Copyright: Rachna Devraj / Edited by: Smriti Kedia
A trek to the Himalayas- nothing sounded better to Smriti and me for the past 2 months since we registered for it. We were from Hyderabad and had big plans for the trek ahead; our first halt had to be at Delhi and from there to Pathankot.
We started of on the 21 morning for Delhi and had loads of fun on the way; we shared our compartment with some military guys who taught us this awesome game sweep (cards) which went on till one in the night. We then landed at Delhi where Smriti’s friends received us and we spent time shopping, yapping and eating.
We then boarded the train to Pathankot at night. The train to Pathankot was delayed by 5 hours therefore we reached there only at 1:00 PM. Next we moved to Pathankot bus stop to take a bus to Dalhousie. Here we met a friend Shishir who I had spoken to online, to take a few hints about the trek. He had done the same trek last year and was repeating it this year. From thereon, the 3 of us were together.
[@ Pathankot Bus Stand]
We reached Dalhousie at about 6:30 that evening. As soon as we finished reporting we had to go for dinner and then there was a camp fire by the people who had reported the previous day. The food organized by YHAI was really amazing we had lots of custard for dessert. There would be one sweet (mostly fluid) apart from paratha / phulka, 1 / 2 sabjis, dal and papad. The food was really a treat and we all took snaps with the very friendly cooks. The camp fire presented by DW-4 (people who reported on the day before) was quite good and we had a lot of fun. Since it was an eco-friendly trek we never burnt wood but lit a candle instead. SAVE THE FORESTS MY FRIENDS
The next day there was a wake up call at 6:00 and we had to go for the early morning exercise. I fortunately got there just in time when the group was about to leave. It was a jog till Subash Chowk (It seems there are only 2 chowks in Dalhousie - Subash Chowk and Gandhi Chowk). We then had some warm up exercises which we enjoyed after the breath taking jog. After breakfast, we started our acclimatization walk till the Panchpula waterfalls. This was about 5 km and we made lots of friends on the way. There were 10 lawyers practicing in the high court of Kerala. They are also members of this society called LEAF (Lawyers Environmental Association). There was a group of 10-11 people from Bangalore (most of them in the software industry) and another 16-17 people from Goa. They were mainly school kids. It was a very enthusiastic group indeed.
The same night we presented the camp fire to the new arrivals. As for Smriti and I, she directed a musical skit and was part of it (as the actress) and I with 2 others was singing songs for the musical skit. Since that day was Christmas Eve Thomas and I sang 2 carols to conclude the session. The next day we were off to the higher camps. There was a boat song performance by the lawyers from Kerala. That was one of the best performances along with Smriti’s skit.
The higher camps
The first day’s trek was to Kalatop (4000 ft) - an 8 km uphill trek. It was called Kalatop because the place was a hill top and never received sunlight because of the dense cover of the deodar trees. The terrain wasn’t very rocky. The sunset over there was a real treat. On our arrival we were welcomed with hot soup. We stayed in a log house at this place. It was the same place where Manisha Koirala stays in the movie 1942 a love story. At night there was a camp fire again and we all sang lots n lots of songs. Not to forget we celebrated Sadhu uncle’s wedding anniversary too.
Next day we moved on to Khajjiar - the Switzerland of India as it is popularly called. An 11 km trek at a height of 8000ft. This trek was simply superb - the worst of terrain, but the best of fun. On the way to Khajjiar our lunch point was at this valley after climbing down 1 mountain and before climbing up the next 1. It was such a beautiful place with a stream flowing in between and there were some pahadi women and their children who were making omelets, maggi and chow-mien. Amazing food in our packed lunch too! But all said n done the pahadi women literally stole the show. They were very beautiful and no matter what they made sure they had smeared their lips with several coats of lipstick (invariably red or pink).
When we had about 1km to reach Khajjiar there was a 600 yrs old temple that we visited. A real beauty I must say. We reached our hotel Sunil inn at Khajjiar to once again get a welcome soup n a happy meal. It was followed by a camp fire again which were loads of fun. Will not disclose why. It is only for my trekker friends to understand. The star at Khajjiar was Nitin, he was a star gazer n was very kind enough to show us the sky thru his telescope. We saw the moon, Saturn n Jupiter thru it. It was a blessing indeed.
The next day morning we left for Mangala, our final camp, a valley at 4000ft.so it was a knee aching 400ft downward walk from Khajjiar. We did lots of masti on the way and finally reached Mangala where the very sweet camp leader was waiting for us much before the actual camp sight. The Bangalore guys now left because they wanted to leave for Dharamshala and Manali ASAP. It was not very easy to say a bye because we had all become good friends now.
We then arranged a bus and went to this town called Chamba. Well this is that place where Ash lived in the movie Taal. You are right we did have a filmy trek. Some of us shopped there it’s famous for its Chamba chappal. We then had dinner and returned back to have yet another but this time our last camp fire. The camp leader hear was class apart and he really was the man to hear at the camp fire. We all shared our good and bad views on the trek and were very sad that it was coming to an end. Each one of us was felt like we have been together for so long now and parting was going to be bad.
We reached Dalhousie the next day at 10.30 after having lots mouth watering Chole Bhature. We all collected our certificates n finally some people managed to have a bath after 8 days, but mind you we were enjoying the dirt. We took lots of photos n bid farewell to the camp. But it is not over yet.
From Dalhousie 13 of u left for Amritsar accommodation. We reached there in the night at about 9:00, managed to get a decent accommodation and then went off for dinner. By the time we came back it was about 12:30. There was a darshan at the Gurudwara (Golden temple) a ceremony where in they take the Granth Sahib from the dome opposite the main Gurudwara and place it in the main sanctum sanctorum. This was to be held at 4:30 in the morning. I had not had bath for the last 6 days so got up at 3:30 and fortunately got hot water and had a bath. We were there at the Gurudwara around 4:35.but we made it in time for the darshan. Well we came back at around 5:30 after chai at the temple and fell asleep again. The temple was a beauty .it had its own charm and I cannot find words for it.
We got up at 10:30, went to the Gurudwara after breakfast (only 4 of us had gone in the morning the others had to take darshan, had langar at the temple and then came back checked out from the hotel, arranged a cab, went to Jallianwala Baugh. And then Wagah border to watch the parade there – oh! It was real patriotic feel. The border seemed so unnecessary we India and Pakistan were so close. By the time we were done with this it was time for the LEAFs to take their train so we rushed back to the city (Wagah is about 30kms away from Amritsar city). But we still managed time to stuff our selves with lots of Pani Puri. We bid farewell to the LEAFs.
Then 3 of us - Shishir, Smriti and I then went to a nearby dhaba and had amazing aloo kulcha and paneer chole sabji. Shishir got Smriti and me each a box of celebrations chocolates. The thought never even occurred to the two of us. Next we got into the train to Delhi.
When we reached Delhi we put out stuff in the cloak room once again and sent off Shishir. He had to take a flight to Bombay. After spending the day at Smriti’s relatives place we took the train back to Hyderabad the same day evening.
At the train we met one of the people we had met in the onward journey (it’s a small world indeed).He came the next day morning and made sure we went to his coach and played sweep once again. We reached Hyderabad at 8:30 on the night of 31st.We were home for the new year and were very happy to set off 2006 with a blast.
We learnt lots of new things on the trek and made lots of new friends but the most important lesson was that. You do not get a chance always so whenever you get one doesn’t let it pass by. Live life the big way.