From Spiritual Amritsar to Solang Valley

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By Zehra Afreen

I woke up in a bus, suddenly unable to discern my surroundings. I sat up. Rubbing the foggy window with my sleeve, I peered out. Green farms stretched before me. Still groggy from my sleep, I gazed at the blurry world outside, till the landscape changed from countryside to urban sprawl. The bus trundled to a stop at a chaotic street.
I couldn’t stop my delighted eyes from hopping from one astounding spectacle to another, what with Punjabi women in vividly-coloured Punjabi suits, long, braided hair swinging with each step they took, and men with moustaches and beards and turbans neatly tied with great precision. It was a sight to behold! Having travelled the night, we proceeded to freshen up before a quick breakfast at a hotel.

Golden Temple and Kirtans
The famous Harmandir Sahib (also referred to as the Golden Temple) in Amritsar: the white marble of the complex shone bright in the twilight and the golden dome glistened! The water in the tank was still, except for the bobbing fish, and on the land, nothing stirred except for the people circumambulating and the kirtan emanating from the Gurdwara.
The night ended with a hot dinner and cozying up in an small bus seat. Having braved the smog and the cold, the next vmorning treated us with a view of the majestically-flowing Beas. We were in Himachal Pradesh and longing to enjoy the snow! We followed the Beas, sometimes losing its sight at a turn and then finding it flowing right beside us, making our hearts skip a beat!
Our stomachs were grumbling and the bus stopped at a roadside dhaba. Smoke billowed out of the chimneys into the already-foggy mountain air and the kitchen hustled with aloo parathas sizzling on the tavaa. We succumbed to the exceptionally enticing smell wafting from the kitchen and ordered a paratha each! After that, we trooped into the bus, making our way to Kullu.
The picturesque mountain town allured us to go rafting. Fitting into life jackets with fumbling, cold hands, we jumped into the raft and made our way to a place seven kilometres away, hitting into the huge rocks sometimes and the water drenching us unfailingly.
The Beautiful Himalayas
Waking up to freezing temperature isn’t really very inviting, but the next day I jumped right out of the bed in spite of a slightly sore throat! Going downstairs, I saw the beautiful Himalayas and sunlight reflecting off their peaks. I quietly chided myself for not spending more time outside.
After the pleasant surprise of a river flowing by the hotel and a mountain-view for breakfast, we made our way to the Solang valley. Cramped up in a small Tata Sumo never felt so good, thanks to the cold! The vehicle slowly climbed the mountain, groaning under our weight, the seemingly wobbly houses on the mountain edges turning into specks. Finally, the scattered snowy terrain turned white as we approached the Solang Valley. The Valley was filled to the brim with people enjoying the snow and skiing. Enjoying a snow fight of our own and a little bit of snow-fall, we returned to the hotel very happy!
(Zehra Afreen is pursuing B.Tech (Food Technology) in Agriculture College, Hassan)