The Roadtrip Experience Project was less of a project and more of an experience. The experience of spending 10 days with complete strangers in a landscape that was as exciting as it was breath-taking adds a parallel dimension to your being. By the end of it the only question that will keep ringing in your head will be, “Is the unknown always so rewarding?”
Can there be a better cocktail than an experiential journey into the magnificent Himalayas to create and collaborate with a bunch of strangers who until recently didn’t even exist for you?
The journey started in Delhi, eagerness apparent from everyone’s faces. The air had a texture of adrenaline to it. Loaded into shinning SUV’s we were all set to set foot into the unknown. A couple of hours were spent at the Airport Authority of India officer’s club, where everybody got acquainted with each other over some chai and biscuits. The journey had just begun.
Day 1 - Aug 16, ‘14 – Into the Manali Trance
A road trip is nothing without surprises and for us thankfully we had a lot of them. Our first surprise, the chosen route to Manali was closed due to rainfall. We made a pit-stop in Zirakhpur for a night and continued our drive to Manali early next morning. The journey was just starting to get interesting.
Whenever we made a stop-over that was longer than a pee break, guitars would be pulled out from their covers. Some of the most beautiful live music that I have ever heard was on this trip.
The best part of any road trip is the fact that the major part of the journey is on the road. Getting to know people is like a journey too and it was because of this fact that it seemed that there were multiple journeys that were taking place at the same time which gave the whole experience a whole surreal feeling.
Day 2 – On top of Rohtang & into the depths of Chandrataal
How can you not get good sleep cuddled between the majestic mountains? The drivers had joined us and off we started to Rohtang pass. Stuck in a traffic jam gave birth to an impromptu trek to the top of the next road to Rohtang. The experience was breath taking quite literally.
Another thing that spices up any road trip is the food and we ordered everything that we could consume because we simply couldn’t get enough. All the advice about not having greasy food to avoid puking went out of the window almost as quickly as it was suggested.
And there we were, on the road, in the Himalayas, driving to Chandrataal. This was my first trip to the Himalayas, and it was overwhelming. It is a different world altogether out there and a world that makes you love it. The Himalayas are regal, magnificent and above everything, they had something really peacefully dangerous about them.
Every turn bought something so beautiful in front of us that we had given up hope of being surprised by the beauty of the place anymore. It was like the winds in the Himalayas were trying whisper stories that had been trapped within them for centuries. And then we arrived at Chandrataal, the lake of the moon.
Camping at the foot of the hill just a kilometre away from the lake was an experience that will never leave me. There was very little that could make the night less perfect. It had all the ingredients, right from guitar-playing, Nepali song-singing, Himachal wine-drinking, Spanish-dancing to the spotless night sky filled with stars. For the first time it felt as if there were one too many stars in the sky.
Day 3 – Chandrataal to the stories of Kaza
There was not one person who wanted to leave the banks of lake. I personally wished I could spend the rest of my life living on the lake.
What spurred everybody on was the experiences that waited for us in the other side of the lake. Beauty as I learnt on this trip has no limit.
The Night at Kaza : The night at Kaza was fun for different reasons. Of course it had its due share of jamming and dancing but what interested how there was this huge discussion about the route of the next day’s journey. Alliances were born out of nowhere and now suddenly everybody had their “teams” back. This was human behaviour at its best. The only constants in this journey of the unknown were the people who we had met for the first time just a few days ago.
Day 4 and Day 5 - The Monasteries of peace
Defining peace can be a tricky question. As we stood on the doors of one of the monasteries, I remember experiencing peace for the first time. Silence came shrieking to me. We visited the Kye monastery and Kibber (the world’s highest motorable village), Langza where the monastery had a magnanimous statue of Buddha looking at the valley formed by the Himalayan Mountains. The tea that the monks served us had something special in it. It was the best tea that I had ever had. How I wish it had just a drop of Nirvana in it. We spent another day exploring other Monasteries in the region consuming as much peace as we could and also capturing these priceless moments on camera.
One thing that happened completely out of the blue was that we had some of the best pancakes.
Day 7 - Nako village, the maze village
I called it that not because of some horror story attached to it. As we were approaching the village I saw the village from a height, the whole structure of the village seemed like it was a great maze. To take it to the next level we actually played “treasure hunt” in the village and the village children happily joined in.
Starry story Sangla Night : The night at Sangla were full of stories and we didn’t leave out any genre. We discussed everything from start-ups ideas to someone’s love for cliffs and heights and ghost stories.
Chitkul, on the Indo-Tibet border, was a scenic paradise. Everyone got on camera for the video project. We pushed our timeline at Chitkul by a tad bit and ended up reaching Narkanda at midnight.the headlights of the vehicles were the only thing that illuminated the road and guided us to shelter. The cottage tents at Agyaatvaas deserves a special mention. Well equipped, good food, great service and above all, it is the paradise of Narkanda.
Day 9 – To the top of Hatu Peak, drive to Shimla
Visiting the Hatu peak, we drove down to Shimla which was only a couple of hours away. And we partied that night at Shimla. There was a lot of singing and dancing and jumping and running and climbing that night. It was a hell of a party and our trip came to an end.
Day 10 – From the Kingdom to the Capital
There was a certain feeling of invincibility that the Himalayas gave all of us. 10 days ago we were a group of unknowns travelling into the unknown. Now we have an experience that will last us a life time and friendships too. The awesome trip, the road trip experience had come to an end. Delhi was the end point to our trip to our Kingdom.
TURNING DREAMS INTO REALITY
When I set out on this journey I wasn’t even sure about why I was doing this or what will I do. I was going to enter a territory unknown in all senses. But now just being in those places, with the people that I met throughout the journey is something that I would do anything to get back. We captured a thousand memories right from the smile of a child looking away from the camera to the great Himalayas. The whole place had something mystical about itself which cannot be explained in words which is funny because we are creative souls who should be able to express something that has not been ever experienced.
During the whole trip we tried to capture the experience by the way of photos and videos but honestly you have to be there to experience it. We created our own Himalayas in the form of Gigabytes of memories and that is what will spur me on to Know the Unknown.
Coming Up Next : RTX2.0 - 16 Freethinkers | 4 Projects | 1 Roadtrip to North East India
Visit www.rtxproject.com for details and applications.
About Roadtrip Experience Project - Roadtrip Experience Project aka RTX is India's first generative travel project that brings curated musicians, designers, artists, filmmakers and creators from diverse creative backgrounds together on a roadtrip to create art while traveling and indulge in creative epiphanies.