Published: March 24th 2010March 24th 2010
Bugged by the exasperating workload, we headed off to Shimla this weekend, to find solace, but only to bump into the whole of Delhi crowd blaring horns in its characteristic fashion. So we bid farewell to the chaotic place, flipping through a local guide book and zipping away on the twisted road, we reached the surprisingly isolated Narkanda (2700 mts)
, 67 kms from Shimla, which proved to be an ultimate holiday destination. Also, along with Thanedar and Kotgarh, Narkanda forms the apple heartland of Himachal. Thank God for the relative bliss. The place was a welcome delight. After the wacky journey there was peace.
The most prominent edifice of Narkanda is the Hatu temple. Hatu is famous for its ski slopes. At a commanding position of 3300 mts, it offers a spectacular view of the glorious snow capped Northern Himalayan peaks that would tempt shutterbugs across the globe. We drove past small hotels and guesthouses (at a rental of Rs 400-500 per night, they are a bargain), and followed the greenly carpeted road up from the crossroads to the Hatu peak. We refused breakfast at Narkanda, though regretted moments later for there was no provision of nothing remotely edible on the way to the summit. The steep grilling terrain to Hatu is out of the ordinary. It meanders through a rich conifer forest which includes blue pine, deodar, fir and spruce. As we gained height, the road grew narrower and dangerously inclined.
Considering the potential problems such as a frosty road or busted tires, we stopped killing the engine and hoping to grab some adventure, began our 4 km trek from Gujjar Kotha
Unlike a sole-destroying trek, it was energizing and soothing at the same time. Stopping by woods to catch some breath, capturing images of the majestically painted mountain range, exploring intoxicating blend of the unusual vegetation around, within 2 hours we reached the snow-crowned ridge. The picture-perfect scenery of the icy wide arc across the northern horizon and the valleys of Rohru and Theog on the south east were captivating. Since the location was quite high, the temperature dropped tremendously. We hurriedly stuffed our bellies at a tea stall and followed it up with a visit to the Hatu temple to pay obeisance to the native God. At a walking distance of merely 30 minutes to the south-east of the temple, we got to Jor Bagh, an ideal campsite. Abruptly, the sun broke down into dark clouds, but fortunately they excused us. May be they hinted us to evacuate and consequently vanished in a nanosecond.
It felt surreal as we leisurely walked along the lake at Gujjar Kotha. The pleasantness around the picturesque lake tranquilizes the body and soul. It, too, offers a peculiar site for camping. The nasty frozen lake persuades a man of fifty to rewind forty years and let go of the adult in him. There was no choice but surrender to the irresistible location and pitch our tent. As night descended on the valley, I laid full length upon the ground in the shadows of the bright moonlight, contemplating the remarkable day I spent in the splendid Himalayas. For the one time in my entire life, I wanted this serene darkness to last forever....