Saturday, February 18, 2012
Dawn at Simla
Hotel Gitanjali at Dalhousie
Monkey Point at Dawn in Kasauli
The Sunlight playing on the snow capped Peaks
Snow capped Himalayan Peaks from Dalhousie
The Himalayas and their Foot Hills have been an integral part of my childhood---I grew up with them keeping watch over me!!!They became my first Confidants---and I spoke to the distant,hazy Purply Blue Hills each time I had something to share---and trust me that was every single day!!!During my childhood I've taken many Summer and Winter Treks on the zig zag Footpaths that ran along the steep slopes of these Foot Hills---with my father and Jeanneret Uncle for company----at one with the rugged terrain and it's people.We'd climb up to a ruined Mint that had been used for minting Coins in the early 1800s--for the Court of the legendary Sikh Monarch--Maharaja Ranjit Singh.At the foot of the Mint was a shallow Brook---tumbling over the rocky pebbles with a cheerful babble.The water used to be crystal clear and very cold---I loved the taste of it!!!We'd lie in the shade of the Trees lining the banks of the Brook----and I'd dream of what life was like here in the distant past.For me it was satisfying Contentment---to lie back with my eyes closed--- listening to the sounds of the Bees droning,the Water gurgling and the scented Forest around us--the perfume of the Wild Flowers wafting on the cool Breeze whispering in the Pines and stirring the Grass on which I lay.It was sheer Magic and I was very lucky to experience it.If we were very lucky we'd hear the notes of a Bamboo Flute played by a Shepherd in the distance as he tended his Sheep along the Mountain Pastures.
I have seen the Hills in their most beautiful moments---when the setting Sun set their snowy slopes afire in the Winter---and when the beautiful Fairy like Street Lights glistened like so many Fire flies on the hazy slopes on Moonless Nights---seemingly hanging in Space between Heaven and Earth!!The Rosy glow pof early Dawn picking up the Glass panes of a myriad Windows on the Mountain sides--the delicate fingers of early Sunlight glinting and winking like a million Diamonds on the slopes.The beautiful wooded Mall Roads of Kasauli and Simla----and the beautiful Cottages lining small winding Pathways---and yes the Ghosts and the Ghost stories---all brought the Mountains alive for me!!For me the Mountains held a mystical allure--something deep inside responded to them in a primeval manner!!
The Hills were the first to know when Sudhir proposed to me---and the first to be told when I found out that I'd fallen in love with him!!!After I shifted to Bombay as Mumbai was then called--I could hear their Siren call in my heart---and I'd insist on going there for the Summer Vacation at least---for the pull of the mystical connection was very magnetic and strong.In November 1973 my parents left for Mauritius where my father had been sent on deputation by Mrs.Indira Gandhi---our Prime Minister then--on a request by name for him by Sir Ram Goolam, the first Prime Minister of Mauritius.My father died suddenly on October 15, 1974 and my tie with my childhood snapped!!For awhile after that I did not come back---and the call of the Hills just brought an ache to my heart each time I thought of them.For me the Mountains were human and my most treasured memory of them is a beautiful cold night in Winter---when the Mountains were etched on a silvery Moonlit Canvas twinkling with a million Lights from the distant City---laid out like a carpet of Stars on their slopes!!!
After that I did not visit my beloved mountains till December 1979----when we took our daughters to Simla---once the Summer Capital of India--and managed to stay in the same Suite in hotel Oberoi Clarkes---the Suite where we'd spent our Honeymoon in October 1970!!!I was delirious with joy at breathing in the magical Air of the Mountains---for me that means a heady mixture of many things---primary being the musky scent of the "Deodars" as the Evergreens are called in Hindi.Sudhir and I watched the Winter Sunset from our Window overlooking a steep drop---and as the night closed in on us sat close to each other on the Couch--absorbing every nuance of the Sunset and the Nightfall.It was after 1983 that we again began visiting the Mountains every Summer---Simla,Nainital,Dharamshala,Dalhou
sie,Jammu,the Kashmir Valley---and also going higher up to the upper reaches of the Himalayas---the source of the Rivers Ganges(Ganga),Jamuna and the beautiful Temples of Lord Shiva at Kedarnath and Lord Vishnu at Badrinath in May 1987.