Himachal Diaries

Travelling to new places gives that kind of pleasure that makes you want to go after it again and again. It’s always my idea of an ideal break- a perfect hit refresh button. It had been quite a long time since we had travelled to any far off destination- something that the wanderlust inside me truly missed. And so finally in the month of May 2022, we headed towards the much coveted destination for a mountain lover- Himachal Pradesh. 

    We arrived in Chandigarh and visited the much famed Rock Garden and Pinjore Garden. Then we proceeded to the queen of hills, Shimla. There was a drastic change in the scenery from the bustling city of Chandigarh to the tranquil hills and the difference in the flora and fauna was unmistakable.

     The town of Shimla is unique in many aspects. The Mall Road is a favourite place for tourists from afar. Next day we had an adrenaline-rushing experience at the adventure park in Kufri. As the sun set, we feasted our eyes on the night city of Shimla, something which literally personified a sequined shawl.

 But the highlight of the entire trip was the town of Manali – the most sought after place of Himachal and one of the places that had been on my travel bucket list for quite some time. The journey to Manali was something that I look back upon as a long one full of laughter, photos and songs. It was dusk when we reached, and hence the town of old Manali was alit with market lights shimmering like diamonds. Our hotel too was situated in old Manali and it was just a perfect welcome to us after a long journey. The woody interior, perfectly manicured roses of every shade, and the warmth of the pahadi people was something that gave the place an alluring vibe. 

    The next day began even before cock-crow as we headed towards Rohtang Pass- a few hours from Manali. As the sun rose, I fully became aware of the scenery that surrounded me. The tops of the Himalayas were gently kissed by the early morning sun, as the pure rays spread a gleam of fiery orange on the opaline white snow. It was a dream to wake up to this view, to this enthralling spectacle that has been captured and etched firmly in my mind. The road to Rohtang pass was an ethereal one. With green sloping conifers on one side and the Himalayas towering in their majesty on the other, we ventured further, staring agog at the unparalleled wilderness surrounding us. 

    Many times it is the ride from one place to another that gives you something to think about. It’s a relaxing experience to endlessly admire the world from your window, contemplate about the things that you like and enjoy the sudden burst of phrases describing the sight that just pop into your mind as the car turns from one bend to another. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect and as we gained altitude, the road bore noticeable signs of fresh, untouched snow. Looking down at the hairpin bend roads from atop made me realize the height at which we were and the terrain through which we had just traversed. The mountains which we had looked at from below had become our next-door neighbours. Looking at the snow on them suddenly gave me the mad desire to squeal with joy, like a small girl, excited at the sight of snow. Once we were above 10,000 feet, the layers of jackets and snow gear wrapping me had a definite increase. Climbing yet above, we reached Rohtang pass at an altitude of approximately 14,000 feet above the sea level. The pass was glittering white from the recent snowfall that had taken place at dawn and this was the moment that made it worth getting up at 4 am that day. There were ranges and ranges of snowy mountains everywhere one’s eyes could travel and standing amidst them gave me the goosebumps of the am-I-on-Earth type feeling. Sitting there made me realise the gravity of the oblivion in which we live. I became aware, more clearer than ever, of the fact that we are just tiny bits of a vast puzzle. It felt so good to be a part of this stunning creation and a sense of happiness washed over me. After playing in the snow to our heart’s content and clicking away some million photos, we finally headed back to our bus. We crossed the Rohtang pass descended down and from the recently built Atal tunnel returned back to Manali. We also took the ropeway ride at Solang valley which was a mesmerizing experience of seeing the snow-clad glaciers from above. After this, we returned back to our hotel and called it a day. The next two days passed in a flurry, visiting local places of Manali. And before we knew, it was time to say goodbye. We returned to Chandigarh from where we boarded the flight to Pune. As the plane took off, I watched the city of Chandigarh below, recollecting all the amazing moments that had made our trip one of the best experiences ever had. And I would like to tell you this. The Himalayas are a gift to India, a place that compels each one to introspect on the varied opportunities life has to offer as well as get away from the busy city life whenever one needs a break. To me, the Himalayas are not just a range of mountains, but a plethora of emotions that propel me to be grounded and stand tall. I literally feel that they withhold something magical, a force that cannot be put into words but can surely be felt from within. The call of the Himalayas is such that it’s hard to ignore. Once you go there, they call you again. And hence raising a toast to this heaven of travellers, to the beautiful state of Himachal Pradesh, tucked peacefully in one of the mightiest mountains of the world. 

~Mugdha Deshpande

Enclosing some photos we clicked!

The Ethereal

Remember those extracts from our English textbooks and readers where authors wrote about culture or about some tourist destination of India? Well, I have always been fascinated by the writing style of these authors. And so, here is a new thread of writing- travel destinations in India! The first spot on our list is Aru valley.

Aru valley is a beautiful place situated close to Pahalgam in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India. So let’s go!

The first glimpse at the spectacle before my eyes literally left me open-mouthed for a few moments. Such was the sight in front of me, that I couldn’t find the right words to describe it. There was green foliage all around. Grass occupied every surface of the ground. Shades of green blended with the surrounding so majestically, that the effect produced was something to feast one’s eyes on. There were brown and white ponies, some grazing, some dozing in the sun. Tall conifer trees with sloping crowns stood as if they were neatly arranged into rows. And the mighty Himalayas, their tops glistening opaline white with the snow looked at me from. Every peak reflected the pure sun rays that caressed it. Every peak was carved in such a way that when they stood together, they blended in perfectly. There was a light breeze in the air and the gentle wind whipping on my face was just perfect.

The place looked as if something ethereal had descended down on the earth. As we walked further we reached a lush green bower. There were wildflowers peeping through the grass. A river gushed down in torrents, splashing the rocks beneath that had been shaped beautifully by the river. As I sat down, I felt the dewy grass and absent mindedly picked up a flower. For a moment I envied its life, for it lived so beautifully, in this paradise. All around there was such beauty that I wished that I had two more pairs of eyes to capture everything in them. After spending around an hour, we had to leave. After one last glance at this place, we were ready to go. As we trudged back, my mind was full of fresh mountain air. They say that the call of the mountains is such that they keep beckoning you again and again. And I truly felt this that day..

~Mugdha Deshpande