Lawrence Osborne, a travel writer and novelist; an Englishman living in Bangkok, mentioned in his recent interview in the Open travel magazine these words by Paul Bowles; the late American author who made Tangier, Morocco his home – vacationer is just passing through, the traveller comes to stay; for a while at least.
Most of us are not willing to suffer the pains of a traveller, we are content being a vacationer. But as vacationers, we end up just catching the superfluous, cruising along the same tourist circuits. But sometimes, even the vacationers get lucky and catch a unique experience.
Day 1 : Itinerary
3:30 pm – Arrival @ Dalhousie and stop at the Gandhi Chowk to visit the St John’s Church, the Mall Road and the nearby Indo-Tibetan market
6:00 pm – Check-in at the Aamod Resort
Three-fourth of the day was spent travelling, but nothing to complain about. The drive to Dalhousie was enjoyable. Our first stop was at Gandhi Chowk; we passed the Subash Chowk along the way, but didn’t stop.
At Gandhi Chowk, first stop was the St John’s Church; a reminiscent of the bygone British era. It’s just the church in the compound, right in the middle of a bustling junction.
Opposite the church is the Mall Road. Not quite like the Mall Road in Dharamshala, definitely missing the cacophony of tourists and locals, we were used to. It’s a small stretch lined by a few curios shops and small eateries, lacking the hustle and bustle of the Mall Road in Dharamshala. Only one shop was worth a visit – Bhuttico – The Bhutti Weavers Co-operative Society shop, selling handmade and loom weaved woollen shawls, popularly known as Kullu shawls. The shawls have the Handloom tag and Woolmark symbol, as assurance of its handcrafted specialty and use of pure wool. The work on the shawls were very pretty and we ended up buying a few.
Right at the entrance to the Mall Road, stands Cafe Dalhousie. The cafe was empty and we didn’t find another place for tea. We also ordered some veg pakoras, the perfect tea time snack. The food was good, but the ambience was lacking. It has the advantage of the location, but there was no draw to go there a second time.
Little up the main road of the Gandhi Chowk was the Indo-Tibetan market. A narrow enclosed stretch, lined with small stalls. Nothing expensive, good for any last-minute purchases for the cold weather like a woollen cap or an umbrella. At the entrance was a stall selling hand-painted wooden plaques, keychains. If was fascinating to see the man sketch effortlessly beautiful sceneries of snow-capped peaks and coniferous trees on the wooden plaques, then dried with a hair-dryer and coated with varnish if required.
Then was hopped into our taxi and head for the resort. On the way our driver stopped at the very famous Dalhousie Public School. A residential school and home to many kids from Amritsar.
Outside the school premises was a defence park called Beeji’s Park. This park has a MIG 21 Fighter Aircraft, two Surface to Air Pichorra Missiles, a T-55 Battle Tank, a model of Shivalik Frigate. The T-55 was a unique attraction but the aircrafts are seen displayed in Bangalore also. The T-55 tank is of Russian origin and has been used extensively by the Indian army against Pakistan and by various other countries in several wars over the decades.
Finally we arrive at our place of stay in the Dalhousie – the lovely Aamod Resort. We were taken to our cosy cottage. The cottage had an electric room heater, a good thought as it was very cold for us; not being used to the low temperatures. We will have to wait for morning to enjoy the spectacular views of the deodar slopes.