“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” ― Augustine of Hippo
What started with a plan of exploring Ranthambore National Park during Christmas holiday along with a few friends ended with a solo trip to Dalhousie & Khajjiar. As Mandy Hale has said, “Single" means you are brave enough to face the glorious unknown of the unaccompanied journey.” Due to all this uncertainty I couldn’t get my seat booked in a Deluxe/Volvo bus service of HRTC and had to travel in an ordinary bus of HRTC to Dalhousie from Delhi, however, I could get a seat in a deluxe bus for my return journey to Delhi from Chamba. As I hopped on the bus, searched for my seat and adjusted my backpack and had a look around to get a feel of what I had signed up for and was about to begin my 12 hours plus journey. Next day early morning, I was in in Himalayas and felt like I have come to another home. All these mountains give me warmth even if it is freezing cold out there, I feel happy and full of life.
My leisure walk to Kala Top wild life sanctuary in freezing temperature for around 6 hours, covering 15 KMs, on snow covered road, offered me the sights of the western edge of the Dhauladhar mountain range of the Himalayas, surrounded by snow-capped peaks. John Ruskin has rightly said “Mountains are the beginning and the end of all natural scenery.”
I was unaware that my walk for the day was not over I still had 10 KMs to cover, as road to Khajjiar from Dalhousie was blocked due to heavy snow on the road only way of reaching Khajjiar was by trekking via Dainkund. I met a person, Anirudh, in his late 40s who offered me to be my guide and led the way. Snow covered trek was mesmerizing and offered panoramic view of the whole valley. In another 2 hours I was at peak and enjoying the paradisiacal view of the place. I offered prayers at Pohlani Mata Temple and there I got my first view “Mani Mahesh Kailash”. This view and feelings reminded me of words of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu - “There is no such sense of solitude as that which we experience upon the silent and vast elevations of great mountains. Lifted high above the level of human sounds and habitations, among the wild expanses and colossal features of Nature, we are thrilled in our loneliness with a strange fear and elation – an ascent above the reach of life's expectations or companionship, and the tremblengs of a wild and undefined misgivings.”
After some rest at the mountain top we decided to climb down on our way to Khajjiar when my guide offered to be my host for the night and invited me to stay at his place. I gladly accepted the offer and thanked him. “The beauty of traveling solo is that you wonder unexpectedly, but almost certainly into the direction you were meant to go.” ― Shannon Ables. I had been offered a hot glass of tea as soon as I reached his home and as I my whole body was aching due to 25-26 KMs walk in the entire day, I sat in front the bonfire and enjoyed the warmth. After dinner I retired to my bed and dozed off in a few seconds and woke up to a wonderful morning.
My guide cum host made arrangements for my journey to Khajjiar (also famous as mini Switzerland of India) and stay option there, where I enjoyed the grassland and lake. Place is surrounded by meadows and thick pine forests. As my journey was coming to an end I was amazed by how wonderful this short trip had turned out to be. “All mountain landscapes hold stories: the ones we read, the ones we dream, and the ones we create. -from the Editor's Note, The Alpinist”― George Michael Sinclair Kennedy