Trip to Auli – Day 6 and 7

Continued from previous post “Trip to Auli – Day 5

When I first regained conscious that morning, I was aware only of an aching body… and then of the condition of the room – clothes strewn all over, the suitcase open and clothes spread out near the heater. It was nothing to worry – it was like that when we slept yesterday πŸ˜› Gosh, I don’t know what the room service guy would have thought when he came to serve dinner last night. Eeeeeks !! So that was what we did from 9:30 AM to 10:00 AM – cleaning.

The swelling in my hands was still there and Ashwin could not fold his legs at the knee. We had planned to take ski classes for 3 days but since we did nothing the first day, trek the second, we were left with only 2 days for skiing. And after the accident it was impossible anyway. There was no point going to Auli. And by the time we got ready it was already past noon.

We had lunch at our hotel and went to the adventure shop to see if he could arrange something for us for the day. He suggested we go to Tapovan where we could see the hot spring and a temple. It seems you can tie rice in a towel and drop it in the spring and you get fully boiled rice in 15 minutes or less. Interesting, eh?

The taxi would cost us Rs. 750 for the round trip. We bargained that we have been doing business with him for the past two days and that we need a discount :D. Eventually Ashwin’s bargaining tactics worked and we had to pay only Rs. 500 for the day’s trip.

This time too we had to travel around the perimeter of one mountain and as we went higher the views got fantastic.

Snow-covered mountains on the way

Snow-covered mountains on the way

The road was literally absent but then were lined with snow from our hotel to Tapovan and back.

Snow covered roads from Namratha Prabhu on Vimeo.

Our driver being used to the roads saw to it that the ride did not get uncomfortable. Even though they are narrow roads with vehicles on opposite ends barely able to pass each, there was no honking or name-calling. A wave and a smile was all that was exchanged between the drivers.

We passed through a village. “It’s called Badagaon”, our driver explained. It had maybe 10 houses and 3 shops? On the way we saw some construction workers drilling through the mountains – they used bare hands for all the stone work and only slippers to cover their feet – they were widening the roads. Saw a few women washing clothes in the freezing water.

As we came by a temple sometime later we were hoping it wasn’t the temple we had come to. It had about 60 steps. And with Ashwin barely able to walk, it looked kinda difficult. But our car simply passed by it. Half an hour later we were at the hot spring – Tapovan. It was on the roadside and can be missed easily. There is no board, nothing. Again, we were the only ones there. I now started to believe the rice story. The spring was bubbling hot and the water close to a 100 degrees. An eggy odour reached my nostrils just as Ashwin touched the edge of the water, and smelling it (that is a trait he picked up from me :P) declared, “This smells like egg”. Just then I noticed that there were bits and pieces of boiled egg all around it.

Tapovan from Namratha Prabhu on Vimeo.

Our driver told us that tourists usually bring raw eggs with them and boil it in the spring, just to test the story. He told us that the soil around Tapovan is supposed to have medicinal properties and is very good for the skin. So with the driver’s help I packed a good amount of soil in a plastic cover I had in my purse. I tried not to look at Ashwin’s face then but I could see him wincing from the corner of my eye. I think I had packed some 4 kgs in all πŸ˜‰ But hey, we weren’t going to be back in Auli until atleast next year, right? (all the digging you see here wasn’t by me πŸ˜‰ )

A view from the hot spring

A view from the hot spring

After spending a few minutes there we went back to the car. I was thinking the temple was further ahead but it wasn’t. And guess what? The driver stopped at the same temple we had not stopped at earlier. So we went down. There is a hot water “kund” (pond) there. Natural hot water flows into a square concrete pond. It is separate for men and women, the women’s side being covered on all sides (the orange roof on the right side are the kunds) It was a little different than the kund I had been to in Badrinath in my childhood. Now, I did not get into the water, Ashwin did. After that we entered the temple. It was dedicated to Goddess Parvathi. An ash-smeared, thick-locked pundit there started to narrate the story of how Pravathi comes to marry Shiva after difficult penance. He offered us tea too. Don’t know if I can say so, but it did not taste like tea one bit.

At the temple

At the temple

It was 5:00 PM when we returned to our taxi and getting darker by the minute. TwoΒ  hours later we were roaming the streets of Joshimath. After samosas n tea, Ashwin bought a huge backpack for himself. Half an hour later we were back in the hotel.

We were to leave early the next morning. We weren’t prepared to spend another 4000 rupees for the journey and to save that we needed to catch a bus at 5:00 AM the next morning. The bus would stop in front of our hotel, Surendar said. Back in our room we packed whatever else needed to be packed and went downstairs for an early dinner. Paid the balance room rent n we were warmly tucked in bed by 8:30 PM.

=== Day 7 ===

It was as if the alarm sounded the very next minute. It was 4:00 AM already. Skipped bathing and managed to catch the bus just in time. A dirty bus full of groundnut shells saved us Rs. 3500 :D.

The bus stopped for breakfast (pakoda n tea) at around 8:00 AM. Till lunch time I was only trying to catch up on sleep but it evaded me. Although the bus stopped for lunch I did not feel like eating anything. Ashwin had bread n jam which we had bought the previous day. We reached Dehradun at 6:00 PM. We were booked in the same hotel as before but this time in a room in the older wing – not as good as our earlier room. A hot bath later we realized we hadn’t had a proper meal the entire day. We were exhausted to go too far and entered a hotel next door called Chilly n Chimney, Doon Residency. It looked expensive – the ambiance warm with soft lights. Ordered Hot ‘n’ Sour soup by two, Chicken Biryani and some curry (half) to go with it. When the soup came it did not seem like by two, rather each one seemed to be one full portion. We were wondering whether to ask the waiter to check our order again so as to not get double the quantity we ordered but before we could do so the Biryani and curry were placed before us. The quantity was HUGE. We called the waited and confirmed it was not full. Ashwin remained skeptical about it while I felt amused with the whole thing. In Bangalore even full portions will not be as much as their half and I am not exaggerating. It was only when the bill came that Ashwin accepted they were actually half portions!! The quantity was perfect for 3 people. Thank God we did not order starters πŸ˜‰

Back in the hotel, Ashwin seized the opportunity to watch TV as I fell asleep immediately, aware that we had to catch a train to Delhi at 6:00 AM the next morning.

To be continued…