The entry in the village did not need to be announced. I was welcomed by more than 4 friendly dogs happily cheering my arrival in the village, about 6-7 cheerful faces basking in the afternoon sun, sipping their cup of tea and the mesmerizing view of the Himalayan ranges at the entry point of the village itself. I dropped the heavy load from my shoulders on the ground and stood there for the next 10 minutes, not believing if the view was real or if I was watching a movie preview of the mountains (see picture below) for the beauty that they are. It seemed as if my purpose of coming to this place was already fulfilled. Little did I know, there was more in store for me.
It was still afternoon when I reached Dharamkot, exhausted with the little trek of mine that I am not used to. The narrow path to the village is broken on some parts and is mostly deserted, apart from one or two tourists here and there, and a couple of taxis or auto-rickshaws passing by. I still did not have a place to stay. The next half hour, I spent negotiating with the guest house owner to crack a better deal for me. I ended up paying Rs 600 / night for what would otherwise be a Rs 1200 / night room in the busy season. It was a comfortable east- side facing room.
*Bang Bang Bang Bang*
*Suddenly gets up*
“Do you want me to call the guide?”
The guy from the west & the rush to Bhagsunag temple:
The night travel, the busy morning and the afternoon trek had taken its toll on my body. I dozed off straight away as soon as I sat on the bed in my room. 2 hours later, I was pacing downhill, to visit the Bhagsunag temple that I had heard of enough, to make me feel like I was home. But I had more on the way before I could reach the temple. To reach Bhagsunag from Dharamkot, I needed to pass through McLeodGanj once again but this time from the other side of the town. As I went strolling around, checking out shops for little souvenirs that I could buy for friends and family back home, I heard a commotion in the background. Even though I was running out of time to reach Bhagsunag, I turned around to see, what would be, a foreigner dressed up in a wig wearing a cardboard sign around his neck while holding a guitar and calling for attention (picture below).
In just 2 minutes of chat and no more, it was clear to me that he was just a failed artist (failed pun intended) who was trying to promote his failure as part of the promotional campaign for the events he would be playing at in the recent weeks. His creative handouts (image below) were as much fail as his artistic skills (failed pun intended, again).
I asked him if he could probably play a song for me and the people gathered around us to which he gladly acknowledged. Surprisingly, just like Bollywood movies, people around us started singing the song along with the guy and the whole street turned into a music festival for a couple of minutes. I can therefore, proudly say, that I have ‘lived’ a Bollywood movie. (All you Bollywood fans – In your face!) One final handshake and I was back on my Bhagsunag trek. With all the delay, my plan to visit the temple during daytime had taken a setback. As I had earlier said, you can never control the outcome of these random voyages. About 20 minutes later, I was at the temple with an extremely scenic sunset happening in the background and in the next 10 minutes, I was done with prayers and out to enjoy the swimming pool at the temple. Yes! You heard it! A swimming pool at the temple!
The German Bakery:
The dusk had already fallen upon signalling that I had run out of time to visit the Bhagsunag waterfalls. My disappointment was soon washed away when I realized that the place is full of beautiful cafes and bakeries all around. The German Bakery would be the first cafe I would visit during my journey.
Imagine this – Slow rock music combined with cool breeze in your face while sitting in an empty restaurant lighted with dim lamps floating in the air from the ceiling containing artwork and surrounded by posters of Bob Marley while you sip on a drink (Banana shake, in my case *needed energy*). I sat there for about an hour relishing every moment of it.
I am a guy and I am not a womanizer / flirt:
I sat there relishing the ambiance doing exactly what I wrote above with my eyes closed. A couple of minutes later, my peace was lost with a couple of loud clicking sounds. Irritated with the sounds, I looked around, to find a young woman of my age trying her hands on her camera to get a good picture of the cafe. I waved my hand to her to get her attention. A couple of hand waves later, I had her come to the far corner of the cafe, where I was seated all alone for the past few minutes.
Me: “Maybe you’d like to click the picture from this angle of the lampshade here!” *Gets up from the seat*
She: “That does not look good enough”
Me: “No! Try it from this angle.”
She: “Looks Ok?”
Me: “Here, let me help you!”
*grabs camera, clicks the picture (below)*
She: “Wow! That looks great! You’re good!”
Me: “Thanks! It’s late. Are you here all alone?”
*Random guy* : “Are you done yet?”
She: “Sounds like you got your answer!” *winks*
Me: “Cya around, then!”
But you guys have to trust me over this. I am NOT a womanizer / flirt!