Sometimes, it is hard to believe that things that you wished for has become a reality. You wonder how things perfectly fit into place and you get what you actually want. Remembering all the nights I stayed awake, searching and making the perfect travel itinerary for travelling to places I love. I used to find the routes, the places, the best timings to reach, the culture, the risks, just wondering if I will ever be able to witness the place with my naked eyes. Some things are too good to be true. So when I saw the first glimpse of mountains with river flowing by the road and cold breeze hitting my face, the first thought that crossed my mind was - "the things that I have been longing for since months, have finally come to me". I finally reached Jibhi. The small secluded houses, colorful pastures, river flowing by the huts, mountains covered with snow at a distance, narrow roads, generous people, the tall pine trees and the smell of mountains make me take a deep breath and realise that I so passionately wanted to be here, that I put all my efforts in making this a reality.
The roads in the mountains are bumpy and narrow. But this bumpy rides do not bother me now. I don't look out of the widow, panicking and hoping not to die the next moment. The narrow bumpy roads are my acquaintances now. The Himachali music playing in the bus, which is so familiar now that I could start humming with the tunes. Not being able to contain the happiness of being around my happy place, I spot my home stay from the bus and run towards it. A small blue cottage right in the middle of the valley. It looked exactly like the ones we used to draw in our childhood. Nestled in the green fields, surrounded by the mountains, with large apple orchards near the cottage and a river flowing by it. It was everything that I dreamt of. I always wished to live in wooden cottages. It certainly has an old world charm. Adding to the happiness, was a small porch just before the room. A small little window, through which you could see the mountains, the pink and white flowers blooming all over the valley, the mist and fog covering most part of the mountains. I could sit by the small stairs that lead to our room, all day. All the days that I stayed there, I sat by the stairs and just pondered into my thoughts, listened to my favorite songs, sat staring aimlessly at the vehicles passing by. It gave me such immense happiness, it was the happiness of being with oneself. Doing nothing and yet feeling like I have all the happiness in the world.
The next morning we walked to the upper roads of the village, crossed beautiful shops, houses and pine trees. Halfway to our walk, we were stranded in the rain while we wanted to reach a waterfall which is located inside a forest. Somehow we kept walking in the rain, covering our heads from the hoodies, and found the waterfall. But it would be unjust to say that the waterfall was the most amazing thing of all. I found the way towards the fall more fascinating. Little wooden bridges, small streams flowing through the forest, white furry mountain dogs running around, the quietness of the place, the sound of water falling from an immense height, and the absolute peace that I felt has to be above all. I spent 2 hours sitting alone in the forest.
While walking back, I made a stop by a café which was located on the other side of the road, and the only way to reach was to climb down the muddy steep mountain. I reached there and it started raining heavily. I decided to sit inside and watch the water pour down. While having a cup of freshly brewed coffee, I sat beside the tandoor, which is a traditional form of bonfire to keep the house warm in winters. Though I had other places on my list, I did not regret sitting in the café and staring at the rain for 3 hours. This is what I love about travelling. Even the simplest of things gives us the joy that we otherwise keep searching in our regular lives. We reached the home stay in the evening and spent rest of the time sitting at the stairs right outside our room, while it was drizzling a bit.
Guided by the very kind hosts, we headed to a little quaint village called Baahu, the next morning. Again, we had to go through an hour long bus ride on narrowest of the roads that one could imagine. We caught the last seats on the bus and sat there looking at the changing scenery every 15 minutes. Upon reaching Baahu, we simply started walking towards a lake, and were followed by our furry friend. The lake was small, but the view we got while sitting there was something which could not be described through any combination of words . More than that, the slow pace of lives amazed me. Few girls playing around the lake waiting for their school bell to ring, an old man sitting near the lake smoking his cigarettes, bunch of children playing cricket, looked like I am a part of some fictional story. We sat there in solitude for more than an hour, imagining what it must feel like to live at such places.
Baahu also has a small temple on a hill going upwards the lake. We reached there and slept in the shadows of the pine trees. We were so amazed with the villages of the valley that it made us change our plans and made us stay one more day in Jibhi, which also gave us the very surreal experience of watching the snowfall for the first time. What happened next, was something that would sound like every force conspired us to stay for one more day and made us witness the first snowfall anyhow.
We were casually strolling around in Jibhi and reached a café. It started raining a bit and we sat there enjoying our coffee. That is when we discussed that we haven't been able to witness the snowfall yet and how this time too, we were let down. Having a conversation with the café owner, we decided to walk till the next village, called Ghiyagi which is just 2 km away and come back. We took an umbrella from our hosts and headed towards exploring the village. We walked till there, enjoying ourselves, singing happy songs, followed by a mountain dog and river flowing right beside the road. We could spot the snow laden mountains from Ghiyagi and were just wondering how beautiful it would be to reach there. And that is where the odds came in our favour. Just as we were planning to head back home, a car came by and stopped to ask us about the directions leading to Shojha and Jalori Pass. Nothing could have been more perfect than hitchhiking to reach our destination 7 kms away, where there's snow. We quickly asked them if they could take us along and they agreed. Taking several twists and turns on the road, we were finally reaching Shojha. Shojha is located on the upper part of the valley and receives snowfall every now and then.
The moment I saw snow on the road, it was enough to make me smile like a clown and jump with happiness. But there was more waiting for me. The moment we stepped out of the car, it started to snow. The snowfall I have been waiting for my whole life, was happening. This was something which made me believe that there's a fairy tale written out there for all of us. I walked around on the deserted road, playing and jumping. It snowed for an hour and I sat in a roadside shop sipping on the hot tea, witnessing my dreams come true right in front of my eyes. We played with the snow, threw snowballs at each other, turned in to photographers and more than anything, we witnessed the child inside us play on those roads, where there was no other soul to be seen. We had to reach Jibhi before sunset and cover the whole 8 kms on foot. We started walking back and were worried if we would be able to reach before it starts getting dark. Halfway through, there was another surprise waiting for us. A generous café owner gave us a lift till Jibhi. We still wonder how things turned out to be in our favour and gave us everything that we were hoping for. Our feet were sore and red, my clothes were drenched in rain, and my legs were shaking because of the bone chilling cold. As we finally reached at the homestay, the owners took us inside their kitchen and made us sit in front of the tandoor and get all the warmth.
Travelling Tirthan Valley was one of the most peaceful experiences of my life. More than that, it never felt like I am in a strange village. The place has a welcoming aura and adding to that our hosts at Rock Top Inn and Cafe made us feel like a family. All the days we stayed there, we went down to the river flowing behind the cottage and watched the sun go down. We completed all our journeys in public transport and it saved us a lot of bucks but more than that the joy of travelling in a HRTC bus is incomparable.