WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri!

Tripoto

Enroute Kareri Lake

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

It had been a while since Tee and I made a trip to the hills! And so the planning began. It’s interesting how Kareri was destined for the plans changed twice in a month’s time…From Valley of flowers to Shillong and Ziro Fest in Arunachal, we finally zeroed on to Kareri! Blame the Major for his majorrr leave crisis but love him even more for it weren’t for the crisis, our one week stay at the village and my hike up to the lake would have never happened! And just in case you happen to ask me WHY? You see Men are wired like that! A week-long leave would mean,doing a travel marathon, covering a minimum of four places. That’s how we traveled as kids with Dad…sleep deprived..exhausted, yet trying to fake a smile for the camera and ticking off almost every place in our bucket list! And that’s how Tee likes it too! Ufff!

So even though the rain gods wrecked havoc all over Himachal, affecting our trip as well, I couldn’t be more grateful for I got to spend one whole week in my very own Haven…Kareri.

Kareri Hamlet…with angry rain laiden clouds lurking in the backdrop…

Photo of Kareri, Himachal Pradesh, India by akanksha siwach

Like our other trips to Himachal this year ( read Spiti Valley and Narkanda), this one too kick started with a whole lot of downpour! Well adventures and misadventures always seem to bum around each other! I shall talk about the misadventures a little later down the post…So after driving around for 6 hours from Chandigarh, we finally landed at Dharamshala, only to find that the place we had booked was though really pretty but didn’t have a secure parking! Meti from this point was an hours drive but we weren’t sure if we’d find a good place to crash at. Nonetheless we still decided to drive down to Meti as we were to catch a bus from here till Ghera the next day and thereafter catch a cab to Kareri! This place being a small town/village didnt have many options..infact it had just one hotel that we could find on OYO..which though turned out to be HOTEL DECENT kinds( not quite literally though) but had a decent bed to crash for the night. Maiti is a quaint little town studded with neon green fields with the Dhauladhar towering high in the backdrop..We asked the hotel people about Kareri Lake trek and they didn’t sound very positive about just two of us doing it alone without a group of friends or a known local guide..Also the rains were predicted for the next three days ( we never knew it meant rainstorms and flooding). I could see Tee was slightly perplexed about camping by ourselves but you see the male ego would never let him say that loud!( I like how hubsters take random people so seriously but turn a deaf ear to their bitter halfs on the same matter) And so i found a couple of blogs on Kareri where this guy had mentioned about his solo trip and had given the contact details of his homestay. I booked the homestay at Manoj’s for the following day.We decided to plan on taking a villager along for the hike once we’d reached Kareri. While Tee dozed off in no time, I couldn’t fall asleep..Whats new?!! Happens to me every time before a much awaited hike or trip!

At the Aqua Waterfall Hotel…early morning balcony view!

Photo of Aqua Waterfall Hotel, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by akanksha siwach

Meti Village

Photo of Meti, Himachal Pradesh, India by akanksha siwach

I’m always a morning person in the mountains. Though I could barely catch forty winks, I was kind of up anyway. The Sun played peekaboo amidst the clouds and the mountains were momentarily glimpsed. The hotel guy told us that we could catch either the jeep at 7AM or the bus at 8:45AM at this turn wich was just a stones throw away from the lodge. We decided to leave our car behind at the hotel. After savoring a hot cup of Chai, we hurriedly gobbled down some parathas and omelette and in no time, started walking towards the bus stop. We saw the bus dropping passengers and picking up two people..I ran with all my might and yelled aloud ” Rokoooo”telling the guy who got down, to stop the driver. He leisurely moved his hand like he hadn’t eaten in days and I saw the bus taking off for Ghera! Tee, who was taking out the umbrella from car followed me. We missed the bus by some nanoseconds! Like this wasnt enough, the slight drizzle progressed to unforgiving pelting rains! Felt like the sky cried along with us ???? The next bus was scheduled at 3:30PM!

Now What! After doing a couple of boomerangs ( which did work to make me feel better),I called up Manoj and told him that we’d be a tad bit late since we missed the bus..He told us to drive up to Ghera and park the car there and hitch hike thereafter.We drove up along the boisterous stream…zoomed past a flock of mountain sheep..crossed two brimming causeways that freaked me out quite a bit for it were a cherry on the cake to Tee’s driving skills.(for those who didn’t know… the rod in my right leg is a testimony to that..;)

Of dirt tracks and muddied tyre ruts

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

After a short yet a bumpy drive of ten kms, we finally hit Ghera! Two things to be noted here are…Firstly, the road to Ghera is pretty decent and one can drive up in their own car instead of parking it in Meti and Secondly, there are homestays available as well. So it makes sense to stay put here instead!

Chai and Pahaads!

Photo of Ghera, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by akanksha siwach

Waterfalls around the power plant at Ghera

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

One generally gets shared cabs from Ghera for Rs 50 per head.But days when its pouring cats and dogs and you have no one going up to Kareri, a single cab would cost you Rs 500..The distance between the two is just 10kms but the route is pretty rough. THE villagers and locals are like always the warmest and extend a helping hand in the hour of need! Manoj’s cousin Kuldeep, who was on his way up to Kareri decided to give us a lift…While he was on his way to Ghera from Dharamshala, I decided to click the mandatory Chai Shot with mountains in the backdrop! I never drink tea but it definitely served as a good frame for an Instagram worthy post! We spent some beautiful forty minutes in this lesser known village that boasts of two power plants and an incredible scenery that comes alive out of those paintings we drew as kids. The lush green terrace farms, a brook meandering furiously with icy cold water straight from the Dhauladhars and village huts spaced at a distance from each other guarded with rustic rickety wooden fences! Thank God these places are’nt marked yet on the tourist map and therefore the sanctity remains intact!

Bird’s eye view of Ghera

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

An hour later we were in Kuldeep’s Alto that ripped the mountain roads, leaving the lush green valley behind, moving closer to my dream..Kareri!

My humble abode for the next week

Photo of Kareri, Himachal Pradesh, India by akanksha siwach

After driving past a couple of cafes and a hiking gear shop we finally reached the turn where we got off to walk further down to Manoj’s house. The route comprised of cemented steps & a calm streamlet followed by a meadow with boulders strewn all around.I watched my steps as the ground was all slushy and I had a heavy umbrella in my hand ( one can even use it for a garden umbrella…trust me) which didn’t make it any easy to walk. Village houses with slanting roofs, cows and sheep tied to their porch, smelled of rustic wood smoke and the omnipresent cow dung! AHHH! This was home for a day!…Little did we know that the rain gods had some adventurous surprises in store for us. And little did I know there was my Mountain story in making!

Rustic Village Life

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

DAY 1 ….When it all began!

When I was thinking of how my homestay would be, I pictured it pretty much like it was in real! A rustic house in a village, hugged by the mountains and green farms sprawling all around. Tiny little bridges hanging over the streamlets and country folks grazing their cattle around fitted in the frame as well! But this lil fellow who sat there at the house entrance was an absolute delightful surprise! Cheeru! or BMW ( BLACK MEIN WHITE AS I CALLED HIM) was the first from the family to welcome us home! We didn’t become friends immediately & it took me a day to gain his confidence. Honestly the entire family was really warm but Chiru remains closest for he became my companion in the rainy days to come.

Hello Cheeru aka BMW

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

Manoj’s house, like most of the houses there, was two storeyed. They had kept the room on ground floor ready for us! It was a small cosy room with even smaller beds which barely fitted our giraffe legs! wow that even rhymed! I think the room belonged to Arun, Manoj’s elder brother for his trophies and pictures adorned the shelves and room walls. I immediately zeroed down on my favorite spot, the cement slab by the window, where I’d sit for hours watching the rain turn the farms even greener and listen to the rhythm of the flowing streams.

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

My favorite nook…

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

The restroom with a view

The stairs leading to Aunties room…

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

There was no other sound…There were no people around…There was no agenda for the day…But the nothingness contained everything I yearned for! Even though it rained quite heavily, Tee and I decided to go out and explore the village..We splashed around on the puddles..sat down on the meadows watching the clouds boomeranging the mountains..talked to the village kids heading back home from school… Streams ran by everywhere and faint clouds of smoke bellowed into the air, as the villagers lit bonfires at their homes!

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

School kids heading back home…

countless streams around

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

While walking around we chanced upon this Cafe ‘Out of The World’, sounds so self glorious right!!..In a weather like that, a hot chocolate and a plate of well made momos can complete your day and I was thrilled to find it here in this remote village of Kangra! Out of the world actually had some out of the world food and it ended up becoming our favorite hangout spot! Mr Sansaar, the cook and the owner had earlier worked at Dharamkot, Goa and even Bombay. And therefore, one could see the hippie shacks kind of touch and an elaborate menu, which is a rare thing for a place like Kareri!

Misty evening strolls by the farms

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

My kind of evenings…lying around on the meadows, soaking up the rain…

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

The day was spent gallivanting around. The rains didn’t seem to stop but it only made the evenings more dreamy and romantic. As the night commenced, it only got heavier and we decided to postpone our hike to the day after, hoping the weather would clear off soon! We fed Cheeru, who now displayed more of trust and fondness. While we crashed on our tiny little beds, Cheeru decided to make the doormat on our door his sleeping spot for the day….and we all slept like a happy furry family!

Breaking the ice

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

DAY 2…A Hiking Date with Cheeru in the morning and later in the evening with yet another Pawiee named Romeo!

Early morning scenes

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

We woke up to the clouds greeting us at our doorstep! The incessant rains didn’t seem to be in a mood to sober down. To make things worse, Tee had sprained his back. I don’t know if it were because of the tiny bed or sudden drop in the temperature but he couldn’t really move around much..After having Maggie in breakfast, I decided to clean up and then go out walking in the village. While Tee planned to rest and read a book on his Kindle. ( I think he was happy with the sprain for it gave him a break from me and time to indulge in his long-lost hobby of reading) Fair enough. Doing your own thing is pretty therapeutic at times!

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

The welcome photo bomber

My loyal companion

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

As I was recording the surroundings, I found Cheeru photobombing my shoot. Voila! He had been following me from home..I asked him if he wanted to show me around and he in his own ways nodded yes! In most of my hikes in Bhutan, dogs were an integral part of it. Sometimes as Sherpas..and at times as a co hiker. And one couldn’t really ask for a better company. Though the creepy wife in me missed exploring the gem with Tee, Cheeru didn’t disappoint. We ran around the meadow..he chased some hens..rubbed himself on a whole lot of mud and then dipped himself in a pool of water…There was this one time when he even got zoomies (going berserk running around all over the place, displaying his excitement) It was quite apparent,that we both shared love for rains.He made me feel closer to my babies, Dasher and Haachu..The crazy downpour kept villagers to their homes, leaving me and Cheeru all by ourselves,loving every bit of the surprises the rains had to offer.

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

The meadows have surprises only if you listen

Envious of the villagers for views like these

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

After two hours of gallivanting in the rains, we decided to head back home..The streams suddenly seemed to have picked up a furious pace, breaking the stillness around. Later by evening,the lashing rains further metamorphosed them into waterfalls. Tee was still not feeling better and was tucked cosy in his blanket. Meanwhile, Cheeru got himself bit on his right ear while trying to shoo away a stranger(another pawiee)… I gently tended the bruise and made him lie down on the rug. Both my loves were not in the pink of their health. While Tee dozed off,after taking some painkillers, I decided to grab some hot chocolate. I was cold and kind of put off by his health. I only wished for him to get better so that we’d do the trek together. We had done a lot of day treks but I so wanted to do a long one with him, for camping together under the stars in the mountains was certainly a dream!

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

Savior in a dark gloomy afternoon

my carom buddies

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

I ordered a hot chocolate and found myself to be the only one at the cafe. Two small kids played carom on the table behind me.There were no tourists around this time. The trekkers who were up at the lake were stuck too. Plus the village was cut off due to several landslides on the way. No matter how gloomy the sky gets because of rains, the clouds are always up to something. They’re always there to add drama and you’d never get bored staring at them.

Staring into the wilderness from Out of the World Cafe

Photo of Out Of The World Cafe, Kareri, Himachal Pradesh, India by akanksha siwach

A sheet of clouds formed a layer on the mountains that stood in front. One minute it looked like it was clearing up and the very next, it began to pack up again. I asked the boys if I could join them for carom and they instantly made some space for me. I was trying to remember when was it last when I played this game and it felt like forever. My hands were cold and I could barely strike. Rakesh and Vivek kept scoring until I made one point and in the very next turn I lost it after my striker went into the loop. I pictured the kids making an ‘L’ sign for me in their heads! All schools in Himachal were closed owing to the torrential rains. And therefore I was lucky to have them humoring me on this dark gloomy afternoon. On my way back home, I met another pawsome named Romeo. He was all drenched and looked hungry. I fed him with Parle G and since then he followed me everywhere.

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

Romeo & Manoj

Walking through the cornstalk fields

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

Later in the evening, the rain reduced to a slight drizzle. I asked Manoj if he could take me around and show me some new place. He told me about the Niyund stream that was around 2kms from his place. I, Manoj and Romeo, set out for Niyund..We walked through the cornstalk fields and crossed three major streams that meandered along the farms. There was this one particular stream that had insane amount of flow and I had to take my shoes off in order to keep them dry for the trek. And it was then when these blood sucking crawlies called leeches feasted on my legs! I got to know it only on our way back! Eeeeks!

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

One of the many streams to negotitate

Leeches #vampires

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

The rocks were mossy and slippery and I had my first mighty fall. Romeo seemed to be concerned for he turned back and came to me and licked my leg! Such an awww moment that was! After slipping around and been drained out by leeches we finally reached Niyund. The flow of the water was unexplainable. The stream was flooding and what looked inviting and surreal before now cautioned us to stay away. A rickety wooden bridge hanging over it connected Kareri to another hamlet called Nauholi. Manoj told me how there was this guy in this hamlet who would get drunk at night and cross this maddening brook all by himself. My mind uttered ‘RIP Fellow’!

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

Raging Torrents at its best

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

Bridge connecting Kareri to Nauholi

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

Romeo and his Juliet

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

The Braveheart

That night, three broken people slept to the lullaby of rains..(Tee’s back…Cheeru’s ear and my bruised knee) Even though I knew that the rains were predicted for next day as well, I prayed to god for a miracle…for a brighter sunny day with no aches and pains for the three of us!

DAY 3 : Ain't no Sunshine!!

Third consecutive day with rainstorms. I didn’t feel like saying Good Morning today! Tee’s back was still stiff. He hadn’t moved out of the room for a day now. Cheeru wagged and moved around in the room..His ear still bled and there were blood spots on his rug. I cleaned it again with the napkin and told Arun to apply ointment.I asked Tee if we should get a doctor picked up from Dharamshala..He declined joking ‘MARD KO DARD NAHI HOTA’..I retorted ‘Sexist statement Tee’… But we knew he wouldn’t be able to do the trek anymore. Accuweather showed Sun for the next two days. But how were I to go without him. The weather seemed to play villain anyway. I asked Manoj if he knew someone who could help me providing with a tent and sleeping bag there at the lake itself so that I didn’t have to carry the load all by myself. The initial 5kms were said to be steep and my perennial cervical pain would have made it worse. Manoj told me if the weather was good the following day he’d plan to meet his Uncle and Aunt who are bakkerwaals at the lake. They were to come down to the village and he was to help them with the luggage. I saw a ray of hope there. Also he had stowed a couple of sleeping bags at his Uncle’s place, along with tents. There were two hiccups though. Assuring Tee that I’d be ok for I understood his apprehensions of letting me on my own with a man we barely knew for two days and secondly the Niyund stream was apparently in its wildest state because of torrential rains for three consecutive days & had to be crossed in order to reach the other side of the mountain that led to the lake. The latter definitely seemed to be a cause of concern..especially for it involved a hydrophobic maniac like me!

Calm before the storm

Photo of Kareri, Himachal Pradesh, India by akanksha siwach

But for the time being I had this whole day ahead of me and I didn’t want to ruin it drowning myself in dreadful melancholic thoughts. It didn’t rain as hard as it did the last two days and I saw that as a positive sign. And honestly no matter how much I said I hated rains for it wrecked havoc and our plans to some extent, a major part of me still loved it with all my heart. I’m a hopeless Pluviophile. These lines from one of my favorite blogger Shivya’s book The Shooting Star describe me so well in that moment…’Those rainy days made me feel like I had no past, like I was a child of the clouds put on earth to drink in its wild beauty”. And therefore, I decided to pick up my umbrella and take off to the other unexplored side of the village…to see some more houses and some more unseen faces. Aunty fed us with some delish parathas and mango pickle in breakfast. I thought I’ll take Cheeru along but guess what ..apparently he had taken the cow and sheep to graze around! Can you beat that..such a responsible lad..I wish I could get mine trained by this boy!

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

Happy Wandering Feet

Impromptu waterfalls enroute

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

After climbing a couple of steps, I decided to go down along the stream. Third day of rains brought along some fiery rapids. But the drizzle made it pleasant to walk around. And Prateek Kuhaad singing on my headphones,made the place feel like a tad bit closer to my neverland. It’s amazing how some songs,words and beats are so powerful.

Picture perfect

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

While walking down this stream, I came across this beautiful house whose entrance was spectacular for a streamlet gushed by it. Imagine having your own little natural pool right in your courtyard. The house looked familiar though. Like I had seen or read about it somewhere. Before coming to Kareri I had done a lot of research, watching vlogs and reading some really helpful blogs. One of the ladies had mentioned of her homestay which looked exactly like this one. A thing to note here would be, reading blogs is any day more helpful for they’re more elaborate and information specific. I shall give the details of both the homestays and guides towards the end of the post.

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

Meadows in abundance

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

Ain’t it ideal for brunches

Or even a power nap

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

A little ahead on the right hand side, was a meadow patch where a woman grazed her horses and sheep. Yet another stream made its way through the forest trails. This one particular spot with two huge tress on either sides and the brook flowing in the middle, seemed to call out. I decided to sit there for sometime and watch the shy creatures graze around. I wondered till where did the brook flow…was there no end everrr! How many bends it winded on..for how many miles it carried on.. If only I lived at places like these, it would have been easier to comprehend Tennysons lines and all the metaphors he used..These restless waters were missed since long. Last I saw them in abundance was back in Bhutan. The monsoons gifted me these, trying to make up for other mishaps! But then again, if it weren’t for the rocks in its bed, the stream would have no song.

I dipped my fingers in the roaring stream

I lifted my face up to the gentle rain

I was drenched and cold yet I beamed

The monsoon child in me couldn’t complain!

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

Stairway to heaven

the highland lass

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

After that much-needed rendezvous with the brook, I moved forward, thinking to walk all along it just when the lady shepherd whistled loud to call me. She said there was nothing ahead and only jungle infested with leeches while, the other route went up to some more village houses and farms. I thanked her and made my way to the remaining houses. While some kids played in rains, women were seen carrying piles of hay, walking those zig zag trails,eventually disappearing into the clouds end. Huffing and puffing my way through the long cornstalks, I decided to head back home to Tee and Cheeru.

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

Cornstalk fields strewn all over the place

Country Folks

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

The weather was apt for some sinful gluttony and I got some piping hot pakodas packed for home..On reaching home, I saw Uncle, Aunty and Cheeru, all humoring Tee! The village folks are by far the warmest people ever! We all feasted on pakodas and tea, while Cheeru had his favorite ParleG. Aunty invited me to her farms, where she was going to cut grass for the cattle. The house overlooked their farms and both Arun and Auntie left for work. I told them I’d join them in a bit after playing a little game of chess with Tee. While playing chess, Tee told me that the roads are going to be blocked for next two days and that it made sense for me to go for the hike. Though I wasn’t happy about doing it without him, a huge part of me badly wanted to see the lake. And so we decided to tell Manoj to guide me through the route. The food was going to be taken care of by his relatives. Manoj told us that I could stay with him, his uncle & aunty in their hut but I wanted to camp under the starlit sky amidst the mountains and dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s of the plan.

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

Aunty at her khet

ripe orange fields

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

A little later,after digging my boots ( actually Tee’s boots) a countless times in the slush, I was at the farm,accompanying Aunty. She swiftly cropped the grass with her rusty sickle and kept dumping it in her bright electric blue basket. A makeshift bell made out of a tin box was hung by the tree to keep the monkeys away. Aunty showed me her mother’s house in the village from the farms. It was a pink colored house, standing high on the hillock. The bakkarwals who I was going to visit, stayed there during off grazing season. Then Auntie picked up some awkward conversations of why we’ve been married for 6 years and still not had a kid! Oopsie! I winked at her and told her, how will we climb mountains if we have a toddler around. She jokingly told me to stay back here in the village since I loved the Pahaads so much! She was also amused to know that we are just two sisters in the family with not a single brother. That seemed to be quite a grave concern. I told her Bhai and Behen mein kya difference hai…and she just smirked! Well…I wasn’t surprised for it would take eons for our country folks to get out of the shackles of male dominance and other age old beliefs.. She showed me her daughter’s pictures who moved to Naddi after getting married. While clearing off the weeds,she picked up corn and told me to keep it as a souvenir.

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

My Gift ????

The mighty dhauladhars in the backdrop

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

The sky began to clear up. Something shimmery flashed across the hills…The Snow Clad Dhauladhars majestically emerged from within the clouds. The sun struggled hard to make its way through and the fleeting clouds kept winning over it. I followed Auntie back home. While trying not to fall again, I kept wishing for a rainbow to show up..like it happened on our way to Spiti in Narkanda. And a Genie seemed to have overheard the conversation with myself. A couple of hours later, a rainbow lit up the sky. Though faint but the colors it displayed were spell binding. And at that moment I reminded Tee and myself of what Parton said’ IF YOU WANT THE RAINBOW, YOU GOTTA PUT UP WITH THE RAIN’!

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

Finally hello there Mr sunshine

Indradhanush!!!!

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

I ran to Aunty’s room to get her out to show her the splendid sky. Interrupting her cooking, I squealed..’bahar dekho…indradhanush’! She didn’t seem excited enough for they spotted it all the time there but was sweet enough to come along. We all sat outside till it faded away into the boundless sky. So the trek was certainly happening the next day. After sitting with Auntie at the choolah, I decided to dry my pants and jacket and shoes sitting around the fire with Tee, outside our room.

Evening gupshup with aunty by the fireplace

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Cheeru didn’t like the smoke and sat away from us and later came in once the fire was out. That night was a sleepless affair yet again with a part of regretting going the next day without Tee and the other one, shit excited about finally being able to do it after a never-ending wait of three days. .The night felt abnormally quiet and the moon shone bright.

The moonlight sky

Photo of WHEN I GOT HAPPILY STRANDED AT THIS HAVEN CALLED….Kareri! by akanksha siwach

While Tee snored beside me, I grinned cheek to cheek and murmured to myself…See You Soonest KARERI! Little did I know that the following day, was full of shockers and harrowing encounters with the angry mother nature!! ( The story of the hike would follow up soon) Here’s a glimpse of the crown jewel

Kareri Lake in all its splendor

Photo of Kareri Lake, Kareri, Himachal Pradesh by akanksha siwach

TRAVEL INFO ON KARERI

I suck at drawing maps. But here’s the crux of the route…..Dharamshala ——Meti——Ghera——Kareri

There is a simpler route for people coming from Pathankot side. Drive till Salli village from Shahpur. There is a camp called SNOWMONKCAMP which can be used as a base for climbing up to the lake and saves you an hours climb fro the village.

Apart from homestays, the village offers a forest rest house. Call the Divisional Forest Officer in Dharamshala for booking. D.EOs contact 01892.224887/ 01892.224959. ( Reference ..www.inditramp.com)

Homestays ..Arun…9736202701, Manoj – 9805337681

Cab Dvr Kuldeep – 8628956583

Ideal months…April to October ( with monsoons in between)

There are almost four refreshment shops enroute that provide maggie, biscuits..cold drinks etc. One can refill their sippers from the countless clean spring water streams on the way. The trek is all along the stream.

In case one doesn’t prefer camping, the lake on top has a Shiv Shakti Temple with rooms as well but with no doors.

It would be advisable to carry good sturdy shoes for the trek, as the route is extremely rocky. Also pack your rain gears. The weather in Kangra is pretty erratic and you don’t know when it starts pouring.

There is a shop about 50mtrs short of Sunrise Cafe which rents out tents hiking poles & sleeping bags.

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