|Cell phone towers, power grid wires mar the view at Sangla|
For sheer exasperation, the latter stages of reaching Sangla was the most testing part of the trek. The initial phase of the trek was magical, with mountain folk passing by, a jungle of pine trees, resplendent greenery, a gentle aromatic breeze floating across and a yak.
Yak of the Groovy Hairstyle
Did I say yak? Midway through the trek, Rushikesh, the group's mischievous, adventurous spirit, called out in strange loud tones to a baby yak doing its own thing over a hill far above. The next instant we see the yak tumbling its way in a left curve down to us.
This baby yak had thick groovy hair falling over its face like it had been to some cool dude hairdresser. It seemed driven by curiosity and yet held back with an inherent coyness. An absolute cute, tantalizing combination, that. I recall someone trying to feed the animal a green stem. This was the only vivid animal-human encounter that occurred during the trip.
Fragile, Handle With Care
The Rupin Pass trek is in many ways about experiencing the Himalayas in a full circle, to an extent. From snow, grass, desolation, teeming forests, roaring pure water bodies, you also witness the ugly beginnings of urbanization.
The last leg of the trek was mostly a devious mix of mud and rubble. When we finally reached Sangla, walking across the bridge over a roaring river, it was evident how the Himalayas could be ruptured by human habitation, oh so easily. Suddenly the beauty seemed marred, though the mountain air still exuded its effect.
The walk from the outskirts of Sangla to our hotel rooms seemed to exhaust us more than all the hiking we had done over the week. Maybe it was to do with climbing stairs and stepping on tar roads again. After a week in heaven, we were inching once more to the self-destructive hellish gateways of widespread human habitation.
|A more comforting view of Shimla from the hotel room window|
Restaurants, hotel rooms, toilets and the prospect of bathing after a week! We collected at a restaurant and gobbled our lunch like lost and found travelers. Evening walks, Dim Sum feasts, hot beverages and sleeping on actual beds followed. The eateries close shop pretty early at Sangla, as is common in villages. It isn't a village unless they retire early.
Sangla is merely a transit point with no distinctive feature or beautiful landmarks. Except for the snow-powdered mountains, looming like generations of ash smoke, as we caught the early morning bus to Shimla. It was late afternoon when we reached our destination.
Sangla at Daybreak
Dark T-Shirt Secrets
The evening was spent at Mall Road. We had dinner together at a restaurant, roamed around aimlessly, checking out eateries and stores.
I bought a dark gray Superman t-shirt because my present stock was best packed in. I am a Batman fan, they just didn't have one of him. A dark t-shirt seemed the right thing to wear for the remaining two days of travel. A dark t-shirt meant you didn't see my sweat patches, for one. Basically, you couldn't pinpoint where that attractive, perfumed musk-like manly body odor was emanating from. Stealth mode activated.
Shimla, At a Glance
Of what I saw of Shimla during that evening and morning after, it still had a charm and a restrained degree of development, not yet overtly dealing with air pollution, plastic waste, and other Indian city evils. At least, that is what it appeared to be, during our brief stay. The next morning we would be on our way to Kalka to catch a train to Delhi.
|A roadside view of the Mall Road, Shimla|