After watching the movie Wild starring Reese Witherspoon, I decided to buy a tent and go live in the wild for a few days. In the movie which was based on a true story I saw a girl go on a trek alone and overcome obstacles and her fears. I figured being a boy I ought to stop sitting in my brick-walled shop breathing the air through the air conditioner and go live it out. I knew I was going to suffer a bit of a loss in my business, but I did not care about money, because I was yearning deeply for an adventurous experience. Being unmarried and having no kids I figured the time was right to look death in the eyes and say ‘Do anything if you can’.
I folded all the back seats of my Toyota Innova car and laid down layers of blankets covered with a bed sheet to create a bed in the back of my car. I went ahead and brought a good quality Coleman waterproof tent and other essential gears like sleeping bag, raincoat, mat, a good quality knife, cooking equipments, ropes, and more.
The season was peak monsoons, so everything had to be waterproof. I already had a waterproof boots and jacket so that was one major investment that I had done a little while back, unknowing, it will come in such extensive use.
I only knew that I was going to Himachal Pradesh from Dehradun, and at first I had to touch Kasol, the base of Psychedelic raves in India. After that I had planned I will take my car till wherever it goes, and then move further on foot. I had decided to not take a room, and not eat outside. So either I lived in the car or in the tent and I ate fruits or cooked on my own.
My journey began in very heavy rain, everyone telling me to wait for 15 days or more, and people telling me I won’t be able to pitch the tent in rains. I had the car, and a strong pushing will to leave, so I left.
I had to cover a distance of 450Kms in the beginning, and I had no clue what I had in store for me. So I started at 6 in the morning and drove till Chandigarh and crossed Chandigarh to reach Sundernagar through Dharampur. Till the time I reached sundernagar it was already 8 at night, I am a very slow driver, half the time I am so engrossed in the music that I don’t even realize that I am driving at the speed of just 30kms per hour, but that also gives me confidence of safety while driving on the highway, I do touch top speeds provided the roads are good.In between I stopped under a bus stand to cook food, people staring at me, but I was determined to cook on my own and eat. I cooked Daliya in water with sugar.
After reaching Sundernagar, I started looking for a place to park my car and then hop into the back seat and go off to sleep. I was looking for a clean place because I am in the habit of brushing my teeth at night, so I wanted somewhere quiet where I could do things change my clothes and sleep. But to my horror I got stuck in the local Vegetable vendor wholesale market, in the process of looking for a quiet place. I was tired, sleepy, and I was stuck in between several trucks. It took me one hour to get out of that locality, and on finding no quiet place to sleep in, I left Sundernagar, deciding I will look for a quiet place outside the city. I drove for two more hours, and then suddenly like a gift, I saw my spot on National Highway 24. I could park my car away from the road beside the river, and the ground was of clean green grass. It was still raining but I opened my umbrella, got off, observed the road through a torch, parked my car, brushed my teeth, changed my clothes, smoked a pipe, and lay down on the back of my car.
To tell everyone the truth, I met wild energies of the forest for the first time that night. I asked them why are they wicked? They told me they are not wicked just misunderstood, they told me they are just wild. Wild like I am. Because that night, I was with them in the middle of a deserted road, under heavy rains, and the only sounds I could hear was that of the rain and the river Beas. I slowly drifted into deep sleep.
And in the morning when I got up, this was the view.
I looked for a place to use the loo beside the river; I dug up a hole and then covered it back after I was done.
Also, I had promised myself, I will not miss a single session of Surya Namaskar yoga that I do every morning. After freshening up, driving from Mandi to Kasol, I looked for a portico, stopped my car and did yoga outside someone’s house.
I reached Kasol at 11:00 am, and crossed the town to park my car just outside the city, and then I walked around looking for a place to camp my tent.
Within an hour’s time I had found two spots, One in the outskirts on Kasol, but with no water source. And one in a garden of a big farm with the facility of a loo and water. I planned to camp in the farm, and then plan how I wanted to live in the jungle. So I camped two days in Kasol, planning how I would like to go about living in the wild. I asked people questions, travelled some paths to figure it out.
Kheerganga it was. If I really wanted to live in the wild with water sources and no one disturbing me, no cops, no authorities, and still be a bit safe, the first destination was KheerGanga. I had to drive 20kms to Barshaini, park my car there, pick up my bag which weighed 18kgs and trek up 14 Kms to Kheerganga, and then camp there.
I packed my tent and left early in the morning to Barshaini, reached there by 8am and had breakfast. The dhaba waala looking at the bag and my body advised me to take a porter. But I figured if a man cannot carry his own tent to the top of the mountain, what is the use of having a tent then. I was determined to do it all alone, so I began my journey.
And what a journey it was…
The last 6 Kms was very steep and it took a toll on me, I was very tired, pushing myself, alone to reach the spot before it went dark. I reached and crossed Kheerganga at 7:00 PM. I pitched my tent, did not cook, but bought food from a local vendor, smoked my pipe, and Bang! The whole universe came alive. The trees had faces, and the cloud and the huge mountains looked at me. I felt scared. It was my first night alone in the forest in my life, and I was getting chills in my spines. What happened next still makes me wonder if there is a super power above connected to our own minds. I was holding my pipe and feeling scared standing outside my tent as it was pitch dark, looking at the Huge huge mountains and the clouds and wondering what animal will come to eat me up. And suddenly an animal licked my feet, I looked below to see it was a dog. A dog, and my heart melted, I got inside my tent, took out some roasted chana that I had and offered it to the dog. The dog ate rapidly as it must be hungry, I gave her some more (I know she was a female because we spent the next 3 days together, before a cow came to give me company, then the dog left, now what else will you call divine intervention?)
I lived there for 6 days, at times I cooked on my own, at times I had food in village homes a few kilometres away. I bathed in the natural hot water pools of nature, and use the whole jungle as my loo whenever I wanted to.
It was wonderful to live with the divine, without external intervention.
After Kheer Ganga I came back and relaxed in Kasol for a couple of days, to my good luck, there was a legal psychedelic festival going on: Electric Mahadev Festival, and I got an opportunity to party for the next 3 days. The experience was amazing, psychedelic decorations, lights, and big awesome speakers in the middle of the mountain. The atmosphere is perfect for a psychedelic trip. I could not click any pictures because I was partying without any burden of equipments and things to look after. I danced for three days.
On Monday the party came to an end and I planned to go to another village where road has not reached: Grahan. The trek was two kilometres lesser than that of Kheer Ganga but it was double steeper all across the way. There were no people walking on the path, and I suddenly realized I was climbing a very steep mountain all alone with 20 Kilos on my back. Any ways I had heard so much about Grahan, that I decided to go through it. I stopped, I struggled, but slowly and steadily I kept moving forward.
It is almost a true saying that after extreme hardship something amazing is going to happen. On reaching the top I reached a village of 600 people. Hundreds and hundreds years old village, and they were having a function. They were beating drums and had taken out the statue of their deity who was supposedly going on a 3 day trip to go and meet his mother, who is also in statue form in another village a little far away.
The people there were very friendly, and they invited me into their home first to make me eat food and drink tea, I wanted to pay but they did not accept any money saying they do not charge in their homes, if I want to pay I could have anything in the dhaba and pay. I was overwhelmed by the friendly response I got in Grahan. I met a young man there and started asking him places where I could camp up. Before camping he requested me to come and see his hotel, he asked me to only see and then decide. I agreed.
The hotel Mount View, was situated a little away from the village and was made up of complete wood, as bricks had not yet reached the village, and the rent of the room per night was only Rs.100. There was a normal room for Rs.50 too, but I chose the suite for Rs.100.
I spent two nights in Hotel Mount View, dried everything as the tent, my raincoat, everything had become wet. I washed my clothes, and relaxed for a couple of days. I also did recky for my next tenting ground and on the third day camped my tent again a little far away from the village in the middle of the forest.
I spent 4 days living again in the forest. I had sold my cooking equipments in Kasol as it had started to leak and was too heavy, so here I had arranged for my food to reach me at my tent at fixed times. The owner of Mount view was too kind, and was happy to bring me food to the camping ground, without any extra rate, I requested him to take some extra money for his service but he was a good man, and said he liked what I was doing, and was enjoying it himself, so he charged the just rate of Rs.100 for a full thali which will over fill one’s stomach.
It was time to go back after a couple of days of adventure, as there were no signals whatsoever in Grahan, and no landlines too. I had to inform people back home about my whereabouts, so I decided to trek back to Kasol.
I reached back Kasol, after a strenuous downward trek, I slipped twice and fell on my butt as the rains had made the ground very slippery, luckily I did not get hurt at all. On reaching back to base I called up my home and informed them about my health and how I was doing. And can you imagine, I bumped into another legal psychedelic festival: Shalom. Lol, again, I partied for the next three days, and again I did not click any pictures because I did not carry my phone, my camera, I did not carry anything that could get lost, because these parties are 2 nights 3 days in the middle of the mountain. I wanted to dance free of any bondages so no possessions was my motto.
After finishing the Shalom festival, my deadline was coming to an end, I had to get back to work, so I chilled in Kasol again for 2 more days, In which I did one day treks to Malana, Challal, and Katagla, and drove back to Dehradun aftewards. This time I did a 16 hour direct drive stretch back home.
The trip was lovely, and if I could have, I would have travelled further, done more treks. But also I knew If I will repeat a word it will lose its meaning, so I came back to work some and plan another adventure again soon.
The post has been written for Holidify by Dhairya Arora.
The content and images may not be used without the author’s permission.