Spice of Life | Breathtaking encounter with beauty of the Himalayas
The snow-clad pass overlooked by the clear blue sky is a surreal treat to the eyes tired of the smog and haze in the plains. While we trudged in the soft snow at a height of 13,000 feet, gusty winds whispered the melodious lullaby of Mother Nature in our ears.
Though I have been to hill stations across the country, in the heart of hearts I always yearned to go to Manali and Rohtang Pass. Every time I planned to head off to the destination of my dreams, the thought of the long and winding journey to the pristine place from Amritsar held me back.
Therefore, the recently introduced direct flight from Amritsar to Kullu literally gave wings to my desire and my wife and I were the first to hop on the plane for a brief getaway.
Within an hour of taking off, we were in the magnificent valley of Gods. Incidentally, Kullu derives its name from the Sanskrit word Kulantpitha, meaning the end of the habitable world. Rugged and wild terrain coupled with sub-zero temperatures during the major part of the year made it impossible to survive in the hostile conditions beyond Kullu, in the era bygone. But not anymore. With the ever expanding network of roads and electricity, areas beyond Kullu have transformed into places of tourist attraction.
After depositing our luggage in the hotel room and donning woollens, we headed to Rohtang Pass that connects Kullu with Lahaul and Spiti valley. The snow-clad pass overlooked by the clear blue sky is a surreal treat to the eyes tired of the smog and haze in the plains. While we trudged in the soft snow at a height of 13,000 feet, gusty winds whispered the melodious lullaby of Mother Nature in our ears.
After a couple of hours in the soft snow, we set out for Atal Tunnel from Rohtang Pass. The Chandra river, with its bluish-green water, followed us all along. The mesmerising view of the lofty mountains adorning the majestically flowing river around them like a necklace made us forget the dull humdrum of our lives. Admiring the breathtaking views in silence, we reached the 9-km Atal Tunnel to marvel at the scientific acumen and achievement of our brilliant engineers, who have made our country proud by building a rock-solid edifice of modern India.
The next day, we decided to head for Naggar, midway between Kullu and Manali, to view the Roerich art gallery. Nicholas Roerich, a noted landscape painter who was Russian by birth, made the western Himalayas his abode for 20 years. A breathtaking collection of paintings by the consummate artist makes one wonder in awe and reverence for the painter of mountains who fell in love with the Himalayas and decided to stay here till he passed away in 1947. He tirelessly worked to prevent the destruction of cultural objects and was instrumental in the framing of the Roerich Pact that advocates cultural preservation during wars and military operations.
It has been more than a month since we are back from the valley of art and magic but Roerich’s words still echo in my ears: “In beauty we are united, through beauty we pray, with beauty we conquer.”
The writer is an Amritsar-based freelance contributor and can be reached at email@example.com