It was morning and a last look at Khajjiar meadows—a spot of Kashmir in Himachal
Morning shone bright and sunny—only innocuous wisps of cloud in the sea blue sky, the dark wet night now behind us. My friend informed us that the day’s journey back to Jammu would be long and we would have to start early. With little time in hand I didn’t feel like going down to the vast gently undulating grassy meadow and confined myself to the strip of lawn in front of our rest house.
Rest house at Khajjiar
We had already finished a light breakfast and packed our baggage. Being the youngest, Tukai carried the bulk of the luggage. Through the two tall trees our downtown, yet to be crowded by day tourists, looked deserted. Another lazy day starting at Khajjiar lake. Not for us though—we would have to go back to our busy city life. I felt a slight pang of uneasiness.
Uncrowded downtown at Khajjiar lake
The vast Khajjiar ground with the lake at its center was nearly on its own. Two men reclined on the grass carpet facing the lake. Nothing moved to disturb the picture perfection. Even the unmoving lazing duo looked fine—their low-voiced occasional words quickly lost in fresh morning air.
Lazy lake at peace
While I was enjoying my last moments with the meadow, Tukai was busy getting the water bottles replenished for the day. It would be a long journey with not much of facilities on the way.
Replenishment for the long journey
Yesterday I took a small path behind this cottage that led to a flight of stairs reaching the main road. And my birds sang for me.
But today it is go-time. The half open old wrought-iron gate may not see me again. I stepped down through the gate with one look back to the cottage.
May not see me enter again
The walkway curved away from me on the left with a single bench nearby and the man reading his morning paper—as if it was his own private garden—what luxury!
Quiet morning at Khajjiar lake
I turned round towards the far corner. The cottage no more looked lonely—it was smiling in the morning sun. As if nothing had happened last night. But more than the cottage, when I looked at the wall of tall deodars closely, its grandeur took my breath away. Perhaps I could have stayed here for life—among these tall trees, reading my favorite book during leisurely mornings and walking alone on the vast grass carpet deep into the night.
A sudden movement caught my eyes. The running couple melted away the last trace of lingering doubt in my mind. They must be coming from the corner cottage and it had no unpredictability any more—I felt reassured.
Catch me if you can
The car bumped along the grassy strip below the cottages and at the corner of the meadow negotiated a short steep stretch to reach the main road. As I knew from my exploration last evening, the road went straight first and then turned. The Khajjiar lake disappeared behind.
I liked this part of the scenery. The trees here as usual tall but they were not always able to reach road level—the hillside went down quite steeply.
In a short while my friend stopped the car and parked it by the side of the road. He pointed ahead, “That is the Khajji Naga temple. Would you like to see it?”
Khajji Naga temple
Tukai and I both became excited—our first real snow view in Khajjiar.
The way ahead was long—with Jammu more than 200 kms away, we decided not to spend much time with the 1000 year old sacred temple. The towering figure of Nagadeva, the serpent god with a sweet serene smile silently stood taller than the trees, the five Pandavas made of wood stood in their places in the temple, we moved ahead, but not for long.
I was in constant lookout for a good viewpoint from the moving car. In a few minutes my friend had to stop the car again. “I will take a little time here,” I told my friend apologetically. After all he had to do the arduous driving.
Far away the snow range at low elevation rose from the series of deep green rolling hills. The raw nature, specially the thick green cover gave me pleasure.
Far away snow range
Where unaided human eye can’t reach human artifact can. I looked closer through the lenses.
Closer view of Pir Panjal range
This is the Pir Panjal mountain range running from east-southeast to west-northwest across Himachal Pradesh. The highest peak in this lower Himalayan range is Indrasan (6221m). Further to the right should be Dhauladhar behind the bend.
Nowhere in between I could detect any sign of human civilization—it seemed to be all the way wilderness till the snow range.
Personally snow views unadorned by greenery I don’t like. Here I feasted my eyes on the scene. Though the snow range was very far, it shone like a diamond girdle on the green crown.
Before leaving I wanted to have a still closer look on the icy mountains. Yes, there they stand—raw majesty.