There are trips planned by you and there are trips that happen to you.
It was decided that we would go when Nidhi came to know about a trip being planned to Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh, never discussed just decided. Now she is not the one for much of adventure or roughing it out in the wilderness – it is tiresome and not chic! I love to get dirt on my boots and wind in my face as often as possible. So when she claimed that the trip is on I was pleasantly surprised. It was something we had never done together as a couple and the reason that we went right ahead was the call from The Xplorers – “She is Calling”.
When Khushboo Barry from The Xplorers tells you in her special way that it is a very beautiful place and the experience is altogether different from just a holiday – you get hooked! The team of young enthusiastic, carefree and vibrant bunch of guys giving you a sense of being away from the mundane existence is a release in itself. What else was required other than letting everyone in office know that Goddess is calling and we need to go!
Go it was from the word start for about 40 of us from across India meeting in Delhi, Volvo to Bhuntar, local bus to Kasol and what a sight it was with a snow covered mountain appearing right in the middle of this hamlet, looking like home grown and here to stay (why, have you ever heard of a mountain moving much around). Least interested in hotel or rest we got prepared to explore and the place was all done in 45 minutes. The beautiful Parvati river, white ranges of Pin Parvati, meadows on the other side, Israeli cafes, local handicraft shops and the integral part of hills – simple honest people.
Next day saw us board a bus for Manikaran. Now I will never understand what changes inside or around when one is in a place of worship, something does and honestly I am grateful for that and no more explanations are required – makes one feel so connected, complete, loved and ready to live life once again! It was the best possible start to our first trek together, well planned by the team.
By evening we were among an apple orchard hamlet on a hill top called Kalga. After the rustic authentic barbeque in the jungle, filling our bellies and the bonfire keeping the cold away we called it a day.
Next morning started the trek to Kheerganga, were informed it is a 12 km walk in the forest and mountains to a place with hot springs and snow, together. Exciting enough for us to start walking. On the way there are numerous waterfalls, natural springs, meadows, twisting and narrow paths to be treated with care. Trails are more fun than roads any day and it is the unexpected in the trail and the unprepared in us that makes the journey worthwhile. To us this was a trek which defined that the journey is to be enjoyed too with the sense of reaching the destination, if not more. Each step on the trail makes one see the beauty of nature, ever changing and awesome in so many ways.
Trail manners being adhered to make a big difference too, letting the faster people pass you, leaving no trash or sign of having passed, being quiet and mindful of the surroundings and of course our favourite – resting along the way! It is very sad to see the littering around by people with a disrespectful attitude for nature – God help them get sane soon! We request all fellow travelers to respect Mother Nature and refrain from causing further damage; all of us know we could have done better.
Top of the mountain is such a sight – leaving the pictures to talk and save me the thousand words! Eat, play in snow, eat, sleep, bathe in hot spring, eat and start the walk down. Never before has Nidhi looked forward more to a walk than on this day. Again The Xplorers’ expert sense of the place and attitude of getting it right helped and we came down a different route mostly. It was flush with more waterfalls and springs, jungle openings, foot bridges and even villages. We walked right through some of them meeting the locals with a smile and got gracious greetings. First selfie with some cows! Apple orchards, mustard fields, flowers in bloom and so much green all around makes one just remain in the valley and never set foot in a city again.
It was an evening of rest and catching up in Kasol with all the friends that we made along the way to Kheerganga. When one shares the trail and conquers the self along the way, the people that you meet greet you with a knowing smile and speechlessly connect like friends from another life. It is another magical feeling to be among likeminded mild adventure aficionados and the comfort of not being judged.
We say that “She is surely Calling” all those who care to listen to Mother Nature, Kheerganga it is for the simple reason that this part of the world is still the road less travelled – make friends and find yourself on way.