In last post we reached Langza Village (at 14,500ft) dying with hunger.
Our car stopped in front of Phan Dey Home Stay and we rushed in to ask if some food can be cooked.
Doors of that house were opened by a man in his mid-forties. His eyes were filled with warmth, completely in contrast with the freezing cold outside. He quickly asked what we want to eat and said it will be ready in 20-30mins, during which we pitched our tents.
Finally uncle called us in to have dinner and I helped him get the meal from kitchen to the dinning room.
Dinning room was built in Buddhist style (driver bhaia exclaimed). Bedding was laid in L-shape through length and breath of the room in front of which a low-lying table was kept. Other length and breadth of the room was covered with a showcase filled with antique China dishes.
There was a cable television too, but it didn’t fascinate me much. I was amazed by the homliness Phan Dey Family welcomed and treated us with.
Lukku, daughter of Mr Dey served food to us with a big smile. I have no idea what she was shy of, but she was all red,blushing.
And coming to the food, it was toothsome. Mr.Dey was such an amazing cook, I could eat that food like a horse.
After 2hrs of munching and assurance of breakfast by 8am next day, we moved to our tents, low temperature tempting us to stay in the Home Stay. But the dark sky engaged us instantly, not with galaxies but a dancing pink light far amid mountains. I wondered, am I watching aurora borealis in India?
Then a local told us these are thunderlights and it must be raining in Kullu. The pink light was flickering, so I couldn’t capture it. It really was amazing.
Suddenly I found myself in a dilemma on whether to go to the Buddha statue and try to capture star trail there. With another blow of wind, I decided I won’t go.
But I remember the sight of peaks glowing silver with the dangling light of stars while I was shivering with cold.
Finally I entered in my tent and fell asleep to the lullabies of wind.
I felt a touch of bright light on my face and realized Sun is waking me up.
I checked time in my phone, and to my amazement, it was only 5 am. I got out, felt the cosy Sun rays, breathed in freshness of this air and climbed my way to Buddha Statue.
The panorama here offers you sight of some gigantic unnamed peaks, farmlands and a few houses. Most inhabitants were going about with their routine but it was all a few kilometers away now, bothering me the least.
In front of that statue overlooking mountains, i felt as tiny as an ant.
Far from reach of the world, I felt I have found my paradise. Isolation is one thing that makes this so place exquisite to me. Alone, I was staring into nothingness of everything and pondering over the perfection with which this all is existing.
Most people here in cities are tediously working to make a living, missing on the joy of witnessing nature’s beauty and simple ways of life.
I believe I soon am going to leave this city life and settle in Himalayas ; just done with this running after everything.
Then jumps a thought, if everyone starts living in Himalayas, its beauty would be destroyed.We humans spoil everything we touch, don’t we? Tame it to our wishes and happiness.I realized thinking all this here would spoil the moment, so I called my brain back to nothing and let whispers of wind do the talking.
I heard someone say ‘Prakriti’ and I had to break out of my shell. I came down running to Phan Dey House only to be introduced with a soon to be lama who was really a little monster. His name was ‘ Tenzin’ but for me, his name was ‘Phoda’.
That naughty kid was trying to catch an insect called Phoda in spitian and he was so spontaneous about it, he kept saying phoda and I kept arguing no phoda until his father asked us to get inside for our morning meal.
Luku served us again and I asked her what she will do after her school, she blushed like I have asked her about her crush!
Then phoda came in and kept us engaged with his winsome acts.
Our breakfast lasted for more than 3 hours because all this while I was getting my Spitian lessons.I learned counting and a few words in this language,exchanged tonnes of laughter with everyone around filling my heart with exhilaration.
My heart sank at the thought of leaving this place, but thanks to my last but not the least destination, Chandartaal Lake, my sadness didn’t outdo my excitement.
With two Langza inhabitants in our cab (gave them lift) we got ready to drive for 112kms to Chandartaal Lake.
We went all the way from Langza to Kaza then stopping at Losar for food.
We retraced Kunzum La, but it looked polls apart from what we saw before (on our way to Kaza on July 27th 2016). Last time the snow wasn’t spread all around, but this time, every mountain was heavily covered with snow making the atmosphere very cold.
Prayer flags looked more vibrant against the white background and it was all more peaceful and magical.
We stopped there for about an hour and then got moving to Chandartaal. Bidding adieu to all the mystery of desert mountains, we said hello to the most treacherous road in the world.
In our almost 8 hrs of travel, picturesque changed n number of times. We went through sandy mountains to valleys to snow capped mountains to meadows. Road we were travelling on must have the width equivalent to a pavement, without any mixture of asphalt but just stones and sand. This dirt road was a roller coaster ride!
Most joyous sights were provided by sheep who either laid lazily, resting in Sun or ran after each other like maniacs.
And like it happened on our way to Komik, temperature gradually started increasing as we came closer to glaciers.
The road became tougher with every mile crossed and the panorama grew more alluring.
I could see camps of different colors spread across at a distance and I knew Chandartaal lake wasn’t at much distance anymore.
We went past the camp site and onto a much more direful road. After 4 km of this arduous ride we reached the point from where we had to trek. Sun was shinning bright but its warmth was nowhere to be felt.
Chandartaal Lake is about 14,100 ft above sea level and was the coldest region throughout our trip. We wrapped ourselves in warm clothes and started walking.
The trek looked easy initially but as the slope increased and our breath grew heavier, I realized this 2 km is going to be tough.We were walking and walking but couldn’t catch a glimpse of the lake.
When I was about to lose hope of completing the trek, I was climbing the last slope and step by step it revealed to me. The glorious Moon lake was like an oasis betwixt mountains. It was so pristine; I forgot all my weariness and was delighted with glee.
I was only calming myself down from this weary journey and excitement when our driver bhaia asked who would join him to complete periphery of the lake.
My heart skipped a beat at the thought of walking another 3kms, but at the back of my mind I really wanted to cover the length of this lake; I thought better walk than not.
Without a second of rest we were following a narrow trail round the lake.
Wind was blowing ruthlessly making it impossible for us to see this beautiful lake reflect its own beauty. We were walking and walking with no change in the scenery until the trail curved a little, revealing to us a vast ground with mountains in background, green field in foreground, Sun sprinkling its gold on everything and a blue sky with scattered clouds doing icing on the cake.
My friends didn’t stop there but I stayed. I was in no hurry.
I gave an excuse that I was tired and I wanted to rest, whereas in actual I wanted to sit there alone, listen to the flow of water and blows of the wind.
I have been doing similar kind of thing all around Spiti (Dhankar Monastery, Key Gompa, Pin Valley, Langza and more), but everytime it gave me a new feeling, a new experience.
With every different place,the wind whispered something else and I felt fully different.
I wanted to be in that moment so badly, I didn’t care if the sand wasn’t dry or if a flock of sheep was coming close to me. Just the fact of being at that place made me feel content with my life.
I was held captive by this impeccable, impenetrable beauty. Transfixed by the miraculous glory of the place irreplaceable with anything.
Who possible can walk away from a place so gorgeous to a place so crowded like Delhi?
No, I don’t want to go.. but nothing lasts forever. Does it?
For all those moments I felt the saying ‘only when you lose something you realize its value’ isn’t true. Because when I lost myself there, I didn’t regret it. It instead gave me a new self with a new ideology.
The way with every wave water was taking away the sand underneath my feet, it reflected how transient conduct of the world is. And I have to leave this place behind so I can acquaint myself with more such charming destinations, stopping nowhere permanently, just covering the earth with my feet.
I then continued my walk and reached the point from where we started. I heard prayer flags motivate me with their flapping, as if they were saying ‘You can be everything you want, just have faith in your dreams and actions.’
Sun had bid farewell with a promise of waking us up with its rays the next day and we got back to our car.
It is not allowed to camp anywhere near the lake, not even where cars are parked, so we went to the camp site.We had our tents but we had no equipment to cook our food. We could have managed with fruit cakes and dry food but Driver bhaia was to be provided with dinner so we asked some caretaker of their respective tents if we could pitch our tents on their land and if they can serve dinner to us. All rejected our plea except a newly set up Camp. They served us with sizzling Dal Chawal and even gave us blankets so we could keep ourselves warm as the temperature almost dropped down to -2 degree Celsius.
The weather wasn’t in our favor that night. Clouds all over the sky not letting us gaze at the fascinating galaxies. After having dinner, we pitched our tents in the most difficult conditions of this trip; reason being the strong winds and rain shower. We six people jumped into a 2 person tent and played UNO, how crazy is that? It was a hell fun night!
Finally after 2 hours of UNO, we fell asleep in our respective tents. At around 5am, when sun rays knocked on my eyelids, I realized it is all ending too quickly for me to grasp.
But good things weren’t over yet.
As I unzipped my tent, I saw wild horses grazing and running across the green field with snow covered mountains in their backdrop. That is one thing I will never forget. Never.
When we all were up and ready we drove back-not to Manali but to the Moon Lake. We couldn’t see Chandartaal lake reflect its sheer beauty last evening because of harsh wind and so to make it happen we went to the lake again in the morning at around 6am.
Not everyone accompanied us as yesterday’s walk made them more than tired.
But I learnt; there is something about nature freaks. If they want to see some or other miracle of nature, they will cross oceans without a second thought. Weariness didn’t bother me because I was determined to see the lake reflecting its own beauty.
And guess what? Hard work pays!
It was amazing! Amazing is such a small word for it.
Moreover, no human being was around us, bringing the magic of solitude into shape.
*sigh of relief* My plans have been successful.
Being in that moment is more than any prized possession for me.
Because those who are raw and wild, they don’t feel proud of money in their pocket or balance in their bank accounts. They share their experiences and feel all the worldly happiness in seconds.
We drove back to Manali with same, treacherous roads but nature remained mysterious and I, curious.