Parvati Valley - The land of Gods.

Tripoto
22nd Apr 2016
Photo of Khir Ganga, Himachal Pradesh, India by Aashish M Pawgi

Home is where the heart is. I never really understood the phrase until I decided to take a trip to Himachal in the northern part of India. I had never been there before which in turn pumped my excitement. Me, along with a friend booked our tickets and packed our bags to the land of stories, myth and dreams.

Finally it was the day when I had to catch my flight. To my surprise, I was invited to my college for a group photo as I had finished my graduation. I was not able to handle the sheer feeling of going to college for a group photo and then boarding a flight to some place I had never visited before. Being the first time in my life when I was leaving the college gate and going straight to the airport to catch a flight, I was not sure about how it would go, but it certainly felt right.

We reached the airport and checked in the baggage, got the boarding pass and finally took a seat in the waiting area. Emotions were flooding as it was the first time I was going to a place so long away from my home, little did I knew, that I was going back home.

Photo of Delhi, India by Aashish M Pawgi

The flight took off as my heartbeats started racing rapidly. I was always afraid of flights, but it was the first time I enjoyed my heart pumping faster. I could feel my every heartbeat. After a two hour journey of watching out the clouds and staring at the endless horizons, we finally reached the heart of India- Delhi. It was my first time in this city too. We got off the plane and took a drive to one of the most posh areas in Delhi known as GK2. We were lucky to have got a stay in the guest house of the company, my dad worked in.

We enjoyed some hot tea while overlooking the Delhi roads at night. It was immensely peaceful to see the streets of Delhi at night. Mornings were like magic. The city took us in within a blink of an eye. We started exploring the streets of Delhi. The fresh aroma of the local food was just amazing. By the evening it was about time we leave for the place I had always dreamt off.

Photo of Qutub Minar, New Delhi, Delhi, India by Aashish M Pawgi
Photo of India Gate, New Delhi, Delhi, India by Aashish M Pawgi
Photo of India Gate, New Delhi, Delhi, India by Aashish M Pawgi

Taking a bus from Delhi, we started our journey to the Himachal- Land of Gods, as they say. As I woke up from a good night’s sleep, I was stunned to see the view in front of my eyes. All I could see through my window were the lush green mountains with a beautiful river flowing through them. As the bus moved further, I slowly could see the golden snowcapped mountains far away. It was the first time in my life I was seeing mountains this big and beautiful. I already felt peace just being there. We got off at Bhuntar station which is 70kms before Manali. It was the coldest morning I had ever experienced in my life. We waited at the stop for the bus while having a glass of ginger tea. I still remember how pure the air was, and the tea which never tasted the same before. I slowly realized how this place spells a cast on you and you are left with doing nothing but just being there. We boarded the local bus to our first stop in this long journey, Kasol.

One hour bus journey through the dense forests and hilly roads finally brought us to the land of myths and mysteries. Entering Kasol felt like coming back home, as if I knew that place and had already been there. I slowly realized how fast the nature works on you. We stepped out of the bus with a new made friend who had been to Kasol for eight times prior to this trip. This is one of the blessings of travel that you meet new people and strangers turn into friends before you know. We accompanied him to one of the nearest café by the name Bhoj. I never really had seen a café such beautiful before in my life. Cozy beds and warm blankets, small wooden tables and chairs, the fresh aromas of hot chocolates and ginger tea, and some mouthwatering food to satisfy the hunger. The view from the café along with the delicious breakfast was enough to satisfy my soul. That was when I slowly started realizing about how less is actually more. We spent around 3 hours savoring the dishes and having long talks with the people we met there. Finally, after having our stomach’s filled, we started our journey to Chalaal.

Photo of Kasol, Himachal Pradesh, India by Aashish M Pawgi
Photo of Kasol, Himachal Pradesh, India by Aashish M Pawgi

 Chalaal is a small village which resides just in the lap of Kasol. And the best part is, you have to cross a steel hanging bridge across Parvati River. This very idea of crossing a hanging bridge while watching the river flow gave me Goosebumps. Lifting our heavy backpacks we started our journey to Chalaal. The weather was getting pretty hot as it was after noon. But it never did bother us as the beauty around us was too good to pass. I had always dreamt of taking walks through the tall woods while I hear birds chirping and the river flowing. I felt as if the dream came true. For a moment there, I thought I was dreaming but with my eyes open. And it was one of the best feelings I had ever experienced in my life. We continued walking through dense forests to finally reach a café in Chalaal by the name Guru Café. The very location of the café got me hooked as I was able to see the entire picturesque Parvati valley surrounded by the mighty mountains and the snow cladded peaks. The café owner greeted us in the warmest ways and made us comfortable. After settling in for few hours, the real magic started. Evenings here were , much special. I sat in the balcony area of the café with a cup of fresh ginger tea. And the sheer view of the sun kissing down the snow cladded peaks was enough for me to live in the moment. Never had I ever felt so alive before. I enjoyed my alone time there with the amazing view in front of my eyes. It was no longer than an hour, before the evening munchies kicked in. We decided to trek down to Kasol for some hot and fresh wood fire pizzas. On the way back, we stopped at a place just to admire the beautiful view in front of our eyes. The lush green landscape with small wooden houses and the Parvati River flowing by was satisfying enough for us to sit there are just admire it for hours. By the evening, the temperature really dropped down and the whole atmosphere got extremely cold. The whole vibe of the place changed slowly. It was getting darker and darker by every minute and the whole town was lighting up with the beautiful lights. The weather outside was cold enough along with the snow cladded peaks, now welcomed by the moonlight. For the first time in my life, I felt as if I was in some dreamland, living a fairy tale. But I knew I was not, and this is how it was there every day. The nights were extremely magical here. We tried some of the local delicacies and then took a hike back to Chalaal. The café we checked in by the afternoon had turned into something else by the night. The paintings on the wall of the café were illuminating with the neon lights and the incense burning had turned the whole room into something else. I was totally peaceful looking at the mountains in the night while enjoying a cup of coffee. I never felt so alive before. Our night ended with the endless conversations and card games with the people we had met the very same day. The mornings were extremely fresh in Chalaal. We packed our bags, big good byes to the new made friends and moved further on our journey to more dense forests and mountain tops.

Photo of Parvati Valley - The land of Gods. by Aashish M Pawgi
Photo of Parvati Valley - The land of Gods. by Aashish M Pawgi

I could feel the place holding me back and not letting me go, but I knew something more was awaiting there in the dense forests. And so we boarded the bus to our next stop Barshaini, which is a small village in the lap of Parvati Valley. After an hour long drive from Kasol, we reached Barshaini by late noon. The weather was pleasant and I could feel getting close to the mountains. The very view after getting out of the bus was enough to let me know I was close to my home away from home.

As it was dusk by the time we reached Barshaini, we decided to go visit Tosh and spend the rest of the night there. We had heard about the stories about a café up in Tosh. Finally after an hour long tiring walk, we reached Pink Floyd café and were blessed by the beautiful view of Parvati Valley and the snow cladded peaks. To my surprise, the café played Pink Floyd songs and we were at peace. The café was at such a point from where we saw the whole of valley. It felt like a natures blessing. After long I felt like I was back home. And I suddenly realized how peaceful it is to be away from the society, away from all the rules we live in and the norms we follow. It is often the gift of nature for mankind to be able to be present in the moment. We enjoyed hot local food in a café and spent our night while experiencing the blanket of stars. The very next morning was the time to finally move on for the trek we had decided to do. After a good night’s sleep we finally started our way to the famous Kheerganga trek.

Photo of Barshaini to Rudranag Trail (Trekking), Sosan, Himachal Pradesh, India by Aashish M Pawgi
Photo of Tosh, Himachal Pradesh, India by Aashish M Pawgi
Photo of Tosh, Himachal Pradesh, India by Aashish M Pawgi
Photo of Tosh, Himachal Pradesh, India by Aashish M Pawgi

My heart was racing faster as we started our trail in the early morning after having our breakfast. I had always dreamt of going to this place and finally when I was walking my way towards it, it all felt so right.

We took a small break at the base village Kalga to refill whatever we needed for the trek and finally started our journey. I never felt so happy before. All I could see in front of my eyes were the tall pine trees, small wooden houses on the mountains, sunlight peeking in through the trees, the mighty Parvati river and the happiest faces of the people I had ever seen. I knew I was few hours away from my home in the mountains.

Photo of Himachal Pradesh, India by Aashish M Pawgi

Soon, we were accompanied by a group of backpackers who were coming from Israel to see the Himachal. I suddenly felt so blessed being born in the country full of mysteries and myths. Also, I was more than happy to see and meet people from other countries visiting the parts of Himachal. The place is truly magical as they say in legends. We had a chat with them and continued our way to Kheerganga.

Soon after an hour and half, we were tired and took a short break. The trek never drained us enough though, as we were always surrounded by lush green pine trees and small waterfalls. Soon we realized we were too lost in the beauty around us and it was slowly getting darker.

We planned to reach the top by sunset and so we started moving ahead. Soon after a walk for an hour, we reached the waterfall café where we were welcomed by a grand waterfall and small café next to it. All I could hear was the gushing sound of the waterfall. And it was enough to give me peace.

Photo of KheerGanga Waterfall - Half way, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Aashish M Pawgi

Sunset was an hour away, when we moved on for the final path to our destination. Walking through the dense patches of forests, we finally reached a point where the magic happened. It was about time for sunset as I saw the golden light peeking through the tall trees and the winds blowing faster. I knew, I was there and the magic show had just begun.

Walking a few steps further, I witnessed the place of my dreams presenting before me in the most magical way ever. I was truly speechless. The golden light peeking through the tall trees and decorating the rooftops, the endless green pastures protected by the mighty mountains and the pure smell of air was enough to make me happy. For the first time in my life, I truly realized how it feels to be alive in the moment.

Photo of Khir Ganga, Himachal Pradesh, India by Aashish M Pawgi
Photo of Khir Ganga, Himachal Pradesh, India by Aashish M Pawgi
Photo of Khir Ganga, Himachal Pradesh, India by Aashish M Pawgi

We kept our bags in a tent nearby and hiked to the natural hot water springs there. The temperature was already getting down and cold. It was about seven in the evening when we reached the hot water springs. Without thinking twice, we took a dip into the springs and what happened next was beyond any words I could express. The sheer feeling of sitting in the hot water springs on a cold chilly evening while looking at the tall snow cladded peaks was beyond bliss. I was happy for no reason. And I realized how you need to stop rushing from life, and just take a look at how beautiful the nature is.

Photo of Khir Ganga, Himachal Pradesh, India by Aashish M Pawgi
Photo of Khir Ganga, Himachal Pradesh, India by Aashish M Pawgi
Photo of Khir Ganga, Himachal Pradesh, India by Aashish M Pawgi

We never realized how two days passed by and it was finally the time to say goodbye to the place which I now call home. It was definitely hard to bid goodbyes to the new made friends and the amazing nature, but as we had to catch the bus back to the hometown, we packed our bags and started our trail back to Kasol. Getting down was much easier than the way up. We reached the Bhuntar bus stand in three hours and immediately took a bus back to Kasol. We stayed for a night in Kasol before leaving for Delhi next day. I still remember that night with the endless conversations I had with strangers over a cup of coffee and some delicacies. It’s truly amazing how travel turns you into a storyteller.

And finally it was time for me to say goodbye to the place which had given me a bag full of memories, ample of new friends, and the kind of peace which I would never forget in my life. We boarded the bus back to Delhi and finally the flight back to hometown.

Returning back to hometown never felt so different as I knew something was changed. And it was none other than me. I was totally a different person than what I was before going.

It’s been a year since I’ve been there. And now that I’m sitting at home watching the beautiful photos I have, a part of me still lives there, forever. Looking back, Parvati Valley truly makes you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller.

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