In December I was traveling solo to Palampur in Himachal Pradesh. I had a great time. I would usually take the local bus to a nearby place and then take it back towards the evening. In the evening I would have a gajar ka halwa, chai and sometimes dhokla before heading to my hotel for evening food. On one such trip I found myself at Bir, which is 30 kilometers from Palampur.
The local buses run at their own pace. They cover 15 kilometers in an hour and half when going through populated areas. They would stop every two minutes to pick up a passenger or two or drop someone! But I was in no hurry to go anywhere.
Chokling Monastery, Bir, Himachal Pradesh, India
The monastery complex at Bir stands out. As I walked around it I found a few lamas arriving on their sports bikes. I went inside and realized that the prayer service was about to start. I asked one of the old lamas if I could also sit through? He nodded yes.
They gave me a thick mattress to sit on and I was the only tourist at this service. I felt very privileged. It was raining by now as well so I was happy to be inside on the cold day. I have been to other Buddhist prayer services but I never sat through an hour. Their chanting and use of drums and other instruments is beautiful. But after one hour I could not sit still! There were a few others walking around so I also got up and went out.
In the end I realized that even though it was a very beautiful experience nothing does it for me like being out there in nature. And talking of nature it reminds me of a tweet I saw- Nature is not a place to visit, it is home!
I was once talking about a hill station I visited for which I was full of enthusiasm. It was slightly far away from a bigger well known spot in the hills. And I was asked, “So what is there to see?” The question caught me by surprise!
For me the biggest draw has always been nature! I quote from The Crystal Horizon by Reinhold Messner– “Nothing in life has brought me closer to enlightenment than landscapes. They have stamped me and are my mentors” (p. 203). Of course I can’t talk about enlightenment and all, but you get the drift?
And I was lucky, Palampur has nature and landscapes that awed me and captured my imagination. There was plenty of other stuff too but I thought I would establish the premises of my later posts right from the beginning!
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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