Bdan sameth ke le jaaye jaise shaam kee dhoop,
Tumhaare shahar se main is tarah guzarta hoon.
Mujhe sukoon ghane janglon mein milta hai,
Main raaston se naheen manzilon se darta hoon.
As the sunlight gathers itself in the evening and fades away,
I pass through your town in the same away.
I find succour in the dense forests,
I am afraid of destinations, not of the pathways.
Much later in my backpacking trip, as I would sit amidst the sounds of Jazz and shelves of books, opening a page at random from encyclopedic book of Urdu Couplets in a Cafe in McLeodgunj, the lines of Bashir Badr above would summarize more than I could.
A rough itinerary, a nation through currency ban, a calling that ran through my pollution choked veins and I was off. On my first solo backpacking adventure through Himachal for a good 12 days. Thanks all those saved up holidays and my manager's warning to stop making my Fridays into extended weekends.
The plan was simple. Keep travelling North through Himachal and if time permits come back to Delhi from Kasol. But the first lesson I learnt was the mountain roads do no follow simple geometry of straight lines and directions.
With my ticket booked for Mandi from ISBT ,Kashmere Gate using one of the last 1000 Rupee note I was bound to see, I left lights and skyscrapers on the night of 11th Nov. I intended to make my way to Rewalsar Lake as the first stop in my journey.
The bus dropped me and a bunch of other travellers at a still sleeping Bus Stop at 5 AM. Before the smoke of bonfires that I had so pined for, I would witness smoke from tea cups rising into the dark skies. Absorbing the air for a few moments , I made my way into the bus stand. A bus was about to leave for Rewalsar and I quickly hopped on.
I wouldn't yet see the terrain of the hills for the bus moved in the dark like a fugitive and an hour's journey had me at Rewalsar even before the Sun was up.
Entering the arch indicating the Rewalsar boundaries one notices the lake shadowed by a silhouette of mountains. The mountains were always there even before religious monuments embellished the lake. Aren't the mountains divine by themselves, I wondered.
I took a slow walk , circumambulating the lake biding by time for the Sun to wake up as well. The slow life of the hills was wading its way through my being.
I gave a perfunctory glance through the doors of monasteries that came on my way. My eyes absorbing the seamless amalgamation of a quaint town with all of its quiet Gods. The first glimpse of the Devs of the Dev Bhoomi, Himachal.
Much slower than the monks who walked and chanted their prayers were my feet on the tiny road of Rewalsar. I reached the Gurudwara , where I intended to enquire about lodgings . And luckily found a room they were able to spare for 100 bucks. Having never been a big tea drinker, the winters in hills would change that. A tall glass of tea offered in the Langar Hall warmed by cold senses.
After freshening up as I made my way to courtyard of the Gurudwara, I noticed the very famous and formidable statue of Padmasambhava looking peacefully over the landscape. How does one define calls that have no words or language, such was the allure with which I was drawn to the Temple of Padmasambhava now shining with a Sun unhindered by clouds or pollution of Delhi skies.
A small walk unmeasured by time and you are at the footsteps of the temple. I walked into the main shrine , whose doors were left open and the only restriction was of having your footwear left outside . The meditative silence of the place was prayer in itself which I could only further strengthen by keeping my quiet.
After the temple, a little walk further takes one to the simple Temple of Rishi Lopas. And walking along the street more monasteries can be explored.