[Part of my write up for the Leh Bike Trip]
After crossing Delhi, the endless fields passing by the window make you realize that you are in Green Revolution country. Armed with the information given by the Dentist, we exited Chandigarh railway station and enquired how to reach Kissan Bhavan, which the dentist had recommended as a cheap and clean place.
A rickshaw driver approached us outside the station but ignoring him we went to the newspaper stand for information. The guy didn’t have any idea but the same rickshaw driver was around buying a newspaper and he told us which bus would drop us at our destination. We came out, realized that waiting and then boarding a bus with all our luggage wasn’t a good idea, and approached the same rickshaw driver.
Mr Mishra took us halfway till Kissan Bhavan and then asked us why we wanted to stay there. He made it sound like a god-forsaken place visited by poor farmers and recommended better hotels at a slightly higher price. A quick poll and we decided to give it a go. He took us back towards the station, went a little ahead to Dariya village, through a kuccha road to Maurya’s farm house (Phone: 0172-5083134). It’s a company guest house and rooms are let out to others when official guests are visiting. We paid 1000/- for an AC room with enough space for five guys after a bit of bargaining. It’s a 5-minute walk from the station but take a rickshaw if you have more than a backpack. Get out of the railway station, take a left and take the first right (you will have to go a little ahead to find a U-turn).
We couldn’t pick up the bikes as the transport office was closed on Sundays. We would have to pick up our bikes early the next day and start for Manali in the morning. We decided to explore Chandigarh and catch a show of Delhi Belly. Rickshaws are a very convenient way of moving around the city but rates aren't fixed. Just check with some localites how much the journey should cost and then don’t budge from that price once in the rickshaw – worked well for us! We went to a mall in Panchkula first, nothing exciting and all shows of the movie were sold out. We then moved halfway across the city to another mall but again, all shows were houseful.
Another rickshaw to sector 28-D and we were at the famous Pal Dhaba.
(Pal Dhaba with pavement seating)
At 7:30 PM, we were the first ones in but people keep streaming in and by the time we left there were no empty seats. The food is lovely -- typical Punjabi, a little on the expensive side, but huge quantities. A hearty meal would work out to 100/- per head if you are a big group.
(Desi ghee and Leh-induced disorder of neural development)
Having a lot of time on our hands, and a heavy meal to digest, we decided to walk back to our guest house. The route is littered with public parks and open spaces that were still open. Safety isn’t an issue with girls moving around freely in the parks even after 10 PM. Just before we reached the station road, on an unlit road, the road crosses over a nullah that was swarming with fireflies – nice sight!
At the guest house, we relaxed at the garden sipping tea and listening to old Hindi tunes wafting in from an equally old radio.