The Himachal prelude

It wasn’t my first visit to Himachal.

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Magical sun rays

The state had been privy to my childhood vacations and there was always a sense of nostalgia associated with the hills.It wasn’t my first encounter with sweeping curves either. I had seen the magnificent deodhars before and walked on the endless stone paths.

 

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The Shrikhand Mahadev range at Sarahan

Then why was I left speechless this time?

I start to write thinking there is oodles to write home about.

To write about discovering the secret valley of flowers with Doreen at Sarahan and the thick layers of clouds engulfing the Giri valley at Fagu.

 

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Flowers at Sarahan
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Layers of clouds, Fagu

The fairy tale villages of Batseri and Chitkul and the treacherous roads of Kinnaur.

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Sharp bends at the Old Indo-Tibet road

 

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Rustic Kinnauri villages

The varied fragrances of the Himalayan forests and the sacred Buddhist chants in monasteries.

The mesmerising architecture of the wooden temples of local deities: Bhimakali in Sarahan, Chandrika Kothi in Reckong peo, Badrinarayan in Sangla, Mathi in Chitkul and Nag Narayan in Kalpa.

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Bhimakali temple at Sarahan

Bubbling brooks and clear rivers singing their own songs as they traverse in the valleys, joyful just like the children running home after school with their infectious smiles.

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The pristine Baspa at Chitkul

Freezing nights in the cozy tents at Kinner camps at Sangla with Tulsi and his delicious buckwheat cake and the unmatched hospitality at Grand Shamba la at Kalpa by the ever so kind Prithvi Raj Negi.

 

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Tulsi and his masterpiece at Kinner Camps, Sangla
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The library at Hotel Grand Shamba La, Kalpa

Walking under tree canopies and on moss covered paths and watching the sun rise and set over the sacred Kinner Kailash giving it varied hues: pink, tangerine and orange.

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Endless conversations with ILP over apple juice and not missing home food thanks to Sharma ji’s dhaaba and my favourite Rajma chawal time and again.

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Sharma ji’s Dhaaba

Crazy shopping sprees ( facilitated by Pawan) and the even crazier attempts to pack it all in one bag.

Walking through apple laden trees in orchards and plucking them to my heart’s content after Ankit’s Apple plucking tutorial.

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Apple magic!

 

 

 

Riding on the edge on NH 22( the Hindustan Tibet road) and letting the cold breeze hit my face as I looked out of the window watching the rugged mountains whiz by.

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The NH 22

Meeting the humble Anil Nair riding for the cause of cancer patients and the sighting a spectacular OM over the Kinnar Kailash mountain range ( courtesy : Mr. Nair’s heads up).

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The magical sunrise at Kalpa

Capturing the giggly ladies making juice at the HIMCO factory and doing a photo shoot for them and being awed by the sheer talent of the young girls at the Baalika ashram.

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Seeing how silver jewellery is made intricately in tiny houses and decking up in all the bridal finery. Gazing at the bright cottages perched up on the cliffs and longing to own a house of my own in the hills.

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Traditional Kinnauri jewellery

 

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A HOUSE in the hills!!

Spotting an umpteen variety of mushrooms in the forest trail at Chail and getting goosebumps at the Sacred grove at Kalpa.

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Walking in the sacred Grove, Kalpa

Falling in love time and again: with wild flowers, berries and  handsome Kinnauri men( read: police).

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Losing the way in the mist of the palace grounds at Chail to losing network for hours and not caring a tad bit.

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Misty Chail palace grounds

Feeling one with the Baspa river at Chitkul dipping my feet in the ice cold water with the mountain goats for company.

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Standing at the edge at suicide point at Roghi village and valuing life all the more. Meditating over a rock at Hatu peak and being one with the forest.

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The Suicide point at Roghi Village

Traveling back in time at the Maharaja’s palace and savoring nature sitting at the parapet in Chail.

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Forest at Chail

 

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Palace grounds, Chail

Watching weavers weave magic in black and white squares as they make the gorgeous kinnauri shawls and conducting a photography workshop in Van Vihar.

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Kinnauri shawl weavers

Huffing puffing and climbing up to see priceless views of the snow capped peaks. Singing to the trees and watching them nod back in approval at times or simply stand unperturbed indifferently.

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View from Van Vihar, Kalpa

Meeting beautiful souls all through at different legs of the journey and not wanting to come back to the concrete jungle.

As the descent began, I was engulfed with a mad feeling to run back to the hills and hug them tightly with all my might.

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Mountain Love

It wasn’t my first visit to Himachal, yet leaving it this time felt different. I had tanned myself, broken the screen of my iPhone and my luggage was ridiculously overweight.

Yet it all seemed good. Like a thick blanket of positivity and magic sprinkled by the Deodhar trees.

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Kinner Camps, Sangla

Like I was leaving a place that felt so like home only to come back and blend in effortlessly again.

Like I was taking with me a bag full of achaars and spices and dry fruits and apples and stories and smiles and secrets and mountain air in my lungs and leaving behind a part of my heart in the hills.

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Autumn colours

Maybe in Apple orchards or behind the big wooden doors of that house in Batseri village or maybe on the banks of the Baspa or the rugged path to the sacred grove.

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Batseri Village, Sangla

I don’t know where but wherever it is, I know for a fact, it’s in safe hands.

Safer than mine perhaps!

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Feels like home.

65 thoughts on “The Himachal prelude

  1. Your hands are pretty safe too 🙂
    I’m glad you found that little place which helped you see things in a better perspective.
    Photography and the writing are spot on as usual – !but I know for a fact there is more than the words and photos can describe 🙂

  2. Thank you Divya for bringing back the magic of Kinnaur through your magnificent writing and photos.
    I fell in love with Kinnaur exactly 30 years ago on a trek to the Shibaling pass near Sangla. Now I am falling back in love through your beautiful blog. Eagerly waiting for more posts

  3. Before I visited the state of Himachal, I went through many suggestions for which places to visit, what to do etc. After reading your post I could only find one place which someone asked me to visit I.e Fagu.
    The places you visited are not listed anywhere. These are untouched mostly.. And you’ve been there. I’m jealous! Hehe.. The pictures are beautiful.. The activities you took part in, the scenic beauties you got to witness is far more than anyone could see in 2 or 3 visits. Words cannot justify what you felt there. Good one divsi!

    1. Thanks Lance! 🙂 The hangover is still.right.there. Next time you plan to go to Himachal , put Kinnaur right UP there on your list. Not being partial but I absolutely adored this part of HP. Much more than the Western part.

  4. Can I envy you please. Incredible journey!
    And the variety of subjects you have shown me in these pics has left me confused about which I like the most!
    The people pics were the cutest!

  5. Fabulous. As Doreen mentioned I was in that region 30 years ago and all those memories came rushing back. Alas I have become a Mumbai mountain now, so much as I may wish have to make do with pictures. Thanks a ton for this wonderful account and pictures.

    1. Thank you Sir! 🙂 I can imagine totally how this paradise would be 30 years ago, even more pristine and untouched! 🙂 Glad you liked the account. Thanks for reading 🙂

  6. I had been to Himachal and traveled extensively when I was not blogging, pity…but I love Himachal and your post makes me pick my camera and visit again Divsi. Wonderful captures. Did you try the mixed veg pickle you get in every restaurant there…i loved it so much that I got a bottle home 🙂

  7. Thanks a million, Divyakshi. Confined to being an armchair traveller, you more than transported me to the abode of the gods: you are so good with your lens and lips. Look forward to a lot more meandering with you.

  8. How Blessed we were to be on this fab trip,as Doe says we were the chosen ones ! You Divya were the baby of the group and behaved like one at times ( a lovable one ) Reading your prelude has made me relive those beautiful moments again and your pics speak more than a thousand words.Of course the prelude has whetted our appetites and we eagerly await the main course, sorry posts !

    1. I was one of your “chosen ones” Doe, at the start of your Ecotours venture :(…sooo miss your jaunts….but for the moment I have a bigger mission at hand.

    2. And “Aastha” loved troubling Glo-Mo 😀 Thanks <3 Glad you liked it! was such a pleasure traveling with you 🙂 Thanks for making the trip memorable!

  9. Wow! Amazing pictures and write up, Divsi! I wonder how you took the pictures of those narrow roads. Must be scary? And the one in which sun rays peeping in from the trees is wonderful too. 🙂

  10. Breathtaking, I am swooning over your pictures, Divsi! The hills are a magical place indeed especially for urban folks like us, they are a gateway to a heavenly world. Such a wonderful visual treat, looking forward to more!

  11. Finally I got hold of your latest posts . I guess there was some problem with the RSS feed . This has been like a poetry on internet . Have thought many times visiting HP but somehow it has never worked out .

  12. Though Saru is from Himachal, I haven’t covered most of it. Just been to a couple of places including Manali and Barog…not even been to Simla yet.

    Your longing to visit it again makes me want to spend a lot of time there. I adore it in general anyway!

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