It was almost 5 pm of a wet monsoon evening where the sky was almost beginning to change its hue. There was a slight drizzle earlier that afternoon while we were on our way to Narkhanda from Chandigarh. On our way when we had halted for lunch, our driver enlightened us about this place called Hathu peak. He also told us about a temple of Hathu devi at the top of this peak. Hathu peak was known for its beautiful sunsets and ever since our driver elaborated about it, I had made up my mind and was anxious to go there. As a matter of fact, I even thought about the kind of photographs and silhouettes I would take for my Instagram. But to my disappointment, as soon as we reached the hotel, our mentor told us that we won't be able to climb there nor can any bikes go up till there since it had rained quite a lot. Besides, the journey from Chandigarh was also tiresome for the bikers who had come along with us for the tour. So they all went to their rooms.
Just as we almost lost hope, a voice from within the car murmured. "If you guys are really determined to see the peak, I can take you'll. Just speak to the mentor once. It was our driver, who turned out to be an angel in human form to us that day. 5 to 10 minutes passed, there were discussions Going on around when suddenly one of them said "come on, we got to go soon or we will miss the sunset". And we all finally decided to go quickly since we had to be back before it got dark... However, little did anyone know that this trip wasn't as easy as it sounded. On getting back in the car, the driver warned us. He said nobody will scream or shout at me for the way I drive. Nobody will ask me to drive slowly or ask me to turn back. We thought that since the driver had a jolly attitude, he was probably just pulling our leg
Well, how bad can it be? We thought and decided not to say a word. Hardly 5 minutes into the road, a narrow brittle patch of road appeared to be heading upwards deviating from the main road. I ignored it since there was no way for a car to go on that path, and that, maybe the driver will take a road I assumed to be a little ahead. Just as soon as I completed this sentence in my mind, the driver turned the car on that partially perished road. There was pin drop silence in the car. As the car began to make the climb, the only thing we could hear was the revving engine and the squeaking of the suspension. The four of us were looking at each other's face with a question mark, wondering if this was the right path; evidently realizing that the driver wasn't joking at all.
The road was steep and curvy with lust flora of tall pine trees on one side, and a deep valley on the other. The rain wasn't making the situation any better than worse. The road was so narrow, that even if a small Maruti 800 car came from the opposite direction, there was no way it could pass through. We couldn't even say a word since the driver had made that condition clear at the beginning. 7 kilometers of that treacherous mud road made all of us wish that it would pass by with the blink of an eye. The rocks on the left began to crumble due to the rain. Our driver was bravely dodging all the rocks and ditches, zigzagging through the barely visible path. A small error, and the forest could turn into our grave. If we fell into the valley, only God knows if anyone would even find our bones down there. Either way, death was smiling at us from both sides.
It began to turn dark, more due to the lush pine trees. However, little sparks of light which found its way through a few scarce patches between the leaves, and the sweet misty breeze that funneled through the window gave a very subtle and warm vibe. My seat was on the right window which faced the valley. I could see tiny spots of white and black which appeared to be sheep scattered like polka dots on a green sheet of pasture. Amidst all the fear, this was the moment where we began to fall for the essence of Mother Nature.
All of a sudden, a cow appeared out of nowhere. We almost had a heart attack just when the driver instinctively dodged the cow in the middle of the road. The only thing I was asking the driver now and then was the distance left to cover. By that time I had already prayed to all the gods I knew about. The sun's rays began to get stronger. As we went higher, the trees began to look shorter, that's when we understood that we were almost there. On reaching the top, the first thing we noticed was a beautiful temple of Hathu Devi at the peak. There was no one else around besides us. We sat in the temple for a good 10-15 minutes because of the rain. The skies were still dark and cloudy as well. The temperatures also started to creep down to a night cold.
We went to a nearby ledge but the cloudy skies and the fog around us hid every ray of the sun. All our excitement and expectations of witnessing the sunset blew away with the wind. Disappointed, we accepted our bad luck and decided to turn around and go back to our hotel. We began to walk down towards the car while we did some amateur photography. The path was muddy and slippery too. I felt like taking a walk down that 7 km road and stay indulged in nature for as long as I could. Just as we reached near the car and began to get in, I wanted to have a final glance. With a discouraged heart; I looked back towards that ledge where we stood. To my astonishment, I saw shades of crimson and yellow rays shooting out of the clouds. That's when I gasped and screamed, "Wait!! I can see the sunset!!" The sight we witnessed that day was unbelievable. Watching the sun set into the blanket of clouds where tiny pine tree tips were poking out of them at the top of Hathu peak was one of the most breath-taking moments of my life.
The fog began to clear, and the clouds remained still, as if someone had frozen them in time just for us. Amidst these clouds, the sun was melting its beautiful sepia into the clouds. Although it let some of the rays pass and kiss the pastures below the valley, most of the sunlight was soaked in the clouds giving it a faint glowing effect. We were so awestruck by the sight that we silently stood there with our cameras and phones without even taking any pictures. As we gazed, the rays grew fainter and blended into the sky to a crisp marigold shade . Now the clouds looked like sheets of saffron laid over the mountains across the valley just as if the sun had melted onto the clouds like molten lava and its filling nature's canvas with its saffron blood. As the sun began to disappear, the shades of orange also began to diminish and the sky turned darker. None of us were even taking any pictures. We were instead, living the moment and were capturing what our eyes saw, into the memory cards of our heart.
My attention went back to the pine trees once again. One could believe if I said that they were hugging the clouds and holding them back from going away.by this time the almost invisible sun had set its crimson shades to a bloody hue. I've run out of words to describe the beauty of this nature's canvas. God had probably planned this in my destiny so as to tell me that this is my country and this is where the best of his creation exists. If anyone talks about sunsets, the first thought that comes in our mind is the sunset in the west coasts. But on this day, nature proved that no matter where the sun sets, you always get a chance to see the suns colorful and magical world at least once in your lifetime. This depends entirely on you; whether you want to experience natures best from this golden ticket called "Life".
We admired this magical evening for a very long time and nature kept using its magic brush every 10 seconds, painting the sky with countless shades of red and yellow. A little while later, it began to get dark. The stars began to show up. All of us captured one of nature's greatest masterpieces in their mind and heart and walked towards the car. It would be a shame to compare that sight with anything that ever existed in this world. Even if I would try to, I would say that, unless you see it with our own eyes, it is impossible to even think of anything else as beautiful as the sunset at Hathu peak.
In my mind I thought, if I have to travel such a treacherous path to bear the fruit of this sight, I would do it every day for this golden ticket.
After filling our hearts with the beauty of that evening, we didn't even realize when we reached back to the hotel. As if the fear of the road was swept away by the amount of satisfaction, we got on seeing the sunset. There's one thing for sure. If I ever get a chance, I will definitely want to get my hands on that golden ticket once more...