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Kasauli: Small, pretty and green hill queen



Kasauli is much smaller than most other hill stations. Times Travel found that to be part of its charm

The sultry summer night we rented a chauffer-driven car opposite New Delhi Railway station, I was little unsure about the proposed destination, Kasauli. The driver in beige livery hunched beside the car inflating tyres told us he vaguely knew that Kasauli was somehere on the Kalka-Shimla road. He said, however, that he was unsure whether we had made the right choice in picking Kasauli over known places in Himachal Pradesh like Shimla or Kufri.

kasauliHowever, a friend of mine had sworn that Kasauli was a picture postcard destination, a favoured retreat of Khushwant Singh. Best of all, the area was no bigger than a few large-ish farms put together. Of course when I reached Kasauli, I found it’s not quite as small as it was made out to be.

I also discovered that most of Kasauli can be negotiated by foot as it’s all situated between the market at Mall Road and Monkey Point, a peak with a Hanuman shrine. Monkey Point opens to a huge vista of the distant plains of Chandigarh region and the river Sutlej, which threads a silvery ribbon through the hills.

I saw concrete steps laid out on the hill like a terraced slope in a tea estate. The summit of the hill was breezy, and had a huge, monolithic Hanuman idol. Thickly coated in vermilion, the towering presence of the monkey God defied the assault of a perennial strong breeze at the summit.

Kausauli seemed to have preserved its old world order of British Raj as it was developed as a cantonmentsanatorium after the British made Shimla as their summer capital. Today, its colonial ambience is reinforced by cobbled paths, ethnic shops, gabled houses and scores of neatly kept gardens and orchards.

Kasauli is a green location – the streets are lined with tall deodars, flame of the forest, chirpines, Himalayan oaks, huge horse chestnuts, and flowering kachnars. Wild flowers, roses, and rhododendrons are also aplenty. Amid the bushes, I caught the sight of some curious bird watchers who laid themselves on the bushes in a crude imitation of guerilla ambush and were circumspect over their binoculars. It appeared to me some of them were watching passer-bys more than the birds.

An old church caught my attention. Locating at the corner of a street, it looked desolate. A barbed fenced wire raised over a row of crumbling pickets defined the parameters of the church. At dusk, I pressed against the barbed wire to listen to the church choir but my ears did not register anything more than an eerie silence.

Not far away from the church, I was intrigued by the presence of an old antique shop. The shingle “Estd. 1869” spoke of it’s venerability. To my disappointment, the shop was closed on Sunday. About the same vintage, if of another genre, is the Pasteur Institute of Kasauli that produces the anti-rabies vaccine. It is the oldest institution in such a trade in India.

I stayed in a budget hotel in Kasauli as I hadn’t made prior b o o k i n g s. Both Hotel Ros Common and Hotel Alasia were full. Two other places later I realised I could have looked at the PWD rest house and Hotel Maurice.

Kasauli is on tableland, situated at a height of over 1900m and joins the Kalka-Shimla road at Barog through a bridle-path. As we kept our driver awake the whole day, he nearly drew us into a head-on collision with a lorry on the way back to Delhi. Early the morning we crossed Panchkula. I remember it was the day of summer solstice. A long trailing shadow of our betel-red colorMaruti followed us to Delhi as we were thinking about both Kasauli and the near collision we avoided!

Old is gold

Kausauli seemed to have preserved its oldworld order of British Raj as it was developed as a cantonment-sanatorium after the British made Shimla as their summer capital. That’s the reason why it looks as beautiful as it was back then.

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Many trains will be terminated




Many trains will be terminated

Many trains will be terminated due to fog. Please read this news paper report:-

dhund hind

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India Railway will help you visit Taj Mahal




“All arrangements have been made and our systems are in place. The trial will begin December 25. It has taken us a long time to work on this project which will change the image of the ASI,” Superintending Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), N K Pathak said.

The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) will be the service provider of the e-ticketing facility, in collaboration with the National Institute of Smart Governance, he said.

After one month trial of the e-ticketing facility at the Taj Mahal, the ASI would extend the similar facility to other monuments, managed by it.

ASI officials said the e-tickets will have security features including bar code, and bar code scanners would be installed at the entry gates.

The ASI is training its staffs for effective and efficient use of the facility, which is likely to put an end to the long queues at the ticket counters.

Tourists had to stand for long hours in queues to buy entry tickets.

Tourism circles in Agra have welcomed ASI’s initiative saying the facility would help check resale of entry tickets and fake tickets by unscrupulous elements.

It is said that the ensuing online facility would also help the ASI in managing the number of visitors.

(This article was published on December 13, 2014)
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Take a break: top 7 places for bird watching in India




Summer is setting in, sure. But, what about taking a break from Delhi and head to Maharashtra, for there are places there that are still playing host to winged visitors. Plus, the Flamingo Festival, starting on March 29, will be an added bonus. “The peak birding season started around October and is coming to a close by May,” says Rahul Jauhari, who runs the website Atul Sathe of the BNHS adds, “Mangroves in Vikhroli, wetlands in Nhava-Sheva region are good spots.” Here are some other places that the duo highly recommend.

Ulwe and Uran
What: Both places are renowned when it comes to bird watching. However, the numbers are rapidly dropping, thanks to rampant construction in the region.

Often spotted: The list of birds seen here is endless — from Marsh Harriers, Blue-tailed Bee-eaters and Green Bee-eaters to Black-shouldered Kites and Red Wattled Lapwings. Uran is the older haunt for bird watchers, but, according to the experts, is now a shadow of its original self. However, Red-vented Bulbuls, Ashy Prinias, Asian Pied Starlings, Moorhens, Scaly Breasted Munias, Red Avadavats and Spot Billed Ducks, among others, can still be seen in these parts.

Nagla Forest
What: One of the lesser-known spots inside Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), in Borivali East, Mumbai.

Often spotted: Situated to the north of Bassein Creek, this is thought to be one of the most highly rewarding walks at the SGNP. Nature lovers are in for a treat as well. Birds like the Grey Junglefowl, Indian Grey Hornbill and Rufous Woodpecker can be spotted while on the trail.

Tungareshwar sanctuary
What: Home to three types of forest — dry deciduous, moist deciduous and semi evergreen — it forms a corridor between  SGNP and Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary.

Often spotted: Species like the Rufous Treepie, Shikra, Black-hooded Oriole, Brown-headed Barbet, Red-whiskered and Red-vented Bulbul can be seen in the area.

Thane Creek and Padale Gaon
: These spots are frequented by birders in the area.
Often spotted: While Thane Creek is known to attract Flamingos and Waders this time of the year, Black Kites seem to favour Padale Gaon. Apart from the Raptors, Munias, Woolly-necked Storks, Drongos, Egrets, Marsh Harriers and Sandpipers are also seen the region.

Kanheri Upper Trail
What: The route involves a gradual climb through the wooded forest of the SGNP.
Often spotted: One of the few places to offer the perfect mix of nature and adventure, catch a glimpse of the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Shikra, Grey Jungle Fowl, and Indian Peafowl. Or head to the plateau near Kanheri Caves, which is excellent for viewing raptors, like the Crested Serpent Eagle. You could also visit the ancient Kanheri Caves.

What: The mudflats here turn into a bird watcher’s paradise as they play host to millions to pink visitors.

Often spotted: One of the best places in the city to spot Flamingos, this is a good time to head there. It is also a good place to see migratory birds such as the Broad-billed Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, and Eurasian Curlew. On a good day, one will also catch a glimpse of the Common Redshank, Little Herons, Little Egret, Brown-headed Gull, Grey Plover, Sand Plovers and Avocet, among others. The annual Flamingo Festival is also scheduled to take place on March 29. Nature Park
What: Once a treeless garbage dump, this park located in the heart of the Mumbai (Dharavi) now acts as its green lung.

Often spotted: It is home to several migratory and resident species like the Black Kite, Shikra, Eurasian Wryneck, Little Green Bee-eater, Barn Swallow, Bluethroat, Purple Sunbird, Great Egret, Greater Coucal and Laughing Dove.

Bhandup Pumping Station
What: A well-kept secret, the lake near the pumping station attracts water birds. Signs put up also say that one can spot mongoose and snakes here. spotted: The area is known to host water and land birds, and often, Flamingos can be seen here as well. That apart, the Clamorous Reed Warbler, Common Kingfisher, Red Avadavat,  Pond Heron, Woolly-necked Stork, Eurasian Marsh Harrier, Black Kite, Asian Pied Starling, Painted Stork, Little Cormorant, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Laughing Dove, Red-wattled Lapwing, Green Bee-eaters and Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, among others, are common visitors.

Also Head to Airoli Creek and vashi bridge: These spots are frequented by birders looking for Flamingos and Waders.
talawe: This area on Palm Beach Road is yet another hotspot. The water body behind the NRI Complex, Seawood Estates, is a great place to observe birds.

Dombivli: Well-known birding sites here include Nilje Lake, the Bhopar area, Dombivli Creek and Khoni.

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