Written by Neha Chauhan.
Himachal is a land full of beautiful places, scenic views and breathtaking experiences. Every village or town or city here have something incredibly lovely to offer. But one place, which I have visited multiple times since my childhood and yet mesmerizes me with its tranquil existence is Shikari Devi.
Shikari Devi is 18 km from a town called Janjheli and can be reached via car or jeep. But on days when the weather decides to test the visitors, you might need to walk for a few kilometers ranging from 6 km to 18 km. And that was what had happened with us when we decided to visit Shikari during the monsoon season. Our plan was to get up early, get into our pre-booked vehicles and reach the final destination for the above-mentioned view. But, God executed his plans and reminded us that we are nothing but puppets of His big theatre game. ‘Oh! Did we think that reaching such a heavenly beauty was this easy-peasy-lemony squeezy task?’ Nah, Nah, Nah! Despite a rather smooth start to our journey, the weather took a sudden turn and it started raining while we were half-way through our journey.
So, the journey went like this: One early morning of July, everybody was hustling around at home, from one room to another, screaming at each other. ‘Why did you not get up early? Now, we will be late, because of you!!!’ my aunt, literally screamed at my cousin while I was struggling to get out of bed. All this was for our little family trip to the nearby picnic spot, Shikari. This wasn’t our first visit to that place but as I said, it still excites me to visit that hypnotic place. The place offers you such a heavenly experience that you crave for that time and again. And this is what was exactly happening with us.
We were 11 members in our family, trying to spend a happy Sunday. Our supposed plan was to start our journey at 7:00 in the morning. We would travel by car till our rendezvous point, meet my younger uncle and his family, and walk towards our destination, which was 1 km from there and reach our destination by 10.00 am. Then we would have a little family brunch at the top of the hill, spend some time and reach back by 6 pm in the evening. All this included out travel ‘BY A VEHICLE!’ But, little did we know, that we were up for a big surprise.
Despite all our efforts, we were late by half an hour and started at 7:30 am. ‘Okay, we are late only half an hour. Not bad!’ said my poor optimistic elder uncle. The journey started smooth and we were all enjoying unaware of the upcoming changes to our plan. 6 km to our destination, we found our first hurdle. Due to heavy rainfall, the road was jammed. ‘We can’t go by cars, let’s walk then!’ suggested one of my cousin (young blood, huh!). ‘It’s freaking 6 km from here, that too uphill!’ said my other cousin. Pretty intense discussion was going on in the scene, when my 72 yrs old Granny said, ‘Abhi tak adha rasta par kar chuke hote hum agar chalkar bhi jate to!’ (We would have reached halfway up if we had already started our walk!). So, that’s what we did. After all, who had the courage to challenge the head of the Home ministry? 11 members of a family, walking towards the final point. The walk was definitely memorable. Trying to cheer up and motivate each other with the help of one consoling thought that the journey will end soon. The biggest motivation was my Granny, walking steadily and firmly uphill. Not once did she whine about how tough it is or how much more do we need to walk. She knew what was important and what was not. She did not waste her energy in non-sense talks like us.
Tired like an army of post-war soldiers, we were walking towards the top, in the hope of spending our noon in the pinnacle of our journey. The journey was uphill, making it more difficult. But the serene beauty surrounding us was the source of our strength. As we reached the final destination, 11,020 feet above the sea level, the tiresome journey felt worth it. Every second of the day felt like well spent. No regrets!
Reaching above and beyond the tree line, gave a different view towards life and in front! The hardships our older generation faced, with limited facilities! This walk was undoubtedly, a walk to remember……
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Neha Chauhan is a PhD student in JNU, New Delhi (India). She works with agriculture communities in India. She was born and brought up in the lap of Himalayas and this has helped her in better understanding of life. Writing has always been close to her heart and so has travelling.