Sitting on the banks of the River Beas, pondering over the meaning of life. Then abruptly interrupted by the gurgling of the water, splashes kissing my feet. The cold and the fresh, entangled in an eternal fabric of continuity. Cohered with millions of other similar molecules. Bound into its own being, yet sovereign to forge it into desired forms. I had never thought that the very water that keeps us alive, an essential element of our existence could teach us so much more.
Deciphering my ambiguous mind, the sweet tone of the flowing water was slowly freeing me from the useless uncertainty of life. Merely 48 hours before this soothing communion with the River Beas, I was immersed in the same pointless incertitude. Our travel plan was unsure, the budget was uncertain and hours before our journeys commenced, one of the friends had backed out. We had graduated about a couple of weeks ago, and we were to join our respective companies in a month’s time. It was certainly the best time to travel somewhere and have fun.
Thoughts fluttered as the Punjab Roadways Transport jolted on its old weary wheels in mid-June when the occasional rainfalls and humid summer had hit its absolute prime in the Thar. Such lively were the jerky movements of the age old bus that I witnessed the sand ascending from the floor of the bus to cram the throats of the passengers. I had boarded the bus from Abohar (Punjab), some 35 Km from my place in Rajasthan, to Chandigarh where I was to meet one of my companions coming from New Delhi. We both were then to meet our friend who was at Baddi, some 40 km towards the Himalayas from Chandigarh. But our last minute plans didn’t go so well, we had to board a lot of short route buses and we reached 4-5 hours after our expected time. Being low on savings, we scorched for the best hotel at the least price. We went a little up the hill, some 3 KMs from Manali and found a room at a nice little resort.
One of the best things you can appreciate in Manali is skiing on the slants of the Solang Valley. Solang Valley is one of the best skiing resorts on the planet. It pulls in skiing and enterprise aficionados from everywhere throughout the world. From here vacationers can see the heavenly perspective of snow-clad mountain tops of the lofty Himalayas. Unfortunately for us, it was no way near to the winters and there was no snow. But who wouldn’t fly when given a chance. Our plan to go for Paragliding was interrupted by a few passing showers, which changed the weather a bit. The wind almost halted and the real essence of Paragliding was lost for the time being. The authorities called it off and Paragliding for the day was over. Although flabbergasted by the beauty of the Solang Valley, we returned to our hotel room in slight disdain.
Our next crusade was towards Kullu, the Bijli Mahadev Temple. We went down the hill, to Kullu, hired a taxi up the hill towards Bijli Mahadev. After about 10-15 Kms of the ride, we had to trek. Rocks and Stones had been carved into a stairway. The slope was steep and challenging for the mind and body. There were several halts, several timeouts, but we kept on going and conquered the rewarding trek of about 3 KM. Bliss dipping ourselves in the spiritual aura of the place, we visited the temple and then roamed around the place. We could actually see the entire valley from the top. The Beas, so carefully positioned, caressing the civilization. The mountains settled atop each other. The ecstatic sight left us in awe. Touched to the core, we finally decided to have our breakfast at about 4 in the evening. On our way back, there was a massive traffic jam and we reached back to Manali at almost 10 pm.
An early morning bus was already booked for Rohtang Pass for the next day. Rohtang pass is one of the deadliest roads in the world. A pass no ordinary driver would dare to pass. The delegated sovereign of the Leh-Manali course. Alternately a feared creature! Rohtang literally means ‘pile of corpses’, due to the people dying in bad weather trying to cross the path. The movements have to be precise. The steering wheel, the accelerator and the brakes, each of these had to be operated with utter care. You have to be a true magician to drive on this road. The Pass is open for a short period from May to November. We indulged ourselves in Skiing, Quad Biking, Snow-bike riding and other recreational acts. We wandered off from the madding crowd towards the upper mountains facing Leh. The lower face of these mountains is carpeted with purple, yellow and pink summer blossoms. You couldn’t see it from distance but these tiny flowers are perfect and beautiful. By autumn they will rot under the sheet of fresh snow and will have to wait for summer to see the light of day.
Our last expedition was to the Vashisht Temple and a bath at the Hot Spring at the temple. Rich conventions and pleasant bistros are essential for explorers. Vashisht has all that. Streams ascend at the base of this mountain. Vashisht sanctuary is inherent a conventional style with loads of complex wood carvings. It is likewise most prevalent for its hot springs which are accepted to have therapeutic qualities. We took a refreshing bath in the shower tub. The warmth of the water and perhaps the Sulphur, which accompanies the water from the crater, induced drowsing effects. We spent a few hours in the Market and started our return journey in the evening.
In the summers, whenever I am at my Village, I usually pick my bike and ride to the nearby Water Canal. I wear my swimming gear and swim there for hours before finding a suitable corner in the canal to hold myself and stand still. The familiar sound now hits my ears, the same gurgle, and burble. I slide myself into this sententious meditation. Although the water doesn’t taste the same, nor does it look like the one at Beas and it’s mostly on the warm side as compared to the frigid form in the foothills of Himalaya. But what makes this experience pretty similar to the one I had a little over a year ago is the melody of the stream, which slides me into a peculiar depth, where there are no worries and no fears of the temporal world.