After spending a night in the abandoned hut with nobody but the three dogs to keep me company, the adventure was already shaping up to be a grand one. If you’ve not read the prologue to this story, I request you do so before reading this: Into the Dayara: Prologue.
And so I trekked on through the beautiful oak forest for hours, never keeping track of the time. I rested whenever I felt tired, or sometimes just because I wanted to enjoy that particular place; trekking solo has many advantages, this being the best of them. My next checkpoint was supposed to be Barnala Tal, a meadow with a lake (tal) to provide the essential water. I reached the site at about one in the afternoon, and found a group of trekkers settled with all the modern amenities in the world, from wooden tables, chairs to classy cutlery. Usually I would go out of my way to meet up with fellow travelers, but this trip was about solitude and tranquility, and so I moved on towards Dayara Bugyal, determined to make it to my destination on the same day.
I arrived at about five in the evening, tired and hungry. Luckily enough, I found a few Gujjars along the way who pointed me to the campsite with flowing water nearby. The solitude I found after the tiresome nine hour uphill trek was extremely gratifying, worth all the effort and every rupee I spent along the way.
I immediately pitched my tent to the best view I could think of, and went to sleep once I had my meal. There are certain things that must be experienced to be understood, the spine chilling experience of absolute silence in absolute darkness is definitely one of those.
I woke up at around nine at night, stepped outside the tent and there it was, the most nerve wrecking silence I’ve ever encountered. It was so dark due to the cloudy moonless sky that I couldn’t even see my hands. I took a little stroll around the area, but went back to my tent soon enough, not wanting to take a chance against the bears inhabiting the area. I figured it wouldn’t be ideal if I were to die before enjoying the sunrise at this majestic place, and what a grand sunrise it was!
I just sat there on the grass, enjoying the sunrise while it lasted. It wasn’t until a bit later that I realized I should also be capturing this moment.
Of all the places I’ve been to, this was by among the most beautiful sunrises I had ever seen. And if you find this beautiful, wait till you see the view from my tent. Now if you don’t find this captivating, do tell me your story!
I felt like slacking off for a while, and so I went back into my tent and picked up the Lee Child novel I was carrying. After hours of solitude, suddenly I found myself in grand company. A herd of mountain horses arrived near my tent out of nowhere. Needless to say, I tried everything I could think of to be friends with them. As it turned out, they weren’t looking for a new member in their herd. All of them ran away as soon as I even tried to approach them, all except one!
She was gorgeous and was grazing with her foal, who didn’t seem to like me very much either. I made good friends with her regardless and she stayed near my tent the next couple of days I was there.
I also made friends with an amber eyed mountain dog. Although they kept their distance between each other, the horse or the dog didn’t seem to mind each other’s presence. All of us shared meals and a few jokes, and despite the obvious language barrier, we seemed to be getting along famously.
As beautiful as the place was, I didn’t want to leave the place simply to keep them company. It’s unfortunate that I couldn’t just graze with them as I was starting to run out of food, and was well aware that I could only stay there for a couple more day at most. Yet, I’m grateful that they chose to be friends with me in the first place, I wonder whether I’d find them there if were to revisit ever again.
Besides, I had some bigger problems to deal with…
There’s a saying in the hills, that “Mumbai’s fashion and Himalayan weather can change without any warning“.
The weather change sure did live upto it’s reputation, and even better that I had the opportunity to witness and document it. It went from blue skys to dark clouds-heavy rainfall in about fifteen minutes.
It rained heavily for about an hour, only to be replaced by a terrible hailstorm and thunderstorms afterwards. It took me some guts to step outside the tent trying to capture the lightnings. The winds were starting to pick up and I could see that my tent was taking a heavy blow from the sides, pitching it in the center of an open ground was a bad idea. Nevertheless, I waited patiently for the shot I had in mind with my camera ready to capture the beastly beauty of the place. Himalayan weather sure can be rough!