It was a clear day with sun rays warming our bodies that have gone numb due to the chill in the air. High snow clad peaks bordered with Golden oak and deodar kissing the deep blue sky above, welcomed us to Auli. A look at the place and all our tiredness of long journey through zig zag roads, landslides and pilgrims traffic is gone.
Auli, 498 Kms from Delhi, is situated at an altitude of 2915 mts-3049 mts is surrounded by peaks of Nanda Devi, Chaukhamba, Panch Chuli, Mana and Kamet and is one of the best skiing spots in India.
After basking for a while on a natural green carpet, we started walking around to explore the place. We were attracted towards the forest that was visible from where we parked ourselves. So without wasting any time we started walking towards it.
An encounter with locals
Met Kunti devi, Lalita and Kuldeep on the way. Kunti, who lives in a nearby village, was going to deliver milk to families at Government quarters and Lalita to feed salt to her cattle, that she says is important to keep their digestive system in shape.
Far on the top we could see a potato farm that Kuldeep said he is coming from.
After spending some time talking to them we headed towards the ski resort of GMVN (Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam). It is believed to be one of the world’s best skiing sites probably because High altitude peaks bordered with deodar trees minimize the speed of the wind which helps the skiers to enjoy their joyride smoothly. Skiing training is conducted by the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam for both learners and experts.
Golden Oak and Pine Forest
The resort looked like a labyrinth of stairs. On climbing to the top we discovered a car chair lift to the point where skiing is done in winters. There was an artificial lake constructed by GMVN to prepare snow for Skiing that Kuldeep had mentioned excitedly and told us not to miss. But for us city dwellers who live in artificiality day in and day out, it was not the attraction. We wanted go up and up and lose ourselves in the serene nature. So we decided to trek to the Golden Oak forest.
By this time weather had changed its flavor. The sun has been engulfed by dark clouds and the sweet sun shine day had been turned into a harsh chilled breezy day. We had plans to leave Auli by end of the day but considering the weather we decided otherwise. And it turned out to be the best decision of our trip.
Encircled by the snow-laden Himalayan peaks is a dense forest of Pine and golden oak, so serene and noiseless that you can hear the sound of rustling leaves under your feet. The unique thing about the forest is the carpet of purple lilies, the Sagebrush Buttercup and white daisies.
After spending good two to three hours in the forest we had to return to GMVN as it started raining. Weather had changed its flavor, the sun has been engulfed by dark clouds and the sweet sun shine day had been turned into a harsh chilled breezy day.
The water drops wetting us and cool breeze teasing by blowing even faster after the shower. Never before has rain felt so good.
Wet body, aching limbs and satisfied heart is what we came back with. After doing some photography here and there and teasing friends about the kind of place we are at, we drifted into the world of dreams.
We woke up to a fresh morning and trekked towards a small temple on the top of one of the hills. It was still dark outside and not even a single soul was to be seen. We witnessed the first rays of the sun falling on majestic Himalayas.
After sunrise at around 6.00am, some activity started. Few more wandering souls came out with their cameras, and some believers were out to offer their prayers and a lot of activity around the Indo Tibetan army base. A thus started another day and we headed towards Chopta, our next destination.
Serenity of solitary forests, strength of Majestic Himalayas and simplicity of smiling locals is what we bought along.