We felt truly blessed when the weekend coincided with the New Year’s Eve. We rushed to the hills for a beautiful beginning of the coming year. On 30th Dec 2016, after a tiring bus journey from Delhi, I along with four of my friends reached Bhuntar, where we booked a 4-wheeler to take us to Tosh. We passed by Kasol and Bharsaini on the way.
The Hill Top Cafe, where we had booked our stay was only a small climb upwards from the Parking lot. That was when we realized that we have been breathing in wrong air, back in Delhi when such a small climb made us huff and puff.
After a freezing night, we woke up to the beauty surrounding us. We felt energized by the pollution free air as we got ready for the trek after a fulfilling breakfast. Our first stop was Kutla on our way to Buda Van. It was a tough hike. It took us some time to acclimatize. By the time we reached Kutla, we were all out of breath. At that moment, nothing would have been more satisfying than a bowl of Maggie served with warm tea.
At the height of 2675 meters, situated by a stream of clear water, Peace Point house stands true to its name. It serves as a resting point for all the hikers on their way to Buda Van camp-site. Beyond this point, there is no observable human inhabitation.
Rejuvenated, we carried on our trek, crossing Kutla village, into open fields surrounded by alpine trees. Every few steps, we stopped in our tracks, trying to breathe in the surrounding and capture the entire landscape with our eyes.
Nothing could have delighted me more than spotting a sheet of snow at a distance. I just ran. My friends followed. Unlike my friends, this was my first encounter with snow. I scooped up a handful. There wasn’t much. The snow sheet was very thin. But that didn’t stop us. Soon, there were snowballs flying in the air.
Further, on the way to Buda Van, we saw a furry beast heading towards us. As it drew closer, we also noticed a small puppy running close by trying to match its pace. A sense of recognition was evident in its eyes as it jumped towards my friends in an ecstatic leap.
My friend had done the honor of naming the dog, ‘Rurru’ when he visited Tosh a few years back. He was delighted at the prospect of meeting his old friend who was now thriving with his family. The dog and the puppy ran ahead of us like a courteous host showing people around their humble abode.
Reaching Buda Van, we could hear the sound of the river that was flowing alongside us at a certain descent. We kept walking until we came across a bridge which helped us cross the river. I could see the sunshine bouncing off the river. I envied the river of its perpetual flow, of its dauntless spirit whether going high or low.
Moving further, we found a stream leading to the river we had just crossed. It was completely frozen.
At the approach of dusk, we headed back, revisiting every scenery and trying to capture each one of them in our minds, to take it back with us so that we could revisit them in our minds while enveloped in the chaotic city life, until next time we get to come back.
In the night we sat together in our rooms, away from all the party and music. We welcomed the New Year with total silence. No phones rang. We received no New Year’s greetings. But sitting there, among closest of friends, all still and calm, it was the start of an amazing year.
Going up is followed by coming down. Next day, the first day of the year 2017, after an amazing time at Tosh, we headed on our way to Bharsaini. From there, we went on a short trek to Pulga village.
Hidden away from the regular tourist spots like Kasol and Tosh, Pulga is a beautiful, calm and peaceful village. We stopped at a café. There I had the first thupka of my life. We took out some chairs and sat outside appreciating the view.
Soon, it was time to head back. We had a bus to catch from Bhuntar to Delhi. As soon as we set off, I got the greatest gift this place could offer. It had started to snow. It was a dream come true moment for me. Trekking on a path freshly covered with snow, we reached Bharsaini, where we booked a 4-wheeler to take us to Bhuntar.
It was an amazing trip. I had a lot of memories to take back with me: my first snowfall, frozen streams, tasty thupka, fresh mornings and freezing nights. All in all, it was a wonderful start of the year 2017.