Narkanda was only supposed to be a journey breaker, as far as we were concerned. But the place holds a certain charm of its own and is a holiday destination by itself. It was quiet at that time of the year and the weather was pleasant. And we were told that during winter, the place is known for its skiing slopes.
We were glad we took that break instead of heading straight back into the city after the idyllic holiday. We woke up as always very early and took a walk into the nearby town along the highway. Keeping the important rules in mind, facing oncoming traffic and also avoiding walking on the blind side where there are sharp curves, we took in the last of what nature could offer before we bid good bye to the hills. A tiny black and white bulbul was flitting amidst the trees. It was so small that we initially thought it was a baby bird. There were plenty of kites in the sky and far away in the distance, you could see the awe-inspiring Kinnaur range. We got back and sipped cups of hot chai while we continued to watch the mountain range and realised we just could not have enough of it. As we loaded the car after breakfast, our driver showed us the parchment paper he’d managed to gather for use during a marriage ceremony he was to attend. Then he showed us the tree, he’d taken it from. And just before we left, Sid discovered that the bulbul we’d seen was actually a fully grown bird and had fledglings of its own. Soon we began our descent past apple orchards and cherry trees that were in full bloom and a few months away from the first harvest of lush juicy fruits, the eucalyptus estates and then thousands and thousands of pine trees.
After arriving in Chandigarh, with just the evening to explore the city, we set out immediately after checking into our guest house and dumping our luggage in the room. First we visited the Rock Garden. This gigantic piece of artwork is a series of three dimensional mazes, sculptures and edifices that have been put together by Nek Chand who was an architect and has extensively used every thinkable industrial and household waste to create this huge masterpiece. So we started out by being slightly unimpressed and as one section led to another and quite sci-fi-ishly inescapable labyrinth unless and until you’d completed each large cubicle of sculptures, we were amazed. Sid who was unfazed by all the awesomeness decided to quit when we arrived at a midway exit point. The three of us continued along the many bridges, waterfalls and narrow and low doorways that sometimes got so small that you had to almost crawl your way out.
We visited the Lake thereafter and opted not to take a boat ride. Then we went to see the giant Weathercock which is actually the open-hand that symbolises Chandigarh. Special permission is probably required to visit the place and on reaching there do make sure you take in the surrounding area where we saw and heard various species of birds. Hoping to do some shopping our next stop was the Chandigarh Mall which is a huge shopping area with plenty of branded stores to pick from. In this Legoland of the Richie Riches, if you are looking for bargains, it may make sense not to shop here.
We returned to the guest house and were pretty much done for the day, and with the holiday as well.
It was back to Mumbai for us the next day. Back to city life and very much back to reality…