Knowing Srinagar in Garhwal Himalaya
This Srinagar, unlike the better known capital of Jammu and Kashmir, is tucked away in Garhwal Himalaya's Alaknanda river vally. A populous and picturesque city, once the capital of kings of Tehri, is a great winter destination, I discovered this New Year...
Dew Washed Day
It was 7.00 am.
This early a January morning in the plains is usually crouching under a shawl of fog. Not here at Srinagar in Garhwal Himalaya!
On the first day of January, the golden sun painted the sky and hillside in warm hues.
It was a novel experience of winter in the hills, as well the very first new-year sunrise in the grand Himalayas. Bulbuls were up and about, twittering greetings to each other. That may be the way they live everyday, singing joyously and living from day to day.
Every house on the hillside had its own patch of dazzling yellow mustard in bloom
The sun rose slowly, taking more and more of the hillside under its warm cover. The moon, a candid reminder of the last night of December, was still a silvery white orb in the clear blue sky. It had been a clear night.
Stars which had waved goodbye to the passing year last night, shied from the morning sun. They did not accompany the moon to welcome the new year. The morning sky glistened against the eastern hillside, which would be the last to see the sun off at the end of the day.
Parrots, pigeons, brown as well as grey hill mainas, along with crows, blue jays, sparrows and abounding bulbuls, took to flight and rest whenever and wherever they liked! The trees and rooftops, telephone and cable wires were all home to them. Bulbuls flitted about with or after their mates. They whistled, chirped, cooed, in all seven notes. The Himalayan choir gave live performance, to the tune of the youthful river, and held me spellbound.
Every house on the hillside had its own patch of dazzling yellow mustard in bloom. The hill-folk seem to be more eco-friendly than the urbane denizens of concrete jungles. There was hardly anything of a well kept lawn to be seen in any house, but they were green to the rooftop with kitchen gardens, fruit trees, and beanstalks!
Bright carmine germaniums peeped from a compound, surrounded by golden marigolds and wine red chrysanthemums. The hill people are simple and so are their lives. Pretence is a virtue they have left for the city-bred.
I walked down to greet the river; a trail of liquid emerald, with pearly froth crowning it at rapids. A fisher boy had already set the fishing net for the day, supporting it with pebbles from the riverbed itself. He picked his way up the steep hillside, and not by the longer but more frequented road. He was used to life on this part of the globe. It was home to him, while we were just lured in by the magnificence of the hills.
Touched to the soul by the beauty here I sure did wish to sing a thanksgiving, just like the birds here.
River Alaknanda, gurgled around boulders while rushing towards the plains. Time lost its grip at the banks of the snow-fed river. I had three friends with me. We let go of our woollens and splashed about joyously.
A little birdie dived down from a height of perhaps 100 metres. It reached within inches of the water surface, stopped for a fleeting second, and resumed flight to rest on a pebble at the sandy riverside. It seemed that it had just come down to take a look at itself in the crystal clear waters of the sacred Alaknanda. The little bird taught me the virtue of introspection.
New Found Wisdom
…Each day is a new beginning, and this day brought me a realization that life is precious, and a gift from God. It’s time I learnt to value the gift along with everything else that the Creator has made.
I’m not surprised that great sages like Ved Vyas, Shankaracharya and the likes sang praises of the Himalayas. It is a place that naturally inspires spirituality, a connection with the divine.
We walked down the frequented road to Dhari Devi temple, and came across a tea-stall on the way. We asked the smiley shopkeeper for four glasses of tea, and some fresh pakoras that he was taking out of the wok. He apologised that he had milk enough for only three glasses of tea, and provided a solution himself that he would make three glasses of tea, and divide it into four glasses, charging for only three!
We were dumbstruck. We had not heard this kind of a thing before! He served excellent tea, coupled with hot pakoras. At the end of the sumptuous snack, I gave him a 50 rupee note, only to be greeted by the honest man telling us that all the food cost us only ten rupees! Words cannot express our admiration at his humility and honesty. Maybe that’s the secret of his priceless smile. We can’t buy it with all our hefty credit cards!