The hills in Morni are part of the Shivalik range which is, in turn, on the foothills of the mighty Himalayas. Many small seasonal rivers like the Ghaggar flows through the hills. It was here at the Ghaggar river that we spent a considerable amount of time flying our drone overlooking the pristine and scenic range. You have got to see it with your own eyes to believe the scenic nature of this place. Report: P. Tharyan
It was the 8th anniversary issue
of Motown India print magazine and we were hard pressed for time. Yet, we had
made up our minds to hit the hills bordering Himachal Pradesh in Haryana. Yes,
you got it right, we planned to go by road all the way to the tranquil hills of
To take us to our destination was a 4x4 Jeep Compass powered by a
diesel 2.0-litre engine that produced around 170.63hp and a peak torque of 350
Nm. The Multijet II (Turbo Diesel) engine of the Jeep Compass is mated to a
6-speed manual transmission.
The hills in Morni are part of the Shivalik range which is, in
turn, on the foothills of the mighty Himalayas.
Shivalik literally means “tresses of Lord Shiva”. Shivaliks are divided
in many sub-ranges and are cut by the rivers like the Indus, Sutlej, Ganges,
Yamuna and the Brahmaputra. Many small seasonal rivers like the Ghaggar flows
through the hills. It was here at the Ghaggar river that we spent a
considerable amount of time flying our drone overlooking the pristine and
scenic range. You have got to see it with your own eyes to believe the scenic
nature of this place.
But before I go any further, let me tell you the way to the Morni
Hills from New Delhi. With vehicles today coming with all kinds of
sophisticated navigation systems and Google doubling up as your eternal mental
crutches, any journey you embark upon is literally a cakewalk in terms of
direction. Hook on to the Google maps, and you will be guided all the way to
your final destination. The route we took to Morni Hills was through Panipat,
Karnal, Pipli, Ambala and before entering Chandigarh we took a right turn
towards Panchkula. We started our journey from South West Delhi in Vasant Kunj
and through the Delhi Cantonment, exited Delhi from the Mukarba Chowk. This
chowk or crossing is infamous for the huge mounds of household waste that is
dumped there. In fact, the mounds resemble small hills. An acrid, nauseating
smell greets you as you cross this place bordering Delhi.
Panipat Elevated Corridor Ltd
Panipat Jalandhar NH-1 Tollway Pvt Ltd
GMR Ambala Chandigarh Expressway
While all four-wheeler drivers have to pay
four different tolls en route to Morni Hills, two wheeler riders can simply
breeze through these tolls without paying as they are exempt from such charges.
Like always, it’s best to start a road journey just before sun rise. The sooner
you clear the traffic in Delhi, the better are your chances to hit the national
highway early and speed your way to your destination. A little past 7am and we
were at the popular Murthal (Sonipat), the first pit stop for those who travel
by road from Delhi. Murthal is dotted with a multitude of dhabas or makeshift
eateries serving mostly delicious
vegetarian food. We stopped at Sukhdev Vaisno Dhaba where we had our share of
breakfast comprising some very tasty parathas (Indian bread made of flour that
is stuffed with mashed potatoes) served with cottage cheese.
After driving for a few hours, by around 2 in the afternoon we
reached Morni Hills, our final destination. No one was complaining of fatigue
as the journey in the Jeep Compass was as comfortable as travelling in the lap
of luxury. The six-speed transmission ensured that we took on the highway with
enough power and purpose. We maintained our speeds at the legal limits of
90kmph, though there were moments when we stepped on the accelerator briefly to
see the digital speedometer going well past the 100kmph level.
Morni Hills is only for those
tourists who love to be in the arms of nature. Unlike the hill destinations of
North India like Shimla, Nainital, Mussourie, Kasauli, Kullu, Manali, etc where
hills have been stripped bare of trees and land, where ugly monstrous hotels of
all sizes accommodate hundreds and thousands of uncouth tourists who rather
binge on beer and loud music, the Morni Hills are for those in love with
tranquility, peace and beauty.
We wanted to be away from the city’s hustle and bustle, away from
our computers, our office desks and chairs. We wanted to just stare at Mother
Nature in her eyes and adore her beauty, her hills, her trees, her rivers and
streams and her winding paths. In fact, the moment we reached our destination,
we unpacked, put our stuff into our rooms and went trekking. It was at this
point when some of us realised we had not walked in such pure air. No smog, no
pollution, no traffic, ho harsh sounds of blaring horns and thankfully no loud
We trekked for a short time, over a distance covering barely a
couple of kilometres. As long as the winding rocky path took us down, we were
happy and content but when we had to trek back, we realised the true meaning of
stamina. The fat ones among us were left behind and as they huffed and puffed,
we continued our way up to our hotel, perched atop a hill.
TIKKAR TAAL LAKE
Morni Hills is popular for its
two lakes, the Tikkar Taal lake. The two small lakes are separated by a small
hill and it is said that these two lakes are interconnected through some
natural underground tunnel. This means that the level of water in both lakes
remains quite balanced. Boat rides are popular for tourists at these lakes. We
drove down to the Tikkar Taal lake in our Jeep Compass and had the opportunity
to test the capability of the vehicle over some very thick slush. A tweak of a
knob on the centre console of the Jeep Compass is all what is required to
change the vehicle from the Auto Mode to a 4-wheel mode or to any other mode
like snow, sand or mud. We turned the knob to MUD mode and surprisingly the
vehicle simply kept moving with considerable ease.
Once the Jeep Compass was parked strategically, we took out our
drone and let it fly. It rose to great heights to capture the lake and we send
it across the small hill to even capture the other lake which was not at all
visible from where we stood. As one of the boys gleefully controlled the drone
with the help of a joystick, I noticed the scenic beauty of the place on the
small screen that showed the recording being done by the drone which by now was
not visible to the human eye.
For the next couple of days, we simply spent our time at the lake.
A Haryana Tourism hotel by the side of the lake wore a deserted look. I
wondered why people in India hated secluded and scenic places and rather
preferred crowded hills dotted with a million shops.
Morni Hills has also got an
Adventure Park for tourists which I guess, is best for families with children.
We did not bother to even explore the park. We were now keen to drive our Jeep
Compass closer to a river bed and as luck would have it, we saw a rough path
leading us to the Ghaggar riverbed. We noticed there was a large area under a
bridge that could easily accommodate our Jeep Compass. We cautiously drove the
vehicle on to the slightly rocky place. Now, it was the turn of the 4x4 mode to
be deployed. As we parked the vehicle at a safe place with the river water
gently caressing the tyres of the Jeep Compass,
we took off our shoes, stepped into the fresh waters and spent our time
taking pictures and videos of the Jeep Compass and the surrounding valley.
There were not many people in that area. We were so happy about
that. An occasional head or two would pop up on the bridge above and look at us
curiously. But when our drone began its journey to explore the valley around
us, we noticed that a gaggle of children had gathered around gazing at the
drone. The drone had by now become a craze for them as they yelled gleefully
every time it picked up speed and touched new heights.
With loads of photography and videography done, we drove the Jeep
Compass out of the water and up the steep path and off we headed to our hotel.
Another place we liked immensely at Morni Hills was the small museum managed by
the forest department.
A museum may sound quite boring
when you are on a visit to a hill destination. We were skeptical about visiting
it, but our hotel supervisor insisted that we visit this place. We kept it for
the last day of our stay at Morni Hills. We reluctantly left for the museum in
the morning in our Jeep Compass. The museum is situated atop a hill literally
as the cemented path leading to it is extremely steep. But again, when you are
driving a vehicle like the Jeep Compass, there is really nothing to worry on
the road, however steep it might be.
The museum really was a big surprise for us and that too a peasant
one. Inaugurated in November 2017, this museum is such a compact little place,
yet it teaches us so much. The museum is built around a small fort which
overlooks the Morni village. The original fort was built sometime in the 17th
century when the Meers of Kotaha ruled the place. It was a very modest fort but
it was augmented in 1814 when the Raja of Simur sought refuge in the fort
following his ouster from Nahan by the Gurkha invaders.
The forest department has now transformed this Morni Fort into a
nature museum cum learning centre. In this small museum, in separate rooms,
visitors can get to know about ways to conserve nature, about endangered
species of animals, insects and environmental threats. I feel that this is a must-visit
place for families on their journey to Morni Hills because there is so much to
learn and so much to appreciate here. Let me tell you one thing that I learnt
during my visit to the this museum—The two highest flying bird species on
record are the endangered Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture, which has been spotted
flying at 37,000 feet (the same height as a coasting commercial plane), and the
Bar-Headed Goose, which has been seen flying over the Himalayas at heights of
nearly 28,000 feet. Interesting?
Our journey back to the traffic
infested city of New Delhi was something we were dreading. But we had tons of
work to do for our anniversary issue of Motown India magazine. As we drove on
the highway back to Delhi, we could see reckless drivers, over speeding maniacs
in their cars and nasty tourists flinging their empty “Uncle Chipps” plastic
packets out of the windows of their cars. As one of my office colleagues drove
the Jeep Compass at a decent pace, I pushed back the backrest of my chair and
closed my eyes. I did not want to spoil my mood looking at the silly car
drivers around. I closed my eyes and dreamed of the green hills of Morni.
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