As we drive into the heart of India, dubbed Madhya Pradesh, I awake my sleepy self to the sight of the Betwa River, a beautiful expanse of clear water vigorously flowing through a dam. I am suddenly kicked about venturing into an India that is far off the tourist circuit; Spiti & Hegdenagar feel like a long time ago.
I’m reminiscing about the winter of 2007, that I spent traversing the famous backwaters of Kerala and discovering the ways of southern India. Through my rusty memory, I remember the tranquility of the waters, the countless coconut trees along the coast, and a beautiful evening sky.
“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” ~Aldous Huxley. Delhi has a reputation of being a nightmare for single women. So when I made the ‘bold’ transition from one of the safest cities in the world, Singapore, to perhaps one of the most unsafe, I was filled with curiosity, and to be honest, a little intimidated.
No butterflies in my stomach, no goose bumps, no insomniac nights, no cold sweats; just 3 suitcases filled with life in Singapore and 6 years of travel memories from Southeast Asia. That marked my move last week. That has made Delhi my home atleast for the next one year.
I sit by a Stupa on an elevation above the shore of the Spiti River, shielding myself from the sun. It’ll be a good fifteen minutes before the ball of fire sinks behind the mountain range and relieves human skins. Such penetrating sun rays would make a great premise for a sunscreen advert, I muse.
Spiti is a land of legends. Every mountain peak and rock formation has a story lurking behind it, handed down by generations of Spitians. The most fascinating of them is one I heard from a local friend, of a mountain peak which changes colors a few times a day, reflecting the mood of the deity that inhabits it.
In the desert mountain landscape of the Trans-Himalayas, it’s easy to forget the color green. On my way to Komic, the highest inhabited village in the Himalayas, the unassuming village of Lhangza enchants me. Blue, green, brown and white are the predominant colors; the foremost of the clear sky, the latter three alternating among the bare, snow-capped & surprisingly green mountains.
My summer of volunteer in Spiti leads me to a nunnery in the Morang village of the valley, in the backdrop of snow-hooded Himalayas and on the shore of the Spiti River.
I’m en route to Spiti and going through a “sometimes the journey is as beautiful as the destination” moment. The drive from Shimla to Kalpa can easily qualify the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh as the most beautiful state in India for a mountain lover.
I’m not down that many pints, incase you’re wondering. Perhaps I’m high on the mystical landscape that surrounds me. I could never have guessed that eastern Germany’s best-kept travel secret would be Saxon Switzerland, in the state of Saxony.