While I had promised myself that I would return to Tirthan in the snowy winters, it was not to be. After going for brief treks in Great Himalayan National Park, I was convinced that this was one of the most pristine areas in Himachal Pradesh. It had already started getting unbearably hot in the plains and with a mixture of train rides, bus rides and hitch-hiking I found myself in the pristine meadows of Shangarh in Sainj Valley.
We were supposed to meet other friends in the main Tirthan Valley after that, but we slept so soundly and had to walk after missing the only bus of the day! The weather had surprisingly got quite balmy as we reached Banjar and boarded the bus to Batahad. We were supposed to reach a small hamlet by the name of Barnagi. I’d picked up a large and pretty pine cone to be carried with me but lost it somewhere on the way.
Dark clouds gathered as me and Jita got down from the bus and began tumbling down the walk-only path to reach our destination. A pretty structure by the name of Tirthan Angler’s Retreat welcomed us with a few raindrops. We were pretty famished and ran toward the dining room. The Flachan (Or Palachan) stream flowed in a calm manner, perhaps embodying Tirthan Valley’s speciality of life in a slow lane. The Flachan stream (or river) ultimately joins the Tirthan river in Gushaini.
All of life’s troubles could wait, sitting by the river and watching life go by was my favourite activity in Gushaini too!
The sunlight had all but disappeared and rain came hurtling down. It had become pretty cold, it felt even more so because I had only carried a basic jacket with me! A traditional Himachali home was our only neighbour and when the smoke blew through the chimney, my heart did a little dance. It seemed like a classic scene, especially as the sunlight briefly illuminated the sky before darkness engulfed us.
Next morning, I felt as if I had woken up in a dream; it had become even more colder and mist was all that surrounded us when I looked out of the window. The heart felt unhurried, after all there isn’t much you can do when it rains. The Italians sure have it figured out, they even have a specific term for it : ‘Dolce far niente’; which literally translates to ‘the pleasure of doing nothing!’.
As digital media nomads, we opted to sit and work on our laptops. Some others set out on a trip to Jalori Jot, I skipped it for having seen Jalori Pass earlier in all seasons.
When the weather finally cleared at around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, we headed out for a short walk. April sunshine warmed my stiff bones making me wonder about the relative summer warmth that the rest of the country must be experiencing. A rapid breeze blew across the landscape, the trees swayed happily and I felt a touch of relief, it wasn’t cold anymore!
It is on aimless walks that one realises a profound love for the simpler things in life : A bridge with sunlight falling on it, where does it lead? A solitary home on a hillock, who lives there? Kids playing on the roof of an old home, asking to be photographed. Noticing green and gold wheat and barley fields, with colourful womenfolk working in them.
Evening brought with it a sense of camaraderie and conversations, with the added warmth of a bonfire. The river hummed along too, and carried a pleasing cool gust of wind with it. Today, the stars twinkled in absence of a cloud cover. There was no light pollution whatsoever; little pleasures of life in the Himalayas.
Check : Finding the offbeat in Manali
We said our goodbyes, intent on leaving as early as possible to go on a short trek to a pass nearby. It turned out that Tirthan Valley had already had its effect on us, we slept like lazy logs!
Note : Our time in Barnagi was spent at Tirthan Angler’s Retreat, in collaboration with Travel Correspondents and Bloggers Group. Experiences, photographs and memories, as always are my own.