Nestling in the Dhauladhar Range of the Himalayas near McLeodganj in Dharamsala (Himachal Pradesh) lies Dharamkot. Once a sleepy village, Dharamkot is now a bustling hub and resting place for the adventurous souls who come every year here to trek to Triund and other nearby places.
Triund is very popular trek and a sunny camping site located nearly three thousand feet above sea level. But where I am taking you now is not so popular, yet quite an enchanting trek mind dense forests.
This year we chose Dharamsala and nearby places to have a peaceful, yet adventurous sojourn. We decided to stay at Dharamkot a chirpy village 2KM uphill and away from the the now so-crowded McLeodganj. Dharamkot is the village of erstwhile king Dharamchand after whose name Dharamsala's was christened.
We wanted a cottage overlooking the hills and not the usual urban dwellings we see in our cities. And look what we found!
Judging the wanderers hidden in us, local people suggested that after we are done with a usual trip to Dharamsala and McLeodganj, we must take on the Dharamkot-Naddi trek via the amazing forests of pine and deodar. I was super excited at the thought.
So my next day started at 6am with breakfast done at the local cafe by 7am! Yes, the usually lazy me, who wakes up by this hour, was already out in the jungle....ready to kick off Dharamkot to Naddi trek. A two hour sojourn through 3 kilometres amid the Himalayan forests!
It began drizzling so my rainbow umbrella had to be out. While my heart was thumping with joy of seeing the unknown, my pen danced with creativity...
Yesterday was mine, today belongs to me,
Tomorrow is unannounced, but isn’t far from my reach,
Coz, Winds Of Change have already set in!
The nature was calling out, embracing us in its captivating aura at each step. My husband, who is usually his shy, introvert self, was walking like a small child with a rhythmic-sprint in his steps. Everything around was a blessing.
We half jogged, half walked along this trail. The refreshing surroundings made me feel guilty how we have done-away with trees in the cities giving way to concrete jungles. And then we come here as tourists to hunt for the same freaks breath of air? How stupid! Sigh.
Breaking away the string of my thoughts, my husband called out, pointing out to the flora and fauna of the region.
Drizzle had stopped. A never-before-seen-by-us species of the Lizard family was jutting its head from under the rocks....as if asking, "Hey human what are you doing at my home?"
I wanted to reply, "Hello, good to see you. Just admiring the place you live in, though I envy it!"
And then a nearby rock caught my attention suddenly, I jumped to it. I cheered, " Lichens! What joy!"
Joy because this symbiotic relationship of a rock algae and fungus is found only in places where pollution hasn't spoilt its natural habitat. Lichens are in-fact slowly vanishing from the face of Earth. Having been a science student and daughter of a Botanical Scientist, I was overjoyed, explaining all this and more to my husband.
After clicking some 500 photos along the trek, we lost count of the number we went ahead with. The fingers were tired clicking but the heart wasn't satiated.
Admiring the jungle fauna, the ripe and tempting yet might-be-poisnous berries and not-seen-before flowers around us, we reached a place overlooking our trek. An untouched serene environment. What beauty!
We paused for a while to inhale the aroma of the deodar jungles. From far, yet near could hear some Buddhist chants. A passersby told us about Stupas in the dense forest ahead. A flow of energy ran down our spine and soon we hopped across to the place, where we could pray for a while in peace and thank the Almighty for blessing us with this journey.
Colourful fluttering flags, mantras printed on each, were looking like a rainbow-of-blessing above our heads...paving our way ahead in life.
The mantras being chanted, in the vicinity by a Buddhist monk, were just adding to this spirituality. An aura that was beyond religion...a faith beyond division in the name of different names of ONE GOD. We just wanted to remain seated here forever, but then life had to go on...
Moving beyond, almost three-fourth the route, the trek offers a panoramic views of Mcleodganj, Dharamshala valley and a distant views of Shivalik hills. A mesmerising view.
And soon romancing the hills, we reached Naddi. Here...look at the view!
My husband is standing at the Naddi View Point which offers a magnificent view of Dhauladhar mountain range in the North and the vast expanse of the lush green Kangra Valley in the South. It also connects you to the gem called Balh Valley, Kangra - A Gem Hidden in the Himalayas
So if your are looking for some fun and adventure amid real peace, than do visit the place. The best time is March to December since the snow makes the trek a bit slippery in other months.
A personal suggestion, this festival season or say at any other weekend, take a break from your mundane city life and reach here. I can bet, you will have an experience of a lifetime. And if you have any query regarding the travel, leave it in the comments column. I will be more than happy to answer each one personally.
Copyright: Mahima Sharma, Columnist, TheIndia
Author is a former News-Editor with CNN-News18 & ANI (a collaboration with Reuters)