"Trees are Earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven." ~ Rabindranath Tagore


Himalayan Winter Sojourn

Saravanakumar, Gurusamy finds himself away from the keyboard at Bangalore, enjoying his winter sojourn in Himachal Pradesh.

Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.
~ John Lennon

Life. A perpetual maze of tunnels and roadblocks conveniently placed for us to get lost. Wherever we go, we seem to hit a dead-end or, if we are lucky, end up right where we started. A life full of confusion and commitment. Mostly, we simply fulfill our elementary goals of food, family and money. We limit ourselves by playing it safe, imposing boundaries and rules, sitting at our desks, punching keys for a living, whether we are clerks or CEO’s. Life resembles a coke bottle; you cannot differentiate one from the other. No identity. No adventure. No fun.

Often, it’s the successful people who seek adventure. For them, the sky is not the limit; it’s merely a doorway to the mesmerizing realm of outer space. They are fascinated by the unknown and at the first available opportunity, pack their bags to fulfill a curiosity. For them, Mother Nature is not a mere source of beauty; but also a source of inspiration. They see truth in the mighty mountains which remain unmoved, impervious to rain, wind, sun and snow. In the ocean waves, they see the fighting spirit of the warrior intent on encroaching on the landmass. They hear the waves say, be sure the tide will turn, Travelling they seek and fulfil a purpose, a higher meaning beyond the humdrum, mundane existence of living.

More About Himachal
At a Glance

Return to Manali
Manali to Leh
Road to Khardung La
Dharamshala Diary
Honeymoon Tales


Kinnaur Kailash
Deo Tibba

One unavoidable by-product of travelling is the company of fellow travellers, which only ensures a larger group of friends. You rarely lose a friend on vacation, unless of-course, you push him down a cliff. During holidays, there is a joy of being, a bonhomie, a camaraderie, which makes you smile at strangers, laugh at the faintest hint of a joke.

My winter trek to the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas was initiated by an old schoolmate. My initial reaction was, is he insane or what? Here I was shivering in Bangalore. I looked at the website of the Youth Hostel Association and saw this trip is conducted for only one week in a year, leading me to believe that it must be special. I was not disappointed.

The trip actually got off to the worst possible start, with my best friend, Jagadish, dropping out at the last minute. Murphy’s Laws always work for me. Just when I thought I had all the ingredients for a perfect trip.

Train journeys are always unpredictable; that’s why I love them. Travelling from Bangalore to Delhi, and further north to Himachal, one is compelled to realise we are a secular nation. The sun scorched us the first day, the moon froze us the following night, and we were right in the middle of a riot on the third night. The train journey was drama enough. Finally, we reached the foothills of the Himalayas.

The first day of our trekking expedition was dubbed ‘Acclimatization and Orientation’. Folks who had managed to finally sleep off from sheer fatigue in that biting cold were woken up at 5:30 and offered tea. Everybody cursed. Our rucksacks were filled with blankets to make it heavy, so that we get ‘used to’ carrying weights while trekking. Our destination was the Samadhi of Ajit Singh, uncle of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. It was the ice-breaker that allowed the various groups to meet and mix. Predictably, the girls started with their antakshari!! Of course, they were soon abandoned by the guys who set off to explore the place and take snaps. Just when we reached the samadhi, it got dark. All the locals rushed for cover. A swarm of white particles completely engulfed us. It took us a while to realise we were experiencing our first snowfall. Hurrah! Hurrah!! Hurrah!!! We were children again. Dancing on the streets. Not a care in the world.

I cannot describe how I felt at my first glimpse of the snow-clad peaks. I could not speak. I could not hear. I just stood in awe. I felt so humble and so insignificant. The more I looked up at them, the taller they appeared. The sight was completely overwhelming. The morning sunrise added a golden hue to the peaks. Though I don’t believe in God, I can swear that it resembled Heaven. I took 550 photos in the whole trip. And not one photo can match what I had felt at that time. You have to experience it to know. If the peaks are majestic during the day…they are truly divine at dawn and dusk.


The third day of the trek was indeed THE best. The trek was from Kalatop to Khajjiar spanning 19 kms. 12 of those 19 kms were through a dense jungle. Even the Sun could not filter through the dense foliage to touch the Earth. The sight of those towering trees; the sound of the birds chirping; the wind aimlessly brushing aside shrubs; the smell of the moist earth: it was an awesome experience. Mother Nature at its best in the forests that keep this planet in perfect balance. The forests have taken us from our Neanderthal forefathers to the cradle of our modern civilization. And now, mankind is hell-bent on destroying it.

After four days of trekking in the biting cold, we had covered 40 kilometers. If the sunrise was brilliant, the sunset was nothing short of magnificent. The effulgent sun transformed itself into a golden ball of fire. It was difficult to tell whether it was extinguishing behind the mountains or rising from the ashes. Only the receding light and the lowering temperature made me aware of the fading truth. The evening fog appeared like a sea of white mist and with the golden sun setting in the background, the view was simply majestic. All of us stood at the corner of the cliff and watched it in wonder and awe. Nobody uttered a word, not a muscle moved. Our hearts were full and we knew a peace of mind we had never felt before. We had managed to see a view of a lifetime, and that made us feel lucky.

We enjoyed the nights by the campfire. There were ninety people in our group and not a dull moment. I hardly spoke a word; just listened, contented to enjoy it all. Completing the trek was a sad moment because we had to leave this paradise. However, we were not through with our trip. The New year was around the corner. So we set off for Dharamshala and celebrated the New Year with a mini-trek to a waterfall and a visit to the Dalai Lama Temple. I had never seen a face more tranquil than the face of Lord Buddha at the Dalai Lama Temple. The serenity is palpable. That face can wipe out all sorrow from the mind. I felt wonderful. And glad indeed that I had not greeted the New Year looking at a dumb monitor.

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.