The Exquisite Jispa Valley

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The beauty of Jispa Valley was a welcome sight after a harrowing day that started at Manali and escalated at Rothang Pass.  As I swung my legs off the bike, I wondered how we managed to reach this place in one piece. The route we took before we descended to the valley were interspersed with breathtaking sceneries and horrific road conditions where my death flashed before my eyes a thousand ways; hurled to the bottom of the cliff, crushed under a truck, dragged by a raging stream and all other horrors my mind could conjure.

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My nerves were soothed momentarily as I gaped at the splendour before me though when I closed my eyes to sleep all the horrors of the day came back to me scrambling on top of each other giving me a panic attack. My heart raced, and I felt the onset of altitude sickness, good that we packed all the recommended medicine. Sandeep gave me a pill, and I went into a dreamless slumber.

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I woke up to a beautiful morning in the valley, feeling refreshed and optimistic. The worst must be over. Or so I hoped.

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After tea and breakfast, Sandeep, Nadeem and I walked towards the stream at the foot of the majestic mountains barricading the vale. There it dawned on me how incredibly beautiful this world is, how exquisite these hidden gems were.

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Nadeen then told us it was time for our acclimatisation exercise, an activity essential to our survival once we drive higher later on towards Leh. So we scaled one of the pretty hills in the valley. I lagged behind as usual. Sandeep tried to motivate me as much as he could, but I often get distracted with the breathtaking view below us.

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It was a pity that we could not stay longer in Jispa; this beauty was just one of the pitstops to our final destination, so before the morning was over we continued our journey towards our next stopping place, Pang La. But I was glad that we also stopped for a while in a pretty village in Darcha though it was just 7 kilometres away from Jispa.

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I enjoyed the hot lemon tea in the dhaba where we took a break. It was a nice change from the usual Indian tea with milk. The locals, I noticed, seemed to look more like myself than my Indian companions.

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As we leave Jispa Valley behind, the feeling of terror mixed with amazement I felt on the way there was multiplied a thousand times on our way to Pang La.  Still unaware of the perils that lay before us, I felt ecstatic as I ride behind Sandeep, enjoying the crisp cold wind on my face, and the sight before me which was indescribable in its awesomeness and magnificence.

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The Adventures of Alia And Sarika

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page 3written and illustrated by Jofelyn Martinez Khapra

Lullabies In The Valley Of Dreams

 

A quaint little village in Sangla

Summer arrived, blazing and crackling. The air sizzled frying at forty-five degrees (Celsius). Fed up with living in air-conditioned existence, we decided it was time to leave the city.

So Hubby, Babar and I with our suitcases packed for a seven-day adventure, drove up and up the mountain chasing some chilly wind.

Narkanda highway
Wall of pine trees in Kufri
Heart-stopping roads in Kinnaur District

The roads tapered off as we were nearing the top, sending some nervous flutter in my heart.

Descending from Rampur, a pleasant drive along the river.
Babar enjoying the breeze. Ears flapping about.
If I have ears that long it will be flapping too.
Climbing extremely narrow roads on the way to Sangla.

 Then it soared when my eyes behold the snowy peaks in the horizons.

The lethal beauty of Sangla Valley at the height of 2800 meters.
Babar passed out after a whole day of driving.

As the sun was setting, finally we reached the camp. The signboard was on the road but darned it the campsite was way down below.

Kinner Camp

Holding my breath while Hubby turned the car around, tires rolling by a hair’s breadth on the edge of the cliff, I was left thinking the camp owners may have some sadistic streak. After enduring the torment of that snaky ascent, they make sure the thrill continues with the roller coaster descent.

Very comfortable accommodation with an attached bathroom ( western toilet and shower) unlike real camping at all.
The valley morning after.
Babar sleeping soundly in the fresh air.
Sharing a cup of chai with hubby.

Waking up the next morning after a very sound sleep, sipping tea in front of the tent with the mighty snowy mountain right in front of me, I was filled with a deep-seated feeling of well being.

Not a soul was stirring from the nearby tents. The silence was pure and sweet. A commune with nature in the truest sense.

The Mighty Baspa River

When Hubby and Babar finally roused, off, we went hiking towards the mighty stream. Furious cascading water thundering down from the melting snow of the northern Himalayan peaks.

The roaring stream.
Babar testing the waters.

The energetic canine run to and pro, going mad with the freedom to leap and bound. Once or twice, Babar braved the icy water and dipped his toes. Oh, how he loved the water! He would swim if not for the turbulent flow.

The water dog.

Lovely Chitkul Valley
Pashmina heaven.
Passing by surrealistic looking roads on our way to Kalpa

Snowy peaks in Kalpa

Days in the camp passed by like a dream. We were lulled into calmness and serenity. All our silly worldly cares momentarily forgotten.

Babar made a lot of new friends in the camp.
Little girls who were very fond of Babar.

I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in order.
-John Burroughs

©JMKhapra