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RIO - THE RIVER


The River

“You must come. It’s been a very long time. We are all meeting again”. My friend and fellow Hamptonian Pawan Raj was at the other end of the line trying hard to convince me to join a get together at Lansdowne. Pawan like all my other Hamptonian friends is very dear to me and just the very thought of catching up with all of them sent me back into my childhood. The only hitch – the eleven hour continuous drive to paradise. A paradise called “Rio”.

“Rio” is a Spanish word that stands for “River”. Rio is actually a beautifully located resort in the Garwhal ranges of Uttrakhand. It lies in the village of Bhilangi about nineteen kilometer’s before the historical hill station of Lansdowne. It is surrounded by thick forests and stands beside a beautiful stream, hence the name Rio.

A large spider ( could not identify it )

I started my journey after my morning clinics at about 2.00 pm on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. The idea was to cover as much distance as possible on day one of my drive. My companions were me, my solitude and my camera. All buckled up I was on my way. At around 7 .00 pm I reached the historic Brass City of Moradabad. I was supposed to go on a little further when an unfortunate incident took the wind out of my sails and I decided to stop. A young boy carrying tea jumped over the road divider and unfortunately tripped falling right in front of my car. Fortunately I was at a crawling pace and no one was hurt. The fellow got up and walked off as it was just another normal day in his life. Shaken by the incident I immediately checked into the first hotel in sight. Hotel Clarks Moradabad is a pretty good hotel to stay. A beautiful property with three star amenities indeed came as a relief to my tired self.

White Headed Redstart

Early to bed and early to rise makes it easy for a man to drive. I have been living with this motto for practically most of my life. Next day morning I was away by 8.00 am after a sumptuous breakfast. A four hour drive found me at my destination – Rio. At the reception I was greeted by my long cherished friend and fellow Hamptonian Jatinder Luthra. By around 4.00 pm the whole gang had assembled and we were happily munching off on a late lunch. A lot of gossip, catching up on the days gone by and finally a late dinner saw us all exhausted. Happily I retired to my room 204, which was located on the second floor and provided a beautiful view of the river and the forest right ahead.

Crested White Laughing Thrush

The next day morning saw me do what I do best on such trips – go out for my morning trek and watch Mother Divine’s creation. Soon I was on the empty roads with my camera and binoculars slung around me. The next three hours were spent in pure bliss. I made friends with a local person called Bharat who happened to be working at a nearby construction site. Bharat is from the local community and knows the area like the back of his hand. He told me several stories about the big cats visiting the area and that since a lot of construction related matters have come up, these large animals have retreated deeper into the forest appearing occasionally for maybe a sip of water or so.

Mountain Tailor Bird

During my trek I came across beautiful birds such as the Mountain Tailor Bird, Himalyan Tit, Himalyan Bulbul, Crested Laughing Thrush, Oriental Magpie Robin, Grey Bushchat, White Browed Fantail, White Browed Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Common Kingfisher, Crested Pied Kingfisher, Grey Headed Warbler and many more. Amongst the large animals I came across the Barking Deer twice, once right opposite the resort. It was in total a remarkable experience.

The next day saw most of my friends leave and by afternoon I was the only one left. I on the other hand decided to stay on . I just couldn’t get enough of this place and the least I could do was to stay a day longer.

White Browed Fantail

By evening I was in pure solitude. I was all alone and had crossed over to the other side of the stream right from where the dense forest begins. I simply could not muster enough courage to go further. The forest seemed impregnable. I decided to sit down on a large rock just besides the stream and near to the forest. The sound of moving water, the gentle breeze brushing against my hair and the rustling of leaves left me in pure bliss. Mother divine had been truly kind to me to make me experience all this. Most people see all this but very few experience it. As i sat alone in solitude gazing into the running water, a gentle tear trickled down my eye. I realized I was overwhelmed with joy and happiness and all I had for this was Mother Nature to thank for.

Oriental Magpie Robin taking a bath

Soon it was getting dark and I decided to make my way back to my room. After some rest, dinner was served and I retired to bed soon after. The next day saw me drive back home after meeting the staff and the chef in particular, thanking them for make my stay a memorable one. On my way back I stopped at my friend Manish Agarwals house to have lunch in Moradabad before finally heading home. By 8.00 pm I was in the comfort of my house but my heart had stayed behind!



WHEN TO GO


Grey Headed Warbler

We travelled in the month of October. Mid October to be precise. It was very pleasant. The day time saw us in casual T-Shirts while the mornings and evenings were pretty much cold and required woolen clothes. The best time according to me would definitely be somewhere between October and march.



HOW TO REACH



Grey Bushchat

BY ROAD - I travelled by road. Most of the way was pretty good except for a few places where new roads are being made or undergoing repairs.

From Delhi – it’s a 230 km trip and on an average should take a person around 5 hours.

From Lucknow – it’s around 500 km and should take around 11 hours. A tough one.

From Dehra Dun – it’s around 137 km and should take around 4 hours.



Grey Wagtail

BY RAIL – Kotdwar is the nearest railway station

From Delhi – Mussoorie express and Garwahal Express.( please cross check )


BY AIR – Jolly Grant in Dehra Dun is the nearest airport and is well connected to other cities.



WHO SHOULD GO.

Like I say anyone and everyone. This is a place where you can spend time with friends and family.

Barking Deer

Bird watchers paradise, nature lovers, solitude lovers probably everyone.




WHAT TO CARRY AND PACK.

Pack according to the season. Make sure you pack woolens. Anytime of the year you may need woolens. The resort is well equipped to provide for your needs though belongings of a personal nature must be arranged for.




WHERE TO STAY

Needless to answer this one. Rio is where you should be. If you are at any other place, you are probably missing out on many things. Rio has five beautiful huts lined by the river side and three

Rio Resort

floors of contemporary hotel rooms with all

modern amenities. Charges are for the Hut @ 5000 /- and Deluxe Room @ 4000 /- with breakfast included. Kindly confirm the plans with the authorities before reservation. Like with all other places charges are subject to changes.




WHAT TO SEE AND DO.

For those curious ones you can arrange for a trip to the historical hill station of Lansdowne which

Red Billed Blue Magpie

still preserves its Colonial Heritage. The town is in spic and span condition, considering that the army is in control, you would expect this.

You could go on a trek along the road side and feel the cool breeze, smell the pine forests.

You could on the other hand just stay at Rio and have a great time with your friends and family.



GRADE

Easy to moderate. Considering the track you choose.




MY RECOMMENDATIONS.

1. Take at least 2 nights and three days off. If you really wish to soak into the place, take some more.


Himalyan Bulbul

2. Travel as a group, friends, family, bird watching groups etc.

3. Carry proper clothes like woolens etc. and sunscreens.

4. There is no market in the vicinity, so you might as well carry some biscuits and snacks for in between meals hunger pangs although the hotel staff is more than willing to oblige anytime.

5. Try out the non-veg cuisine at the hotel. The mouthwatering delicacies will make you want more.

6. Make sure you request the hotel authorities for a lunch in the stream. It’s a new experience with bubbly water flowing over your feet and delicacies sandwiched between your teeth.


Blue Whistling Thrush

7. Get up early and go for a walk. Feel the morning breeze, and walk through misty mountains.

8. Never ever walk into unchartered territory. The jungle in front of Rio shares its boundaries with the famous Jim Corbett National Park and there is always the danger of big cats lurking in the vicinity. In fact, in the dining room of Rio the toughened glass bears claw marks off a big cat. Don’t go into the forest and if you decide to do so make sure you are in a group and have a local guide who knows the area well.

9. Last but not the least carry a binocular and a camera to take home memories.



Plumbeous Water Redstart Male

As I wind up I think of the troubled year that we all had. Right from the pandemic to wars being fought, border issues etc. etc. During such times I am reminded of the speech delivered by the famous cosmologist Carl Sagan. It simplifies it to understand who we are and what our significance is in this vast cosmos. Read on:-


On February 14, 1990, while on its way out of the Solar System, Voyager I turned around to take a photo of Earth. It took this picture from 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles) away. You

Plumbeous Water Redstart Female

can kinda see Earth there on the right side in that orangish verticalish band. In there is that slightly lighter speck – that tiny pale blue dot, or as Carl put it “a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam“.

Pale Blue Dot picture

This is one of the most powerful photos ever taken.


“From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturing's, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.


Blue Verdeter

The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

(Carl Sagan’s famous Pale Blue Dot speech given at Cornell University in 1994)


ADD LIFE TO DAYS

NOT DAYS TO LIFE


Take care

Ravi.


Acknowledgements:

Dear friend and fellow Hamptonian Mr. Jatinder Luthra and his wife Mrs. Meenakshi Luthra for taking utmost care of all of us and in fact going out of the way to make this trip one of the most memorable ones. Rio is the outcome of years of hard work that the Luthra’s have put in over time. The result is outstanding and needless to say benefits nature lovers and halidayers like us.


The Hamptonians

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chetanavrm
12. Dez. 2020

I hope someday To feel the paradise of Rio 😊

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