"Hey let's go on a vacation this weekend", just what I needed to hear. "Leave it on me I will decide upon a place and shall give you a call back" exclaimed the super excited me. Where to go, Hill-station for sure but the destination was still a big question mark. Like every other person who lives in NCR we had few obvious choices but do I really want to move out of a city to land in another, to a place where I have already been so many times? So now the choice was between a serene, peaceful yet unexplored place and a crowded yet beautiful hill-station that can pamper us with all the possible amenities.
With the Dilemma still in my head I was scrolling through Instagram when I came across a place called 'Thachi', a small valley in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh. Wait a minute I have heard about it before as well from a friend. I immediately knew this was the place I really wanted to go to.
We booked our trip through one of the travel agencies since it was a last minute plan and the transportation to the place was not direct. This was going to be the first time when I didn't actually plan the whole trip and had availed a third party service, the decision I never regretted. We payed 6500 rs. per person for the entire 3 days trip which included our transportation from Delhi to Thachi and back, our stay and every meal while we are there, not bad right ????
The day came when we had to board our bus and while the excitement level was at its peak I was a little skeptical of whether my friends will like the place or not. We boarded the bus (Swagatam Hoidays-0088) around 10 pm from Majnu ka tila, bus number was unique and so was the ride. My god! If you are someone who do not want to miss out on the journey and the roads that lead to it then this is your ride, nothing less than a roller-coaster. The only two times I could catch my breath during the trip were when the bus stopped for dinner and for tea in the morning. I got a foretaste of the offbeat experience that was waiting ahead of us, “it’s going to be fabulous” whispered the overexcited soul in me ❤
We reached Aut at 10:30 am and our ride till Thachi was already waiting for us. We were three friends and we met two other people who were going to the same place so in total we were five, five individuals who were about to have the most amazing time of our lives . This is the beauty of a trip you meet so many people during the journey, you meet them as strangers and end up becoming friends. The 23 kms stretch from Aut to Thachi may give you a heart-attack like literally, the entire stretch is perilous and if you are someone who suffers from altitude/travel sickness then you might want to consider taking a pill or a poly bag. The majestic roads that lead to the valley do not fail in giving you an idea of the uncharted sanctity of the valley.
"No Race, No Rally", it was a breath-taking journey that was to be enjoyed. "Relish the Exquisiteness of the Valley." It was a scenery of tall, magnificent forested hills having steep terraced slopes of wheat. The plantation was mildly sun-kissed while the wind was pleasant.
Very near to our destination our car broke down and since it was unlikely to get another ride in a place with such limited habitat we decided to walk. After walking for a few minutes and crossing few apple trees we got a glimpse of our guest house, ‘the wooden house’, Imagine your dream house, an exquisite house standing at the edge of a hill designed in a way to give you a 360 degree view of the valley outside, where the air you breathe in is immeasurably pure and so is the water.
There he was, the most famous person of Thachi Valley, Guddu ' the Guide'. Interesting personality, cheerful spirit with lots of fascinating stories to narrate, was he playing the character of 'Labhu-the storyteller' in real life? *ICSE board people shall relate ???? *
Aloo parathas were ready and so were we, we had our first meal in Thachi valley and were ready to start our expedition. It was mildly sunny yet cloudy, one thing that I have learned from my experience in Himachal is never to leave the house without warm clothes. As we walked on those lanes we realized how different the feeling and experience was, untouched lands, tall clustered deodar trees, beauty in its raw form, indeed!
Our first stop was Bithu Narayan temple, beautiful architecture situated in tranquil surroundings, nothing less than a reservoir of positive energy. While we were still reconnoitring the place it started drizzling, the beauty of the place was personified and so was our experience. While for few people rains are a sign of joy the others spell it as pessimism and depression. I definitely belonged to the first category, anyone who feels rain brings in depression has definitely never danced in the rain ❤
It stopped drizzling after few minutes and we started our small trek to Hadimba Peak. The peak offers a 360 degree view of the valley from where you can get an enthralling view of Beas river flowing through Kullu Valley. While we were still exploring the place it started raining cats and dogs, “wait a minute, are these hailstorms?” There was a drastic change in the weather, when we left our guest-house it was mildly sunny and now it was shivering cold. However cold it may have got but it was a satisfying sight, an attractive temple surrounded by lush green fields with sheep and lambs grazing around, a picture to remember for sure.
An astonishing fact about the temple was that the Hadimba temple at Thachi and the Hadimba temple at Manali are situated at same level. One can see the temple at Manali from the temple at Thachi. Rain stopped after a while, as we started to trek down to our guest house cold was not the only concern anymore, the rain had gotten the mud wet which made the land slippery. While we were walking cautiously Guddu bhaiya an expert was jumping from hill to hill.
Finally, we reached our guesthouse at around 6:15 pm and we were served with very very late delicious lunch. “Look at the most beautiful sunset”, cried my soul, it was 7 pm and we had witnessed a sight that had made us realize how blessed we were to be able to be an audience to such amazing sights. Our day ended with bonfire, laughter, rattling stories by Guddu bhaiya all under a sky full of stars. The kind of evening I had been longing for.
Note: If you are someone looking for amazing cafes and fancy food then this is certainly not your place. There are no cafes or restaurants, you get served with simple homemade food and Guddu bhaiya’s special Ginger lemon tea.
Day 2: When you wake up to the sound of birds instead of honking horns, step outside and you see limitless sky instead of skycrapers blocking your view. "Is this heaven" I asked myself. "Must be" answered my mesmerized soul.
Today’s plan was to trek till Saponi Grasslands (17 kms) however because of the changing weather conditions we had to alter the plan. The new plan was to get a ride till a village called Zahera where we had to spend the night in a homestay and then trek till Saponi Grasslands. Our ride was the most amazing one and so were the roads, it was a Mahindra Imperio pickup and instead of sitting inside we decided to hop on the trailer and feel the breeze, it was like riding a bull where if you do not hold tight you might get tossed????. The roads at these mountains are certainly not for the weak-hearted and are unquestionably only for mountain lovers.
We took a halt for tea at a very beautiful place called Bhatludhar, it is a table top plateau with an extremely gorgeous panoramic view. We stayed here for a few minutes and then reached Zahera
We started our trek, the weather was pleasant and mildly cold with drizzles every now and then. As we moved forward in the forest deodar trees became more and more dense epitomizing the exquisiteness of the trek trail. The path was eerily quiet and the landscape was striking. After walking a few miles, we took a break to have lunch- Roti sabzi rolls which Guddu bhaiya had got packed from guest house. Like regular trek trails you won't find any maggi/refreshment stalls on your way the only thing you will find are occasional handpumps with freezing cold mountain water.
“Guddu bhaiya I do not see any hospital here?”, “ Ma’am there is one in Mandi but none in Thachi, no one really falls sick here ” , the statement confirmed how pure the valley was, valley of Gods, Indeed!
Finally we reached our destination, extremely magnificent lush green grassland surrounded by peaks. The place is a treat for nature lovers as well as adventure enthusiasts since it is also an incredible paragliding spot. " Is this place for real, how can a place so beautiful be not explored, or may be the place is still so beautiful because it is not explored".
“ Hey what’s that”? we saw a small temple down the hill and decided to go see it. As we walked towards the temple we saw animal skulls on our way and then saw a fence which was surrounding the temple. After crossing that fence we reached the temple of Lord Vishnu. “Wild animals come here after sunset” , said Guddu Bhaiya which explained all the skulls and also gave us a reason to start walking back to Zahera.
While walking through the village we met so many people who welcomed us in their houses, offered us water and tea and asked us if we were having a nice time. People in Thachi are extremely warm, I have never met such welcoming people in my life. I was touched, I was falling in love with the place. We reached our homestay where we were served with tea and wai wai and later dinner. Do you know we walked for 17 kms today", said my friend. "Really? I don't feel that tired", best leg workout ever ????
Day 3: “What do I hear? Is it thunderstorm? Is it raining heavily? I hear trees falling, what is happening? Is there a storm outside? Are we safe? “ so many questions popped up in my head while I was still sleeping/half-asleep like a baby. My eyes popped open and I could hear the storm outside, I checked my phone it was 5:30 am in the morning and I had received messages to make me aware of the thunderstorm warnings for North India/Himachal and Uttarakhand. I was scared and going back to bed was my only weapon. It was 8:30 am and the weather was clear now in fact it was sunny for a change. We had lip-smacking parathas for breakfast and then started our trek till our guest house, we reached at around 1 pm. Our return bus from Aut was at around 7:00 pm so we had enough time to trek down to another place that I really wanted to see, ‘Pundrik Rishi’s temple’ also known as ‘Ropa’.
You sit in a car at your guest house and get dropped off at your destination, that is not how it works in Thachi. We got picked up from the guesthouse and got down after a few minutes, from there we had to trek till the temple. This was our daily routine, trekking mountains taking shortcuts was our thing now and we had gotten use to it like a pro ????
As we walked on those muddy roads, everything seemed green, fresh and predominantly scenic. Afternoon sun-light sieving between the fragments of monsoon clouds, such was the weather. We reached the place where the temple was situated, serene place surrounded by lush greenery. The temple has a small pond with fishes and it is believed that the count of these fishes never vary. The place totally engaged us with its peaceful ambience and beautiful architecture.
It was time to say goodbye to the place I had fallen in love with. A beautiful small unexplored valley which felt like home. Was it the warmth of the people or the beauty of the valley that I was going to miss ? With no fancy cafes, Mall roads and amenities the place has made a special place in my heart. “This is for you all, it was really great to be your host, please do come back when it snows” , said Guddu bhaiya, Rajesh bhaiya and Mukesh bhaiya as they bid us goodbye. “