Worldliness

This is on every traveler’s list.

There are the ones who take their bikes up the roads where the ambiguity of sights is 1:100 is of praises galore.

There are the ones who have the courage to cycle there and film it on their go pros.

There are also the ones who take local buses and the hard way. There are some who go halfway.

We, on the other hand, were the ones who took a car from Old Manali upto Spiti Valley and went to all nooks and corners, stopped everywhere (literally!), played our favorite music, ate mountain food, made a bonfire, got baffled with oursleves and became better friends.

Non Veg Thukpa, Old Manali
Non Veg Thukpa, Old Manali

We were six. One of us had come all the way from Qatar with limited time. The rest of us, even though staying in the same city and in the same house stole some time together. The trip started with exhiliration. With the perfect spot to acclimatize at the end of the village in Purnima guest house, we had a classical view of the river and the mountains and nothing to disturb us.

Little Italy, Old Manali
Little Italy in our guest house, Old Manali
The first hurdle
The first hurdle

Early next morning, on the way to Keylong, we stopped at Marhi for refreshments. The road ahead was crowded. We walked more and drove less. The next eight hours were spent on the edge of the mountains covering a distance of merely 10 kms.

When stuck for eight hours in a traffic jam, this is what is to be done. Rohtang Pass
When stuck for eight hours in a traffic jam, this is what is to be done. Enroute Rohtang Pass

As soon we covered the 55kms in about twelve hours instead of a maximum two hours, we stopped to eat something in Rohtang Pass. Temporary stores were made that sold tea, coffee, chips, maggi and other tid bits.

Maggi @ Rohtang Pass. Expensive yet utterly delicious
Maggi @ Rohtang Pass. Expensive yet utterly delicious

“The Journey is what that matters not the destination” Our harbor was till Sarchu.We did not have time to cover the other 263kms to Leh. Keylong was our first stop. The hotel we stayed in had nobody else. They made food for us and we made a perfect evening out of it in the garden overlooking the mountains on a full moon night.

The village in a valley. Trilokinath
The village in a valley. Trilokinath

Early next morning, going up to Trilokinath temple was our plan. This temple is most probably the only one where the Hindus and the Buddhists have been praying together since centuries.

Cameras were not allowed after this. Trilokinath Temple
Cameras were not allowed after this. Trilokinath Temple

To enter the temple, the pillars on either side of the diety is the passage. They say if your heart is clear this unconventional way is effortless. Happy with our clear hearts, we went into the 17th century Shashur Monastery. Built on a hill, it looked abandoned as we explored it. Soon, we heard a Lama(monk) doing his evening prayers and he allowed us to look around. Legend has it that a very pious Deva Gyatso, King of Bhutan built this monastery and used to stay there. When he died and his body was cremated, his heart did not burn. The heart is still in the monastery in his image and a lotus lights it. There is also a fifteen feet Thangka (paintings done on silk depicting Buddha’s teachings). We spent the whole evening on the terrace of the monastery, capturing moments.

Taking time for capturing, Shashur Monastery
Taking time for capturing, Shashur Monastery
A monks's spot, Shashur Monastery
A monks’s spot, Shashur Monastery
Prayer Wheels
Prayer Wheels
Inside the Shashur Monastery
Thangkas inside the Shashur Monastery
Shashur Monastery, Keylong
Shashur Monastery, Keylong

With four days already gone by, the next stretch of immaculate beauty had to be covered. The next day, we went the highest we went in this trip @ 4892 meters. It was the month of June. While the whole world is experiencing heat strokes and the general perspiration, here in the Trans Himalayan range (where the roads are open only for five months months during summers) the sights of revelation made me submerge in its beauty.

Vishal Taal
Vishal Taal
Detailing
Detailing

Zing Zing Bar was our next stop for breakfast. This is where the oxygen level suddenly decreases and bouts of mild Hypoxia hit everyone. It was of no danger at all but we were shivering. The morning sun brought in warmth and we ate flat bread with potatoes stuffed in it(aloo paratha) and drank tea. It was quite a feat to stop laughing.

Zing Zing Bar
Zing Zing Bar

It of course did not end here. The view just got better. The mountains had snow melting as the summer sun shone on it forming surreal waterfalls.

Pleasing to the eye
Pleasing to the eye

The outcome of the shadow falling on it looked like a avalanche was on its way. Scary as it might sound, the repercussions were too less to cause any destruction to the human body but perceptions in the human mind did change forever.

Hard sun
Hard sun
Amidst the snow
Amidst the snow

As we got closer to Baralacha-La (La means Pass), the prayer flags could be seen at a distance and there was boundless snow. These passes are considered holy by the Buddhists maybe because they cite resemblance to what Heaven might look like. Prayer flags are tied on the rocks and as the wind blows, the prayers, they believe are sent to the Gods.

Baralachala, 4892 metres
Baralachala, 4892 metres
Prayers to be sent
Prayers to be sent

As we crossed Baralacha-la, the scenery became more brown. The snow disappered except at the end of the rainbow.

The most treachorous courves
The treacherous curves
The rays of warmth
The rays of warmth

The Indian Army had a strong base here and the Border Roads Organsation(BRO) played the most crucial role here in keeping the route secure for traveling.

Army Bridges that connect. Enroute Sarchu
Army Bridges that connect. Enroute Sarchu
Border Road Organisation (BRO)
Border Road Organisation (BRO)

Sarchu was getting closer and the landscape had a tinge of green now.

Nature calling
Nature calling

The virgin lands of Sarchu was glistening and we got our cameras out and started walking taking in all we could.

Reaching Sarchu
Reaching Sarchu
IMG_1858
Flawless Sights in Sarchu

Being the end of Himachal Pradesh and the entry point to Jammu and Kashmir, a lot of security prevailed here and as innocent by standers, we did our part and turned around.

Sarchu, Himalayan Dhaba
Sarchu, Himalayan Dhaba

On the way back to Keylong, we stopped at Jaipur (Don’t confuse it with the place in Rajasthan with the same name) for some delectable mountain goat and a taste of the village life.

Mountain people
Mountain people

The next day we were going back Parvati Valley where we stay for three more days. The journey on the way back was also full of roadblocks and landslides. BRO did its best but the rest of the travelers/tourists did not help much other than littering and creating noise.

Work in Progress
Work in Progress
Traffic Jam at Rohtang Pass
Traffic Jam at Rohtang Pass on the way back

It started getting green again as we crossed Rohtang and entered the Kullu district.

A stream.
A stream.
Mountain sheep
Mountain sheep

The sound of the gushing Parvati river welcomed us in the late afternoon and we felt at home.

The chat by the river Parvati
The chat by the river Parvati

Three days later, with heavy hearts it was time to “end all things good”. Every aspect of this trip was engraved in my head forever and I shall cherish every song I heard, every no/yes I said and every morsel I had. I came back to the real world but the wordliness made me wiser.

I travelled with five others in June 2011.

NOTES:

Where: Himachal Pradesh.

Spiti Valley: Keylong- Main big town.

How to Reach: Easily accessible by road. Delhi-Manali-Keylong-Spiti Valley

Flights are available from Delhi to Bhuntar

No Trains

Stay: Move to Old Manali and stay a day or two to acclimatize

Purnima Guest House is a peaceful spot the end of the village in Old Manali. The family room that fits six is only for INR1200.

Numerous others can be found with no difficulty.

Eat: Old Manali being a transit for all travelers from all over the world, food here is for every kind. To pure vegetarian, wood oven pizzas, authentic mountain food and the usual, this hill station has it all. Most in house restaurants also has good food.

The Apple Crumble was one of my favorite from the German Bakery and Dylan Cafe’s coffee cookies with a cup of hot tea is scrumptious.

As you wander in the mountains, I would recommend sticking to some local food. Everything is prepared fresh using clean water and garden fresh vegetables and the meat is fresh too.

Best time to Visit: Manali is accessible throughout the year. For information on dates when the passes open to Spti Valley or Lahaul Valley and further to Ladakh, the website of Hiamchal Pradesh Govt. It starts opening around May.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s