Tirthan Valley, Himachal Pradesh

20th Oct 2018
Photo of Tirthan Valley, Himachal Pradesh by open durbar

Just an overnight bus ride from Delhi, we disembarked at the small town of Aut, 484 kilometers away from the polluted environs of the plains. Sipping tea in the early hours of the day, we breathed in the nip in the air that inescapably brought back fond memories of previous travels into Himachal.

The place we had our early morning tea was on the banks of the Beas river, at the bend towards Tirthan valley, is quite aptly named Gateway Homestay and Chicken Corner. It is near the Aut end of the tunnel on the Delhi-Manali highway (NH 3). The river coming down from Tirthan valley is the Sainj, which is what the Tirthan River merges into at Larji, and we hired a cab to take us alongside this river to the quaint town of Banjar.

Photo of Tirthan Valley, Himachal Pradesh 1/1 by open durbar
Day 1

The Blue Sheep, Tirthan was our abode for this trip, and what a trip it was! For self-promoting reasons, I implore you to check out their Instagram in the link above or here: https://www.instagram.com/thebluesheeptirthan/

Why self-promoting? In the first picture on The Blue sheep Instagram feed at the time of writing, yours truly and a friend grace the top of a rock overlooking a magnificent view of the Himalayas. It's "candid"! ????

Upon arrival with jovial pleasantries exchanged, the sight of freshly plucked persimmons arranged neatly on a table for ripening in the sunlight greeted us. The Blue Sheep has great self-farmed produce, including a greenhouse situated just below the home. Apropos, I got a dried chestnut that I have added to my collection of souvenirs at home. In short order, we had settled in and were ready to breathe in more of the pristine mountain air. The activity for the day was decided: we would drive up the road to Bahu, a little beyond Jibhi, and descend on foot.

Photo of Tirthan Valley, Pekhri, Himachal Pradesh, India by open durbar

The view from Bahu was, as could be expected, spectacular. The range directly across from us bifurcated the view, with two valleys leading off to either side. Snow peaks were just visible over the left-side cleft, far behind the rolling greens. We had Chehni Kothi at eye level on the opposite mountain. It is a fortified tower, more than 3 centuries old, dedicated to Shringa Rishi, the locally revered deity (the Naina Bakery we bought cream rolls, biscuits and puff-pastry style fen from in Banjar had an inscription of the deity's name above the shop, too). This is the reason why Himachal Pradesh has the epithet "Dev Bhumi", or Land of the Gods.

Photo of The Blue Sheep Tirthan, PO, Banjar, Himachal Pradesh, India by open durbar

A person our host knew offered us crisp apples, and away we went, munching like a bunch of Tom Sawyers. We literally took the path less traveled, the stones leading into the dense firs and pines seeming like the opening shots of The Blair Witch Project. I kid, of course - barring a couple of places where the view was barred by the firs and pines, we had a relatively picturesque descent to the road leading back to the bridge to Banjar (since we had crossed the valley at Jibhi to turn towards Bahu while going up).

Photo of Tirthan Valley, Himachal Pradesh by open durbar

At an outcrop hanging above a small village with a shiny new temple gleaming silver, we clicked a few bonhomie pics, and I got my ritualistic feet-dangling-off-a-cliff picture at this spot. The crepuscular rays painted a dappled picture on the mountains before us. Resuming our walk down, we adhered to the zero-trash policy and carried our plastics wrappers and bottles all the way back to Banjar. Every little bit we do helps keep the Himalayas pure for a little while longer.

A passing cloud cluster treated us to thunder and lightning, its little bit of rain passing over by the time we stepped up the shortcut to The Blue Sheep. The setting sun produced a chiaroscuro effect in the sky, and we ensconced ourselves indoors to dry out and play with Veg Momo - the canine-in-residence at The Blue Sheep.

Photo of Tirthan Valley, Himachal Pradesh by open durbar

Next morning began with a hearty egg-fried rice and persimmon pickle breakfast. The agenda for the day was momos - spearheaded by our culinary rocket of a person. I am all thumbs in the kitchen, so I could contribute little more than shelling peas. The massive undertaking was like one of the Masterchef Australia team challenges, and the outcome was ludicrously delectable. A variety of momos in the hundreds - I kid you not, others' pictures shall show - with two dips satiated our stomachs to the point of bursting, fueling the age-old dilemma of craving delicious food without end! I expect some of us dreamt of momos that night.

Photo of Tirthan Valley, Himachal Pradesh by open durbar

Going off to sleep and then waking up with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance makes me ponderous. How do we attain Quality, or arete, in life? It's similar to the problem of trash in nature - you must do your bit without succumbing to the overwhelming obstacles, or expecting a reward.

Photo of Tirthan Valley, Himachal Pradesh by open durbar

The tried-and-tested combo meal of rajma-chawal was eaten, and our host took us on a short walk to a teela, a vantage point overlooking the stream below Banjar. I took a time lapse of the shadow of clouds meeting the shadow of the mountain while we sat in the pleasant wind. Returning to The Blue Sheep, we munched some fried chicken in preparation for our departure, to the vicissitudes of sea level, and football!

Photo of Tirthan Valley, Himachal Pradesh by open durbar

Throwback to 3 years ago: Chandertal in Spiti Valley (Kaza)!

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