“Guys, you have added another meaning to my life. I just realized that I am a valley person”, said Palak at Barot. Thursday evening, two of my friends messaged me to join them for a trip to the hills. Within an hour we had booked 3 tickets to Mandi for the next day. Randomness! Not having any plan in place we googled out for places close to Mandi. Prashar Lake it is!
We eventually went to Barot, a village at the valley of River Uhl. The journey of 66 km between Mandi and Barot was a mixture of uphill and downhill road. We had to change the bus at Ghatasini, from where it took another hour, along a rather bumpy road. I was a bit surprised when the bus kept going downhill as we got closer to Barot. So it’s not on a hill top? Finally after a tiring journey we reached. Guess what, it was a valley! After somehow sneaking into the wooden cottage of Barot Guest house (PWD), which is actually meant for Government officials (thanks to two girls!), we went around. The gush of river grew louder as we went closer to the edge. There we saw a thin stream joining in to the river. Confluence!
Tableau of dark green fir trees dotted with snow, wispy strands of white fog, and heavy gray clouds up above gave the place scintillating feel. High altitude trees called Deodar, greeted us. The oak and pine forest set the motion with their beauty and grandeur. We just lied down on the well manicured lawn, which had little white flowers all over and butterflies flying from one to another. Lying there in silence I realized how small we and our problems in life actually are.
The sheep, cows and horses grazed around lazily, the sun refused to set and leaves rustled slowly. It seemed as if everything suddenly grew lethargic. Whispering of flowers and rustling of leaves and the murmur of rivulets and the gush of river embraced us. The late afternoon sun was still very warm but the cold breeze stirred the leaves of the trees around. The wind became more placid, the leaves greener, and the sunlight fuller and softer.
Dragging ourselves to enjoy the river flow we decided to take a walk around. The river was brimming with joy, people were fishing (angling) and others were sitting around enjoying the evening. There was a tiny foot bridge with no railing, but firm. I had to help Palak cross it for she was deeply scared. After walking further we saw a huge ground where animals were grazing. Once again we stretched ourselves down in silence. My thought moved like a cloud in the space, turning into drops which, as they fell, form a brook singing its way into the sea. My thought swayed like a tender leaf in every direction and found pleasure in its swaying.
After a while we walked further towards a vertical where river water gushed like a fountain. I decided to feel the chill and just walked under it. Liberation!
After having a sumptuous dinner and thoroughly enjoying the star gaze we got up in the morning when sun was stealing into the room, enveloping the space with golden glimpse. I walked out barefooted, feeling the mist on the grass. Sitting under the soft sunlight I sketched the surrounding in diary and mind to never forget the experience. It was now the time to leave the place. We thanked Sharadji, a sincere, hardworking and diligent man, who took extreme care of us; and hugged the grass, rolled ourselves on it multiple times and slowly walked out. Barot unequivocally became the most peaceful place. Leaning my head against the window, I watched the scenery zip by.
As we kept moving higher, red blooming shrubs called as rhododendrons greeted us along the trail. On the way we stopped by a village at the tip and walked to the edge.
We all were absolutely bewildered as to what had transpired. At an altitude of 2750 meters the view from Prashar lake was heart warming. The lake shimmered in the sunlight. The greenery all around was conspicuous.
I began trekking to the top of mountain. Due to the steepness I had to hold on myself, gather some courage and move further. After reaching the tip I walked further to sit at the edge. It was flat down and I couldn’t see the ground. I saw death there. The depth was treacherous. I was afraid. But the catch is to remain calm despite heart pounding like a bass drum and see the death right under the nose. Everyone has fears, conquering it is what matters. The glistening snow capped mountains shone like gold. After fully mesmerizing the beauty, I began trekking back. The evening’s gathering mist gave me a cold sensation.
The trees were budding, the birds were singing- the grass was wet- the whole earth was shining. And suddenly I was the trees and the flowers and the birds and the grass- and there was no one at all.
We failed to register the enormity of the dark sky and what was coming. A squall was brewing on the horizon. After a respite of peace, as the sun was setting, we began our journey back with a heavy heart.
By now the confluence of the idea of a busy life in the city and the craving for the valleys and hills had settled in me and that’s when I remembered:
Then I look beyond the city and meditate
Upon the wilderness and its revered
Beauty and its speaking silence; its
Knolls and valleys and lofty trees; its
Fragrant flowers and brisk brooks and
- Khalil Gibran
This entry has been shortlisted for Holidify’s Travelogue Writing Contest in association with Linger. The content and pictures may not be used without prior permission of the author.
Submitted by: Nikhil Jain
The original post can be found here.