We took the opportunity to explore Dharamsala before leaving for the plains of northern India: completing a 15-hour bus journey to get up there without actually experiencing the mountains seemed senseless.
We rode into McLeod Ganj on a local tin bus, excited about the food and mountains we were going to encounter. We walked through McLeod Ganj along the Bhagsunag road as advised for a quieter place to stay. At dusk it’s hard to really get a sense of the place. Our first night was spent in an apparent Punjabi haven: there was blaring music till midnight…and we were abruptly woken at 7am by an auntie sitting in the sun outside our window endlessly engaged in a loud conversation on her phone. There was no hope. We took refuge in ‘Upper Bhagsu’ at a quaint pahari (mountain) guesthouse. The narrow, steep road to Upper Bhagsu keeps the cars at bay down below, sparing residents the perpetual honking otherwise experienced. The silence was magic.
At the guesthouse we befriended a group of travelers. One traveler, an Austrian sculptor, pointed us in the direction of magical Katmandu clay (this is definitely something we have to try out in the near future). Ultimately we realised, having come so far, we absolutely needed to climb up to Triund and witness the magnificent panoramic views it offers. The trail to Triund isn’t a strenuous hike. We took our time strolling past the rhododendrons, stopping to admire the views and drink chai wherever we possibly could: that’s life. It was a very humorous day. Bugs and Markus decided to head back at the half way point, Magic View Café, explaining to us that they need not go any further since they already had the best view in sight.
Instead they enjoyed the photographs of the people making their way down and were content with their journey. The rest of us marched up just in time to eat a meal and admire the sunset at 2820 meters. The group split further when Ben and Yael decided to spend the night in a tent on the peak. We declined: wearing nothing more than t-shirts and shorts and beginning to shiver as the sun set but we admired the youthful spirit Ben and Yael possess. We asked a Russian paragliding team to take care of them through the freezing night and left. It was our dark adventure, everything looked so different and unrecognizable (it’s not advisable to venture down the mountain at night: people have died). It took us a good two hours before we were back enjoying our last chai of the day with Bugs. Having a hot shower before jumping into bed that night was…priceless.
We want to return to Triund (someday soon), better prepared and to trek further into those beautiful barren mountains beyond. This chapter remains open for the time being.