Two Japanese words have entered my vocabulary from an interview I read of the British travel writer and novelist Lawrence Osborne – komorebi and wabi sabi.
Komorebi means the effects of sunlight filtering through the trees. This word is unique in having no single word equivalent in English. Wabi Sabi is a beauty aesthetic that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete; characterised by asymmetry, simplicity, roughness and all things natural. Wabi sabi stands out as a contrast to the aesthetics characterised by symmetry, perfection, refinement, flawlessness and manicured.
These two words more than suffice to state the beauty of the forest and the slopes we encountered on our trek in Dalhousie.
Day 2 and we decide to venture out on a four hour Dainkund trek from the Aamod resort. The resort had a guide to accompany us and we set off after breakfast by 9:30 am. There is a nominal charge for the trek. Meanwhile, we saw many guests opting for a one hour trek before breakfast. Our guide told our driver to meet us at the Dainkund hill by 1 pm, as he was sure we will not able to retrace our way back to the resort after the four hours of walking one-way.
We set out first into a forest of deodars. There is a well cut path and as our guide explained, it’s a short-cut to the town, frequented by the locals. We meet a few along the way, but most of way it was only the three of us and the magnificent trees. There is no tarred road to his village, he was reminiscent about his school days, when they had to walk 5 kms to school in the mornings and back the same way in the evening. Exhausted by the time they reached home, where is the time to study…..Most locals do not complete school and opt instead to join the armed forces or find a menial job.
The way was beautiful and we started taking pictures of every tree and boulder we saw along the way. It all looked so glorious and spectacular. Our guide was amused; he kept urging us to move as he said there are lot more similar sights ahead. He probably couldn’t fathom our fascination with all the greenery and trees; he probably has not seen the concrete jungle we see everyday back in Bangalore.
We climbed up from the forest to a clearing with a tea shop. The man there had milk boiling in an open iron kadai to make khoa ( a condensed form), used to make Indian sweets. After a tea break, we set off on the second leg of the trek.
From here the path was rocky and shrouded in mist. We loved it. Again we started going gaga over the surrounding mist and the valley below. We were very near the Air Force base and managed to climb over the walls and continue on the journey.
The mist cleared and soon we reached the Dainkund peak. The picture below has a small white structure on top of the distant slope; to mark the view point on the Dainkund peak.
Our guide showed us a view of the distant tourist spot called Khajjiar also called Mini Switzerland, owing to the similarity in the scenery esp. in the snowy winters.
As our guide explained; Dain means witch and as per the folklore, in the old days, there were witches living here and troubling the villagers. They prayed for help and Devi, an incarnation of Goddess Kali, killed the witches. There is a temple called the Pholani Devi temple, 900 meters from the Dainkund peak to worship the Devi. Pholani was derived from the word Pehalwan meaning wrestler or strongman in Hindi, as the Devi killed the witches.
Alternatively, to reach the Dainkund peak and the temple, there is a tarred road leading to the Dainkund hill and from there it’s a 30 minute walk to the temple.
We got into our awaiting taxi by 2:00 pm and decided to visit Khajjiar. But there was a long traffic jam along the way and we decided to skip Khajjiar; head back to the hotel and get some lunch. We skipped all other tourist spots in Dalhousie, content just to sit at the resort and enjoy the spectacular views of the mountains.
This was our final day in Dalhousie and tomorrow, we check out in the morning and head to Amritsar to catch the 4:00 pm flight back to Bangalore.