We had arrived upon Ghiyagi....
Long weekends in Delhi mean heading to the hills for most people. Some rush to the bustle of Shimla, Dharamshala or Nainitaal, while others strive a little longer to go to places devoid of people. Hence with the Dusshera weekend, it made sense to run away to a remote place in Himachal instead of trying to brave the traffic in the capital. As with most Himachal road trips, our first stop was Murthal for paranthas and chai and emptying bladders. The next stop was Zirakpur at 5:30 a.m. for a quick McDonald's breakfast to fuel us for a while. By 10:30 a.m. we had reached Sadhupul, where we encountered puppies, Naga sadhus and our last proper CLEAN toilet for hours to come. We were keeping decent time till then. It was only in the next few hours where we lost time due to a few expected and unexpected situations. After about 20 hours of driving, many pee/sutta/food breaks, a sudden scare of failed brakes, our faithful zesty little car stopped for a breather at Jalori Pass. It was 8:30 p.m. and the main marketplace looked like a ghost town. Those who are familiar with Jalori Pass will know how absolutely challenging the uphill road is. Now imagine tackling the same with brakes that were temperamental. So when we did reach the top, it wasn't a surprise that the four of us tumbled out of the car only to have the cold wind lash out at us. And it was then that it struck us that we were experiencing what we had set out to find. Cold, crisp mountain air, starry sky, pin-drop silence...perfection. But then again, Jalori was not our destination, it was a pit stop. And once again, with silent prayers, we set out for Jibhi, 10-14 kms away. The adventurous lot that we are, accommodation for the night was left up to luck and we really, really hoped that we wouldn't have to spend the night in the car. A slow and scary drive, we finally saw light at the end of the tunnel. We were still a few kilometres short of Jibhi but it looked like civilisation. We had arrived upon Ghiyagi. While Vodafone decided we were too remote to grace us with their presence, Airtel jumped to life and we began making calls to find shelter for the night. And luck was not favouring us. After being turned down by 3-4 places, one homestay agreed to give us a cottage. The challenge was to locate it. As with most of Himachal Pradesh, after sun down, it is unlikely to find people on the roads. The ghost-town feeling was not what we wanted at the time. We stopped to ask for directions and a lovely old lady came forward to help us and she turned out to be our guardian angel. She ran a homestay as well, called Shringi Vatika and had rooms to spare. 2 rooms for Rs. 2500 seemed like a decent bargain when all we had was the hope of a cottage for 3500. The wooden rooms smelt so inviting and warm that we agreed in an instant. After a very satisfying dinner of homemade chicken curry, dal, rice and conversation with our host, sleep rushed forth to embrace us.