Standing in the October sun on the windy faced Rohtang was perhaps the pinnacle of my visit or was it. I was unaware that world would change so abruptly just a few bends down the road.
The day had begun early and though I belong from Himachal, I had never ventured beyond Manali.
The year was 2003 and I was on my way to Keylong in Lahaul &Spiti to join my first professional assignment. Young as I was at that time, brimming with energy, I was up at the Manali bus stand at 5 AM in the morning. I decided to take a jeep to Keylong and after a brief wait of 10 minutes; the jeep was full of people.
I was lucky to grab the first seat and the driver roared away soon. A few kilometers from Manali and we were climbing up the hill. I had an idea that we had to go to the mountain top but never expected that the ride would be so full of excitement. The top was clearly visible and so was the road winding p like a snake with its twists and turns.
Few hours later, we were at Marhi, the stop point for a cup of tea. Gulping the tea in the cold morning was something unique which I had rarely done before. It did give me energy and soon the driver was up asking passengers to get into the jeep soon.
The driver was happy to let us enjoy the morning sun at Rohtang top for a while and it was the first time ever in my life that I was enjoying the morning sun at 11,000 feet!
The best part came when we began the downhill journey from Rohtang. The mountains changed in a fraction of second and went pale brown. The first sight of Chandrabagha was so unique that the sight does not leave my mind even though it has been seventeen years.
Passing Koksar and Sissu, we were in a different world and I never had the intuition that my first journey to Lahaul would be so awe inspiring that I would come back year after year. Soon enough, we were in Keylong and I felt in a different world which indeed this beautiful town is.
Years later when I visit Keylong now little has changed but for the fact that I and my friends have grown older and Lahaul has become more accessible with the opening of Atal Tunnel which has connected this tribal world to the mainland throughout the year.
More on this unique journey and culture of this beautiful land in the coming blogs!