After enjoying the peace and solitude of the Goddess Temple, I went back to the hotel.On the way found this charming little cottage.
Exchanged pleasantries with a friendly village lady. People in the small towns always impress me with their simplicity and kindness.
A few backpackers and village folks were seen at the bus stop. The local men and women sport the traditional green cap known as “Thapang”.
Today we are going to Kinnaur_ the winter home of Lord Shiva. Himachal Pradesh is also known as the ‘Abode of Gods”. There are more than 2000 temples and small shrines here. Each village has its own deity and festivals.
From Sarahan it takes 5 hours to reach Kinnaur and the drive is through the National Highway 22. Inspiring vistas unfolded and lively chats resumed.
Our first stop was Taranda Devi temple. She is the guardian deity of the mountain roads and this temple is maintained by the Indian Army. No vehicle passes by without stopping to take blessings from the Goddess. The views changed dramatically from this point.
Now we are going through one of the deadliest roads featured on the History Channel. Taranda Dhank is notorious for landslides, shooting stones and fatal accidents. The road is carved out of the massive rocks.
The tension and excitement were palpable. But Deepak, our driver was cool. This young man was focussed on the road and negotiated the deadly curves and hairpin bends with remarkable ease. He wouldn’t talk much but could be quite stern if we tend to stay long for photo stops.
Driving on these roads is like being on a car rally minus the frills. One misstep could be fatal. Our drivers showed amazing skills, concentration, and attitude. They were always looking out for one another and also ready to help other drivers. Road rage and risky stunts don’t exist in their rule book. Deepak told us that the state road transport corporation has very strict criteria for selecting the drivers and rightly so. I can’t stop admiring our drivers and that tenacious bus and truck drivers who ply on this treacherous route every day.
Passed by the major hydroelectric project in Karcham and reached Reckong Peo__ the district headquarters of Kinnaur. Popularly called Peo, it is a bustling small town. The rocky terrains changed to lush green mountains with dense pine forests and orchards.
From here the winding road climbed up and we reached the Hotel Kinner Villa. After the hair-raising adrenalin packed drive, it was like entering a magical world. The majestic Kinnaur Kailash was standing there in all its glory with the peaks hidden by the clouds.
My room was on the second floor and from the balcony, I felt I could stretch out and touch the mountain. I am going to put my camera away and soak in the views.
This post is dedicated to Deepak and his friends__ the unsung heroes of this odyssey.
May God be on your road every way you go.