Himalayas. What feeling does this word evoke in you when you read it? Is it spiritual? Is it humbleness that we are absolutely nothing when compared to the grand and might, nature possess? Or is it a longing for you to go there?
I have never been to the Himalayas before and the feeling that I had when I chose this plan for the long weekend I was going to use for travel was absolutely inarticulate. The speculations about the weather were giving us cold feet but nothing stopped us or deviated us from the plan. While the security folk at the airport were busy checking our bags, I was thinking of the delicious street food I can gorge on once we land to Delhi for the evening. But did my dreams come true?
Setting my foot saying ‘here, again!’ on the Capital of India, I vacillated about the dinner plans on the streets of Old Delhi before we board the bus to Bhunter. But the time decided to squeeze us between the clock hands so our dinner plans plunged to the gigantic samosas in the ISBT Kashmere Gate. Finding the right Himachal Transport bus in the ISBT station was no less than a task to find the magic potion that kills the witch in the woods. There were no indications, nor a proper customer care desk in the station. But this Herculean task came to an end after our perspective mode of transport appeared in front of us at a far away area from the main platform. The Himachal state transport buses are shady, to be honest. The leg space was a mean joke for taller people like me. The uncle beside me was having the time of his life snoring in the sultry weather of the Chandigarh roads after the bus took the roads to Bhunter. A little after midnight I slowly dozed off to sleep but only to wake up to a beautiful weather and a valley filled with fog on my left. As the Sun started shining, the Beas river in the valley started showing off its white water hitting the rocks on its way.
The Himachal Road Transport brutally lied about the time it takes for us to reach Bhunter from Delhi. While they showed it takes 11 hrs, we reached Bhunter at around 12.30-1 PM although we boarded the bus at 10 PM the previous day. To our fortune, we found the bus to Kasol in the market area of Bhunter. It was a bus that locals take, but we were charged more than what locals pay. It was a very bumpy ride along the meandering dusty ghat roads. By this time, the journey was already 21 hrs long when we reached Kasol. In the meantime, I befriended this super cool German girl Melanie, who came to India for traveling. She was an exemplary for a hippie on wheels. We were super hungry and so we entered the first cafe we saw; ‘Mama’s Cafe’. Now, Kasol is a place which is frequented by the Israeli hippies. So I could safely bet that the Israeli dishes would be quite good. So I ordered a Shakshouka and yes, it was super creamy and the Pita bread was one of the softest ones I had in a while. The Lemonade too was very good but one complaint I had to make in my mind was the crazy psychedelic music that the Cafe was playing. It was so psyched that I was already feeling high with just the music.
It took us almost 24 hrs to start from Hyderabad and reach our homestay in Tosh. Tosh is a beautiful small and quaint village at the far end of Parvati valley. They charge 900 INR from Kasol to Tosh in a cab. The ‘Valley View’ homestay which justifies the name actually had put up tents for us at the edge of the mountain with a 360-degree view of the snow capped mountains around and the white water of the Parvati river. The hosts were very friendly. I repeat very friendly (420 friendly). There were hemp plants all the way to our tents. What followed was an extremely exhausting fun for the next 2 days. As it was already dark by the time we reached Tosh, we just had a nice bath in the very cold weather and sat for the dinner anticipating delectable heavily butter laced paranthes. We finished our dinner with some brownies ; -) . After 4 hours of high drama, I finally went to sleep at wee hours after laughing at myself looking at the gazillion stars in the sky. But the actual beauty of Tosh came into light when the sun-rays grazed over the peaks of snow-capped mountains and fall on the white waters of the Parvati river. It was a sight to die for to me with a glass of rum and a good company. The whole day was spent strolling on the roads of Parvati Valley with the soothing sounds of flowing river water beside us. Kasol has these German Bakeries which are whimsical and offer some delicious baked goodies. The honey butter cake was very tasty. The Momos near the Taxi counter are really yummy. After buying some essentials, we went back to Tosh after having an early dinner.
Camping on the edge of Tosh with a clear sky full of stars and seriously chilled breezes stabbing us on our weak bodies was an oxymoron with combinations of happiness and malaise. The next day was a serious thriller for us as we trekked to Kheerganga with a few unexpected twists in the plan. Kheerganga is the part of the plan which is something that we would have never wanted to skip. After a long discussion of various possibilities that could get us killed/lost, we just went for it and had an amazing time. By the time we came down, it was already lunchtime. To our adversity, the traffic became a catastrophe in Manikaran and there were literally no cabs to go to Kasol. So we had to walk all the way from Manikaran to Kasol with our luggage on the back. With few judders and twitches, we finally caught the bus to Delhi in Bhunter. The following day in Delhi is very special to all of us and etched a mark on our hearts. Do you ask why? First, we had hot showers with soap and a nice bed to crash. Second, we had Old Delhi street food in our mind.
The Himalayas can get you infected with the eternal longing to be there. The more you go, the more you start craving for them. I definitely am going back again and will keep going back.