We got off to a late start. Our plan was to cross the famed Chandrakhani pass. We were told that the pass is very misty and had to be careful while crossing it. Quick breakfast followed by packing, set the tone for the day. Walking along rugged landscape provided glimpse of little secluded villages that are not connected by road. Standing at 3660m, Chandrakhani pass promised spectacular trek route. We hardly spoke during the trek as we were captivated by sheer beauty of majestic lush green mountains. Our guide suggested that we revisit this pass during late winter. According to him it would be heaven on earth. Perhaps one day we would revisit this pass, as for now it was the journey ahead.
Crossing the pass is gradual and enjoyable. The green landscape reminded me of the windows xp’s default screensaver, so much for not being a nerd. There was a pending decision to be made regarding the route we wish to take. Our understanding was that there was a fest at Malana and would want to visit the village. However there were mixed news from the passers by, informing us that the fest had come to an end. Dillydallying about the route was uncalled for. We had to take a chance. If we chose not to visit Malana then we had a very arduous task of completing a very strenuous 22km trek the next day. Although the route promises to be scenic, we were not sure of two consecutive days of 14h treks. Finally it all came down to practical difficulty. Malana was clear winner.
We were convinced that Malana was the way to go, but for some reason our guide was not too pleased. He informed us that Malana people were castist and racist. He further insisted that if we visit that place we would be treated badly. This should have been the pointer to change our decision, but it invoked the curiousness in us and we were mentally prepared for any racist remarks from those people.
Adventurous day came to end when our guide pointed out our camping place. My friend was not very keen on taking the short route to the camp as we had time in our hands. He convinced us to let the guide take the short route while we would take longer and more picturesque route. This was perhaps the best decision we had taken so far. The steep climb down from Chandrakhani peak through flowers and bush proved a lot harder than we though. It was very slippery due rains the previous night. Unlike my military trained friend who descended the steepness with ease, we had a tough time keeping our balance. I was lucky to have a trekking stick to balance myself but my other friend fell often. It was so often that she started counting the number of times she fell before reaching the base of the mountain.
The night went peacefully with us listening to music near the camp fire. The mediocre food tasted delicious and soon we tucked ourselves in. One of Sherpas came to our tent to warn about possibility of Bear paying a visit to our camp site. Somehow this did not bother my friends and they slept peacefully. As they snored away, I had a patchy night sleep. I was constantly awaken by sound of some animal breathing heavily near our tent. I was too tired to try and investigate so I ignored the sound and lulled myself to sleep. The next morning, we were informed that a little fox paid a visit last night.
The path to Malana was rather easy but it proved difficult due to slippery surface. All along the scenic route we saw marijuana plantations. We knew that we were entering the world of dope and a place where such crops are cultivated with no government or police interventions. It’s also famously known for best marijuana crops in the country. Another interesting sight was abundance of abandoned houses all along. Later we learnt that they were summer houses of the Malana people. Walking for five hours finally brought us to Malana. Right from the time we stepped foot into that village we started experiencing hostile behavior from the people. Everything about that place is unique. I do not want to go in detail about Malana. I want to right a separate post on that later.
I was too tired to be disturbed by drunken Malana people, that their songs and yelling did not bother me. I got up next morning to the smell of marijuana outside our tent. An old Malana man had come to sell his stuff to us. Perhaps the sight of two foreigners made him realize of a quick profit he could make. His interaction with my friend was the highlight of the entire trip.
Our next stop was Kasol also known as mini Israel of India. The journey from Malan to Kasol was by walk on a broken road and partly by bus. We reached Kasol around 4:00PM after which we moved into a really nice hotel to clean ourselves. Kasol has large Israel population, with signboards put up in Hebrew. My friend had been there before and was quite aware of the place. He enthusiastically showed me around the little town. This laid back town surrounded by huge mountains is perfect for chilling out after long trek. Since I was at min-Israel, I decided to try out the ‘local’ cuisine. The best dishes I remembered from that trip were Labane, Falafel, Sackchlab and of course all time favorite Humus. The next two days we spent exploring the town. This has been a very relaxing yet exciting trek I have done in a while.
As my eyes shut, I tried to remember the password for my machine at work…..I could not.