The trip to Dharamshala got planned just like that.One fine evening as we didn’t have anything to do to pass sometime prior to dinner we ended up planning a trip to….I don’t recall now what was the initially intended destination…..but there must have been at least a dozen suggestions followed by prolonged discussions.Finally, we found that we were just incapable of reaching consensus.Well then I forgot about it all and one day I found Jagan walking towards my cubicle to inform me that he was indeed going to Dharamshala with some friends and asked if I would like to come along though he was least expecting me to say yes :)
Reaching Dharamshala from Delhi is I guess far more easier than reaching the old Delhi railway station from Noida, so it is highly advisable to keep a margin of atleast one hour if you don’t want your trip to be a “throw yourself in the train at the last moment” types. Well our first moment of bliss was successfully boarding the train with 100% of the group and the luggage of the group in tact but anyways this exercise instilled the spirit of being a group though 75% of the group comprised of people I was meeting for the first time.So, amidst Britannia cakes and a group of cacophonic aunties(according to whom the chain in a train is meant to be pulled when “ladies” can’t board it…..must have been invented by some ultragallant gentleman) we finally reached Pathankot from where we caught (read threw ourselves in) a train for Kangra (the fare for five people was Rs90 only :)) and this was when the group leader started on his “desire is the cause of suffering so I hereby renounce this desire” spree which we had to endure through remaining of the trip but anyways we were going to the place which is the seat of His Holiness ,the Dalai Lama ,”the little Lhasa in India”, so such an outburst of realisations was not very unnatural.On reaching Kangra we had to walk from the railway station to the nearest bus stop, accompanied by a few langurs, from where we caught a bus to the nearest taxi stand.Taxis are generally easily available for Mcleodganj (which was our destination) and by evening we reached there. Mcleodganj is the place where the present abode of the His Holiness, the Dalai Lama is situated. The day we reached,we just strolled around and then got divided in two groups on account of varying paces and spent the remaining time locating each other.Well, after all it was time for dinner and we had a sumptuous dinner of stuffed paranthas, curd etc(no Tibetan delicacies were present in the menu).
The next morning we set out for Triund which lies at the foot of Dhauladhar at a height of 2827m. We must have started at around 10 in the morning.It was an interesting way up, including some crop fields (which some in the group believed to be sugar cane ,while some felt that it was millet but finally the consensus was reached that none of us was good enough to have the final say on the identity of the crop, no wonder we are inhabitants of a country which is said to be an agricultural economy),a water fall cafe which offered hot & cold drinks, lunch,dinner,breakfast and many more “thinks”(see the pic), people cheering us to keep going and ofcourse the picturesque landscape.
It was actually a funfilled trek where we met many interesting people e.g. one caucasian who for no rhyme or reason was climbing with a bicycle which he had to carry since it was not feasible to ride on this difficult to walk terrain.But once we reached Triund, we actually felt that the effort was worth it and realised what those two in the group missed who had given up.We must have stayed there for an hour while having tea and clicking pics. We met another group from Adobe who had planned to go further up and hence were going to stay there on Triund for the night for which facilities are readily available.By the time we started descending,somewhere at the back of our minds we had the apprehension that it might get dark which was confirmed a little later by the tea-stall owner where we stopped to have some tea but then he urged us so hard to buy his torches (obviously overpriced:prices in general have a directly proportional relationship with altitudes) that we got convinced that he was lying to make money but we soon realised our mistake when it actually got dark and we started stumbling at every other rock. To add to our agony we were cordially informed by some people(who had the security of their homes to retire to in night) that there was likelihood of an encounter with “reechh”(bear).So, with our hearts beating hard and legs aching like hell, we continued our descent unaided by any light source apart from our cellphones which soon ran out of batteries.Finally we managed to reach safely to the hotel.We anyhow dragged ourselves to have the dinner and then once retired to bed, it was around 8am the next morning when I came back to consciousness.
On getting up I realised that others were still sleeping and I went out for a stroll. Dharamshala has a kind of unhurried tranquility in its air, a kind of “hereness”(the feeling of being here completely) which gets on your nerves if you go for a solitary walk and you tend to get diverted towards routes which otherwise only a child would have selected, the ones leading nowhere.
So, by the time I was back all were ready for the day and we went to a waterfall, the Bhagsunath temple,the Dalai Lama temple where a discourse by His Holiness was scheduled but we reached a little too late,St. George’s church and the Dal lake which turned out to be the “dull” lake. Afterwards, we went to the International Sahaja Public School,Talnoo which in my opinion is a must see for anyone who goes to Dharamshala.
Then, we heard about some river which was at a little descent and three from the group started off. But we met some local women who told us that there is no point going further down just to see a stream (also informing us that there might be some “reechh” lurking around) with a “What fools you guys are!!!” smile. So, we dropped the idea and came back. And it was on our way back that we had this really profound discussion about “Marketting and what it’s meant for” . I think that there was something in the air that provoked deep thought.Well, we were in midst of discussing the listlessness of our lives when a cute boy slid down from the surrounding slope and said “Fotu”. I think that you won’t have much problem in spotting the “fotu guy” in the pics. And that I guess was the last pic that we clicked in Dharamshala……all in all it was a wonderful trip with a set of completely new people but who seemed like old friends by the end of the trip.