Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Rejuvenation

Like I mentioned in the last post, an unlikely group of 7 got together and decided they needed to take a break from their hectic presentations-placements-PPT-schedule filled MBA life and go for a vacation. The destination was Mount Abu in Rajasthan, a five hour drive from Ahmedabad.

Each traveller spent the night preceeding the travel in his/her own unique fashion. Bodo Bhai played Counter Strike and Age of Empires all night, the Whale went off to sleep (as promised), the Dolphin finally dozed off to sleep (not as promised), Debby was up all the while whereas yours truly drifted off at 4 after typing this post.

I woke up at quarter past 5, and the entire group assembled in front of the boys hostel by 6. Only after greeting each party member in the shivering cold did we realise that the car had still not arrived. In the yet dark, early hours of the day, we decided to wait for the car at the University main gate.


In front of the boys hostel
(L to R: Mini 'Dolphin', Whale, Debby, Piranha, Bodo Bhai, Shark)


The car finally arrived somewhere around quarter to 7 and we were on our way. We stopped for breakfast at this dhaba off the Ahmedabad-Mehsana Expressway. The piping hot aloo-paratha were yummmm to say the least (my stomach growls an approval more than 84 hours after the breakfast). The extra helping of butter and the mast chai that we were served only made us want to NOT leave the place in a hurry.


At the Dhaba

A deadly combination of an hour of sleep the previous night followed by the wonderful breakfast was enough to put me off to sleep in the car. I woke up minutes before we crossed the Gujarat-Rajasthan border. And of course, the moment we crossed the police check-post, we could spot one shop after another proclaiming the availability of alcohol (Gujarat being a 'dry' state).

It wasn't long before we left behind the simple driving pleasures one experiences on a highway and were on the long and winding roads which led up to Abu Road. Once past the main town, the road, cut into the mountain-side, only got steeper. The constant twists and turns made the Dolphin experience motion sickness and we had to shift her to the front seat and also request the driver to go a bit slow. Of course, the driver being a driver, paid no heed.

We did stop at a point on the way up to take in the beauty of the valley.


As you can see, the view was breathtaking


Bodo Bhai takes a break


The Dolphin smiles

On reaching Mt. Abu, we checked into Hotel Lake View, so named because it looks over 'Nakki Lake' (I later learned that the lake is named so because it was believed that the lake was dug by the nails of the Gods; so 'naakhun' --> Nakki). The wooden panelled room, the comfortable bed, the oh-so-inviting 'razaai' was just too much for me and I was promptly off to sleep. :D

I woke up for lunch ordered from the hotel kitchen. Though the lunch turned out to be unsatisfactory, the others in the group decided to take a rest. They had been out exploring the nearby areas while I was sleeping. I decided it was time to go out on a small adventure of my own.

I went up to Toad Rock, named thus because of the shape in which the rock, atop a hill, is in.
Toad Rock

In order to reach Toad Rock, one has to climb a flight of stone steps cut into the mountain. It was a good exercise running up those 200 odd stone steps and soon I had to take off my woolen jacket and tie it around my waist. The view of Nakki lake and the surrounding mountain range was beautiful and I doubt even those more adept at words than me can describe the magnificence of it all.

An hour later, I joined the rest of the gang at the hotel and we decided we must go boating on the lake before it got too dark. We spent a jolly half an hour in the paddle boats, although I must complain, Bodo Bhai cheated and poor moi had the strenous job of paddling harder than required by a single person paddling in a team.

Bodo Bhai, me and Mini 'Dolphin' wait for our boat
(Can you spot Debby posing like a maharaja?)

After our boating expedition, we went off into the main market to try and see if we could buy something to take back home. I escorted the ladies to a Khadi Gram Udyog Shop that I'd spotted earlier to help me buy a kurta for myself. The Dolphin, expectedly, quickly made her exit and left it to Bips and the Piranha to help me choose the kurta. [Unfortunately, we couldn't find anything decent, even after 20 minutes of going through the pile of kurtas. :(( ]

We had dinner at a nice restaurant and were back in the hotel room by 10, if I remember correctly. They were showing the Amitabh Bachchan-Akshay Kumar starrer 'Aankhen' on TV, and even as the Whale was watching it, I was already snugly fitting myself in the quilt. And before long, my heavy eyelids bid goodnight to the world.

The next morning we were faced with a very simple plan of action. We were off to this mandir on top of a hill and the view from there was absolutely UN-BELIEVABLE !!!! We had the most enjoyable time taking in the view, and also had a gala time teasing the Whale. :D

This was perhaps the most hillarious part of the entire journey. While the Whale posed for a pic dressed as a Rajputana maharaja, Bodo Bhai set up his digicam. Now, while the Whale thought that he was posing for a pic, Bodo Bhai was actually recording the entire scene, with me commentating in the background !! The look of confusion on the Whale's face was worth a million bucks when we told him we were actually recording him moving about in that funny dress.

The Whale


As seen from Mini Dolphin's mobile cam
(Doesn't he look as if he is in mid-air?)

Also, on our way down the same hill, we stopped at this place where we fed the fishes in a lake and then explored the nearby terrain. I was on a complete high (literally and figuratively) climbing the treacherous rocks.

On that hill, all by myself, I was nearest to complete peace. I was completely focussed on the next step that I needed to take. And for good reason. A wrong step here or there would've sent me hurtling down the cliff. At some places, a mistake would've perhaps only landed me with a hard thud onto the stony surface below, but at other places, there was nothing except the valley far down below. I'm not sure it would've been death, but it would've surely led to heavy injuries. But somehow, I felt the concentration strangely relaxing. ALL my energies and thoughts had to focus on what was to be done next. I could not, for a moment, let my thoughts wander to my parents, my ex, my studies or to my friends who were down below exploring some other part of the hill. It was, like I said, the most purified form of meditation; complete thought control.



Our final stop before making our return to Ahmedabad were the Dilwara temples. Now, Bodo Bhai and Bips refused to step inside the temples since they'd had a non-vegetarian lunch. On the other hand, Mini 'Dolphin' simply didn't want to go. Her logic ? "I'm tired !!" Uff !!! This girl can be so silly at times.. :P

Anyway, I bribed her with the promise of a Cadbury's if she came along. And tell you what, she would've missed something all right !! My only logic in going in was that I'd read about this place as a kid in history books at school. Having come so close, I didn't want to miss out on the opportunity. Who knew whether I would ever again get to visit this place at all !!

To tell you something honestly, friend, this was the best decision I have taken in a long, long time. The structures made out of marble in these temples were simply out of the world !! Our jaws literally dropped when we saw the intricate work done on the ceilings and the arches. The Whale, Dolphin, Debby and I couldn't stop wondering how the artisans had carved out such beautiful figurines. Everything, from the soldiers, the ceilings, the elephants, the horses to the kings, was beautiful beyond belief. Like Debby observed, it seemed as if the artisans were looking for an avenue to express themselves and these slabs of marble were the only square inches where they could find the freedom to do so.

Tired by the day's efforts of climbing up cliffs, chasing each other up stone-steps and marvelling at the beauty of the temples of Dilwara, we returned to the car for the journey back home. Content and smiling, we piled into the car, carrying with us anecdotes and pics to carry us through till the next vacation.

~~~~~~

And oh, by the way, I had to finally buy Mini the Cadbury for visiting the Dilwara temples, although she admitted she would've regretted not going. You didn't think she would let me off the hook that easily, did you?? ;)

5 comments:

mini said...

i will forget my original name!!..everyone calls me with a different name.. ~shakes her head~.. i had fun:)).. and yea.. thanks for the chocolate

arpz said...

issshhh ! beta tumne aankhon main aanson dila diye ... :( dilwara , the nakki lake .. issshhh :(

shweta said...

uhhhmmm....so welll it ws jst a momentary desertion ....hd 2 cme bck nd comment ..nd read as welll ;)
cool pics ...especially the whale 1 ;)inbtwn...wanted to see the video as well yaar wth ur commentary ...
nd yup once again congrats ..!!!ups nd downs r another part of the story wrapped up in history's page ...!!!
shwets

Shekhar said...

mini: //i will forget my original name !!

Ha ha !! How true.. :D

arpz: Oh !! Lekin yaadein taron-taaza hui ke nahin ?

shweta: Hmmm.. I'm sure the Whale appreciates your taste in photographs (~devilish grin~). And yep, thanks again. :))

Arpana said...

waise munna , us "Im not drunk" wale Tee main kaafi cool lag rahe ho :D .. wats the full caption on the Tee?