Rambling through the Himalayas – Shradha BankaApril 27, 2016
Big secrets about yourself can only be revealed when you start walking alone – into the woods, to the mountains, in the snow, on the silent streets, in the crowd, in the church and in the graveyard…
Times when you don’t understand what is going around, everything around you is messy. The first thing I did that morning after getting up was to pack my bag, and all I knew about that morning was what John Miur said, “ Mountain is calling me and I must go”. The thought became surprisingly good when my friend also packed her bag, cancelling the ticket to her home. And this is how our journey started from Delhi to Kasol.
Trips like these have finally taught me what to carry in my bag and the idea is ‘’carry nothing’’. And this is what a crazy friend advised her ditto crazy friend –“dear friend, let’s forget everything from this moment; let’s forget who we have left behind , who we are on the outside and find what is hidden inside of us” . The first step to fulfill this thinking was to turn off our cell phones. Actually, we did not turn them off, but luckily they got exhausted by themselves and the good thing about such journey is that you don’t find sockets at every place; and good thing about me is that I don’t carry chargers on such events. (Not a good thing for those, who are worrying about you.)
We reached Bhuntar early in the morning and waited for the local Himalayan buses to take us to Kasol. I have been to Manali with my friends before, but this was my first trip to Kasol. After the crazy ride on the hills, we reached our destination. Our stomach needed food and our body beds; but the enchanted air was enough to keep us lively. I was unsure if my slippers were suitable for trekking and I saw no shops from where I can buy a pair of shoes. The local people showed us the bridge; crossing which, our real journey started. We were going to Grahan, a small village, which I had heard about from my friend. He had showed me the pictures and from that moment I wanted to visit this place, not knowing it would happen like this.
The people suggested us to take a local guide along with us,but we started walking into the woods, where rivers, pipes and arrows were there to guide us. Woods were dark and trees were beautiful. All you had to do was make friends with stones and they would not let you fall. Though in my case, it took a little time. I fell, ate mud, got cramps but I am not blaming those stones. It was all the fault of my inch heeled slippers. The air in there had some magic which kept us fanatical. The irony is that, though we were two which did not make us alone, people were precluded and when we asked why, they replied- it’s very rare to see two girls alone wandering in the forest. The chastity of water flowing from the high mountains allayed our hunger. Crossing bridges and river, sliding on plains, climbing on rocks, the 9km trek gets over and finally the Sun was ready to set.
On reaching there I was disappointed to see no clouds like I saw in those pictures but what I did see there, I wondered if he saw too! I saw myself surrounded with four different types of mountains and hills. On the right side, the mountains were just like we used to draw in our drawing book; three hills among which the middle one was small and just above that, the sun was shining and waving goodbye. The hills on the left were covered with snow. The hills on the back were covered by long trees and in the front they were just quiet and breathing calmly. The environment was friendly, and musical. I saw men on guitar, children in dust and unknown people who assembled together to admire the beauty. Later, the crescent moon replaced the sun and the million stars accompanied. It was the best sky with full of stars I have seen till now.
The next morning, I went to see the water fall which was again 3km far away. My friend was tired and stayed back. I still don’t know whether I reached the place or not but now I know that “the more I travel, the more I become wise”.
When I came back, I saw my friend ‘Nazia’ had already left an hour ago as if she read my mind; not that she wanted to leave this place early but for the promises she made to people to return back soon. I decided to complete my journey together as we started together. The people and the children waived me goodbye with those beautiful smiles and respect.
Going back alone was another experience which we both had differently. There were times, I revealed myself to the nature, where I shouted, ran and sung. There were times when I just silently looked at those valleys. There were also times when I got scared; when it was getting dark and I lost myself twice in the woods. I also passed people who surprisingly knew me by my name as they had already met Nazia on their way. I was excited to meet her in between but it never happened. I also remember a cute conversation I had with that local lady. At first, I was unable to understand her words. She asked me if I was alone. I said – "“Yes, my friend must be waiting in Kasol”. She asked me again why I was shouting “woooo! Woooo!” I replied, “Because I am happy”; she smiled and we both shouted again together. I don’t remember if anybody has hugged me in the last few years like that lady did.
As soon, as I reached Kasol, I went to the booth and made a call but her phone was switched off. (Guess she was following my idea very rigidly).
THE FEELING OF BEING VULNERABLE
I did not book my bus ticket as it had a very low chance of arriving on time. The last bus to Bhuntar finally came and I reached very late. The next task was to get a bus to Delhi. I stopped every Volvo but unluckily, they had no seats for me. Standing alone on the highway made me feel vulnerable, so I made up my mind to sit on any local bus which comes next either for Shimla, Chandigarh or Delhi. The bus came for Delhi and without giving another thought I took that bus and next morning I reached safely, ignoring the number of brakes on the way back which hurt my head. When I called Nazia I found that I reached before her and she was travelling safe in the Volvo via Chandigarh.
It was an unsafe trip but what I learnt and what I felt is more priceless. After that trip I travelled alone again to Kasol as it seemed like a home to me now. And I have been saying this to me since then; Big secrets about yourself can only be revealed when you start walking alone into the woods, to the mountains, in the snow, on the silent streets, in the crowd, in the church and in the graveyard…
Ps- god bless my slippers which got torn just after I finished my trekking back to Kasol.
TIP: KASOL IS NOT A PLACE TO TRAVEL, IT IS THE PLACE FROM WHERE YOU TRAVEL AND EXPLORE.