The Dhauladhar range looked brilliant in the clear, morning sky.
However, the ground near me didn’t. I had a hard time sleeping in the ruckus made by the marriage party. When I woke up, the place was in a mess. A lot of disposable plates, plastic glasses, remains of fireworks and empty liquor bottles were littered around the yard.
To top it off, the electricians who had worked on lighting the tent had screwed up the MCB and there was no power in my room. My devices barely had any charge left in them. I called Nitesh and asked him to shift my room. He promised to do it as soon as the baboons left.
I needed to get away. Sonu, the excellent server at Pops, arranged a taxi. The driver, Manu, played Nepali songs throughout the trip. He wasn’t a Nepali. He had married a Nepali girl. I think his wife has influenced his musical tastes. He hadn’t heard 1974 AD, though.
Saurabh Van Vihar and Neugal Cafe, 4 km North
Almost everything in Palampur is radially away from the Palampur town. Saurabh Van Vihar and Neugal Cafe are on the banks of Neugal Khad.
Saurabh Van Vihar is a nice little enclosure of pine forest, maintained by the Forest Deaprtment. The park is dedicated to the memories of Captain Saurabh Kalia, a martyr of the Kargil War. In fact, he died even before he received his first paycheck, in the hands of Pakistani troops.
Neugal Cafe is a hopeless place. It is run by the Himachal Tourism Department. It could be a good place during the summers, but it is useless in the winters. Most people flock there to drink beer while sitting against the Neugal Khad. I was there for breakfast. It is unimpressive as a restarant.
Andretta, 11.5 km South
Manu, the driver, drove through the Kangra tea estates to reach Andretta Village. The place is known for Shobha Singh’s Art gallery and a Pottery workshop and museum. The former was closed. (Like the rest of Palampur, it remains closed on Mondays.) I was the only visitor to the latter. They opened the museum door just for me.
Baijnath, 17 km South-East
Baijnath temple has been taken over by ASI. There is an entire myth associated with the temple which attracts devotees of Shiva.
Tashi Jong Monastery, 14 km South-West
This small monastery was getting an expansion. The entire front region was under construction. The monastery itself, however, was peaceful and calm. The gate of the main monastery was closed but I managed to take a snap of its main Buddha idol through the grill.
Pops Hotel and Restaurant, 12 km North-West
When I got back, Nitesh shifted me to a better and proper room. As a compensation, he also wavered yesterday’s food expenses. Although I don’t think it is enough, at least he has agreed to do something.
Sonu, the server at Pops, mentioned that it will take them at least three days to clean up the mess. After all, the owner had decided to rent the place to a group of 100 baboons for three days.