There will be moments in life where taking strong decisions will give you an entire new life to live.
Since radiation and chemotherapy had made all others around me think that I won’t be able to complete my travel bucket list. That is when I decided to prove everyone wrong and motivate people to travel to different areas to respire a new ray of hope. Any traveling experience heals you from within and encourages you to overcome any hardship in life with boldface.
This travel meant a life-changing experience for me as I kept motivating myself to achieve the impossible. With my birthday coming up, we planned for an unexpected trip. The best part is my doctor told me about all the safety precautions that needed to be maintained and soon, I booked my tickets for my sudden trip.
I had always wished to visit Katra (Vaishno Devi) as it was my long-time dream and I wanted to take blessings for my new life. As I reside in Mumbai, train reservations were complete from Mumbai to Delhi. I had taken special care that I get time to explore Delhi as well. By luck, I got a hostel stay in Delhi for which I paid on an hourly basis. As I reached there, I was very enthusiastic to explore the local Delhi. Within no time, I explored Connaught place, Jantar Mantar, Red fort and other local places.
Boarding a red bus from Delhi to Katra, I slept like nomads with a thought of reaching Katra soon. However, the bus halted for a few hours and I was mesmerized by the balmy view of Bagh-e- Bahu garden that was a large garden with a plethora of flowers and mountains surrounding it. Relishing the Chole Kulcha Pav for breakfast, we moved to Patnitop where we experienced snow, paragliding, and snorkeling. I instantly fell in love with these places.
Then, I routed myself to sharing cab service and reached Katra where my hotel was already booked. I loved the fact that it was in close proximity to the market, bus stand, railway station and to the entry counter for maa Vaishno Devi shrine. However, my challenges begin when it started raining heavily and helicopter services were stopped that I had booked a day before by chance. As it is really difficult to climb the slopes, I too was drained out of energy when I reached ardhakumari.
I strongly believe Maata Rani was testing my patience as I reached there. Due to the stopped services, I had to look for alternatives and found an option of hiring pithoo services or horses for my further yatra. It charged around Rs. 2500 from the entry counter to Bhawan with a return to take a horse ride. Being an animal lover, I made a horse friend Muskan. I couldn’t sit much on her and tried to walk with her as much as possible. But with my energy drained at last, I took a ride on her. She really was just a darling.
When we reached at the top, the temple was almost decorated for Navratri with beautiful flowers and mountains adorned the view. I could feel the purity of air passing by me that made me forget all my pain, tiredness. I felt so blessed and just thanked God for blessing me with a new life to live. As it was turning too late, I and Muskan then rode our 2. 5 hours journey down the hill. A piece of caution: Ensure that the owner of horses doesn’t hit them because in that case, the horses would not like you being his rider and can drop you down.
My motto was to be present at two places on my birthday Vaishno Devi and Amritsar. Completing my 7-8 hours journey from Katra to Amritsar, I reached here in the evening. With a pre-booked hotel MG residency nearby golden temple, I quickly took my shower and rushed towards the temple. Due to the eve of Gurupurab, there was a huge crowd and I couldn’t enter the main temple. But I sat there for a few hours and cherished the blissful time listening to Gurbani. I loved my birthday as it was all so Peaceful and I had butterflies of joy. I savored yummy authentic Punjabi food namely rajma, chole and chawal from a nearby Punjabi Dhaba which was really lip-smacking. I couldn’t head back to the hotel as Amritsar goes silent after 10 pm. So, I slept partially because of calls for birthday wishes but I knew this is the best birthday I could ever have.
The next morning, I woke up a bit early than my usual time and got ready to visit the main golden temple. Since it was Gurupurab, the crowd was immense however, I requested some people who helped me to get in line and enter the main shrine of the golden temple. With so much peace, I just wanted to take a pause and settle there. For people who don’t know: Golden temple has three floors, you can go up on all of them and cherish a different view. One has the ancient work on its walls and holy water while the topmost floor shows the overall view.
Then I ate Langar and did some seva. After my peaceful darshan, I headed to explore Phulkari market (handmade thread work) on clothes where you can bargain and get the best out of it. After an hour of shopping, I headed towards Jallianwala bagh also, from there you can take cabs to Attari border in India and also known as Wagah border in Pakistan. You can take these rides and enjoy the evening show. I had booked a VIP pass for which one needs to write a letter to the RPF office with the id proof, vehicle no and how many people are along, it depends on them if they would allow you or not for VIP passes. But my luck was good and I got VIP passes and witnessed the live show.
Finally, after my plans ended for Amritsar. I planned to head to Chandigarh for which I booked a red bus. Reaching around 1 am at night in Chandigarh, I stayed at my relative’s place for the next 2 days. I just refreshed my 8 years old college memories by visiting sukhana lake and Rock garden. You must know that Nek Chand invented this garden by using waste materials broken cup and saucer, seashells and much more. Besides this, you can even enjoy boating at sukhana lake. Gopal Ji is a famous outlet chain of food that does justice with food taste, quality and value for money.
I had to cancel my final plan for Bir billing paragliding owing to bad weather in Himachal. So, the stay exceeded in Chandigarh as I researched more nearby places to visit. I went to Pinjore gardens located on Ambala Shimla road renowned for its scenic view and rich 17th-century heritage. It feels fantastic to enjoy a one-day walk through this place you can even view huge bats sleeping on the tree. After a long journey from all the places, I finally decided to head back home and rest. The train journey back home just built more dreams in me for more upcoming future trips. So, just trust yourself and your dreams! Nothing can stop you back!
In terms of budget, the entire trip cost me Rs. 10000 inclusive of food, travel and stay for 13 days trip: Mumbai-Delhi-Jammu-Katra-Amritsar-Chandigarh-Pinjore Gardens- Chandigarh-Mumbai.
This entire journey gave me the courage and a fighter spirit to conquer cancer, I have started working in Mumbai few months after returning from my trip. I will have my last chemotherapy tomorrow and soon I will be planning more trips.