Walking to oblivion- Dalhousie to Ganji Pahadi

I half-heartedly boarded the train to Amritsar after the sojourn in Patnitop. My ‘never say no’ attitude towards travel made me agree to my friend’s decision of visiting Golden Temple and Wagah Border. But, as I sat by the window watching the snow-capped mountains pass by, a mere thought of leaving them and going back to the mundane (plains) instilled a sense of fear in me. As if, I would never be able to visit the Himalayas again! All my lies and struggle to take leave from the office seemed less fruitful. Amidst all these thoughts, a research from the internet revealed that Dalhousie and Dharamshala were close to Pathankot. My love for the Himalayas made me convince my friend to get down at Pathankot and how merrily I hopped on the bus to Dalhousie! The sun was setting with its stark orange rays separating the valley from the horizon as we reached Dalhousie in the dusk hours.

Sunset in Dalhousie
Welcoming view!

To be honest, the town of Dalhousie was a letdown after breathtakingly beautiful Patnitop. Though the streets and the houses were well planned there was garbage all over the hill slopes. The taxi charged exuberant rates for sightseeing activities and people were happy enough to shop at costly Tibetan market and eat their way in one of the many mall roads in India.

Mall road-Dalhousie
Gandhi Chowk or the Mall Road.
St. Francis' Church-Dalhousie
Dalhousie was founded by the British Governor Lord Dalhousie as a summer retreat which went on to become one of the most visited tourist places. In the picture is St. Francis’ Church built during the British era.

The next morning was leisurely spent by sitting on the balcony, soaking in the sun and listening to the chirping birds that followed by multiple cups of tea. The sun was shining brightly after a very long time and all we could do is appreciate the weather and get pampered by the love of the weather Gods!
Read: Kalga: A hamlet from a fairytale

Dalhousie
Excerpt: School bell has rung. Primary students are running, jumping ahead of their mothers on their way back home, as the band practice still continues. The old men are smoking bidi at the tea stall and getting drenched in the sun. It’s a bright day here after yesterday’s continuous downpour. The leaves and branches are dancing in the wind and the birds too have come out to savor the moment. I have managed to take a bath after ignoring contact with water for 2 days; now sitting on the balcony, observing an ordinary day in Dalhousie.

It was already noon, when we set out to explore. We were being frequently suggested by the locals to visit Panchpula waterfall which was 5kms away. Taxi charged Rs.400 for the round trip. My friend gave up to the idea as he was neither interested in visiting the sight nor had the interest to walk the distance and so I continued on my journey alone.
Read: Tosh in monsoon

Boating at Panchpula
Boating at Panchpula

The sight was nothing more than a chaos with the number of shops and eateries by the waterfall and people taking selfies, buzzing here and there like bees disturbing the peace of the mountains. The waterfall, on the other hand, did not deserve the crowd it had attracted. I thanked my stars when I refused to take a taxi and decided to walk instead.

Panchpula waterfall
Panchpula Waterfall.
Panchpula Waterfall
Some fun activities at Panchpula.

While clicking pictures and wandering around, my ever searching eyes caught attention to a narrow lane leading up the hill. Upon enquiring, I found that the path leads to the Ganji Pahadi. And there I was, spreading the wings of my dream, flying above the human settlement with a view of the valley and the alluring hills; there I was in the dense jungle satisfying my itchy feet. There were patches of snow on the way that was yet to melt signifying that the snowfall had just stopped in this region. As I rose above the tree line, the view opened up from the dense jungle to the open skies and I came across the only house that seemed abandoned. A few minutes later, I could see the cluster of similar houses which made me realize that I had already entered a village. The houses were made up of mud and had traditional slate roofs. Each house had a terrace farm with mustard flowers swaying in the cold winds. The village was surrounded by the towering snow clad mountains from all 4 sides which added to the surreal landscape. Such beautiful sight to behold but there was not a single soul around. The skies were gloomy, signaling the onset of rain/snow at any given moment. Mixed emotions ran within as I continued my trek. To add to this frantic feeling, the deafening silence made me listen to my own heartbeats and my breaths increased rapidly with each step uphill.
Read: Kheerganga: Trek to the mystical land

Ganji Pahadi trek

Step farm

A mud house on the way to Ganji Pahadi

The otherwise beautiful landscape was now turning to be a frightening sight. I decided to halt near one of the houses and sat there trying to calm my breathing. I could not fathom the reason why the village was abandoned until I gave up to the restlessness and tried to peak in few of the houses. Sharp senses in such situations and the silence up there helped me listen to a distant murmuring voice. Upon following it, I found two locals in one of the houses who invited me for a cup of tea. My pulses began to become normal as I sat by the bonfire, sipping tea followed by warm-hearted conversation. It was a much-needed respite in teeth tattering cold evening. I enjoyed the camaraderie and they enlightened me about the life in the mountains.

IMG_20170315_131646
During winter, the village remains cut off from the lower region of Dalhousie and since farming and cattle grazing is not possible due to heavy snowfall, the tribal move to the lower region and return again in summer with their families and cattle. The villagers have now been offering stay as well to the fellow trekkers who would like to have a taste of the bucolic life in the village.

IMG_20170315_125718.jpg

Ganji Pahadi

After a long break, I bid goodbye to them and continued my journey which was not too far from here.

IMG_20170315_133424.jpg

Within 15 minutes, I reached the first phase of the top which had a seating made up of stones that provided the view of the valley.

Ganji Pahadi

IMG_20170315_140523.jpg
Ganji Pahadi literally translates to the bald hill due to the barrenness of the land and less vegetation. This makes the place ideal for camping in summers.

Ganji Pahadi

View from Ganji Pahadi
Add to the view, biting cold and mind-altering silence!

After soaking the peace and saturating my eyes with the view, I followed the track that further lead to the open temple dedicated to a female deity (do not remember the name of the deity) which marks the end of the trek.

IMG_20170315_134319.jpg

IMG_20170315_141414.jpg

IMG_20170315_142107.jpg

IMG_20170315_142131.jpg

Though the town of Dalhousie failed to leave a lasting impression, I realized that if one is willing to take a plunge and walk for the long distance, the places one will see is far rewarding than the town of Dalhousie.

IMG_20170315_144557.jpg

I returned to the base within 30 minutes with the views and the stories I was longing for. A further 5km walk up to my hotel didn’t feel exhausting. Though the legs were tired, it was the mind that was fresh and rejuvenated and in no mood to listen to the body.

There is a strange feeling of happiness and contentment (along with anxiety sometimes) to arrive at an unfamiliar place only to realize that we are all the same, united with the mutual bondage of love and trust. Isn’t it?

Read: A solo trip that changed me forever!

IMG_20170315_142355.jpg
Go! Fly away… bring back their whispers and convey my love for them (Himalayas)!

Author: Hariom PrabhakarSingh

Finding solace in travel and writing.

11 thoughts

  1. Enjoyed every bit of it! Really admire your travel spirit.I so wish I could travel as much as well. Anyway, I will surely be back again to explore more of your blog 🙂

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s