Updated: Dec 22, 2020
So, after changing our plans of going to Malana instead of Manali after Kheerganga Trek, we went to sleep. We woke up next morning, got ready, checked out of the hotel, bought some souvenirs from the shops there and set out for Malana. We had our breakfast in the car and guess what was our breakfast? Our breakfast was left over Pizza from last night. We'd been driving for an hour when the car came to a stop. Reason? There was a landslide and we had to walk from there since our car won't be able to go any further from that spot. Wow! So, we get down from the car, walk a little bit and see that the road is gone. There is a way up to the main road, and we have to climb / trek our way up that old broken road to reach the main road from where we had to rent a ride to take us till the dam, from where our actual trek was supposed to begin. We find a ride, a jeep, squish ourselves into it and there goes our jeep on those narrow roads, shaking dangerously. Thankfully I am sitting in between Rain & Snow and I feel safe. The roads are narrow, twist and turn at dangerous angles, deep valley on one side and our jeep on the mountain road. We cross this patch where we see the valley and there is this cave type of structure in the middle of the mountain from which a waterfall is coming out. On looking closely, I realise It looked like the face of Giant Ape from the movie "King Kong". After a good 20 mins ride, our jeep comes to a stop and we are told that the jeep can't go any further since there is another landslide :(
We get down and start walking. So, there is this patch which we were asked to cross quickly, since they were planning on blasting the rocks above that patch to clear the mess created by the landslide. Jeez, that was scary!! We can't even go fast on these rocks as they were slippery and sharp. Slowly, yet briskly we cross this patch before the engineers started blasting away the rocks. We continue walking after crossing that ridiculous patch of sharp and white coloured rocks and reach the dam (till where our car was originally supposed to drop us).
We cross the dam and we see another road block. There is no road, just a pile of stones in our way and we have to go over that to continue with our trek. While crossing this pile of stones, we had to be extra careful so as not to slip and fall down into the valley. :|
We cross this (And I was like: Oh Comeon!!!! how many more of these???) and after this it was just an upward trek. We had to keep walking, in the middle there was a small stream which we had to cross and then we continued up the mountain. We hit another tiny patch where the road was quite narrow and slippery. Carefully we crossed even that and continued with our trek.
After crossing these roads and upward trek, we finally hit the village area on the mountain (yes, people stay there, grow their own weed. Oh yes, we also bought the famous Malana cream while we were crossing one of these non-existent roads). It was getting dark slowly and we were just crossing the final houses before reaching the final spot. This trek was not as tough as Kheerganga but still tiring. The sky was slowly turning red and then a light shade of pink and finally gave way to the night sky just as we reached the clearing area where our tents were set up. It was a pretty decent set up. We threw our bags in the tent and went to the main tent where the food was being prepared. We were hungry!!!!!!! We were hungry because we have not had anything after that cold pizza or probably we did have some biscuits and sprite on the way. And yes, it is no joke to hike up all the way. It does work on your appetite.
We had some snacks and settled in around the fire which was lit up in a fire oven thing. So, basically imagine an OTG except that this one had coals in it and it was not electronic. The coals were burning in the silver oven and giving out the heat to keep us warm & cozy. The temperature here was 0 degrees. Snow got to work, crushing Malana Cream for us to start our evening. Our tour guide suggested we try it by putting it in a chillum. This was my first time and I was quite excited to try it. So the trick with Chillum is the way you hold it and then you need to take a long drag and let it stay there at the edge of your throat before blowing it out. Oh Man! the warmth that went through my body after the first drag. I still remember it. First I was given a demonstration by Snow on how to hold the Chillum, how to take it in, how long to hold it in and how to let it out. I followed it to T. I held the chilum in my hand, it was warm. I adjusted the angle and took a long drag from it and let it settle inside for few seconds. I finally blew it out and with that I felt a warmth running through my entire body. I could feel myself relaxing. My body ached a little less now and I was all warm & fuzzy.
Rain, Snow & I chatted, took turns taking drag/s and were joined by a few other folks, who'd trekked up to spend the night at the camp. We all were talking and the guy suddenly goes like "Dude, you need to go out and look at the sky. You can see the Milky Way". Rain, Snow & I exchange glances thinking this guy has lost it and continue talking. Dinner is served (Rice & Rajma). We eat quietly and after that we continue talking.. the three of us. I think it was quite late and we were on our last rounds of chillum. Once done, we decided to go back to our tent and get some sleep as we had to get up early, start our trek down, reach the car and drive all the way back to Delhi as I had an early morning flight to catch the day after. We step out of the common tent and look up at the sky and what do we see? the freaking Milky Way!!!!!!! The guy was not nuts or crazy. It was there, right in front of us. The sky was lit up with million of stars and there you can see the Milky Way (same like the pics you see when you do a Google search). We just stood there, hugging each other and looking at the sky, freezing but not moving. Such a beautiful sight which was impossible to capture on our phone camera but also a sight you will always remember. It was the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. Not wanting to move, but also freezing to the bones, we went back to our tent, wished each other goodnight and snuggled inside our blankets and slept. Rain & I got up early. If the night sky was beautiful, the morning was a sight to remember too. We just stood there, looking at the valley beneath us and soaking in every second of that view. We brushed, had breakfast (Maggi & Tea) and started our trek back to the car. Except for a few landslides and missing roads, the trek down was pretty fun. Once we reached the car, our journey back to Delhi started as I had to catch my flight. I remember, I did not sleep the entire journey back to the airport thinking I was going to miss my flight. But we made it. A final hug at the airport and I was on my way back to Hyderabad. Snow had decided to stay with Rain for a couple of days more in Noida. It was a trip, I'll always remember. We still talk about it and I think we will always talk about it with the same excitement that we had when we went for it. :) :)
Note: few pic credits will go to Snow!