After undertaking the Kheerganga and Kutla-Budhaban treks in Himachal I was craving for an adventurous end to my first ever solo journey. My initial plan was to visit Malana. However Malana was just a one hour trek and it was popular as well. Moreover outsiders were not allowed to stay in Malana. What I wanted was to explore a pahadi (mountain) village which was not possible if I choose Malana. The name of Grahan village was first heard from the Mirpur trekkers I met at Kheerganga. Later from my research I came to know that Grahan was little-known and the trek to get there was 10 kilometers. That was all the adventure I was looking for.
The lonely 10 km trek to Grahan was beautiful and challenging at the same time. There were no Bluetooth speakers or fashion around like on the Kheerganga trek. The pros of trekking solo is that you can trek at your own pace, nobody urges you to move faster or calls from behind to walk slower. You get the time to think, explore, and enjoy all the little things you come across. On the other hand, when there is an emergency, you are on your own. There is nobody to save you or support you.
There were a lot of stunning butterflies greeting, dancing, and welcoming me on the way. The gushing river offered a background rhythm to my steps and kept me company till the climb started. The last five and a half kilometres of the trek was more demanding and I had to take halts every five minutes. Once I passed the forest, I got clear views of the mountains. The only trekkers I met along the journey were two Israeli travelers. They were descending after a delightful stay in the village and spoke about the homestays in the village. There were no campsites in Grahan like in Kheerganga. They told me about the bifurcation on the way; a short, difficult route and another long easy route. It is my understanding that short cuts lack the real experience that longer ways offer, so I chose the latter to proceed.
The big beard tree on the way intrigued me. It had roots hanging down the branches like long bushy beard of a saint. I walked past the plowed fields thinking about the secret behind the big beard tree and entered Grahan Village.
Cellular signal was lost somewhere during the climb and I knew that I had been completely disconnected from the outer world. There are few homestays in the entry point of the village itself. However, I decided to take a round trip to the village before deciding my stay. I walked around one and a half kilometres, furthermore crossing a river and reached the New Grahan which was more secluded than the main one. Ravi's lovely homestay welcomed me warmly. In addition to its appealing look, the cost of the stay was as cheap as Rs. 200 per night and the room was cozy with a double bed and a splendid view of the mountains from the window.
The secret behind the big beard tree was revealed to me by a little Himachali girl. She told me that it is straws for cows, hung on the tree branches so that they don't get decayed during icefall in the winter. I laughed at myself thinking about my fanciful imagery.
A new house was being built in the new Grahan. The worker told me that they had to transport the stones, cement, and all other materials from Kasol to the village. I was taken aback by the hardships faced by the villagers in their daily life. They had to bring all the necessary things from Kasol walking up and down the mountains.
Back in the main village an old aunty greeted me. Her name was Pushpa. She soon invited me to her fabulous homestay 'Mount view' which offered local food as well. Grahan village was the base camp of the famous Sar Pass trek. Pushpa aunty showed me the way leading to Sar Pass pointing to the big mountains which stood far beyond with pride. Her son was a Sherpa who worked as a trekking guide in these mountains. The villagers used to make delicious juice and chutney from the flowers of Rhododendron plants, a special plant found in the mountains. Pushpa aunty brought me a glass of this Rhododendron juice which was bright red like blood and was surprisingly sweet and tasty. Moreover, it was rich in nutrients and it made my lips red like a parrot's.
One of the other attractions of the village were the children playing on the premises. I managed to take a photo of them trading chocolates for a great pose. The village was home to around 350 people who lived in 50 wooden houses. The traditional wooden houses which were built uniquely from locally available wood before so many years were a good illustration of the simple life in the mountains. The ground area of the houses was sheds to shelter cows and people lived on first floors. The villagers were mainly farmers who cultivated crops like rajma (kidney beans), wheat, maize, and hashish.
In addition to the refreshing tour in the village, Pushpa aunty prepared an amazing thali (meal) for me at night which featured the village's special roti, 'batturu', rajma, fresh from the fields, chaval (rice), and the exceptionally delicious Rhododendron chutney. The chutney was the highlight of the entire meal.
Back in the room, I was embracing my 28th birthday in tranquility. No friends, no family, no birthday wishes or messages, just me and my soul. Thus, in my life I was able to gift something special to myself for the first time on a very important day. I was the happiest person there. I was happy about my existence. Moreover, I was glad that I could finally attain completeness on my own.
In all honesty, the next day I woke up with the feeling of eternal energy all around me. Like everything had a complete transformation. I was ready to embrace life as a whole again. The enthusiasm I lost somewhere back in the journey of life was regained. I woke up as a new person.
Was that what they called 'a rebirth'?
I couldn't take a chance to miss the three magnificent waterfalls that Pushpa aunty had recommended to visit before leaving. It was a two-kilometre trek from the village. Throughout the short trek, three adorable dogs accompanied me. I named them Tiger, Blacky, and Stranger. Besides giving me company, they were taking me to the right spots. Blacky the explorer kept moving around, Tiger a keen observer lost in thoughts enjoying the views, Stranger sniffed at all things on the way suspiciously, he was a mixture of an explorer and an observer. Dazzled by the love they showed me, I petted a dog for the first in my life there.
In addition to that, watching the beauty of the secluded waterfalls in the middle of the forest without any external interference created a sense of divinity flowing inside me.
The love, vibe, and the tranquility of the village which is a dream of any solo traveler took me to a state of transcendence. To live and experience the mountain life in an isolated village was an experience to cherish forever. And most importantly, I had a rebirth there in the tranquility of Grahan. One of the places I will always wish to go back. In fact, for a longer stay next time.
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Originally published at: https://lonewolfa11.wordpress.com/2020/05/04/a-rebirth-in-the-tranquility-of-grahan-village/