A little trip

We left on the evening of the 6th – P and me. A bus to Dharamshala where we’d booked a hotel. A Volvo bus, as FM insisted. Since we booked at the last minute, we had seats in the last row of the bus – the centre one and the one next to it. FM takes one look and says, “How can you sit there, there isn’t even a seat belt! You’ll fall off if he hits the brakes!” We convince him it’s ok, and finally we’re off. We have cute neighbours, at least!

Dinner stop, the parathas I made at home are too salty and the ones at the dhaba are too hard, so we get back on to the bus half-hungry. Turns out the cute neighbours are friends who happen to be between/before jobs at the same time and are holidaying together. One of them’s been to Dharamshala before, and tells us we should really stay at Dharamkot, where they’re staying… ahem!

Worst part about cute neighbours? Won’t shut up! I want to sleep! Finally they fade away, only to start snoring… and then the ghat road begins. And the driver seems to be a maniac. I look out of the window to take my mind off my churning stomach, and see those hills… they’re appearing as if out of nowhere, as the sky lightens, more and more of them in all shades of blue and purple and gray…it’s beautiful! Suddenly, we turn a corner and the colours change – the sky is orange and gold and the hills are a greenish blue! So my first sight of the Himalayas is an hour-and-half long dawn…

Of course, by the time we reach the hotel, I’m dead tired, but smiling happily at the man at the desk, till he tells me the room’s not empty yet and we’ll have to wait! We finally get a room, find the drains don’t work and get changed into the Room with the Spectacular View… which is worth all of it!

A quick bath and we’re off too take a taxi to see the local ‘sights’, finish that and get dropped off in McLeodganj, where we spend some time admiring the Tibetan market, till we’re too tired to do any more. Our taxi driver’s wonderful, though – tall, handsome hillman of indeterminate age, beams at us when we tell him the Himalayas are beautiful. He’s also our tour guide – tells us what to look for and where to take photographs from at the ‘Tibetan temple’ and the Bhagsu ‘falls’.

The temptation to compare Dharamshala to Bailakuppe is strong, but that’s another story!

Having decided that we just want to walk in the mountains the next day, we choose the trek from Dharamkot to Triund as one we can manage, and leave by 6 30. At Dharamkot, the taxi driver says the road is motorable till the Galu temple, and that he’ll take us there. It’s too scary to do by road, though, and we send him off halfway up and walk the rest of the way. Milky chai and buttery toast at the tea shop there sets us on the course to Triund. We start walking, come to a spot that requires rock climbing, which we definitely aren’t prepared for, decide to try and find an alternate path, scramble around for a couple of hours among breathtaking views, and decide we can’t make Triund anyway, so we might as well walk back down. On the way back, we realize we’d taken the wrong path at the very first fork, but decide not to do anything about it… just sit and enjoy the view.

The trek downhill to McLeodganj brings us there at 12ish, feeling nice and hungry. So lunch at the monastery café for me and at a posh looking Indian joint with crap food for P, a little bargaining over silver jewellery, and we’re back in Dharamshala by 2. Take another hotel room for the afternoon, sleep a little, chai and ‘snacks’ and we’re waiting for the bus. We almost miss it, not realizing that the dilapidated metal heap we’re looking at is the Super Deluxe Volvo Semi-Sleeper.

Medication keeps me from puking all over the place on the way down, but poor P’s not so lucky. On top of that, the bus breaks down halfway down a hill and we wait beside it for an hour. What a moon – and the stars are closer here than they can ever be in the city. But at least, now we can sleep. Advantage of blocked nose – can sleep in seat that’s been recently puked over.

Back in Delhi, the next day back to Hyderabad – and a first hour class today.


One Response

  1. […] few people know of it, but it’s a beautiful place, quieter and less crowded than Dharamshala, which I visited a year or two ago. The day and night we spent there were memorable as much for the people we met as for the place […]

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