We woke up in the morning, two days prior to Holi, amidst the beautiful music of Parvati and magnificent pine trees. Kasol looked pristine as ever. Being a long weekend, the place was starting to buzz with tourists. But we intended to leave all the hustle behind and trek to the village of Grahan. This trip was all about this beautiful village, it’s lovely inhabitants, colorful huts and lots and lots of Snow.
This July, we found a beautiful place to get lost – Ladakh.
Coordinating with friends for a few months. A Whatsapp group. 13 members. Few sneaked away. Few stayed.
And on a overcast Saturday afternoon, we all met at My Bar at Rajiv Chowk to kick start our journey. A journey we have been looking forward to for some time now.
There were six of us, to be precise, in a place which was flooding with rucksacks. There were so many travelers in My Bar at that time that one would believe it was a base point for everyone who was starting to Leh from New Delhi. We had our share of discussions and drinks and left for Manali at 5 in the evening.
I remember someone quoting this to me on a stormy morning during our Har Ki Dun trek – “Red sky at night, traveler’s delight; Red sky in morning, traveler take warning”. The sky that evening was crystal blue, with puffs of cloud someone painted across the canvas. We all had our doubts of weather during the journey as it is usually very unpredictable at this time of the year. But the awesome weather gave us the confidence. All is well that ends well. But a good start never harmed anyone, has it?
After around 5 hours of music, we reached Chandigarh, where we crashed at a friend’s for dinner. The cab that we booked from the online cab booking service Gozocabs was very reasonable and kept their promise of no hidden cost. The driver was a little cranky though, but we gave him the benefit of doubt. Anyone can be cranky if they would be driving for 30 hours straight without getting a proper sleep. Tobacco was what kept him running. We didn’t mind it though, he promised us a touchdown in Manali at 6 in the morning.
But what’s the fun if everyone go as per plan? It was around 4 in the morning. There was an argument going on the cab, regarding which song to be played. And suddenly the music went all loud. I don’t know if it was the volume, the lights or plain dumb luck. BOOM. Our back left tyre just burst. Everyone did their bit by inspecting the damage and helping in the getting the tyre changed. By helping, I mean getting the flashlights of our phones on while our driver set up the OT.
It was just before the dawn. The time when night is at its darkest. We were standing next to a dam in the town of Mandi, observing the silhouette of the distant peaks, when the news struck us that the spare tyre had negligible air in it. Great. Talk about plan B. We were stranded in a place where you can only see a truck once in a while, with no sign of any inhabitants whatsoever. Need to wait for the morning, we thought. But the driver still had his part to play. “Jump In. We would try to make it through with the flat one only.” We followed. Being engineers, we had to do our bit as well. We loaded an extra man on the right side, making it uncomfortable for everyone and we kept on going on for an hour or so, where we finally found a petrol pump which had the air machine working.
The damage control was done. It was already dawn. And we were in the heart of Himachal. Manali was just a few hours away. The toll of the night took over us and we gently passed into sleep. A beautiful sound woke us up. Beas river running forward with an ecstasy. The trees waving by as the clouds blocked the Sun. We entered the city of Manali, which was as beautiful as always. Google Maps came to rescue as we bunked in our hotel, had our lunch and decided to catch some sleep. It had started raining by then.
Where would you rather stay while traveling? A place bubbling with people with excited faces greeting you all around. Or a place away from all the hustle, where you can afford not to rush and savor all the components that makes up the place.
Well, in my case, my mood swing takes me to both these places. This March, my curiosity took me to this place near Darjeeling, which goes by the name “Tinchuley”. Visiting Himalayas has always been special for me. This was more so because it was my first visit to the mountains with my family. The first half of the trip had been great with the visit to Tsomgo Lake stealing the limelight. It was time to move from Gangtok to Tinchuley.
I haven’t trekked much in the last 2 months. A reason for that might be that it isn’t Monsoons yet (my favorite season for trekking). Anyways, this Sunday was fixed for the trek to Ajoba Hills, which has been in my list for some time now.
Quoting from the wiki – Standing at a height of 4511 feet in the Sahyadri range of the Western Ghats, Ajoba Hill is one of the highest peaks in the Sahyadri ranges. Situated in the Shahapur Taluka at the base village of Dehene, the Ajoba Hill is considered sacred due to the local folklore that this was the place where goddess Sita stayed in an Ashram during her exile and separation from Lord Rama. Halfway through the climb up the mountain is located the “Valmiki Ashram” and the cave here Goddess Sita stayed with her two sons Luv and Khush. The hill got its name from the term “Ajoba” which means grandfather in Marathi – a term that Luv and Khush used to address Saint Valmiki. It is also believed that Saint Valmiki’s Samadhi in the hill increases in size every few years.
Call it a place. Call it an experience. Call it the true home for your soul. There is always this one special entity in someone’s life in which one finds true comfort. Himalayas is that special place for me. Ever since I had come back from Har Ki Dun, I have been longing to take the return trip home. To go to a place where my mind is at peace, overlooking the spectacular waterfall make its way through the divine valley before finally settling somewhere distant in the horizon.