Continued from Part-I
From Naddi, we took a bus to Bhagsunag, a unique temple with a swimming pool in front of it! In its defence, the water appeared cleaner than Dull Lake, so I guess, if the hypothetical God forced me to take a holy dip at the pain of gouging my eyes out, I’d rather jump in to the pool than the lake. The temple also has a sign which says “pracheen Shiv Mandir” prompting us to wonder whether the sign was placed when the temple was constructed itself in the foresight that it will survive many eras.
For all my skepticism about the gods, Shiva is my favourite. A deity who is usually stoned and high, can put up a mean dance and is destructive to boot gets my unflinching vote. But we skipped the temple and went in search of the essence behind the deity, to the infamous Shiva café. My co-passengers (for this para, they are not my friends!) were not too enthusiastic about getting bhang for our bucks from this trip. It took a lot of persuading, a temporary detour to cool off by dipping our feet in the ice cold water, and a promise to act funny and spill out all my secrets after getting high to convince them to tag along. It was a long climb, and even I was getting tired of it. Let’s just say that we reached the place, found a bunch of kids staring into space, and picked up a glass of bhang lassi, which tasted like banana milkshake and failed to give any sort of levitating feeling. If I had a third eye or even a Veerabhadra to order around, I’d have burnt the bloody café to ashes. Total disappointment! Although on second thoughts, I don’t know if it was the café owner who fooled me, or the friend who gave an order for milkshake when my back was turned and told me it is “bhang lassi”. I guess we’ll never know since neither of them is likely to confess.
On the way back, we stopped at German Bakery (another must-visit place according to many online accounts), and ordered pakodas. We must have been the only idiots who would have ordered pakodas in that place, since they took an hour to get it by which time we had lost all enthu for the snack. This was followed by dinner was at a place called Mc’llo, and I quite liked the place. The place wins the award for having the most enthusiastic waiter I have seen, making me suspect that he was the one who had had the bhang.
Since we had covered most of what Mcleodganj had to offer on Day 1 itself, we decided to act a bit lazy and thankfully got out of our ‘checklist’ mode. So, a nice aloo-parantha breakfast with a huge blob of heart-attack inducing butter was followed by general walk-around, and a repeat visit to the Bhagsunath temple and another session of freezing our toes in the water. Now, I am one of the most tone-deaf persons around, but I am a big fan of the sound of water gurgling through the rocks, and I could have spent another week sitting there. Another thing I am a big fan of is splashing cold water on my friends, but we are mature old people now and so I decided to behave responsibly (it had nothing to do with the fact that the bugger was holding my sweater as a protective screen and I didn’t want to lug around a wet sweater!).
|Attempting to splash water when I still had my sweater...|
Reluctantly, we left the water spot and headed towards Namgyal Monastery. It is a beautiful place, and has some stunning paintings of Kalachakra (or something similar sounding), but what I really liked was the all-round views of gorgeous mountains with snow-white tops and green valleys. We also met a really charming old man who gave a most disarming mischievous smile and asked where we had come from, and was really surprised to know that four of us came from four different cities in each corner of India. As is the norm, we (or rather, the camera experts) clicked snaps of everything interesting and that included the old man.
After yet another sumptuous lunch at a place called Tibetan Kitchen (the meals formed a very important memory of this vacation, and hence the repeated references), we took a brief walk in time to reach the spot for a breath-taking, stop-in-your-tracks-and-forget-everything-else view of the sunset. The sight of that ball of fire, slowly turning from a bright yellow to a warm orange as it slowly sinks behind the mountains is a memory that I will cherish for a long time to come.
And with that, we took a cab and proceeded towards Palampur.
(to be continued…)
PS: This is turning out to be lengthier than I anticipated, and I hope to finish it before I grow tired of putting this down.