemingly dreamy gentleness of the water seen from afar, on approaching near, the water of the Vasudhara falls was cold and sharp

Don’t be fooled by the seemingly dreamy gentleness of the water seen from afar, on approaching near, the water of the Vasudhara falls was cold and sharp

I would like to go back and see him. Get the answer to some of my questions. Or maybe you already have and would like to tell me?

-Swetambara

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The author served as a staff writer at Scoopwhoop! and is a freelancer
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SLOWROVER SNAPSHOTS #17

Coffee Seller

Title: The Kaapi Innovator
Location: Manamadurai Junction, Tamil Nadu, India

 

The compartment was abuzz with a distinct sound. Our train had  stopped at Manamadurai Junction, a small station that falls on the route from Madurai to Rameshwaram.

Throngs of coffee sellers bombarded our peaceful journey with an incessant sound of business.

“Kaapi, Kaapi, Kaapi” they cried in unison, trying to sell the world’s favourite drink in a local accent (Kaapi is a phonetically corrupt term for ‘coffee’). One of the sellers parked his minimalist coffee store by my window. He had managed to customize a rod of iron to be used as a makeshift coffee stand (See Picture).

Need is indeed, the mother of all inventions.

SR Travel Tip: If you ever visit Tamil Nadu, we recommend you to visit Dhanushkodi, a ruined city that was destroyed by a cyclone in 1964. The eerie walls of the ruins, accompanied by the incessant sound of ocean waves lashing against the nearby shore – Can’t be missed .    

Vibhav

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SlowRover Snapshots #16

Kolkata, Fisherman,

Old Man and his Fish

Title: Old Man and his Fish
Location: Gangasagar, West Bengal

Each day millions of Indians use boats to traverse mighty water bodies of the Great Indian Plains. On one such boat ride, I noticed this peculiar man. He had his hands inside two containers while vigourously shaking the what was inside. After witnessing this strange, incessant act for more than 15 minutes, I went ahead and inquired about the reasons for his actions.

He replied “I am transporting freshly caught fish in these vessels. If I don’t  keep stirring the water inside, the fish will suffocate and die withing minutes. I must do whatever it takes to keep them alive and fresh!”

“And what will you do with the fish when you get down from this boat?” I inquired further.

“Kill them.” came the reply.

I gave him a gentle smiled and walked to the other side of the boat.

Little ironies that fill our lives.

 

SR Travel Tip: If you ever visit West Bengal, We strongly advise you to visit the Sunderbans. It is the world’s largest delta and a home to the Royal Bengal Tiger.

Vibhav

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SlowRover Snapshots #15

SRSHT_15

Behroopiya at Vrindavan

Title: Behroopiya
Location: Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh

He claims to be Kishan from a small UP village- I doubt if either of that is true. For he is a Behroopiya; ‘an Impersonator’. A man with no identity, yet identifying himself with everyone around him. He chooses to live a part of their lives- people he meets on the streets, people he watches in the movies, everyday. Some days, he’s a vagabond sadhu, seeking alms from the passerbys while giving them fake blessings. Today, he chose to be an army man wearing a Behroopiya name tag. Wonder how many lives he’ll save today on the streets of Vrindavan.

SR Travel Tip: The birth place of Hindu God Krishna, Vrindavan is not only one of the holiest cities in India but also a veritable pastiche of different cultures which is best reflcted in food. SlowRover recommends a stay and a meal at MVT Restaurant and Guest House while you’re here. 

-Vibhav

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