Last week I chased snow…
The feel of it…
The thought of it…
In my head…
In my skin and bones…
How it feels!!
Destination: Kufri (16 km from Shimla on National Highway 22)
Height: 8,600 feet
Mode of Travel: Bus, Jeep, Horse (I’ll get down to the horses later)
Travel Time: 6 hours from Delhi
This journey was all about chasing down snow. Did I? You will know that as you read ahead.
When you are at the foothills, hills aren’t a distant dream. So, I packed my bags with a hope to chase down snow.
Himachal Pradesh isn’t a new place for me. I was born there, travelled there with my family and friends. But this time was different. It was only me and you surely tend to discover things more closely when you are all by yourself.
I just had one day with me and in order to make the most of those 24 hours, I started early, at 5 A.M from Chandigarh.
Within 20 minutes, I was there on the Himalayan Expressway. I was feeling a bit drowsy, but the hills and the sunrise kept me alive. It was serene and beautiful.
The roads were meandering like a river, showcasing the hills, and the sunrise acted like a splash of color to the entire view.
I passed through small hill stations during the journey uphill- Kalka, Parwanoo, Dharampur, Solan.
It took almost four hours to reach Shimla and another 45 minutes for Kufri.
Throughout the journey all I was thinking about was snow; snow laden on Deodar trees, on the mountains and along the road side. But to my disappointment.
Shimla was all bright and shining; with that winter chill that hits your face.
The turns and bends across the road increased rapidly as we entered Kufri. A few passengers, first timers on the hills, pointed out on something that looked like a big lump of cotton ball.
I totally ignored it.
Another bend on the road and to my surprise I saw what I wished, snow laden roads, hills, pine and Deodar trees. It never stopped thereupon.
Kufri was laden with snow as I thought, as I wished.
The bus dropped me right in the centre of this small town. I took a jeep and within 10 minutes reached the Himalayan Nature Park. The snow was six feet deep.
And therefore I had to take a horse ride. The snow melting in the sun, makes it hard to walk along the narrow lanes surrounded by pine trees and hills. And the horse ride, well I am going to remember it for a long time.
I tripped almost twice on the way, it didn’t hurt much that time but I can count the bruises right now.
Almost four kilometers of the ride and I reach a place called heaven. The highest point at Kufri is a huge depression in land, surrounded by hills on all the sides.
You can take a deep breath and never let it go, just hold on to it.
It was an awesome moment, like you take a full turn and sense. It was just flawless!
If you are an adventure sports lover, you can ski and feel the adrenaline rush. I saw many adventurous sport enthusiasts enjoying skiing in the ice laden frozen depression at Kufri.
With just a few hours with me, I skipped skiing and walked along, enjoying the snow. But all this is beautiful for some time only. Being there it feels good, but tough times begin when your gum boots start biting.
You would be surprised to know that its so cold that even a cup of tea wont stay warm for more than a minute.
It’s then I realized that the thought to write about is more beautiful.
I also saw China and its snow laden distant mountains through telescope and got my pictures clicked in a Himachali Dress. And how could I come back without shopping? I shopped for handmade shawls and woolens.
The only drawback of this trip was that I was time bound. But one thing that I have realized is that you end up having the best time when you are alone and limited time.
So with my first memory of snow and my headphone plugged in my ears I travelled back to Delhi.
For a moment, it felt like Christopher Macandaless, bare feet, wet boots, glacial snow melting in the sun, but after a while you realize you have to get back…to your family…friends…for more of life!!
Swati Singh Sambyal
Image Courtesy [Swati Singh Sambyal]