Durbaan: The Story of Royal Caretakers

Durbaan, literally means the person who guards. Here, it signifies guarding our heritage and culture. This photo story reveals the true identity of these unsung heroes who unconditionally dedicated their life for the royal families of Mandawa.  Mandawa is a town in Shekhawati region of Rajasthan and famously known as the “Open Art Gallery” because of its painted Havelis. Most of these Havelis are now converted into hotels. Stories have been written, told and forgotten on these beautifully painted Havelis. However, people who have been guarding and taking care of these Havelis for decades have been left aside and ignored. While talking to these people (guards, caretakers, gatekeepers, cleaners, gardeners), I was surprised to know that their forefathers have dedicated their lives for this single job of preserving their masters’ ancestral assets. Interestingly, they have multiple stories to share and I have multiple faces to share. I was so moved by their respective stories that I decided to bring forth their faces through my work. Some of them were excited to share their piece of story with me while others remained quiet because of unknown reasons.  I take this opportunity to share their identities with the world with bit of my take on it.


The first story is from Chokhani Haveli. An elderly couple namely Laxmi (65 years) and Banwari (71 years) works here as caretakers. When asked about their service at this Haveli, they said their last three generations have worked here as a caretakers and this is what they are carrying as a part of their family legacy. Laxmi told me that she is originally from Ramgarh and after marriage she shifted to Mandawa and since then they both have dedicated their lives in the service of this Haveli. Few years back her husband lost his left eye due to ignored disease. They have five girls and two boys out of which two are married. Their regular income comes from the visitors tip.

Next is Surinder Singh, 46 years, has been working as a guard with the Hotel Heritage DSC_1686Mandawa for last 15 years. Also, he is a caretaker of the other Haveli owned by the owner of this converted Hotel. This hotel depicts the ancient culture with its miniature paintings on the walls. Surinder says he is actually from a small village of Dimvah, 5 Kms from Mandawa and comes from the agricultural background. His father was a farmer. His family members includes his aging mother, wife with two school going children (9 years/6 years). Other than this job, he has a “Keertan Mandali” of 4-5 members. His group performs and earns money from there as well. He smiles and says “sometimes tourists are very friendly and gives gifts and money as tip which adds to his income”. Surinder, for me has one of the best built physique in Mandawa.

48 years old Swaroop Singh has been serving as a guard at Mandawa Fort for last 23 years. Mandawa Fort is an important heritage site of Shekhawati. It was built by the then Thakur Nawal Singh Bahadur at Mandawa town. Currently, this fort has two parts which is said to be divided between the brothers. One remains untouched Haveli while the other side is converted into hotel. He started this job on April 15th, 1995. He smiles and says I am happy with this job and able to do everything for my 3 children (2 girls and a boy) in my resource. His father was a farmer from Thimoli village. His ancestral land consists of 250 Bhiga. In this service of 23 years lot many people have visited this fort and clicked pictures with him but none have returned them. When I gave him his picture which I clicked during my last visit, he smiled and said “you are the first one to do so; I will frame it and will show it to everyone in my village”.

DSC_5820Dev Karan is another guard at Mandawa fort who is in this job for last 12 years. At the age of 51 he still looks very energetic and young. He comes from the village called Hetamsar which is hardly 10 Kms from Mandawa. His father was a farmer. In his free time, he loves to spend time with his wife and two beautiful children.

60 years old, handsome Sharad Kumar Mishra is a native of Mandawa village and comes from a Brahmin family. His father was a Pandit. He works as a guard at Mandawa fort and working for last 11 years, unconditionally. Originally from Nangli village near Ramgarh, Bhuvan Singh comes from the agricultural background. He is working as a guard at Mandawa Fort for last 9-10 years. Most of the time his main duty is at the main entry gate of Mandawa where he greets visitors with his welcoming nature. Sultan Khan, 71 years old, is a worker at Mandawa fort and joined in 2016 only. Sonu,  73 years of age, has served 40 years of his life as a worker/security. Along with these people, Jasaram who is from the Mandawa itself takes care of the Fort garden area and his 40 years of hard work can be seen in the inner fort area with lush green carpet ground. Virender who comes from Mahroli village is working as an electrician for several years in the fort.


Similarly, Rameshwar, a stone worker has dedicated his life for working for these havelis in just 700 rupees per project. Since 1973, Madan Singh, 76 years old, is working as a caretaker at Shahi Palace which is converted into hotel now.

Interestingly, Savitri’s husband lost his life working as a help at Radhika Haveli. After theDSC_10601 death of her husband Savitri continued working there as a Sarangi Player. Even after 20 years of the incident one can see her smiling at the entry gate of the Haveli. Amma forms the part of my final story, guess she is 90 plus years of age and still works as a daily help in these Havelis for her survival. I was surprised to know discover that she can’t listen or talk.

Apart from above stated stories, there are  many such people who have been working day and night away from their families and friends only to protect the fort and the Havelis and thus, helping us in preserving our heritage and culture.  I will try to look for such people wherever I go as because of these beautiful souls we proudly flaunt our history and heritage to the outer world. My story on Durbaans aims to reveal the identities of these unsung heroes and is way to say “Thank you for taking care of our heritage and culture”.

(C) Jai Thakur | http://www.jaithakur.in


March to Perfection: Republic Day Parade Rehearsals experience

Witnessing Republic Day Parade was always on my bucket list since childhood. During my school days I used to take part in such events and specially being into Army school it was a big opportunity to show your skills to Area Commander who used to be our Chief Guest. Never in the wildest of my dreams had I thought that I will be able to go to Delhi to see Republic Day live.


This January when I realized that I have the opportunity of witnessing the rehearsals of perfect march, I decided to work upon a photo story. First time when I went to cover the rehearsals in the chilly morning of December, I had to return empty handed. I waited for a week and went again and this time I got lucky, taken approval from senior official helped and finally started shooting rehearsals closely. I still can’t believe that post that day my entire winter mornings were spent at Rajpath shooting rehearsals.

“March to Perfection” is a photo series on the Republic Day Rehearsals by Indian Army, DSC_6244Navy, Air Force, CRPF, Gorkha forces. They practice every year in the windy and chilly mornings of December and early January to make their each step synchronized when they perform to perfection on 26th January while the whole world watches them. This story highlights their daily routine, the practice, their exercise, their breaks, their synchronized march and each and every aspect of the parade which shows them as one team, one nation. Above all, this story is a way to say thank you to these brave hearts who sacrifice their days and nights in guarding our mother land.

Images Copyright © Jai Thakur | http://www.jaithakur.in



Myriad Colours of Chhath Puja

Since childhood I was involved in organizing Chhath Puja in Bengdubi cantonment area of North Bengal. Then, I had no idea about the story behind this ancient festival as I was only interested in staying out for a night on the banks of river in a dense forest. Secondly, waiting to taste home tekhuas (sweet prasaad) I have always seen my mother not even drinking a drop of water for these two days which was in fact difficult for me to believe. After coming into photography and studying the histories and culture of India, I consider myself lucky to have witnessed this ancient festival since my childhood days.

Chhath is an ancient Hindu Vedic festival which is celebrated in different parts of the country specially in Bihar, Jharkhand, UP, and parts of Nepal too. The Chhath Puja is dedicated to the Sun God and his wives in order to thank them for bestowing life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes. Chhath does not involve any idol worship. What I have seen so far in my house is that this festival is celebrated for two days. The rituals of the festival are rigorous and are observed over a period of four days. They include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water (Vrat), standing in water for long periods of time, and offering prasad (prayer offerings) and arghya to the setting and rising sun. Some devotees also perform a prostration march as they head for the river banks.

The very first day of chhath starts exactly 4 days from Diwali and last for 4 more days. This day the people who observe fast take bath at a river or pond and prepare lunchDSC_4879 (consisting of rice, dal mixed with pumpkin, made in pure ghee). The second day is known as Kharna or kheer-roti. The people observe fast for the full day without taking even water and eat this kheer-roti as dinner after offering it to the rising moon. The third day is the main festival day (exactly 6th day from Diwali) of chhath. The devotees maintain ‘nirjal vrat’ on the third day. It mainly consist of going on river bank and offering ‘argha’ ( offering of fruits and sweets in winnow ) and surya namaskar to the setting sun followed by the next day event of offering argha and surya namaskar to the rising sun on the fourth or last day of chhath. The fast then comes to an end after offering argha to rising sun.

I still remember how I along with my elder brother used to tease my mother on keeping fast for so long by saying “hey maai utha suraj bhaile bihan” (Mother please wake up, Sun God is out now).

After almost a gap of fourteen long years, this year I finally managed to click some photographs on the banks of Yamuna in Delhi. Images © Jai Thakur | http://www.jaithakur.in



SPITI : A Travel Documentary Film

See Spiti via Travel Photographer’s perspective. This is the travel documentary film shot during a period of 12 Days which gives an overview of Spiti Valley, it’s culture, food and people. Detailed video covers the interesting stories such as First Voter Of India, Tibetan Food, Monasteries and Monks, Covering of Mars and Milkyway Galaxy, Iconic Chacha Chachi Dhaba, Saving a birds life etc..

This movie was entirely shot on mobile phones (Motorola MotoG4 & OnePlus) and stills are from Nikon D810. © Jai Thakur I http://www.jaithakur.in


Nepal Diaries: A week is not enough

Being a native of Bagdogra, fondly known as the replica of secular India, I have lots of Nepali friends and have the advantage of knowing their language. So, when my friends asked me to plan a trip to Nepal, I felt that it will be easier for me to communicate in a foreign land. We zeroed down to three places – Kathmandu, Pokhra and Bandipur, all thanks to Instagram.

01_Girl welcoming us in Bhaktapur

It was April 14, 2017 around 10:30 PM when we landed in Kathmandu. After filling the demarcation form we booked 2 taxis and headed towards our hotel in Thamel. The moment we reached Thamel, our driver told us that it was Nepali New Year (2074) because of which the area was crowded and we had to walk beyond that point. It was indeed an experience in itself, loud music, young crowd, tourists from different countries and the decorated lanes. Amidst of all these we finally reached to our hotel around 11:00 PM where the hotel owners denied our booking and transferred us to other hotel. I think that they had given our rooms to young couples celebrating New Year in nearby discotheques. We were 5 people and all were literally frustrated with this kind of behaviour towards us and that too so late in the night. One of us suggested, let’s keep our bags and go out to enjoy this madness.  Much to our delight local snacks like momos, chicken fry, chops were cheap and delicious. Post this we forced ourselves into the most crowded lane and enjoyed some sumptuous bakery stuff. After an hour so we went back to our hotel and rested.

Next morning when we opened our windows, much to our surprise, we saw a different Nepal from the last night. Surrounding buildings (mostly hotels) were painted yellow with colourful banners hanging in the street. The refined morning light was a bliss, promising beautiful days ahead. Though the hotel lane was narrow and congested, it still looked beautiful in the morning light – photographer’s eye you know… ;). After breakfast we went to explore the suburbs of Kathmandu specially Bhaktapur. On our way we stopped at Thamel market to buy a local simcard.

Bhaktapur is an ancient Newa city in the east corner of Kathmandu Valley. Strangely we noticed that hardly there were any people in the market. After talking to few locals we came to know they all went to witness Sindoor Jatra in a small village called Thimi which comes under municipality of Bhaktapur District. If you have witnessed or heard of Sunburn parties or Holi of Brajbhoomi, I can assure you that the festival of Sindoor Jatra is mother of all those events. Madness all around with locals singing songs on the beats of ancients musical instruments, dancing, enjoying their respective bottles of beer and making merry. I spoke in Nepali to one of the shopkeepers and he allowed us to stand at the roof of his shop from where we could see and click photographs. The moment this big procession crossed us, I said, “Thank you God for making me witness this madness”. I was shooting with both hands, with camera in right hand and recording this entire event using cellphone from left hand. The entire event lasted for an hour, guess we missed the initial celebrations. Post this, we decided to explore the inner part of that village. While clicking photographs of the event, the ladies and the children popping out of their beautifully designed windows touched me the most. I decided that from now onwards I was going to shoot only windows and doors and developed a story out of it. The beauty of this 200 years old village cannot be defined in words, the people, their house and the doors- windows engraved with their rich culture literally blew my mind.



Next day, we rested, had some good time exploring local shops, and ate local food including momos, their staple food “Thakali Thali read spicy Nepali Thali)”. I almost ate 20 times the same food, it was so awesome, specially the pickles, saag, chutney and the non-veg to go along. In the same evening we went to Boudhanath Stupa, Pashupatinath Temple and the mighty The Durbar Square of Patan (UNESCO World Heritage sites).


Four days passed away in no time, and then it was time for us to explore Pokhra. We booked bus from Thamel to Pokhra with Wi-Fi in the bus. The only thing did not went in our favor was the bad cloudy weather throughout our journey. You can understand our mental state as a photographer. Keeping our hopes high for the good sunny day, we reached Pokhra in the evening after 8 hours of polluted and picturesque journey, all thanks to construction work going on throughout the way.

After reaching to Pokhra the very first thing we did was to order food and tea and guess what I ordered myself it was ‘Nepali Thali’ again, obsessed you know ;). We spent rest of our evening seating idle at the bank of heavenly Fewa Lake, still no view of snow cladded Annapurna Range courtesy to bad weather. There is so much to share about the inner feelings but to summarize, we all were not talking to each other at all and was lost in the scenic beauty of Fewa Lake. You can say it’s a bigger version of Goa, only difference was beer selling hawkers everywhere. In the night, along with my wife I went on a romantic dinner at a beautiful restaurant which had a live singing band. We even surprised one of our elderly friend thereby celebrating his birthday at mid of the night. It was indeed sweeter way to end the day.

Next day, we explored  Bandipur which is around 50 odd kilometers fromDSC_9350 Pokhra.  Bandipur is a hilltop settlement and a municipality in Tanahun District, (Gandaki Zone) of Nepal. Its architectural beauty just took our breath away. It felt like we were roaming in the lanes of some European nation. It was vibrant and lively village. So far I have photographed more than 500 people, however I personally found the locals here not friendly towards Indian tourist and at times they were very rude. We came back in the evening, explored the whole Pokhra market, tasted some sumptuous local cuisine, cakes, coffee and for memory clicked few photographs too.

All long wait of 6-7 days, we got a glimpse of Annapurna Range on our last day there as the Sun showed itself. Though this happiness did not last long as it vanished due to rain after few minutes of sighting. We headed back to Kathmandu, bought some souvenir for friends and family. And, with a heavy heart said ‘Sayonara’ to the land of Himalayas. While coming back, I promised myself that I will definitely comeback and that time there will be no hurry & worry of family and office, no social obligations and that will be the time, when I want myself to get lost into the Himalayas.

To buy prints visit my website http://www.jaithakur.in  Pictures (c) All Rights Reserved




Lathmar Holi: Riot of colors and thoughts

Do you like colors or the festival of colors? If you just answered ‘obviously, who doesn’t like’ then let me inform you I am the person who doesn’t like either of these. Yes, since childhood unlike other kids, I never liked playing Holi. One of the reasons, I am recollect, is the fear of annual exams which eventually used to fall in the same month (thanks to Army School’s tight schedules). The only thing I still love about Holi is the homemade sumptuous food specially mutton curry and ‘pakodas’. Today, after so many years I still feel the same for the festival. The only difference now is, I attend this festival of colors to make beautiful memories. In last five years, this greed of visual storytelling landed me in Nandgaon.

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Merely 150kms from Delhi lies small village Nandgaon which comes under the district of Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. This place is popularly known as the birthplace of Lord Krishna and its world famous celebration of Lathmar Holi. Lathmar Holi is a centuries old practice that gives a free hand to women to beat up their men for a day amidst colorful and wild celebrations. Every year villagers of Barsana and Nandgaon celebrate Holi for a week beforehand. As per locals, the story of Lathmar Holi started when Krishna visited his beloved Radha on this day and teased her and her friends. Women got a little offended and decided to teach Krishna a lesson and chased him away by beating him with sticks. In order to recreate that event, every year men from Krishna’s village, Nandgaon, visit Radha’s hometown Barsana where they are greeted with abuses and sticks (lath). Hence this tradition came into picture. Same rituals gets repeated when men from Barsana visits Nandgaon.

During the Samaaj at Radha Rani temple will make you feel as if you are breathing in the ancient time of Krishna & Radha. Just to let you know, people gathered & singing ballads on Krishna & Radha are called Samaaj. To reach Radha Rani temple, one has to cross through narrow lanes of the village. Journey of reaching the temple during Holi is difficult for non-residents of Nandgaon especially for females. In the name of ritual, local boys specifically target female private parts with ‘Pichkari’ full of colors. This makes females very uncomfortable.


I do not understand why in the name of culture, females are molested! If you are about to question my thoughts, please don’t bother. Here is one such incident which I witnessed happening to my wife during Holi in 2015. She was literally targeted by 6-7 local boys and they continuously poured water and color on her private parts and not letting her move towards the temple till the time one of our elderly friend intervened. Also, I had a verbal fight with one of them in front of the policeman who surprisingly asked me to back off and be silent as you this is his village not yours, “better you forget and leave.”

So, those questioning my story should better ask themselves – had your mother/wife/daughter/sister or any female friend been through this, how would have you reacted? My wife strongly feels that she had been insulted in front of the protector of law and is unable to speak up about the incident easily.

To conclude, I just want to say that Lathmar Holi is a celebration of love so let’s celebrate it that way. I have no intentions to hurt anyone’s sentiments with this write-up. It’s just a bitter self-experience yet a wonderful opportunity for photographers and others to indulge themselves in the rich culture and heritage of India.

To buy prints visit my website http://www.jaithakur.in  Pictures (c) All Rights Reserved

Yamuna: Other side of the bank

“Smells good around me as if winter is here”. There are so many things to explore in Delhi ranging from heritage to culture to food. However, one thing that came into picture very strongly from the last few years is beauty of Yamuna Ghats and chirping seagulls around it. Every year between October and March, thousands of seagulls migrate to Delhi. Locals come to feed them, believing that it will bring good luck.


Initially, I got inspired by few online pictures which showcased the beauty of this place during winters. I got so excited that I decided to visit the place as soon as possible. Since, I love shooting alone so I decided to visit these Ghats only on weekdays before office. It was 7th November 2017, 5:30 am when I first visited Ghat No. 24. Since, it was very dark I was little scared and apprehensive of the fact whether I will be able to witness those magical moments which brought me here. Ohh, I forgot to share that I was not carrying my regular camera, courtesy my wife’s travel project which made me carry an old camera. The moment my friend Ganesh Bhaiya came and shouted, we started to see few birds. I unhesitatingly asked “why are you shouting?” and he said “wait and watch” and this is how we started conversation for the first time. It was around 6:30 when for the first time I saw seagulls. They were few initially and with the passing time grew to thousands in number and then came their magical swirls along with their unstoppable chirpings. I was so mesmerized that I did not click even a single picture at that moment. Then, it was time for sun to come and throw its reflection on the stagnant water of river Yamuna. With the sunrise, I saw an old boatman rowing a small boat and coming from the direction of sunrise. That beautiful view shook me out of my mesmerized state and made me finally press the shutter. It was all in one frame – sunrise, river, boatman and these magical birds. It was indeed a dream sequence in which I was living at that time and wanted to transfer the same feeling through my frames.

Post this incident I kept on visiting this place and started exploring other things like people offering prayers to river Yamuna and the Sun God while others completing the last rituals of their beloved ones, few others in the process of cleaning the banks as per their resources etc. On the other side of the ghats, I noticed birds flocking on the heavenly misty horizon of the river. Amidst of all these, I realized that the old boatman, whom I had clicked for the first time, never used to interact with anyone except to get clicked. One fine day, I initiated conversation just to figure out that he did not understand Hindi and can communicate only in Bengali. Since I also speak Bengali, I started conversing with him and finally he was able to reveal his identity. He said, “Probably I am the most photographed Boatman on the ghats of Yamuna. I am 90 years old and my name is Sikander. I came to Delhi 30 years ago with my wife and am still here. Originally I am from West Bengal. I live on the other side of the bank in my little jhopdi (hut). For my survival I row this temporary boat and collect prashads from the people visiting ghats to offer prayer. Just sharing that I don’t understand Hindi and that’s why I avoid communicating with the tourists and the photographers. Since, you figured out my language that’s why I am sharing and that’s all for today’s morning. Request to all, please come regularly if not to photograph us then at least to help us in off season”. After this conversation, I went into complete silence and gave him some money as a token of love and support.

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As a result of above encountered incident, on World Water Day I asked the other boatman (read Ganesh Bhaiya) about his story and the reasons behind the dying condition of Yamuna. He bravely said that, only 5% of the pollution is by the people visiting Yamuna whereas the remaining 95% of the pollution is because of the 17 sewage drains pouring into the river and the lack of sufficient sewage treatment plants. Despite of dying Yamuna authorities are neglecting the criticality of the situation.

This whole incident shook me from inside and made me decide that I will not restrict myself to make only beautiful pictures of the Yamuna but explore and present other truths as well. The story which started due to excitement of watching the seagulls in the backdrop of magical sunrise ended into questioning myself as a citizen of India and my responsibilities in saving Yamuna’s life.  As a photographer, I promised myself that I will bring this other side to public through my pictures and make my contribution in saving this sacred river.

My story on “Other side of the bank” might have triggered some questions in you as well…..Think about it!

To buy prints visit my website http://www.jaithakur.in  Pictures (c) All Rights Reserved

Harsil: Hidden jewel of Uttarakhand

This time I was suffering from a sty and my family doctor suggested either you take rest at home or go out of the city life. It was a Fridayevening when my sister-in-law and my wife asked my opinion and without giving it a second thought I said, “I want to see snow clad mountains, chahe aankh thik ho ya nah ho”. In next 10 minutes, we zeroed down for Uttarkashi-Gangotri road trip. We (4 person) started at 10:30 PM from Delhi and followed the Rishikesh route. By 4:00 a.m., we crossed Haridwar and then the main decision was taken on making a base and hotel. My wife had a list of places to explore in Uttarakhand. We wanted a secluded place hence Harsil became our first choice. It’s a small village on the way to Gangotri on the banks of historic Bhagirathi River.

The moment we reached the first check post, we were stopped by the vigilant asking us whether we have permission to visit holy Gangotri. I was unhesitant, loud and clear that we are photographers and heading towards Harsil for a project, period. No further questions were asked and the gates were opened. We took a halt for natures call and what we saw around was unforgettable, sky full of tiny stars and lights below making a dream scene. It was again that moment where I felt not to click but to enjoy the moment. After half an hour of drive, we were lost in the hills as the route we followed was affected by landslide and we were unable to figure out the correct road. Little apprehensive of the road ahead, we stopped. Because of my previous experience in Triund and Ladakh, somewhere I had this in mind that someone will definitely come to help us but this time of the day … I was right, there came life saver cab. The driver told us to follow the other route which directly went to Chamba. We followed the cab till it turned to follow the route to Dehradun (assuming as he was going to Dehradun). We finally managed to reach Chamba in 2 hours, had tea, refilled our petrol tank and carried on the journey.

Now we were in the lap of Himalayas in the perfect setup – weather, sunrise and the surroundings. It was only after few hours of drive we realized that we needed to eat something and what could be better than desi aaloo parathas from a local dhaba at Sunagar. On this picturesque route to Harsil, we witnessed variety of flora and fauna including the waterfall of Tehri. Tip: get your vehicle registered at Gangnani. Finally, we reached Harsil at 12:30PM. Much to our delight, the accommodation we chose was on the banks of river Bhagirathi and had a clear view of snow clad Himalayas. We had desi lunch and then explored the nearest village. Witnessed beautiful sceneries, animals, river, rare brown trout fish, local villagers, their respective culture, traditions, the history and the unlimited stories of bear, snow leopard, treks, milkyway etc…. These three days of complete solitude in the lap of Mother Nature will be cherished for a long time now. Would love to revisit this place to relish its beauty and charm for a longer duration. (Visit http://www.jaithakur.in for more details)


Stay in clouds in just 4500 rupees

Tried in 2014, went again in 2015, succeeded in 2016. So, it was a sudden plan which was made on yet another boring office day. He said “dude let’s explore place which you know, I said why not?”. Plan approved for Triund. Since, I am into photography and had already explored McLeodganj/Dharamshala twice I knew exactly what to do in coming 4 days. We lied to our Manager, booked tickets, packed our rucksack and reached Kashmere Gate, Delhi on time, the only thing missing was “Fuel” (wink, wink). We boarded our bus and the journey started with the smoky smells of peanuts along with soothing sound of burps. Not to forget the horrible background score of Houseful 3, movie played by the driver.

We reached McLeodganj around 8:00 in the morning and it was romantically drizzling. Missed someone for a moment but the next moment I heard “move fast, you are blocking our way”, we started walking towards our hotel. Reached there, took a tight nap before hitting the market. I along with my friend had sumptuous breakfast in form of muesli, boiled and scrambled eggs, breads, tea, coffee, fries and juice. Since, the rain decided that it won’t stop, so we decided to buy umbrellas and that too those colorful ones (just for fun). For rest of the day we explored market and after having lunch we headed for Bhagsu Waterfall. It was drizzling, still good day to trek. Entire route was filled with tourists and mostly from Delhi and Punjab (Folks kindly refrain from throwing shit bottles and other stuff on the way to waterfall. Well! We reached, clicked some pictures and came back as there was hardly any secluded place to sit and enjoy the nature (So called civilized people doesn’t have a basic sense of respecting nature, it’s not a party place).  After spending an hour, we headed back to our base in McLeodganj, had an early dinner and got ourselves busy in shooting stars.

Next day, early in the morning we started our trek. Suggest to carry only one bag with a water bottle, food, medicines and other important items. As we reached Dharamkot it started pouring cats and dogs. Locals suggested as not to proceed further as it could lead to mishap. We decided against their suggestion and carried out our journey. On the midway, there is one tea stall run by Chacha, we took a chai (tea) break and moved on. You can witness a beautiful lush green valley from point near Chacha’s tea stall which it named as “Magic View”. All clouds with green trees in between and indeed it was a magic view. The trek was not so difficult yet difficult because of the climatic conditions. After 4 hours of trek finally we reached Triund Top and Wow! What a view – clouds allover. Himalayas was massive, beautiful, and breathtaking. The first thing we did was – we threw our bags and lied on the ground and ordered food (rice/dal, Maggie Rs. 130 each). We booked a room in forest guesthouse and after negotiation got the room just for Rs. 500.

The room was inhabited by us and the clouds which were seeping in through the windows. It was a like a dream sequence in which we were actually living. Outside the room, the temperature was around 4-5 degrees. We made friends with Chipu (local dog). We spent 3-4 hours of our life literally into the clouds which was ended by rain. In the night we were lucky enough to witness heavenly stars all around. Next morning, we woke up at 5:00 and captured breathtaking sunrise behind the mountains through the clouds. We were completely lost there and wanted to stay back. But, with the heavy heart, we descended back to McLeodganj and reached there in less than 2 hours. After reaching McLeodganj, had a sumptuous Nepali Thali and post that headed towards Dharamshala bus stand. We boarded our bus and were back to civilization….

(for more photographs visit www.jaithakur.in)