Lifestyle Awards 2013
Wellness & Relationship
In Kullu Valley
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lacie or are the evil forces at work again…
Forested mountains, crisp Himalayan air, gushing rivers, the chirping of the birds – sounds like a perfect holiday destination, to beat the heat of the plains. Both Kullu and Manali in Himachal Pradesh usually make it to the list of most popular hill stations…but do they offer an ecologically sensible holiday? These were once pristine Himalayan destinations but over the years bus loads of package-tours and pilgrims and the memorable holidays that thousands have had here have left a deep, damaging imprint.
Ah! A patch of green in the midst of the deodars – this is where they must’ve filled the air with laughter and chatter; mothers spreading mats in a perfect picnic spot, passing around food to the whole family; children playing ball, drinking juice out of tetra packs, colas doing the rounds and evidence of it all is still around! Plastic bottles and shiny chips packets still remain where they were left behind.
Ancient temples, where pilgrims would’ve come with their hearts full of faith and divine yearning…and the earthly remains of their devotion, their offerings still clog streams and river…In the frenzy of darshan and the prerequisite of ritual purity, much bathing and washing would have ensued…and now a soapy grey slush stands, where once flowed a sparkling stream or proud river.
My memories of Kullu and Manali are different - being pushed around on mall roads, cars zipping around, belching fumes filling the air with the sound of horns and loud music, hawkers and shoppers, endless rows of desi woolens…Naturally, I wanted to get away from the madding crowd, the very crowd one comes to a hill station to get away from in the first place!
So I head into the valley to find a place that’s more like the relaxing hill station I’d like to think still exists!
Gushaini, by the Teerthan river in the Valley of Gods - Kullu Valley is where I headed. The main road detours after Aut some 40 kms before Kullu and traffic slows down immediately…If you follow the river on your right and keep looking beyond the river you find a frail Himachali man with his trademark cap, waving. That’s where you get off! Yes the instructions are pretty vague…all part of the charm! Raju’s cottage is where I would be based. Call up before you go there and beware there are no flashy sign boards to guide you. In fact there are barely any people on the road to give you directions. So stay connected on the phone and drive slow.
Getting to the Cottage is an adventure in itself…There is no tarred road or bridge just a ropeway to take you across the river…so my luggage, Raju’s dogs and I squeezed into one of the seats that would take us across…I was already beginning to like the idea of this vacation!
The home-stay stands in 22 acres of apple and apricot orchards...The place is run by, well who else, Raju and his family. Rooms cost between 1000-1200 a night, depending on your meal preferences…yes meals are included and delicious & the portions are generous too. The idea is to expereince home comfort away from home... In warm log huts!
Fishing for your dinner and tasting that perfectly grilled Himalayan trout or plucking fruit for the delectable jams and jellies that Raju’s wife Lata makes is all part of the experience…Find a perfect perch to read a book or simply listen to the rhythm of the river punctuated by bird song. This is pretty much what you can do here…and that’s exactly why I was here. If you like something a little more challenging, there is the option of a 1 to 5 day trek to the Himalayan National Park.
It’s heartening to find a place where one can still breathe fresh air and not hear the din of urban chaos.
There are still many such hidden gems around and thank goodness for them…but not for long…unless we mend our ways and get serious about being ecologically sensitive. Try it for all our sakes. It’s No Big Deal.
Courtesy: The Statesman
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