The drive went on forever or so it seemed : D and then we saw a board on the road, that stated “Dharmasthala – 1 Km” and both of us seemed happy to find that it was indeed closeby. We were determined to spend less than an hour at Dharmasthala.
Yet again, this place had a connection with my past – I had been to Dharmasthala a loooong time ago with my parents when I was but a small kid – I could only vaguely remember a few details. The place had changed so much and then I saw the entrance and said “I remember this.” I remembered reaching Dharmasthala late in the evening – with only a single street lamp to tell us where the temple lay – and that was my first glimpse of Dharmasthala. I was now seeing the same entrance in the afternoon. To my utter dismay, we find that the temple is closed and will be re-opened only after 6 p.m. – we wud be leaving way b4 that 😦 This doorway was all I was going to see of the temple and that totally shocked me!! We had already parked the car and so we wondered if we shd jes leave. I was still too taken aback at the turn of events!
The Arien is practical most of the times and so he enquired ’bout any tourist spots that we could visit – and I wanted to tell him – “No – this is a religious place – there will be nothing” – Surprisingly, there was. Apart from the temple, Dharmasthala was also known for two museums. We decided to visit both those places. The first place we visited was the Car Museum which had an amazing amount of vintage cars – the types we have only read ’bout in old english books or seen in old english movies. These cars actually belonged to quite a few Indian kings – surprisingly. Well, not so surprisingly, I guess.
We were not allowed to take any snaps – we could buy the postcards of the vehicles from the guy who sold us the tickets. I was not too interested and so we went in and were surprised. The bikes looked cute, the cars were totally stylish, well-kept, well-polished and shining, looking as if we could drive them away if we only had the key. I remembered my Honda Activa and realized tht my 3 year old bike looked like it was older to some of the 70+ year old bikes – Yikes!!! 😦 The visit took arnd half an hour and my mood was back on track – we decided to visit the other museum (Manjusha Museum) as well – whch had jes opened – post lunch. This museum had a unique collection of heritage objects, artefacts, objects of worship, utilitarian stuff etc. We walked so much… my feet started to ache pretty badly and the Arien also looked pretty tired out. One item that stood out was the skeleton of a whale – it occupied most part of the back of the hall. Yet again, we were not allowed to take snaps and so I have none to share. When we got back to the street, we were totally worn out 😦
Our plan was to proceed imm to Belur. We had to get to the Ghat section before sun-down and I was getting a lil worried. The Arien ran around talking to various drivers but not recieving any helpful answers – I was ready to give up!! One driver said that the route was fine and we decided to base the nxt part of the journey on tht driver’s words – Cautious??? Hardly!! So we got started – when we were leaving Dharmasthala, it was warm and we liked the breeze that teased the hair and our faces – as we got onto the Ghat section – it progressively got cooler – it was like the AC was on – only it wasn’t!!
The road was curvaceous – we ripped – I was screaming out of fear not fun – the Arien was enjoying the ride. Then we saw quite a few folks taking snaps of the amazing view, the curved road, and et al and instantly the Arien stopped and started taking pics. I was very tense throughtout this part of the journey. The road was quite narrow and sometimes you jes had to stop so that the other person could go on – in the opposite direction. I pressurised the Arien into leaving – by refusing to: get out of the car, take any snaps, calm down, and generally playing spoil sport.
The Arien could not understand why I was being so tense. I wanted us to clear the Ghat section before night fall and he was not being serious. I had promised the Senior Arien that we will not be going via the Ghat section at all and for once I did not find it funny that we were actually doing jes tht. I usually find that most parents, older junta worry too much – but for once I was in total agreement with them. The Arien took one more cute snap of the view and started on the drive – I was not sure if we were going up or going down anymore – it jes felt like we were in a merry-go-around – going round and round. It was getting really cold and we had rolled up the windows all the way up – the glass pane felt ice-cold to my touch and then the Arien gets serious! Grrrr…
Anyways, suddenly we were at the end of the Ghat section – Both of us were taken aback at the suddeness with which we had reached the end. Nope nope – we did not have a fall 😀 – one wud expect tht you have reached either the summit or the bottom level – this was almost level ground. The first thing we did was to fill petrol and ask the guy who filled our tank – how to get to Belur. He told us we were on the right path and asked us to go on for another 15 or so kms.
15 was a small number – right? WRONG!! Firstly, darkness had fallen so swiftly that wen we reached the Petrol bunk – it felt like 7 pm when it was jes 6 pm. Secondly, as we drove along – 15 kms felt like 45 kms – really!! It was so dark – tht I actually felt we were driving at midnight – very few street lights – most huts had no lights or had switched off the lights – very few vehicles on the road and so there was no one we cud ask for directions – it was scary!!! The one cute part of the whole drive was the bright and beautiful moon which followed us or rather which we followed 😀 I wanted to take a snap of the lovely moon and it was the turn of the Arien to play spoil sport – he refused to stop – he insisted that I take the snap as he kept driving – looks like he was bitten by the tension bug tht bit me earlier. 😀 Anyways, after a lot of persuasion – he stopped so I cud take this snap.
Did we reach Belur? Yepp – we did. After staring at milestones forever and forever – we finally reached a town – more lights – lots of ppl – and drew sm enthu 😀 We stayed at a hotel tht had heard of better days 😦 The dinner was good and not too expensive but the ppl who visited the hotel seemed like thugs. I became so terrified after seeing them – I did not want to stay at tht hotel – the Arien had this “Do you really want me to drive elsewhere?” expression. I decided I did not want him walking off in a huff and so insisted that we keep the chairs, side-table, and our luggage – against the door of our room – so we wud wake up wen smne tried to force their way in. The Arien stared at me as tho’ I was mad. I insisted on moving all the stuff against the door! He decided he did not want to start a fight and did jes tht. The place was so coooold – tht it felt like Central AC was on 😀 I fell asleep telling the Arien to not open the door under any circumstances!