Aloo Parathas and me! Every day I would choose a different small shack/roadside place to sample parathas and hot chai and add to it Aloo Samosas in the evening 🙂
My mornings would be an early visit to the temple, followed by breakfast and then just keep walking. The Dalai Lama’s lecture had ended so the temple was very quiet and even more serene.
Today was the day I would be exploring Dal Lake and Nadi viewpoint. Yup Dal lake, it was tiny in fact a miniature version of the famous Dal Lake of Kashmir.
As I walked along, I came to know from the taxi drivers the walk towards Dal Lake was 3 kms and another 4 kms from there to Nadi view point.
I was in no mood to take a vehicle. I wanted to walk and walk and walk and feel the surroundings, the place, everything there is about Macleodganj.
Steep highs, lows, breathlessness to breathtaking, it was all there as I soaked in the surroundings. Walking around, I saw signs of military areas, cordoned off with warnings and the army keeping a watch over and above and below. I shamelessly waved at all of them as they nodded with a stern smile. Only the army guys knew how to be stern and smile at the same time:-)
The skies were blue and clear and the tiny lake was awesome! So quiet in spite of seeing locals there. Himachali women enjoying the waters, with all their modesty, taking a private space in the lake. Little pleasures in life matter, don’t they?
As I saw a bench and sat down, I noticed a young couple taking romantic pictures Bollywood style. I truly wanted to help them as they were struggling to pose and click but I really didn’t know what their reaction would be so I let them be.
Beautiful, breathtaking Himachal Pradesh… Every pore of it was fresh and somehow I couldn’t get myself off the bench even though I had to walk towards Nadi View Point.
After quite some time, I started my walk towards Nadi. It was a view point. It had a lovely view of all the surrounding villages, mountains, even the snow capped ones.
This was another 30 minutes of elevated walk and I saw all cars, autos, buses going up there and no one walking. This was fun, total fun, to be able to walk up the road, sometimes having dogs, sometimes cows for company and some actually walking along with me 🙂
As I finally reached a point where there was another half a kilometer to the view point, I asked a couple of guys if this was the right route. One of them smiled and said, We are from Dharamshala but this is the first time we are also going to Nadi View Point!
I joined them as we started walking up towards the view point. Imagine our surprise when the view point was not any major one. There was a small signboard that said View Point that’s it 🙂
We all smiled at each other and took in the view. But after a point, I sat down, closer to the edge completely forgetting my fear of heights and took it in. So wrong I was, this was a major view point. One could see miles and miles, mountains after mountains, lush green to snowcapped, small villages to small farms perched precariously..
What a sight it was! As I sat down, the other two joined me too and we had a brief chat. They were a part of the administration and one of them was running a school. He was saying how tough it is for those villages to communicate in times of emergency if one was sick or had an accident.
I was blank, just totally dazed by this view. Worth the 7 kms walk, worth every bit of it. We sat for an hour or so, then I saw the same young couple from Dal Lake walking towards us.
The newly married couple looked very disappointed to see the view point. As we left them, we sat at a nearby chai point and saw a school kids procession, we saw very few Indian tourists coming in and out. Going towards the view point, getting disappointed and coming back to the chai stall within minutes.
As I ordered my second chai, I saw the young couple coming towards us, smiling and asking us all if this was all what it was.They were disappointed through the entire trip here. I could really understand them when they said they had yet to see a snow capped mountain fully. It was a delayed honeymoon after 8 months and they could get only thid time to take a trip.
Driving down all the way from Sangrur, Punjab with a driver who had no idea where to take them around Dharamshala & Macleodganj, they were clueless, lost and it certainly didn’t seem to them to be a tourist place as it was off season.
As we were all chatting, the two men who walked up with me took leave and one of them said I paid for our Chai, no need to pay him. I was totally taken aback, saying But….please NO! He smiled back saying come on, Its the least I could do! Have a good stay here!
The couple were talking about their life back in Punjab, arranged marriage and finally a long due honeymoon that was disappointing them. They said one thing, If you see one green mountain, you have seen it all. I smiled at their naivety, their way of looking at a holiday and it’s true, they expected a lot more than just seeing a small town.
They got completely shocked when they came to know I walked all the way here from Macleodganj and walking back again. They insisted on dropping me back to the Chowk(Junction) by car. I refused, insisted that I wanted to walk back .
They promptly ordered hot Maggie Noodles for me, insisted on me eating it because I was walking back and paid for it! Kindness of such people was overwhelming me. The Chai, the Noodles, it was giving all the way through. I thanked them profusely. I also gave them some places in Dharamshala they could visit, Devi temples and a famous Tibetan Institute and Museum.
As we walked back, they were insisting again. The guy even remarked when I asked about Amritsar and how I would love to visit Golden Temple. He smiled and said, ‘Aap to chalte chalte Amritsar pahunch jayoge’ 🙂 (You might even walk all the way to Amritsar now)
Walking back I was reminiscing about the people i have met so far. Nothing is hunky dory and no travels are perfect. Many a time during my travels I have lost my way, directions and all and sometimes it did feel unsafe and dangerous,at the same time the kindness of people always got me back on track.
We are so inundated with negativity in our lives, by people, news, media that only shows us there is no hope, that humanity has gone down the drain.
Yet time and again, my travels told me NO, a big resounding NO to negativity. A big YES to humanity, to kindness, compassion, to time and again believe in it all. Believe in Love, simple uncomplicated love, and believe in HOPE.
The rest.. I will let the pictures do the talking…
Instead of describing my walk, I will let the pictures do the talking.