Waking Up In Dharamshala.
This morning as I boarded a flight from Delhi to take me home after a short vacation, I tried hard to fall asleep after a sleepless road trip. But I couldn’t as my mind kept gathering all the memories and experiences that I was carefully carrying back to Hyderabad.
Now, what’s the big deal about traveling, you must wonder. Everyone is traveling, everyone is seeing places. But I haven’t. This was the first time I traveled to a place without my family or one that doesn’t have my family residing in. This was the first time I stepped out of the confines of my comfort zone, and the result was…..well, let’s see.
Our journey to Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh began with a road trip from Delhi. As we crossed over Panipat, Ambala, Kurukshetra, Ropar, Jalandhar, I was amazed at the beauty of these towns, the vast sprawling sunflower fields, and the dhabas with all loud music and authentic food. All the places I’ve learned about in Geography were right in front of me.
The weather, magically, changed as we entered Himachal Pradesh. It kept getting pleasant and the fact that we were getting closer to the destination got us very excited. The ghat roads that led us to Dharamshala were flanked with the picturesque view of the mountains and the towns we were leaving behind.
But the real breathtaking moment was when we first saw the Dhauladhar Ranges, the southern branch of the Himalayas. The weather got colder as the mountains got closer. We finally reached Dharamshala by 8 PM and checked into a delightful homestay we found on AirBnB.
The whole point of our trip was the much coveted Triund trek that we started on our second day. We took a cab to Galu temple and began our trek at 11:50 AM. The 6 KM trek took us around four and half hours. The weather in Triund is more unpredictable than my mood swings. One moment, it’s all sunny and bright, and the very next moment, it’s all gloomy and raining. And often, hailing too. But why am I complaining? I love the rain.
The pathway that led us to Triund was beautiful. It was laced with greenery, coniferous trees, mountain goats, and dogs that were too lazy to do absolutely anything. How I envy them!
We took ample breaks and refreshments to ensure we had enough energy to complete the trek. We ate Maggi at Magic View, the oldest chai shop since 1984 as it claims, and devoured the warm lemon honey ginger tea. The Tibetan prayer flags and the encouraging trekkers going downhill simply made our trek better. But after reaching the top with sore feet, swollen calves, and zero energy levels, the mere view of the Himalayas was enough to give us an adrenaline rush.
We set up our tents such that we could see the Himalayas clearly. There were a few tiny shops set up on the hill, which we visited during our strolls. The mountains blew our minds from every angle, like the face of a person which is carefully sculpted to look the most attractive in every frame and angle.
The sunset was a tearjerking moment for me. I wept in silence and isolation, unable to even believe that I was standing right in front of the Himalayas. We often hear that a picture is worth a thousand words. But how can a picture or thousand words or even their multiples make justice to the majestic splendour of the Himalayas? It would be outrageous!
That night, we dined in front of the campfire and under the light of the full moon and thousand little stars. It almost felt that everything I imagined was right there and I was unable to take it all in at once. It was too much to devour. Too much to express.
I couldn’t sleep all night, thanks to the pranks my friends pulled on me. But I was too excited to not miss the sunrise, which I eventually did miss. So, I spent a couple of minutes lying supine under the stars, staring at the Himalayas and thanking Heavens for a creation that magnificent. Which led me to another set of fond sobs.
We started our trek downhill at around 8:00 AM and reached down by 11:30 AM. We tried to finish it as soon as we could so that we could visit Mcleodganj. Our hands were soiled with dust, shoes were slightly beaten out of shape, and every inch and fiber of our bodies ached. But it was a great feeling, you know?
That evening, we visited the Dalai Lama temple, which was pretty crowded as it was a Saturday. The temple was peaceful with visitors indulging in Yoga, meditation etc. The bookstore inside the temple had a good deal of books on Buddhism and Tibetan culture. We spent around 30 minutes in the temple and headed over to the Mcleodganj Square for some shopping. Shopping, yay! The streets of Mcleodganj were straight out of a Ruskin Bond book, where time stood still and gently swayed, coming alive in the form of the wonderful antiques, local jewelry, pashmina shawls, aroma of hot momos, and everything a hoarder like me could ask for.
I shopped till my heart’s content (actually that’s a lie) and visited Tibetan Kitchen for dinner.
As the day came to an end, we went back to our home stay for ample rest to prepare for our return journey. Sniff!
Our return journey to Delhi was again a road trip. The goodness of this was a short halt at the Heritage Haveli in Ropar where we demolished Punjabi thalis and tumblers of Lassi. Leaving behind all the towns and cities we crossed 4 days ago was sad but the joy of going home didn’t seem so bad after all. Especially when I know people at home were waiting for me to come back and tell them all the stories I’ve lived here.
I’ll be honest, though. The idea of going so far from home initially, especially to a place so cold and a trek that demanded all of my stamina was scary. But then as a certain someone said to me, take the first step a wild one, I did. And I think I will keep taking more. And so much more. For what would I not do to wake up to the view of the Himalayas, cry my heart out, and feel humble?
What’s to love?
- We crossed 4 states in a matter of 8 hours.
- Triund trek: A 12-kilometer round trek to Triund which is 9325 feet above sea level.
- The Himalayas which I’m definitely going back to. To remember how small and inconsequential are my issues.