“We started off as strangers, or merely solo travellers, walking on the same road towards the same destination. But little did we know that our journey will make us a family.”
On 11th August 2017, twenty six travellers packed their bags and boarded the bus to Himachal Pradesh (India) to explore this district called Spiti. Spiti is nothing like any other hilly district. It is still quite unexplored and secluded, which is what I loved. There are no roads, mind you. The bumpy ride to Spiti Valley will stay fresh in my memory for years to come. Looking out the window made me feel as if I’m going to fall off the side of the mountain. The ride was risky but totally worth it. On our way, we faced quite a few waterfalls that lead to blocking the path (water getting collected makes the cars/bikes/buses unable to drive smoothly obviously). And that’s when I witnessed the most beautiful form of humanity and love. Whenever such a hurdle came, everyone from all vehicles would get down and push the vehicle manually and literally put in their energy and will in doing so. They all clapped when it was over and laughed and helped each other throughout. It was overwhelming and nothing that we would ever come across in big cities (at least I haven’t).
Upon reaching Spiti late at night, the temperature had dropped to a few degrees and we were freezing. But we were happy. We were finally here – where we wanted to be. The following morning we drove till the Key Monastery and sat there to just mediate..to just be there. I chatted with a monk for a while and I swear I’ll never forget him. He was such a calm and polite person; telling me all about the severe conditions they live in and yet they’d rather be there than anywhere else. Next we drove till Langza and Komic villages. Komic is the highest village accessible through motorable roads. I did face some breathing problems initially but the view and the serenity took it all away. I sat there and watched the villagers go by, smiling and waving at us, some even played football with the boys and it was hilarious. Nothing, absolutely nothing beats these moments where you just stop and observe and appreciate everything around you, isn’t it?
Hikkim is a small village that has the highest postoffice in the world. And nothing makes a writer more happy right, haha. The postoffice was small and warm, loaded with postcards and letters written by travellers who visited this place. Some were addressed to European countries as well. I took one and wrote to my parents as well, thanking them for giving me this life and this journey. As we all were writing those messages, I realised how similar we all are – away from our families by choice yet wanting to share this with them.
The following day was committed to reaching Chandratal Lake. The road (barely one) was rocky and risky and we had to drive at a speed of 20 kms/hr maximum to reach there. Upon reaching our tents, we had our lunch and left for the lake (a small trek is required to reach the lake). Once we took the last few steps and the lake started becoming visible to us, our hearts stopped. Everything was blue – the sky, the lake, the birds – I haven’t found a more beautiful colour. The lake was a visible combination of five shades of blue, stretching across from out feet to the mountains far beyond. It was like an endless blanket, an endless world. I sat by the shore and listened to the waves. And finally I could hear what my heart wanted to say – I was happy. I was complete. I finally was healing. And I wrote a small poem while sitting by the lake:
“You and I
We’ve come so far
We’ve walked on these harsh roads
We’ve warmed up by the bonfires
We’ve sipped wine from that red bottle
We’ve breathed in and breathed out
We’ve danced together and shouted out loud
We’ve loved and lived and shivered and kissed.
You and I
We’ve come so far
And we’ll go all the way.”