Himachal Pradesh — Shivas Home

3 Weeks

Mac LoadGanj

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.”

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