We got up early the next day, the sun was just up. A long trek lay before us. Yogi and I equipped ourselves with bare essentials for the trip which we bagged in our backpacks. After a sumptuous breakfast of paranthas we set off for our trek to Naag Temple.
Though Yogi was well acquainted and aware of what laid ahead, but it was an adventure for me. We went up the paved road which after a few hundred yards disappeared and we were in the greens of the valley with surrounding green hills and pure air to breathe all around us. A short distance into the trek and we (or rather I) came across first major challenge. A small stream lay before us with steep sides and the only thing that joined the two banks of the stream was a rickety make-shift bridge. The wooden planks on two loosely hanging rails was our bridge with no hand supports. Crossing the bridge over the gulf was quite scary, least to say. Walking the narrow bridge with no side supports which shook sideways with every step was scary and certainly not for the faint hearted. Yogi did it quite deftly, walking the whole length of the bridge. I did it with a few pauses, arms outstretched using them as a balancing pole I made it across successfully.
From there on the trek was ordinary as far as the challenges were concerned but the beauty of the mountains was breathtaking. The winding path through small quaint hamlets had its own charm. We halted a couple of times for a quick rest and to get a drink of fresh cold water flowing directly from mountain rocks.
It was an amazing experience, and I believe we reached the temple at the mountain top in about 3 hours. Not a record time but it was good, especially at our age. We spent a little bit of time at the temple, sat there mostly to recuperate and replenish our energy stock. Soon after we were homeward bound, mostly a quite, lazy lumbering walk. We did share the possibility of taking up mountaineering and trekking as a profession and lead small groups through such treks. It was all light hearted and wishful.
We reached home around 1:00 pm, just the right time for lunch. We massaged our tired feet in warm salted water before we sat down for lunch. Rest of the day was confined to rest. It was mostly uneventful and our tired bodies were in no mood for any sort of adventure or physical strain for rest of the day. A few cup of teas were welcome and energising. The quietness of the hills can be enchanting and a welcome break from the noisy city environs.
The next day was the most fascinating one, we drove half of Himachal in a car. Our first stop was Jot, not far from Yogi’s place. Apart from the natural beauty of the mountains bathed in early morning glittering sunlight there were a couple of small restaurants where we had delicious large sized paranthas with curd for breakfast. A hot cup of tea with that was a pure bliss. We rode on, the winding roads with hairpin bends and deep valleys can make anyone queasy but we had fun and enjoyed the ride.
We passed through Dalhousie quickly without making a halt. We continued our car journey through breathtaking views and tenuous paths. We were delighted to see patches of snow on our way to Khajjiar where we finally got down to enjoy the beautiful scenery, refresh ourselves and have a little bite. It is mostly flat vast ground, more commercialized than I would have wanted but it was still charming and relaxing.
From there we went for the final leg of our Himachal tour, Dharamsala and McLeodganj. Dharamsala is a beautiful small town flanked by hills and mountains. The recent main attraction is the cricket stadium which has stunning panoramic views. The majestic Dhauladhar Himalayan range behind the pavilion looks majestic and awe-inspiring. The ground is well maintained, seemed a bit small but it is a good one for the IPL matches. The lush green field was inviting and I hoped to watch a game there someday. McLeodganj, is a little uphill ride from Dharamsala.
It is the official residing place of the Dalai Lama. The small town is abuzz with tourists from all over and Tibetan population is substantial. It has some great restaurants as it is a huge tourist attraction. There are many Tibetan monasteries set in the backdrop of Himalayas. We had a great time visiting a few of these monasteries and finally dinner at a roof top restaurant which during the IPL season is quite popular with the international cricketers. The walls of the restaurant were adorned with IPL players. Although it was April, but the evening was very chilly and I could definitely use some warm woollens. With all that car ride and strolling through narrow hilly streets the tiredness started to set in as it got darker.
We pitched our tent at a friend’s place for the night. I was asleep the moment I hit the bed. Early morning, after a quick light breakfast we saddled up for the homeward journey. The ride back home was equally mesmerising, though it was a quiet ride with the mind aware that the stay in this beautiful place was slowly drawing to an end. I bring back some great memories of the beautiful place.
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