Travel Blog by Prashanth M

A taste of Snow storm

July 27, 2012 by Prashanth | 4 Comments

PAYANIGA - A taste of Snow storm

“I’m disappointed that we were not air-lifted today”, someone in the group quipped while we were boarding the train back to Aberdeen at Inverness. Everyone laughed heartily on that comment and there was no sign of any disappointment, even though the two-day trip was cut short. Instead of disappointment, there was a sense of accomplishment of experiencing something of a lifetime. Our plan was to start on day one from Aberdeen and reach Aviemore by noon. Spend the rest of the day exploring Aviemore town roaming. And on the second day, take the bus up to Cairngorms mountain base station, then take the unique funicular rail to the peak. Then depending on one’s skill level go skiing, snow walking or just loiter around playing in the snow. After that come down to Aviemore and catch the 4.30 train back to Aberdeen. But plan remained as plan and except for reaching Aviemore on time on day one, nothing went as per the plan.

PAYANIGA - A taste of Snow storm
PAYANIGA - A taste of Snow storm

One of the challenges when travelling in a group is to make everyone arrive on time. And if that’s a cold January morning, it is much bigger challenge. Surprisingly all of us were 15 minute before the train departure time at Aberdeen rail station. (Probably our first clue about what to expect on the next two days!). Just as we settled down, the train started rolling towards Inverness – our first stop. We changed train to Aviemore at Inverness, and the scenery outside the window gradually started turning white (just the frost around Inverness) as the train rolled on westwards. We got down at Aviemore and there, snow welcomed us. Without wasting time we head out to catch up some lunch and decide on the plan next. While we were stuffing ourselves, the nature had its own plan. It started snowing heavily (our second clue) and only thing we could manage was to head towards Youth Hostel like a herd of sheep – with heads down. For rest of the afternoon and evening, we were confined to four walls of the youth hostel – watching the snow out of the window and we temporarily converted the youth hostel’s dining room as place for some games.

PAYANIGA - A taste of Snow storm

Next day morning looked promising with a bit of clear skies and no snow showers. We got ready quickly and there we were waiting for the bus to take us to the base station of Cairngorms mountains. We waited in the cold huddled in the lone bus shelter, as the scheduled time of bus passed by. 20 minutes later we go to know from couple of guys who were also waiting for the bus that if it gets this much delayed, that means there will be no bus. We quickly hailed two taxis to takes to our destination to the mountains. Half an hour later, we were excited at the prospect of honing our skiing skills at the peak but only to be welcomed by howling wind and plenty of snow. We were in for more disappointment as we learnt that the funicular train was cancelled due to heavy gale  up to speeds of 80 mile per hour at the peak. Not to be completely disappointed, we had our share of fun playing snowball, getting hit & wet. Tired and completely numb, as we huddled around the fire to get warmed inside Cas Bar,  we were in for another twist. Folks at the base station announced that they will be closing down and evacuating the station due to heavy gale picking up. With no means of transport to go back – no bus and taxis not coming back due to bad weather – we were completely stranded! As we took shelter from heavy snow and wind, moods varied in the group.

PAYANIGA - A taste of Snow storm

With 3 kids along with 14 adults, situation was quite tense. But thanks to the wonderful people of Cas Bar, they asked us to wait so that they can arrange to carry in their and other visitors cars. Kids and ladies went first and fifteen minutes later last five of us got in to the last vehicle going down to Aviemore. The snow storm was severe (though it may quite common for those people, it looked severe for us from the tropical countries). Visibility was very low due to wind and snow. It was white everywhere, and totally difficult to make out where is road. It took us close to an hour to cover a distance of 19 KMs to reach Aviemore. As we got down from the vehicle and looked back at the Cairngorm mountain, it looked as if it was a different mountain than the one we saw in the morning. The storm had completely changed the appearance of the mountain. When the group met again at the Aviemore train station, tension had long gone from everyone’s faces and there was a sense of accomplishment. With plans cut-short, we decided to take an earlier train instead. But there was more to the twists – all trains going towards Inverness were cancelled for the day due to gale and snow storm. But fortunately roads were open and we hailed the same two taxis that took us to the base station in the morning to drop us to Inverness.

PAYANIGA - A taste of Snow storm

We returned home half day early with nothing much going as per the plan. But with wonderful experience and plenty of stories to narrate for many days. Hope, I get to go back to Aviemore & Cairngorm mountain again and get to ride the funicular train.

A dip in River Kosi & short visit to Nainital

December 9, 2008 by Prashanth | 0 comments

It’s not easy to attain or reach good things in life. And so is to reach Binsar. As I’ve said before to reach Binsar one has to travel six to seven hours by road from Kathgodam. Between the two towns – Almora and Bhawali flows two rivers Kosi & Ramgarh parallel to the road. Down the line river Ramgarh joins Kosi & the bigger Kosi in south forms the eastern boundary of Corbett National Park. The water level was low, shallow & inviting. On our return journey we stopped for lunch at a hotel where river Kosi flows just behind. It wasn’t easy to sit by rverside ordering for lunch & not taking a dip. We had plenty of time to reach Kathgodam to catch the train back to Delhi. And we jumped into the river. It was sheer fun swimming after a long time. Swimming in a river is more fun than in still water. Unfortunately I haven’t done this many times.

The signboard at Bhawali which said “Nainital – 10KMs” made us take an impromptu decision & we decided to pay a short visit. At the very first sight itself, Nainital, the place of Goddess Nainadevi didn’t impress me. My first impression and thoughts were not to visit the place again. With lakebed completely crowded and polluted with concrete buildings and no question of scenic beauty in the tourist town. We stood there on the edge of the lake looking at the sorry state.

Light was diminishing, so were my chances of visiting Nainital in future and our journey home resumed. An overnight journey, delay of four hours in Delhi airport and usual traffic jams in Bangalore, I was back to the routine after an wonderful vacation at the Kumaon mountains.

Other published articles on Binsar:

Zero Point at Binsar

December 3, 2008 by Prashanth | 10 Comments

The most recommended place in the Binsar area is Zero point which is located inside the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary. The view point gives a glimpse of 300 KMs of the mighty Himalayan range. We were in time to see the mountains before clouds blocked the view for us. One need to walk inside the sanctuary for a kilometer & half to reach the point.

Though we didn�t get to see any wild animals, we heard a leopard’s roar couple of times somewhere from deep inside the sanctuary. The wildlife sanctuary is situated around 25KMs north of Almora.

That night we planned to go camping in the mountains. The place zeroed in was couple of kilometers from the resort. Camping in the wild is not new to me as I�ve gone camping few times before. But this time it was different & completely sophisticated. When we reached the camp site, the tents were ready, and so was the camp fire. We sat around the fire on that cold night talking away late in the night with discussion varying from topic to topic. It was pretty cold in the mountains and we had to warm our front and back sides after every few miniutes. After finishing off the dinner & some more talking, we surrendered to the sleep.

Other published articles on Binsar:

Temples of Jageshwar and Dandeshwar

November 23, 2008 by Prashanth | 4 Comments

After the short trek in the morning we visited Jageshwar later in the day. Jageshwar is a Hindu pilgrim dedicated to Lord Shiva & is at a distance of 35KMs from Almora. Nestled between tall Deodar trees lies this small town where more than 100 small temples are grouped in one premise. Constructed in ‘Nagara’ architecture (temple shikhars in the shape of bee hive), the temples date back to eight and ninth centuries.

Inside the Jageshwar temple premises, smaller temples are dedicated to other gods & goddesses – Vishnu, Hanuman, Lakshmi and more. A light (akhanda jyoti) burns continuously 24/7 in one of the temples & I was told that its burning since ages & is still maintained. And a small stream which flows beside the premise adds serenity to the place.

Couple of kilometers from Jageshwar is Dandeshwar temple, another shrine of Lord Shiva. This premise is smaller in size and four-five temples are there along with the main Dandeshwar temple. Both the premises are maintained by ASI (Archaeological Survey of India).

One peculiar sign we observed on almost all the temples was the three faced sculpture on the temple shikharas in both Jageshwar & Dandeshwar. When we enquired about the same with the priests we didn’t get any appropriate answer. And along with this one irritating issue we came across in the temple were the priests. They are no less than any of dacoits in extorting money from the tourists and devotees.

Other published articles on Binsar: