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Arijit Das - IBM Gurgaon - Chai Chillum. Chapatia.., Chalo Parbatia
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Finally the afternoon for which we had been waiting anxiously had arrived. We had spent quite some time from the previous week discussing of the trek which we always wanted to do and now was the time when it was going to come true. A weekend coupled with two holidays always seemed to be perfect time to take the plunge.

Though we did not get a seat in the bus which was ready to move, however we did manage to get couple of seats in the next bus which was to leave in 30 minutes. We had enough time to pick some wafers, gums and bottled water but I will recommend travelers to carry it from their houses as ISBT does not give you option on these things and you will have to probably carry the one which is found. 

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The bus finally got moving, as soon as the bus crossed the outskirts of Delhi suddenly the September evening breeze felt pleasant, the gushing wind on my face and hair did the basic makeup to start this party.

The rest of the travel was in the dark with nothing to be seen outside we found good time to take a nap and gear up for the next morning. We had to get down at Bhuntar to take a local bus to Kasol A Hippie Heaven. The drive from Bhuntar to Kasol was very steepy and curvaceous, bit tiring but never the less exiting. We checked into one of my old acquaintances  Lucky da Dhaba. Don't get confused by the name. They also have comfortable rooms to stay.

Kasol is a small village in the picturesque Parbati valley. This always seemed to be the ideal destination. A river flowing through the mountains, almost like the scenery which every one of us would have drawn as our first picture in school. You know one with hills, sun rising or setting between those mountains, a hut, a boat and few birds (never knew which bird we drew). Kasol will fit the bill for most of it except for the boat (you don't expect boats in mountain streams). The Parbati River flows elegantly, giving life to everything that comes on her way. Itís this Parbati that feeds all the Soul stiring Hashish of Himachal. We rested the afternoon by the river side after having our lunch. I live the Shaka-Shooka dish cooked by Sonu at the dhaba.

In the evening we decided to take a walk in the forests adjacent to the valley. Every time I get out of the concrete jungles where I spend the most of I life, everything looks so beautiful and serene, the greenery pinches the eyes we are not used to such beauty or serenity. The river, the tall trees, the noise of the forest was adding to the magic which was been displayed in front of our eyes. We walked for about a mile into the forest into extreme silence; only thing to be heard in the forest is forest itself. We sat for a while listening to everything and deciphering the meaning of those sounds. We came out of the magic spell of the forest recharged and refreshed. It was getting dark. The Forest can be really scary in the dark. We decided to hurry back to the Kasol valley, before the night falls onto us. We also had to rest for tomorrows Trek to Kheer Ganga. This place is believed to be the only place in India where one can find a temple to worship, Karthikeyan  Son of Lord Shiva.

After having some sips of black rum and then dinner we decided to catch some sleep. We could hear the beautiful melody of Parbati in our rooms. We did not realize when we slept. Early next morning, after having some breakfast, we jumped into the bus to Varshainey (26 kms from kasol). The trek starts from this village of Parbati Valley.

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Tiwu (the friend who accompanied me) and I got down to the river from the village, to the bridge to cross the river. The wooden bridge gave us the first feeling that out trek had started. The total trek was of 13 kilometers. The next 3 kms was a steep climb and crossed many Apple Orchards. The entire valley was in harvesting season. The trees were heavily laden with juicy Apples. It was first of a kind experience, to pluck apples from trees and eat in the freshest way one could. With every bite, the juices sprayed on my T-shirt.

The first 3 kms were tough but got complimented by the apples. We also passed a couple of villages. The whole village was busy packing apples, with one group playing snooker. I liked the passion. Pack the Apples, Play some snooker. Post this village the trek was a little comfortable, with not very steep hikes. We could see many waterfalls on the other side in the valley. The hills were adorned with all possible colored flowers. I guess, ia had seen many of the species for the first time. After having a couple of breaks we finally reached Teerth Rudra Nagh. This holy place has a small waterfall. A group of people from Kullu had come to offer prayers. We sat with them for a while. After chatting and relaxing for a while we left to cover the remaining trek.

The trek was to get tougher after we crossed the bridge post the Tirth Rudra Nagh. The river was flowing with all its might breaking onto the edges whole area was covered into mist arising from the river. The sound of the river resembled Roar of a Lion. The trek suddenly got steeper. The rains had made the trek slippery and further challenging. Our speed had suddenly dropped. We were tiring it normal with people who live the lifestyle as we do as most doctors like to call us sedimentary. We took almost 4 breaks in the next 1 hour climb. We were exhausted after the steep climb but the challenge lied ahead we had another 3kms left to cover for the day.

We met one chai wala on the way. This was definitely the blessing from the Lord as the going got really tough the tea was a welcome break. After sipping 2 cups of tea with biscuits, we started again to uncover the remaining stretch. The trek was still steep but easier than the last kilometer we climbed.¬  The rain started to pour heavily. We took shelter under a huge tree. We started again when the rain stopped. With tired legs and dehydrated bodies we managed to pull through the last stretch of the trek. The top where the trek ended seemed to be a small meadow in the forest, with horses grazing all around. We could see the Shiva temple in some clouds some 200 meters ahead. We got into a make shift restaurant. This place entertains lots of tourists in the summer. Some of the restaurateurs open up for 3 months in Kheer Ganga. ¬ 

We checked into a wooden cottage managed by the Temple, and spent the rest of the day relaxing in the Restaurant. There were around 4 groups of foreigners in Kheer-Ganga. We were the only Indian travelers there. The Hippies after some rounds of chillum started with a Hindi Bhajan. They sang couplets for at least a couple of hours. The tiredness had vanished with the couplets body and mind both relaxed; I could see myself dancing around Krishna.

After the dinner, we took to our rooms and dozed off. Early morning we sat in the sulphur hot water pool for about an hour. And after that we went to offer our prayers to Lord Karthikeyan. Post the breakfast we started our descend back. The trek back was easier, but we had to be cautious due to the slippery Pagdandi. The trek back was a quicker one. The same day we left back for Delhi.

I always get nostalgic, when I leave the hills. It was nothing new with this, I really felt sad on the trip back. I always feel that I was meant to be born here in the hills but somehow it was nature's apathy that I belong to a place which is ruthless both in climate and people.
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