A Cup Of Tea at Chanshal Pass

Discussion in 'Travelogues' started by Vargis Khan, Nov 18, 2015.

  1. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    The plan was to take the road towards Karnal and then reach Delhi from there but somehow on the way, I missed that road and pretty soon we found ourselves headed towards Ambala. For a moment, I thought to turn around but then saw a signboard that caught my attention and hence came another change in the plan. We had another day in hand which meant that we could extend our trip by one day and reach Delhi tomorrow. The signboard showed Renuka Ji less than 50 kilometers from where we were. I had been to Renuka a long time ago and my friend had never been there.

    To add a little bit of information, Renuka Ji is a small hill station located around the famous Renuka Lake which is also the largest lake in the state of Himachal Pradesh. This lake was named after goddess Renuka and the town was named after the lake. There is a small zoo located here which once used to be a lion breeding center but has no lions anymore. Goddess Renuka is the mother of Lord Parshuram, sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. There is an annual fair held here in the month of November. The lore is that after eliminating Sahashtrabahu in fierce battle, Lord Parshuram came to the banks of the lake and prayed for his mother, Goddess Renuka to come out. Mother responded to his prayers and lord vowed in her feet. She said that she will permanently live in the Lake, but on the request of Lord Parshuram she promised that she will come out of the Lake on the occasion of Devprabodhini Ekadashi every year to meet her son. Bhagwati also promised that people gracing this pious occasion of mothers affection and sons devotion, would be showered with divine blessings and that is when the fair is held and people from all over the state come to visit the lake. Located right next to the lake is a temple of Lord Parshuram. The zoo located here is the oldest in Himachal Pradesh. It was initially started in 1957 with rescued, stray and deserted wild animals. The first animal brought here was a male spotted deer named Moti. To accommodate the increasing number of animals, an open park was conceived and the park was established in 1983. Black buck and nilgai were brought from Pipli Zoo. A pair of mithun, gifted by Rajiv Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India in 1985, were brought from Arunachal Pradesh and another was brought from Nagaland in 1986. A pair of lions was brought to the zoo from Zunagarh in 1975.


    With the destination for today decided as Renuka Ji, we took the detour. Road was again a mix of good and bad with good taking the majority. In a couple of hours, we were almost there when my friend noticed a small hotel about 2 kilometers from the town. The small hotel was called Ekant Guest House and it is located in a very scenic and secluded place. The very location of the place, the setting got us interested and we stopped to check out. Rooms were available and without any further thought, we had checked in. Clock was showing 3 PM and we still had plenty of time to go to Renuka Ji, roam around and come back to the hotel. I paid for the room and we continued our journey to Renuka Ji.


    Ekant Guest House


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  2. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    There really isn’t much to see in Renuka Ji. It’s primary attraction is the lake and the small zoo. Now there are no more lions here but the setting of the zoo is still unique. The entire zoo is built around the lake in a circle. So you can either take you car in or start to walk from the entry gate, circle around the lake, see the animals, and come back to the exit gate. Since we were a little short on time, we decided to take our car in. Then there were also the huge numbers of monkeys sitting around and I just did not like the idea of walking through their packs.


    Some shots of the lake


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  3. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    Entry gate of the zoo from where you pay Rs. 50 for taking in you car and I think Rs. 20 for taking in a 2 wheeler.


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    After entering, you just circle around the lake visiting the animal enclosures.


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  4. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    Bear Enclosure


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  5. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    Leopard Cat, I had never seen one before. Saw it here for the first time.


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  6. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    Deer enclosure, I failed to spot one though.


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  7. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    And then a pleasant surprise awaited us. I stopped at the canteen inside the zoo to get some refreshments when a rather peculiar sight caught my eye. This falcon was sitting on the fence at the restaurant and people were feeding it biscuits. What surprised me was that the bird was so comfortable around humans that it made no attempt to fly away. It wasn't even slightly scared for that matter.


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  8. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    At first I thought that it was a pet bird of the restaurant owner but I was to learn soon that even he had no idea where this bird came from. It had just arrived there a few minutes before we did and was sitting comfortably eating biscuits. I took my camera out and started clicking some photos.


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  9. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    After a while the bird flew away but arrived within minutes with a small insect that I assume it caught from the lake in its paw and started to eat it.


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  10. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    Once the insect feast was done, it flew again but was back in a few minutes and this time sat on top of my Thar. Out of curiosity, I approached the bird and tried to stroke its head with my hand. To my utter surprise, it didn't fly away and was comfortable with my hand on its back and head. I even picked it up in my hands, played around with it a bit and then a thought occur. Why not put it in Thar and take it home? I seriously considered this for a while but then gave up the idea for several reasons. One was that I did not want to get caught taking an endangered bird out of the zoo in my car. Another reason was that I wasn't sure how comfortable the bird was going to be in my apartment in Delhi. The biggest reason however was that it just did not feel right imprisoning a creature and not letting it fly around free. After playing around with the bird in my hands, I then set it free and let it fly away. The only thing that I could make out, specially of the fact that the bird was quite comfortable in my hands, that it was someone's pet already. It is not surprising to find people keeping falcons as pets, though the practice is quite rare now.


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