There are certain things in life the beauty of which is hard to express by the mere use of wordplay. Those are the things the essence of which must be felt by the heart and soul.
I have always felt this inexplicable inner pull towards exploring and caressing the curves of the mountains. Mcleodganj, this place which rests in the serenity of nature, sans pollution and crowd, apt indeed for a wanderer's nirvana. No wonder I and my friend chanced upon the opportunity to experience this blissful valley of Triund all thanks to a very rushed plan to visit Dharamshala (The city of the Holy Dalai Lama) and the inner intoxicating urge to rejuvenate in the lap of nature.
We arrived at the Mcleodganj bus station at 5 in the morning. Cold, dark and with an environment which sang the sounds of a pin drop silence, the place indeed promised many new experiences encapsulated in it.
We eventually planned to pack our backs and set off for Triund. Known as the crown jewel of Dharamshala , a crown no doubt as the valley holds the perfect view of the Dhauladhar mountains on one side and Kangra valley on the other.
The place is accessible for most part of the year except during heavy snowfall.
After waiting for sunrise and getting fresh at a Resort in Dharamkot, (a 30 minute cab ride from the bus station) we started the trail shortly before 9:00am towards the gentle ascend till Magic View café. All the while that I was treading on to this wilderness, with every sniff of the air around I could feel the vigor bubbling up in my heart.
Compared to what awaited us on top of the hill, this wasn’t that magical, but serene nevertheless
“Alright View Café”
The gorgeous cafe welcomed us with double the prices which eventually contributes to adding up the cost of travel. (Keeping in mind that the famished trekkers are an easy target to extract money after a 10 mile trek, the hospitality offered was uncannily appealing) But sarcasm apart, I still sometimes miss slurping those hot tasty maggi noodles in the cold environment.
Dogs, Mountain Goats… and Mules (the only four legged transport facility for the food provided up at the valley) frequent the treks along with the travelers. The trail is rocky and cut in steps at some places, qualifying it as a perfect destination for intermediate level trekkers.
After the café, the ascent is a tad steeper, finally cumulating in a steep final one kilometer stretch through a forest of Deodars and Rhododendron.
However, one thing I noticed here as a north Indian was that how ill-mannered most of us Indians could be. Our society is such that we can't help looking down at the fellow passersby with discriminating eyes. It was heart breaking to acknowledge the rude sneering and shouting of my fellow Indians. One the other hand, every foreigner who passed us, was simply another traveler, awed by the beauty of the place. They would greet, smile, and move ahead exuding positivity and warmth. In the way they acknowledge your presence. Each time we walked past our Indians, we had an uncomfortable silence backed by uncomfortable glances. But each time an Israeli or a European walked by (and they do frequent such treks a lot) we felt like we were on this journey, together.
We trekked with only a few minor halts to catch a glimpse of the bliss (not to forget, catching our miserable breaths) and reached the top of the valley by 12’o clock.
This is the top of Triund with a view of Dharamshala on its left, the very beautiful valley on its right, and goat poo in the middle.
The three mounts on whom the name Tri-und is established, I suppose.
This “Triund” Hill is located at a elevation of about 2,800+ meters above sea level and with a distance of about 9 kilometers from McLeodganj and 15+ kilometers from Dharamsala.
We got ourselves accustomed to the environment and waited for the shops to open up for food, as well as to rent a tent as we decided to stay overnight. (One can, Lord praise their endurance and pity their schedule: spend daytime and return to the bottom by the very night as well) The tents cost ranged from 300 INR to 1000 depending on the size: for two, or four. The eatables at the shops varied from snacks to proper Indian thalis.
Of course if we are to enjoy such a magnificent place, there is a catch.
The good one: there was no connectivity at all so it’s better to inform your loved ones of your whereabouts before you start off. Not to forget the way the fresh blanket of greenery adorns you like a child, bringing a calm smile to ones' face.
The bad one: no washrooms, whatsoever. Counting to and fro, everyone had to trek one solid hour down the valley. To differently enjoy... being one with wilderness!
The second important thing we noticed about the foreigners (first being the way they greet strangers) is, the way they treat nature. To our dismay some Indians were littering around water bottles, packets of chips, ruining the very purity of our land, whereas all the while I cannot recall any foreigner doing so.
The sunset still tops as the best one I have ever seen.
With everyone trying to save their phone batteries, and no electricity what so ever, the valley goes pitch black every evening around 6pm. We chose to position our tent's entrance towards the snowy hills to enjoy the sunrise. They have a few walled rooms for stay as well but certainly sleeping under the night sky qualified as an amazing idea. I clearly recall cherishing the sight of over four shooting stars and a sky as clear as a freshwater crystal lake (Only, much darker than a Tarantino flick!).
Make sure that you give proper care to insulation as temperatures dropped down to 5 degrees after nightfall, thanks to a very windy microclimate and the snowy mountains in the east.
At night I and my friend woke up at different times thanks to a dog’s constant wailing and barking. I opened the tent to throw something at the annoying thing but one chilling swift gust of wind from the mountains was all it took for me to apologize to Mother Nature, the dog, my ancestors and be off to sleep.
Sleeping back to back, At 1:00am my friend felt something pressing at his side of the thin film of tent, I felt a claw or such, fiddling with my side of the tent at 3:00am. It was anyway too cold for us to make a noise or bother each other or anyone. Funnily enough the morning came with an interesting revelation that bears roam freely in the area at night. (Speechless, I couldn’t stop myself from thanking the dog who kept barking at night while attempting to warn us)
We returned early next morning after having a few cups of tea, the trek to Dharamkot took less than 2 hours. The whole journey back to New Delhi cost us around 3000 INR only. I have visited the place once again and it was still, Totally Worth it!
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