Tag Archives: Roadtrip

Whispering winds, hovering clouds and a ghost which wasn’t there!

If I would have been believing in ghosts than I could have said that this ghost certainly loved nature and he lived in most exotic of locations. Ghosts or not, this place known as Abbott Mount certainly had a captivating charm. It did create a magnetic pull on us. As soon as I came to know that there is this haunted place, in no time I was just running on the mountain trail towards that spooky mansion on the top the mountain along with two others. I felt just like a member of ghost busters team on a mission. Other members of our Bloggers Bus team stayed back, few may be because of fear, few due to disinterest and remaining for hating to walk so long.

Prelude

Gate to the mansion just before the long walkway is now closed

But there is very interesting prelude to this visit. We reached Lohaghat on fifth night of our roadtrip in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, and all through the first five days of our journey we were pulling two young ladies in our group through various ghost stories. Hardly any of us had an idea of what was coming through our way. When all this was happening, on the third day just out of interest, while searching internet on my mobile phone I came across a mention of haunted house of Lohaghat. I knew that we had a night halt scheduled at Lohaghat, but still I had no idea whatsoever that we were actually supposed to visit the mountain where this haunted house was located. Hence, when we finally did, our enthusiasm was simply uncontrollable.

Beautiful walkway to the mansion in thick woods

Ironically, in our seven nights on the trip, Lohaghat was the only destination where we were not staying at a Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN) property. When we reached hotel at Lohaghat in the evening, we felt like a complete meltdown in comparison to our previous four nights stay at various locations. But it was all well compensated next morning, when we visited two very interesting locations around Lohaghat- one was the Advait Ashram at Mayavati and second one was Abbott mount.

Event

Its quite dense forest around the campus

SO, as it stands, on this hill just around five kilometres from Lohaghat remains buried one of the biggest mysteries of our times at a place, which is now known as one of the most haunted in India. Its not a very old story. Everything happened less than hundred years ago. A winding road takes you to the hill top at Abbott Mount at an altitude of over 1650 metres. This place has got some splendid views. Beauty of this place was discovered by an Englishman John Abbott, that’s how the place got its name Abbott Mount. He built up a mansion here known as Abbey Mansion. That was approximately a century ago. Later in 1942 he built a church here in memory of his wife. John himself died in 1945. 

Turn left from the main walkway towards mansion

Our narrative started as soon as we reached the last road head at Abbott Mount. Our first story teller was the one of the staffs of District Tourism Officer of Champawat district who met us at Lohaghat. He told us about the ‘story’ behind Dr Morris Hospital. Abbey mansion was turned to a hospital later. There are many loose ends in the story. There is no detail on when exactly the hospital started in this building, after the death of Abbott or in his lifetime itself? Also, whether Abbott himself lived in this mansion as long as he lived? Actually in all these years, the story of Dr Morris overtook that of John Abbott.

History

The Abbey mansion or the Morris hospital as seen from distance

A doctor par excellence, Morris was known to do some unusual experiments on his patients. Some people say he was a physician, some say he was a neurosurgeon. As per the stories going round for decades, Dr Morris was keen to know the mystery of death. He wanted to understand, what happens in human mind exactly when the moment of death comes. It is said that he will do occult surgeries. It is also said that he used to predict the exact day of death of his patients. But, was he capable of doing that? 

The passage that leads to the mansion in the front

Now the evil spirits enter the story. All such patients, about whom the prediction were made, were allegedly sent to a different building alomost a kilometre away, now known as Mukti Kothi. They were found dead on the pronounced day! Interestingly, all such patients were normally the ones who won’t have any near or dear one to take care of. People claim that Morris used to murder his patients to boast of his predictions. 

Its lush green all around, the beauty looking very organised

The another part of the story is about the death of Dr Morris himself die. Its being told that there was another Dr named Evert (we don’t know whether in the same hospital or outside). He loved a local girl. Now it is said that Morris wanted to do some experiment on that girl. Evert objected to it. Morris attempted to inject the girl and in the ensuing fight between Morris and Evert the syringe got injected to Dr Morris himself, which took his life. Quite Bollywood type. Isn’t it! But that’s how the story goes. This was the story that I had not read so far about this place. This still does not solve all the mysteries. There are many questions still unanswered and will perhaps remain so. 

This garden seems to be very neatly done as if taken care of very regularly

Decades passed by, and the stories of spirits started roaming around. Spirits of Dr Morris and his patients. Nobody has seen them but many claim to have heard them whispering, calling! But still, there is more than meets the eye. Mukti Kothi is now a privately owned property. Mukti Kothi is almost a kilometre from the Abbey mansion on the other side of the hill top. Visitors and cameras are not allowed inside the property. The church built by Abbott is now abandoned. This is third important place in this real life drama. This is the church, where Abbott, his wife and Dr Morris were laid to rest. You still see the graves on the other side of church. Many of them look ruined but a few still have stones with the names and other details. 

A piece of small white cloud hovering around looks so spooky

There are many other plots and subplots attached to this place. The last road head of the Abbott Mount has a plateau at the top. It has a grown as big as a football field, which now tourism department wants to develop as a helipad. On the other end of the ground is a small temple. But even this temple looks like abandoned. It is also said that this hill top was the abode of deities which got angry when John Abbott constructed a mansion here. This anger is also said to be the reason behind place becoming haunted.

This place has got some beautiful views around

Interested in ghost stories? Read: Bhangarh – Nothing spooky about it

Postscript

We also came across another aspect of this place, so far unheard and unread as well. (Since it is all unverified, so I am not taking any living names.) This one came from a person who worked as a caretaker with a property nearby which now works as a guest house, probably the only running one currently at the Abbott Mount. He and his wife claim to have heard the ghost of Abbey Mansion a number of times (but have never seen it). According to that person after the death of Dr Morris, this place was reportedly taken over by Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission (GSAM) established in 1948 by Maxton Davis Strong and his wife Shirley. (This orphanage is still doing some extraordinary work in Kumaon for long and is still active with its base at Banbasa. They now also have The Maxton Strong School at Banbasa. Banbasa is approximately 97 kilometres from Lohaghat at the Nepal border.) Mission used the Abbey Mansion as residence for many of its orphan children. These children will visit the church regularly where mass was held every Sunday. Christians from nearby areas will also come here. But some time back (probably two decades ago) mission left this place along with children, allegedly when some locals (including a lawyer with the mission) tried to take the control of the property at Abbott Mount. They succeeded probably.

Abbey mansion as seen from the back side
This message written on back wall looks so creepy
Long corridor on the front side of the building. Walls look like cemented not a long ago. All doors and windows are jammed
What looks like a barrack is bit away from the main building on the hill side
rooms in the barrack look like this from outside
A view of room from inside. Looks like a quarter

GSAM has actually seen many ups and downs in its 70 years history in this part of India (I tried to, but was not able to contact the GSAM to know whether there was any truth in the story). Since than the place is in shambles. Its ownership is not clearly known, but outer structure of the Abbey Mansion was renovated about a decade ago. Inside, it is still in ruins. Mukti Kothi area has got a very newly constructed mansion. We don’t know who stays here. Church is all in ruins, clearly nobody has take care of it for decades. Who knows, all the ghost stories might be the part of any property tussle here!

Ghost on road? Read: Loops of the haunted

Visit

We trekked down to the Abbott Mount cottage or Abbey Mansion or Dr Morris hospital, whatever it is called. There is a long walkway amidst thick tree line from the main entrance till the building. Main gate before the walkway is locked and barricaded. Iron grill gate has two big cross on both sides. We jumped inside through the fencing. We could hear strong breeze blowing, there were all types of birds making strange noises. Small pieces of white clouds were hovering around quite low through the trees. There was no human being besides we three. All rooms of the main building were locked. I could see the darkness inside through some holes in the window grills. 

Church that John Abbott built in 1942
Church is now abandoned
A view of the prayer hall of the church. Mind it that there is no way to go inside the church.
The graveyard on the other side of the church
Where John Abbott was buried in 1945
Mukti Kothi is the building on the left. Building on the right looks like a newly built cottage

There were two other buildings on one side of hill, close to the main building. They looked like a row of barracks. Few rooms here were open, but the long grass and loneliness of the place prevented me from going inside. We were at the property for almost 30 minutes but didn’t encounter anything strange here, besides the solitude, seclusion and the remoteness at this place. That would have been enough to install fear in any weak mind. But there was another strange thing that struck me. Few images I had seen of this mansion were different. The outside are looked quite dry and abandoned in those images. But when we were there, it was all lush green, with lots of flowers, trees and various plants. It came to my mind that could this have been maintained this way all naturally, without any human care! 

Tourism

Log huts built by tourism department at the Abbott Mount ecotourism resort
The ground on the top, where a helipad is supposed to come up

Undoubtedly this is amazingly beautiful place. From October to May we can have a unhindered view of Himalayan ranges from West to East, from Pir Panjal in Kashmir to Panchachuli. It has got lovely weather, charming surroundings. To develop this place an ecotourism project was launched here few years ago by tourism department. Tourist log huts are almost ready and might be working from next season. Easily accessible and even a helipad coming very soon. What else! You might also have some ‘ghosts’ for company!!

You can see the full video of my visit to this Haunted House of Lohaghat on my YouTube channel by clicking on the thumbnail below-

Have you ever been to Abbott Mount? Did you experience anything strange there? Let us know your experience in the comments section below.

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Roatrip to Kaza in Spiti valley

 Kaza in Spiti valley is one of those places in the Himalayan India which bikers yearn for, besides the all-famous Manali-Leh route. But unlike the Leh-Manali route in Lahaul valley, the Spiti valley remains open for almost all the year round. Although winters might be severely cold there, but coming two months could be the ideal time to go there. It is not as challenging as the Leh route because there are no high mountain passes to cross, but the route, the terrain and the topography is something which you will not find anywhere else.

Kaza is in spiti valley and one has to pass through Kinnaur valley before entering into Spiti.  Trip to Kaza normally starts from Shimla, capital city of Himachal Pradesh. Biking in these roads is alwaya a fun… See it for yourself!

Riding in these hills is always fascinating
Riding in these hills is always fascinating

Going from Chandigarh you can also avoid Shimla and turn towards Chail from Kandaghat. At a distance of 360 kilometres from Delhi, Chail is more peaceful than Shimla. From Chail one has to go to Kufri and then turn east. Chail or Shilon Bagh are ideal places to stay. A view of hills is simply breathtaking (pic). 

Hills around Chail and Kufri
Hills around Chail and Kufri

From Shimla we take a route to north via Narkanda. It is a comfortable ride on a smooth road. With apple orchards on the slpoes, the route provides beautiful sights. Soon one is exposed to some glorious views of snow clad mountains.

Gateway to great views
Gateway to great views

Narkanda is a small town on the way. One can go to Hatu peak here for some stunning views or just to offer a prayer at the temple at the peak. Hatu is also popular for its sunrise and sunset views. Close to Narkanda is Thanadar, popularly known as the apple capital.  Narkanda is almost 50 kilometres from Kufri via Matiana.

Narkanda Market
Narkanda Market

From Narkanda we move to Rampur Bushhar via Sainj. This particular stretch of road is lovely- smooth, wide and fast.  It is post Rampur, the view starts changing dramatically, specially when you enter the Kinnaur Valley.

Enter the Kinnaur Valley
Enter the Kinnaur Valley

The cliffs, the fall, Sutlej river and road through rocks… this experience is amazing. We reach Wangtoo and Karcham the site of one of the biggest hydro power projects in India- Nathpa Jhakri.  Wangtoo onwards road condition deteriorating dramatically owing to traffic movement due to power projects.

Road cut through rocks and deep gorge on one side
Road cut through rocks and deep gorge on one side

Karcham is site for another power project upstream. From here one road moves towards Pooh and another eastwards to Sangla.  Sangla is 18 kilometres on a rough, narrow hilly stretch from Karcham. Part of the Kinnaur, Sangla valley is very beautiful. Sangla is a small town on the road with a historical village and a fort uphill. Beautiful views of snow clad mountains on a stone’s throw, Sangla is a calm place to stay.

PWD rest house at Sangla and the city
PWD rest house at Sangla and the city

Travelers going to Spiti valley make it a point to go to Sangla and Chitkul. It is very close by to many other destinations.

Distances from Sangla to various palces in Kinnaur and Spiti
Distances from Sangla to various palces in Kinnaur and Spiti

Located on both sides of Baspa river Sangla valley has memorable views just as this one upto Chitkul.

Himalayas

Baspa River
Baspa River

Chitkul is located at an altitude of 3450 metres above msl. It is 22 kms fro Sangla via another power project at Rakcham. Chitkul is the last road-head on this stretch and it actually looks like with mountain ranges all around. Go ahead of Chitkul, China border is very close by. Else there are trekking routes to take one to Uttarakhand towards Yamunotri. Chitkul is a small village and has few resorts and guest houses, just as Sangla.

Snow clad mountains at Chitkul in Kinnaur Valley
Snow clad mountains at Chitkul in Kinnaur Valley
What is claimed to be lasi Indian Dhaba on the road before you touch China
What is claimed to be lasi Indian Dhaba on the road before you touch China

To go to Spiti, one has to come back to Karcham from Sangla and move towards Pooh. We cross Tapri, which has last petrol pump before Kaza. We move to Kharo and then to AKPA, which has a tourist check post. Then to Spillow, Pooh and Dubling bridge.  One you reach Khab, you can have some unimaginable routes like this.

Way to Ka zigs
Way to Ka zigs

A very narrow stretch, beautifully carved between rocks alongside the river in a dark brown terrain… it is a treat to ride through it. One rides through a winding road uphill name KAZIGS to Kah. These roads itself are a engineering marvel. It is a type of land that you have to be there to believe it.

View from the top
View from the top

As we go uphill through Kazigs, we reach beautiful and historical village of Naka (alt. 3662 metres). An arid and windy place amidst cold desert. Nako has a lake and two monastries.

Nako village in its full glory
Nako village in its full glory

From Nako, via Malling Nallah, Chango, Shalkhar, another check post at Sumdoh and Hoorling we reach another historical monastry of Tabo. From Tabo we come to Schilling, which has a diversion to Dhankar monastry. Back to Schilling and we move to Kaza. 17 kilometres from KAZA is Kee gompa and another seven kilometres is Kibber village, which was long considered to be the highest village in the world. 

Kibber used to be termed as highest village in the world
Kibber used to be termed as highest village in the world

Eighteen kilometres from Kaza on a different route is Langza village at an altitude of 4200 metres, which is now considered to be the highest village in the world.

Langza is at higher altitude than Kibber and is now the highest village in the world
Langza is at higher altitude than Kibber and is now the highest village in the world
Most prominent of wildlife in Spiti valley
Most prominent of wildlife in Spiti valley
Mountains at Kaza
Mountains at Kaza
Kaza valley
Kaza valley
Down from Ka zigs
Down from Ka zigs

Dubling bridge from this side (below)

Towards Pooh
Towards Pooh

From Tapri we go uphill to Reckong Peo and then to Kalpa, which has stunning view of Kinner Kailash peak (below)-

View of Kinner Kailash from Kalpa
View of Kinner Kailash from Kalpa

Back towards Rampur and Shimla.

Fascinating roads
Fascinating roads

अराउंड द वर्ल्ड फॉर अ रिकॉर्ड

World Tripसैर कर दुनिया की गाफिल, जिंदगानी फिर कहा… इन पंक्तियों से यूं तो कई लोग घुमक्कड़ी की प्रेरणा हासिल करते हैं, लेकिन कुछ बिरले ही हैं जो वाकई दुनिया की सैर करने की हिम्मत जुटा पाते हैं। अब जनाब दुनिया की सैर करना इतना आसान भी तो नहीं। अराउंड द वर्ल्ड इन एट डॉलर्स, देखने में भले ही कितनी रोमांचक क्यों न लगे, वैसा  हकीकत में कम ही हो पाता है।

तुषार अग्रवाल और संजय मदान नाम के दो रोमांचप्रेमी युवाओं ने सड़क और समुद्र के रास्ते दुनिया की सैर करने का बीड़ा उठाया है। इसके लिए वे  छह महाद्वीपों में स्थित पचास देशों  से गुजरेंगे और कुल सत्तर हजार किलोमीटर का सफर तय करेंगे। उन्होंने इसे ग्रेट इंडियन वल्र्ड ट्रिप नाम दिया है। तुषार व संजय के नाम पहले ही लिम्का बुक ऑफ वल्र्ड रिकॉड्र्स में सात रिकॉर्ड दर्ज हैं। ये सातों रिकॉर्ड सड़कों पर अलग-अलग सफर के नाम हैं। इस वल्र्ड ट्रिप का मकसद भारत को उन देशों तक ले जाना, वहां प्रवासी भारतीयों व आम लोगों से मिलना है। इस सफर को बाकायदा एक डॉक्यूमेंट्री के रूप में रिकॉर्ड भी किया जाएगा।

तुषार अग्रवाल
तुषार अग्रवाल

इस ट्रिप का रास्ता बड़ी सोच-समझकर उन देशों से होते हुए तैयार किया गया है जहां भारतीयों की आबादी अच्छी संख्या में है और जहां से बड़ी तादाद में सैलानी भी भारत आते हैं। तुषार व संजय का यह सफर पूर्व की ओर से शुरू होगा। म्यांमार, थाईलैंड व मलेशिया होते हुए वे सिंगापुर पहुंचेंगे। वहां से वे आस्ट्रेलिया जाएंगे। पूरे आस्ट्रेलिया का भ्रमण करने के बाद वे पश्चिम की ओर मुड़ेंगे और समुद्र के रास्ते अफ्रीका पहुंचेंगे। केन्या से शुरू करके वे नीचे दक्षिण में तंजानिया, नामीबिया, बोत्सवाना, विक्टोरिया फॉल्स होते हुए दक्षिण अफ्रीका में केप टाउन पहुंचेंगे। उसके बाद फिर से समुद्र के रास्ते दक्षिण अमेरिका पहुंचेंगे जहां दुनिया के सबसे दक्षिणवर्ती शहर अर्जेंटीना के उशुआइआ से ऊपर चढ़ना शुरू करेंगे।

 

World Trip1उसके बाद वे ऊपर की ओर पैन अमेरिकन हाइवे पर चलेंगे, जिसे दुनिया का सबसे लंबा हाइवे कहा जाता है। यह हाइवे उन्हें चिली, पेरू, इक्वाडोर व कोलंबिया होते हुए मध्य अमेरिकी देशों- पनामा, ग्वाटेमाला, होंडुरास व मैक्सिको ले जाएगा। उसके बाद वे अमेरिकी महाद्वीप के सबसे उत्तरी छोर डेडहोर्स तक जाएंगे। अलास्का के उसे हिस्से का रोमांच लेने के बाद वे कनाडा पार करके न्यूयार्क आएंगे और यहां से फिर समुद्र पार करके पूर्व में लंदन पहुंचेंगे। इसके बाद शायद उनकी ट्रिप का सबसे सुहाना व आसान सफर शुरू होगा। पश्चिमी यूरोप, पूर्वी यूरोप नापकर व एशिया में ईरान पहुंचेंगे और अंतत: फिर से मुंबई।

तुषार व संजय पहले भी 51 दिन में 15 देशों को पार करते हुए लंदन से दिल्ली आने का रिकॉर्ड बना चुके हैं। पिछले साल उन्होंने नौ देशों की आसियान कार रैली में भी हिस्सा लिया था।