Himachal Pradesh — Shivas Home
According to hinduistic myth god Shiva is one of the Trimurti (with Brahma, the creator and Vishnu the sustainer). He´s also known as the destroyer and the Himalayan mountains, especially Himachal Pradesh is his home. Over there he meditates and smokes Hash which is also known as Shivas Tattva. Everybody who disturbs Shiva during meditation is attacked by his snake which is turning around his neck.
I´ve already written in my blog about certain experiences in Himachal Pradesh (Dalai Lama teachings and Meditation Course at Tushita), but nothing specially about the villages where I went. MacLoadGanj ist a pretty small town as far as there are no teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. If this is happening the town changes to a Buddhist city! I had the chance to get to know the town during both „seasons“ and I have to say I like it empty much more. If you´re also planning to go there you should definitely put Baghsu and Dharamkot on your list. These 2 villages are only a 1 hour walk away from MacLoadGanj. Another small villages that you can reach via Dharamkot is calles Naddi. You shouldn´t miss it! After 20 min of an easy walking you reach a mystic place which is hung over and over with buddhist flags. This place is used by buddhist monchs for prayers and rituals. When we crossed silently this place we could hear the chanting oft he monchs. We made a short stop-over for listening and went on full of awe. During the Tushita meditation course we went to this place, too. The whole meditation group was in silence so I felt the energy that is radiated by this place even more intense and attentive. After around 20 min more walking my friend and I reached Naddi, a small village with a mountain panorama. My friend who´s from Switzerland was so amazed that she called her parents via WhatsApp video call to show them how beautiful and similar this wonderful mountain panorama to the Alpes is. We wandered inspired through the silent and peaceful village and enjoyed the sunset at the sunset point.
On the next day I went for 9 days to Tushita meditation centre (read my experience here) to enjoy the introduction into Buddhist meditation in silence. My friend flew to Goa for enjoying warmer days.
After I had spent around 2 weeks in MacLoadGanj I met my friend Rishab in Old Manali. But first I would spent 12 hours for 250 km bus trip. Luckily the bus drove overday so I enjoyed the sceneric view on mountains, valleys, forrests and lakes in Himachal Pradesh. Spending time enjoying the view made me even more excited to experience Old Manali and Parvatti valley. Despite my cycstitis I have been suffering from already 2 weeks (after I went tot he meditation course in Tushita I decided to consult a doctor to get antibiotics which I tried to avoid) I was optimistic regarding my health in the colder and higher regions of Hiamalyan mountains.
Old Manali and Parvati-Valley
Before I arrived in Manali Rishab got in the bus. First we went for a good dinner. He introduced the northindian cuisine to me which is not the healthiest one but veeery tasty!! We spent 2 nights in stunning Old Manali and continued the trip to Parvatti valley. In the middle of the valley Kollur is located, which is the most touristic town and quite easy to reaach by local bus. For reaching Kollur we first took the bus from Manali to Bhuntar. Over there we switched into the bus to Kollur. Rishab found a blog which described some tipps for Parvatti valley. We decided to take the experiences made by the authors as a guideline.
On the first day we walked on the maon route to Manikaran, which is surrounded by beautiful hot springs and worshipped as a holy city (it´s more a town). If you´re planning to go there don´t forget your swimming stuff! The only ATM oft he city didn´t work unfortunatley with my foreign credit card. Take enough money if you´re visiting Parvatti valley. It´s difficult or maybe impossible to find cash there. I spent around 1200 rupees per day for accomodation and food. Rishab and I shared a room so that I only had half cost für accomodation. On one oft he following days we decided to hike to Rashol. It´s a small village in the mountains that is only available through an exhausting 4 to 6 hours walk (if you´re good in shape it´s still exhausting!). The path is beautifully surrounded by fields, forrests, rivers as well as small water falls. Half way we decided to take a break at the only guest house. We were lucky because it just started to rain. Moreover a small bon fire burned that was welcomed by my cold hands joyfully. Over there we met Pranav, a wanderer from Delhi, who searched for some peace in nature from hectic day-to-day life in Faridabad. We talked and talked and time was flying fast! Before we noticed it started to be midnight! Rishab tried to convince me at 5:30 pm a second time to move up to Rashol but I had too much respect towards the mountain, especially in the dark. So we decided to stay over night in the guest house. We we welcomed the next morning by a huuuge and not-ending fog that wrapped us up completely as he would say „Welcome in my kingdom! You´re now part of it!“
After a huge breakfast we continued our walk, this time we were 3 people, to Rashol. When Rishab noticed how steep and dangerous the hike from the guest house to Rashol is he thanked Pranav that he advised against hikung up in the dark. It definitely would have been too dangerous! After 2,3 hours of walking and several relaxing breaks we reached the village. I was overwhelmed by the solitude of Rashol to the valley but more from the houses that were forming the village: colourful and stable they sat on the rocky location and I asked myself how the locals could manage to get all the materials up to the village. Later I got to know that it takes 1,2 years to build a house. I thought on the fairytale of Sisyphos who carried day-by-day a stone on the top of a mountain to watch it rolling down when it reached the summit. But Sisyphos, and that´s the important part, never stopped carrying the stone up to the top again. Similar to this story it must be to build a house in these mountain villages. However the locals get help by Dugongs. A Dugong (no, not the sea cow!) is a mixture of a horse and a donkey and they´re used as transportation regarding their skill to find slip resistance in rocky areas. When we arrived I catched with my eyes the city centre that is not accessible for foreigners. An attention sign gave us the info that entering the city centre and touching the locals is strictly forbidden and will fined with 5000 rupees. Later I got to know that the mountain villages announced a „mayor“ in Malana who is worshipped as a God. Shivas spirit possessed him during certain ceremonies. Each year the mayor visits with his entourage, accompanied by a marching band, the villages he´s responsible for. In this way he shows that he cares for them.
Furthermore it is said the the villages own characteristic spiritual energies. The 3 villages Kalga, Pulga and Tulga are 3 sisters who embody a good spirit. The neighbouring village Tosh embodies a bad spirit of a Goddess. Good that we stayed the last days of our trip in Kalga!
We spent 1 night in Rashol and on the next morning the music of Modern Talking (a famous german pop band from the 80s) was played during I woke up! I never thought that this was possible untill this time! … even in the remotest areas of this planat listening to this kind of trash music! On the way back from Rashol tot he valley we spent 1 night in Chalal. The guys persuaded me that it would be an amazing adventure to sleep in a tent during minus degrees outside. I stayed untill 2 am at the bon fire with Pranav being afraid of going to sleep in the cold tent. Unfortunately I woke up shivering at 5 am and couldn´t fall asleep anymore. During the time in Parvatti valley I once didn´t shower for 8 days, because the electricity was gone and showering with the temperatured water coming from the tap was too cold. Furthermore I didn´t want to take the risk to get another cyctitis after just having recovered the last one!
Pranav had to go back to Delhi and Rishab and I decided to continue our journey to Kalga. Our host in Old Manali recommended us an accomodation over there. So we took the last local bus from Kasol and arrived at dawn at the last bus stand. Rishab calles our host Tushar in Kalga who told us that he has free rooms but the hike to Kalga (to the best of my knowledge Kalka is only approachable via a steep and rocky 15 min hike) isn´t a good idea in the night without any help. And I carried a „small 20 liter backpacker“ as well as a 65 liter backpacker which was more than full. Luckily a friend of Tushar picked us up in the valley and fortunately he carried my big backpacker. When we arrived in the dark I was not only happy but very thankful! Tushar gave us a cute and lovely decorated room including mountain view and invited us in his cosy living room … with a hot oven located in the middle! That was the most wonderful thing!! Actually I didn´t want to move from this place anymore. After 2 days at Tushars place and 8 nights of not-showering finally the electricity worked again and I could have a shower. On time for welcoming Lukas who I´ve met in MayLoadGanj (we both did the introduction course into Buddhist meditation at the same time) as well as his friends Hextor and Alex. These 5 guys and I chilled from the morning to the evening during bad weather in Tushars living room. By discussing and storytelling we enjoyed our time. If the weather was nice we took our lovely breakfast outside in sunshine and enjoyed the organic-farmed self-grown vegetables that were transformed into a delicious meal by Tushar and his friend. One day, I was having a sweet lovely dream, Rishab woke me up to tell me that it has been snowing! I was still half-asleep and a bit annoyed but later I cheered for him seeing the first snow after 24 years! We did a shorter but stunning hike to Pulga where we enjoyed a delicious pizza (Tushar recommended the place to us) and some electronic beats. The hike to Kheerganga was unfortunately not safe caused by the snowfall. I was a bit sad because I was already looking forward to the hot springs but I put Kheerganga as well as Malana on my list for the next visit. After a couple of days in Tushars care I decided to move on. My next destination would be Amritsar, which ist he main pilgrimage for Sikhs and also home fort he Golden Temple – THE sanctuary for Sikhs. I was already very excited! What I experienced you can read here!
“During the time in Parvatti valley I once didn´t shower for 8 days, because the electricity was gone and showering with the temperatured water coming from the tap was too cold.”